WWII Island Hopping
7 August 1942
First offensive action of the war.
1st Marine Division
Warfighting difficult because of jungle.
USMC conducts many patrols.
• 2d Raider Bn conducts month-long patrol.
Japanese attempt to reinforce by sea, but suffer
significant losses in the process. (7 of 11 transports)
Jungle causes significant casualties.
Over 1k new cases of malaria per week.
(don’t worry about writing this down)
Island “secured” in Feb ’43.
Japan suffers critical losses in all areas.
600 aircraft & 2,300 aircrew
25k soldiers (1/2 in combat, ½ to illness)
2 Battleships, 3 aircraft carriers, 12 Cruisers, 25
• Roughly same number as US, but Japan unable to
Other Battles…
March Bismarck Sea (limited Japanese reinforcement of
Southern Pacific)
November Tarawa and Makin (Gilbert Islands)
Kwajalein & Eniwetok (Marshall Islands)
February-June New Guinea
June-August Saipan, Tinian, Guam (Mariana Islands)
• B29s now able to be recovered after hitting Japan
Leyte Gulf
• Destroyed much of Japanese Navy
Iwo Jima
D-Day 9 Feb 1945
Objective: Capture airfield
450 ships
Pre-invasion bombardment shortened from 12 to 3
Weather limited effectiveness of even this.
3, 4, 5 MARDIV
1st wave gets ashore, but when bombardment lifts for them to
move inland, all hell breaks loose.
Southern half of island in US hands by D+2 (3 Days)
Takes 34 more days to secure remainder of island (8 square
miles total).
Iwo Jima (cont’d)
Nothing fancy; simple but costly.
“Throwing human flesh against reinforced concrete.”
36 days, 26k US casualites including 6k KIA.
1k of 20k defenders survived
2400 B-29s w/ 27k crewmen made unscheduled
landings on island by the time the war ended.
27 Medals of Honor awarded.
"The battle of Iwo Island has
been won. The United States
Marines by their individual and
collective courage have
conquered a base which is as
necessary to us in our
continuing forward movement
toward final victory as it was
vital to the enemy in staving off
off ultimate defeat. By their
victory, the 3d, 4th and 5th
Marine Divisions and other units
of the 5th Amphibious Corps
have made an accounting to
their country which only history
will be able to value fully.
Among the Americans who
served on Iwo Island,
uncommon valor was a
common virtue. "
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz
D Day 1 April
Last stop before the mainland.
1200 ships
1, 2, 6 MARDIV + 3 Army divisions
USMC heads north; secures northern ½ of island by D+4.
Combined Army/USMC battle determined Japanese defenders until
late June.
Gen Geiger named to command Tenth Army when Buckner is KIA.
Better job of using combined-arms, but still ugly.
Kamikaze = Divine Wind
1900 planes launched against US during
Battle for Okinawa.
Crashed into ship loaded with explosives
Sank 30 U.S. vessels
The Costs
12.5k KIA
36k WIA
130k KIA
10k POW
94K Civilians
Lost 700+ aircraft
Victory was never in doubt…What was in doubt, in all our minds,
was whether there would be any of us left to dedicate our cemetery
at the end, or whether the last Marine would die knocking out the
last Japanese gun and gunner. Let the world count our crosses.
MajGen Graves Erskine, CG 3d Marine Division, following the
Battle for Iwo Jima
What platoon are you guys?
Platoon, hell! We’re the 2nd Battalion, 22d Marines, what’s left of
us anyway.
Exchange between Marines following the Battle for Sugarloaf Hill
on Okinawa, May 1945