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Battle of Saipan - WWII LVT Museum

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Visited 2-11-11

Saipan and Operation Forager


LVT A4 on Saipan

LVT(A)4 on Saipan. Photo on display at the WWII Korean LVT Museum.

After Pearl Harbor, the Japanese had proceeded to occupy Pacific Islands as far south as New Guinea., however, starting in 1942, these islands were being retaken one by one by US forces.

The Mariana Islands, which included Saipan, Tinian, Rota and Guam, were within striking distance of Japan. The battle for these islands was called Operation Forager, and the assault on Saipan began on June 15, 1944.


To prepare for the attack on Saipan, air strikes and ship bombardment of the island had begun in early June. Landings were planned for the southwestern beaches.



Invasion map of Saipan

Invasion map of Saipan. Still frame from US Army documentary Mariana Islands Part 1 - Saipan.

Invasion Battalions1

2nd MarDiv:
Beaches Red and Green

The 6th and 8th Infantry Regiments were to land over due north of Afetna Point, supported by the 2nd and 5th Amtrac Battalions. The assault was lead by the 2nd Armored Amphibian Tractor Battalion.

4th MarDiv:
Beaches Blue and Yellow

They were to land to the south, transporting the 23rd and 25th Marine Regiments by the 10th Amtrac Battalion (less "A" Company) and "C" Company of the 11th Amtrac Battalion. At 0700, on 15 June 1944, 34 LSTs released LVTs filled with troops. At 0700, on 15 June 1944, 34 LSTs released LVTs filled with troops. Within 30 minutes, 8,000 infantry would reach the beach.


Camp Pendleton Battalions


Documentary by U.S. Marine Corps about the WWII invasion of Saipan in the Marianas, June 1944. 83 minutes.

The 2nd Armored Amphibian Tractor Battalion, formed at Camp Pendleton in January 1944, was equipped with 70 LVT(A)4; the new armored Amtrac sporting a 75mm howitzer in an open turret.

The 5th Amtrac Battalion, also formed at Camp Pendleton in 1944 was equipped with 72 of the ramp type LVT(4), going into action less "C" Company.1


Saipan:
Key Striking Position

Saipan, a key position for striking the Japanese homeland, was officially secured on July 9, 1944. General Tojo and his cabinet fell from power on July 18, nine days after the loss of Saipan. The island would be used as an advanced naval base for the 100 B-29 bombers which would strike Tokyo four months later. 2


1Battle of Saipan: D-Day 15 June 1944 ~ Amphibian Units

708th Amphibian Tank Battalion, US Army (3) LVT-2s, & (1) LVT-4 & (52) LVT-A1s
2nd Amphibian Tractor Battalion (85) LVT-2s & (33) LVT-4s
5th Amphibian Tractor Battalion (72) LVT-4s
10th Amphibian Tractor Battalion (91) LVT-2s, & (9) LVT-4s
534th Amphibian Tractor Battalion, US Army (35) LVT-2s, & (64) LVT-4s
715th Amphibian Tractor Battalion, US Army (67) LVT-2s, and (33) LVT-4s
773rd Amphibian Tractor Battalion, US Army (98) LVT-2s,& 1 LV- 4

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Notes
1Information from sign at the WWII Korean LVT Museum at Camp Del Mar Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, California.

2 John C . Chapin, USMCR (Ret), Breaching the Marianas: The Battle for Saipan. Washington, D.C. : Marine Corp Historical Center,1994, p.36.



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Battle of Saipan Statistics1,2

American 3,225 KIA
13,061 wounded
326 MIA
Japanese 17,600 men estimated.
30,000 men actual strength.

23,811 confirmed dead
736 taken prisoner
US Ships
Eleven ships fired onto the assault beaches and inland targets.
Amtracs A total of 719 LVTs (many Army).
Four of the LVTs overturned in the surf breaching the reef, four broke down before reaching the shore, and twelve were destroyed by enemy direct hits while moving across the reef.

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