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D-Day in the Pacific

The Battle of Saipan

Harold J. Goldberg

Publication Year: 2007

In June 1944 the attention of the nation was riveted on events unfolding in France. But in the Pacific, the Battle of Saipan was of extreme strategic importance. This is a gripping account of one of the most dramatic engagements of World War II. The conquest of Saipan and the neighboring island of Tinian was a turning point in the war in the Pacific as it made the American victory against Japan inevitable. Until this battle, the Japanese continued to believe that success in the war remained possible. While Japan had suffered serious setbacks as early as the Battle of Midway in 1942, Saipan was part of her inner defense line, so victory was essential. The American victory at Saipan forced Japan to begin considering the reality of defeat. For the Americans, the capture of Saipan meant secure air bases for the new B-29s that were now within striking distance of all Japanese cities, including Tokyo.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: Twentieth-Century Battles

Title Page and Copyright Page

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List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

List of Maps

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pp. xi-xii


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pp. xiii-xv

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pp. 1-8

As indicated by this official history of the 2nd Marine division, the Battle of Saipan in June 1944 included elements that made it one of the most dramatic and fascinating encounters of the war. One factor was the presence of an entrenched and dedicated enemy force, prepared to fight for victory or die in the process. ...

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1. Admiral King and General MacArthur

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pp. 9-28

By 1943 the United States knew that the road to Berlin ran through France. Although the exact timing of the Normandy invasion would not be set until late that year at the Teheran Conference, there was no doubt that an invasion of France was a necessary component of eventual victory in Europe. ...

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2. The Target

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pp. 29-38

In the course of his attempt to circumnavigate the earth in the service of Spain, the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan landed on Guam in 1521 to procure supplies. According to most books on this subject, Magellan’s sailors called the discovery Las Islas de los Ladrones, or the Islands of Thieves, because the natives attempted to steal from their ships. ...

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3. Operation Forager

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pp. 39-51

Admiral King was correct about the crucial nature of the battle for Saipan, and others also recognized the significance of the impending fight. Holland Smith called Saipan “the decisive battle of the Pacific offensive,” and according to the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey, the Japanese understood...

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4. "A Condemned Man's Breakfast"

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pp. 52-60

In June 1944 one of the largest American armadas ever assembled converged on the Mariana Islands. Hundreds of ships and tens of thousands of troops prepared for the crucial battle for control of japan’s essential outpost on Saipan. ...

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5. The 2nd Marine Division Lands

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pp. 61-73

The crews of the amphibious tanks had heard many rumors and warnings while on their way from Hawaii to Saipan. Of course, Tokyo rose always tried to spread alarm and fear among the troops. “If the Marines in Pearl Harbor knew the reception that is prepared for them,” she said, “they would jump overboard rather than go.”1 ...

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6. The 4th Marine Division Lands

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pp. 74-89

Each marine confronted his private thoughts and fears as he approached the beach. Some were ill from seasickness while others just prayed quietly. Others wondered if they were ready for the task ahead: “Can we do this? am i going to live through it? ...

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7. The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot

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pp. 90-102

Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku, commander in chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy at the start of World War II, had always promoted the idea of engaging the Americans in one large and decisive battle. The implementation of this plan had failed with Japan’s defeat at Midway in 1942. ...

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8. The 2nd marine Division Moves Forward

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pp. 103-118

Japanese battle tactics called for stopping the marines on the beach, but the landing on D-Day had quickly placed more than twenty thousand Americans on the island. Still hopeful that they could push the Americans back into the ocean, the Japanese soldiers, beginning the first day, launched a series of late-night and early-morning attacks. ...

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9. The 4th Marine Division Moves Forward

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pp. 119-130

Not surprisingly, all marines were ecstatic when their tank battalions drove ashore on Saipan, and the tanks were sent immediately into action. Realizing the threat that this weapon posed to their control of the island, the Japanese quickly targeted the American tanks with artillery. ...

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10. Marines under Fire

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pp. 131-140

Although the marines advanced steadily northward across the island, the fighting remained extremely difficult. The Japanese defended every hill and cave. Private Orvel Johnson recalled how marines continued to plod ahead: “I didn’t know where I was most days except who was in command, who was on our left flank and right flank. ...

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11. The 27th Infantry Division on Southern Saipan

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pp. 141-153

The 27th Infantry Division was a New York National Guard unit until it was federalized in the fall of 1940. From that moment on, membership in the division diversified as draftees from other states were added to bring it to full strength. ...

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12. Into Death Valley

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pp. 154-166

While the battle for Nafutan Point was raging, army regiments were deployed as needed in support of the marines. When the 165th and 105th regiments landed on Saipan on 16 and 17 June, the 106th regiment, commanded by Colonel Russell G. Ayers, remained on board ship as a reserve. ...

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13. Gyokusai

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pp. 167-194

The unanticipated length of the Battle of Saipan put a terrible strain on the supply effort. By 1 July as the battle raged, the military was rationing some ammunition, and 81-millimeter mortar ammunition fell to dangerous lows. Fortunately, the troops were able to use captured Japanese mortar shells in American tubes.1 ...

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14. Suicide Cliff and Banzai Cliff

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pp. 195-204

Following the Gyokusai, marines prepared to move north toward Marpi Point: the final sweep to clean out all pockets of Japanese resistance. Fighting remained intense, with enemy soldiers either flushed out of caves and other hidden locations or killed inside caves by flamethrowers, grenades, and satchel charges. ...

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15. Tōjō and Tinian

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pp. 205-209

it was appropriate that General Tōjō Hideki resigned after the Battle of Saipan, as Japan’s chances for victory ended with the loss of the Mariana islands. Tōjō, who entered the cabinet in 1940, was a prime mover in the decision to go to war with the United States and the symbol of Japanese militarism. ...

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pp. 210-214

The casualty figures for the Battle of Saipan reveal the intense nature of the conflict: “The toll of American killed and wounded was high. of the 71,034 officers and men that made up Holland Smith’s Northern Troops and Landing Force, it is estimated that 3,674 army and 10,437 Marine Corps personnel were killed, wounded or missing in action. ...

Appendix A

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pp. 215-228

Appendix B

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pp. 229-238

Appendix C

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pp. 239-242


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pp. 243-260


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pp. 261-265

Index [Includes About the Author]

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pp. 267-276

E-ISBN-13: 9780253116819
E-ISBN-10: 0253116813
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253348692

Page Count: 296
Illustrations: 24 b&w photos, 10 maps
Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: Twentieth-Century Battles