Battle of Tinian

The Battle of Tinian was a World War II battle fought between the Japanese forces and the US Marines in the Pacific theater of operation. It took place on the island of Tinian, in the Marianas, from July 24, 1944 to August 1, 1944. It was a decisive American victory.

When the Battle of Tinian began on July 24, 1944, the Battle of Guam was still raging. Since the battle of Guadalcanal in 1942, the American forces in the Pacific had been leapfrogging from one Japanese-infested island to the next: Guadalcanal and Savo island (Salomon Islands), Tarawa and Makin (Gilbert Islands), and Saipan in the Mariana Islands. The American victory in the Battle of Saipan made Tinian, situated 3.5 miles south of Saipan, the next step in the Marianas campaign. The Japanese forces which defended the island were composed of 10,000 troops, about 4,500 of them were Marines of the Japanese Imperial Navy and 5,500 were army infantry troops. These Japanese fighting force was commanded by Colonel Kiyochi Ogata.

The Battle of Tinian was initiated at 07:30 hours on 24 July 1944, when 2nd and 4th Marine Divisions landed on the island. The invision had been preceded by naval bombardment and artillery firing across the strait from Saipan. A successful feint for the major settlement of Tinian Town diverted defenders from the actual landing site on the north of the island. The USS Colorado and the destroyer USS Norman Scott were both hit by six inch Japanese shore batteries. The Colorado was hit 22 times, killing 44 men. The Norman Scott was hit six times, killing the captain, Seymore Owens, and 22 of his shipmates.

Retreated during the day and attacked at night, which was the same stubborn defensive tactics the Japanese had used on Saipan. The gentler terrain of Tinian allowed the attackers more effective use of tanks and artillery than in the mountains of Saipan, and the island was secured in nine days of fighting. On July 31, the surviving Japanese launched a suicide charge.

The battle had the first use of napalm in the Pacific. Of the 120 jettisonable tanks dropped during the operation, 25 contained the napalm mixture and the remainder an oil-gasoline mixture. Of the entire number, only 14 were duds, and eight of these were set afire by subsequent strafing runs. Carried by P-47 Thunderbolts, the "fire bombs", also known as napalm bombs, burned away foliage concealing enemy installations.

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