ADMIRAL NIMITZ'S HEADQUARTERS, Guam -- Two divisions of U.S marines -- 30,000 men -- stormed Iwo Jima from an 800-ship armada today and within the first two hours of bitter fighting had established a 4500-yard-long beachhead, extending inland 500 yards to the edge of Suribachi Yama airfield.
Although Adm. Chester W. W Nimitz's fourth communique of the day described U.S. casualties as moderate, a later combined press dispatch from Vice Adm. Richmond Kelly Turner's amphibious flagship said marine losses were "considerable." Nimitz reported that the operation was proceeding satisfactorily.
Resistance from the trapped enemy forces was in increasing as the veteran marines pushed inland on the tiny eight-square-mile island 750 miles from Tokyo, the communique said.
A pooled dispatch from the invasion flagship said hidden Japanese artillery and mortars were pouring a deadly crossfire on the attacking marines and that American casualties were "considerable."
Marines Root Out Concealed Gunners
The dispatch said, however, that the marines slowly were rooting out the concealed enemy gunners and that the over-all over progress of the invasion was satisfactory.
"Our men are scattered all over hell's acre out there," Marine Lt. Gen. Holland M. Smith said. "They're after those hidden Jap guns, which are mighty hard to locate. Most of those guns are in caves They come out and fire five or six rounds and then go back into hiding."
Two hours after the initial landing the marine veterans had pushed inland an average of 500 yards. The defenses of Suribachi Yama airstrip were penetrated east of the field, the communique added.
The marine beachhead extended northward along the southeastern tip of the island.
First reports from Iwo indicated that the marines had seized beachheads along a broad stretch of the coast of the tiny island virtually on the doorstep of Japan. Radio Tokyo conceded that the Americans had won footholds on the southwest, south and east coasts.
Swarms of carrier and land based planes and the 14 and 16-inch guns of battleships were pouring thousands of bombs and shells into the eight-square-mile island in support of the invasion troops, but the enemy garrison was putting up a defense reminiscent of Tarawa and Peleliu.
"There is a whale of a scrap going on back there at Iwo," said a radio correspondent who flew over the embattled island as the invasion got under way.
The invasion -- an amphibious jump half way from American bases in the Marianas to Japan -- was announced in the second of two jubilant "On to Tokyo" communiques issued only an hour apart by Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, commander of the Pacific fleet.
Superforts Strike at Smoldering Tokyo
The first communique had proclaimed an "historic and decisive" victory in the precedent-shattering carrier assault on Tokyo itself last Friday and Saturday.
Planes from task force 58, the world's greatest concentration of aircraft carriers, destroyed or damaged at least 36 ships and 650 enemy planes in the two-day two strike at the invasion jittery Japanese capital. Three Japanese warships were sunk and a fourth -- an escort carrier -- was set afire and overturned.
Forty-nine American planes were lost in the raid but none of the ships in the huge armada which penetrated to within less than than 300 miles of Tokyo even was hit.
B-29 Superfortresses from the Marianas followed through today with another raid on Tokyo. The war department announced merely that the giant raiders had hit the capital's home island of Honshu, but a Japanese communique said "about 100" B-29s bombed Tokyo "and its environs."
"Slight damage" was caused, Tokyo said.
India-based Superfortresses simultaneously attacked targets on the Malay peninsula, presumably the great Singapore naval base. A raid on Singapore might interrupt Japanese preparations to send warships to the aid of the homeland and Iwo.
The invasion of Iwo came on the fourth day of a terrific naval bombardment and the 74th day of an air assault on the tiny patch of land within fighter plane range of Tokyo.
The first tiny assault boats from hundreds of transports hovering out to sea hit the beaches at Iwo at 9 a.m. (8 a.m. Tokyo time and 7 p.m. Sunday ewt) shortly after nearly 8000 rockets had scorched the coast line.
Scrambling ashore against artillery, mortar and machine gunfire, the green-clad marine veterans of many another landing in the Pacific campaign quickly struck inland. Wave after wave of reinforcements followed them.
Webley Edwards, who flew over the island in a Liberator bomber as a representative of the combined radio networks, said he could see the bright flare of flamethrowers as the marines assaulted inland pillboxes.
Battle on Ridge
Another battle was raging on an inland ridge, Edwards said. Troops were landing "far up and down the coast," he said. Carrier planes roared over the marines at tree-top levels, strafing enemy strong points ahead.
The entire island was covered by clouds of smoke and dusk, broken here and there by bursts of flame as shells and bombs found their marks. Hundreds of Japanese were believed to have been killed in the preliminary bombardment, but the remainder of the garrison of 10,000 to 15,000 were expected to put up a fanatical do-or-die fight.
The immediate prizes were three air strips from which Flying Fortresses, Liberators and even fighter planes could attack Tokyo . One Tokyo broadcast said marines on the southeast coast already were near the Suribachi air field.