Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Battle of Saipan

Jym was talking to me last night and said that he was looking at a brochure for one of the cruise-routs done by Princess Tours (that's who he works for) and said that he saw a picture of Saipan that showed a tank in the water. "What's up with that?" he asked. I thought I had told him about the battles of Saipan and Tinian, but I forget who I have and haven't told. Jym really likes history, so I told him I'd look for some articles and pictures and email them to him. I made up quite the nice little package. He's busy, so I couldn't have a million articles and pictures (there are at least that many on the web), but I did put in three articles that describe a few different parts of the significance of Saipan in American history.

The Last Command Post: Here it was that Lt. Gen. Saito (Japan) ordered seven officers
to give their lives in the name of the emperor, and then committed herikari - ritualistic
Japanese suicide. (Top: outside. Bottom: inside.)

Obiyan Beach bunker.

Top-Bottom: Banzai and Suicide Cliffs. These were the sites where Japanese soldiers and civilians were forced to jump over. (If they wouldn't they were thrown.) It was better to die than to be captured by the Americans.
The following is an article of the mass-suicides at Banzai and Suicide Cliffs. It's a little graphic, so use some discretion.

"... since Saipan had become a part of Hirohito's domain in 1919, over eighteen thousand Japanese civilians had settled there. Tojo's propaganda officers had been lecturing them since Pearl Harbor, describing the Americans as sadistic, redheaded, hairy monsters who committed unspeakable atrocities before putting all Nipponese, including women and infants, to the sword. As the battle turned against Saito's troops, these civilians, panicking, had fled northward to Marpi Point. After the great banzai obliterated their army, depriving them of their protectors, they decided that they, too, must die. Most of them gathered on two heights now called Banzai Cliff, an eighty-foot bluff overlooking the water, and, just inland from there. Suicide Cliff, which soars one thousand feet above clumps of jagged rocks.... Saito [the Japanese commander] had left a last message to his civilian countrymen, too: "As it says in the Senjinkum [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." In a final, cruel twist of the knife he reminded mothers of the oyaku-shinju (the parents-children death pact). Mothers, fathers, daughters, sons� all had to die. Therefore children were encouraged to form circles and toss live grenades from hand to hand until they exploded. Their parents dashed babies' brains out on limestone slabs and then, clutching the tiny corpses, shouted "Tenno! Haiki! Banzai!" (Long live the Emperor!) as they jumped off the brinks of the cliffs and soared downward. Below Banzai Cliff U.S. destroyers trying to rescue those who had survived the plunge found they could not steer among so many bodies; human flesh was jamming their screws. .. . But Suicide Cliff was worse. A brief strip of jerky newsreel footage, preserved in an island museum, shows a distraught mother, her baby in her arms, darting back and forth along the edge of the precipice, trying to make up her mind. Finally she leaps, she and her child joining the ghastly carnage below. There were no survivors at the base of Suicide Cliff."
There are two more articles. Maybe I'll put them on later.


ave said...

When you guys first moved out to Saipan I read all about the dramatic history during the war. I have wanted to visit ever since. Maybe someday JW and I will get out there. So what are you doing this summer Mallie? I was sad to hear that your plans for Acadia were foiled. We miss you! Oh, and I went to your recipe sight and am going to try that brie one out! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I am working here in Idaho at a pizzaria, as a server. You actually make really good tips here in Rexburg, even though it's a college town. According to some of the veterans, the college kids pay better than some of the natives! (Not too surprising actually.) I hope you like the brie! I miss you guys too! Give JW and the kids hugs and kisses from me!

ML said...

One little Japanese boy who was thrown off the cliffs caught hold on a root and was eventually rescued. He was held in a detention camp until he could be returned to relatives in Japan. He went on to be educated in the U.S., now lives in Japan and visited here three years ago during the 60th anniversary. Quite a story.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I was actually looking for that article. I remember reading it in the newspaper, and I told Jym about it. I couldn't find it in the archives. Maybe I was looking in the wrong newspaper though; I only checked The Tribune.

ave said...

I'm sure the fact that your are drop dead gorgeous helps in the tip department Mallie! I'm sure you are a great server too.