Author Archives: srjacob

Civilian Sadness

While reading through the G-2 Operation Forager Journal for cave locations, I’m looking for a specific set of words and designated map numbers that reveal something about the caves. However, I’ve also come across some slightly disturbing reports regarding civilians on Saipan which is reminding me of the human aspect of the War, instead of the inhumane military reporting of the ‘enemy’.

The following are summaries of reports of civilians from the G-2 Operation Forager Journal for the date 21 June 1944.

The Nurse

As of the 20th, at 1900 hours “one army nurse was captured with throat cut”. She was found within a cave in the area of TA 106CD with a dead small boy, also with a cut throat.

At 1102 hours on the 21st it was reported that the nurse stated that her husband was an Army officer in charge of two companies in the area where she was captured. She said she had been wounded and could not be moved, so that when her husband left, he cut her throat and the boy’s.

At 1420 hours, Sergeant Ohta, after further interrogation of Soga Hanako, the captured “nurse”, was found not to be an army nurse. Her husband was attached to a naval construction unit on Tinian and  not an officer on Saipan. She had been on Saipan with her 12 year old son for two months,working as a nurse and midwife while waiting for transportation to Japan.  She had killed her son because of his wounds and then tried to kill herself.

The Father

On the 20th at about 1500 hours, two Japanese boys, aged 11 and 7, were discovered and questioned by interpreters, Lieutenant Haza_d [sic] and [Rank unreadable] Higashi. The oldest boy stated that a Japanese civilian was still alive in a dugout about 600 yards from the A Division Command Post.

On arrival at the dugout, the interpreters “found the dugout guarded by Marines and there was a man inside holding a dead, bloated and maggoted child in his arms and another child and woman also dead lying on the floor.”

Attempts to talk the man into coming out of the dugout were conducted, but the man replied that he had nothing to live for as his children were dead, and he wanted to be left alone.

The interpreters knew that at the current time that they would not be able to coax the man out, and left with orders to the guards to watch the man, but not shoot. About 200 yards from the dugout, the interpreters were called back by the Marines. The man had hanged himself.

The Collateral

At 1450 hours, the 105th infantry reported that around “300-500 enemy troops and [a] good deal more civilians on Nafutan Pt. running into bluffs and caves and terrain getting more rugged. Interpreter being employed to get civilians out of caves before sealing in soldiers who refused to surrender.”

“Know Your Enemy”

During World War Two, in the Pacific Theatre, the Japanese forces had occupied many of the Pacific Islands. The Japanese fortified these islands in a variety of ways to defend them from the attacking American Forces, one of which was to use and/or construct caves for highly strategic military purposes and as protective shelters for both the Japanese forces, and the civilian population of these islands.

For my directed study, I’ve been tasked with identifying the use of the caves (i.e.fortified positions, machine gun emplacements, storage, etc.) on the island of Saipan, in the Northern Mariana Islands, by collating historical and archival data to extract as many locations for cave sites on the island as possible.

Before researching into Saipan’s caves, I’ve decided to look at “Know Your Enemy!”, a declassified US Military report on the Japanese Military Caves on Peleliu. This report complies the information gained after the extensive study and analysis of the cave system found on Peleliu, Palau.

Know your enemy

Peleliu was the site of Operation Stalemate II, which had occurred after the Americans gained control of Saipan, Guam and Tinian, and before the Volcano and Ryūkyū Islands campaign (Iwo Jima and Okinawa). As such, some of the techniques to defend the island came from what had been learnt when previous islands were taken. This potentially means that how the Japanese used the caves on Peleliu would be similar to, or an improvement on how the caves were used on Saipan.

The following are some extracts from the report that I believe could help me  for the Saipan research:


Differences between the Army and Navy:



In relation to I, L, and T shaped caves:


And, something to chill the spine: