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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.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND / CONTEXT
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
NOTE: THE VIDEO DOCUMENTS HISTORICAL EVENTS. SINCE IT WAS PRODUCED DECADES AGO, IT HAS HISTORICAL VALUES AND CAN BE CONSIDERED AS A VALUABLE HISTORICAL DOCUMENT. THE VIDEO HAS BEEN UPLOADED WITH EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES. ITS TOPIC IS REPRESENTED WITHIN HISTORICAL CONTEXT. THE VIDEO DOES NOT CONTAIN SENSITIVE SCENES AT ALL!