During March, Japan’s city of Osaka and Kobe were devastated and enemy resistance collapsed on Iwo Jima. The U.S. began its bombardment of Okinawa and kamikaze aircraft became a persistent threat to the Navy.
“Operation Iceberg” (Okinawa) began in 1 April with the U.S. Tenth Army (6th Marine Division and 1st Marine Division) making their landings. Their objective was to advance west and then north on the island. The U.S. Army XXIV Corps (7th Infantry Div. and 96th Infantry) was ordered to clear the southern region. The units encounter very little resistance at their initial targets, but 130,000 Japanese soldiers were prepared for battle in the interior area and rougher region of the island.
18 April, Col. Pearson brought in tanks and 155mm howitzers to coordinate with the 187th and their fighting would continue for two more days. The 11th Airborne had pushed the Japanese back to Malepunyo. On the 19th, any cave found near the 1st battalion was sealed. Those hideouts discovered near Cuenca Ravine had gasoline drums rolled into them and were ignited by grenades. This not only killed a number of enemy soldiers, but also eliminated the vegetation that would normally provide cover and possible infiltration routes by the enemy. When the battle for Macolod was over on the 20th, the regiment had 13 casualties and 11 wounded.
General Fjishige gave an interview on 27 May 1946 at the Luzon POW Camp No. 1. He said, in reference to the plans for Macolod, that he took one month of planning and organizing the defense himself. He had their positions so well camouflaged that they could not be detected by land or air and were stocked with some of the best troops he had. The general stated that whoever attacked Macolod deserved the highest U.S. Army honors.
The next operation was Malepunyo. The exhausted men of the 187th were sent to Tiaong to relieve the 188th and allow them to join up the 511th regiment and the 8th Cavalry while they (the 187th) would remain to cut off any Japanese fleeing the high ground. The 187th laid ambushes for 10 miles and confirmed some 400 enemy killed or captured. During three simultaneous banzai attacks coming across the bridges, the 187th were told by a prisoner that they had nearly caught Gen. Fujishige.
Swing received orders to “go it alone, capture Mount Malepunyo and destroy all the Japanese thereon.” This was an area of thirty square miles of hills with a mangled rain forest and bamboo thickets. It had no roadways and was surrounded by wet slopes intermingled with sharp ridges. At one ridge, the troopers spotted fifty to sixty Japanese about 300 feet below them bathing in a stream as if they were oblivious to a war shattering the world around them. The men of the 11th A/B were certain that there was nothing luckier than to literally catch the enemy with his pants down!
after one fray, a patrol of the 187th found a Japanese diary attesting to the starving conditions the enemy were facing. The book read that they were without any communication to or from their headquarters. They were praying for help from Manila and hoped they would die bravely in their fight with the Americans. (Any papers found on the enemy were immediately handed over to a Nisei G.I. for translation).
All throughout April, the U.S. Marines land on the smaller islands surrounding Okinawa.
On 17 April, President Truman extended the lend-lease act, thereby giving a grand total of $39 billion for Europe’s war effort. The U.S. only received $5.5 billion in return.
29 April, Mussolini and his mistress Signorina Petracci were executed and hung by their heels in front of a filling station nd Italy surrenders. (I have a photo of this, but feel it is not suitable for all viewers.)
Remember – click onto any photo to enlarge.