May 2019 Auction Ends Thursday, May 30th, 5pm Pacific

Category

Search By:
This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 5/30/2019
Extraordinary eleven page autograph letter signed by Alan Wood, the naval officer who supplied Marines with the American flag hoisted atop Mt. Suribachi at Iwo Jima. In this letter, postmarked 17 March 1945 just days after the battle, Wood describes in detail the entire Battle of Iwo Jima: leaving for the island a few days before D-Day, patrolling the island as U.S. forces began bombarding it, beaching on Iwo Jima and taking enemy gunfire, watching Marines take cover and fire in foxholes, and finally the triumphant flag raising atop Mt. Suribachi, with Wood famously giving the Marines a larger flag to use, the one used for the iconic photograph "Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima". Wood's letter to his family reads in full,

"Dear Family / We have all been itching to tell of our exploits at Iwo Jima and now it can be told. So hear [sic] goes. On the way out Eniwetok was our first stopping place. It is a barren atoll with a few palm trees on its string of little islands and there is not much to say about it. From there we went to Saipan which is surprisingly built up but still shows the marks of the bitter fight fought there. There are still a few thousand Jap soldiers on the island but they don't pay much attention to them unless they start a lot of trouble. These damn Japs just won't give up. At Saipan we saw the big B29s taking off for Japan. We left Saipan a few days before D-Day (Feb. 19th). We had a fairly calm trip to Iwo and were unmolested by any enemy forces. On the way up we listened in on the radio to the observation planes over Iwo giving directions for Naval gunfire on the island. D-Day was a calm clear day - blue sky and deep blue water but a little chilly. They were bombarding Iwo in preparation for the assault when we rolled up. It looked all very one-sided as swarms of our planes dove and dove again unleashing their deadly missiles without the slightest opposition. Our big ships lay in close to the beach pumping in their huge shells at point blank range. Thousands of tons of explosives were poured into that little two by four island and it seemed hardly possible that any living thing could survive there. In fact from the appearance of things it looked like a push over. There were no enemy ships or planes about. Many times the smoke and dust over the island got so thick that they had to hold their fire very [?] and then to let the atmosphere clear up so they could see what they were shooting at. The first day we spent cruising around waiting to go in and watching the battle through binoculars. We saw a few of our planes go down from antiaircraft fire. On the beach we could see our tanks and amtracks edging up the slope of the beach like slow moving bugs. Every once in a while one would shoot out a long red tongue of flame. Many were burning. But still it looked like a push over. In the afternoon a few bursts of antiaircraft fire spattered the water around us like a bunch of fire crackers. You should have seen everyone duck for some sort of cover. It gave us a scare for a minute but after while we got used to it. None of it hit us fortunately. We had a particular reason to be anxious because we had a lot of 155mm howitzer ammunition on board, some of it on the main decks in the open. We also had barrels of 100 octane gas and diesel oil on the main decks.

That night we 'retired' to seaward and the night fire works was quite a sight. The Marines got their worst shelling that first night. The bright yellow flares and the big red flashes of shells was indicative of the hell they went through. The next day we did much the same thing - just cruised around and watched. No LSIs [Landing Ship Infantry] had beached up till then although LSMs [Landing Ship Medium] had gone in the first day. I fear for Roger because I watched the mortars landing around those LSMs. Many of them weren't able to leave. Late that afternoon the three ships with the howitzer battalions on board were ordered to beach - and we were one of them. We wormed our way through the mass of ships and boats and headed for the beach. But the other two ships that were supposed to go in with us were no where in sight! They had received orders not to beach. So in we went by ourselves - the first LST [Landing Ship Tank] to hit the beach at Iwo Jima! No more LSTs beached until two days later! And if you read anything contrary to that, don't believe it. Up close the beach had a very different aspect. It was a mad house of activity and there was a continuous grind and clank of all sorts and types of vehicles as they struggled through the soft black volcanic sand. And for background music was the steady wham, wham, wham of off shore artillary [sic] which caused this old tube of ours to tremble and shake with every blast.

We were on the beach most of the night, and nothing happened. That night was really eerie. There were star shells just over head most of the time giving out a livid yellow green color which made the rugged outlines of the beach and Mt. Suribachi dance grotesquely. And it was quiet - deathly quiet - except for an ocasional [sic] shell burst on Suribachi which made an empty hollow crack, and the steady beating of the surf on the wreckage on the shore. Then when it seemed everything was quieted down things started poping [sic]. I was down in my cabin trying to snatch a few winks when it started. When I went up to the wheel house I was shaking like a leaf and it wasn't all on account of the chilly night. They were droping [sic] six inch mortars all around us and the schrapnel [sic] which sprayed the ship sounded like someone were taking great handfuls of gravel and tossing it against the side of the ship. But I think we were charmed because none of them hit us directly although one hit not five feet from our bow resting on the beach. It evidently hit a vehicle because it started a fire which glowed up bright red in the night. Another one hit just off our stern which shook the devil out of us. How we got by without being hit I don't know. If we had been hit - well it would have been a pretty sight to see - a few miles out. When our boys got nerve enough they hopped up to their guns and started shooting at Suribachi just a few hundred yards down the beach. We didn't know if the mortars were coming from there but anyway it made us feel a lot better to be shooting back. And how those boys did shoot! They didn't bother to take any sort of aim. I don't know if it did any good or not but the mortars stopped coming. About that time the fire on the beach was getting pretty bad so the Skipper decided it was time for us to clear out. We've never retracted from any beach so fast. A lot of Marines who were on board to unload us didn't even have time to get off. I don't think I'll ever forget the sound of those mortars - rrrrrrump - then a hailstorm of schrapnel. The Executive Officer was on the conn [Conning Tower] when it started and he said he could hear the damn things coming. He said it sounded like a milk bottle flying through the air.

The next day was a miserable cold rainy day and everything seemed confused. Ships and boats were going every which way and no one was in their assigned areas. There were a lot of people in boats and small craft wandering around without definite orders and looking forlorn and miserable and lost. And nobody paid any attention to them much. Boy I felt sorry for those guys. But the boys that really deserve the credit are the Marines - believe me. When things started happening they didn't have any place to run to except a fox hole and later I saw what happened to a few of those fox holes. Things were pretty mixed up the next few days and by then I really realized that Iwo was no push over. We beached again a couple of days after our first beaching and things were much better under control on the beach. So I got a chance to look around a bit. I watched a burial party hauling the dead, mangled, contorted bodies of Marines out of holes and watched them dump them into a truck like so many sacks of dirt and cart them off. It was pretty gruesome. I saw some dead Japs too but that didn't bother me so much for some reason or other. I guess it was because I could imagine myself one of those Marines much easier. Those boys died thinking they had as good a chance as any - as good a chance to someday laugh and play and love and live in peace. They didn't die gloriously or with any kind of patriotic fervor. Probably a lot of them didn't even know why. They were just there and trying to survive the best they could. Judas when you think of the twenty or twenty five years behind them of living and feeling and growing and then suddenly it's all ended. It doesn't make sense - and it's inexcusable if the people who are running the world affairs could spend a night on a beach like Iwo Jima maybe they would realize why such things must never happen again. There's no particular skill to that kind of fighting - the kind where you crawl in a fox hole and the other guy blows you to heaven in one big blast.

That second time we hit the beach the Marines were taking over Mt. Suribachi - that was the 23rd, not the 24th as they had it in Time magazine. When they raised a little flag on top of the Mountain the Marines on the beach cheered. A little later a Marine came aboard asking for a larger flag so I gave him are [sic] only large flag which is the one flying on Suribachi now and which is the one on the first page of last weeks Time magazine. We are proud that our flag is the one flying up there.

After that we unloaded some big transports and beached three or four more times while we were there. We got the ship banged up quite a bit against other ships. The sea was rough and the area was very congested. I think most of it could have been avoided by better ship handling. But then who am I to criticize my Commanding officer. There is much more I could tell you - about what happened to other ships and so forth but that will have to wait. This is a pretty damn long letter already. After a month with out mail you can imagine how wonderful it was to come back from that fracas at Iwo to a stack of letters filled with reassurance and affection. My moral[e] really went up. I really must hit the sack now so goodnight and my love to everyone, Alan".

Eleven page letter on eleven sheets measures 6" x 10", with the original envelope signed "A.S. Wood" in the address panel, twice postmarked by the Navy on 17 March 1945, and also with the censor's stamp. Envelope measures 6.5" x 3.5". Envelope is torn from opening and with "Iwo Jima Letter" written across the front. Individual pages are folded, but otherwise near fine. An incredible letter, direct from the Wood family, accompanied by copies of photos from Iwo Jima, including Wood's ship, LST 779, as well as copy of Wood's official statement regarding the flag he gave to the Marines.
Extraordinary Letter by Alan Wood Describing Iwo Jima: ''...When they raised a little flag on top of the Mountain the Marines on the beach cheered...a Marine came aboard asking for a larger flag...''Extraordinary Letter by Alan Wood Describing Iwo Jima: ''...When they raised a little flag on top of the Mountain the Marines on the beach cheered...a Marine came aboard asking for a larger flag...''Extraordinary Letter by Alan Wood Describing Iwo Jima: ''...When they raised a little flag on top of the Mountain the Marines on the beach cheered...a Marine came aboard asking for a larger flag...''Extraordinary Letter by Alan Wood Describing Iwo Jima: ''...When they raised a little flag on top of the Mountain the Marines on the beach cheered...a Marine came aboard asking for a larger flag...''
Extraordinary Letter by Alan Wood Describing Iwo Jima: ''...When they raised a little flag on top of the Mountain the Marines on the beach cheered...a Marine came aboard asking for a larger flag...''Extraordinary Letter by Alan Wood Describing Iwo Jima: ''...When they raised a little flag on top of the Mountain the Marines on the beach cheered...a Marine came aboard asking for a larger flag...''Extraordinary Letter by Alan Wood Describing Iwo Jima: ''...When they raised a little flag on top of the Mountain the Marines on the beach cheered...a Marine came aboard asking for a larger flag...''Extraordinary Letter by Alan Wood Describing Iwo Jima: ''...When they raised a little flag on top of the Mountain the Marines on the beach cheered...a Marine came aboard asking for a larger flag...''
Extraordinary Letter by Alan Wood Describing Iwo Jima: ''...When they raised a little flag on top of the Mountain the Marines on the beach cheered...a Marine came aboard asking for a larger flag...''Extraordinary Letter by Alan Wood Describing Iwo Jima: ''...When they raised a little flag on top of the Mountain the Marines on the beach cheered...a Marine came aboard asking for a larger flag...''
Extraordinary Letter by Alan Wood Describing Iwo Jima: ''...When they raised a little flag on top of the Mountain the Marines on the beach cheered...a Marine came aboard asking for a larger flag...''
Click above for larger image.
Bidding
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $3,000
Number Bids: 0

This item is available for purchase at the minimum bid amount plus 25% buyer's premium.

If interested please call us at 310-440-2982 or buy it online here:
$3,000
Auction closed on Thursday, May 30, 2019.
Email A Friend
Ask a Question
Have One To Sell

Auction Notepad

 

You may add/edit a note for this item or view the notepad:  

Submit    Delete     View all notepad items