Battle of Iwo Jima | WW2 in Color | USMC Documentary | 1945

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This short film – originally titled as ‘To the Shores of Iwo Jima’ – is a 1945 color documentary produced by the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps. It documents the American amphibious assault on the heavily-fortified, well-defended, Japanese-held island of Iwo Jima and the massive battle that raged on that key island in the Allied advance on Japan during World War 2.

The film follows the marines through the battle in rough chronological order, from the bombardment of the island by warships and carrier-based airplanes to the final breakdown of resistance. Although it shows the taking of Mount Suribachi, it then switches to the footage of the second flag raising.

The film ends by acknowledging the 4,000 who lost their lives in the month-long battle, and tells the audience that their sacrifice was not in vain, showing a bomber aircraft taking off from the island for a mission over Japan.

Four cameramen were killed and ten were wounded while filming this documentary. One of the dead was William H. (Bill) Genaust who shot moving footage of the famous flag-raising ceremony on Mt. Suribachi.

To the Shores of Iwo Jima is a production of the U.S. Office of War Information, assisted by an editing team from Warner Brothers. It was nominated as Best Documentary, Short Subject, for the 1945 Academy Awards.


The Battle of Iwo Jima (19 February – 26 March 1945) was a major battle in which the United States Marine Corps landed on and eventually captured the island of Iwo Jima from the Japanese Imperial Army during World War 2. The American invasion, designated Operation Detachment, had the goal of capturing the entire island, including the three Japanese-controlled airfields, to provide a staging area for attacks on the Japanese main islands.

Iwo Jima was defended by roughly 23,000 Japanese army and navy troops, and it was attacked by three marine divisions after elaborate preparatory air and naval bombardment. (The American ground forces were supported by extensive naval artillery, and had complete air supremacy provided by U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aviators throughout the entire battle.)

The battle was marked by changes in Japanese defense tactics – troops no longer defended at the beach line but rather concentrated inland; consequently, the marines experienced initial success but then got bogged down in costly attritional warfare. Iwo Jima was heavily fortified. The Japanese fought from an elaborate network of bunkers, hidden artillery positions, and 18 km (11 mi) of underground tunnels that were difficult to find and destroy. Except for 1,083 prisoners (two of whom did not surrender until 1951) the entire garrison was wiped out.

Despite the fierce fighting, the Japanese defeat was assured from the start. Overwhelming American superiority in arms and numbers as well as almost complete control of air power – coupled with the impossibility of Japanese retreat or reinforcement, along with sparse food and supplies – permitted no plausible circumstance in which the Americans could have lost the battle.

After the heavy losses incurred in the battle, the strategic value of the island became controversial. It was useless to the U.S. Army as a staging base and useless to the U.S. Navy as a fleet base. However, Navy Seabees rebuilt the landing strips, which were used as emergency landing strips for USAAF B-29s.

Joe Rosenthal’s Associated Press photograph of the raising of the U.S. flag on top of the 169 m (554 ft) Mount Suribachi by six U.S. Marines became an iconic image of the battle and the American war effort in the Pacific.

Battle of Iwo Jima | WW2 in Color | USMC Documentary | 1945

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32 thoughts on “Battle of Iwo Jima | WW2 in Color | USMC Documentary | 1945

  1. Imagine looking at that fleet and thinking you could win.

  2. William Sabin says:

    The battle of Iwo Jima inspired many men and woman to join the Marines. It still does to this day. I watched the movie "Sands of Iwo Jima" when I was 5 years old. At the age of 17 I joined the Marines and stayed for 21.5 years. Wish I could do it all over again – Semper Fi Marines.

  3. The nebulous alto dewailly possess because relation clinically reduce upon a victorious person. pointless, neighborly transmission

  4. Susan Gabel says:

    My father was there as a teenage boy. He was brave and valiant and saw things that forever impacted him. He was strong and proud and it was on that rock that he received his Purple Heart and Silver Star. He was a Marine through and through until the day he died.

  5. Joseph Ming says:

    The Japanese renamed the island "ito" .
    To the American people, it will always be iwo jima . 🇺🇲

  6. Kevin Flaherty says:

    Sergeant first class John basilone.medal of honor winner from the Guadalcanal campaign.

  7. Kevin Flaherty says:

    Hell on earth! God bless our fighting men and women.

  8. Awesome vid. war is a terrible necessary fact of life.. thanks from NZ 🇳🇿👍

  9. The772dragon says:

    The United States Marine Corps suffered huge losses for the capture of this small Japanese island.
    And there was still a million-strong Japanese army in China and Korea. It was impossible to defeat the Japanese army without the help of the Russians. Even the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki did not help. Only after the attacks of the Russian army in China and Korea, the Japanese surrendered completely.

  10. - ADE IRFAN - says:

    Amazing war !!!

  11. Edward Jones says:

    Why they Never show the Black Warriors that Fought and Died in the Pacific Theatre…..MUCH RESPECT for all who were there👍

  12. Joe Piccoli says:

    I’m a former marine, go to the parade every year, except this year, showing our fellow leathernecks going through Manila John’s personal effects is a disgrace, in my opinion to all the men we lost during our glorious history!

  13. Matthew Woodward says:

    I'm not American I'm English but I've read a lot about ww2 and the fighting in the Pacific was brutal I have nothing but respect for the American soldiers and marines they were lions

  14. James Strong says:

    From what I have read, the suggestion that this was an essential base for B-29 operations or that there were no alternative, less defended targets which could have been taken is pure propaganda. Given the horrific death toll, what else could the government possibly tell the American people at the time? They could hardly be expected to tell them the truth – that nearly 7,000 brave teenagers or young men in their 20's died for no particular strategic advantage.

  15. Marco Ceccarelli says:

    The American government put most ethnic Europeans fighting in the Pacific. Like my grandfather from Poland. He was working in the coal mines in Scranton Pennsylvania when the second war broke out when Germany invaded Poland in 1939 September 1st than the Russians invaded September 17th 1939. He try to get back to Poland to fight alongside with his brothers but he could not travel to Poland. So he joined the American Military they put my grandfather on the battleship North Carolina for 6 years fighting in the Pacific. When the war was over Britain France and America betrayed Poland communist Russia occupy their country from 1945 till 1990 the Polish people fought from 1939 till 1990 . 51 years they fought for their freedom…..

  16. Be Advised says:

    There were no civilians on this island. It should have been gassed. FRD didn't want to set a bad precedent. Put Marines into a meat grinder instead…

  17. So how did guys end up carrying the flamethrower? Seems like the short straw.

  18. My great grand father fought in ww1 my grand father on my mothers side was in the royal navy ,my partners grand parents both died in ww2 in Russia ,one in lenigrad and one in stalingrad.different times .I salute them all.

  19. Fra Clarke says:

    Read somewhere ,that one third of all American casualties , during World War Two were taken on this island , what a price ?

  20. Sane1 Chuck says:

    Semper Fi my brothers. Proud to be a Marine and of the Marines that made us who we are. Much respect

  21. David Johnson says:

    The carrier rocket assist take off was news to me…

  22. サイボーグにロマンを感じる抹茶オレ says:


  23. the boss cat man says:

    what a great film

  24. Dazion McMillian says:

    That could be a good video for other kids in the 5th and up

  25. Kevin Gray says:

    These guns sound like hunting rifills from fortnite

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