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    Saipan Island  Mariana Islands

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Bruce Petty 1990

Click For Enlargement
Bruce Petty 1990

Saipan Island is located in the Mariana Islands. Borders Tanapag Harbor to the west and Tinian Island to the southwest. Also known as simply "Saipan".

Wartime History
During December 1941, occupied by the Japanese that developed Saipan into 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 approximately 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 including a fanatical Japanese defense and civilian committing mass suicide by jumping off cliffs 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 Island Airfields
Tanapag Harbor  located off the west coast of Saipan Island
Garapan  located on the western coast of Saipan, largest city on the island
Hill 767  located on Saipan, Japanese built tunnels
Hill 721 "Forth of July Hill"  located on Saipan
Naftan Point  located in the southeastern corner of Saipan
Mount Tapachau  located in the center of Saipan, highest elevation on the island
Banadero  located at the northern tip of Saipan, also known as Last Command Post / suicide cliff / banzai cliff

Saipan Island Airfields
Aslito Field (Isley Field)  located near the southern coast of Saipan.
Marpi Point Airfield (North Field)  located at the base of Mount Marpi (Marpi Point) used as a fighter airfield.
Kagman Airfield (East Field)  located at the eastern end of Saipan, used until the 1960s.
Kobler Airfield  located to the west of Aslito on Saipan abandoned since the war.
Susup Airfield (Chalan Kanoa)  located on the western coast of Saipan, emergency airfield disused since the war
Tanapag Seaplane Base  located in Tanapan Harbor off Garapan

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 cell block of the Saipan Japanese jail that may be worth some research: 'J. J. Beiser, June 15, 1944'. "

Agingan Point
Located on the southern coast of Saipan Island. After the American occupation, the U. S. Army 27th Infantry Division maintained an observation post at this location overlooking Tinian three miles to the southwest.

Obyan Point
After American liberation, 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

Japanese Caves and 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
February 4, 2018


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