June 1944 (3)

Pacific Paratrooper

Saipan landing Saipan landing

15-20 June – H-hour for the landing on Saipan was 0840 hours.  A protective reef, some distance offshore made it necessary to use amphibian tractors (amtracs), for the landing.  The US Army 534th and 773rd Amphibian Tractor battalions, along with the Marine amtracs (making it 350 vehicles), put 4,000 4th Marines ashore in the first 20 minutes.  The US Army 708th Armored Amphibian Battalion spearheaded the landing and blasted a path to a ridge-line running parallel to the shoreline.  Gen. Saito’s 43rd Division was not prepared for all this.

LVT's attacking Saipan, 1944 LVT’s attacking Saipan, 1944

When opposition did come it was artillery fire from Hill 500 on the slopes of Mount Tapotchau and heavy casualties resulted.  At 0300, the evening of 15-16 June, about 1,000 of the enemy came charging down the hill with 36 tanks.  Gen. Saito sent a signal to Tokyo announcing his counterattack to “annihilate the enemy…

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