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The Assault on Saipan (1944)

Discussion in 'World History' started by joespaniel, Jul 17, 2004.

  1. joespaniel

    joespaniel Unescorted Settler

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    On June 15, 1944, the week after the invasion of Normandy, an armada of 535 ships converged on the Japanese islands of Saipan and Tinian. 7 American battleships and 11 destroyers began shelling the islands on the first day, joined by 8 more battleships, 6 heavy cruisers and 5 light cruisers on the second day. 15,000 16" shells and 165,000 other shells rained down on the islands within 48 hours.

    The 2nd and 4th Marine Divisions with the Army's 27th Infantry Division were ferried to Chalan Kanoa by armored amphibian tractors (LVTs). They were accompanied by light gunboats firing 4.5" rockets, 20mm and 40mm guns. The LVTs negotiated the reef, but the gunboats could not and were forced to turn back.

    Before the troops even hit the beach they came under punishing artillery fire from the reverse slopes of Mount Fina Susu. Their plan to ride the LVTs across the beach was defeated by too many natural obstacles and withering enemy fire. Many tanks and LVTs were knocked out. The Americans had to do it the old-fashioned way, dismounted. Casualties were very heavy but a beachhead was secured by nightfall.

    Japanese infantry and tanks made several counter-attacks within the first 24 hours, all of which were repulsed but at heavy cost to both sides. Most of the fighting was hand to hand. There was one attack in the 4th Marine Division zone screened by a front of civilians.

    Day after day, the Americans moved forward inch by inch, pillbox by pillbox, villiage by villiage. It was a contest all the way. The Japanese felt they had to hold the island after their previous losses of Tarawa and Kwajalein. Saipan was also considered "home territory" by the Japanese, who aquired it via the Versailles Treaty in 1919. To the Americans, Saipan was the key to unlocking the inner defensive line of Japan, just over 1000 miles away now (it was 3500 miles from Pearl Harbor).

    On July 9th, after 24 days of bloody, brutal fighting, organized resistance ceased. The victorious Americans took stock of their conquest and it's cost: Of the 71,034 US troops landed on Saipan, 3,100 were killed and 13,100 were wounded or missing in action. Of the 31,629 Japanese soldiers on Saipan, approximately 29,500 died fighting or committed suicide and 2100 prisoners survived.

    One of the horrible events resulting from the invasion was the mass suicide of hundreds of Japanese families, many of whom jumped to their deaths from the cliffs of Saipan's north point. This tragedy could not be stopped, despite efforts by Americans and Saipanese using loudspeakers to convince the Japanese that surrender would be shameless and harmless.

    Saipan was the first piece of Japanese real estate to be conquered by the Americans in WWII. Much was learned about dealing with the Japanese civilian population. The whole experience (combined with the invasions of Guam, Iwo Jima and Okinawa) contributed to the decision to use the atomic bomb rather than attempt an invasion of the Home Islands in 1945.
     
  2. joespaniel

    joespaniel Unescorted Settler

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    LVTs and AMTRAKs going in.





    The beach at the end of the first day.

     
  3. joespaniel

    joespaniel Unescorted Settler

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    Japanese Rail Gun

     
  4. joespaniel

    joespaniel Unescorted Settler

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    60 years later.



    The Saipan War Memorial.



    Memorial at the North end of the island for those who died.



    Windtalkers

     
  5. Knight-Dragon

    Knight-Dragon Unhidden Dragon Retired Moderator

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    Interesting. :hatsoff:
     
  6. joespaniel

    joespaniel Unescorted Settler

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    The conquest of Saipan gave the US a strong base from which to bomb Japan with the new B-29 Superfortress. Earlier attempts from China were not very successful. After the appointment of Genral Curtis LeMay to the 21st Bombardment Group at Saipan, the infamous "fire bomb" raids were carried out to devastating effect upon Japan's industrial centers. The Enola Gay took off from and returned to Tinian on it's historic atomic bombing flight.
     
  7. Merc

    Merc Under Pressure

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    I always think too much attention is focused on the European front in U.S. History books. Pretty intresting read.
     
  8. YotoKiller

    YotoKiller Warlord

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    I died for you today on a far off Pacific Island.
    If you are concerned, to say the least, I'll tell you who I am...
    I'm the soldier and the sailor - I'm the airman and Marine...
    I'm the life blood of your nation - you sent me to this scene...
    I'm the one who loads the Amtracks...I'm the pilot, just as well...
    I'm the dedicated corpsman saving leathernecks who fell...
    I'm the trooper of the airborne, I'm the Seabee with a trade...
    I'm the wiry American medic dodging steel to give first aid...
    I'm the tail gunner in the airplane, I'm the crew chief and the crew...
    I'm the cannoneer and mortar man in the field defending you...
    I'm the man of different races clinging to a rumbling tank...
    I'm Catholic, Jew and Protestant, and I serve in every rank...
    Call me Dominic, Smith or Kelly or pronounce my foreign name...
    And regardless of my color - When I'm hurt, I bleed the same...
    I'm Indian and I'm Mexican. I'm Polish, Dutch, Italian and Greek...
    I'm every inch American and your freedom's what I seek...
    I'm the southern boy from Florida, I'm the northern lad from Maine...
    I've toiled in Georgia's orchards, and I've cut Montana's grain...
    I came from every walk of life - from mountains to the slums...
    I've lived, by God, through dust and drought, and I've prayed aloud for rain.
    I've known hardship and depression; still I've watched our country grow...
    But when Uncle Sam came calling I was proud that I could go...
    I've watched demonstrations and the people who protest...
    And I said "Thank God for freedom!" - my country's still the best...
    So take your banners and your slogans. Raise your placards to the sky...
    I'll defend your right to do it... Though in doing it. I'll die...
    I'm your fathers - sons - and brothers...I'm the arm of Uncle Sam...
    And I died for you today, my friend...On an Island called Saipan...

    Poem by PFC Carl Dearborn, 4th Marine Division
    Island of Saipan, 1944
     
  9. Dragonlord

    Dragonlord Fantasy Warlord

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    Interesting article!

    The so-called shield on that 37mm gun might just as well not be there, if simple rifle bullets can penetrate it! Must be based on the principle 'if you can't see it, you can't hit it', eh?
     
  10. dgfred

    dgfred Sports Freak

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    Great article and pics joe :goodjob: ;) . The 'shield' one is awesome :eek: .

    What guts those guys had :salute: . I also liked the beach pics :cool: .
     
  11. rilnator

    rilnator Emperor

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    The Americans were masters at seabourne invasions and combined arms! So many attempted and none abandoned.
     
  12. privatehudson

    privatehudson The Ultimate Badass

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    And just one or two with really heavy losses ;)

    Shame the experiences of the pacific and Dieppe were not applied totally at Omaha for example...
     
  13. dgfred

    dgfred Sports Freak

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    I think they TRIED to use those experiences at Omaha, but bad luck and
    circumstances altered expectations. Tanks swamping, ineffective naval fire
    and bombing, etc... Really though high casualties were expected, but
    probably not THAT high, averaging out along the whole invasion I think the
    casualties were lower than anticipated :scan: . I feel the only thing that
    could have stopped the invasion was 3 or 4 Panzer Divisions right off the
    beaches, but we will never know for sure.
     

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