Battle of Tinian
The Battle of Tinian was a battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II, fought on the island of Tinian in the Mariana Islands from 24 July until 1 August 1944. The 9,000-man Japanese garrison was eliminated, and the island joined Saipan and Guam as a base for the Twentieth Air Force.:72
A two-prong attack through the Central Pacific and the Philippines was adopted at the 1943 Cairo Conference.:8 Operation Granite II, was a U.S. Navy devised strategy of island hopping, calling for the seizure of Saipan, Tinian and Guam.:8 The Gilbert and Marshall Islands had been seized by the summer of 1944, while some Japanese garrisons were left to starve.:7
The Japanese defending the island, the 50th Infantry Regiment, which was originally part of 29th division, were commanded by Colonel Kiyochi Ogata:31 and his subordinate Goichi Oya. Vice-Admiral Kakaji Kakuta, commander of First Air Fleet, was headquartered in Manila, but on Tinian on an inspection tour when the invasion started.:31
The US naval bombardment commenced on 16 July, with three battleships, five cruisers and sixteen destroyers.:75 The battleship Colorado and the destroyer Norman Scott were both hit by 150mm Japanese shore batteries. Colorado was hit 22 times, killing 43 men and wounding 198. Norman Scott was hit six times, killing the captain, Seymore Owens, and 18 of his seamen, plus wounding 47.:76
The 4th Marine Division landed on 24 July 1944, supported by naval bombardment and marine artillery firing across the strait from Saipan.:72 A successful feint for the major settlement of Tinian Town diverted defenders from the actual landing site on the north of the island.:76 They withstood a series of night counterattacks supported by tanks, and the 2nd Marine Division landed the next day.:80
The weather worsened on 28 July, damaging the pontoon causeways, and interrupting the unloading of supplies.:81 By 29 July, the Americans had captured half the island, and on 30 July the 4th Marine Division occupied Tinian Town and Airfield No. 4.:81
Japanese remnants made a final stand in the caves and ravines of a limestone ridge on the south portion of the island, making probes and counterattacks into the marine line.:85 Resistance continued through 3 August, with some civilians murdered by the Japanese.:87
By 10 August 1944, 13,000 Japanese civilians were interred, but up to 4,000 were dead through suicide, murdered by Japanese troops or killed in combat.:89 The garrison on Aguijan Island off the southwest cape of Tinian, commanded by Lieutenant Kinichi Yamada, held out until the end of the war, surrendering on 4 September 1945. The last holdout on Tinian, Murata Susumu, was captured in 1953.
After the battle, Tinian became an important base for further Allied operations in the Pacific campaign. Camps were built for 50,000 troops. Fifteen thousand Seabees turned the island into the busiest airfield of the war, with six 7,900-foot (2,400 m) runways for attacks by United States Army Air Forces B-29 Superfortress bombers on enemy targets in the Philippines, the Ryukyu Islands, and mainland Japan, including the March 9/10 1945 Operation Meetinghouse firebombing of Tokyo and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.:89 North Field was built over Airfields No. 1 and 3, and became operational in February 1945, while West Field was built over Airfield No. 2, and became operational in March 1945.:89
Four 1000-bed hospitals (110,111,112,113) were planned and located in preparation for the invasion of Japan. None were actually built, as the Japanese surrendered after the atomic bombs were dropped, which thus ended the need for the hospitals.
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