A U.S. soldier offers his hand to a woman leaving a cave where she had hidden with her child, 1944

This photo was taken during the Battle of Saipan, in which 22,000 Japanese civilians lost their lives - many by suicide - and almost all 30,000 Japanese soldiers on the island. Of the 71,000 American soldiers who landed on Saipan, 3,426 were killed, while more than 13,000 were wounded.

During the Saipan War, the Americans faced the Japanese determination to resist death and the American occupiers were not allowed to take either soldiers or civilians alive: the largest banzai charge of the war occurred on Saipan and cost four thousand. More than Japanese soldiers were killed.

Then, if this was not enough, there was a direct order by Emperor Hirohito that civilians on the island were ordered to kill themselves rather than survive. The order has been challenged as a forgery in the post-war period, but the evidence appears to be in its favour.

Citizens were scared not only by the war, but also by the Japanese propaganda. The Japanese told everyone that Americans would rape and kill them if caught and to become a United States Marine you had to kill your parents.

American loudspeaker units and US Marines offered food and safe passage. But many citizens were not interested or too scared to listen.

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