Chapter III-1
Future Operations

Following its participation in the sweep of the southern portion of Okinawa in June, on 2 July IIIAC was released from taking part in further mop-up activities. Thereafter, corps units not already in the process of doing so, moved to rehabilitation areas that were either on the island or at bases elsewhere in the Pacific.

IIIAC was detached from Tenth Army and came under the operational control of FMFPac on 15 July, the same day that the corps CP closed on Okinawa and opened on Guam.1 During the period 13-18 July, Corps Troops, less the 1st Armored Amphibian Battalion, a portion of IIIAC Signal Battalion, and a small detachment from the IIIAC staff redeployed to Guam. General Shepherd's 6th Marine Division had begun the move to Guam on 4 July and completed it on the 11th. The 8th Marines (Reinforced) had left Okinawa on the first of the month and by 12 July the whole of the regiment and its reinforcements had rejoined the 2d Marine Division on Saipan. IIIAC Corps Artillery and the 1st Marine Division remained on Okinawa and set up rehabilitation camps on Motobu Peninsula.

About a thousand of General del Valle's 1st Division Marines had been sent to Motobu during the last week of June to begin building campsites for the rest of the division, which had remained in southern Okinawa until the early part of July, when the new camp areas were ready for occupancy. Between 1 and 15 July, some troops and light equipment were moved overland to Motobu; heavy equipment was moved over a water route by way of Oroku in the same period. On the 20th General del Valle opened his CP at the Motobu camp area.2

Originally, the division was to have been rehabilitated in the Hawaiian Islands and a number of units of the rear echelon, which had remained on Pavuvu, had embarked for the new rest area before the Okinawa campaign was over; a few had actually arrived in Hawaii before the remainder was diverted to Okinawa. When the rumor that the division would remain on Okinawa and build its own bivouac area was confirmed, "there was outright dismay and discouragement in high and low ranks."3 Of the six Marine divisions,


the 1st had been away from civilization and in the Pacific for the longest period. As the troops began the displacement to the north:

. . . the feeling of persecution had begun to go through its classic transformation. 'Well, dammit,' said one man above the rumble of the truck, 'if they can dish it out, I can take it !'

And as he straightened the straps of his pack and turned to look out toward the sea, there were grunts of belligerent agreement behind him.4

Even while IIIAC Marines took a breather before preparations for the final operation of the war, the size of the Corps continued to grow. Marine Corps strength on 30 June 1945 was 476,709 men and women, nearly a seventeen-fold increase over the size of the Corps in July 1940.5 Over half of the Marines represented by the 1945 total were serving overseas, most of them in the Pacific; 184,800 alone were in FMF ground units. By June, final plans had been initiated to commit them and other forces in the massive assault against Japan.


While en route to Hawaii from Iwo Jima, General Harry Schmidt's VAC was ordered by CinCPac to begin planning for Phase III(c) of Operation ICEBERG, the invasion of Miyako Jima in the Sakishima Gunto, southwest of Okinawa. The VAC command post opened on Maui on 29 March, and on the next day its staff officers flew to Pearl Harbor for a conference at FMFPac headquarters concerning future VAC operations, primarily the Miyako Jima landing. Following their return from Iwo Jima to rest camps on Guam and in the Hawaiian Islands, the 3d, 4th, and 5th Marine Divisions began a period of rehabilitation and filled in their depleted ranks with replacements. Some replacement drafts that had been slated to restore VAC infantry regiments to full strength were diverted to Okinawa, where there was an even greater need for fresh troops. Within a short period of time, other replacements arrived, however, and the three VAC divisions were steadily built up.

When the Iwo Jima veterans were rested and most infantry regiments were again near-T/O strength, General Schmidt's three divisions embarked upon an extensive training program based upon a VAC schedule for the period 23 April to 1 July. By 1 July, all VAC units were to be ready for "amphibious operations involving opposed landings on hostile shores. . . ." 7 Despite the cancellation on 26 April of the Sakishima Gunto operations,8 VAC adhered to the 1 July readiness date, and its divisions keyed their preparations to the requirements of Operation LONGTOM, which directed assault landings


on the China coast south of Shanghai. The FMFPac warning order issued VAC gave a target date of 20 August, and also said that should this operation be cancelled, another would take place at some date after October.

As reflected in the CinCPOA Joint Staff Study LONGTOM, issued on 27 February 1945,9 Admiral Nimitz' planners assumed that ICEBERG had been completed, Luzon had been captured, and that necessary service forces would be made available for LONGTOM from the United States or sources outside of the Pacific Ocean Areas. The purposes of LONGTOM were "to intensify air attacks against Japan" and "to seize approaches to increase the effectiveness of the blockade against Japan. . . ."10 The assault forces assigned to LONGTOM consisted of three Marine divisions in VAC, three Army infantry divisions in IX Corps, and two Army parachute regiments. Once their objective was captured, a garrison air force consisting of three Marine aircraft groups, two Army Air Forces medium bombardment groups, and other naval and Marine aviation organizations would be established. On 16 May, CinCPac assigned VAC the duty of developing plans for a future operation based on a Joint Staff study; on 27 May CinCPac informed all of the commands concerned that the JCS had ordered Operation OLYMPIC--the invasion of southern Kyushu--executed on 1 November 1945, and consequently LONGTOM was deferred for an indefinite period. It was finally cancelled. On 31 May, CinCPac ordered General Schmidt to report by dispatch to the Commanding General, Sixth Army, for purposes of planning for a future operation--OLYMPIC.

The many changes in strategic planning during the final year of the war with Japan, and particularly in the last six months, reflected the constantly changing aspects of the conflict itself during those 12 months. None of the adjustments that were made, however, deflected from the aims of the Cairo Declaration of 1943, in which the Allies stated their determination to end the war by forcing Japan to surrender unconditionally. At the various major conferences and in their innumerable meetings, the wartime heads of government and the Combined Chiefs of Staff were faced with the problem of deciding just how Japan was to be defeated.

Events during the winter of 1944 and spring of 1945 provided a variety of indications of the course that the war might take in the Pacific in the summer of 1945. The atomic bomb project was near completion but its future was uncertain. It seemed possible that Russia would enter the Pacific battle because Stalin had committed his country to this action at the Yalta Conference in February 1945, but this matter was equally uncertain. Although the successful invasion of Luzon had undoubtedly made the collapse of Japan that much more imminent, American planners were faced with the urgent requirement of deciding the strategy by which the enemy was to be brought to his knees. Two of many alternatives particularly favored by the JCS were: first, to rush the defeat of the Japanese by continuing and intensifying the


existing blockade and bombardment of the Home Islands, and, second, to invade Japan and force the enemy to capitulate when he was left with no other resource. Actually, these two concepts were not so much alternatives as they were parallel steps by which the Allies planned the defeat of Japan.

In July 1944, the JCS had submitted a proposed revision of the SEXTANT timetable of operations against Japan to the Combined Chiefs of Staff for consideration at the OCTAGON Conference to be held at Quebec in September.11 The American leaders had based their recommendations on one concept, among others, that envisioned an invasion into the industrial heart of Japan following the capture of Formosa. The JCS stated:

While it may be possible to defeat Japan by sustained aerial bombardment and the destruction of her sea and air forces, this would probably involve an unacceptable delay.12

The JCS recommendations were accepted at OCTAGON, where the Combined Chiefs approved for planning purposes a new schedule of operations for 1945; Kyushu was to be invaded in October and the Tokyo' Plain in December.13

The Navy view of an invasion of Japan has been stated succinctly by Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, Chief of Staff to Presidents Roosevelt and Truman, who wrote of the Quebec Conference:

. . . here the coming Battle of Japan was at the top of the agenda. Nothing had happened to alter my conviction that the United States could bring about the surrender of Japan without a costly invasion of the home islands . . . although the Army believed such an offensive necessary to insure victory .14

Leahy never was in agreement with the proposition that an invasion of Japan was a prerequisite to a final Allied victory, reasoning that:

A large part of the Japanese Navy was already on the bottom of the sea. The same was true of Japanese shipping. There was every indication that our Navy would soon have the rest of Tokyo's warships sunk or out of action. The combined Navy surface and air force action by this time had forced Japan into a position that made her early surrender inevitable. None of us then knew the potentialities of the atomic bomb, but it was my opinion, and I urged it strongly in the Joint Chiefs, that no major land invasion of the Japanese mainland was necessary to win the war.15

Leahy credits the early pressure for an invasion of Japan to the Army, which:

. . . did not appear to be able to understand that the Navy, with some Army air assistance, already had defeated Japan. The Army not only was planning a huge land invasion of Japan, but was convinced that we needed Russian assistance as well to bring the war against Japan to a successful conclusion.


It did not appear to me that under the then existing conditions there was any necessity for the great expenditure of life involved in a ground force attack on the numerically superior Japanese Army in its home territory. My conclusion, with which the naval representatives [on JCS and JCS planning staffs] agreed, was that America's least expensive course of action was to continue and intensify the air and sea blockade and at the same time to occupy the Philippines.

I believed that a completely blockaded Japan would then fall by its own weight. Consensus of opinion of the Chiefs of Staff supported this proposed strategy, and President Roosevelt approved.16

Leaders of the Army Air Forces took the Navy view that the Japanese could be forced to surrender--without an invasion of the Home Islands--under the "persuasive powers of the aerial attack and the blockade."17 It appeared that other military planners, however, ". . . while not discounting the possibility of a sudden collapse, believed that such a cheap victory was not probable, at least within the eighteen months allotted in the planning tables" established in the revised strategy agreed upon at OCTAGON.18 In the end, the concept that an invasion was necessary prevailed and vigorous efforts were applied in planning and preparing for it.

As the basic directive ordering the invasion of Japan took shape, it became obvious that the command relationship established between MacArthur and Nimitz in the Pacific in 1942 needed revision, Recognizing this need, the JCS designated MacArthur Commander in Chief, Army Forces in the Pacific (CinCAFPac) on 3 April 1945 and gave him control of all Army units in the Pacific except those in the North and Southeast Pacific Areas. This new appointment was in addition to the position he held as commander of SWPA. Admiral Nimitz was to retain his position and title as CinCPac-CinCPOA, and would have under his control all naval resources in the Pacific with the exception of those in the Southeast Pacific. The Twentieth Air Force, with its B-29s based in the China-Burma-India Theater as well as in the areas controlled by Nimitz and MacArthur, was to be subject to the requirements of both commanders under the new setup, but would remain under the direction of the JCS.19 In addition, the directive stipulated that the JCS would issue directions for future operations, assign missions, and fix the command responsibility for major operations and campaigns. The JCS also stated that hereafter MacArthur would be responsible for the conduct of land campaigns and Nimitz for naval operations.

On the same day that this directive went out to the Pacific commanders, the JCS sent them another operational directive which among other things, instructed


Nimitz to continue and complete the Ryukyus operations in accordance with his earlier orders. Included in this followup message was the provision that the two theater commanders would continue to command forces of the other services then allotted to them and would not transfer these forces except by mutual consent or by order of the JCS. MacArthur was directed to complete the liberation of the Philippines, to plan to occupy North Borneo, and to provide Army forces needed by Nimitz. Both MacArthur and Nimitz were to make plans for the invasion of Japan, cooperating with each other in the task.20

On 30 April, Admiral King proposed to the JCS that they issue the order for the land-sea-air assault of Kyushu.21 Less than a month later, on 25 May, the JCS issued the order setting forth the provisions for Operation OLYMPIC and assigned a target date of 1 November 1945 for the invasion.22

This document presupposed that Japan would be forced to surrender unconditionally as the Allies lowered both its will and its ability to resist, and as the Allies later seized objectives in the industrial heartland of Honshu. The defeat of Japan would be accomplished in two steps. The first, OLYMPIC, was the invasion of Kyushu on 1 November, which was designed to isolate this southernmost island of the Japanese chain, destroy the enemy forces there, and capture the airfields and bases required to support the second step, Operation CORONET--the invasion of Honshu, tentatively set for March 1946.

At a series of White House conferences following the issuance of the 25 May directive, its contents were discussed but not altered appreciably. The JCS determined at their 14 June meeting that, pending the approval of President Truman, the invasion and seizure of objectives in the Home Islands would constitute the major effort in OLYMPIC and that no other operations would be considered if they did not contribute substantially to the success of the Kyushu landings. On the other hand, the JCS agreed that while preparations for the invasion were taking place, aerial and naval blockades and bombardments of Japan were "to be maintained with all possible vigor."23

In their meeting with the President on 18 June, both Marshall and King strongly recommended an invasion of Kyushu at the earliest possible date. Admiral King had evidently modified his preference for an invasion of the China coast in the vicinity of Amoy, and decided to go along with Marshall in recommending the landings on Kyushu.24 In accepting Marshall's views, King noted that the more he had studied the matter, the more he was impressed with the strategic location of Kyushu, whose capture he deemed a necessary prerequisite to any siege operations against the rest of Japan.25


Despite his concurrence in the plans for the Kyushu landings, King retained his earlier belief that Japan could be defeated by the sea-air power combination and without the necessity of invasion. He was fully aware of the fact that planning for an amphibious operation was a slow and painstaking process, and posed no objection to the preparation of contingency plans for the invasions of Kyushu and the Tokyo Plain. It was apparently for this reason that in June 1945 he joined in the majority decision of the JCS "to make plans for the invasion and seizure of objectives in the Japanese home islands without sharing the Army conviction that such operations were necessary."26

Marshall advanced the opinion that OLYMPIC "would not cost us more than 63,000 casualties of the 193,000 combatant troops estimated as necessary for the operation."27 After hearing all arguments and absorbing the estimates, President Truman approved the Kyushu operation, but withheld his approval of a general invasion of Japan for consideration at a later date. He also said that he was in complete favor with any plan that would defeat the enemy with the smallest loss possible of American lives. "It wasn't a matter of dollars. It might require more time--and more dollars--if we did not invade Japan. But it would cost fewer lives."28 On 29 June, the JCS met again to prepare the military agenda for the impending Potsdam Conference, and firmly set 1 November as the date for OLYMPIC.29

The JCS charged General of the Army MacArthur,30 in his capacity as CinCAFPac/CinCSWPA, with the primary responsibility for conducting Operation OLYMPIC including control, in case of exigencies, of the actual amphibious assault through the appropriate naval commander. In addition, MacArthur was to make plans and preparations for continuing the campaign in Japan and to cooperate with Fleet Admiral Nimitz in planning and preparing for the naval and amphibious phases of this aspect of OLYMPIC.

On his part, CinCPac was responsible for the conduct of the naval and amphibious phases of OLYMPIC, subject to the JCS-imposed provision concerning exigencies. Nimitz was required to correlate with and assist MacArthur in the preparation and planning for the campaign in Japan and its conduct. The JCS directive of 25 May enjoined both senior commanders to remember that "The land campaign and requirements . . . are primary in the OLYMPIC Operation. Account of this will be taken in the preparation, coordination and execution of plans."31

Prior to publication of this JCS order, representatives of MacArthur and Nimitz had met in Manila on 16 May 1945 to


discuss OLYMPIC plans and preparations. Especially, they were to establish for the record a set of principles or division of responsibilities that would govern whatever action would be taken by either commander or his deputies in organizing for the invasion of Japan. Primarily, these principles concerned impending and future deployments, attachments and detachments from both commands, and logistical plans and troop buildup tasks charged to each commander.32 Upon mutual agreement of these coordinating decisions and after the publication of the JCS implementing order for OLYMPIC, the stage was fairly well set for the moves that would lead to the invasion itself.

Assigned to conduct the Kyushu landings was General Walter Krueger, USA, and his Sixth Army. The following units comprised the OLYMPIC assault force: I Corps, V Amphibious Corps, IX Corps, XI Corps, 40th Infantry Division, 11th Airborne Division, 158th Regimental Combat Team, Sixth Army Troops, and Army Service Command OLYMPIC. Including the personnel in aviation and follow-up echelons, a total of 815,548 troops was to participate in the operation.33

The fast carrier task groups of Admiral Halsey's Third Fleet were to provide strategic support for the landings while Admiral Spruance's Fifth Fleet conducted the operations immediately concerned with the seizure and occupation of beaches in southern Kyushu.34 Quite simply, the overall OLYMPIC scheme of maneuver called for three of the four corps assigned to the Sixth Army to make separate landings on the east and west coasts of the southern tip of Kyushu on 1 November, X-Day. (See Map 24.) The fourth corps would not land until at least X plus 3; it was to prepare to make a contingent landing or to reinforce other landing forces on order. After they had captured the beachheads, the landing forces were to fan out, link up, and drive northward to form a line from Sendai to Tsuno. After this deployment had been accomplished, further operations were to be based on expediency influenced by the course of events.35 Because the primary objectives of OLYMPIC forces were airfields and sites for the establishment of bases to be used for staging and mounting CORONET, the conquest of the entire island of Kyushu did not appear necessary. On the other hand, because plans for the conduct of the campaign after the establishment of the Sendai-Tsuno line were fluid, the possibility that all of Kyushu could or should be captured was not excluded.

The most critical part of the amphibious phase of OLYMPIC, aside from the


Map 24: Scheme of Maneuver, Operation Olympic
Map 24: Scheme of Maneuver--Operation OLYMPIC


assault itself, was thought to be the capture of Kagoshima, near the southwestern tip of Kyushu. The importance of this objective lay in the fact that the American planners had selected enormous Kagoshima Bay to become the primary port through which troops and supplies intended for the buildup of CORONET would pass. In addition, Kagoshima and its landlocked bay were to serve as an advanced naval base.

The Kyushu landings were not expected to be easy, for all intelligence estimates had predicted that the island would be heavily defended. Japanese strength on Kyushu was placed at 450,000 troops, of whom nearly half were deployed south of a line between Minamata and Nobeoka. Intelligence agencies believed that another three or four divisions were in the northernmost portion of the island and available as reinforcements, and that other troops could be brought over from Honshu. OLYMPIC planners did not expect that this reinforcement would be a factor to be concerned with, since the enemy would undoubtedly be reluctant to release any of the forces needed on Honshu to defend against future landings there. The Americans also expected that the Japanese would exploit the complex mountainous terrain inland of Kyushu and build formidable defenses to be held by the existing garrison force.

Besides the resistance anticipated from Japanese ground forces, OLYMPIC intelligence estimates indicated that the enemy had approximately 5,000 Kamikaze planes and pilots available with which to attack the landing forces. Although most of the Special Attack squadrons, like a portion of the ground units, would be withheld for the defense of Honshu, 60 airfields-and 5 more under construction--had been spotted on Kyushu; 22 of these were located south of the Sendai-Tsuno line. The Japanese response to American air attacks on the Home Islands in the latter period of the Okinawa campaign and following its conclusion indicated that the enemy either did not have the available air strength or the will to fight, or that he lacked both. Another possibility was that Japan was husbanding its resources for a massive air attack on the anticipated American invasion forces. The reported Japanese air strength and the number of fields on which it was based led OLYMPIC planners to believe that enemy air posed a real threat to the landings. Reports of the presence of numerous suicide submarine and boat bases on the coasts of Kyushu led the Americans to expect trouble from these craft during the assault phase of the operation.

Admiral Spruance's Fifth Fleet, as composed for OLYMPIC, was the largest and most formidable array of its kind yet to appear in the Pacific war. It contained two groups of fast carriers, a gunfire support and covering force, an escort carrier force, and a composite force containing the Third, Fifth, and Seventh Amphibious Forces. This was the first time in the war that three amphibious forces had been assigned to a single operation. The Fifth Fleet also contained a minecraft group and a large assortment of service units.

Admiral Halsey's Third Fleet was comprised of the Second Carrier Task Force and the British Carrier Task Force as well as numerous supporting elements. First of the OLYMPIC forces


to go into action before the invasion, the Third Fleet was to make widespread attacks on all of the Home Islands in the period between 28 July and 23 October to destroy the Japanese air potential, interdict communications between Kyushu and Honshu, and to sink anything that was afloat. For 10 days in this preinvasion period, the British contingent would strike at the Hong Kong- Canton area. From X minus 14 to X minus 8, the Third Fleet would concentrate on targets in and around Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikoku to create a diversion and to isolate the scene of the impending invasion. On 23 October, aircraft from two of Halsey's carrier task groups were to join Fifth Fleet planes in a series of last-minute strikes against targets in the landing zone while the rest of the Third Fleet would continue to pound installations and targets of opportunity along the Japanese coastlines. When directed by CinCPac after X-Day, Halsey's two groups would be returned to the Third Fleet.36

Third Fleet aircraft were to operate generally east of a boundary drawn down Honshu to the eastern tip of Shikoku. Attacks west of that line and diversionary strikes along the China coast would be flown by the Far East Air Forces (which included the Fifth, Seventh, and Thirteenth Air Forces and the 2d Marine Aircraft Wing) commanded by General George C. Kenney from a forward CP established on Okinawa. In the period following X minus 10, FEAF was to cut communications between the target area and northern Kyushu. When the ground forces had seized the beachhead and had seized or built airfields inland, and when a sufficiently large garrison force had landed and was ready to maintain airfields and aircraft, Kenney would take over air support of the ground forces from the Navy.

Differing only in the size of the forces and the area involved, preinvasion operations would be conducted along the same successful patterns that had evolved from other Marine and Army landings in the Pacific. Because the invasion of Kerama Retto prior to that of Okinawa had demonstrated the value of obtaining a base on islands that were offshore of the major target, OLYMPIC plans provided for the seizure of Koshiki Retto and other small islands west of Kyushu on X minus 5 by the 40th Infantry Division. The OLYMPIC directive provided also for the capture of the northern portion of Tanegashima--south of Kyushu--by the 158th RCT on or after X minus 5 if Japanese guns on the island threatened minesweeping operations. If they did not, the RCT would land as a reinforcing element on X plus 3

Most of the Army troops assigned to land on X-Day would mount out of, rehearse, and stage in the Philippines; the Marines would hold rehearsals in the Marianas after their units mounted out of that area and the Hawaiian Islands. Because the assault forces were to land on three different and widely separated beaches, there were to be three different H-Hours.

At 0600 on X-Day, Admiral Turner's advance force, after conducting preinvasion operations was to be absorbed by Task Force 40, OLYMPIC Amphibious


Force, also commanded by Turner. At some time shortly thereafter,37 the three attack forces would land their landing forces.

The Third Attack Force (Third Amphibious Force, Vice Admiral Theodore S. Wilkinson) was to land XI Corps (lst Cavalry, 43d Infantry, and Americal Divisions) on the east coast of Kyushu on the beaches at the head of Ariake Wan in the Shibushi-Koshiwabaru area. After the consolidation of the beachhead and the capture of Shibushi and its airfield, XI Corps was to drive inland and to the north to make contact with I Corps. Upon establishing contact, the two corps, and VAC also, would form a line and advance northwards to establish the Sendai-Tsuno line. (See Map 24.)

North of the XI Corps beachhead, I Corps (25th, 33d, and 41st Infantry Divisions) was to be landed by the Seventh Attack Force (Seventh Amphibious Force, Vice Admiral Daniel E. Barbey) on beaches in the vicinity of Miyazaki to secure a beachhead in the Yamazaki-Matsuzaki area. I Corps was then to push inland and to the north together with XI Corps.

The third OLYMPIC landing, and the only one to be conducted on the west coast, was that of General Schmidt's VAC (2d, 3d, and 5th Marine Divisions), which was to be lifted to the target by the Fifth Attack Force (Fifth Amphibious Force, Vice Admiral Harry W. Hill). Following its seizure of the Kushikino-Kaminokawa beaches, the assault Marines would fan out to extend the beachhead to Sendai. In addition, VAC forces were to set up a line between Sendai and Kagoshima to block any Japanese drive down the west coast and the southwestern leg of Kyushu. After consolidating the beachhead, VAC would join the other two corps in the general drive to the north.

Besides the X-Day landings, OLYMPIC plans called for the reserve force, IX Corps (77th, 81st, and 98th Infantry Divisions), to land in the vicinity of Kaimon-Dake on X plus 3 or later, depending on the situation ashore. Once the whole of IX Corps had landed, it would clear the southwestern shore of Kagoshima Wan and prepare FEAF facilities and installations for other OLYMPIC garrison units. The 13 assault divisions of the OLYMPIC force would carry the full burden of the fighting until on or after X plus 22 (23 November), when the 11th Airborne Division, Sixth Army reserve afloat, was scheduled to be off Kyushu and ready to land. General Krueger's planners believed that, based on intelligence estimates of the size of the Japanese defense forces, Sixth Army combat strength would be superior to that of the enemy and would be able to advance to the Sendai-Tsuno line.

The war ended while CORONET was still in the planning stages and there was little material distributed on that operation. A broad outline had been drawn, however, which established that two armies, the Eighth and Tenth, numbering nine infantry and two armored divisions and three Marine Divisions of IIIAC, would land on the Pacific beaches of Honshu leading to the Kanto Plain-- between Choshi and Ichinomaya--in


March 1946. Immediately following the assault armies ashore would be the First Army, redeployed from Europe, with one airborne and ten infantry divisions. The primary objectives of CORONET were to crush Japanese resistance on the plain and to occupy the Tokyo-Yokohama area. If the accomplishment of these objectives did not force the enemy to surrender, the three armies were to fan out and secure the rest of the Home Islands. Ultimately, an air garrison equalling 50 groups was to support these final operations.

On 2 June 1945, shortly after receipt of the OLYMPIC plan, VAC reported to the commander of the Sixth Army for further orders in the impending Kyushu operation.38 Even before the actual operation order had been published, enough of the proposed plan had been known and made available to the assault forces to permit them to begin preparations for the landings. Planning and training for OLYMPIC on a division level continued through June and July. Because the tentative mission of the 5th Marine Division, for instance, originally called for it to be in either the assault or the reserve, General Bourke formed nine BLTs in his division and prepared each one to land at any stage of OLYMPIC. Division artillery and tanks also trained to land on short notice on any designated beach in the VAC target area and to operate under division control. During the summer, 5th Division BLTs rehearsed intensively and made many practice landings. Their training for operations inland stressed the assault of fortified positions, village and street fighting, and the removal of mines and demolitions.39

The 2d and 3d Marine Divisions also prepared vigorously, and like the 5th, rotated their combat veterans home when due, brought their regiments up to strength as they received replacement drafts, including many second-timers, and refurbished their equipment for OLYMPIC. While VAC prepared for this operation and IIIAC awaited its further orders, Marine carrier planes and pilots, along with the Third Fleet and FEAF squadrons, carried the war straight to the heart of the Empire.


Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (II-11) * Next Chapter (III-2)


1. IIIAC WarD, Jul45. On 30 June, Major General Keller E. Rockey took over as commander of IIIAC, relieving General Geiger, who shortly thereafter relieved Lieutenant General Holland M. Smith, Commanding General, FMFPac. Brigadier General William A. Woreton relieved Brigadier General Merwin H. Silverthorn as IIIAC Chief of Staff. Ibid. On the 25th, Major General Thomas E. Bourke had relieved General Rockey as commanding general of the 5th Marine Division. VAC WarD, Jun45.

2. 1st MarDiv WarD, Jul45. Major General DeWitt Pecik assumed command of the division on 9 August, relieving General del Valle. Ibid., Aug45.

3. McMillan, The Old Breed, p. 424.

4. Ibid.

5. CMC Rpt, 1945.

6. Unless otherwise noted, the material in this section is derived from: CinCPac WarDs, Jan-Aug45 (OAB, NHD); USAFMidPac G-5 Hist; IIIAC WarDs, Jun-Aug45; VAC WarDs, Apr-Aug45; War Reports; McMillan, The Old Breed; Johnston, 2d MarDiv Hist; Aurthur and Cohlmia, 3d MarDiv Hist; Proehl, 4th MarDiv Hist; Conner, 5th MarDiv Hist; Cass, 6th MarDiv Hist.

7. VAC TrngO 1-45, dtd 15Apr45.

8. USAFMidPac G-5 Hist, p. 257.

9. Ibid., p. 263.

10. Ibid.

11. conclusion. See pt I, chap 1, supra, for a discussion of Allied strategic planning in 1944.

12. CCS 417/3, 11Ju144, title: Over-All Objective in War Against Japan, cited in Cline, Washington Communal Post, p. 339.

13. CCS 417/8, 9Sep44, title: Op for Defeat of Japan; CCS 417/9, OCTAGON, 11Sep44, title: Over-all Objective in War Against Japan; Min 173d Meeting CCS, 13Sep44, all cited in Ibid.

14. FAdm William D. Leahy, I Was There (New York: Whittlesey House, 1950), p. 2, hereafter Leahy, I Was There.

15. Ibid., p. 245.

16. Ibid., p. 259.

17. Craven and Cate, Matterhorn to Nagasaki, p. 703.

18. Ibid.

19. JCS 1259/4, dtd 3Apr45, cited in ibid, p. 682; JCS msg to CinCSWPA, CinCPac, and CG, Twentieth AF, dtd 3Apr45 in ibid, and in LtCol Henry G. Morgan, Jr., "Planning the Defeat of Japan: A Study of Total War Strategy" (unpublished MS, OCMH), p. 152. The Twentieth was a strategic air force established in 1944 to operate under the direct control of the JCS. General H.H. Arnold, commanding the AAF, was the executive agent of the JCS to implement its directives concerning the deployment of the very-long-range bombers of the Twentieth.

20. JCS msg to CinCSWPA, CinCPac, and CG, Twentieth AF, dtd 3Apr45, cited in supra.

21. CominCh-CNO Memo to JCS, "Proposed Issue of 'OLYMPIC' Directive," dtd 30Apr45. (OAB, NHD)

22. JCS 1331/3, dtd 25May45, cited in Craven and Cate, Matterhorn to Nagasaki, p. 686.

23. King and Whitehill, King's Naval Record, p. 605.

24. Leahy, I Was There, p. 384.

25. King and Whitehill, op. cit., p. 606.

26. Ibid., p. 605n.

27. Leahy, op. cit., p. 384.

28. Ibid., p. 385.

29. King and Whitehill, op. cit. p. 606.

30. On 11 December 1944, Congress had authorized President Roosevelt to appoint four Fleet Admirals and four Generals of the Army. The President immediately named King, Leahy, and Nimitz to the naval five-star rank, and Marshall, MacArthur, Eisenhower, and Arnold to the corresponding Army grade. Halsey was named later as the fourth fleet admiral. bid., p. 582.

31. JCS 1331/3, dtd 25May45, cited in Craven and Cate, Matterhorn to Nagasaki, p. 686.

32. CinCPac WarD, May45.

33. Sixth Army FldO 74, dtd 28May45, Anx 3; CinCAFPac Staff Study--OLYMPIC Operations--Southern Kyushu, dtd 28May45.

34. CinCPac-CinCPOA Joint Staff Study Kyushu Island for OLYMPIC, Ser 0005081, dtd 18Jun45, App C. For OLYMPIC, the Third and Fifth Fleets, which previously had been alternative organizational titles for much the same groupment of ships, became separate entities.

35. A chief source, in addition to the OLYMPIC plan and the operation orders based on this plan, has been Drs. K. Jack Bauer and Alvin D. Coox, "Olympic vs Ketsu-Go," Marine Corps Gazette, v. 49, no. 8 (Aug65), p. 32 ff.

36. CinCPac OPlan 1E-45, dtd 8Aug45, p. 8 (OAB, NHD).

37. The exact time for the three major landings had not yet been determined when OLYMPIC planning ended.

38. CG, FMFPac ltr to CMC, dtd 13May46, encl A, Administrative History of FMFPac, p. 7.

39. Conner, 5th MarDiv Hist, p. 130.

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation