Battle of Iwo Jima
With the country already reeling from the two previous U.S. campaigns, Japan put together its best offensive output since Pearl Harbor. Undermanned but with the layout of the land on their side, the Battle of Iwo Jima showed that Japan still had some fight left. The importance of Iwo Jima was due to it being only 575 miles from the Japanese coast. Losing Iwo Jima would be the final straw for the country, and make further warring all but pointless.
Japan used this to drive their soldiers and put up a truly incredible fight. With only 23,000 troops, they defended Iwo Jima against three marine divisions and sixty-eight hundred tons of bombs. Even with sometimes endless attacks by gunfire on the surface, the Japanese troops took superior defensive measures, and at many point outsmarted their U.S. attackers. Using caves, tunnels, dugouts and complete underground installations was the secret to their survival.
United States Backstory
Early on the U.S. figured out that Iwo Jima would put them on the doorstep of Japan. It would also serve as a place for their B-29 bombers to get quick repairs. With an island that close to the mainland, they could swap out supplies, soldiers and more in half the time it would take if they had to travel all the way to the Marianas. But even the most trained U.S. soldier wasn’t prepared for Iowa Jima, even after a massive amount of air and naval bombardment.
Even with certain installations blown up, there still existed several places for the Japanese troops to mount a counterattack. Rather than pushing forward, the U.S. had to hold their ground and destroy the many places the troops were evading them in. With a little bit of patience, the battle of attrition turned into a massacre, and only 1,083 of the original 23,000 troops survived.
Why Was the Battle of Iwo Jima Important?
It was yet another stamp of approval for the U.S. forces. Japan was already considering surrender after the Battle of Guadacanal, and now within a few months the U.S. had yet another win. Over the course of World War II the U.S. destroyed the main naval warships and aircraft for Japan, took over a secret air base and now secured an island that was only a few miles from their coast. When Japan announced their surrender on August 15th, their Army was at a point where it could no longer mount an attack on the American forces, or even resist. Unfortunately, this was also due to other circumstances as explained below.
Who Was Affected?
Japan suffered greatly in this conflict, as their refusal to surrender after Iwo Jima led to a prime escalation worldwide. The five week battle at Iwo Jima ended on March 26th 1945, but Japan still had some fight left. On August 6th 1945 the U.S. Army dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later they did the same, only this time using a bigger nuclear bombs and detonating it over Nagasaki, Japan. Combined, the bombs led to the loss of life of over 129,000 people. This does not count the after effects of the blast and the irreparable environmental damage that was done to that area, and the surrounding areas. This led to the official end of the Pacific World War II, but laid the foundation for nuclear warfare that is still a hot button topic in the modern world.
Names to Remember
Emperor Shōwa was born April 29th 1901 and was the 124th Emperor of Japan. His Jewel Voice Broadcast informed the people of Japan about the official surrender, and was broadcast at noon on August 15, 1945.
Here are some important things to remember about the Battle of Iwo Jima.
- Iwo Jima was only defended by 23,000 well trained Japanese troops
- Only 1,083 of those troops survived the battle
- Iwo Jima is iconic in American history for the raising of the flag over Mount Suribachi
- The island gave the U.S. perfect striking position against Japan
Japan versus the U.S. ended horribly for both sides due to the two nuclear bombs, and has been the only time in history that they have been used in war. They devastated Japan as a nation, and put a bitter end to World War II.