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THE TWO STORIES
OF LVTS DESTROYED BY MINES

MY QUESTION:
Do these two stories describe separate events,
or are they just two versions of the same single event?


THE FIRST STORY

"LVT LEAVES USS FELAND - HITS MINE ON WAY TO GREEN BEACH"

This first incident of an LVT hitting a mine is reported in most of the books published about Tarawa, as well as numerous military records. Among the military records are:

REPORTS OF BATTALION COMMANDERS

Major William K. Jones - 1st Bn, 6th Marines:

"...We had the boats inflated and the Feland moved towards the transport area, but could not close to less than 12,000 yards, where we started boating. That was about 1500 or a little after, and it took us about an hour and a half. We went in to the beach with an LCVP towing 6 rubber boats and the first wave hit the beach at 1800 -- that is, Green Beach South, and the entire battalion was landed by 1835. When the first wave landed, I got the word that Green Beach South was heavily mined, so coming in in a column of companies, I changed the route of approach and landed on the North of Green Beach South. My two AmphTracks were to follow my last wave in. These were loaded with medical gear and food and water, but on coming in they lost control and we were out of communication with them. One hit a mine, and the other got on the beach and stayed there until daylight..."


USS FELAND - REPORT OF LANDING OPERATIONS

Entry for 1643 hours, 21 NOV 1943:

"...Put two amphibious tractors into water (only ones carried) from whence they joined LT. 1/6 on Beach Green South. (One struck a mine on the beach, disabling it and killing or injuring its crew; the other was struck by an aerial bomb several hours later, disabling it.)..."


NOTE:
CLICK HERE For the story of how the second amphibious tractor from the USS Feland was later disabled by bombs .

THE SECOND STORY

"LVT TRAVELS SOUTH IN WATER OFF GREEN BEACH, TURNS EAST - HITS MINE"

This second incident of an LVT hitting a mine is reported on pages 203 and 204 of 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 took 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."



This is the only published account that I have been able to find for this Black Beach LVT incident.

A review of official military records, private records, and interviews with Tarawa veterans, seem
to suggest that Captain Royster and/or Corporal Lane may have been among those killed
when the LVT-1 struck the Japanese mine off Green Beach during the evening of 21 NOV 1943.
The research continues.

Jim Hildebrand
20 JAN 2006

PLEASE CONTACT ME IF YOU HAVE ANY INFORMATION ABOUT ANY OF THESE EVENTS

Jim Hildebrand
j i m @ t a r a w a 1 9 4 3 . c o m



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