A Sorrowful Victory 


Today in History, July 9: 1944 – Victory at the Battle of Saipan. The US Marines defeat the Japanese military on Saipan, the first island with Japanese civilians to be taken by the US. It was a difficult battle, made all the more so by the existence of a civilian population. The Marines set up well lit camps for the civilians to be safe from battle. Fearing that his citizens would find out that the Americans were not the vicious, heartless enemy projected by propaganda, the Emperor issued a communique to the civilian population of Saipan, telling them that if they committed suicide they would receive the same treatment in the afterlife as Japanese soldiers that died in battle. American servicemen were horrified as Japanese civilians threw their children from cliffs, then followed them to the rocks below. The newly won island would be used as an air base for B-29 Superfortress bombers that would bomb the Japanese mainland.

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