Breakout to the South
JAPANESE WITHDRAWAL1Threatened by an American frontal encroachment upon their Shuri defenses and an envelopment of their flanks by the Tenth Army divisions driving down the east and west coasts of Okinawa, the Japanese were forced to reevaluate thoroughly the battle plans adopted in March. On the night of 22 May, General Ushijima convened at his headquarters a conference of his principal commanders and staff officers. The major and only item on the agenda of this momentous meeting was a discussion of how best to prevent--or at least to postpone--the disaster engulfing the Thirty-second Army.
Contingency plans calling for a massive defense centering about Shuri had been included in final battle preparations completed before 1 April 1945. All Japanese units located elsewhere on Okinawa and still able to fight would withdraw on order for a last-ditch stand in the vicinity of the Thirty-second Army headquarters. Tactical conditions at the time of this conference indicated that, to hold Shuri, approximately 50,000 Japanese soldiers would have to be compressed into a final defense sector less than a mile in diameter. These close quarters would not permit an effective defense, but would, in fact, make the defenders "easy prey"2 for the massive American fires which would undoubtedly seek them out from all directions. Although many Japanese long-range artillery pieces were still in firing condition the constricted space factors around Shuri prevented their proper emplacement and subsequently efficient employment.
In a discussion of the alternatives to remaining at Shuri, Ushijima's staff considered two other defensive areas--Chinen Peninsula, and the Kiyamu Peninsula at the southern tip of Okinawa. (See Map 2.) The hills, cliffs, and lack of roads on Chinen presented a group of formidable natural defenses, especially against tank-infantry tactics. Militating against a choice of this area were the lack of sufficient caves and prepared positions to hold the entire Thirty-second Army and the inadequacy of ammunition supplies that had been stockpiled there. Another disadvantage ruling out Chinen was the poor road net, which would equally hamper the Japanese and the Americans. Finally, in face of these considerations and the route that would have to be taken to the peninsula, Thirty-second Army units would find it difficult to reconcentrate and reorganize speedily at the same time that they would undoubtedly be waging a hard fight during disengagement and withdrawal. The weight
of the evidence against Chinen ruled it out quickly.
It appeared to the Thirty-second Army staff that Kiyamu Peninsula was the best area in which to develop a solid defense for prolonging the battle. This area, dominated by the Yaeju Dake-Yuza Dake3 Escarpment, contained a sufficient number of natural and manmade caves in which to store supplies and protect troops against American bombardments. The terrain on the peninsula had been defensively organized earlier by the 24th Division, which also had cached a large store of ammunition and weapons there before it was ordered north into the Shuri defenses. As opposed to the poor road net into Chinen, all roads south led directly to the proposed new positions and would permit the army to make a rapid mass movement. On the other hand, Tenth Army tanks also could move south quickly over these roads, but only to the outpost defenses of the sector. American tanks would be denied passage beyond this point by the sheer cliffs, steep hills, and deep ridges of the region. In this broken terrain, the infantry would be on its own.
Not all of the senior Japanese leaders approved the planned withdrawal. One dissenter was General Fujioka, commander of the 62d Division. His objection was based on a compassion for the thousands of severely wounded men who could not be taken south. General Fujioka felt most strongly about this point because it was his division that had originally been assigned to defend Shuri, and it was his officers and men who had taken the brunt of American attacks on the city. He contended, therefore, that their desire to fight to the last in their present positions should be fulfilled.
Supporting the anticipated withdrawal was General Suzuki, commander of the 44th Independent Mixed Brigade, who tempered his approval with the stipulation that the army move into the Chinen Peninsula positions that his forces had previously developed. Fully supporting the move to Kiyamu were Generals Amamiya and Wada, commanders of the 24th Division and 5th Artillery Command, respectively. General Amamiya reinforced his argument with information that his 24th Transportation Regiment had been able both to salvage and to preserve enough trucks to transfer the army ammunition reserve in five nights' time if weather conditions permitted.
Not long after weighing all of these arguments, General Ushijima ordered the move to Kiyamu. The first transportation to head south left Shuri at midnight, 23 May, carrying wounded and a portion of the ammunition supply. The main body of the Thirty-second Army was scheduled to begin the trek southward on 29 May.
According to the army plan, the new defensive dispositions would be as follows (See Map 16.):
- The 44th IMB was to move from positions on the westernmost flank of the Shuri front to take up defense positions on a line running from Hanagusuku on the east coast to Yaeju Dake.
- The 24th Division would occupy the commanding heights of the Yaeju Dake-Yuza Dake escarpment, the ridges of
Mezado and Kunishi, and Nagusuku, on the west coast.
- Elements of the above two units would establish and defend an outpost line--and the zone forward of it--which would run from Itoman through Yunagusuku to Gushichan.
- The heavily depleted forces of the 62d Division would occupy defenses along the coast in the rear of the main battle line; at these positions the division could reorganize, and, at the same time, be prepared to reinforce threatened sections of the line.
- The firing batteries of the 5th Artillery Command were to be emplaced within the confines of a triangularly shaped area formed by Kunishi, Makabe, and Medeera, in direct support of the defense line.
- Admiral Ota's Okinawa Naval Base Force was assigned as reserve and would move on order to an assembly area in the center of the Kiyamu defense sector.
- Each unit breaking contact with the Americans on the Shuri line was to leave a sufficiently strong force in position to keep the Americans occupied long enough to permit a successful withdrawal.
Posing a threat to this plan was the penetration of 7th Infantry Division elements through Yonabaru. To oppose them, remnants of the 62d Division were to disengage and pull out of the Shuri front on the night of 25 May, and then move through Tsukasan to counterattack the Tenth Army spearhead. Replacing the 62d in the line was the comparatively strong and rested 22d Independent Infantry Battalion, which had been in reserve during the fighting in April and May. The orders to General Fujioka were both explicit and simple: ". . . annihilate the enemy rushing from the Yonabaru area."4 In addition, a secondary mission laid on, should the primary fail, was to slow or stop the American advance for a period long enough to permit the main body of the Thirty-second Army to escape.
To give General Ushijima time to organize his new dispositions on Kiyamu, the force remaining on the Shuri front was to hold until 31 May. Behind it, withdrawing units would leave other rear guard elements to hold a strong defense line running along the Kokumba River to the hills north of Tsukasan and Chan until the night of 2 June. At that time, the line would then cut south through Karadera to the east coast. Approximately 2,000 yards further south, another temporary line--this one centered on Tomusu--would be established and held until the night of 4 June. Thirty-second Army staff planners believed that the time gained during holding actions along these lines would permit the organization and manning of the final outpost zone. Before beginning its own retreat south, the composite naval unit on Oroku Peninsula was to guard the western flank of the withdrawal route.
All available replacements were thrown in the disintegrating Shuri front on 23 May, when the onsurging Tenth Army forced the enemy to bolster his defenses. On 24 May, the first Japanese walking wounded began leaving caves that passed as hospitals. Many terminal cases, too seriously wounded to be moved, were either killed with a lethal injection of morphine, or--less mercifully--left behind to suffer a more lingering end without the relief-giving drug. Limited medical care of the wounded because of circumstances rather than willful neglect appears to
Map 16: Thirty-second Army Dispositions, 4 June 1945
have been commonplace, judging from the following description of conditions:
At one time there were almost 90 men in the cave, lying on the ground in the mud in pitch darkness, except when a doctor or corpsman would come around with a light and ask them how they felt. Medical supplies were very low, so very little could be done to care for the wounded. Men died on all sides. Filth accumulated. In the heavy rains, water poured into the cave and the wounded almost drowned. The smell was so bad that they could hardly breathe.5
In accordance with the schedule of the withdrawal plan, on the night of 25 May some 3,000 men remaining in the 62d Division moved into positions blocking the drive of the 7th Infantry Division. The enemy expected that the continuing bad weather would aid their efforts in this sector considerably. This expectation was valid, but only to the degree that the rain put greater obstacles in the way of the successful American drive than did the Japanese infantry. Reinforcing the 62d and coming under its command were the '7th Heavy Artillery and 23d Shipping Engineer Regiments, which left their defenses on Chinen Peninsula to occupy holding positions on the right of the division. Owing to the failure of the 62d Division to accomplish its mission, General Ushijima was convinced that it was necessary to evacuate Shuri while he still had the time. On 28 May, he ordered that the withdrawal was to begin on the following evening. The Naval Base Force, misinterpreting the order, jumped the gun by withdrawing to Kiyamu ahead of time. Admiral Ota's force was intercepted and sent back to Oroku Peninsula to take up its assigned positions west of the Japanese escape route.
On the night of 29 May, the 24th Division moved out of the lines in orderly fashion, leaving one-third of the 32d Regiment and the 22d IIB as a covering force. While the division evaded the Tenth Army and headed south, the 44th IMB remained in blocking positions outside of Naha and the 62d Division was likewise defensively disposed near Chan and Karadera.
With the arrival of dawn on Wednesday, 30 May 1945, the greater portion of the Thirty-second Army had successfully postponed its final reckoning at the hands of the Tenth Army by withdrawing from Shuri and out of the grasp of General Buckner's flanking divisions. Having taken advantage of the heavy rains and the accompanying poor visibility, General Ushijima had executed a "properly deft withdrawal"6 to establish new army headquarters outside of Mabuni, 11 miles south of Shuri, in a cave deep within Hill 89. By then, his covering forces were in position to slow down a Tenth Army pursuit and thereby give the Thirty-second Army a bit more time to organize the defense of Kiyamu Peninsula.
THE PURSUIT7American attempts to exploit the successful breakthrough at Shuri and maintain incessant pressure on the reeling Thirty-second Army were frustrated on 30 May by an electrical storm accompanied by torrential rains on an already-saturated landscape. Movement of all Tenth Army units was effectively halted by the mud. Amphibious craft and vehicles were employed on both coasts to give logistic support to the two corps and enabled the ground commanders to maintain at least minimum supply levels.
Out of a total of 916 missions of all sorts flown by VMTB-232 in May, 74 were supply air drops in support of frontline troops and advance patrols. In spite of the submarginal flying conditions and limited visibility on 30 May, the squadron flew 12 air drop missions to the 1st Marine Division. General del Valle expressed his appreciation to Major Feldmeier's pilots in a message which read in part: "Those pilots have guts!"8 This congratulatory message could have been repeated just as well the next day, when the squadron's Avengers flew 37 missions over southern Okinawa to drop water, medical supplies, rations, and ammunition to the ground forces.9
The weather situation changed so abruptly at the end of the month that "For the first time no enemy planes were detected in the area for the 24-hour period" ending at midnight, 30 May.10 The heavy rain, however, did not completely stop ground activity on the 30th, for attacks were made all along the Tenth Army front. In the XXIV Corps zone, the 96th Division and the right flank regiment of the 7th Division--the 17th Infantry--attacked west and captured the high ground in the rear of the Shuri positions, one and a half miles west of Yonabaru. Other elements of the 7th Division passed through Shinzato and Sashiki against little opposition, and moved deeper into the Chinen Peninsula. The 77th Division ran into determined holding action by the 32d Regiment, but managed nevertheless to capture all of the high ground and key defensive positions occupied by the enemy immediately to the northeast and east of Shuri.11
In the 1st Marine Division zone, a grave situation confronting 3/1 on 30 May was rooted in events that had occurred the day before, when the battalion broke off contact with the enemy in Wana Draw and headed for Shuri Castle. At the time of the disengagement,
AIR DELIVERY SECTION Marines and ship's crew of USS Sargent Bay
load a TBM with supplies to be dropped to Tenth Army troops.
VMTB 232 TBM drops supplies to troops near Shuri.
all battalion assault companies badly needed food, water, and ammunition. An air drop scheduled at 1800 on the 29th at the castle was not made, with the result that the frontline troops were without food and water for 36 hours.12 Commenting on this later, the battalion commander noted:
During this period the battalion was operating under the worst imaginable conditions, no food, water, little ammunition, the battalion CP 2500 yards to the rear of the lines, battalion dump 1000 yards to the rear of the CP and all transportation hopelessly mired with the results that no food of any type was available and the men had resorted to drinking water from shell-holes due to their extreme thirst.13
Early in the morning of the 30th, Lieutenant Colonel Ross was informed that an air drop was scheduled for 0600, and shortly thereafter he learned that a very low ceiling had grounded the planes. The battalion's Marines had now been without food and water 'for two days and a night. This situation and an inadequate ammunition supply forced the battalion commander to tell Colonel Mason that unless this logistics problem was solved, it would be most difficult for the battalion to undertake any extensive operations. Finally, at 1335 an air drop was made, but another one had to be scheduled since most of the first had fallen outside of the drop zone and in enemy territory. Enough of the supplies were recovered, however, to issue each man one-third of a K-Ration14 and one canteen of water.
While attempting to locate the headquarters of the Thirty-second Army at Shuri Castle, representatives from the 1st Division G-2 Section had discovered numerous caves containing many enemy documents of intelligence value. Together with these intelligence people, General del Valle had sent the division colors to Lieutenant Colonel Ross with a request that they be raised over the castle. After locating the remnants of a Japanese flagpole, the battalion commander had it erected near the southern wall, raised the American flag, and then ordered all observers to evacuate the area rapidly because he expected the Japanese to use the flag as an aiming point and to fire an artillery concentration on the position almost immediately.
Continuing supply problems prevented the 1st Marines from making any concerted attack on 30 May until the 1st and 2d Battalions had received supply air drops. On the left of the 1st Marines, the 306th Infantry extended to the right, allowing Colonel Mason's left battalion, 2/1, to move its left company to the right, relieving Company C, 1/1. Patrols from 1/1 ventured into the ruins of northern Shuri, but were
forced back by machine gun and 47mm AT fire from well-entrenched positions in a ravine southwest of Wana Draw. On the right of the division zone, the 5th Marines was also limited to local patrol action by its need to bring supplies forward over muddy routes.
On 30 May, in torrential rains, the 22d and 29th Marines pressed the 6th Division attack east to clear the north bank of the Kokuba. Heavy enemy resistance, built around a framework of mutually supporting machine guns emplaced in the mouths of Okinawan tombs, was made even more effective by the fact that the Marines had no armor support for the greater part of the day. Jump-off time was advanced one hour to 1000 to permit division interpreters and cooperative prisoners to broadcast surrender inducements over loudspeakers to enemy holdouts in front of the 22d Marines. A barrage of small arms and mortar fire signified a negative response to this effort. After a 15-minute artillery, rocket, and naval gunfire preparation, the division attack began at 1010.
On the right of the division line, Lieutenant Colonel Woodhouse was killed by sniper fire while in the van of 2/22 controlling its attack. The battalion executive officer, Major John G. Johnson, assumed command and maintained unit pressure against the caves and the improvised tomb-pillboxes thwarting the Marine advance. By nightfall, after a series of costly local attacks and mopping-up activities, the battalion possessed hill positions overlooking the Kokuba estuary and the trans-island rail line between Naha and Yonabaru.
The 3d Battalion passed through 1/22 and then jumped off abreast of 2/22, meeting the same heavy resistance along the way. Blocking the 3/22 path to the Kokuba was commanding terrain in which Knob Hill, Hill 27, and a number of radio towers were located. At approximately 1530, 3/22 secured this area, but only after the ground troops had fought a number of small arms and grenade-throwing duels while clearing the enemy out of an intricate system of tunnel-connected caves. Following the seizure of this high ground, Lieutenant Colonel Clair W. Shisler reorganized his 3d Battalion and continued the advance to the high ground north of and overlooking the Kokuba. As his troops dug in for the night, they were subjected to intense mortar and artillery fire.
Advancing alongside of 3/22, 1/29 made the main regimental effort. During the attack, a Marine threw a satchel charge or a grenade into one of the tombs along the advance route, setting off an estimated ton of explosives and causing approximately 25 casualties in Company C; B immediately passed through to maintain the attack.15 Although machine gun and small arms fire from the numerous caves and fortified tombs in the battalion zone slowed the progress of the attack, 1,/29 was able to advance under the cover of fire support from 3/29. The latter also advanced slowly, meanwhile maintaining contact with the 5th Marines on its left. At the end of the day, both 6th Division assault regiments had gained 800 yards and were in firm possession of the key
high ground overlooking the Kokuba from the south.
During the night of 30-31 May, the volume of enemy artillery and mortar fire on Tenth Army positions was noticeably lighter in comparison to that which had fallen previously in the battle for Shuri. When assault troops surged towards troublesome Japanese pockets remaining about Shuri on the morning of the 31st, they were pleasantly surprised by the almost complete lack of opposition. Only sporadic sniper and machine gun fire broke the weird silence in an area that had just recently been filled with the din and crackle of battle. Adhering to the Thirty-second Army withdrawal plan, rearguard forces from the 44th IMB, 32d Regiment, and 22d IIB had pulled out of their positions during the night to occupy the second holding line north of Tsukasan.16 Another aspect of the completely reversed situation was the break in weather, which changed the seemingly unending period of rain and solid overcast into a day of sunshine and high scattered clouds.
American ground units moved into Shuri, later described as "a perfect final defensive position,"17 and found it to be nearly abandoned. Soldiers from XXIV Corps quickly advanced and occupied assigned objectives, and spent most of the time thereafter mopping up isolated pockets of resistance. Only on the extreme left of the 96th Division line, where attack elements encountered the Tsukasan line defenses, was the corps objective not taken. The encirclement and occupation of Shuri became a reality at 1255 on the 31st, when patrols from 3/383 and 1/5 made contact south of the city.18
In a coordinated sweep with the 77th Infantry Division, the 1st Marine Division cleared out the enemy-infested areas immediately surrounding Shuri. Mopping up of bothersome pockets in the northern outskirts of the city and in the stubborn Wana Draw was completed by noon. Later in the day, the 1st Marines was ordered into division reserve and given a primary mission of patrolling Shuri.
Despite supply and evacuation problems, the 5th Marines continued its southeasterly advance towards the hills just north of Shichima, overlooking the Naha-Yonabaru highway. The 3d Battalion made the main effort for the regiment, jumping off at 1445--15 minutes after it had received an air drop of water and ammunition. Upon reaching the hills, rifle and machine gun fire from Japanese blocking units forced the battalion--on the corps boundary--to dig in for the night. A gap existing between the 1st and 3d Battalions was plugged by Company F of 2/5.
The heretofore steady progress of Tenth Army flanking units was slowed on 31 May when enemy resistance to the 6th and 7th Divisions became stronger. General Shepherd's assault regiments jumped off at 0730 and rapidly moved forward for several hundred yards be. fore encountering unyielding Japanese positions in the hill mass west of Shichima and Kokuba. These were occupied by Admiral Ota's ragtag naval troops and units of the 32d Regiment. The Marine advance was held up until
about 1300, when a coordinated assault was launched under the cover of long-range support fire furnished by a company of tanks situated as close to the line of departure as a minefield and a sea of mud would permit.
Although the division had some evidence that the enemy defense was crumbling here, the Marines had gained only 400 yards by nightfall and were still short of their objective. In night defense lines that were consolidated along a series of low hills immediately west of the objective, the assault battalions made preparations for a coordinated attack on 1 June. All through the night, artillery batteries fired concentrations on suspected Japanese gun positions in an attempt to destroy them.
On the left flank of the Tenth Army, the 7th Division continued its two-pronged attack. One assault force drove up the Naha-Yonabaru valley against a chain of well-defended hills to reach the corps boundary at Chan; the second sent strong combat and reconnaissance patrols into the hills and valleys guarding the neck of Chinen Peninsula. Little opposition was met there.
By the end of May, the Tenth Army had overcome the seemingly impregnable Shuri redoubt, only to run into newly organized defenses positioned along the Kokuba River and north of Tsukasan. Since the initial landings on L-Day, General Buckner's forces had killed an estimated 62,548 Japanese soldiers and captured 465 others in 61 days of bloody endeavor. The Tenth Army had seized all but eight square miles of the island, and that parcel was becoming a pocket of doom into which the remnants of General Ushijima's army were being driven. The battle so far had cost the Americans 5,309 men dead, 23,909 wounded, and 346 missing in action.19
On 1 June as though in anticipation of an imminent end to the fighting but in fact on the date stipulated in the ICEBERG logistics plan, unloading operations off Hagushi changed from the assault to the garrison phase.20 This same day, the second consecutive clear one, the direction of the attack was reoriented in the XXIV Corps zone. In the 96th Division zone, the 381st and 383d Infantry Regiments relieved the 32d Infantry north of Chan on the line paralleling the corps boundary, where it turned east to end at a point 1,100 yards north of Karadera. A day later, General Griner's two regiments were to attack to the south; their objective, the hill complex approach to the Tomui-Aragusuku-Meka area. Guarding the right rear of the corps advance was 2/305, which had moved out to the boundary when the 77th and 96th Divisions had exchanged zones of responsibility.
With its 32d Infantry in reserve, the 7th Division attacked to the south in a much narrower zone than it had been assigned before. During the previous two days, combat patrols had thoroughly scouted and prepared the way, enabling the division to gain an average of 1,100 yards against steadily rising opposition. Facing the Americans were elements of the 7th Heavy Artillery and 23d Shipping Engineer Regiments, which slowly pulled back towards Itokazu during the day.
Maintaining constant pressure, both IIIAC assault divisions made substantial gains on 1 June in a coordinated attack, which resulted in the capture of all the high ground commanding the cross-island highway running through the Kokuba River valley. The 1st Division attack was made by 1/5 and 3/5, which overran enemy positions in the hills east of Shichina to advance 1,500-1,800 yards before halting for the night. (See Map IX, Map Section.)
In the 6th Division Zone, the 22d and 29th Marines broke through the defenses that had held them up the day before and advanced swiftly in a smoothly functioning tank-infantry attack. By late afternoon, the assault regiments possessed the high ground On the northern bank of the Kokuba, and sent patrols across the northern fork of the river to select suitable crossing sites. Having accomplished their mission of slowing the American advance, Japanese holding forces in the second defense line had withdrawn the previous night. Their action paved the way for the Tenth Army to continue the pursuit and to make an unopposed tactical river crossing.
According to oral instructions General Geiger gave him in the early morning of 1 June, General Shepherd was given 36 hours to prepare his division for an amphibious operation. For as complex an operation as this, considerably more preparation time was usually allotted. Nevertheless, division planners were "to study the practicality of a shore-to-shore landing on Oroku."21
Major Walker's 6th Reconnaissance Company was to reconnoiter the peninsula after dark on the lst. The company was to move out at 2100 and cross Naha harbor in rubber boats to the northern part of Oroku. At 1110 that morning, General Shepherd received a IIIAC warning order alerting him that the 6th Division axis of attack would probably be reoriented in the direction of Oroku Peninsula, where the division would land to secure the harbor and seize the air field.22 To prevent disclosure of the presence of the reconnaissance company Marines on Oroku, all IIIAC units were directed to restrict the use of illuminating and parachute flares between 2030 and 0300, 1-2 June.23
Four scouting teams of four men each spent six hours on enemy-held Oroku, where they heard considerable Japanese activity and were fired upon. On their return, the reconnaissance teams reported that the peninsula was Japanese-occupied, but that the enemy was not there in great strength.
Besides ordering the Oroku attack, General Geiger directed the 1st Division to assume responsibility for and occupy the zone of the 6th, excluding Naha, on 2 June. Colonel Snedeker's 7th Marines relieved the 22d and 29th Marines shortly after noon of this date, and General del Valle assumed control of the overall zone at 1215. On the left, 2/7 took over the 22d Marines line along the north bank of the Kokuba, and 3/7 replaced the 29th Marines in hill positions west of Kokuba village.
Immediately after arriving at the Kokuba,, 2/7 was ordered across the river and into the hills bordering its south bank. Company E was the first to cross. Utilizing a damaged but still standing bridge in the battalion zone,24 the company gained the heights north of Tomigusuku and fought off an estimated 50 to 100 Japanese who tried to turn the Marine right flank while Company G was filing over the bridge. By nightfall, Company F had joined the other two companies in establishing a firm bridgehead south of the river, and thus safeguarded the crossing site.
Early in the morning of 2 June, the 5th Marines crossed the north branch of the Kokuba over a railroad bridge that the retreating Japanese had neglected to blow up. While attempting to advance beyond a seized ridge guarding the approaches to the village of Tomigusuku, the 5th Marines assault units were pinned down by intense frontal and flanking rifle and machine gun fire, which prevented their making even limited gains for the rest of the day. Despite this bitter enemy reaction here, the 5th Marines advance put the final segment of the Naha-Yonabaru highway into Tenth Army hands. Just before midnight, the enemy launched a determined counterattack-the first since his withdrawal from Shuri against Marine lines. The Japanese were driven back, but left behind 20 dead.
To the left of the IIIAC zone, XXIV Corps units made large gains all along the line. In the process of cleaning out Chan, seizing the high ground north of Tera and Kamizato, and penetrating through Japanese defenses to the west of Kamizato and Karadera, 96th Division assault regiments advanced 800-1,200 yards. Farther west the 7th Division succeeded in pushing forward 2,400 yards against slight opposition from retreating Japanese garrison troops. At the end of 1 June, Army infantry troops were positioned for a final drive to close off Chinen Peninsula entirely. Rain during the night of l-2 June again resulted in the mud and supply problems experienced by all Tenth Army units earlier, and forced them to accommodate their operations more to the obstacles posed by the rain and mud than the enemy.
By noon of 2 June, the 6th Marine Division had received final instructions regarding the Oroku operation, and General Shepherd's staff had already begun detailed planning. After examining possible courses of action and schemes of maneuver for the landing-and eliminating those that seemed least likely to be successful-the division commander decided to land on the Nishikoku beaches on the northeast coast of the peninsula and drive south, generally following an axis of attack astride the high ground in the center of the peninsula. (See Map 17.)
Governing the acceptance of this landing plan was the fact that Nishikoku had low rolling ground leading from the most suitable beaches on Oroku to the airfield and Naha harbor. In addition, an attack inland from this beachhead would be angled in the best direction for comprehensive, massed artillery support from the mainland.25 Other landing sites
Map 17: Battle for Oroku Peninsula, 4-6 June Progress
on Oroku under consideration were rejected because the high seawall ringing the peninsula would have to be breached, which time limitations prohibited. Also the enemy had direct observation of these other prospective beachhead sites from high ground inland.
Owing to a shortage of amphibious tractors then existing at okinawa, General Shepherd could count on having only 72 LVTs available for the landing.26 Most of the other amtracs were in poor condition as a result of continued extensive employment during the heavy rains in ship-to-shore supply operations and in coastal runs supplying the flanking divisions of the Tenth Army, and an almost-complete reliance on the LVTs for overland supply of frontline units. Nevertheless with the LVTs he was given, General Shepherd planned to land his division in a column of regiments, the 4th Marines in assault. Colonel ShapIey in turn, chose his 1st and 2d Battalions to spearhead the attack. The regiment was to drive rapidly inland to seize dominating terrain near Kagamisui, just north of the airfield, from which it was to cover the movement ashore of the rest of the division. As soon as the 4th Marines had moved beyond the beachhead area onto its objective, and when LVTs had made the return trip and were available, the 29th Marines would land. After this phase of the assault had been completed, tanks and supplies would be unloaded from landing craft.
The 6th Division assault forces were to mount out from assembly areas near the mouths of the Asato and Asa Rivers, and supplies and tanks would be loaded at a point that had been developed near Machinato and named Loomis Harbor after Colonel Francis B. Loomis, Jr., the G-4 for III Amphibious Corps.27 Because it would be difficult to maintain a waterborne resupply operation continuously during the peninsular fighting, General Shepherd decided to seize Ono Yama concurrently with the Oroku assault. This small island in the middle of Kokuba Channel, across from the southern end of the Naha Canal, served as an anchor for bridges from the mainland and the peninsula. Once a task force of reconnaissance company Marines reinforced by a company of LVT(A)s had taken the island, it would provide security for an engineer detachment that was to repair the damaged bridges. After its capture, Ono Yama served the 6th Division as a logistic support base that was located fairly close to the fighting.
Both logistical and personnel preparations for the assault were increasingly complicated by the almost-complete breakdown of the road net as a result of the resumption of heavy rain. Therefore, all division tactical and support movement had to be made over water. "Even the division CP, deploying to a forward location near Amike was required to move entirely by DUKWs."28 Despite these handicaps, all 6th Division assault and support units made ready for the amphibious landing on K-Day, 4 June; the reinforced reconnaissance Marines were to land at 0500 on Ono Yama, and the main assault force 45 minutes later on Oroku.
While the 6th Division was temporarily out of the fighting and preparing for the Oroku invasion, the attack south increased in impetus and force. By late afternoon of 3 June, the 7th Infantry Division had reached the east coast of Okinawa below Kakibana and cut off the Chinen Peninsula completely. The 32d Infantry then moved into the hill complex of the peninsula to destroy any members of the Japanese garrison still remaining. General Arnold consolidated the lines of the 17th and 184th Infantry in the hills overlooking Itokazu and Toyama, where the soldiers poised for an attack to the southwest against Kiyamu Peninsula positions. (See Map IX, Map Section.)
To the right of the 7th, the 96th Division also scored gains on 3 June. Kamizato, Tera, and then Inasomi fell after only a perfunctory enemy defense. Before halting the attack to setup night defenses, General Bradley's assault regiments had taken 1,400 yards of enemy territory, even though the combination of continuing bad weather and almost insurmountable supply problems seemed to conspire against further American successes. At sunset, 96th Division troops overwhelmed determined enemy defenders to seize commanding terrain in the hill mass north of the road and rail junction at Iwa. Because an already-existing gap between Marine and Army units had been widened by the accelerated pace of the XXIV Corps, the 305th infantry continued its role of guarding the exposed flank of the corps at the boundary between it and IIIAC.
To the right of the 305th, from midnight, 2 June, to dawn the next day, the 5th Marines frustrated persistent enemy attempts to infiltrate its lines. After sunrise, the Marines spent the morning probing the front with patrols, which soon were pinned down by scattered but well-placed enemy fire from positions south of Tsukasan and west of Gisushi. When the 1st and 3d Battalions could move forward no further, 2/5 was alerted to its possible commitment to ease the situation.
At 1230, Lieutenant Colonel Benedict was ordered to circle around the left battalion--l/5--by moving in a wide arc through the XXIV Corps zone, and to outflank and come up behind enemy strongpoints on the high ground near Tomusu and Gishusi. Taking only equipment that it could carry, the battalion moved out at 1330. At 1800, after having trekked over a difficult, muddy, and circuitous route, it arrived at a jump-off position 400 yards east of its objective. Twenty minutes after arriving here, 2/5 attacked with Companies E and G in
the assault and quickly secured the target against only slight enemy resistance.
As 2/5 Marines began to dig in, they found that the entire ridge contained a well-organized cave defense system, and began blowing up cave entrances to seal them. A white phosphorous grenade thrown into one cave set off what apparently was a Japanese ammunition dump; the resulting explosion blew up the entire side of the hill in the Company E sector, killing 3 Marines and wounding 17. The exposed 2/5 position ahead of the 1st Division line presented the battalion with a most difficult task of evacuating casualties, which was accomplished only "by invaluable assistance" provided by 2/383 on its right.29
While 2/5 was outflanking the Gisushi position, at 1530 the 1st and 3d Battalions resumed the regimental attack under enemy fire which had lessened considerably since the morning. When these two battalions halted at 1900, they had advanced 1,500 yards and through Tsukasan, placing the 5th Marines south of the former rear command post of the Thirty-second Army. The relative ease with which the 1st Division had advanced on 3 June indicated that the Japanese rear guard had once again withdrawn towards fixed positions on Kiyamu.
Spearheaded by 1st Reconnaissance Company patrols, assault units of the 7th Marines rolled up 200 yards in the division right. This advance established Marine control of virtually the entire hill mass south of Kokuba. Scattered enemy holding groups constantly harassed advancing Marines on the right flank during the day, however, with mortar, machine gun, and machine cannon fire from emplacements in the hills guarding the entrance to Oroku Peninsula. This steady enemy fire constantly menaced supply and evacuation parties traveling a well-worn route into the regimental zone from the only bridge over the Kokuba River. A combination of this harassment and the difficulty of negotiating over rain-damaged road nets again forced the Marines to depend upon air drops as a source of supply for rations and ammunition.
To fulfill the logistic requirements of the ground forces, the Avengers of VMTB-232 were kept as busy in June as they had been in May air dropping prepackaged loads to IIIAC and XXIV Corps units that could not be replenished through normal supply channels. The squadron made 24 drops on 1 June; 32 on 2 June; 24 on 3 June.30 Having received a supply replenishment from planes during the day, both assault battalions of the 7th Marines were across the Kokuba by nightfall of the 3d and solidly set in the hill mass south of the river; 3/7 was in contact with 1/5, and the regiment was tied in across its front.
Well within the period it had been allotted, the 6th Division completed arrangements for its shore-to-shore operation by the end of 3 June. Beacon lights to mark the line of departure were set in place 1,200 yards north of the Nishikoku beaches at 1215 that day, and division assault forces were en route to board the LVTs at embarkation points on the west coast. The 22d Marines were
placed in IIIAC reserve in and around Naha; its regimental weapons company moved to the shore of the Kokuba estuary, where it set up its 37mm and self-propelled assault guns in position to support the 4 June landing, Supplementing the massive fire support provided by artillery, naval gunfire, air, and its own organic weapons, the 4th Marines would have the additional fire support of a company of LVT(A)s, a company of tanks, and a mobile rocket launcher detachment. All preparations were completed at 2300, and the 6th Marine Division stood poised for the Oroku Assault.
THE CAPTURE OF OROKU PENINSULA31As directed in the landing plan, the 4th Marines were to land on beaches designated Red 1 and Red 2 with 1/4 on the right, 2/4 on the left. The total length of the beaches was approximately 600 yards. Offshore, a rough coral shelf about 200 yards long was a not-insurmountable barrier to the landing site. The assault wave was to be followed by the other waves in LVTs. As envisioned, the shore-to-shore movement would be a comparatively simple operation. In addition to the beacon lights marking the line of departure, the only other control measure was to be the normal radio communication between the assault units.
In the early morning darkness of 4 June, troops and equipment loaded aboard the tracked amphibians according to plan. An intense prelanding bombardment was laid down on the target for an hour's duration before H-Hour; over 4,300 rounds of high explosive shells ranging in caliber from 75mm to 14-inch blasted suspected enemy positions on the high ground immediately behind the Nishikoku beaches.32 (See Map 17.)
Once loaded, the invasion flotilla headed south towards the target in two columns, 400 yards apart; 1/4 in the seaward column since it was to land on Red 2, the westernmost beach. Almost simultaneously with the beginning of the bombardment of Oroku, 3/5 began blasting Ono Yama, and 15 minutes later the 6th Reconnaissance Company landed on schedule, supported by LVT(A)s of the Army 708th Amphibious Tank Battalion.33
During their approach to the line of departure, assault Marines were treated to the spectacle of the furious lashing given the beach area by the guns of 1 battleship, 2 heavy cruisers, 1 destroyer, and 15 battalions of artillery which joined in the cannonading. At the line of departure, the lead LVT(A) of each column signalled a column left, whereupon the following LVTs executed the movement, formed up into seven waves, and headed towards the beach. Four LCTs carrying 20 tanks and 10 LCMs carrying elements of the 4th Marines Weapons Company followed in the wake of the assault waves.
Before they had reached the line of departure, mechanical failures forced all
of the tractors carrying 1/4 to slow down and some to fall out of the formation. Radio communication as well as overall contact was lost. By the time that the battalion had reached the line of departure, nine tractors had dropped out and only six were able to make the final run into the beach. Some of the cripples got underway again, but troops in the other amtracs had to be picked up by spare LVTs in the wave carrying the regimental headquarters. The battalion commander's request for a delay of H-Hour was refused by Colonel Shapley, who ordered the attack to proceed according to schedule. As a result, only two platoons of the right assault company of 1/4 and one from the left landed on time. The 2d Battalion experienced no difficulty during its approach and landing.
Intelligence estimates had indicated that the peninsula was defended by 1,200-1,500 enemy troops. At 0600, when the first Marines went ashore they saw no Japanese defenders on the beach, however, and were able to rush inland 300 yards to high ground against only scattered machine gun fire. All 2d Battalion units were ashore and reorganized in little more than a half hour after the first elements had landed.
By 0650, all tanks of Company A, 6th Tank Battalion, in support of 2/4, and attached engineer mine removal teams were ashore. Four self-propelled 105mm howitzers of the regimental weapons company also landed at this time, Except for one tank lost in a pothole, Company C tanks landed at 0800 and began supporting those troops of 1/4 already on the peninsula. The rest of the infantry battalion came ashore during the remainder of the morning.
Once ashore, the assault forces found the terrain very open and generally flat, with several 50 to 100-foot tall hillocks breaking up the landscape. As the attack moved inland to the central, southern, and western portions of the peninsula, the Marines encountered many ridges and steep hills--the highest of which was some 183 feet in height. The small hills initially captured were unoccupied by the enemy, but close inspection showed that the terrain was honeycombed with tunnels and numerous firing ports, which, when manned, had given the defenders commanding all-around views of the area.
Following its surge beyond the beachhead, 2/4 met mounting resistance on the left. Extensive minefield on the plateau immediately adjoining the landing site and the rain-soaked ground held up the tank-infantry advance as well. Both obstacles restricted tank operations and forced the Shermans to remain road-bound. Many sections of the roads had been blown up by the enemy and the mediums were unable to bypass these spots over the bemired fields; the ground troops were thus threatened with having their armor support severely curtailed.34 The job of filling in the cratered roads soon surpassed the capabilities of the tank dozers.
Although the 1/4 reserve, Company B was the only element of the battalion to land in near-full strength. It was then committed at once on the right of 1/4 and ordered to take the high ground overlooking Kagamisui. The company
promptly overran the objective maintaining the momentum of the battalion attack and permitting 1/4 to gain its objective, 1,000 yards inland, at 1100.
In regimental reserve, 3/4 was nevertheless committed to the right of 1/4 at approximately 0905, within 20 minutes after it had landed. The 3d Battalion immediately pushed forward to the edge of Oroku airfield. Observers noted that the field was overgrown with rough grass, was swampy, and appeared in very poor condition overall. Large revetments were ranged along the edges of the three runways. Even though they provided excellent concealment and some cover, it would have been dangerous to use them since the enemy seemed to have had them well ranged in with mortars. The wreckage of several planes, apparently strafed and bombed earlier by American aircraft, was strewn over the field. Running along the right (west) edge of the field was a seawall, heavily overgrown with palmetto and brush. On the eastern edge of the airdrome was a series of foothill ridges that were crisscrossed with caves and aircraft revetments.35
An hour after 3/4 had landed, General Shepherd believed that the beachhead had been sufficiently enlarged to the point where it could accept the landing of a second regiment. Accordingly, he ordered the 29th Marines to begin moving to Oroku immediately. Two of Colonel Whaling's battalions were quickly transported to the peninsula and moved into the lines on the left of the 4th Marines. The 2d Battalion was ashore and relieving left flank units of 2/4 by 1300; 3/29 took over the rest of the zone at 1430, whereupon 2/4 went into regimental reserve.
At 0900, 6th Division wiremen ferried a four-trunk cable across the mouth of Naha Harbor in rubber boats, strung it over the mast of a sunken ship, and had it tied at the terminals of assault unit switchboards on Oroku at 1100. At the same time that this task was underway, division engineers worked rapidly to repair the bridges between Naha, Ono Yama, and the peninsula. Bridging operations began immediately after the harbor island had been secured at 0600. After 30 minutes of sharp fighting during which it killed an estimated 25 enemy soldiers, the 6th Reconnaissance Company deployed to positions where the scouts could protect engineers who were assembling the Bailey bridge.
Elsewhere on Ono Yama, other engineers inflated rubber pontoons that were to be placed into the water to support a bridge spanning the wide estuary between the island and Oroku. It was not possible to establish this link until Marines on the peninsula had neutralized heavy enemy machine gun fire aimed at puncturing and sinking the pontoons.
By nightfall, 1/29 was landed and in regimental reserve, 2/4 was set up in an assembly area as its regiment's reserve, and the attack had halted for the day. At this time, the invasion force had pushed inland 1,500 yards against steadily increasing resistance. In addition to this Japanese opposition, the attack had been slowed in the afternoon by very heavy rain storms as well as numerous minefield, whose neutralization and destruction taxed overworked mine-disposal teams.
During the first day on Oroku, the assault forces had received a considerable amount of fire from a variety of automatic weapons ranging up to 40mm in caliber. It was later learned that these weapons had been stripped from the damaged aircraft on and around Oroku airfield and distributed to the ground defense force, which then was able to offer a more formidable response to the Marine invasion. From early evening and on through the night of 4-5 June, Marine lines were subjected to sporadic enemy artillery and mortar fire.
A startling new Japanese weapon met by Marines on Iwo Jima36 was brought into the Okinawa campaign when the 6th Division was introduced to the enemy's 8-inch rocket. Dubbed a "Screaming Mimi" or "Whistling Willie" by the troops,37 because of the noise it made while tumbling through the air end over end, the projectile was more a source of annoyance than danger and caused few casualties. Its explosion was loud and concussion great, but this rudimentary missile's fragmentation was ineffectual and its accuracy was poor. "It was launched from a pair of horizontal rails about 15 feet long, aiming was strictly hit or miss, a process of sandbags, guesswork, and luck."38 The rockets continued to fall in rear areas during the night, while enemy snipers and would-be infiltrators were active.
Troops on Ono Yama received machine gun and spigot mortar fire in the darkness, These 320mm mortar shells, nicknamed "flying ashcans" by Americans, had been employed only briefly earlier in the Okinawa campaign and had not appeared again until this time.
At 0700 on 5 June, 1/22 reverted to the 6th Division from corps reserve, and, as division reserve then, was deployed on the division boundary in the right (west) flank of the 7th Marines attacking south. At 0730, the Oroku assault resumed and moved slowly against determined stubborn opposition until noon, when the 4th Marines was halted by an enemy strongpoint near Toma.
Muddy ground on the right of the 4th Marines zone made it impossible to employ tanks, so a platoon of the tracked vehicles skirted the seawall to come up on the airfield behind 3/4--in whose zone Toma lay--to assist the infantry attack. As the armor drew near open terrain on the field, it began receiving enemy artillery fire. The 15th Marines was called upon to provide counterbattery fire against suspected enemy positions revealed by gun flashes; a tank officer adjusted this artillery fire from his forward position.39 An inspection later disclosed that the 15th Marines had silenced four 120mm dual purpose, one 6-inch, and several field guns of smaller caliber. Blown roads and bridges in the 3/4 zone, not yet repaired by the engineers, forced the battalion to attack Toma without accompanying tanks, which provided direct fire support, however, from positions in the rear of the lines.
The enemy was well dug in in this sector and located in deep, strongly fortified caves that were impervious to all but pointblank fire. Since tanks were bogged down and not available, 37mm
guns were brought to the front and employed to good advantage against the enemy positions. After having been stymied through most of the day, 3/4 finally overran the Japanese defenses late in the afternoon with the aid of the fire from M-7s in the 1/4 zone and the support of tanks that had rumbled into position behind the 3d Battalion earlier. By nightfall, the battalion held 75 percent of the airfield and favorable jumpoff positions for the resumed attack on the next day.
In the right center of the 4th Marines zone, 1/4 became pinned down by frontal and flanking fire almost immediately after it attacked the morning of the 5th. When 3/4 cracked open the Toma defenses, the 1st Battalion was able to take up the attack again. As it did so, 1/4 moved forward over terrain that was broken by a number of steep hills containing many extensive tunnels in the mouths of which machine guns were emplaced and sited for all-around defense.40 The 4th Marines' commander noted that the heavy resistance met all along his line was reminiscent of that encountered in the battle for Naha.41 When the attack for the day ended at 1700, 1/4 held positions on high ground overlooking Ashimine and Toma on the right, and an unnamed village, designated "Oroku Mura,"42 on the left.
Overcoming both bitter enemy resistance and problems of supply and evacuation, the 4th Marines advanced the division line 1,000 yards on the 5th. Frontline units experienced considerable small arms and automatic weapons fire as well as many grenade launcher barrages, "but very little heavy mortar and no artillery fire, which was a relief to all hands."43 The enemy placed the artillery and mortar concentrations on rear areas instead, however, preventing LVTs from using the tank route leading to 3/4 positions to give that battalion supply and evacuation support. A 50-man working party, organized at regimental headquarters to replace the amphibious tractors, hand-carried urgently needed supplies up to 3/4, and took out evacuees on its return to Colonel Shapley's CP.
The 29th Marines made slow but steady progress on 5 June against enemy opposition that was moderate to heavy. By 1400, the regimental advance was slowed when assault units encountered a strong center of resistance near Hill 57, at the southeast outskirts of Oroku Mura. This strongpoint gave trouble to left flank elements of the 4th Marines also. A Japanese counterattack launched against 3/29 before the battalion had moved forward 1,000 yards was easily blunted, but fire from enemy positions located in the areas of adjacent battalions finally forced the 3rd Battalion to hold up.
The 2nd Battalion continued to push its left flank southeast along the banks of the Kokuba, and finally secured a
bridgesite area opposite Ono Yama. This permitted the engineers to float a 300-foot pontoon bridge into position. Pausing only to leave security detachments at the bridge as a guard against enemy attempts to destroy it, the battalion continued the attack. At 1810, the first LVT crossed over the bridge to Oroku from Ono Yama, opening a direct ground supply line to the assault troops.45
In the course of their operations on 6 June, the two assault regiments of the 6th Division uncovered major enemy defenses that were centered along the axial ridge running northwest-southeast along the length of Oroku Peninsula. The terrain of this hilly region favored the defenders, not only by its complexity but also by a heavy overgrowth of tangled vegetation. Immediately after they had resumed their attacks on the 6th, both the 4th and 29th Marines were held up by determined enemy opposition from concealed and well-camouflaged defenses.
A platoon of tanks supported the attack of the 2/29 with overhead fire at ranges of up to 1,200 yards from a high ridge overlooking the battalion objective--the village of Oroku. Left flank elements of the 2d Battalion pushed forward and captured the high ground in the village itself, but were unable to advance much farther in the face of heavy enemy fire. A second platoon of tanks moved along the river bank and attempted to get into position to subdue this fire, but it was unable to bypass a destroyed bridge in its path.
On the right of the 29th Marines zone, 3/29 moved over terrain that "consisted of a series of small temple-like hills, each of which had been converted into a fortress by construction of innumerable caves, from which mutually supporting automatic weapons could cover adjacent positions and deny the open ground between the hills [to the Americans]."46 Naval personnel from Admiral Ota's force manned the machine guns and 20mm cannon guarding the sector. After a day of bitter fighting without armored support--the narrow roads in the battalion zone were heavily mined and cratered, and impassable to tanks--the gains of 3/29 were limited to a scant 150 yards.
Immediately fronting the 1/4 line of attack was a hill the Marines called "Little Sugar Loaf," that 3/29 had been unable to take earlier. Lieutenant Colonel George B. Bell planned for his infantry to capture it by means of a double envelopment coordinated with a tank drive up the center of the valley leading to the objective. Assault companies forming the wings of the envelopment were pinned down as soon as they jumped off, The attack did not begin until 1530, when support tanks arrived and were in position. Although the advance began to gain momentum, the battalion commander thought that night would fall before the objective was taken and ordered his assault elements back to the lines occupied that morning, with little to show for the day's efforts. Although 1/4 had demonstrated how the enemy defenses could be breached in this sector, it was not to have the satisfaction of doing it itself; early the next day it was relieved by 2/4.
To the right of 1/4 on 6 June, Lieutenant Colonel Hochmuth's 3d Battalion attacked following an air strike on the many ridges in front of the battalion. As Company I on the right prepared to move out, its right flank was subjected to some 20mm and heavier caliber fire from Senaga Shima, a small rocky island flanking the Marine lines and lying approximately 1,000 yards off the southern coast of the peninsula. Tenth Army artillery and naval gunfire support ships blasted the island, silencing all but the 20mm weapons. An air strike was urgently called for and arrived a half hour later. "As rack after rack of bombs fell," scoring direct hits on the Japanese emplacements, "the troops stood up and cheered."47 (See Map 17.)
Disregarding the 20mm fire from Senaga as best they could, Marines from 3/4 moved rapidly forward as soon as the last plane in each of a series of air strikes made its final run over a target in front of the battalion. Scattered small arms fire paced the troops attacking over comparatively flat terrain, but 3/4 succeeded in securing the rest of the airfield by the end of the day.
Engineer road-construction crews and mine-disposal teams worked on 6 June in warm and clearing weather. Discovered and disarmed on the main north-south road bisecting the peninsula were 83 mines of all types. At noon, Company B of the tank battalion landed from LCTs with the rest of the battalion's tanks and immediately went into reserve.48 Also on 6 June, the 22d Marines as a whole reverted from corps reserve; 3/22 joined the 1st Battalion on the division east boundary, adjoining the west flank of the 7th Marines driving south; and 2/22 was alerted to move to a new defense position elsewhere on the division boundary.
Considerable resistance continued to plague the 6th Division as it unrelentingly swept across the peninsula on 7 June. (See Map 18.) The 4th Marines again made the most satisfactory progress of the day, but its right flank, which had advanced against only slight opposition on the previous day, was confronted with a much stronger defense in the vicinity of Gushi. As 3/4 tried to take the last section of high ground on the west coast, its leading company came under a deadly machine gun and rifle crossfire at the same time that extremely accurate and heavy mortar barrages fell on the only route of approach to the battalion goal. Both direct and indirect supporting fires bombarded Japanese positions to no avail. At the end of the day the battalion commander, faced with the prospect of sustaining heavy casualties if he pushed on, decided to pull his forwardmost elements back and hold the ground already taken.
Colonel Shapley's 2d Battalion passed through 1/4 at 0730, and began its attack on Little Sugar Loaf with the supporting fires of 37mm guns, tanks, and self-propelled 105mm howitzers. Left flank elements of 3/4 also supported the attack as Company G maneuvered around to the right of the enemy position and took it at 1100.
Following its capture of Little Sugar Loaf, the 4th Marines pushed ahead slowly against machine gun fire coming from all directions and ever-stiffening
Map 18: Battle for Oroku Peninsula, 7-9 June Progress
enemy opposition. Frontline Marines, already expert in the technique of sealing caves, furthered their expertise while closing the many caves on Oroku with a deadly combination of direct fire, flame, and demolitions. Unit commanders soon surmised that the peninsula was being defended by an enemy force greater than the 1,500-2,000 soldiers and naval troops previously estimated. Captured documents and POWs substantially confirmed the fact that the Oroku defense had been reinforced by a number of naval troops, which had originally moved south to Itoman and then had been ordered back to the peninsula. This information also indicated that the original American strength estimate of naval personnel was faulty and now had to be revised upward because many Okinawan conscripts had been dragooned into the ranks of Admiral Ota's force.
Although many of the Japanese on Oroku had been killed after three days of fighting on the peninsula, the stubborn opposition of those still alive caused casualty figures in the 4th Marines to mount. Frontline units could only be supplied after dark because of the lethal fire covering approach routes. By nightfall, the lines of 3/4 extended in a southeasterly direction and faced north, while on the left, 2/4 still attacked towards the southeast. The boundary between the 4th and 29th Marines ran in a southeasterly direction down the middle of the peninsula.
Just to the left of the 4th Marines, 3/29 began the first of three days of extremely vicious fighting by a grenade and bayonet assault without armored support on the hill to its immediate front. During the period following these three days, the battalion gained little ground, but killed an estimated 500 troops, destroyed a large variety of weapons, and sealed many caves containing enemy soldiers, supplies, and equipment.49
Two factors served to restrict the progress of the 29th Marines on 7 June. Hostile enemy concealed in the rocky outcropping of the coastal ridge paralleling the Kokuba pinned down the attackers with a drumfire from automatic weapons. Secondly, the positions of the enemy in a confined area and the proximity to the 29th of adjacent friendly troops severely limited the employment by the regiment of its supporting fires. To destroy the Japanese weapons positions and the soldiers manning them, gun crews from 2/29 manhandled their 37mm weapons up steep slopes to the ridge overlooking the enemy emplacements and effectively raked them with murderous direct fire.
In the zone of the 2d Battalion, tank-infantry teams made satisfactory progress towards their village objective. The boggy, steep, and difficult terrain and heavy concentrations of minefield that limited tank employment elsewhere on the peninsula were not in evidence in the east coastal zone, where the Shermans proved their worth. After crossing the newly constructed bridge at the site where a destroyed one had held up the tanks on the previous day, and rolling along the southern shore of Naha harbor, the tank platoon attached to 2/29 assisted the infantry in capturing Oroku village. Without pause, the battalion continued its attack and seized the high
ground in the immediate vicinity of the village. Accurate and heavy enemy artillery fire and an extensive minefield then held the tanks up.
Along the division boundary, on 7 June the 22d Marines continued sending patrols out into the high ground immediately east of Chikuto. Having fixed the approximate center of enemy strength in this area, 3/22 moved two companies into position to attack the high ground designated Hill 103. By 1400, the Japanese stronghold was overrun, which effectively eliminated fire from that area on the 1st Division west flank, and gave it an additional measure of security.
Hill 103 proved to be an important enemy observation post occupied by a large number of Japanese troops. By choosing to remain in their caves, these soldiers sealed their own doom since this ineffectual defensive tactic confined their fields of fire and permitted the Marine attackers to outflank the position over covered routes of approach.50
According to the original scheme of maneuver established for the Oroku invasion, the 4th and 29th Marines would drive towards the base of the peninsula in a southeasterly direction. But, the rapid pace of the division attack during its first four days on the peninsula had forced the enemy to withdraw to the south of Oroku village and, with his back to the Kokuba Gawa, into the hills which were honeycombed with strong defensive positions. General Shepherd's order on 8 June reorienting the axis of attack to the northeast was a formal recognition of the course that the battle was taking. By this time, the 4th Marines on the right had advanced much further than the stalled 29th had in its zone on the left. Colonel Shapley's regiment was in the process of pivoting on the right flank elements of the 29th Marines in a counterclockwise movement that, when ended, would head the 4th in the direction of the hard core of Japanese resistance. In effect, the elements on the right wing of the 4th would sweep in front of the 22d Marines and continue on to the northeast. Neither the 22d nor the 29th Marine lines would remain static, however, for at this point all three infantry regiments were moving and inexorably tightening the circle around Admiral Ota's hapless force.
During the evening of 7 June, 1/4 was alerted and prepared to enter the line the next morning on the right of 3/4. For the 8 June attack, battalion boundaries were changed to reflect the new direction in which these two units were to head. Early on the 8th, Marine mortars laid a smoke screen over the route 1/4 was to take as it skirted along the eastern edge of the airfield while getting into jump-off positions. The 1st Battalion's objective was the high ground located approximately midway between Uibaru and Gushi. At 1030, the assault elements attacked and immediately were pinned down by a hail of fire from rifles, machine guns, and mortars.
Bitter enemy reaction to the Marine assault was unallayed despite the massive fires of American tanks, M-7s and organic infantry crew-served weapons. The attacks of the 1st and 3d Battalions were so coordinated that one could aid the other at any given time. Because the
tanks were unable to deliver direct support fire from their masked positions, they lumbered forward into the open shortly after midday and blasted the 1/4 objective for 20 minutes. After this preparation, Company A again attacked the high ground, this time overrunning enemy machine gun and mortar emplacements. At 1430, Company C jumped off to the south with armor support and proceeded to clean the enemy out of the high ground in its sector and down to the seawall. Meanwhile, Company B entered the battalion line to the left of Company A and swung north, tying in for the night with 3/4. After clearing the ground in the battalion rear, Company C moved into position on the right rear of A to cover the exposed battalion flank overlooking the north-south Itoman road. Thus, the 1st Battalion commander had the unique experience of having his three infantry companies make successful attacks in as many different directions.
While the 1st Battalion headed for the seawall, 3/4 began a cross-peninsular attack over extremely rugged terrain that was marked by a maze of interlacing ridges. "Every slope had its allotment of caves, each covering the other from flank and rear."51 Many of these caves were filled with enormous stores of explosives, which created a hazardous condition for the demolition teams attempting to seal them. Nonetheless, the indomitable teams set off hundreds of pounds of demolitions to destroy the honeycomb of cave entrances.
At 1300 on 8 June, an hour and a half after it had resumed its attack, 2/4 was just 200 yards short of that day's objective. Taking time out only to regroup, the battalion continued its advance, but was slowed by ever-increasing Japanese fire from well-constructed positions in the mouths of caves. Nevertheless, by 1530, 2/4 assault elements had captured the objective and began organizing for night defense. Before dark, patrols were sent back to mop up bypassed positions in the battalion rear.
To effect a junction with the 4th Marines, the 22d Marines pivoted on its right flank unit, while the 3d Battalion on the left moved in a clockwise direction to tie in with 3/4. A 3/22 patrol moved to the seawall and made contact with the right flank element of the 4th at 1550. Shortly thereafter, another battalion patrol scouted potential LVT landing beaches on the East China Sea coast north of Itoman, Reinforced by an infantry company from the 2d Battalion, 1/22 sent out strong combat patrols to take two hills. One, Hill 55, was approximately 500 yards east of Chiwa, and the other, designated Hill 55-1, was almost the same distance east of the first. Throughout the day, the patrols received light small arms fire which increased in intensity as the hill objectives were neared. At 1800, the easternmost height, Hill 55-1, was in possession of the Marines, who were forced to withdraw under cover of darkness because of an ammunition shortage coupled with heavy incoming enemy mortar fire.
Originally scheduled to jump off at 0830, on 9 June, the 22d Marines attack was delayed until 0900. The 1st Battalion was to retake Hill 55-1, 2/22 was to seize Hill 55, while 3/22 was ordered to capture Hill 28 on the outskirts of
Chiwa. The plan of attack called for the 1st Battalion to seize its objective, and for the 2d Battalion to pass through and capture its target. Not until late afternoon was 1/22 able to complete its mission, and the few daylight hours remaining did not give 2/22 enough time to capture its objective. As a result, Colonel Harold C. Roberts concurred in the battalion commander's recommendation to postpone the attack.
Intense fire coming from Hill 55 prevented Lieutenant Colonel Shisler's 3/22 from outposting Hill 28 until after dark. But Hill 26, just south of the primary battalion objective, was secured and occupied at 1000 by Company I, which soon made firm contact with 4th Marines patrols after the latter had cleaned out Chiwa.
In the course of its fighting on 9 June, the 4th Marines found little that was different from previous days' experiences on the peninsula, for:
The advance was still slow and tedious against bitter resistance. Every Jap seemed to be armed with a machine gun, and there was still some light and heavy mortar fire. Casualties continued to mount and the number of Japs killed soared over the maximum of 1500 which were supposed to have been defending, and there were still plenty left.52
The 1st Battalion was ordered to seize high ground near Hill 55-2--the third hill so designated in the 6th Division zone-in the vicinity of Uibaru. The Marine attack was delayed until supporting armor could get into firing positions on the road paralleling the right flank of 1/4. Once ready to fire, the tanks were driven off by a bombardment from an enemy rail-mounted 75mm gun, firing from cave ports on the side of a cliff near Chiwa.53
Despite the temporary loss of its supporting armor, 1/4 attacked in the face of intense machine gun and mortar fire. Progress was slow and casualties increased steadily as the battalion advanced over ground that was honeycombed with caves, all of which had to be blown before they could be passed. At dusk, the right flank of 1/4 was anchored on a ridge northwest of Chiwa, while the battalion left flank extended to the outskirts of Uibaru, which had been taken earlier that day by 3/4.
A rocket barrage preceded the morning attack of 3/4 on 9 June. After the 3d Battalion moved out, difficult terrain prevented the battalion commander from maintaining unit control as his men worked closely with 2/4 to take the latter's objective, Uibaru. Upon occupying the village, the 3d Battalion received 20 casualties when a heavy enemy mortar concentration blasted its positions.
As the three infantry regiments of the 6th Division converged on the Oroku garrison from different directions, and completely isolated it from the main body of the Thirty-second Army at Kiyamu, Admiral Ota's mixed defense force was slowly compressed into a small pocket in the southeast region of the peninsula. On all levels, Marine commanders
6TH DIVISION MARINES land on Oroku Peninsula. Note the medium tank with flotation gear.
FINAL SWEEP of Oroku Peninsula in the last stages of the battle.
found it increasingly difficult to maintain unit control and to coordinate the employment of their supporting fires with those of adjacent friendly units because of the limitations imposed by restricted zones of action. These conditions conspired with the stubborn terrain and the no-less yielding defense to slow to some degree all of the attacking Marine battalions.
One of these units, 2/4, was ordered to capture the last remaining Japanese-held high ground in its zone. To complete this mission, the 2d Battalion was required to mount a frontal attack up a 400-yard wide valley over terrain that offered little cover or concealment. After the battalion jumped off at 1145 on 9 June, supported by tanks, M-75, and 37mm guns, its initial progress was slow. Further inhibiting the advance was the fact that a lack of tank approaches to the objective lessened the amount of close armor support given to the infantry. Also, 2/4 had to move ahead cautiously, for it was attacking in the direction of its own artillery and across the front of the 29th Marines.
Supplementing the natural tank obstacles in this sector, the Japanese had constructed a tank trap in front of their well-prepared ridge position and further safeguarded the area by a liberal sprinkling of mines. Since the Marines had no armored bulldozers or tank dozers immediately available, they were unable to construct a bypass in time to permit tanks to move ahead to support 2/4. At 1530, therefore, the battalion commander decided to halt the attack for the day.
Late in the afternoon, after 1/4 had pushed through Gushi, a tank managed to move through the now-demolished village and on to the road leading south to Itoman. Once in position on the flank of the cliff-emplaced enemy 75mm gun, it knocked the Japanese field piece out of commission. Only two shots were fired--one from the enemy gun, which missed and one from the tank, which didn't.54
On 10 June, the momentum of the 6th Division attack was accelerated. (See Map 19. ) Early that morning, heavy construction equipment began clearing all tank approaches to the 2/4 frontlines, and by 0815 tanks and self-propelled howitzers were moving into position to support the infantry attack. In coordination with the 29th Marines on the left, 2/4 jumped off at 0945 with three companies abreast in assault. Less than an hour later, all attack elements were on the objective and organizing defensive positions from which they were to support the attack of the 29th Marines for the next two days.
From all appearances, the end of the battle for Oroku was near. At the same time that 2/4 had broken through the Japanese lines, the 1st and 3d Battalions advanced against lessening resistance. By 1400 on 10 June, the battalion boundaries of the 4th Marines had converged to squeeze 3/4 out of the line, and it went into regimental reserve.
While the 4th Marines pressed eastward, the 22d Marines drove northeast towards Tomigusuki, with 2/22 making the main regimental effort. This 1st and 3d Battalions provided fire support from positions they then held. When 2/22 had seized its objective, 3/22 was ordered forward and coordinated its attack with
Map 19: Battle for Oroku Peninsula, 10-11 June Progress
that of 1/4 on the left. The 4th and 22d Marines made slow but steady progress on 10 June, but 29th Marines battalions continued to meet stubborn resistance and could report only limited gains. Moving slowly through Oroku village behind flame tanks, 2/29 was held up and its way blocked when the lead tank was destroyed by a direct hit from a Japanese 8-inch shell. The regiment, therefore, was unable to reach the last major enemy defense pocket in the sector, which was located on the high ground west of Oroku village. The Japanese troops trapped here began a number of frantic attempts to break out.
During the night 10-1 1 June, a series of local counterattacks hit all along the front. The heaviest of these took place in the sector of 1/4, which counted over 200 enemy dead in front of its lines after dawn. In reaction to the unfaltering and determined opposition of the Japanese defenders, General Shepherd launched an all-out armor-supported attack, committing the greater portion of eight infantry battalions to destroy the last vestiges of enemy resistance on Oroku.
In the 4th Marines zone, 3/4 resumed its attack at 0730, passing through the right elements of 1/4; the latter along with 2/4 remained in position to support the attack by fire. As the leading company began moving forward over a route that ran between Hill 58 (east of Uibaru ) and Tomigusuki, it was held up by a hail of fire coming from Hill 62, on the right front. Covered by sniper fire from 1/4 on the left and tank supporting fire from the rear, Company I spent the better part of the day attempting to overcome the fortified hill blocking its path, and captured it before dark. By this time, Company K on the battalion right still was 300 yards short of establishing contact with 3/22.
The 22d Marines, led by 2/22, attacked Hill 62--north of Tomigusuki--following an intense 30-minute artillery preparation fired by six battalions of 105mm and one battalion of 155mm howitzers.55 Once 2/22 had seized Hill 62, 3/22 was to support the 4th Marines until the latter masked its fires, after which it would pass through 2/22 and capture Hill 53, overlooking Kokuba Estuary. The 2d Battalion was unable to carry the hill in its first attempt and did not, in fact, seize the hilltop until 1220, after a heavy fire fight.
At 1300, 3/22 effected a passage of the 2d Battalion lines and was in position to attack 45 minutes later. Despite the lack of an artillery preparation on the objective,56 the assault elements attacked, following a heavy mortar concentration. One factor preventing the tanks from gaining more favorable firing positions or even advancing with the infantry was the presence of well-concealed minefield along the route they were to travel. A mine-removal team worked under direct enemy fire and finally cleared a lane through which the tanks could pass to provide limited support. At 1450, Company L occupied Hill 53, giving the 6th Division high ground that overlooked not only the Kokuba Estuary, but also the entire Oroku area
to the north where the 29th Marines had been unable to make any headway. That regiment attacked to seize the commanding terrain west of Oroku village repeatedly throughout the day, but was unable to find a way to overcome the series of small, mutually supporting hill positions that comprised the defense system here.
Undoubtedly aware that his end and that of the Oroku garrison force was not far distant, Admiral Ota had sent the following communique to his superiors in Tokyo on 6 June:
More than two months have passed since we engaged the invaders. In complete unity and harmony with the Army, we have made every effort to crush the enemy. Despite our efforts the battle is going against us. My own troops are at a disadvantage since all available heavy guns and four crack battalions of naval landing forces were allocated to Army command. Also, enemy equipment is superior to our own.
I tender herewith my deepest apology to the Emperor for my failure to better defend the Empire, the grave task with which I was entrusted.
The troops under my command have fought gallantly, in the finest tradition of the Japanese Navy. Fierce bombing and bombardments may deform the mountains of Okinawa but cannot alter the loyal spirit of our men. We hope and pray for the perpetuation of the Empire and gladly give our lives for that goal.
To the Navy Minister and all my superior officers I tender sincerest appreciation and gratitude for their kindness of many years. At the same time, I earnestly beg you to give thoughtful consideration to the families of my men who fall at this outpost as soldiers of the Emperor.
With my officers and me I give three cheers for the Emperor and pray for the everlasting peace of the Empire.
Though my body decay in remote Okinawa,
My spirit will persist in defense of the homeland.
Four days after the transmission of the above, Admiral Ota released his last dispatch to his immediate commander, General Ushijima:
Enemy tank groups are now attacking our cave headquarters. The Naval Base Force is dying gloriously at this moment. . . . We are grateful for your past kindnesses and pray for the success of the Army.58
Marine artillerymen killed or dispersed a group of Japanese soldiers attempting to break out of their entrapment during the night 11-12 June,59 and the 22d Marines dispatched 51 of the enemy attempting to infiltrate the regimental line. Obvious signs of a break in the enemy's stubborn and well-coordinated defense appeared on 12 June, when the 4th and 29th Marines compressed an already compact enemy pocket west of Tomigusuki, while the 22d pressed to the north in the direction of Oroku village. (See Map 20.)
The 4th Marines advanced slowly under heavy machine gun fire from positions in the hills and draws surrounding Hill 62 and from well-concealed caves on the hill itself. At 1225, the hill was captured and the attack continued with the Marines systematically cleaning out all pockets of resistance as they advanced. Three hours later, 3/4 tied in
Map 20: Battle for Oroku Peninsula, 12-14 June Progress
with the 22d Marines for the night, 500 yards from Naha Bay and with only one more large hill to be seized. The same day, the 29th Marines
cracked open the firm enemy defenses that had held it up for almost a week. Oroku village was cleaned out by 2/29, as 1/29 began the first in a series of coordinated attacks at dawn to neutralize the enemy's mutually supported positions west of Oroku.60 By late afternoon, Easy Hill--the last Japanese strongpoint in the zone of the 29th Marines--was taken. Having lost this key terrain feature, enemy troops were forced to flee to the alluvial flatlands along the river coast between Hill 53 and Oroku. At this time, they "began displaying flags of surrender. Language officers equipped with loudspeaker systems were dispatched to the front line areas to assist in the surrender of those Japanese who desired to [do so]. The attempt was partially successful, 86 enemy soldiers voluntarily laid down their arms."61
The 6th Division made a final sweep of the remaining Japanese-held area with 3/29, which relieved the 1st Battalion, and 2/29 jumping off to destroy all enemy still existing in their zone. Advancing rapidly to the southeast, the 29th Marines battalions swept past the 1st and 2d Battalions of the 4th Marines, pinching them out of the line; 3/4 also raced to the beach. As they approached the river flats, the attackers formed into skirmish lines, flushing the routed Japanese from the marshy grasslands along the river bank. A number of enemy soldiers gave themselves up, some committed suicide, others fought to the bitter end, and a few stoically awaited their deaths.
During the liquidation of this pocket, Colonel John C. McQueen, 6th Marine Division Chief of Staff, and Colonel Roy N. Hillyer, Tenth Army Chaplain, viewed the fighting from the north shore of the Naha Estuary at a point approximately 1,000 yards across the water from Oroku. "They saw the Marines come up over the high ground from the south and close in on the Japanese . . . The last survivor was a Japanese officer who calmly walked over to the seawall, sat down, lit a cigarette, and waited for the Marines to kill him."62
Marine assault troops reached the seawall at noon and spent the rest of the day ferreting out small enemy groups attempting to evade death or capture by hiding in the cane fields and rice paddies near the river. At 1750, General Shepherd reported to General Geiger that all organized resistance on Oroku Peninsula had ended.63 During the day, 6th Division troops had killed 861 enemy soldiers and captured 78 prisoners.64
The 6th Reconnaissance Company received orders at noon on 13 June to seize troublesome Senaga Shima--the island that had been scouted the night of 10 June--at 0500 on 14 June. To accomplish the task, a company from 1/29 was attached. For four days preceding the assault, the island had been subjected
to a heavy and continuous bombardment. At the scheduled time, the LVT(A)-borne attack was launched and proceeded according to plan. There was no resistance to the landing. As the reconnaissance Marines combed the island, they found only dead bodies and silenced guns--all victims of the intense prelanding preparation.
The battle of Oroku ended on 14 June. General Shepherd noted that:
The ten-day battle was a bitter one, from its inception to the destruction of the last organized resistance. The enemy had taken full advantage of the terrain which adapted itself extraordinarily well to a deliberate defense in depth. The rugged coral outcropping and the many small precipitous hills had obviously been organized for defense over a long period of time. Cave and tunnel systems of a most elaborate nature had been cut into each terrain feature of importance, and heavy weapons were sited for defense against attack from any direction.
Despite the powerful converging attack of three regiments, the advance was slow, laborious, and bitterly opposed. The capture of each defensive locality was a problem in itself, involving carefully thought out planning and painstaking execution. During ten days' fighting, almost 5,000 Japanese were killed and nearly 200 taken prisoner. Thirty of our tanks were disabled, many by mines. One tank was destroyed by two direct hits from an 8" naval gun fired at point blank range. Finally, 1,608 Marines were killed or wounded.65
A most noteworthy aspect of the Oroku operation was the ability of the Tenth Army to exploit the amphibious capability of one of its Marine divisions during a critical phase of the Okinawa campaign despite the extremely limited time available for assault preparations. Overcoming most obstacles and discounting others, the 6th Marine Division planned and launched an amphibious assault within the 36-hour period allotted to it.66 In an after-action analysis of the operation, General Shepherd stated that "with trained troops and competent staffs in all echelons, the amphibious landing of a division is not of excessive complexity."67
Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (II-8) * Next Chapter (II-10)
1. Unless otherwise noted, the material in this section is derived from: Okinawa Operations Record; Yahara Interrogation; Shimada Interrogation.
2. Okinawa Operations Record, p. 111.
3. Dake means peak.
4. Okinawa Operations Record, p. 116.
5. "Interrogation of Superior Pvt, 5th Co, 22d IIB, POW Interrogation Rpt No. 54," in 1st MarDiv G-2 PeriodicRpt No. 63, dtd 3Jun45.
6. "Matters for the Attention of Unit Commanders During the Change in the Direction of Advance, n.d.," Translation No. 85, in 1st MarDiv G-2 PeriodicRpt No. 64, dtd 6Jun45.
7. Unless otherwise indicated, the material in this section is derived from: Tenth Army AR; IIIAC AR; XXIV Corps AR; TAF AR; 1st MarDiv SAR; 6th MarDiv SAR, Ph III; 7th Inf Div AR; 77th Inf Div OpRpt, Okinawa; 96th InfDiv AR; 1st Mar SAR; 4th Mar SAR, Ph III; 5th Mar SAR; 7th Mar SAR; 22d Mar SAR, Ph III; 29th Mar SAR, Ph III.
8. VMTB-232 WarD, May 45.
10. CTF 31 AR, pt III, p. 41.
11. Effective at 1200 on 31 May, the 77th Division was pinched out of the line when the direction of its attack and that of the 96th Division was oriented towards the corps boundary below Shuri. The 77th moved to an assembly area in the rear on the next day, and its 305th Infantry was taken out of division reserve to cover the right rear of the corps advance. The yth Division was assigned the zone below the Naha-Yonabaru valley and including the Chinen Peninsula, also on the 30th.
12. 3/1 SAR, pp. 35-36.
13. Ibid., p. 36.
14. This emergency ration, officially described as "Ration, Field K," was packed in a lightweight, compact, wax-wrapped cardboard container measuring 7 inches by 3
5/8 inches by approximately 2 inches. This unit could be easily carried in either a haversack or field pack. For variety, there were three different types of units or components--breakfast, dinner, and supper--furnishing about 3,750 calories for the three meals, The ration contained such items as biscuits, enriched chocolate bars, chewing gum, cigarettes, a packet of one of several types of beverage powder, and the main course--a canned protein food consisting of one of the following: chopped ham and egg, pork kand veal loaf, cheese, pork luncheon meat, or corned beef hash.
15. 6th MarDiv G-3 Jnl, Ph III, 30May45.
16. Okinawa Operations Record, p. 120.
17. 3/1 SAR, p. 38.
18. 1/5 SAR, p. 9.
19. Tenth Army G-3 Rpt No. 67, dtd 1Jun45.
20. CTF 31 AR, Pt III, pp. 44-45.
21. 6th MarDiv SAR, Ph III, p. 15.
22. 6th MarDiv G-3 Jnl, Ph III, 1Jun45.
24. 7th Mar Hist, p. 21.
25. 6th MarDiv SAR, Ph III, p. 16
26. At the beginning of the campaign, the 4th and 9th Amphibian Tractor Battalions with a total of 205 LVTs were attached to the 6th Marine Division. Added to those in the 1st and 8th Battalions attached to the 1st Marine Division, the total number of LVTs available to IIIAC was 421. IIIAC AR, chap VII, p. 101. The resupply of spare parts for LVTs was totally inadequate, especially in the case of such vitally needed basic items as tracks, track suspension system parts, front drive assemblies, and transmission parts. The lack of all of these deadlined a good many LVTs and severely limited the amount of support they could have provided during the drive to the south and in the Oroku landing. At the end of the campaign, 75 LVTs had been completely destroyed as a result of enemy action, or, having been badly damaged, they were cannibalized for spare parts. Of the 346 vehicles remaining, 200 were deadlined for lack of spare parts. Ibid., p. 102.
27. Smith, Personal Narrative, p. 126.
28. 6th MarDiv SAR, Ph III, p. 16.
29. 2/5 SAR, p. 16.
30. VMTB-232 WarD, Jun45.
31. Unless otherwise noted, the material in this section is derived from: 6th MarDiv SAR, Ph III; 6th MarDiv Jnl, Ph III; 4th Mar SAR, Ph III; 22d Mar SAR, Ph III; 29th Mar SAR, Ph III.
32. 6th MarDiv SAR, Ph III, p. 16.
33. Ibid., p. 17
34. 6th TkBn SAR, Ph III, p. 15.
35. 3/4 SAR, Ph III, p. 5.
36. See Bartley, Iwo Jima, pp. 13, 13n.
37. 3/29 SAR, Ph III, p. 4; 34 SAR, Ph III, p. 6.
39. 6th TkBn SAR, Ph III, p. 16.
40. 4th Mar SAR, Ph III, p. 9.
42. 1/4 SAR, Ph III, p. 5, Literally translated, "mura" means township, or in this case prefecture; Oroku Mura referred to the political subdivision in which the peninsula resided. The naming of this village was a matter of happenstance since the map designation OROKU MURA was printed directly above the village's location on the map.
43. 4th Mar SAR, Ph III, p. 9.
44. 3/4 SAR, Ph III, p. 6.
45. 6th MarDiv Jnl, Ph III, 5Jun45.
46. 29th Mar SAR, Ph III, p. 8.
47. 3/4 SAR, Ph III, p. 6.
48. 6th TkBn SARI Ph III, p. 16.
49. 3/29 SAR, Ph III, p. 5.
50. 3/22 SAR, Ph III, pp. 8-9.
51. 3/4 SAR, Ph III, p. 7.
52. 4th MarDiv SAR, Ph III, p. 12.
53. 1/4 SAR, Ph III, p. 6; "The gun seemed as surprised by the arrival "of the tanks as the tanks by fire from the gun, because it fired only HE [High Explosive projectiles] and no AP [Armor Piercing] and the tanks were able to get to cover without loss." Maj John R. Kerman ltr to CMC, dtd 7Jan48, hereafter Kerman ltr.
55. 22d Mar SAR, Ph III, p. 12.
56. "As the three regiments came closer together, it became dangerous and finally impossible to use even 60mm mortars, and some casualties were incurred from friendly fire on both flanks." Bergren ltr.
57. Inoguchi, Nakajima, and Pineau, Divine Wind, p. 147.
58. Okinawa Operations Record, p. 126.
59. IIIAC Arty AR, p. 30.
60. After the 29th Marines first attack on 12 June, the last company of the 3d Battalion still on the line was squeezed out and passed to 1/29 as reserve. 3/29 SAR, Ph III, p. 5.
61. 6th MarDiv SAR, Ph III, p. 21.
62. Smith, Personal Narrative, p. 127.
63. 6th MarDiv Jnl, Ph III, 13Jun45.
64. Ibid.; 6th MarDiv SAR, Ph III, p. 21.
65. Ibid., p. 22.
66. Shepherd memo II.
67. 6th MarDiv SAR, Ph III, p. 60.