Battle of Tinian
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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.
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.
- Klemen, L (1999–2000). "Rear-Admiral Kakaji Kakuta". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942.
- Harwood, Richard (1994). Benis M. Frank, ed. A Close Encounter: The Marine Landing on Tinian. WORLD WAR II COMMEMORATIVE SERIES. Washington, D.C.: United States Marine Corps. 19000312700. Archived from the original on 11 December 2008.
- Western Pacific. U.S. Army Campaigns of World War II. United States Army Center of Military History. CMH Pub 72-29.
- WW2DB: The Marianas and the Great Turkey Shoot
- USMC Historical Monograph: The Seizure of Tinian
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