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The Battle of Iwo Jima
Transcript of The Battle of Iwo Jima
With successes in the Marianas and the Philippines during 1944, Allied leaders began developing plans for the invasion of Okinawa. As this operation was intended for April 1945, Allied forces were faced with a brief lull in offensive movements. To fill this, plans were developed for the invasion of Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands. Located approximately mid-way between the Marianas and the Japanese Home Islands, Iwo Jima served as an early warning station for Allied bombing raids and provided a base for Japanese fighters to intercept approaching bombers.
Allied forces wanted a base to provide fighter excort for B29's bombing the mainland of Japan
Also wanted an emergency landing or refueling field for the B-29's
Erase threat to American bombers by Japanese fighters on Iwo Jima.
"The battle of Iwo Island [Jima] has been won. The United States Marines, by their individual and collective courage, have conquered a base which is as necessary to us in our continuing forward movement toward final victory as it was vital to the enemy in staving off ultimate defeat.... Among the Americans who served on Iwo Island, uncommon valor was a common virtue."
Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, 17 March 1945.
“Andrew Higgins is the man who won the war for us.”
-President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1964 interview
The President went on to explain: “If Higgins had not designed and built those LCVPs (Landing Craft, Vehicle and Personnel), we never could have landed over an open beach. The whole strategy of the war would have been different.” And as Colonel Joseph H. Alexander, USMC (Ret) said, “The Higgins boats broke the gridlock on the ship-to-shore movement. It is impossible to overstate the tactical advantages this craft gave U.S. amphibious commanders in World War II.”
Clearly, the half-wood half-steel “smallboat” meant a lot to the War. These assault or LCVP boats would land troops and material on invasion beachheads. Their designer, Andrew Higgins, a fire-tempered Irishman who drank whiskey like a fish, was originally building oil-prospecting wooden boats in Louisiana. Once the war broke out, he was positive there would be a need among the U.S. Navy for thousands of small boats—and was also sure that steel would be in short supply. In an common moment of eccentricity, Higgins bought the entire 1939 crop of mahogany from the Philippines and stored it on his own.
Higgins’ expectations were right, and as the war progressed he applied for a position in Naval design. Insisting that the Navy “doesn’t know one damn thing about small boats,” Higgins struggled for years to convince them of the need for small wooden boats. Finally he signed the contract to develop his LCVP.
Employing more than 30,000 for an integrated workforce in New Orleans (pictured at left). Higgins employed blacks and women among them, which was uncommon practice at the time. This force eagerly began mass-producing the “Higgins boats,” which were 36’3” in length and had a beam of 10’10”. Their displacement when unloaded was 18,000 lbs., and they could maintain a speed of 9 knots. They were defended by 2 .30 caliber machine guns, and could carry 36 combat-equipped infantrymen or 8,000 pounds of cargo. For a detailed picture of a Higgins boat’s anatomy, see the image below. Along with the help of other American factories, Higgins produced 23,398 LCVPs during the War.
Iwo Jima Operation, 1945
"H-Hour" on "D-Day": Waves of amphibious tractors (LVTs) approach the Iwo Jima invasion beaches in the first moments of the U.S. Marine amphibious assault on the island, 19 February 1945.
Mount Suribachi is in the left center background.
This image is cropped from Photo # 80-G-415308. Taken from an airplane flying over the invasion area, it was flown to Guam, transmitted by radio, and printed in an American newspaper within fifteen hours after it was made.
Gen Tadamichi Kurbyasi - commander of the Japanese garrison defending Iwo Jima
The bunkers, tunnels and caves of the Japaneses Defense
Artillery & Tanks
361Artillery pieces of 75 mm or larger calaiber
Mortars: 12/320mm and 65 155mm & 81mm
Naval Guns: 33
Plus a large aray of anti aircraft and anti tank guns
22 tanks Type 97 Chi-Ha and Type 95 Ha-Go
It took a supreme effort of over 25% of the total Japaneses defenders to complete the bee hive of fortifications, while undergoing daily allied air strikes, high heat and surfer fumes.
11 miles of tunnels
multiple bunkers, and caves/rooms
form just a few men
to holding over 300
machine gun emplacements
artillery and naval gun emplacements.
The Defensive plan
Convert Iwo Jima to a fortress
No fire would be directed against America vessels so as not to disclose Japanese artillery it would not conduct a pre-landing bombardment.
Let the Americans land
Once the Americans had advanced inland they would be taken under fire.
Inflect maximum casualties, and damage then displace to high ground.
By February 1945 General Kuribayashi had a total force of 21,000 to 23,000 men
Force Consisted of :
Naval Construction Battalion
Map of Iwo Jima and Japanese Defense Installations
General Holland "Mad" Smith
Commanding General of Fleet marine Force, Pacific and Head of ask Force 56 at Iwo Jima
On October 9th 1944 General Smith received a directive from Admiral Nimitz ordering the seizure of Iwo Jima.
General Schmidt planned to land on Iwo Jima's southeast beaches with two divisions abreast, the 4th Division on the right and the 5th on the left, next to Mount Suribachi. Schmidt kept the 3rd Marine Division in reserve initially. The amphibious assault of Iwo was a classic in its own right, favorably reflecting the lessons learned at such high cost starting with Tarawa 14 months earlier. The preliminary naval and aerial bombardment, however, disappointed most Marines. By D-day, the Americans had hit the island with 6,800 tons of bombs and 22,000 Naval shells. But the issue was accuracy, not volume. General Kuribayashi's well-built, artfully camouflaged gun positions were hardly affected by the bombardment.
There would be 74,000 Marines in the landing force a 3-to-1 advantage over the Japanese garrison
Iwo Jima or sulfur Island
27 Medals of Honor were awarded at Iwo Jima which was 28 percent of Medals of Honor awarded to Marines in World War II
out of the aprox 22,000 Japanese soldiers on the island on 216 were captured alive.
26,000 American casualties, including 6,800 dead.
2 Japanese soldiers held out till 1949 before finally surrendering.
If your interested in both sides of history a couple good movies to watch
Amphibian Units ~ Battle of Iwo Jima, D-Day February 19451
3rd Amphibian Tractor Battalion (90) LVT-2s
5th Amphibian Tractor Battalion (94) LVT-2s
10th Amphibian Tractor Battalion (94) LVT-2s
11th Amphibian Tractor Battalion (93) LVT-2s
Fifth Amphibious Corps, Major General Harry Schmidt
Third Division, Major General Graves B. Erskine
Fourth Division, Major General Clifton B. Cates
Fifth Division, Major General Keller E. Rockey
Fifth Fleet, Admiral Raymond A. Spruance (USS Indianapolis )
Participating Surface Ships (485):
4 command ships
12 aircraft carriers
38 destroyer escorts
6 destroyer transports
63 LST's (Landing Ship Tank)
31 LSM's (Landing Ship Medium)
19 cargo ships
6 repair ships
4 seaplane tenders
4 ocean tugs
14 destroyer minecraft
5 net layers
76 LCI's (Landing Craft Infantry)
3 LSD's (Landing Ship Dock)
1 LSV (Landing Ship Vehicle)
56 assorted patrol, escort, and support vessels
Task Force 51 [Joint Expeditionary Force], Vice Admiral Richmond K. Turner
Task Force 52 [Amphibious Support Force], Rear Admiral William H.P. Blandy
Task Force 53 [Attack Force], Rear Admiral Harry W. Hill
Task Force 54 [Gunfire and Covering Force], Rear Admiral Bertram J. Rodgers
Task Force 56 [Expeditionary Troops], Lieutenant General Holland M. Smith, USMC
Task Force 58 [Fast Carrier Forces], Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher (USS Bunker Hill )
United States Army Assault Forces
Garrison Forces, Major General James E. Chaney
On December 14, 1944, by Act of Congress, Nimitz was promoted to the newly created rank of Fleet Admiral (five-star). Shifting his headquarters from Pearl Harbor to Guam in January 1945, Nimitz oversaw the capture of Iwo Jima two months later.
Fleet Admiral Chester William Nimitz
American Command Structure
24 June and 4 July U.S. Navy task force bombards the Volcano and Bonin Islands, including Iwo Jima
3 October JCS directive orders occupation of one or more positions in the Nanpo Shoto (Volcano Bonin Islands)
9 October Admiral Nimitz informs General Smith that Iwo Jima is to be the objective
November, December On several occasions, U.S. Navy surface ships bombard Iwo Jima
8 December Beginning of 74 straight days of aerial bombings of islands in the Volcano and Bonin Islands, including Iwo Jima
15-16 February V Amphibious Corps landing force departs the Marianas for Iwo Jima
16 February Fast Carrier Task Force (TF 58) mounts air strikes against Honshu to distract Japanese attention from Iwo Jima.
16-18 February Air and surface bombardment of Iwo Jima by Amphibious Support Force (TF 52)
19 February The Fourth and Fifth Marine Divisions land on Iwo Jima, gaining a foothold.
21 February The 21 st Marines (VAC Reserve) are committed in the Fourth Division zone. Kamikaze aircraft assault the ships providing
23 February The 28th Marines plant flag on Mt. Suribachi
25 February The Third Marine Division (less the 21 st Marines) is committed to the battle.
27 February Third Division takes Airfield no.2, Hills Peter and 199- OBOE
2 March Fifth Division takes Hill 362A
3 March Third Marine Division clears Airfield No. 3 & Fifth Marine Division captures Hill 362B
4 March First B-29s land on Iwo Jima
6 March 15th Fighter Group, USAAF, arrives on Iwo Jima
7 March Third Marine Division captures Hill 362C
8 March Fourth Division repulses a Japanese night attack.
9 March Third Division patrols reach northeast coast of Iwo Jima
10 March Fourth Division breaks out to east coast, pinching out a Japanese salient
11 March Last escort carriers depart, leaving Iwo Jima- based Army fighters responsible for air defense and ground support
14 March U.S. Navy Military Government proclaimed in the Volcano Islands, marked by official flag raising
Marine units commence boarding for departure from Iwo Jima
16 March Last Japanese resistance in the Third Division area, "Cushman's Pocket" is crushed
20 March U.S. Army 147th Infantry Regiment arrives for garrison duty
25 March Japanese survivors launch a final desperate early - morning attach against Marine and Army bivouac areas
26 March The capture and occupation of the battle is declared complete at 0800
Chronology of the Battle of Iwo Jima
Close Air Support
Letters from Iwo Jima
Flags of our Fathers