MOPPING UP1With his defenses overrun and forces shattered, there was little hope of diverting or lengthening the path leading to the inevitable fate of his Thirty-second Army. Lieutenant General Mitsuru Ushijima decided, therefore, to end his life according to the dictates that governed his living of it, the traditional way of the Samurai. Joining him in fulfilling his obligation to the Emperor and dying in the symbolic way of bushido was the army chief of staff, Lieutenant General Isamu Cho.
Following a meal late on the night of 21 June, Cho and Ushijima composed their last farewell messages and the following valedictory poems written in the classic Japanese style:
The green grass of this isle
Withers untimely before fall,
Yet it will grow again
In the warm spring of the Empire
Smearing heaven and earth with our blood,
We leave this world with our ammunition gone,
Yet our souls shall come back again and again
To guard the Empire forever.2
At noon on 22 June, Ushijima dressed himself in his full field uniform and Cho donned a white kimono on which he had written "The offering of one's life is to fulfill the duties towards the Emperor and the Country. Cho, Isamu."3 As the two led a party of aides and staff officers out to a ledge at the mouth of the cave headquarters, Cho was quoted as saying, "Well, Commanding General Ushijima, as the way may be dark, I, Cho, will lead the way." Ushijima replied, "Please do so, and I'll take along my fan since it is getting warm."4
Ten minutes after leaving the cave, first Ushijima and then Cho died in the Japanese time-honored ritual of harakiri. Each in turn bared his abdomen to the knife used in the ceremonial disembowelment and thrust inward; as each did so, there was a simultaneous shout and flash of a sword as the headquarters adjutant decapitated first one general and then the other. The bodies were then secretly buried in graves prepared earlier. Three days later, 32d Infantry patrols discovered them at the foot of the cliff of Hill 89 where it faced the sea. On the white bedding
cover which served as his winding sheet after death, General Cho had written:
22d Day of June, 20th Year of Showa
I depart without regret, fear, shame, or obligations.
Army Chief of Staff, Army Lt. Gen. Cho, Isamu
Age at departure, 51 years.
At this time and place, I hereby certify the foregoing.5
On 25 June also, the Imperial General Headquarters in Tokyo announced the end of Japanese operations on Okinawa, and, in effect, of the Thirty-second Army.6 IGHQ then put all of its efforts into preparations for the defense of the Home Islands against an anticipated American invasion.
Although the commander and chief of staff of the Thirty-second Army were dead, and many Japanese officers and enlisted men were surrendering, other enemy soldiers both in groups and individually continued a fanatic, last-ditch stand until they were destroyed. General Stilwell believed it necessary to eliminate these isolated Japanese pockets to safeguard the Island Command forces that were developing the additional supply, training, airfield, and port facilities required to convert Okinawa into a massive base for further operations against Japan. He ordered, therefore, the Tenth Army to begin an intensive, coordinated mop-up of southern Okinawa on 23 June; 10 days were allotted to this task.
The 1st Marines and 307th Infantry were deployed in a line of blocking positions paralleling the Naha-Yonabaru highway to bar the way to enemy soldiers who were attempting an escape to northern Okinawa. The American sweep northwards was mounted by the five assault divisions that had made the final drive in the south and had been on line when the war ended; they began the sweep by merely making an about-face in position. As the soldiers and Marines drove towards the Tenth Army blocking positions, they smashed all remaining enemy opposition, blew and sealed Japanese caves, buried all Japanese dead, and retrieved all salvageable enemy and friendly equipment along the way. To coordinate and pace the 10-day sweep, three phase lines were established. Flanking divisions were to guide on the 96th Division as it progressed up the center of the island. General Stilwell retained control of the entire operation.
On 30 June, in less than the time allotted, the mop up was successfully completed. Elements of the 77th Division reduced the final defensive positions of the 24th Division near the ruins of Medeera; the 96th Division thoroughly cleaned out enemy pockets in the Medeera-Aragachi sector; the 1st and 6th Marine Divisions worked over Japanese survivors in the Kiyamu-Gusuku and Komesu Ridges; and the 7th Division did the same to the Hill 89-Mabuni area. Several brief but bloody fire fights flared during the methodical, workman-like sweep of the objective area when strongly armed enemy bands tried futilely to break through the American line and were smashed.
Results of the sweep indicated that an estimated 8,975 Japanese had been killed and 2,902 military prisoners and 906 labor troops had been added to those
already in Tenth Army stockades. Enemy losses for the entire Okinawa campaign, were placed at 107,539 counted dead and an estimated 23,764 more which were assumed to have been sealed in caves or buried by the Japanese themselves. In addition, a total of 10,755 of the enemy had been captured; some of this number had surrendered. As the overall Japanese casualty total of 142,058 was "far above a reasonable estimate of military strength on the island," Tenth Army intelligence agencies presumed that approximately 42,000 of these casualties were civilians that had been unfortunately killed or wounded in American artillery, naval gunfire, and air attacks on enemy troops and installations while the natives had been in the proximity.7
American losses were heavy also. The total reported Tenth Army casualty figures were 7,374 killed or died of wounds, 31,807 wounded or injured in action, and 239 missing. There were 26,221 nonbattle casualties in addition. The combat divisions alone reported a total of 38,006 casualties of all types.8 Between 1 April and 30 June, Army units received 12,277 replacements; Marine units joined 11,147 Marines and naval corpsmen in the same period.
Both British and American naval forces took heavy casualties while supporting and maintaining the Tenth Army. During the 82 days of ground operations, 34 ships and craft were sunk and 368 damaged; 763 carrier-based aircraft were lost to all causes. In addition, 4,907 sailors were killed or missing in action and 4,824 were wounded. At the time that these losses were sustained, ships and ground antiaircraft artillery and planes controlled or coordinated by the Navy claimed the destruction of 7,830 Japanese aircraft and 16 combatant ships.9
In accordance with the planned succession of operational control established for ICEBERG,10 Headquarters, Ryukyus Area superseded the Tenth Army on 1 July 1945. At that time, General Stilwell became a joint task force commander directly responsible to Admiral Nimitz for the defense and development of all captured islands and the defense of the waters within 25 miles of Okinawa. Concurrently, after
CinCPac had dissolved Task Force 31, Admiral Hill and his staff departed for Pearl Harbor and Rear Admiral Calvin H. Cobb took over as Commander Naval Forces, Ryukyus, under General Stilwell. TAF at this time came under the Ryukyus command. All of these forces, and others that were to be sent to Okinawa, were to be commanded by General Stilwell. He was to coordinate and control the massive effort supporting the impending operations against the center of the Japanese Empire. Slated to become a major force in carrying the air war to Japan was the Tactical Air Force.
TAF FIGHTS ON11Only five days had intervened between the eighth mass Kamikaze raid of 27-28 May--Kikusui No. 8--and the ninth, which began on the evening of 3 June and lasted until 7 June. As before, TAF fighter aircraft rose from fields on Okinawa and Ie Shima to meet approximately 245 Japanese planes coming from the Home Islands. American pilots and antiaircraft artillery units claimed a total of 118 enemy planes downed during Kikusui No. 9; the Marine pilots of TAF claimed 35 of this number.12
At the same time that Generals Cho and Ushijima began their suicide preparations, Japanese pilots flying the final mass Kamikaze raid of the Okinawa campaign arrived over the island, prepared to die according to the philosophy of the Samurai, but in a more modern fashion. Approximately 68 of the 257 aircraft launched in Kikusui No. 10 were suiciders. The first group of raiders appeared over Kerama Retto on 21 June at 1830, and correctly replied to friendly recognition signals.13 One Kamikaze dived headlong into the seaplane tender Curtis to start night-long fires that severely damaged the ship. Shortly after, planes from this flight attacked LSM-59 as it was towing the hulk of decommissioned Barry14 away from the Kerama anchorage to act as a Kamikaze decoy, and both vessels were sunk.
On 22 June, Marine pilots from MAG-22 were flying a barrier combat air patrol over Amami O Shima, when they were jumped by approximately 60 enemy planes heading for Okinawa along the well-travelled Kamikaze air route
from Kyushu. The skies immediately buzzed with a frenzy of darting and diving aircraft. One pilot was later heard to say over the radio, "Come on up and help me, I've got a Frank and two Zekes cornered."15 No further word was heard from him, and he was later listed as missing.
During the debriefing after this engagement, the MAG-22 fliers reported that the enemy had tried to decoy them into unfavorable positions. Four of the Japanese planes were first sighted at 20,000 feet, and as a division of Corsairs went after them, the decoy planes made a run for safety, but pulled up "and dropped their belly tanks in front of and above the Marine planes. Our pilots had to [maneuver violently] in order to evade the falling tanks. The F4Us turned to press home their attack when the larger force of enemy planes jumped in and a general melee resulted."16 In evaluating the enemy, the Marines reported that the Japanese pilots flew a good, tight division formation of four planes abreast, and "they seemed to be good pilots but maneuvered poorly."17 Of the 51 planes Americans claimed to have shot down in this encounter, TAF pilots listed 44.
Although MAG-14 (VMF-212, -222, -223), commanded by Colonel Edward A. Montgomery, did not arrive on Okinawa until 8 June, too late to participate in the "turkey shoots" against the Kamikaze attacks, once the group began operations on the 11th, its pilots and planes took part in the stepped-up tempo of TAF strikes on such scattered targets as Sakashima Gunto to the south of Okinawa, Kyushu to the north, and the coast of China to the west. On 22 June, Captain Kenneth A. Walsh, an ace at Guadalcanal and winner of the Medal of Honor for achievements during the same campaign, shot down his 21st enemy plane. In its brief combat tour in the Ryukyus, the group as a whole claimed nine kills.
Whenever the weather permitted in June, TAF greatly expanded its offensive operations and strikes on outlying targets. The primary mission of the far-ranging American planes was to seek out and destroy enemy planes and support installations. These operations involved flights of large numbers of single engine aircraft over water for distances nearly equalling their maximum ranges. Because of their long-range capability, the P-47 Thunderbolts of the AAF fighter squadrons attached to TAF18 performed a dual role as both fighters and bombers. On some missions, the P-47s bombed and strafed targets of opportunity as well as assigned targets; they escorted light, medium, and heavy
bomber missions after Bomber Command joined TAF in June and July.19
At this time, existing airfields on Okinawa were expanded, and new ones built at Awase on the east coast and Chimu in the north in accordance with base development planning. The influx to these and the other fields of newly joining squadrons increased ADC aircraft strength from 432 planes at the beginning of June to 711 at the end.20 With these additional aircraft, TAF mounted increasingly stronger air attacks against the Japanese Home Islands. Marine fighter planes from ADC hit Kyushu installations for the first time on 10 June, the day before Major General Louis E. Woods relieved Major General Mulcahy as TAF commander.21
There was little change in the missions of TAF, Ryukyus Command, from those it had fulfilled as an agency of the Tenth Army. On 1 July, when the command change occurred, ADC assumed complete responsibility from TF 31 for the air defense of the Ryukyus. At this time, TAF aircraft strength was substantially increased, especially by the bomber squadrons, and General Woods could send his planes to better objectives further away from Okinawa than those attacked previously. In its first raid under TAF, on 1 July the 41st Bombardment Group sent its Mitchell bombers to blast Kyushu. On that same day, TAF inaugurated a combat air patrol over Kyushu in hope that Japanese pilots would take off from island airdromes to engage the American planes. Few enemy pilots rose to the occasion.
In another phase of TAF operations, Thunderbolts began hitting Japanese installations on the China coast near the Yangtze Estuary on 1 July. A landmark
in TAF operations occurred on the 9th, when B-24s attacked Japan from Okinawa. All together, the 47 heavy bombers--and the 25 Mitchells and 32 Thunderbolts acting as bombers accompanying them--spread 1,880 clusters of fragmentary bombs and 280 clusters of incendiary bombs over dispersal areas and field installations of Omura airfield on Kyushu. Another 92 Thunderbolts escorting the mission acted merely as spectators; no enemy interceptors appeared.
In accordance with orders from CinCPOA, TAF, Ryukyus was dissolved on 14 July.22 On that date, all Marine air units reported to the 2d MAW, which was then designated Task Group 99.2, and assigned to the Ryukyus Command. AAF squadrons and groups that had been temporarily assigned to TAF were transferred to the Far East Air Forces (FEAF), which assumed control of the mounting number of air attacks against Japan.
Under the Ryukyus Command, Marine squadrons continued flying the types of missions they had flown previously, but they now ranged much further away from the island than when they had been committed to the air defense of ICEBERG forces. On 19 July, ADC flyers made their first visit to the China coast, when 59 F4Us flew cover for TF 95, then operating off the enemy-held littoral.23 At 0001, 1 August, the 2d MAW and all of its squadrons with the exception of VMTB-131 and -232, and VMB-612,24 passed to the operational control of FEAF; the three other squadrons were assigned to the control of Fleet Air Wing 1.25
In the period 7 April through 13 July, TAF amassed a creditable record. A Marine aviator himself, General Geiger wrote General Woods that the air support provided by TAF pilots was "outstanding and contributed materially to a speedy and successful completion of the campaign."26 By the end of 13 July, TAF claimed a total of 625 Japanese planes destroyed in the air and 29 probables; MAG-33 pilots were the high scorers
with claims of having shot down 214 enemy aircraft.27
Of particular interest is the fact that Marine night fighters came into their own in the air above Okinawa; VMF(N)-533 registered claims of 35 enemy planes downed,28 while VMF(N)-542 claimed 17, and -543, 11.29 Some overwhelming statistics appeared in the course of the Okinawa air operations. For example, while flying 118,982 hours and 38,192 sorties, TAF pilots expended 4,102,559 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition and 445,748 rounds of 20mm. In addition, the flyers released 499 tons of napalm, 4,161 tons of bombs, and 15,691 rockets.30
The pilots and planes of VMTB-131 and -232 recorded some amazing statistics during their supply drop operations to ground troops. In addition to the 70 supply sorties carrier-based aircraft flew in support of IIIAC ground units, the two TAF squadrons flew 760 sorties for the Tenth Army-80 of these went to XXIV Corps, the rest to IIIAC. The total weight that the TBMs carried on these missions was 668,984 pounds; the supplies weighed 495,257 pounds, cargo parachutes and air delivery containers took up the rest of the weight.31 Handling these supplies on the carriers first and at the airfields on Okinawa later was the IIIAC Air Delivery Section. Consisting of 1 officer and 82 enlisted Marines, the section was attached to Tenth Army and worked very closely with the TAF squadrons.
Although seemingly prosaic when compared to combat air patrols, supply drop missions were very often just as hazardous. For optimum results, the Avenger pilot had to maintain an air speed of 95 knots, very close to a stall, at an altitude of about 250 feet while trying to spot a drop zone that was supposedly marked by colored smoke, WP grenades, or panels, either separately or together. At the same time, he was being fired upon by Japanese weapons of all sorts--antiaircraft guns as well as small arms. Some pilots had to fly under an arc of friendly artillery and naval gunfire.32
In attempting to drop supplies on targets, Marine aviators often found that the drop zone had not been properly marked or correctly identified, or that the Japanese were using the same color of smoke that Tenth Army ground units were supposed to have employed. As a result, the drop mission either was aborted until the zone could be properly identified, or the pilots made an educated guess--in which case, the supplies sometimes were dropped into enemy territory.
When the drop zone was particularly difficult to spot, Air Liaison Parties from
the Joint Assault Signal Companies33 attached to frontline infantry units coached the TBM pilots to their target by radio. The primary mission of the ALPs was to direct TAF and carrier-based aircraft to the target. Coordinating the requests from lower echelons were the three Marine Landing Force Air Support Control Units (LFASCUs) commanded by Colonel Vernon E. Megee. Colonel Megee wore two other hats: he was representative ashore of the Navy Close Air Support Control Unit (CASCU) that was on board Eldorado, and he commanded LFASCU-3 which was the control unit at Tenth Army headquarters. LFASCU-3 coordinated the air requests forwarded from the IIIAC infantry regiments by LFASCU-1 and from XXIV Corps units by LFASCU--2. Each of these control units operated at the headquarters of the corps to which it was attached.
Although close air support techniques and the methods for their control were rudimentary at the beginning of World War II, during the latter stages of the war and especially on Okinawa, improved aircraft, proven control procedures, and pilots skilled in providing close air support served together to make this supporting arm one of the most powerful that was available to the infantry. On Okinawa, ground troops developed great trust and confidence in the ability of close air support to strengthen attacks on particularly stubborn enemy strongpoints and to clear the way for assaults in general. Surprisingly enough in view of the many support sorties flown, there were but few instances when friendly troops were bombed, strafed, or rocketed by accident, even though strikes were often conducted less than 100 yards away from friendly lines. After getting their first taste of what close air support could do for them, Army units were soon "insatiable in their demands."34
Throughout the course of the war in the Pacific, senior Marine commanders became and remained staunch adherents to and supporters of the close air support doctrine. As it developed, they became convinced that more extensive use of the ALPs at the division, regimental, and battalion levels would increase the quality and quantity as well as the effectiveness of air support.
After the Okinawa campaign, the consensus of the Marine commanders present there was that, with proper communications equipment and more intensive and complete training, ALPs could easily take over control of strike missions from LFASCUS and "talk" the pilots directly to their targets.35 This
procedure of direct air-ground control between ALPs and the planes above them had been developed by the Marine Corps prior to the Okinawa invasion and was used in the 1st and 6th Marine Division training cycles. Colonel Megee later explained that this system was not used at Okinawa because:
. . . to have permitted each battalion air liaison party to control striking aircraft on a corps front of only ten miles, when many simultaneous air strikes were being run, would obviously have led only to pandemonium and grave hazard for all those concerned. On the other hand, where conditions approximated those in the Philippines, i.e., battalion or regimental actions in an uncrowded area, actual control of aircraft was frequently delegated to the air liaison party.36
After having read the comments and recommendations of both Army and Marine commanders concerning the air support they received in the Okinawa campaign, Major General James T. Moore, commander of Aircraft, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, forwarded them to the Commandant of the Marine Corps. In a covering letter, General Moore recommended "that Marine Air and Ground be organized and combined under one command with the primary mission of Marine Air being the support of Marine Ground Forces."37 This might very well be interpreted as the first definitive recommendation made by a senior Marine general for the establishment of the balanced air-ground amphibious force in readiness which has become the hallmark of the present-day Marine Corps.
That the ready acceptance of Marine aviation by Marine ground forces as an equal or supporting partner in amphibious operations was not an immediate thing is indicated by General Woods, who said:
All senior ground generals in World War II believed in the air-ground team but when in the combat area, they were never able to keep aviation under their command. Maybe it is because they gave only lip service to the doctrine. Even as early as Guadalcanal, the First Wing was not under the command of General Vandegrift, and when the First Division left the combat area, all [Marine] aviation units were left behind!38
A review of Marine air activities is not complete without mention of the Marine observation squadrons, the VMOs. Although their exploits were not so spectacular as those of the fighter and torpedo bomber squadrons, nor their planes so swift and deadly, the VMOS attached to IIIAC performed as vitally important a role in the successful prosecution of the Okinawa campaign. Assigned to the Marine components of the ICEBERG forces as artillery spotters, VMO-2,39 -3 and -6 and their OY "Grasshoppers" were ashore and operating from Okinawa fields by 3 April. The squadrons were soon flying other types of missions, however, and not necessarily
for the Marine artillery regiments. Within two days, for example, both VMO-2 and -3 were serving a total of 11 Army and Marine artillery battalions-- the equivalent of nearly three full regiments.40 As soon as VMO-7 arrived in early May, it, too, was kept busy.
In addition to spotting missions, Grasshopper pilots and their aerial observers flew photographic and reconnaissance missions. Sometimes, line routes for ground communications were selected after the observers had reported the number and location of telephone poles still standing.41 In early June and until the end of the campaign, the VMOS made many evacuation flights. During the 12-day period from 11-22 June inclusive, VMO-7 made a total of 369 evacuation flights from the strip behind 1st Division lines; these were in addition to the 243 spotting and 17 photo-reconnaissance missions flown in the same period.42
By the end of the Okinawa battle, the four VMOS had flown 3,486 missions.43 The most valuable of these, in the view of artillery commanders, were the spotting missions. As the G-3 of IIIAC Artillery noted later:
If there was any group of indispensable officers in IIIAC Artillery on Okinawa, it was our air spotters. The nature of the terrain in southern Okinawa seriously limited ground observation-especially while we were fighting our way uphill on the Shuri massif. Without our AOS [Aerial Observers], IIIAC Artillery would have been blind.44
Colonel Henderson continued:
The courage and daring of our AOS and the VMO pilots was an outstanding feature of the campaign. I think that VMO pilots are the unsung heroes of Marine Aviation. . . .
When they wanted to really investigate something . . . they would go right down on the deck. Often they would fly past cave openings at the same level so they could look in and see if there was a gun there.45
This tactic was most important because of the difficulty that often arose in locating Japanese artillery positions, especially those sited in cave mouths.
Considered more a hindrance than a safeguard by both artillery and air support units, restrictive fire Plans NEGAT and VICTOR46 greatly diminished the effect of artillery and naval gunfire bombardments during the early part of the campaign. Colonel Henderson noted that "They were supposed to protect our own close air support planes from friendly artillery fire, but more often served to protect the Japanese from our fire."47 In addition, the plans were invoked too often, and then remained in effect far
too long. Colonel Kenneth H. Weir, commander of LFASCU-1, agreed in principle with this complaint. He said that "if air support units could have been given the maximum ordinates and azimuths of the artillery and naval gunfire falling into an area in which air strikes were to be made,"48 in many instances the aircraft could have attacked or continued an attack without invoking the restrictive fire plans. This controversial point was settled on 16 May when Tenth Army cancelled the use of Plans NEGAT and VICTOR, except in unusual circumstances.49
ISLAND COMMAND ACTIVITIES50The tasks to be carried out by Island Command during both the combat and the garrison phases of the Okinawa campaign were more complex and staggering in many ways than those assigned to other Tenth Army combat organizations. Major General Fred C. Wallace was responsible for providing administrative and logistic support to combat units, executing the CinCPOA base development plan, and assuming-- when directed by Tenth Army--the responsibility for the garrison and defense of Okinawa and its outlying islands. To achieve the objectives required in these various assignments, Island Command had been organized so that it would direct, control, and coordinate a joint task force comprised of a large portion of the service and support troops in the Tenth Army. As Tenth Army noted later: "In effect, Island Command [served] as a combined Army Service Area and advance section of a Communication Zone."51
The degree and scope of the functions delegated by Tenth Army to General Wallace increased in an almost direct proportion to the decrease in fighting and subsequent narrowing of the combat zone. Before the beginning of July, Island Command controlled some 153,000 men and had become responsible for the defense and development of every major island in the entire Okinawan chain of islands.52 Subordinate and reporting to General Wallace were the commanders of Naval Operating Base, Ryukyus; Joint Communication Activities; Hydrographic Survey; Army and Navy Air Bases; Construction Troops; Military Government; and Ground Defense Forces. Additionally, General Wallace exercised control over a large number of service troops which had been assigned directly to his headquarters.
When ICEBERG Plan Phase III operations against Miyako and Kikai were cancelled in late April, all base development efforts, and troops scheduled for employment on these and other islands of the Ryukyus, were reassigned to Okinawa. In the planned revisions,
the number of airfields originally scheduled for development on the island was doubled, and a corresponding increase in supply installations and troop staging, rehabilitation, and training areas was envisioned. All of these impending developments, however, were held in abeyance until remnants of the Thirty-second Army had been destroyed.
As an example of his single-minded determination to pursue the basic objective, General Buckner had ordered all airfield construction units to concentrate on maintaining and reconstructing supply roads to frontline organizations when the heavy rains and resultant mud of late May and early June threatened to bog down but failed to halt the Tenth Army attack. In spite of the weather and incident delays, the first American-built airstrip on Okinawa--a 7,000-foot runway at Yontan--was completed by 17 June. Before the end of the month, 5 airfields were operational on the island, and 8 of the 18 proposed fields were sited and were in the midst of being rehabilitated or constructed to meet the needs of the increased numbers of newly arriving B-29s.
Besides air base development and road maintenance, the Island Command engineering troops fulfilled other important tasks. They widened over 160 miles of existing native roads into two-, three-, and four-lane highways to accommodate the burgeoning load of supply and troop traffic. Island Command also opened new beaches, constructed piers, and cleared dump areas to handle the influx of supplies to be used in the impending operations against Japan proper. Engineers developed a massive water system capable of answering the needs of hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians. Other pipelines were laid and tank farms built to handle the tankerloads of aviation fuel necessary to maintain current and act as a reserve for projected air operations. Construction of the hundreds of storage, administration, and hospital buildings to be used by invasion-bound troops paced the buildup elsewhere on the island.
As the end of organized resistance on Okinawa neared, Island Command shifted the weight of its logistical support from Tenth Army to preparations for approaching operations. One base development phase influenced by planned future operations resulted in the preemption of vast areas of arable land in southern Okinawa and on the Motobu Peninsula. Not only was the topography of the island altered, but the way of life, means of subsistence, and sources of sustenance of island natives were irrevocably changed. Ejection of the natives from generations-old family holdings and removal of other islanders from more populated areas meant that they became, in effect, wards of the Island Command.
The agency responsible to Island Command and taking over its role as guardian for the displaced Okinawans was Military Government. Like so many of the other agencies directed by General Wallace, this one was a joint service effort. Even during the initial stages of the battle, military government teams functioned as though they were conducting a "disaster relief operation,"53 in which they had to clear the islanders out of the way of the course of the fighting
for reasons of mercy as well as for the purpose of keeping them from hampering Tenth Army operations. In this period, as the native population became concentrated in stockades and resettlement areas in northern Okinawa, the Americans gave assistance to the Okinawans as the natives reconstituted the normal functions of civil government and developed a self-sustaining local economy. Primary emphasis was on increased Okinawan participation in both areas. An idea of the magnitude of the job that was performed by a relatively small group of military government personnel is reflected by the fact that it was in charge of 261,115 civilians on 30 June, and 100,000 more by the end of the war.
Complementing the sweep that Tenth Army forces made in the south after the end of organized resistance, Island Command garrison forces in occupied areas of northern Okinawa conducted mopping- up operations, which lasted well into August and assumed the proportion of pitched battles at times. The majority of the flare-ups occurred north of the Ishikawa 1sthmus, garrisoned by the 27th Infantry Division on 2 May. Army forces on Kerama Retto also felt the backlash from survivors of Japanese units that had been defeated but did not know it.54
Upon passing to Island Command control and moving to the areas in northern Okinawa formerly occupied by the 1st and 6th Marine Divisions, the 27th Division began patrolling extensively, assisting the military government collection teams, and blowing caves as well as fortified and prepared positions found in its assigned zone of responsibility. When the toll of enemy dead rose from an average of 3 or 4 to 15 a day and Army troops found evidence of increasing numbers of recently occupied and prepared bivouac positions, General Wallace decided to make a thorough sweep of northern Okinawa to kill or capture the Japanese remaining there.
On 19 May, the division began a sweep northwards from the base of Ishikawa 1sthmus with three regiments abreast. Within five days, the soldiers met heavy resistance at Onna Take, the heavily forested hill mass rising to 1,000 feet from the center of the isthmus. Here, 1st Division Marines had fought guerrillas in April while the 6th Division was fighting the battle on Motobu Peninsula. Since that time, the enemy had added to the natural defenses of the area and extensively fortified the region. The soldiers fought a 10-day pitched battle here without benefit of air or artillery support. After it was over, there was evidence that a sizable number of Japanese had escaped the trap and headed further north. The 27th Division continued its sweep and followed the Japanese. The mop up was finally completed on 4 August, when Army troops reached Hedo Misaki. The division reported at the end of the nearly three-month drive
that it had killed over 1,000 Japanese and captured 500.55
As the fighting on Okinawa drew to a climax, preparations for another off-island operation began. Like Tori, Ibeya, and Aguni Shimas, Kume Shima had been one of the targets originally selected for capture during Phase III(d) of the ICEBERG operations.56 The priority of these targets was downgraded later as the ground campaign unfolded, and this phase of the ICEBERG operation was finally cancelled. A Tenth Army study in late May resulted in the choice of these islands as radar and fighter director sites. The first three were captured in early June, and Kume was targeted for seizure during the mop up phase on Okinawa. Largest of the outlying islands selected for early-warning facilities--some 40 square miles in size--it is approximately 55 miles west of Naha. Assigned to capture the island was the FMF Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion, which had been attached to Island Command for garrison duty in the Eastern Islands after the Marines had seized them. On 21 June, the battalion was released to Tenth Army control for the Kume Shima assault landing. (See Map 22.)
Kume was scouted in the night of 13-14 June by Company B patrols. Information received from captured civilians indicated that only a 50-man enemy garrison held the island. This intelligence proved correct after the landing on 26 June, but Company A and the 81mm Mortar Platoon from 1/7 were attached to Major Jones' 252-man battalion in case the Japanese force encountered was larger than expected.
Leaving the company from 1/7 behind to guard the beachhead, Major Jones and his battalion set out to contact the enemy. After five days of intensive patrolling, no Japanese were found and no opposition was developed. On 30 June, Jones declared the island secure.57
Although the Kume assault force had encountered no enemy in the late June operation, the garrison troops only several days later became involved in two fire fights with Japanese soldiers. Six of the enemy were killed and three of their four machine guns were captured. Constant aggressive patrolling forced the survivors to scatter into the hills in the interior of the island, where they offered no threat to the successful operation of air warning facilities. Air Warning Squadron 11 arrived at Okinawa on 4 July, and its units were set up on Kume Shima two days later. By 12 July, the radar and fighter director sections of the squadron had begun operations and been integrated into the system controlled overall by the Air Defense Control Center on 0kinawa.58
EVALUATION OF OPERATIONS59As some scholars in the field of military history and tactics have noted, the
Okinawa operation represents "the culmination of amphibious development in the Pacific war."60 Shortly after the initial landings, British observers accompanying the ICEBERG force reported that "This operation was the most audacious and complex enterprise which has yet been undertaken by the American Amphibious Forces, . . ."61 And they were undoubtedly right, for "more ships were used, more troops put ashore, more supplies transported, more bombs dropped, more naval guns fired against short targets"62 than in any previous campaign in the Pacific. Despite the immensity of all of the factors involved in the ICEBERG operation, the Okinawa landing realistically demonstrated the soundness of the fundamental amphibious doctrine that the Navy and the Marine Corps had developed over the years and had tempered in the Pacific fighting. This thesis was amplified by General Geiger, who pointed out that the battle for Okinawa "reemphasized most clearly that our basic principles of tactics and technique are sound, 'in the book,' and need only to be followed in combat."63
The touchstone to success at Okinawa was interservice cooperation, where "Army artillery supported Marine infantry and vice versa," and "Marine and Army planes were used interchangeably and operated under the same tactical command," and "each contiguous infantry unit was mutually supporting and interdependent," and finally, when "the Navy's participation was vital to both throughout."64 The target information center (TIC) was the primary Tenth Army agency that coordinated the request for and assignment of supporting arms. In the TICs existing at division, regimental, and battalion levels throughout the Tenth Army, a centralized target information and weapons assignment system gave unit commanders the ability to mass the maximum amount of firepower on both assigned targets and targets of opportunity.
At each infantry echelon down to battalion level, the artillery liaison officer was also in charge of the TIC and worked very closely with the operations officer. Utilizing previously collated intelligence pinpointing enemy positions and screening support requests, the TIC section head--an artillery liaison officer-and the naval gunfire and air liaison officers allocated fire missions to each of the three support elements which they represented. A primary consideration in making each assignment was the capability of the weapon or weapons to be employed.
The target information center at IIIAC headquarters was controlled by the Corps Artillery commander--who made it one of his special staff agencies--and its mission was to provide supporting arms with target information. Colonel Henderson, the operations officer of IIIAC Corps Artillery, described the TIC as General Nimmer's-2 Section:
. . . expanded to meet the needs of artillery, NGF and CAS [close air support] on a 24 hour basis. The Corps Arty S-2 was the IIIAC TIO [target information
officer]. The working responsibility for coordinating arty, NGF and air lay with the Corps Arty S-3 for both planned fires and targets of opportunity.
The Corps Arty S-3, S-2 (TIO) and Corps AirO and NGFO were allocated in a big hospital tent adjacent to IIIAC headquarters most of the time. The S-3 and S-2 (TIO) had 'hot line' phones to Corps G-3 and G-2. The Corps Arty FDC [fire direction center] and the Corps fire support operations center were one and the same facility--with NGF and air added.65
The TIC was given radio jeeps and operators from the Corps Signal Battalion and Corps Artillery to man the Support Air Request, Support Air Observation, and Support Air Direction (SAD ) radio nets. As all division and corps commanders commented favorably on the TIC system, Tenth Army recommended that it be adopted for all future operations.
In writing about the fire support functions of the TIC, the commander of the 11th Marines noted:
For the first time in the Pacific, coordination of naval gunfire and air support with artillery was prescribed in army orders, a forerunner of the present FSCC [Fire Support Coordination System]. Examination of the record will show that each division and corps, Army and Marine, used a different modification of it. It is worthy of note that the system used by the First Marine Division was most like what we have today.66
Until the Kamikaze threat waned in late May and early June, most of the close air support missions were flown by carrier-based planes rather than the TAF aircraft on Okinawa. The latter were too fully committed flying combat air patrols and intercepting Japanese planes to fly strike missions until the later stages of the campaign; Marine-piloted Avengers on supply drops were an exception. The majority of the close support missions in the Okinawa campaign were pre-planned; strike requests were submitted to the LFASCUS, which assigned them well enough in advance so that the strike pilots could be thoroughly briefed before the mission was flown. When a ground element urgently needed close air support, its air liaison party submitted a request through the chain of command to the LFASCU at corps headquarters, which approved the request or turned it down, if, in fact, this action had not taken place earlier at regimental or division level.
Tenth Army unit commanders were favorably impressed also by the aerial supply drop system that was of such vital assistance to the attackers when supply routes had become bogged down. They recommended that a unit similar to the IIIAC Air Delivery Section be formed to work with each field army or independent corps. Tenth Army also recommended that the JASCOs assigned to each combat division be disbanded.67 Motivating this proposal was the feeling that when the marked dissimilarity in the training and functions of the various components of the JASCOs were taken into account, separate air liaison, shore fire control, and shore party communications parties would operate more efficiently.
The naval gunfire spotting and liaison teams were specially commended for competently handling the staggering volume of naval shells fired in support of the land forces.
The shore bombardment of Okinawa on L-Day was "the heaviest concentration of naval gunfire ever delivered in the support of the landing of troops."68 Some 3,800 tons of shells poured in from battleships, cruisers, and destroyers, and from the rocket racks and mortars of the support vessels to explode on enemy shore targets. During most of the campaign, each frontline regiment was assigned one call fire ship and one illumination ship. In certain instances, such as during the 6th Marine Division drive to the Motobu Peninsula, each assault battalion had a destroyer on call, Most fire support ships remained on station for the entire campaign and were not rotated to other duties. As the operation progressed, the quality and results of their shooting improved immeasurably.
On certain occasions, however, the ground units encountered intricately sited and deeply dug-in enemy positions which were impregnable to even the weight of naval gunfire salvos. At these times, the Japanese positions would withstand the fires of individual supporting arms or all of them together. Then, assault forces began a wearing-down process involving the employment of flame and gun tanks, demolitions, and infantry all together in what General Buckner referred to as "the corkscrew and blowtorch" method. Although artillery utilized every expedient conceivable, including the use of antiaircraft artillery guns and LVT(A) howitzers to supplement their regular fires, the Shuri and Kiyamu defenses remained invulnerable for long periods at a time.
One artillery weapon that was organic to the infantry regiments and immediately available for employment under optimum frontline conditions was the 105mm self-propelled howitzer, the M-7. This field piece was found in the 105mm howitzer (self-propelled) platoon containing four gun sections, which replaced the 75mm howitzer (self-propelled) platoon, in the regimental weapons company when it was reorganized on 1 May 1945 according to the G-series Table of Organization (T/O). The 1st and 6th Marine Divisions had received the T/O change, revamped their weapons companies, and were supplied with the M-7s before embarking for 0kinawa.69
No other Tenth Army units remained continuously on line so long a period as the artillery battalions of both Marine and Army divisions during the battle in southern Okinawa. In this period, the artillery of all six infantry divisions supported the attack. Marine and Army corps artillery units supplemented the fires of the 24 divisional battalions with 12 of their own in general support.
Augmenting the Marine artillery were the guns of two LVT(A) battalions, which had been organized and trained as field artillery before the landing. Because
of its organization, each LVT(A) battalion had the fire support capability of a four-battalion regiment of 75mm howitzers.
Prior to Okinawa, General Geiger had become convinced that the armored amtracs could be trained as field artillery and used as such immediately after landing on L-Day at H-Hour and until direct support battalions arrived ashore. Thereafter, the LVT(A)s would reinforce corps and divisional artillery. After landing on L-Day, the LVT(A)s had their "batteries laid and ready to shoot for forward observers as early as H plus 30 minutes--but the Japanese wouldn't accommodate us with targets."70
A total of 2,246,452 rounds were fired in support of the infantry by tanks, LVT(A)s, M-7s, and field artillery pieces; this was more than triple the 707,500 rockets, mortars, and rounds of 5-inch shells or larger fired by the gunfire support ships.71 In either case, the figure is staggering. Because Tenth Army had established a centralized system of target assignment and fire direction, unit artillery commanders were able to mass the fires of all their guns that were within the range of a specific target with little effort in a minimum of time.
In an analysis of Marine artillery operations on Okinawa, General Geiger discovered that there had been instances when 155mm guns and howitzers were unable to destroy certain well-built Japanese defenses when called upon to do so. Further, both corps and division artillery often found it difficult to reduce natural cave positions, which fell only under the direct fire of self-propelled guns or when artillery of a larger caliber than that found in Marine artillery battalions were employed.
The expectation that the invasion of Japan would require a vastly increased fire potential in the existing Marine artillery organizations led General Geiger to recommend changes in its makeup. Accordingly, he proposed a new setup consisting of a field artillery observation battalion and four group headquarters and headquarters batteries, and the following firing batteries: one 105mm howitzer (self-propelled); three 155mm howitzer; two 155mm gun; one 155mm gun (self-propelled); two 8-inch howitzer; one 8-inch howitzer (self-propelled); and one 240mm howitzer.
General Geiger was particularly impressed by the penetrating and destructive power of the 200-pound shell of the 8-inch howitzer when compared with the results achieved by the 95-pound projectile fired by 155mm guns and howitzers, the largest caliber pieces organic to Marine artillery units. The Marine commander asked that some of these 8-inch battalions be included when task organizations were formed for future scheduled Marine operations against Japan scheduled for the future.
Teamwork was a most important ingredient in the formula for reduction of heavily fortified Japanese positions. During the course of the Okinawa campaign, the work of supporting arms, infantry- engineer, air-ground, and tank-infantry teams played a vital role in the defeat of the enemy. Ground assault operations, however, were the especial province of the tanks and the infantry. Concerning the armored support of 6th Division Marines on Okinawa, General Shepherd wrote that "if any one supporting arm can be singled out as having contributed more than any others during the progress of the campaign, the tank would certainly be selected."72 In a battle lesson issued to the Thirty-second Army, General Ushijima supported this opinion, stating that "the enemy's power lies in his tanks. It has become obvious that our general battle against the American forces is a battle against their M-1 and M-4 tanks."73
In comparison with the factors limiting armored support during some of the other Pacific island battles, tanks were more widely employed, on Okinawa because its terrain, for the most part, favored armored operations. Tenth Army units lost a total of 153 tanks to accurate enemy AT fire, vast and thickly sown minefield, and demolitions-laden Japanese soldiers who attempted to destroy both the tanks and themselves, but who failed in their efforts for the most part, however, because of the accurate fire of the infantrymen protecting the tanks. Individual Japanese damaged seven tanks from the five Army battalions, disabled one from the 6th Marine Division, and none in the 1st Marine Division where "the alertness of the covering infantry and the tank crews prevented the successful completion of these attacks."74
Tanks from the Army 713th Armored Flamethrower Battalion, the first unit of its type to be formed and take part in sustained action, supported Army and Marine units alike. After the campaign, the battalion was highly praised for "a consistently outstanding record of performance."75
While covered by infantrymen and standard tanks, flame tanks were particularly
successful in burning the enemy out of rocky outcropping, reverse slope positions, and ruins. The commanders of both the XXIV Corps and the IIIAC favored the increased employment of flame tanks. General Hedge suggested the addition of two battalions to each corps in future operations; General Geiger recommended that one company of these tanks be made organic to each Marine tank battalion.
Both Marine combat divisions had Army 4.2-inch chemical mortar companies attached for the campaign. The division commanders reported that they were very satisfied with the performance of the large-caliber mortars, which could furnish high angle fire on targets not otherwise suitable for 81mm mortars and artillery howitzers. After noting the successful results that had followed employment of the 4.2-inch mortars attached to his division, General del Valle was convinced that their accuracy, long range, and tremendous destructive power were such that he recommended the inclusion of this type of company in the T/O of a Marine division.
Two other new Army support weapons impressed Marine leaders for the same reasons as had the heavy mortars; they were the 57mm and 75mm recoilless rifles. Although neither had been issued for testing by Marine units, nor were the rifles employed extensively by the Army, after viewing a combat demonstration of the effectiveness of the new weapons, IIIAC observers reported that the recoilless rifles held considerable promise for tactical employment. General Geiger acted on this information and recommended that the Marine Corps thoroughly field test both weapons with a view of adopting them in place of the 37mm guns and 2.36-inch bazookas in the infantry regiments at that time.76
Few startling innovations to accepted infantry tactical methods appeared out of the Okinawa fighting. Concerning this, General Geiger commented: "No new or unusual features of infantry combat were disclosed or developed during the campaign on Okinawa which would tend to modify or annul current standard principles or doctrines."77 Those facets of the battle sometimes cited as having reflected the emergence of new concepts in the Pacific war--such as the employment of night attacks and refinement of tank-infantry tactics--were actually just the logical outgrowth of existing tactical doctrine that evolved after the Americans had become familiar with the enemy and his way of fighting.
For the most part, in the early years of the war, there was little inclination toward night offensive action; Marines were too intent on tying in their lines before darkness in order to blunt inevitable Japanese counterattacks and infiltration of the lines. During the Okinawa campaign, however, Marine units took part in night operations more extensively than ever before, and with a great degree of success. Approximately 21 patrols and attacks were mounted at night by Marines; 13 of this number were conducted by the Amphibious
Reconnaissance Battalion.78 In commenting on this aspect of Marine tactics on Okinawa, General Geiger said:
All night operations were characterized by the fact that they were performed in an orthodox manner. Previous training in such maneuvers and existing doctrines on the subject were employed and proved sound. Daylight reconnaissance, a limited objective of a prominent terrain feature, explicit orders for all echelons, noise discipline, and contact were as prescribed in the training manuals. In every case surprise was achieved and the night attack or movement was successful.79
Regarding the American night attacks, Colonel Yahara commented that they were:
. . . particularly effective, taking the Japanese completely by surprise. The Japanese had so accustomed themselves to ceasing organized hostilities at nightfall, and . . . reorganizing and relaxing during the night that attacks in these hours caught them both physically and psychologically off-guard.80
In general, a study of the Marine conduct of night operations on Okinawa revealed no new, startling doctrine, for it indicated the following:
- Orthodox methods are good methods.
- A correct estimate of the situation is a major contributing factor toward success.
- Night operations need not be confined to highly specialized units.
- Such operations afford echelon commanders with an excellent tactical device.
- Present doctrine is quite satisfactory for the training and indoctrination of troops.81
In reviewing the success of those night attacks launched during the Okinawa campaign, it seems surprising that American commanders did not employ this offensive tactic more often.
Immediately after the fighting for Shuri had intensified, severe gaps appeared in the ranks of the assault elements. Although replacements were fed to Tenth Army continually during the course of battle, they were often too poorly or incompletely trained to go into the frontlines immediately. Yet, they were needed to beef up the strength of the hard-hit units. Nevertheless, Tenth Army issued an order to the corps commanders directing that newly arriving personnel were to be indoctrinated and oriented before assignment to frontline units. It was very often difficult to adhere to this directive, especially when the situation demanded
that the replacements be committed into the lines before they were completely "shaken down."
General Geiger "had only two divisions to fight" on Okinawa and found it impossible to guarantee the "relief of front line divisions for rest and assimilation of replacements." To remedy this, he suggested that a corps on extended operations should have a triangular organization much like that of the Marine divisions to provide for an "automatic reserve." Without this, his two Marine divisions had to remain constantly on line until the end of the operation. Based on the knowledge gained at Okinawa, a corps of at least three divisions was considered a must for future joint operations of a similar nature.82
Some serious personnel problems arose before and during the campaign for Army and Marine divisions alike. Most deeply concerned was XXIV Corps, which had been deeply involved in the Philippines operation during the time that preparations for ICEBERG were underway. General Hedge favored the Marine replacement system in which Marine replacements were attached to and trained with infantry units during the preinvasion phases, and then travelled with these units to the target area, where they worked as shore party labor units until needed in the lines to replace infantry casualties.
Including the replacements they had received before departing Pavuvu and Guadalcanal respectively, the 1st Marine Division landed at Okinawa approximately 10 percent over T/O strength, and the 6th Marine Division arrived at the target with a 5 percent overage. Because they had participated in the training and rehearsal phases of ICEBERG, the replacements could be assigned to line regiments when required. Most of the replacements who arrived at Okinawa during the later stages of the battle had come directly from Stateside. Since they were not so well trained as the earlier replacements, the infantry units to which they were assigned had to divert some of their efforts to indoctrinate and train the new arrivals for battle rapidly.
Possibly influenced by the Marine replacement system, Tenth Army recommended that, in future operations, a large-sized replacement company should be assigned to and train with an infantry division before an invasion, and then accompany that division to the target area. General Hedge suggested that infantry battalions be permitted to carry a 25-percent-strength overage to the target, and that balanced infantry replacement battalions, each consisting of 1,000 men, be attached to and loaded out with every invasion-bound infantry division.
Both the 1st and 6th Marine Divisions contained a large number of combat veterans who had participated in two or more campaigns in the Pacific.83 As of 30 June 1945, the 1st Marine Division had 205 officers that had served overseas 24 months or more; over half of these had been in the Pacific area for more than 30 months. Nearly 3,200 enlisted Marines had been in the field
for two years or more; almost 800 of these had been in a combat zone for 30 or more months. General del Valle considered that these facts reflected the approach of a serious personnel and morale problem in the division. By the fall of 1945, 1st Marine Division personnel already in or entering the two-year category "will have spent their entire time in a coconut grove or jungle with not a single opportunity for leave or liberty."84 Steps were taken later, however, which alleviated the situation before it reached a crucial point.85
The immediate replacement of infantry losses was a problem common to commanders of all assault echelons. They believed that the solution was to be found in the establishment of a smoothly working replacement systems, wherein replacements would be attached to and train with an infantry unit before an invasion. Experienced troop leaders knew that long hours of closely coordinated training were needed before assault and replacement organizations could be considered combat ready. Arduous hours of team training served as the basis of American successes at Okinawa. The final action report of the Tenth Army noted:
The support rendered the infantry by naval gunfire, artillery, air and tanks was adequate in every respect. Without such magnificent support, little progress could have been made by the infantry in their advance against the heavily organized enemy positions in southern Okinawa. Supporting fires enabled the infantry to carry out the tremendous task of repeated assaults against strongly fortified positions.86
Logistical planning too required teamwork, and the problems facing the logistics planners reflected the magnitude of the Okinawa operation. Consider for example, that in Phase I of ICEBERG alone, a total of almost 183,000 troops and 746,850 measurement tons of cargo had to be loaded into 433 assault transports and landing ships by 8 different subordinate embarkation commands at 11 widely separated ports from Seattle to Leyte over a distance of some 6,000 miles.
The Joint Expeditionary Force alone contained 1,200 ships of all kinds.87 By the time that the island was secured, "About 548,000 men of the Army, Navy. and Marine Corps took part, with 318 combatant vessels and 1,139 auxiliary vessels exclusive of personnel landing craft of all types."88 These figures coupled with the long distances over which supplies had to travel, created logistics problems of an immense nature beyond all that which had transpired in earlier Pacific operations.
Some concept of the size of the unloading job at Okinawa may be seen in the table in chapter 7, p. 240, which depicts the amounts of assault and first echelon cargo unloaded in all the Central Pacific campaigns from the Gilberts through Okinawa. This chart dramatically indicates that in the overall tonnage of supplies and equipment unloaded, the total for Okinawa was almost double that for the entire
Marianas operation and three times that for the Iwo Jima campaign. Errors of omission and commission in the logistics program seemed critical at the time that they appeared, but none was grave enough to effect the fighting for long. Some problems arising from the nature of operations began before L-Day and continued thereafter; they were important enough however, to cause unit commanders to comment on them and make recommendations for improvement in their action reports.
In the logistics planning phase, embarkation officers too often found that ships' characteristics data for assigned ships was incorrect or out of date; at times, it was either not furnished or unavailable. When division staffs began completing loading plans, they found that, for the uninitiated and non-specialist, there were too many forms. These were too complicated and often repetitive. During the loading phase, ships' captains often received confusing and contradictory orders, which on several occasions resulted in their ships arriving in loading areas or appearing at places other than those to which they were to have gone. In most cases, the confusion arose from poor coordination between Marine and Navy staffs.
A sequel to this liaison gap at times appeared in the improper loading of assault transports. The commander of the transport group that lifted the 1st Marine Division to the target from the Russells reported that plans for loading some of his ships were not even begun until the vessels were alongside waiting to take a load. In reference to the loading of his entire group, he also said:
It can be fairly stated that these ships were not combat loaded. It is true that cargo was landed according to priority. However, the 60 per cent combat load as expressed in Transport Doctrine was greatly exceeded. All ships were, in the opinion of the squadron [TQM ] 'commercial loaded, according to a definite priority.' This was due to the fact that an inadequate number of vessels were assigned by higher command to life the First Marine Division.89
During the preinvasion preparatory period, Marine divisions, especially the 6th, found the Marine Corps supply system on the Pacific overly cumbersome. Two basic factors aggravated the situation. One was the fact that the relations of the Marine Supply Service, FMFPac, to the several combat and service commands in the Guadalcanal area--where the greater portion of IIIAC strength was based-caused many delays because of the many agencies through which supply requisitions had to pass before the requestor received the items requisitioned. In addition the 6th Division was located too far away from the stocking agency, which in this case was the 4th Base Depot on Banika in the Russells.
General Shepherd believed:
Supply problems, many requiring written correspondence and decisions by high authority, were not simplified by the addition of another senior echelon, the South Pacific Echelon, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific. The recent change in the concept of operations of the Corps, by which administration of divisions is theoretically divorced from the Corps, has not benefited the Division. Supply and administration
cannot, in practice, be separated from command.90
A built-in problem, inherent in the nature of the organization and equipment of a Marine division, appeared on L-Day, The initial lack of resistance beyond the beachhead permitted the landing of many Marines who would otherwise not have gone ashore until scheduled. This caused a shortage of landing craft slated to move cargo to the beaches and in turn brought about a delay in the landing of such selected items of division cargo as motor transport and prime movers, which were ticketed for unloading on L-Day.
The truth is that neither Marine division ever had enough motor transportation either to supply itself adequately or to move its artillery. An allotment of motor vehicles and prime movers which might have been sufficient to the normal small island type of fighting to which Marines were accustomed was insufficient for a long operation such as Okinawa.91
At the end of the campaign, General del Valle recommended that each infantry regiment be furnished five prime movers with trailers to supplement motor transport already organic to the division. He also recommended that the infantry regiments be given in addition two bulldozers for "initial road, trail, dump clearance. . . ."92 The 1st Division commander noted that motor transport, tractors, and engineering equipment, urgently needed for combat operations were often deadlined for lack of spare parts. To alleviate this situation, he recommended that, in future logistical planning, provisions should be made for the inclusion of an ample supply of spare parts in resupply shipments.93
According to an officer who was deeply involved in shore party and supply operations at Okinawa:
Logistically, the touchstone of success was . . . interservice cooperation. In many instances, shortages of . . . supplies suffered by one service was made up by another service. It was a unique example of the unification that was developed throughout the campaign through the Central Pacific.94
In the end, hasty field expedients and the overwhelming superiority of American mattériel strength, as well as the interservice collaboration, overcame any obstacle to the capture of Okinawa that logistical problems may have caused.
The story of the Okinawa campaign is incomplete without a brief investigation of enemy tactics. Contrary to the Japanese beachhead defense doctrine encountered in earlier Pacific landings, when the enemy strongly defended his beaches or ferociously attacked the invader before he could organize the beachhead, at Okinawa, the Tenth Army met a resistance in depth similar to that experienced by Americans in the Philippines invasion. IGHQ had ordered General Ushijima to fight a long holding action to buy the time necessary for Japan to complete Homeland defenses. If the Americans sustained a high attrition rate while attempting to batter down the Thirty-second Army defenses, so much the better; there would be that fewer Americans in the anticipated invasion
of Japan. From the time that the Tenth Army landed over the Hagushi beaches until it encountered the northern outposts of the Shuri line, it was harassed, harried, and delayed by small provisional units and somewhat stronger blocking forces, the latter comprised of veteran regulars.
The fall of Saipan in 1944, if nothing else, brought home to IGHQ the military potential of the United States. This loss caused the Japanese command to accelerate the construction of defense positions in Japan as well as on Iwo Jima and Okinawa. The fast carrier task force air raids on Okinawa beginning in October 1944 spurred General Ushijima's Thirty-second Army on to strengthen Okinawa defenses further. Beginning in mid-April, when the Tenth Army encountered the maze of concentric defense rings encircling Shuri, Americans became painfully aware of the results of these efforts.
The rugged and complex ridgelines in the Shuri area were defended form bast entrenchments, from a wide variety of fortified caves employed as pillboxes, and from elaborate, multi-storied weapons positions and gun emplacements that had been gouged out of the ridges and hills and connected by tunnels, which usually opened on the reverse slopes. "The continued development and improvement of cave warfare was the most outstanding feature of the enemy's tactics on Okinawa."95
Among other outstanding features of Thirty-second Army defense tactics was the use of a considerable amount of reinforcing artillery, mortar, and machine gun fire. Also, the Japanese made mass Banzai charges only infrequently, but with a hopeful view either of exploiting a successful attack or of just keeping the Americans off-balance. The enemy did, however, fritter away his strength and dwindling forces in small-sized counterattacks, which had little chance of success and which were, in most cases, blunted easily by the Americans.
Despite the obvious fact that his Thirty-second Army was decisively beaten, General Ushijima must be credited with having successfully accomplished his assigned mission. He did provide Japan with valuable time to complete the homeland defense.
The final act of the Okinawa story unfolded on 26 August 1945, when General of the Army Douglas MacArthur--appointed earlier as Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP)--authorized General Stilwell to negotiate the surrender of enemy garrisons in the Ryukyus. Responding to orders issued by Stilwell, top enemy commanders reported at the headquarters of the Ryukyus command on 7 September to sign "unconditional surrender documents representing the complete capitulation of the Ryukyus Islands and over 105,000 Army and Navy forces."96 Witnessing the ten-minute ceremony in addition to those officiating were Army and Marine infantry units and tank platoons, while above it all hundreds of planes flashed by.
In a report to the Secretary of the Navy, Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King, CominCh, stated that "the outstanding development of this war, in the field of joint undertakings, was the perfection of amphibious operations, the most difficult of all operations in modern warfare."97 As the next to last giant step leading to the defeat of Japan, the Okinawa invasion was a prime example of a successful amphibious operation, and the culmination of all that Americans had learned in the Pacific War in the art of mounting a seaborne assault against an enemy-held land mass. This knowledge was to serve well in preparing for the invasion of Japan.
Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (II-10) * Next Chapter (III-1)
1. Unless otherwise noted, the material in this section is derived from: Tenth Army AR; IIIAC AR; XXIV Corps AR; 1st MarDiv SAR; 6th MarDiv SAR, Ph III; 7th InfDiv AR; 77th InfDiv OpRpt, Okinawa; 96th InfDiv AR; Capt Russell A. Gugeler, USA, The Operations of the 7th InfDiv on Okinawa, 1Apr-22Jun45, 3 vols, n.d., (OCMH), hereafter Gugeler, 7th InfDiv Hist.
2. Quoted in Hattori, War History, p. 131.
3. Gugeler, 7th InfDiv Hist, p. 497. The account of the deaths of the two generals in this work was derived from a POW interrogation. The Japanese officer who told this story had learned the details from other prisoners and prepared this account.
4. Ibid., p. 498.
6. Hattori, loc. cit.
7. IntelMono, pt I, sec B, chaps 2, 3. One Japanese source indicated that approximately 75,000 soldiers and 50,000 Okinawan noncombatant civilians were killed during the battle for the island and that half of the survivors were wounded. Okinawa Operations Record, p. 152. A second and more recent Japanese account, contradicting the casualty figures noted above as well as those cited by American sources, stated that about 90,000 Japanese troops and Okinawan volunteers were killed and that there were as many as 150,000 island natives killed. This source said also that slightly more than 7,800 troops had survived the battle, but half of these were wounded. The other half continued to resist from underground positions and by operating as guerrillas. Hattori, War History, p. 132.
8. Sources for these figures are the appropriate annexes in the Tenth Army AR and the ARs of the combat divisions. See Appendix M for the final compilation by unit of all Marine casualties.
9. USSBS Campaigns, p. 331. A Japanese source states that 7,852 aircraft (2,393 Kamikazes) in both Kikusui and small-scale attacks were sent against American forces between 6 April and 22 June. Of this number, 2,258 never returned. Hattori, War History, table facing p. 132.
10. Tenth Army Tntv OPlan 1-45, Anx 1, p. 4.
11. Unless otherwise noted, the material in this section is derived from: CNO Record; AirIntelBuls, May-Sep45; CTF 51 AR; Tenth Army Tntv OPlan 1-45; Tenth Army AR; TAF WarD, Jun45; TAF PeriodicRpt, Jun45; ADC WarDs, Jun-Jul45; ADC AcftOpAnalysis, Jun45; ADC IntelSums, Jun45; IIIAC AR; XXIV Corps AR; 1st MarDiv SAR; 2d MAW WarDs, Jun-Jul45; 6th MarDiv SAR, Ph III; 1st Prov AAA Gru AR; 58d AAA Brig AR; MAG-14 WarD, Jun45; MAG-22 WarD, Jun45; MAG-33 WarDs, Jun-Jul45; VMTB-131 WarD, Jun45; VMTB-232 WarD, Jun45; AirDelSec AR; Hattori, War History; Sherrod, Marine Air Hist.
12. CTF 31 AR, pt III, pp. 51-61; TAF WarD, Jun45. Japanese sources claim that only 54 planes did not return. Hattori, War History, table facing p. 132.
13. CinCPac WarD, Jun45, p. 75.
14. The APD Barry had been crashed by a Kamikaze and gravely damaged late in May. A Navy Board of Inspection and Survey recommended that it be decommissioned and cannibalized. Ibid.
15. MAG-22 WarD, Jun45. The Zeke, known earlier in the war as the Zero, was a single engine fighter manufactured by Mitsubishi. The Frank, likewise a single engine fighter but manufactured by Nakajima, was a newer and faster plane that appeared during the late stages of the war.
18. The 318th Fighter Group joined TAF about 30 April and began operations from the field on Ie Shima almost immediately thereafter. The other two groups of the 301st Fighter Wing arrived in Okinawa in succeeding months; the 413th on 19 May and the 507th on 24 June.
19. Four AAF bomber groups of the Bomber Command joined TAF, beginning with the 41st which arrived in Okinawa on 7 June. The 494th Bombardment Group arrived on 24 June, the 319th about 2 July, and the 11th actually on 2 July.
20. ADC WarD, Jun45.
21. "My assignment as General Mulcahy's relief was a most unexpected one for me. I was in Pearl waiting to see [Major] General [Ralph J.] Mitchell, whom 1 was relieving as CG of the First Air Wing, then at Bougainvillea,when AirFMFPac gave me immediate orders to go there. I took off with double crews and flew continuously until arrival. Upon arriving, I reported to General MacArthur's Headquarters by dispatch. Several hours after my arrival I received immediate orders to proceed to Guam and to report to Admiral Nimitz. I did as ordered and Admiral Nimitz personally briefed me, and told me to take the necessary steps to have the ADC of TAF take over the air defense of the area in the very near future as the losses from the Kamikaze attacks were heavy and he was going to withdraw all ships as soon as possible. Upon my arrival [at Okinawa], I found that Admiral Hill and his flagship were responsible for the air defense of the area, and that the ADC of TAF was really only a fighter command and not responsible for keeping track of friendly aircraft in the area. When I took command . . . I ordered the ADC to get set up to take over the complete responsibility for the air defense . . . without delay. . . . Why the ADC hadn't been called upon to [keep track] of the friendly planes in the area long before this has always been a mystery to me, for how can an outfit provide air defense properly unless it has full information about all friendly and enemy aircraft in the area?
To deepen the mystery was the fact that it has been reliably reported to me that neither AirFMFPac nor Headquarters Marine Corps knew of my being sent to Okinawa until after my arrival." Wood ltr I.
22. TAF WarD, 1-13Ju145.
23. 2d MAW PeriodicRpt No. 1, 14-20Ju145.
24. VMB-612, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Jack R. Cram, was the first Marine bomber squadron trained to operate at night employing radar-operated bomb sights and search gear, and to launch rockets from its PBJs (Mitchells, twin engine bombers), the Navy-Marine Corps designation for the B-25. The squadron arrived on Okinawa in July, and operated from Chimu airfield until the end of the war.
25. 2d MAW WarD, Jul45. Before this change took place, General Stilwell had received a different set of orders from CinCPac headquarters concerning the future disposition of the 2d MAW. According to Admiral Nimitz' first directive, which assigned ". . . all the Fighter Squadrons to the [FEAF] Fighter Command, and the VMTB squadrons to the Fleet Air Wing. That left only my [General Woods] command headquarters without any units . . . under General Stilwell. On the last day I was under his command, I went . . . to see him. and told him I was a General 'without portfolio' and asked permission to fly to Guam. I told him that I would be back in command of the units of the Wing or I wouldn't be back. He wished me luck and I left. When I got to Guam, I saw Vice Admiral [Charles H.] McMorris [CinCPac Chief of Staff] and after some discussion all units were returned to my control and new orders were issued." Woods ltr I.
26. 2d MAW WarD, Jun45.
27. The pilots of the "Death Rattlers," VMF-323 commanded by Major George C. Axtell, Jr., contributed over half, 1241/2 planes, to the MAG-33 score. One unusual feat in the air campaign of Okinawa took place during the Kamikaze attack on 22 April, when, in a 20-minutes period, Axtell shot down five raiders and his two wingmen--Major Jefferson D. Dorroh, squadron executive officer, and First Lieutenant Jerry J. O'Keefe-destroyed six and five enemy aircraft, respectively.
28. VMF(N)-533 WarDs, May-Jul45.
29. Ibid., Jul45.
31. AirDelSec AR, p. 2.
32. See discussion of LFASCU operations below for further comments on this problem
33. The JASCO was a joint Navy-Marine Corps organization; the naval component contained the shore fire control parties, which operated with the frontline infantry battalions, spotting targets for and controlling the naval gunfire support of these ground units. The Marine ALPs functioned similarly, but controlled the close air support provided the infantry.
34. Col Vernon E. Megee quoted in Sherrod, Marine Air Hist, p. 411.
35. IIIAC AR, pp. 197-198; 1st MarDiv SAR, Air Support Anx; 6th MarDiv SAR, Ph I&II, pt X, pp. 24-26; CG, AirFMFPac ltr to CMC, ser 002233, A16-3/G-3/eas, Subj: Air Support, dtd 28Aug45, with encls A-H, Rpts of 1st MarDiv (Rein), 6th MarDiv, XXIV Corps, 7th InfDiv, 27th InfDiv, 77th InfDiv, 96th InfDiv, and IIIAC, hereafter CG, AirFMFPac ltr. These reports duplicate the comments concerning air support each command made in its Okinawa action reports.
36. Quoted in Isely and Crowl, Marines and Amphibious War, p. 567. For the story of Marine close air support operations in the recapture of the Philippines, see Maj Charles W. Boggs, Jr., Marine Aviation in the Philippines (Washington: HistDiv, HQMC, 1951); see also Garand and Strobridge, Western Pacific Operations, passim.
37. CG, AirFMFPac ltr.
38. Wood ltr I.
39. Until 15 April, when they returned to Saipan, VMO-2 pilots flew missions for the 11th Marines with VMO-3, but used VMO-6 planes. Tenth Army AR, chap 11, sec VI, p. 59
40. Air IntelBul, Jun45, p. 11.
42. Ibid., Aug-Sep45, p. 22; VMO-7 WarD, Jun45.
43. Tenth Army AR, chap 11, sec VI, p. 59. Included in this number are the ones flown by VMO-2 from 3-15 April.
44. Henderson ltr.
46. Containing safety factors that were contingent on specific danger conditions, Plans VICTOR and NEGAT were invoked either separately or jointly whenever an air strike was to be delivered on the same target being fired upon by artillery and naval guns. The effect of the plans was to protect the pilots and planes flying the close support mission. Tenth Army Tntv OPlan 1-45, Anx 5, p. 5.
47. Henderson ltr.
48. Quoted in AirIntelBul, Aug-Sep45, p. 24.
49. Henderson ltr.
50. Unless otherwise indicated, the material in this section is derived from: IsCom AR; MilGovtSec, IsCom, Histories of MilGovt Ops on Okinawa, Apr-Aug45 rpts; 27th InfDiv OpRpt.
51. Tenth Army AR, chap 11, sec XXVI, p. 1.
52. Patrols of the 2d Marine Division reconnaissance company scouted Izena Shima--to the north of Okinawa--from their base on Iheya Shima, on 23 June. No enemy soldiers were found; the island held some 4,000 natives, however, who were friendly to the Americans. On 29 June, Island Command took over Kume Shima, which had been captured by the FMF Reconnaissance Battalion earlier in the month.
53. Tenth Army AR, chap 11, sec XXVII, pp. 3-4.
54. A provisional infantry battalion, formed from the 870th Antiaircraft Artillery (Automatic Weapons) Battalion, relieved 2/305 as the Kerama Retto garrison on 23 May. The former AAA gunners were given some rudimentary infantry training by experienced 27th Infantry Division officers and noncommissioned officers, and then began operations which lasted until the end of the war to destroy the numerous survivors of the sea raiding battalions hidden out in the rugged hills of the island.
55. Love, 27th InfDiv Hist, p. 649.
56. ICEBERG Study, App H.
57. PhibReconBn AR, Ph III, encl A. The Assault and Capture of Kume Shima, dtd 15Aug45.
58. ADC Hist, p. 6,
59. Unless otherwise noted, the material in this section is derived from: Tenth Army AR; IIIAC AR; XXIV Corps AR; 1st MarDiv SAR; 6th MarDiv SAR, Ph III; Isely and Crowl, Marines and Amphibious War.
60. Isely and Crowl, Marines and Amphibious War, p. 551.
61. British Observers rpt.
62. Isely and Crowl, loc. cit.
63. IIIAC AR, p. 194
64. Isely and Crowl, op. cit., p. 578.
65. Henderson ltr 1965.
66. Brown ltr.
67. It will be noted in the discussion of the Marine division in pt VI, chap 2, infra, that this is what in fact took place with the publication of the G-Series Tables of Organization in late 1945. An Assault Signal Company (ASCO) was made organic to the Marine division and placed in the division headquarters battalion.
68. Tenth Army AR, chap 11, sec V, p. 6.
69. Prior to the T/O change, the regimental weapons company consisted of a 75mm howitzer (self-propelled) platoon and three 37mm gun platoons. After the new TIO went into effect, the company was comprised of the 105mmself-propelled howitzer platoon and two 37mm gun platoons.
70. Henderson ltr.
71. A breakdown of the first figure by type of shell fired reveals: 75mm guns (tanks)--199,522; 75mm howitzers (including LVT(A)s)--387,112; 105mm howitzers (including M-7s)--1,119,210; 155m howitzers--375,241; 155mm guns--146,359; 8-inch howitzers--19,008. Because of discrepancies appearing between the figures given in the appropriate ammunition expenditure sections of the section reports of the Tenth Army, the two corps, and the divisions, these totals represent those given by the unit in which a specific weapon was organic; the reports of the LVT(A) battalions, attached to the 1st and 6th Marine Divisions, were incorporated within the division reports. The 1st Battalion, 11th Marines, alone fired a total of 100,339 rounds of 75mm ammunition, "which was the largest number of rounds fired by Marine 75mm pack howitzer battalion in any of the Pacific campaigns during World War II." LtCol Robert C. Hilliard comment to HistBr, G-3 Div, HQMC, 6Apr65. Colonel Hilliard is an artillery officer who served with the 11th Marines at Okinawa.
72. 6th MarDiv SAR, Ph III, pt III, p. 28.
73. Quoted in the preface to the Tank Support Anx, 1st MarDiv SAR.
74. Ibid., pp. 23-24.
75. Ibid., p. 41. A few tanks in each of the standard tank battalions on Okinawa were equipped with small, limited-range flamethrowers, which were mounted either on the periscope mounts or where the bow machine gun had been. Both were inferior to the gun tube flamethrower of the 713th Armored Flamethrower Battalion, which had "a greater range in addition to being an all-around better weapon and the most practicable of the three." Tenth Army AR, chap 11, sec IX, p. 12. See also pt VI, chap 2, infra, for a discussion of armored flamethrowers.
76. IIIAC AR, p. 214.
77. Ibid., p. 103.
78. Major Jones' Marines conducted the following night patrols and operations as follows: Keise Shima, Aware Saki, Mae Shima, and Kuro Shima, all pre-L-Day; Tsugen Shima, 5-6 April; Ike Shima, Taka Banare, Heanza Shima, and Hamahiki Shima, all 6-7 April; Kutaka Shima, 7 April; Minna Shima, 7-8 April; Yagachi, 20 April; and Sesoko, 21 April. The following IIIAC units conducted night operations on Okinawa proper as noted: Asa Kawa crossing by 22d Marines, 10 May; Relief of 1st Marines at Dakeshi-Wana by 5th Marines, 13-14 May; Naha Canal crossing by 22d Marines, 29 May; Reconnaissance of Oroku by 6th Reconnaissance Company, 2 June; Kunishi Ridge attack by 7th Marines, 12 June; Kunishi Ridge attack by 1st Marines, 14 June; Kunishi Ridge relief by 22d Marines, 17 June; and Mezado Ridge relief by 8th Marines, 18 June.
79. IIIAC AR, p. 103.
80. Yahara Interrogation.
81. Capt James R. Stockman, "Night Operations on Okinawa," Marine Corps Gazette, v. 30, no. 9 (Sep46), p. 28.
82. IIIAC AR, p. 195.
83. See pt II, chap 3 above, section entitled "Training and Rehearsals."
84. 1st MarDiv SAR, PersAnx, p. 4.
85. See pt III below, section dealing with the rotation home of combat veterans.
86. Tenth Army AR, chap 11, sec IX, p. 1.
87. War Reports, p. 665.
88. Ibid., p. 664.
89. Commander, Task Group 53.2 (Transport Group Baker) rpt in CNO Record, chap 7, p. 32.
90. 6th MarDiv SAR, Ph I&II, chap 111, p. 6.
91. Isely and Crowl, Marines and Amphibious War, p. 574.
92. 1st MarDiv SAR, chap X, p. 19.
94. Blakelock ltr 1956.
95. Tenth Army AR, chap 8, p. 4.
96. 1st Information and Historical Service, Documents Relating to the Surrender of Japanese Garrison in the Ryukyus and the Occupation of that Area by Elements of the Tenth Army, September and October 1945, dtd Dec45, attached news release.
97. War Reports, p. 658.