The Battle of Guam (21 July–10 August 1944) was the American recapture of the Japanese-held island
, a U.S. territory
in the Mariana Islands
captured by the Japanese
from the U.S. in the 1941 First Battle of Guam
during the Pacific campaign
of World War II
Guam, at 212 square miles (543 square kilometers), is the largest island of the Marianas, with a length of 32 miles (52 km) and a width ranging from 12 miles (19.31 km) to four miles (6.44 km) at different points of the island.
It had been a United States possession since its capture from Spain
in 1898 until it was captured by the Japanese
on 10 December 1941, following the attack on Pearl Harbor
. During the Japanese occupation of Guam
, it was not as heavily fortified as the other Mariana Islands such as Saipan
that had been Japanese possessions since the end of World War I
. But by 1944, Guam had a large Japanese garrison.
plan for the invasion of the Marianas, Operation Forager
, called for heavy preliminary bombardment, first by carrier aircraft and USAAF
bombers based in the Marshall Islands
to the east, then once air superiority was gained, close bombardment by battleship
s, and destroyer
Saipan, Tinian, and Guam were chosen as the targets due to their size and suitability as a base for supporting the next stage of operations toward the Philippines
, and the Ryukyu Islands
. The seaport at Apra Harbor
was suitable for the largest ships; and air base
s for Boeing B-29 Superfortress
es could be built from which to bomb Japan. B-24 Liberator
s from the Marianas could also bomb Iwo Jima
and the Bonin Islands
, such as Chichi Jima
The invasion of Saipan
was scheduled for 15 June 1944, with landings on Guam tentatively set for 18 June.
The original timetable was optimistic, however. A large Japanese carrier attack
and stubborn resistance by the unexpectedly large Japanese garrison on Saipan led to the invasion of Guam being postponed for a month.
U.S. naval and air bombardments lasted from 11 to 13 June 1944, involving 216 carrier aircraft and land-based B-24 bombers from the Marshall Islands. On 12 and 13 June, 12 Japanese cargo ships and several fishing vessels were sunk. On 27 June, U.S. Navy battleships and cruisers started shelling the island, joined by a U.S. carrier group on 4 July, and two more on 6 July.
US Fifth Fleet
(Vice Adm. Raymond A. Spruance
* Southern Attack Force (Task Force 53) (Vice Adm. Richard L. Conolly
Expeditionary Troops (Lt. Gen. Holland M. Smith
Approx. 48,200 officers and enlisted
* III Marine Amphibious Corps
(Maj. Gen. Roy S. Geiger
** 3rd Marine Division
(Maj. Gen. Allen H. Turnage
** 1st Provisional Marine Brigade
(Brig. Gen. Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr.
** 77th Infantry ("Statue of Liberty") Division
(Maj. Gen. Andrew D. Bruce
Overall command: Lt. Gen. Takeshi Takashina
(KIA 28 July)
Thirty-First Army: Lt. Gen. Hideyoshi Obata
(seppuku 11 August)
Approx. 19,000 officers and enlisted
* 29th Division
(Lt. Gen. Takashina)
* 1st Tank Division
* 48th Independent Brigade
* 10th Independent Mixed Regiment
Before landing, US forces sought to ensure both air
and naval superiority
. A total of 274 ships, which fired 44,978 shots from 2-inch and 5-inch guns supported the landing. In addition, a total of 13 aircraft carriers participated in the air raid and a total of 4,283 bombs (weighing a total of 1,310 tons) were dropped from 18 to 20 July, the day before disembarkation. The heavy bombardment burned all the palm trees on the beach and destroyed every building that could be seen. Experience gained by the Japanese from the invasion of Saipan was used to try to mitigate the effects of the bombardment. Despite this, the bombardment far exceeded the expectations of the defending forces which were dug in along the coast as they were on Saipan. Many of the bases and guard towers were also destroyed. However, artillery
pieces entrenched in dense forests, caves, trenches and locations four kilometers or more from the coast were able to escape destruction and became a source of heavy Japanese resistance. Guam, ringed by reefs, cliffs, and heavy surf, presents a formidable challenge
for any attacker.
Underwater demolition team
ed the beaches and removed obstacles from 14 to 17 July.
Despite the obstacles, on 21 July, the American forces landed on both sides of the Orote
Peninsula on the western side of Guam, planning to secure Apra Harbor
The 3rd Marine Division
landed near Agana to the north of Orote
at 08:29, and the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade
landed near Agat
to the south.
Japanese artillery sank 30 U.S. LVT
s and inflicted heavy casualties on the landing troops, especially of the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, but by 09:00 marines and tanks were ashore at both beaches.
By nightfall, the U.S. Marines
and soldiers of the 77th Infantry Division had established beachhead
s about deep. Japanese counterattacks were made throughout the first few days of the battle, mostly at night, using infiltration tactics. The Japanese penetrated the American defenses several times but were driven back with heavy losses of men and equipment.
The U.S. Army's 77th Infantry Division
had a more difficult landing on 23–24 July.
Lacking amphibious vehicles, they had to wade ashore from the edge of the reef where the landing craft dropped them off. The men stationed in the two beachheads were pinned down by heavy Japanese fire, making initial progress inland quite slow. Supply was very difficult
for the landing troops on Guam in the first days of the battle. Landing ships could not come closer than the reef, several hundred yards from the beach, and amphibious vehicles were scarce.
The 1st Provisional Brigade blocked off the Orote Peninsula
on 25 July, and that same night Japanese Lt. General Takashina counterattack
ed, coordinated with a similar attack against the 3rd Division to the north.
The next day, General Obata reported, "our forces failed to achieve the desired objectives."
Lieutenant General Takeshi Takashina
was killed on 28 July, and Lieutenant General Hideyoshi Obata
took over the command of the Japanese defenders.
On 28 July, the two beachheads were linked,
and by 29 July, the Americans secured the peninsula.
The Japanese counterattacks against the American beachheads, as well as the fierce fighting, had exhausted the Japanese. At the start of August, they were running out of food and ammunition, and they had only a handful of tanks left. Obata withdrew his troops from southern Guam, planning to make a stand in the mountainous central and northern part of the island, "to engage in delaying action in the jungle in northern Guam to hold the island as long as possible".
After ensuring that no significant Japanese forces operated in the southern portion of Guam, Marine Major General Geiger started an offensive north with the 3rd Marine Division on the left flank, and the 77th Infantry Division on the right, liberating Agana
on the same day.
Airfield was captured on 1 Aug.
Rain and thick jungle made conditions difficult for the Americans, but after an engagement with the main Japanese line of defense around Mount Barrigada
from 2–4 August, the Japanese line collapsed.
The 1st Provisional Brigade formed up on the left flank of the 3rd Marine Division on 7 August because of the widening front and continued casualties, in an effort to prevent the Japanese from slipping through the American gaps.
The Japanese had another stronghold at Mount Santa Rosa, which was secured on 8 August.
On 10 August, organized Japanese resistance ended, and Guam was declared secure, but 7,500 Japanese soldiers were estimated to be at large.
The next day, Obata committed ritual suicide
at his headquarters on Mount Mataguac after he had sent a farewell message to Japan.
A few Japanese soldiers held out in the jungle
after the fighting on Guam.
On 8 December 1945, three U.S. Marines
were ambushed and killed. Sergeant Masashi Itō
surrendered on 23 May 1960, after the last of his companions was captured. On 24 January 1972, Sergeant Shoichi Yokoi
was discovered by hunters on the island. He had lived alone in a cave for 28 years, near Talofofo Falls
Guam was turned into a base for Allied operations after the battle. 5 large airfields were built by the Navy Seabees
and African American Aviation Engineering Battalions. Army Air Forces B-29 bombers flew from Northwest Field
and North Field
on Guam to attack targets in the Western Pacific and on mainland Japan.
Guam's native Chamorro
population had suffered considerably during the Japanese occupation, and the Japanese began to commit the worst atrocities starting during the preparation for the invasion. In what became known as the Maneggon March, the Japanese force-marched most of the island's population into six concentration camps in southern Guam. The sick and starving were left for dead along the way, and Japanese troops massacred many of the civilians. About 600 civilians were killed - representing a significant portion of Guam's population of roughly 20,000 (as many as 2,000 may have been killed during the occupation). Liberation Day
continues to be celebrated on Guam every 21 July.
Navy Unit Commendation
*1st Provisional Marine Brigade, 21 July to 10 August 1944
Medal of Honor recipients
Four Medal of Honor
recipients of the Battle of Guam:
*Captain (later General) Louis H. Wilson, Jr.
*Private First Class Leonard F. Mason
, USMC (posthumous)
*Private First Class (later Corporal) Luther Skaggs Jr.
*Private First Class Frank Witek
, USMC (posthumous)
*18th Infantry Regiment (Imperial Japanese Army)
*Agana race riot
– Violent confrontation between white U.S. Marines and black U.S. sailors
*Battle of Guam (1941)
*Pacific War Museum
*''Return to Guam
'', 1944 documentary and propaganda film about the battle
*The War in the Pacific National Historical Park
*George Ray Tweed
*Manchester, W., 1980, ''Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War'', Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., , pp 278–302
*"The Marianas and the Great Turkey Shoot"
World War II Database.
*Lodge, Major O.R
Historical Branch, United States Marine Corps, 1954.
*O'Brien, Cyril J
Marines in World War II Commemorative Series, Marine Corps Historical Center, United States Marine Corps, 1994.
*''Photos from the Liberation of Guam''
The Real Revo
Category:Conflicts in 1944
Category:World War II operations and battles of the Pacific theatre
Category:Amphibious operations of World War II
Category:July 1944 events
Category:August 1944 events
Category:Amphibious operations involving the United States
Category:Military in Guam