Marine Reinforcements Arrive - History

Marine Reinforcements Arrive - History

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April 10, 1965

Marine Reinforcements Arrive


General Westmoreland asked for addtional combat troops. In addition supprot troops were send as well. The additional marines arrive in Da Nang. Some of the marines are sent to Phu Bai, eight miles south of Hue.

Marine Reinforcements Arrive - History


The Japanese night attack on Midway on 7 December 1941 was limited to naval gunfire from two destroyers because Midway was not a high priority target for the Imperial Japanese Navy at that time. Guam and Wake Island were the high priority targets because their capture would effectively cut the American line of communications between Hawaii and the Philippines.

On 10 December 1942, the five thousand troops of Japan's elite South Seas Detachment stormed ashore on Guam and quickly overcame the three hundred strong Marine garrison that was equipped with no weapons larger than .30 calibre machine guns.

The Japanese assault on Wake Island

The mission to capture Wake Island had been assigned to Vice Admiral Shigeyoshi Inoue's Fourth Fleet, and aircraft from the admiral's base at Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands were on their way to bomb Wake while the attack on Pearl Harbor was underway. Wake had no radar, and the attack took the defenders by surprise. Eight of the Grumman F4F-3 Wildcats of Wake's Marine Fighting Squadron VMF-211 were destroyed on the ground. On 11 December 1942, a Japanese amphibious force comprising cruisers, destroyers and transports attempted a landing on Wake Island which was garrisoned by 450 men of the Marine 1 st Defense Battalion. The Japanese force was greeted with a well directed barrage from the Marine 5-inch coastal batteries. The destroyer Hayate was blown apart, and three destroyers, a light cruiser, and a transport were damaged. The strength of the defence caused the shocked Japanese to withdraw hastily, and they suffered further heavy loss, including the loss of another destroyer, when attacked by the remaining four Wildcats of VMF-211. Thereafter, Wake was bombed continuously and effectively from the Japanese base at Kwajalein.

The SB2U-3 Vindicator dive-bomber was already obsolete when eighteen of them were assigned for front-line service with Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 241 (VMSB-241) on Midway. The Marine pilots jokingly called their elderly planes "vibrators". They were slow moving targets for the swarms of deadly Zero fighters that protected the Japanese carrier force that attacked Midway on 4 June 1942.

The Marines on Midway acquire a Scout Bombing Squadron

The defenders of Midway were aware that Wake Island had repulsed a Japanese amphibious invasion and was undergoing continuous air attack. The PBY patrol flying boats of VP-21 had all been withdrawn from Midway, and the daily food ration was reduced in case Midway was cut off from Hawaii. In the expectation that they could also face an amphibious assault, the Marines toiled to strengthen their defences.

On 17 December, the Marines were heartened by the arrival on Midway of the seventeen obsolescent SB2U-3 Vindicator dive-bombers of Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 241 (VMSB-241). This squadron had been aboard Lexington when the Japanese treacherously struck the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, and had been diverted with Lexington to hunt for the Japanese carrier force. The seventeen elderly Vindicators were subsequently shepherded from Hickham Field on Oahu across 1,137 miles of open ocean to Midway by a PBY patrol flying boat. First Lieutenant David W. Silvey:

"The men stood on top of their gun emplacement and cheered when the planes droned overhead. They represented a real Christmas present."

The Marine squadron's full complement of eighteen dive-bombers would be achieved with the arrival of an eighteenth Vindicator ten days later.

On Christmas Eve additional welcome reinforcements arrived aboard USS Wright. These were Batteries A and C of the 4 th Defense Battalion, Fleet Marine Force, equipped with 5-inch seacoast guns. The new arrivals also brought with them four 7-inch naval guns and four 3-inch naval guns.

The fall of Wake Island provides Midway with a fighter squadron

Wake Island now played a role in bolstering the defences of Midway. The Japanese launched a second and more powerful amphibious assault on Wake Island under cover of darkness on the morning of 23 December 1941. This attack was supported by aircraft from the fleet carriers Soryu and Hiryu. This time the Japanese warships stayed out of range of the Marine batteries, while one thousand Japanese marines in assault barges and patrol boats quietly approached the reefs surrounding Wake. Although two of the larger Japanese landing craft grounded on the reef, the Japanese were able to cross the reef at several places on smaller boats and rafts and establish themselves ashore. With most of his Marines manning seacoast and anti-aircraft guns, and widely scattered machine-gun positions around the lengthy coastlines of the three islands comprising Wake atoll, Marine commander, Major James P. Devereux, had less than one hundred Marines available as infantry to oppose one thousand Japanese troops. The beleaguered Marines were clearly doomed unless reinforcements arrived immediately.

The US Navy had been initially committed to the relief of Wake, and the carriers USS Saratoga and USS Lexington had been assigned to the relief, together with a Marine fighter squadron aboard Saratoga. However, the slow movement of the relieving force and indecision on the part of senior navy officers in Washington and Pearl Harbor permitted the Japanese to land while both American carrier task forces were too far away to lend their powerful assistance to the Marine defenders. When the acting commander of the Pacific Fleet, Vice Admiral William S. Pye, heard that the Japanese had landed on Wake, he decided to abandon the Marines on Wake to their fate. Pye ordered the relief force, including Marine reinforcements aboard the seaplane tender USS Tangier, to withdraw. The recall was greeted with dismay and anger by many on board the American relieving force.

On learning that the relief force had been recalled, the Marines on Wake had no option but to surrender or face annihilation. On 23 December, Wake was surrendered to the Japanese.

Saratoga had been carrying Marine Fighting Squadron 221 (VMF-221), a squadron of fourteen obsolescent F2A-3 Brewster Buffalo fighters that were intended to reinforce the depleted Marine Fighting Squadron 211 (VMF-211) on Wake. On Christmas Day, a welcome gift arrived for the Marines on Midway in the form of these fourteen elderly Buffalo fighters.

On 26 December, the seaplane tender USS Tangier arrived at Midway. Tangier was carrying reinforcements that had been intended for Wake, but were now to be employed to strengthen the defences of Midway. These reinforcements from the 4 th Defense Battalion included another seacoast 5-inch battery, twelve anti-aircraft machine-guns, machine-gunners, an aviation support contingent for VMF-221, and badly needed equipment, including radar.

The seaplane tender USS Tangier arrived at Midway on 26 December 1941 with Marines, guns, and equipment that were originally intended to reinforce the Marine garrison on Wake Atoll. When Wake and its Marine garrison were captured by the Japanese, these vital reinforcements were used to bolster the meagre defences of Midway.

At the beginning of 1942, Midway was now garrisoned by the 6 th Defense Battalion, with substantial reinforcement from the 4 th Defense Battalion, and one fighter and one scout bomber squadron. On Eastern Island the airstrip had now acquired facilities appropriate to a major airbase. Fortunately for pilot morale, the Marines on Midway were unaware that their elderly aircraft lagged far behind the combat performances of their Japanese counterparts, and especially, the nimble Zero fighter.

The Imperial Japanese Navy pays Midway more unwelcome visits

During twilight general quarters on 25 January 1942, the Japanese submarine I-173 quietly surfaced at 1748 hours off the entrance to Brooks Channel (the man-made channel between Sand and Eastern Islands), and opened fire on the radio masts on Sand Island. The submarine was clearly visible from shore in the afterglow from the sun, and the four 3-inch guns of Battery D on the south-eastern shore of Sand Island provided a quick response that bracketed the enemy intruder. Perhaps surprised by the speed and accuracy of the Marine return fire, the Japanese commander crash-dived his submarine at 1751. This brisk three minute action caused no damage on Midway.

The Japanese submarine that had shelled Midway did not escape unscathed. While under way on the surface on the morning of 27 January, I-173 was torpedoed by the American submarine USS Gudgeon.

The Imperial Japanese Navy visited Midway again on 8 February. On this occasion, a submarine surfaced at twilight off the southern shore of Sand Island and began firing at the radio masts. A fast response from the two 5-inch guns of Battery A on the south-western side of Sand Island caused the submarine to break off the action and submerge. Damage ashore was only slight.

Two days later, at twilight on 10 February, a Japanese submarine surfaced off the entrance to Brooks Channel. On this occasion, the Marine Air Group at Midway was prepared and waiting for the intruder. Two Marine Buffalo fighters had been flying the sunset anti-submarine patrol, and were above Midway when the submarine surfaced. The Japanese commander only had time to fire two rounds that splashed harmlessly into the lagoon before his submarine was bombed and strafed by the Marine pilots. The submarine broke off action and crash-dived. The hot receptions provided to unfriendly Japanese visitors were clearly effective. After this last visit, the Marines were afforded a lengthy respite from shelling by Japanese submarines.

The Marines on Midway learn to live underground

The risk of attack from the sea or air at very short notice required the Marines on Midway to adopt and adapt to a largely underground existence. Lieutenant Colonel Robert C. McGlashan, Operations Officer, 6 th Defense Battalion:

"(On Midway)…underground living prevailed, except while in contact with the enemy or under attack… Breakfast, supper, and a midnight snack with hot coffee were served to all positions from the central galley in food containers by truck. Since we stood a morning and evening stand-by, there was not time to serve a noon meal during the day, as the process of distributing food to the widely dispersed gun positions by food container and getting them returned and cleaned for the next meal was a lengthy one. All food was prepared at the main galley in the newly completed barracks where the men would also go during the day in increments to bathe. The lack of a noon meal was quite disconcerting to new arrivals, but they soon became accustomed to it.."

All activities away from battle stations had to be carried on during the day, and after the evening stand-by, everyone went underground for the night except for the men on watch above ground. Sleeping underground has its good points as it is quiet, there is no early sun to bother one after a night on watch, and there is a great feeling of security from surprise submarine attack. It is true that the dugouts were often hot in the summer months and cold in winter, and at first were much too crowded and lacked proper ventilation, but by and large it was a very pleasant existence."

Marine Fighing Squadron 221 sees its first air combat

On 1 March 1942, the two Marine squadrons on Midway and their headquarters were reorganised and renamed Marine Air Group 22. No additional aircraft were assigned to MAG-22 which, for operational purposes, still comprised one scout bomber squadron (VMSB-241) and one fighter squadron (VMF-221). On 20 April, Major Lofton R. Henderson arrived on Midway to take command of the scout bombers of VMSB-241.

On 10 March, pilots of VMF-221 saw their first air combat when radar detected an enemy intruder approximately forty-five miles west of Midway. Twelve Buffalo fighters under Captain Robert M. Haynes were vectored out to intercept the intruder which turned out to be a Japanese four-engined Kawanishi 97 "Mavis" patrol flying boat. The Japanese aircraft had almost certainly come from Wake Island. After several firing passes by Marine pilots, the Japanese flying boat fell into the sea. One American pilot was wounded in the engagement.

Apart from being the first enemy aircraft shot down by VMF-221, this action has particular historical significance. It is very likely that this was the Japanese flying boat that had been assigned to carry out a photographic reconnaissance of Midway to provide intelligence for the major Japanese assault on Midway planned for early June 1942. The Marines would first learn that they were the intended target of a major Japanese amphibious operation when the Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, paid them a personal visit on 2 May 1942.

The US Army Air Corps provides a very unusual addition to the defences of Midway

On 29 May 1942, the US Marines on Midway were further cheered by the arrival of a very unusual addition to their meagre strike potential. Four US Army Air Corps B-26 Marauder twin-engine medium bombers landed on the Eastern Island airstrip. Each of these normally sleek aircraft had a 1,000-pound torpedo slung beneath the fuselage, and as each bomber made its ungainly way to a dispersal bay, it was obvious to the watching Marines that there was very little clearance between the lethal "eggs" carried by these Army birds and the runway. This was a unique moment in the history of the US Army Air Corps. Never before had the Army Air Corps sent a bomber into combat with a torpedo slung beneath it and it would never happen again after the Battle of Midway. The fact that this happened at Midway in June 1942 was mute testimony to the need for desperate measures to confront the the looming threat from a very powerful enemy who gave no quarter, and expected none.

The flight of four torpedo equipped B-26 Marauders was led by Captain James J. Collins. Jim Collins was assigned to the 69th Squadron, 38th Bombarment Group. This squadron had been bound for service in Australia, when the pressing need to reinforce the defences of Midway caused four of the Marauders to be detached from the squadron at Hawaii and jury-rigged to carry torpedoes. The pilots and aircrews of the four Marauders had effectively drawn "short straws". At this stage of the war, with the United States Navy equipped only with obsolescent Navy Devastator torpedo bombers, aerial torpedo bombing of a defended Japanese carrier group was widely regarded as a form of air combat verging on suicidal. None of the Army bombers was expected to survive this attack on Japanese carriers defended by deadly Zero fighters. After the briefest of instruction in aerial torpedo bombing by the US Navy, the four B-26 Marauders had taken off for Midway on 29 May with a torpedo slung beneath each bomber.

None of the Army pilots had had been given the opportunity to practise dropping a torpedo before embarking on the 1,200 mile journey to Midway!


Wednesday, September 2, 1942

On the Eastern Front. German troops from the 11th and 17th Armies advance near Novorosiysk. 1st Panzer Army makes slow advances on Grozny.

In North Africa. Rommel gives the orders for his troops to withdraw to their starting points. British General Montgomery refuses to follow the Germans in their retreat.

In New Guinea. At Buna, 1000 more Japanese reinforcements land from Rabaul land.

New Zealand Division soldiers attacking

Organization [ edit ]

The UNSC Marine Corps is one of the five branches of the United Nations Space Command's Armed Forces. Ε] The Marine Corps is subordinate to the UNSC High Command and the branch has a seat on the UNSC Security Council, currently represented by General Hogan. Α] The Marine Corps is largely under the authority of the UNSC's Unified Ground Command (UniCom), responsible for managing ground-based operations of the Marine Corps, the UNSC Air Force, and the UNSC Army. Γ] However, due to the Marines' expeditionary nature, the branch has some with the UNSC Naval Command, particularly in the Navy-dominated UNSC Fleet Command where the Marines have only a token representation. Δ] The branch also maintains its own UNSC Marine Corps of Engineers command. ⎝] As well as possessing infantry, armored, and air units, the UNSC Marine Corps is based around Marine Expeditionary Forces, which contain at least one division-sized unit of Marines. ⎞] Because of its role as an "amphibious", space-deployed force, the Marine Corps enjoys a close relationship with the UNSC Navy, with Marine complements being deployed on most warships. ⎟] ⎠] ⎡] The Marine Corps, along with the Navy, was headquartered at the Fleet Command Headquarters on Reach, until the facility's destruction and the planet's fall in 2552. ⎢]

In addition to conventional forces, the Marine Corps maintain special forces in the form of the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers under the Naval Special Warfare Command. ODSTs drop into hostile areas via SOEIVs prior to the main invasion. They attempt to complete some of the most difficult tasks in hostile areas, such as clearing enemy ground forces or establishing landing zones for incoming Pelicans. ⎠] ⎣]

Marine Reinforcements Arrive - History

We started to bring women and children aboard and the other ships in our group left. Everyone left. We could hear gunfire across the Jahore Straits. The Japanese were right there. We were abandoned at Singapore, still burning and not knowing whether or not we could make it out of there. We were waiting on the tide to come in so we could get out of there. You had to depend on the tide to come in at Keppel Harbor. We had 1,500 women and children and we found out later that we had taken aboard Indian troops that were stationed there at Singapore, some dressed as women. We couldn't leave and we were all by ourselves. The Japanese planes were still coming in. We could always tell when the Japanese planes were coming because of the British. The British Air Force consisted of Brewster Buffaloes. They were an American made fighter plane that was absolutely a useless damn thing. It was stubby like a milk bottle and we didn't use it in the USAF, but the British had bought a few of them. They had three PBY Catalinas and when we saw them take off we knew the Japanese planes were coming. I think they were coming from French Indochina at Saigon at that time. There was a lot of chaos and people killed on the docks during these bombardments. Everywhere you looked there was death. Even in the water there were dead sharks and people floating all around. How these people put up with it I'll never know. We were able to get out when the tide came in. We were abandoned and all by ourselves. I'll never understand whey they left us and I know that they took some key personnel off our ship and put them on the other ships. I found this out later. We eventually got our fires pretty well put out and the tide came in.

The Japanese were entering Singapore as we were departing. We were under heavy bombardment when we left and supposedly, from what I hear, we were the last ship that made it out of Singapore before it fell. The fall of Singapore was one of the greatest embarrassments the British ever had because they had 125,000 troops there and they never did really battle. The Japanese landed on the Malay Peninsula and came down on bicycles. There was very little fortification at Singapore. Everything that was there was pointed at the ocean as they figured they'd get a frontal assault. The Japanese never came that way, they came from behind. They walked and rode their bicycles. The Singapore prisoners were taken to the encampment at the river Quay. Another sad part of this is that when a group of British prisoners left Singapore on a transport ship to go to the prison camp, one of our subs torpedoed it. There were about 2,000 of them that were killed. That was a sad day, but it did happen. In no way could the sub know that it was carrying British prisoners. Just before we arrived in Singapore off the Malayan coast the British lost their two prize battleships to aircraft - the Prince of Wales and the Repulse.

Running From the Japanese We left the Singapore Harbor and were in the South China Sea with Japanese ships in every which direction. Here we were by ourselves and we would hide in rain squall. The War Department had published in our local papers about this time that the Japanese had claimed to have sunk the Wakefield. The War Department, in all their wisdom, had come out and said the Wakefield was not sunk. They said the Wakefield was at Singapore and it was hit with a bomb in the sick bay and all medical personnel were killed. I didn't realize that my mother had this information until I got her scrapbook after she died in the 1950's. She never notified my brothers or sisters or anyone that I know of that I'd been killed. She never believed it. She was a very strong individual and she just wouldn't accept it. According to my stepfather, she called the War Department but she got nothing other than that official release. Fortunately I'd gone flat and just got banged up good. We were hiding in the rain sqmllls and were finally getting down to Batavia and Java. The Dutch were still holding it. There were also Japanese ships that had spotted us by late evening. We could make about 20-22 knots on our own as our engine room was still working good. Dutch destroyers and a light cruiser came out and they did battle with the Japanese. We could see it all as we made our way into Batavia at night. The Dutch ships had intercepted the Japanese ships. There was no way we could get repairs to the bulkhead. They didn't have the materials at the time and they were too vulnerable as they were getting bombed too. 23

Soerabaya! We had just lost the heavy cruiser Houston at Soerabaya just north of Batavia. We took one survivor off the Houston. He was a Marine Sergeant that was incorrigible. He was so far gone, but he didn't show any physical signs. All he would do is just keep yelling "Soerabaya, Soerabaya!" He never stopped. It was just incessant. They were sunk by Japanese subs off of "Soerabaya." I'll never forget this Marine. We had him in a private room and he never stopped repeating Soerabaya. The thing that I remember is the smell of cordite. It's absolutely repugnant. Once you experience it and smell it, you'll never forget it. The explosive part of the bomb is so pungent. There were crews working on cleaning up the mess. There was a feeding frenzy off the side of the ship. The body parts and debris that were shoved off the side made the water look like it was boiling.

We didn't stay there too long. The day after we left the Japanese task force hit Batavia, and hit it hard. From there we left by ourselves to Colombo Ceylon. We were one of the first ships in for months, but we couldn't get repairs because they didn't have the materials or manpower. We were welcome and got water and fuel-oil and spent a day or two. You could pick up sapphires for one or two dollars and the biggest and best ones for four or five dollars a piece. I had probably 20, mainly just to get rid of the people pulling on your sleeve. They had no money. I didn't realize these bloomin' things were priceless until later on, when five or six months later I was with my friend McClean. He had 40-50 of them and we went into the jewelry store. He had a hand full and he showed the star sapphires and the guy couldn't believe what he saw. He said each one of those was worth between $700 and $800 a piece. At that point I'd lost mine when we'd had a fire on board ship and had to abandon the ship. I was invited to go to the British Consulate and have tea. I thought it would be good for me to get off the ship and I went there. I didn't realize that when you have tea like that you take a walk, a brisk walk. We went through Indian villages with tigers and cobras and all these things. I was a little apprehensive. Of course we never saw anything like that. When we got back from the walk we had the tea and the cakes. We left Ceylon and the day after we left the Japanese hit the dock area. They were after us again.

Marine Reinforcements Arrive - History

Although the Japanese had severely damaged the Pacific Fleet in their Pearl Harbor raid, they had concentrated on

ships rather than installations, and the repair facilities of the navy yard were virtually untouched. Round-the-clock work promptly restored to operation many vessels which might otherwise have been lost for good or long delayed in their return to fleet service. But Nimitz's strength was not enough to hazard a large scale amphibious offensive, even with the addition of reinforcements sent from the Atlantic Fleet. In the first few months of 1942, Allied strategists had to be content with defensive operations. The few local attacks they mounted were hit-and-run raids which did little more than boost home-front morale at a time when most news dealt with defeat and surrender.

From 22 December to 14 January, the political and military leaders of the United States and Great Britain met in Washington (the ARCADIA Conference) to chart the course of Allied operations against the Axis powers. The Americans, despite the enormity of the Japanese attack, reaffirmed their decision of ABC-1 that Germany was the predominant enemy and its defeat would be decisive in the outcome of the war. The Pacific was hardly considered a secondary theater, but the main strength of the Allied war effort was to be applied in the European, African, and Middle Eastern areas. Sufficient men and materiel would be committed to the battle against Japan to allow the gradual assumption of the offensive.

One result of the ARCADIA meetings was the organization of the Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCS), a supreme military council whose members were the chiefs of services in Great Britain and the United States. The CCS was charged with the strategic direction of the war, subject only to the review of the political heads of state. The necessity of presenting a united American view in CCS discussions led directly to the formation of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) as the controlling agency of American military operations.

On 9 February 1942, the first formal meeting of General George C. Marshall (Chief of Staff, United States Army), Lieutenant General Henry H. Arnold (Chief of the Army Air Corps), Admiral Harold R. Stark (CNO), and Admiral King (CominCh) took place. Expect for the combination of the offices of CominCh and CNO in the person of Admiral King which took effect of 26 March (Admiral Stark became Commander U.S. Naval Forces Europe) and the addition of Admiral William D. Leahy as Chief of Staff to the President on 20 July, the membership of the JCS remained constant for the duration of the war. As far as the Marine Corps was concerned their representative on the JCS was Admiral King, and he was consistently a champion of the use of Marines at their greatest potential--as specially trained and equipped amphibious assault troops. 4

On 10 January 1942, the CCS, acting with the approval of Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt, set up a unified, inter-Allied command in the western Pacific to control defensive operations against the Japanese along a broad sweep of positions from Burma through Luzon to New Guinea. The commander of ABDA (American-British-Dutch-Australian) forces holding the barrier zone was the British Commander in Chief in India, General Sir Archibald P. Wavell his ABDA air, naval, and ground commanders were respectively an Englishman, an American, and a Dutchman. But ABDA Command had no chance to stop the Japanese in the East Indies, Malaya, or the Philippines. Wavell's forces were beaten back, cut off, or defeated before he could be reached by reinforcements that could make a significant difference in the fighting. By the end of February Singapore had fallen and the ABDA area was split by an enemy thrust to Sumatra. Wavell returned to India to muster troops to block Japanese encroachment into Burma. On 1 March ABDA Command was formally dissolved.

Although this first attempt at unified Allied command was short-lived and unsuccessful, it set a pattern which governed operational control of the war through its remaining years. This pattern amounted to the selection as over-all commander of a theater of an officer from the nation having the most forces in that particular theater. His principal subordinates were appointed from other nations also having interests and forces there. Realistically, the CCS tried to equate theater responsibility with national interest. On 3 March the Combined Chiefs approved for the western Pacific a new dividing line which cut through the defunct ABDA area. Burma and all Southeast Asia west of a north-south line between Java and Sumatra were added to Wavell's Indian command and the British Chiefs of Staffs were charged with the strategic direction of this theater. The whole Pacific east of the new line was given over to American JCS control.

The Joint Chiefs divided the Pacific into two strategic entities, one in which the Navy would have paramount interests, the Pacific Ocean Area (POA), and the other in which the Army would be the dominant service, the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA). (See Map 1, Map Section for boundary.) Naval planners had successfully insisted in JCS discussions that all positions such as New Caledonia, the New Hebrides, and New Zealand which guarded the line of communications from Pearl Harbor to Australia must be controlled by the Navy. In terms of the air age, the JCS division of the Pacific gave the Army operational responsibility for

an area of large land masses lying relatively close together where land power supported by shore-based air could be decisive. To the Navy the JCS assigned the direction of the was in a vast sea area with widely scattered island bases where the carrier plane reigned supreme.

The American commander in the Philippines, General Douglas MacArthur, was the Joint Chiefs' choice to take over direction of SWPA operations Admiral Nimitz was selected to head POA activities. Formal announcement of the new set-up was not made until MacArthur had escaped from Corregidor and reached safety in Australia. On 18 March, with the consent of the Australian government, MacArthur was announced as Supreme Commander of the SWPA (CinCSWPA). The JCS directive outlining missions for both Pacific areas was issued on 30 March, and the confirmation of Nimitz as Commander in Chief of the POA (CinCPOA) followed on 3 April. By CCS and JCS agreement, both commanders were to have operational control over any force, regardless of service or nation, that was assigned to their respective theaters.

Nimitz still retained his command of the Pacific Fleet in addition to his duties as CinCPOA. The fleet's striking arm, its carriers and their supporting vessels, stayed under Nimitz as CinCPac no matter where they operated. In the final analysis, however, the major decisions on employment of troops, ships, and planes were made in Washington with the advice of the theater commanders. MacArthur was a subordinate of Marshall and reported through him to the JCS an identical command relationship existed between Nimitz and King.

Samoan Bastion 5

The concern felt in Washington for the security of the southern route to Australia was acute in the days and weeks immediately following the Pearl Harbor attack. Despite world-wide demands on the troops and equipment of a nation just entering the war, General Marshall and Admiral King gave special attention to the need for holding positions that would protect Australia's lifeline. Garrison forces, most of them provided by the Army, moved into the Pacific in substantial strength to guard what the Allies still held and to block further Japanese advances. Between January and April nearly 80,000 Army troops left the States for Pacific bases.

An infantry division was sent to Australia to take the place of Australian units committed to the fighting in the Middle East. At the other end of the lifeline, a new division was added to the Hawaiian Island garrison. Mixed forces of infantry, coast and antiaircraft artillery, and air corps units were established in early February at Canton and Christmas Islands, southwest and south of Pearl Harbor. At about the same time a New Zealand ground garrison reinforced by American pursuit planes moved into the Fiji Islands, and a small garrison was sent to the French-owned Society Islands to guard the eastern approaches to the supply route. In March a task force of

almost division strength arrived in New Caledonia and the Joint Chiefs sent additional Army garrison forces to Tongatabu in the Tonga Islands, south of Samoa, and north to Efate in the New Hebrides. By the end of March 1942 the supply route to Australia ran through a corridor of burgeoning island strong points and the potential threat of major Japanese attacks had been substantially lessened. (See Map 1)

Actually the initial Japanese war plan contemplated no advances into the South Pacific to cut the line of communications to Australia. The Allied leaders, however, can be forgiven for not being clairvoyant on this point, for the enemy's chance to seize blocking positions along the lifeline was quite apparent. Samoa seemed to be one of the most inviting targets and its tiny garrison of Marines wholly inadequate to stand off anything but a minor raid. The necessity for building up Samoan defenses as a prelude for further moves to Fiji and New Caledonia had been recognized by Admiral King in his instructions to Nimitz to hold the Hawaiian-Samoa line, 6 and reinforcements from the States to back up those instructions were underway from San Diego by 6 January. These men, members of the 2d Marine Brigade, were the forerunners of a host of Marines who passed through the Samoan area and made it the major Marine base in the Pacific in the first year of the war.

Only two weeks' time was necessary to organize, assemble, and load out the 2d Brigade. Acting on orders from the Commandant, the 2d Marine Division activated the brigade on 24 December at Camp Elliott, outside of San Diego. The principal united assigned to the new command were the 8th Marines, the 2d Battalion, 10th Marines, and the 2d Defense Battalion (dispatched by rail from the east coast). Colonel (later Brigadier General) Henry L. Larsen was named brigade commander. A quick estimate was made of the special engineering equipment which the brigade would need to accomplish one of its most important missions--completion of the airfield at Tutuila. Permission was obtained to expend up to $200,000 in the commercial market for the purchase of such earth-moving equipment as could not be supplied from quartermaster stocks. When the first cargo ship arrived at San Diego on New Year's day, the brigade went on a round-the-clock loading schedule. Sixty-two hours later all assigned personnel and gear had been loaded and the 4,798 officers and men were on their way to Tutuila.

When the news of Pearl Harbor reached Samoa, Lieutenant Colonel Lester A. Dessez, commanding the 7th Defense Battalion, ordered his troops to man their positions. The Samoan Marine Reserve Battalion was called to active duty and assigned to reinforce the defenses. Despite a spate of rumors and false alarms, no sign of the Japanese was evident until the night of 11 January, when a submarine shelled the naval station for about seven minutes from a position 10,000-15,000 yards off the north shore where the coast defense guns could not bear. The station suffered only light damage from the shells, some of which fell harmlessly into the bay, and two men were wounded slightly by fragments. The Marines remained on alert but received no further visits from the enemy.

On 19 January radar picked up signs of numerous ships, and observation stations on the island's headlands soon confirmed the arrival of the 2d Brigade.

While still at sea, General Larsen had received orders from the Navy Department appointing him Military Governor of American Samoa and giving him responsibility for the islands' defense as well and supervisory control over the civil government. As soon as the ships docked antiaircraft machine guns of the 2d Defense Battalion, were promptly unloaded and set up in the hills around Pago Pago harbor. The 8th Marines took over beach defense positions occupied by the 7th Defense Battalion and immediately began improving and expanding them. The artillerymen of 2/10 and the 2d Defense set up their guns in temporary positions while they went to work on permanent emplacements. Navy scouting amphibians of a shore-based squadron (VS-1-D14) attached to the brigade soon were aloft on a busy schedule of antisubmarine and reconnaissance missions.

The airfield on Tutuila was only 10 per cent completed when Larsen arrived, but he directed that construction be pushed around the clock, work to go on through the night under lights. He also detailed the brigade's engineer company to assist the civilian contractors in getting the field in shape. For the 2d Brigade's first three months in Samoa, its days were filled with defense construction. There was little time for any combat training not intimately connected with the problems of Samoan defense. The work was arduous, exacting, and even frustrating, since the brigade had arrived during the rainy season and the frequent tropical rainstorms had a habit of destroying in minutes the results of hours of pick and shovel work.

General Larsen took immediate steps after his arrival in American Samoa to ascertain the status of the defenses in Western (British) Samoa, 40 or so miles northwest of Tutuila. On 26 January the brigade intelligence officer, Lieutenant Colonel William L. Bales, flew to Apia, the seat of government on the island of Upolu, to confer with the New Zealand authorities and make a reconnaissance of Upolu and Savaii, the two principal islands. The New Zealanders were quite anxious to cooperate with the Marines since they had a defense force of only 157 men to guard two large islands with a combined coastline of over 250 miles. Bales whose investigation was aimed primarily at discovering the feasibility of developing either or both of the islands into a military base, reported back that Upolu's harbor facilities, road net, and several potential airfield sites made it readily susceptible to base development. He found, on the other hand, that Savaii had no safe major anchorages and that its lava-crusted surface did "not offer airfield sites that could be developed quickly by the Japanese or anyone else." 7 On his return to Tutuila, Lieutenant Colonel Bales reported to General Larsen that:

In its present unprotected state, Western Samoa is a hazard of first magnitude for the defense of American Samoa. The conclusion is unescapable that if we don't occupy it the Japanese will and there may not be a great deal of time left. 8

Naval authorities in Washington and Pearl Harbor recognized the desirability

John Basilone’s Legacy

Jazz Guy/Flickr The John Basilone statue in Raritan, N.J.

For his actions at Iwo Jima, he was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, America’s second-highest award for soldiers serving in combat. He also received a burial at Virginia’s Arlington National Cemetery alongside thousands of other American heroes. Two U.S. Navy ships bore his name.

And in late September every year, Basilone Day is celebrated in his hometown of Raritan, N.J., where a life-size bronze statue watches over the town and several buildings bear his name.

John Basilone likely would have scoffed at the idea of having such honors heaped upon him. As he told his family just after enlisting in the Corps, he just wanted to be a Marine, plain and simple. “Without the Corps,” he told his brother, “my life means nothing.” Of course, he wasn’t quite right about that.

After this look at John Basilone, read up on “Mad” Jack Churchill, the bagpipe-playing, sword-wielding badass of World War II. Then, discover the story of Vietnam War sniper Carlos Hathcock, whose exploits are almost too incredible to believe.

Marines Land Unopposed At Guantànamo

“At one o’clock the Panther, escorted by the Yosemite, arrived with more than 600 marines. The men climbed into cutters and were towed by steam-launches to the beach.

“The landing, carried out under a blazing-hot afternoon sun, was unopposed. B Company, under Lieutenant N.H. Hall, was the first contingent ashore. C Company, led by Captain George F. Elliott, was the next to land, and both companies deployed up the steep cliff to the ruins of the blockhouse.

“The entire assault proceeded as efficiently as a Sunday-school picnic. Within an hour, the marines had burned the village and taken possession of the hill. Color Sergeant Richard Silvey hoisted the Stars and Stripes above the blockhouse—the first American flag to fly over Cuba. The site was enthusiastically given the name of Camp McCalla, after the popular commanding-officer of the Marblehead.”

Ultimatum at Mers el Kebir

To deal with Gensoul's squadron, Churchill dispatched Force H from Gibraltar under the command of Admiral Sir James Somerville. He was instructed issue an ultimatum to Gensoul requesting that the French squadron do one of the following:

  • Join the Royal Navy in continuing the war with Germany
  • Sail to a British port with reduced crews to be interned for the duration
  • Sail to the West Indies or the United States and remain there for the rest of the war
  • Scuttle their ships within six hoursIf Gensoul refused all four options, Somerville was instructed to destroy the French ships to prevent their capture by the Germans.

A reluctant participant who did not wish to attack an ally, Somerville approached Mers el Kebir with a force consisting of the battlecruiser HMS Hood, the battleships HMS Valiant and HMS Resolution, the carrier HMS Ark Royal, two light cruisers, and 11 destroyers. On July 3, Somerville sent Captain Cedric Holland of Ark Royal, who spoke fluent French, into Mers el Kebir aboard the destroyer HMS Foxhound to present the terms to Gensoul. Holland was coldly received as Gensoul expected negotiations to be conducted by an officer of equal rank. As result, he sent his flag lieutenant, Bernard Dufay, to meet with Holland.

Under orders to present the ultimatum directly to Gensoul, Holland was refused access and ordered to leave the harbor. Boarding a whaleboat for Foxhound, he made a successful dash to the French flagship, Dunkerque, and after additional delays were finally able to meet with the French admiral. Negotiations continued for two hours during which Gensoul ordered his ships to prepare for action. Tensions were further heightened as Ark Royal's aircraft began dropping magnetic mines across the harbor channel as talks progressed.

Lessons of Peleliu

The Battle of Peleliu resulted in the highest casualty rate of any amphibious assault in American military history: Of the approximately 28,000 Marines and infantry troops involved, a full 40 percent of the Marines and soldiers that fought for the island died or were wounded, for a total of some 9,800 men (1,800 killed in action and 8,000 wounded). The high cost of the battle was later attributed to several factors, including typical Allied overconfidence in the efficacy of the pre-landing naval bombardment, a poor understanding of Peleliu’s unique terrain, and overconfidence on the part of Marine commanders, who refused to admit their need for support earlier on at Bloody Nose Ridge.

Watch the video: Reinforcements arrive!


  1. Micah

    The rating is weak !!!

  2. Vira

    Totally agree with her. I think this is a very different concept. Fully agree with her.

  3. Malajind

    I fully share your opinion. This is a great idea. I am ready to support you.

  4. Danno

    Strangely like that

  5. Artus

    Damn it! Cool! You answered yourself. The meaning of life and everything else. Resolved, no kidding.

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