A Letter from Iwo Jima // Major Charles Williamson // World War II Primary Source

by birtanpublished on August 5, 2020

deras Lari after we went into the line on the western side of the island the regiment stayed and continuously from the tenth or eleventh day until the 35th day the casualties were very high the land looked like a section of the moon

It is impossible to describe the ruggedness of the cliffs and land on the northern half of the island from about the middle of the island to the northern end on the west side the cliffs ran diagonally across the front of our lines

There was a cliff about every 40 or 50 yards the averaged about a hundred feet in height and were made of hard sulfurous clay a dirty yellow in color there was no vegetation on them and the bombs artillery shells and naval gunfire

Shells had knocked off large chunks of this rocky clay in each side of one of these cliffs were in innumerable caves some of these cliffs had as many as 40 caves on each side some of these caves went down 40 or 50 feet in the Japs had

Carved out large rooms down there some of them were 40 or 50 feet square most of the caves were connected with several others by tunnels all of these caves had Japs in them it was impossible to get them out with artillery or mortar

Fire the only way our men could advance was for fire teams to fire continuously into the mouths of the next cave while flamethrower men worked their way through to burn them out this was followed by demolitions teams who made

Their way to the cave with TNT charges and blew up the cave mouths sealing off the Japs in them most of the time the caves was situated so the Japs could cover each other in that case our men had to work on several caves at the same

Time then the Japs would run through the tunnels and out into the caves on the other side of the cliffs when our men reached the high ground of the cliff ridge they had to fire on caves on the opposite cliffs while the men worked

Their way down the reverse slope of the cliff they were on to get to the Japs below them there was no other way to accomplish this I did not go up to the front lines any more than I had to it was frightful there every few days I

Went up with Colonel Williams but not any more than I had to bullets came from every direction up there through crevices in the rocks and the Japs were constantly lobbing mortar shells marina was behind the next line of cliffs he

Could go up into the battalion supply distributing points every day they were 200 to 400 yards back once in a while I would go up to the company command posts with a battalion supply personnel these sea peas were from 30 yards to 100 yards

Behind the front lines every time I went up there I got sick at the stomach will write more next letter love red you

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