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Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

Article about: Hello friends, First forum post - I hope this is the right area. I've recently moved to the Marianas Islands in the Western Pacific, and for the first time ever have an opportunity to pick o

  1. #31
    ?

    Default Re: Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Great thread, pics and info.

    Thanks for posting these and please post some more, if possible.

    Pic of the Fantail also very good!

    Now, if that lever action could speak.....

  2. #32

    Default Re: Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Quote by Ironpaw View Post
    DOHCdude - Being someone of the younger generation for whom WWII kind of holds a "mythical" status in my mind, it has been an amazingly sobering experience meeting with the people who fought/lived through these things, and visiting the sites I grew up watching footage of on the History Channel. I hope you are/were able to listen to some amazing first hand accounts from your grandfather?
    He did tell me a lot of his stories as a young Marine, and eventually he gave me all of the stuff he had from that war - mostly Japanese items like a rifle, flag, binoculars, etc.

  3. #33

    Default Re: Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Your thread is Great!!! keep posting the pictures. Please !!!
    I really enjoy reading and seeing the new pictures.
    thanks for sharing your trips with us.


    John
    I specialize in M1 carbines and Lugers.

  4. #34

    Default Re: Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Keep them coming, great stuff!
    Rod

  5. #35
    ?

    Default Re: Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Welcome to the forum and thank you for posting these great pics.

    Not many forum members will ever get the chance to see this undisturbed and forgotten battlefield and to see how things have just been left as they were when the troops abandoned them is quite a sight.

  6. #36

    Default Re: Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Warning - this post does contain photographs of human remains (bones). They remains were treated with the utmost respect and we placed them as we were instructed to do for future recovery.


    The Battle of Saipan occurred in the summer of 1944 with American Army and Marines taking the island after it had been occupied by the Japanese for over 40 years. There was a large civilian Japanese population as well as a large and entrenched Japanese garrison, and through the course of the battles some 22,000 civilians were killed or committed suicide at the now infamous Suicide and Banzai cliffs. Japanese military casualties were similar with 900 prisoners taken out of about 30,000 troops.

    We found the entire island covered with caves and reinforced bunkers. After the US invasion, the locals took to the jungle to live for weeks, and every nook and cranny we came across was littered with ration cans, empty sake/beer bottles and broken china. Though much of the unexploded ordinance (bombs, artillery, etc) has been cleaned up, much remains although we did not encounter any of it. We did find far more than we expected to.



    There are a number of old Japanese artillery pieces and guns rusting away at the ruins of the old Japanese Command Post at the base of Suicide Cliff.

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Damaged and heavily deteriorated Type 95 Ha-Go tank.

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Remains of the command post.

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    US Navy Battleships fired on anything that looked like an entrenchment. Here you can see part of Suicide Cliffs scarred by the impacts of American guns.

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Beyond the command bunkers and base of Suicide Cliff, along the sea, is Banzai cliff - another site of civilian mass suicide. It has the most ghostly blue waters I've ever seen...

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    While tromping through the jungle, we came across one of the many nearly-untouched bunkers that Japanese defenders took shelter in. Inside we found numerous fired .30 cal and .30-06 rounds as well as those fired by Japanese Arisaka rifles, and piles of empty shell casings and a few Japanese gas mask canisters. We found many sake and beer bottles, a Japanese "jika tabi" (the shoe with the distinct toe) along with canned food and broken dinner wear. Also quite unexpected and chilling we found spent high explosive fuses, US type grenade fragments, and significant human remains. We left the bones we found in a pile (as we were instructed to do) for the next visit by Japanese officials so they can be repatriated. Discovering this site was one of the most solumn and surreal experiences I've ever had.

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Badly preserved steel gas mask canister.

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    This cannister was dated 1944 (my photograph is a bit too blurry to decipher, apologies)

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    In many places, bottles have been sitting in the caves so long that the limestone has begun to collect on them and form stalagmites.

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Some of the human remains.

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Japanese bunkers outside of the old airstrip, near the current airport.

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Two shell holes in one of the bunkers.

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign


    Remains of what I THINK is a Japanese Type 97 Chi-Ha medium tank on top of a beach bunker along Garapan Beach.

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    On the way to the airport, my wife spotted something on the reef, several hundred yards from shore. Upon inspection through the binos, it was quite obviously a U.S. Sherman tank. Though I was without my swimming gear, I stripped down to my skivvies and jumped into the water with my (mostly) waterproof camera. Though I don't know precisely what occurred, it seems the tank was abandoned during the invasion. The turret is still trained on a (now destroyed) Japanese bunker on the beach. It's not known if the tank crew survived the battle, but I was told they were not killed in the tank.

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Probably my favourite of any photo I've taken in the islands so far:

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    We also found a young coconut crab, cutting through the husk of a nut in the jungle, that was interesting. For the longest time I thought this was just a big hermit crab, but it turns out that young Coconut Crabs wear a shell on the backs until they get older!

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    A few relics I found in the bunker above. What looks like a brass equipment tag (gas mask?) with the number 500, a fragment from an exploded American grenade (perhaps from one of the grenades that killed those I found parts of in the bunker) and a flimsy seal or medal of some sort. I haven't been able to idenfiy much other than the kanji behind the anchor which reads 建 or I believe alone it would be "ta-te" meaning commitment, contract or possibly construction? I asked the opinion of an expert in Japanese Naval Medals and he confirmed that "The kanji is usually used to commemorate something that has been built (physically) or founded (as in Foundation Day, etc.)." Any ideas are appreciated.

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    "GPOY" as they say with the Type 95.

    Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Thanks for reading! More Saipan and Guam to come.

  7. #37

    Default Re: Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    All I can do is concur with the others!!! Despite living in Australia the closest I ever got to the south pacific battlefields was through the pages of this old book ...... ah, one can dream!!
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign  
    " When you're chewing on life's gristle, don't grumble, give a whistle "

  8. #38

    Default Re: Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Hey Ironpaw,
    This is awesome, they're great pictures and good descriptions too. Fascinating place, I've seen film of the locals jumping from those cliffs very sobering to see them today. I love your above and below the surface Sherman pic that's real top quality and hats off for your enthusiasm in jumping in and swimming out.
    Cant wait to see the next installment. Great Work.
    LUCKYSTRIKE

  9. #39

    Default Re: Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign

    Great tour. Love the sherman tank picture.
    Keep them coming.
    thanks,
    John
    I specialize in M1 carbines and Lugers.

  10. #40
    ?

    Default Re: Pacific Theater - Relics and Battlefields from the Marianas Campaign



    Couldn't help but play that while persuing your photos Ironpaw. Very poignant. I hope to tour some pacific battle sites one day.

    The Sherman is in incredible nick for how long it's been sitting in salt water! Still I guess there is a hell of a lot of metal there to rust through.

    And the naval gunfire impacts on the cliffs

    Also on the remains. I know the feeling. It can be quite confronting. I was undertaking a heritage survey and stumbled into a bush clearing, and *bam* there were the bones of a young girl who had died a few hundred years ago. Stays with you.

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