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Saipan - U.S. Infantry Positions, 6 July 1944

Saipan - U.S. Infantry Positions, 6 July 1944 American History Geography Tragedies and Triumphs World War II Visual Arts

As U.S. infantry troops took their positions on the 6th of July, 1944, they were unaware that opposing forces were about to engage in a mass attack, using their own bodies as weapons. 

At 6 AM that morning, the Japanese commander - General Saito - issued this (his final) order:

MESSAGE TO OFFICERS AND MEN
DEFENDING SAIPAN

    I am addressing the officers and men of the Imperial Army on Saipan.

    For more than twenty days since the American Devils attacked, the officers, men, and civilian employees of the Imperial Army and Navy on this island have fought well and bravely. Everywhere they have demonstrated the honor and glory of the Imperial Forces. I expected that every man would do his duty.

    Heaven has not given us an opportunity. We have not been able to utilize fully the terrain. We have fought in unison up to the present time but now we have no materials with which to fight and our artillery for attack has been completely destroyed. Our comrades have fallen one after another. Despite the bitterness of defeat, we pledge, "Seven lives to repay our country."

    The barbarous attack of the enemy is being continued. Even though the enemy has occupied only a corner of Saipan, we are dying without avail under the violent shelling and bombing. Whether we attack or whether we stay where we are, there is only death. However, in death there is life. We must utilize this opportunity to exalt true Japanese manhood. I will advance with those who remain to deliver still another blow to the American Devils, and leave my bones on Saipan as a bulwark of the Pacific.

    As it says in the "SENJINKUM" [Battle Ethics], "I will never suffer the disgrace of being taken alive," and "I will offer up the courage of my soul and calmly rejoice in living by the eternal principle."

    Here I pray with you for the eternal life of the Emperor and the welfare of the country and I advance to seek out the enemy.

    Follow me!

No one could follow him because Saito was too unwell to lead the attack.  Soon after he issued his final proclamation, he committed suicide.  According to the Army's official history, on the battle of Saipan:

A captured Japanese officer who was with the general almost until the end described what probably took place: "Cleaning off a spot on the rock himself, Saito sat down. Facing the misty EAST saying TENNO HEIKA! BANZAI! [Long live the Emperor] . . . he drew his own blood first with his own sword and then his adjutant shot him in the head with a pistol."

The Japanese would thus carry out banzai charge against the Americans without the man who had ordered it.

Click on the image to greatly enlarge the map.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5124stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Nov 30, 2016


Media Credits

Image of map and quoted passage from Chapter XII ("The Capture of Northern Saipan"), U.S. Army in World War II - The War in the Pacific - Campaign in the Marianas by Philip A. Crowl.  Online, courtesy HyperWar Foundation, hosted by the University of North Carolina.

 

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