Kulepanov R. V. The Battle of Marianas, June – August 1944: The tragedy of the civilians (.pdf)

 

The article explores the battle of Marianas of the Pacific campaign of World War II. It took place on June, 15th – August, 3ͩ, 1944 on Saipan, Tinian and Guam islands. The poor-studied facts of high civilian casualties, mass suicides and war crimes are analyzed in the paper. Capturing the islands of Saipan and Tinian in the Northern Marianas island chain became a critical objective for the American forces during World War II in order to make the Japanese home islands accessible to the new B-29 Superfortress bombers. The assault of Saipan, Tinian and Guam became one of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific War. For the first time during the war, the United States forces were fighting in a well-populated locality. A former Spanish and then German territory, Saipan and Tinian became a Mandate of Japan by the League of Nations after World War I, and thus a large number of Japanese civilians (at least 40,000) lived there. Civilian shelters were located virtually everywhere on the island, with very little difference noticeable to attacking marines. The suspected bunkers were burned with explosives or napalm. In such conditions, high civilian casualties were inevitable. The Battle of Saipan was a devastating defeat for the Japanese. More than 30,000 Japanese soldiers died, along with an untold number of Japanese civilians committed suicide during the last days of the battle to take the offered privileged place in the afterlife, some jumping off the cliffs near Marpi Point. Japanese national ideology, poor operational preparation of the US forces and intense combat on small islands led to the deaths of thousands civilians.

 

Key words: World War II, Battle of Marianas, mass suicides, war crimes.

 

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