Pen & Sword's The Battle of Tinian

Author/Artists: John Grehan & Alexander Nicoll


Pen & Sword


$28.95 from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 178 pages, softcover, 7.5 x 9.5 inches
ISBN: 978-1-399085271

As part of the push through the central Pacific during WWII was the need to drive the Japanese out of the Marianas islands. While Guam had been and still is a US possession, the islands north of that, specifically Saipan and Tinian had been Japanese since they were acquired from the Germans at the end of WWI. As such, both islands had fairly substantial military units based there as well as a compliant Japanese population.

The US needed the islands of Guam and Tinian on which to build bases for the B-29 Superfortress. From these two islands, Much of Japan could be reached. Unlike China where the Japanese had a huge army, once these islands were taken, there would be little to no chance of them being overrun. The campaigns for Saipan and Tinian were fiercely fought. Saipan was especially difficult thanks to the more varied topography. Tinian was fairly flat and while the battles to secure that island were not easy, they were considerably less casualty intensive than those on Saipan or even Guam.

This volume is a little bit different from the majority of previous books in this series. In most of those, each section has a historical preamble with the remaining portion being devoted to photos that are more or less attached to the section. In this one, the historical context is woven throughout each chapter. Some like this and some prefer the other method. To me, it makes very little difference, though I do like photos of personalities being provided on the same page as they are discussed.

In addition to the build-up and the battles themselves, this book also looks as the circumstances and fate of the USS Indianapolis, which brought the atomic bombs to Tinian as well as the basing and use of the two bombs which flew from Tinian. The authors have done a fine job of telling the story and the images are well chosen. There are quite a few large images that cross the 'trench' at the center of the book. This is usually done where insufficient images of a subject are available and that may well be the case here. It also helps to drive up the page count. Regardless, this is a very well done book and one that I found a pleasure to read. It can be easily recommended to you.

January 2024

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