The Marianas, with its booming sugar industry, reached the height of its prosperity in the late 1930s under Japanese administration. Just a few years later the islands were engulfed in war. Two years after Pearl Harbor, Allied forces were sweeping westward across the Pacific in their assault on the Japanese island empire. By June 1944 they were poised to attack Saipan. This was to be the start of the final phase of the war. For the two opposing armies, and for the civilians caught between them, the battle for the Marianas was the most painful of times.