The 6th Bomb Group

Tinian Island - Saving Japanese Lives

After the Battle

Many history books indicate that all the Japanese solders defending Tinian died in battle. The popular belief was that all Japanese soldiers followed the "bushido code" and either died in battle or committed "hari kari". This might have happened on other islands, but it did not happen on Tinian. Instead, hundreds of Japanese soldiers hid out in the many caves on Tinian Island.

Aircrew were warned not to explore those caves. From time to time, some of these Japanese soldiers would decide to surrender - in some cases to aircrew on their way to fly a mission. Japanese soldiers were thought to be responsible for an explosion in the bomb dump that took place in January 1945.

The last Japanese soldier on Tinian to surrender was Murata Susumu, who was captured in 1953. [Bruce Petty, "Saipan Oral Histories of the Pacific War", p. 40.

An Unusual Hobby

"Toughy" the Japanese POW with John ___ and Willy Smith.

Willy Smith was a Marine assigned to the motor pool. After hours, Willy's "hobby" was to try to find Japanese soldiers who were still hiding and try to convince them to surrender. Because of his efforts and the efforts of other Marines, hundreds of Japanese who might otherwise have died, were able to return home after the war.

A Contemporary Newspaper Account