On Feb 1, 1945 Task Force 38 became TF 58 and weighed anchor at Ulithi the next day for Japan. It was the beginning of Operation Jamboree. On their way to support the Iwo Jima Invasion, the ships struck targets in Tokyo on the 16th and 17th, and Cici Jima on the 18th. Feb. 19 was “D-Day Iwo Jima.” US Marine assault forces invaded the island. Task Force 58 provided bombardment support and fighter plane attacks during the landings, and continued strikes against the Iwo Jima islands and Tokyo through Feb 27.
The Battle of Iwo Jima raged on from Feb 19th to March 26th.
The 36-day (Iwo Jima) assault resulted in more than 26,000 American casualties, including 6,800 dead.” By comparison, the much larger scale 82-day Battle of Okinawa lasting from early April until mid-June 1945 (involving five U.S. Army and two Marine Corps divisions) resulted in of over 62,000 U.S. casualties, of whom over 12,000 were killed or missing. Iwo Jima was also the only U.S. Marine battle where the American casualties exceeded the Japanese, although Japanese combat deaths numbered three times as many American deaths. (Wikipedia)
from WAR DIARY, USS BOSTON CA69 by Frank Studenski
February 21, 1945: This morning we are with the rest of the Cruiser Bombardment Force*, we are nearing the island. Destroyers can be seen in close, firing star shells at the island. We teamed up with several battleships and began firing our eight inch guns. This morning is an overcast sky and planes were making strafing and rocket firing runs.
Our targets were gun emplacements, block houses, shelters and ammo dumps. We were very close to shore of approximately 6500 yards on the north end of the island. We continued firing all day and late into the night. Some of the ships were firing all night. Fighters and bomber were over the island all day. Fighter planes were dropping Napalm bombs on Mt. Suribachi and strafing as they made their runs. We were at general quarters all day, till we secured from firing. The only hot food we had was coffee to go with the sandwiches. We retired from the area and will return in the morning.
February 22, 1945: This morning at 0700 hours, we again are shelling the island with eight inch and five inch shells. Today is a cloudy rainy day. Jap anti-aircraft fire was not accurate. Planes continued to hit targets. Some of our shells are creating explosions, indicating that an ammo dump or fuel dump was hit. Planes are concentrating on Mt. Suribachi with heavy fire. There are a large group of ships here firing at targets on the island. We secured from firing at about 1700 hours and with the rest of the cruisers left the island to rejoin our task group. We fired a lot of eight inch and five inch shells, there sure is a lot of brass.
from MY DIARY by George Pitts
(Second Landing on Iwo Jima) February 21, 1945:
Last night the Boston and San Francisco detached to join CruDiv17 and to proceed to Iwo Jima. We are now two miles off the shore of Iwo Jima. It is 0500 in the morning and still very dark. Heavy ships of the 7th Fleet have been bombarding for 3 days now. We can see the star shells slowly falling over the island. We relieve the Nevada at daybreak. The Boston is now jockeying into position. The Nevada is standing by. It is real light out now and the ships have started bombarding including the Boston. The carrier groups who are steaming back and forth about 50 miles out to sea are now sending in Hellcats, Wildcats, Hell Divers, Torpedo Bombers and Corsairs. Boy what a show. A formation of fighters are diving on a volcano strafing it with 50 caliber machine guns and rockets. God what a thrill it is to see them planes in action, now the dive bombers are in their dives dropping 500lb bombs. God that island is really catching hell. Shore batteries opened up on the Boston with 6 salvos exploding a few hundred yards off our port beam. Our 8 inch silenced them immediately. 40MM are splashing all around us but not very effective. Planes are diving all over the island. We are real close and can see our troops advancing. One of the TBF’s was shot down by Jap anti-aircraft batteries. A group of our fighters dropped their belly tanks on the volcano, causing very big explosions and fires. On the airfield, hundreds of Jap planes can be seen crippled on the fields. Our main objective is a very large cave in which numerous gun emplacements are hidden. Dive bombers are dropping block busters on it now. Those Japs are really dug in. Landing craft and all kinds of auxiliary can be seen at the end of the volcano sending men and supplies ashore. The destroyers have closed in to a matter of 300 yards blasing away with 5 inch, forties and twenty mm. Those Japs are really taking a beating. We now can hear the Marines firing machine guns, also our tanks which are leading the advance. I saw one tank get a direct hit lifting to about 10 feet in the air. Those Japs are throwing back heavy barrages of mortar and tracer, which can be seen very plainly. We are using a new five inch phosphorous shell when explodes over the target throws a shower of burning schrapnel and phosphorous which disintegrates anything which comes in contact with it.
Now I know what war really is. We have stopped bombarding now and will steam back and forth. During the night until day break and then continue our bombardments. Word was received that our carrier group the one we just left was attacked by Jap aircraft. The Saratoga was hit by 3 suicide dive bombers and the small carrier “Bismarck Bay” was sunk. Our destroyers have been picking up survivors. The latest tin can reported having picked up over 300 survivors. Japs were lucky although they didn’t get away.
Third Landing on Iwo Jima Feb 22, 1945
All last night star shells could be seen over the island, while hundred of tracers were flying through the air from our ground forces. The Marines are slowly but surely advancing on the volcano and northern end of the island. We have started bombarding again. Last night we were attacked by the Jap aircraft. Few supply ships were hit, 7 Jap planes were shot down by our fighters and ships. The Boston wasn’t close enough to fire. This makes our 15th air attack. Battleships and cruisers continued their bombardment all day long. Again our cruisers sent in planes to knock out various Jap positions. The following names are those ships who participated in the bombardment of Iwo Jima —
Cruisers:* Boston San Francisco Pensacola Santa Fe Biloxi Pasadena Vicksburg Astoria Indianapolis Wilkes-Barre
Battleships: Washington Nevada Texas Arkansas California Idaho Tennessee North Carolina
Besides these ships there were many destroyer divisions and LCI’s which strafed the beach with automatic weapons and rockets.
During an alert air attack tonight one of our own planes was shot down by mistake, the crew were rescued. Believe me this has been the most exciting operation I have ever been in. Tomorrow we will leave the bombarding group and join T.G. 58-2.