Iwo Jima: Red Blood, Black Sand
One of the most famous battles of World War II was fought over a speck of land in the Pacific Ocean, as US forces clawed their way from island to island towards their ultimate target – Japan.
On 19th February, 1945, after heavy naval bombardment, US Marines landed on the volcanic island of Iwo Jima, 650 miles from Tokyo. The island was strategically valuable, its eight square miles containing three airstrips which were the Marines’ target. It was also garrisoned by 22,000 Japanese soldiers. Nevertheless, it was expected to be taken within five days.
The battle took more than a month and cost the Americans almost 7,000 lives and more than 19,000 wounded. The Japanese, well dug in or hiding in fortified caves, refused to surrender. Eventually, 216 were captured. The rest – 21,844 men – were killed. The raising of the US flag at Iwo Jima is an iconic image, but it was paid for in blood.
This film features previously-unseen combat film footage and personal recollections woven together into a moving tribute for all veterans of World War II. Marine Ted Salisbury said: “If you were wounded, not seriously, but enough to get off the island, you were very fortunate, because if you stayed you were going to die.”
The 36- day battle led to 27 Medals of Honor, the highest US military medal, being awarded – 13 of them posthumously.
The battle has been immortalised several times in film, most recently in Clint Eastwood’s epic double bill Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima.