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    Tinian Island  Mariana Islands

Location
Central island in the Marianas Island Group, Tinian is approximately 39 square miles.  80 miles north of Guam, and 5 miles from Saipan.

History
The island had three good airfield (a fourth under construction by the Japanese). Tinian, with its sister islands, had passed through Spanish and German hands prior to becoming a Protectorate of Japan following World War I. Under Japanese administration, Tinian was largely a sugar plantation. Nearly the entire northern end of the island was occupied by the runways, nearly 11 miles of taxiways and the airfield area, designed to accommodate an entire 313th Bombardment Wing of B-29 bombers.

Marines Liberate Tinian
Softened up by a 13-day naval bombardment leading up to the invasion at Unai Chulu, U.S. forces utilized napalm bombs for the first time on the Japanese 9,000 man garrison commanded by Admiral Kakuda. Assaulted on July 24, 1944 by Marines from Saipan, which had just been taken the previous month. After a fierce bombardment, the 4th Marine division landed against . The Japanese were taken by surprise, and the offensive was regarded as one of the best-executed amphibious operation of the war. The 2nd Marine Division landed on July 26th, and battled back counter attacks against their beachheads. The island was secured by August 1st with 328 Marines KIA, and 1,571 wounded, and 5,000 Japanese dead.   

Tinian Island Airbase
1,500 Seabees landed with the initial forces on  Tinian in July 1944 and immediately set to work repairing the damaged Japanese Ushi Point Airfield, even before all the fighting had ended. Tinian is about the same size and shape as Manhattan, and when US forces occupied it during the war, they laid out a system of roads with the same general plan and orientation as Manhattan. The main north-south road, is 'Broadway', and it runs parallel to the other main north-south road, 8th Avenue. During the war six air strips were constructed on Tinian and two more on Saipan to accommodate B-29s.

Bruce Petty adds: "People I interviewed on Tinian, who were relocated there from Yap, told me that they didn't have to farm or do work of any kind for the first two years because the military left entire warehouses full of everything imaginable from food, brand new uniforms, and even ice cream makers. Anybody who wanted a vehicle could just go pick one up and drive it until it fell apart, than go get another one."

Tinian Town (San Jose Village)
The successful invasion of Tinian hinged on a fake landing staged near "Tinian Town" (presently known as San Jose village) on July 24th. While the 2nd Marine Division pretended to ready an attack on the southern part of the island, even going so far as to lower boats and men into the water, the 4th Marine Division was launching a full-blown invasion on Tinian’s north side.

White 1 & 2
These were the landing beaches on Tinian selected by the Marines.  There are Japanese bunkers on White Beach, and a pillbox on White 2.

Ushi Point
Northern most point on the island.

North Field (Ushi Point Airfield)
Originally built by the Japanese, B-29 bomber base near the northern tip of the island

West Field (Gurguan Point Airfield)
Originally built by the Japanese, occupied by Americans, still in use today

Japanese Holdout
Japanese soldier Murata Susumu was captured in 1953. He was living in a small shack near a swamp since the war.

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Last Updated
January 8, 2014

 

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