Battle of Iwo Jima (1945)

Völkischer Beobachter (March 7, 1945)

US-Verluste auf dar Schwefelinsel

Tokio, 6 März – Zu den Kämpfen auf der Schwefelinsel meldet das Kaiserliche Hauptquartier am Dienstag, dass die japanische Garnison von ihren Hügelstellungen im Nordosten der Insel aus ihrem erbitterten Abwehrkampf gegen eine Reihe von feindlichen Einbrüchen fortsetzte. Wie das Hauptquartier hinzufügte, belaufen sich die feindlichen Verluste an Toten und Verwundeten seit dem Beginn der Landungsoperation auf 20.000 Mann. In der gleichen Zeit schoss die japanische Verteidigung 250 Panzer ab.

U.S. Navy Department (March 7, 1945)

CINCPOA Communiqué No. 291

Attacking in all sectors of the line the Marines on Iwo Island advanced against heavy enemy resistance on March 7 (East Longitude Date). In the 5th Marine Division sector on the west flank, our forces moved forward about 500 yards on the left with lesser gains in the center and right. The 3rd Division in the center advanced about 588 yards at one point after engaging the enemy in hand-to-hand fighting. Advances of 100 to 200 yards were reported in local areas of the 4th Division sector on the east. The enemy continued to resist with intense small arms and machine gun fire throughout the day.

Carrier aircraft made bombing and rocket attacks on targets on Chichi Jima and Haha Jima in the Bonins on March 6 and 7.

Favorable weather conditions continue and unloading of supplies is pro­gressing satisfactorily.

A Navy Search Liberator of Fleet Air Wing One bombed and strafed two enemy cargo ships north of the Bonins on March 6.

Corsair and Hellcat fighters and Avenger torpedo planes of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing destroyed a bridge and set buildings afire with bomb and rocket attacks on the Palaus on March 6. On the same date Marine aircraft bombed installations on Yap in the Western Carolines.

Strafing and bombing attacks were made on Ponape in the Eastern Carolines on March 6 by planes of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing. Moderate anti-aircraft fire was encountered.

The Pittsburgh Press (March 7, 1945)

Victory nears in Iwo battle

Leathernecks gain in close-quarters fighting

GUAM (UP) – Assault units of three U.S. Marine divisions hacked out local gains in close-quarter fighting on Iwo today.

A late dispatch said they appeared confident they would crush the final Jap defenses soon.

The Marine onslaught was described as a general offensive to break up the last organized resistance on the island 750 miles south of Tokyo.

Attack pillboxes

A report from a warship off Iwo said desperately fighting Japs stalled the Marine push in some sectors, but in others small gains were made.

The Marines were fighting through a maze of interlocking defenses and pillboxes. The enemy toehold on Iwo was lashed yesterday with “staggering amounts” of grenades, small arms and artillery fire, the late report said.

Gains were measured in feet and yards. The end may come suddenly under unremitting Marine pressure, or the last thirst-crazed Japs may expend their remaining strength in a bloody “Banzai” suicide charge.

Hold four-fifths of Iwo

A total of 14,456 Jap dead had been counted by 6 p.m. yesterday for the 16-day campaign. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, more enemy dead remained behind the Jap lines. Though the garrison originally was estimated at 20,000, officers now believed the number was actually closer to 25,000.

The 3rd, 4th and 5th Marine Divisions, already firmly holding four-fifths of Iwo, launched their general offensive against the remaining enemy positions yesterday morning after the most intense American artillery bombardment of the entire campaign.

Naval guns and carrier planes also supported the attack.

Army fighters have begun using the southernmost of the three captured airfields on Iwo.

U.S. Navy Department (March 8, 1945)

CINCPOA Communiqué No. 292

Attacking resolutely in the face of heavy resistance the Marines on Iwo Island made small advances in all sectors of the lines on March 8 (East Longitude Date). Defending every prepared position desperately, the enemy used light and heavy machine guns and intense small arms fire to slow the movement of our forces. Operating over extremely difficult terrain our tanks knocked out a number of enemy pillboxes. The attack was supported by carrier aircraft and the guns of surface units of the fleet.

Carrier aircraft made rocket and strafing attacks on the naval base and airfield at Chichi Jima in the Bonins on March 8.

Seventh Army Air Force Liberators operating under the Strategic Air Force, Pacific Ocean Areas, bombed Chichi Jima and Haha Jima on March 7.

On the same date, Corsairs and Hellcats of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing bombed targets in the Palaus setting buildings afire.

Navy search Privateers of Fleet Air Wing Two bombed and strafed installations on Wake Island on March 7.

The Pittsburgh Press (March 8, 1945)

Marines nearing north tip of Iwo

Strong Jap defenses still to be overcome

GUAM (UP) – The 3rd Marine Division drove to the northern edge of the central plateau of Iwo Island and plunged down toward the northern beaches, only a few hundred yards away, in savage fighting today.

A breakthrough to the coast would split the last few thousand Japs holding out in pillboxes and gun emplacements studding the north and northeast coasts.

But those last few hundred yards were as the crow flies. It was considerably farther over the rocky ground, laced with steep crevasses and bristling with defenses.

Gain along coasts

The 4th and 5th Marine Divisions, fighting north along the east and west coasts, also hammered out new gains in what had literally become a battle to the death with the remnants of the enemy garrison.

Maj. Gen. Harry Schmidt, commander of the Marine invasion corps, said the campaign had been “even tougher than we figured, and we figured it tough from the very start.” He described the island as the most heavily-defended spot in the history of warfare and said the remaining Japs would have to be “crowded out of their holes and killed one by one.”

Drive 500 yards

The veteran 3rd Division at the center of the line reached the northern rim of the 300-foot central plateau after an advance of some 500 yards in hand-to-hand combat yesterday.

The 5th Division, on the west flank, also advanced up to 500 yards, but the 4th Division was able to push ahead only 100 to 200 yards on the east flank against bitter enemy resistance.

Carrier planes continued their daily attacks on Chichi and Haha in the Bonin Islands, just north of Iwo. A Navy Liberator bombed and strafed two enemy cargo ships north of the Bonins.

Hit by Jap shell burst –
Hero of Guadalcanal killed in first wave of Iwo attack

Sgt. Basilone held Medal of Honor
By Lisle Shoemaker, United Press staff writer

Sgt. John F. Basilone

WITH THE 5TH MARINE DIVISION, Iwo Jima (Feb. 21, delayed) – Marine Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone, who won the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroism on Guadalcanal, was killed early on the first day of the assault on Iwo.

Sgt. Basilone, a handsome, dark-haired boy from Raritan, New Jersey, was in one of the early D-Day waves which swarmed ashore on this bloody, volcanic fortress island. He was, then, one of the handful of living holders of the Congressional Medal.

Sgt. Basilone led his machine-gun platoon to Iwo’s deadly beach. He was directing the platoon’s progress inland when a Jap artillery burst killed him instantly. He had been leading his men toward a spot where they could set up their guns. His last words before the shell burst were, “All right, you guys, let’s go on in there and set up these guns for firing.”

Modest, almost shy

Except under the stress of combat, Sgt. Basilone was quiet, modest, almost shy. He was extremely embarrassed whenever anyone asked him about his Medal of Honor.

Everybody who knew him said he was a tremendous asset to the newly-formed 5th Marine Division. This division, as such, went into action for the first time here. Among its personnel, however, were many veterans of other Pacific island campaigns.

Sgt. Basilone, 28, was the son of an Italian-born father. He won the Medal of Honor for action with the 1st Marine Division in the Lunga area of Guadalcanal on October 24-25, 1942.

Kills 38 Japs

The Japs made a savage and determined assault on the Marines’ defensive positions. With all but two of his men out of action firing a machine-gun and a pistol, Sgt. Basilone piled up 38 Jap bodies in front of his emplacement. He was credited with a major part in the near annihilation of an enemy regiment.

With his ammunition critically low, Sgt. Basilone fought his way through enemy lines to get and bring back bullets for his gunners.

Sgt. Basilone was born in Buffalo, New York. He served in the Army before joining the Marines. At the time of his death, he had been in the Armed Forces about eight years. In July 1944, he was married to Sgt. Lena Riggi of Oakland, California, a member of the Marine Women’s Reserve.

He was the first enlisted Marine to win the nation’s highest award for valor.


The Pittsburgh Press (March 9, 1945)

Yanks within sight of Iwo north coast

GUAM (UP) – U.S. Marines virtually split in two the last desperately-resisting Japs on Iwo today with a drive to a 100-foot cliff overlooking the northeast coast.

“It won’t be long before this thing is over,” Vice Adm. Richmond Kelley Turner, commander of the Pacific amphibious forces, said after a tour of the tiny island on Japan’s front doorstep.

Enemy hard hit

Front reports indicated that a 3rd Marine Division spearhead at the center of the line had gained the cliff commanding the steep northeastern beach after ramming through the last defenses in the area.

The push all but severed enemy forces on the north coast from those along the northeast shore.

The 5th Division advanced along the northern tip of Iwo in a frontal drive against the enemy’s northern pocket.

In rugged terrain

The 4th Division was still encountering difficulty in rugged terrain along the east coast, but the 3rd Division’s breakthrough to the north threatened the rear of enemy’s northeastern pocket.

A Pacific Fleet communiqué said the surviving Japs, believed fewer than 4,000, were defending every prepared position desperately with heavy and light machine guns and intense small arms fire.

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U.S. Navy Department (March 10, 1945)

CINCPOA Communiqué No. 293

During the night of March 8-9, the enemy attempted infiltration of Marine lines on Iwo Island on a large scale and subjected troops in the 4th Division sector to heavy mortar and sniper fire. The 4th Division destroyed 564 of the enemy while repulsing these attacks.

A general advance was made on the island on March 9, with forward elements of the 3rd Marine Division reaching the northeast beaches early in the afternoon. Gains up to several hundred yards were made against very stiff resistance. Army fighters based on Iwo Island joined carrier aircraft in providing close support for the troops and fleet units continued to shell the enemy. Heavy artillery preparation was directed onto enemy positions prior to attack by the Infantry.

On March 10, the Marines continued their attack and widened the area held on the northeast beaches of Iwo Island by noon. Resistance during the morning appeared to be diminishing although the enemy continued to hold prepared strong points tenaciously and snipers were active.

A small group of enemy aircraft approached Iwo Island in the early morn­ing hours of March 9, but retired without attacking.

Targets in the Palaus were bombed by fighter and torpedo aircraft of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing on March 8‑9.

Mitchells of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing strafed and bombed small craft and buildings at Kusaie and Ponape in the Eastern Carolines on March 8.

Army Liberators of the Strategic Air Force, Pacific Ocean Areas, bombed the airfield on Chichi Jima in the Bonins on March 8 and 9.

On March 9, Navy search Privateers of Fleet Air Wing Two bombed run­ways and other installations on Wake Island.

CINCPOA Communiqué No. 294

The Marines on Iwo Island continued to drive forward on the afternoon of March 10. By 1800 the 4th Division had made substantial advances along most of its front and one of its patrols had reached the beach on the easternmost point of the island. Enemy resistance appeared to be decreasing at numerous points along the lines. Army and Navy aircraft continued to attack enemy positions and fleet surface units provided close gunfire support.

Corsair fighters of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing bombed and strafed docks, small craft, and defense positions on Ponape in the eastern Carolines on March 10.

Japanese commanders feeling summarised.

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The Pittsburgh Press (March 10, 1945)

Marines split enemy force along coasts

Resistance appears to be diminishing

GUAM (UP) – Jap resistance on Iwo began to crack today as three Marine divisions tightened their stranglehold on two big enemy pockets along the north and east coasts.

The Marines widened their corridor between the two pockets and closed in on the enemy from the south, east and west in gains of up to several hundred yards in fierce fighting.

“Resistance during this morning appeared to be diminishing although the enemy continued to hold prepared strongpoints tenaciously and snipers were active,” Pacific Fleet headquarters announced in the first communiqué on the fighting on Iwo in some 36 hours.

In final stages

The announcement indicated that the 20-day-old campaign on Japan’s front doorstep was entering its final stages, with the end of organized resistance in sight.

However, the remnants of the original enemy garrison of 20,000 – now probably fewer than 4,000 – were battling to the death and more bloody fighting appeared in prospect before final victory.

The 3rd Division smashed ahead the last few hundred yards to the sea on the northeast coast yesterday, completely severing Jap troops on the north shore from those on the east.

Continuing the attack today, the 3rd Division had widened its hold on the northeast beaches.

Meet tough resistance

The Japs in the north were pinned between the 3rd Marines, in the center of the northeastern beaches and the 5th Division pressing along the northwest shoreline to within 1,000 yards of Kitano, northern tip of the tiny island.

The 4th Division, on the east coast, was meeting the toughest resistance in a frontal drive from the south against the main enemy pocket, but was hacking out limited gains.

The Japs launched a large-scale attempt to infiltrate the 4th Division’s lines with heavy mortar and sniper fire support Thursday night, but ran into a stonewall defense. A total of 564 enemy troops were killed, the communiqué said.

Blast Chichi Island

A small group of Jap planes approached Iwo early Friday, but retired without attacking, the communiqué said.

U.S. planes continued to strike at Chichi Island in the Bonins, north of Iwo.

Navy search Privateers bombed runways and other installations on Wake Island Friday, and attacks on Kusaie and Ponape in the Eastern Carolines and on the Palaus were carried out Thursday and Friday.

The Pittsburgh Press (March 11, 1945)

Marines smash to Iwo beaches

Japs caught in 3 small pockets

GUAM (UP) – U.S. Marines on Iwo Island drove forward Saturday against decreasing Jap resistance. The victorious end of the bloody campaign seemed near as the 3rd and 4th Divisions smashed to the eastern beaches at several points.

The Jap holdings were reduced to three small pockets, the largest of which is about a half square mile in area.

The 4th Division, whose progress had been limited to gains of only a few yards for days, suddenly swept forward for gains up to 500 yards on the east coast. One patrol reached the water’s edge at Tachiiwa Point, easternmost tip of the island.

3 divisions close in

Three Marine divisions closed in on the trapped enemy troops.

The Japs still held tenaciously to pillboxes and their snipers fought back viciously. But their terrific mortar fire and counterattacks, which have cost the lives of well over 2,000 Americans, were definitely slackening.

One last frantic counterattack was staged Thursday night and Friday when the Jap forces attempted to infiltrate the Marine lines “on a large scale.” The Americans hurled them back and the 4th Marine Division killed 564.

Maj. Gen. Graves B. Erskine’s 3rd Division drove to the northeast coast of the craggy bastion Friday and today widened positions along the shore.

All units advance

A general advance of up to several hundred yards was made by all units. The 5th Marine Division had driven to within 1,000 yards of Kitano Point, northern tip of the island.

An estimated 20,000 Jap troops were on Iwo when the Marines landed 20 days ago and it was believed that at least three-fourths had been killed or severely wounded.

The communiqué disclosed that a small group of enemy planes approached Iwo early Friday but retired without attacking.

Raymond Ickes, Secretary’s son, wounded on Iwo

Saturday, March 10, 1945

WASHINGTON (UP) – Lt. Raymond Wilmarth Ickes, 32, son of Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes, was wounded on Iwo Jima where he was serving with the 3rd Marine Division, the Navy reported today.

Secretary Ickes’ office reported that Lt. Ickes suffered serious chest wounds last Wednesday when he was struck by shrapnel fragments. Lt. Ickes is reportedly still on Iwo Jima receiving emergency treatment.

His wife, Miralotta L. Ickes, lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Lt. Ickes joined the Marines as an enlisted man May 27, 1943. After boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, he attended Officers’ Training School at Quantico, Virginia, where he received his commission February 9, 1944. Four months later, he went overseas with a replacement battalion.

U.S. Navy Department (March 11, 1945)

CINCPOA Communiqué No. 295

The 3rd and 4th Marine Division drove through enemy lines to capture most of the east coast of Iwo Island on March 11 (East Longitude Date). The remainder of the enemy’s garrison was compressed to a small area at the northern end of the island by the troops of the 5th Marine Division. A small pocket of enemy resistance was bypassed by the 4th Marine Division and was still holding out at 1800 on March 11. At that time the 5th Division was gaining slowly in the north against heavy resistance. The attack was supported by heavy artillery and naval gunfire.

Army fighters bombed Chichi Jima in the Bonin Islands scoring hits on airfield and harbor installations. Targets were strafed on Haha Jima.

Liberators of the Strategic Air Force, Pacific Ocean Areas, bombed the airfield on Chichi Jima on March 10.

Large fires were started among enemy defenses in the Palaus by fighters and torpedo planes of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing on March 10. Marine aircraft on the same date struck targets on Yap in the Western Carolines.

U.S. Navy Department (March 12, 1945)

CINCPOA Communiqué No. 296

The 5th Marine Division continued its advance on Iwo Island on March 12 (East Longitude Date) and further reduced the area held by the enemy on the northern end of the island. Remnants of the enemy garrison in this sector continued to offer stiff resistance. Mopping up operations were in progress in the 3rd and 4th Divisions zones of action, but one enemy pocket continued to hold out at 1800 on March 12. Naval gunfire and Army fighters supported the troops in the fighting on the northern end of the island.

Army fighters bombed and strafed targets on Chichi Jima in the Bonins through intense antiaircraft fire on the same date.

Liberators of the 11th Army Air Force bombed installations at Suri­bachi on Paramushiru and Kataoka on Shumushu in the Northern Kurils on March 11. Columns of smoke rising to 15,000 feet were observed after the attacks.

Army Thunderbolts strafed and bombed installations on Maug Island in the Marianas on the same date.

Two buildings were destroyed and fires were started on Babelthuap in the Palaus by Corsair fighters of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing on March 11.

Neutralizing attacks on enemy-held bases in the Marshalls were continued by Marine aircraft on the same date.

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The Pittsburgh Press (March 12, 1945)

Final battle rages along Iwo coast

Collapse of Jap resistance imminent

GUAM (UP) – Complete conquest of Iwo appeared at hand today.

Weary Marines were driving the last Jap defenders into the sea in a final battle along the north coast.

Pacific Fleet headquarters was expected to announce the collapse of organized resistance momentarily as the bloodiest campaign of the Pacific war entered its fourth week on Japan’s front doorstep.

Whittles pocket

A communiqué this morning said the 5th Marine Division had whittled down the enemy’s last sizeable pocket to half a square mile along the north coast by 6 p.m. yesterday in heavy fighting. The Marines were making slow but steady progress with support of heavy artillery and the big guns of warships offshore.

The 3rd and 4th Divisions crashed through the last Jap lines in Eastern Iwo over the weekend and captured most of the rock-ledged east coast, the communiqué said. One small enemy pocket was bypassed for later annihilation.

Advance slow

The advance along the north coast was a slow and tedious business. The last few thousand Jap survivors of a garrison originally totaling 20,000 crack troops were fighting to the death from pillboxes, blockhouses and caves.

Army fighters bombed Chichi airfield and harbor installations and strafed targets on Haha in the Bonin Islands, just north of Iwo. Army Liberators also bombed Chichi airfield.

U.S. Navy Department (March 13, 1945)

CINCPOA Communiqué No. 297

No appreciable change was made in the front lines in Iwo Island on March 13 (East Longitude Date). The enemy occupying the northern end of the island continued to resist our attacks with small arms, machine gun and mortar fire. While mopping-up operations continued in the 3rd and 4th Division sectors, our forces made unopposed landings on Kama and Kangoku Rocks west of the island. An enemy pocket in the 4th Division sector was reduced in size but part of it still held out at 1800 on March 13. During the day 115 caves were sealed up.

Army fighters bombed airfield and harbor installations on Chichi Jima in the Bonins on March 13.

Seventh Army Air Force Liberators operating under the Strategic Air Force, Pacific Ocean Areas, bombed air installations on the same island on March 11 and 12.

Fighters and torpedo planes of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing de­stroyed four buildings, set four other ablaze and destroyed or set afire three ammunition and fuel dumps on Babelthuap in the Palaus on March 13.

Marine Corsair fighters destroyed one aircraft on the water and damaged a pier at Yap on the same date.

The Pittsburgh Press (March 13, 1945)

Fight for Iwo moving near mop-up stage

1,000 Japs remain in shrinking pocket

GUAM (UP) – The 23-day battle of Iwo neared the mop-up stage today.

Marines of the 5th Marine Division were gradually crushing the last organized resistance in a shrinking pocket along the north coast of the tiny island only 750 miles south of Tokyo.

Probably fewer than 1,000 of the original garrison of 20,000 remained in the pocket, but they were fighting to the death against Marines armed with flamethrowers, tanks and guns. Their backs to the sea, they faced only death or capture – and few prisoners were being taken.

The campaign along the northeast and east coasts was already in the mop-up phase. The 3rd and 4th Marine Divisions were rounding up scattered enemy snipers in the rock-ribbed area. Only a single enemy pocket of resistance remained by 6 p.m. yesterday.

Army fighters bombed and strafed targets on Chichi in the Bonin Islands north of Iwo Jima in the face of intense anti-aircraft fire yesterday.

Liberators of the 11th Army Air Force bombed installations at Suribachi on Paramushiru and Kataoka on Shumushu in the Northern Kuril Islands north of Japan Sunday.

Editorial: Next step in the Pacific

With the Marines now mopping up Iwo Jima enemy remnants in the bloodiest battle of the war, and Gen. MacArthur successfully invading the large southern Philippine island of Mindanao, a new phase in the Pacific war is about to begin. Hence the top flight strategy conferences in Washington and Chungking.

The President, fresh from his meeting with Prime Minister Churchill, has talked with all of our ranking officials in the Far East except Gen. MacArthur – including Adm. Nimitz, and Gen. Wedemeyer and Ambassador Hurley from China. Adm. Lord Louis Mountbatten, Allied commander in Southeast Asia, went to Chungking to confer with Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and American officers.

Our chiefs of staff are putting the finishing touches on plans for the big push in the Pacific. It is not supposed that the Jap home islands can be taken quickly after Germany’s collapse. On the contrary, several months after European victory will be required to shift troops and materials in the Far East. But the plans must be made now and part of the process started if we are to be ready when the time comes.

In the meantime, thanks to the Iwo Jima and Philippine victories, we are in position for much more effective softening-up action against the enemy. From Iwo our medium bombers can strike Tokyo and our fighting planes can escort the Superfortress raids. From Gen. MacArthur’s Philippine fields our planes can blast the China coast, only 700 miles away. Equally important they can blanket the South China Sea, Japan’s main supply line.

Whether the next strike will be against the Dutch East Indies, Formosa or islands nearer Japan, or the China coast, the enemy command will not know until the blow falls. We now have sufficient sea and air control and bases to pick any of those spots for attack.

Our high command, however, is anxious for the American public to understand one thing. Although Japan has lost the initiative, she still has a strong defensive position. Adm. Nimitz points out that the enemy’s defensive advantages include: Geographical position and shorter supply lines than ours, ability to produce planes almost as fast as we destroy them, a fanatical fighting spirit, and a strong army of which 90 percent has not been reached by our island warfare.

The conclusion is obvious. Any letdown on the American home front would be disastrous. The biggest battles are ahead of us. The Army, Navy and Marine victories to date have put us in position for heavier blows, but those blows depend on more production, more blood banks, more supplies of all kinds.