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Saipan – Remnants of War.

June 29, 2011

In the Marianas island chain, Saipan is the second most populous after Guam.

It was also the headquarters for Japanese stationed in this part of the Pacific.  As a result, remnants of war are scattered about the island.

Saipan was ‘awarded’ to the Germans in the Spanish-American War, so when WWII broke out and there was an alliance of Axis powers (Germany, Italy and Japan), Saipan became a Japanese territory without a fight.  It was only logical they’d place their Central Pacific Headquarters here – the same reason Guam is strategic to the US today.

I don’t normally do the spec thing, but this is a fairly significant artifact.  This is a Mitsubishi Type 95 Ha-Go light tank, powered by a six cylinder air-cooled diesel.

It is historically significant as the type 95 Ha-Go is the only enemy tank ever to set its treads on US soil.  I’ve a picture of that specific tank on Guam but this one is more complete.

The most defensible portion of the island is on the north side of the mountain (Marpi) – and it was here the Japanese made their last stand from a fortress half carved from native rock and defended by some fairly heavy artillery.

These are significant guns as they are one of the few remaining Japanese artillery installations remaining in their original mounts.

That ain’t no peashooter.

The artillery guarded HQ embedded in the hillside behind.

We drove them from their hideout with tremendous ferocity, as evidenced by damage to the bunker.

The damage is clearly from shelling, as the hole is larger on the inside.

Once driven from this last outpost, the few troops remaining alive chose to make a Banzai charge from this place to the south of the island.

When the island was secured, we set about clearing the space by pushing millions of dollars of Japanese engines of war off this cliff into the azure water below.  According to reliable sources, over nine million pounds of uxneploded ordinance has been disposed of since 1945 – much of it dumped off this cliff right up to the late 1960’s.

Sadly – only about half of the unexploded ordinance was removed.  That leaves another nine million pounds rotting in the jungle, rendering about a third of the island uninhabitable.

This is a place of sadness for the Japanese, and is remembered to this day.

Shrines erected to memorialize those who left this world from a place known as Banzai cliff.

Interesting.  Terrible yet beautiful and melancholy, with the remnants of war impacting lives over 65 years later.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 29, 2011 5:28 am

    Chuck,

    I am really enjoying your blog. Keep it up.

    Thanks, Doug

    • dangerboyandpixie permalink*
      June 29, 2011 5:54 am

      I really appreciate the words of encouragement, man!

      Thanks!

      It’s the damnedest thing; ever since posting about Singapore, readership has fallen off a cliff. Tokyo? interesting. Shopping? interesting. Singapore?

      Not so much.

      We found it to be the exact opposite; we loved Singapore and could take or leave Tokyo.

      We’re off to Hong Kong this weekend, and are thinking about squeezing in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) before the Pheebs leaves first week of August. It’s been a LOT of fun capturing the moments and it means much to us that an inveterate poster as yourself would find our travels of interest.

      We do this for family and friends – we’re honored to include you in that group.

      Pauline will be back August 5th – stop by and say hi!

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