1 April 1945 – Okinawa

Okinawa invasion map

Codenamed Operation Iceberg, this was a major battle of the Pacific War fought on the island of Okinawa by U. S. Marine and Army forces against the Imperial Japanese Army.

The United States created the Tenth Army, a cross-branch force consisting of the 7th, 27th, 77th, and 96th infantry divisions of the US Army with the 1st, 2nd, and 6th divisions of the Marine Corps, 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.

On this day in 1945, after suffering the loss of 116 planes and damage to three aircraft carriers, 50,000 U.S. combat troops of the 10th Army, under the command of Lieutenant General Simon B. Buckner Jr., land on the southwest coast of the Japanese island of Okinawa, 350 miles south of Kyushu, the southern main island of Japan.

Marine & Navy aircraft destroyed all enemy aircraft on land. Shown here is Yontan Airfield

Determined to seize Okinawa as a base of operations for the army ground and air forces for a later assault on mainland Japan, more than 1,300 ships converged on the island, finally putting ashore 50,000 combat troops on April 1. The Americans quickly seized two airfields and advanced inland to cut the island’s waist. They battled nearly 120,000 Japanese army, militia, and labor troops under the command of Lieutenant General Mitsuru Ushijima.

See some of the action in this 4 minute video………

The naval campaign against Okinawa began in late March 1945, as the carriers of the BPF began striking Japanese airfields in the Sakishima Islands. To the east of Okinawa, Mitscher’s carrier provided cover from kamikazes approaching from Kyushu. Japanese air attacks proved light the first several days of the campaign but increased on April 6 when a force of 400 aircraft attempted to attack the fleet.

The high point of the naval campaign came on April 7 when the Japanese launched Operation Ten-Go.  It was during this operation that they attempted to drive their battleship Yamato through the Allied fleet with the goal of beaching it on Okinawa for use a shore battery.

Initial U.S. landings began on March 26 when elements of the 77th Infantry Division captured the Kerama Islands to the west of Okinawa. On March 31, Marines occupied Keise Shima. Only eight miles from Okinawa, the Marines quickly emplaced artillery on these islets to support future operations. The main assault moved forward against the Hagushi beaches on the west coast of Okinawa on April 1. This was supported by a feint against the Minatoga beaches on the southeast coast by the 2nd Marine Division. Coming ashore, Geiger and Hodge’s men quickly swept across the south-central part of the island capturing the Kadena and Yomitan airfields (Map).

US Army 77th Infantry soldiers trudge thru the mud & flooding on Okinawa

Having encountered light resistance, Buckner ordered the 6th Marine Division to begin clearing the northern part of the island. Proceeding up the Ishikawa Isthmus, they battled through rough terrain before encountering the main Japanese defenses on the Motobu Peninsula.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News –

The remains of five Australians who were murdered by the Japanese in World War II appear to have been discovered on the island of Nauru.  The five men were working as civilians on the island in 1943, not soldiers, so there is, unfortunately, no money available to repatriate them.

Frederick Royden Chalmers volunteered to remain on the island along with four other men in order to help the islanders deal with the Japanese invasion they knew was coming.  Chalmers was 62 years old when he was killed. The other four men were Bernard Quin, 48, Wilfred Shugg, 39, William Doyle, 47, and Frederick Harmer, 44. They were captured by the invading forces and eventually dragged onto the beach where they were killed on March 25, 1943.

The family of Chalmers wants his body returned to Australia. The Unrecovered War Casualties Unit of the Australian Army Defense Force and the Department of Foreign Affairs both claim to be unauthorized to bring the remains of the men back home.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Stevie Barnett – Matthews, MO; US Navy, Vietnam,Chief Petty Officer (Ret.)

Ira ‘Pete’ Chesley – North Platte, NE; US Army, WWII, ETO, 9th Armored Division

Thomas Eager – Watertown, NY; US Navy, WWII, USS Princeton

Bob Funderburke – Rock Hill, SC; US Army, Korea, Sgt., 11th Airborne Division

Jessie Gale – Tetonia, ID; US Navy, WWII, ATO

Michael Littrell Sr. – Louisville, KY; USMC, Vietnam

William Patterson – Santa Barbara, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Col. (Ret.), 42 Ordnance Div.

Lloyd Robertson – Cralk, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

John Siler – Banner, OK; Merchant Marine, WWII

Francis Weniger – Plankinton, SD; US Navy, WWII, PTO

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on May 7, 2018, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 69 Comments.

  1. Always great informations my friend, thanks ❤️

    Like

  2. Certain demands of life outside the blog world have plumb wore me out, as Grandma would say — but I just can’t miss any of these posts, even if I’m “late” to them. I was a bit shocked to realize I didn’t know (or had forgotten) that Okinawa is an island. I’m glad you added the map. It was interesting to look at it, and made the description of what happened there far more vivid and understandable.

    The note about Nauru is interesting. It’s been in the news recently because it’s being used to house (or detain, or imprison, depending on your point of view) refugees that are seeking admittance to Australia. Islands aren’t what they used to be when Napoleon was sent off to St. Helena, but they’re still important, just as Okinawa was.

    Liked by 1 person

    • With China making their own islands in the China Sea, Okinawa is still pretty significantly located, as are the Philippines. Take a break, Linda – I don’t want you plumb wore out on my account!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Reading your posts is mind boggling when considering statistics gp, facing an enemy of 120,000 is incomprehensible. In today’s warfare around the globe there is no such force of strength in opposition, well that is modern warfare I suppose, but you have to give full credit to those who fought in bygone days who had no modern technology to support them, I think that back in the old days of war, guts and endurance had a different meaning.
    Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Another great post GP and thank you for bringing to my attention about the Australians who need to be repatriated.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A whole lot of bombing going on! What brave young men to have faced that challenge. The video shared the story well and reminded me of those old news films shown at the movie theater before the featured show.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Many of the videos on Youtube are the old newsreels, and being as the photographers were using film instead of it being digital like we’re used to today) they all sort of look alike.

      Like

  6. Interesting on the Australians found in Nauru

    Liked by 1 person

  7. After this the Japanese must have known they were beaten. But they didn’t surrender. Why?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pride, fear of their superiors, losing face with the Emperor and their families – they swore to fight till the end and the military-run government took advantage of that. (For a quick synopsis)

      Like

  8. Fascinating post and video…the explosions sounds formidable and the size of the force is incredible.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. So Okinawa was a cakewalk? I always thought it was a bit of a toughie …

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I do hope those poor Australians are brought back to their own land. It will be dreadful if they are not.
    I enjoyed the very good quality video. I always perk up when they fire those salvos of rockets. I don’t know if they are as effective as they look, but they certainly scare me!

    Liked by 3 people

  11. A shame about the Australians

    Liked by 4 people

  12. I feel like I’m right with you today. In class, we will talk about the Pacific theater. I think I’ll show your video!

    Liked by 4 people

  13. Another great post! I identify with this one: my father was an armor (tank) officer in Okinawa and I lived there many years later. My parents visited us there (1980’s) and my father was amazed – last time he had seen Okinawa, everything had been flattened – now there were cities, resorts – imagine the contrast! Also – the video you shared here was terrific!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Reading this post and watching the video made me think of my late brother-in-law, Robert W. Morgan, who served in Okinawa with the U.S. Army. He survived but I never heard him talk about the war.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Many refused. It is basically only recently, with so much renewed interest in the war, that some are finally coming out with their story.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I can’t even get my husband to tell me about his service. He says forget it. I only found out about his ship when we got an invitation for a reunion here in Charleston two years ago and he didn’t go. He had his kidney problem by then.

        Liked by 1 person

        • He saw things he’d rather let slip into the recesses of his mind. If he were to talk, it would probably only be to another vet who could relate – and that could be a big Maybe.

          Liked by 1 person

    • True combat survivors will rarely talk about it… It was vile. Each man was doing what he had to to come home. Unthinkable horror was a daily occurrence, especially out on those stinkin’ islands.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. A little bit of lost history…

    As the invasion was being planned, the Military Intelligence Service was asked to supply translators. Because the Okinawan dialect is extremely unique, there were but a few Niseis (Japanese-American) that could speak it having spent time on that usland before war broke out.

    One interesting result was that when Japanese sailors or soldiers tried to sneak out with the villagers, the rare Nisei’s were able to easily determine if they were escaping enemy by questioning them in Okinawan. Obviously, these enemy combatants were unable to speak the dialect.

    Liked by 6 people

  16. You knew I would like this one, didn’t you, GP? With my son over there. I’ve forwarded it to him. I’m glad to see that what I thought I knew about the battle was confirmed in the old footage.

    Liked by 3 people

    • One thing that many don’t know is that the Army was there too. Most think it was only a Marine operation. I hope yur son finds this and the next few interesting. He’s carrying on a tradition of defense over there! God Bless him!

      Like

  17. The Japanese were good at the tactic of putting up light resistance at the beaches, before defending fiercely from prepared positions inland. The short clip was interesting too, GP. Very stirring!
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Dramatic footage, but it gives me the shivers. I don’t want to see anything like this happen again. What brave men they were to stay behind in Nauru.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. That’s terrible about the men killed on Nauru. 😦

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m hoping to create a big enough stir for something to be done. I am not fooling myself, this blog doesn’t have millions of viewers, but it will only take one right person to make the difference.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Down here we get bureaucracy, and it will now take the weight of public pressure to redeem the situation, it usually comes good but not without a fight.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. I marvel again and again at the courage of the war reporters and camera men, who filmed the action at the risk of their lives. Are there any casualties figures available on these heroes?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Peter, I’ve researched that and have never found an answer. Each branch of the service had their own cameramen in the Signal Corps and there were private citizens sent from numerous magazines and newspapers, so I suppose it became too difficult to figure out accurately.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. The scale of this operation was massive. 1,200 ships! They’d been at this for so long, I wonder if the troops were thinking about the battle beyond this. It would have been so much bigger.

    Great job. I hope they find a way to bring those solfiers’ remains home.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Right you are, Dan. This operation was massive, but still the Japanese turned out to be formidable. I’m hoping that message about the Australians will reach the right parties and get them home!!

      Liked by 1 person

  23. There’s a lot of recent history with Nauru taking illegal immigrants for Australia and processing offshore so no doubt as per usual there is politics involved! These things need publicity to get action.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. I hadn’t heard about the Nauru situation, how sad.

    Liked by 2 people

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