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 over some battlefields. Thought I would share some of my finds and perhaps help get some identifications?
I guess I'll jump right in and start with Tinian - from July 24 thru Aug 1 1944 the 2nd and 4th divisions of the US Marine Corps fought a pitched battle with Japanese forces while taking the island. After this, the island became a bomber base and it was here that the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were loaded up and launched. I'll identify as much as I can, if anyone has any better information than I do, please feel free to chip in.
I realize these are not ALL relics, but I figured there would be interest in the setting of the battle/relics, I hope that's okay.
Japanese AAA sitting out front of the airport.
Flight from Tinian to Saipan.
Looking back towards Saipan from the Tinian coast.
From San Juan, the city on the south side of Tinian looking towards the uninhabited island of Aguijan. There are a few old wrecks rusting in the harbour.
The ruins of the old church in San Juan destroyed during the invasion. There is a shiny new(er) steel church standing in the shadow of the ruins.
Tinian and Saipan were both taken by the Japanese during the early 20th century and so had substantial Japanese populations. This pre-war Shinto Shrine still stands in the jungle and may be one of the most atmospheric and moody places I’ve ever stumbled upon.
The Guardians of the shrine at the top of the stairs, the left is the “Shisa” with its mouth closed, the right is the guardian dog with its mouth open.
Next to the main shrine are smaller shrines slowly being reclaimed by the jungle.
Near the beach in San Juan are the remains of this American WWII engine, which I’ve tentatively identified as a Pratt and Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp. I wouldn’t know how to identify what kind of aircraft this one came from because it was used on many, including cargo aircraft like the DC-3, fighter aircraft like the P-36 Skyhawk and bombers such as the B-24 Liberator.
A view driving my rental car down the WWII runway Able in the North Field. The runway is gargantuan and in order to support heavy bombers loaded down with bombs and fuel, it nearly bisects the entire island.
Myself and the “Little Boy” atom bomb loading pit.
Interior of the "Little Boy" pit.
Abandoned and nearly destroyed Japanese Air Command Complex in the North Field.
Myself outside a heavily fortified Japanese Fuel Bunker. The fuel inside was ignited and burned so furiously that the supporting rebar and equipment inside the bunker melted and gave way.
Interior of the fuel bunker. It was as chunks of concrete pelted me on the head from above that I realized I should probably turn around and leave immediately.
The nearby ammo bunker was identical to the fuel bunker as seen above, but as it took a direct hit from a bomb and detonated, there’s not much left. Here is my wife standing in the pile of rubble that USED to be this awesome bunker. What appear to be vines in this picture are actually thousands of twisted strands of re-bar from the bunker explosion which peeled the roof back like a sardine can. The whole area is littered with unexploded munitions from inside the bunker, as you will see later.
Some of the unexploded munitions from the bunker explosion. EOD teams sometimes do sweeps in order to dispose of ordinance they find, but so much remains that it’s a regular occurrence.
Is this an air dropped bomb that failed to detonate, though it’s broken in two? I believe it was dropped, as the area on the back where the fins were mounted shows they were sheared off.
Fuse to a Japanese bomb or mortar? Also you can see some earthstar mushrooms that were growing in the area.
Cannon rounds, possibly for the Japanese Zeros and other fighter aircraft that were stationed here before the invasion.
Here you can see a torn open artillery shell with the undetonated high explosive still exposed on the inside.
Japanese Communications Complex commandeered by US forces
Parts of the original Japanese structure showing their characteristic blast doors.
Found this rusting hulk on a concrete slab in the north field near where the initial landing occurred. The vines in the troop carrying area appear to be ready to make an invasion of their own. American forces used these lightly armoured amphibious vehicles during the invasions of Guam, Saipan and Tinian.
I had GPS coordinates to the remains of a Japanese RADAR installation that had been blasted off the cliff above it. My wife and I treked through the jungle and found the elevation gimbal and remains of the azimuth gear quite easily.
While tromping through the jungle in search of the RADAR, I came across this large artillery shell laying in the leaves. My GPS is for scale.
At the base of the cliff, well off any trail I found this interesting looking cave nearly hidden by the vines. I didn’t have my flashlight with me but I decided to peek inside and what do I find?
A hidden cache of Japanese artillery shells! They must have hurriedly hidden them here just prior to the invasion.
Tinian and Saipan are home to a few of the endangered species of birds that are found nowhere else on earth. In fact, the Tinian Monarch can be found ONLY on this tiny island.
This is the Tinian/Saipan subspecies of the sassy and playful Rufous Fantail.