Site of the vicious battle for control of Iwo Jima, between Japanese troops led by Army Lieutenant-General Kuribayashi Tadamichi and American troops led by Marine Lieutenant-General Holland ‘Howling Mad’ Smith. |
After six months of almost daily bombardment by American planes and warships, the marines landed on the morning of February 19, 1945. On that day alone 566 American soldiers were killed and 1,755 were wounded, and 99 were so traumatized that they could fight no more. The Japanese side also sustained heavy casualties.
On D-day plus four the US Marines raised the Stars and Stipes on the summit of Mount Suribachi. but the battle had just begun. General Kuribayashi's command center was at the other end of the island. It lasted until the morning of March 26 and this was the time General Kuribayashi was killed leading the final Japanese attack.
Iwo Jima, 4.5 miles long and 2.5 miles wide, was strategically important to the Japanese for defense and for the Americans for offence. With airfields only 650 miles from Tokyo it provided a base to attack mainland Japan with less fuel and more bombs aboard the aircraft. However crushingly ironic was the fact that B29s flying from Tinian on March 9, 1945 destroyed Tokyo in a fearsome incendiary bomb attack** on the morning of March 10th killing over , while the Iwo Jima battle still raged. 70,000 American and 22,000 Japanese troops fought on Iwo Jima.
**The results were devastating: almost 17 square miles of the city were reduced to ashes. Estimates of the number killed range between 80,000 and 200,000, a higher death toll than that produced by the dropping of the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima or Nagasaki six months later.
"Of all our adversaries in the Pacific, Kuribayashi was the most redoubtable. Some Japanese island commanders were just names to us, and then just dissappeared into the anonymity of enemy corpses left for burial parties. Kuribayashi's personality was written deep in the underground defenses he devised for iwp Jima." Lietenant-General Holland Smith
U.S. personnel 6,821 Killed 19,217 Wounded 2,648 Combat Fatigue Total 28,686
Marine Casualties 23,573
Japanese Troops 20,000 est. Killed, 1,083 POW
Highly recommended!! Clint Eastwood's two films, The Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima. And www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/tokyo.htm.
Photo thanks the the Iwo Jima website www.iwojima.com/.