Japan as a Pacific Power
Japanese Strategy
American Strategy
Invasion of Saipan
The Last Surrender of World War II
Tinian - The Final Offensive
Seize, Occupy and Defend Tinian
The Effort at Tinian
Secret Cargo to Tinian
A Steel Shark
Death of a Warship
The Final Offensive
Tinian, one of the busiest airfields in the world in 1945
Seize, Ocuppy and Defend Tinian
After the American assault on the Marshall Islands at the eastern 
edge of the Japanese Mandated Islands, and some 1,800 nautical miles 
east of the Mariana archipelago, no other islands within the western 
Pacific were attacked by United States ground forces until American 
fast carrier Task Force 58 reached the islands of Saipan and Tinian. 
Both were strongholds of the Empire some 1,200  south of Japan proper. 
After several days of naval and air bombardment, American amphibious 
forces  attacked Saipan on June 15, 1944, and after twenty-five days of 
bitter fighting turned their attention toward Tinian, five  from Saipan's
southern coast. 
On July 23, 1944, the day before the invasion of Tinian, the 
island was raked by naval gunfire from three battleships, two heavy 
cruisers, three light cruisers and sixteen destroyers, but few ships 
were employed to direct their fire at the location of the invasion 
beaches as deception was given greater consideration than destruction. 
The Japanese were given no indication as to where the amphibious assault 
would occur. They expected the landings to take place at Tinian Town. 
The blistering naval gun fire was discontinued only long enough to allow 
air strikes with napalm. Important road intersections were bombed, 
shelled and strafed from the air. Tinian Town was reduced to rubble. The 
first napalm bomb ever used was dropped on the town. This new fire bomb 
was particularly effective in burning sugar cane fields to reveal 
Japanese positions. 
The Japanese garrison on Tinian numbered 8,350 men which included 
the 50th Infantry Regiment and the 56th Keibitai (Naval Guard Force). 
These troops were under the command of Colonel Takashi Ogata who also 
had four Army infantry battalions and the 18th Infantry Tank Company 
(nine tanks). Colonel Ogata was aware that an invasion was imminent and 
worked furiously to improve the island's defenses. His troops had a high 
degree of esprit de corps. Ogata prepared to destroy his enemy at the 
water's edge. Failing to do so, his plan was to order his men to fall 
back to prepared positions inland and defend them to the last man. 
Eight transports carrying two regimental combat teams of the 2nd 
Marine Division made a diversionary feint at Tinian Town before 
proceeding to White Beach in the north to land in the rear of the first 
wave of assault troops. The U. S. Marines' diversionary force went so 
far as to lower landing craft from their mother ships and send Marines 
scampering down cargo nets as if, from all appearances to the Japanese 
on shore, bound for Tinian Town beaches. The Japanese reacted 
immediately and fired at the decoy invasion force which lay off shore 
beyond the 2,000 meter limit of Japanese artillery fire. The Japanese 
hit the Battleship Colorado and one destroyer. The Marines and their 
boats were picked up and placed back aboard their vessels and then 
proceeded to join the real invasion force to the north at White Beach. 
The Japanese 56th Naval Guard Force remained at their positions to 
guard Sunharon Bay (Tinian Harbor) and never abandoned the southern 
sector to meet the amphibious force landing to the north. The feint to 
lead the Japanese to believe the invasion would occur in the vicinity of 
Tinian Town was successful. 
The objective of the invasion was to obtain sites on which air 
bases could be constructed from which long range bombers could attack 
Japan. Rear Admiral Harry Hill, U.S.N. was the American commander 
responsible for the capture of Tinian. His orders read: "seize, occupy 
and defend Tinian." General Cate's 2nd and 4th Marine Divisions 
conducted the amphibious landing on July 24, 1944. It was one of the 
most successful such operations of the entire war. 
Invasion Beach "White" had no man made obstacles. Because it was 
only sixty meters long it was an unlikely point for an invasion. The 
Japanese defenders had no expectation that a hostile amphibious landing 
would be made in the area. U. S. forces achieved complete tactical 
surprise --  a rare accomplishment with the Japanese in the Pacific War. 
The beach was very narrow for two divisions, their equipment and 
supplies. It was a very dangerous undertaking. First in would be the LCI 
gunboats, then the amphibian tanks followed by troop-carrying amphibian 
tractors. 
By nightfall on July 24th the 4th Marine Division had established a 
beach head 2,900 meters wide and almost two kilometers inland. On this 
first day, American casualties were 15 killed and 225 wounded. On the 
night of the 24th, Colonel Ogata launched a five-hour counter attack at 
a cost of 1,241 killed and six tanks lost. This one aborted attack 
sealed the fate of the remaining Japanese defenders. After landing, the 
Marines pushed across the island to its eastern cliff line to seal off 
the entire northern third of the island. They then turned south and 
proceeded over the next several days to the southern tip. 
Colonel Ogata made his last stand in the south on July 31st and was 
killed by machine gun fire while leading a counter attack. He was last 
seen hanging over Marine barbed wire. Soon after, Japanese resistance 
came to an end. However, isolated remnants of the Japanese continued to 
fight on until January, 1945. 
Eight days later after the advancing U. S. forces had pushed south, 
the island was declared secured. American losses totaled 328 killed and 
1,571 wounded. The Japanese lost their entire garrison of 8,000 men .

Photo courtesy of: U.S. National Archive

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