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    Saipan  Mariana Islands

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Bruce Petty 1990

Click For Enlargement
Bruce Petty 1990

Saipan Island is located in the Mariana Islands. To the southwest is Tinian Island.

Wartime History
During December 1941, occupied by the Japanese and developed into airfields and a base area. By June 1944 garrisoned by 30,000 troops under the command of Japanese Army Lt. General Saito.

American Landing
On June 15, 1944 U. S. Marines, 5th Amphibious Corps including the 2nd Marine Division and 4th Marines Division. Held in reserve was the U. S. Army 27th Infantry Division. The total American force was approximatly 70,000 if you include ship board marines thrown into the fight. During initial amphibious landing 20,000 Americans went ashore on the south of the island, under heavy Japanese fire.  Several Japanese counter attacks and banzai charges bloodied the US forces as they fought their way to the north.

The 29th Marines "Bastard Battalion" went ashore on D-Day with approximately 1,200 men and were pulled off the line a little over two weeks later with only 200 men left, not counting replacements. By the end of the battle, there were 3,500 U. S. casualties.

The liberation of Saipan was a sad chapter of fighting ahead, with fanatical military defense and civilian committing mass suicide by jumping off cliffs at Marpi Point or committing suicide with hand grenades in caves. An estimated 22,000 civilians died on Saipan during the battle. The Japanese committed suicide at at least two different locations on the north end of the island including Banadero "Last Japanese Command Post". On July 9, 1944 from a cave in Paradise Valley Lt. General Saito and Navy Admiral Nagumo committed seppuku, the same day the island was declared secured by the American forces.

    Saipan Airfields
  Japanese airfield, used by Americans
  Japanese fighter strip, used by Americans
  Used until the 1960s disused today.
  Located west of Aslito, abandoned today.
  Emergency Airfield disused since the war
  Located at Garapan
    Saipan Locations
  Harbor off Saipan
  Largest city on Saipan
  Japanese built tunnels into this hillside
  "Forth of July Hill"
  Japanese gun emplacements
  Highest point on the island reaching to 1,500' elevation
  Last Command Post, Laderan Banadero

Torri Gate
Torri Gate and Japanese Shinto shrine that survived the war.

Saipan Jail
Sam McPhetres adds: "There is a named scratched into the inner wall of the of the corridor running along the main cellblock of the Saipan Japanese jail that may be worth some research: 'J. J. Beiser, June 15, 1944'. "

Agingan Point
After the American occupation, the 27th Infantry Division had an observation post at this location that overlooked Tinian, three miles away.

Obyan Point
After the American occupation, the 27th Infantry Division had an observation post at this location

American Memorial Park
Memorial park and visitor center, part of the US National Park system.
Located on the western side of Saipan, within Garapan and Puerto Rico villages.

Japanese Bunkers
Several remains of Japanese bunkers exist around the island.

Type 97 Chi Ha Medium Tank
Displayed on a pedestal

Caves & Japanese Tunnels
The island's caves and soft coral was tunneled. These fortifications are where Japanese soldiers and civilians hid and fought against the American forces. For many, it was their final resting place when they were killed or committed mass suicide in these subterranean quarters.

Death Valley & Bloody Nose Ridge
The 27th Infantry Division under General Ralph Smith took casualties here. "Bloody Nose Ridge" is in the background.

Japanese Hospital
In recent years, it was renovated and turned into a museum. The hospital goes back before the war and was used to serve both Japanese and islanders. There were very few Japanese military personnel on any of the Mariana Islands until just before the Americans landed. It was mostly a civilian operation - mostly sugar cane cultivation and processing

Camp Susupe
POW camp for Japanese prisoners built by US forces after the landing.

War Dumps
Bruce Petty reports: "There is one very large and several other smaller WWII dump sites on Saipan. Just about everything that was used in the war can be found there."

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Last Updated
May 3, 2016


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