The Battle of Iwo Jima that started on 19 February until 26 March 1945, codename Operation Detachment, was a major battle in which the United States Armed Forces to capture the island of Iwo Jima from the Japanese Empire during World War II. It had the goal of capturing the entire island, along with its three airfields, to provide a staging area for attacks on the Japanese main islands.
After the heavy losses incurred in the battle, the strategic value of the island became controversial as it was useless to the U.S. Army as a staging base and useless to the U.S. Navy as a fleet base. However, Navy Seabees rebuilt the landing strips, which were used as emergency landing strips for USAAF B-29s.
The Imperial Japanese Army positions on the island were heavily fortified, with a dense network of bunkers, hidden artillery positions, and 18 km (11 miles) of underground tunnels. The Americans on the ground were supported by extensive naval artillery and complete air supremacy over Iwo Jima from the beginning of the battle.
Iwo Jima was also the only battle by the U.S. Marine Corps in which the American casualties exceeded the Japanese, although Japanese combat deaths numbered three times as many American deaths. Of the 22,000 Japanese soldiers on Iwo Jima at the beginning of the battle, only 216 were taken prisoner, some of whom were captured because they had been knocked unconscious or otherwise disabled. The majority of the remainder were killed in action, although it has been estimated that as many as 3,000 continued to resist within the various cave systems for many days afterwards, eventually succumbing to their injuries or surrendering weeks later.
This five-week battle comprised some of the fiercest and bloodiest fighting of the War in the Pacific of World War II.
Iwo Jima…Negro Marines on the beach at Iwo Jima are, from left to right, Pfcs. Willie J. Kanody, Elif Hill, and John Alexander
Smashed by Jap mortar and shellfire, trapped by Iwo’s treacherous black-ash sands, amtracs and other vehicles of war lay knocked out on the black sands of the volcanic fortress. Ca. February/March 1945. PhoM3c. Robert M. Warren. (Coast Guard)
They did their part. Wounded Marines are helped to an aid station by Navy corpsmen and Marine walking wounded. Iwo Jima, circa February/March 1945.
Transportation of wounded on Iwo Jima. A wounded Marine being evacuated from front lines for medical treatment.
Observer who spotted a machine gun nest finds its location on a map so they can send the information to artillery or mortars to wipe out the position. Iwo Jima, February 1945.
Marines, injured in Iwo Jima fighting, await evacuation to Guam by plane.
A Marine with the 7th War Dog Platoon, 25th Marine Regiment, takes a nap while Butch, his war dog, stands guard. Iwo Jima, February 1945.
Burrowed in his shallow foxhole at the edge of Motoyama airstrip on Iwo Jima, a Marine communicator calls for artillery support to silence the enemy mortars that are pinning down the leatherneck advance.
Original Description: Hell’s island gets letters from heaven. Marines of the Fourth Division receive airmail in the most literal sense of the word when planes flew over Iwo and parachuted mail bags to the beach. The post office was in operation on the tenth day of the campaign. Setting up the sign post are (left to right), Sergeant B.D. Boyant, of Spartansburg, PA. and Corporal Kenneth E. Hales of Pasco, Washington.
Flight nurse Jane Kendeigh, US Navy, caring for wounded Marine, William J Wycoff on Iwo Jima, March 3, 1945
Original Description: A reserve of Fourth Division Marines, burrowed into the black sand of Iwo Jima, awaits its turn to move up on D-Day, February 19. Almost lost in the smoke haze over the battlefield, the attack line ahead is charging forward.
Original Description: The power of the invasion armada in the background stands out in ironic contrast with the scene on the Iwo Jima beachhead. Marines of the Third division, covered with their ponchos, lie on the beach they gave their lives to win. The battle still rages miles away.
Carrying a Jap[anese]prisoner from stockade to be evacuated and treated for malnutrition. Iwo Jima
Results of one of the war’s fiercest struggles, the fight for Iwo Jima, lie in sorry heaps all over the island. The hand of a Japanese soldier killed by a bomb blast is seen in the rubble which covered the island.