Okinawa 65 Years ago today —
May 14, 1945
On Okinawa, 20 American Marines reach the summit of Sugar Loaf Hill. This is the first of several assaults that reach and be pushed off Sugar Loaf before it is finally captured.
The airfield at Yonabaru is captured.
This is the belated beginning of an occasional 65th anniversary commemorative series on the of the Battle of Okinawa.
Background to this point:
Sixty-five years ago, on 1 April 1945, American forces launched Operation Iceberg, the invasion of Okinawa. Two corps of the US 10th Army (General Buckner) land in the area of Hagushi, in the southwest of the island. The troops landed are from US 3rd Marine Amphibious Corps (Gen. Geiger USMC) with US 6th and 1st Marine Divisions, on the left or northern flank, and 24th Corps (Gen Hodge US Army) with US 7th and 96th Infantry Divisions, on the right or southern flank.
This assault will face the 32nd Japanese Army in a World War One style slugfest on the southern part of 70 miles long by three-to-10 miles wide island that will see over 90% of the Japanese Army garrison killed in combat with the American 10th Army.
The US Navy will see more ships sunk and men killed in this campaign by Kamikaze attacks than any other in World War II.
01 thru 07 April 1945 — The Ground Campaign Mobile Phase
The Japanese 32nd Army’s commander Lieutenant General Mitsuru Ushijima chooses not to defense the beaches of Okinawa due to ground forces being stripped and sent to defend the Philippines. Northern Okinawa is quickly occupied by Marines of the 3rd MAC while troops of the Army’s 24th Corps in the south run into the Japanese Shuri line.
08 April thru 03 May 1945 — Finding and Grinding the Shuri Line
Grinding WW1 style attrition warfare starts at the 32nd Army’s Shuri line defenses. US infantry battalion frontages are no more than 600 yards wide in the face of Japanese Army cave fortifications. Fighting there sees US Army’s 27th and 96th Divisions burnt out taking Shuri’s outer defensive Ring and weathering a six infantry battalion strong Japanese night-time counter-attack on 12 April 1945. They are replaced in combat by US 1st Marine and 77th Army Divisions.
04 thru 08 May 1945 — 32nd Army’s Banzai Counter-attack!
The Japanese 32nd Army counter attacks from the Shuri line. US ground forces face the largest Japanese artillery barrage of the Pacific War. The Japanese attack burns out in the face of American air, artillery and naval gun firepower.
08 thru 13 May 1945 — Attrition in the Mud!
Torrential rains arrive at Okinawa on May 8th, denying the attacking American infantry the use of armored flame thrower tanks and much artillery support due to deep pools of mud bogging tanks and resupply trucks. The 7th Infantry Division is pulled off the line to rest.
I plan future posts of some of the daily events and an overview of the naval campaign.
Many other internet resources on the Okinawa campaign will be used and posted.