World Battlefronts: BATTLE OF THE PACIFIC: To the Victor: the Bases

Three and a half weeks after landing on Saipan, key to the Marianas and the approaches to Tokyo, Marine and Army troops finished the U.S. conquest of the island. Thus ended the bloodiest battle of the Pacific-island offensive: thus was won an air base within 1,500 miles of Tokyo (easy range for B-29 Superfortresses).

Best of all, it was a base which could readily be supplied by sea, unlike those in China to which every drop of gasoline, every ounce of explosive, must be flown in.

If U.S. forces had paid dearly for the 14½-mile-long, 75-square-mile island, its futile defense had...

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