The Battle of Saipan 1944|
The Battle of Saipan was fought between June 15th and July 7th 1944. Saipan, which was part of the Mariana Islands, provided significant strategic importance for both the Japanese and the Americans. The battle began in the early hours of June 15th when the US Fifth Fleet, under Admiral Spruance, converged on the island under the cover of darkness. Admiral Spruance, among others in the naval elite, was said to hold Admiral Nagumo, Commander of the Japanese Central Pacific Fleet personally responsible for directing the air raids on US Naval ships at Pearl Harbor and Midway. During the attack on Pearl Harbor Admiral Spruance had been at sea. The very next day, Admiral Spruance steamed into the harbor where he witnessed the destruction of the entire Pacific fleet. Friends, colleagues and countless brothers in arms died during what must have seemed at the time such a senseless act of violence. Admiral Spruance was reportedly so devastated by what he saw that he actually shed tears when telling his wife of the horrific event. For Admiral Spruance the battle of Saipan was a way to get even for the attack on Pearl Harbor. Capturing Saipan would allow the Americans to build runways long enough to launch B29 super fortress bombers. This vantage point would allow the B29s to bomb mainland Japan and return to Saipan safely. The Japanese were well aware of this importance and were prepared to fight to the death. Losing Saipan would also mean that Japanese forces south of Saipan would be cut off from the Japanese mainland itself. The battle of Saipan proved to be one of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific War. As night gave way to dawn the Japanese witnessed before them a massive fleet extending as far as the eye could see. Admiral Spruance had amassed, for his vengeance, a fleet of fourteen battleships; twenty-five carriers with carrier escorts; twenty-six cruisers; 144 destroyers...