Frontline Books- Images of War- Saipan 1944
Authors- John Grehan and Alexander Nicoll
Softcover, 191 pages with 180+ black and white photos and maps
The Images of War series books are excellent resources for historians and modelers alike. The text is usually quite informative and presented in layman´s terms and the photos are usually excellent and most likely not often or ever seen in print before. This book breaks down the events surrounding the need for the Allies to sweep through Japanese-occupied islands that could later serve as launching points for later air attacks on the Japanese mainland. The bloody struggles with clearing the Marianas Island chain, including Saipan, Tinian, and Guam, would lead to airfields that could support the new Boeing B-29 Superfortress in the bombing campaigns and eventual bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Over the course of three weeks starting in June of 1944, and despite vigorous defenses by the Japanese including a desperate Banzai charge, the Americans would overcome and lead one Japanese admiral to state that ¨our war was lost with the loss of Saipan.¨
The assault was a Herculean effort that required operations from air, sea, and land and the book does an excellent job covering all of these aspects. There is ample descriptions of the efforts from all branches-- the air wings, Marine assaults, and naval bombardments that all led to the successful occupation of the islands. The text is fascinating and goes into great depth as to the actions of all involved- from leaders down through commanding officers and the soldiers that did the actual fighting. The books lend themselves to excellent resources for those who might want an out of the ordinary setting for their tank or vehicle model. I have included some photos here that stood out to me. The layout of the book is as follows:
- Introduction- Operation Forager
- Ch. 1- The Plan of Attack
- Ch. 2- Preliminary Operations
- Ch. 3- D-Day: 15 June 1944
- Ch. 4- Into the Mountains
- Ch. 5- The Battle of the Philippine Sea, 19-20 June, 1944
- Ch. 6- Banzai!- The Last Battle, 7 July, 1944
- Ch. 7- Suicide Cliff
- Ch. 8- ´Hell is on us´
Knocked-out Japanese Type 95 Ha-Go
I have only included photos of armor and artillery here, but there are also some great shots of naval ships and aircraft including some of my favorite naval aircraft- the Dauntless and Hellcats. There are photos that take up whole pages and two-page spreads, as well as multiple photos per page. I did find one glaring error while reading through the book. There is a full page photo of Admiral Chūichi Nagumo and the caption has him labeled as IJA lieutenant general Yoshitsugu Saitō, commander of First Air Fleet in 1941 or 1942. Being in the Army, Saitō would most definitely not have been the commander of a naval fleet-- that was Nagumo who was pictured in the photo. They were however both on Saipan at the time of the invasion and both committed suicide in island bunkers when hope for a successful defense was all lost.
Type 97 Chi-Ha
Note the enemy bullet holes in the gun shield
Marines from 2nd Marine Division using a captured Japanese tank to bombard enemy positions
This is another great book in the Images of War series. The format seems a little different in this one-- or at least the cover seems so? Other than the error I found, the book gives a pretty good overview of the events surrounding the combined operations of the US forces tasked with clearing these islands. The photos I have included give good insight into the sorts of references that can be expected inside and as a Pacific War buff, there is much to like inside.
Highly Recommended for anyone interested in the Pacific War island hopping campaign in the Marianas.
Thanks goes out to Casemate Publishers for this review sample.
Reviewed by Michael Reeves
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