The conflict with the Axis Powers confronted the United States Army with problems on a scale never faced before-problems as great in administration, training, supply, and logistics as in strategy and tactics. THE UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II sets forth in detail the nature of the problems faced, the methods used to solve them, and the mistakes made as well as the success achieved. The object is to provide a work of reference for military and civilian students as well as a record of achievements which deserve an honorable place in the pages of history. Its value to the thoughtful citizen as an aid to his comprehension of basic problems of national security has been a major consideration. Its preparation has also been prompted by the thought that in a faithful and comprehensive record all who participated in the Army's vast effort would find a recognition merited by their service and sacrifice.

The advantage to the Army and the scholar has been the decisive factor in proceeding with the least possible delay to the publication of such a series.. No claim is made that it constitutes a final history. Many years will pass before the record of the war can be fully analyzed and appraised. In presenting an organized and documented narrative at this time, the Historical Division of the War Department has sought to furnish the War Department and the Army schools an early account of the experience acquired, and to stimulate further research by providing scholars with a guide to the mountainous accumulation of records produced by the war.

The decision to prepare a comprehensive account of military activities was made early in the war. Trained historians were assigned to the larger units of the Army and War Department to initiate the work of research, analysis, and writing. The results of their work, supplemented by additional research in records not readily available during the war, are presented in this series. The general plan provides for a division into subseries dealing with the War Department, the Army Air, Ground, and Service Forces, the technical services, and the theaters of operations. This division conforms to the organization of the Army during


World War II and, though involving some overlapping in subject matter, has the advantage of presenting a systematic account of developments in each major field of responsibility as well as the points of view of the particular commands. The plan also includes volumes on such topics as statistics, order of battle, military training, the Women's Army Corps, and other subjects that transcend the limits of studies focused on an agency or command. The whole project is oriented toward an eventual summary and synthesis.

The present volume concerns one of the most bitterly fought battles of the Pacific war, in which the Army, the Marine Corps, and the Navy all played a vital part. In order to make the Army's role and the campaign as a whole as intelligible as possible the historians have treated in detail the operations of the Marine Corps units attached to Tenth Army, and have also sketched the contribution of the Navy both in preliminary operations against Okinawa and in the campaign itself. Another characteristic of this as of other volumes on Pacific campaigns is that tactical action is treated on levels lower than those usually presented in the history of operations in the European theaters. The physical limitations of the terrain fought over in the Pacific restricted the number and size of the units which could be employed and brought into sharp focus the operations of regiments, battalions, and smaller units. A wealth of verified material on such operations is available for all theaters, but it is only that of the Pacific which can be used extensively, since in other theaters the actions of smaller units are lost in the broad sweep of great distances and large forces. The description of small-unit action has the merit of giving the nonprofessional reader a fuller record of the nature of the battlefield in modern war, and the professional reader a better insight into troop leading.

Okinawa: The Last Battle is the work of combat historians of the 1st Information and Historical Service, Tenth Army. The practice of dispatching trained historians to accompany troops into combat grew out of earlier experience, both in World War I and in the early part of World War II, which demonstrated that the paper records produced by units in battle were rarely, if ever, adequate for the writing of military history. Lower units, such as the infantry company and very often the battalion, do not write as they fight; hence the details of combat are not in their records. Even at higher levels many significant orders and reports, because they are communicated orally and by telephone, are noted in the record only sketchily if at all. An equally serious gap arises


from the fact that the "why" behind the decision is almost never discernible in the documents.

The records must be supplemented by interviewing key participants in the action at all levels if anything approaching complete understanding of what happened is to be attained. Unless such quick on-the-spot study is made, memories will grow dim or the man who knows the answer may become a casualty in a subsequent operation. Thus the historians who took the field were given the mission of noting the messages, reports, and orders as they came in, of spotting the gaps in the story as it was thus unfolded, and of taking prompt steps to fill those gaps by asking questions.

At first, historians were sent to the theaters as individuals or teams. Later they were organized into units called Information and Historical Services, one of which was assigned to each field army. Though the 1st Information and Historical Service was the first of these to be activated, all the others were called on to deal with operations earlier. As a consequence the ist Information and Historical Service not only benefited in some measure by the lessons they learned, but was the first which was fully organized and prepared to take the field at the very start of a major operation, with plans laid for a systematic coverage of the campaign.

In an organizational sense, therefore, the preparations for historical coverage of the Okinawa campaign were better than those for earlier operations. This explains why the history of the last operation has been issued first.

Brigadier General, USA
War Department Special Staff
Chief, Historical Division

Washington, D.C.
11 July 1947


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Okinawa: The Last Battle was written by U. S. Army historians who participated in the Ryukyus campaign as members of a group organized to accompany the American forces to the Ryukyus and secure at first hand the materials for a history of their operations. This group was formed in Hawaii as a section of the 1st Information and Historical Service, which was attached to Tenth Army in January 1945.

Before the embarkation of troops for Okinawa, most of the Tenth Army's combat historians, as they were called, had joined at various points in the Pacific the units whose part in the coming battle they were to record. Similarly, Marine historians were already with III Amphibious Corps headquarters and the Marine divisions which were to take part in the action. Lt. Col. John Stevens was in command of the Army historians; his chief assistant was M/Sgt. James M. Burns, the author of Guam in the series AMERICAN FORCES IN ACTION.* Colonel Stevens and Sergeant Burns accompanied Tenth Army headquarters. Capt. Donald L. Mulford came from Leyte with XXIV Corps and remained with it until late in May, when he was assigned to the 96th Division to replace its historian, Sgt. Bert Balmer, who had been wounded in action. At XXIV Corps headquarters Maj. Roy E. Appleman succeeded Captain Mulford. Capt. Edmund G. Love, an experienced historian of operations in the Central Pacific, was attached to the 27th Division. Capt. Russell A. Gugeler and Capt. Paul R. Leach, who had served respectively with the 7th and 77th Divisions on Leyte, accompanied these divisions to Okinawa. Capt. Jesse L. Rogers, on his arrival at Okinawa in June, was assigned to the 96th Division to assist Captain Mulford. The Marine historians on Okinawa were Maj. Almet Jenks, III Amphibious Corps; Sgt. Kenneth Shutts and Sgt. Paul Trilling, 1st Marine Division; and Capt. Phillips D. Carleton, 6th Marine Division.

Army historians held frequent conferences during and after the campaign for the purpose of coordinating their work. Liaison with the Marine historians

* Published by the Historical Division, War Department Special Staff.


was established soon after the initial landings at the target and was maintained throughout the operation. Further information and perspective were gained through conferences with Navy personnel at Okinawa and with Navy historians in Hawaii and Washington.

After the campaign, histories of the operations of the four Army divisions and of the 6th Marine Division were written by the respective division historians; a history of the XXIV Corps on Okinawa was written by Major Appleman; and a history of the 1st Marine Division on Okinawa was compiled by Capt. James R. Stockman, USMCR, from division records and from material supplied by the division historians.

In July 1945, after the battle of Okinawa ended, Colonel Stevens and Sergeant Burns were detached from the 1st Information and Historical Service and returned to Oahu to write the history of the Okinawa operation at Fort Shafter, where the records of all Amy units which had fought on Okinawa were subsequently brought together. Captain Love, who had completed his history of the operations of the 27th Division by July 1945, returned to Washington. The other Army historians remained with their units to complete their interrogations of the men who fought, write the division and corps histories for which they were responsible, and be available for prospective new assignments.

After the war ended, Captain Leach completed the history of 77th Division operations, and Captain Mulford and Captain Rogers the account of 96th Division operations; these three historians were then separated from the Army. Major Appleman and Captain Gugeler, who accompanied the XXIV Corps and the 7th Division to Korea, were ordered to Oahu late in the fall of 1945 to complete their respective corps and division histories at Fort Shafter. Sergeant Burns returned to the United States early in December and was separated from the Army.

By March 1946 Major Appleman had completed the narrative of XXIV Corps operations on Okinawa, and Captain Gugeler the history of the 7th Division in the campaign. At that time, although Colonel Stevens, Major Appleman, and Captain Gugeler were all eligible for separation, they returned with the Okinawa records to Washington to continue work in the Historical Division, WDSS, on the history of the Okinawa campaign. Together with Sergeant Burns, now a civilian, they completed the Okinawa manuscript by the end of June. Organization of the volume was developed at conferences of all the Army historians during and after the battle on the basis of studies by Sergeant Burns.


The manuscript was turned over to the Pacific Section of the Historical Division, WDSS. Dr. Charles B. Hirschfeld, a member of the Section, added material on high-level planning and logistics, revised and condensed certain portions of the manuscript, and aided in the preparation of the maps. The authors are especially indebted to Dr. Louis Morton, Chief of the Pacific Section, who supervised the preparation of the final manuscript and represented the authors during the editing process. The editing was performed by Dr. Albert K. Weinberg of the Editorial Branch, assisted by Miss Edith M. Poole and Miss Grace T. Waibel. The maps were prepared under the direction of Mr. Wsevolod Aglaimoff. Col. Allison R. Hartman acted as military editor, Major Charles F. Byars prepared the list of Tenth Army units in Appendix A, and Mr. George R. Powell compiled the charts and tables in Appendix C. Mr. W. Brooks Phillips prepared the index.

Capt. Robert L. Bodell selected the illustrations in this volume from material in the possession of the Signal Corps, Army Air Forces, U. S. Navy, U. S. Marine Corps, U. S. Coast Guard, and Yank magazine. The sketches on pp. 244-45 and 292-93 were drawn by S/Sgt. T. King Smith of the XXIV Corps Historical Section.


Washington, D.C.
1 Jluy 1947


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