Up and Running on Iwo Jima
I very much enjoyed the June /July issue—in particular the stories about Iwo Jima (“Voices from Iwo Jima”). At that time I was a crewman on an amphibious tractor in a company attached to the 5th Marine Division. When we hit Iwo Jima it was supposed to be a four-day operation. It didn’t turn out quite that way. In four days we were in control of no more than half the island. Actually, it was on the fourth day, February 23, 1945, that the famous flag-raising picture was taken, although Mount Suribachi was hardly secure.
Just after we landed, I saw a marine run up a hill and then jump into a hole right near the top. At that spot Iwo was only about a half-mile wide or maybe less, and was probably as difficult a place to walk or run as I ever saw. The surface was deep, coarse volcanic ash—worse to walk in even than deep sand. The fellow that I saw running up the hill—or attempting to run—was being shot at by the Japanese, and every time his foot left the ground a bullet would hit right where his foot had been. I don’t think he ever was hit, but for at least five steps, a bullet hit right where his foot had been.
For years I would think of this occasion at least once every couple of months and wonder if that guy made it all the way through the fighting—which had only just started at that time.
James R. Norwood
Belle Chasse, LA.
Marines were Tough, but More Fortunate, Too
Gregory Urwin distorts his comparison of marine and army POWs (“How Marine POWs Hung Tough,” June/July 2008). His statement on page 35—“Not one of the 650 Americans who died on the Death March was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps”—omits a very important historical fact: that hardly any American who was a victim of the Death March was a member of the marines. U.S. Army and Filipino soldiers fought the Japanese on Bataan until they were liter ally physically incapable of fighting any more, having endured reduced rations, inadequate medical care, inadequate sup plies, and terrible living conditions. They were the people taken prisoner by the Japanese when Bataan surrendered. There were almost no marines there.
More marines than soldiers survived Camp O’Donnell because the soldiers suffered the consequences of the heroic fighting against long odds under terrible conditions on Bataan, and most marines did not.
James M. Ryan
LCTs Need Some TLC
I read and reread the “The Great D-Day Myth” in the June/July 2008 issue, where you touched on something that has been on my mind for several years. Everyone knows about P-51s, B-17s, aircraft carriers, submarines, and so on, but no one mentions the LCT (tank landing craft). Yes, I know what an LCT is, and I think that is my point: very few other people know.
I was a crewman on an LCT, part of Group 24—a group of 12 LCTs who made landings up the coast of New Guinea and its surrounding islands. This group of LCTs operated for two years without any support ship for food or medical supplies. We had to fend for ourselves, swapping and exchanging parts, making do with what we had.
You came so close to acknowledging that LCTs helped win the war, but you missed a chance to mention the brave men on the LCTs on June 6, 1944, at Normandy. Here is a group of men in an unglamorous outfit that has remained completely lost to history, as though they were not important!
Melvin S. Troutman
Out of Regulation
I’ve read years and will do so until I can no longer World War II magazine for many read. You guys almost always get it right, which I appreciate, but you sometimes get it wrong. Case in point: the cover of the August/September 2008 issue shows Baron Wolfram von Richthofen, a very important officer in the history of the Luftwaffe. Unfortunately, the uniform he’s wearing isn’t correct. Here’s what doesn’t fit: his overcoat shows the lapel facings in white, as a general officer would wear, but the rest of the uniform shows a major. If he was a general in this photo then the underlay to both his collar tabs and shoulder boards would be white; the collar tab embroidery would be gold; the shoulder boards would be entwined gold, silver, gold; and the chin strap, cockade, and eagle would all be gold.
Editor’s note: Mr. Flummerfelt is right—an error was introduced when we added color to a black-and-white photograph.
On page 68 of the August/September issue, the profiles of the Churchill Mk III tank and the Cromwell Mk III tank were switched. On page 72, the year of George Patton’s graduation from West Point is misstated: he graduated in 1909.
Originally published in the November 2008 issue of World War II Magazine. To subscribe, click here.