THE BATTLE OF IWO JIMA – WORLD WAR TWO
19th February 1945 – 16th March 1945
This was a decisive battle that resulted in the American capture of the Japanese held island of Iwo Jima
Following the US capture of the Marshall Islands in February 1944 and the Mariana islands in the Summer, the Japanese had begun reinforcing the island of Iwo Jima and had around 5,000 men stationed on the island by late Summer. The Americans had begun naval bombardments and air raids against Iwo Jima which lasted until the first landing of American troops on 19th February 1945.
Iwo Jima, volcanic island, Pacific
U.S. MARINE CORPS COMMANDERS
Graves B. Erskine
Keller E. Rockey
Total number 70,000
Total number – 20,000 – 21,000
Following extensive bombardment the first American troops landed on 19th February 1945. They were initially met with silence as the Japanese, hidden in bunkers, waited until the troops had begun to advance inland before opening fire.
As the Americans made ground they used flame throwers to try to flush the Japanese out of their hiding places, however, they soon realised that the bunkers were connected by underground tunnels that enabled the occupants to escape and return once the Americans had moved on.
The Americans began to make serious advancement once their tanks had made land.
On 23rd February the Americans reached the summit of mount Suribachi and the American flag was raised. The photograph of this event has become an iconic symbol of the battle.
Having secured the south of the island it took another month until they were able to also secure the north.
Decisive American victory
Although it has long been seen as a significant strategic victory in the Pacific war, many commentators both at the time and later have felt that the number of losses were not really justified since the island was of little use once it had been captured.