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Title: A Close Encounter: The Marine Landing on Tinian
Author: Harwood, Richard
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Close Encounter: The Marine Landing on Tinian" ***

Transcriber’s note: Table of Contents added by Transcriber and placed
into the Public Domain. Boldface is indicated with =equals signs=.


  A Close Encounter: The Marine Landing on Tinian
  The Landing Force: Who, Where, When
    Sidebar: Selection of White Beach
    Sidebar: General Clifton B. Cates, USMC
  Jig Day: Feint and Landing
    Sidebar: Napalm: Something New in the Arsenal
  The Landing
    Sidebar: Tinian Defense Forces
    Sidebar: Preparatory Strikes
    Sidebar: Aerial Reconnaissance and Photography
  The Drive South
  Final Days
    Sidebar: Medal of Honor Recipients
  About the Author
  About the Series
  Transcriber’s Notes





[Illustration: _Following the assault waves, 4th Division Marines wade
ashore at Tinian from Coast Guard landing craft against no opposition
on the beaches._]

[Illustration: _Amphibian tractors and Higgins boats (LCVPs, landing
craft, vehicle and personnel) leave wakes as they land Marines on White
Beach 2 and return to assault shipping off shore to load more troops
and supplies._ Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 87085]

A Close Encounter:

The Marine Landing on Tinian

_by Richard Harwood_

Three weeks into the battle for Saipan, there was no doubt about
the outcome and V Amphibious Corps (VAC) commanders began turning
their attention to the next objective--the island of Tinian, clearly
visible three miles off Saipan’s southwest coast. Its garrison of
9,000 Japanese army and navy combatants, many of them veterans of the
campaigns in Manchuria, had been bombarded for seven weeks by U.S.
air and sea armadas, joined in late June by massed Marine Corps and
Army artillery battalions on Saipan’s southern coast. The 2d and 4th
Marine Divisions, both still in the thick of the Saipan fight, had been
selected for the assault mission.

The crucial question of where they would land, however, was still
undecided. There was strong support among the planners for a landing
on two narrow sand strips--code named White 1 and White 2--on Tinian’s
northwest coast; one was 60 yards wide, the other 160. But Vice Admiral
Richmond K. Turner, overall commander of the Marianas Expeditionary
Force, was skeptical. He leaned toward Yellow Beach, made up of several
wide, sandy strips in front of Tinian Town, the island’s heavily
fortified administrative and commercial center.

On 3 July, VAC’s Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion, commanded by
Captain James L. Jones, was put on alert for reconnaissance of these
potential landing sites. On 9 July, the day Saipan officially was
declared secured, Jones got his operation order from Marine Lieutenant
General Holland M. Smith, commander of Expeditionary Troops. His men
were to scout out the Tinian beaches and their fortifications and
determine their capacity to handle the landing force and keep it
supplied. Accompanying naval underwater demolition teams would do the
hydrographic work and locate underwater obstacles, natural or man-made.

Captain Jones picked for the job Company A under the command of Captain
Merwin H. Silverthorn, Jr., the son of a Marine general and World War I
veteran, and Company B, commanded by First Lieutenant Leo B. Shinn. The
Navy assigned to the mission Underwater (UDT) Team 5, led by Lieutenant
Commander Draper L. Kauffman, and UDT Team 7 under Lieutenant Richard
F. Burke. They rehearsed the operation on the night of 9-10 July off
the beaches of Saipan’s Magicienne Bay. On the evening of the 10th, the
Marine and Navy units boarded the destroyer transports _Gilmer_ and
_Stringham_ for the short trip into the channels separating the two

The teams debarked in rubber boats at 2030, paddled to within 500 yards
of the beach and swam to their destinations. Fortunately, it was a
black night and although the moon rose at 2230, it was largely obscured
by clouds.

Yellow Beach was assigned to Silverthorn’s Company A. He led 20 Marines
and eight UDT swimmers ashore. They found a beach near Tinian Town
flanked on each side by formidable cliffs. There were many floating
mines and underwater boulders in the approaches. On the beach itself,
double-apron barbed wire had been strung. Second Lieutenant Donald F.
Neff worked his way 30 yards inland to locate exit routes for vehicles.
Nearby, talkative Japanese work crews were building pillboxes and
trenching with blasting charges. Neff spotted three Japanese sentries
on a cliff overlooking the beach; now and then searchlights scanned the
beach approaches.

[Illustration: MARIANAS ISLANDS]

Silverthorn, Burke, and their men made it back to the _Gilmer_ safely.
Their impression of Yellow Beach as a landing site was distinctly

To the north, at the White Beaches assigned to Company B, things had
not gone well. Strong currents pushed the rubber boats off course. The
team headed for White 1 was swept 800 yards north of its destination
and never got ashore. The party headed for White 2 wound up on White
1 and reconnoitered the area. Both parties were picked up by the
_Gilmer_. The next night 10 swimmers from Company A were sent back to
reconnoiter White 2 and had a successful trip.

The reports on the White beaches were encouraging. Although the landing
areas were very restricted, it was concluded that amphibian tractors
(LVTs) and other vehicles could negotiate the reefs and get ashore, and
that troops with little difficulty could clamber over the low cliffs
flanking the beaches. Marines forced to disembark from boats at the
reef could safely wade ashore through the shallow surf. Members of
Kauffman’s UDT party confirmed the Marine findings and reported that
“no mines or manmade underwater obstructions were found.”

A few hours after the reconnaissance team returned from White 2,
Admiral Turner’s objections were withdrawn and a command decision to
use the northern beaches was made. On 20 July, a time and date for the
landing were fixed: 0730 on 24 July.


    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 151969

_An oblique photograph of White Beach 1 was taken before naval gunfire,
artillery, air bombardment, and bulldozers altered its appearance. This
60-yard beach later became the port of entry for most of V Amphibious
Corps’ heavy equipment._]

_The Landing Force: Who, Where, When_

The task of seizing Tinian was assigned to the two Marine divisions
on Saipan--the 2d and the 4th. The third division on the island--the
Army’s 27th Infantry--would remain on Saipan in reserve. All three had
been severely battered during the Saipan campaign, suffering more than
14,000 casualties, including nearly 3,200 dead.

For the 2d Marine Division, the Tinian battle would be the fourth
time around in a span of little more than 18 months. The division
left Guadalcanal in February 1943, having suffered 1,000 battle
casualties. Another 12,500 men had diagnosed cases of malaria. Nine
months later--on 20 November 1943--the division had gone through one of
the most intense 72 hours of combat in the history of island warfare
at Tarawa. It sustained 3,200 casualties, including nearly a thousand
dead. Ten weeks before Tarawa, the division was still malaria-ridden,
with troops being hospitalized for the disease at the rate of 40 a day.
The ranks were filled with gaunt men whose skins were yellowed by daily
doses of Atabrine pills. The Saipan operation seven months later, led
by division commander Major General Thomas E. Watson, took a heavy toll
of these men--5,000 wounded, 1,300 dead.

Watson had earned a reputation at Saipan as a hard-charging leader.
When the division stalled fighting its way up Mount Topatchau, he
was unimpressed. The historian Ronald Spector wrote, in the midst of
that effort, “he was heard shouting over a field telephone, ‘There’s
not a goddamn thing up on that hill but some Japs with machine guns
and mortars. Now get the hell up there and get them!’” His assistant
division commander was Brigadier General Merritt A. “Red Mike” Edson,
who was awarded a Medal of Honor for his heroism on Guadalcanal.

The 4th Division had had a busy, if slightly less demanding, year
as well. It went directly into combat after its formation at Camp
Pendleton, California, landing on 31 January 1944 in the Marshall
Islands where it suffered moderate casualties--fewer than 800 men--in
the capture of Roi-Namur. At Saipan its losses reached 6,000,
including about 1,000 dead. The Tinian landing would be its third in a
little over six months and would be the first under a new divisional
commander--Major General Clifton B. Cates, a well-decorated World War
I veteran, who would become the 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps in

Still, “the morale of the troops committed to the Tinian operation
was generally high,” then-Major Carl W. Hoffman wrote in the official
history of the battle. “This fact takes on significance only when it is
recalled that the Marines involved had just survived a bitter 25-day
struggle and that, with only a fortnight lapse (as distinguished from
a fortnight rest), they were again to assault enemy-held shores....
[Their] spirit ... was revealed more in a philosophical shrug,
accompanied with a ‘here-we-go-again’ remark, than in a resentful
complaint [at] being called upon again so soon.”

The morale of the troops was sustained by the preinvasion fires
directed at Tinian. For Jig minus 1 and Jig Day (Jig being the name
given to D Day at Tinian), Rear Admiral Harry W. Hill, commander of the
Northern Landing Force, had divided the island into five fire support
sectors, assigning specific ships to each. His purpose was two-fold:
destruction and deception to confuse and deceive the Japanese as to the
landing intentions of the Marines.

Tinian Town, under this scheme, got the heaviest pounding the day
before the landing--almost 3,000 rounds of 5- to 16-inch shells from
the battleships _Colorado_, _Tennessee_, and _California_, the cruiser
_Cleveland_, and seven destroyers: _Ramey_, _Wadleigh_, _Norman Scott_,
_Monssen_, _Waller_, _Pringle_ and _Philip_. _Colorado_ had the best
day, knocking out with 60 rounds of 16-inch shells the two 6-inch
coastal defense guns the Japanese had emplaced on the west coast near
Faibus San Hilo Point, guns that easily could have covered the White

Firing on the White Beach area itself was minimal for purposes of
deception and for lack of suitable targets. The cruiser _Louisville_
fired 390 rounds into the area before calling it a day.



There was a lot of air activity on the 23d. At three periods during
the day, naval gunfire and artillery barrages were halted to allow
massive air strikes on railroad junctions, pillboxes, villages, gun
emplacements, cane fields, and the beaches at Tinian Town. More than
350 Navy and Army planes took part, dropping 500 bombs, 200 rockets,
42 incendiary clusters, and 34 napalm bombs. This was only the second
use of napalm during the Pacific War; napalm bombs were first used on
Tinian the day before.

That evening, 37 LSTs at anchor off Saipan were loaded with 4th Marine
Division troops. Rations for three days, water and medical supplies,
ammunition, vehicles, and other equipment had been preloaded, beginning
on 15 July. The troops were going to travel light: a spoon, a pair of
socks, insect repellant, and emergency supplies in their pockets, and
no pack on their backs.

“Close at hand,” the historians Jeter Isely and Philip Crowl wrote in
their classic _The U.S. Marines and Amphibious War_, “rode the ships
of the two transport divisions that would carry two regiments of the
2d Marine Division on a diversionary feint against Tinian Town and
would later disembark them along with the third regiment across the
northwestern beaches.” (A similar feint was made by 2d Division Marines
less than a year later off the southeast beaches of Okinawa, and by the
same division lying off Kuwait City nearly 50 years later in the Desert
Storm operation).

[Illustration: _White Beach 2 accommodated two battalions landing in
file, with a single rifle company in the assault. The 25th Marines
crossed this 160-yard beach on Jig Day, literally unopposed followed by
two light artillery battalions and the 23d Marines._

    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 150633

The 4th was designated the assault division for Tinian. The beaches
were not wide enough to accommodate battalions landing abreast,
much less divisions. Instead, the assault troops would land by
columns--squads, platoons, and companies.

The 2d Division would follow on after taking part in the massive feint
off the beaches of Tinian Town, hoping to tie down the main Japanese
defense forces and spring the surprise of a landing over the lightly
defended northern beaches.

To give the 4th more punch immediately after landing, the 2d was
stripped of some of its firepower, such as tank and artillery units. It
would, accordingly, be at the lowest strength at Tinian of any Marine
division involved in an amphibious operation in World War II.

Despite these additions, the 4th, too, would be understrength--“skinny”
was the descriptive word used by Lieutenant Colonel Justice M. “Jumping
Joe” Chambers, commander of the 3d Battalion, 25th Marines, who was
to earn a Medal of Honor in the Iwo Jima operation little more than
six months later. The division’s infantry battalions had received only
one replacement draft after the Saipan fighting. At full strength they
averaged 880 men; at Tinian the average strength was down by more than
35 percent to 565.

For all these reasons--combat fatigue, heavy losses during previous
weeks and months, and understrength units--the Marines on Tinian would
play a cautious game. Admiral Turner had said he would give them two
weeks to seize the island. Major General Harry Schmidt, who relieved
Lieutenant General Holland M. Smith as VAC commander, promised to
get it done in 10 days. In the event, the island was secured after
nine days. In retrospect, analysts say the operation could have been
finished off sooner by more aggressive tactics. Time, however, was no
great factor; the relatively slow pace of the operation probably kept
casualties at a minimum and reduced the probabilities of troop fatigue.
Tinian was easy on the eyes, but the heat and humidity were brutal, the
cane fields were hard going, and it was the season of monsoons.

[Sidebar (page 3): Selection of White Beach

The selection of the northwestern beaches was universally regarded
as the key to the quick success of the Tinian operation. The credit
for this choice, however, has been debated for years. Carl Hoffman,
in his history of the battle, quoted Major General Harry Schmidt on
the issue: “Many high ranking officers have asked who originated the
plan.... While the 4th Division was under my command and prior to the
Marianas campaign, my planning officer, Lieutenant Colonel Evans F.
Carlson, made such a plan and probably such a plan was turned in to the
V Amphibious Corps.”

The division’s intelligence officer, Lieutenant Colonel Gooderham L.
McCormick, a Reservist who later became mayor of Phildelphia, agreed.
So did Lieutenant Victor Maghakian of the division’s reconnaissance
unit: “The man who definitely planned that landing ... was Evans F.
Carlson.... He told me all about that Tinian plan before he was wounded
[22 June] on Saipan.”

Others minimized Carlson’s role, including Marine Major General Graves
B. Erskine, who was then the V Amphibious Corps chief of staff, and
Marine Colonel Robert E. Hogaboom, the operations officer for the
landing forces at Saipan and Tinian. Admiral Harry W. Hill, commander
of the Northern Attack Force, told Hoffman that “if there were plans
and I presume there were tentative ones, none of them were available to
me or my staff.”

Hoffman discovered that before the war, students at the Marine Corps
Schools at Quantico had come up with the northern beaches solution to
the “then-theoretical Tinian solution.”

But historian Ronald Spector, in his Pacific war history, _Eagle
Against the Sun_, left no doubt who had forced the issue. It was Marine
Lieutenant General Holland M. Smith. When he and Admiral Hill proposed
the use of White Beaches 1 and 2, Admiral Turner firmly vetoed [the]
proposal and told [Hill] to work on planning for a landing near Tinian
Town. Hill reluctantly complied, but he ordered part of his staff
to keep working on the White Beaches plan.... [After reconnaissance
reports] Hill and Smith tried once again to change Admiral Turner’s
mind, but he remained obstinate.

In a characteristic exchange, the admiral told General Smith: “You are
not going to land on the White Beaches; I won’t land you there.” “Oh
yes you will,” replied the general. “You’ll land me any goddamned place
I tell you to.” Turner was adamant: “I’m telling you now it can’t be
done. It’s absolutely impossible.” “How do you know it’s impossible?”
asked Smith. “You’re just so goddamned scared that some of your boats
will be hurt.”

Neither this exchange nor the more subtle efforts of Admiral Hill
served to convince Turner, so Hill reluctantly took the matter to
Admiral Spruance [Turner’s superior]. Spruance liked the White Beaches
idea, but he was reluctant to overrule Turner, his expert on amphibious
warfare. A conference with Turner and his subordinate commanders
was arranged on board the flagship. All spoke in favor of the White
Beaches. Spruance turned to Turner. The latter calmly announced that he
favored the White Beaches also.

In a letter written to Hoffman in 1950, Turner said: “... before
the reconnaissances of July 10 and 11 were made, I had (without
announcement) tentatively decided to accept the White Beaches unless
the reconnaissance reports were decidedly unfavorable.”

This was one of those cases, as John F. Kennedy once said, in which
“victory has many fathers but defeat is an orphan.”

[Sidebar (page 5): General Clifton B. Cates, USMC


Clifton B. Cates, a native Tennessean, was commissioned in 1917,
and was sent to France with the 6th Marines in World War I. He had
outstanding service in five major engagements of the war, and returned
to the United States a well-decorated young officer after his tour in
the occupation of Germany. One of his early assignments following the
war was as aide to Major General Commandant George Barnett. During his
more than 37 years as a Marine, Cates was one of the few officers who
held commands of a platoon, a company, a battalion, a regiment, and a
division in combat. He was the 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps at
the outset of the Korean War.

His assignments during the interwar years consisted of a combination
of schooling, staff assignments, and command, such as his tour as
battalion commander in the 4th Marines, then in Shanghai. In 1940, he
took command of the Basic School, then in the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
He took command of the 1st Marines in May 1942.

In World War II, Cates commanded the 1st Marines in the landing
on Guadalcanal. After returning to the States, he was promoted to
brigadier general. He went back to the Pacific war in mid-1944 to take
command of the 4th Marine Division in time for the Tinian operation.
He also led it in the Iwo Jima assault, and was decorated at the end
of the fighting with his second Distinguished Service Medal. Part of
the citation accompanying the medal reads: “Repeatedly disregarding
his own personal safety. Major General Cates traversed his own front
lines daily to rally his tired, depleted units and by his undaunted
valor, tenacious perseverance, and staunch leadership in the face of
overwhelming odds, constantly inspired his stout-hearted Marines to
heroic effort during critical phases of the campaign.”

On 1 January 1948, General Cates took over as Commandant of the Marine
Corps, remaining until 31 December 1951, when he reverted to the three
stars of a lieutenant general and began his second tour as Commandant
of the Marine Corps Schools at Quantico, Virginia. General Cates
retired on 30 June 1954. He died on 4 June 1970.

_Jig Day: Feint and Landing_

The first troop ships moved out of Saipan’s Charan Kanoa harbor at
0330, 24 July. They were the transports _Knox_, _Calvert_, _Fuller_,
_Bell_, _Heywood_, and _John Land_. They were carrying the 2d and 8th
Marines (infantry regiments) of the 2d Marine Division on a mission
of deception that turned out to be far bloodier than the White
Beach landings and far bloodier than anyone had anticipated. They
had a muscular escort--the battleship _Colorado_, the light cruiser
_Cleveland_, and the destroyers _Ramey_, _Norman Scott_, _Wadleigh_,
and _Monssen_.

The convoy moved into Sunharon Harbor opposite Tinian Town just
before dawn. A few minutes after 0600, the _Calvert_ began lowering
its landing craft and by 0630 all 22 of its boats were in the water.
Marines climbed down the cargo nets. Within a half hour, 244 Navy
and Army planes began strafing and bombing runs paying particular
attention to Tinian Town. Shells and rockets from battleships, heavy
and light cruisers, destroyers, and 30 gunboats saturated the beaches.
The massed artillery battalions on southern Saipan thundered in with
their 105s and 155s.

After a half-hour of this furious bombardment, the LCVPs (landing
craft, vehicle and personnel) from _Calvert_ began their run toward the
beach at Tinian Town, receiving heavy artillery and mortar fire from
the shore. Admiral Hill, seeking to avoid casualties, ordered the boats
to withdraw and reform. A second run started and immediately drew fire
from the shore; several boats were sprayed with shell fragments. But
they continued on to within 400 yards of the beach before turning back.

While the small boats engaged in this maneuver, the battleship
_Colorado_ came under fire at a range of 3,200 yards from two 6-inch
naval guns near Tinian Town, guns that had gone undetected during the
weeks of preinvasion surveillance and preparatory fires. Within 15
minutes, the Japanese gunners scored 22 direct hits on _Colorado_ and
six direct hits on the destroyer _Norman Scott_, which was attempting
to protect the battleship. Casualties among the crews and Marine
detachments on the two ships were heavy: 62 killed and 223 wounded.
Ten Marines were among the dead, 31 were among the wounded. _Colorado_
was through for the day and limped off back to Saipan. The Japanese
battery survived for four more days until destroyed by the battleship


The losses sustained by the two ships exceeded those suffered that
day by the Marine landing force on the northwestern beaches. But the
feint served its purpose. It froze in place around Tinian Town a whole
battalion of the _50th Infantry Regiment_ and various elements of the
_56th Naval Guard Force_. And it convinced the Japanese commander,
Colonel Kiyochi Ogata, that he had thwarted an invasion. His message to
Tokyo described how his forces had repelled 100 landing barges.

These “barges” were reloaded on the _Calvert_ at 1000 and the convoy
steamed north to the White Beaches where 4th Division troops had landed
after a mishap in their planning. An underwater demolition team using
floats carrying explosives swam to White Beach 2 shortly before dawn to
blast away boulders and destroy beach mines. The mission failed because
of a squall. The floats scattered, the explosives were lost and a few
hours later, Marines paid a price for this aborted mission.

To compensate for the failure of the UDT team, fire support ships lying
off the White Beaches--the battleships _California_ and _Tennessee_,
the heavy cruiser _Louisville_, and four destroyers--blasted away
at the landing areas. Air strikes were then ordered at about 0630
and observers claimed that five of the 14 known beach mines had
been destroyed. A battery of 155mm “Long Tom” guns on Saipan fired
smokeshells at the Japanese command post on Mount Lasso and also
laid smoke in the woods and on the bluffs just beyond the beaches to
obstruct Japanese observation.

[Sidebar (page 6): Napalm: Something New in the Arsenal

Early in 1944, Army Air Corps personnel at Eglin Air Force base near
Fort Walton Beach, Florida invented a new weapon. It was a “fire bomb,”
first used in combat during the Tinian campaign. The ingredients were
diesel oil, gasoline, and a metallic salt from the naptha used in the
manufacture of soap. Mixed with petroleum fuels, the salt created an
incendiary jelly that clung to any surface and burned with an extremely
hot flame. The concoction was called “napalm.” It could be dropped in
wing or belly tanks attached to the underside of an aircraft and was
fired by an igniter on contact with the ground.

On 19 July, five days before the Tinian landing. Lieutenant Commander
Louis W. Wang, USN, arrived at Saipan carrying a small supply of the
“napalm” powder and a film made at Eglin demonstrating the potency of
the bomb. It showed P-47s making low-level drops after diving from
2,000 feet.

The demonstration film so impressed Admiral Harry Hill and Major
General Harry Schmidt that Hill immediately radioed Admiral Chester
Nimitz in Hawaii, requesting 8,599 pounds of the powder. They also
ordered trial raids on Tinian by P-47 pilots of the Army’s 318th Air
Group, using powder and detonators already on hand. These trials were
not particularly impressive. Their purpose was to burn off wooded
areas that had previously resisted white phosphorous and thermite. The
“napalm” scorched the trees but left the foliage only partially burned.
One problem was the wood itself--a virtually indestructible type of
ironwood. Another was the napalm mixture. Wang had brought with him
the wrong formula. “We tried using Jap aviation gasoline,” according
to Colonel Lewis M. Sanders, commander of the fighter group, “but that
gave too much fire effect. Then we tried Jap motor gas and oil, with
the napalm powder, and it was quite successful.”

The P-47 pilots were uncomfortable with napalm missions. They dropped
their tanks at extremely low altitudes--50 feet in some cases--and were
highly vulnerable to ground fire. They were also unimpressed with the
efficiency of these “fire bombs”; much of their incendiary effect was
wasted in excessive upward flash. Napalm also had a very short burning
time--less than two minutes.

Nevertheless, 147 “fire bombs” were used during the Tinian operation,
91 of them containing the napalm mixture. They were most effective
in clearing cane fields. As Major General Clifton B. Cates, the 4th
Division commander, later recalled: “The first morning they put it
down, I went up to the front line and those planes came in over our
heads it seemed to me like about a hundred feet in the air ... [They]
let go their napalm bombs right over our heads ... maybe two or three
hundred yards in front of us. It was a very devastating thing and
particularly to the morale of the Japanese.... I didn’t feel too
comfortable sitting up there ... I figured that some of them might drop

Each bomb cleared an area approximately 75 by 200 feet and, in
some cases, left behind the charred bodies of Japanese troops. The
Marines were impressed. Infantry commanders sought napalm for their
flamethrower tanks. It was used widely in 1944 in support of ground
troops in the Philippines. On one operation on Luzon, 238 fighters
saturated an area with napalm: “The usually stoic [Japanese],” an Air
Force historian recorded, “seemingly lost all caution and fled into the
open, [becoming] easy targets for other forms of attack.”

Napalm was used effectively in the fire bombing of Japanese cities. It
was also used in preinvasion efforts to soften up the defenses of Iwo
Jima. Beginning on 31 January 1945, Liberator bombers of the Seventh
Air Force began 16 days of daytime sorties against the island in which
602 tons of bombs were dropped and 1,111 drums of napalm were used in
an unproductive effort to burn off camouflage from defensive positions
and gun emplacements. A Marine intelligence officer is quoted in the
official Air Force history of operations over Iwo Jima as saying that
“the chief effect of the long bombardment of Iwo was to cause the enemy
to build more elaborate underground defenses.”

_The Landing_

The assault plan assigned White Beach 1 to the 24th Marines and White
Beach Two to the 25th. In the vanguard for the 24th was Company E
of the 2d Battalion--200 men commanded by Captain Jack F. Ross, Jr.
Company A of the 1st Battalion, commanded by Captain Irving Schechter,
followed and by 0820 the entire 2d Battalion, commanded by Major Frank
A. Garretson, was ashore.

Almost simultaneously, two battalions of the 25th Marines loaded
into 16 LVTs landed in columns of companies on White Beach 2. The 2d
Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel Lewis C. Hudson, Jr., was on the
right; the 3d Battalion (Lieutenant Colonel Chambers) was on the left.

The units of the 24th, loaded into 24 LVTs, crossed the line of
departure--3,000 yards offshore--at 0717. Ahead of them, 30 LCIs
(landing craft, infantry) and a company of the 2d Armored Amphibian
Battalion, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Reed M. Fawell, Jr., raked
the beaches with barrage rockets and automatic cannon fire. On the
26-minute run to the beach, the troop-laden LVTs took scattered and
ineffectual rifle and machine gun fire.

At White 1, members of a small Japanese beach detachment, holed up in
caves and crevices, resisted the landing with intense small arms fire.
But they were silenced quickly by Company E gunners.

Within an hour, the entire 1st and 2d Battalions of the 24th were
ashore on White 1, preparing to move inland. The 2d Battalion
encountered sporadic artillery, mortar, and small arms fire during the
first 200 yards of its advance. After that, Garretson later said, the
battalion had a “cake walk” for the rest of the day gaining 1,400 yards
and reaching its O-1 line objective by 1600. He occupied the western
edge of Airfield No. 3 and cut the main road linking Airfield No. 1
with the east coast and southern Tinian. Only occasional small arms
fire was encountered before the battalion dug in for the night.

[Illustration: PLANS FOR LANDING]

On Garretson’s left, the 1st Battalion, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel
Otto Lessing, was slowed by heavy fires from cave positions and patches
of heavy vegetation. Flamethrower tanks were sent up against these
positions, but the Japanese held on. As a result, Lessing pulled up
late in the afternoon 400 yards short of his objective. This left a gap
between his perimeter and Garretson’s. To fill it, the regiment’s 3d
Battalion, waiting in reserve at the beach, was called up.

Almost simultaneously, the 25th ran into problems. The beach and
surrounding area had been methodically seeded with mines which neither
UDT teams nor offshore gunners had been able to destroy. It took six
hours to clear them out and in the process three LVTs and a jeep were
blown up. The beach defenses also included a sprinkling of booby traps
which had to be dealt with--watches and cases of beer, for example, all
wired to explode in the hands of careless souvenir hunters.

Behind the beach, troops from Ogata’s _50th Regiment_ put up a vigorous
defense with mortars, anti-tank and anti-boat guns, and other automatic
weapons emplaced in pillboxes, caves, fortified ravines, and field
entrenchments. Two 47mm guns in particular kept the Marines back on
their heels. They finally bypassed these troublesome positions. Later
waves took them out, leaving 50 dead Japanese in the gunpits.

The 3d Battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Chambers, later
remembered a lot of confusion on the beach, “the confusion you [always]
get when you land, of getting the organization together again.” One
of his company commanders, for example, was killed a half-hour after
landing and it took a while to get a replacement on scene and up
to speed. Then there was the problem of the mines and a problem
with artillery fire from the Japanese command post on Mount Lasso,
two-and-a-half miles away.

By late afternoon, Chambers’ battalion had reached its objective 1,500
yards inland in the center of the line and had tied in on its left
flank with Garretson of the 24th. The other battalions of the 25th came
up short of their O-1 line, creating before sundown a crescent-shaped
beachhead 3,000 yards wide at the shoreline and bulging inland to a
maximum depth of 1,500 yards.

The day’s greatest confusion surrounded the landing of the 23d Marines.
The regiment had been held on LSTs (landing ships, tank) in division
reserve during the landing of the 24th and 25th. At 0730, the troops
were ordered below to board LVTs parked cheek to jowl on the tank
decks. Their engines were running, spewing forth carbon monoxide.
Experience had shown that troops cooped up under these conditions for
more than 30 minutes would develop severe headaches, become nauseous,
and begin vomiting.

To avoid that problem and in the absence of a launch order, the
regimental commander, Colonel Louis R. Jones, soon unloaded his men
and sent them topside. They returned to the tank decks at 1030 when an
order to load and launch finally was received. The regiment debarked
and eventually got ashore beginning at 1400 despite an incredible
series of communication breakdowns in which Jones at crucial times was
out of touch with the division and his battalions.

In addition to botched radio communications, Jones was stuck in an
LVT with a bad engine; it took him seven hours to get ashore with
his staff, leading to a division complaint about the tardiness of
his regiment. The division noted that “fortunately no serious harm
was done by [the] delay,” but at the end of the operation Jones left
the division. He was promoted to brigadier general and assigned as
assistant division commander of the 1st Marine Division for the Okinawa

A similar muck-up occurred involving the 2d Marine Division. After the
feint at Tinian Town, the division sailed north and lay offshore of the
White Beaches through the day. At 1515, the landing force commander,
Major General Harry Schmidt, ordered a battalion from the 8th Marines
to land at White Beach to back up the 24th Marines. Schmidt wanted
the battalion ashore at 1600. Because of communication and transport
confusion the deadline was missed. It was 2000 when the unit entered in
its log “... dug in in assigned position.”

[Illustration: TINIAN

24-26 JULY 1944]

On the other hand, the big things had gone well in the morning and
afternoon. By the standards of Tarawa and Saipan, casualties were
light--15 dead, 225 wounded. The body count for the Japanese was
438. Despite drizzling rain, narrow beaches, and undiscovered mines,
15,600 troops were put ashore along with great quantities of materiel
and equipment that included four battalions of artillery, two dozen
half-tracks mounting 75mm guns, and 48 medium and 15 flame-throwing
tanks which found the Tinian terrain hospitable for tank operations.
The tanks had gotten into action early that morning, leading the 24th
in tank-infantry attacks. They also had come to the aid of the 23d
Marines as that regiment moved inland to take over the division’s
right flank. The beachhead itself was of respectable size, despite the
failure of some units to reach their first-day objectives. It extended
inland nearly a mile and embraced defensible territory. On the whole,
it had not been a bad day’s work.

[Sidebar (page 9): Tinian Defense Forces

Japanese military fortification of Tinian and other islands in the
chain had begun--in violation of the League of Nations Mandate--in the
1930s. By 1944, the Tinian garrison numbered roughly 9,000 army and
navy personnel, bringing the island’s total population to nearly 25,000.

The _50th Infantry Regiment_, detached from the _29th Division_ on
Guam, was the principal fighting force. It had been stationed near
Mukden, Manchuria, from 1941 until its transfer in March 1944 to
Tinian. Many of its troops were veterans of the Manchurian campaigns.
The regiment was commanded by Colonel Kiyoshi [also spelled “Keishi”]
Ogata and consisted of three 880-man infantry battalions, a 75mm
mountain artillery battalion equipped with 12 guns, engineer,
communication, and medical companies, plus a headquarters and various
specialized support units, including a company of 12 light tanks and
an anti-tank platoon. He also had a battalion of the _135th Infantry
Regiment_ with a strength of about 900 men. Altogether, slightly more
than 5,000 army troops were assigned to the island’s defense.

The principal navy unit was the _56th Naval Guard Force_, a 1,400-man
coastal defense unit, supplemented by four construction battalions with
a combined strength of 1,800 men. Other naval units, totaling about
1,000 men, included ground elements of seven aviation squadrons and a
detachment of the _5th Base Force_.

The navy personnel--about 4,200 altogether--were under the immediate
command of Captain Oichi Oya. Both Oya and Ogata were outranked on the
island by Vice Admiral Kakuji Kakuda, commander of the _1st Air Fleet_
with headquarters on Tinian. But Kakuda, as the invasion neared, had no
air fleet to command. Of the estimated 107 planes based at Tinian’s air
fields, 70 had been destroyed on the ground early in June by U.S. air
strikes. By the time of the Tinian landing on 24 July, none of Kakuda’s
planes were operative.

Kakuda had a bad reputation. He was, by Japanese physical standards, a
hulking figure: more than six feet tall, weighing more than 200 pounds.
“He willingly catered,” Hoffman wrote, “to his almost unquenchable
thirst for liquor; he lacked the fortitude to face the odds arrayed
against him at Tinian.” Historian Frank Hough called him “a drunk and
an exceedingly unpleasant one, from all accounts.”

On 15 July, nine days before the invasion, Kakuda and his headquarters
group attempted to escape via rubber boats to Aguijan Island where they
hoped to rendezvous with a Japanese submarine. This effort failed. He
tried again on five successive nights with the same results, finally
abandoning the effort on 21 July. He fled with his party from Tinian
Town to a cave on Tinian’s east coast where they awaited their fate.
A Japanese prisoner who described Kakuda’s escape efforts assumed he
had committed suicide after the American landing, but this was never
verified. Toward the end of the battle for Tinian, one of Kakuda’s
orderlies led an American patrol to the cave. The patrol was fired upon
and two Marines were wounded. A passing group of Marine pioneers sealed
the cave with demolition charges but it is unknown whether Kakuda was

Admiral Kakuda in any case took no part in directing the Japanese
resistance. For purposes of defending the island, command of both
army and navy forces was assumed by Colonel Ogata, but co-operation
between the two service branches was less than complete. Frictions were
reflected in diaries found among the Japanese documents captured on
Tinian. A soldier in the _50th Regiment_’s artillery battalion wrote:

  9 March--The Navy stays in barracks buildings and has liberty every
  night with liquor to drink and makes a big row.

  We, on the other hand, bivouac in the rain and never get out on
  pass. What a difference in discipline!

  12 June--Our AA guns [manned by the Navy] spread black smoke where
  the enemy planes weren’t. Not one hit out of a thousand shots. The
  Naval Air Group has taken to its heels.

  15 June--The naval aviators are robbers.... When they ran off to
  the mountains, they stole Army provisions....

The defenses of Tinian were dictated by the geography of the island. It
is encircled by coral cliffs which rise from the coastline and are a
part of the limestone plateau underlying the island. These cliffs range
in height from 6 to 100 feet; breaks in the cliff line are rare and
where they occur are narrow, leaving little beach space for an invasion
force. Along the entire coastline of Tinian, only four beaches were
worthy of the name.

The largest and most suitable for use by an amphibious force was in
front of Tinian Town in Suharon Harbor. It consisted of several wide,
sandy strips. The harbor was mediocre but provided in fair weather
limited anchorage for a few ships which could load and unload cargo at
two piers available at Tinian Town.

From the beginning, Colonel Ogata assumed that this beach would be
the first choice of the Americans. Of the roughly 100 guns in fixed
positions on the island--ranging from 7.7mm heavy machine guns to
6-inch British naval rifles--nearly a third were assigned to the
defense of Tinian Town and its beaches and to the airfield at Gurguan
Point, two-and-a-half miles northwest of the town. Within a two-mile
radius of the town were the _2d Battalion_ of the _50th Infantry
Regiment_, 1,400 men of the _56th Naval Guard Force_, a tank company of
the _18th Infantry Regiment_, and the _1st Battalion, 135th Infantry
Regiment_, which had been designated as the mobile counterattack force.

Their area of responsibility extended to Laslo Point, the southernmost
part of the island and, on the east, to Masalog Point. It was
designated the “Southern Sector” in Ogata’s defense plan.

The remainder of the island was divided into northeastern and
northwestern sectors. The northeastern sector included the Ushi Point
airfields and a potential landing beach 125 yards wide south of Asiga
Point on the east coast of the island. In this sector, between 600 and
1,000 navy personnel were stationed around the Ushi Airfields. The _2d
Battalion_ of the _50th Infantry Regiment_, along with an engineer
group, was stationed inland of Asagi Point. The northwestern sector
contained two narrow strips of beach 1,000 yards apart. One of them was
60 yards wide and the other about 160. They were popular with Japanese
civilians. The sand was white and the water was swimmable. They were
known locally as the White Beaches and that is what they were called
when they were chosen--to the great surprise of the Japanese--as the
American invasion route.

This sector was defended very modestly by a single company of infantry,
an antitank squad, and, about 500 yards northeast of the White Beaches,
gun crews situated in emplacements containing one 37mm antitank gun,
one 47mm antitank gun, and two 7.7mm machine guns.

Ogata established his command post in a cave on Mount Lasso in the
center of the northern region, roughly equidistant--a little over two
miles--from beaches on either side of the island.

He issued on 25 June an operation order saying “the enemy on Saipan
can be expected to be planning a landing on Tinian. The area of that
landing is estimated to be either Tinian Harbor or Asiga Harbor [on
the northeast coast].” Three days later he followed up with a “Defense
Force Battle Plan” which outlined only two contingencies:

  (A) In the event the enemy lands at Tinian Harbor.

  (B) In the event the enemy lands at Asiga Bay.

On 7 July Ogata issued a “Plan for the Guidance of Battle” ordering his
men to be prepared not only for landings at Tinian Town and Asiga Bay,
but also for a counterattack in the event the Americans were to invade
across the White Beaches.

In each of the three sectors, according to his battle plan, commanders
were to be prepared to “destroy the enemy at the beach, but [also]
be prepared to shift two-thirds of the force elsewhere.” His reserve
force was to “maintain fortified positions, counterattack points [and]
maintain anti-aircraft observation and fire in its area.” The “Mobile
Counterattack Force” must “advance rapidly to the place of landings,
depending on the situation and attack.” In the event of successful
landings his forces would “counterattack to the water and ... destroy
the enemy on beaches with one blow, especially where time prevents
quick movement of forces within the island.” If things were to go
badly, “we will gradually fall back on our prepared positions in the
southern part of the island and defend them to the last man.”

Some of these orders were contradictory and others were impossible of
execution. But despite the odds against them--bereft of air or sea
support and confronted by three heavily armed divisions only three
miles away on Saipan--the fighting spirit of the Japanese forces had
not been broken by 43 days of the heaviest bombardment, up to then, of
the Pacific war. One of the men of the _50th Infantry Regiment_ wrote
in his diary on 30 June: “We have spent twenty days under unceasing
enemy bombardment and air raids but have suffered only minor losses.
Everyone from the Commanding Officer to the lowest private is full of
fighting spirit.” His entry for 19 July, five days before the American
landings, was upbeat: “How exalted are the gallant figures of the Force
Commander, the Battalion Commander, and their subordinates, who have
endured the violent artillery and air bombardment.”


At about 1630, the 4th Division commander, General Cates, ordered
his forces to button up for the night. A nighttime counterattack was
expected. Barbed wire, preloaded on amphibian vehicles (DUKWs), was
strung all along the division front. Ammunition was stacked at every
weapons position. Machine guns were emplaced to permit interlocking
fields of fire. Target areas were assigned to mortar crews. Artillery
batteries in the rear were registered to hit probable enemy approach
routes and to fire illuminating shells if a lighted battlefield was
required. Of great importance, as it turned out, was the positioning up
front of 37mm guns and cannister ammunition (antipersonnel shells which
fired large pellets for close-in fighting); in the night fighting that
followed, they inflicted severe losses on the enemy.

As the troops dug in to await whatever the night would bring, the 24th
Marines, backed up by the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, occupied the
northern half of the defensive crescent. The 25th and a battalion of
the 23d occupied the southern half of the crescent with the remainder
of the 23d in reserve. On the beaches in the rear, artillery battalions
from the 10th and 14th Marines, engineer battalions, and other special
troops were on alert.


    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 87701

_By the time the assault waves landed, most, if not all, Japanese beach
defense weapons had been destroyed by the preinvasion bombardments.
This Japanese navy-type 25mm machine cannon was knocked out before it
could disrupt the landings._ ]

The Japanese, meanwhile, were preparing for their counterattack.
Because of shattered communications lines, it could not be a
coordinated operation. Units would act on their own under Colonel
Ogata’s general order of 28 June to “destroy the enemy on beaches with
one blow, especially where time prevents quick movement of forces
within the island.”

[Illustration: _Even enemy weapons, such as this Japanese 120mm type
10 naval dual-purpose gun located not-too-far inland from the invasion
beaches, was put out of action, but not before it, and two 6-inch guns,
hit the battleship_ Colorado _(BB 45) and destroyer_ Norman Scott _(DD
690) causing casualties before being destroyed._

    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 91349

They had on the left or northern flank of the Marine lines 600 to 1,000
naval troops at the Ushi Point airfields. Near Mount Lasso, opposite
the center of the Marine lines, were two battalions of the _50th
Infantry Regiment_ and a tank company, about 1,500 men all told. On
the west coast, facing the Marine right flank, were about 250 men from
an infantry company of the _50th Regiment_, a tank detachment and an
anti-tank squad.


    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 87298

_Attacking Marines hold up their advance in the face of an exploding
Japanese ammunition dump after an attack by Navy planes supporting the
drive across Tinian. Note the trees bent over by the force of shock
waves caused by the eruption._]

South of Mount Lasso, nearly six miles from the White Beaches, was
the Japanese _Mobile Counterattack Force_--a 900-man battalion of the
_135th Infantry Regiment_, equipped with new rifles and demolition
charges. Its journey toward the northwestern beaches and the Marine
lines was perilous. All movements in daylight were under air
surveillance and vulnerable to American fire power. But the battalion
set out under its commander--a Captain Izumi--and was hit on several
occasions by unobserved artillery and naval gunfire. Izumi pushed
on and got to his objective through skillful use of terrain for
concealment. At 2230 he began probing the center of the Marine line
where the 2d Battalion, 24th Marines under Garretson was tied in with
the 3d Battalion under Chambers.

“While most of these Japanese crept along just forward of the lines,”
Carl Hoffman wrote, “... a two-man reconnaissance detail climbed up
on a battered building forward of the 24th Marines and audaciously
(or stupidly) commenced jotting notes about, or drawing sketches of,
the front lines. This impudent gesture was rewarded with a thundering
concentration of U.S. artillery fire.”

[Illustration: _Amphibian tractors line up waiting to discharge their
Marine passengers on the beach. The almost complete devastation of
Japanese beachhead defenses, which was not entirely expected by the
Marines, permitted this peaceful combat landing._

    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 93379


    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 88088

_While some Marines were deposited “feet dry” beyond the shoreline
of the beaches, others had to land “feet wet” wading ashore in the
shallows from the amtracs which brought them in from the attack
transports seen in the background._]

[Illustration: _Although frontline Marines appreciated the support of
the 1st and 2d Provisional Rocket Companies’ truck-mounted 4.5-inch
rocket launchers, they always dreaded the period immediately following
a barrage. The dust and smoke thrown up at that time served as a
perfect aiming point for enemy artillery and mortars which soon
followed. Notice the flight of rockets in the upper left hand section
of the picture._

    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 92269

Chambers had a vivid memory of that night:

  There was a big gully that ran from the southeast to northwest and
  right into the western edge of our area. Anybody in their right
  mind could have figured that if there was to be any counterattacks,
  that gully would be used....

  During the night ... my men were reporting that they were hearing a
  lot of Japanese chattering down in the gully.... They hit us about
  midnight in K company’s area. They hauled by hand a couple of 75mm
  howitzers with them and when they got them up to where they could
  fire at us, they hit us very hard. I think K company did a pretty
  damn good job but ... about 150, 200 Japs managed to push through
  [the 1,500 yards] to the beach area....

  When the Japs hit the rear areas, all the artillery and machine
  guns started shooting like hell. Their fire was coming from the
  rear and grazing right up over our heads.... In the meantime, the
  enemy that hit L company was putting up a hell of a fight within 75
  yards of where I was and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about

  Over in K company’s area ... was where the attack really developed.
  That’s where [Lt.] Mickey McGuire ... had his 37mm guns on the
  left flank and was firing cannister. Two of my men were manning a
  machine gun [Cpl Alfred J. Daigle and Pfc Orville H. Showers]....
  These two lads laid out in front of their machine gun a cone of
  Jap bodies. There was a dead Jap officer in with them. Both of the
  boys were dead.


    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 87645

_For Tinian, as in the Marshall Islands and the Saipan and Guam
operations, DUKWs (amphibian trucks) were loaded with artillery pieces
and ammunition at the mount out area. At the objective beaches, they
were driven ashore right to the designated gun emplacements enabling
the gun crews to get their weapons laid in and firing quickly. Here, an
A-frame unloads a 75mm pack howitzer from an Army DUKW._]

A Marine combat correspondent, described this action:

  [Showers and Daigle] held their fire until the Japanese were 100
  yards away, then opened up. The Japanese charged, screaming,
  “Banzai,” firing light machine guns and throwing hand grenades.
  It seemed impossible that the two Marines--far ahead of their own
  lines--could hold on.... The next morning they were found slumped
  over their weapons, dead. No less than 251 Japanese bodies were
  piled in front of them.... The Navy Cross was awarded posthumously
  to Daigle and the Silver Star posthumously to Showers.

Just before daybreak, Chambers recalled, two tank companies showed up,
commanded by Major Robert I. Neiman. They “wanted to get right at the
enemy” and Chambers sent them off to an area held by Companies K and L.
Neiman returned in about a half hour and said, “You don’t need tanks.
You need undertakers. I never saw so many dead Japs.”

[Illustration: _On the night of 24-25 July, a Japanese counterattack
accompanied by tanks failed completely with heavy losses. Here a Marine
inspects the enemy dead near a destroyed tank. Note the placement of
the bullet holes in the helmets in the ditch._

    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 91047

Another large contingent of Japanese troops was “stacked up” by the
75mm pack howitzer gunners of Battery D of the 14th Marines, supported
by the .50-caliber machine guns of Batteries E and F: “They literally
tore the Japanese ... to pieces.” Altogether about 600 Japanese were
killed in their attack on the center.

On the left flank, 1st Battalion, 24th Marines, came under attack at
0200 from about 600 _Special Naval Landing Force_ troops out of the
barracks at the Ushi Point airfields. Company A, hit so hard it was
reduced at one point to only 30 men with weapons, was forced to draw
reinforcements from engineers, corpsmen, communicators, and members of
the shore party. Illumination flares were fired over the battlefield,
allowing the Marines to use 37mm cannister shells, machine gun fire,
and mortars to good effect. The fight continued until dawn when medium
tanks from the 4th Tank Battalion lumbered in to break up the last
attacking groups. At that point, many Japanese began using their
grenades to commit suicide.

As the sun rose, 476 Japanese bodies were counted in this sector of the
defensive crescent, most of them in front of the Company A position.

The last enemy attack that night hit the right or southern flank of the
Marines beginning at 0330 when six Japanese tanks (half of the Japanese
tank force on Tinian) clattered up from the direction of Tinian Town
to attack the 23d Marines position. They were met by fire from Marine
artillery, anti-tank guns, bazookas, and small arms. Lieutenant Jim
Lucas, a professional reporter who enlisted in the Marine Corps shortly
after the attack on Pearl Harbor and was commissioned in the field, was

  The three lead tanks broke through our wall of fire. One began to
  glow blood-red, turned crazily on its tracks and careened into a
  ditch. A second, mortally wounded, turned its machine guns on its
  tormentors, firing into the ditches in a last desperate effort to
  fight its way free. One hundred yards more and it stopped dead in
  its tracks. The third tried frantically to turn and then retreat,
  but our men closed in, literally blasting it apart.... Bazookas
  knocked out a fourth tank with a direct hit which killed the
  driver. The rest of the crew piled out of the turret screaming.
  The fifth tank, completely surrounded, attempted to flee. Bazookas
  made short work of it. Another hit set it afire and its crew was

The sixth tank was chased off, according to Colonel Jones, by a Marine
driving a jeep. Some appraisers of this action believe only five tanks
were involved. In any case, the destruction of these tanks did not end
the fight on the right flank. Infantry units of the _50th Regiment_
continued to attack in the zone of 2d Battalion, 23d Marines. They were
repulsed and killed in great numbers, largely through the effective
use of 37mm anti-tank guns using cannister shot. In “the last hopeless
moments of the assault,” Hoffman wrote, “some of the wounded Japanese
destroyed themselves by detonating a magnetic tank mine which produced
a terrific blast.”

[Illustration: _A line of skirmishers was the formation normally used
at Tinian even where there was no enemy contact. A platoon from the
2d Marines pushes forward while an observation plane (OY) circles
overhead. High ground in the distance is part of a long spine extending
straight south from Mount Lasso, an objective to be taken._

    Marine Corps Historical Collection

From the Japanese standpoint, the night’s work had been a disaster:
1,241 bodies left on the battlefield; several hundred more may have
been carted away during the night. Fewer than 100 Marines were wounded
or killed. “The loss of these [Japanese] troops,” the historian Frank
Hough has written:

  ... broke the back of the defense of Tinian. With their
  communications shattered by sustained fire from Saipan and
  increasing fire from Tinian itself ... the survivors were capable
  of only the weakest, most dazed sort of resistance.... Now and
  again during the next seven days, small groups took advantage of
  the darkness to [launch night attacks], but for the most part
  they simply withdrew in no particular order until there remained
  nowhere to withdraw.

That was a common judgment after the Tinian battle had ended. But
at the time, according to the 4th Division intelligence officer,
Lieutenant Colonel Gooderham McCormick, a Marine Reserve officer who
later became mayor of Philadelphia, things were not so clear: “We still
believed [after the counterattack] the enemy capable of a harder fight
... and from day to day during our advance expected a bitter fight that
never materialized.”

Nevertheless, a lot of hard work lay ahead. One of the most demanding
tasks was the simple but exhausting job of humping through cane fields
in terrific heat, humidity, and frequent monsoon downpours, fearful
not only of sniper fire, mines, or booby traps, but fearful as well of
fires that could sweep through the cane fields, incinerating anyone in
their path.

[Sidebar (page 12): Preparatory Strikes

No battle in the Pacific was a “piece of cake.” But there was less
apprehension among the Americans about the outcome at Tinian than in
any major operation of the war. Admiral Raymond A. Spruance later
described it as “probably the most brilliantly conceived and executed
amphibious operation of World War II.” Lieutenant General Holland M.
Smith, commander of the Expeditionary Troops during the seizure of the
Marianas, called it “the perfect amphibious operation.”

It took place under optimal conditions for success. The small Japanese
garrison on the island had no hope of relief, resupply, escape, or
victory. Three miles away, across the narrow Saipan Channel, three
battle-tested American divisions--more than 50,000 men--were available
for the inevitable invasion. For seven weeks the bombardment from
U.S. air and sea armadas, joined by the big guns on Saipan, had been
relentless, day and night.

The effect on Tinian’s civilian inhabitants was recorded by James L.
Underhill, later a Marine lieutenant general, who became the island’s
military commander at the end of the battle:

  The state of these people was indescribable. They came in with no
  possessions except the rags on their backs. They had been under a
  two-month intense bombardment and shelling and many were suffering
  from shell shock.... They had existed on very scant rations for six
  weeks and for the past week had had practically nothing to eat.
  They had been cut off from their own water supply for a week and
  had caught what rainwater they could in bowls and cans. Hundreds of
  them were wounded and some of their wounds were gangrenous. Beri
  beri, syphilis, pneumonia, dysentery, and tuberculosis were common.
  [They needed] shelter, food, water, clothing, medical care, and

The bombardment began on 11 June--four days before the Saipan
invasion--when carrier planes from Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher’s Task
Force 58 launched a three-and-a-half day pummeling of all the principal
Mariana Islands. A fighter sweep on the first day, carried out by 225
Grumman Hellcats, destroyed about 150 Japanese aircraft and ensured
American control of the skies over the islands.

Following the raid, a member of the Japanese garrison on Saipan, wrote
in his diary: “For two hours, enemy planes ran amuck and finally left
leisurely amidst the unparalleledly inaccurate antiaircraft fire. All
we could do was watch helplessly.”

Over the next two days, bombers hit the islands and shipping in the
area with no letup. There was a fatalistic diary entry by one of the
Tinian troops: “Now begins our cave life.” Another soldier wrote of
the ineffectual antiaircraft fire--“not one hit out of a thousand
shots”--and reported that “the Naval Air Group has taken to its
heels.” Yet another diarist was indignant, too: “The naval aviators
are robbers.... When they ran off to the mountains they stole Army

Fast battleships from Task Force 58 joined the bombardment from long
range on 13 June. Their fires, analysts later said, were “ineffective”
and “misdirected” at soft targets rather than at the concealed gun
positions ringing the island. But, as an element in the cumulative
psychological and physical toll on soldiers and civilians alike,
harassing fires of this nature were not inconsiderable.

Over the next six weeks, the effort to degrade and destroy the defenses
and garrison of Tinian escalated. On 18 June, Navy Task Force 52,
commanded by Rear Admiral Richmond K. Turner, added its guns to the
mission. Air strikes involving carrier planes and Army P-47s were
ordered. From 28 June until the Tinian landing on 24 July, massed
artillery battalions, firing from Saipan’s southern shore, poured
thousands of tons of steel into the island. By mid-July, 13 battalions
were engaged in the mission, firing 160 guns--105s and Long Tom
155s--around the clock. The six battalions of the XXIV Corps Artillery
alone undertook 1,509 fire missions in that period, firing 24,536

The precise effect of the artillery fires from Saipan will never be
known, but it is reasonable to assume there were many scenes of the
kind retired Brigadier General Frederick Karch described in his oral
history memoir. He was a young major, serving as operations officer for
an artillery regiment--the 14th Marines--during the Tinian campaign,
and he recalled:

  I remember going by a [Japanese] machine gun crew. They had been
  trying to get to a firing position and had been caught by the
  artillery barrage, apparently, and they were laid out just like
  a school solution, with each man carrying his particular portion
  of the gun crew’s equipment. And that was where they had died in
  a very fine situation, except they were on the wrong side of the

During the two weeks from 26 June to 9 July, the cruisers
_Indianapolis_, _Birmingham_, and _Montpelier_ hit the island daily.
Their fires were supplemented in the week preceding Jig Day (the D-day
designation for Tinian) by the battleships _Colorado_, _Tennessee_,
and _California_; the cruisers _Louisville_, _Cleveland_, and _New
Orleans_; 16 destroyers; and dozens of supporting vessels firing a
variety of ordnance ranging from white phosphorous aimed at wooded
areas around the Japanese command post on Mount Lasso to 40mm fire and
rocket barrages by LCIs (landing craft, infantry) directed at caves and
other close-in targets.

[Sidebar (page 18): Aerial Reconnaissance and Photography

In the months leading up to the invasion, intensive reconnaissance was
undertaken. The first aerial photos of 1944 had been acquired back in
February when U.S. carrier planes attacked Saipan. Others were obtained
in April and May by photo planes based at Eniwetok. These early
photographs were of little use to invasion planners. Their quality was
poor and many were taken at angles that distorted the terrain.

These inadequacies hampered the Saipan planners but Tinian was another
story. “Perhaps no other Pacific island ...,” Marine Corps analysts
later concluded, “became so familiar to the assault forces because of
thorough and accurate [photography and] mapping prior to the landings.”

A lot of the familiarization came from first-hand observation by
division, regimental, and battalion commanders who used observation
planes to conduct their own reconnaissance of the Tinian beaches and
inland terrain. Lieutenant Colonel Justice M. Chambers, commander of
the 3d Battalion, 25th Marines, described his preinvasion visit to the

  There was a lieutenant commander Muller, a naval aviator, who
  apparently had a set of roving orders. He had brought his flight of
  three Liberators to Saipan.... I thought it would be a good idea
  to take my company commanders and overfly the beaches that we’re
  going to use.... So the 3rd Battalion group took the flight and
  practically all the battalions did the same.

  We took off from Saipan and of course the minute you were airborne
  you were over Tinian. I had talked it over with Muller and told him
  that the last beach we would overfly would be the one we were going
  to hit. I said, “Let’s take a look at a lot of other beaches first
  and fly over the interior.” We made passes at several beaches. I
  was standing up in a blister where I could see and my officers had
  the bomb bays open and were looking down. We flew around maybe
  20 or 30 minutes, and then we made a big loop and came back over
  the beaches we were going to land on. I’m glad we did because we
  spotted ... mines in the water which the Navy got out.

  We zoomed in on Mount Lasso, which was the only mountain on
  Tinian. The island was just one big cane field, and Mount Lasso
  was directly ahead of our beaches. Muller started pulling out
  and I began to see white things zipping by outside the plane....
  I was fighting to keep my stomach down because a fast elevator
  is too much for me. I asked: “What’s that?” He replied, “Twenty
  millimeter. Where do you want to go now?” I said, “Saipan. There
  are no foxholes up here.”

The photographic coverage of Tinian, along with prisoners and
documents captured at Saipan, and other intelligence available to U.S.
commanders, made them, according to the official history, “almost as
familiar with the Japanese strength at Tinian as was Colonel Ogata [the
Japanese commander].”

_The Drive South_

Lieutenant Colonel William W. “Bucky” Buchanan was the assistant naval
gunfire officer for the 4th Division at Tinian. His career later took
him to Vietnam. After his retirement as a brigadier general he recalled
the Tinian campaign:

  We used the same tactics on Tinian that we did on Saipan: that is,
  a hand-holding, linear operation, like a bunch of brush-beaters,
  people shooting grouse or something, the idea being to flush out
  every man consistently as we go down, rather than driving down the
  main road with a fork and cutting this off and cutting this off in
  what I call creative tactics, you see. But this was the easiest
  thing and the safest thing to do. And who can criticize it? It was
  successful. Here, again, what little resistance was left was pushed
  into the end of the island ... and quickly collapsed.

The grouse-shooting metaphor is simplistic but even the 4th Division
commander, Major General Clifton B. Cates, thought the campaign had
its sporting aspects: “The fighting was different from most any that
we had experienced because it was good terrain.... It was a good clean
operation and I think the men really enjoyed it.”

Before the “brush beating” could begin in proper order, three things
needed to be achieved. First, the 2d Marine Division had to be put
ashore. This task was completed on the morning of 26 July--Jig plus 2.

[Illustration: TINIAN

27 JULY-1 AUGUST 1944]

Second, Japanese stragglers and pockets of resistance in the island’s
northern sector had to be squashed. That job, for all practical
purposes, was pretty well completed on the 26th as the 2d Division
swept across the Ushi Point airfields, reached the east coast, and made
a turn to the south. (Two days later, Seabees had the Ushi Point fields
in operation for Army P-47 Thunderbolt fighters). Also on the 26th, the
4th Division had seized Mount Maga in the center of the island and had
forced Colonel Ogata and his staff to abandon their command post on
Mount Lasso which fell to the Marines without a struggle.

The third objective--to create for the drive south a skirmish line of
infantry and tanks stretching all the way across the island--was also
accomplished on the 26th. The 4th Division lined up in the western
half of the island with the 23d Marines on the coast, the 24th in the
center, and the 25th on the left flank. The 2d Division lined up with
the 2d Marines on the east coast and the 6th Marines in the center,
tied in to the 25th. The 8th Marines remained in the north to mop up.

[Illustration: _Tramping the cane was a tiring work, especially when
the direction of the advance did not parallel the rows of the fields.
Each stalk was strong enough to trip a man careless about where he
stepped. Advancing through such a field was fraught with danger,
also, from hidden trip wires attached to demolitions, and from dug-in
Japanese. In addition, the dry cane fields could easily catch fire and
trap the Marines._

    Marine Corps Historical Collection

All this was accomplished with only minor casualties. For 26 July,
for example, the 2nd Division reported two killed and 14 wounded. The
heaviest losses since the first day and night of fighting had been
sustained by the 14th Marines, the 4th Division’s artillery regiment,
in the hours following the Japanese counterattack. An enemy shell
hit the 1st Battalion’s fire direction center killing the battalion
commander (Lieutenant Colonel Harry J. Zimmer), the intelligence
officer, the operations officer, and seven other staff members; 14
other Marines at the battalion headquarters were wounded. Virtually
all of the casualties sustained by that regiment during the Tinian
campaign were taken on this single day, 25 July: 13 of the 14 killed,
and 22 of the 29 wounded.


    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 87900

_Marines of the 2d Division find some of the most difficult terrain
on Tinian as they move up towards the top of Mount Lasso, one of the
highest points on the island. Tinian, for the most part, was flat and
level, and was under cultivation._]

On the morning of 27 July, the “brush beating” drive to the south began
in earnest. General Schmidt’s plan for the first two days of the drive
alternated the main thrust between the two divisions. In the official
history of the operation, the tactic was likened to “a man elbowing his
way through the crowd,” swinging one arm and then the other.

The 2d Division got the heavier work on the 27th. XXIV Corps Artillery,
firing from southern Saipan, softened up suspected enemy positions
early in the morning and the division jumped off at 0730. It advanced
rapidly, harassed by sporadic small arms fire. By 1345 it had reached
its objective, gaining about 4,000 yards in just over six hours.
The 4th Division moved out late in the morning against “negligible
opposition,” reached its objective by noon and then called it a day. A
Japanese prisoner complained to his captors, “You couldn’t drop a stick
without bringing down artillery.”

The next morning, 28 July, the 4th got the “swinging elbow” job. It
was now evident that the remaining Japanese defenders were rapidly
retiring to the hills and caves along the southern coast. So opposition
to the Marine advance was virtually nil. The 4th moved more than two
miles in less than four hours with troops riding on half-tracks and
tanks. Jumping off again early in the afternoon in “blitz fashion,”
they overran the airfield at Gurguan Point, led by Major Richard K.
Schmidt’s 4th Tank Battalion, and quit for the day at 1730 after
gaining 7,300 yards--a little more than four miles. The 2d Division,
given light duty under the Schmidt plan, moved ahead a few hundred
yards, reached its objective in a couple of hours and dug in to await
another morning.

General Cates later recalled how he spurred on his 4th Division troops:
“I said, ‘Now, look here men, the [Hawaiian] island of Maui is waiting
for us. See those ships out there? The quicker you get this over with,
the quicker we’ll be back there.’ They almost ran over that island.”

On the 29th General Schmidt dropped the “elbowing” tactic and ordered
both divisions to move as far and as fast as “practical.” Opposition
had been so light that preparatory fires were canceled to save unneeded
withdrawals from the diminishing supplies of artillery shells left on
Saipan and to prevent “waste of naval gunfire on areas largely deserted
by the enemy.”

The 2d Marines on the eastern terrain ran into pockets of resistance on
a hill at Masalog Point; the 6th Marines encountered a 20-man Japanese
patrol that attempted to penetrate the regiment’s lines after dark.
The 25th took sniper fire as it moved through cane fields and later
in the day engaged in a heavy firefight with Japanese troops fighting
from dug-in positions. The Marines suffered several casualties and
one of their tanks was disabled in this fight. But the resistance
was overcome. The 24th Marines, operating near the west coast, ran
into Japanese positions that included a series of mutually supporting
bunkers. The 4th Tank Battalion reported that the area “had to be
overrun twice by tanks” before resistance ended.

By nightfall, more than half of Tinian island was in Marine hands.
Troops of the 4th Division could see Tinian Town from their foxholes.
This was good for morale but the night was marred by the weather and
enemy activity. A soaking rain fell through the night. Enemy mortar
tubes and artillery pieces fired incessantly, drawing counterbattery
fire from Marine gunners. There were probes in front of the 3d
Battalion, 25th Marines, silenced by mortar and small arms fire; 41
Japanese bodies were found in the area at daylight.

On 30 July--Jig plus 6--Tinian Town became the principal objective of
the 4th Division and, specifically, Colonel Franklin A. Hart’s 24th
Marines. At 0735 all of the division’s artillery battalions laid down
preparatory fires in front of the Marine lines. After 10 minutes,
the firing stopped and the troops moved out. At the same time, two
destroyers and cruisers lying in Sunharon Harbor off the Tinian Town
beaches began an hour-long bombardment of slopes around the town in
support of the Marines. The regiment’s 1st Battalion had advanced 600
yards when it came under heavy fire from caves along the coast north
of the town. With the help of tanks and armored amphibians operating
offshore this problem was overcome. Flamethrowing tanks worked over the
caves, allowing engineers to seal them up with demolition charges. In
one cave, a 75mm gun was destroyed.

The regiment entered the ruins of Tinian Town at 1420. Except for
one Japanese soldier who was eliminated on the spot, the town was
deserted. After searching through the rubble for snipers and documents,
the Marines drove on to the O-7 line objective south of town. Their
greatest peril was from mines and booby traps planted in beach areas
and roads.

[Illustration: _BGen Merritt A. Edson, (with binoculars) assistant
division commander of the 2d Marine Division, follows the progress of
his troops not far from the scene of action. Gen Edson was awarded the
Medal of Honor for his heroism on Guadalcanal._

    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 87824

As the 24th moved south, the 25th Marines were seizing Airfield Number
4 on the eastern outskirts of Tinian Town. The unfinished facility,
a prisoner revealed, was being rushed to completion to accommodate
relief planes promised by Tokyo. Only one aircraft was parked on the
crushed-coral air strip--a small, Zero-type fighter. Flying suits,
goggles, and other equipment were found in a supply room.

Enroute to the airfield, the 25th had taken light small arms fire and
while crossing the airstrip was mortared from positions to the south.
This was the 25th’s last action of the Tinian campaign. It went into
reserve and was relieved that night by units of the 23d Marines and the
1st Battalion, 8th Marines.

The 2d Division, operating to the east of the 4th, ran into occasional
opposition from machine gun positions and a 70mm howitzer. The 3d
Battalion, 2d Marines, had the roughest time. After silencing the
howitzer, it attacked across an open field and chased a Japanese
force into a large cave where, with the help of a flame-throwing
tank, 89 Japanese were killed and four machine guns were destroyed.
Soon afterward the battalion came under mortar fire. “It is beyond my
memory as to the number of casualties the 3d Battalion suffered at that
time,” the unit’s commander, Lieutenant Colonel Walter F. Layer, later
reported. “I personally rendered first aid to two wounded Marines and
remember seeing six or seven Marines who were either wounded or killed
by that enemy mortar fire. Tanks and half-tracks ... took the enemy
under fire, destroying the enemy mortars.”

These were minor delays. The division reached its objective on time and
was dug in by 1830. About 80 percent of the island was now in American

_Final Days_

The Japanese were now cornered in a small area of southeastern Tinian.
The Marines “had advanced so rapidly that only four square miles of
the island remained for safe firing by ships not supporting battalions
[i.e., not with shore spotters],” according to a report on 30 July by
Rear Admiral Harry W. Hill, commander of the Northern Attack Force.

The Marine commander for the operation, Major General Schmidt, saw the
end in sight and late on the afternoon of 30 July issued an operations
order calling on the divisions to drive all the way to the southeast
coastline, seize all territory remaining in enemy hands and “annihilate
the opposing Japanese.”

This was not a trifling assignment; it produced the heaviest fighting
since the counterattack on the night of Jig Day. A Japanese warrant
officer captured on 29 July estimated that 500 troops of the _56th
Naval Guard Force_ and from 1,700 to 1,800 troops of the _50th
Infantry Regiment_ remained in the southeastern area in a battle-ready
condition. American intelligence estimates on 29 July, based on daily
reports from the divisions, reckoned that 3,000 Japanese soldiers and
sailors had been killed or taken prisoner up to that point. If that was
the case, two-thirds of the nearly 9,000 Japanese defenders were still
alive on the island.

The terrain occupied by the Japanese main force was rugged, difficult
to reach or traverse and well-suited for defense. Outside of Tinian
Town the gentle landscape ended, with the ground rising to a high
plateau 5,000 yards long and 2,000 yards wide, with altitudes higher
than 500 feet. The plateau was rocky and covered with thick brush.
There were many caves. Along the east coast, the cliff walls rose
steeply and appeared impossible to scale. The approaches to the plateau
were blocked by many cliffs of this sort as well as by jungle growth. A
road in the center of the plateau, leading to its top, was reported by
a prisoner to be mined. The plateau was the enemy’s last redoubt.

[Illustration: _As a Navy corpsman administers a bottle of plasma to
a wounded Marine, the stretcher bearers wait patiently to carry him
on board a landing craft which will evacuate him to a hospital ship
offshore, where he will be given full treatment._

    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 87434

It became the object of the most intense bombardments any Japanese
force had yet experienced to date in World War II. Marine artillery
regiments on the island and the XXIV Corps Artillery on southern Saipan
fired throughout the night of 30-31 July on the wooded clifflines the
Marines would face during their assault. At 0600, the battleships
_Tennessee_ and _California_, the heavy cruiser _Louisville_, and the
light cruisers _Montpelier_ and _Birmingham_ began the first of two
sustained bombardments that morning. They fired for 75 minutes, then
halted to allow a 40-minute strike on the plateau by 126 P-47s, North
American Mitchell B-25 bombers, and Grumman Avenger torpedo bombers
from the escort carrier _Kitkun Bay_. The planes dropped 69 tons of
explosives before the offshore gunfire resumed for another 35 minutes.
All told, the battleships and cruisers fired approximately 615 tons of
shells at their targets. Artillerymen of the 10th Marines fired about
5,000 rounds during the night; 14th Marines gunners fired 2,000. The
effect, one prisoner said, was “almost unbearable.”


    Marine Corps Historical Collection

_Some badly wounded casualties died of their severe injuries after
having been evacuated from Tinian. Those who succumbed to their wounds
were buried at sea._]

As you faced south on that morning, the regimental alignments from west
coast to east coast were the 24th, 23d, 8th, 6th and 2d Marines. The
task of the 24th was to clear out the western coastal area, with one
battalion assigned to seizure of the plateau. The 2d Marines was to
seal off the east coast at the base of the plateau. The 6th, 8th, and
23d Marines would assault the cliff areas and make their way to the top
of the plateau.

[Illustration: _Two Marines escort two apparently healthy, hearty, and
willing Japanese prisoners to be turned in at the POW stockade in the
rear of the fighting. Most of the prisoners taken on Tinian, however,
were civilian workers rather than military men._

    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 91365

The 24th, jumping off with the 23d at 0830, moved into the coastal
plain and immediately encountered brush and undergrowth so dense that
tank operations were severely hampered. As compensation, armored
amphibians lying offshore provided heavy fires against enemy beach
positions and covered the regiment’s right flank as it made its way
down the coast. A platoon-size Japanese beach unit launched a foolish
counterattack on the 1st Battalion, 24th Marines at about 1000. The
Japanese were annihilated. Later, flame-throwing tanks burned off brush
and undergrowth concealing Japanese riflemen.


    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 152074

_Tank-infantry tactics perfected in prior operations proved successful
on Tinian as well. The riflemen served as the eyes of the armored
vehicle and would direct the tank crewmen over a telephone mounted in a
box on the rear of the tank._]

On the regiment’s left flank, the 3d Battalion was in assault at the
base of the plateau. It encountered minimal opposition until about
1600 when it began to receive rifle and machine gun fire from cliff
positions. Tanks were called on but soon found themselves mired in a
minefield and were held up for several hours while engineers cleared 45
mines from the area.

The 1st Battalion, 23d Marines, encountered similar troubles. As
the regiment approached the plateau, it ran into dense small arms
fire from two positions--a small village at the base of the cliff
and from the cliff face itself. It also began receiving fire from
a “large-caliber weapon.” Lacking tank support the Marines pressed
forward, running a few yards, diving on their bellies, getting up, and
advancing again. Medium tanks finally came up in search of this elusive
and well-concealed weapon. One of them took six quick hits from the
concealed position of this Japanese gun. A second tank was hit but in
the process the enemy position was discovered: a camouflaged, concrete
bunker housing a 47mm antitank gun and 20 troops, all of whom were

[Illustration: _MajGen Clifton B. Cates, center, visits the command
post of 24th Marines commander Col Franklin A. Hart. On the left is
LtCol Charles D. Roberts, S-3 of the 24th Marines. Gen Cates would
become the 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps._

    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 143760

The 2d Battalion of the 23d had similar difficulties. After coming
under fire from riflemen and machine gunners, one of its supporting
tanks was disabled by a mine. After its crew was taken to safety by
another tank, the disabled vehicle was seized by the Japanese and used
as an armored machine gun nest. Other tanks soon took it out. The 23d
also lost that day two 37mm guns and a one-ton truck belonging to the
regiment’s half-track platoon. The guns and the vehicle got too far
out front, came under heavy fire and were abandoned. A detail from the
platoon later retrieved one of the guns, removed the breech block from
the other one and brought back the .50-caliber machine gun from its
mounting on the truck.

[Illustration: _Tinian Town was made a shambles because U.S. commanders
knew that the enemy was well emplaced, dug in, and expected landings on
the beaches fronting the town. As a result, they directed a large share
of the pre-Jig Day bombardment into the waterfront and surrounding
area, thereby reinforcing Japanese beliefs that this is where the
Marines would land._

    Marine Corps Historical Collection

Late in the afternoon, the 1st Battalion, 23d Marines, and a company
from the 2d Battalion gained a foothold on top of the plateau; the 3d
Battalion soon followed. To their left, the 3d Battalion, 8th Marines,
shrugged off small arms fire early in the day and reached the base of
the cliff where it stalled for the night. The 1st Battalion had better
luck. Company A made it to the top of the plateau at 1650, followed by
a platoon from Company C. Soon after, the whole battalion was atop the
hill. It was followed by Companies E and G of the 2d Battalion.

The Company G commander was Captain Carl W. Hoffman, who later wrote
the definitive histories of the Saipan and Tinian campaigns. In an
oral history interview, he described his own experiences on top of the
plateau the night of 31 July:

  By the time we got up there ... there wasn’t enough daylight left
  to get ourselves properly barbed-wired in, to get our fields of
  fire established, to site our interlocking bands of machine gun
  fire--all the things that should be done in preparing a good

  By dusk, the enemy commenced a series of probing attacks. Some
  Japanese intruded into our positions. It was a completely black
  night. So, with Japanese moving around in our positions, our troops
  became very edgy and were challenging everybody in sight. We didn’t
  have any unfortunate incidents of Marines firing on Marines ...
  [because they] were well-seasoned by this point....

  As the night wore on, the intensity of enemy attacks started to
  build and build and build. They finally launched a full scale
  _banzai_ attack against [our] battalion.... The strange thing the
  Japanese did here was that they executed one wave of attack after
  another against a 37mm position firing cannister ammunition....

  That gun just stacked up dead Japanese.... As soon as one Marine
  gunner would drop another would take his place. [Eight of 10 men
  who manned the gun were killed or wounded]. Soon we were nearly
  shoulder-high with dead Japanese in front of that weapon.... By
  morning we had defeated the enemy. Around us were lots of dead
  ones, hundreds of them as a matter of fact. From then on ... we
  were able to finish the rest of the campaign without difficulty....
  People have often said that the Tinian campaign was the easiest
  campaign ... in the Pacific....

  For those Marines who were in that 37mm position up on the
  escarpment, Tinian had to be the busiest campaign within the
  Pacific war.


    Marine Corps Historical Collection

_A lone member of the 24th Marines, 4th Marine Division patrolling
through the outskirts of Tinian Town, pauses at a torii of a Shinto
shrine. The ruins about him give proof of the heavy shelling visited
upon the town before the landing._]

Hoffman had another lively experience before leaving the island. He was
a trumpet addict and carried his horn with him all through the Pacific

  For Tinian, I didn’t take any chances such as sending my horn
  ashore in a machine gun cart or a battalion ambulance. I had it
  flown over to me. One evening, my troops were in a little perimeter
  with barbed wire all around us on top of the cliff. My Marines were
  shouting in requests: “Oh, You Beautiful Doll” and “Pretty Baby”
  and others. While I was playing these tunes, all of a sudden we
  heard this scream of “_banzai_.” An individual Japanese soldier
  was charging right toward me and right toward the barbed wire. The
  Marines had their weapons ready and he must have been hit from
  14 different directions at once. He didn’t get to throw [his]
  grenade.... I’ve always cited him as the individual who didn’t like
  my music. He was no supporter of my trumpet playing. But ... I even
  continued my little concert after we had accounted for him.

A final _banzai_ attack on the night the 37mm guns had their big
harvest, occurred in the early morning hours of 1 August. A 150-man
Japanese force attacked the 1st Battalion, 28th Marines, on Hoffman’s
left flank. After 30 minutes, the main thrust of the attack was spent
and at dawn the Japanese withdrew; 100 bodies lay in an area 70 yards
square in front of the position of Company E, 2d Battalion, 28th
Marines. The 8th Marines took 74 casualties that night.

The following morning the two divisions went back to work. The 2d
moved across the plateau toward its eastern cliffs, the 4th toward
cliffs on the south and west. When they reached the escarpment’s edge,
overlooking the ocean, their job was essentially done. At 1855, General
Schmidt declared the island “secure,” meaning that organized resistance
had ended. But not the killing. Hundreds of Japanese troops remained
holed up in the caves pock-mocking the southern cliffs rising up from
the ocean.

On the morning of 2 August, a Japanese force of 200 men sallied forth
in an attack on the 3d Battalion, 6th Marines. After two hours of
combat, 119 Japanese were dead. Marine losses included the battalion
commander, Lieutenant Colonel John W. Easley. Shortly afterwards, the
regiment’s 2d Battalion, led by Lieutenant Colonel Edmund B. Games, was
hit by 100 Japanese, 30 of whom were killed before the unit withdrew.

Contacts of this kind continued for months. By the end of the year,
Colonel Clarence R. Wallace’s 8th Marines, left on Tinian for
mopping-up operations, had lost 38 killed and 125 wounded; Japanese
losses were 500 dead.

Beginning on 1 August, there were large-scale surrenders by civilians
leaving the caves in which they had taken refuge. Marine intelligence
officers estimated that 5,000 to 10,000 civilians had been hiding out
in the southeast sector.

[Illustration: _This cliff was a formidable obstacle to movement on
31 July. Cutting practically across the entire island, it provided
problems for both divisions. Here, 2d Division Marines climb the rocky
slopes toward the flat plateau on top. The 1st and 2d Battalions, 8th
Marines, spent a busy night (31 July-1 August) of the operation holding
a road that curled up this slope._

    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 87898


    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 94350

_The end of the battle is in sight as troops of the 24th Marines and
tanks of the 4th Tank Battalion comb across the coastal plateau at
Tinian’s extreme southern end. The 23d Marines, whose zone ended at the
top of the steep cliff seen in this picture, had to retrace its steps
in order to reach the lowlands. Aguijan Island may be seen dimly in the
misty background._]

[Illustration: _This 75mm pack howitzer, nicknamed “Miss Connie,” is
firing into a Japanese-held cave from the brink of a sheer cliff in
southern Tinian. The gun was locked securely in this unusual position
after parts were hand-carried to the cliff’s edge._

    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 94660

Marine Major General James L. Underhill, who took command of the island
as military governor on 10 August, became responsible for the care and
feeding of these civilians. The flow of civilian refugees began on
August 1, he recalled:

  About 500 came through immediately, the next day about 800, then
  a thousand and then two thousand and so on in increasing numbers
  until about 8,000 were in. The remaining 3,000 hid out in caves
  and dribbled in over a period of months. About 30 percent adult
  males, 20 percent adult females, and about 50 percent children.
  Many of them were in bad shape--hungry, wounded, ill and with few
  possessions beyond the clothes they were wearing.

It was estimated that about 4,000 civilians were killed in the
bombardments of Tinian and in fighting on the island. On Saipan,
Marines had been helpless to prevent mass suicides among the civilian
population. They were more successful at Tinian. Unfortunate incidents
occurred--civilians, for example, dying under Marine fire after
wandering into the lines at night.

There were also suicides and ritual murders, as indicated in a report
from the 23d Marines on 3 August:

  Several freak incidents occurred during the day: (1) Jap children
  thrown [by their parents] over cliff into ocean; (2) [Japanese]
  military grouped civilians in numbers of 15 to 20 and attached
  explosive charges to them, blowing them to bits; (3) Both military
  and civilians lined up on the cliff and hurled themselves into the
  ocean; (4) Many civilians pushed over cliff by [Japanese] soldiers.

Efforts to prevent incidents of this kind were generally successful.
Marines used amplifiers on land and offshore to promise good treatment
to civilians and soldiers who would surrender peacefully. “Thousands
of civilians,” Hoffman wrote, “many clad in colorful Japanese silk,
responded to the promises--though it was plain from the expressions on
their faces that they expected the worst.”

[Sidebar (page 29): Medal of Honor Recipients


Private First Class Robert Lee Wilson’s Medal of Honor citation reads
as follows: “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk
of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the
Second Battalion, Sixth Marines, Second Marine Division, during action
against enemy Japanese forces at Tinian Island, Marianas Group, on
4 August 1944. As one of a group of Marines advancing through heavy
underbrush to neutralize isolated points of resistance, Private First
Class Wilson daringly preceded his companions toward a pile of rocks
where Japanese troops were supposed to be hiding. Fully aware of the
danger involved, he was moving forward while the remainder of the
squad, armed with automatic rifles, closed together in the rear when an
enemy grenade landed in the midst of the group. Quick to act, Private
First Class Wilson cried a warning to the men and unhesitatingly threw
himself on the grenade, heroically sacrificing his own life that the
others might live and fulfill their mission. His exceptional valor,
his courageous loyalty and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of
grave peril reflect the highest credit upon Private First Class Wilson
and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his


Private Joseph W. Ozbourn’s Medal of Honor citation reads as follows:
“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life
above and beyond the call of duty as a Browning Automatic Rifleman
serving with the First Battalion, Twenty-third Marines, Fourth Marine
Division, during the battle for enemy Japanese-held Tinian Island,
Marianas Islands, 30 July 1944. As a member of a platoon assigned the
mission of clearing the remaining Japanese troops from dugouts and
pillboxes along a tree line, Private Ozbourn, flanked by two men on
either side, was moving forward to throw an armed hand grenade into a
dugout when a terrific blast from the entrance severely wounded the
four men and himself. Unable to throw the grenade into the dugout and
with no place to hurl it without endangering the other men, Private
Ozbourn unhesitatingly grasped it close to his body and fell upon it,
sacrificing his own life to absorb the full impact of the explosion,
but saving his comrades. His great personal valor and unwavering
loyalty reflect the highest credit upon Private Ozbourn and the United
States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.”


By 14 August the entire 4th Division had embarked on the long trip to
its base camp on Maui. It had suffered in this brief operation more
than 1,100 casualties, including 212 killed. Its next assignment would
be Iwo Jima.


    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 87678

_In an impromptu command post set up behind his 8th Marines, Col
Clarence R. Wallace checks the progress of his frontline troops on
a situation map. The overhead poncho provides some protection from
Tinian’s constant rains._]

The 2d Division remained in the Marianas, setting up a base camp on
Saipan where the 2d and 6th regiments took up residence in mid-August.
The 8th Marines remained on Tinian for mopping-up purposes until
October 25, when the 2d and 3d Battalions moved to Saipan, leaving an
unhappy 1st Battalion behind until its relief at the end of the year.

The campaign for Tinian had cost the division 760 casualties, including
105 killed. These numbers did not include casualties suffered after the
island was “secured” on 1 August.

Japanese military losses, based on bodies counted and buried, totaled
5,000. Other thousands are assumed to have been sealed up in caves and
underground fortifications. The number of prisoners taken was 250 by
some counts and 400 by others.

[Illustration: _It was not long after the initial landing that Marines
encountered the civilian population of Tinian. Here Marines bathe a
tiny Tinian girl after she and her family had been removed from a
hillside dugout. Following the scrubbing, new clothes were found for
the children and the entire family was taken to a place of safety in
the rear._

    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 90441

The capture of the Marianas gave the Army Air Corps the B-29 bases it
needed for the bombing of Japan. They were located 1,200 nautical
miles from the home islands of Japan, a distance ideal for the B-29
with its range of 2,800 miles. Tinian became the home for two wings of
the Twentieth Air Force. Three months after the conquest of Tinian,
B-29s were hitting the Japanese mainland. Over the next year, according
to numbers supplied by the Air Force to historian Carl Hoffman, the
B-29s flew 29,000 missions out of the Marianas, dropped 157,000 tons
of explosives which, by Japanese estimates killed 260,000 people, left
9,200,000 homeless, and demolished or burned 2,210,000 homes.


    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 419222

_Former Marine Corps Combat Correspondent SSgt Federico Claveria looks
at photograph of himself giving an interned Tinian child candy 25 years
earlier. Claveria participated in the initial landings on Roi-Namur and
Saipan also._]

[Illustration: _Top commanders gather for the flagraising on 3 August
1944 at the conclusion of Tinian operations. From left are RAdm Harry
W. Hill; MajGen Harry Schmidt; Adm Raymond L. Spruance; LtGen Holland M.
Smith; VAdm Richmond Kelly Turner; MajGen Thomas A. Watson; and MajGen
Clifton B. Cates._

    Marine Corps Historical Collection

Tinian’s place in the history of warfare was insured by the flight
of _Enola Gay_ on 6 August 1945. It dropped a nuclear weapon on
Hiroshima. Two days later a second nuclear weapon was dropped on
Nagasaki. The next day, the Japanese government surrendered.


    Marine Corps Combat Art Collection

_“Japanese Backyard in Tinian Town,” by Gail Zumwalt_]

In his official history of the 2d Marine Division, Richard W. Johnston
records the reaction when news of the surrender reached the division at
its base on Saipan:

  They looked at Tinian’s clean and rocky coast, at the coral
  boulders where they had gone ashore, and they thought of the
  forbidding coasts of Japan--the coasts that awaited them in the
  fall. “That Tinian was a pretty good investment, I guess,” one
  Marine finally said.

The anecdote may be apocryphal. The sentiment is historically true.

[Illustration: _The hand salute in its various forms is rendered
by those present as the colors are raised over Tinian on 1 August.
At the extreme right is VAdm Richmond K. Turner; commander,
Expeditionary/Northern Attack Force for the Tinian landings._

    Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 152064


In addition to the official Marine Corps histories of the Tinian
campaign, Lt John C. Chapin, _The Fourth Marine Division in World
War II_ (Washington, August, 1945); John Costello, _The Pacific War_
(New York, 1981); John Dower, _War Without Mercy: Race and Power in
the Pacific War_ (New York, 1986); Maj Carl W. Hoffman, _Saipan: The
Beginning of the End_ (Washington, 1950); Maj Carl W. Hoffman, _The
Seizure of Tinian_ (Washington, 1951); Frank Olney Hough, _The Island
War: The U.S. Marine Corps in the Pacific_ (Philadelphia, 1947); Jeter
A. Isely and Philip A. Crowl, _The U.S. Marine Corps and Amphibious
War_ (Princeton, 1951); Richard W. Johnston, _Follow Me! The Story
of the Second Marine Division in World War II_ (New York, 1948);
Allen R. Millett, _Semper Fidelis: The History of the United States
Marine Corps_ (New York, 1991); J. Robert Moskin, _The U.S. Marine
Corps Story_ (Boston, 1992); Carl W. Proehl (ed.), _The Fourth Marine
Division in World War II_ (Nashville, 1988); Henry I. Shaw, Jr.,
Bernard C. Nalty, Edwin T. Turnbladh, _Central Pacific Drive: History
of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II_, vol III (Washington,
1966); Ronald H. Spector, _Eagle Against the Sun_ (New York, 1985).

The transcripts of the following retired Marines interviewed for
the Marine Corps Oral History Program reside in the Oral History
Collection, Marine Corps Historical Center, Washington Navy Yard,
Washington, D.C. Their roles at Tinian are as indicated: BGen William
W. Buchanan, assistant naval gunfire officer, 4th Marine Division;
Gen Clifton B. Cates, commanding general, 4th Marine Division; LtCol
Justice M. Chambers, commanding officer, 3d Battalion, 25th Marines;
MajGen Carl W. Hoffman, commanding officer, Company G, 2d Battalion,
8th Marines; Gen Robert E. Hogaboom, G-3, Northern Troops Landing
Force; MajGen Louis R. Jones, commanding officer, 23d Marines; BGen
Frederick J. Karch, S-3, 14th Marines; MajGen Wood B. Kyle, commanding
officer, 1st Battalion, 2d Marines; MajGen William W. Rogers, chief of
staff, 4th Marine Division; LtGen James L. Underhill, island commander,

_About the Author_


Richard Harwood, a journalist and news executive, retired as deputy
managing editor of _The Washington Post_ in 1988. He now writes an
editorial column for _The Post_ which is distributed nationally by the
Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service. He served in the U.S.
Marines from 1942 until 1946, and spent 30 months in the Pacific. As
a radio operator in the V Amphibious Corps he participated in four
operations, including Tinian.


In _A Different War: Marines in Europe and North Africa_, page 32
reports Adm Hewitt visited the cruiser “_Helena_ (CL-50)” in spring
1946. This cruiser was sunk in 1943. The ship the admiral boarded
was its successor, the heavy cruiser _Helena_ (CA-75). On page 27 of
_Liberation: Marines in the Recapture of Guam_, the 77th Infantry
Division patrolled hills to the east, rather than to the west. The date
of the action which merited a Medal of Honor for PFC Harold G. Epperson
is 25 June 1944, not July, as stated on page 30 of _Breaching the
Marianas: The Battle for Saipan_.


THIS PAMPHLET HISTORY, one in a series devoted to U.S. Marines in
the World War II era, is published for the education and training of
Marines by the History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine
Corps, Washington. D.C., as a part of the U.S. Department of Defense
observance of the 50th anniversary of victory in that war.

Editorial costs of preparing this pamphlet have been defrayed in part
by a bequest from the estate of Emilie H. Watts, in memory of her late
husband, Thomas M. Watts, who served as a Marine and was the recipient
of a Purple Heart.


    =Brigadier General Edwin H. Simmons, USMC (Ret)=

    =Benis M. Frank=

    =George C. MacGillivray=

    =Robert E. Struder=, Senior Editor;
    =W. Stephen Hill=, Visual Information Specialist;
    =Catherine A. Kerns=, Composition Services Technician

    Marine Corps Historical Center
    Building 58, Washington Navy Yard
    Washington, D.C. 20374-5040


    PCN 190 003127 00


Transcriber’s Notes

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a
predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not

Simple typographical errors and unbalanced quotation marks have been

To make this eBook easier to read, particularly on handheld devices,
some images have been made relatively larger than in the original
pamphlet, and centered, rather than offset to one side or the other;
and some were placed a little earlier or later than in the original.
Sidebars in the original have been repositioned between chapters and
identified as “[Sidebar (page nn):”, where the page reference is to the
original location in the source book. In the Plain Text version, the
matching closing right bracket follows the last line of the Sidebar’s
text and is on a separate line to make it more noticeable. In the HTML
versions, that bracket follows the colon, and each Sidebar is displayed
within a box.

Original text uses “Kiyochi Ogata” and “Kiyoshi Ogata” to refer to the
same person.

Sidebar “Tinian Defense Forces” (originally on page 9): “Laslo Point” is
shown as as “Lalo Point” on the maps in this book.

Page 27, illustration caption: “the rocky slopes” was misprinted as
“rockly”; “operation” was misprinted as “operating”; “pock-mocking” was
printed that way and has not been changed.

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