Report on the Battle of Okinawa

Report on the Battle of Okinawa

On April 1, 1945, the U.S. Simon Bolivar Buckner began the invasion of Okinawa, a Japanese-held island in the Pacific considered the final stepping stone in an advance toward the Japanese mainland. Two days into the invasion, a news report relays the story of the U.S. Army's fast-paced advance.


Report on the Battle of Okinawa - HISTORY

There was little elation among the exhausted Marines in southern Okinawa at the official proclamation of victory. The residual death throes of the Thirty-second Army kept the battlefield lethal. The last of General Ushijima's front-line infantry may have died defending Kunishi Ridge and Yuza Dake, but the remaining hodgepodge of support troops sold their lives dearly to the last. In the closing period 17-19 June, die-hard Japanese survivors wounded Major Earl J. Cook, CO of 1/22 Major William C. Chamberlin, S-3 of the 8th Marines and Lieutenant Colonel E. Hunter Hurst, CO of 3/7. Even the two Marines who had survived so long in the shell crater on Sugar Loaf saw their luck run out in the final days. Private First Class Bertoli died in action. A Japanese satchel charge seriously wounded Corporal Day, requiring an urgent evacuation to the hospital ship Solace.

Okinawa's caves behind front lines were used as temporary hospitals for emergency operations and treatment, at times when casualties could not be rushed to the rear or to a hospital ship standing in the transport area off of the landing beaches. Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 123155

Okinawa proved extremely costly to all participants. More than 100,000 Japanese died defending the island, although about 7,000 uncharacteristically surrendered at the end. Native Okinawans suffered the most. Recent studies indicate as many as 150,000 died in the fighting, a figure representing one third of the island's population. The Tenth Army sustained nearly 40,000 combat casualties, including more than 7,000 Americans killed. An additional 26,000 "non-battle" casualties occurred combat fatigue cases accounted for most of these.

Marine Corps casualties overall — ground, air, ships' detachments — exceeded 19,500. In addition, 560 members of the Navy Medical Corps organic to the Marine units were killed or wounded. General Shepherd described the corpsmen on Okinawa as "the finest, most courageous men that I know . . . . they did a magnificent job." Three corpsmen received the Medal of Honor (see sidebar). As always, losses within the infantry outfits soared out of proportion. Colonel Shapley reported losses of 110 percent in the 4th Marines, which reflected both the addition of replacements and their high attrition after joining. Corporal Day of 2/22 experienced the death of his regimental and battalion commanders, plus the killing or wounding of two company commanders, seven platoon commanders, and every other member of his rifle squad in the battle.

The legacy of this great battle can be expressed in these categories:

Foreshadow of Invasion of Japan. Admiral Spruance described the battle of Okinawa as "a bloody, hellish prelude to the invasion of Japan." As protracted a nightmare as Okinawa had been, every survivor knew in his heart that the next battles in Kyushu and Honshu would be incalculably worse. In a nutshell, the plans for invading Japan specified the Kyushu landings would be executed by the surviving veterans of Iwo Jima and Luzon the reward of the Okinawa survivors would be the landing on the main island of Honshu. Most men grew fatalistic nobody's luck could last through such infernos.

Amphibious Mastery. By coincidence, the enormous and virtually flawless amphibious assault on Okinawa occurred 30 years to the month after the colossal disaster at Gallipoli in World War I. By 1945 the Americans had refined this difficult naval mission into an art form. Nimitz had every possible advantage in place for Okinawa — a proven doctrine, specialized ships and landing craft, mission-oriented weapons systems, trained shock troops, flexible logistics, unity of command. Every thing clicked. The massive projection of 60,000 combat troops ashore on L-Day and the subsequent series of smaller landings on the surrounding islands represented the fruition of a doctrine earlier considered hare brained or suicidal.

Attrition Warfare. Disregarding the great opportunities for surprise and maneuver available in the amphibious task force, the Tenth Army conducted much of the campaign for Okinawa in an unimaginative, attrition mode which played into the strength of the Japanese defenders. An unrealistic reliance on firepower and siege tactics prolonged the fighting and increased the costs. The landings on Ie Shima and Oroku Peninsula, despite their successful executions, comprised the only division-level amphibious assaults undertaken after L-Day. Likewise, the few night attacks undertaken by Marine and Army forces achieved uncommon success, but were not encouraged. The Tenth Army squandered several opportunities for tactical innovations that could have hastened a breakthrough of the enemy defenses.

1st Division Marines and 7th Infantry Division soldiers cheer exuberantly at Okinawa atop Hill 89, where the Thirty-second Army commander took his life. Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 125699

Joint Service. The squabble between the 1st Marine Division and the 77th Division after the Marines seized Shuri Castle notwithstanding, the battle of Okinawa represented joint service cooperation at its finest. This was General Buckner's greatest achievement, and General Geiger continued the sense of teamwork after Buckner's death. Okinawa remains a model of interservice cooperation to succeeding generations of military professionals.

First-Rate Training. The Marines who deployed to Okinawa received the benefit of the most thorough and practical advanced training of the war. Well-seasoned division and regimental commanders, anticipating Okinawa's requirements for cave warfare and combat in built-up areas, conducted realistic training and rehearsals. The battle produced few surprises.

Leadership. Many of those Marines who survived Okinawa went on to positions of top leadership that influenced the Corps for the next two decades or more. Two Commandants emerged — General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., of the 6th Marine Division, and then-Lieutenant Colonel Leonard F. Chapman, Jr., CO of 4/11. Oliver P. Smith and Vernon E. Megee rose to four-star rank. At least 17 others achieved the rank of lieutenant general, including George C. Axtell, Jr. Victor H. Krulak Alan Shapley and Edward W. Snedeker. And Corporal James L. Day recovered from his wounds and returned to Okinawa 40 years later as a major general to command all Marine Corps bases on the island.

During the taping of the 50th anniversary commemorative video of the battle, General "Brute" Krulak provided a fitting epitaph to the Marines who fell on Okinawa. Speaking extemporaneously on camera, he said:

The cheerfulness with which they went to their death has stayed with me forever. What is it that makes them all the same? I watched them in Korea, I watched them in Vietnam, and it's the same. American youth is one hell of a lot better than he is usually credited."

For Extraordinary Heroism

The Secretary of the Navy awarded Presidential Unit Citations to the 1st and 6th Marine Divisions, the 2d Marine Aircraft Wing, and Marine Observation Squadron Three (VMO-3) for "extraordinary heroism in action against enemy Japanese forces during the invasion of Okinawa." Marine Observation Squadron Six also received the award as a specified attached unit to the 6th Marine Division.

On an individual basis, 23 servicemen received the Medal of Honor for actions performed during the battle. Thirteen of these went to the Marines and their organic Navy corpsmen, nine to Army troops, and one to a Navy officer.

Within IIIAC, 10 Marines and 3 corpsmen received the award. Eleven of the 13 were posthomous awards. Most, if not all, deceased Medal of Honor recipients have had either U.S. Navy ships or Marine Corps installations named in their honor. The Okinawa Medal of Honor awardees were:

Corporal Richard E. Bush, USMC, 1/4 HA 1/c Robert E. Bush, USN, 2/5 *Maj Henry A. Courtney, Jr., USMC, 2/22 *Corporal John P. Fardy, USMC, 1/1 *PFC William A. Foster, USMC, 3/1 *PFC Harold Gonsalves, USMC, 4/15 *PhM 2/c William D. Halyburton, USN, 2/5 *Pvt Dale M. Hansen, USMC, 2/1 *Corporal Louis J. Hauge, Jr., USMC, 1/1 *Sgt Elbert L. Kinser, USMC, 3/1 *HA 1/c Fred F. Lester, USN, 1/22 *Pvt Robert M. McTureous, Jr., USMC, 3/29 and *PFC Albert E. Schwab, USMC, 1/5.


Battle of Okinawa in Color

The Battle of Okinawa, codenamed Operation Iceberg, was a major battle of the Pacific War fought on the island of Okinawa by United States Army and United States Marine Corps (USMC) forces against the Imperial Japanese Army. The initial invasion of Okinawa on April 1, 1945, was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific Theater of World War II. The Kerama Islands surrounding Okinawa were preemptively captured on March 26, (L-6) by the 77th Infantry Division. The 98-day battle lasted from March 26 until July 2, 1945. After a long campaign of island hopping, the Allies were planning to use Kadena Air Base on the large island of Okinawa as a base for Operation Downfall, the planned invasion of the Japanese home islands, 340 mi (550 km) away.

The United States created the Tenth Army, a cross-branch force consisting of the US Army 7th, 27th, 77th and 96th Infantry Divisions with the USMC 1st, 2nd, and 6th Marine Divisions, to fight on the island. The Tenth was unique in that it had its own Tactical Air Force (joint Army-Marine command), and was also supported by combined naval and amphibious forces.

The battle has been referred to as the “typhoon of steel” in English, and tetsu no ame (“rain of steel”) or tetsu no bōfū (“violent wind of steel”) in Japanese. The nicknames refer to the ferocity of the fighting, the intensity of Japanese kamikaze attacks and the sheer numbers of Allied ships and armored vehicles that assaulted the island. The battle was one of the bloodiest in the Pacific, with approximately 160,000 casualties on both sides: at least 50,000 Allied and 84,166–117,000 Japanese, including drafted Okinawans wearing Japanese uniforms. 149,425 Okinawans were killed, died by suicide or went missing, roughly half of the estimated pre-war 300,000 local population.


Narratives of World War II in the Pacific

Operation Iceberg was the code name for the American invasion of the Okinawa Island. This would be one of the bloodiest battles fought in the Pacific War, this battle would be vital in the determination of using the new atomic weapon on Japan. The Japanese saw Okinawa as the last line of defense. For the Japanese, holding the island was important because they knew that the Allies were going to use this island as a land base for strategic bombing and a harbor for the invasion of Japan. The Allies saw the island of Okinawa as a jumping off point for the inevitable invasion of the Japan itself. Okinawa could support the vast armada that would be needed to defeat Japan. The Okinawans would be the ones to pay a heavy toll because they would be caught between the two fighting forces. The tactics that were used by both the Japanese and American military in the battle of Okinawa were different the Japanese took a defensive position, while the Americans and their Allies took an offensive position. All the while Okinawans tried to survived the war. The Japanese would use the terrain to slow the American advance, and the Japanese would attempt to bleed the Allied Naval forces. The American forces would conduct a massive artillery barrage followed by a sweeping maneuver to take the island. The Navy would defend the sky and support the American advance. The Okinawan men were forced to serve in the Japanese Army, while their loved ones tried to survive.

The Japanese had had over six months to prepare the defenses to repel the inevitable American invasion of Okinawa. The commander in charge of defending the island was Lieutenant Colonel Hiromichi Yahara. He reported to the commander of the 32 nd Army, General Mitsuru Ushijima which was the main garrison in Okinawa. The Chief of Staff was Isamu Cho. The Japanese 32 nd Army would adopt similar tactics used at Iwo Jima, which was to fight using underground tunnels and bunkers to fight the Americans. The Japanese army did not attack the beaches when the Americans came ashore. When the Imperial General Head Quarters (IGHQ) realized the immediate danger that Okinawa faced, they sent the 15 th Independent Mixed regiment to reinforce the 32 nd . The 9 th Infantry Division commanded by Field Marshall Shunroku Hata was also sent to support the garrison at Okinawa. The chain of command in Okinawa was different than the other locations, for example, in the book Hirohito&rsquos War: The Pacific War, 1941-1945, Francis Pike explains &ldquo&hellipthe 32 nd army reported directly to Lieutenant General Sadamu Shimomura&rsquos Western District army in Kyushu rather than to Imperial General HQ in Tokyo.&rdquo [1] Okinawa was to be given priority when it came to receiving supplies however, American Naval superiority would prevent many of the supplies from ever arriving to Okinawa.

The Japanese army was going to fight the Americans by using Okinawa as an airfield they would also use tunnels to defend the island. In The Leavenworth Papers found on the Command and General Staff College website where it explains that the Japanese initially wanted to defend the island by air. &ldquoIGHQ expected the defense of Okinawa to be achieved mainly by air power and envisioned Okinawa as a gigantic air base.&rdquo [2] The Japanese believed that Okinawa could be held if it were turned into a giant airfield, and use air power to stop the invasion however, the IGHQ did not realize that Japan had few planes and pilots to spare to achieve this goal. &ldquo&hellip Construction was slow. Moreover, because of U.S. submarine raiders, it was impossible for the Japanese to deliver the large quantities of fuel, ammunition, and antiaircraft guns needed to operate the bases. Even more seriously, the planes themselves were not available.&rdquo [3] This is an excellent example of how the Japanese were no longer in control of the Pacific Ocean. Further proof that the tide of the war was favoring America and its allies.

The Japanese army would use the same tactics as before in Iwo Jima back on the 19th of February 1945, which was to defend the island using a tunnel system to slow the American adevance. The 32 nd army made tunnels and caves to defend the island against the Advancing American Army and Marines. &ldquoAmerican air supremacy meant that every Japanese position had to be hardened and concealed, because air observation would bring devastating bombardment on any visible target.&rdquo [4] The Japanese 32 nd army was trying to bleed the Americans at Okinawa, buying time for the Homeland. &ldquoIt would be lost, but a long battle of attrition would give time for the build-up of the mainland&rsquos defenses.&rdquo [5] The Japanese army used the terrain against the Americans. &ldquoThe 32 nd Army placed itself where it knew the U.S. Army must come, Okinawa, and it shrewdly chose terrain (1) that was strategically crucial for the Americans to capture for control of Nakagusuku Bay and Naha harbor, yet which also (2) was extremely favorable for the defender. (MacArthur had done the same on Bataan.) Having identified such terrain, the 32 nd Army thoroughly prepared it. Creating the cave environment was itself the 32 nd Army's greatest operational success.&rdquo [6] The caves and underground tactics were effective however, it did not stop the defeat of the Japanese army in Okinawa by the American Military.

The American military knew that Okinawa would be vital as a jumping off point to the eventual invasion of Japan itself. Admiral Raymond Ames Spruance commanded Task Force 58. Admiral Spruance&rsquos fleet also had British support. The British fleet was led by Vice-Admiral Sir Bernard Rawlings, his fleet &ldquo&hellipconsisted of 2 battleships, 4 fleet carriers, 4 cruisers plus HMNZS Gambia provided by New Zealand.&rdquo [7] Admiral Spruance&rsquos fleet consisted of 1,500 ships the largest fleet ever assembled. Lieutenant General Simon Bolivar Buckner was the commander of ground forces that landed at Okinawa. As commander of the Tenth Army which was slotted to invade Okinawa and so the planning began to invade Okinawa. The American Tenth Army consisted of four divisions: the 7 th , 27 th , 77 th , and 96 th Infantry Division and three Marine divisions: the 1 st , 2 nd , and 6 th Division. &ldquoIn all, 183,000 soldiers (not including Seabees and support staff) were brought to the beaches of Okinawa&hellip&rdquo [8] As General Buckner deployed his divisions on land after a weeklong bombardment, one of the longest bombardments of the campaign, Spruance and his Navy provided air support. Unlike the Marines in previous campaigns the Army was slow and methodical. This made the Navy prime targets of Kamikazes. Kamikaze means divine wind these kamikazes were special suicide units. The kamikaze soldier or pilot would charge or crash their plane into the enemy. When the Americans landed on Hagushi beach the Marines pushed north while the Army pushed south. Resistance at first was minimal and sporadic in the North where the marines were pushing. However, in the south where the Army was advancing, resistance was fierce. The Japanese would hold their line for as long as possible and then withdraw into the cave and tunnel system to their new defensive lines and resist all over again. Progress was slow clearing the tunnels.

At sea the U.S. Navy was battling kamikaze attacks as well as the Japanese pilots. The &ldquoJapanese hurled no less than 11 major kamikaze operations, involving 1,465 planes, at the American fleet.&rdquo [9] The Japanese battleship Yamato was given orders to attack the American fleet, it was given enough fuel to make the attack. The American fleet attacked the Yamato and she was sunk. The Navy continued to support the Army with close air support. Bombing the area where it was needed. Massive bombings by the Navy helps the Army and Marines gain ground in Okinawa. The Navy also provides supplies for the ground forces on the island of Okinawa. The fighting on the island was fierce and costly in lives on both sides, even the Okinawans suffered from the battle of Okinawa.

The people of Okinawa were forced to endure the battle of Okinawa. Many of the men were forced to support the Japanese army. Some were in mixed units others supported the military. &ldquo&hellipAn estimated 150,000 Okinawans died during the battle&hellip&rdquo [10] Many Okinawans still hold hostile feelings towards Japan. For example, the book Japan At War An Oral History by Cook and Cook which has an oral history by Ota Masahide an Okinawan who was a part of its defense. &ldquo&hellipAs a member of the Tekketsu Kinnotai, the &lsquoBlood and iron Student Corps.&rsquo&rdquo [11] Some of the Okinawa women tended to the Japanese wounded, many of them were left behind when the army withdrew. As the battle lines continue to shift the Okinawa people tried to move away from them. The Marines were pushing north and fought the Japanese on the northern part of the island, and the Army was advancing south the Japanese fight them there. The Okinawans the entire time caught in the middle. There was no safe place for them to go. If they went north there was fighting between the Marines and the Japanese, if they were in the south there was fighting there as well.

The battle of Okinawa began in April 1 st and ended in June 22 nd 1945. This battle was the last and bloodiest battle of the pacific war. The Japanese 32 nd Army had elaborate tunnel systems to defend against the invading American forces that split the island in half. The Marines took the north and the Army took the south. The American fleet was the largest in history which consisted of 1,500 ships to support the ground operations which consisted of seven divisions four from the Army and three from the Marines. There were 150,000 Okinawans killed during the battle of Okinawa. This battle was the turning point in the decision to drop the dumb. The fighting on Okinawa was fierce and it gave commanders an idea on how tenacious the Japanese people would fight if the invasion of Japan was carried out.


Report on the Battle of Okinawa - HISTORY

The Washington National Records Center in Suitland, Maryland, holds primary documents of the Okinawa campaign. The III Amphibious Corps After Action Report provides the best overview, while reports of infantry battalions contain vivid day-by-day accounts. The Marine Corps Oral History Collection contains 36 interviews with Okinawa veterans, among them Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr. Pedro A. del Valle Alan Shapley Edward W. Snedeker and Wilburt S. Brown. The Marine Corps Historical Center also holds Oliver P. Smith's outspoken account of his Okinawa experiences as Marine Deputy Chief of Staff, Tenth Army, as well as the original interrogation report of Colonel Hitomichi Yahara, Operations Officer of the Japanese Thirty-second Army.

Among the official histories, the most useful are Benis M. Frank and Henry I. Shaw, Jr., Victory and Occupation, vol V, History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II (Washington: HistBr, G-3 Div, HQMC, 1968) Charles J. Nichols, Jr., and Henry I. Shaw, Jr., Okinawa: Victory in the Pacific (Washington: HistBr, G-3 Div, HQMC, 1955) and Roy E. Appleman, et al, Okinawa: The Last Battle (Washington: OCMH, Department of the Army, 1948). Two excellent unit histories provide detail and flavor: George McMillan, The Old Breed: A History of the 1st Marine Division in World War II and Bevan G. Cass, History of the 6th Marine Division (Washington: Infantry Journal Press, 1948). Jeter A. Isley and Philip A. Crowl provide an analytical chapter on Okinawa in U.S. Marines and Amphibious War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1951). Robert Sherrod provides lively coverage of Marine Air units in the campaign in his History of Marine Corps Aviation in World War II (Washington: Combat Forces Press, 1948).

More recent accounts of note include George Feifer, Tennozan: The Battle of Okinawa and the Atomic Bomb (New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1992), and Thomas M. Huber, Japan's Battle of Okinawa, April-June 1945 (Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas: U.S. Army Command and Staff College, 1990). A particularly dramatic, first-person account is "A Hill Called Sugar Loaf" by 1stSgt Edmund H. DeMar, USMC (Ret), in Leatherneck (Jun 95).

The author benefited from interviews with LtGen Victor H. Krulak, USMC (Ret), BGen Frederick P. Henderson, USMC (Ret), Mr. Benis M. Frank, and Dr. Eugene B. Sledge. The author is also indebted to MajGen James L. Day, USMC (Ret) and LtCol Owen T. Stebbins, USMCR (Ret), for extended personal interviews — and to the entire staff of the Marine Corps Historical Center for its professional, courteous support.

About the Author

Colonel Joseph H. Alexander, USMC (Ret), served 29 years on active duty as an assault amphibian officer, including two tours in Vietnam and service as Chief of Staff, 3d Marine Division, in the Western Pacific. He is a distinguished graduate of the Naval War College and holds degrees in history from North Carolina, Jacksonville, and Georgetown.

Colonel Alexander, an independent historian in Asheville, North Carolina, wrote Closing In: Marines in the Seizure of Iwo Jima and Across the Reef: The Marine Assault on Tarawa in this series. His book, Utmost Savagery: The Three Days of Tarawa (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1995), won the 1995 General Wallace M. Greene Award of the Marine Corps Historical Foundation. He is also co-author (with Lieutenant Colonel Merrill L. Bartlett) of Sea Soldiers in the Cold War (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1983).

THIS PAMPHLET HISTORY, one in a series devoted to U.S. Marines in the World War II era, is published for the education and training of Marines by the History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, Washington, D.C., as a part of the U.S. Department of Defense observance of the 50th anniversary of victory in that war.

Editorial costs of preparing this pamphlet have been defrayed in part by a grant from the Marine Corps Historical Foundation.


WORLD WAR II COMMEMORATIVE SERIES

DIRECTOR OF MARINE CORPS HISTORY AND MUSEUMS
Brigadier General Edwin H. Simmons, USMC (Ret)

GENERAL EDITOR,
WORLD WAR II COMMEMORATIVE SERIES
Benis M. Frank


Contents

Allied Edit

In all, the US Army had over 103,000 soldiers (of these, 38,000+ were non-divisional artillery, combat support and HQ troops, with another 9,000 service troops), [22] : 39 over 88,000 Marines and 18,000 Navy personnel (mostly Seabees and medical personnel). [22] : 40 At the start of the Battle of Okinawa, the US 10th Army had 182,821 personnel under its command. [22] : 40 It was planned that Lieutenant general Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr. would report to Vice admiral Richmond K. Turner until the amphibious phase was completed, after which he would report directly to Admiral Raymond A. Spruance. Total aircraft in the American Navy, Marine and Army Air Force exceeded 3000 over the course of the battle, including fighters, attack aircraft, scout planes, bombers and dive-bombers. The invasion was supported by a fleet consisting of 18 battleships, 27 cruisers, 177 destroyers/destroyer escorts, 39 aircraft carriers (11 fleet carriers, 6 light carriers and 22 escort carriers) and various support and troop transport ships. [23]

The British naval contingent accompanied 251 British naval aircraft, and included a British Commonwealth fleet with Australian, New Zealand and Canadian ships and personnel. [24]

Japanese Edit

The Japanese land campaign (mainly defensive) was conducted by the 67,000-strong (77,000 according to some sources) regular 32nd Army and some 9,000 Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) troops at Oroku Naval Base (only a few hundred of whom had been trained and equipped for ground combat), supported by 39,000 drafted local Ryukyuan people (including 24,000 hastily drafted rear militia called Boeitai and 15,000 non-uniformed laborers). The Japanese had used kamikaze tactics since the Battle of Leyte Gulf, but for the first time, they became a major part of the defense. Between the American landing on 1 April and 25 May, seven major kamikaze attacks were attempted, involving more than 1,500 planes.

The 32nd Army initially consisted of the 9th, 24th and 62nd Divisions and the 44th Independent Mixed Brigade. The 9th Division was moved to Taiwan before the invasion, resulting in shuffling of Japanese defensive plans. Primary resistance was to be led in the south by Lieutenant General Mitsuru Ushijima, his chief of staff, Lieutenant General Isamu Chō and his chief of operations, Colonel Hiromichi Yahara. Yahara advocated a defensive strategy, whilst Chō advocated an offensive one.

In the north, Colonel Takehido Udo was in command. The IJN troops were led by Rear Admiral Minoru Ōta. They expected the Americans to land 6–10 divisions against the Japanese garrison of two and a half divisions. The staff calculated that superior quality and numbers of weapons gave each US division five or six times the firepower of a Japanese division. To this, would be added the Americans' abundant naval and air firepower.

Japanese soldiers arriving on Okinawa

Japanese high school girls wave farewell to a kamikaze pilot departing to Okinawa

A US military diagram of typical Japanese hill defensive tunnels and installations

A Japanese Type 89 150mm gun hidden inside a cave defensive system

A map of Okinawa's airfields, 1945

Military use of children Edit

On Okinawa, middle school boys were organized into front-line-service Tekketsu Kinnōtai, while Himeyuri students were organized into a nursing unit. [21]

The Imperial Japanese Army mobilized 1,780 middle school boys aged 14–17 years into front-line service. They were named Tekketsu Kinnōtai (ja:鉄血勤皇隊, "Iron and Blood Imperial Corps"). This mobilization was conducted by an ordinance of the Ministry of the Army, not by law. The ordinances mobilized the students as volunteer soldiers for form's sake in reality, the military authorities ordered schools to force almost all students to "volunteer" as soldiers sometimes they counterfeited the necessary documents. About half of the Tekketsu Kinnōtai were killed, including in suicide bomb attacks against tanks, and in guerrilla operations.

Among the 21 male and female secondary schools that made up these student corps, 2,000 students would die on the battlefield. Even with the female students acting mainly as nurses to Japanese soldiers they would still be exposed to the harsh conditions of war. [25]

There was a hypnotic fascination to the sight so alien to our Western philosophy. We watched each plunging kamikaze with the detached horror of one witnessing a terrible spectacle rather than as the intended victim. We forgot self for the moment as we groped hopelessly for the thought of that other man up there.

The United States Navy's Task Force 58, deployed to the east of Okinawa with a picket group of from 6 to 8 destroyers, kept 13 carriers (7 CVs and 6 CVLs) on duty from 23 March to 27 April and a smaller number thereafter. Until 27 April, a minimum of 14 and up to 18 escort carriers (CVEs) were in the area at all times. Until 20 April, British Task Force 57, with 4 large and 6 escort carriers, remained off the Sakishima Islands to protect the southern flank. [12] : 97

The protracted length of the campaign under stressful conditions forced Admiral Chester W. Nimitz to take the unprecedented step of relieving the principal naval commanders to rest and recuperate. Following the practice of changing the fleet designation with the change of commanders, US naval forces began the campaign as the US 5th Fleet under Admiral Raymond Spruance, but ended it as the 3rd Fleet under Admiral William Halsey.

Japanese air opposition had been relatively light during the first few days after the landings. However, on 6 April, the expected air reaction began with an attack by 400 planes from Kyushu. Periodic heavy air attacks continued through April. During the period 26 March – 30 April, twenty American ships were sunk and 157 damaged by enemy action. For their part, by 30 April, the Japanese had lost more than 1,100 planes to Allied naval forces alone. [12] : 102

Between 6 April and 22 June, the Japanese flew 1,465 kamikaze aircraft in large-scale attacks from Kyushu, 185 individual kamikaze sorties from Kyushu, and 250 individual kamikaze sorties from Formosa. While US intelligence estimated there were 89 planes on Formosa, the Japanese actually had about 700, dismantled or well camouflaged and dispersed into scattered villages and towns the US Fifth Air Force disputed Navy claims of kamikaze coming from Formosa. [27] [ clarification needed ]

The ships lost were smaller vessels, particularly the destroyers of the radar pickets, as well as destroyer escorts and landing ships. While no major allied warships were lost, several fleet carriers were severely damaged. Land-based Shin'yō-class suicide motorboats were also used in the Japanese suicide attacks, although Ushijima had disbanded the majority of the suicide boat battalions before the battle due to expected low effectiveness against a superior enemy. The boat crews were re-formed into three additional infantry battalions. [28]

The super battleship Yamato explodes after persistent attacks from US aircraft.

American aircraft carrier USS Bunker Hill burns after being hit by two kamikaze planes within 30 seconds.

Operation Ten-Go Edit

Operation Ten-Go (Ten-gō sakusen) was the attempted attack by a strike force of 10 Japanese surface vessels, led by Yamato and commanded by Admiral Seiichi Itō. This small task force had been ordered to fight through enemy naval forces, then beach Yamato and fight from shore, using her guns as coastal artillery and her crew as naval infantry. The Ten-Go force was spotted by submarines shortly after it left the Japanese home waters, and was intercepted by US carrier aircraft.

Under attack from more than 300 aircraft over a two-hour span, the world's largest battleship sank on 7 April 1945, after a one-sided battle, long before she could reach Okinawa. (US torpedo bombers were instructed to aim for only one side to prevent effective counter flooding by the battleship's crew, and to aim for the bow or the stern, where armor was believed to be the thinnest.) Of Yamato ' s screening force, the light cruiser Yahagi and 4 of the 8 destroyers were also sunk. The Imperial Japanese Navy lost some 3,700 sailors, including Admiral Itō, at the cost of 10 US aircraft and 12 airmen.

British Pacific Fleet Edit

The British Pacific Fleet, taking part as Task Force 57, was assigned the task of neutralizing the Japanese airfields in the Sakishima Islands, which it did successfully from 26 March to 10 April.

On 10 April, its attention was shifted to airfields in northern Formosa. The force withdrew to San Pedro Bay on 23 April.

On 1 May, the British Pacific Fleet returned to action, subduing the airfields as before, this time with naval bombardment as well as aircraft. Several kamikaze attacks caused significant damage, but as the Royal Navy carriers had armoured flight decks, they experienced only a brief interruption to their force's operations. [29] [30]

Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Avengers, Seafires and Fireflies on HMS Implacable warm up their engines before taking off.

HMS Formidable on fire after a kamikaze attack on May 4. The ship was out of action for fifty minutes.

The land battle took place over about 81 days beginning on 1 April 1945. The first Americans ashore were soldiers of the 77th Infantry Division, who landed in the Kerama Islands, 15 mi (24 km) west of Okinawa on 26 March. Subsidiary landings followed, and the Kerama group was secured over the next five days. In these preliminary operations, the 77th Infantry Division suffered 27 dead and 81 wounded, while the Japanese dead and captured numbered over 650. The operation provided a protected anchorage for the fleet and eliminated the threat from suicide boats. [12] : 50–60

On 31 March, Marines of the Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion landed without opposition on Keise Shima, four islets just 8 mi (13 km) west of the Okinawan capital of Naha. A group of 155 mm (6.1 in) "Long Tom" artillery pieces went ashore on the islets to cover operations on Okinawa. [12] : 57

Northern Okinawa Edit

The main landing was made by the XXIV Corps and the III Amphibious Corps on the Hagushi beaches on the western coast of Okinawa on L-Day, 1 April. The 2nd Marine Division conducted a demonstration off the Minatoga beaches on the southeastern coast to deceive the Japanese about American intentions and delay movement of reserves from there. [12] : 68–74

The 10th Army swept across the south-central part of the island with relative ease, capturing the Kadena and the Yomitan airbases within hours of the landing. [15] : 67–9 [12] : 74–5 In light of the weak opposition, General Buckner decided to proceed immediately with Phase II of his plan, the seizure of northern Okinawa. The 6th Marine Division headed up the Ishikawa Isthmus and by 7 April, had sealed off the Motobu Peninsula. [12] : 138–41

Six days later on 13 April, the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Marine Regiment, reached Hedo Point (Hedo-misaki) at the northernmost tip of the island. By this point, the bulk of the Japanese forces in the north (codenamed Udo Force) were cornered on the Motobu Peninsula. Here, the terrain was mountainous and wooded, with the Japanese defenses concentrated on Yae-Dake, a twisted mass of rocky ridges and ravines on the center of the peninsula. There was heavy fighting before the Marines finally cleared Yae-Dake on 18 April. [12] : 141–8 However, this was not the end of ground combat in northern Okinawa. On 24 May, the Japanese mounted Operation Gi-gou: a company of Giretsu Kuteitai commandos were airlifted in a suicide attack on Yomitan. They destroyed 70,000 US gallons (260,000 l) of fuel and nine planes before being killed by the defenders, who lost two men.

Meanwhile, the 77th Infantry Division assaulted Ie Island (Ie Shima), a small island off the western end of the peninsula, on 16 April. In addition to conventional hazards, the 77th Infantry Division encountered kamikaze attacks and even local women armed with spears. There was heavy fighting before the area was declared secured on 21 April, and became another airbase for operations against Japan. [12] : 149–83

Southern Okinawa Edit

While the 6th Marine Division cleared northern Okinawa, the US Army 96th and 7th Infantry Divisions wheeled south across the narrow waist of Okinawa. The 96th Infantry Division began to encounter fierce resistance in west-central Okinawa from Japanese troops holding fortified positions east of Highway No. 1 and about 5 mi (8 km) northwest of Shuri, from what came to be known as Cactus Ridge. [12] : 104–5 The 7th Infantry Division encountered similarly fierce Japanese opposition from a rocky pinnacle located about 1,000 yd (910 m) southwest of Arakachi (later dubbed "The Pinnacle"). By the night of 8 April, American troops had cleared these and several other strongly fortified positions. They suffered over 1,500 battle casualties in the process while killing or capturing about 4,500 Japanese. Yet the battle had only begun, for it was now realized that "these were merely outposts," guarding the Shuri Line. [12] : 105–8

As the American assault against Kakazu Ridge stalled, Lieutenant General Ushijima – influenced by General Chō — decided to take the offensive. On the evening of 12 April, the 32nd Army attacked American positions across the entire front. The Japanese attack was heavy, sustained, and well organized. After fierce close combat, the attackers retreated, only to repeat their offensive the following night. A final assault on 14 April was again repulsed. The effort led the 32nd Army's staff to conclude that the Americans were vulnerable to night infiltration tactics, but that their superior firepower made any offensive Japanese troop concentrations extremely dangerous, and they reverted to their defensive strategy. [12] : 130–7

The 27th Infantry Division, which had landed on 9 April, took over on the right, along the west coast of Okinawa. General John R. Hodge now had three divisions in the line, with the 96th in the middle and the 7th to the east, with each division holding a front of only about 1.5 mi (2.4 km). Hodge launched a new offensive on 19 April with a barrage of 324 guns, the largest ever in the Pacific Ocean Theater. Battleships, cruisers, and destroyers joined the bombardment, which was followed by 650 Navy and Marine planes attacking the Japanese positions with napalm, rockets, bombs, and machine guns. The Japanese defenses were sited on reverse slopes, where the defenders waited out the artillery barrage and aerial attack in relative safety, emerging from the caves to rain mortar rounds and grenades upon the Americans advancing up the forward slope. [12] : 184–94

A tank assault to achieve breakthrough by outflanking Kakazu Ridge failed to link up with its infantry support attempting to cross the ridge and therefore failed with the loss of 22 tanks. Although flame tanks cleared many cave defenses, there was no breakthrough, and the XXIV Corps suffered 720 casualties. The losses might have been greater except for the fact that the Japanese had practically all of their infantry reserves tied up farther south, held there by another feint off the Minatoga beaches by the 2nd Marine Division that coincided with the attack. [12] : 196–207

At the end of April, after Army forces had pushed through the Machinato defensive line, [31] the 1st Marine Division relieved the 27th Infantry Division and the 77th Infantry Division relieved the 96th. When the 6th Marine Division arrived, the III Amphibious Corps took over the right flank and the 10th Army assumed control of the battle. [12] : 265

On 4 May, the 32nd Army launched another counteroffensive. This time, Ushijima attempted to make amphibious assaults on the coasts behind American lines. To support his offensive, the Japanese artillery moved into the open. By doing so, they were able to fire 13,000 rounds in support, but effective American counter-battery fire destroyed dozens of Japanese artillery pieces. The attack failed. [12] : 283–302

By the end of May, monsoon rains which had turned contested hills and roads into a morass exacerbated both the tactical and medical situations. The ground advance began to resemble a World War I battlefield, as troops became mired in mud, and flooded roads greatly inhibited evacuation of wounded to the rear. Troops lived on a field sodden by rain, part garbage dump and part graveyard. Unburied Japanese and American bodies decayed, sank in the mud and became part of a noxious stew. Anyone sliding down the greasy slopes could easily find their pockets full of maggots at the end of the journey. [32] [12] : 364–70

From 24 to 27 May the 6th Marine Division cautiously occupied the ruins of Naha, the largest city on the island, finding it largely deserted. [12] : 372–7

On 26 May aerial observers saw large troop movements just below Shuri. On 28 May Marine patrols found recently abandoned positions west of Shuri. By 30 May the consensus among Army and Marine intelligence was that the majority of Japanese forces had withdrawn from the Shuri Line. [12] : 391–2 On 29 May the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines occupied high ground 700 yards (640 m) east of Shuri Castle and reported that the Castle appeared undefended. At 10:15 Company A, 1/5 Marines occupied the Castle [12] : 395–6

Shuri Castle had been shelled by the battleship USS Mississippi for three days before this advance. [33] Due to this, the 32nd Army withdrew to the south and thus the Marines had an easy task of securing Shuri Castle. [33] [34] The castle, however, was outside the 1st Marine Division's assigned zone and only frantic efforts by the commander and staff of the 77th Infantry Division prevented an American airstrike and artillery bombardment which would have resulted in many casualties due to friendly fire. [12] : 396

The Japanese retreat, although harassed by artillery fire, was conducted with great skill at night and aided by the monsoon storms. The 32nd Army was able to move nearly 30,000 personnel into its last defense line on the Kiyan Peninsula, which ultimately led to the greatest slaughter on Okinawa in the latter stages of the battle, including the deaths of thousands of civilians. In addition, there were 9,000 IJN troops supported by 1,100 militia, with approximately 4,000 holed up at the underground headquarters on the hillside overlooking the Okinawa Naval Base in the Oroku Peninsula, east of the airfield. [12] : 392–4

On 4 June, elements of the 6th Marine Division launched an amphibious assault on the peninsula. The 4,000 Japanese sailors, including Admiral Ōta, all committed suicide within the hand-built tunnels of the underground naval headquarters on 13 June. [12] : 427–34

By 17 June, the remnants of Ushijima's shattered 32nd Army were pushed into a small pocket in the far south of the island to the southeast of Itoman. [12] : 455–61

On 18 June, General Buckner was killed by Japanese artillery fire while monitoring the progress of his troops from a forward observation post. Buckner was replaced by Major general Roy Geiger. Upon assuming command, Geiger became the only US Marine to command a numbered army of the US Army in combat he was relieved five days later by General Joseph Stilwell. On 19 June, General Claudius Miller Easley, the commander of the 96th Infantry Division, was killed by Japanese machine-gun fire, also while checking on the progress of his troops at the front. [12] : 461

The last remnants of Japanese resistance ended on 21 June, although some Japanese continued hiding, including the future governor of Okinawa Prefecture, Masahide Ōta. [35] Ushijima and Chō committed suicide by seppuku in their command headquarters on Hill 89 in the closing hours of the battle. [12] : 468–71 Colonel Yahara had asked Ushijima for permission to commit suicide, but the general refused his request, saying: "If you die there will be no one left who knows the truth about the battle of Okinawa. Bear the temporary shame but endure it. This is an order from your army Commander." [26] : 723 Yahara was the most senior officer to have survived the battle on the island, and he later authored a book titled The Battle for Okinawa. On 22 June Tenth Army held a flag-arising ceremony to mark the end of organized resistance on Okinawa. On 23 June a mopping-up operation commenced, which concluded on 30 June. [12] : 471–3

On 15 August 1945, Admiral Matome Ugaki was killed while part of a kamikaze raid on Iheyajima island. The official surrender ceremony was held on 7 September, near the Kadena airfield.

Okinawa was the bloodiest battle of the Pacific War. [36] [37] The most complete tally of deaths during the battle is at the Cornerstone of Peace monument at the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum, which identifies the names of each individual who died at Okinawa in World War II. As of 2010, the monument lists 240,931 names, including 149,193 Okinawan civilians, 77,166 Imperial Japanese soldiers, 14,009 American soldiers, and smaller numbers of people from South Korea (365), the United Kingdom (82), North Korea (82) and Taiwan (34). [6]

The numbers correspond to recorded deaths during the Battle of Okinawa from the time of the American landings in the Kerama Islands on 26 March 1945, to the signing of the Japanese surrender on 2 September 1945, in addition to all Okinawan casualties in the Pacific War in the 15 years from the Manchurian Incident, along with those who died in Okinawa from war-related events in the year before the battle and the year after the surrender. [38] 234,183 names were inscribed by the time of unveiling and new names are added each year. [39] [40] [41] 40,000 of the Okinawan civilians killed had been drafted or impressed by the Japanese army and are often counted as combat deaths.

Military losses Edit

American Edit

The Americans suffered over 75,000 – 82,000 casualties, including non-battle casualties (psychiatric, injuries, illnesses), of whom over 20,195 were dead (12,500 were killed in action, 7,700 died of wounds or non-combat deaths). Killed in action were 4,907 Navy, 4,675 Army, and 2,938 Marine Corps personnel. [9] The several thousand personnel who died indirectly (from wounds and other causes) at a later date are not included in the total.

The most famous American casualty was Lieutenant General Buckner, whose decision to attack the Japanese defenses head-on, although extremely costly in American lives, was ultimately successful. Four days from the closing of the campaign, Buckner was killed by Japanese artillery fire, which blew lethal slivers of coral into his body, while inspecting his troops at the front line. He was the highest-ranking US officer to be killed by enemy fire during the Second World War. The day after Buckner was killed, Brigadier General Easley was killed by Japanese machine gunfire. The famous war correspondent Ernie Pyle was also killed by Japanese machine-gun fire on Ie Shima, a small island just off of northwestern Okinawa. [42]

Aircraft losses over the three-month period were 768 US planes, including those bombing the Kyushu airfields launching kamikazes. Combat losses were 458, and the other 310 were operational accidents. At sea, 368 Allied ships—including 120 amphibious craft—were damaged while another 36—including 15 amphibious ships and 12 destroyers—were sunk during the Okinawa campaign. The US Navy's dead exceeded its wounded, with 4,907 killed and 4,874 wounded, primarily from kamikaze attacks. [43]

American personnel casualties included thousands of cases of mental breakdown. According to the account of the battle presented in Marine Corps Gazette:

More mental health issues arose from the Battle of Okinawa than any other battle in the Pacific during World War II. The constant bombardment from artillery and mortars coupled with the high casualty rates led to a great deal of personnel coming down with combat fatigue. Additionally, the rains caused mud that prevented tanks from moving and tracks from pulling out the dead, forcing Marines (who pride themselves on burying their dead in a proper and honorable manner) to leave their comrades where they lay. This, coupled with thousands of bodies both friend and foe littering the entire island, created a scent you could nearly taste. Morale was dangerously low by May and the state of discipline on a moral basis had a new low barometer for acceptable behavior. The ruthless atrocities by the Japanese throughout the war had already brought on an altered behavior (deemed so by traditional standards) by many Americans resulting in the desecration of Japanese remains, but the Japanese tactic of using the Okinawan people as human shields brought about a new aspect of terror and torment to the psychological capacity of the Americans. [13]

Medal of Honor recipients from Okinawa are:

    – 13 April – 16 April – 2 May – 14–15 May – 31 May – 14–17 May – 29 April – 21 May – 7 May – 2 May – 15 April – 10 May – 7 May – 14 May – 4 May – 8 June – 19–21 April – 10–11 June – 7 June – 19 June – 9 April – 15–16 May – 28 April – 7 May – 11 May

Japanese losses Edit

The US military estimates that 110,071 Japanese soldiers were killed during the battle. This total includes conscripted Okinawan civilians.

A total of 7,401 Japanese regulars and 3,400 Okinawan conscripts surrendered or were captured during the battle. Additional Japanese and renegade Okinawans were captured or surrendered over the next few months, bringing the total to 16,346. [12] : 489 This was the first battle in the Pacific War in which thousands of Japanese soldiers surrendered or were captured. Many of the prisoners were native Okinawans who had been pressed into service shortly before the battle and were less imbued with the Imperial Japanese Army's no-surrender doctrine. [21] When the American forces occupied the island, many Japanese soldiers put on Okinawan clothing to avoid capture, and some Okinawans would come to the Americans' aid by offering to identify these mainland Japanese.

The Japanese lost 16 combat vessels, including the super battleship Yamato. Early claims of Japanese aircraft losses put the total at 7,800, [12] : 474 however later examination of Japanese records revealed that Japanese aircraft losses at Okinawa were far below often-repeated US estimates for the campaign. [14] The number of conventional and kamikaze aircraft actually lost or expended by the 3rd, 5th, and 10th Air Fleets, combined with about 500 lost or expended by the Imperial Army at Okinawa, was roughly 1,430. [14] The Allies destroyed 27 Japanese tanks and 743 artillery pieces (including mortars, anti-tank and anti-aircraft guns), some of them eliminated by the naval and air bombardments but most knocked out by American counter-battery fire.

Civilian losses, suicides, and atrocities Edit

Some of the other islands that saw major battles in World War II, such as Iwo Jima, were uninhabited or had been evacuated. Okinawa, by contrast, had a large indigenous civilian population US Army records from the planning phase of the operation make the assumption that Okinawa was home to about 300,000 civilians. According to various estimates, between a tenth and a third of them died during the battle, [32] or between 30,000 and 100,000 people. The official US Tenth Army count for the 82-day campaign is a total of 142,058 recovered enemy bodies (including those civilians pressed into service by the Imperial Japanese Army), with the deduction made that about 42,000 were non-uniformed civilians who had been killed in the crossfire. Okinawa Prefecture's estimate is over 100,000 losses, [44]

During the battle, American forces found it difficult to distinguish civilians from soldiers. It became common for them to shoot at Okinawan houses, as one infantryman wrote:

There was some return fire from a few of the houses, but the others were probably occupied by civilians – and we didn't care. It was a terrible thing not to distinguish between the enemy and women and children. Americans always had great compassion, especially for children. Now we fired indiscriminately. [45]

In its history of the war, the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum [44] presents Okinawa as being caught between Japan and the United States. During the 1945 battle, the Imperial Japanese Army showed indifference to Okinawans' safety, and its soldiers even used civilians as human shields or just outright murdered them. The Japanese military also confiscated food from the Okinawans and executed those who hid it, leading to mass starvation, and forced civilians out of their shelters. Japanese soldiers also killed about 1,000 people who spoke in the Okinawan language to suppress spying. [46] The museum writes that "some were blown apart by [artillery] shells, some finding themselves in a hopeless situation were driven to suicide, some died of starvation, some succumbed to malaria, while others fell victim to the retreating Japanese troops." [44]

With the impending Japanese defeat, civilians often committed mass suicide, urged on by the Japanese soldiers who told locals that victorious American soldiers would go on a rampage of killing and raping. Ryūkyū Shimpō, one of the two major Okinawan newspapers, wrote in 2007: "There are many Okinawans who have testified that the Japanese Army directed them to commit suicide. There are also people who have testified that they were handed grenades by Japanese soldiers" to blow themselves up. [47] Thousands of civilians, having been induced by Japanese propaganda to believe that American soldiers were barbarians who committed horrible atrocities, killed their families and themselves to avoid capture at the hands of the Americans. Some of them threw themselves and their family members from the southern cliffs where the Peace Museum now resides. [48] Okinawans "were often surprised at the comparatively humane treatment they received from the American enemy". [49] [50] Islands of Discontent: Okinawan Responses to Japanese and American Power by Mark Selden alleges that the Americans "did not pursue a policy of torture, rape, and murder of civilians as Japanese military officials had warned". [51] American Military Intelligence Corps [52] combat translators such as Teruto Tsubota managed to convince many civilians not to kill themselves. [53] Survivors of the mass suicides blamed also the indoctrination of their education system of the time, in which the Okinawans were taught to become "more Japanese than the Japanese", and were expected to prove it. [54]

Witnesses and historians claim that soldiers, mainly Japanese troops, raped Okinawan women during the battle. Rape by Japanese troops reportedly "became common" [ attribution needed ] in June, after it became clear that the Imperial Japanese Army had been defeated. [21] [12] : 462 Marine Corps officials in Okinawa and Washington have said that they knew of no rapes by American personnel in Okinawa at the end of the war. [55] There are, however, numerous credible testimony accounts which note that a large number of rapes were committed by American forces during the battle. This includes stories of rape after trading sexual favors or even marrying Americans, [56] such as the alleged incident in the village of Katsuyama, where civilians said they had formed a vigilante group to ambush and kill three black American soldiers who they claimed would frequently rape the local girls there. [57]

MEXT textbook controversy Edit

There is ongoing disagreement between Okinawa's local government and Japan's national government over the role of the Japanese military in civilian mass suicides during the battle. In March 2007, the national Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) advised textbook publishers to reword descriptions that the embattled Imperial Japanese Army forced civilians to kill themselves in the war to avoid being taken prisoner. MEXT preferred descriptions that just say that civilians received hand grenades from the Japanese military. This move sparked widespread protests among Okinawans. In June 2007, the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly adopted a resolution stating, "We strongly call on the (national) government to retract the instruction and to immediately restore the description in the textbooks so the truth of the Battle of Okinawa will be handed down correctly and a tragic war will never happen again." [58] [59]

On 29 September 2007, about 110,000 people held the biggest political rally in the history of Okinawa to demand that MEXT retract its order to textbook publishers regarding revising the account of the civilian suicides. The resolution stated, "It is an undeniable fact that the 'multiple suicides' would not have occurred without the involvement of the Japanese military and any deletion of or revision to (the descriptions) is a denial and distortion of the many testimonies by those people who survived the incidents." [60] In December 2007, MEXT partially admitted the role of the Japanese military in civilian mass suicides. [61] The ministry's Textbook Authorization Council allowed the publishers to reinstate the reference that civilians "were forced into mass suicides by the Japanese military", on condition it is placed in sufficient context. The council report stated, "It can be said that from the viewpoint of the Okinawa residents, they were forced into the mass suicides." [62] That was not enough for the survivors who said it is important for children today to know what really happened. [63]

The Nobel Prize-winning author Kenzaburō Ōe wrote a booklet that states that the mass suicide order was given by the military during the battle. [64] He was sued by revisionists, including a wartime commander during the battle, who disputed this and wanted to stop publication of the booklet. At a court hearing, Ōe testified "Mass suicides were forced on Okinawa islanders under Japan's hierarchical social structure that ran through the state of Japan, the Japanese armed forces and local garrisons." [65] In March 2008, the Osaka Prefecture Court ruled in favor of Ōe, stating, "It can be said the military was deeply involved in the mass suicides." The court recognized the military's involvement in the mass suicides and murder-suicides, citing the testimony about the distribution of grenades for suicide by soldiers and the fact that mass suicides were not recorded on islands where the military was not stationed. [66]

In 2012, Korean-Japanese director Pak Su-nam announced her work on the documentary Nuchigafu (Okinawan for "only if one is alive") collecting living survivors' accounts to show "the truth of history to many people", alleging that "there were two types of orders for 'honorable deaths'—one for residents to kill each other and the other for the military to kill all residents". [67] In March 2013, Japanese textbook publisher Shimizu Shoin was permitted by MEXT to publish the statements that "Orders from Japanese soldiers led to Okinawans committing group suicide" and "The [Japanese] army caused many tragedies in Okinawa, killing local civilians and forcing them to commit mass suicide." [68]


Battle of Okinawa

The Battle of Okinawa (Japanese: 沖縄戦 , Hepburn: Okinawa-sen) , codenamed Operation Iceberg, [15] : 17 was a major battle of the Pacific War fought on the island of Okinawa by United States Army and United States Marine Corps (USMC) forces against the Imperial Japanese Army. [16] The initial invasion of Okinawa on 1 April 1945, was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific Theater of World War II. [17] [18] The Kerama Islands surrounding Okinawa were preemptively captured on 26 March, (L-6) by the 77th Infantry Division. The 98-day battle lasted from 26 March until 2 July 1945. After a long campaign of island hopping, the Allies were planning to use Kadena Air Base on the large island of Okinawa as a base for Operation Downfall, the planned invasion of the Japanese home islands, 340 mi (550 km) away.

Ground units:
Tenth Army

Naval units:
Fifth Fleet

Personnel:
14,009 [6] to 20,195 dead [7] [8]

The United States created the Tenth Army, a cross-branch force consisting of the US Army 7th, 27th, 77th and 96th Infantry Divisions with the USMC 1st, 2nd, and 6th Marine Divisions, to fight on the island. The Tenth was unique in that it had its own Tactical Air Force (joint Army-Marine command), and was also supported by combined naval and amphibious forces.

The battle has been referred to as the "typhoon of steel" in English, and tetsu no ame ("rain of steel") or tetsu no bōfū ("violent wind of steel") in Japanese. [19] [20] The nicknames refer to the ferocity of the fighting, the intensity of Japanese kamikaze attacks and the sheer numbers of Allied ships and armored vehicles that assaulted the island. The battle was one of the bloodiest in the Pacific, with approximately 160,000 casualties combined: at least 50,000 Allied and 84,166–117,000 Japanese, [21] [12] : 473–4 including drafted Okinawans wearing Japanese uniforms. [13] [6] 149,425 Okinawans were killed, died by suicide or went missing, roughly half of the estimated pre-war 300,000 local population. [6]

In the naval operations surrounding the battle, both sides lost considerable numbers of ships and aircraft, including the Japanese battleship Yamato. After the battle, Okinawa provided a fleet anchorage, troop staging areas, and airfields in proximity to Japan in preparation for a planned invasion of the Japanese home islands.


Report on the Battle of Okinawa - HISTORY

The Battle of Okinawa, also known as Operation Iceberg, formed a part of the Pacific War during World War II. Fought in the spring of 1945, it was the biggest amphibious assault in that theater. The battle resulted in victory for the Allies, with huge casualties being inflicted on the Japanese army despite substantial losses for the Americans as well. This proved to be almost the last serious defense of Japanese territory before the end of the war in August.

Background

Okinawa is the principal island of the Rkyukyus archipelago, which lies at the extreme southern tip of Japan. It is only a few miles wide and around 60 miles in length, but its small dimensions are misleading: the island was one of the most strategically important locations in the whole country. In particular, no fewer than four air bases were situated on Okinawa, and estimates by U.S. intelligence services suggested that about 65,000 Japanese troops were stationed there to defend the island.

Unfortunately for the Americans, their intelligence was patchy at best, and in fact they had greatly underestimated the size of the defensive forces on Okinawa. There were in fact more than 130,000 troops stationed there, under the command of Lt. General Ushijima.

He had been ordered to maintain Japanese control over the island, no matter how great the cost. Most of the troops were located in the south of the island, but Okinawa also contained almost half a million civilians who had been unable to leave.

The American plan for final victory in the Pacific had several aspects, but the capturing of Okinawa was at the plan’s core. The main strategic objective, apart from gaining territory from the Japanese, was twofold. First, the capture of the island’s airfields would allow U.S. planes to use them as bases from which they could bomb the industrial centers of Japan. Second, the remnants of Japan’s merchant shipping fleet were to be destroyed in order to cut off supplies to the enemy.

Preparations for the Battle

The Japanese under Ushijima resolved to concentrate their men at the southern end of Okinawa, with troops stationed in a number of secure fortified posts throughout the area. The idea was that only a dangerous frontal assault by the American attackers would have a realistic hope of capturing the forts. Meanwhile, the supreme Japanese command in Tokyo ordered that kamikaze suicide attackers be used in order to inflict the maximum possible casualties on the U.S. forces, with the expectation that this would force them to retreat.

In command of the 180,000 American forces on the ground was Lt. General Simon Bolivar Buckner his troops were told to make a landing along the western coast of Okinawa, at Hagushi Bay. Influenced by the lessons they had learned at Iwo Jima a few weeks earlier, the Americans subjected the area to heavy bombardment for some time before making a landing. However, U.S. soldiers were left vulnerable to attack by enemy fighter aircraft, taking off either from the nearby Japanese mainland or from the island of Taiwan.

In late March, in advance of the main assault, units of the 77th Division were landed 20 miles from Hagushi Bay. Once they had secured an anchorage, the main invasion would begin. The anchorage was successfully secured by the last day of March, and on April 1, the attack on Okinawa began, despite continuing attacks from kamikaze pilots on American ships.

The Landings Begin

Although the large majority of the kamikaze attacks – nearly 200 of them in all – were destroyed by American fire, around two dozen succeeded in hitting their targets. The most significant damage was done to aircraft carriers, which unlike their British counterparts did not have armored flight decks at this time. Nevertheless, the difficulty caused to the American fleet was less than it might have been, thanks to the low proportion of the planes that made it through at all.

The United States force for the invasion itself consisted of almost 1,500 ships, of which only a fifth were warships, the rest being used for transport, supplies, etc. On April 1, U.S. Marines made their first landing on Okinawa, and were surprised to encounter only light resistance from the Japanese. By nightfall, Hagushi bay had seen 60,000 military personnel come ashore. Many of these pushed north, where the lightly defended countryside was easily taken by April 20, the northern half of Okinawa was effectively secured.

The southern portion of the island, where the bulk of the Japanese defensive forces had been stationed, proved to be a much harder nut to crack. The XIV Corps, made up of four infantry divisions, reached the Machinato Line on April 4, and this brought about a halt in their previous steady advance. It took almost three weeks to breach the line, after which the secondary Shuri Line also caused severe delays. The time that it took the Americans to break through these lines resulted in heavy casualties.


The Battle of Okinawa

The Battle of Okinawa was the final battle in the effort to defeat the Japanese combatants against the Allied forces. Okinawa was the largest island in the Ryukyu Islands and it was strategically advantageous being only 350 miles away from the Japanese homeland of Kyushu. The Japanese, Okinawans, and the Allies all knew of Okinawa being the final stepping-stone for an invasion of the Japanese homeland. The Japanese had fortified Okinawa from the beginning of the war. The Allied forces in the Pacific had the understanding that Okinawa would provide the most hardship of any battle in the Pacific of the Second World War. Thus, they assembled the greatest amphibian assault force the world had seen to date. Operation Iceberg had been delayed long enough. Operation Iceberg had begun on April 1, 1945. This invasion would be named L-Day (Battle of Okinawa #1).
There were many encounters between Japanese and Allied forces before the final battle at Okinawa. L-Day and Operation Iceberg should have begun weeks before April 1, but the Allied forces were delayed by Iwo Jima and the situation in the Philippines. Part of the Japanese army in Okinawa was shipped out to China to fight the hostile Nationalists in China. Then, much focus went to Iwo Jima and much of the Japanese forces were sent to protect Iwo Jima. The Japanese were aware of the strategic advantage the Allies would have if they were to succeed in Iwo Jima. The Allies were to take Iwo Jima so U.S. fighters could escort the B-29 bombers the whole way to mainland Japan. The Japanese were to defend Iwo Jima with their lives. Surrendering would have been more costly to the Japanese soldiers than dying proudly for their country. The Japanese forces in Iwo Jima were ready and in abundance. The Allies struggled much more than thought previously. There were a few reasons for this. The main reason was the Japanese strategy of leaving the beaches undefended and letting the Allies onto the beach.

Essays Related to The Battle of Okinawa

1. WWII Research paper

The battles of Okinawa and Normandy both have their similarities and differences. For one, fighting in both of the battles occurred on land, air and sea. . The Battle of Okinawa, fought on the island of Okinawa in the Ryukyu Islands was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific. . While both the Battle of Normandy and the Battle of Okinawa were physically and emotionally painful in their own respects, it is quite clear that the American soldiers of Okinawa suffered more psychologically than did the soldiers of Normandy. The location of the Battle of Okinawa gave the worst fighting and .

2. With The Old Breed

In With the Old Breed, Sledge relives the events at Peleliu and Okinawa during World War II. Sledge is able to take the reader into the battles and the reader gets a sense of what he and other marines were feeling. . Sledge is able to relay to the reader what was going through the minds of the men during battles. . Sledge gives excellent incite into the battles and the preparation going into battles but we only get the marine perspective. . Sledge does a masterful job in conveying the dangers and feelings of the marines at Peleliu and Okinawa. .

  • Word Count: 854
  • Approx Pages: 3
  • Has Bibliography
  • Grade Level: High School

3. A Great American

His battle station for the ship was a 20MM Anti Aircraft cannon in which he used twice to shoot down Japanese Zeros. . The war was getting very costly for the Americans, the last battles for the two islands of Okinawa and Iwo Jima rank among the costliest in early U.S. history (Scherman 268). . The second place was Okinawa, Japan where they would eat bloots, a half born chicken (Carter Interview). .

4. Hiroshima was a necessary catastrophe

During the last stages of World War 2 the U.S. dropped leaflets throughout Japan asking for surrender. The consequences included a "Rain of ruin from the air, the likes of which have never been seen on this earth". The Japanese public had been used to leaflet threats, so the public chose to ignore t.

5. Center of Gravity - The Battle of Leyte Gulf

The Battle of Leyte Gulf was the largest and last major sea battle of World War Two. . Additional aircraft were located on Okinawa, Formosa and Japan (JP 2-01.3 A-6). . The lack of air superiority in any battle is a battle left not to fight. . While these attacks added to US Navy losses, the battle had already been decided (JP2-01.3 A-17). . Air superiority was won during the Battle of Leyte Gulf and never left the hands of the allies. .

  • Word Count: 1666
  • Approx Pages: 7
  • Has Bibliography
  • Grade Level: Undergraduate

6. American Conflicts of WWII

Recruiting the civil members into the army was hard, but it was nothing compared to the supply they need in the battle field. . The battle took a while as each side shipped in fresh troops to back them up. . Later in April, they took control of Okinawa, which was only 350 miles from Japan. . After the conquest of the Okinawa, the troops move ahead to Japan. .

7. Atomic Bomb: Friend or Foe

Imagine the sight of horror and carnage that came from the land battle the United States decided to give a shot. . This is what life would have been like for many years if the United States had decided to go with a land battle against Japan. . With Japan's Homeland Battle Strategy Plan, the citizens were to fight "a decisive battle in the homeland even at the cost of self-destruction of the entire Japanese race" (Loebs). Before Hiroshima, none of the horrors of war visited upon Japan prompted Emperor Hirohito to act - not the defeat of the Japanese army on Okinawa, the destruction of .

8. Causes of WWII

The next important battle is the Battle of Britain, fought between the British, English and Germans. . A couple of our battle ships were sunk, and most were destroyed. . This battle was important because, this is the battle that forced the Americans into entering World War II. . This battle was called The Battle of Midway. . The Japanese pilots crashed in their ships at Okinawa. 263 allied ships sank and were damaged by kamikaze. .

9. Letter Concerning Truman

 May 3, 2003 Dear Readers, Now, on the 58th anniversary of the only time in history the atomic bomb was used, we are still left with the same question, a question that still generates heated debates. Was the United States justified in dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and .


The Battle of Okinawa

The Battle of Okinawa started in April 1945. The capture of Okinawa was part of a three-point plan the Americans had for winning the war in the Far East. Okinawa was to prove a bloody battle even by the standards of the war in the Far East but it was to be one of the major battles of World War Two.

Alongside, the territorial re-conquest of land in the Far East, the Americans wished to destroy what was left of Japan’s merchant fleet and use airstrips in the region to launch bombing raids on Japan’s industrial heartland.

Okinawa is the largest of the Ryukyus islands at the southern tip of Japan. Okinawa is about 60 miles long and between 2 and 18 miles wide. Its strategic importance could not be underestimated – there were four airfields on the island that America needed to control. America also faced the problem that they had not been able to get much intelligence information about Okinawa.

The Americans estimated that there were about 65,000 Japanese troops on the island – with the bulk in the southern sector of the island. In fact, there were over 130,000 Japanese troops on the island with more than 450,000 civilians. The Japanese troops on the island were commanded by Lieutenant- General Ushijima who had been ordered to hold onto the island at all costs.

Ushijima decided on his tactics – he would concentrate his forces in the southern sector of the island and station his men in a series of secure fortifications. If the Americans wanted to take these fortifications, they would have to attack the Japanese in a series of frontal assaults. Alongside the land side Japanese defences, the Japanese high command put their faith in the kamikazes which it was believed would inflict such serious casualties on the Americans in Okinawa that they would retreat.

The Americans land commander was Lieutenant-General Simon Bolivar Buckner. He had 180,000 men under his command. The bay selected for the American landing was Hagushi Bay on the western side of the island. As with Iwo Jima, the landings were preceded by a period of intense bombardment but America’s forces were also open to attack from Japanese fighters flying out of Taiwan or Japan itself.

The attack on Okinawa was scheduled for April 1st 1945. In the days leading up to it, the Americans had landed some units twenty miles southwest of Hagushi Bay to secure an anchorage. By March 31st, this landing force, comprising of the 77th Division, had secured its position.

Kamikaze attacks were being experienced by the American navy anchored off of Okinawa. Out of the 193 kamikaze plane attacks launched against the American fleet, 169 were destroyed. Those planes that got through did caused a great deal of damage especially to America’s carrier fleet that did not have armoured flight decks – unlike the British carriers. However, the destruction of so many kamikaze flights did a great deal to undermine the potential for damage that the kamikazes could have inflicted.

For the actual invasion, America had gathered together 300 warships and 1,139 other ships. The first landing of Marines did take place on April 1st. They met little opposition and by the end of the day 60,000 American military personnel had landed at Hagushi Bay. By April 20th, all Japanese resistance in the north of the island had been eradicated except for some guerrilla activity.

The real battle for Okinawa was in the south of the island. On April 4th the XIV Corps (US 7th, 27th, 77th and 96th infantry divisions) ran into the Machinato line. This brought to a halt the advance of the Americans in the south of Okinawa. The Machinato line was finally breached on April 24th. However, it then had to confront the Shuri Line which further slowed the American advance. Together with the success of the kamikazes who had sunk 21 American warships and badly damaged 66 other warships, American forces experienced heavy losses.

On May 3rd, Ushijima ordered a counter-attack but this failed. By May 21st, Ushijima ordered his men to pull back from the Shuri Line. However, the resistance by the Japanese stood firm. It was only into June that it became obvious that the Japanese had lost the fight for Okinawa. On July 2nd, Okinawa was declared secure by the Americans – Ushijima had committed suicide some days before this.

The American flag planted in Okinawa

The attack on Okinawa had taken a heavy toll on both sides. The Americans lost 7,373 men killed and 32,056 wounded on land. At sea, the Americans lost 5,000 killed and 4,600 wounded. The Japanese lost 107,000 killed and 7,400 men taken prisoner. It is possible that the Japanese lost another 20,000 dead as a result of American tactics whereby Japanese troops were incinerated where they fought.

The Americans also lost 36 ships. 368 ships were also damaged. 763 aircraft were destroyed. The Japanese lost 16 ships sunk and over 4,000 aircraft were lost.


Watch the video: Battle of Okinawa. Animated History