1945: Okinawa – mounting U.S. casualties on Kunishi Ridge

Men of the 1st Marine Division on Wana Ridge with Browning Automatic Rifle.
Men of the 1st Marine Division on Wana Ridge with Browning Automatic Rifle.

On Okinawa the bloody struggle continued as intensively as ever. On the 11th June a combined attack by US Marines and US Army forces had begun the final assault on the last major Japanese holdout. The struggle for the Kunishi Ridge was to be as costly as any of the Okinawa battles.

Between 11th and 18th June 1945 the 1st Marine Division alone would suffer 1,150 casualties. Amongst the men of K (King) Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division (K/3/5) was E.B. Sledge, who would later write one of the classic memoirs of the Pacific war. He describes the perilous situation that they found on the Ridge, and the predicament they encountered when trying to evacuate the wounded:

With daylight I got a good look at our surroundings. Only then could I appreciate fully what a desperate, bitter battle the fight for Kunishi Ridge had been—and was continuing to be. The ridge was coral rock, painfully similar to Peleliu’s ridges. But Kunishi was not so high nor were the coral formations so jagged and angular as those on Peleliu. Our immediate area was littered with the usual debris of battle including about thirty poncho-covered dead Marines on stretchers.

Some of our riflemen moved eastward along the ridge, while others moved up the slopes. We still didn’t set up our mortars: it was strictly a riflemen’s fight. We mortarmen stood by to act as stretcher bearers or riflemen.

Snipers were all over the ridge and almost impossible to locate. Men began getting shot one right after another, and the stretcher teams kept on the run. We brought the casualties down to the base of the ridge, to a point where tanks could back in out of the view of snipers on the ridge crest.

We tied the wounded onto the stretchers and then tied the stretchers onto the rear deck of the tanks. Walking wounded went inside. Then the tanks took off in a cloud of dust along a coral road to the aid station. As many men as possible fired along the ridge to pin down the snipers, so they couldn’t shoot the wounded on the tanks.

Shortly before the company reached the east end of the ridge, we watched a stretcher team make its way up to bring down a casualty.Suddenly four or five mortar shells exploded in quick succession near the team, wounding slightly three of the four bearers. They helped each other back clown the ridge, and another stretcher team, of which I was a member, started up to get the casualty. To avoid the enemy mortar observer, we moved up by a slightly different route.

We got up the ridge and found the casualty lying above a sheer coral ledge about five feet high. The Marine, Leonard E. Vargo, told us he couldn‘t move much because he had been shot in both feet. Thus he couldn’t lower himself down off the ledge. “You guys be careful. The Nip that shot me twice is still hiding right over there in those rocks.” He motioned toward a jumble of boulders not more than twenty yards away.

We reasoned that if the sniper had been able to shoot Vargo in both feet, immobilizing him, he was probably waiting to snipe at anyone who came to the rescue. That meant that anyone who climbed up to help Vargo down would get shot instantly.

We stood against the coral rock with our heads about level with Vargo, but out of the line of fire of the sniper, and looked at each other. I found the silence embarrassing. Vargo lay patiently, confident of our aid. “Somebody’s got to get up there and hand him down,” I said. My three buddies nodded solemnly and made quiet comments in agreement.

I thought to myself that if we fooled around much longer, the sniper might shoot and kill the already painfully wounded and helpless Marine. Then we heard the crash of another 105mm short round farther along the ridge – then another. I was seized with a grim fatalism – it was either be shot by the sniper or have all of us get blown to bits by our own artillery. Feeling ashamed for hesitating so long, I scrambled up beside Vargo.

For unknown reason, even as Sledge looked directly into the sniper’s cave, he was not shot. See E. B. Sledge: With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa

Eugene B. Sledge in 1946. He would later become a University Professor . Years later he would say "There is no 'mellowing' for me - that would be to forgive all the atrocities the Japanese committed against millions of Asians and thousands of Americans. To 'mellow' is to forget."
Eugene B. Sledge in 1946. He would later become a University Professor.
Years later he would say
“There is no ‘mellowing’ for me – that would be to forgive all the atrocities the Japanese committed against millions of Asians and thousands of Americans. To ‘mellow’ is to forget.”
Private Warren D. Fuhlrodt (1925- ) of Blair, Nebraska, attached to F Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, is lift out of an M4 tank of the 1st Tank Battalion after being wounded during the Battle of Kunishi Ridge.
Private Warren D. Fuhlrodt (1925- ) of Blair, Nebraska, attached to F Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, is lift out of an M4 tank of the 1st Tank Battalion after being wounded during the Battle of Kunishi Ridge.

Okinawa – Medal of Honor for Conscientious Objector

GIs from the 77th Infantry Division man a machine gun nest on the island of Shima, May 3, 1945. The M1919 machine gun was the standard issue for the US Army.
GIs from the 77th Infantry Division man a machine gun nest on the island of Shima, May 3, 1945. The M1919 machine gun was the standard issue for the US Army.

The intense fighting on Okinawa saw many acts of heroism. Conditions were so fierce and so sustained that it must have taken great courage just to stay on the battlefield and remain in combat. In amongst the mayhem some individual acts stood out and were subsequently recognised, there were a total of 24 Medal of Honor recipients during the three months of battle.

Desmond Doss, Medal of Honor recipient
Desmond Doss, Medal of Honor recipient

One award was unusual because it went to a non combatant. Sergeant Desmond Doss was a Seventh-Day Adventist who served with the Medical Detachment, 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division. His citation gives a series of examples of his heroism each illustrating the nature of conditions on Okinawa:

He was a company aid man when the 1st Battalion assaulted a jagged escarpment 400 feet (120 m) high. As our troops gained the summit, a heavy concentration of artillery, mortar and machinegun fire crashed into them, inflicting approximately 75 casualties and driving the others back. Pfc. Doss refused to seek cover and remained in the fire-swept area with the many stricken, carrying all 75 casualties one-by-one to the edge of the escarpment and there lowering them on a rope-supported litter down the face of a cliff to friendly hands.

On May 2, he exposed himself to heavy rifle and mortar fire in rescuing a wounded man 200 yards (180 m) forward of the lines on the same escarpment; and 2 days later he treated 4 men who had been cut down while assaulting a strongly defended cave, advancing through a shower of grenades to within 8 yards (7.3 m) of enemy forces in a cave’s mouth, where he dressed his comrades’ wounds before making 4 separate trips under fire to evacuate them to safety.

On May 5, he unhesitatingly braved enemy shelling and small arms fire to assist an artillery officer. He applied bandages, moved his patient to a spot that offered protection from small arms fire and, while artillery and mortar shells fell close by, painstakingly administered plasma. Later that day, when an American was severely wounded by fire from a cave, Pfc. Doss crawled to him where he had fallen 25 feet (7.6 m) from the enemy position, rendered aid, and carried him 100 yards (91 m) to safety while continually exposed to enemy fire.

On May 21, in a night attack on high ground near Shuri, he remained in exposed territory while the rest of his company took cover, fearlessly risking the chance that he would be mistaken for an infiltrating Japanese and giving aid to the injured until he was himself seriously wounded in the legs by the explosion of a grenade. Rather than call another aid man from cover, he cared for his own injuries and waited 5 hours before litter bearers reached him and started carrying him to cover.

The trio was caught in an enemy tank attack and Pfc. Doss, seeing a more critically wounded man nearby, crawled off the litter; and directed the bearers to give their first attention to the other man. Awaiting the litter bearers’ return, he was again struck, by a sniper bullet while being carried off the field by a comrade, this time suffering a compound fracture of 1 arm.

With magnificent fortitude he bound a rifle stock to his shattered arm as a splint and then crawled 300 yards (270 m) over rough terrain to the aid station.

Through his outstanding bravery and unflinching determination in the face of desperately dangerous conditions Pfc. Doss saved the lives of many soldiers. His name became a symbol throughout the 77th Infantry Division for outstanding gallantry far above and beyond the call of duty.

 

6th Div Marines Okinawa
Marines move through and over “CEMETERY RIDGE.” They are shown pinned down behind gravestones by enemy sniper fire.

Okinawa: the bloody occupation of Ishimmi Ridge

Marines pass through a small village where Japanese soldiers lay dead. Okinawa, April 1945.
Marines pass through a small village where Japanese soldiers lay dead. Okinawa, April 1945.
A demolition crew from the 6th Marine Division watch dynamite charges explode and destroy a Japanese cave. Okinawa, May 1945.
A demolition crew from the 6th Marine Division watch dynamite charges explode and destroy a Japanese cave. Okinawa, May 1945.

The grinding battle for Okinawa continued unabated. The Japanese were making full use of their huge network of underground tunnels and caves from which they conducted a suicidal defence. U.S. casualties had been heavy. Company E, 307th Infantry, 77th Division, were in reserve in the five days before the 17th. They received many replacements during this time, bringing them up to strength – although most of these men had no combat experience at all, and there was little opportunity fro these men to become properly integrated.

Then Company E were selected to lead an audacious assault deep into the main Japanese defence line, an attempt to disrupt the line and turn the battle.

Lieutenant Robert F. Meiser, a platoon commander with Company E, described the action in his duty report submitted shortly after they were withdrawn on the 20th May. To begin the night assault they had to move up over 450 yards of ground pockmarked with shell-holes, and then penetrate through Japanese lines for a further 800 yards, moving almost all of the way in single file. To maintain the element of surprise they would only use bayonets if they encountered the enemy. At 0415 on the 17th they left their Line of Departure with their objective, Ishimmi Ridge just visible where ‘three or four limbless trees’ were lit by flares:

Dawn began to break as we came upon our objective. About 50 yards from it, the 3rd platoon echeloned to the left of the 2nd and nearly on line, forming the left front and flank. The 2nd continued straight forward to occupy the center ar1d foremost position, while the platoon from Company C held the right front and flank. Our rear was protected by a well formed semi-circle of the 1st platoon.

We now found that the 125 yard part of the objective we were able to occupy was a very prominent, table top ridge. It was quite flat and made up of rock and coral where digging was very difficult, and in some places impossible.

The top center of Ishimmi Ridge was very narrow, being only about seven or eight yards wide, and then fanning out to either flank in a leaf-like pattern. Directly to the rear of the narrow section of the ridge was a pocket, 20 yards in diameter, in which the company Command Post was located, and this, ultimately, was the location of the company’s final stand.

To our right rear, 250 yards distant, were two grassy mounds of earth, each about 30 feet high and affording perfect observation into our positions. Likewise, to the center rear was a finger ridge extension which afforded the enemy an excellent OP as well as machine gun positions.

At 0505 we were on our objective, and as daylight was coming we hastened to dig in. The enemy on the ridge was completely surprised and was not aware of our presence for nearly 20 minutes. While initially caught napping, they soon made up for lost time and all hell broke loose at 0530. Mortar shells, heavy and light, began falling on our area in such fury and volume that one would believe the place had been zeroed in for just such an eventuality. Machine gun and rifle fire began pouring in from all directions and within a short time even enemy artillery began shelling us.

As daylight came, we finally realized that we were in a spot and that the enemy controlled the position from every direction, including the rear. The [3rd] Platoon on the left was receiving murderous fire, especially from both flanks and the high Shuri Ridge across the valley to our front.

Foxholes were only partly completed and to raise one’s head meant death on that fire-swept plateau. Mortar shells very often dropped directly in the foxhole, usually taking at least one man’s life or badly wounding several. The same action was taking place [with the Company C platoon] on the right flank as that area was almost identical to the one on the left.

In the rear, the 1st Platoon was faring no better and was taking a terrific pounding from all types of fire. However, they maintained continuous and effective fire on the enemy, especially to the right and left rear, greatly reducing his advantages there. Our light mortars were in this area and though only partially dug in, the mortar crews fired as long as the mortars were serviceable.

By 1000 the first day, enemy action had knocked out all but one of the mortars and killed or wounded nearly all the crewmen.

The 2nd Platoon had gone over the center of the ridge and dropped into a long Jap communication trench which was about six feet deep. Small dug-outs in this trench contained about 10 or 12 sleeping enemy who were quickly disposed of by bayonet or rifle fire. However, tunnels from inside the ridge led into either end of the trench and the enemy soon attempted to force their way upward. At first, surprise was so complete that a japanese officer and his aide, laughing and talking, came toward us in the trench, walked completely past one of our men and were killed without realizing what hit them.

By making use of the tunnels the Nips were soon able to set up knee mortars about 100 yards to either flank and fire systematically from one end of the trench to the other. Each position had two mortars which were firing simultaneously, doing great damage to the earthworks of our line as well as producing heavy casualties in our ranks. Riflemen were blown to bits by these mortars and many were struck in the head by machine gun fire. The blood from the wounded was everywhere; on the weapons, on the living, and splattered all around. The dead lay where they fell, in pools of their own blood. Though the platoon medic was wounded early in the morning, he took care of the injured as fast as possible, but was unable to keep up and soon his supplies were exhausted.

By 0700 both of our light machine guns had been knocked out, one being completely buried. The few remaining crewmen became riflemen and stayed right there throughout the day. During the morning a few Japanese had managed to crawl up from the deep ravine to a line just slightly beneath our position and began hurling grenades upwards at us. Grenades were tossed back and soon the infiltrators were killed or driven backward, but we had suffered too.

The battle continued furiously all morning and by noon the 2nd Platoon had suffered heavily, about 50 percent being killed or wounded. The number of Japs killed had mounted steadily, but they were still able to reinforce almost at will and attempted numerous frontal and flanking counterattacks.

Meanwhile the 3rd Platoon [on the left] had had a steady grenade battle and had repulsed three fixed bayonet attacks by the enemy coming from their left flank. However, the men of this platoon had very little cover and were being whittled down man by man until more than half of them were out of action, including their platoon leader. Dead men were pushed hurriedly from the all too small holes in order to make more room for the living. In some cases the firing was so heavy as to even prevent this, and the living and bloody, mangled dead were as one in their foxholes. By 1800 the first day there were only a handful of men left alive in this platoon and they were clinging tenaciously to the few remaining positions of their own right flank.

See Wayne C. MacGregor: Through These Portals: A Pacific War Saga

A U.S. Marine from the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines on Wana Ridge provides covering fire with his Thompson submachine gun, 18 May 1945.
A U.S. Marine from the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines on Wana Ridge provides covering fire with his Thompson submachine gun, 18 May 1945.

Okinawa – grim reality in Japanese underground hospital

Tank-borne infantry moving up to take the town of Ghuta before the Japanese can occupy it. The men are members of Colonel Victor Bleasdale’s 29th Marines.
Tank-borne infantry moving up to take the town of Ghuta before the Japanese can occupy it. The men are members of Colonel Victor Bleasdale’s 29th Marines.

On Okinawa it did not take long before the fighting erupted following the suspiciously quiet landings. The Japanese had already started to suffer casualties from the intense US naval and aerial bombardment.

Miyagi Kikuko was a 16 year old schoolgirl in the High School on Okinawa. Three days before the US invaded they held their graduation ceremony and all the 15 to 19 year old girls formally joined the Lily Student Corps. The boys joined the Blood and Iron Student Corps.

The following day the building was blasted apart by the US bombardment, but by then they were underground, preparing to assist in the military hospital, located, like most of the Japanese positions, in caves. Very soon after the invasion the casualties began to come in, and within days there were too many to cope with:

In no time at all, wounded soldiers were being carried into the caves in large numbers. They petrified us all. Some didn’t have faces, some didn’t have limbs. Young men in their twenties and thirties screaming like babies. Thousands of them.

At first, one of my friends saw a man with his toes missing and swooned. She actually sank to her knees, but soldiers and medics began screaming at her, “You idiot! You think you can act like that on the battlefield?”

Every day, we were yelled at: “Fools! Idiots! Dummies!” We were so naive and unrealistic. We had expected that somewhere far in the rear, we’d raise the red cross and then wrap men with bandages, rub on medicine, and give them shots as we had been trained. In a tender voice we’d tell the wounded, “Don’t give up, please.”

Now, they were being carried in one after another until the dugouts and caves were filled to overflowing, and still they came pouring in. Soon we were laying them out in empty fields, then on cultivated land. Some hemorrhaged to death and others were hit again out there by showers of bombs. So many died so quickly.

Those who had gotten into the caves weren’t so lucky either. Their turn to have their dressings changed came only once every week or two. So pus would squirt in our faces, and they’d be infested with maggots. Removing those was our job. We didn’t even have enough time to remove them one by one. Gas gangrene, tetanus, and brain fever were common.

Those with brain fever were no longer human beings. They’d tear their clothes off because of their pain, tear off their dressings. They were tied to the pillars, their hands behind their backs, and treatment stopped. At first, we were so scared watching them suffering and writhing that we wept. Soon we stopped. We were kept running from morning to night.

“Do this! Do that!” Yet, as underclassmen we had fewer wounded soldiers to take care of. The senior girls slept standing up. “Miss Student, I have to piss,” they’d cry. Taking care of their excrement was our work. Senior students were assigned to the operating rooms. There, hands and legs were chopped off without anesthesia. They used a saw. Holding down their limbs was a student job.

Outside was a rain of bullets from morning to night. In the evening, it quieted down a little. It was then that we carried out limbs and corpses. There were so many shell craters — it sounds funny to say it, but we considered that fortunate: holes already dug for us. “One, two, three!” we’d chant, and all together we’d heave the dead body into a hole, before crawling back to the cave. There was no time for sobbing or lamentation.

In that hail of bullets, we also went outside to get food rations and water. Two of us carried a wooden half-bushel barrel to the well. When a shell fell, we’d throw ourselves into the mud, but always supporting the barrel because the water was everybody’s water of life. Our rice balls shrank until they were the size of Ping-Pong balls. The only way to endure was to guzzle water. There was no extra water, not even to wash our faces, which were caked in mud.

We were ordered to engage in “nursing,” but in reality, we did odd jobs. We were in the cave for sixty days, until we withdrew to Ihara. Twelve people in our group – two teachers and ten students – perished. Some were buried alive, some had their legs blown off, five died from gas .

This account appears in Haruko Taya Cook(ed): Japan at War: An Oral History.

MOVING UP – Marine riflemen moving up behind flame-throwing tank on Okinawa.
MOVING UP – Marine riflemen moving up behind flame-throwing tank on Okinawa.
Marines assault a ridge supported by bazookas.  The action took place two miles north of Naha.
Marines assault a ridge supported by bazookas. The action took place two miles north of Naha.

The last amphibious assault in the Pacific – Okinawa

USS Idaho (BB-42), a New Mexico-class battleship shells Okinawa on 1 April 1945, easily distinguished by her tower foremast & 5”-38 Mk 30 single turrets (visible between the barrels of the forward main turrets). Idaho was the only battleship with this configuration.
USS Idaho (BB-42), a New Mexico-class battleship shells Okinawa on 1 April 1945, easily distinguished by her tower foremast & 5”-38 Mk 30 single turrets (visible between the barrels of the forward main turrets). Idaho was the only battleship with this configuration.
THE CHARGE – Armored amphibious tractors of a Marine battalion form into line as the first waves of the Leatherneck invaders commence the charge for the beach at Okinawa.
THE CHARGE – Armored amphibious tractors of a Marine battalion form into line as the first waves of the Leatherneck invaders commence the charge for the beach at Okinawa.

Okinawa, although an island with distinct culture and people, is also a prefecture of Japan. In landing on Japanese soil the US forces expected an even more ferocious defence than they had met on their previous island hopping across the Pacific. This was the final stepping stone, 340 miles (550 km) away from mainland Japan. Very heavy casualties had been predicted for those landing in the first waves on the beaches.

The Japanese anticipated that it would be used as a base to launch both aerial and then amphibious assaults on the mainland. They had been preparing for battle for almost a year. The island was to be defended like Iwo Jima, with extensive use of bunkers and caves designed to extend the battle for as long as possible. The intention was to buy time for the preparation of defences of the Japanese mainland and to inflict maximum casualties on the Americans.

Tens of thousands of Okinawan civilians remained on the island, many forced to serve the Japanese military. Japanese propaganda had led many, if not most, to believe that they could only expect monstrous treatment at the hands of the Americans, treatment so bad that suicide would be preferable. This belief was to significantly contribute to the appalling bloodshed on the island in the coming weeks.

But April Fools Day 1945 had a surprise in store first. Eugene B. Sledge was a Marine veteran who had survived the slaughter and carnage of Peleleiu, as they set off for the beaches he was full of trepidation:

“The landing is unopposed!”

We looked with amazement at the Marine on the amtrac with which our Higgins boat had just hooked up.

“The hell you say,” one of my buddies shot back.

“It’s straight dope. I ain’t seen no casualties. Most of the Nips musta hauled ass. I just saw a couple of mortar shells fallin’ in the water; that’s all. The guys went in standin’ up. It beats anything I ever saw.” –

Images of the maelstrom at Peleliu had been flashing through my mind, but on Okinawa there was practically no opposition to the landing. When we overcame our astonishment, everybody started laughing and joking. The release of tension was unforgettable. We sat on the edge of the amtrac’s troop compartment singing and commenting on the vast fleet surrounding us. No need to crouch low to avoid the deadly shrapnel and bullets. It was – and still is – the most pleasant surprise of the war.

It suddenly dawned on me, though, that it wasn’t at all like the Japanese to let us walk ashore unopposed on an island only 350 miles from their homeland. They were obviously pulling some trick, and I began to wonder what they were up to.

“Hey, Sledgehammer, what’s the matter? Why don’t you sing like everybody else?”

I grinned and took up a chorus of the “Little Brown Jug.”

“That’s more like it!”

As our wave moved closer to the island, we got a good view of the hundreds of landing‘ boats and amtracs approaching the beach.

Marines of the 2d Battalion, 22d Regiment, land at Green Beach One.
Marines of the 2d Battalion, 22d Regiment, land at Green Beach One.

Directly ahead of us, we could see the men of our regiment moving about in dispersed combat formations like tiny toy soldiers on the rising landscape. They appeared unhurried and nonchalant, as if on maneuvers. There were no enemy shells bursting among them.

The island sloped up gently from the beach, and the many small garden and fami plots of the Okinawans gave it the appearance of a patchwork quilt. It was beautiful, except where the ground cover and vegetation had been blasted by shells. I was overcome with the contrast to D day on Peleliu.

When our wave was about fifty yards from the beach, I saw two enemy mortar shells explode a considerable distance to our left. They spewed up small geysers of water but caused no damage to the amtracs in that area. That was the only enemy fire I saw during the landing on Okinawa.

It made the April Fool’s Day aspect even more sinister, because all those thousands of first-rate Japanese troops on that island had to be somewhere spoiling for a fight.

We continued to look at the panorama around our amtrac with no thought of immediate danger as we came up out of the water. The tailgate banged down. We calmly picked up our gear and walked onto the beach.

A short distance down the beach on our right, the mouth of Bishi Gawa emptied into the sea. This small river formed the boundary between the army divisions of the XXIV Corps, to the south, and the III Amphibious Corps, to the north of the river. On our side of the mouth of the river, on a promontory jutting out into the sea, I saw the remains of the emplacement containing the big Japanese gun that had concerned us in our briefings. The seawall in our area had been blasted down into a terracelike rise a few feet high over which we moved with ease.

We advanced inland, and I neither heard nor saw any Japanese fire directed against us. As we moved across the small fields and gardens onto higher elevations, I could see troops of the 6th Marine Division heading toward the big Yontan Airfield on our let. Jubilation over the lack of opposition to the landing prevailed, particularly among the Peleliu veterans. Our new replacements began making remarks about amphibious landings being easy.

See E. B. Sledge: With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa

Marines wade through surf over coral reef to the Okinawa beach.
Marines wade through surf over coral reef to the Okinawa beach.
Supported from the air, Marines move inland from the Okinawa beach.
Supported from the air, Marines move inland from the Okinawa beach.

Operation Plunder: The first wave get across the Rhine

Bursts of German anti-aircraft fire fill the sky above Wesel, Germany, as 80 Avro Lancasters of No. 3 Group attack the town in preparation for the 21st Army Group's assault across the River Rhine, (Operation VARSITY) on 24 March 1945. Photograph was taken from the British positions on the west bank of the River.
Bursts of German anti-aircraft fire fill the sky above Wesel, Germany, as 80 Avro Lancasters of No. 3 Group attack the town in preparation for the 21st Army Group’s assault across the River Rhine, (Operation VARSITY) on 24 March 1945. Photograph was taken from the British positions on the west bank of the River.

James Byrom was a pacifist by conviction and refused to serve in the combat arms of the military. Yet as a Medic he found himself in one of the most hazardous posts in the army, flying in a glider with the airborne troops that would be landing on the east bank of the Rhine. He seems to have been relatively unperturbed, and much encouraged by the morale boosting briefing that they got before departure:

The curtain raiser to what the Staff planners had tactlessly called Operation Varsity Plunder was the Brigadier’s tonic address.

‘No doubt,’ he admitted, ‘you will find some Germans when you reach the ground. But you can take it from me they will be bloody frightened. Just imagine the sensations of those wretched Germans cowering in their slit trenches when – Lo and Behold! – wave after wave of you blood- thirsty gentlemen come cascading down from the skies! What would you do in their place?…’

He paused, while imagination boggled, then pursued more sternly: ‘But let there be no misunderstanding. If anybody does shoot at you, you will ignore him completely. Your job is to hasten to the rendezvous and not to amuse yourself by returning his fire.

And if I find any of you gentlemen going to ground I will come round in person and kick his bottom. If you happen to hear a few stray bullets you needn’t think they are intended for you. That, gentlemen, is a form of egotism!’

See James Byrom: The Unfinished Man

Men of the 15th Scottish Division leave their assault craft after crossing the Rhine and double up the east bank to their assembly point near Xanten.
Men of the 15th Scottish Division leave their assault craft after crossing the Rhine and double up the east bank to their assembly point near Xanten.
British commandos of the 1st Commando Brigade man two Vickers machine guns in the shattered outskirts of Wesel. The 1st Commandos had formed the spearhead of the British assault by making a surprise crossing in assault craft on the night of 23 - 24 March under a barrage of 1500 guns
British commandos of the 1st Commando Brigade man two Vickers machine guns in the shattered outskirts of Wesel. The 1st Commandos had formed the spearhead of the British assault by making a surprise crossing in assault craft on the night of 23 – 24 March under a barrage of 1500 guns

The airborne assault would come on the 24th but the surprise river crossing was to be undertaken late on the 23rd. Trooper Albert Bellamy was with the 51st Highland Division and one of the first across the river:

On the afternoon of March 23rd, at 5 p.m., a terrible artillery barrage from numerous guns commenced to pound enemy positions inland. It was the biggest concentration of artillery I have seen over here. The barrage was augmented by several batteries of rockets which went off, hundreds at a time, with a terrifying roar.

The infantry, which incidentally was the 51st Highland Division, boarded the ‘Buffalos’ at 7 p.m., and at 7.15 p.m. we moved off to the starting point which was one and a half miles from the river.

Our troop leader was first and I was in the second craft manning the gun. We reached the river a few minutes to 9 p.m. and at exactly 9 o’clock the first ‘Buffalo’ entered the water and the rest followed. We manoeuvred into formation and headed for the opposition shore, which was just discernible through the mist. Our hearts were anywhere but in the right place, for we did not know what to expect, but the expected onslaught did not materialise, and we touched down at exactly 9.03 p.m. – three minutes which seemed like three years.

We had a very nasty moment when the enemy sent up a brilliant flare and brightly illuminated the whole river, but nothing happened.

The operation was a success and took the enemy completely by surprise.

The flag of the – Battalion was carried in the leading craft and was the first flag to cross the Rhine in the last war; thus history repeated itself. The flag is moth eaten and held together by netting. The colours are brown, red and green and mean ‘Through the mud and the blood to the green fields beyond’.

We waited until the infantry had disembarked on the river bank and then returned to the opposite bank. Owing to the bank being very steep at this side, several futile attempts were made to climb it. Meanwhile the Germans had got our range and there were several near misses by mortar and shell fire.

After a few minutes we then managed to reach the top of the bank and the proceeded to the loading area, where we loaded up with Bren carriers and other necessary equipment. A few shells dropped in the bridgehead but little if any damage was done. We then crossed the Rhine a second time and proceeded, 300 yards inland to the unloading area. Everything had been arranged so carefully and the organisation was marvellous.

On the return trip our craft brought back 20 prisoners – the first to be taken in the operation.

For the next three days we worked a ferry service without either rest or sleep, taking across vital supplies until the first bridge was built. Meanwhile a large ferry was taking across tanks to support the advancing infantry.

See 51st Highland Division

A Buffalo comes ashore on the east bank of the Rhine, 24 March 1945.
A Buffalo comes ashore on the east bank of the Rhine, 24 March 1945.
Men of the 1st Cheshire Regiment crossing the Rhine in Buffaloes at Wesel, 24 March 1945.
Men of the 1st Cheshire Regiment crossing the Rhine in Buffaloes at Wesel, 24 March 1945.
Men of the 5th Dorsetshire Regiment crossing the Rhine in a Buffalo, 28 March 1945.
Men of the 5th Dorsetshire Regiment crossing the Rhine in a Buffalo, 28 March 1945.

The US Pacific Fleet prepares for Okinawa

Vast array of American warships just offshore of naval base on Mogmog Island in the Ulithi Atoll, part of the Caroline Islands.
Vast array of American warships just offshore of naval base on Mogmog Island in the Ulithi Atoll, part of the Caroline Islands.

The battle for Iwo Jima was not yet over, but the US Fleet was readying one last amphibious island assault, Okinawa. This was the last assault before what everyone expected would be the last big battle, the invasion of Japan itself. Okinawa, closer to Japan than any of the islands that the US had seized over past three years, was needed as a staging base for that ultimate goal.

At remote Ulithi atoll in the Caroline islands the extraordinary American amphibious war machine spent a last few days assembling.

Russell Davis was a veteran of Peleliu but even he was stirred by the sight of the vast fleet at anchor:

The troop holds smelled of sickness; the side decks were whipped with rain and slippery with spray from the roll of the ship; and over the front and rear decks swarmed the sea itself as the bucking, swaying transport clawed up waves and slammed down troughs.

The last day and night we had been running through squalls, and the sea was still high-rolling when we came into the anchorage at Ulithi; and there, as far as we could look, until a dripping wet sky shut down on the far horizon, was the greatest gathering of ships in the history of the world.

There were transports, unending as common soldiers of the line. Patrol boats were like corporals; destroyers like sergeants; cruisers were lieutenants; carriers were colonels; and the battlewagons were generals. There was an army of ships arrayed in the anchorage at Ulithi.

In such an army, the great Spanish Armada would have been run over and never sighted. There had never been as big a gathering before and there never has been anything as big since. Even the sickest and most bitter Marines came to the rail to look at the sea might of their country, and to feel, no matter how scared they were, some pride that the troops were the heart of the gathering. The great ships were there to serve and protect the troops.

Chief looked at it all, shook his head in wonder, and asked a question that had occurred to all of us: “How can we lose?” Murph said: “We can’t lose. But you know something? This is the first time in this war I’ve really felt sure of it.”

Everyone else agreed with Murph. After Ulithi there was never any question about our certain victory. The only question was When? For the next few days, as our transport moved around the anchorage, we hung at the rail, identifying the different ships. I had never seen a Landing Ship Dock (LSD) before. But there it was, with its high, blunt prow and its cranes. Ships could be put right inside it. I had never seen a new battlewagon or the big carriers. Our early carriers had been midgets.

Even when we coasted by the dark and gaping holes blasted in the side of the carrier Franklin, we were sure that nothing could hurt us: we had too many ships. And even when the maps and photos of the beach and hills of Okinawa were brought aboard – when we could see the sea wall that had to be scaled, and the high swirls of ground beyond the beach – we still felt confident.

“This will be our last big one,” the rumor said. “This will cave-in the Japs. We’re throwing the whole bundle at ’em on this one.”

See R. Davis: Marine at War.

Also impressed by the spectacle at Ulithi was another Marine, E. B. Sledge:

We lined the rails of our transport and looked out over the vast fleet in amazement. We saw ships of every description: huge new battleships, cruisers, sleek destroyers, and a host of fast escort craft. Aircraft carriers were there in greater numbers than any of us had ever seen before. Every conceivable type of amphibious vessel was arrayed. It was the biggest invasion fleet ever assembled in the Pacic, and we were awed by the sight of it.

Because of tides and winds, the ships swung about on their anchor chains, and each day the fleet looked new and different. When I came topside each morning, I felt disoriented. It was a strange sensation, as though I were in a different frame of reference and had to learn my surroundings anew.

The first afternoon at Ulithi a fellow mortarman said, “Break out the field glasses, and let’s see how many kinds of ships we can identify.” We passed the mortar section’s field glasses around and whiled away many hours studying the different ships.

Suddenly someone gasped, “Look over there at that hospital ship off our port bow! Look at them nurses! Gimme them field glasses!”

Lining the rail of the hospital ship were about a dozen American nurses looking out over the fleet: A scuffle erupted among us over who would use the field glasses first, but we all finally had a look at the girls. We whistled and waved, but we were too far away to be heard.

At Ulithi we received briefings on the coming battle for Okinawa. This time there was no promise of a short operation. “This is expected to be the costliest amphibious campaign of the war,” a lieutenant said. “We will be hitting an island about 350 miles from the Japs’ home islands, so you can expect them to fight with more determination than ever. We can expect 80 to 85 percent casualties on the beach.”

A buddy next to me leaned over and whispered, “How’s that for boosting the troops’ morale?” I only groaned.

See E. B. Sledge: With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa

USS Wasp, USS Yorktown, USS Hornet, USS Hancock, USS Ticonderoga, and other warships at Ulithi Atoll, Caroline Islands, 8 Dec 1944.
USS Wasp, USS Yorktown, USS Hornet, USS Hancock, USS Ticonderoga, and other warships at Ulithi Atoll, Caroline Islands, 8 Dec 1944.

Kuribayashi prepares to meet his end on Iwo Jima

Several M4A3 Sherman tanks equipped with flamethrowers were used to clear Japanese bunkers.
Several M4A3 Sherman tanks equipped with flamethrowers were used to clear Japanese bunkers.

On the 16th March the US Forces on the island of Iwo Jima had declared the island “occupied”. The statement, signalling at least the beginning of the end, was partly in response to the concern at home over the very heavy casualties.

The fighting was still far from over even if it might be described as “contained”, hundreds of Japanese were still hiding in their bunkers and doing everything possible to continue to cause casualties to the Americans.

At the same time General Kuribayashi, the Japanese commander, was considering his position. He had masterminded the tenacious defence of the island and inspired his men to fight to the end. His aim to cause maximum casualties, rather than die gloriously in the traditional suicidal Banzai charge, had been achieved. But, with his men weak from starvation and parched from lack of water, he realised there was little time left for them to carry on in this manner.

General Tadamichi Kuribayashi.
General Tadamichi Kuribayashi.

He was still managing to communicate with Tokyo via an increasingly intermittent radio connection with the Japanese occupied island of Chichi Jima:

I have 400 men under my command. The enemy besieged us by firing and flame from their tanks. In particular, they are trying to approach the entrance of our cave with explosives. My men and officers are still fighting.

The enemy’s front lines are 300 meters from us, and they are attacking by tank firing. They advised us to surrender by loudspeaker, but we only laughed at this childish trick, and we did not set ourselves against them.

On the 17th Kuribayashi radioed his final message to Tokyo:

The battle is entering its final chapter. Since the enemy’s landing, the gallant fighting of the men under my command has been such that even the gods would weep.

In particular, I humbly rejoice in the fact that they have continued to fight bravely though utterly empty-handed and ill-equipped against a land, sea, and air attack of a material superiority such as surpasses the imagination.

One after another they are falling in the ceaseless and ferocious attacks of the enemy. For this reason, the situation has arisen whereby I must disappoint your expectations and yield this important place to the hands of the enemy. With humility and sincerity, I offer my repeated apologies.

Our ammunition is gone and our water dried up. Now is the time for us to make the final counterattack and fight gallantly, conscious of the Emperor’s favor, not begrudging our efforts though they turn our bones to powder and pulverize our bodies.

I believe that until the island is recaptured, the Emperor’s domain will be eternally insecure. I therefore swear that even when I have become a ghost I shall look forward to turning the defeat of the Imperial Army to victory.

I stand now at the beginning of the end. At the same time as revealing my inmost feelings, I pray earnestly for the unfailing victory and security of the Empire. Farewell for all eternity

It was with this message that he sent the traditional ‘death poem’ of Japanese soldiers to his commanders, setting out his sentiments as he faced death:

Unable to complete this heavy task for our country
Arrows and bullets all spent, so sad we fall.
But unless I smite the enemy,
My body cannot rot in the field.
Yea, I shall be born again seven times
And grasp the sword in my hand.
When ugly weeds cover this island,
My sole thought shall be the Imperial Land.

It would not be until 23rd March that Kuribayashi sent his final message to Chichi Jima:

All officers and men of Chichi Jima – goodbye from Iwo.

Nothing more is known about how Kuribashi met his end but it is likely that he died in the final attack from his position in ‘The Gorge’ on the 26th March. It was not a suicidal Banzai charge but a silent, co-ordinated attempt to inflict one last blow against the Americans. They crept into US positions and bayoneted soldiers as they slept before the alarm was raised – and then they were overcome during hand to hand fighting. It is believed that Kuribayashi removed his officers insignia so that his body would not be identified.

Later his son Taro Kuribayashi was to claim:

My father had believed it shameful to have his body discovered by the enemy even after death, so he had previously asked his two soldiers to come along with him, one in front and the other behind, with a shovel in hand. In case of his death, he had wanted them to bury his body there and then.

It seems that my father and the soldiers were killed by shells, and he was buried at the foot of a tree in Chidori village, along the beach near Osaka mountain. Afterwards, General Smith spent a whole day looking for his body to pay respect accordingly and to perform a burial, but in vain.

For the Japanese perspective on the fighting on Iwo Jima see Fighting Spirit: The Memoirs of Major Yoshitaka Horie and the Battle of Iwo Jima and Kumiko Kakehashi: Letters From Iwo Jima.

Out of the gaping mouths of Coast Guard and Navy Landing Craft, rose the great flow of invasion supplies to the blackened sands of Iwo Jima, a few hours after the Marines had wrested their foothold on the vital island.
Out of the gaping mouths of Coast Guard and Navy Landing Craft, rose the great flow of invasion supplies to the blackened sands of Iwo Jima, a few hours after the Marines had wrested their foothold on the vital island.

Kamikaze pilots find the remote US base at Ulithi

 A Life magazine image of the US Naval base at Ulithi atoll in the Caroline islands. The remote Pacific location, with an anchorage larger than Pearl Harbour, was used asa staging base in preparation fro major amphibious operations, including Okinawa.
A Life magazine image of the US Naval base at Ulithi atoll in the Caroline islands. The remote Pacific location, with an anchorage larger than Pearl Harbour, was used as a staging base in preparation for major amphibious operations, including the invasion of Okinawa.
USS Iowa in a floating drydock at Manus Island, Ulithi Atoll, 28 December 1944.
USS Iowa in a floating drydock at Manus Island, Ulithi Atoll, 28 December 1944.

The disparity in resources between the United States and Japan had now become quite incredible. It was hard to believe that the Japanese had calculated, just over three years before, that a single knockout blow at Pearl Harbour could overcome the Americans. While one fleet of hundreds of U.S. Navy ships was still besieging the island of Iwo Jima, another fleet was gathering at the remote base at Ulithi, preparing for the invasion of Okinawa. The U.S. Navy had occupied the islands, unopposed, in September 1944.

The supply situation for many Japanese bases was now imperilled by their lack of shipping, with their transports now constantly threatened by Allied submarines. Many Japanese troops had their food strictly rationed. On Iwo Jima their men had been on a very restricted diet for a long time and they struggled to find enough drinking water. By contrast the Americans were able to provide their men with ice cream.

Within a month of the occupation of Ulithi, a complete floating base was in operation. Six thousand ship fitters, artificers, welders, carpenters, and electricians arrived aboard repair ships, destroyer tenders, and floating dry docks. The USS Ajax had an air-conditioned optical shop and a metal fabrication shop with a supply of base metals from which she could make any alloy to form any part needed. The USS Abatan, which looked like a big tanker, distilled fresh water and baked bread and pies. The ice cream barge made 500 gallons a shift. The dry docks towed to Ulithi were large enough to lift dry a 45,000 ton battleship. The small island of Mog Mog became a rest and recreation site for sailors.

Fleet oilers sortied from Ulithi to meet the task forces at sea, refueling the warships a short distance from their combat operational areas. The result was something never seen before: a vast floating service station enabling the entire Pacific fleet to operate indefinitely at unprecedented distances from its mainland bases. Ulithi was as far away from the US Naval base at San Francisco as San Francisco was from London, England. The Japanese had considered that the vastness of the Pacific Ocean would make it very difficult for the US to sustain operations in the western Pacific. With the Ulithi naval base to refit, repair and resupply, many ships were able to deploy and operate in the western Pacific for a year or more without returning to the Naval base at Pearl Harbor.

Source: Wikipedia

40mm mount in action at Ulithi. At left are twin .50 cal. guns on the tail of a PBM on board.
40mm mount in action at Ulithi. At left are twin .50 cal. guns on the tail of a PBM on board U.S.S. Cumberland Sound (AV-17).

On the island itself was a young Marine Corps pilot, still training with his squadron, in preparation for combat with an enemy they had yet to meet. Samuel Hynes was to go on to write a reflective memoir of his time in the Marines, as befits a man who is now Professor of Literature at Princeton University:

Out in the lagoon the warships gathered and waited, but as we flew over them, coming and going on our solitary patrols, they did not look like menacing machines designed to burn and drown men, but like delicate abstractions – slender, tapered shapes at rest on the smooth bright water, part of the static pattern of our lives.

And so when the air-raid sirens began to howl one evening in the early dark, we took it for a drill. After all, the nearest Japanese planes were away off in the Philippines, and there weren’t many of them left even there.

As the island lights went out, we left the club and gathered curiously at the lagoon-end of the landing strip, and watched the fleet black out – a ship here, a ship there, one or two of the big ones delaying, and then suddenly blinking out, until at last the whole lagoon was dark. Not a very successful drill, I thought; it had been far too slow.

And then, astonishingly, anti-aircraft guns began to fire, and tracers sprayed up into the darkness, as though the lights that had burned across the waters of the lagoon were being hurled into the sky. I began to feel exposed, standing there on the runway while the guns fired; but no one else moved, so I didn’t.

Across the lagoon a plane screamed into a dive, higher and higher pitched, and there was a flash and an explosion, and an instant later another explosion in what seemed the center of the moored ships. Then darkness and silence, until the all- clear sounded, and lights began to come on in the harbor again.

It had been a kamikaze raid. The Japanese planes had flown all the way from the main islands, touching at the Philippines. They had planned to refuel at Yap, and then fly on to attack the fleet at Ulithi; but bad navigation, bad weather, bad luck, whatever it was, had delayed them, and sent some planes back.

Others had crash-landed on the Yap beach. Only three reached Ulithi. One was shot down; one crashed into the deck of the carrier Randolph, where the crew was crowded into the hangar deck watching a movie; and one, taking an island for a large ship, dove on Mogmog and blew up a kitchen.

The whole lasted perhaps fifteen minutes. We were excited by it – perhaps entertained is a more precise word – it was a spectacle, like a son et lumiére, with noise, light, explosions.

We didn’t know what was happening to human lives while we watched, but even if we had, I wonder if it would have mattered. We were a mile or so from the Randolph, and perhaps a mile is too far to project the imagination to another man’s death. We took it as a sign that the war was still with us, that we still had an enemy, and went to bed heartened by the incident.

See Samuel Hynes: Flights of Passage: Recollections of a World War II Aviator

Yokosuka P1Y "Frances" shot down next to USS Ommaney Bay (CVE-79),  0945 on December 15, 1944
Yokosuka P1Y “Frances” shot down next to USS Ommaney Bay (CVE-79), 0945 on December 15, 1944
The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Randolph (CV-15) alongside repair ship USS Jason (ARH-1) at Ulithi Atoll, Caroline Islands, 13 March 1945, showing damage to her aft flight deck resulting from a kamikaze hit on 11 March. The photograph was taken from a floatplane from the light cruiser USS Miami (CL-89).
The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Randolph (CV-15) alongside repair ship USS Jason (ARH-1) at Ulithi Atoll, Caroline Islands, 13 March 1945, showing damage to her aft flight deck resulting from a kamikaze hit on 11 March. The photograph was taken from a floatplane from the light cruiser USS Miami (CL-89).

The grinding battle of Iwo Jima continues

 D plus 3 day. Because of rapid advance made this morning by 1st Bn, 26th Marines, many Jap pillboxes and snipers were harassing troops. Photo’s of men moving near airfield.
D plus 3 day. Because of rapid advance made this morning by 1st Bn, 26th Marines, many Jap pillboxes and snipers were harassing troops. Photo’s of men moving near airfield.

The battle for Iwo Jima continued as intensely as ever. The American objective to split the Japanese forces in two had still not been achieved, even though Naval ships had come close inshore to provide supporting fire when the Japanese bunkers were identified.

Jim Craig was a platoon commander with the Marines on Iwo Jima. In the 28 days on the island his platoon of 41 men would receive 19 replacements, out of the total of 60 men who served in the platoon, 20 were killed and 30 were evacuated wounded. Although not a true first person account, this is the story as related directly by Craig to his nephew, and gives a graphic understanding of the nature of the battle:

Jim’s primary job as leader of 1st Platoon was to lead his men as they advanced toward the day’s objective. At first they advanced slowly and cautiously, ready to dive for cover the moment the Japanese started shooting. They seldom saw a Japanese soldier shoot at them.

As they advanced across the rugged terrain, they suddenly came under an intense mortar barrage. They all hit the deck and crawled to the nearest cover. Jim and five of his men dove into a large shell hole while mortar shells landed all around them. The noise was deafening as one round after another pounded into their position. Fortunately, the soft volcanic ash attenuated the round’s blast effect. Still, the concussion was tremendous.

The Marines instinctively covered their helmets and ducked their heads as sand and dirt rained down on them from close hits. The sound of deadly shrapnel zinging overhead was unmistakable. Anybody unfortunate enough to be caught in the open was killed immediately or he received mutilating wounds.

If one of these shells landed next to a Marine, he might simply disintegrate in the blast. Later, bits and pieces of human flesh and bone and the odd piece of uniform or boot might be found, but sometimes nothing was left by which the body could be identified for burial. In some cases the coffin ofa dead Marine shipped home to the family was empty — there was simply nothing left to send home.

The barrage was so intense that Jim was forced to concede the ground, and he yelled to his men that they were pulling back. The mortar fire would have to be silenced one way or another before they could move forward. The best way to get his men safely out was to order them back in pairs between salvos. After the next salvo landed, he turned to the two nearest men in the hole with him and yelled, “Go.”

When they were safely away he waited for the next salvo. When it landed, he immediately pointed to the next two and yelled, “Go.” They jumped out of the shell hole and started to run. They had gone only about ten feet when the next salvo landed near them.

Jim and the remaining Marine huddled in the shell hole and waited for the next salvo and then they, too, got up to run back. As he ran from the hole he nearly stepped on what was left of the body of one of the two men who had left before he had. Its head, left arm, and the entire left side of its torso had been blown off; they were simply gone. Blood and shreds of tissue were scattered all around.

For the most part Jim was able to maintain a detached, stoic attitude over the loss of his men. Naturally, it grieved him to lose any of his men, but he had to keep his emotions in check for the sake of the men still in the fight. If they saw their platoon leader start to lose it, they, too, would be adversely affected.

On the surface he might appear to be cold and callous toward the death of one ofhis men, but he had to be. The rest of the platoon depended on him to keep his cool. He was their leader, and one of the best ways to lead is by example. Even with the obscene mutilation of the Marine’s body, Jim had to put aside his emotions and revulsion and carry on with what had to be done.

The battle did not allow him time to mourn. He still had a job to do that required his full attention. The horrible way in which the Marine had died shocked Jim. He leaned up against the side of rock and sat there, unmoving. His men noticed that he appeared to be in a daze. Sergeant Darnell, concerned by this uncharac- teristic behavior, radioed the situation back to Company CP. After a minute or two, Jim seemed to snap out of his catatonia. Darnell noticed this and radioed back, “He’s okay now.”

Jim got up and yelled over to Darnell to have some stretcher bearers brought up to collect the body.

The second Marine lay on the ground with blood oozing from his back. Miraculously, he had survived the blast. It had blown him about ten yards from Jim’s shell hole, and shrapnel had peppered his back, but he was still alive. One man dragged him back to the shell hole. After another salvo landed, they got out and quickly carried him back to safety.

A stretcher was brought up, and the wounded Marine was taken back to Battalion where he received medical care. He survived his wounds and was soon evacuated to the offshore hospital ship where he received definitive care.

Later, another stretcher was sent up to the front to retrieve the dead Marine’s body.

The Marines took care of their own. Every effort was made to get the dead and wounded off the front lines as soon as possible, even at the risk to others. With rare exceptions they never left a wounded man for more than a few hours. It was part of the Marine psyche. They simply would not leave one of their own out on the battlefield to fend for himself.

See The Last Lieutenant: A Foxhole View of the Epic Battle for Iwo Jima This book presents Jim Craig’s story, as told to his nephew, John C. Shively.

Battle at the foot of Mount Suribachi on D-Day plus three.
Battle at the foot of Mount Suribachi on D-Day plus three.