78 years ago today, June 15th 1944, the battle for Saipan began. The main part of Operation Forager, it is often thought of as a Marine Corps battle but like virtually every Marine battle there were soldiers involved as well. In the case of Saipan it was the 27th Infantry Division who fought alongside the Marines of the 2nd and 4th Marine Divisions.
The soldiers of the 27th actually landed on the following day, the 16th, due to the lack of room on suitable beaches. They then move east southeast to capture the As Lito airfield. After securing the airfield the 27th then moved up the island sandwiched in-between the two marine divisions. The sector was one of the toughest on the island which lead to a dispute between the divisions own Major General Ralph Smith and the overall commander Marines General Holland Smith. Holland Smith apparently not believing the stiffness of Japanese resistance when in the center of the island as the two marine divisions hard pushed past the 27th, relieved Ralph Smith. Only for it to turn out that the resistance really was what was holding up the division. Which lead to a bit of resentment between soldier and marine I’m sure. If you want to see more about the feud check out the article “War Between the Smiths.”
For a nice little article on the battle itself click here to see an old World War II Magazine article. It’s worth the read, go check it out. Now, enjoy some photos.
The posthumous MOH citation for Thomas A. Baker, 27th Infantry Division, Saipan, who evidently knew how to run a 1911 in a most convincing fashion: