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World War Two - Glory and Guts

Updated on February 2, 2014

In the eighth chapter of Lost Films, this enthralling series of life on the frontlines in World War 2, U.S. Marines assault the island of Iwo Jima. They witness the horrors of the infamous battle as well as the iconic flag raising, an image repeated time and again the world over.

Omaha Beach
Omaha Beach

Omaha Beach

November 2nd, 1944

It is now five months since the initial D-Day landings at Normandy and the 84th Infantry Division have finally set foot on Omaha Beach. They are just one of several re-inforcement divisions that have been sent to Normandy to support fighting forces that have been depleted since the D-Day invasion.

Allied forces now occupy a continuous fighting front of more than 400 miles stretching from Antwerp in Belgium to the Swiss Alps. Re-inforcements are needed to relieve the battle-weary divisions who have been locked in stagnant combat on the front lines.

The Allies have not yet managed to secure an adequate port that they can use as a landing area, so all new troops must land at Normandy and then make a laborious journey to the front of over 300 miles.

After 16 days of travelling, the 84th Infantry Division have covered over 400 miles and are near the Dutch-German border, where the fighting is taking a heavy toll on the American troops....within hours they will be joining the battle there.

Day of Days by Dave Harris
Day of Days by Dave Harris

D-Day Landings

Day of Days - this picture by Dave Harris Art captures the drama of the Normandy D-Day landings and the historic wartime Premier Winston Churchill.

Dave Harris Art

  • World War 2 pictures
    New World War 2 pictures by Dave Harris available as limited edition giclee prints. El Alamein "Rats Against the Fox", RAF Dambusters mission in May 1943, Band of Brothers night before D-Day and Day of Days - The Normandy Landings.

Geilenkirchen, Germany

November 19th, 1944

The 84th Infantry Division is advancing towards the city of Geilenkirchen along Hitler's 'Siegfried Line'.

November 21st, 1944

Most of the city is cleared apart from a few die-hard German snipers. Orders are to clear buildings of mines, booby-traps or any remainig Germans. Suddenly German voices can be heard from a nearby cellar and after being ordered out of their hiding place, 18 German soldiers appear with their hands aloft.

They are marched out into the street and stripped of all their weapons, these are the last remaining Germans left in the city.

Over Leipzig, Germany - November 21st, 1944

A squadron of B-17 bombers escorted by P51 fighters are returning from a bombing run over Leipzig when they come under fire from German anti-aircraft guns and then around 40 or more German planes come from nowhere.

They throw everything at the P51's but are soon overwhelmed by their superior counterparts and the bombers can continue safely home.


Photo courtesy of Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress, July 1944.
Photo courtesy of Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress, July 1944.

Off the coast of Iwo Jima

February 19th, 1945

After 74 days of relentless pre-invasion bombardment of the island of Iwo Jima, located midway between Saipan and Japan, the island is covered in a veil of smoke and dust, only the the islands highest point, Mount Suribachi is visible.

By securing Iwo Jima, American forces can establish a fighter base that will provide air cover for the B-29 Super Fortresses ng base for any damaged bombers returning from Japan. The mission to take Iwo Jima will be severely testing, American forces must face a variety of terrein of cane fields, scrub growth and barren volcanic ash. At the southern end of the island is the 550 foot high Mount Suribachi, a dormant volcano that conceals a nest of bunkers, tunnels and heavily fortified fighting positions.

0900Hrs

The first two Marine divisions begin landing on Iwo Jima. Half an hour later and four more additional waves of troops have landed. By 1100Hrs one Marine battalion is halfway to the islands' airfield, but the enemy's resistance is increasinly stubborn. By 1430Hrs a staggering 30 percent of the Marines on Iwo are dead or wounded. The Americans only hold about a quarter of the island and already casualties are almost 4,200 and the acrid smell of burning flesh is all around.

Iwo Jima- February 23rd, 1945

Four days into the invasion the beachhead is secured and the Marines have been able tp push inland and overpower the Japanese defences on the outer slopes of Mount Suribachi, cutting off the mountain from the rest of the Japanese force. However, the Marines have to remove every last vestige of Japanese resistance from defensive positions inside the mountain. On the morning of February 23rd, a patrol is sent to the summit, they are given a small American flag and told to raise it at the mountain peak, if they can make it to the top.

1100Hrs

The small patrol; has managed to reach the summit and raise the stars and stripes. This is the first American flag to fly over Japanese territory, but a matter of hours after it is planted, a Marine officer orders that it is to be replaced with a larger flag. Six men are given the task of raising this second flag, photographed by a photographer of the Associated Press. The Marines below however are far more pre-occupied with winning the battle and the flag raising goes virtually unnoticed.

Iwo Jima - February 26th, 1945

The invasion force of 80,000 Marines, after a week of fierce close-quarter fighting have managed to take Mount Suribachi and have secured two of the island's three airfields, but still only have around half of the island under American control.

They are now beginning the costly task of removing the Japanese from their intricate underground defences. One cave near the airfield has atunnel 800 yards long with 14 seperate entrances, 74 days of shelling had achieved very little.

BY the fifth day, 5,000 Marines are dead, three men for every two minutes of action on the island. By the seventh day, Japanese casualties total 3,500 dead with only 9 prisoners taken.

Iwo Jima March 11th, 1945

The battle for Iwo Jima is finally over and American military leaders declare the island officially secured. Almost immediately the island's airfields begin launching fighter escorts for B-29 bombers on bombing raids to Tokyo. It is a major strategic victory that has come at a terrible price. The 35 day conflict has been a catastrophic loss of life with the Japanese losing 22,000 soldiers and sailors and over 24,000 Americans killed or wounded in action. It is three times as many American casualties as were suffered on D-Day.

Of the six men who raised the second flag at Mount Suribachi, three were killed in action on Iwo jima.

"And so today, in this year of war 1945, we have learned lessons at a fearful cost, and we shall profit by them. In the days and the years to come, we shall work for a just and honourable peace, a durable peace, as today we work and fight for our total victory in war. We can and we will achieve such peace".

President Franklin D. Roosevelt

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    • aethelthryth profile image

      aethelthryth 

      7 years ago from American Southwest

      I recently interviewed an Iwo Jima veteran I know, and what you say fits with what he said. He showed us a sample of what the sand on the beach looked like, which fits with what I read from another veteran, that it was like trying to walk in BBs up to your ankles.

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