Disaster as US ‘D-Day rehearsal’ is ambushed

The S class destroyer HMS Scimitar was escorting the LSTs during but was damaged during a collision with one of them. A mix up meant that no replacement escort was assigned.
The S class destroyer HMS Scimitar was escorting the LSTs during the early part of the exercisebut was damaged during a collision with one of them. A mix up meant that no replacement escort was assigned.
LST craft on their way to the beaches during exercises in the English Channel, Portsmouth and Isle of Wight area to prepare for the Normandy landings.
LST craft on their way to the beaches during exercises in the English Channel, Portsmouth and Isle of Wight area to prepare for the Normandy landings.
HMS Azalea, the 'Flower' class corvette that accompanied the LSTs on the 28th April.
HMS Azalea, the ‘Flower’ class corvette that accompanied the LSTs on the 28th April.

As Operation Overlord approached the Allies were embarking on the final exercises for troops involved in the invasion. The aim was to rehearse the movement of troops by sea in as realistic manner as possible, with the men making an equivalent length of journey to familiarise them with sea going conditions. It was not always a comfortable experience.

The last of the rehearsal exercises now began on the south coast of England, beginning with Exercise Tiger for the men destined for Utah beach. On the 28th April the Supreme Allied Commander, General Eisenhower was amongst the senior officers watching the manoeuvres at Slapton Sands. His aide Captain H. C. Butcher was accompanying him and recorded the day in his diary:

The maneuver, the code name for which is TIGER, was intended to simulate conditions of the actual landings on the 4th Division’s beach in France. This beach has water behind it and high ground commanding the beach. Our engineers had worked hard and long to copy the scheme of fortifications used on the shore on which the invasion landing is to be made. It had been thought that this large exercise would attract enemy air attacks or possibly attack by surface vessels, particularly E-boats, but none developed on D-Night or D-Day.

The principal innovation is the use of rockets aboard aircraft. The plane dives at the target and the rocket is released. The rocket accelerates to a high speed as the propulsion fluid burns, after which the speed diminishes. If a target is hit during the high speed, extraordinary effect is obtained. Several squadrons of Typhoons, which fly 400 miles per hour, already have been equipped, as have been some American planes.

A view of the Typhoon rocket armament, taken later in the campaign. Armourers fit two extra 60-lb rocket-projectiles to the four normally carried on the wing rails of Hawker Typhoon Mark IB, MN178 'PR-V', of No. 609 Squadron RAF at B77/Gilze-Rijen, Holland.
A view of the Typhoon rocket armament, taken later in the campaign. Armourers fit two extra 60-lb rocket-projectiles to the four normally carried on the wing rails of Hawker Typhoon Mark IB, MN178 ‘PR-V’, of No. 609 Squadron RAF at B77/Gilze-Rijen, Holland.

Then there was a delay in the landing; why, we did not know, although later we heard that H-Hour had been postponed even after the naval bombardment had begun for one hour. This left LCTs and their cargoes of DDs (tanks that float) milling around, waiting. In due time, the DDs were successfuly launched and slowly made their way toward the beach at three or four knots an hour.

One, I noticed, was smoking. It had proceeded about a mile somewhat parallel to the beach when I saw a yellow object pushed from the tank. I first thought this was a marker buoy, but soon realized it was a dinghy and that the tank was in trouble. Soon an LCVP sped toward it. In a few moments, the tank crew was in the yellow dinghy and the tank had sunk. This was the only tank casualty and, fortunately, no one was lost.

Then the first assault wave of infantry in LCVPs arrived from the transport vessels eight miles out. They landed either with or shortly after the amphibious tanks. This landing was preceded by rocket bombardment, at the postponed H-Hour, from three landing craft that had crept close to shore and fired diagonally at the obstacles, including barbed wire, tank ditch, and other prepared positions. The rockets had made usable pathways through the barbed wire.

In this exercise effort was made to get tanks ashore quickly in order to use their fire power. Engineers were brought in as rapidly as possible to demolish obstacles with hand-placed explosives. The tanks had to wait while these operations proceeded. If there had been enemy fire, the tanks, being quite close together, would have been easy targets, as, indeed, would the landing craft.

I came away from the exercise feeling depressed. But frequently the poorest kind of exercise presages the best actual operation because the failures are noticed and corrected.

As the day closed, I was in Ike’s office when Beetle phoned on the intercommunication system to say that by E-boat action last night, we had two LSTs sunk and one damaged in the exercise. This happened off Lyme Bay—just where we had been. Casualties are estimated at 300 to 400. Beetle said this reduces our reserve of LSTs for the big show to zero.

See Three Years with Eisenhower. The personal diary of Captain H. C. Butcher … Naval Aide to General Eisenhower, 1942 to 1945..

The following account by Signalman William Smith conveys the grim reality of the incident:

I was a signalman onboard a motor launch – the ML303 – stationed at Portland Harbour and early on the morning of the 28th April we heard a buzz that German “W-boats” had attacked a convoy that night and there were heavy casualties.

Now W-boats had featured in reports as the latest German secret weapon to cause mayhem and were supposed to be a glorified E-boat-cum-submarine that was capable of submerging until a convoy passed over, after which they would resurface, fire torpedoes and guns and disappear fast back to France. There was a special signal in the codebook that read “W BOATS ATTACKING”. It transpired that the convoy had been attacked by E-boats.

About an hour after the news of the incident had circulated a flotilla of motor launches, including the ML303, were ordered to proceed west to the Slapton Sands area.

On arrival we found hundreds of dead US soldiers floating and bobbing around. Their body movements were being accentuated by a heavy swell. They were fully clad with steel helmets firmly fastened. A large proportion had badly burnt faces and hands and from a distance we initially mistook them for coloured troops. Having passed through burning oil-covered sea it would seem a fair number had suffocated and in their death throes had drawn their legs up to their May West life jackets, causing them to hunch up with rigor mortis. We pulled them in with boat hooks and set them on the boat sides, along the rails, with their faces facing outboard; we loaded about fifty or so per boat and returned to Portland.

The action of placing the bodies facing outwards was to avoid the crew having to look at the damaged and grotesque faces. However, this served little purpose as the next boat alongside had done the same and we could easily see the awful visage on those boats.
American ambulances manned by coloured GIs were waiting to load the bodies and at first they attempted to carry two on a stretcher but that did not work, as the gangplanks were too narrow and encumbered with safety rails. It was rumoured that they were taken to a local field near Portland and temporarily buried to keep it a secret. The total death toll we later heard was over 700.

We did two trips that day and it was a very subdued crew that evening with the added warning that it was a complete hush-hush affair and under no conditions were the day’s events to be discussed outside the ship, or reported in letters home.

Read more about this and the life of a Royal Navy Signalman at Smith RN.

The final death toll as a consequence of the incident remains unclear, it certainly exceeded the 200 dead on Utah beach on the day of the invasion itself.

Naturally the whole event could not be fully acknowledged during war time, it was impossible to make any reference to the ‘D-Day rehearsals’. There was no ‘cover up’ but the true circumstances were not revealed at the time – and the incident was not remembered with a memorial for many years.

Although the disaster is associated with Slapton Sands in Devon, where the troops were exercising on the beaches, the incident happened some distance away in the Channel. The boats were actually torpedoed off Portland Bill in Dorset, within sight of gun crews on the cliff tops. Wartime attitudes about the exact circumstances of the incident meant that the facts were not uncovered for some time.

the precise locations of both Tank Landing Ships with references, courtesy the Admiralty Chart:

LST 507: Latitude 50˚ 26´ 08˝ N, Longitude 2˚ 44´ 01˝ W.
LST 531: Latitude 50˚ 26´ 08˝ N, Longitude 2˚ 43´ 39˝ W.

That puts them under between ten and eighteen fathoms of water, ten miles west-south-west of Portland Bill and twelve miles south of Burton Bradstock – which is 45 miles from Slapton Sands.

See Rodney Legg in Dorset Life, May 2009

One of the E-boats, or German ‘Schnell’ boats, that took part in the attack, S-130, is now undergoing restoration in Britain.

September 1944: A sign on a beach, probably Slapton Sands, along Start Bay in Devon, reminds repair gangs and civilians that the beach is still dangerous following training exercises carried out in preparation for the D-Day Landings. The notice reads “Danger. Minefield contains A mines. You travel road at your own risk. You have been warned”.

Exercise Tiger: The “Friendly Fire” Incident

LCI(L) 525 and other landing craft about to disembark US troops at Slapton Sands in Devon during an invasion exercise in the spring of 1944. In the foreground, engineers construct a slat and wire roadway over the sand and shingle for vehicle use. Above, a barrage balloon flies from one of the LCTs.

A 2019 study, Disaster Before D-Day: Unravelling the Tragedy at Slapton Sands examines all aspects of the incident. In particular it raises the issue of a separate disaster befalling US servicemen that occurred just the day before:

One of the issues with the Exercise Tiger story is a lack of clarity on what really happened: how many men were actually killed and where they were buried. Most of the bodies of the American servicemen who died were taken to Portland where they were processed by the US Army’s 605th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company.

After the 605th’s work was done, the bodies were taken by the 146th Quartermaster Truck Company by road to the Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey where American military personnel were buried at the time. It wasn’t until August 1944 that US casualties were buried and commemorated at the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial which is between the villages of Coton and Madingley.

It was estimated by the 605th Graves Registration Company and the 146th Truck Company that they had processed ‘in the ‘region of’ 500 bodies – there is no exact number, just an approximate one – but burial records at Brookwood Cemetery only related to 268 graves.

I believe the reference to a cover-up relates to two separate aspects of the exercise.

There was the friendly fire incident that occurred on 27 April 1944 when an undisclosed number of American soldiers were killed by friendly fire after a confusion over the start time of that day’s training exercise.

HMS Hawkins, underway at sea.

Shelling of the beach by the Royal Navy’s HMS Hawkins was originally planned to begin at 0730 hours, but it was delayed by one hour until 0830. Unfortunately, this change in the start time of the exercise was incredibly not passed on, which meant that rather than the subsequent artillery fire landing ahead of the disembarking American troops, it landed when they were already on the beach.

There has never be a denitive answer as to the number of men who were killed in that incident; estimates vary between 200 and 500. This aspect of Exercise Tiger has never officially been recognised, confirmed or admitted by the American government or military authorities. This seems somewhat strange, as America came clean about the E—boat incident way back in l954, so why they wouldn’t confirm or clarify this aspect of the disaster is not clear.

What makes matters worse is that because of this stance nobody knows for sure where these men were buried. Maybe their deaths were conveniently wrapped up with the casualty figures for the D-Day landings in Normandy.

The other case of alleged ‘cover-up’ is in relation to the aftermath of the E—boat attack, when hundreds of survivors were taken to nearby hospitals for the treatment of burns and immersion.

One of these hospitals was the US Army Field Hospital at the 228th Camp Unit at Haydon Park near the town of Sherbourne, which first opened for business on 18 September 1943. The hospital’s staff, including doctors, nurses and orderlies, who were all military personnel, had no prior knowledge of the arrival of the wounded men. They were told to treat them but not to ask any questions about how they sustained their injuries and warned that they would be placed before a military court martial if they dared discuss the incident with anybody.

American troops landing on beach in England during rehearsal for invasion of Nazi occupied France ("Exercise Tiger"). 25 April 1944
American troops landing on beach in England during rehearsal for invasion of Nazi occupied France (“Exercise Tiger”). 25 April 1944

German propaganda seeks to divide the Allies

A variation on the theme of " over-sexed, over-paid, and over-here" that was sometimes used to characterise US troops in Britain.
A variation on the theme of ” over-sexed, over-paid, and over-here” that was sometimes used to characterise US troops in Britain.

The struggle at Anzio began to stabilise as the lines between the opposing armies became more established. Not only were those caught on the beachhead exposed to intermittent shelling, they also faced a determined propaganda campaign. The German ‘Radio Roma’ played popular music intermingled with subversive messages.

BBC War Correspondent Wynford Vaughan Thomas collected the propaganda leaflets that burst over the beachhead from shellfire and littered the area:

In the first days of the German counter-attack the pamphlets were obviously ‘rush jobs’, hurriedly printed to put over the ‘facts’ about the battle, of which the front-line soldier was presumed to be ignorant. One of the earliest ones said:

British soldiers, you are fighting against an opponent you know very well. You are not facing Italians but Germans. As gallant soldiers you have had the occasion to become acquainted with the courage and the grit of your German opponent.

You know how well the Germans stood up in battle, although they were always inferior to you in number. But you know well enough what it means when the Germans are numerically equal to your own forces or even superior.

In the face of insurmountable odds a thousand men of crack British Guards surrendered.

If they were forced to do so, then it is not dishonourable for you to lay down arms in case you are facing nothing but certain death.

The other side of the pamphlet harped away at the theme of inefficient American leadership:

WHAT IT MEANS TO BE PUT UNDER AMERICAN COMMAND YOUR FORCES ARE FINDING OUT AT NETTUNO.

The ‘accomplishments’ of this American leadership are indeed typically American: operations were insufficiently prepared and led to the most dreadful reverses for your troops. Your picked units were carelessly thrown into the battle. CERTAINLY, THE YANKS PLAYED YOU A NASTY TURN.

Another early pamphlet adopted a more threatening tone. It warned the British soldiers that unless they laid down their arms they would be swept into the sea.

What happened to the British 1st Division on February 4th was only a prelude. The same fate may be in store for you.

Americans and British were included in the same warning on a few occasions.

Remember the Hell of Dunkirk? How great were the hopes of the British expeditionary force and how dreadful was the end! Think of the terrible hours when the German broom swept your fellow soldiers, tanks, guns and lorries off the continent. How many ships were sunk then and how many brave Tommies kicked the bucket! AND NOW THE HELL OF NETTUNO

Boy! What a hot reception the American and British forces got this time again! The beaches at Nettuno are covered in the Dunkirk fashion with debris and dead American and British soldiers crushed by the German military machine.

Overleaf was a crude drawing of a dead soldier, clutching a broken flag and floating in the water amongst sinking ships.

See Wynford Vaughan-Thomas: Anzio

Nettuno was one of the two ports in the Anzio area.
Nettuno was one of the two ports in the Anzio area.

Mopping up the last Japanese on Kwajalein

Kwajalein Atoll. Private First Class N. E. Carling stands beside the American M4 Sherman medium tank "Killer" on which is mounted a knocked-out Japanese Type 94 tankette / light tank.
Kwajalein Atoll. Private First Class N. E. Carling stands beside the American M4 Sherman medium tank “Killer” on which is mounted a knocked-out Japanese Type 94 tankette / light tank.
Men of the 7th Div. using flame throwers to smoke out Japs from a block house on Kwajalein Island, while others wait with rifles ready in case Japs come out. February 4, 1944.
Men of the 7th Div. using flame throwers to smoke out Japs from a block house on Kwajalein Island, while others wait with rifles ready in case Japs come out. February 4, 1944.

In the Pacific the US Navy had moved on to Kwajalein atoll in the Marshall Islands and the surrounding islands. After the bloody losses on Tarawa new tactics were adopted – the assault was preceded by a massive Naval bombardment, combined with heavy bombing, that ploughed up the Japanese positions, sometimes to a depth of 15 feet. Over 15,000 tons of explosives were dropped on the small islands.

The devastation was so great that the engineers were not needed to clear beach obstacles. There remained a number of concrete block houses that held surviving Japanese troops – and the infantry still had to clear these out. On this occasion much more use was made of offshore artillery support to blast these apart. By the 3rd February the battle was largely over.

7,870 Japanese were killed and 105 taken prisoner, the US casualties were 372 killed and
1,592 wounded.

Lt. Cmdr. John D. Schneidau, commanding LST-31 had a view of the whole battle from offshore:

The battle for the main island in this section is still going on but the Japs are now pushed into a corner and it shouldn’t be long before they are wiped out. They fight right on to the end though, no matter how hopeless the situation is. They figure if they can kill two or three of our troops before they kickoff they have saved their face, or some such rot as that.

All night long star shells have been bursting over the battlefield. They shed an eerie light over the scene. Several of our small ships boats have been in to that section of the beach [so] that we have well in hand with supplies.

Mr Gurley, who went in on one of the trips says that the troops ashore dread the night, as the Japs hide in their holes and underground chambers all day, or lie among the dead, and as soon as it gats dark they sneak in through the lines in the hope of getting a few of our men before they are seen. Its a ticklish business as it is difficult to tell friend from foe in the darkness.

Yesterday morning troops landed on another island next to the main one. This one was the second best defended in the group here. We took part in that also. This morning troops will land on three more islands farther up the chain.

Shortly after the landing we moved in, to only a little less than a mile from the beach, so that we had a ringside seat for the whole battle. This island is very narrow and about a mile and a half long so that with the glasses we could watch our tanks and infantry as it advanced along its length. The tanks were out in front and would crawl along slowly.

Every now and then a puff of smoke would land near one as a Jap threw a hand grenade. They would all stop and open up on the Jap position until it was cleaned out or, if it was too tough, the artillery from the other island would work on it or maybe a destroyer would steam right up to the beach and pound it. Then the tanks would move on.

One tank was way out in front of all the others, too far out front. About ten Japs ran out of a blockhouse and surrounded it, throwing hand grenades at it. The tank would have been done for except that another tank a good way behind could see what was going on through a break in the trees and wiped out the Japs with light machine gun fire.

Through the glasses we can see the infantry picking their way along behind the tanks. The boys step warily and rather gingerly an they advance, believe me. At the first sound of rifle fire they all dash for cover and then proceed to locate the point where it came from. When they do they sneak up on it from all sides and toss in grenades. They were about two thirds of the way up the island amd now and should finish up by tonight.

All of the really tough islands havs now been taken. There are a good many more that we haven’t landed on yet but they are lightly defended and unimportant and can be taken at leisure with a small force. I think we will have everything cleaned up here in another week at the most.

I guess we will probably be around longer than that though. How long it is hard to guess. There are other atolls in this group that they may take before we go back, in which case we might well be around here over a month. None of us are anxious to stay any longer than is necessary as it is certain we will get some air raids eventually.

Lt. Cmdr. John D. Schneidau photographs can be seen at the National World War II Museum, and his whole account of the battle can be seen in the original.

Marines of the 4th Division mop up after taking Roi-Namur Island at Kwajalein Atoll, February 1944.
Marines of the 4th Division mop up after taking Roi-Namur Island at Kwajalein Atoll, February 1944.

Operation Overlord is put back by a month

A fleet of Landing Craft Assault passing a landing ship during exercises prior to the invasion of Normandy.
A fleet of Landing Craft Assault passing a landing ship during exercises prior to the invasion of Normandy.
United States troops arrive in England: members of the US Signal Corps enjoy coffee and doughnuts served by the Red Cross on a train which is carrying them to their base after their arrival in Britain.
United States troops arrive in England: members of the US Signal Corps enjoy coffee and doughnuts served by the Red Cross on a train which is carrying them to their base after their arrival in Britain. Hundreds of thousands of US troops were now in Britain, and many more would arrive in the following few months.
General Omar N Bradley GOC US 1st Army.
General Omar N Bradley GOC US 1st Army.

January had been a hectic month for the Overlord planners preparing for the invasion of France. Detailed planning had been undertaken by the COSSAC staff under General Frederick Morgan (Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander) since April 1943. However the Supreme Allied Commander had not been appointed until Christmas Eve – and then Dwight D. Eisenhower necessarily travelled back to England via Washington, arriving in mid January.

General Montgomery, who was to command all Allied land forces for the first part of the operation, arrived in Britain from Italy on 3rd January. He immediately decided that the planned assault was too narrow. Two more landing beaches – Omaha and Utah – were quickly added to the plans.

Eisenhower approved these plans almost as soon as he was appraised of them. The troops were available – but the means to get them across the English Channel were not. Suddenly a lot of additional work needed to be done rather urgently. It was a testing time for all involved, including General Omar Bradley who was to command the US land forces:

The decision to defer D day from early May to June was made late in January, 1944. When Eisenhower, shortly after his arrival in England, counted up the deficits in landing craft, he grew increasingly concerned over the nearing assault deadline.

On January 24, while summarizing his arguments for widening the OVERLORD beachhead, he reported to the War Department that “from the Army point of view” the May D day would be preferable. But in the same message he also said, “Rather … than risk failure with reduced forces on the early date, I would accept a postponement of a month if I were assured of then obtaining the strength required.”

Now alarmed over the menacing shortage in craft, the British Chiefs seconded Ike’s proposal for delay and on January 31 the U. S. chiefs joined them. Although I, too, favored delay while we sought additional craft, I found it difficult to understand why this single, most decisive attack of the entire war should have to compete with the Pacic for its minimum means. Naval bombardment support had been rationed to OVERLORD on an equally tightfisted basis.

And while I knew nothing of the navy’s commitments in the Pacic war, I was irritated by this disposition of the navy to look on OVERLORD as a European stepchild.

This promise of a month’s delay came as good news to the airmen, for the additional weeks would enable us to soften the enemy still more by bombing. Even the far-off Russians welcomed the change in plan. By June, spring thaws on the Eastern front would have dried sufficiently to permit resumption of the Red Army offensive.

See Omar N. Bradley: A Soldier’s Story.

Pfc Edward Shea (of 27 Wentworth Street, Dorchester, Massachusetts) fills up his jeep
Pfc Edward Shea (of 27 Wentworth Street, Dorchester, Massachusetts) fills up his jeep in the sunshine at the petrol station in Burton Bradstock, Dorset. According to the original caption, the gas station has been taken over by the army. Pfc Shea is helped by local boys Freddy and Chris Kerley, Barry Kneale and Billy Hubbard: one boy works the petrol pump, one holds back the seat, one holds the hose and another cleans the windscreen.
Women in the United States Forces in Britain: United States nurses take cover against "air attack" during training in England while training for the opening of the second front.
Women in the United States Forces in Britain: United States nurses take cover against “air attack” during training in England while training for the opening of the second front.

The Germans begin to contain the Anzio beach head

A British soldier inspects a German Heinkel He 111 bomber shot down during a night raid on the Anzio bridgehead, 25 January 1944.
A British soldier inspects a German Heinkel He 111 bomber shot down during a night raid on the Anzio bridgehead, 25 January 1944.
The crew of a jeep attempt to dig out their vehicle, bogged down in muddy conditions near Anzio, 23 January 1944.
The crew of a jeep attempt to dig out their vehicle, bogged down in muddy conditions near Anzio, 23 January 1944.

The ambitious hopes of the landing at Anzio now began to unravel. Although the landings themselves had been largely unopposed and the road was virtually clear for an advance on Rome, it was necessary to consolidate the bridgehead. The hills surrounding Anzio now began to fill up with German troops and German planes were swiftly moved to airfields within range.

For the men who were now ashore it was intensely frustrating time. Rome was only a short jeep ride away but landing an a force that was of sufficient strength to make the advance was going to take many days.

An officer with the Royal Engineers had landed on the 22nd and watched the build up on the beach, the ships being hit offshore, and the growing threat of the Luftwaffe:

The Guards Brigade, with 23 Field Company under command, were the floating divisional reserve and were brought ashore once the tactical picture could be seen. 23 Field Company passed us on the way to their concentration area and we exchanged cheery waves and the usual soldierly banter.

They had just moved out of sight along the track when we were alarmed by the frightening roar of a German fighter in low level attack. We heard the machine gun fire: the worst happened to our cheery friends of not a moment ago. The column was raked from end to end. It was all over in but a few seconds but 23 Fd. Coy. had a rough reception to the Beachhead. There were some number of dead and wounded.

The next set-back was a storm on D+3 The wind blew up and the waves pounded our beaches destroying the pontoon roadway so no further shipping could be received for the British Sector except through the small port of Anzio itself. This further increased the shipping congestion and made easy pickings for attacking planes despite an array of many barrage balloons and anti-aircraft fire.

Air activity increased and was growing more intense each day, and continued at night time with high level bombing, the enemy airfields being only a few minutes flying-time away, as compared to our own air forces way back somewhere behind Cassino. Low level attack happens so quickly and there always seemed to be aircraft somewhere in the sky but not that many of ours although I did see two US Lightning aircraft doing their best for us shot down into the sea.

The Luftwaffe main action appeared to be directed against shipping crowded into the small bay at Anzio although they were not averse to amusing themselves with anything which moved on the ground!

Despite the attentions of the Luftwaffe the build up on the beach head was going extremely well and better than expected. I can speak now only of the British Sector but doubtless the US on X-Ray beaches were equally satisfied.

My Colonel returned with the tale that he had stood at the front surveying the terrain; all was quiet and the Alban Hills beckoned and it seemed he could have taken his walking stick and strolled towards them. It seemed that nothing in the world could stop a quick advance to seize the Alban Hills at a small price and that our objective would be achieved and consolidated. Everyone was geared up for the big race.

For reasons, some understandable, some incomprehensible, some political and some plainly self-seeking individualism nothing happened. We were waiting on the leash for two days; days when all the advantages of complete surprise were frittered away and time given for German forces to be improvised with the usual German efficiency.

The whole account can be read at BBC People’s War, the author appears to be named Nutall but no other details are given.

Men of the Middlesex Regiment dig in at Anzio, with Private H Carpocciama in the foreground.
Men of the Middlesex Regiment dig in at Anzio, with Private H Carpocciama in the foreground.
South African troops of 1991 Swaziland Smoke Company wait to board landing craft at Castellammare before sailing for Anzio, January 1944. The unit was responsible for creating smokescreens over the invasion area.
South African troops of 1991 Swaziland Smoke Company wait to board landing craft at Castellammare before sailing for Anzio, January 1944. The unit was responsible for creating smokescreens over the invasion area.

US Marines at Cape Gloucester are dive bombed

Marines hit three feet of rough water as they leave their LST to take the beach at Cape Gloucester, New Britain. Taken by Sgt.Robert M. Howard, December 26, 1943
Marines hit three feet of rough water as they leave their LST to take the beach at Cape Gloucester, New Britain. Taken by Sgt.Robert M. Howard, December 26, 1943

On New Britain the Marines had landed on the 26th December at Cape Gloucester. It was the second amphibious landing for the 1st Marines, veterans of Guadalcanal. Now the aim was to take the nearby Japanese airfield, with the ultimate objective of taking the main Japanese base at Rabaul.

Milton Royko was an artilleryman with the Marines. Shortly after they arrived they saw a solitary U.S. B-17 bomber over their positions, unusual in itself since they usually went in force direct to their targets. From the way it was weaving about it was eventually discovered that it was a captured plane, being used by the Japanese to photograph their positions. The next time it appeared it was shot down. However it was not the end of the episode:

As a result of this on January 2nd, probably close to midnight we had a devastating dive-bomber attack on our positions and it was quite an experience.

Navar and I had been a little way from the gun position when we got the condition: “RED”. Our radar had picked up some incoming dive-bombers. You could always tell the Japanese bombers as they had a different sound to their engines and we ran over to our gun section. Everyone was in the slit trench and Navar and I couldn’t get in for lack of space. The bombs were starting to fall very close. Navar dove into a small shallow foxhole about the size of a coffin and eight or nine inches deep and I went into the one next to it. One of the bombs fell precisely on the fire control center hitting a large tree killing four of our guys and injuring two of the others.

[Paul Stigall was one of the men hit. Part of his skull ripped off he now has a steel plate in his head as a result of that attack. Jim Moore, had a huge chest wound. We met them at a reunion in California. They healed well and were OK so we had a lot to remember and talk about.]

There were a couple of others wounded and during that little episode our Corpsman ran around treating these people and exposing himself to a considerable amount of danger. He was later evacuated because he had been a Corpsman on Guadalcanal and it was discovered that he was a morphine addict because he had been wounded and since he had access to the morphine he was taking it during the entire campaign until they discovered it and sent him home.

The dive-bombing attack continued for about an hour and we were being hit pretty hard in front of us and around us. Number two gun got a bomb hit into a tree directly next to the gun. Fortunately, no one was hit but the tree was pretty well shattered. That was about as close as you could get and then Navar and I had just dived into the fox holes when a Daisy Cutter hit into the kunai patch area to the side of us, probably twenty five or thirty yards away. The sound was just tremendous causing great pain in the ears. I could feel the fragments from the bomb passing over us hitting trees. The air was full of the acrid smell of powder burning and tree branches falling down on top of us. After that one hit there was a deadly silence. For a moment I had thoughts that I had been hit and was dead. Lying there just a few seconds I finally yelled to Navar and he yelled back that he was OK!

The dive-bombing continued but then they were starting to drop bottles, which they had tied together and as they came down they made a shrieking noise like a bomb so we had a night full of excitement. The accuracy of their attack made it plain that that B17 that had been circling overhead had been taking aerial photographs and had our gun positions pin pointed pretty well.

The sound of the attacks were violent in addition to the exploding bombs around us, there was the high pitched sound of the dive bombers coming down and pulling out and then the bombs dropping. They always sounded like they were going to hit you dead center. You wondered if that was where it was going to land. In addition to all of that, there was the sound of our anti aircraft guns just blazing away throughout the attack. I don’t think that they got any of our planes. I guess it’s hard to hit a dive-bomber especially at night.

When we awakened in the morning at first light we were dazed and exhausted and a little bit demoralized because we could see the damage around us. I walked over to Number Two gun with someone else and talked to some of our guys there. A tree was exactly next to the gun and it was a miracle that no one was hurt. The tree was really splintered. The bomb must have hit right into the tree and most of the fragments probably went up or else the guys were just in a positions where they weren’t hit and either was the gun. The biggest demoralization of that night was the fact that they had hit the fire control center and killed some of our people and wounded several others.

The experiences of Milton Royko as a United States Marine Corps artilleryman were originally available at http://www.firemission42.com – Fire Mission ’42. It may be possible to access this from the internet archive.

Marine mortar in action. Supporting the attack on Cape Gloucester, Marine mortarmen behind their riflemen buddies, form a bucket brigade line to pass the ammunition as they fire into Japanese positions with their 81mm mortar.
Marine mortar in action. Supporting the attack on Cape Gloucester, Marine mortarmen behind their riflemen buddies, form a bucket brigade line to pass the ammunition as they fire into Japanese positions with their 81mm mortar.

The smell of death in the paradise of Bougainville

ROUTE STEP…MUD – Marines moving up to the Bougainville front lines ran afoul of General Mud.  Here some of the Marines demonstrate carious forms of footwork for muddy going.  The leader (right) is recovering his balance after a misstep, the third Marine from the end lifts his feet high, while the other Leathernecks just plow right through.
ROUTE STEP…MUD – Marines moving up to the Bougainville front lines ran afoul of General Mud. Here some of the Marines demonstrate carious forms of footwork for muddy going. The leader (right) is recovering his balance after a misstep, the third Marine from the end lifts his feet high, while the other Leathernecks just plow right through.
Members of the 1st Battalion, 3d Marines, coming out of the jungle from the front lines.  They were the first to hit the beach at Torokino Point where the strongest opposition was met.  Captain Frank H. Vogel, is in command of Company “C,” 1st Battalion, 3d Marines.
Members of the 1st Battalion, 3d Marines, coming out of the jungle from the front lines. They were the first to hit the beach at Torokino Point where the strongest opposition was met. Captain Frank H. Vogel, is in command of Company “C,” 1st Battalion, 3d Marines.

On the otherwise idyllic island of Bougainville the US Marines had now secured their beachhead in the centre of the island and were able to consolidate. The last assault had been just before Christmas when they took ‘Hellzapoppin Ridge’ and the immediate Japanese threat in their vicinity had been overcome.

The campaign on Bougainville was destined to become a long drawn out affair which would be taken over by other troops. For the moment it was the US Marines that held the Allied positions and they had to accustom themselves to some uncomfortable living conditions. Amongst their number was Chester Nez, a Navajo code talker who, along with his colleagues talking in their native language, was providing secure radio communications for the Marines:

As long as we had good cover, Francis and I felt fairly secure. Now that we had taken Hellzapoppin Ridge, the fighting on Bougainville: had pretty much stopped – temporarily. Everyone worried about air attacks, but even those had abated.

Star shells occasionally floated down at night on small parachutes. The light attached to them lit the landscape in eerie white and cast shadows that moved with the movement of the parachutes. Our riflemen would try to shoot them, causing them to burst above us and preventing them from hitting the ground near the troops and exploding.

The island – like most ofthe tropical islands we fought on – was covered with beautiful flowers, with red and white blossoms as big as the tops of barrels. These bloomed at sunrise, and they smelled wonderful. We occasionally used petals plucked from them for underarm deodorant! The way we smelled after a prolonged battle was in sharp contrast to those fabulous flowers.

We could smell ourselves and everyone else. I remember dirty sweat rolling down my back, arms, and legs, collecting wherever my uniform made contact with my body. During heavy fighting, when we had no access to showers, I looked forward to rain so I could rinse off a bit.

Still, our smell couldn’t begin to compete with the stench of dead bodies. In the heat, bodies began to decompose within a couple of hours, and despite liberal sprayings of DDT, the flies and maggots had a field day. Of course, the flies and maggots didn’t limit themselves to dead bodies. They’d attack the dead skin around a wound, too.

The tropical birds were noisy and brilliantly colored, with dazzling yellow and red feathers. The palm trees were lovely, like a travel poster, and the whole tree—trunk and fronds swayed in the breezes. Unfortunately, many trees were bomb—blasted, and we had to slash our way into the jungles with machetes, cutting vines and flowers.

I always hated the feeling that we were destroying something really beautiful. Sometimes, when I was resting, I’d see monkeys come down from the trees. We men would feed them. During quiet periods, I often thought about those wonderful animals and flowers and wondered how they were going to survive the war. As a Navajo, I’d been taught to respect the earth, and the devastation made me feel sick.

We found we couldn’t really trust this period of relative quiet. That was one of the toughest things about war; you could never really relax, not even for a few moments. Even after an island was secured, there was always the possibility of the Japanese trying to win it back. And Bougainville wasn’t yet secured.

See Chester Nez: Code Talker.

Through the Bougainville mud and muck, a Marine artillery unit carries food to the forward gun positions.  At times sinking into mud up to their hips, the Marines worked from sunrise to sunset.  Because it was almost impossible for vehicles to plow through the mud, most of the work was done by hand.
Through the Bougainville mud and muck, a Marine artillery unit carries food to the forward gun positions. At times sinking into mud up to their hips, the Marines worked from sunrise to sunset. Because it was almost impossible for vehicles to plow through the mud, most of the work was done by hand.
U.S. Marines haul ammunition to the front lines at Bougainville, through a sea of mud.  Tropical rains and heavy equipment make short work of temporary roads and caterpillar tractors are the only vehicles equal to the task of getting through.
U.S. Marines haul ammunition to the front lines at Bougainville, through a sea of mud. Tropical rains and heavy equipment make short work of temporary roads and caterpillar tractors are the only vehicles equal to the task of getting through.

Tarawa – the fight for ‘Bonnyman’s Hill’

Lt Bonnyman has been indicated by an arrow, right of centre, as he leads his men in another assault.
Lt Bonnyman has been indicated by an arrow, right of centre, as he leads his men in another assault.
Marines still on the beach taking cover from snipers as they watch their fighter bombers come in to blast Japanese positions.
Marines still on the beach taking cover from snipers as they watch their fighter bombers come in to blast Japanese positions.

During the first day the Marines had spent time shooting snipers out of the trees only to see more creep back overnight and threaten them the second day. The Japanese also occupied broken down U.S. vehicles on the beach and in the water, using these as sniping positions until they got blasted out. Against such suicidal tactics casualties steadily mounted but the Marines gradually enlarged their bridgehead and began to prevail.

The third day saw the breakthrough they wanted. The Marines were able to bring in reserves and more heavy weapons arrived. Robert Sherrod was to witness the Japanese collapse:

This was the day the Japs fell apart. There were many factors in this rout.

Another company of light tanks and a few thirty-two ton tanks had a field day with the Japs, who cowered in their pillboxes and waited for death. Armored half tracks, mounting 75-mm guns, paraded up and down Betio all day, pouring high explosives into pillboxes, carrying Marine riflemen who killed Japs whenever they dared stick their heads up. The men with the flamethrowers killed many hundreds in their fortifications, or outside their fortifications.

Our line across the island had held during the night, preventing any fresh Japs from filtering towards the scenes of the toughest fighting. On the third day the question was not, ‘How long will it take to kill them all?’ but, ‘How few men can we expect to lose before killing the rest of the Japs?’

See Robert Sherrod: Tarawa

It was by no means a one sided massacre and many Marines died in this final fight. In many cases it was still the actions of individual men who turned the situation. Nowhere was this more true than in the fight for a Japanese strongpoint that subsequently became known as ‘Bonnyman’s Hill’.

First Lieutenant Alexander Bonnyman, Jr., awarded posthumous Medal of Honor
First Lieutenant Alexander Bonnyman, Jr., awarded posthumous Medal of Honor.

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Executive Officer of the 2d Battalion Shore Party, 18th Marines, 2d Marine Division, during the assault against enemy Japanese-held Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands, 20-22 November 1943.

Acting on his own initiative when assault troops were pinned down at the far end of Betio Pier by the overwhelming fire of Japanese shore batteries, 1st Lt. Bonnyman repeatedly defied the blasting fury of the enemy bombardment to organize and lead the besieged men over the long, open pier to the beach and then, voluntarily obtaining flame throwers and demolitions, organized his pioneer shore party into assault demolitionists and directed the blowing of several hostile installations before the close of D-day.

Determined to effect an opening in the enemy’s strongly organized defense line the following day, he voluntarily crawled approximately 40 yards forward of our lines and placed demolitions in the entrance of a large Japanese emplacement as the initial move in his planned attack against the heavily garrisoned, bombproof installation which was stubbornly resisting despite the destruction early in the action of a large number of Japanese who had been inflicting heavy casualties on our forces and holding up our advance.

Withdrawing only to replenish his ammunition, he led his men in a renewed assault, fearlessly exposing himself to the merciless slash of hostile fire as he stormed the formidable bastion, directed the placement of demolition charges in both entrances and seized the top of the bombproof position, flushing more than 100 of the enemy who were instantly cut down, and effecting the annihilation of approximately 150 troops inside the emplacement.

Assailed by additional Japanese after he had gained his objective, he made a heroic stand on the edge of the structure, defending his strategic position with indomitable determination in the face of the desperate charge and killing 3 of the enemy before he fell, mortally wounded.

By his dauntless fighting spirit, unrelenting aggressiveness and forceful leadership throughout 3 days of unremitting, violent battle, 1st Lt. Bonnyman had inspired his men to heroic effort, enabling them to beat off the counterattack and break the back of hostile resistance in that sector for an immediate gain of 400 yards with no further casualties to our forces in this zone. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

For more background on the action and Lt. Bonnyman see U.S.M.C.

The scene on Red Beach 2 on Betio island as the Marines consolidate their position.
The scene on Red Beach 2 on Betio island as the Marines consolidate their position.

The second desperate day on Tarawa

Sprawled bodies on beach of Tarawa, testifying to ferocity of the struggle for this stretch of sand.  November 1943.
Sprawled bodies on beach of Tarawa, testifying to ferocity of the struggle for this stretch of sand. November 1943.
Taking the slim protection that a blasted three affords, this Marine picks-off the Japs in a pill box.  A Jap in a pill box must be shot through the small opening he uses to sight through, but that didn't bother this Marine on Tarawa.  November 1943.
Taking the slim protection that a blasted three affords, this Marine picks-off the Japs in a pill box. A Jap in a pill box must be shot through the small opening he uses to sight through, but that didn’t bother this Marine on Tarawa. November 1943.

Journalist Robert Sherrod had arrived on the island the first day, in the fifth wave. It had been expected that the beaches would have been secured by then and that it would be relatively safe. Instead he found himself wading ashore under fire like every other Marine. By the end of the day the beach had still not been secured – and he spent the night on the beach in a slit trench next to four dead Japanese.

The second day started no better than the first, the Japanese were still firing on men trying men to come ashore. He was to witness to the incredible fight that just managed to turn the tide on the second day. He managed to produce an hour by hour account of that day’s battle:

0530: The coral flats in front of us present a sad sight at low tide. A half dozen Marines lie exposed, now that the water has receded. They are hunched over, rifles in hand, just as they fell. They are already one-quarter covered by sand that the high tide left. Further out on the flats and to the left I can see at least fifty other bodies. I had thought yesterday, however, that low tide would reveal many more than that. The smell of death, that sweetly sick odor of decaying human flesh, is already oppressive.

Now that it is light, the wounded go walking by, on the beach. Some are supported by corpsmen; others, like this one coming now, walk alone, limping badly, their faces contorted with pain. Some have bloodless faces, some bloody faces, others only pieces of faces. Two corpsmen pass, carrying a Marine on a stretcher who is lying face down. He has a great hole in his side, another smaller hole in his shoulder. This scene, set against the background of the dead on the coral flats, is horrible. It is war. I wish it could be seen by the silken-voiced, radio-announcing pollyannas back home who, by their very inflections, nightly lull the people into a false sense of all-is-well.

0600: One of the fresh battalions is coming in. Its Higgins boats are being hit before they pass the old hulk of a freighter seven hundred yards from shore. One boat blows up, then another. The survivors start swimming for shore, but machine-gun bullets dot the water all around them. Back of us the Marines have started an offensive to clean out the jap machine guns which are now firing at our men in the water.They evidently do not have much success, because there is no diminution of the fire that rips into the two dozen or more Higgins boats.

The ratatatatatat of the machine guns increases, and the high pi-i-ing of the jap sniper bullet sings overhead incessantly. The Japs still have some mortars, too, and at least one 40 or 77-mm. gun. Our destroyers begin booming their five-inch shells on the Jap positions near the end of the airfield back of us.

Some of the fresh troops get within two hundred yards of shore, while others from later waves are unloading further out. One man falls, writhing in the water. He is the first man I have seen actually hit, though many thousands of bullets cut into the water. Now some reach the shore, maybe only a dozen at first. They are calm, even disdainful of death. Having come this far, slowly, through the water, they show no disposition to hurry. They collect in pairs and walk up the beach, with snipers still shooting at them.

Now one of our mortars discovers one of the machine guns that has been shooting at the Marines. It is not back of us, but is a couple of hundred yards west, out in one of the wooden privies the dysentery-fearing japs built out over the water. The mortar gets the range, smashes the privy, and there is no more firing from there.

But the machine guns continue to tear into the oncoming Marines. Within five minutes I see six men killed. But the others keep coming. One rifleman walks slowly ashore, his left arm a bloody mess from the shoulder down. The casualties become heavier. Within a few minutes more I can count at last a hundred Marines lying on the flats.

0730: The Marines continue unloading from the Higgins boats, but fewer of them are making the shore now. Many lie down-behind the pyramidal concrete barriers the Japs had erected to stop tanks. Others make it as far as the disabled tanks and amphtracks, then lie behind them to size up the chances of making the last hundred yards to shore. There are at least two hundred bodies which do not move at all on the dry flats, or in the shallow water partially covering them. This is worse, far worse than it was yesterday.

See Robert Sherrod: Tarawa

"Pilots pleased over their victory during the Marshall Islands attack, grin across the tail of an F6F Hellcat on board the USS Lexington, after shooting down 17 out of 20 Japanese planes heading for Tarawa."
“Pilots pleased over their victory during the Marshall Islands attack, grin across the tail of an F6F Hellcat on board the USS Lexington, after shooting down 17 out of 20 Japanese planes heading for Tarawa.”

The U.S. Marines begin their assault on ‘Bloody Tarawa’

Crash landing of F6F-3, Number 30 of Fighting Squadron Two (VF-2), USS Enterprise, into the carrier's port side 20mm gun gallery, 10 November 1943. Lieutenant Walter L. Chewning, Jr., USNR, the Catapult Officer, is climbing up the plane's side to assist the pilot from the burning aircraft. The pilot, Ensign Byron M. Johnson, escaped without significant injury. Enterprise was then en route to support the Gilberts Operation. Note the plane's ruptured belly fuel tank.
Crash landing of F6F-3, Number 30 of Fighting Squadron Two (VF-2), USS Enterprise, into the carrier’s port side 20mm gun gallery, 10 November 1943. Lieutenant Walter L. Chewning, Jr., USNR, the Catapult Officer, is climbing up the plane’s side to assist the pilot from the burning aircraft. The pilot, Ensign Byron M. Johnson, escaped without significant injury. Enterprise was then en route to support the Gilberts Operation. Note the plane’s ruptured belly fuel tank.
Aerial view of Betio Island, Tarawa Atoll before invasion of the island by U.S. Marines, 18 September 1943. The image was shot by an aircraft from Composite Squadron (VC) 24.
Aerial view of Betio Island, Tarawa Atoll before invasion of the island by U.S. Marines, 18 September 1943. The image was shot by an aircraft from Composite Squadron (VC) 24.
F6F Hellcat fighter of US Navy VF-5 preparing to launch off Yorktown (Essex-class) to attack a target in the Marshall Islands, 20 Nov 1943
F6F Hellcat fighter of US Navy VF-5 preparing to launch off Yorktown (Essex-class) to attack a target in the Marshall Islands, 20 Nov 1943

The Pacific war now moved into a new stage, as the United States began its ‘island hopping’ campaign across the central Pacific. Some islands could be sidestepped but there were a sequence of islands that needed to be occupied so that the United States could get within striking distance of Japan itself.

First on the list were the Gilbert and Marshall islands. Prime amongst these was Betio island, part of Tarawa atoll at the end of the Gilbert islands. The airstrip here was of crucial importance – and the Japanese had spent the past year fortifying the two mile long island with gun emplacements and over 500 pillboxes and strongpoints. They were to claim that ‘a million men could not take it in a hundred years’. The Marines were to prove them wrong, but at considerable cost.

Carl Jonas was one of the Marines who went in on the first day. Many of the Higgins boats – the assault Landing Craft – were grounded 700 yards or more offshore. A neap tide meant that the depth of water was far below normal at high tide. The Marines were forced to wade the remaining distance, all the way under fire:

The shore line curved like a longshoremen’s hook, and the flat part to my right was the handle of it. From the other side, near the point of the hook, a Jap machine gun kept up a steady fire across our line of advance. Another machine gun was able to spit out almost directly at us, so that the two of them made a cross fire.

Also, from some point I couldn’t see, a mortar was dropping bursts ahead of us and slightly to our right. I saw no Marines on the beach, only blasted boats where they had stopped. Two of them were on fire. Beyond, a stout coconut-log barricade ran like a fence parallel to the whole shore. Then I got down as low as I could, with only my helmet showing, and began to crawl and duck-walk through the water, which was hardly three feet deep, even though we were almost a half mile out. I was heading for the right-hand flank, but just why, I couldn’t say myself… .

I passed two or three dead Marines. My legs were very tired, and I couldn’t keep my rifle out of the water. Finally, I used it to push myself along with, and forgot about keeping it dry. I saw a boat coming in toward me, and I worked away from it; for, although this brought me nearer the guns, I knew the boat would draw heavy fire, and wouldn’t pick me up anyway.

I kept down and pushed ahead, not very fast but steadily. Finally I came to what I thought was the beach, but as I inched up onto it I saw it was a sand bar with another fifty yards of water on the other side. At the top were fifteen or twenty dead or wounded Marines. A man who had been in our boat crawled up beside me.

“Where are the other guys ?” I asked him. “I don’t know,” he said. “As soon as I find out, I’m going on in.” I didn’t want to go over the sand bar very much, so I worked to the left, which again brought me closer to the fire, but gave me the cover provided by the water.

I wondered if I was doing the right or the wrong thing. I decided it was more dangerous to stay still and think it out than to keep moving, so I just went on in. Then, just as I saw some Marines lying between the bar and the shore, a current caught me and carried me along with no bottom under my feet. I swam a few strokes and felt bottom again. My pack was heavy with water, so I slipped it off and, dragging it behind, scrambled up into the lee of the shore. It seemed like the sweetest earth this side of paradise, and I wanted to lie there forever without moving a muscle.

This account first appeared in the Saturday Evening Post, 1943.

Staff Sergeant William J. Bordelon, U.S.M.C. - Medal of Honor recipient.
Staff Sergeant William J. Bordelon, U.S.M.C. – Medal of Honor recipient.

Once ashore the truly desperate battle began. Just some understanding of this can be gained from the citation for the Medal of Honor awarded to William J. Bordelon.

For valorous and gallant conduct above and beyond the call of duty as a member of an Assault Engineer Platoon of the First Battalion, Eighteenth Marines, tactically attached to the Second Marines, Second Marine Division, in action against the Japanese-held Atoll of Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands on November 20, 1943.

Landing in the assault waves under withering enemy fire which killed all but four of the men in his tractor, Staff Sergeant Bordelon hurriedly made demolition charges and personally put two pill boxes out of action. Hit by enemy machine-gun fire just as a charge exploded in his hand while assaulting a third position, he courageously remained in action and, although out of demolition, provided himself with a rifle and furnished fire coverage for a group of men scaling the seawall.

Disregarding his own serious condition, he unhesitatingly went to the aid of one of his demolition men, wounded and calling for help in the water, rescuing this man and another who had been hit by enemy fire while attempting to make the rescue. Still refusing first aid for himself, he again made up demolition charges and single-handedly assaulted a fourth Japanese machine-gun position but was instantly killed when caught in a final burst of fire from the enemy.

Staff Sergeant Bordelon’s great personal valor during a critical phase of securing the limited beachhead was a contributing factor in the ultimate occupation of the island and his heroic determination reflects the highest credit upon the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Marines take cover behind a sea wall on Red Beach #3, Tarawa.   November 1943.  (Marine Corps)
Marines take cover behind a sea wall on Red Beach #3, Tarawa. November 1943. (Marine Corps)
Troops of 2nd Battalion, US 165th Infantry at Yellow Beach Two, Butaritari, Makin Atoll, Gilbert Islands, 20 Nov 1943
Troops of 2nd Battalion, US 165th Infantry at Yellow Beach Two, Butaritari, Makin Atoll, Gilbert Islands, 20 Nov 1943