IIIAC ON THE LINES1On 5 May, Tenth Army ordered the attack to the south continued on the 7th with two corps abreast; IIIAC on the right, XXIV Corps on the left.2 (See Map IV, Map Section.) With two corps now poised for the assault, Tenth Army assumed direct command of the southern front. The day before the attack, 6 May, General Geiger's CP opened at a new location near Futema, where the operation order was received. Effective at 0600 on the 7th, the 1st Division would revert to IIIAC control and the latter would then take over the zone of action for which General de] Vane had been responsible previously.3 The 7 May attack was a prelude to a second and major assault to be launched on 11 May. (See Map 14.) The objective of the first attack was to gain favorable jump-off positions for the second one, which was to be directed against the Shuri defenses. Before IIIAC units could get into position for the scheduled 7 May attack, the Marines had to get across the Asa River estuary.
General Geiger ordered the 1st Division to attack south on the 7th, with the main effort on its left. The 6th Division was to relieve the 1st on the right of the corps zone with one regimental combat team before 1600 on 8 May. Both Marine divisions spent 6 May readying for the next day's work; General Shepherd's division moved to assembly areas preparatory to its commitment, and the 1st maintained pressure on the enemy. During the course of this day, as 2/74 stood fast along the Asa River estuary line, other elements of the division were unable to budge virtually a stonewall defense. Despite accurate counterbattery fire, enemy artillery activity increased noticeably. Two tanks working in front of the 5th Marines lines were knocked out by well-placed Japanese antitank fire as they blasted enemy cave positions at close range.
The 1st Marines attack zone was narrowed considerably when new regimental boundaries were established. A concentration of the force of the Marine attack against enemy positions in the western approaches to Dakeshi hill defenses was necessary because the 1st Marines line cut back sharply from the Asa Gawa to the 5th Marines positions north of the Awacha Pocket. This situation subjected attacking units of the 1st Marines to punishing frontal and
1st Marine Division Captures Dakeshi and Wana
5-21 May 1945
flanking fire from a well-organized maze of hills and ridges protecting Dakeshi.
In a downpour which lasted two days, 3/1 attacked on 6 May. Its attempts to breach the Dakeshi defenses were unavailing and easily fended off by 62d Division troops. Similarly, the efforts of 2/1 were stymied. Fierce enemy fire held up the attacking Marines and forced elements that had been able to gain even a little ground to withdraw. Despite an intense four-battalion artillery preparation,5 and air and naval gunfire bombardment, the 5th Marines could penetrate only slightly into the Awacha Pocket, then held by 23d Independent Infantry and 14th Independent Machine Gun Battalions.6
On the left, 2/5 moved its lines forward about 200 yards to tie in with the 307th Infantry, after which the Marines coordinated their advance with that of the soldiers. When 2/5 resumed the assault, it called for mortar and artillery fire on enemy reverse slope positions impending the advance of the units on the regimental right flank.
At 0600 on 7 May, General Geiger assumed IIIAC command responsibility for the 1st Marine Division zone and regained control of his corps artillery battalions which had been attached to XXIV Corps up to this time.7 General Nimmer then reorganized his command into three groups: the IIIAC artillery battalions comprised the first; XXIV Corps Artillery made up the second; and the third group consisted of the 27th Infantry Division Artillery (104th, 105th, and 106th Field Artillery Battalions), which had remained in position when the rest of the division headed north to relieve the 6th Marine Division. The purpose behind Nimmer's action was to provide IIIAC divisions with maximum effective tactical support.
Commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Custis Burton, Jr., the 2d Provisional Field Artillery Group (3d and 6th 155mm Howitzer Battalions and XXIV Corps 145th Field Artillery Battalion) was given the mission of providing general support to the 1st Division and reinforcing the fires of the 11th Marines. Similarly, the 27th Division Artillery under Brigadier General William B. Bradford, USA, was to support the 6th Marine Division and the 15th Marines.8 Lieutenant Colonel Ernest P. Foley commanded the third group--named after him--consisting of the 7th, 8th, and 9th 155mm Gun Battalions, which were to deliver long-range reinforcing, counterbattery, interdiction, and harassing fires in support of IIIAC generally. The Marine 1st 155mm Howitzer Battalion remained under XXIV Corps
Artillery control until 23 May, when it reverted to its parent unit, IIIAC Corps Artillery. During the period that Marine artillery units had supported XXIV Corps (7 April to 6 May), they fired 53,988 rounds in a total of 2,344 missions.9
As the 1st Marine Division once again came under IIIAC control, it could look back on the six difficult days of combat it had been with XXIV Corps. During this period, the division sustained 1,409 battle casualties, including 199 men who were either killed or subsequently died of wounds in the fighting to gain the northern bank of Asa Kawa and the outer reaches of the Dakeshi defense system.10
The attack of the 1st Marines, scheduled to begin at 0900 on 7 May, was held up because muddy terrain prevented supporting armor from arriving on time. In the meanwhile, Colonel Arthur T. Mason, the 1st Marines new commander,11 ordered his 3d Battalion to support the attack of 2/1 on Hill 60--a height commanding the battalion front--by bringing all available fire to bear on the reverse slope positions of this enemy-held hill. The supporting fires continued until 1400, when tanks arrived at the front to assist in the attack.
As mortars and assault guns pounded the top and reverse slope of the hill, and artillery fire covered the foot of the objective, the coordinated tank-infantry assault was launched against determined, fanatic, and well dug-in Japanese troops. In less than half an hour, Company E, spearheading the attack, swept to the hilltop in a practical application of "the effect of properly massed supporting fires in front of the assault troops."12 A hand-grenade duel ensued when the enemy defenders emerged from their caves after the fires supporting the attack were lifted. Almost immediately, the volume of Japanese fire of all types "grew noticeably stronger and progressively more intense so that it was evident that the enemy was receiving large reinforcements."13 In view of this potential threat, the position was adjudged untenable by the battalion commander, who withdrew his company to their lines of the previous night.
It had become apparent by the morning of 7 May that the deep draw cutting across the front of 1/5 and to the right of 2/5 positions contained the bulk of the enemy's Awacha defenses. At 0900, General del Valle and Colonel Griebel conferred with the commanders and staffs of the two assault battalions, and discussed the methods by which the Japanese positions rimming the draw and studding its steep slopes were to be reduced. It was decided that an extensive air, artillery, and rocket preparation would precede the infantry jumpoff scheduled for 1200; a reinforced tank company was moved up in time to support the assault.
The fighting that afternoon was marked by tactics which "General Buckner, with an apt sense of metaphor, called . . . the 'blowtorch and corkscrew' method. Liquid flame was the blowtorch; explosives, the corkscrew."14 Marine flamethrower and demolition teams burnt out and sealed many of the enemy cave installations in their zone. By 1700, the time the battalions dug in for the night, 1/5 had gained 300-400 yards in the center, but 2/5 and 3/5 could do little more than attempt to straighten their lines. Even though 62d Division troops holding this area gave way slightly during the day, it was obvious that Awacha Pocket was not going to be taken quickly or easily.
News of the collapse of Nazi Germany and the announcement of V-E Day on 8 May, the day of the Allied victory in Europe, drew little response of any sort from either side on Okinawa. Most of the cold, rain-soaked Americans and Japanese in the frontlines were concerned only with that very small but vital part of the war where their own lives were at stake. Still, V-E Day did not go unnoticed. The Americans conducted Thanksgiving services on board many of the ships off Okinawa. In addition, the voices of naval guns and artillery pieces helped in the celebration. At exactly noon, every available fire support ship directed a full-gun salvo at the enemy;15 in addition, three battalions from IIIAC Artillery massed fires on a suspected Japanese CP.16 The results of the noontime shoot were not ascertained, but, in the words of one observer, "It made one hell of a big noise."17
Heavy, driving, and cold rains on the 8th continued to immobilize Tenth Army troops. The attack was bogged down in the 1st Marine Division zone; but in the area directly in front of the lines, numerous caves and pillboxes were destroyed in a general mop-up. The 1st and 5th Marines each received a battery of 75mm pack howitzers that were manhandled up to the front in an unsuccessful attempt to place direct fire on enemy dispositions.18
General Shepherd's 22d Marines, selected to lead his 6th Division drive in the south, moved out from Chibana on 8 May, and by 1530 the same day its 1st and 3d Battalions had relieved the 7th Marines along the Asa Kawa.19 At 1600, the 6th Division commander assumed
responsibility for his zone in the corps front. Once in position opposite the Asa Kawa estuary, the 6th spent 9 May in patrolling and reconnoitering before the crossing was attempted. A patrol from 3/22 (on the division right ) inspected a ruined bridge crossing the river and later reported that it was not passable to either foot or vehicular traffic, that the water in the estuary was four feet deep at high tide in its most shallow portion, and that the river bed had a thick mud cover. Other patrols, also from 3/22, were sent out at noon to discover possible crossing sites and to determine enemy strength and dispositions. These patrols drew fire from positions across the river, but noted that other caves and pillboxes farther south appeared to be unmanned. The Marines also reported that the soft stream bed could not support a tank ford.
To the left of 3/22 was the 2d Battalion in positions near Uchima. Its only enemy contact during the day took place when a patrol that crossed the river drew heavy enemy fire. Before withdrawing, the Marines rescued both the pilot and observer of an artillery spotting plane that had been shot down in enemy territory. As a result of the information collected by the patrols, both the division and regiment were better able to plan for an effective exploitation of a beachhead following the crossing of the Asa River.
The 6th Engineer Battalion moved light bridging material up to the 22d Marines line in daylight, and under the cover of darkness began constructing a footbridge near the site of a ruined bridge. At 0300, 10 May, 3/22 was to cross the river with 1/22 in support, and then attack the high ground overlooking the south bank of the Asa at dawn. The 2d Battalion was to provide tire support from a strongpoint set up on high ground southwest of Uchima. This river crossing was only a part of the all-out army attack scheduled for 11 May. Envisioned in the objectives of the plan were the envelopment and destruction of enemy forces occupying the Shuri bastion, and finally, the total annihilation of General Ushijima's command.20
General del Valle's division made fairly substantial gains on 9 May, even in the face of miserable weather conditions which prevented the attack from being launched until 1200. When armor support became available and was able to move forward over the muddy terrain, the troops advanced 200-300 yards and generally straightened the division line. Until this attack, Colonel Mason had kept 1/1 in reserve where the battalion took in 116 replacements for the 259 casualties it had sustained in the period between 30 April and 6 May.
On 9 May, the immediate objective of 1/1 was to penetrate and destroy enemy defenses on Hill 60. Just before the attack began, the assault battalion moved behind 2/1, which was to exploit the successful penetration by seizing and consolidating the captured positions; 3/1 was to support all of this action with fire.
Because there was no contact with the 5th Marines on the left, a general shift was made into its zone to wipe out the
sources of enemy fire that mere taking a heavy toll of troops in 1/1. As a result of a combination of heavy casualties and exhaustion occurring in the ranks of 1/1, its attack almost bogged down, but was revitalized at 1600, when the Marines swept forward over the difficult final 150 yards to gain the initial objective line.21
Following a thorough air, artillery, naval gunfire, and mortar preparation, the 5th Marines attacked the mouth of Awacha Draw at noon on the 9th, with 3/5 and 3/7 in the assault; 1/5 and 2/5 furnished fire support from positions facing the draw. Initially, the attack moved rapidly and the first objective--the same ridgeline that had faced 1/1--was soon reached, but fire in large volume on 3/7 from the left of its exposed flank held up the attack. At 1515, 1/7, which had moved up from Gusukuma that morning, was committed in the line to fill the gap that had appeared between 3/7 and 1/5.22
To overcome the determined stand of Awacha's defenders, and spurred on by the need to continue the division attack to gain the objectives assigned by Tenth Army, General del Valle issued a new operation order late in the afternoon of the 9th. Assigned a limited zone on the left of the division front, the 5th Marines (less 3/5) was to reduce the Awacha Pocket beginning with an attack the .next morning. New boundaries were given the 1st and 7th Marines (with 3/5 attached) which placed them in jump-off positions across the division front for the planned 11 May attack.23 Colonel Snedeker assumed responsibility for the new 7th Marines zone at 1855, relieving the 5th, and placed 3/5, 3/7, and 1/7 on line for the 10 May attack. (See Map 14.)
As an aftermath to the unsuccessful 4-5 May counterattack, the Japanese attempted to readjust and reinforce their lines against expected American reprisals and a continuation of the Tenth Army onslaught. To gain the time and breathing space needed to rebuild the 62d Division somewhat, General Ushijima gradually withdrew the division from the tangled Maeda-Asa Kawa complex toward Shuri where replacements from the Naval Base Force, service and supply troops, and Boeitai could join. Remaining in front of the 96th Infantry Division in positions extending from Dakeshi to Gaja were the 22d and 89th Regiments of the 24th Division, which had been reinforced in the second week of May by division troops and the now-defunct sea raiding base battalions.
IIIAC forces were opposed by the 44th Independent Mixed Brigade, which
was built around a nucleus composed of the 15th IMR, now at full strength, and fresh replacements from the 3d Battalion, 2d Infantry Unit, 7th Independent Antitank Battalion, 1st and 2d Independent Battalions, and the 26th Shipping Engineer Regiment. Although American forces were in close contact with the enemy and fully engaged by them at Dakeshi, it was difficult to determine Japanese troop strength in the area because the core of this strength was screened by outposts and scattered strong defensive positions still held by remnants of the 62d Division.
During the night of 9-10 May, the enemy was particularly active in the 1st Marine Division zone, and he made numerous attempts to infiltrate the 5th Marines area. Between 0200 and 0300, 1/5 fought off two counterattacks in which the Japanese had closed to bayonet range; enemy troops were driven off only after an extended hand-to-hand battle. After daybreak, upwards of 60 enemy bodies were found in front of the battalion lines. Despite this early-morning action, the division continued the attack at 0800, following a heavy artillery and smoke preparation, with three infantry regiments abreast.
Although General del Valle's troops encountered stiff opposition all along the line, the 5th Marines, on the corps left, received the most violent enemy reaction from positions centered around the Dakeshi Ridge and the high ground running generally along the corps flank. Armor assigned to support the 5th Marines attack did not arrive in time for the jumpoff; poor roads had again bogged down the tanks and prevented them from aiding the infantry.
Less than an hour after the attack began, 1/5 was pinned down by heavy enemy machine gun and mortar fire that skyrocketed casualty figures. At 1700, the battalion was withdrawn under the cover of smoke. Although 1/5 was unable to move forward, the rest of the regiment made inroads into enemy positions. Supported by artillery and flamethrower tanks, 2/5 overran all enemy resistance in that portion of Awacha Draw which lay in its zone. This action placed the regiment in the heart of the Awacha defenses; it did not account for the many other remaining Japanese pockets which the 5th Marines was to meet in the next few days.
As the 5th fought its battle, the 7th Marines attacked with the 1st and 3d Battalions in the assault, 2/7 and 3/5 in reserve. On the right, 3/7 was immobilized at its line of departure by accurate mortar and artillery shelling, and heavy small arms fire from pillboxes and caves to its front. The 1st Battalion, however, attacked on time; by noon, its forward elements were on the low ground north of the Dakeshi Ridge, where visual contact was reestablished with 1/5. Japanese fire on this advanced position increased as the morning wore on, and shortly before noon, machine gun fire from a draw in the 5th Marines zone began hitting the 1/7 assault company. This fire continued unabated and finally halted the attack. When 1/5 was forced to withdraw, 1/7, exposed on both flanks, found its position untenable. The 7th Marines assault units were pulled back to their original lines at 1754.
For the 10 May attack, Colonel Mason's 1st Marines was given the task
of gaining the road leading west out of Dakeshi. Although 3/1 jumped off and reached its planned intermediate objective on time, it was forced to hold up and wait for the 1st Battalion, which did not begin its scheduled advance because of the late arrival of its supporting armor.24 At 1020, both battalions resumed the attack, now supported by armor, and reached a low ridge overlooking the Dakeshi road at 1600.
All attempts by assault companies to move beyond this point were met by extremely heavy machine gun fire from Dakeshi ridge, driving back the combat patrols attempting to bypass the nose of the ridge. It soon became painfully evident that no further advance would be possible until the ridge was taken.
While the 1st Division set in its defenses for the night, the 6th Division remained active. As soon as it became dark on 9 May, the 6th Engineer Battalion began building a footbridge for the planned infantry crossing over the Asa Kawa estuary. At 0530, two and a half hours after 22d Marines assault elements had crossed over to the south bank of the river, a Japanese two-man suicide team rushed out of hiding to throw themselves and their satchel charges onto the south end of the footbridge; both the bridge and the enemy soldiers were destroyed. Prior to this destructive act, however, 1/2225 and 3/22 each had succeeded in moving two assault companies across the river under the cover of darkness, and to positions for a continuation of the attack to the south. The loss of the bridge, therefore, posed no great hardship; included in the attack plans were contingency provisions that were to go into effect if this, in fact, took place. Therefore, when the bridge was blown up, engineer demolition teams with the assault elements breached the seawalls on the south bank of the river to permit immediate access to the frontlines to supply- and troop-laden LVT(A)s.
At 0520, under the cover of a protective smoke screen and an artillery preparation, the attack south of the Asa began. The assault companies were at first hampered by fog and the smoke of battle. During the early morning hours, enemy resistance was moderate and limited to small arms and machine gun fire. Soon, however, Japanese artillery shells began falling on the bridgehead area.
By noon, the Marines had succeeded in driving only 150 yards into enemy defenses, while, at the same time, the volume of both small arms and artillery fire increased steadily. Under the cover of heavy supporting fire, each assault battalion brought its reserve company across to join the attack. Even with continuous artillery and naval gunfire support, the ground troops could not crack the Japanese line.
The only weapons capable of breaching these defenses--tank-mounted flat trajectory cannon--were not available because supporting armor was unable to ford the mud- and silt-bottomed stream despite its numerous attempts to do so. The tanks were then forced to withdraw to the northern bank of the
Asa, there to await the construction of a Bailey bridge, which the 6th Engineers were to begin building after dark on the night of 10-11 May.
The 22d Marines advanced along their entire front during the afternoon; the 1st Battalion made the greatest gain, 350 yards. As darkness fell, the division halted and forward companies dug in for the night. The engineers began work on the Bailey bridge at 2200, stopping only when the crossing site was shelled. This intermittent shelling successfully delayed completion of the bridge by six hours. The first Marine tanks did not cross the river until 1103 on 11 May, some four hours after the coordinated, two-corps Tenth Army attack had begun.26
AIR OPERATIONS IN MAY27A mass Kamikaze raid on 10-11 May, the fifth of the campaign, unintentionally served to preface the 11 May ground attack of the Tenth Army. There was no indication that the Japanese had prior knowledge of the impending attack or that their air assault had been planned to forestall the American push. An enemy air raid should have been anticipated, however, because the first relatively clear weather since the previous Kikusui attack appeared at this time.
Between midnight of 10 May and 0420 on the following day, the Air Defense Control Center plotted 19 enemy raids approaching Okinawa, each one ranging in size from one to nine aircraft. Most of the planes orbited over the water about 40 miles northwest of the island, where they formed up for a furtive pass at American targets. None, however, approached any closer than 10 miles to Okinawa.
This situation soon changed on the 11th, when, at 0630, TAF pilots intercepted the first in a series of suiciders attempting to crash targets in the Ie Shima and Hagushi anchorages. By the time of this mass raid, enemy air tactics generally followed the pattern previously observed during the major landings in the Philippines, but with an increased emphasis on the use of the Kamikaze. Like the tactics employed at Leyte, at Okinawa attacking groups approached at altitudes ranging from 9,000 feet to sea level; the low-level approach was usually made during periods of limited visibility. Japanese pilots also would approach a target at low altitudes if their attack was covered by clouds and poor visibility, or when they felt that American radar units could not detect their planes. While this indicated
some training in low-level evasive tactics, it did not show that enemy pilots had a proper appreciation of the range and coverage of American radar.28
At Okinawa, enemy air activity usually began when the final night CAP had withdrawn to home fields, and ended when the early morning patrol flight approached. As successful as the alert American air patrols had been in protecting assault shipping and radar picket vessels, it was impossible to prevent losses as long as even a single Japanese plane penetrated the ICEBERG air screen. In at least five instances in May, Kamikazes that had been so seriously damaged by fighter aircraft that they could not have possibly returned to home bases--and conceivably could not have even recovered level flight-managed to remain on course, break through the American screen, and hit their targets.29
On-station planes from TF 51 and TAF fended off the raids of 11 May, but not before a Dutch merchantman, two American destroyers, and an LCS had been hit. A total of 217 Japanese planes were employed in Kikusui No. 6; 104 of these were suiciders.30 The claims of opposing sides regarding the number of planes their pilots had downed conflict similarly in this particular engagement as they did in others. Uniquely enough, the number the Japanese admitted losing in this air battle was in excess of the number that the Americans claimed that they had shot down. A Japanese source lists 109 of their planes shot down or missing,31 while ICEBERG forces claimed only 93. Of this number, the two destroyers that were under attack have been credited with blasting 34 enemy aircraft out of the sky; ships' AAA and defending air patrols claimed the remainder. TAF pilots downed 19 planes of this last portion in slightly more than two hours of fighting in the morning, and increased the score of the Tenth Army air arm to 234.32
A sidelight of the 11 May raid occurred when USS Hugh W. Hadley, a radar picket, was under direct attack from Kamikazes. Protecting the destroyer overhead was a two-plane CAP maintained by VMF-323 pilots.33 The conduct of these Marine flyers is best described by the ship's action report: "One very outstanding feat by one of these two planes . . . was that, though out of ammunition, he twice forced a suicide plane out of his dive on the ship, and the third time forced him into such a poor position that the plane crashed through the rigging but missed the ship, going into the water close aboard. This was done while all guns on the ship were firing at the enemy plane . . . His wingman also stayed at masthead height in the flak and assisted in driving planes away from the ship."34
On the day before, Captain Kenneth L. Reusser and First Lieutenant Robert R. Klingman of VMF-312 destroyed an enemy plane in a manner described as "one of the most remarkable achievements of the war."35 Several times earlier in the month, extremely fast Japanese reconnaissance craft--apparently on photographic missions--had been encountered at high altitudes, usually 30,000-38,000 feet. Klingman was flying wing on Reusser, division leader of a four-plane CAP, which was then at an altitude of 10,000 feet. Reusser noticed the presence of vapor trails at about 25,000 feet, and obtained permission to investigate. He led his division in a climb to 36,000 feet, where two of the planes were forced to disengage after reaching their maximum altitude. Klingman and Reusser continued to climb and close with the Japanese intruder only after they had fired most of their ammunition to lighten their aircraft
At 38,000 feet, they intercepted the enemy and Reusser opened fire first. Expanding all of his remaining ammunition in one burst, he scored hits in the left wing and tail of the enemy plane. Klingman then closed in, but was unable to fire because his guns had frozen at this extreme altitude. After a two-hour air chase, he finally downed the Japanese plane by cutting off its tail control surfaces with his Corsair's propeller. Although Klingman's plane had holes in the wing and engine, and the propeller and engine cowling were damaged, he managed to land the plane intact and without injury to himself.36
An almost tragic aftermath to this encounter occurred two days later, when Klingman was flying another mission. His plane's hydraulic system failed and he chose to bail out over the water rather than attempt a crash landing on one wheel. A destroyer escort recovered the lieutenant from the water and carried him to the Eldorado, where he had dinner with the Expeditionary Force commander, Admiral Turner. Marine and Navy night fighter aircraft came into their own during May, especially with the arrival at Okinawa on the 10th of Lieutenant Colonel Marion M. Magruder's VMF(N)-533 following its long over-water flight from Engebi, Eniwetok Atoll, in 15 F6F-5Ns (radar-equipped Grumman Hellcats) and 5 transport planes.37
Prior to the Okinawa operations, the quality of the direction and conduct of night CAPS was poor and the results of most operations negligible, As an example, in the first year of night fighter operations--November 1943 through October 1944--Navy and Marine pilots accounted for only 39 enemy aircraft; in less than two months of the Okinawa campaign, night fighters shot down 35 Japanese planes,38 and VMF(N)-533 fliers claimed 30 of them. Noteworthy is the fact that, with six enemy planes to his credit, Captain Robert Baird of 533 was the only Marine night fighter ace in the war.39
The drastic change for the better in night fighter squadron operations resulted from improved electronic equipment, techniques, and performances of both pilots and the ground director crews. The new Hellcats also were a large factor in this improvement. With the arrival of additional air warning squadrons and their radar equipment on Okinawa, and their establishment on outlying islands as they were captured, the intricacies of guiding night fighters to targets were overcome. Within a short time after their appearance in the Okinawa battle zone, fighter directors could bring a pilot to within 500 feet of an enemy plane, at which point the flyer could establish visual contact with the intruder aircraft and down it.
One of the most spectacular, unique, and perhaps the only air-to-air rocket kill in the war occurred in the early-morning darkness of 17 May, when VMTB-232 pilot First Lieutenant Fred C. Folino spotted an unidentified plane while flying his TBM (Avenger) on a night heckling mission. He radioed an ICEBERG control ship for information and identification of the stranger, all the while climbing to gain altitude to get into attack position. Assured by the controller that there were no friendly planes in the area, and having requested and received permission to attack, the Marine pilot dove on the now-fleeing enemy. Folino expended all of his ammunition as the torpedo bomber strained to close the gap. He then began firing his rockets. The first was short of the target, the next one struck the plane, and a third tore off a large portion of the wing. "Momentarily lost to the TBM, the plane next appeared on the beach below, a blazing wreck."40 Acknowledging this act, Admiral Spruance sent his personal congratulations to Lieutenant Folino.
After dark on 17 May, TAF pilots extended the range of their operations to Japan for the first time. The arrival of AAF fighter squadrons and their Thunderbolts (P-47s) on Ie Shima in mid-May provided General Wallace's ADC with a long-range strike capability. This was demonstrated when a pair of Thunderbolts rocketed and strafed three airfields on southern Kyushu on this first extended mission, and then added to the insult by strafing the brightly lit streets of Kanoya before
returning to home base unchallenged by enemy pilots. Following this night run, AAF pilots began making daylight runs over southern Japan. Judging by the quality of the opposition they received, it became apparent that the Japanese had been holding back their more skillful pilots and newer and faster aircraft for the close-in defense of the Empire. The American pilots reported that they were encountering "pilots who were . . . skillful and aggressive. . . ."41
The majority of the enemy planes rising to meet the Army Air Force's flyers were Zekes, but some were the newer single-seat fighters, the faster Jacks and Franks,42 which had just begun to appear in the air war over Okinawa and Japan. In the final analysis, the AAF Thunderbolts outperformed the Japanese aircraft without exception. They outclimbed and outturned the enemy planes and especially excelled in the high altitudes, where Japanese aircraft performance had been superior earlier in the war. If nothing else, these performance factors and the raid on Kyushu further dramatized the complete ascendancy of American air power. This evidence, however, did not convince the Japanese that continuation of the mass Kamikaze raids was merely an exercise in futility.
American planes rising from crowded fields on Yontan and Ie Shima successfully blunted the suicide attacks, and as a result, Special Attack Force aircraft and pilot losses mounted all out of proportion to the results achieved. IGHQ then decided that the only way to reverse the situation was by destroying the U.S. planes at their Okinawa fields. A surprise ground attack mission was therefore assigned to the Giretsu (Act of Heroism) Airborne Raiding Force. Armed with demolition charges, grenades, and light arms, the commandos of this unit were to land on Kadena and Yontan fields, where they would make one desperate effort to cripple American air operations--even temporarily--by destroying or damaging planes and airfield facilities. The men undertaking this raid were to be flown to Okinawa on the night of 24 May43 in planes that would accompany those in the formation of Kikusui No. 7.44
The Giretsu, consisting of 120 men, was divided into five platoons and a command section, and was transported to the assigned target in 12 twin-engine
bombers.45 The general attack began at about 2000, when Yontan and Kadena fields were bombed as a prelude to the airborne raid. Approximately two and a half hours later, antiaircraft artillerymen and aviation personnel based at Yontan were surprised to see several Japanese bombers purposely but rashly attempting to land. With one exception, the planes that were shot down over the field either attempted to crash ground facilities and parked aircraft or went plummeting down in flames, carrying entrapped troops with them.
The plan that was the one exception made a safe wheels-up landing, and troops poured out even before it had come to a halt. As soon as the raiders deplaned, they began to throw grenades and explosive charges at the nearest parked aircraft, and sprayed the area with small arms fire. The confusion which followed this weird gambit is difficult to imagine. Uncontrolled American rifle and machine gun fire laced the airfield and vicinity, and probably caused most of the ICEBERG casualties. TAF pilots and ground personnel, as well as the men in the units assigned to airfield defense, took part in the general affray, which saw the death of 2 Marines and the wounding of 18 others.46
When the attack was over, no prisoners had been taken and 69 Japanese bodies were counted. Despite his losses, the enemy accomplished one part of his mission: he had destroyed 8 planes (including the personal transport of Major General James T. Moore, Commanding General, AirFMFPac, who had arrived that morning), damaged 24 others, and set fire to fuel dumps, causing the loss of some 70,000 gallons of precious aviation gasoline.47
Meanwhile, approximately 445 aircraft, of which nearly one-third were suiciders, struck at the American naval forces, concentrating on the radar pickets. The first phase of the attack was broken off about 0300 on the 25th, only to resume at dawn with a renewed fury that continued during the day. At the end, the enemy planes had damaged an APD and a LSM, both so severely that the former capsized later and the latter had to be beached and abandoned. Eight other vessels, generally destroyer types, were also damaged, but in varying degrees. In this action, the Japanese pilots exacted a toll of 38 Americans
killed, 183 wounded, and 60 missing in action.48
The raiders suffered also, for friendly air claimed the shooting down of over 150 enemy planes. Of this number, ADC planes claimed an all-time high to date, 75 destroyed in this 24-hour period, to bring the total of TAF claims to 370. High scorer during the 24-25 May raid was the 318th Fighter Group with 34 kills listed, followed by MAG-31.49 Postwar Japanese sources dispute these statistics, stating that only 88 planes failed to return to base.50 Regardless of this conflict in numbers, enemy air continued to suffer.
The last mass Kamikaze attack in May began just two days later, 27 May, and lasted until the evening of the 28th. The raid caused TAF to establish the longest single enemy air alert of the campaign thus far--9 hours and 16 minutes. Japan sent up 292 aircraft, of which nearly one-third again were suiciders.51 Heavy antiaircraft artillery fire and combat air patrols fought off the invaders, but not before a destroyer had been sunk and 11 other ships damaged in varying degrees. As before, personnel losses to the fleet were great: 52 men killed, 288 wounded, and 290 missing.52 The enemy did not escape unscathed, for ICEBERG forces claimed to have splashed more than 100 intruders, and of these, TAF fliers claimed 40. Japanese sources again show figures that differ from those in American records, and show losses of only 80 planes for Kikusui No. 8.53
By the end of May, ADC fighter pilots had added 27911/4 claimed kills to April figures. This gave TAF a total of 423 enemy aircraft destroyed in the air in 56 days of operations.54 In this same period, 7 April through 31 May, only three American planes were shot down by Japanese pilots out of the 109 aircraft lost to such other causes as pilot error, aircraft malfunctions, and cases of mistaken identity by friendly AAA units.
Prevailing bad weather during most of May had limited air activity, although both sides flew a number of missions even under minimal flying conditions. TAF records for this period indicate that its planes were grounded nine days in May, while cloud cover of varying degree existed during the other 22 days.55 In addition, the continuing rain that bogged down wheeled and tracked vehicles also turned fighter strips into quagmires. On Ie Shima, for example, a total of 20.82 inches of rain fell from 16 May to the close of the month, causing one Marine air unit to note that "the resultant mixture of water and Ie
Shima soil produces mud of a character that surpasses description."56
Towards the middle of May, TAF strength was increased when pilots and planes of Marine Aircraft Group 22 and the Army Air Forces' 318th Fighter Group arrived and began operations.57
Although the ground troops showed a partisan interest in the aerial dogfights high above them and the vivid pyrotechnical displays occurring during the air raids at night, the infantry was more vitally concerned with winning its own battle and with the assistance the air units could give in the drive southward. Out of a total of 7,685 sorties flown by TAF pilots in May, 716 (against an April figure of 510) were in support of the ground forces. Included in the May figure were night heckler and intruder missions flown away from Okinawa. The majority of the ground support sorties were directed against enemy troop concentrations, caves, and truck parks.58 As the campaign progressed, and as the pilots gained experience with their planes and improved ordnance and a greater familiarity with the area, the ground support effort became increasingly effective. By the middle of May, TAF had reached the state where it was fully prepared to assist the forces of the Tenth Army, then poised to strike the heart of the Shuri defenses.
Although the enemy chose 11 May to mount a mass Kamikaze attack and many Japanese planes were, in fact, then diving on American surface forces off Okinawa, both corps of the Tenth Army launched a coordinated assault at 0700. Two and a half hours earlier, enemy infantry units had attempted a counterattack following a heavy mortar and artillery barrage on the center of the 1st Marine Division line. Unfortunately for the attackers, the barrage lifted too soon and they were caught by American prearranged defensive fires while still forming. Though the enemy force sustained heavy casualties, the remnants attempted to reform and continue the assault, only to be wiped out by Marine close-range small arms fire.
ON SHURI'S THRESHOLD 59
The 6th Engineers had not yet bridged the Asa Kawa when the attack was to begin; nevertheless, the 6th Division jumped off on time before this vital support route was completed. With the 22d Marines in the lead, the assault troops advanced slowly against a stubborn and well-organized defense built
around machine guns and mortars concealed in cave mouths. In early afternoon, enemy troops hidden in a particularly formidable coral hill formation held up the movement of 1/22 on the left. All attempts to envelop the position from either flank failed. The battalion then halted to permit a heavy naval gunfire shelling of the Japanese defenses, after which the Marines resumed the advance under the cover of armor support which had crossed the now-completed bridge shortly before noon.
Flamethrowers, demolitions, and direct tank fire were employed when the attack again began; the position was reduced after a bitter close-in fight. Upon inspection, this hill proved to be a key feature of the Asa Kawa defense system, and contained a vast network of headquarters and supply installations within a large tunnel and cave complex. Continuing on, the 22d Marines took nearly 1,000 yards of strongly defended enemy territory by 1800, after which mopping up operations continued well into the night. All during the day, the Bailey bridge had remained under continuous enemy artillery and sniper fire, in the face of which reinforcements and supplies poured over the crossing to support forward elements and maintain the momentum of the advance.
To the left of the 6th Division, the 1st Marine Division attacked following an intense air, artillery, and naval gunfire preparation. Substantial gains were made all along the line against a defiant enemy who contested every inch of the advance. Behind the continuing bombardment, the 1st Marines pushed forward along the railroad near the division right boundary, while the 7th Marines made slower progress in the center and left of the line as it reached positions west of the high ground protecting Shuri.
As 2/1 attacked towards its objective, the high ground west of Wana, it began receiving some of the heaviest enemy resistance experienced in the division zone that day. When the battalion passed the nose west of Dakeshi, troops on the left came under heavy flanking machine gun fire from the village. Unable to continue the advance in the direction of the objective, the battalion attacked in column down the west side of the railroad, taking advantage of the cover furnished by the high embankment. At 1600, 2/1 had advanced about 900 yards and was partially on its goal, but held up so that the 22d Marines could come up on the right. Here, the 2d Battalion became subject to accurate long-range flanking artillery fire which soon took a heavy toll in casualties. The situation became more difficult when supply and evacuation were prevented because all possible routes of approach were covered. It finally became necessary for the companies to dig in for the night where they stood.
The 3d Battalion jumped off at about the same time as 2/1, and moved out to cover a gap that had occurred between the latter and the 7th Marines, which was still fighting in the middle of Dakeshi. As the foremost elements of 3/1 reached the point where 2/1 was first fired upon, they were likewise hit and their supporting tanks were unable to get past the draw because of heavy and accurate 47mm antitank fire. Finally, the 3d Battalion negotiated the
gap and took up positions just east of the railroad embankment, where it was subjected to frequent artillery and mortar shelling for the rest of the afternoon and all through the night.
Meanwhile, the 7th Marines continued the attack on Dakeshi, where enemy reaction to all forward movement proved costly to both sides. Because 3./7 had been held up throughout most of 10 May, the regiment jumped off the next day with 1/7 and 2/7 in the assault to envelop the strong positions in front of the 3d Battalion. While 3/7 contained the enemy to its front and the regimental reserve, 3,/5, protected the rear, attacking forces pushed forward to gain troublesome Dakeshi Ridge.
On the right of the 7th's zone, 2,/7 advanced in the face of Japanese mortars, grenades, and automatic weapons fire-the latter coming from pillboxes and coral caves--to gain approximately 800 yards and seize the ridge overlooking and running through Dakeshi. At 1800, the battalion attack was halted on the positions then occupied. As the men dug in for the night, some of the veterans of the Peleliu campaign were reminded of how much the fight for the ridge that day resembled the action at Bloody Nose Ridge.60 Throughout the night of 11-12 May, the new defenders of Dakeshi Ridge fought off numerous Japanese attempts to infiltrate under cover the constant artillery and mortar barrages coming from enemy emplacements on Wana Ridge.
The fall of aggressively defended and vital Dakeshi Ridge, and its occupation by Marines, meant that one more barrier to the heart of the Shuri defenses had been raised. In addition, the Japanese were now denied the use of commanding ground from which the terrain from Shuri and Naha to Machinato Ridge, and the entire coastal area in between, could be covered by observation and fire. The taking of Dakeshi Ridge effectively and decisively breached the enemy's Naha-Shuri-Yonabaru line, and raised some question as to how much longer he could hold it before Shuri itself was threatened.
Dakeshi was further endangered by the manuever of 1,/7, which swung towards the town from the northeast and placed the fanatically defended village in between a rapidly closing pincers. Although Dakeshi was now ripe for capture, positions on the reverse slope of the ridge, in the village itself, and a pocket of resistance to its north continued to be held by soldiers who were determined to defend to the death.
In the 1st Division rear, 2/5 eliminated the last remaining organized resistance in the Awacha Pocket, and 1/5 moved up behind 1/7 to wipe out scattered enemy remnants bypassed during the day. At 1800, 3,/5 reverted to parent control.
Tanks providing close-in fire support to the 7th Marines on 11 May had been pressed into service to evacuate casualties. Some wounded were taken up into the tanks through the escape hatches; others rode on the rear deck of the tracked vehicles, which backed out of the battle area in order to provide an armored shield between the stretcher cases and enemy fire.
By nightfall, 1/7 was positioned and linked on its left with the 305th Infantry of the 77th Infantry Division to form a solid line at the division boundary. The major effort of XXIV Corps was made in the left center of its zone by the 96th Infantry Division, which had completed the relief of the 7th the previous day. While the 77th pressed the enemy through central Okinawa towards Shuri, the 96th approached a hill mass directly northwest of Yonabaru, This terrain feature controlled the eastern reaches to Shuri, completely dominated the east-central coastal plain, and was the easternmost anchor of the enemy's main battle position. All natural routes to the hill were constantly under observation and thoroughly covered by Japanese fire.
Conical Hill, as this bastion was soon named, commanded a series of ridges and other lesser hills, whose capture was to be costly and time-consuming. Murderous fire during the 11 May attack forced the frontline units of the 96th Division to relinquish whatever gains were made that day, although the 383d Infantry on the division left had battled forward 600 yards to establish a foothold on the northwest slopes of Conical. On the same day, assault battalions of the 77th Division gained but 400-500 yards. Strongly entrenched enemy took advantage of the broken terrain to take the flanks, and at times the rear, of the advancing soldiers under fire. At nightfall, the division halted, consolidated its gains, and dug in to the accompaniment of sporadic mortar and artillery fire.
Enemy small-boat activity during the night of 11-12 May increased noticeably over that of previous nights. American patrol boats reported making many radar and visual contacts off Naha, and some enemy craft were spotted apparently heading for the Hagushi transport area. The "flycatchers" remained vigilant, however, and efficiently thwarted these Japanese surface ventures. Seven enemy boats were sunk between midnight of the 11th and 0400 the next day. Several other Japanese craft were fired upon with unknown results.61
These coastal skirmishes were tame in comparison to the bloody land battle which continued with unabated violence. When the Tenth Army attack resumed on the 12th, Marine assault elements found Japanese resistance undiminished. On the right of the 6th Division zone, 3/22 moved out in the face of small arms fire pouring down from positions in rocky cliffs overlooking its route of advance, and from the mouths of Okinawan tombs dug in the hillsides that lined it. By 0920, the battalion reached its objective, the high ground commanding a view of Naha below, and sent out patrols through the suburbs of the city to the banks of the Asato Gawa. Here, the Marines found the bridge demolished and the river bottom muddy and unfoldable. Patrols from 1/22 also were sent down to the river bank after the battalion had reached the heights in its zone at 1400. Both battalions dug in for the night in firm control of the terrain on the northern outskirts of Naha.
The 2d Battalion was unable to keep pace with or match the advances of the
troops coming down the west coast; for, in addition to fighting the enemy in its path, 2/22 was forced to contend with the telling effect of Japanese fire coming out of the 1st Division zone from positions on the dominating terrain standing between the division boundary and the Shuri hill mass. Nevertheless, at 1400 Company G reached the battalion objective, the high ground overlooking Naha. Because the left flank of 2/22 was overextended, at 1350 General Shepherd attached 3/29 to the 22d Marines and alerted the rest of the regiment for commitment into the lines. By the end of the day, 6th Division troops occupied positions from which they were to fight for pretty much the rest of the month.
After first having repulsed a counterattack, at 0730 on 12 May, 1/7 together with 2/7 launched a converging attack aimed at closing a 400-yard gap existing between the two battalions. As this assault force moved into the ruins of Dakeshi village, the enemy mortar and artillery fire that had been falling steadily since the Tenth Army advance had begun increased sharply. At 1522, however, the adjacent flanks of the two units made contact, and the battalions consolidated their positions for the night along the northern outskirts of the village and on the high ground to its east and west.
The 1st Marines attack to improve positions west of Wana was held up for three hours, while 2/1 was given an airdrop of rations, water, ammunition, and medical supplies. During the interim, this battalion came under extremely heavy and accurate mortar and small arms fire, which caused many casualties. At 1030, the battalion jumped off, but all companies reported that they had run into a swarm of sniper and heavy machine gun fire coming from positions in the vicinity of Wana. Casualty evacuation and resupply soon became increasingly difficult because all routes were exposed to enemy observers located on the heights to the left of the 2/1 advance. As the day wore on, the assault companies were forced to dig night defenses on ground then held, not too many yards ahead of their 11 May positions.
Attacking to the southeast on the left of 2/1, the 3d Battalion was partially protected by the overhanging bank of an Asa Kawa tributary, and penetrated 300 yards towards the mouth of Wana Draw. Forward movement ceased at 1630 and the 1st Division dug in for the night, 2/1 tying in with 3/29 on the right. All the while, 2,/1 remained in an isolated forward position. An undetermined number of the enemy counterattacked the Marines at 2230, causing General del Valle to alert the 5th Marines for possible commitment in support of the 1st, but 3/1 contained the attack without need of reinforcement.
Enemy small boats were again active on the night of 12-13 May. An attempted countermanding on the coast between the Asa and Asato Rivers was broken up by American patrol craft. The approximately 40 surviving Japanese were eliminated by 3/22 at the edge of the reef.
When the 6th Division attack resumed at 0730 on the 13th, the task of 3/22 was to reconnoiter the northern outskirts of Naha. As one patrol approached a village that another patrol had passed through safely on 12 May,
it was turned back by enemy fire. Battalion 81mm mortars were laid on the settlement's houses, and an infantry platoon accompanied by a tank platoon was sent in at 1400 to overcome all resistance. Well-concealed and determined defenders, however, stymied this attack. One tank was disabled by a satchel charge placed by a suicidally inclined Japanese soldier and the rest of the Shermans were forced to turn back.
Another infantry and tank platoon teamed up, this time attacking from the north of the village, but this effort, too, was thwarted by the combination of heavy machine gun fire, an enemy determination to hold, and the narrow village streets which restricted tank movement. Regiment then ordered the enemy blasted out and the village burned. After levelling the buildings, and killing approximately 75 defenders, the Marine tanks and troops withdrew at 1630. In its zone, 1st Battalion Marines met resistance from enemy outposts holed up in houses on the north bank of the river.
The main division effort was made on the left by 2/22, with 3/29 assigned to clear high ground overlooking the Asato River from which the enemy fired into the left flank elements of 2/22. Because of the difficulty in getting essential supplies and the rocket trucks scheduled for preparation fires forward to the front, the attack was delayed until 1115. Despite the heavy rocket and artillery preparation, intense enemy resistance grew yet more determined as the day wore on, making the tank-infantry assault teams' way difficult. By the end of the day, the two assault battalions had gained no more than 200-300 yards. Just before dark, Company H, 3/29, rushed and seized the troublesome hill on the left quieting the heavy flanking machine gun fire that had been coming from that sector.
At the close of the day, it was clear that the 22d Marines had been worn out and its battle efficiency sapped in the fighting that brought the division down to the outskirts of Naha. During the 2,000-yard advance south from the Asa Kawa, the regiment had suffered approximately 800 Marines killed and wounded. Therefore, General Shepherd ordered the attack resumed on 14 May with the 29th Marines making the main effort on the left, supported by the 22d Marines on the right. The 3d Battalion, 29th Marines, reverted to parent control at 1800, at which time the regiment officially assumed responsibility for its new lines. To take over the positions vacated by the 29th, the 4th Marines--IIIAC reserve--moved south, where it would guard the division rear and back up the LVT(A)s guarding the open seaward flank of the 6th Division.
In the 1st Marine Division zone on 13 May, the 1st Marines was forced to repel two predawn counterattacks in platoon to company strength before launching its own attack. The Marine assault was first delayed until supporting tanks got into positions, and then held up again until the 7th Marines had cleared Dakeshi. Organic crew-served weapons of the 1st Marines fired upon observed enemy positions in the village in support of the 7th. The 1st Marines attack finally began at 1230, when 3/1 jumped off to extend the battalion line to the right into the 2/1 sector and to
clean up bypassed enemy positions. Primarily, the 3d Battalion objective was the high ground at the mouth of Wana Draw. Heavy machine gun fire from three sides and a deadly hail of mortar, grenade, and rifle fire greeted the tank-infantry assault teams as they gained the hill. Finding the position untenable, the attackers were forced to withdraw under the cover of smoke and fire furnished by the tanks, which also evacuated casualties. The same formidable obstacle of flying steel that met 3/1 force 2/1 back and prevented the latter from moving nits left flank up to extend its hold on the high ground west of Wana.
After first blunting a predawn enemy attack on 13 May, Colonel Snedeker's 7th Marines jumped off at 0730 with 2/7 in the assault, 1/7 and 3/7 in reserve. The 2d Battalion cleaned out Dakeshi, the 1st Battalion eliminated snipers and sealed caves on the ridge overlooking the village, and the 3d Battalion protected the rear of the regiment. Despite the employment of tanks, self-propelled 75mm guns, and 37mm antitank guns, the enemy was not subdued until late in the afternoon.
Opposing 2/7 on the reverse slope of Dakeshi Ridge was a honeycomb of caves centering around one which was later found to be the command post of the 64th Brigade. These positions were discovered late in the afternoon and taken under close assault; so close, in fact, that Japanese postwar records note that even the brigade commander and his CP personnel took part in the fighting. After dark, the enemy ordered survivors of the last-ditch stand to attempt to infiltrate American lines in order to reach Shuri and reform.62
In the XXIV Corps zone, assault elements of the 96th Infantry Division executed a flanking maneuver west of Conical Hill and gained a foothold from which the stronghold could be reduced. On 13 May, the division captured the western and northern slopes of Conical, thus opening the way for the capture of Yonabaru and the unlocking of another door to Shuri's inner defenses.
Both corps of the Tenth Army attacked at 0730 on 14 May to clear the eastern and western approaches to Shuri and to envelop the flanks of that bastion. Fighting was especially bitter in the IIIAC zone, where the Marine divisions were unsuccessful in their attempts to break through the enemy linen west of Wana and northwest of Naha. It soon became apparent that the Marines had run into the Japanese main line of resistance. This assumption was borne out by the heavy losses sustained by attacking infantry nits and the number of tanks, 18, in the two Marine tank battalions destroyed, disabled, or damaged by enemy antitank, mortar, and artillery fire, mines, and suicide attacked.
General Shepherd's troops had jumped off at 0730 on the 14th to seize the high ground running generally along the north bank of the Asato Gawa. Form the very beginning of this attack, the assaulting forces met strong, well-coordinated, and unremitting opposition. Attacking in conjunction with the
29th Marines, the 22d succeeded in seizing approximately 1,100 yards of the bank of the Asato, despite the presence of numerous machine gun and sniper positions in the path of the advance.
It was on the regimental left, however, that the going was roughest and the fighting most savage. In the face of mounting casualties during the day, the attack of 2/22 finally ground to a halt at 1500, when the battalion ran into a system of strongly defended and thoroughly organized defenses. These guarded a rectangularly-shaped hill, dominating and precipitous, that was quickly dubbed "Sugar Loaf." (See Map V, Map Section.) This hill itself was at the apex of an area of triangularly shaped high ground that pointed north. A concentration of Japanese power here had turned back 2/22 in the two previous days. Enemy dispositions on Sugar Loaf were so organized that the defenders could cover the front, rear, and flanks of any portion of the position with interlocking bands of automatic weapons fire and devastating barrages from mortar, artillery, and grenade launchers.
Although the intensity of Japanese resistance increased proportionally as assault troops approached this bastion--already recognized as a key defensive position--it was not realized at first that this bristling terrain feature and its environs constituted the western anchor of the Shuri defenses. At the time that the 22d Marines reached Sugar Loaf, the regimental line was spread thinly and excessive casualties had reduced combat efficiency to approximately 62 percent.
Nonetheless, despite the factors which forced the halt, 2/22 received direct orders from division at 1515 to seize, occupy, and defend the battalion objective- including Sugar Loaf Hill--this day at any cost.63 In answer to the battalion commander's earlier request for reinforcements, Company K, 3/22, was attached to back up the attack. Moving out at 1722 behind a line of tanks and an artillery-laid smoke screen, Company F attacked Sugar Loaf for the second time on the 14th. In a little more than two hours later, some 40 survivors of Companies F and G were in position at the foot of the hill under the command of the battalion executive officer, Major Henry A. Courtney, Jr.
Snipers were everywhere, and the group also came under fire from mortars on the flanks as well as the reverse slopes of Sugar Loaf. To carry supplies and much-needed ammunition up to the exposed Marines, and to reinforce Major Courtney's pitifully small force, Lieutenant Colonel Horatio C. Woodhouse, Jr., 2/22 battalion commander, sent 26 newly arrived replacements forward. All during this time, the Japanese were rolling grenades down on the Marine position from the heights above, and Courtney saw no other alternative to remaining where he was than to attack up the hill to seize its crest. All American illumination of the area was stopped when Courtney and his 40-odd Marines stormed the hill at 2300, throwing grenades as they scrambled up the slopes. As soon as they carried the crest, they dug in to wait out a night of expected
counterattacks and the enemy's customarily heavy mortar fire.
On the left of 2/22, enfilade fire from flanking hills in the zone of the 29th Marines undoubtedly contributed to the battalion's hard going during this day. After 3/29, the regimental assault battalion, had jumped off at 0730 on the 14th, it tried to bypass Japanese strongpoints on its left to draw abreast of 2/22 on its right. The 3d Battalion was forced to halt and fight around this center of resistance the rest of the morning and part of the afternoon, when Japanese fire on its rear proved troublesome. At about 1630, the 29th Marines' commander regrouped his assault elements and moved 1/29 into the line on the left of 3/29. The attack was renewed with Companies A and H working over the flanks of the enemy position, slowly compressing and neutralizing it. Company G, in the meanwhile, continued the attack southward, and, after fighting its way 200 yards across open ground, gained the forward slopes of a hill northwest of Sugar Loaf, where it tied in with the lines of 2/22.
In the 1st Division zone, the objective of the 2d Battalion, 7th Marines, on 14 May was Wana Ridge. The battalion jumped off at 0730, with 1/7 prepared to pass through and continue the attack if 2/7 was unable to continue. As soon as the left element of 2/7 cleared past Dakeshi village and entered open terrain, it was pinned down by Japanese fire. While Company E was held up, Company G, followed by F, swung through the zone of 1/1 to approach a point within 100 yards of Wana Ridge. Before they could take cover, concentrated enemy machine gun and mortar fire inflicted heavy casualties upon these leading elements of 2/7, and they were ordered to hold their positions until relieved by 1/7.
At 1107, Colonel Snedeker ordered the relief of the 2d Battalion by the lst, which was ready to effect the relief at 1252. At that time., however, the commander of 1/7 requested that all supporting arms under the control of 2/7 be transferred to him, and before the transfer had been completed the renewed attack was delayed until 1615. When this designated H-Hour arrived, and following an intensive naval gunfire, artillery, rocket, and 4.2-inch mortar preparation, 1st Battalion assault units moved out behind tanks and under the cover of a protective smoke screen. The main effort was made by Company B, which advanced through Dakeshi to the south into open terrain. Immediately upon coming into this clearing, these Marines were taken under the same fire that had pinned down Company E earlier.
When enemy fire from Wana and Shuri prevented the company from advancing further, it was ordered to withdraw to Dakeshi to set up a night defense. In the meanwhile, moving south in unfamiliar territory to take over the positions of Company G, Company A ran into numerous enemy groups attempting to penetrate Marine lines. The relief was finally effected at 1900, but not before the commander and
executive officer of Company A had become casualties.64
Coordinated with the attack of the 7th Marines against Wana Ridge was the one launched that same day by the 1st Marines. The regiment's major effort was made by 1/1, with the western tip of the ridge as the initial objective; the 2d and 3d Battalions supported the assault by fire. By noon, Company C secured the objective and began digging in and consolidating the newly won position despite heavy enemy fire. There was no contact on the left with the 7th Marines, which was moving up slowly against bitter opposition. Meanwhile, the portion of the ridge to have been occupied by the 7th soon was swarming with Japanese soldiers forming for a counterattack. Because he could not be reinforced in time, the commander of Company C requested and received permission to withdraw. After doing so in good order, the company set up a strong line for night defense on the battalion left, where contact was made with the 7th Marines. Units of the 5th Marines began relieving assault companies of the 1st at 2200, so that the 1st Division could renew its attack against Wana the next morning with a relatively fresh regiment.
With the coming of darkness on 14 May, Tenth Army assault troops were probing deeply into the Japanese main line of resistance all along the island. Almost flying in the face of indisputable evidence indicating that nearly half of the enemy garrison had been killed-- the heaviest losses consisting of first-rate infantrymen--was the undeniable fact that there were no signs of Japanese weakness anywhere along the Tenth Army front. Conversely, the nature of operations in the south promised that enemy defenses were not going to be breached without grinding, gruelling, and unrelenting tank-infantry combat.
All ICEBERG assault and first echelon transports and landing ships had been unloaded by the end of April and released for other assignments. Compared to that provided in Central Pacific operations earlier, the magnitude of the logistical support furnished the Okinawa invasion force can be best seen in the following table:
Operation No. of
Gilberts 63 35,214 148,782 Marshalls 122 85,201 293,792 Marianas 210 141,519 437,753 Leyte66 110 57,411 214,552 Palaus 109 55,887 199,963 Iwo Jima 174 86,516 280,447 Okinawa 458 193,852 824,567
As stated earlier here, the complexities of logistical support operations were compounded by several factors, not the least of which was the disrupted unloading schedule. Additionally, the jammed condition of the beach dumps ant? the shortage of shore party personnel and transportation gave the Tenth Army supply problems, also. The primary concern, however, was with the inability of the Tenth Army to maintain an adequate artillery ammunition reserve on the island. This situation arose because of the rapid expenditure of shells of all calibers and types needed in the drive to reduce the positions protecting Shuri. Beginning with the major XXIV Corps attack on 19 April, the initial Tenth Army ammunition support was quickly expended and replenishment shipments were gobbled up as soon as they arrived.
Although "ammunition resupply had been based on an estimated 40 days of combat,"67 it was necessary to revise shipping schedules upwards drastically in order to meet the increased demands. On 17 April, General Buckner made the first of many special requests for ammunition in short supply. Specifically, he asked CinCPOA to load five LSTs at Saipan with 155mm howitzer and gun ammunition for arrival at Okinawa by 27 April. The fulfillment of this request was a stop-gap measure and in no way guaranteed that the critical artillery ammunition shortage would be alleviated for the rest of the campaign.
Kamikazes played a large part in creating this shortage by sinking a total of three ammunition ships in April with a loss estimated at being well in excess of 22,000 tons of vitally needed cargo. Even after the release of a considerable amount of ammunition late in April, when contingent operations for Phase III of ICEBERG were cancelled, the shortage remained critical throughout the fighting. Artillery commands were never able to maintain more than a minimally satisfactory reserve level of shells in their ammunition points.
Although initial shipments consisted of "balanced loads" of ammunition, as the supply requirements of the Tenth Army became clearer it also became apparent that there would be a greater
demand for artillery shells than for small arms ammunition. Accordingly, logistics officers were able to schedule resupply shipments that more suitably filled the needs of the ground forces on Okinawa.
But even as L-Day ended, unloading facilities on the Hagushi beaches were already overtaxed. Because some of the assault beaches were not capable of sustaining heavy and continuous shore party operations, and other sites selected for eventual use were either not suitable or not uncovered on schedule, the program of beach unloading as set up in the logistics plan proved totally unrealistic. The most satisfactory tonnage unloading figure that could be attained under the then-present conditions was reached on 5 May, and the figures never equalled the planned goals thereafter.68
Four new beaches were opened up between 17 April and 17 May on the east coast of the island in Chimu and Nakagusuku Wan to support the southern drive of XXIV Corps and base development activities. Unfortunately, the gap between actual and planned unloading tonnage was never closed, even with the addition of these new points.
Because Phase III was cancelled and the mission of IIIAC changed, General Buckner could mount a four-division attack on Shuri. This increased ground activity vastly accelerated the consumption of all classes of supplies, and caused more supply ships to be called up than could be handled efficiently.~o In essence, this move was a calculated risk in the face of numerous mass and individual Kamikaze attacks on the transport areas. Nonetheless, the risk had to be taken if an adequate reserve of essential supplies was to be maintained in the immediate area.
As the insatiable appetites of the ground units for supplies increased in late April and early May, quartermaster and shore party units made extensive efforts to speed the unloading and processing of all goods. To help ease the situation, Rear Admiral John L. Hall, Jr., Senior Officer Present Afloat at Hagushi, and General Wallace, the Island Commander, recommended to General Buckner that more cranes, transportation, and personnel be employed to empty beached landing ships and craft; that more LVTs and crane barges be used at the reef transfer line; that intermediate transfer dumps be established to prevent excessively long hauls by shore party vehicles; and that the requirements for ammunition and fuel oil dispersion be modified somewhat to conserve personnel and transport. The admiral made one other recommendation: that the beach at Nago Wan be transferred from the control of IIIAC
to that of the Island Command, General Buckner approved these recommendations almost immediately, but any gains made by these improvements were quickly minimized by the increasing size and variety of logistics tasks.70
At no time after the landing was there any prospect that the Tenth Army had not come to Okinawa to stay, but the problem of sustaining the momentum of the ground offensive became quite acute in late April and early May. In addition to his tactical responsibilities as commander of the Joint Expeditionary Force, during this early phase of the campaign Admiral Turner also had a logistic responsibility for maintaining adequate levels of all classes of air, ground, and naval replenishment stocks needed to support a successful Tenth Army operation.
Admiral Spruance, acting in accordance with the ICEBERG operation plan, announced that the amphibious phase of the Okinawa landing was ended on 17 May. At 0900 on that day, Vice Admiral Harry W. Hill, Commander, V Amphibious Force, relieved Admiral Turner as Commander, Task Force 51, and took over the control of his naval activities, and of air defense. In the shift of command responsibilities, Admiral Hill was directed to report to General Buckner, who took command of all forces ashore and assumed Turner's former responsibility to Admiral Spruance for the defense and development of captured objectives. At this time, all of Turner's former logistics duties were taken over by a representative of Commander, Service Squadron Ten, the Navy logistical support force in forward areas.
Admiral Turner's successful period of command responsibility at Okinawa was marked by his direction of the largest amphibious operation of the Pacific War. Forces under his command had killed 55,551 and captured 853 Japanese troops in ground action, and had claimed the destruction of 1,184 enemy aircraft. During the first 46 days of the campaign, i.e., until 16 May, 1,256,286 measurement tons of assault, garrison, maintenance, and ground ammunition cargo had been unloaded over island beaches. Gunfire support force guns, from 5- to 16-inch in caliber, had fired over 25,000 tons of ammunition while covering Tenth Army ground troops and protecting the ships of TF 51.71
In the course of six weeks of incessant fighting, the enemy had exacted a terrible price for every inch of ground he
yielded. On 17 May, Tenth Army casualty figures included 3,964 men killed, 18,258 wounded, 302 missing, and 9,295 non-battle casualties. Of these casualties, hospital ships had evacuated 10,188; APAs 4,887; and air transport, 5,093. The hard-hit naval forces had lost 1,002 men killed, 2,727 wounded, and 1,054 missing. Air defense units, both TAF and carrier-based squadrons, lost 82 planes to all causes, while TF 51 had 156 ships sunk or damaged in action with the enemy.
Despite the fact that a major portion of Okinawa had been taken, and Tenth Army ground units had punished the enemy unmercifully, all evidence pointed to a continuation of the hard fighting. Nevertheless, the tactical situation on the fringes of Shuri almost imperceptibly showed signs that the Japanese defenses were slowly giving way.
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1. Unless otherwise noted, the material in this section is derived from: Tenth Army AR; XXIV Corps AR; IIIAC AR; 1st MarDiv SAR; 6th MarDiv SAR, Ph III; 7th Inf Div AR; 77th InfDiv OpRpt, Okinawa; 96th InfDiv AR; 1st Mar SAR; 5th Mar SAR; 7th Mar SAR; 22d Mar SAR, Ph III.
2. Tenth Army OpOrd 7-45, dtd 5May45, in Tenth Army AR.
3. IIIAC AR, p. 46.
4. The 7th Marines took over the division right (coastal) flank at 0730 on the 6th, at which time 2/7 relieved 1/1.
5. This was just one of the many examples of interservice artillery missions fired in support of the southern drive. In this particular case, the fires of 2/11 (1st Marine Division) were reinforced by those of the 104th Field Artillery Battalion (27th Infantry Division), 3d 155mm Howitzer Battalion (IIIAC Artillery), and the 145th Field Artillery Battalion (XXIV Corps Artillery). 11th Mar SAR, S-3 Periodic Rpt for 7May45.
6. Okinawa Operations Record, p. 107.
7. 1st MarDiv G-3 Jnl, 7May45.
8. "If the wording of the orders didn't spell this out--this is what happened in practice. . . . The heavier calibers (2d Provisional Field Artillery Group) were put in support of the 1st MarDiv because [the latter's] 105s and 75s couldn't blast out the Jap caves and bunkers on the Shuri Hill mass." Henderson ltr 1965.
9. IIIAC Arty AR, pp. 22-26.
10. XXIV Corps SAR, p. 29.
11. Colonel Mason relieved Colonel Chappell on 6 May.
12. 2/1 SAR, p. 5.
13. Ibid. It was at this time that General Ushijima attached the 3d Battalion, 2d Infantry Unit to the 62d Division "in order to relieve the crisis of the troops fighting in the vicinity of Dakeshi." Okinawa Operations Record, p. 106.
14. Appleman, et. al., Okinawa Battle, p. 256.
15. CTF 51 AR, pt III, p. 84.
16. IIIAC Arty AR, p. 23.
17. CTF 51 AR, pt V, sec C, p. 21.
18. 1st MarDiv SAR, pt VII, p. 3. "One battery was sent to the 1st Marines, another to the 5th Marines (over artillery protest). Since neither the organic M-7's of the infantry nor the tanks would function satisfactorily [in the mud], it was obvious that the truck-drawn pack howitzers could not. Neither battalion accomplished anything. The battery with the 5th Marines was never used. Both batteries were returned on 11 May, but their parent battalion was emasculated throughout the period of their absence. 1/11 was then built up to a strength of 24 guns by adding LVT(A)'s. 75mm ammunition was plentiful, as contrasted with the heavier calibers, so 1/11 (reinforced) was used to fire interdiction, harassing, and 'appeasement' missions across the front. Later, two more batteries of LVT (A)'s were formed as artillery to thicken the fires of 2/11 and 3/11." Brown ltr II.
19. The 7th Marines moved to an assembly area just east of Nakama where it became 1st Division reserve.
20. Tenth Army OpO 8-45 was placed into effect on 9 May. Tenth Army AR, chap 7, sec III, p. 19.
21. In late afternoon, the battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel James C. Murray. Jr., was inspecting his night defenses when he was hit by a sniper. Before being evacuated to the rear, he appointed the Company B commander, Captain Francis D. Rineer, temporary battalion commander; Rineer directed the 1/1 night defense until relieved the next morning (10 May) by the 1st Marines executive officer, Lieutenant Colonel Richard F. Row, Jr. The latter, in turn, was relieved by Lieutenant Colonel Austin C. Shofner, formerly Division Provost Marshal, on 13 May, and then returned to his duties as regimental executive officer, 1/1 SAR, p. 14; 1st Mar SAR, p. 11.
22. 1st Bn, 7th Mar SAR, 22 Apr-22Jun45, dtd 29 Jun45, p. 5, hereafter 1/7 SAR. On 9 May, both 1/7 and 3/7 were attached to the 5th Marines. The CP of the 7th Marines(-) remained near Nakama. Late that afternoon, 3/5 was attached to the 7th.
23. 1st MarDiv WarD, May45, p. 8
24. The 1st Battalion was held up when a tank from the 6th Tank Battalion hit a mine and blocked the only tank road into the 1/1 area.
25. Company A of 1/22 crossed over by wading the shallow eastern portion of the stream.
26. 6th MarDiv Unit Jnl, Okinawa Operation, Ph III, 23Apr-30Jun45, dtd 11May45, hereafter 6th MarDiv Jnl, Ph III. In commenting later on the 6th Engineers' effort, the 6th Division Commander noted that "the task of constructing the Bailey bridge across the Asa Kawa Estuary was a splendid feat of combat engineering, It was not only built under observed fire, both artillery and small arms, but it was built in a difficult locality where the actual engineering constituted a considerable problem. Even the dump site where the bridging material was stacked was occasionally under fire." Shepherd memo II.
27. Unless otherwise noted, the material in this section is derived from: CNO Record; CTF 51 AR; TAF AR; ADC AcftOperAnalysis, 1-31 May45; ADC IntelSumms, May45; Morison, Victory in the Pacific; Sherrod, Marine Air Hist. Also, May45 WarDs of following organizations: TAF, 2d MAW, ADC, and MAG-14, -22, -31, and -33.
28. CNO Record, chap 3, p. 1.
29. ADC AcftOpAnalysis, 1-31May45, p. 7.
30. Hattori, op. cit., table facing p. 132.
32. TAF PeriodicRpt No. 6, 11-17 May45.
33. VMF-323 WarD, May45; Sherrod, Marine Air Hist, p. 394. Although the Aircraft Action Report for this particular sortie, included in the war diary, did not specifically describe the feat noted above, Sherrod deduced that these were VMF-323 planes because he later identified the call letters, which appeared in the 11 May ship's log entry relating to this action, as theirs.
34. Quoted in ADC AcftOpAnalysis, 1-31May45, p. 8
35. Unknown source quoted in MAG-33 WarD, May45.
36. Ibid.; ADC AcftOpAnalysis, 1-31 May45, p. 8.
37. VMF(N)-533 WarD, May 45. Before Lieutenant Colonel Magruder had received orders to take his squadron to Okinawa, the pilots who had been with the unit since arrival overseas in May 1944 were scheduled to be replaced. The relief pilots arrived at Engebi on the same day that VMF(N)-533 was ordered to the Ryukyus. According to Lieutenant General Louis E. Woods, who commanded the 4th MAW, of which the squadron was a part: "The higher echelon of command did not feel that [Magruder's planes] had the range to fly from Engebi, but [the squadron] had very accurate fuel consumption records that proved beyond a doubt that they could." After Magruder received permission to fly the squadron to Okinawa, Woods "went to Engebi personally and talked to all the pilots, telling them they were badly needed in the war zone even though their tour of duty was up and their replacements were present. All concerned agreed that the original members of the squadron should go." LtGen Louis E. Woods ltr to Asst G-3, HQMC, dtd 300ct65, hereafter Woods ltr I.
38. Naval Aviation Confidential Bul No. 4-45, pp. 11-13, quoted in ADC AcftOpAnalysis, 1-31 May45, pp. 10-11.
39. For a more complete story of the early development and organization of Marine night fighter squadrons, see Sherrod, Marine Air Hist, chap 11, pp. 159-169.
40. TAF WarD, May 45.
41. TAF, Tenth Army, AirOpNotes, No. 2, dtd 15Jun45.
42. For a fuller discussion of American nomenclature for Japanese aircraft, see Shaw and Kane, Isolation of Rabaul, p. 450; also, Sherrod, Marine Air Hist, pp. xiv, 135n. A primary source of information for both of the books noted above was Vern Haugland, The AAF Against Japan (New York: Harper & Bros., 1948), pp. 367-371.
43. While intercepting an enemy flight in the early evening twilight of 24 May, a VMF-312 pilot reported sighting and downing a Tony (single engine fighter). Interestingly enough, the Marine flyer reported that the Japanese plane was dark gray and had a black cross painted on the underside of each wing, very much like the Maltese Cross markings on German military aircraft. VMF-312 WarD, May-45. Although the configuration of the Tony and the Messerschmitt ME-109 were similar, a search of available records does not indicate the presence of either German pilots or planes in the Pacific, nor is any reason given for a Japanese plane to be painted in this fashion.
44. Hattori, War History, p. 129.
45. Ibid. There is some discrepancy regarding the number of men and planes involved in this abortive foray. ADC IntelSumms states that there were three planes, 2d MAW WarD, May45, counts four, and Tenth Army AR, chap 7, sec III, pp. 23-24, indicates five planes attacked the field, Hattori, op. cit., notes that four of the planes in the airborne mission either made forced landings elsewhere-Japanese territory assumed--or turned back, and that the remaining eight succeeded in landing their passengers. The last part of this statement is contradicted by the numbers cited above in the American sources, which all agree that only one plane landed, a crash landing at that, to disgorge its shaken passengers, and that the other aircraft--whatever their numbers, two, three, or four--were shot down while approaching Yontan field.
46. 2d MAW WarD, May 45.
48. ComFifthPhibFor AR, Capture of Okinawa Gunto, Phases I and III, 17May-21Jun45, pt III, pp. 20-26, hereafter CTF 31 AR. On 17 May, Vice Admiral Harry W. Hill, who had earlier relieved Admiral Turner as Commander, Fifth Amphibious Force, in addition became Commander Task Force 51. This numerical designation changed 10 days later to Task Force 31, when Admiral Halsey took over the Fifth Fleet and it became the Third Fleet.
49. ADC IntelSumms, May45.
50. Hattori, War History, table facing p. 132.
52. CTF 31 AR, pt III, pp. 30-34.
53. '' Hattori, op. cit.
54. ADC AcftOpAnalysis, 1-31 May45. p. 1.
56. MAG-22 WarD, May45.
57. Both groups were based on Ie Shima. The flight echelon of the AAF group (19th, 73d, and 333d Fighter Squadrons) began arriving on the island on 13 May; Colonel Daniel W. Torrey, Jr.'s Marine squadrons flew in over a 10-day period, 21-30 May, from Engebi where the group had been part of the 4th MAW. MAG-22 consisted of HqSqn-22, SMS-22, VMF-113, -314, and -422, and VMTB-131--all of which were to operate from fields on Ie--and VMF (N)-533, which was based at Yontan airfield on its arrival. ADC AcftOpAnalysis, 1-31 May45, p. 1.
58. ADC AcftOpAnalysis, 1-31 May45, p. 15.
59. Unless otherwise noted, the material in this section is derived from: CTF 31 AR; CTF 51 AR; Tenth Army AR; IIIAC AR; 1st MarDiv SAR; 6th MarDiv SAR, Ph III; 77th InfDiv OpRpt, Okinawa; 96th InfDiv AR; 1st Mar SAR; 5th Mar SAR; 7th Mar SAR; 22d Mar SAR, Ph III; 29th Mar SAR, Ph III.
60. 2/7 SAR, p. 4; also, see that part dealing with the Peleliu campaign in Garand and Strobridge, Western Pacific Operations.
61. CTF 51 AR, pt III, pp. 91-92.
62. Okinawa Operations Record, p. 107.
63. 2/22 SAR, Ph III, pp. 5-6.
64. In commenting upon the Japanese machine gun fire that prevented Company C from coming up to the line to fill in the gap and tie in with Companies A and B, the S-3 of 1/7 stated that this was "a standard Japanese tactic that gave our forces trouble throughout the war. There was always a reluctance on our part to withhold [hold back] an attack that was continuing to gain ground. Also, there was a general tendency to tie in the defenses and establish ourselves in a defensive posture prior to dark. These two factors often overlapped and we found ourselves in the position of frantically establishing a night defense in the few remaining minutes of twilight. The Japanese, of course, had long since reacted to this procedure and were wont to send infiltration groups and LMG teams against us in the awkward period between BENT [Beginning of Evening Nautical Twilight] and EENT [End of Evening Nautical Twilight]. It was in this period that the relief of G/2/7 by A/1/7 took place." Maj Don P. Wyckoff Itr to CMC, dtd 25 Mar55.
65. Unless otherwise noted, the material in this section is derived from: CTF 51 AR; Tenth Army AR.
66. "The number of ships and cargo tonnage listed under 'Leyte' represents that loaded for the Palau-Angaur-Yap Operation which was diverted to the Leyte Operation but which was unloaded under direction of Com3dPhibFor." CTF 51 AR, pt V, sec I, p. 33.
67. Tenth Army AR, chap 11, sec IV, p. 21. "In the preliminary planning the Tenth Army Ordnance Officer envisaged heavy ammunition expenditures. Original requests far exceeded the supplies made available initially and had to be drastically modified downward to fit availability of ammunition stocks and shipping to transport same." BGen David H, Blakelock, USA, ltr to CMC dtd 22 Mar55, hereafter Blakelock ltr 1955.
68. "One of the most important factors in preventing the unloading from reaching planned goals after 5 May was the weather. Frequent interruptions were also caused by Red alerts and enemy air raids. During May there were 17 days of heavy seas and torrential rains (14,68 inches fell in May with over 11 inches falling between 20 and 30 May) which materially interfered with unloading operations. During June there were 15 days when typhoon warnings and heavy weather materially interfered with unloading." Ibid.
69. According to the resupply schedule established before the landing, a six-day delay occurred between call-up and arrival of the replenishment echelons.
70. "Another factor contributing to the lower rate of unloading was the increased need of service troops, particularly engineers, to improve roads and to endeavor to make existing roads passable as a result of the extremely heavy rains. These additional troops came from airfield construction projects and the beach areas, the latter causing [a] corresponding slow down of unloading. The arrival of engineer and service troops on the island never kept pace with the requirements for unloading." Blakelock ltr 1955.
71. The immensity of this support may be seen in comparing the Okinawa figure with the tons of naval ammunition expended in Central Pacific operations earlier: Tarawa (1,833); Makin (1,800); Kwajalein (3,937); Roi-Namur (2,251); Eniwetok (2,020); Saipan (10,965); Tinian (3,627); Guam (8,000); Peleliu (5,579); and Iwo Jima (14,190). ComPhibsPac Amphibious Gunnery Bul No. 2, Assault on Okinawa, dtd 24May45.