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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Army Combat Studies Institute. Department of the Army. Originally published in by the U. From April to June , U.

The IJA 32d Army was established on Okinawa in March to forestall this eventuality and immediately faced the challenge of how to deal not only with superior numbers of U. The 32d Army's innovative staff had one year in which to invent and implement a new form of underground warfare that would be proof against the Americans' abundant bombs and tanks. Their methods were devised in the field in defiance both of the IJA's traditional light infantry doctrine and of IGHO's preoccupation with air power.

Paperback , pages. 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 April 6, the expected air reaction began with an attack by planes from Kyushu. Periodic heavy air attacks continued through April.

For their part, by April 30, the Japanese had lost more than 1, planes to Allied naval forces alone.

Japan's Battle of Okinawa (Leavenworth Papers Series No.18)

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

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. The boat crews were re-formed into three additional infantry battalions. 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 aircraft over a two-hour span, the world's largest battleship sank on April 7, , 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 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 March 26 to April On April 10, its attention was shifted to airfields on northern Formosa. The force withdrew to San Pedro Bay on April On May 1, 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 since the British had armored flight decks on their aircraft carriers, they experienced only a brief interruption to their force's operations.

The land battle took place over about 81 days beginning on April 1, 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 Japanese dead and captured numbered over The operation provided a protected anchorage for the fleet and eliminated the threat from suicide boats. 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.

The 10th Army swept across [37] the south-central part of the island with relative ease, capturing the Kadena and the Yomitan airbases within hours of the landing. In light of the weak opposition, General Buckner decided to proceed immediately with Phase II of his plan—the seizure of northern Okinawa.

Six days later on April 13, 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.

Battle of Okinawa - Wikipedia

There was heavy fighting before the Marines finally cleared Yae-Dake on April However, this was not the end of ground combat in northern Okinawa. On May 24, the Japanese mounted "Operation Gi-gou ": 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 April 21, and became another air base for operations against Japan.

The 96th Infantry Division began to encounter fierce resistance in west-central Okinawa from Japanese troops holding fortified positions east of Highway No. By the night of April 8, American troops had cleared these and several other strongly fortified positions. They suffered over 1, battle casualties in the process, while killing or capturing about 4, Japanese. Yet the battle had only begun, for it was now realized that "these were merely outposts," guarding the Shuri Line.

The next American objective was Kakazu Ridge , two hills with a connecting saddle that formed part of Shuri's outer defenses. The Japanese had prepared their positions well and fought tenaciously. The Japanese soldiers hid in fortified caves. American forces often lost personnel before clearing the Japanese out from each cave or other hiding place. The Japanese sent Okinawans at gunpoint out to obtain water and supplies for them, which led to civilian casualties.

The American advance was inexorable, but resulted in a high number of casualties on both sides. On the evening of April 12, 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 April 14 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.

The 27th Infantry Division—which had landed on April 9—took over on the right, along the west coast of Okinawa. 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. Hodge launched a new offensive of April 19 with a barrage of guns, the largest ever in the Pacific Ocean Theater. Battleships, cruisers, and destroyers joined the bombardment, which was followed by Navy and Marine planes attacking the enemy 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. 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 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. At the end of April, after Army forces had pushed through the Machinato defensive line, [38] the 1st Marine Division relieved the 27th Infantry Division, and the 77th Infantry Division relieved the 96th. On May 4, 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, rounds in support, but effective American counter-battery fire destroyed dozens of Japanese artillery pieces. Buckner launched another American attack on May Ten days of fierce fighting followed. The capture of these two key positions exposed the Japanese around Shuri on both sides. Buckner hoped to envelop Shuri and trap the main Japanese defending force. 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.

Seizure of the castle represented both strategic and psychological blows for the Japanese and was a milestone in the campaign. Del Valle was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal for his leadership in the fight and the subsequent occupation and reorganization of Okinawa. Captain Dusenbury would later receive the Navy Cross for his actions. 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, 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.

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In addition, there were 9, IJN troops supported by 1, militia, with approximately 4, holed up at the underground headquarters on the hillside overlooking the Okinawa Naval Base in the Oroku Peninsula, east of the airfield. On June 4, elements of the 6th Marine Division launched an amphibious assault on the peninsula.

By June 17, 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. On June 18, General Buckner was killed by Japanese artillery fire while monitoring the progress of his troops from a forward observation post. Buckner was replaced by Roy Geiger. On June 19, General Claudius Miller Easley , the commander of the US Army's 96th Infantry Division, was killed by Japanese machine gun fire, also while checking on the progress of his troops at the front.

Colonel Yahara had asked Ushijima for permission to commit suicide, but the general refused his request, saying: Bear the temporary shame but endure it. This is an order from your army Commander. On August 15, , Admiral Matome Ugaki was killed while part of a kamikaze raid on Iheyajima island. The official surrender ceremony was held on September 7, near Kadena airfield. Okinawa was the bloodiest battle of the Pacific War. As of , the monument lists , names, including , Okinawan civilians, 77, Imperial Japanese soldiers, 14, American soldiers, and smaller numbers of people from South Korea , the United Kingdom 82 , North Korea 82 and Taiwan The numbers correspond to recorded deaths during the Battle of Okinawa from the time of the American landings in the Kerama Islands on March 26, , to the signing of the Japanese surrender on September 2, , in addition to all Okinawan casualties in the Pacific War in the fifteen 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.

The Americans suffered over 82, casualties, including non-battle casualties psychiatric, injuries, illnesses , of whom over 12, were killed or missing. Battle deaths were 4, Navy, 4, Army, and 2, Marine Corps personnel. 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. The famous war correspondent Ernie Pyle was also killed by Japanese machine gun fire on Ie Island Ie Shima, a small island just off of northwestern Okinawa.

Aircraft losses over the three-month period were US planes, including those bombing the Kyushu airfields launching kamikaze s. Combat losses were , and the other were operational accidents. At sea, Allied ships—including 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, killed and 4, wounded, primarily from kamikaze attacks. American personnel casualties included thousands of cases of mental breakdown. According to the account of the battle presented in Marine Corps Gazette:. 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 the month of 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. The US military estimates that , Japanese soldiers were killed during the battle.

This total includes conscripted Okinawan civilians. A total of 7, Japanese regulars and 3, Okinawan conscripts surrendered or were captured during the battle.

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Additional Japanese and renegade Okinawans were captured or surrendered over the next few months, bringing the total to 16, 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. The Japanese lost 16 combat vessels, including the super battleship Yamato. Postwar examination of Japanese records revealed that Japanese aircraft losses at Okinawa were far below often-repeated US estimates for the campaign. 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 , civilians. According to various estimates, between a tenth and a third of them died during the battle, [39] between 30, and , Okinawa Prefecture's estimate is over , losses, [56] while the official US Army count for the day campaign is a total of , civilian casualties, including those killed by artillery fire, air attacks, and those pressed into service by the Imperial Japanese Army.

During the battle, American soldiers 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. During the 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 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, people who spoke in the Okinawan language to suppress spying. 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.

There are also people who have testified that they were handed grenades by Japanese soldiers" to blow themselves up. Some of them threw themselves and their family members from the southern cliffs where the Peace Museum now resides. Okinawan Responses to Japanese and American Power by Mark Selden notes that the Americans "did not pursue a policy of torture, rape, and murder of civilians as Japanese military officials had warned".

Witnesses and historians reported that soldiers, mainly Japanese troops, raped Okinawan women during the battle. Rape by Japanese troops "became common" [ attribution needed ] in June, after it became clear that the Imperial Japanese Army had been defeated. This includes claimed rape after trading sexual favors or even marrying Americans, [69] 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 whom they claimed would frequently rape the local girls there.

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.


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In March , 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 , 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. On September 29, , about , 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.

The council report stated, "It can be said that from the viewpoint of the Okinawa residents, they were forced into the mass suicides. In , 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".

Ninety percent of the buildings on the island were destroyed, along with countless historical documents, artifacts, and cultural treasures, and the tropical landscape was turned into "a vast field of mud, lead, decay and maggots". Okinawa provided a fleet anchorage, troop staging areas, and airfields in proximity to Japan. The US cleared the surrounding waters of mines in Operation Zebra , occupied Okinawa, and set up the United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands , a form of military government, after the battle.