Saipan 1944 - the most decisive battle of the Pacific War

Saipan 1944 - The most decisive battle of the Pacific War. Images of War series. ISBN 978-1-52675-830-9.
Written by John Graham and Alexander Nicoll.


Following the earlier Japanese successes of 1941 and into 1942, the Allies began to fight back, starting with victories at Guadalcanal, Coral Sea, Midway and other Pacific Islands by 1944 the Japanese were firmly on the defensive, although there seemed no end to the war in sight as the Japanese Home Islands were beyond the reach of most land-based bombers.

It was in the spring of 1944 that the focus of attention turned to the Mariana Islands. Much to the annoyance of General Douglas MacArthur, who wanted to re-take the Philippines, Admiral Ernest J. King, US Chief of Naval Operations, argued successfully in favour of the Mariana being of higher strategic value and the key to the entire western pacific.With the Marianas in allied hands, leaving the Home Islands vulnerable to attack by the newly arrived B-29 Bomber.

This book, as in all in the Images of War series, is a pictorial record of what was later described as the "Most decisive battle of the Pacific war". The authors deal with the original plans to shelve the attack on the Marianas and the in-fighting between MacArthur and King with justification and there lies an unspoken and grudging admiration for both key figures. The book itself takes the reader quickly through the draught and planning to the operation itself. Much is made of the actions of the US Marine Corps' bravery while the almost fanatical bravery and final suicide in the 3,000 strong "Banzai charge" by the defending Japanese is only briefly touched upon.

From my reading of the subject, the US top brass seemed to overlook the fact that once ashore, the Marines would need logistic support in the shape of Food, Water and Ammunition. Many of these supplies were lost during the wait for H-hour!
What the book does show is the way a soldier will overcome adversity, relying on his comrades and his leaders.

While the Pacific War has never been of interest to me, I found the book to be an excellent story of some very brave men on both sides of the war. The photos are presented well and include maps of the area. There are also some excellent drawings by military artists. The pictures are all well captioned and support the book's text. One can feel the tension in the book as the story unfolds and it is to this end that I will date it 4 out of 5.

Recommended to any student of WW2, Model-maker or Historian.

Smeggers

Amazon product
 
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The Saipan campaign has many interesting bits


The largest banzai charge of the entire war which hit right at the juncture of 1st and 2nd Bn's 105th infantry regiment 27th Division. 3 medals of honor were awarded posthumously to members of the regiment for that night.
LTC William J. O'Brien 1st Bn OC
CAPT Benjamin Salomon 2nd Bn dentist
SGT Thomas Baker A Coy 1st Bn

Smith vs. Smith- MG Holland M. Smith USMC relieved MG Ralph Smith 27th Division CG because of his inherent hatred of all things US Army. He also accused the 27th division of being yellow. Holland Smith never again commanded troops in the field and Ralph Smiths relief was found to be unwarranted.

165th infantry took Aslito airfield from the Japanese and renamed it Conroy field after the regiments previous OC Gardner Conroy KIA at Makin 9 months previously. The USMC promptly tore down the signage and renamed it after a USN aviator as soon as the 165th moved north.

At every turn Howling mad Smith screwed over the 27th division, even taking away control of all 4 of their Artillery Bn's to support USMC units leaving them to fight with only 60 & 81mm Mortars for indirect support.

It caused Tojo to be sacked, and Japanese leaders finally realized they were about to get a hiding

the godawful spectacle of Japanese families jumping off sea side cliffs to their deaths despite every plea
 

Smeggers

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Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
The Saipan campaign has many interesting bits


The largest banzai charge of the entire war which hit right at the juncture of 1st and 2nd Bn's 105th infantry regiment 27th Division. 3 medals of honor were awarded posthumously to members of the regiment for that night.
LTC William J. O'Brien 1st Bn OC
CAPT Benjamin Salomon 2nd Bn dentist
SGT Thomas Baker A Coy 1st Bn

Smith vs. Smith- MG Holland M. Smith USMC relieved MG Ralph Smith 27th Division CG because of his inherent hatred of all things US Army. He also accused the 27th division of being yellow. Holland Smith never again commanded troops in the field and Ralph Smiths relief was found to be unwarranted.

165th infantry took Aslito airfield from the Japanese and renamed it Conroy field after the regiments previous OC Gardner Conroy KIA at Makin 9 months previously. The USMC promptly tore down the signage and renamed it after a USN aviator as soon as the 165th moved north.

At every turn Howling mad Smith screwed over the 27th division, even taking away control of all 4 of their Artillery Bn's to support USMC units leaving them to fight with only 60 & 81mm Mortars for indirect support.

It caused Tojo to be sacked, and Japanese leaders finally realized they were about to get a hiding

the godawful spectacle of Japanese families jumping off sea side cliffs to their deaths despite every plea
The authors cover the suicides. Apparently the families were told the USMC would rape all the females and eat the babies!

Holland-Smith was found to be lacking in any real leadership skills and his actions on Saipan were effectively the death knell for his career.

As I stated in the review, I don't normally do the Pacific War or even the Americans, but I found this book a fascinating read. The horrendous losses suffered by both sides coupled with the propaganda which inflicted more deaths was bad enough, but realising the way was clear to the Japanese Home Islands and all that that entailed, no wonder Oppenheimer said "I am become death, the destroyer of worlds."
 
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