The Battle of Iwo Jima
The Battle of Iwo Jima was a large scale land battle in which the United States Armed Forces fought for the island of Iwo Jima against the Imperial Japanese Navy. Prior to this battle the Japanese had been on the offensive in the war, however now it was their turn to defend their home from invading enemy forces. The battle of Iwo Jima was a turning point in World War II as it was the first attack on Japanese home soil.
Despite its size, Iwo Jima was considered to have great tactical importance for both the Japanese and the Americans in the war as there were three airfields on the island. Under Japan’s control they were being used by Japanese fighter planes to attack American bombers on their flights to bomb Japan. Under American control, the airfields could be used as emergency landing bases for airplanes damaged in bombing raids. They could also be used for fighter planes to escort the bomber planes on their way to Japan once under American control.
A map of Iwo Jima. (Wolny)
America also wanted Iwo Jima because they needed a base near Japans main islands, it would allow for the sea and air blockade of Japan and the ability to conduct air bombardment and to destroy the enemy's air and naval powers.
Knowing that the island was of such importance, the Japanese needed desperately to maintain control of it. There were about twenty two thousand soldiers under the command of Lieutenant General Kuribayashi. These soldiers had had the time to build very strong defensive positions throughout the island. Kuribayashi knew that his options for launching attacks were
practically nonexistent as he needed every last one of his soldiers on the island to defend it from a looming American attack.
That attack came; Iwo Jima was attacked by bombing raids for more than two months before the actual land invasion. For three days prior to the attack, six American battleships had been ordered to start continuously shelling the island. The Americans believed that this shelling would greatly hinder Japanese efforts. Knowing of its strategic importance the Americans did everything they could to gain an advantage during the actual land invasion.
The first day of the landings was February 19th, 1945. The Marines took loses, as the extensive American bombing had not been very effective at hindering the Japanese. The only things the bombing had done was churn up the sand on the beaches and the immediate land so that the Japanese were given far more opportunities to find hiding spots for their snipers than would have been available otherwise. It also meant that American movement inland was hindered as the area had been so heavily bombed. In addition to that a few Japanese snipers could hold back an American advance for hours.
On February 20th one day into the battle, the Marines captured the southern end of Iwo and moved to take the summit of Suribachi (a strategically...