Battle of the Philippine Sea

WWII: Victory Over Japan

East Asia 1944.0619

Battle of the Philippine Sea

World War II, Pacific War, Second Sino-Japanese War (19 June 1944)

Historical Map of East Asia & the Western Pacific

In the Pacific, the Americans continued their island-hopping campaign by landing on Saipan in the Marianas, intending to use it as base for bombing Japan. In a desperate attempt to stop them, the Japanese sent in almost all their fleet. Outnumbered, and outmatched in technology and intelligence, the Japanese were defeated in a battle so one-sided it was dubbed the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot.

Main Events

Operation Ichi-Go

In a bid to open a land route to French Indochina and capture American-used air bases in southeast China, the Japanese launch Operation Ichi-Go against the Republic of China. In the first phase, the Japanese secure the Pinghan Railway connecting Wuhan to Beiping (Beijing); in the second, they move south from Wuhan, conquering large tracts of territory in Hunan and Guangxi provinces and displacing the US air bases there. Overall the operation is successful, with the Japanese losing about 100,000 dead to more than 480,000 Chinese military and 500,000 Chinese civilian casualties.

Operations Reckless and Persecution

United States and Australian forces mounted amphibious invasions of northwest New Guinea in Operations Reckless and Persecution. In Operation Reckless the US 24th and 41st Infantry Divisions landed at Tanahmerah and Humboldt Bays near Hollandia in Dutch New Guinea. In Operation Persecution the 163rd Regimental Combat Team (US) and No. 62 Works Wing (RAAF) simultaneously landed at Aitape, 230km to the east in the Australian Territory of New Guinea.

D-Day

After extensive aerial and naval bombardment, including the landing of 24,000 airborne troops, 156,000 US, British, and other Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy, German-occupied France, in the largest seaborne invasion in history. The landings began at 06:30 and met heavy fire from gun emplacements overlooking the beaches, along with numerous mines and obstacles. Over the day, the Allies suffered at least 10,000 casualties vs about 1,000 for the Germans, but secured their beachhead.

US capture Saipan from Japanese

The development of the B-29 Superfortress bomber increased the distance from which bombing raids could be launched against Japan. To capitalize on this, US forces launched an attack on the island of Saipan, capturing it after 20 days of fighting.

Battle of the Philippine Sea

In Operation A-Go, the Imperial Japanese Navy confronted the US Fifth Fleet of Admiral Raymond Spruance in the Philippine Sea to the west of the Mariana Islands. The following clash - in which the fleets themselves did not come within 500 km of each other - was so one-sided, given the US superiority in both technology and training, that it was nicknamed 'The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot', with over 200 Japanese aircraft shot down that morning. By the end of the two-day battle, the Japanese had lost 3 fleet carriers and some 600 aircraft for US losses of 123 aircraft.

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