This book represents the final work in the five-volume history of Marine Corps operations in World War II. The story of the Okinawa campaign, told earlier in a separate monograph, has been reevaluated and rewritten to detail events in proper proportion to each other and in a correct perspective to the war as a whole. New material, particularly from Japanese sources and from the recorded interviews conducted with senior Marine Corps officers who participated in the Marine Corps Oral History Program, has been included to provide fresh insight into the Marine Corps' contribution to the final victory of the Pacific War.
These pages cover Marine Corps activities in the Okinawa invasion and the occupations of Japan and North China as well as the little-known story of Marine prisoners of war. The book relates the Corps' postwar demobilization and reorganization programs as well. By 1945, amphibious warfare doctrine and techniques had become highly developed. While new and improved weapons were employed in the Okinawa campaign, the landing operation itself realistically demonstrated the soundness of fundamental amphibious doctrine developed over the years by the Navy and the Marine Corps. Again, as at Guadalcanal, the battle for Okinawa clearly reemphasized the fact that basic Marine Corps tactics and techniques were sound. An outgrowth of the lessons learned at Okinawa was the establishment of a balanced air-ground amphibious force in readiness which has become the hallmark of the present-day Marine Corps. Many of the senior officers and commanders at Okinawa were prewar teachers and planners who had participated in the early operations of the war in the Pacific. The successful application at Okinawa of the knowledge, expertise, and experiences of these individuals against a fanatic foe fighting a last-ditch battle to protect his homeland was a vital factor in the final victory over Japan.
The assault and capture of Okinawa represents the most ambitious joint Army-Navy-Marine Corps operation in the history of the Pacific War. Statistically, in comparison to previous assaults in this war zone, the numbers of men, ships, and planes as well as the tons of munitions and supplies employed in this campaign stagger the imagination. But, had the enemy not capitulated in face of the American victories in the western Pacific and as a result of the atom bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
the personnel and logistics figures reflecting the requirements for the planned assault on Japan would have been even more overwhelming. Fortunately for both sides, the war ended before more blood was shed.
After participating in several Central Pacific landings, I returned to the United States and was assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps. From this vantage point, I observed the conduct of Marine Corps operations in the late stages of the war, when ground, sea, and air forces drove relentlessly towards the heart of the Japanese Empire. I also viewed with great pride the outstanding performance of duty of Marine occupation troops in Japan and North China. Here, small units and individual Marines proved themselves and the validity of Marine Corps training and discipline under conditions that were often trying. The fund of command experience acquired by junior officers and noncommissioned officers in a variety of circumstances has since been drawn on constantly in peace and war.
Similarly, the discipline and training of Marines captured at the outbreak of the war and after was tried and found not wanting in face of trials that beggar the imagination. In their own way, against the ever-present threat of death, these men continued fighting the enemy by various means, including sabotage and escape. The heroism of such Marines equalled and at times surpassed the records of the men who were engaged in the march across the Pacific. The record of our Marine POWs in World War II is something we can all be proud of.
Like other active duty Marines at the end of the war, I, too, experienced the period of transition when the Corps reverted to a peacetime role in the defense of this nation. Responsive to its combat experiences in World War II, the Marine Corps made many tactical and organizational changes, as this book shows. Unchanged, however, was our highly prized esprit de corps, which, even as this is written, is being as jealously guarded as when our Corps was first formed.
When the roll of America's battle honors is read, the names of the World War II campaigns in which Marines fought--Wake Island to Okinawa,--will strike a familiar ring to all who cherish liberty and freedom. I am proud of my association with the men who won these honors and to have shared their hardships and their victories.
WALLACE M. GREENE, JR.
General, U.S. Marine Corps
Commandant of the Marine Corps
Reviewed and approved
29 November 1967
After the amphibious assault of Guadalcanal, which marked the opening of the American offensive in the Pacific, the steadily accelerating tempo of successful operations against the enemy inexorably led to an Allied victory in the war. Highlighting American operations was the Navy- Marine Corps team's extensive reliance on the employment of amphibious warfare techniques developed in the years before the war and improved upon under combat conditions.
The Okinawa landing has been accurately depicted as representing the culmination of amphibious development in the Pacific War and as the most audacious and complex military effort undertaken by amphibious forces of the Pacific Fleet. This operation also marked the last major ground action of the war against Japan, and the touchstone to the decisive Allied victory here was the massive interservice effort which, as much as anything else, hastened enemy capitulation.
Victory at Okinawa and the subsequent end of the war did not signal any letdown in the number and types of missions facing the Marine Corps, for at the same time that the postwar demobilization program drastically reduced their strength, Fleet Marine Force units were assigned to occupation duty in Japan and North China and to re-establishing the Pacific garrisons. This book treats these and such other hitherto-unpublished matters as the tragic story of those Marines who became prisoners of war. Appearing here also for the first time is a full treatment of the development and organization of the Marine infantry division and the many changes it experienced during the course of the war. In addition, this book presents an overview of the salient facts concerning Marine Corps campaigns in the Pacific War first discussed in the previously published volumes of this series.
Our purpose in publishing this operational history in durable form is to make the Marine Corps record permanently available for study by military personnel and the general public as well as by serious students of military history. We have made a conscious effort to be objective in our treatment of the actions of Marines and of the men of other services who fought at their side. We have tried to write with understanding about our former enemies and in this effort have received invaluable help from the Japanese themselves. Few people so militant and unyielding in war have, in
peace, been as dispassionate and analytical about their actions. We owe a special debt of gratitude to Mr. Susumu Nishiura, Chief of the War History Office, Defense Agency of Japan, and to the many researchers and historians of his office that reviewed our draft manuscripts.
This five-volume series was planned and outlined by Mr. Henry I. Shaw, Jr., Chief Historian, while Mr. Benis M. Frank was responsible for Volume V itself. Mr. Shaw wrote the story of Marines in North China and his earlier research and writing provided the basis for that part of the book concerning Marines in the occupation of Japan. Mr. Frank wrote the rest of this book, revising and editing it for publication. In his research on the Okinawa operation, Mr. Frank frequently consulted the material assembled for the monograph Okinawa: Victory in the Pacific by Major Charles S. Nichols, Jr., and Mr. Shaw. Mr. Frank also prepared all the appendices. Successive Heads of the Historical Branch‹Major John H. Johnstone, Colonel Thomas G. Roe, Colonel Joseph F. Wagner, Jr., Lieutenant Colonel Richard J. Schening, and Colonel Frank C. Caldwell‹made the final critical review of portions of the manuscript. The book was completed under the direction of Colonel Caldwell, current Head of the Branch.
A number of leading participants in the actions described have commented on the preliminary drafts of pertinent portions of the book. Their valuable assistance is gratefully acknowledged. Several senior officers, in particular General Alexander A. Vandegrift, General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., General Gerald C. Thomas, Lieutenant General Keller E. Rockey, Lieutenant General Louis E. Woods, Lieutenant General Pedro A. del Vane, Lieutenant General Francis P. Mulcahy, Major General DeWitt Peck, Major General William A. Worton, Major General Ford O. Rogers, Major General Wilburt S, Brown, and Rear Admiral Charles J. Moore made valuable additions to their written comments during personal interviews. A number of these interviews were conducted by Mr. Frank in his capacity as Head of the Oral History Unit, Historical Branch, which administers the Marine Corps Oral History Program.
Special thanks are due to the historical agencies of the other services for their critical readings of draft chapters of this book. Outstanding among the many official historians who measurably assisted the authors were: the late Dr. John Miller, Jr., Deputy Chief Historian, and Dr. Stetson Corm, Chief Historian, Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army; Dr. Dean C. Allard, Head, Operational Archives Branch, Naval History Division, Department of the Navy; and Dr. Robert F. Futrell, Historian, Historical Studies Branch, U.S. Air Force Historical Division, Aerospace Studies Institute, Maxwell Air Force Base.
Chief Warrant Officer Jo E. Kennedy, and his predecessors as Historical Branch Administrative Officer, Second Lieutenant Gerald S. Duncan and First Lieutenants John J. Hainsworth and D'Arty E. Grisier, ably
handled the many exacting duties involved in processing the volume from first drafts through final printed form. A number of the early preliminary typescripts were prepared by Mrs. Miriam R. Smallwood, Mrs. Joyce E. Bennett, and Miss Alexandria Jozwick, while the remainder were done by Miss Kay P. Sue, who expertly handled the painstaking task of typing the final manuscript for the printer. Miss Sue also did much of the meticulous work demanded in preparing the index.
The maps were drafted by Sergeant Thomas L. Russell. Unless otherwise noted, official Department of Defense photographs have been used throughout the text.
H. NICKERSON, JR.
Major General, U.S. Marine Corps
Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3
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