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The air smells of sulfur on Iwo Jima – its mined here before the start of World War II. The very name literally translated from Japanese means “Sulfur Island”.

When fighting broke out in the Pacific Ocean, on Iwo Jima built a radar station and placed the Japanese garrison. June 30, 1944 he was appointed commander Gen. Tadamichi Kuribayashi. Under the leadership of General island became a fortified – with underground tunnels, pillboxes, caponiers. In addition, here were deployed additional forces, in particular the 26th Tank Regiment under Colonel Takeichi Nishi 22 tanks “Chi-Ha” and “Ha-Go.”

Arriving at Iwo Jima, Nishi realized that for how a maneuverable action simply small island. As a result, Japanese tanks are mostly used as armored gun emplacements. To confuse the Americans, the Japanese have made more and stone models of tanks, which are distinguished from the present could only close. The island was ready for defense.

key to heaven Japan


On Iwo Jima strengthened ulterior motive: the island was of strategic importance. After the United States in 1944 with the Japanese drove the Mariana Islands, Japan began regularly to bomb American B-29 Superfortress. Radar station on Iwo Jima in advance to notify defense allowed Japan to raids, and helped Japanese fighters to intercept American bombers on the way, not only to the place of impact, but also vice versa. In addition, with refueling on Iwo Jima Japanese bombers could hang on to the Marianas and cause Americans to a return visit.

The capture of Iwo Jima would not only broke a hole in the Japanese air defense. The island would be for Americans crossing point for placement fighter escort and landing damaged “Sverhkrepostey.” Still lose-29 was expensive: one is not returned bomber cost about half a million US dollars and 11 trained pilots.

Storm Island was the case under the command of General Holland Smith leytenta.

Landings Americans began in the morning February 19, 1945. The first wave of troops were to support amphibious tanks LVT (A) -4 – modification of amphibious amphibious LTV with a 75-mm howitzer in an open rotating cabin. But at the very beginning of the American plan began to slip in the truest sense of the word: the soft volcanic soil even tracked vehicles sank before landfall. Japanese, according to his plan, do not interfere with the landing on the beach. They waited until the Americans begin to move inland – on minefields in advance sighted terrain.


American soldiers landed on Iwo Jima
by the evening of the first day of the battle

A few minutes later the Americans came under machine-gun, mortar and howitzer fire from well-camouflaged fortifications, unable to even really dig. The walls of the trench, in the volcanic ash of open almost immediately crumbled, but even if some Americans and managed to dig a hole bigger or just find bomb craters or projectile, he was soon to familiarity with sulfur dioxide, heavy sochivshimsya from the soil.

In the second wave, under heavy artillery fire, mortars and anti-tank guns, landed real tanks – “Sherman” M4A3. In this case, the landing beaches were literally packed with mines and ground them too viscous even tank tracks.

Tank bulldozer company “A” tried to pave the way, but it was blown up by a land mine, and then received three direct hits from heavy mortars. The bulldozer was completely destroyed. The rest of the “Sherman” column tried to go deep into the island between the slug craters, but 90 meters from the shore were a minefield and were immobilized. 7 hours after the landing of company “A” lost 12 tanks of 17 – seven and five padded stuck. Other companies also suffered heavy losses.

By the evening of the first day of landing the total loss of troops far superior to all the calculations, accounting for more than two thousand men killed and wounded. Perhaps more sensitive to losses of the army is forced to stop the operation. But those days Americans were made of different stuff. By evening on shore was 30,000 – more than a soldier in the Japanese garrison.

Fire and armor

“Sherman”, especially their flamethrower modifications were an indispensable tool a “gnawing” the Japanese defense. First tanks suppressed the Japanese gun emplacements firing of guns and machine guns, then drew closer, embedded loopholes and outs of underground tunnels napalm. Unless, of course, turned to go. For mining Japanese used not only established mines, but powerful bombs of bombs or torpedoes battery compartments. Minefields reliably covered with machine guns and anti-tank guns. A Japanese 47-mm gun, though looked for 1945 pretty outdated, confidently punched the side of American tanks in close combat. The tanks and infantry hunted – both Shestov mines and explosives hung bombers.

One of the company commanders Marines said: “Flame tank made for this victory more than any other support “

American tank crews were trying to improve the protection of tanks scrap materials. In case were steel sheets, sandbags and even the board. In combat photo from Iwo Jima some tanks resemble barns with a gun than usual fighting vehicles. The final report tankers required to replace them with the M4 at heavier M26 «Pershing”, citing the vulnerability of tanks from 47-mm anti-tank guns, Shestov mines and other resources, as well as the weakness of the 75-mm gun, “Sherman” in the destruction of concrete fortifications. But that was later.

Five days after the assault troops of the 5th Marine Division raised over the top of an extinct volcano Mount Suribachi American flag. Two hours later, the flag was replaced with a wide – that moment was captured in the famous photograph by Joe Rosenthal. But the flag does not mean the end of the battle for the island. Now was to meter by meter knock the defending samurai in the northern part, where the main goal of the Americans – airport capable of receiving B-29 bomber. Take it was only on 26 February. On 4 March, hastily patched strip first village the damaged “Sverhkrepost.”

The battle for the island lasted almost a month more. Even when the Americans took control completely the surface, the Japanese continued to make forays of underground tunnels. Last organized attack, led by General Kuribayashi personally, held on the night of March 25 and 26. Individual Japanese continued to hide in the many caves for much longer, even after the surrender of Japan.

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The authors of the text – Andrey Ulanov and Alexander Toms


  • Jig Report 4th Marine Division IwoJima.
  • King Report 4th Marine Division IwoJima.
  • Operations Report 4th Marine Division IwoJima (Courtesy. Tomzovym).
  • Harper, David E. Tank Warfare on Iwo Jima.

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