On June 6 1944, US troops landed on the shores of France, determined to crack Hitler’s mighty Atlantic Wall. Nine days later and roughly 7,529 miles southeast, US Marines had their own version of D-Day. On 15 June 1944, US Marines landed on Saipan’s lower west side, coming ashore on sectors codenamed Red Beach (3 sectors), Green Beach (3 sectors), Blue Beach (2 sectors), and Yellow Beach (3 sectors). Two more sectors (Scarlet and Black), both consisting of two sectors, had to be taken in order for supplies to be offloaded post-landing. Marines from the 4th and 2nd Divisions accompanied by three battalions of AMTRACS and one amphibian tank battalion landed on their designated beaches around 0845, taking mortar, artillery, and MG fire as soon as they came within range. By 0900, 8,000 Marines were ashore, but not without a price. 2,000 Marines were dead, with most cases resulting from mortar and artillery fire. The next day, June 16, the US Army’s 27th Infantry Division landed to support the Marines. They were immediately involved in heavy fighting with Japanese units holed up in the village of Garapan. From the 15th to the 22nd, Marines were engaged with Japanese forces in brutal, close quarters cave fighting. Places like Death Valley and Purple Heart Ridge were names given to some of the places known for the bloodiest fighting. By the end of the 22nd, Marine units had successfully cut the island in two. As June turned to July, the fighting intensified. Garapan was finally secured by the 27th on July 3, and the next day the Tanapag seaplane base. On July 6, Japanese troops mounted their final banzai charge, assaulting several US divisions set up in defensive positions around Mantasa Village. Their attack was futile; the Japanese lost thousands of men while inflicting only several hundred casualties. Finally, on 9 July 1944, Saipan was declared secure. 3,426 of the 67,451 US troops who participated in the battle were reported killed in action or missing. Japanese casualties were estimated to be over 40,000 dead, wounded, or missing.
*Crew tagged in photo!