June 1944 (4)

Tanapag, Saipan, June 1944. Image by Life photographer W. Eugene Smith

Tanapag, Saipan, June 1944. Image by Life photographer W. Eugene Smith

19-20 June – the second stage of the naval battle in the Philippine Sea, the Japanese fleet finally had come within range of Adm. Spruance and his carrier aircraft went airborne. [between the Spruance fleet and Mitscher’s, there were 956 aircraft]  Even as the enemy retreated, the aircraft, running low on fuel, engaged in an even larger “turkey shoot”. [differences claim conflicting numbers, but to estimate: Japan had 450 carrier planes and 300 land based – with a loss of 550-645.  The US lost 123].  The Japanese carrier IJN Hiyo sank after 2 torpedo hits and bombs damaged the Zuikaku and the Chiyoda.  Night rescues for US aircraft crews went out for the survivors.

Battle of Saipan, June 1944

Battle of Saipan, June 1944

A third wave of attacks caused more losses for the enemy and on the fourth wave Adm. Ozawa barely had over a hundred aircraft remaining.  Many of were diverted due to a false sighting over Guam and were caught on the ground as they were ordered to refuel.  The Japanese admiral dictated a letter of resignation to Adm. Toyoda, who refused to read it, instead, he took complete responsibility for the defeat.

20-30 June – a bitter dispute arose between the US Army and Marine brass when the Army’s 27th became stalled at “Death Valley” on Saipan, but the Marines were at a standstill as well.   Marine General Holland Smith, unsatisfied with the performance of the 27th Division, relieved its commander, Army Major General Ralph C. Smith. However, General Holland Smith had not inspected the terrain over which the 27th was to advance. Essentially, it was a valley surrounded by hills and cliffs under Japanese control.

Tanapag, Saipan, June '44. by W.Eugene Smith

Medic seeing to wounded while GI in background foxhole continues to fight. Tanapag, Saipan, June ’44. by W.Eugene Smith

The 27th took heavy casualties and eventually, under a plan developed by General Ralph Smith and implemented after his relief, had one battalion hold the area while two other battalions successfully flanked the Japanese.  With what remained of the Imperial Combined Fleet heading back to Okinawa, Gen. Saito issued orders for a suicidal defense.  This caused the US troops more and more resistance as they pushed north on the island.

The Marines eventually broke through and took Mount Tapotchau and the 27th entered Death Valley.  General Saito, with only about 1,200 men and 3 tanks remaining of their ground force, radioed out that Saipan could not be held.

An investigation ensued after the Saipan defeat by the Japanese General Staff’s Conduct of War Section.  Col. Sei Matsutani concluded: “…now there is no hope for Japan to reverse the unfavorable war situation.  The state of Germany today is about the same as Japan’s and grows gradually worse.  It is time for us to end the war.”  The General Staff agreed with the findings, but forbade the colonel from presenting the case to the Prime Minister Tojo.  The outspoken officer did so despite the warning and found himself transferred to China.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

Try to say something funny, Joe.

Try to say something funny, Joe.

japanese-use-of-mines-and-booby-traps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

George Anfang – Maplewood, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Gettysburg Cemetery

Gettysburg Cemetery

Joseph Cooley Jr. – Waynesboro, GA; USMC, WWII, PTO

Louis Gust – Chicago, IL; US Coast Guard, WWII

Raymond Haerry – W.Warwick, RI; US Navy, WWII, USS Ranger & Arizona, Pearl Harbor survivor

Donn Fendler – Rye, NY; US Navy, WWII / US Army Special Forces, Vietnam

Steven Loy Jr. – Houston, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division, 1st Lt.

Kenneth McCurdy – Lloydminster, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

Eric Roediger (106) – W. AUS; RA Army, WWII, 2/3 Machine-Gun Batt., POW, Death Railroad survivor

Robert Ricci – Bristol, CT; US Navy, WWII, USS Baker, Franklin Bell Tolovana

Richard Sheerer – Kansas City, KS; US Army, WWII, ETO, 83rd Infantry Division

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on October 27, 2016, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 51 Comments.

  1. I wonder if Army Major General Ralph C. Smith was ever exonerated by the decision to replace him, a decision that in hindsight by General Holland Smith was really uncalled for under the circumstances.
    Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really appreciate reading your posts, especially the letters home to Mom. I never got to hear too many stories of my father about the war and his time in the Philipinnes. He passed away in ’99, so these letters home helped me imagine what he wrote home to his mother. I did remember him telling me that he sent his pay home to his mom to help out with the family. He was nineteen or so when he was in the army, I feared up a little, reading some of the letters. I’m so glad you have this written testimony of such a personal historical event. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • And I am thrilled to know they have brought you even closer to your own father, despite his passing. Dad would never talk much to me about the war itself, unless I pressed him, but it would make him sad, so that didn’t happen very often. The letters have meant quite a bit to me ever since I discovered them as a kid. Thank you for continuing to be so loyal to this site, Toni, it is appreciated!!

      Like

  3. The medic photo is very powerful. So much of the battle summed up in that one photo.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That picture of the medic dealing with the wounded while the battle continues behind him is heart-wrenching.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am stuck on the thousands and thousands that wouldn’t have died if Tojo had listened…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. There’s a historical lesson here: if you want to keep your job, tell ’em what they want …

    It’s a universal and timeless.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I feel as if I’ve read an episode of Paul Harvey’s “The Rest of the Story” – used to love those! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. West Australia lost two of their old ‘Diggers’ recently, both POW don’t know whether you saw this one or not GP, served with the great ” Weary Dunlop” both true heoes

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-03/snow-fairclough-wwii-burma-railway-survivor-dies-in-perth/7899022

    Liked by 1 person

  9. “…unfavourable war situation” is certainly putting a certain amount of gloss on things after getting a pasting like this one from the Americans!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Very interesting and once again something that I have never heard before. Love the artwork picture with Smitty!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Interesting that Ralph Smith was exonerated by an all-Army board of inquiry and he went on to briefly command the 98th Infantry Division before going on to serve as the military attaché at the United States Embassy in Paris and CARE’s chief of mission for France.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. A lot of bloodshed could have been avoided if Col. Sei Matsutani had been listened to. The war could have ended under more favorable conditions for the Japanese. The same could be said about Germany, when in July 1944 there was an attempt to bring the war to an end with the plot to kill Hitler in his bunker in East Prussia.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Good morning, G.P. Your breath and depth of knowledge is a testimate to your research and due dillange. My hat is off to you. I’m returning to the VA on Friday to deliver 500 current novels and a little over 200 curent non-fiction. I’m so excited over the count of the books. Of what’s been donated, about 150 are audible and 70 or so are in braille for the blind but who still want to read! I’ve never met such a loving group of individuals to give from the bottom of their hearts as here in Conway, Arkansas.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do wish more people heard about Conway! Perhaps we could get a story about them in the newspapers? After the elections though because that seems to have the media preoccupied at the moment!! 700 books donated is something they should be very proud of!! Thanks for keeping me informed, Sheri.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Like minds think alike. I’ve submitted articles to both DAV and American Legion magazines. They are always trying to get things done for Veterans. Conway is an interesting city. It’s 1 of the top places to retire. We never went through the housing crunch and once you reach 65 you are homesteaded into your property tax [they can never be raised]. We have some of the most cutting edge medicine anywhere in the nation in Little Rock. We are growing but crime is very low. We moved here in 2004 (I think) and the population has grown 7,000 [give or take] since then. Housing is affordable and our house has gained 40% in value since we bought it. 300 new luxury homes are going in behind us – that’s the reasons the snakes are on the move. They don’t like all that blasting!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Conway certainly DOES sound interesting!!
          I’m thrilled that you’ve already sent articles out for publication. Perhaps it will boost other cities into doing the same!!

          Like

  14. Lovely to read this of history I never known

    Liked by 1 person

  15. “You’re right, but don’t tell the only person who can deal with the information.” – I’ve run into similar logic, several times during my career. So far, I haven’t been transferred to China 😉

    At this point, the Japanese would hzvd had a hard time replacing those msssive losses.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Huge aircraft losses for the Japanese, that would have been unsustainable given the state of their industry by that time. It is a wonder that they continued these incessant attacks, rather than saving their aircraft for better tactical opportunities.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Probably more comfortable than Japan at the end.

    Like

  18. Thanks for the bit of history I had never heard. Those in charge sometimes don’t listen to good advice no matter their side in war ! I wonder how the Colonel liked China?

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Thank you very much!

    Like

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