Battle of Okinawa 65 Years Later — 04 June 1945

04 June 1945

On Okinawa, two regiments of US 6th Marine Division make landings on the Oroku peninsula in an attempt to outflank Japanese defensive positions.

The landing of the 6th Mar Div and Elmination of the IJN Base Force

The battle line on Oroku Peninsula, 4-13 June 1945

However, this is the base area of the Japanese Navy on Okinawa. The local IJN commander, after at first obeying orders to retreat to the Kiyan line, dislikes his new position. He disobeys orders and has his troops reoccupy their original cave positions at Oroku.

The 32nd Army papers over the mutiny by sending orders after wards approving this action.

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Battle of Okinawa 65 Years Later — 02 thru 03 June 1945

02 June 1945

On Okinawa, mopping up continues as the US 6th Marine Division prepares to land two regiments on the Oroku peninsula.

The US Army 77th Division and it’s supporting 706th tank battalion are pulled out of the line.

The remainder of the Okinawa campaign will be fought by the 24th Corps 7th and 96th Divisions and the 3rd Amphibious Corps 1st and 6th Marine Divisions.

03 June 1945

On Okinawa, Japanese forces are isolated in the Oroku and Chinen peninsula.

The 7th Division cuts across the base of the Chinen peninsula to the south east coast. It finds the peninsula almost devoid of Japanese troops.

The Ninth Japanese “Floating Chrysanthemum” aerial suicide attack on American navy radar pickets begins.

Okinawa Background — The Engineer Special Brigade

Long time military wargamers — grognards — have long noted that the American military, and the US Army in particular, has always been very good at logistics. In the Cold War this was expressed as “Americans always love a technological solution.” Before the advent of highly technological military aviation, this was better expressed as “Americans always love a material and organizational solutions.”

In World War 2, this habit of institutional excellence was best expressed in the form of the US Army Engineer Special Brigade.

One of the little know facts of WW2 — thanks to post WW2 USMC PR campaigns — was that the US Army did more amphibious landings, did larger amphibious landings (See Normandy), faced tougher on-shore opposition (See German tank division counter attacks on beach heads at Sicily, Salerno and Anzio) and faced worse aerial opposition (Luftwaffe guided bombs in 1943 and the Japanese Kamikazes appeared first, with better pilots, lasting longer in worse geographic conditions in the Philippines at Leyte and Lingayen) than the US Marine Corps. More over, the US Army was better than the Marines when it came to providing supplies across the beach!

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Battle of Okinawa 65 Years Later — 01 June 1945

01 June 1945

On Okinawa, after the fall of Shuri Castle, General Mushijima orders the Japanese troops to withdraw southward, towards the Oroku peninsula and the hills of Yaeju, Yuza and Mezado in the extreme south of the island. There are reports of discontent among the Japanese troops, something previously unheard of in the Imperial Army.

Elements of the US 1st Marine Division cross the Koruba river, south of Naha.

The forces of the US Army 24th Corps pursue the retreating Japanese while elements mop up around Shuri.

US Tank-Infantry Team in Action

TANK-INFANTRY ATTACKS marked the battle for the escarpment. An armored flame thrower of the 713th Tank Battalion, protected by infantry against enemy satchel-charge attacks, sprays flame over a knob on the crest of the escarpment

Okinawa Campaign Background — The Medium Tank Shortage

Up until this point in the Central Pacific Theater of the Pacific War, the Japanese had only put up scattered 37mm anti-tank guns and 37mm armed Type 95 light light tanks against American M3 Stuart light tanks and M3 Grant and M4 Sherman Medium tanks.

These operations were small in terms of tanks used and taught US Army Central Pacific tank unit commanders some very bad habits in terms of operating without close infantry support. This became apparent with the veteran 193rd Tank Battalion supporting the 27th Division at Kakazu on 19 April 1945. The 193rd lost 22 of 30 tanks engaged along with it’s battalion commander.

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Battle of Okinawa 65 Years Later — 30 thru 31 May 1945

May 30, 1945

On Okinawa, American forces reach Shuri, south of the former Japanese positions. Two battalions of US Marines reach the southeast edge of Naha.

The Japanese withdrawl to the Kiyan Line

The withdrawal of the 44th independent Mixed Brigade to the Kiyan line, 31 May 1945

May 31, 1945

On Okinawa, the US 6th Marine Division (part of US 3rd Amphibious Corps) encounters Japanese rearguards near Hill 46. Japanese forces pull out of Shuri.

The Shuri Line has fallen!

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Battle of Okinawa 65 Years Later — 21 thru 29 May 1945

The Abandonment of the Shuri Line

May 21, 1945

On Okinawa, US 3rd Amphibious Corps reports advances near the Horseshoe, Half Moon and Wana positions, on the western flank.

On the east-side, US 7th and 96th Divisions (parts of US 24th Corps) attack near Yonabaru.

Japanese forces begin to pull out of the Shuri Line.

May 22, 1945

On Okinawa, American forces enter Yonabaru and capture Conical Hill. Heavy rains begin that hamper offensive operations for the coming weeks.

The positions on the left and right of the Shuri line are about to fall leaving the main defensive positions flanked. The Chiefs of staff of the 32nd Army’s main combat units hold a meeting that will determine the remainder of the Okinawa Campaign. The three options they discuss are:

1) Encircle Shuri Castle and prepare a concentrated defense with the 50,000 remaining troops and long range guns. This proposal retained most of the Japanese heavy guns and artillery ammunition, but there are not enough cave positions in this area to shield all the remaining troops from American artillery.
2) The second option considered was to withdraw east from the Shuri line to the Chinen Peninsula. This was rejected due to poor roads that would hamper the withdrawal and had the same problem of the lack of cave positions plus a lack of stockpiles of food and ammunition.
3) The third options was to withdraw south and form a line across the Kiyan Peninsula. This option was chosen because there were enough cave positions with stockpiles of food and small arms ammunition to fall back on.

May 23, 1945

On Okinawa, after occupying Naha, the US 6th Marine Division (part of US 3rd Amphibious Corps) encounters heavy Japanese resistance to attempts to advance further south.

Japanese aircraft begin a three-day series of strikes against the Allied naval forces around the island. This is the seventh kikusui or “Floating Chrysanthemum” suicide strike.

Reverse slope of Warta Ridge, U.S. forces captured this position only 1,000 yards northwest of the Shuri command cave on 21-23 May

Reverse slope of Warta Ridge, U.S. forces captured this position only 1,000 yards northwest of the Shuri command cave on 21-23 May

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