CAPTAIN THOMAS B. ROYSTER
CORPORAL LAMBERT LANE
PLEASE READ NOTE AT BOTTOM OF PAGE
The three paragraphs below are direct quotations from
Colonel Joseph H. ALEXANDER’s book, Utmost Savagery: the three days of Tarawa
Betio remained a deadly island for both sides until the bitter end. Capt. Thomas B. Royster, USMC commanding Baker Company, 2d Amphibian Tractor Battalion, had one of the few remaining operational LVTs. Learning that both 1/6 and 3/6 were short of ammunition along the south coast, Royster offered to make the delivery. Cpl. Lambert Lane, a radio operator from Forest, Mississippi, volunteered to drive. Other volunteers manned the machine guns. For some reason, Royster decided not to cross the island and follow the trace of the two landing teams. Presumably, all amtrackers by then knew of the mines along Green Beach from the explosion that destroyed one of 1/6s two LVTs the evening of D+1. Royster look the water route, regardless, and traversed the shallows off Green Beach without incident.
As the LVT rounded the southwest point and proceeded along Black Beach, however, it struck one of the horned anti-boat mines. The tremendous explosion killed both Lane and Royster and wounded the others severely. Lieutenant Ward, who had already witnessed the violent deaths of fellow amtrac, officers Major Drewes, Capt. Little, and Warrant Officer Benard Shealy, saw the fireball that killed Royster and Lane. Ward and his men buried Royster in a solitary grave near the junction of Black and Green Beaches. Ironically, the Marine Corps had just notified Royster's family of his promotion to major. He was the brother of Vermont Royster, editor of the Wall Street Journal for two decades.52
Information on the death of Capt. Royster and Corporal Lane provided from research conducted by the Honorable J. T. Rutherford, a veteran of the 2dAmtracBn at Tarawa, 17 July 1993. The Marines were extremely lucky to lose only two LVTs to Betio's many mines.
THERE IS REASON TO SUSPECT THAT THE ACCOUNT IN THIS BOOK MAY INADVERTANTLY CONTAIN FACTUAL ERRORS
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
PLEASE CONTACT ME IF YOU HAVE ANY PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE OF THE EVENTS DESCRIBED ABOVE
j i m @ t a r a w a 1 9 4 3 . c o m