Iwo Jima is a minor island, which is about 8 square miles big, 660 miles from Japan. On 19th February 1945 during the Second World War, the United States of America and Japan fought for this small island. The government of the United States dispatched an operation to engage in this battle which lasted for 36 days, and it ended on March 26, 1945. History records that this fight was the most significant battle in the history of the Marine Corps. It was the first time a foreign country attacked Japan on its soil. The American soldiers were on a mission to capture the airfields which existed on the island. The primary objectives of going after airports were to use them in a bombing in Tokyo.
The Japanese soldiers, on the other hand, were on a mission to exterminate at least ten American soldiers before having them killed. In the 36 days that the battle lasted, there were almost twenty-six thousand casualties on the side of the United States. About seven thousand American soldiers were killed during the fight. However, virtually all the Japanese soldiers were shot out of the twenty-two thousand that actively engaged in the battle. At the ultimate moment of the war which was a pointer to the end of the war, the American soldiers climbed to the top of the hill. Six of their soldiers raised the American flag as a sign of showing and celebrating their victory. Historians hold the belief that this war played a vital role in changing the outcome of the United States about the Second World War.
The primary objective of the battle of Iwo Jima was to capture the entire island of Iwo Jima which the United States military dubbed as Operation Detachment. Another aim was to wipe out the defending Japanese army with the intention of capturing its three airfields and infrastructure which the United States of America could use as staging grounds for attacking the Japanese mainland during the Second World War.
The United States employed a strategy referred to as island hopping. The approach involved the United States army attacking the Japanese controlled island, capturing the island and then repeating the same process until the time that they got to Japan. The strategy was initiated with the aim of defeating Japan, and they also targeted to capture the island of Iwo Jima. Iwo Jima was close enough to Japan, and this is the main reason why Japan heavily defended this island. The United States planned to initiate their B-29 bombers through the air to attack Japan, and this island was strategically located to implement this move.
Initially, the Japanese Navy had been crippled with the World War II rattles which took place in the Pacific Ocean and at this point, Japan was already unable to defend the islands of the Japanese empire. On the other hand, the Japanese Air Force had lost the majority of its warplanes as they actively engaged during the Second World War. Japan was also unable to protect an inner circle of defenses which the military leaders of the Japanese empire set up. The American army leadership identified this weakness and as a result, planned an attack, which they were very sure that it would take a few days.
The United States marine landed on Iwo Jima on 19th February 1945. The Japanese lied in waiting. The war was initiated with an attack from the United States marine forces which involved 100 bomb planes and carrier-based planes. It was preceded by an invasion by 30,000 United States Army of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th naval department. These landed on Iwo Jima and 40,000, more of these followed. At this point, Adm. Commander R.A Spruance was in charge of the entire military task, and Vice Adm. R.K Turner was the Joint Expeditionary Commander. The United States Marines also made use of Mount Suribachi and Seabees to assist them in the initial section of the battle. 30,000 troops managed to move into the land by the end of the day. Mount Suribachi was isolated, and some parts of the first airfield were captured.
On 20th February 1945; the United States marines attempted to move to the south and the northern part of the airfield. There was the launching of Satchel charges and throwing of flames which managed to take out the Japanese fighters from Mt. Suribachi. The United States army made use of cruisers and destroyers to enable them to attack the Japanese defenses. They also set ravine fires embedded with gasoline which also helped them to force out the Japanese soldiers.
On 21st February, they continued with their advancement towards the northern and southern parts. At this point, the Japanese-launched Kamikaze attacks over these United States invading ships. As a result, the transporter Saratoga and Bismark Sea was smashed and, therefore, sank. The following day, the U.S Marines managed to surround Mt. Suribachi and therefore embarked on moving toward the face of the mountain.
On 23rd February, these two troupes engaged in a bitter battle and the first units of the United States Marine managed to reach the top of Mt. Suribachi. It, therefore, led to a patrol which Lt. Harold Schrier directed to this mountaintop. He managed to raise a small flag at the top of this mountain with assistance from other soldiers who accompanied him. A ship container of the U.S bought a more large flag which was erected on top of this mountain and a photograph taken, which became to be famously known as 'raising the flag.'
The United States initiated attacks on the Japanese with the help of ship tanks on 24th February. However, the Japanese soldiers managed to halt these containers using mines and anti-tank artilleries. The fifth section of the United States Marine, however, managed to gain 500 yards. The following day attack witnessed a strong defense from the Japanese. The United States marine, therefore, counter-attacked by bringing flame-throwing tanks which they used to scorch protectors of Japan in their boxes. Due to the high fatalities that resulted from this attack, the movement of the United States Marines was languid. Their impact to attack was therefore reduced. On 27th February 1945, the United States third marine division managed to capture the second airfield and Hills Peter.
On 28th February, the United States Marines managed to capture and occupy the third airfield. However, the Japanese soldiers still seized the hills which surrounded this third airfield. The United States Marine, therefore, launched new attacks the following day (31/2/1945). They attacked hills 362A and 382. It was followed by an intense fight which the United States Marine initiated with an objective of capturing 382. In comparison with Mt. Suribachi, these hills were smaller in size, and therefore they managed to camouflage weaponry, gun shelters, and antitank guns. It led to the United States Marine taking over the control of 382. The situation pushed them to launch new attacks on 1st March 1945 with an objective of capturing 362A. Also, a series of night attacks were also initiated on 2nd March 1945 over the hill of 362A. The Japanese soldiers responded with intense fighting. However, the hard terrains on the mountains delayed the capture of this hill until 8th March.
Attacks and counter-attacks preceded in the island on 4th March, and this situation managed to damage B29 which landed on the island. To assist the United States Navy in the air, the leading P-51 landed on the land mass, and this situation enabled the United States Army to get relieved. As a result, Task Force 58 prepared for Okinawa on 4/1.
The Japanese soldiers struggled to counter-attack the United States Marines on 8th March. They struck sections 23rd and 24th of Marine regiments. However, this attack was clogged by the United States Marine armaments. 650 Japanese soldiers were killed in this bout. On 15th March, the battle of Iwo Jima experienced a resistance on the Japanese side. In this regard, the Japanese embarked on a mission to penetrate the U.S lines with an objective of attacking the headquarters and cut off communications. The 147th infantry troop of the United States Army arrived on this island for battalion duty.
The Japanese army responded with a final resistance on 25th March and managed to get security at Kitano point. On the same night, over 200 Japanese managed to infiltrate the United States boundaries. General Kurbayashi led the team. On 26th March 1945, the United States Marine managed to exterminate over 250 Japanese soldiers who were found lying on the United States lines. This situation led to the capturing of Iwo Jima Island and was declared secure. Part of this battle was therefore reported to be complete. Towards the end of March, over 6000 United States soldiers were killed. However, about 90% of Japanese soldiers were also killed. This led to the United States capturing and occupying this island at 8.00 am on 26th March.
Reasons for Invasion
The essential reason for the battle of Iwo Jima was the location of this island. This island was strategically located and volcanic inactive. The island is located 600 miles on the south of Tokyo Japan. The island is also eight square miles, and its shape is in the form of a pork chop. The southern tip of Iwo Jima is Mt. Subirachi which is also an inactive volcano. It is regarded as the highest point of the island. Also, Island of Iwo Jima is also made of coarse black sand and jagged rock. These are its major physical components. The air is also filled with smells of rotten eggs as a result of natural sulphur emissions.
On the other hand, the water that surrounds the island is twelve feet deep and two feet away from the shore of the ocean. The island is only two miles wide and four miles long. Also, the Island of Iwo Jima had rough terrain which was very harsh. The island also consisted of volcanic ash, and the rocks were spread all over, which made it tough for a battlefield. The strategic location of this island accompanied with various physical features suggests that this island was of great importance both to the Japanese administration and the government of the United States. Besides the physical structures, the island also had three airstrips which the Japanese government had been using for their Kamikaze attacks. In this regard, the strategic location of this island was of more importance to the Japanese government since it was midway between Japan and the American bombers in the Marianas. It, therefore, means that this island would provide the Japanese troops with a base to capture the US aircraft on their way to bout the Japanese interior. The island was strategically indispensible as an air base for the combatant accompanies, and this is the reason why these two countries had to fight for it. Since it was also the Second World War period, the island would support long-range bombing undertakings against Japan.
Another reason for the battle of Iwo Jima was that the Japanese general who was in command wanted to show his skills and prove to the Japanese nation that he was one of the finest generals in Japan. Lt. Gen Kuribayashi was the one in command of this battle. To prove his might, he decided to focus his defense on two-thirds of Nothern Jima. He ended up losing the fight as a result of this decision, which he ought to have focused on the beaches which the United States troupes would use to land troops. This general was aware that the Japanese would not beat the United States military due to the number of soldiers that the United States would deploy to the mission. The American B-29 bombers would use the island to launch aerial attacks to Japan. The United States soldiers would also use the island to fuel their tankers.
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