295TH JOINT ASSAULT SIGNAL COMPANY
18 March 1944.
SUBJECT: Report on Downside Operation
TO : Commanding Officer, 295th Joint Assault Signal Company.
We left Pearl Harbor 23 January 1944 and sailed to Kwajalein Atoll. Here on 31 January and 1 February, 1944, the Army and Marines began their attack on Japs installed there. Our regiment, the 106th Inf was held in reserve to all operations within the atoll but as the operations went better than expected, we were not committed. However, we were constantly on the alert for an immediate movement to locations where reinforcements were necessary.
After the Kwajalein Atoll was secured, we sailed on to Eniwetok for the Downside Operation. Here we were committed on 19 February 1944 on the island of Eniwetok. We were to go ashore in the fifth wave. The type of craft used were LVTs or Alligators. To get into these craft we were transferred to an LST the night of 18 February and here set about loading our equipment into LVTs prior to the push in the morning.
At 0745, 19 February, we roared out the front of the LST and joined other LVT's in our wave. There was only a very short rendezvous, not in circles but in about 100 yards advances toward the beach. At approximately 0945 our LVT first hit the coral and its bow reared up into the air, only to be struck by some sort of Jap shell in her bow. We shipped water very rapidly but due to the fact that we had touched the beach, it didn't sink. They took the LVT up out of the water and here on a beach, no more than 50' wide and 15 or so feet high, we unloaded. The greatest difficulty here was getting our equipment out of the LVT and onto dry land. The men were exposed about 12 feet above the beach as they put the equipment over the side of the LVT.
We were originally ordered to land on beach Yellow II but were landed about 200 yards north of this location in very hostile territory. Here we met the 8th team completely set up and operating under all kinds of enemy fire. After a trip on two up and down the beach, I located the Shore Party Commander on his proper beach. We immediately moved all men and equipment of the 9th team to this location and set up our radio and switchboard.
It had been planned by the Regiment Commanding Officer that we we would work one radio station in a three station net, consisting of one station at Yellow Beach I, one at Yellow Beach II, and one on board the AP40. It was approximately five minutes after we moved to our new location that our radio was set up and transmitting. There were several urgent messages awaiting transmission and as the battalion Signal section had been blown up while still in the water, we were practically the only means of communication from this beach to the transport.
The transport did not have sufficient radio equipment nor personnel to man the frequency assigned to us so we received no answer. In fact we never did receive and answer for all of the four days that we were on the beach. However, we retuned our transmitter and receiver and sent the traffic to the AP40 over the regimental command net which was manned on the APA. We used this frequency and net throughout the operation. Wire was installed in short time and we had very little trouble on our local lines. However, the lateral line and the line to the inland battalion were constantly being removed from service by LVT's and bulldozers crossing the very narrow, steep beach. We ran many lines laterally before the area was secured to the extent of putting wire overhead. A great deal of trouble was encountered by foot troops on the island from hidden Jap snipers, so linemen were not ordered to climb and put wire overhead until the area had been secured and mopped up. Our 536 local net was useless as the frequency of the 536's were the same or very near to the SFC net and interference was terrific. The shore party commander did not desire the use of this net as all installations were so close together on our very limited beach, so we did not use them. We did not use all of our EE8A's on installation. On the third day ashore the inland battalion drew same from us for use inland. Shortly afterward we set up a signal dump on a bulldozer sled and issued equipment to the inland battalion as they needed it. Panels, our BD 71, extra wire, empty rubber bags,flags, batteries, signal lamp and other signal equipment salvaged from the beach were put in this dump. Our second 284 was given to the Commanding Officer of the inland battalion within about five hours of landing as his had all been destroyed.
At night all men were dug in and blacked out and very little activity was in progress. Telephone operated all the time and radio very infrequently.
From my observations of our activities and our surroundings, I would like to make the following suggestions for improvement of our operation toward fulfilling our mission:
1. Our 284 radios are too large and bulky to get ashore as safely as could 610's which could be carried by less personnel and carried on the personnel at all times, therefore lessening the exposure to enemy fire during the period of unloading on the beach. We need our own personnel manning our radios on board ship to insure contact when it is most vital. 610's are voice radios which are used principally on landings and the range satisfactorily covers the distance between ship and shore stations. 130 assault wire is desired for its small bulk and ease in handling both in landing and setting up. In the whole four day operations we used less than 2 1/2 mile of wire and our lines were being replaced time after time all day long. A lighter type of switchboard would expedite unloading and make it much easier to dig in. The deep dry sand is quite difficult to maintain a deep hole in especially with huge explosions rocking the islands continually. No use of telegraph was made which eliminates the necessity of the repeater coils. Light wire and switchboards require less equipment to supplement them such as reel units.
Our 03 rifles were issued for use with the grenade launcher but as we had no occasion to use this weapon, they could easily be omitted. Firing of grenades would have only resulted in killing our own troops in all directions inland and laterally. These weapons are clumsy for defense in a foxhole where our primary danger existed. Either carbines or TSMG's or .45 cal pistols would be more satisfactory, the ideal situation being nearly obtained if a11 weapons be alike for simplicity in obtaining ammunition. The above mentioned weapons can be fired rapidly and have a greater capacity than 03 rifle and are easier to use. Our waterproof covering were God-sends to us as sand and water were constantly jamming up unprotected weapons. On the trip from ship to shore, the LVT was flooded many times but our weapons and equipment were kept bone dry by our protective rubber bags and covers.
In conclusion, I noted that throughout the invasion, it was not too difficult to accomplish our mission but with lighter, smaller equipment, we could have done a more efficient job not only as regards materials and supplies but in safeguarding the lives of our men.
Roy W. REPP
2nd Lt., 295th JASCO
295TH JOINT ASSAULT SIGNAL COMPANY
18 March 1944
SUBJECT: Report and Recommendations Eniwetok Operation.
T0 : Commanding Officer, 295th JASCO.
BLT 106-3 and attached units sailed from Pearl Harbor 23 Jan and arrived at Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands on 29 Jan. After standing by as a floating reserve of this operation, a portion of the task force, including BLT 106-3, acting on information captured from the Japs, sailed for Eniwetok Atoll. The captured information proved to be correct insofar as military installations were concerned but was not up to date as to the strength of the Jap garrison. Subsequent information revealed by natives on the captured island of Engebi, on Eniwetok Atoll, resulted in a complete revision of plan of attack on the island of Eniwetok as the Jap garrison was considerably larger than anticipated. All assault elements transferred from the transport to LST's on D-l day and on D-day personnel were boated in LVTs located on the tank decks of the LST's and at 0730 headed for the rendezvous area. Due to the extremely narrow landing beach, waves were divided into small segments, so that each wave consisted of several small waves. Signal Detachment Team #8 was scheduled to land in the first segment of the third wave, but through error landed in the first segment of the first wave at approximately 0910.
Since the beach was practically deserted, it was assumed initially that the inland battalion had departed inland and the hazards encountered previous to attaining the shelter of the Jap built, 15 foot high fire wall, caused no particular consternation. A large well built hole, dug in the side of the dune offered perfect protection and concealment for the large and bulky switchboards but the project was abandoned when it was determined that the hole contained several homicidally inclined Japs. All the installations were then dug in closer to the water's edge, all of which spots were later found to be directly under the muzzles of a Jap 70 MM Howitzer battery. At approximately H hour plus 30 minutes the 9th Signal Team landed on this same beach and departed south where other elements of their battalion were then landing. Shortly afterward the third battalion shore party landed about 200 yards north of the original beach and established themselves there. It was then decided to move installations closer to the Shore Party and the movement was effected swiftly. The swiftness was probably occasioned by mortar fire to the left, mortar fire to the rear, and hostile small arms fire to the right (inland). Upon reaching the shore party area mortar shells commenced falling like hail stones. The Japs were attempting to hit a large number of DUKWs which were landing a battalion of Field Artillery and as the shells were falling somewhat short,the shore party was receiving most of the fire.The DUKWs were driven off about the time the mortar shells were falling approximately 3 or 4 feet from the ditch in which lay most of the Shore Party. After the installations were dug in this time, very little further trouble was encountered except from snipers and marauding Japs who infiltrated at night.
No difficulty was experienced in getting any
message to its destination although it was necessary several times to use nets other than
those assigned. Snipers made it impossible to string wire overhead and the tracked
vehicles constantly cut the lateral and inland telephone lines. Radio was the only
dependable means of communication for the first 2 days and there was no failure of this
medium. However the U.S.S. Custer failed to respond on the Army Ship-Shore net and after 3
days, this radio was turned over to the battalion to replace one of theirs which had
burned out a generator. The Custer responded properly on the Navy Ship-Shore net. The
erstwhile lateral net radio was tuned to the frequency of the Regimental Command Net and
some traffic was sent out over this net. Most of the traffic was received and sent over
the Inland radio which was an SCR 195 furnished by the Infantry. On about the third day
wire was placed overhead and no further repairs were necessary. There was no delay of any
kind in delivering messages to destinations as all were clear text and sent vocally.
Encoding or CW would have occasioned some delay and virtually all messages were urgent in
the assault phase.
On the fifth day all equipment was turned over to the Regimental Communication Officer and attached Assault Units sailed for Pearl Harbor.
1. The B0-71 and/or BO-72 should be replaced by the special assault switchboard weighing only a few pounds. The weight and bulk of the normal switchboard make it extremely unmanageable for assault work under fire.
2. The regular Inland, and Navy Ship Shore Nets should be retained but the Lateral Net should have its own PERSONNEL & RADIO ABOARD SHIP as the ships are generally unreliable.
3. The SCR 284 should be supplanted by some small, compact, battery ' "-I. The Sea 284-should be supplanted by some small, compact, battery , operated set which can be unloaded easily and set up quickly, such as the SCR 610. Lack of versatility would be offset by the above mentioned shipboard installation which would have all nets available.
4. W130-B should be issued in lieu of W110-B as the latter is too bulky and heavy for temporary assault installation. The prime consideration, however, is for the safety of the men who have to unload all this bulk under enemy fire.
5. The Thompson Sub Machine Gun appears to be far superior to the Carbine for use by Signal men. It is much less susceptible to stoppage from sand and is much easier to handle from a fox hole. The '03 rifle is useless as its grenade launcher cannot be used successfully except by assault infantry. Highly recommend men be armed with pistol in addition to Tommy Guns.
6. Each man should have at least twenty dollars in order that he may purchase items from the ships store, and buy chits for use in the ship's barber shop, and the ship's soda fountain - mostly the latter as it is a long, hot, trip.
7. Men should have locks for Duffle bags as there is considerable pilfering, but there was no case of a locked Duffle bag being slit and robbed.
8. CHAP-STICKS should be an item of issue. Most men suffered from lack of this or similar preparation.
CHARLES C. GILLIAM
1st Lt., Sig C
HEADQUARTERS 27th INFANTRY DIVISION
c/o POSTMASTER, SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA 19 March 1944
S E C R E T
Subject: Report on Use of Air Support, Eniwetok Island, 19-21 February 1944
To: Commanding General, U. S. Army Forces, Central Pacific Area, APO 958,
c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, California. (THRU: Channels)
1. A total of eighteen (18) air strikes were performed in close support of the 3rd Battalion, 106th Infantry, at ENIWETOK Island on 19-21 February 1944. All these missions were flown in response to requests from the Battalion Commander through his Air Liaison Officer. It is believed that this is the most extensive use of close air support at the call of a single battalion for a comparable period of time on record in this theater.
Air bombardment was conducted in areas in front of the infantry to blast enemy positions. Frequently, these target areas were selected in advance of artillery or naval gunfire, thereby alleviating the necessity for ceasing that supporting fire to permit air strikes. The target charts were carefully studied by the Battalion Commander and Air Liaison Officer and those areas in advance of the troops that appeared most suited for defensive positions were placed under air bombardment.
Strafing attacks were performed in
preparation for an infantry advance and were conducted as close to friendly front lines as
was necessary. All strafing and bombing strikes were accurate, timely, and performed in
good order. There were no casualties among friendly troops as a result of our air support
in missions called for this battalion. While it was difficult to determine the actual
effects of this support because of the complete devastation, it is felt that the strafing
and bombing was both destructive and neutralizing, and materially aided the infantry in
the accomplishment of its mission.
(a) Bombs finally silenced enemy
mortar fire that had been quite harassing.
(b) Strafing tended to cause the Japs to run out of the brush to the beaches where they were killed by our troop
(c) Many bodies were found with large holes in them that very likely were caused by .50 caliber fire.
(d) Strafing from a dive angle of 45° -60° penetrated the underground installations that were lightly covered and inflicted casualties in them.
(e) A near-miss uncovered an installation which was observed by the pilot who immediately requested permission to attack. It required not over three (3) minutes to obtain clearance for the attack. This attack was successful in helping to neutralize this area.
2. APPREHENSION AMONG FRIENDLY TROOPS. Despite the fact that strafing and bombing were extremely accurate, an undue amount of apprehension existed among them as indicated by the following:
(a) In a strafing attack on 20th of
February in support of an advance, a tank commander repeatedly charged that VF fire was
hitting his tanks. This was not so, since the Air Liaison Officer was in the front line
and observed that the fire was falling sufficiently in front of the tanks. Empty brass was
falling among them. Although this was pointed out, the Battalion Commander was finally
compelled to order the attack to cease.
(b) At another instance, troops thinking an air attack was coming beat a hasty retreat some fifty (50) feet as an added safety precaution. This was not necessary and such action is a "dead give-away" to the enemy of what is about to happen.
(c) In a strafing mission on 21st of February, VF were laying a continuous preparation fire across the battalion front. The Battalion Commander and this officer were in the front lines observing the effects of the attack. Again apprehension was felt by the troops although the fire was definitely observed falling in the area requested. It was necessary for the Air Liaison Officer to persuade the troop commander not to call off the mission, Later, at the commanders request, the VF were ordered to strafe areas further in advance of the troops. This was accomplished immediately. In this instance, control of aircraft already engaged in a mission was exceptionally well-effected.
(d) Later, after troops had been accustomed to close support, they gained confidence and moved forward closely behind their supporting air attacks.
Recommendations. More air ground exercises wherein aircraft bomb and fire in front of the infantry must be conducted prior to an operation. Ground troops should also have an indoctrination course in bomb effects and air support tactics.
Air Liaison Officers should maintain a position as far forward as practical in order to observe the results of air strikes and to be able to take immediate action in the event of inaccurate bombing or strafing, and also to give CSA any necessary corrections to improve the effect.
3. COMMUNICATIONS. Radio communication was excellent. The Air Liaison Officer remained forward with the troop commander during all air attacks and communicated with his radio station at the CP by means of SCR 536 radio. In several instances, more effective communication and orientation would have resulted had he been able to talk directly with the Air Coordinator. It was not possible to bring his SCR 193 that far forward.
Front line panels were not always displayed. In attacks that were delivered several hundred yards in advance of the line, it was not thought necessary to put them out. They were displayed, however, whenever requested by the air, and whenever close strafing was expected.
4. COOPERATION. The cooperation of the
Battalion Commander was excellent. Missions were suggested by the Air Liaison Officer as
frequently as he deemed advisable. These were always accepted by the Battalion Commander
with an open mind. From the experience gained in this operation, it is felt that unless
the Air Liaison Officer is accepted as an advisor to the Battalion Commander and remains
close to him during the operation, many opportunities to use air support effectively will
be neglected. Usually a troop commander is busy with his other responsibilities and can
not be alert for every opportunity to use air support advantageously. The Air Liaison
Officer must constantly suggest the use of air whenever its need is indicated. To do this,
the Air Liaison Officer must have prestige in the eyes of the troop commander and his
officers and men. One good means of obtaining such prestige is to be well informed on all
phases of the air plan, on the capabilities and limitations of aircraft and bombs, on
current air support tactics, on the ground plan of operation. He should have his own plan
of operation well thought out and make absolutely clear what he can and cannot do, and
exactly what assistance and cooperation he must have from the infantry.
This officer conducted orientation classes on use of air support while enroute to the objective. He kept himself posted at all times (thru CSA) as to what aircraft were available for missions, weight and number of bombs to be used on each strike, number of aircraft to be employed, when every "pass" in a strike was about to start. He further kept himself posted constantly on the location of the front lines (thru Air Observer) and was able to advise, and sometimes correct, the troop commander. He was always advised when the strike had been completed and passed this information to the troop commander immediately.
5. PROCEDURE. When q mission was decided upon, the time aircraft would be available was obtained from CSA. The location of the front line was given as accurately as possible. The Battalion Commander would pass the word along to his front line elements to stop and take cover at a certain time, usually about ten (10) minutes before the attack was to commence; panel were displayed in as conspicuous location as possible, i.e., on rear upper level of tanks, in clearings, on beaches, etc. Naval gunfire, tank fire, artillery and mortar fire were stopped if necessary. As soon as the air attack was completed, CSA notified the Air Liaison Officer who was alongside the Battalion Commander and the troops moved forward immediately. This did not hold up the advance of the line unduly in the last strafing mission, troops were moving forward within five minutes after the attack was completed.
strafing, after the effective firing has ceased, a section should make another pass firing
a safe distance ahead of the advancing troops for the purpose of deceiving the enemy and
keeping him uncertain and pinned down. The Japs were fairly quick t resume their positions
on cessation of fire.
(b) Strafing should be used as close to our front lines as safety permits, but bombing should not be conducted closer than 200 yards to our troops except for extreme cases. One bomb in the wrong place would cause a lack of confidence among all ground troops and tend to nullify the advantage of close support.
(c) Troop commander must be impressed with the necessity for keeping his line under control if he wishes to use air. Tanks also must be held up or brought back into the line.
(d) Flotation gear should be provided for AGL equipment. This should include carbon-dioxide inflatable space incorporated into waterproof bags of portable radio equipment.
(e) Small maps of the area to be attacked, such as the air target and gunnery charts, should be supplied to troop officers. They were constantly using the Air Liaison Officers maps rather than their own which were not as easily handled.
7. The Naval Air personnel who supported this operation should be commended on the organization of their attacks, the dispatch with which they responded to a call for support, and the marksmanship and accuracy with which they executed their missions. The commander of TF 106-3 should be commended upon the manner in which he personally controlled his troops and upon the cooperation with which he received and put into effect the suggestions and requests of the Air Liaison Party.
THOMAS W. HEFFERAN, JR.,
Captain, Air Corps,
Air Liason Officer, TF 106-3
[Identical Document addressed to Regimental and Battalion Commanders over signature of
HAROLD F. GREIR
Lt. Colonel, AGD, Adjutant Genera is not reproduced here.]l
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