- Historical event:
- 7 July 1944
- Several thousand Japanese soldiers launched a banzai attack on American troops, disregarding their own lives. The term "banzai" originated from the Japanese phrase "Tenno Heika Banzai".
On this day in 1944, the Japanese performed the largest banzai charge during World War II. It took place during the Battle of Saipan, in the Mariana Islands.
Saipan is located about two hundred kilometers northeast of Guam, with a surface area of 115.4 square kilometers. Interestingly, the islands of Saipan and Guam are located along the famed Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the world’s oceans.
In the Battle of Saipan, American troops wanted to take over this island from the Japanese. When they found themselves in a hopeless position, the remaining Japanese decided to launch a so-called banzai attack.
This term originated from the Japanese phrase “Tenno Heika Banzai” (meaning roughly “Long live the Emperor”, where the word banzai is etymologically derived from the term for 10,000 years).
Several thousand Japanese soldiers started the assault on American troops, disregarding their own lives. Interestingly, even wounded Japanese joined them, some of them very poorly armed.
Such a human wave attack inflicted serious losses to the Americans, to that extent that some American battalions were reportedly completely destroyed.
However, the Americans were finally victorious and the number of Japanese soldiers killed was huge (about ten times the number of Americans killed).