The Final Phase1
The last three months of 1944 marked the almost complete destruction of Japanese air power in the Philippines and the defeat of the enemy ground forces on Leyte. In January 1945 men and equipment began to arrive in the Pacific in ever increasing numbers. Sixth and Eighth Armies were fighting the Japanese in the Philippines, while the Tenth was being organized to be used later on Okinawa. The Navy and Air Forces were also expanding in number of men, ships, and planes.
The next step in the reconquest of the Philippines was the battle for Luzon. Mindoro was seized before the invasion of Luzon was launched so that an Allied air base could be established to provide air support for the ground operations on Luzon. On 9 January 1945 U.S. troops landed on the beaches of Lingayen Gulf on the western side of Luzon. The landings were virtually unopposed and assault troops advanced rapidly inland until they came to rugged terrain and well-prepared Japanese defense. While part of the forces were left to hold a line facing north, the bulk of the troops turned south toward Manila, which was captured. Bataan Peninsula was cleared of enemy troops and Corregidor was seized. While the U.S. attack carried on to clear the southern portion of the island, another advance through the difficult mountainous terrain in the north got under way. This was the climax to the fighting on Luzon.
While the battle for Luzon was in progress, other U.S. troops were clearing the enemy pockets on Leyte and Samar and capturing the islands in the southern Philippines with a speed and thoroughness which showed the high degree of co-ordination developed by the ground, sea, and air forces.
By the time the fighting stopped on Luzon, U.S. troops were
being redeployed from Europe to the Pacific, and in July the first contingent of service troops from the ETO arrived in Manila. In August the U.S. First Army established its command post on Luzon.
On 19 February 1945 Iwo Jima in the Bonin Islands was assaulted by marines who, by 16 March, overcame the stubborn enemy resistance and secured the island for an advance air base from which the U.S. Air Forces could support the invasion of Japan. On 1 April the invasion of Okinawa in the Ryukyus began. This island, assaulted by Marine and Army troops, was the last in the island-hopping warfare--in fact the last of the battles before the fall of Japan itself. As on Iwo, the enemy had prepared elaborate defenses and fought fanatically in the unsuccessful attempt to prevent the U.S. forces from seizing the island. Because of its closeness to Japan, the enemy was able to attack Okinawa by air from its home bases and air superiority had not been gained by the Allies before the amphibious assault began. This period of fighting was marked by Japanese suicide attacks against Allied naval ships and the Navy sustained heavy losses, losses greater than in any other campaign during the war. On 21 June the island was declared secure and the next few days were spent mopping up enemy pockets. The fall of Okinawa and Iwo gave the Allies the air bases from which the almost daily aerial attacks on the principal industrial cities of Japan were to be launched, as well as emergency landing fields for crippled B-29's returning to their more distant island bases from attacks on Japan.
PBY CATALINA AMPHIBIAN FLYING BOATS over the U.S. invasion fleet in Lingayen Gulf, Luzon. The Luzon Campaign began on 9 January 1945 when U.S. forces landed in the Lingayen-San Fabian area. (Consolidated Vultee.)
MEN AND SUPPLIES COME ASHORE in the Lingayen Gulf-San Fabian area. After a heavy bombardment of the landing beaches, the first assault troops landed on Luzon, meeting little opposition. By nightfall the invading army had gained an initial lodgement, suffering but few casualties.
SUPPLIES ON THE BEACH ON LINGAYEN GULF. By the end of the first day the beachhead was seventeen miles long and four miles deep. Large numbers of men and great quantities of supplies were ashore.
U.S. INFANTRYMEN CROSSING A DAMAGED BRIDGE as they advance inland from the beach. The advancing U.S. troops found the bridges destroyed Some had been destroyed in 1942 during the Japanese conquest of the Philippines.
FIRST-WAVE TROOPS, armed with M1 rifles, wade waist deep through a stream en route to San Fabian, 9 January 1945. The U.S. forces encountered undefended rice fields, small ponds, marshes, and streams beyond the beaches. Amphibian tractors were used to ferry troops across the deeper of these water obstacles.
SUPPLY CONVOY CROSSING THE AGNO RIVER over a newly completed ponton bridge near Villasis, 22 January (top). Two-and-a-half-ton amphibian trucks unload supplies at Dagupan, on the Agno River a short distance from Lingayen Gulf. From Dagupan they were loaded onto trains and sent inland to the advancing troops (bottom).
FILIPINOS IN A RICE FIELD watching an artillery cub plane prepare to take off near Angio, about a mile and a half inland from the beach, 12 January (top). Filipinos working with U.S. engineer troops assembling steel matting on an airstrip at Lingayen, 14 January (bottom). On 17 January the Lingayen airstrip was completed and the Far Eastern Air Forces assumed responsibility for the air support of ground operations. By this time the Japanese had stopped sending air reinforcement to the Philippines and during the Luzon Campaign air superiority was in the hands of the U.S. forces.
U.S. CASUALTY RECEIVING PLASMA at the front lines near Damortis. The Japanese were well emplaced in the mountain areas beyond the beaches and the U.S. artillery and armor were greatly limited in their effectiveness by the rugged terrain. The enemy put up his first strong opposition along the Rosario-Pozorrubio-Binalonan line, where he had built pillboxes and dugouts of every description with artillery and automatic weapons well hidden and camouflaged. This fighting was not a part of the drive on Manila. The enemy casualties during the latter part of January 1945 were much greater than those suffered by the U.S. forces.
JAPANESE MEDIUM TANK, Type 97 (1937) improved version with 47-mm. antitank gun, knocked out near San Manuel (top); U.S. medium tank, M4A3 passing a burning enemy tank, 17 January (bottom). During the last few days of January the U.S. forces near the San Manuel-San Quentin and Munoz-Baloc areas met strong armored opposition and severe fighting ensued. By the end of the month both objectives, the cities of San Quentin and Munoz, were reached. Forty-five enemy tanks were destroyed in the San Manuel fighting. Most of the enemy tanks encountered were dug in and used as pillboxes and were not used in actual armored maneuver.
U.S. SOLDIER FIRING A FLAME THROWER at a Japanese position. The only way many of the enemy positions could be knocked out was to assault them with flame throwers.
ARTILLERYMEN AT AN OBSERVATION POST east of Damortis, February 1945; the officer in right foreground is using a telescope BC M1915A1 (top). 105-mm. howitzers M2A1 firing at the city of Bamban, 26 January 1945 (bottom). While one U.S. corps drove south toward Manila another corps swung north and northeast from Lingayen Gulf, beginning a four-month up-hill campaign against the Yamashita Line. This was a name given by U.S. forces to the defense sector across the mountains of central Luzon.
105-MM. HOWITZERS M2A1 firing from the grounds of Santo Tomas University during the attack on Manila, 5 February. While some U.S. forces continued the drive northeast from Lingayen, the remainder of the troops began to advance on Manila. On the night of31 January-1 February the attack on Manila began in full force.
MANILA DURING AN ARTILLERY ATTACK. Rafts and amphibian tractors were used to ferry the attacking U.S. troops across the numerous streams because the enemy had destroyed all the bridges. When the enemy did not evacuate Manila, U.S. artillery was employed. It had previously been hoped that it would not be necessary to shell the city. Blocked off by white line in top picture is Intramuros. River at left in top picture and the foreground of bottom picture is the Pasig. The tall tower at right in bottom picture is part of the city hall, later occupied by GHQ.
INFANTRYMEN ON THE ALERT in a street of Manila man their .30-caliber Browning machine gun M1919A4. On 7 February 1945 the envelopment of Manila began and by 11 February the Japanese within the city were completely surrounded. Cavite was seized on 13 February.
U.S. TROOPS MOVING INTO MANILA, 12 February. The attacking forces were assigned the mission of clearing Manila, where the fighting continued from house to house and street to street. Despite the many enemy strong points throughout the city, the U.S. attackers progressed steadily and by 22 February the Japanese were forced back into the small area of the walled city, Intramuros.
240-MM. HOWITZER M1 firing on Intramuros, where the walls were sixteen feet high, forty feet thick at the base, tapering to twenty feet at the top. During the night of 22-23 February all available artillery was moved into position and at 0730 on 23 February the assault on Intramuros began. Once the walls were breached and the attacking troops had entered, savage fighting ensued. On 25 February the entire area of the walled city was in U.S. hands.
INFANTRYMEN PICK THEIR WAY ALONG A STREET of Intramuros as a bulldozer clears away the rubble. On 4 March 1945 the last building was cleared of the enemy and Manila was completely in U.S. hands. In background is the downtown business section of Manila, on the far side of the Pasig River.
MEDIUM TANK M4A1, modified, firing on an enemy position in the hills east of Manila, 10 March. After the fall of Manila the U.S. forces reorganized and moved east to a line extending from Antipolo to Mount Oro. For two days artillery and aircraft attacked enemy positions and then ground forces attacked the hill masses approaching Antipolo. After the fall of that city on 12 March, the advance continued eastward over a series of mountain ridges which ascended to Sierra Madre. While this attack progressed, another drive to clear southern Luzon began.
FOOD AND MEDICAL SUPPLIES BEING DROPPED to the Allied internees at Bilibid Prison Farm near Muntinglupa, Luzon, after they were rescued from the Japanese prison camp at Los Banos. After the capture of Fort McKinley on 19 February, troops of the airborne division turned east to Laguna de Bay and then southward. It was given the dual mission of rescuing some 2,000 civilian internees at Los Banos and destroying the enemy that had been bypassed during the advance on Manila. Assisted by a parachute company that was dropped near the camp, a special task force liberated the internees, and then continued to mop up enemy troops.
BOMB STRIKE ON A MOUNTAIN west of Bamban. Progress was slow over the difficult terrain of the Zambales Mountains where the Japanese had constructed pillboxes and trenches and had fortified caves. The U.S. attack was made frontally, aided by daily air strikes, and the enemy strong points were eliminated one by one. By 14 February the Americans had secured the high ground commanding Fort Stotsenburg and Clark Field.
U.S. PARATROOPERS LANDING ON CORREGIDOR during the invasion of the island (top); "Topside," Corregidor (bottom). While the U.S. advance down the Bataan Peninsula was progressing, Corregidor was being assaulted. On 16 February 1945 a battalion of a regimental combat team landed on the south shore of the island. A regimental combat team was flown north from Mindoro and landed two hours before the amphibious assault troops.
CORREGIDOR. Paratroopers landing on the island; note that some landed on the side of the cliff rather than on Topside, accounting for many casualties (top). C-47 dropping supplies to the troops which have landed (bottom). By afternoon on 16 February the ground and airborne troops had joined forces, and before dawn of the next day they had split the island in two.
CREW OF A 75-MM. PACK HOWITZER M1A1 being subjected to small arms fire on Corregidor, 17 February. At first the enemy offered only spotty resistance but soon rallied and offered a stubborn defense.
PARATROOPER, armed with a U.S. carbine M1A3 with a folding pantograph stock, fires a bazooka at an enemy pillbox on Greary Point, Corregidor, 19 February.
SOLDIERS LOOKING AT MALINTA HILL, Corregidor. On 27 February 1945, Corregidor was once again in U.S. hands, although individual Japanese soldiers were still found hiding on the island. U.S. losses were 209 killed, 725 wounded, and 19 missing. Enemy losses were 4,497 killed and 19 prisoners.
CHENEY BATTERY, Corregidor, showing destruction of the installation (top). East end of Malinta Tunnel, where the defending U.S. troops held out during the enemy attack in 1942 (bottom). Much of the destruction of the Corregidor installations shown in these pictures was from enemy artillery shellings in 1942.
BATTLE CASUALTY being placed aboard a Catalina flying boat for evacuation to Nichols Field near Manila. The PBY patrol bomber was extensively used in the Pacific for rescue work and usually patrolled large areas of the ocean over which the long-range bombers flew. These planes could land and take off from the ocean and were equipped to handle casualties.
INFANTRYMEN firing a .30-caliber water-cooled machine gun M1917A1 at the enemy in the hills of Luzon. An all-out offensive to destroy the enemy in northern Luzon began in late February. Extremely rugged terrain combined with enemy resistance made the advance over the hills slow and costly. The majority of the attacking U.S. troops attempted to gain an entry to Cagayan Valley through Balete Pass.
105-MM. HOWITZER MOTOR CARRIAGE M7 and infantrymen. By 15 March 1945 the enemy was being pushed back and the U.S. forces in northern Luzon were advancing columns up the roads to Bauang and Baguio. The stubborn Japanese defense and the difficult terrain slowed U.S. advances for weeks.
VIEWS OF THE HARBOR AT MANILA showing the congested docking area and amount of shipping. Clearing Manila Harbor and restoring its dock facilities progressed rapidly and supply problems were soon helped by the full use of the excellent port, which was well located for supplying troops in the Philippines. By 15 March a total of 10,000 tons per day was passing through the port. By the middle of April almost two hundred sunken ships had been raised from the bottom of the bay. Top picture shows Pier 7, one of the largest in the Far East.
BOMB CRATERS ON THE RUNWAY AT LIPA AIRFIELD in Batangas Province. In southern Luzon advancing U.S. units met at Lipa and continued the final mopping up of enemy resistance in the southern portion of the island.
SUPPLIES, EQUIPMENT, AND TROOPS coming ashore at Legaspi in southeastern Luzon. Small landing craft in top picture are LCM's; in background is an LST. On 1 April troops landed at Legaspi and soon overran southeastern Luzon.
GUN TURRETS AT FORT DRUM being blasted in a low-level aerial attack. The last enemy resistance in the Zambales Mountains was broken up, Bataan Peninsula was cleared of enemy troops, and the remaining enemy-held islands in Manila Bay were taken. On the island of El Fraile, on which Fort Drum (a concrete fort shaped like a battleship) was located, troops landed on the top of the fort and pumped a mixture of oil and gasoline into the ventilators. When ignited, the resulting explosions and fires destroyed the garrison.
TROOPS ADVANCING ON A ROAD EAST OF MANILA while overhead a P-38 drops two bombs on Japanese positions. Bitter fighting took place over the almost inaccessible ridges and peaks of the Sierra Madre Mountains.
REPUBLIC P-47'S AND LOCKHEED P-38'S (top and bottom respectively) drop napalm fire bombs on enemy positions in the mountains east of Manila. As each bomb hit the target or ground it would explode and burn everything over an oval-shaped area of approximately 70 by 150 feet. The bombs were effective in eliminating the enemy troops in their well-dug-in positions.
105-MM. HOWITZER MOTOR CARRIAGE M7 in the hills east of Manila.
8-INCH HOWITZER M1 firing on enemy positions in Ipo Dam area, May 1945 (top); Filipino guerrillas fighting against the enemy in Batangas Province with the U.S. troops (bottom). Some of the guerrillas had been fighting against the Japanese since the fall of the Philippines in 1942. Weapon in foreground (bottom) is the standard Japanese gas-operated, air-cooled, heavy machine gun (Type 92 (1932) 7.7-mm. Hv MG). The feed is a 30-round strip and may be seen in place, rate of fire 450 rounds per minute.
DIFFICULT TERRAIN. Infantrymen pushing along a muddy, primitive road (top); a patrol moving through heavy undergrowth (bottom).
U.S. TROOPS moving through mountainous terrain on their way to Santa Fe, Luzon.
LIGHT TANK M5 providing cover from Japanese fire for a wounded infantryman on the road to Baguio (top). Armor and infantry on a hillside overlooking Baguio; in the foreground is a 105-mm. howitzer motor carriage M7, while down the slope of the hill is a 76-mm. gun motor carriage M18 (bottom). Vehicles, like the foot soldiers, found the going hard over the rough terrain.
VEHICLES FORDING A RIVER in northern Luzon while engineer troops work on the road; in foreground is a 105-mm. howitzer motor carriage M7. Note destroyed enemy vehicles along road and in stream (top). A bulldozer and a medium tank help another medium tank which has struck a road mine (bottom).
MEDIUM TANK M4A1 on a hill overlooking Baguio (top); soldiers looking at the ruins of the western section of Baguio (bottom). Baguio was subjected to extensive bombardment by aircraft and heavy artillery and the enemy's defenses around the former summer capital were reduced. Infantry troops led by tanks which had great difficulty maneuvering through the mountains entered Baguio on 27 April with practically no opposition.
155-MM. HOWITZER M1 in Balete Pass shelling enemy artillery positions, 19 April. During March one division moved forward ten miles after constructing more than 130 miles of roads and trails. The same problems of terrain were faced in this advance and it was not until 13 May that the pass was seized.
P-38'S DROPPING FIRE BOMBS north of Balete Pass.
INFANTRYMAN ROUTING ENEMY SOLDIERS hiding in a culvert near Aritao on the highway north of Balete Pass. U.S. forces broke through the Japanese defenses at Aritao and seized Bayombong to the north toward the Cagayan Valley on 7 June 1945. After this, the drive northward was rapid and met with little opposition.
MOUNTAINOUS TERRAIN in northern Luzon. The Malaya River flows through the valley in the vicinity of Cervantes, Ilocos Sur Province.
PARATROOPERS LANDING NEAR APARRI. The Northern Luzon Guerrilla Force had cleared the northwestern coast of Luzon and by early June 1945 controlled practically all the territory north of Bontoc and west of the Cagayan Valley. On 21 June U.S. troops and guerrillas seized Aparri, and on 23 June a reinforced parachute battalion was dropped near the town. The paratroopers moved southward meeting U.S. troops moving northward.
A PHOSPHORUS HAND GRENADE EXPLODING on an enemy position. The drive into the Cagayan Valley ended the last offensive on Luzon in June 1945. Enemy pockets of resistance were cleared out and by 15 August, when hostilities officially ended, the U.S. forces had reported 40,565 casualties including 7,933 killed. The Japanese lost over 192,000 killed and approximately 9,700 captured.
60-MM. MORTAR CREW FIRING at enemy positions on Mindanao. While the fighting was still in progress on Luzon, other U.S. troops were engaged on other islands in the Philippine Archipelago. Mopping up was still in progress on Leyte and Samar; landings were made on Mindanao, Palawan, Marinduque, Panay, Cebu, Bohol, Negros, Masbate, Jolo, and Basilan; and other troops were being prepared for the invasion of Okinawa.
SHELL CASES BEING OPENED in preparation for an 81-mm. mortar attack in the hills of Mindanao (top); light armored car M8 moving along a river bank on Mindanao (bottom). During July most of the remaining enemy troops on Mindanao were driven into the hills and hemmed in, after which they were relentlessly attacked by aircraft.
TROOPS WADING ASHORE during the invasion of Cebu island (top) and on the beach after landing (bottom). During March landings were made on Panay, Cebu, and Negros.
FILIPINO RESIDENTS OF CEBU CITY welcome infantry and armored troops.
TROOPS DISEMBARKING FROM AN LVT(4) on Mactan Island in the southern Philippines, April 1945.
CAPTURED JAPANESE SOLDIER being brought in on northern Cebu, May 1945 (top). Japanese prisoners at Cebu City boarding a ship that will take them to a prisoner of war enclosure (bottom). Of the more than 350,000 enemy troops in the entire Philippine Archipelago only an estimated 50,000 were left when Japan capitulated. Of the original number relatively few were taken prisoner.
AN ENLISTED MAN of an airborne division buying bananas from native Filipinos as he waits to take off from Lipa airfield for Okinawa in September 1945. In background is a Waco glider CG-4A.
DOUGLAS A-20 flies away after hitting an oil storage tank on an island in the Netherlands East Indies. While U.S. forces were liberating the Philippines, Australian troops were fighting against isolated enemy positions in New Guinea, New Britain, and Bougainville, and at the same time were preparing for an attack on Borneo. On 1 May Australian forces landed on Tarakan Island off the northeast coast of Borneo. On 10 June Australians landed at Brunei Bay, Borneo, and by the middle of July there was little enemy activity. The best harbors were seized and the rich oil fields were again under Allied control. The remaining Japanese troops withdrew into the jungles of the interior.
MEN AND EQUIPMENT ON BOARD AN LST waiting to move in on D Day, Iwo Jima. Even before the invasion of the Philippines it had been decided to seize Iwo Jima in order to obtain airfields to support the ultimate invasion of Japan. Iwo Jima was the only island in the Volcano and Bonin groups suitable for an air installation of any size. Beginning in August 1944 the island was bombed by Allied aircraft so as to neutralize the enemy airfields and installations located there. On 19 February 1945 two Marine divisions landed on Iwo under cover of supporting fire from naval ships. Jima means island.
UNLOADING ON THE BEACH ON IWO JIMA. Initially during the landing on Iwo Jima all went according to plans. The water was calm, no underwater obstacles were found, and the heavy preinvasion shelling had destroyed some of the mine fields. One hour after the first waves of marines were ashore the enemy opened fire with automatic weapons, mortars, and artillery. Later in the day heavy seas hurled landing craft on to the beach, which added greatly to the difficulty of getting men and supplies ashore.
STEEL MATTING BEING LAID on the beach at Iwo Jima to facilitate the unloading of heavy equipment over the sand. Both on the beaches and inland the loose volcanic soil made the movement of vehicles extremely difficult. Trucks bogged down and supplies soon piled high on the beach.
75-MM. GUN MOTOR CARRIAGES M3 FIRING at enemy positions on Iwo Jima (top). 4.5-inch automatic rocket launchers T45 mounted on two 3/4-ton trucks, firing; this gravity-feed automatic launcher was developed as a Navy standard item for firing the 4.5-inch Navy barrage rocket (bottom)
A DUMMY JAPANESE TANK carved in the soft volcanic ash. This tank had previously drawn fire from the attacking U.S. troops.
MARINES FIRING ON ENEMY SOLDIERS hidden in a cave. Two marines wait at the base of a rock while nearer the top one fires an automatic rifle and two others fire a rocket launcher and a .45-caliber submachine gun. The enemy had set up an elaborate system of defenses. The island was honeycombed with caves and connecting tunnels, camouflaged pillboxes and gun positions. Most of the caves had at least thirty-five feet of overhead cover and had not been damaged during the preinvasion bombing and shelling.
FLAME THROWERS burning out enemy troops in a hidden cave while a rifleman waits behind the cover of a rock. One by one the marines knocked out the enemy pillboxes and sealed the caves, gradually breaking down the defense system.
THREE JAPANESE COMING OUT OF THEIR CAVE to surrender (top); five captured enemy soldiers (bottom). On 16 March it was officially announced that all organized enemy resistance had come to an end, although mopping up continued for many days in the Kitano Point area. The exact number of casualties to the enemy is not known as many were lost in their caves and tunnels, but by 21 March over 21,000 dead had been counted, while only 212 prisoners were taken. Out of approximately 20,000 casualties the Marines lost over 4,000 killed, while Navy casualties amounted to over 1,000. Iwo Jima was probably the most strongly fortified island selected as an objective during the war.
B-29 CRASH LANDS on the airstrip on Iwo Jima and burns after returning from an attack on Tokyo. On 17 March 1945 sixteen Superfortresses returning from a strike against Japan made emergency landings on Iwo, and by the middle of June more than 850 of the large bombers had landed there. By the end of the war over 2,400 B-29's had made emergency landings on the island.
Okinawa Island Group
THE CARRIER USS FRANKLIN BURNING after being seriously damaged during a Japanese attack. The middle of March 1945 marked the beginning of the Okinawa campaign. On 14 March a fast carrier force departed from Ulithi for an attack on Kyushu, while air force bombers struck at Formosa and Honshu. On 18 March planes from the carrier force successfully attacked airfields on Kyushu. The following day the planes again took off, this time to strike enemy warships at Kure and Kobe. During these bombardments Japanese planes attacked the carrier force ships and damaged six of the carriers, one of them considerably and another, the Franklin, seriously. The carrier force then moved toward Okinawa, arriving in the area on 23 March, and warships and planes bombarded the island.
GUN CREW SETTING UP A 155-MM. GUN M1A1 on one of the Keise Islands (top); Japanese suicide boat captured on Aka Island (bottom) On 26 March ground troops began the task of seizing the Kerama group of islands By 29 March all organized resistance had collapsed and the following day the islands were declared secure. Over 350 Japanese suicide boats were captured and destroyed by U.S. troops in the Kerama Islands. On 31 March the Keise Islands were seized without opposition and by evening two battalions of 155-mm. guns had been put ashore to support the main landings on Okinawa.
AERIAL VIEW OF SHIPS during the landings on Okinawa (top); troops landing on the beach from LCT (6)'s (bottom). After a preliminary bombardment of the beaches, the heaviest to support a landing in the Pacific, the first assault troops landed on the Hagushi beaches against no opposition. Within the first hour over 16,000 men and some 250 amphibian tanks had landed. The airstrips at Yontanzam and Katena were seized shortly after 1200 against little resistance. As a result of the first day's operations a beachhead approximately ten miles long and three miles deep was in U.S. hands. Both Army and Marine Corps troops made good progress during the next few days.
PILOTED SHORT-RANGE FLYING BOMBS found on Okinawa. On 6 April the Kamikaze Corps began a thirty-six hour mass suicide attack, one of the most destructive air battles of the war. Over 350 suicide planes accompanied by as many orthodox bombers and fighters sank or damaged some 30 U.S. ships. The second great mass suicide attack began on 12 April when the new Baka bomb was used for the first time. This piloted short-range flying bomb, with a ton of explosive in its war head, was carried to the target slung beneath a twin-engined medium bomber. When released in a rocket-assisted dive it attained a speed of 400 to 500 miles per hour but was not very accurate.
MEDIUM TANK M4A1 AND INFANTRYMEN blasting their way through a minefield (top); hillside on Okinawa honeycombed with caves and dugouts (bottom). The high ground held by the Japanese on southern Okinawa was ideal for defense. The limestone hills were honeycombed with caves and dugouts which were well manned and difficult to assault. When the attacking U.S. troops had moved away from the beaches the enemy offered strong resistance.
ARMY NURSES ON OKINAWA washing in helmets (top); medics at work in a hospital tent (bottom). During early April the U.S. troops were able to make only limited gains against a well-entrenched enemy. Heavy casualties were suffered.
FLAME-THROWING MEDIUM TANK firing at the entrance of a cave on southern Okinawa (top); Japanese prisoner being searched at the entrance of a cave after he has surrendered (bottom).
TRUCKS MOVING THROUGH THE MUD (top); trucks bogged down to the vehicle frames in mud (bottom). U.S. progress on Okinawa was slow but advances were made until the middle of May when torrential rains seriously interfered with the movement of supplies and equipment to the front. The road system on southern Okinawa eventually broke down and supplies had to be delivered to the front by hand or air. Armored units were almost completely immobilized.
AN ENLISTED MAN WASHING in a water-filled foxhole following the heavy rains (top); drying clothes and digging a new foxhole (bottom). The fighting continued on Okinawa until 21 June when the island was declared secure.
B-24 TAKING OFF FROM THE AIRSTRIP AT YONTANZAN for a mission over Japan (top); Douglas C-54 Skymaster arriving at Yontanzan airstrip on a flight from Guam (bottom). The construction of airstrips on Okinawa and the near-by islands was carried out concurrently with the operations, and attacks on the Japanese home islands were soon started.
PRISONERS WAITING ON A DOCK AT OKINAWA to be transported to Hawaii. In addition to the loss of a great base on the doorstep of Japan, the enemy lost 107,500 dead and 7,400 prisoners. U.S. Army casualties numbered 39,430, including 7,374 killed.
THE FIRST BIG U.S. SHIP TO ENTER NAHA HARBOR, Okinawa after the fighting ended. During the three-month conflict the U.S. Navy lost a total of 386 warships, transports, and other ships. 763 aircraft were lost in comparison with approximately 4,000 Japanese aircraft. The losses to the enemy were very serious, and the Allies were in position to threaten the islands of Japan.
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1. See Robert R. Smith, Triumph in the Philippines, in the series U.S. ARMY IN WORLD WAR II; and Roy E. Appleman, James M. Burns, Russell A. Gugeler, and John Stevens, Okinawa: The Last Battle, Washington, 1948, in the same series.