Home Intro People Events Equipment Places Maps Books Photos Videos Other Reference FAQ About

World War II Database

Marianas file photo [2299]

Mariana Islands Campaign and the Great Turkey Shoot

13 Jun 1944 - 10 Aug 1944


ww2dbaseThe Mariana Islands were made up of the islands of Saipan, Tinian, Aguijan, Rota, and much to the soreness of the American military, the island of Guam. Admiral Chester Nimitz had long waited to launch his Operation Forager to reclaim Guam and defeat the Japanese garrison at these islands. From the airfields at the Mariana Islands, future operations against the Philippine Islands, Taiwan, and even the Japanese home islands would be supported from the skies.

13 Jun-7 Jul 1944

ww2dbaseThe island of Saipan was defended by two officers of equal rank. Lieutenant General Yoshitsugu Saito represented the Army, while Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo represented the Navy. Nagumo was the former victorious commander of the Mobile Fleet, but since had lost his face at the major defeat at Midway, and demoted to lead this local flotilla. Bearing with his shame, Nagumo mainly allowed Saito to make all the command decisions. Saito had his own 43rd division under his charge, as well as a mixed brigade, the 47th Independent, supported by various Army and Navy personnel. This group of defenders was twice the size reported by American intelligence, so that when the Americans came ashore, the resistance was greater than they had expected. Fortunately, as the Americans would later find out, most of the supplies Saito's garrison badly needed were taken away from him, thanks to the American submarine campaign and air superiority. The transport ships simply could not reach the Marianas in one piece. Regardless, Saito, as well as Tokyo, knew the importance of the Marianas. From there, 1,100 miles south of Tokyo, the new American B-29 "Super Fortress" bombers could reach the Japanese Home Islands and would have enough fuel for the return trip. A careless American operation over the Solomons resulted in a B-29 shot down, and the pilot captured and interrogated. In Tokyo, the IGHQ was starting to feel the pressure, if they had not felt it before when Americans defeated them at southern Solomon Islands, New Guinea, the Gilbert Islands, and the Marshall Islands.

ww2dbaseThe pre-landing preparations came like a thunderclap for the Japanese garrison. On 13 Jun 1944, seven American battleships fired 15,000 shells at Saipan, though to little effectiveness. On the next day, Rear Admirals Jesse Oldendorf and Walden Ainsworth bombarded Saipan and Tinian with their bombardment groups. Meanwhile, Navy divers formed Underwater Demolition Teams and scouted out planned landing beaches for the impending invasion, taking out any mines and tank traps as they were found.

ww2dbaseD-Day was 15 Jun 1944. US 2nd and 4th Marine Divisions under the command of General Holland Smith landed their 8,000 men in 20 minutes despite heavy fire from Japanese positions some as far as three miles away. They declared the beachhead secure the next day after suffering a casualty rate of 10%, at which point a signal was sent to General Ralph Smith's 27th Army Division to begin landing operations. Piecemeal Japanese counterattacks did not break the defensive perimeter set up by the American Marines, allowing the Army to land more troops behind them. On the fourth day, the Japanese retreated into the treacherous terrain of Saipan, hoping to use the terrain against the American troops. Holland Smith ordered for a great march northward on 23 Jun; the Marines advanced on the flanks, and the Army in the middle. Mount Tipo Pale was taken, and the next obstacle came Mount Tapotchau. Ralph Smith's Army soldiers, by this time, were being slowed both by Japanese defense as well as a difference in fighting mentality. Marines, by training, advanced aggressively; Army soldiers, contrastingly, aimed for a well-rounded advance, digging in at regular intervals to ensure their supplies could catch up and their flanks were well guarded. The result of this difference in mentality resulted in a deep U-shaped line, with the Marines far ahead of the center, and this angered Holland Smith. Holland Smith, who had overall tactical command on the island, submitted his request to remove Ralph Smith to Admirals Richmond Turner and Raymond Spruance, which had repercussions all the way back to Washington. "We've had more experience in handling troops than you've had, and yet you dare remove one of my generals! You Marines are nothing but a bunch of beach runners anyway", exclaimed General George Marshal's representative in the theater. "What do you know about land warfare?" Holland Smith won the political game and succeeded in replacing the Army commander.

ww2dbaseBy 5 Jul, despite the bitter political battles that ensued, the remaining Japanese troops were driven to the northern tip of the island. With their backs to the cliff, the largest banzai charge took place. 3,000 Japanese troops valiantly charged the advancing American line, and broke through the western flank, but they were ultimately stopped by American Marines. While the banzai charge was breaking through American front lines, Lieutenant General Saito and Vice Admiral Nagumo, after giving orders for such a suicide charge, committed suicide in their respective command bunkers. When the Americans declared the island secured four days later, Holland Smith's men counted over 23,000 Japanese troops killed. Holland Smith lost 3,426 men in comparison. Unfortunately, that was not the end of major bloodshed on Saipan. Encouraged by Tokyo, thousands of Japanese civilians on Saipan committed mass suicide to avoid the shame of being ruled by the conquering Americans. Men dived off cliffs into shark-ridden waters, mothers throwing their babies against rock walls before jumping into the water to join their husbands and brothers. Even children committed suicide, holding on to grenades before they jumped off the cliffs. Nearly 8,000 civilians of Saipan died in this mass suicide. Americans watched in absolute horror, but were able to finally stop the madness by convincing fair treatment over loudspeakers. After the battle, the two sites where the mass suicide took place were named Banzai Cliff and Suicide Cliff as memorial to these fallen civilians.

ww2dbaseThe Battle of the Philippine Sea
19-20 Jun 1944

ww2dbaseBy mid-1944, the Mitsubishi Type 00 fighters, better known as "Zeros", were no longer on the cutting edge among fighter designs. Ignoring the fact that by this time the United States was out-producing the Axis in war machinery, the new F6F Hellcat was better armored and better suited for dogfights than their Japanese counterparts. Meanwhile, the Japanese Navy's pilot talent was running dangerously short, and it was becoming more common to see combat pilots with less than 50 hours of flight training.

ww2dbaseOn 18 Jun, as the American Marines secured the beachhead at Saipan for an Army landing, search planes from Admiral Ozawa's fleet discovered the American fleet. Ozawa decided to forgo the opportunity for a surprise attack, and wait until the beginning of the next day before launching an attack, despite the fact that he had numerical advantage (he had more planes available to him than the Americans) and range advantage (his Zeros had longer range than the American counterparts). He was concerned that his fighter pilots were not capable of making safe night landings on carrier flight decks. This decision proved to be fatal in hindsight: by the time he launched his fighter attacks, the Americans were already alerted to Ozawa's presence, and prepared for such an assault. Spruance, knowing very well of Ozawa's timetable at this time, launched a strike against Guam to pin down the Japanese aircraft there, as well as damaging the airfields there so that the eventual Ozawa attack would not be able to utilize Guam to augment his attack. Mitscher, at the same time, launched his aircraft against the island of Rota while sending a few to reinforce Spruance.

ww2dbaseOzawa had his ships in two groups one hundred miles apart from each other. The fore group had three carriers, and the rear six, each group escorted by battleships, cruisers, and destroyers. The American fleet's 11 carriers were broken up to four groups.

ww2dbaseThe battle started shortly after 1000 on 19 Jun with the first wave of 60 Japanese planes attacking the American fleet. 42 of them were shot down, scoring only one bomb hit on USS South Dakota. The second wave consisted of 128 planes, and 97 of them were lost without even making any significant damage to the American ships, although Warrant Officer Sakio Komatsu's name must be mentioned for his bravery: immediately after taking off from the Taiho, he saw a torpedo swimming straight for his home carrier. He dropped his plane and plunged into the ocean, intercepting the torpedo with his fighter. He sacrificed himself, and his carrier would be saved, for now. The third attack's 47 planes had a better casualty rate, losing only 7, but they did not make it through the American escort ships, let alone seeing the American carriers. By the time the fourth attack wave of 82 planes were sent, it was already almost 1400 in the afternoon, and 54 of them were shot down.

ww2dbaseDuring the day of 19 June 1944, between Ozawa's attacks on the American fleet and the attacks on Guam and Rota, 429 Japanese planes were shot down. The Americans lost 29. This battle was commonly referred to among the US Navy men as the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot". Many historians agree that this event marked the end of Japanese naval air power. Coming events would force Japan to rely on the guns of its battleships and cruisers, driving the Japanese to believe even more deeply in seeking Mahan's decisive battle with the US fleets.

ww2dbaseRecall that Warrant Officer Komatsu sacrificed himself to save Taiho from the American torpedo. That torpedo came from USS Albacore, a submarine among others in a wolfpack, which found their way to the Japanese carriers during the confusion of battle. Moments after Komatsu's noble self-sacrifice, the Albacore launched another torpedo, and this time struck squarely on the Taiho's starboard side; the Taiho would be filled with leaked fuel vapor and a spark somewhere triggered an explosion that sunk the ship. Another submarine, USS Cavalla, fired six torpedoes into the group, sinking the Shokaku after three of them hit the Pearl Harbor veteran and caused a tremendous explosion. Ozawa escaped his burning flagship, the Taiho, after 1530, and ordered the ships to withdraw from the heavy cruiser Haguro. After losing over 400 pilots and then two precious carriers, Ozawa would finally get his small bit of luck that day as what was left of his fleet escaped American detection for two days, allow him to regroup his ships.

ww2dbaseThat luck would end, however, as Lieutenant Nelson's scout plane from the USS Enterprise found the Japanese fleet on 21 Jun, leading to Mitscher's order to launch 216 planes against what remained of Ozawa's fleet. The Japanese fleet carrier Hiyo was struck by torpedoes and sunk, and carriers Zuikaku and Chiyoda and battleship Haruna would be damaged. Although these 216 planes would return later than scheduled and lost 80 in risky night time landings, this attack would be marked as one of the most effective attacks against enemy ships in the entire war yet. By the time Ozawa made his way to Okinawa, he counted only 35 carrier aircraft in his fleet.

24 Jul-2 Aug 1944

ww2dbaseThe island of Tinian, five miles south of Saipan, was characterized for its sugar plantation. On 24 Jul, 2nd and 4th Marine Divisions landed with supportive bombing from artillery from Saipan and ships from the sea. Tinian made weapons history as it was where the first napalm bomb was used, and where the Fat Man and Little Boy would be loaded onto bombers for Hiroshima and Nagasaki a year after this battle.

ww2dbaseTinian was secured on 2 Aug after more than a week of heavy fighting, however many Japanese soldiers hid in the jungles and outlying small islands, such as Lieuitenant Kinichi Yamada's small garrison on Aguijian island who did not surrender until 4 Sep 1944. Immediately upon the capture of Ushi Point airfield on 26 Jul, construction crew was brought in without delay to begin work to extend the airfield to accommodate B-29 bombers.

ww2dbaseA small handful of civilians committed suicide upon sighting American soldiers, as we have seen in Saipan above, but to a much smaller scale.

21 Jul-10 Aug 1944

ww2dbaseGuam, gained by the United States at the conclusion of the Spanish-American War in 1898, was the largest island in the Marianas and it was an important American base. It was taken by the Japanese days after the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941. Originally it was to be attacked by American forces on 15 Jun but delays with the operations on Saipan and the Japanese naval attack delayed the Guam landing by more than a month. During the delay, the US Navy had little to do, and they spent their time bombarding Guam while the Marines and Army soldiers waited in the cramped transports. 28,761 heavy shells were fired on the island, devastating the Guam defenses and potentially saved thousands of lives among the landing troops. The Japanese intra-island radios were demolished, and half of their 8-inch coastal batteries were disabled or destroyed. Unfortunately, the Guam capital city of Agana was also leveled between the earlier B-24 aerial bombardment and this pre-invasion naval bombardment.

ww2dbaseThe initial landing took place on 21 Jul on its northwestern beaches, spearheaded by the 3rd Marine Division. Between initial landing at 0828 and 0900, Japanese defenders sank 20 LVTs (Landing Vehicles, Tracked), however, by that night the Marines and the 77th Infantry Division which landed immediately after the Marines were able to secure a beachhead nearly two kilometers deep. The Japanese commander General Takeshi Takashina ordered his garrison of 19,000 to launch several counterattacks, which several of them broke through American lines, however they were largely ineffective. One of the counterattacks took place at the Orote Peninsula, where the Japanese troops enraged and encouraged themselves with sake (Orote had been Japan's spirits depot for the entire region) before charging viciously into the American lines. "Within the lines there were many instances when I observed Japanese and Marines lying side by side, which was mute evidence of the violence of the last assault", observed an American. Elsewhere, at Chonito Cliff, the Japanese counterattack was so fierce that the American Marines were out of ammunition. The Americans there only was able to hold ground and then drive back the Japanese after the Japanese troops went into a state of disarray after the death of several officers.

ww2dbaseDuring the counterattacks, Takashina was killed in action, and was succeeded by Lieutenant General Hideyoshi Obata. With food and ammunition running dangerously low, Obata retreated into the southern mountainous regions of Guam. The American Marines returned to the old Marines parade ground on 29 Jul, and on 10 Aug the island was declared secured with most Japanese defenders killed. Several Japanese soldiers hid in the jungles in hopes of conducting guerrilla warfare. On 8 Dec 1945, three American Marines were ambushed and killed by some of these soldiers. Most of the resistance lasted 17 weeks after Japan had surrendered. On 24 Jan 1972, Sergeant Shoichi Yokoi was discovered by Guam residents, refusing to believe that Japan had surrendered to the Allies. He had survived the 27 years in the mountains on fruit, coconut, and the occasional fish. He returned to Japan a national hero, but he deeply felt the survivor's guilt. "It is with much embarrassment that I have returned alive," he said.

ww2dbaseThe Conclusion of the Campaign

ww2dbaseWatching from the sidelines, Germany's naval attaché to Tokyo noted the change in psyche among top ranks in the IGHQ immediately after the American landings on Saipan:

"Saipan was really understood to be a matter of life and death. About that time they began telling the people the truth about the war. They began preparing them for whatever must happen. Before that they had been doing nothing but fooling the people."

ww2dbaseVice Admiral Shigeyoshi Miwa, the last commander of the Sixth Fleet, put it very bluntly, "[o]ur war was lost with the loss of Saipan.... The lost of Saipan meant [the Americans] could cut off our shipping and attack our homeland...."

ww2dbaseThe Japanese pride was greatly hurt by the loss of the Marianas, particularly the fortress of Saipan which was Japanese territory before the Pacific War broke out. As Marquis Kido, Lord Privy Seal of Emperor Showa (Hirohito) noted, "The Japanese people in general had placed much expectation on Saipan. They had throught that Saipan was heavily fortified and heavily defended, but this proved otherwise, and the consequences greatly shocked the Japanese people." With the shame of Americans landing on Saipan, Prime Minister General Tojo was starting to see signs of his commanders losing confidence in him. Even before Saipan was declared secured by the Americans, Tojo's cabinet was starting to fall. Only 22 Jul, he would step down, and was succeeded by General Kuniaki Koiso.


ww2dbaseDuring the night of 9-10 Mar 1945, the residents of Tokyo really felt the impact of Americans making use of the Marianas for their war effort. 325 B-29 bombers dispatched from the Marianas loaded with E-46 incendiary clusters, magnesium bombs, white phosphorus bombs, and napalm flew over Japan; 279 of them targeted Tokyo. They successively flew over Tokyo during a three-hour window in the early morning of 10 Mar, their 1,665 tons of bombs destroyed 267,171 buildings and killed 83,793 civilians. Alice Bowman, an Australian nurse who was imprisoned in Totsuka POW camp some distance outside of Tokyo recalled: "Flames were caught in the swirling winds and danced upward, turning into fireballs feverishly feeding upon themselves. Explosions tortured the air and the shocking scene took on the spectacle of a volcano in violent eruption." The destruction was also observed from high above; pilots of latter waves of bombers reported detection of the stench of burning flesh as they flew 4,900 to 9,200 feet over the city. Unfortunately, although it was to be the largest carpet bombing raid against Japanese cities for the remainder of the war, it was only the start of a bombing program aimed at bombing Japan into submission. Most of these bombing missions were to be launched from the airfields in the Mariana Islands.

Bruce Gamble, Darkest Hour
William Manchester, Goodbye, Darkness
Dan van der Vat, The Pacific Campaign

Last Major Update: Dec 2007

Mariana Islands Campaign and the Great Turkey Shoot Interactive Map


A Marine on Saipan was transferred to an R5C-1 Commando aircraft from a Dodge WC54 3/4-ton field ambulance for transfer to Hawaii, 1944; note the Jeep in betweenSB2C Helldivers of Bombing Squadron VB-2 flying from USS Hornet above Saipan, early 1944.
See all 182 photographs of Mariana Islands Campaign and the Great Turkey Shoot


Map of the Philippine Sea from Japan to the CarolinesMap of the Battle of Saipan Jun 15 through July 9, 1944
See all 7 maps of Mariana Islands Campaign and the Great Turkey Shoot


The Patton of the Pacific: Admiral Jocko Clark

Mariana Islands Campaign and the Great Turkey Shoot Timeline

15 Apr 1944 USS Yorktown (Essex-class) launched a raid on Chichi Jima and Iwo Jima, Bonin Islands.
11 May 1944 Japanese Navy devised Operation A-Go for the defense of the Mariana Islands; it would be launched in Jun 1944.
10 Jun 1944 British carrier HMS Illustrious and the escort carrier HMS Atheling, with covering forces, began a series of diversionary raids on Sabang, Sumatra, Dutch East Indies, with the goal of tying down Japanese forces during the American Operation Forager attack on the Mariana Islands.
11 Jun 1944 USS Yorktown (Essex-class) reached the launch point and began sending planes to soften up of targets in preparation for the invasion of Saipan, Mariana Islands. Yorktown aircrews concentrated primarily upon airfields located on Guam, Mariana Islands. Those raids continued until the 13th.
13 Jun 1944 British carrier HMS Illustrious and the escort carrier HMS Atheling, with covering forces, completed a series of diversionary raids on Sabang, Sumatra, Dutch East Indies, with the goal of tying down Japanese forces during the American Operation Forager attack on the Mariana Islands.
14 Jun 1944 USS New Mexico bombarded Tinian, Mariana Islands.
14 Jun 1944 Battleships USS Pennsylvania and USS Idaho with cruiser USS Honolulu conducted pre-invasion bombardments of Saipan, Mariana Islands.
14 Jun 1944 Cruisers USS Wichita, USS New Orleans, and USS St. Louis maintained station east of Tinian, Mariana Islands ready to offer counter-battery fire if needed while other ships bombarded Saipan.
15 Jun 1944 American troops invaded Saipan, Mariana Islands.
15 Jun 1944 USS New Mexico bombarded Saipan, Mariana Islands.
15 Jun 1944 Transports being escorted by USS Shaw and USS Bailey made landings on Saipan in the Mariana Islands
15 Jun 1944 USS Corregidor began operations off Saipan, Mariana Islands.
15 Jun 1944 USS St. Louis bombarded Saipan, Mariana Islands. The formation was attacked by 16 Japanese dive bombers without damage.
16 Jun 1944 USS New Mexico bombarded Guam.
16 Jun 1944 US submarines detected two large Japanese fleets near the Philippine Islands, headed towards the Mariana Islands.
16 Jun 1944 USS Yorktown (Essex-class) launched a raid on Iwo Jima, Bonin Islands before heading back to the Mariana Islands and joining in the Battle of the Philippine Sea.
16 Jun 1944 USS St. Louis shelled Guam, Mariana Islands.
18 Jun 1944 USS Yorktown (Essex-class) rejoined Task Force 58 in the Mariana Islands and waited for the approaching Japanese Fleet.
19 Jun 1944 USS Yorktown (Essex-class) began strikes on Japanese air bases on Guam, Mariana Islands in order to deny them to their approaching carrier-based aircraft and to keep the land-based planes on the ground. During this, the first day of the Battle of the Philippine Sea, Yorktown aircraft claimed 37 enemy planes destroyed and dropped 21 tons of bombs on the Guam air bases.
19 Jun 1944 US carrier aircraft won a decisive victory over their Japanese counterparts in the Mariana Islands, shooting down over 200 planes with only 20 losses in what became known as the Marianas Turkey Shoot, or, officially, Battle of the Philippine Sea.
20 Jun 1944 USS Yorktown (Essex-class) steamed west while search planes groped for the fleeing enemy task force. Contact was made with the enemy late in the day and Yorktown?s planes attack the Japanese carrier Zuikaku.
21 Jun 1944 USS New Mexico bombarded Guam.
21 Jun 1944 USS Yorktown (Essex-class) and Task Force 58 chased the enemy but made no contact with the Japanese fleet.
23 Jun 1944 USS Yorktown (Essex-class) conducts air strikes against Pagan Island in the Mariana Islands.
24 Jun 1944 USS Bailey spent most of the early morning providing star-shell illumination of southern Saipan’s Nafutan Point in support of the US Army's 105th Infantry Regiment before shifting to a pre-invasion bombardment of Tinian. In the evening, Bailey departed the Saipan area as an escort of the convoy bound for Eniwetok.
24 Jun 1944 USS Yorktown (Essex-class) launched raids on Iwo Jima, Bonin Islands.
25 Jun 1944 USS Corregidor completed operations off Saipan, Mariana Islands.
29 Jun 1944 Submarine USS Growler made a nighttime surface torpedo attack on the 1,920-ton Japanese tanker Katori Maru loaded with gasoline which exploded with great fury.
4 Jul 1944 USS Yorktown (Essex-class) continued combat operations with attacks on Iwo Jima and Chichi Jima in the Bonin Islands.
6 Jul 1944 USS Yorktown (Essex-class) launched strikes in the Mariana Islands and continued them for the next 17 days.
14 Jul 1944 In the Mariana Islands, US Seventh Air Force P-47 Thunderbolt fighters based on Saipan again struck Tinian Island. At Guam, US battleships joined in on the pre-invasion bombardment while transport USS Dickerson delivered US Navy underwater demolition specialists to survey landing beaches on the island.
15 Jul 1944 In the Mariana Islands, US Seventh Air Force P-47 fighters based on Saipan attacked targets on Tinian.
16 Jul 1944 In the Mariana Islands, P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft of US Seventh Air Force from Saipan attacked Japanese targets at Tinian. At Merizo, Guam, Japanese Army troops massacred 30 civilians.
17 Jul 1944 US Navy underwater demolition teams began destroying beach obstacles at Guam, Mariana Islands.
17 Jul 1944 USS Honolulu arrived at Guam and began supporting pre-invasion operations with shore bombardments.
17 Jul 1944 USS St. Louis took station off Apra Point, Guam covering forces conducting reconnaissance and underwater demolition. During this time, a diver inspected St. Louis's propellers and found the No. 3 propeller and 39-feet of the shaft were missing.
18 Jul 1944 In the Mariana Islands, American P-47 fighters based on Saipan attacked Japanese positions on Tinian and Pagan.
18 Jul 1944 USS St. Louis joined with cruisers USS Wichita and USS Minneapolis for a bombardment of Asan Beach, Guam.
19 Jul 1944 In the Mariana Islands, US 7th Air Force launched P-47 aircraft based on Saipan to attack Tinian.
19 Jul 1944 Battleship USS Colorado with cruisers USS Wichita and USS St. Louis bombarded positions behind Agana Beach, Guam.
20 Jul 1944 P-47 aircraft of US 7th Air Force continued to attack Japanese positions on Tinian while US Navy warships bombarded Guam in the Mariana Islands. Meanwhile, underwater demolition teams conducted their final missions to remove obstacles on the invasion beaches at Asan and Agat on Guam.
21 Jul 1944 USS St. Louis bombarded Agana Beach and positions behind it during the landings by US Marines and US Army troops on Guam.
21 Jul 1944 US 3rd Marine Division landed near Agana and US 1st Provisional Marine Brigade landed near Agat on Guam, Mariana Islands; the landing was supported by US Navy Task Force 53. US Navy and US Army aircraft attacked Tinian of Mariana Islands, Eniwetok of Marshall Islands, and Truk and Yap of Caroline Islands as indirect support. Troops of the US Army 77th Infantry Division arrived in the afternoon; their landing was difficult due to the lack of LVT vehicles. A mile-deep beachhead was established at both landing sites by sundown. The Japanese attempted a counterattack during the night, which was repulsed.
21 Jul 1944 USS New Mexico shelled Japanese positions on Guam.
22 Jul 1944 USS Yorktown (Essex-class) anchors at Garapan Roads, Saipan, Mariana Islands to load bombs and ammunition.
24 Jul 1944 American troops landed on Tinian, Mariana Islands.
28 Jul 1944 US Marines captured the old US Marine Corps parade ground on Guam, Mariana Islands. Elsewhere on the island, Lieutenant General Takeshi Takashina, commanding the 19,000 Japanese garrison on Guam, was killed by machine gun fire.
30 Jul 1944 USS New Mexico shelled Japanese positions on Guam.
10 Aug 1944 US forces declared Guam, Mariana Islands secured.
19 Aug 1944 Destroyer USS Shaw anchored in Apra Harbor, Guam, Mariana Islands and served as an anti-aircraft ship for the next three weeks.
31 Aug 1944 South of Formosa (Taiwan), submarine USS Growler and her wolfpack attacked a convoy of twenty ships bound for Manila. Growler and Sealion badly damage the 9,181-ton tanker Rikko Maru and Growler probably also sunk a small escort vessel.
24 Jan 1972 Japanese Army Sergeant Shoichi Yokoi was discovered in the mountains by residents of Guam, Mariana Islands, who refused to believe that Japan had lost the war 26 years prior.

Did you enjoy this article or find this article helpful? If so, please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 per month will go a long way! Thank you.

Share this article with your friends:


Stay updated with WW2DB:

 RSS Feeds

Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Anonymous says:
14 Jun 2005 11:36:15 PM

haha ..........
2. gdh says:
15 Jun 2005 05:21:52 AM

the photos attached to your site are the best reproductions of each image I've seen online.
3. Steven Castro says:
29 Jun 2005 05:44:21 PM

Thank you for the excellent detailed summary and related issues, esp. of the shift of power and command due to losses, of one of the more brutal and tenacious campaigns of the Pacific theatre.
4. Harry Wind says:
23 Jul 2005 01:17:53 PM

Americas involvement in and the effects WW2 have always been of great interest to me. Having read much on the war in Europe, I have just recently begun to explore the war in the pacific. Your database has provided excellent back up material to the books that I have been reading.
5. Larry Nice says:
22 Mar 2006 11:17:36 PM

I am a history buff of the World war 2, I want to Thank you for all the information that you have put out on the Pacific Theatre.
6. Anonymous says:
27 Apr 2006 08:03:09 PM

very well explained,
brtter than s ome books
7. William G. Martin says:
17 Jun 2006 08:09:06 PM

Your site has really helped me in my research on World War 2. I am an elementary teacher and take this era of history seriously when conveying to my students the triumphs and tragedies so many Americans experienced. I am asking permission to use some of your photos, especially those on the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot, in a PowerPoint presentation for my class of sixth graders. You will receive all the credit for all photos and information. The PowerPoint will be viewed only by my class and possibly one other 7th grade class. Thanks for your site and your consideration!
William G Martin
8. Max Yeo PS says:
8 Sep 2006 02:35:08 AM

Not to forget the Pied Piper of Saipan, Guy Gabaldon. He was Marine PFC and persuaded more than 1000 Japanese soldiers to surrender. He passed away this week at age of 80.
9. Wayne VanDerVoort says:
9 Feb 2007 11:27:30 PM

On July 24, 1944 during the ivnvasion of Tinian the destroyer USS Norman Scott DD690 waa hit by six 6 shells from three shore battieres. The Norman Scott was detailed to cover a feint landing south of Tinian town for the purpose of drawing enemy fire away from the actual landings to the north. The captain (Seymour Owens) was killed along with 22 of his shipmates, 57 were wounded. The navy made documentary about the repair of the Norman Scott entitled (This is America - Navy Yard) If anyone is interested in a DVD copy please contact me at my email address.

10. B. Revis says:
13 Feb 2007 09:51:10 PM

PFC Dewey Parks, 1341st Combat Engineers Bn. attached to the 4th MarDiv was at Saipan and Tinian. He received a Presidential Unit Citation for these Battles. Dad would never speak of the near four year he was committed to WWII. Thank you for the information and the pictures.
11. Merle Richman says:
24 Feb 2007 03:01:45 PM

Very, very informative. I am seeking to find out more information concerning the death of my uncle, 1st Lt. William Fleming, in the Tinian battle or aftermath. Are any of the Marine survivors still living? Thanks for any leads.
12. Blair Colquhoun says:
24 Aug 2007 07:21:10 AM

The Battle of the Philippine Sea was known to the U.S. Navy pilots as The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot because it was no contest. The Americans had the better planes. This is the first time
I've been to this site. Very nice.
13. Anonymous says:
21 Oct 2007 04:49:42 PM

Would like to contact anyone who served on the USS Iowa the years 1944 and 1945 who was in the 7th division or just on the ship during this time.
14. Tad Kishi says:
31 Oct 2007 09:36:54 AM


I see now mention of the Japanese American of the US Military Intellegence
service who help decode military intelligence that led to our US warfare advantage, ie., Turkey Shoot, Mideay, and downing of Admiral Yamamoto.
15. Anonymous says:
8 Nov 2007 09:25:59 AM

D-Day on Saipan was June 15th in our official reports.
16. Commenter identity confirmed C. Peter Chen says:
8 Nov 2007 10:07:14 AM

D-Day on Saipan was 15 Jun 1944, although in local time in Saipan, it was already 16 Jun.
17. David Adams says:
15 Dec 2007 03:01:49 PM

Paragraph 3 should read came like a thunderclap (add the word a).

Paragraph 4 should read at which point a signal (add the word a)

Paragraph 5 should read Encouraged by Tokyo (delete the word on)

Last Paragraph Most of these bombing mission was should read Most of these bombing missions were
18. Anonymous says:
18 Dec 2007 02:28:22 PM

The USS Wasp should also be added to your list on the right side of the page. She participated in the Marianas Campaign, among others. See
My father in his journals from those years also described this campaign and others...
19. Anonymous says:
16 May 2008 10:10:41 AM

When one reads of the American campaign in the Pacific you wonder why on earth you hear so many untoward comments about U S military expertise.Only the ill informed deride thier bravery,commitment and abilty. Such skill exist to this daywitness the distruction of the vaulted Iraqi army in a matter of three weeks. All these events took place thousands of miles away from America itself.
20. Bill Thorne says:
10 Sep 2008 12:46:21 PM

In the Battle of the Philippines you say that Mitscher launched 216 planes to attack the Japanese fleet on June 21, knowing that many of them would not have enough fuel to return, especially as they would have to land on carriers in the dark. You say that no less than 80 didn't make it back, although some crew members were rescued the following morning. Mitscher's decision to send these planes, knowing what he did about their fuel, must rank as one of the most cruel orders of the war, especially as the planes could just as well have been sent next day, during daylight hours.
21. Anonymous says:
20 May 2009 06:38:49 PM

Thank you for the pics they will really help me out in my project and dont worry i'll mention this website in my speech.
22. JE says:
22 Dec 2009 07:50:50 PM

in reply to Merle Richman, our family had a 1st Lt William Fleming also. But he was killed earlier on Cape Glouster. He was from Brooklyn. Is this the same person you are looking for info on?
23. Anonymous says:
9 May 2010 01:54:00 AM

This for all you WWII guys....where would I look for a record of all the missing in action planes from the Mariannas. Think i am oin to something!
24. Murray says:
11 Mar 2011 06:22:40 PM

Does anyone know of a video or DVD that has been made of the Graet Marianas Turkey Shoot?
25. Anonymous says:
25 Apr 2012 02:54:33 PM

Does anyone know how important the recapture of Guam was, as compared to the capture of Saipan and Tinian
26. Theresa says:
29 Oct 2012 03:55:04 PM

Please do not forget the contributions of the Army Aviation Engineers to the victory in the Pacific. My father, Thomas J. Marleau, served in the 805 Engineer Aviation Battalion. They built a runway on Saipan in 17 days from coral during the Battle of Saipan. The unit received the Meritorious Service Award. The 805 was also on Ie Shima and other islands. The men spent two solid years in the Pacific without a break, most of that time working 24/7 in shifts around the clock. Not to take anything away from the CBs, but the Engineers deserve some credit too. If anyone knows of 805 men from the WWII years still living, I would love to know. My father published a book about the unit in the 1980s and I am considering reprinting it.
27. Anonymous says:
25 May 2013 10:11:06 AM

No B-29 was shot down over the Solomons. This an oft repeated myth not based on historical fact. The 58th Bombardment Wing (Very Heavy) was the first B-29 unit to fly combat missions in the western Pacific. It flew its first mission from China to strike the Yawata steel mills on Kyushu on the same day the Marines landed on Saipan, thousands of miles from the Solomons. Also, General Saito was never intended to serve as the senior Imperial Army officer on Saipan. His immediate superior, however, was conducting an inspection trip on Palau when the Marines landed, leaving Saito, who had numerous health aliments, de facto in charge. That sickly Saito was even on Saipan was a sign of how desperate the situation was for Japan. The Marines, by the way, buried Saito and Nagumo with full military honors, a quite different form of treatment than the IJA metted out to the US and Filipino defenders on Bataan and Corregidor or the Commonwealth forces at Singapore.
28. D.L. Smith says:
18 Jul 2013 05:05:01 PM

My father,SSGT.USMC, Ras Smith was aboard the USS Cabot,CVL28, yet the carrier is not listed in the participating ships. She was a HUGE asset in the battle. She needs to be listed.
29. Terri Kaye Hicks says:
17 Jan 2014 03:33:00 PM

My father was James Thomas Hicks Jr. He was a Corporal in the USMC and was in the Saipan invasion. He was wounded the first day and received a Purple Heart. He went on to fight there until 9 July 44. He was then in the Tinian invasion, and the bombing attack at Nonumea, Ellice Islands. Does anyone have a relative that knew him?
30. Bob Young says:
20 Dec 2014 07:06:49 PM

There is an American Aicraft carriersunk during WW2 and lies in the Mariana's Trench,which one is she?
31. Commenter identity confirmed David Stubblebine says:
20 Dec 2014 08:09:39 PM

There were no US aircraft carriers sunk in the Mariana Trench but there were 2 escort carriers sunk in the Philippine Trench, the USS St Lo and the USS Gambier Bay, both part of 'Taffy 3' and sunk 25 Oct 1944 in the Battle off Samar.
32. Anonymous says:
9 Jun 2015 01:37:10 AM

Please add Holland Smith as participant.
33. Commenter identity confirmed C. Peter Chen says:
9 Jun 2015 06:21:08 PM

To the anonymous visitor of 9 Jun 2015: Thank you, we have linked Holland Smith as a participant of this event.
34. Anonymous says:
18 Jun 2015 07:34:26 PM

Thank you!
35. Jim Gillen says:
23 Sep 2015 03:00:11 PM

A very informative web site.
36. 105th Regt. S-2's nephew says:
5 Feb 2016 04:04:12 PM

Please correct the disinformation (USMC propaganda?) that the >4000 man Banzai charge on Saipan was "stopped by Marines" - the only USMC unit involved was the 10th Field Artillery Regt. many of whom fled their guns. Also, no mention of the 105th Infantry Regiment (the unit that was overrun) which with less than 180 soldiers and 2 officers left combat effective after the banzai charge, then re-took every foot of lost ground by the end of the day? Holland Smith was eventually removed from all combat command for unjustly relieving the CO of the 27th ID - Gen. H.M. Smith relieved Gen. Ralph Smith despite never actually seeing the difficult terrain over which the Army troops had to advance. Gen. Smith had a serious anti-Army issue - to the point of claiming that the aforementioned banzai charge was "500 drunk nips", and refused to survey the battlefield despite the 105th's S-2 recommending he do so. Later Gen Smith continued to dispute the body count despite Army and Navy confirmation of 4300+ Japanese casualties
37. Anonymous says:
28 Aug 2016 01:49:40 PM

my uncle was Bartholomew james butler was injured on the ralph Talbot in okinawai pearl harbor and I would love to know more of his time in us navy and what medals he was awarded during this time like a lot of others he never spoke of his time there I have no number for him I would love to know more thank you ann
38. Anonymous says:
7 Oct 2016 12:04:40 PM

Our father was with a naval construction battalion - the 23rd. What did they do on Guam, Saipan or in the Marianas 1944, 1945, 1946?
39. 39 Anonymous says:
24 Sep 2018 08:02:12 AM

To all who have shared your stories in which a loved one fought for the United States of America I just want to "Thank you" to the soldiers whom went to war and "Thank You" to the loved on who has taken the time to share their story. I very much appreciate it.
Thank you.
40. Billy Henkel says:
14 May 2020 06:51:33 AM

My Father was on the USS McKee 575 in WWII I believe he was at the battle of Guam Saipan Mariana and others in the South Pacific I was just trying to find more info thanks

All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.

Posting Your Comments on this Topic

Your Name
Your Email
 Your email will not be published
Comment Type
Your Comments


1. We hope that visitor conversations at WW2DB will be constructive and thought-provoking. Please refrain from using strong language. HTML tags are not allowed. Your IP address will be tracked even if you remain anonymous. WW2DB site administrators reserve the right to moderate, censor, and/or remove any comment. All comment submissions will become the property of WW2DB.

2. For inquiries about military records for members of the World War II armed forces, please see our FAQ.

Change View
Desktop View

Search WW2DB
More on Mariana Islands Campaign and the Great Turkey Shoot
» Ainsworth, Walden
» Bush, George
» Cates, Clifton
» J. J. Clark
» del Valle, Pedro
» Erskine, Graves
» Evans, Ernest
» Feller, Robert
» Gabaldon, Guy
» Geiger, Roy
» Holden, Carl
» Kasai, Tomokazu
» Kodaira, Yoshinao
» Kurita, Takeo
» Layton, Edwin
» Lee, Willis
» Matsuda, Chiaki
» McCain, John
» Minami, Yoshimi
» Mitscher, Marc
» Nagumo, Chuichi
» Obata, Hideyoshi
» Oldendorf, Jesse
» Ozawa, Jisaburo
» Saito, Yoshitsugu
» Smith, Holland
» Takagi, Takeo

» Guam
» Mariana Islands

Ship Participants:
» Alabama
» Albacore
» Bailey
» Baltimore
» Bell
» Belleau Wood
» Bunker Hill
» Canberra (Baltimore-class)
» Cassin Young
» Chikuma
» Chokai
» Colorado
» Corregidor
» Cotten
» Cowpens
» Ellet
» Enterprise
» Franklin
» Growler
» Haguro
» Haruna
» Helm
» Hiyo
» Honolulu
» Hornet (Essex-class)
» Hull
» Hyuga
» Indiana
» Indianapolis
» Iowa
» Irwin
» Ise
» Johnston
» Junyo
» Kongo
» Langley (Independence-class)
» Lexington (Essex-class)
» Louisville
» Maya
» Miami
» Minneapolis
» Mogami
» Monaghan
» Montpelier
» Musashi
» Myoko
» Nagato
» New Jersey
» New Mexico
» New Orleans
» Pennsylvania
» Preston (Fletcher-class)
» Princeton
» Pringle
» Ralph Talbot
» Renshaw
» Ryuho
» San Diego
» San Jacinto
» San Juan
» Shaw
» Shokaku
» South Dakota
» St. Louis
» Suzuya
» Taiho
» Washington
» Wasp (Essex-class)
» Yahagi
» Yamato
» Yorktown (Essex-class)
» Yukikaze
» Yuzuki
» Zuiho
» Zuikaku

Notable Aircraft:
» F4U Corsair
» F6F Hellcat

» Interrogation Nav 30, Commander Goro Matsura
» Interrogation Nav 34, Commander Chikataka Nakajima
» Interrogation Nav 55, Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa
» Interrogation Nav 64, Rear Admiral Toshitane Takata
» Interrogation Nav 9, Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita

Related Book:
» The Color of War

Mariana Islands Campaign and the Great Turkey Shoot Photo Gallery
A Marine on Saipan was transferred to an R5C-1 Commando aircraft from a Dodge WC54 3/4-ton field ambulance for transfer to Hawaii, 1944; note the Jeep in betweenSB2C Helldivers of Bombing Squadron VB-2 flying from USS Hornet above Saipan, early 1944.
See all 182 photographs of Mariana Islands Campaign and the Great Turkey Shoot

Famous WW2 Quote
"The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next 500 years."

James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945

Support Us

Please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 a month will go a long way. Thank you!

Or, please support us by purchasing some WW2DB merchandise at TeeSpring, Thank you!