To the shores of Iwo Jima


From 8 December 1944 to 19 February 1945 Allied forces bombed Japanese installations on Iwo Jima daily in order to soften Japan's defenses on the island. This represented the single most prolonged bombing action of the war but the results did not seem to justify the effort; when the marines landed on 19 February they found most of the Japanese positions intact and the Japanese garisson ready and willing to engage them. Although Iwo Jima had been considered an easy target, it was to prove to be one of the most costly and difficult battles of the Pacific campaign.

Style & quality
Four cameramen were killed and ten were wounded while filming this Academy Award-nominated documentary. It graphically depicts the American assault on the Japanese-held island of Iwo Jima and the massive battle that raged on that key island in the Allied advance on Japan. The five marines and one sailor who raised the American flag on Mt. Suribachi are shown. The film was commissioned by the US war department, so do not expect a completely unbiased perspective. DUE TO A MISTAKE IN THE ENCODING THERE MAY BE SOME DELAY IN FAST MOTION SCENES. AN IMPROVED ENCODING WILL BE AVAILABLE SHORTLY.

Social interest
When the Americans landed, they were greeted by mortar fire and an almost constant artillery barrage. Unlike earlier amphibious operations in which the allies were able to establish a beach-head and quickly fan out to attack their targets, the Marine attack force at Iwo Jima was pinned down on the beaches and sustained exceptionally heavy losses (2500 killed or wounded) on the very first day of operation. Iwo Jima was not secured until 26 March 1945. During the nearly 6 weeks that the attack was in progress, the Marines sustained 26000 casualties. Of the 25000 Japanese, 21000 lay dead when the campaign ended and only a few hundred prisoners were taken alive.

Historic Interest
The capture of Manilla had marked the end of Japanese control in the Philipine Islands. It had originally been thought that once the philipines were subdued the Allied would carry the war to Formosa and/or the China coast, but the success of the Philippine venture encouraged military planners to consider a direct attack against the Japanese home islands. Such a move would end the war more rapidly at a minimal cost in men and equipment, and the plan was generally well received by MacArthur, Halsey and associates.

Political interest
Iwo Jima had not been a mayor Japanese station and until the summer of 1944 would have been easy for the Allies to take. However as the war progressed at the expense of the Japanese, it became clear to the Japanese that the Allies would soon be pressing their homeland. By September 1944 both Japanese and American military leaders understood clearly the value of the island as a long-range bomber base. Every effort was made to prepare for an American attack, including the construction of an elaborate network of caves and tunnels which would be difficult to destroy.

Military Interest
The Joint Chiefs of Staff felt that if an attack on Japan was to be successful the Allies would have to capture Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and the Bonin Islands first. With these bases secure the Allies could launch a mayor aerial bombardment of the Japanese islands, pulverizing the mayor cities with their powerful B-29 Bombers and destroying any remaining industrial capacity.

Nominated for Academy Award Best Documentary (1945)

  • Producer: Milton Sperling
  • Written:
  • Director:
  • Cinematography: Horman T. Harch, Norman T. Hatch, David Hopkins, John McLain, Herb Schlosberg, Karl T. Soule Jr.
  • Editor: Rex Steele
  • Written:
  • Music: William Lava