Battle of Okinawa 65 Years Later — 12 thru 14 June 1945

12 June 1945

On Okinawa, many of the Japanese naval infantry cut off in the Oruku peninsula, reduced to a pocket of about 1000 square yards, begin to commit mass suicide to avoid surrender.

The US 1st Marine Division captures the west end of Kunishi Ridge during a night attack.

The US 96th Division attacks Japanese positions around Mount Yuza and Mount Yaeju.

13 June 1945

On Okinawa, the Japanese resistance in the Oruku peninsula ends. The US 6th Marine Division records a record 169 Japanese prisoners as well as finding about 200 dead. (This is a large total when compared with previous numbers of Japanese prisoners reported.)

The fighting continues to the southeast, especially in the Kunishi Ridge area where a regiment of the US 1st Marine Division suffers heavy casualties.

The US 24th Corps uses armored flamethrowers in the elimination of the Japanese held fortified caves on Mount Yuza and Mount Yaeju and on Hills 153 and 115.

Battle line on the Kiyan Peninsula, 10-19 June 1945

Battle line on the Kiyan Peninsula, 10-19 June 1945

14 June 1945

On Okinawa, mopping up operations proceed on the Oroku peninsula.

The troops of the US 3rd Amphibious Corps and the US 24th Corps continue to eliminate fortified caves held by Japanese forces on Kunishi Ridge and on Mount Yuza and Mount Yaegu.

An American regiment of the US 96th Division reaches the summit of Mount Yaegu, while the US 7th Division extends its control of Hills 153 and 115.

Okinawa Campaign Background — Goodbye General Mud

The predominant factor in Okinawa fighting for the last few weeks has been rain and mud. Mud so thick and deep that neither tanks nor trucks could move and Okinawan road beds collapsed into sink holes under the weight of the traffic.

Army and Marine LVT and DUKW amphibious vehicles were traveling by water as far as from Hagushi beach to deliver supplies to forward troops. The USMC started using Avenger TBM torpedo bombers to air drop supplies to forward marine units.

Starting the first week of June, the rains abated and by June 10th, Army and USMC M4 Shermans could again get into action at forward positions and supplies could flow by vehicle.

This helped the advance, but as long as the Japanese had heavy weapons to resist with, and the will to use them, they could inflict more casualties, as this passage from the USMC historical monograph “Okinawa: Victory in the Pacific” put it:

Operations of 14 June marked the completion of the Battle for Oroku:
The ten day battle was a bitter one from its inception to the destruction of the last organized resistance. The enemy had taken full advantage of the terrain which adapted itself extraordinarily well to a deliberate defense in depth. The rugged coral outcroppings and the many small precipitous hills had obviously been organized for defense over a long period of time. Cave and tunnel systems of a most elaborate nature had been cut into each terrain feature of importance, and heavy weapons were sited for defense against attack from any direction.
Despite the powerful converging attacks of three regiments, the advance was slow, laborious, and bitterly opposed. The capture of each defensive locality was a problem in itself, involving carefully thought out planning and painstaking execution. During ten days fighting almost 5,000 Japs were killed and nearly 200 taken prisoner. Thirty of our tanks were disabled, many by mines. One tank was destroyed by two direct hits from an 8″ naval gun fired at point blank range. Finally, 1,608 Marines were killed or wounded.78

But after Oroku, the Japanese were running out of the mines and heavy weapons they needed to fight the Sherman tanks.

The final act was at hand.