Battle of Tinian

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Battle of Tinian
Part of World War II, Pacific War
Marines wading ashore on Tinian.jpg
U.S Marines wading ashore on Tinian.
Date 24 July – 1 August 1944
Location Tinian, Mariana Islands
Result American Victory
 United States  Empire of Japan
Commanders and leaders
United States Harry Schmidt Empire of Japan Kiyochi Ogata 
Empire of Japan Kakuji Kakuta 
Japan Goichi Oya 
30,000 Marines 4,700 Soldiers
4,110 Marines
Casualties and losses
328 killed
1,571 wounded
8,010 killed
313 captured
Map of the battle.
Tinian Town after destruction by US bombardment
Marines mopping up Tinian Island
Marines check out a Japanese tank knocked out of action.
A wrecked Japanese plane in a hangar on Tinian Island, 30 July 1944.

The Battle of Tinian was a battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II, fought on the island of Tinian in the Mariana Islands from 24 July—1 August 1944.


To overcome the immense distances of the Pacific Ocean and Japanese island occupation strategy intended to threaten the United States to sue for peace, the U.S. Navy devised a strategy called island hopping. It called for the armed forces to take successively closer island strongholds to[clarification needed] the Japanese mainland while leaving some in place[clarification needed] to starve. From 27 May-20 June 1944, the U.S. military decisively eliminated the Japanese Army and Navy forces immediately northwest of New Guinea in the Battle of Biak after a long bloody campaign. The Japanese there maintained an airfield that could be improved by the Americans to use in the air war; also, Japanese presence there was perceived as a potential threat to the Australian mainland. The U.S. victory in the Battle of Saipan from 15 June-9 July made Tinian, 3.5 miles (5.6 km) south of Saipan, the next logical step in the Marianas campaign which would lead to retaking the Philippines and ultimately the defeat of Japan. The Japanese defending the island were commanded by Colonel Kiyochi Ogata and his subordinate Goichi Oya. Vice-Admiral Kakaji Kakuta, commander of First Air Fleet, was headquartered on Tinian.[1]


The 2nd and 4th Marine Divisions landed on 24 July 1944, supported by naval bombardment and artillery firing across the strait from Saipan. A successful feint for the major settlement of Tinian Town diverted defenders from the actual landing site on the north of the island. The battleship Colorado and the destroyer Norman Scott were both hit by 6-inch (150 mm) Japanese shore batteries. Colorado was hit 22 times, killing 44 men. Norman Scott was hit six times, killing the captain, Seymore Owens, and 22 of his seamen. The Japanese adopted the same stubborn resistance as on Saipan, retreating during the day and attacking at night. The gentler terrain of Tinian allowed the attackers more effective use of tanks and artillery than in the mountains of Saipan, and the island was secured in nine days of fighting. On 31 July, the surviving Japanese launched a suicide charge.

The battle saw the first use of napalm in the Pacific. Of the 120 jettisonable tanks dropped during the operation, 25 contained the napalm mixture and the remainder an oil-gasoline mixture. Of the entire number, only 14 were duds, and eight of these were set afire by subsequent strafing runs. Carried by Vought F4U Corsairs, the "fire bombs", also known as napalm bombs, burned away foliage concealing enemy installations.


Japanese losses were far greater than American losses. The Japanese lost 8,010. Only 313 Japanese were taken prisoner. American losses stood at 328 dead and 1,571 wounded. Several hundred Japanese troops held out in the jungles for months. The garrison on Aguijan Island off the southwest cape of Tinian, commanded by Lieutenant Kinichi Yamada, held out until the end of the war, surrendering on 4 September 1945. The last holdout on Tinian, Murata Susumu, was not captured until 1953.

After the battle, Tinian became an important base for further Allied operations in the Pacific campaign. Camps were built for 50,000 troops. Fifteen thousand Seabees turned the island into the busiest airfield of the war, with six 7,900-foot (2,400 m) runways for attacks by United States Army Air Forces B-29 Superfortress bombers on enemy targets in the Philippines, the Ryukyu Islands, and mainland Japan, including the March 9/10 1945 Operation Meetinghouse firebombing of Tokyo and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Four 1000-bed hospitals (110,111,112,113) were planned and located in preparation for the invasion of Japan. None were actually built, as the Japanese surrendered after the atomic bombs were dropped, which thus ended the need for the hospitals.


  1. ^ Klemen, L (1999–2000). "Rear-Admiral Kakaji Kakuta". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942. 

See also[edit]

Coordinates: 15°00′N 145°38′E / 15.000°N 145.633°E / 15.000; 145.633