Library Archive: Footage Shows Fierce Fighting Battleships

Incredible WWII footage shows US Marines storming bunkers with FLAMETHROWERS before hoisting the Stars and Stripes for legendary photograph

    More than 6,500 US servicemen died in the battle at Iwo Jima, a tiny island 660 miles south of Tokyo

    Iwo Jima was deemed vital because Japanese fighter planes based there were intercepting US bombers

    Invasion began on February 19, 1945, with 70,000 Marines battling 18,000 Japanese soldiers for 36 days

Incredible footage shows US Marines storming the beaches at Iwo Jima and raiding bunkers with flamethrowers before hoisting the Stars and Stripes for the iconic photograph that came to symbolise the brutal battle.

Iwo Jima was one of the most savage conflicts of the Second World War with 6,500 US servicemen sacrificing their lives to take the tiny island, 660 miles south of Tokyo, Japan.

The invasion began on February 19, 1945 and now, 73 years on, rare video has brought the bloodthirsty fighting to life.

Captured by a crew embedded with the US Marines over a month-long period, the footage begins by showing a fleet of landing craft heading towards the coast with troops waiting nervously onboard.

It then cuts to Marines storming the beaches under heavy fire and an aerial view of Allied aircraft dropping bombs on Japanese bases, as tanks manoeuvre inland.

We later see troops with flame throwers torching bunkers and the corpses of Japanese soldiers piled up in their wake.

Mortar crews bombing positions are also captured in the film, before we see the soldiers erect the Stars and Stripes in a picture that would go on to be one of the most recognizable pictures of the Second World War.

Though they eventually took the island, Iwo Jima was the only battle in the war which saw American casualties outnumber those of their Japanese counterparts.

Besides those killed, about 20,000 Americans were wounded. Only about 200 Japanese soldiers were captured, with the others killed in the fighting.

The colourised image of the marines placing the flag in the ground, which features in author Michael Carroll’s new book ‘Retrographic; History in Colour’, came to symbolise the ultimate moment of victory for the United States in World War 2, with the picture still regarded as one of the most iconic in American history.

However all is not as it seems with the image, as Michael explains in his book:

‘The true story of the photograph is not quite as straightforward as the celebrated image we see,’ he writes.

‘Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal was assigned to the US Marine Corps in the Pacific Theatre of operations. On February 19 1945 he was on one of over five hundred US ships that landed a force of one hundred and ten thousand men on the Japanese-occupied and strategically important island of Iwo Jima.

‘This image that was later used to portray ultimate victory, was in fact taken just four days into the battle, which lasted another four weeks.

‘In total the fighting was to cost six thousand, eight hundred and twenty-one American lives, with over eighteen thousand Japanese also killed. The image was also not of the genuinely historic and spontaneous first flag raising over the mountaintop, but a second, larger flag that was deployed so as to be more visible to US naval ships stationed off the coast of the island.’

While the courage of the US Marine Corps was captured in the IWO Jima footage, a clip of the US Airforce carrying out a bombing raid over Italy in 1945 has also emerged.

The video follows a squadron of P-47 Thunderbolt planes as they conduct operations in the final days of Mussolini’s reign.

The fighters drop bombs and open fire on a bridge in the Italian countryside, before the squadron moves on to a supply train making its way toward Rome, which they stop on its track before destroying its cargo.

Further clips from the video captures the majestic aircraft soaring through the skies, with a final sequence showing the group opening fire on supply cars making their way along back country roads.

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