BREACHING THE MARIANAS: The Battle for Saipan
by Captain John C. Chapin
U.S. Marine Corps Reserve (Ret)
There are five principal official sources for the
facts about the unit actions on Saipan. These range from preliminary,
condensed accounts to massive, detailed final studies which reach down
to the level of company operations. In the interests of brevity, the
author of this monograph has limited himself to covering the actions of
regiments and divisions, with minor special exceptions.
The five sources are:
1) Henry I. Shaw, Jr., Bernard C. Nalty, and
Edwin T. Turnbladh, Central Pacific Drive, vol. 3, History of
U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II (Washington: Historical
Branch, G-3 Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1966).
2) Philip A. Crowl, Campaign in the Marianas,
vol 9., United States Army in World War II, The War in the
Pacific (Washington: Office of the Chief of Military History,
Department of the Army, 1960).
3) Maj Carl W. Hoffman, USMC Saipan: The Beginning
of the End (Washington: Historical Division, Headquarters, U.S.
Marine Corps, 1950).
4) Capt James R. Stockman, USMC, Campaign for the
Marianas (Washington: Historical Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine
5) Capt Edmund G. Love, USA, The 27th Infantry
Division in World War II (Washington: Infantry Journal Press,
In addition, there is a wide variety of other
literature on the Saipan operation. This material ranges from a 19-page
essay by a Naval Academy midshipman, to first-hand accounts appearing in
the Marine Corps Gazette, to wildly subjective books dealing with
individual experiences or the "Smith vs Smith" controversy.
To supplement the framework of unit tactics,
vignettes of individuals have been drawn from two principal sources:
1) The Personal Papers Collection of the Marine Corps
Historical Center has useful memoirs, particularly those of Frederick A.
Stott (473-4A32), John C. Chapin (671-4A44), and Robert E. Graf
2) In the Center's Oral History Collection, the
author examined well over a dozen reminiscences and found only four that
involved front-line experiences: Lieutenant Colonel Justice M. Chambers,
USMCR (C2); Captain Carl W. Hoffman, USMC, (H2); Lieutenant Colonel
William K. Jones, USMC, (J2); and Lieutenant John H. Craven, ChC, USN,
About the Author
Captain John C. Chapin earned a bachelor of arts
degree with honors in history from Yale University in 1942 and was
commissioned later that year. He served as a rifle platoon leader in the
24th Marines, 4th Marine Division, and was wounded in action during the
assault landings on Roi-Namur and Saipan.
Transferred to duty at the Historical Division,
Headquarters Marine Corps, he wrote the first official histories of the
4th and 5th Marine Divisions. Moving to reserve status at the end of
World War II, he earned a master's degree in history at George
Washington University with a thesis on "The Marine Occupation of Haiti,
Now a captain in retired status, he has devoted major
portions of 10 years to writing history as a volunteer at the Marine
Corps Historical Center. His first publication there was an official
monograph, A History of VMFA-115, for one of the Marine Corps'
better-known squadrons. With support from the Historical Center and the
Marine Corps Historical Foundation, he then spent some years researching
and interviewing for the writing of a new book, Uncommon MenThe
Sergeants Major of the Marine Corps. This was published by the White
Mane Publishing Co.
Acknowledgement is gratefully made to Lieutenant
General William K. Jones, USMC (Ret), for his first draft of an account
of the Saipan operation.
THIS PAMPHLET HISTORY, one in a series devoted
to U.S. Marines in the World War II era, is published for the education
and training of Marines by the History and Museums Division,
Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, Washington, D.C., as a part of the U.S.
Department of Defense observance of the 50th anniversary of victory in
Editorial costs of preparing this pamphlet have been
defrayed in part by a bequest from the estate of Emilie H. Watts, in
memory of her late husband, Thomas M. Watts, who served as a Marine and
was the recipient of a Purple Heart.
WORLD WAR II COMMEMORATIVE SERIES
DIRECTOR OF MARINE CORPS HISTORY AND MUSEUMS
Brigadier General Edwin H. Simmons, USMC (Ret)
WORLD WAR II COMMEMORATIVE SERIES
Benis M. Frank
George C. MacGillivray
EDITING AND DESIGN SECTION, HISTORY AND MUSEUMS DIVISION
Robert E. Struder, Senior Editor; W. Stephen Hill, Visual
Catherine A. Kerns, Composition Services
Technician, R.D. Payne, VolunteerWeb Edition
Marine Corps Historical Center
Building 58, Washington Navy Yard
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