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(1/5) Pacific The Lost Evidence Saipan Episode 5 World War II

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Uploaded on Mar 5, 2009

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Seven American battleships and 11 destroyers shelled Saipan and Tinian for 2 days before the landings, firing 15,000 16-inch and 5-inch shells at the islands along with 165,000 other shells of other caliber. To even begin to comprehend the magnitude of this onslaught, one needs to realize that a single 16-inch round weighs slightly more than a Volkswagen Beetle, besides being packed with high explosives. On the second day of the bombardment, this force was joined by 8 more battleships, 6 heavy cruisers and 5 light cruisers. The islands were ringed by American warships with their guns blazing. Shells rained down on the island, its villages, inhabitants, and defenders, gouging huge craters in the sand and coral. The earth trembled under the tremendous explosions of naval bombardment and simultaneous air attacks.

The main invasion force landed along 4 miles of beach at Chalan Kanoa. Twenty-eight U. S. tanks were destroyed the first day alone. The Japanese positioned colored flags in the lagoon to mark the range of the landing force and to register their howitzers on the invaders from locations behind Mount Fina Susu, and their shell fire rained down on the advancing American force every 15 seconds in a deadly cauldron of exploding steel. By nightfall of the first day, the Second Marine Division had sustained 2,000 casualties. The fighting continued until July 9th, when organized resistance on Saipan ceased. When the fighting ended, American losses on Saipan were double those suffered on Guadalcanal. Of the 71,034 U. S. troops landed on Saipan, 3,100 were killed, 13,100 wounded or missing in action. Out of the 31,629 Japanese on Saipan, approximately 29,500 died as a result of the fighting, and only 2,100 prisoners survived. Fighting between the Japanese and the Americans was by no means completely mechanized; while ships, aircraft, artillery, and tanks inflicted the largest amount of damage to the combatants, a great deal of the fighting was hand-to-hand. Besides machine guns, flame throwers, rifles, and pistols, deadly skirmishes were fought with bayonets, swords, bamboo spears, clubs, stones and fists.

The ratio of battle dead was 9.5:1 during the 24 days of fighting. Place names given the rugged Saipan terrain such as Death Valley, Purple Heart Ridge and Harakiri Gulch testified to the bitter fighting. One of the most lamentable events of the battle for Saipan involved the mass suicide of hundreds of families, many of whom jumped to their deaths from the high cliffs at the island's northernmost point. This tragic event could not be stopped, despite efforts by Americans and indigenous Saipanese using loudspeakers to try to convince the Japanese that surrender would be. (Navy Site Online)

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