As conceived in Tenth Army plans, the object of the full-scale attack beginning on 11 May was to destroy the defenses guarding Shuri. In the end, this massive assault took the lives of thousands of men in two weeks of the bloodiest fighting experienced during the entire Okinawa campaign. For each frontline division, the struggle to overcome enemy troops on the major terrain feature in the path of its advance determined the nature of its battle. Facing the front of the 96th Infantry Division was Conical Hill; the 77th Division fought for Shuri itself. Marines of the 1st Division had to overcome Wana Draw, while Sugar Loaf Hill was the objective of the 6th Marine Division. (See Map V, Map Section.)
Reduction of the Shuri Bastion
BATTLE FOR SUGAR LOAF HILL1Sugar Loaf Hill was but one of three enemy positions in a triangularly shaped group of hills which made up the western anchor of the Japanese Shuri defense system. Sugar Loaf was the apex of the triangle, which faced north, its flanks and rear well covered by extensive cave and tunnel positions in Half Moon Hill to the southeast and the Horseshoe to the southwest. The three elements of this system were mutually supporting. In analyzing these defenses, the 6th Marine Division pointed out that:
. . . the sharp depression included within the Horseshoe afforded mortar positions that were almost inaccessible to any arm short of direct, aimed rifle fire and hand grenades. Any attempt to capture Sugar Loaf by flanking action from east or west is immediately exposed to flat trajectory fire from both of the supporting terrain features. Likewise, an attempt to reduce either the Horseshoe or the Half Moon would be exposed to destructive well-aimed fire from the Sugar Loaf itself. In addition, the three localities are connected by a network of tunnels and galleries, facilitating the covered movement of reserves. As a final factor in the strength of the position it will be seen that all sides of Sugar Loaf Hill are precipitous, and there are no evident avenues of approach into the hill mass. For strategic location and tactical strength it is hard to conceive of a more powerful position than the Sugar Loaf terrain afforded. Added to all the foregoing was the bitter fact that troops assaulting this position presented a clear target to enemy machine guns, mortars, and artillery emplaced on the Shuri heights to their left and left rear.2
Following its successful charge to seize the crest of Sugar Loaf, Major Courtney's small group had dug in. An unceasing enemy bombardment of the newly won position, as well as the first in a series of Japanese counterattacks to regain it, began almost immediately. At midnight, 14-15 May, there were sounds of enemy activity coming from the other
side of the crest, signifying an impending banzai charge to Courtney. He forestalled the charge by leading a grenade-throwing attack against the reverse slope defenders, in the course of which he was killed.
At 0230, only a handful of tired and wounded Marines remained on the top of Sugar Loaf, and Lieutenant Colonel Woodhouse ordered his reserve, Company K, to reinforce the depleted group. With the coming of dawn, the forces on Sugar Loaf had been reduced again by enemy action and fire, while 2/22 itself had been hit by numerous Japanese counterattacks and attempts at infiltration all along the battalion lines. At 0630, Company D of 2/29 was attached to the 22d Marines to help mop up the enemy in the rear of 2/22.
There were less than 25 Marines of Courtney's group and Company K remaining in the 2/22 position on Sugar Loaf when daylight came; at 0800, the seven survivors of the Courtney group were ordered off the hill by the battalion commander. Within a short time thereafter, the enemy launched another attack against the battered position. During the height of this attack, a reinforced platoon of Company D arrived on the hilltop and was thrown into the battle. Suffering heavy casualties while en route to the position, the Company D platoon was hit even harder by the charging Japanese as soon as it arrived at the top of the hill. At 1136, the few survivors of Company K and the 11 Marines remaining of the Company D platoon were withdrawn from Sugar Loaf. The Company D men rejoined their parent unit, which was manning a hastily constructed defensive line organized on the high ground just in front of Sugar Loaf.
The enemy counterattack was the beginning of a series which soon reached battalion-sized proportions, and which, by 0900, had spread over a 900-yard front extending into the zones of 1/22 and 3/29. An intensive naval gunfire, air, and artillery preparation for the division assault that morning temporarily halted the enemy attack, but it soon regained momentum. By 1315, however, the Japanese effort was spent, though not before the 22d Marines in the center of the division line had taken a terrific pounding. In an incessant mortar and artillery bombardment supporting the enemy counterattack, the battalion commander of 1/22, Major Thomas J. Myers, was killed, and all of his infantry company commanders--and the commander and executive officer of the tank company supporting the battalion--were wounded when the battalion observation post was hit.3
Major Earl J. Cook, 1/22 executive officer, immediately took over and reorganized the battalion. He sent Companies A and B to seize a hill forward of the battalion left flank. When in blocking positions on their objective--northwest of Sugar Loaf--the Marines could effectively blunt counterattacks expected to be mounted in this area. Because the possibility existed of a breakthrough in the zone of 2/22, the regimental commander moved Company
SUGAR LOAF HILL, western anchor of the Shuri defenses, seen from the north.
TANKS evacuate the wounded as the 29th Marines continue the attack on Sugar Loaf.
I of 3/22 into position to back up the 2d Battalion. At 1220, Lieutenant Colonel Woodhouse was notified that his exhausted battalion would be relieved by 3/22 as soon as possible, and would in turn take up the old 3d Battalion positions on the west coast along the banks of the Asato. The relief was effected at 1700 with Companies I and L placed on the front line, and Company K positioned slightly to the right rear of the other two. Company D, 2/29, reverted to parent control at this time.
During the ground fighting on the night of 14-15 May, naval support craft smashed an attempted Japanese landing in the 6th Division zone on the coast just north of the Asato Gawa. Foreseeing the possibility of future raids here, General Shepherd decided to strengthen his beach defenses. In addition to a 50-man augmentation from the regiment, 2/22 was also reinforced by the 6th Reconnaissance Company to bolster its night defenses. To further strengthen Lieutenant Colonel Woodhouse's command, he was given operational control of 2/4, which was still in corps reserve.
The objective of the 29th Marines on 15 May was the seizure of Half Moon Hill. The 1st and 3d Battalions encountered the same bitter and costly resistance in the fight throughout the day that marked the experience of the 22d Marines. A slow-paced advance was made under constant harassing fire form the Shuri Heights area. By later afternoon, 1/29 had reached the valley north of Half Moon and became engaged in a grenade duel with enemy defenders in reverse slope positions. Tanks supporting the Marine assault elements came under direct 150mm howitzer fire at this point. Several of the tanks were hit, but little damage resulted. At the end of the day, the lines of the 29th Marines were firmly linked with the 22d Marines on the right and the 1st Division on the left.
Facing the 6th Marine Division was the 15th Independent Mixed Regiment, whose ranks were now sadly depleted as a result of its unsuccessful counterattack and because of the advances of 1/22 and the 29th Marines. More than 585 Japanese dead were counted in the division zone, and it was estimated that an additional 446 of the enemy had been killed in the bombardments of supporting arms or sealed in caves during mopping-up operations.4 Expecting that the Americans would make an intensive effort to destroy his Sugar Loaf defenses, General Ushijima reinforced the 15th IMR with a makeshift infantry battalion comprised of service and support units from the 1st Specially Established Brigade.5
The success of the 6th Division attack plan for 16 May depended upon the seizure of Half Moon Hill by the 29th Marines. (See Map VI, Map Section.) Once 3/29 had seized the high ground east of Sugar Loaf, 3/22 was to make the major division effort and capture the hill fortress. Immediately after the attack was launched, assault elements on the regimental left flank encountered heavy fire and bitter opposition from enemy strongpoints guarding the objective. The 1st Battalion was spearheaded by a Company B platoon and its supporting armor. After the tank-infantry
teams had passed through the right flank to clear the reverse slope of the ridge held by Company C, devastating small arms, artillery, mortar, and antitank fire forced them to withdraw. The fury of this fire prevented Company C from advancing over the crest of the ridge and the other two platoons of Company B from moving more than 300 yards along the division boundary before they too were stopped by savage frontal and flanking fire.
The night defenses of the battalion remained virtually the same as the night before; however, the units were reorganized somewhat and their dispositions readjusted. At 1400 that afternoon, Lieutenant Colonel Jean W. Moreau, commander of 1/29, was evacuated after he was seriously wounded by an artillery shell which hit his battalion OP; Major Robert P. Neuffer assumed command.
Continuously exposed to heavy enemy artillery and mortar bombardment, 3/29 spent most of the morning moving into favorable positions for the attack on Half Moon. Following an intensive artillery and mortar preparation, tanks from Companies A and B of the 6th Tank Battalion emerged from the railroad cut northeast of Sugar Loaf and lumbered into the broad valley leading to Half Moon. While Company A tanks provided Company B with direct fire support from the slopes of hills just north of Sugar Loaf, the latter fired into reverse slope positions in the ridge opposite 1/29, and then directly supported the assault elements of the 3d Battalion.
At about the same time that their armor support appeared on the scene, Companies G and I attacked and quickly raced to and occupied the northern slope of Half Moon Hill against slight resistance. The picture changed drastically at 1500, however, when the Japanese launched a violent counteroffensive to push the Marines off these advanced positions even while they were attempting to dig in. The enemy poured machine gun, rifle, and mortar fire into the exposed flanks and rear of the Americans, who also were hit by a flurry of grenades thrown from caves and emplacements on the south, or reverse, slope of the hill. As evening approached, increasing intense enemy fire penetrated the smoke screen covering the digging-in operations of the troops and they were ordered to withdraw to their earlier jump-off positions to set in a night defense.
On the right of the division, when the 22d Marines attack was launched at 0830 on the 16th, assault elements of the 1st Battalion were immediately taken under continuous automatic weapons fire coming from the northern edge of the ruins of the town of Takamotoji, just as they were attempting to get into position to support the attack of 3/22. The fact that this previously quiet area now presented a bristling defense indicated that the Japanese had reinforced this sector to confound any American attempt to outflank Sugar Loaf from the direction of Naha. In the end, because of the criss-crossing fires coming from the village, Half Moon Hill, and the objective itself, the 3d Battalion was unable to fulfill its assignment.
The battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Malcolm "O" Donohoo, had planned to attack Sugar Loaf from the east once the flank of the attacking unit, Company I, was safeguarded by a successful 3/29 advance. Company L, 3/22,
was to support the attack by covering the south and east slopes of Sugar Loaf with fire, while 1/22, in turn, would take the high ground west of Sugar Loaf, where it would support the Company L movement by fire. The success or failure of the attack on the hill hinged on the success or failure of 3/29.
At 1500, despite the fact that 3/29 had not fully occupied the high ground, Company I moved out with its tank support and reached Sugar Loaf without serious opposition. Once the troops in the van attempted to gain the crest, however, they began receiving heavy enemy mortar and machine gun fire. In an effort to suppress this fire, the tanks began flanking the hill, but ran into a minefield where one tank was lost. Company I, nevertheless, gained the top of the hill at 1710 and began digging in. The situation was in doubt now, because both 1/22 and Company L were pinned down and 3/29 was forced to withdraw from Half Moon. Company I, therefore, was in an exposed position and its precarious hold on Sugar Loaf had become untenable. With both flanks exposed and its ranks depleted by numerous casualties, the company had to be pulled back from the hill under the cover of tire of both division and corps artillery. As 3/22 reorganized for night defense, enemy batteries bombarding the Marine lines wounded Lieutenant Colonel Donohoo, who was replaced by Major George B. Kantner, the battalion executive officer.
This day was categorized by the 6th Division as the "bitterest" of the Okinawa campaign, a day when "the regiments had attacked with all the effort at their command and had been unsuccessful."6 One infantry regiment, the 22d, had been so sorely punished that, in assessing his losses for the day, Colonel Schneider reported that the combat efficiency of his unit was down to 40 percent.7 Because the fighting of the preceding eight days had sapped the offensive capabilities of the 22d Marines and reduced the regiment to a point where its continued employment was inadvisable, it became apparent that the 29th Marines would have to assume the burden of taking Sugar Loaf. On 17 May, the regimental boundary was shifted west to include the redoubt in its zone and thereby lessen control problems in the attacks on both it and Half Moon.
In an effort to neutralize the seemingly impregnable Japanese defenses here, the attack of 17 May was preceded by an intensive bombardment of 29th Marines objectives by all available supporting arms. In this massive preparation were the destructive fires of 16-inch naval guns, 8-inch howitzers, and 1,000-pound bombs. Following this softening up, and spearheaded by a heavy and continual artillery barrage, the 29th Marines launched a tank-infantry attack with three battalions abreast. The 1st and 3d Battalions on the left had the mission of taking Half Moon, while 2/29, with Company E in assault, was to take Sugar Loaf.
Company E made three attempts to take its objective, and each proved costly and unsuccessful. The first effort, involving a wide flanking movement in which the railroad cut was utilized for cover, was stymied almost immediately when the troops surged onto open
ground. A close flanking attack around the left of the hill characterized the second effort, but the steep southeastern face of the height precluded a successful climb to the top. The axis of the attack was then reoriented to the northeast slope of Sugar Loaf, and the lead platoon began a difficult trek to the top, all the while under heavy mortar fire coming from covered positions on Half Moon. Three times the assaulting Marines reached the crest, only to be driven off by a combination of grenades and bayonet charges. Almost all fighting was at close range and hand-to-hand.
After quickly reorganizing for a fourth try, the now-fatigued and depleted company drove to the hilltop at 1830, when it was met again by a determined Japanese counterattack. This time, however, the Marines held, but heavy casualties and depleted ammunition supply forced the battalion commander to withdraw the survivors of the company from Sugar Loaf. Thus, the prize for which 160 men of Company E had been killed and wounded on that day fell forfeit to the Japanese. Some small sense of just retribution was felt by Company E Marines when the enemy foolishly and boldly attempted to reinforce Sugar Loaf at dusk by moving his troops to the hill along an uncovered route. Artillery observers immediately called down the fire of 12 battalions on the unprotected Japanese, decisively ending their reinforcement threat.
So well integrated were the enemy defenses on Half Moon and Sugar Loaf, capture of only one portion was meaningless; 6th Division Marines had to take them all simultaneously. If only one hill was seized without the others being neutralized or likewise captured, effective Japanese fire from the uncaptured position would force the Marines to withdraw from all. This, in effect, was why Sugar Loaf had not been breached before this, and why it was not taken on the 17th.
A combination of tank fire, flame, and demolitions had temporarily subdued the Japanese opposing the 1/29 approach on the 17th and enabled Companies A and C to advance swiftly across the valley and up the forward slopes of Half Moon. While Company C mopped up remaining enemy defenders, Company A renewed its attack across the valley floor and raced to the forward slopes of Half Moon. When Company B attempted to cross open ground to extend the battalion lines on the left, it was stopped cold by accurate fire coming from the hill, Sugar Loaf, and Shuri. At this time, the positions held by the exposed platoons of Company A became untenable. The battalion commander authorized their withdrawal to a defiladed area approximately 150 yards forward of their line of departure that morning.
By 1600, 3d Battalion companies had fought their way to Half Moon under continuous fire and begun digging in on the forward slope of the hill. They were not able to tie in with 1,/29 until 1840, two hours after Company F had been ordered forward to fill in the gap between the battalions. Following a crushing bombardment of these hastily established positions on Half Moon and the exposure of the right flank of 3/29 to direct and accurate fire from enemy-held Sugar Loaf, the entire battalion
was pulled back when Company A was withdrawn from its left. Strong positions were established for night defense--only 150 yards short of Half Moon. The gaps on either side of 3/29 were protected by interlocking lanes of fire established in coordination with 1/29 on its left flank and 2/29 on its right. On 18 May at 0946, less than an hour after the 29th Marines attacked, Sugar Loaf was again occupied by 6th Division troops. (See Map VII, Map Section.) The assault began with tanks attempting a double envelopment of this key position with little initial success. A combination of deadly AT fire and well-placed minefield quickly disabled six tanks. Despite this setback and increasingly accurate artillery fire, a company of medium tanks split up and managed to reach and occupy positions on either flank of Sugar Loaf, from which they could cover the reverse slopes of the hill.
In a tank-infantry assault, Company D, 2/29, gained the top of the heretofore- untenable position, and held it during a fierce grenade and mortar duel with the defenders. Almost immediately after subduing the enemy, the company charged over the crest of the hill and down its south slope to mop up and destroy emplacements there. Disregarding lethal mortar fire from Half Moon that blanketed Sugar Loaf, Company D dug in at 1300 as well as it could to consolidate and organize its newly won conquest.
All during the attempts to take Sugar Loaf and Half Moon, the enemy on Horseshoe Hill had poured down never-ending mortar and machine gun fire on the attacking Marines below. To destroy these positions, Company F was committed on the battalion right. Supported by fire from 1/22 on its right and Marines on Sugar Loaf, the company pressed forward to the ridge marking the lip of the Horseshoe ravine. Here it was stopped by a vicious grenade and mortar barrage coming from the deeply entrenched enemy. Because of this intense resistance, the company was forced to withdraw slightly to the forward slope of the ridge, where it established a strong night defense.
Implicit in the 6th Marine Division drive towards the Asato Gawa was a threatened breakthrough at Naha. To forestall this, General Ushijima moved four naval battalions to back up the 44th Independent Mixed Brigade. Few men in the rag-tag naval units were trained for land combat, much less combat at all, since the battalions were comprised of inexperienced service troops, civilian workers, and Okinawans who had been attached to Admiral Ota's Naval Base Force. The commander of the Thirty-second Army thought that the lack of training could be compensated in part by strongly arming the men with a generous allotment of automatic weapons taken from supply dumps on Oroku and the wrecked aircraft that dotted the peninsula's airfield.8
Despite their lack of combat experience, the naval force was to perform a three-fold mission with these weapons: back up the Sugar Loaf defense system, hold the hills northwest of the Kokuba River, and maintain the security of Shuri's western flank in the event that the defenses of the 44th IMB collapsed. The furious Japanese defense of the buffer zone stretching from the Naha estuary of the Kokuba to the western outskirts of the town of Shuri indicated their concern with the threat to the left flank of the Shuri positions.9
The coming of darkness on 18 May was not accompanied by any noticeable waning in the furious contest for possession of Sugar Loaf, a battle in which the combat efficiency of the 29th Marines had been so severely tested and drained. In the nearly nine days since the Tenth Army had first begun its major push, the 6th Marine Division had sustained 2,662 battle and 1,289 non-battle casualties,10 almost all in the ranks of the 22d and 29th Marines. It was patently obvious that an infusion of fresh blood into the division lines was a prerequisite for the attack to be continued with undiminished fervor. Accepting this fact, General Geiger released the 4th Marines to parent control effective at 0800 on 19 May, at which time General Shepherd placed the 29th Marines in division reserve, but subject to IIIAC control.
At 0300 on the morning of the scheduled relief, a strong Japanese counterattack hit the open right flank of Company F, 2/29, poised just below the lip of the Horseshoe depression. The fury of the enemy attack, combined with an excellently employed and heavy bombardment of white phosphorous shells, eventually forced the advance elements of Company F to withdraw to the northern slope of Sugar Loaf.11 At first light, relief of the three exhausted battalions of the 29th began, with 2/4 taking up positions on the left, 3/4 on the right.
Despite the difficult terrain, constant bombardment of the lines, and opposition from isolated enemy groups which had infiltrated the positions during the night, the relief was effected at 1430 at a cost to the 4th Marines of over 70 casualties--primarily from mortar and artillery fire. At approximately 1530, a counterattack was launched against 2/4, which then was in a precarious position on Half Moon Hill, on the division left flank. After nearly two hours of fighting, the attack was broken up. The advance Marine company was then withdrawn from its exposed point to an area about 150 yards to the rear, where the battalion could reinforce the regimental line after tying in with 3/5 and 3/4.
The area from which the attack had been launched against Company F, 2/29, was partially neutralized during the day by the 22d Marines. Under its new commander,
Colonel Harold C. Roberts,12 the regiment pushed its left flank forward 100-150 yards to the high ground on the left of Horseshoe. Disregarding heavy artillery and mortar fire as well as they could, the Marines dug in new positions which materially strengthened the division line.
After a night of this heavy and accurate enemy bombardment, the two assault battalions of the 4th Marines jumped off at 0800 on 20 May. Preceded by a thorough artillery preparation and supported by the 6th Tank Battalion, the 5th Provisional Rocket Detachment, and the Army 91st Chemical Mortar Company, the Marines moved rapidly ahead for 200 yards before they were slowed and then halted. The determined refusal of the Japanese infantry entrenched on Half Moon and Horseshoe Hills to yield, and fierce machine gun and artillery fire from hidden positions in the Shuri Hill mass, where enemy gunners could directly observe the Marine attack, blocked the advance.
It soon appeared as though the fight for Half Moon was going to duplicate the struggle for Sugar Loaf. To reinforce the 2/4 assault forces and to maintain contact with the 5th Marines, Lieutenant Colonel Reynolds H. Hayden, commander of 2/4, committed his reserve rifle company on the left at 1000. In face of a mounting casualty toll, at 1130 he decided to reorient the axis of the battalion attack to hit the flanks of the objective rather than its front. While the company in the center of the battalion line remained in position and supported the attack by fire, the flank companies were to attempt an armor-supported double envelopment. At 1245, when coordination for this maneuver was completed, the attack was renewed.
Company G, on the right, moved out smartly, and, following closely behind the neutralizing fires of its supporting tanks, it seized and held the western end of Half Moon. While traversing more exposed terrain and receiving fire from three sides, the left wing of the envelopment--Company E--progressed slowly and suffered heavy casualties. Although subjected to a constant barrage of mortars and hand grenades, the company reached the forward slope of its portion of the objective, where it eventually dug in for the night. The night positions of 2/4 were uncomfortably close to those of the Japanese, and separated only by a killing zone along a hill crest swept by both enemy and friendly fire. Nonetheless, the battalion had made fairly substantial gains during the day and it was set in solidly.
Earlier that day, as 3/4 attacked enemy positions on the high ground forming the western end of Horseshoe, it had received fire support from the 22d Marines. The 4th Marines battalion employed demolitions, flamethrowers, and tanks to burn and blast the honeycomb of Japanese-occupied caves in the forward (north) slope of Horseshoe Hill. When the regiment halted the attack for the day at 1600, 3/4 had gained its objective. Here, the battalion was on high ground overlooking the
Horseshoe depression where the Japanese mortars, which had caused so many casualties that day, were dug in.
To maintain contact with 2/4 and to strengthen his line, Lieutenant Colonel Bruno A. Hochmuth, 3/4 commander, had committed elements of his reserve, Company I, shortly after noon. Anticipating that a counterattack might possibly be mounted against 3/4 later that evening, Colonel Shapley ordered 1/4 to detail a company to back up the newly won positions on Horseshoe. Company B was designated and immediately briefed on the situation of 3/4, routes of approach, and courses of action to be followed if the Japanese attack was launched.
The sporadic mortar and artillery fire that had harassed 4th Marines lines suddenly increased at 2200, when bursts of white phosphorous shells and colored smoke heralded the beginning of the anticipated counterattack. An estimated 700 Japanese struck the positions of Companies K and L of 3/4. As soon as the enemy had showed themselves, they were blasted by the combined destructive force of prepared concentrations fired by six artillery battalions.13 Gunfire support ships provided constant illumination over the battlefield. Company B was committed to the fight and "with perfect timing,"14 moved into the line to help blunt the attack.
Star shells and flares gave a surrealistic cast to the wild two-and-a-half hour fracas, fought at close quarters and often hand-to-hand. The fight was over at midnight; the few enemy who had managed to penetrate the Marine lines were either dead or attempting to withdraw. The next morning, unit identification of some of the nearly 500 Japanese dead revealed that fresh units--which included some naval troops--had made the attack. The determination of the attackers to crush the Americans reemphasized the extremely sensitive and immediate Japanese reaction to any American threat against Shuri's western flank.
On 21 May, the main effort of the 6th Division attack was made by the 4th Marines, with the 22d Marines pacing the attack and giving fire support. The objective was the Asato River line. (See Map 15.) Under its new commander, Lieutenant Colonel George B. Bell, 1/4 attacked in the center of the line.15 Forward progress down the southern slopes of Sugar Loaf towards the easternmost limit of Horseshoe was slowed by both bitter fighting and the
Map 15: Capture of Naha, 21-31 May 1945
rain that fell during the morning and most of the afternoon. This downpour turned the shell-torn slopes into slick mud-chutes, making supply and evacuation over the treacherous footing almost impossible. But the fresh battalion overcame the combination of obstacles placed in its way by the weather, terrain, and numerous remaining enemy pockets all along the river front, to advance 200 yards.
Demolition and flamethrower teams blasted and burned the way in front of 3/4 as it drove into the extensive and well-prepared enemy positions in the interior of Horseshoe. By midafternoon, Companies K and L had destroyed the deadly mortars emplaced there, and were solidly positioned in a defense line that extended approximately halfway between Horseshoe Hill and the Asato Gawa.
Intensive mortar and artillery fire from the heights of Shuri combined with the rugged terrain within the 2/4 zone of action restricted the use of tanks and prevented that battalion from advancing appreciably on 21 May. After five days of furious fighting and limited gains in the Half Moon area, General Shepherd concluded that the bulk of enemy firepower preventing his division from retaining this ground was centered in the Shuri area, outside of the division zone of action.
Thoroughly estimating the situation, he decided to establish a strong reverse slope defense on the division left, to concentrate the efforts of the division on a penetration in the south and southwest, and to make no further attempts at driving to the southeast, where his troops had been meeting withering fire from Shuri. The division commander believed that this new maneuver would both relieve his forces of a threat to their left flank and at the same time give impetus to a drive to envelop Shuri from the west.
The sporadic rain which fell on the 21st, came down even more heavily and steadily that night. Resupply of assault elements and replenishment of forward supply dumps proved almost impossible. The unceasing deluge made southern Okinawa overnight a veritable mudhole and a greater obstacle to all movement than the unrelenting enemy resistance.
THE BATTLE FOR WANA DRAW16When the 1st Marine Division smashed the Japanese outpost line at Dakeshi, the battleground for General del Valle's Marines shifted to the foreboding Wana approaches to the Shuri hill mass. (See Map 14.) All evidence now signified that the main Japanese defenses in southern Okinawa consisted of a nearly regular series of concentric rings whose epicenter was protected by some of the most rugged terrain yet encountered in the drive south. The mission of breaching the Wana defenses fell to the 1st Marine and 77th Infantry Divisions at the same time that the 6th Marine and 96th Infantry Divisions attempted to envelop enemy flanks.
A somewhat crude Japanese propaganda attempt appeared in a leaflet discovered on the body of an infiltrator in the rear of the 1st Division on 14
May. Purportedly a letter from a wounded 96th Division soldier in enemy hands, it warned in fractured English that:
. . . the battles here will be 90 times as severe as that of Yusima Island [Iwo Jima]. I am sure that all of you that have landed will lose your lives which will be realized if you come here. The affairs of Okinawa is quite different from the islands that were taken by the Americans.17
An analysis made of the Wana positions after the battle showed that the Japanese had "taken advantage of every feature of a terrain so difficult it could not have been better designed if the enemy himself had the power to do so."18 Utilizing every defense feature provided by nature, General Ushijima had so well organized the area that an assault force attacking to the south would be unable to bypass the main line of resistance guarding Shuri, and would instead have to penetrate directly into the center of the heretofore unassailable defenses of the Thirty-second Army.
The terrain within and immediately bordering the division zone was both varied and complex. The southernmost branch of the Asa Kawa meandered along the gradually rising floor of Wana Draw and through the northerly part of Shuri. Low rolling ground on either side of the stream offered neither cover nor concealment against Japanese fire coming from position along the reverse slope of Wana Ridge and the military crest in the southern portion of the ridge. Approximately 400 yards wide at its mouth, Wana Draw narrowed perceptibly as the stream flowing through it approached the city. Hill 55,19 a dominating piece of terrain at the southern tip of the ridge, guarded the western entry into the draw. Bristling with nearly every type of Japanese infantry weapon, the positions on the hill had clear fields of fire commanding all approaches to the draw. Manning these guns were troops from the 62d Division's 64th Brigade, and an ill-assorted lot of stragglers from remnants of the 15th, 23d, and 273d Independent Infantry Battalions, the 14th Independent Machine Gun Battalion, and the 81st Field Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion, all under command of the Brigade.20
By 0400 on 15 May, elements of the 5th Marines had relieved 2/1 and most of 3/1. At 0630, the relief was completed and Colonel Griebel assumed command of the former 1st Marines zone west of Wana. The 5th Marines commander placed 2/5 in assault with the 3d Battalion in support and the 1st in reserve. Acting on the recommendations of battalion and regimental commanders of both the 1st and 5th Marines, General del Valle decided to neutralize the high ground on both sides of Wana Draw. Tanks and self-propelled 105mm howitzers were to shell the area thoroughly before 2/5 tried to cross the open ground at the mouth of the draw.
WANA RIDGE, rugged barrier in the path of the 1st Division, is shown looking southeast toward Shuri.
105MM HOWITZER of the 15th Marines is swamped, but still in firing order after ten days of rain.
Fire teams from Company F protected nine Shermans of the 1st Tank Battalion against possible attacks from suicide-bent enemy soldiers as the tanks worked over the Japanese positions in the mouth of the draw during the morning. Because tanks invariably drew heavy artillery, mortar, and AT fire, the Marines guarding them were forced to take cover. Nevertheless, the open ground of the battle area permitted the infantry teams to cover the tanks with fire from protected positions at long range. The mediums received heavy and intense fire from the sector to their front and from numerous cave positions on both sides of the draw. Some respite was gained when naval gunfire destroyed a 47mm AT gun which had hit three tanks at least five times each.
About midafternoon, the tanks withdrew to clear the way for a carrier-plane strike on the draw. Following this attack, the nine original tanks, now reinforced by six others, continued the process of neutralizing the draw. Another 47mm AT gun opened up late in the afternoon, but it was destroyed before it could damage any of the tanks.
After a day spent probing the mouth of Wana Draw, 2/5 infantry companies set up night defenses east of the railroad, dug in, and established contact all along their front. At the CP that night, the 5th Marines commander observed that "Wana Draw was another gorge like the one at Awacha. It was obvious that the position would have to be thoroughly pounded before it could be taken,"21 and ordered the softening-up operations of the 15th repeated the next day.
Colonel Snedeker's 7th Marines spent the 15th in reorganizing its infantry companies, improving occupied positions, and mopping up in the vicinity of Dakeshi.22 During the day, air liaison parties, gunfire spotters, and forward observers were kept busy directing concentrated artillery and naval gunfire bombardments and air strikes on known enemy strongpoints on Wana Ridge. At 2100, 1/7 was ordered to prepare a feint attack on 16 May, when all supporting arms were to fire a preparation and troops were to concentrate as though preparing to jump off in an assault.
The battalion was already positioned for the feint when preparatory fires began at 0755. At this time, 4.2-inch and 81mm mortars smoked the area immediately in front of 1/7 to heighten the deception. Fifteen minutes after it had begun, the barrage was lifted for another fifteen-minute period in an attempt to deceive the Japanese. The Marines believed that the enemy, fooled into thinking that an attack was imminent, would rush from covered caves to reoccupy their battle positions, where they would again be blasted. When there was no apparent reaction to the feint, supporting arms resumed firing at 0825 with undetermined results.
At 0950, regiment notified Lieutenant Colonel John J. Gormley, the 1/7 commander, that an air strike on Wana Ridge was scheduled for 1000, immediately following which he was to send patrols forward to determine what remaining enemy resistance existed on the target. Having learned that the strike was delayed, at 1028 Lieutenant Colonel Gormley requested that the mission be cancelled and sent the patrols out after he had ordered a mortar barrage placed on the ridge.
The Company C patrols moved forward unopposed until they reached the western end of Wana Ridge. Here they received intense grenade and machine gun fire which was answered by their battalion 81mm mortars and supporting fire from the 5th Marines. Rushing forward when this fire had been lifted, the patrols carried and occupied the troublesome objective.
Lieutenant Colonel Gormley then ordered the newly won position held and reinforced by troops he sent forward for this purpose. Once leading elements began to move out again, enemy troops lodged in burial vaults and rugged coral formations showered grenades down upon the advancing Marines. Unsuccessful in halting the advance, the enemy tried but failed to mount a counterattack at 1605. Although supporting arms of 1/7 blunted this attempt, enemy resistance to the Marine attack continued.
Nightfall forced the battalion commander to withdraw the troops spearheading the assault and move them to more secure positions on a plateau almost directly north of the ridge for night defense. Contact was then established on the right with 2/5 and on the left with 3/7. At 2400, 3/7 effected a passage of the lines to relieve the 1st Battalion, which then went into regimental reserve.
During the 16th., 15 tanks, two of them flamethrowers, had supported the attack of 1/7 from positions on Dakeshi Ridge, while a total of 30 tanks--including 4 flamethrowers--supported 2/5 by burning and blasting enemy strongpoints in Wana Draw. At 0900, the 2/5 armored support drew antitank, mortar, and artillery fire that disabled two tanks, and damaged two others, which withdrew after evacuating the crews of the stalled cripples. Two of the AT positions which had been spotted in the morning were destroyed that afternoon when the main battery of the USS Colorado was brought to bear on them. Generally, when a Marine tank was damaged and abandoned temporarily, efforts to retrieve it later were usually stymied by enemy fire. Disabled tanks remaining in the field overnight usually were either destroyed by enemy demolition teams or occupied by snipers, who converted them into armored pillboxes.
Before retiring at nightfall on 16 May, the 1st Tank Battalion had expended nearly 5,000 rounds of 75mm and 173,000 rounds of .30 caliber ammunition, and 600 gallons of napalm on targets on Dakeshi Ridge and in Wana Draw that day.23 Following the two-day process of softening up provided by all supporting arms, the 5th Marines prepared to run the gantlet of Wana Draw on 17 May.
"Under the continued pounding of one of the most concentrated assaults in Pacific Warfare,"24 cracks appeared in the Shuri defenses on 17 May. On that day, 2/5 made the main regimental effort, sending tank-infantry teams to the mouth of Wana Draw, where they worked over the caves and pillboxes lining its sides. The 2/5 attack was made in conjunction with a 7th Marines effort to gain the pinnacle ridge forming the northern side of the draw.
When a terrific mortar and artillery barrage drove the 7th back at 1200, 2/5 assault troops--also under heavy fire-were forced back to their original positions, where they could protect the exposed flank of the 7th Marines battalion.
On the right of 2/5, Company E finally succeeded in penetrating the Japanese defenses. After having been driven back earlier in the day, the company established a platoon-sized strongpoint on its objective, the west nose of Hill 55. Because the low ground lying between this point and battalion frontlines were swept by heavy enemy fire, tanks were pressed into use for supply and evacuation purposes.
Having relieved 1/7 at 0600, 3/7 attacked towards Wana Ridge from Dakeshi Ridge with two companies in assault: Company I on the right, K on the left. A total of 12 gun and 2 flamethrower tanks supported Company K as it attempted to secure the low ridge crest northwest of Wana. Meanwhile, Company I gained and held a plateau that led to the western nose of the Wana Ridge line.
Extremely heavy resistance plagued Company K efforts to move forward, as the enemy concentrated his fire on the leading infantry elements. Attempting to lessen the effectiveness of the Marine tank-infantry tactics, the Japanese employed smoke grenades to blind the tanks and drastically restricted their supporting fires. Before the tanks could be isolated in the smoke and cut off from their infantry protection, and when the flanks of Company K became so threatened as to make them untenable, both tanks and infantry were withdrawn--the latter to Dakeshi to become 3/7 reserve. Late in the afternoon, the 3/7 commander ordered Company L forward to reinforce I for the night and to assist in the attack the next morning.
Following a period of intermittent shelling from enemy mortars and artillery during the night 17-18 May, 3/7 again attacked Wana Ridge. Supporting arms delivered intense fire on the forward slopes and crest of the ridge all morning; the attack itself began at noon. Reinforced by a platoon from L, Company I succeeded in getting troops on the ridge, but furious enemy grenade and mortar fire inflicted such heavy casualties on the assault force that Lieutenant Colonel Hurst was forced to withdraw them to positions held the previous night, where he could consolidate his lines. An abbreviated analysis by the division fairly well summarized that day's fighting: "gains were measured by yards won, lost, then won again."25
Pinned down by heavy enemy fire on the reverse slope of its position on Hill 55, the isolated platoon from Company E, 2/5, could neither advance nor withdraw. Tanks again supplied ammunition and rations to the dug-in troops. Six mediums initially supported the early-morning operations of 2/5 by firing into caves and emplacements in the terrain complex comprising the draw. This tank fire was coordinated with that coming from Shermans in the Wana Draw sector. In addition to this daylong tank firing, the artillery battalions expended over 7,000 rounds of 105mm and 75mm artillery ammunition on selected point targets.26
Under the cover of tank fire, at 1200 Company F sent one infantry platoon and an attached engineer platoon with flamethrowers and demolitions into the village of Wana to destroy enemy installations there, The party worked effectively until 1700, when it was recalled to Marine lines for the night because Wana Ridge, forming the northern side of the draw behind and overlooking the village, was still strongly infested by the enemy. Before leaving Wana, Marines destroyed numerous grenade dischargers, machine guns, and rifles found in the village and in the tombs on its outskirts.
The 1st Marine Division's bitter contest for possession of Wana Draw continued on 19 May along the same bloody lines it had run on the four previous days. Colonel Snedeker's regiment again made the major effort for the division, and the 5th Marines continued to punish the mouth of Wana Draw. As before, attacking Marines were sorely beset by enemy fire, which answering artillery, tank, mortar, and regimental 105mm howitzer concentrations had failed to neutralize.
The 3d Battalion, 7th Marines, attacked that afternoon in a column of companies, Company I in the lead, followed by Companies L and K in that order. Resistance to the attack was immediate, although the vanguard managed to reach the nose of the coral ridge to its front under a blanket of mortar shells falling all about. Then, because 3/1 was to relieve 3/7 and it was too risky to effect a relief right on the ridge under the conditions then prevailing, the leading elements withdrew about 75 yards to the rear.
Earlier in the day, 1/7 and 2/7 had been relieved in position near Dakeshi by 1/1 and 2/1 respectively. With the relief of the 3d Battalion, the 7th Marines relinquished the responsibility for the capture of Wana Ridge to Colonel Mason's 1st Marines, and Colonel Snedeker's regiment went into division reserve. In the five-day struggle for Wana, the 7th Marines had lost a total of 44 men killed, 387 wounded, 91 non-battle casualties, and 7 missing. Of this number, the 3d Battalion sustained 20 Marines killed and 140 wounded. In a supporting and diversionary role for the five-day period, the 5th Marines suffered 13 men killed and 82 wounded.
Despite the punishment they had received from the 5th Marines and its supporting tanks, the Japanese built new positions in Wana Draw daily, and reconstructed and recamouflaged by night old ones that Marine tank fire had exposed and damaged by day. As the
assault infantry plunged further into the draw, and as the draw itself narrowed, an increasing number of Japanese defensive positions conspired with the rugged terrain to make passage more difficult. Dominating the eastern end of Wana Ridge, on the northwestern outskirts of Shuri, was 110 Meter Hill,27 commanding a view of the zones of both the 1st Marine and 77th Infantry Divisions. Defensive fire from this position thwarted the final reduction of Japanese positions in Wana Draw and eventual capture of the Shuri redoubt.
Tanks, M-75 (self-propelled 105mm howitzers), 37mm guns, and overhead machine gun fire supported the attacks which jumped off at 0815. The assault troops moved rapidly to the base of the objective, tanks and flamethrowers clearing the way, while enemy mortar and machine gun fire inflicted heavy casualties in the ranks of the onsurging Marines.
Initially, 3/1 moved to the southeast and up the northern slope of Wana Ridge, where it became involved in hand grenade duels with Japanese defenders. The Marines prevailed and managed to secure approximately 200 yards of this portion of the ridge. By 1538, 2/1 reported to regiment that it was on top of the objective and in contact with 3/1, and had secured all of the rest of the northern slope of the ridge with the exception of the summit of 110 Meter Hill. A considerable gap between the flanks of 2/1 and the 305th Infantry on the Marine left was covered by interlocking bands of machine gun fire and mortar barrages set up by both units. Confronted by intense enemy fire from reverse slope positions, 2/1 riflemen were unable to take the hillcrest and dug in for the night, separated from the enemy by only a few yards of shell-pocked ground.
After it tied in with 2/1 for the night of 19-20 May, Lieutenant Colonel Stephen V. Sabol's 3d Battalion moved out at 0845, and was again within grenade-throwing range of Wana Ridge defenders. Burning and blasting, tanks supported the assault by destroying enemy-held caves and fortified positions blocking the advance. When 3/1 had gained the northern slope of the ridge and could not budge the Japanese troops in reverse-slope defenses, Colonel Mason decided to burn them out by rolling split barrels of napalm down the hill into Japanese emplacements in Wana Draw, and then setting them afire by exploding white phosphorous (WP) grenades on top of the inflammable jellied mixture.
Working parties began manhandling drums of napalm up the hill at 1140, and had managed to position only three of them by 1500. At 1630, these were split open, sent careening down the hill, and set aflame by the WP grenades. An enemy entrenchment about 50 yards down the incline halted the drums; in the end, the Japanese sustained little damage and few injuries from this hastily contrived field expedient. The proximity of the combatants that night led to considerable mortar, hand grenade, and sniper fire, as well as the usually lively and abusive exchange of curses, insults, and threats of violence
that often took place whenever the protagonists were within shouting distance of each other.
On the division right, 2/5 jumped off in attack on 20 May at 0900, supported by artillery and M-7 fire and spearheaded by tanks. The battalion objective was the area running roughly from Hill 55 southwest to the Naha-Shuri road. A continuous artillery barrage was laid on Shuri Ridge, the western extension of the commanding height on which Shuri Castle had been built, as assault units quickly worked their way towards the objective. At 0930, lead elements were engaged in close-in fighting with enemy forces in dug-in positions bordering the road. Under constant and heavy enemy fire, engineer mine-clearing personnel preceded the tanks to make the road safe for the passage of the mediums. Working just in front of the advancing troops, the Shermans flushed a number of enemy soldiers from their hidden positions and then cut them down with machine gun fire. Close engineer-tank-infantry teamwork permitted the Marines to secure the objective by noon.
Heavy small arms and mortar fire poured into the advance 2/5 position, which Company E held all afternoon. The sources of this fire were emplacements located on Shuri Ridge. Continued artillery and pointblank tank fire, and two rocket barrages, finally silenced the enemy weapons. By 2000, Company E had established contact all along the line and dug in for the night. Except for the usual enemy mortar and artillery harassment, there was little activity on the front. Just before dawn, 1/5 relieved the 2d Battalion in place; 2/5 then went into regimental reserve.
Once in position, 1/5 was ordered to patrol aggressively towards Shuri Ridge and on the high ground east of Half Moon Hill. It maintained a sufficient force in the vicinity of Wana Ridge and Hill 55, at the same time, to assist the 1st Marines attack. Tank-infantry teams again reconnoitered the area south of the division line against a hail of machine gun and mortar fire. In addition to providing the tanks protection from Japanese tank-destroyer and suicide units, Marine ground troops directed the tank fire on targets of opportunity. Tank commanders in vehicles that were sometimes forward of foot troops often called down artillery fire on point targets at extremely close ranges. In spite of fierce resistance that became most frenzied as Marines closed in on Shuri, the 5th Marines positions on Hill 55 were advanced slightly in order to give the division more favorable jumping off points for a concerted effort against General Ushijima's headquarters.
At dawn on 21 May, 2/1 moved out against heavy opposition to secure the summit of 110 Meter Hill and the rest of Wana Ridge. Although some small gains were made, the objectives could not be reached. Tank support, which heretofore had been so effective, was limited because of the irregular and steep nature of the ground. Though armor could provide overhead fire, the vehicles were unable to take reverse slope positions under fire because a deep cleft at the head of the draw prevented the Shermans from getting behind the enemy. Reconnaissance reports indicated that as the draw approached Wana, it walls rose to sheer heights of from 200 to 300 feet. Lining
the wall faces were numerous, well-defended caves that were unapproachable to all but the suicidally inclined. It was readily apparent that no assault up the draw would be successful unless preceded by an intense naval gunfire, air, and artillery preparation. Included also in the reports was the fact that the steep terrain forward of Wana did not favor tank operations.
On the left of 2/1, Company G mopped up opposition in the small village on the northern outskirts of Shuri. Resisting the attempts of the company to turn the flank of 110 Meter Hill were elements of the 22d Independent Infantry Battalion, the sole remaining first-line infantry reserve of the Thirty-second Army--thrown into the breach to hold the area around the hill.28 Advancing down the draw were two companies abreast, E and F, whose attack was initially supported by the massed fires of battalion mortars and then by all other supporting arms.
Darkening skies and intermittent rain squalls obscured the battle scene to friendly and enemy observers alike. Although it was apparent that 2/1 was right in the middle of a preregistered impact area, judging from the accuracy of enemy mortar and artillery fire, the battalion held its forward positions despite mounting casualties. A gap existing between 2/1 and the 77th Division was covered by fire, and Company F linked with Company C of 1/1, had been temporarily attached 3d Battalion for night defense.
Under its new commander, Lieutenant Colonel Richard F. Ross, Jr.,29 3/1 attempted to clear out reverse slope positions on Wana Ridge in a concerted tank-infantry effort. According to the plan, Company L and the tanks-each to be accompanied by one fire team--would attack up Wana Draw. Supporting this assault from the crest of the ridge would be the other two infantry companies in the battalion, prepared to attack straight across the ridge on order. Their objectives were Hill 55 and the ridge line to the east.
Company C, 1/1, was ordered to take over the 3d Battalion positions, when Lieutenant Colonel Ross' men jumped off in the assault. At about 1415, Company L began the slow advance against bitter opposition. Almost immediately, several of the escorting tanks were knocked out by mines and AT guns. Company K moved across the draw to Hill 55 at 1500, followed by I, which was pinned down almost immediately by extremely heavy mortar and machine gun fire and unable to advance beyond the middle of the draw. By 1800, Company K was on Hill 55 and tied in with 1/5, but could not push further east towards Shuri.
Because the rampaging enemy fire prevented Companies I and L from reaching the ridgeline and advancing up Wana Draw, they were withdrawn to that morning's line of departure positions. Company C of 1/1 was placed
under the operational control of 3/1 for the night and occupied the positions held by Company I on 20 May. Here, it tied in with Company L on the right and on the left with Company F, 2/1.
The miserable weather prevailing all day on 21 May worsened at midnight when the drizzle became a deluge and visibility was severely limited. Taking advantage of these conditions favoring an attacking force, an estimated 200 Japanese scrambled up Wana Ridge to strike all along the Company C line. In the midst of a fierce hand grenade battle, the enemy managed to overrun a few positions. These were recaptured at dawn, when the Marines regrouped, reoccupied the high ground, and restored their lines. In the daylight, approximately 180 enemy dead were counted in front of Marine positions.30
Torrential rains beginning the night of 21-22 May continued on for many days thereafter. This downpour almost halted the tortuous 1st Division drive towards Shuri. Seriously limited before by terrain factors and a determined stand by the enemy in the Wana area, tank support became nonexistent when the zone of the 5th Marines, the only ground locally which favored armored tactics, became a sea of mud. Under these conditions aiding the Japanese defense, the 1st Division was faced with the alternatives of moving ahead against all odds or continuing the existing stalemate. To make either choice was difficult, for both presented a bloody prospect.
THE ARMY'S FIGHT31For IIIAC, the period 15-21 May was marked by the struggles of its divisions to capture two key strongpoints--Wana Draw and Sugar Loaf Hill. During this same seven days, XXIV Corps units fought a series of difficult battles to gain the strongly defended hills and ridges blocking the approaches to Shuri and Yonabaru. (See Map IV, Map Section.) These barriers, incongruously named Chocolate Drop, Flat Top, Hogback, Love, Dick, Oboe, and Sugar, gained fleeting fame when they became the scenes of bitter and prolonged contests. But, when XXIV Corps units had turned the eastern flank of Shuri defenses and anticipated imminent success, the Army attack--like that of the Marines--became bogged down and was brought to a standstill when the rains came.
On 15 May, the 77th Division continued its grinding advance in the middle of the Tenth Army line against the hard core of Thirty-second Army defenses at Shuri; 96th Division troops, in coordination with their own assault against Dick Hill, supported the 77th Division attack on Flat Top Hill. Fighting on the left of the 96th, the 383d Infantry found it difficult and dangerous to move from Conical Hill because of overwhelming fire coming from a hill complex southwest of their location. In addition, the 89th Regiment tenaciously held formidable and well-organized defenses on the reverse slope of Conical,
and prevented the soldiers from advancing farther south.32
On 16 May, 2/383 attacked down the southeast slope of the hill, but murderous enemy crossfire again prevented the soldiers from making any significant gains. A supporting platoon of tanks, however, ran the gantlet of fire sweeping the coastal flat and advanced 1,000 yards to enter the northwestern outskirts of Yonabaru, where the Shermans lashed the ruins of the town with 75mm and machine gun fire. Heavy Japanese fire covering the southern slopes of Conical prevented the infantry from exploiting the rapid armor penetration, however. After having exhausted their ammunition supply, the tanks withdrew to the line of departure.
On the division right flank, the 382d Infantry attempted to expand its hold on Dick Hill. In a violent bayonet and grenade fight, American troops captured some 100 yards of enemy terrain, but heavy machine gun fire from Oboe Hill--500 yards due south of Dick--so completely covered the exposed route of advance, the soldiers were unable to move any farther.
Fire from many of the same enemy positions which had held back 96th Division forces, also effectively prevented the 307th Infantry from successfully pushing the 77th Division attack on Flat Top and Chocolate Drop Hills. Both frontal and flanking movements, spearheaded by tanks, were held up by extremely accurate and vicious Japanese machine gun fire and mortar barrages.
Somewhat more successful on the 16th was the 305th Infantry, which threw the full weight of all of its supporting arms behind the attack of the 3d Battalion. Flamethrower tanks and medium tanks mounting 105mm howitzers slowly edged along the ridges leading to Shuri's high ground. Barring the way in this broken terrain were Okinawan burial vaults which the Japanese had occupied, fortified, and formed into a system of mutually supporting pillboxes. At the end of a ferocious day-long slugging match, this armored vanguard had penetrated 200 yards of enemy territory to bring the 77th Division to within 500 yards of the northernmost outskirts of Shuri.
A very successful predawn attack by the 77th Division on 17 May surprised the Japanese, forcing them to relinquish ground. Substantial gains were made and commanding terrain captured, including Chocolate Drop Hill and other nearby hills. Advancing abreast of each other, 3/305 and 2/307 dug in at the end of the day only a few hundred yards away from Shuri and Ishimmi. Although outflanked by 3/307, Flat Top defenders sent down a heavy volume of machine gun and mortar fire on the soldiers as they attempted to move across exposed country south of the hill. Troops following the assault elements spent daylight hours mopping up, sealing caves and burial vaults, and neutralizing those enemy strongpoints bypassed in the early-morning surprise maneuver.
Practically wiped out that day was the enemy 22d Regiment, which had defended Chocolate Drop, and whose remnants were still holding the reverse slopes of Flap Top and Dick Hills. Reinforcing these positions was the 1st
Battalion of the 32d Regiment. On 17 May, this regiment was ordered by the 24th Division commander, Lieutenant General Tatsumi Amamiya, to take over the ground formerly held by the 22d Regiment, and to set in a Shuri defense line that would run from Ishimmi to Dick and Oboe Hills. Taking advantage of the natural, fortress-like properties of the region which they were to defend, the depleted 32d Regiment and survivors of the 22d were disposed in depth to contain potential American penetrations.33 Few reserves were available to the defenders should the Americans break through.
On 17 May, the 96th Division ordered the 382d Infantry to attack and capture the hill mass south of Dick Hill and centering about Oboe. The failure of this effort indicated that the ground here needed to be softened up further before the infantry could advance. In the sector of Conical Hill held by the 383d, steady pressure from reverse slope defenders forced the division to commit into the line a third regiment--the 381st Infantry--to maintain the positions already held by the 96th. At this time, 3/381 assumed control of the left portion of the 2/383 sector on the eastern slope of the hill, and brought up its supporting weapons in preparation for a new attack.
While the remainder of 96th Division assault battalions held their lines and tank-infantry, demolition, and flamethrower teams mopped up in their immediate fronts, 3/381 made the division main effort. Operating to the west of the coastal road, medium tanks supported the attack by placing direct fire on machine gun positions on Hogback Ridge, a terrain feature running south from Conical Hill. Hogback's defenders disregarded the tank fire to place heavy machine gun and mortar barrages against the battalion attacking up finger ridges sloping down to the ocean. Although this heavy resistance limited the advance to only 400 yards, the division commander believed he could successfully attack through Yonabaru to outflank Shuri.
Both frontline divisions of XXIV Corps progressed on 18 May. Units of the 77th penetrated deeper into the heart of Shuri defenses by driving 150 yards farther south along the Ginowan-Shuri highway and advancing up to 300 yards towards Ishimmi. On 19 May, the 77th Division began a systematic elimination of Japanese firing positions in 110 Meter Hill, Ishimmi Ridge, and the reverse slopes of Flat Top and Dick Hills. All of these positions provided the enemy with good observation and clear fields of fire, commanding terrain over which the American division was advancing. Every weapon in the 77th arsenal capable of doing so was assigned to place destructive fire on the enemy emplacements. While these missions were being fired, the infantry fought off a series of counterattacks growing in size and fury as darkness fell. The enemy was finally turned back at dawn on 20 May when all available artillery was called down on them.
In the 96th Division zone on the 19th, the left regiment again made the main effort while the center and right regiments destroyed cave positions and gun emplacements in the broken ground between
Conical and Dick Hills. Hogback Ridge and Sugar Hill, which rose sharply at the southern tip of this ridge to overlook Yonabaru, were bombarded by two platoons of medium tanks, six platoons of LVT(A)s, artillery, and organic infantry supporting weapons. The attack following this preparation failed, however, in the face of overwhelming enemy fire. Destruction of enemy positions spotted the day before did serve, however, to weaken further the faltering 89th Regiment defense.
Returning to Hogback Ridge on 20 May, the attacking infantry made a grinding, steady advance down the eastern slopes of the ridge and finally reached Sugar Hill. Other 96th Division units also registered some significant gains that day; 383d Infantry assault battalions fought to within 300 yards of Love Hill, destroying those strongpoints that had blocked their progress for a week. The 382d Infantry finally reduced all enemy defenses on the southern and eastern slopes of Dick Hill, while it supported a successful 77th Division attack on Flat Top at the same time.
On gaining Flat Top Hill, the 307th Infantry was then ready to continue the attack south to Ishimmi Ridge and then on to Shuri. Coordinating its attack with the 1st Marines on its right, the 305th advanced down the valley highway 100- 150 yards or to within 200 yards of the outskirts of Shuri. As a result of these gains, the 77th Division commander planned another predawn surprise attack, only this time on a coordinated division-wide level across the front.
Assault troops of the 307th Infantry jumped off at 0415 on 21 May in the zone of the 305th, advancing 200 yards without opposition, (See Map VIII, Map Section.) An hour later, leading elements had entered the northern suburbs of Shuri and were fighting their way up the eastern slopes of 110 Meter Hill. The 306th Infantry, which relieved the 305th later that morning, sent its 2d Battalion to the right of the line where visual contact was made with the 1st Marines. By nightfall, having spent most of the day mopping up bypassed positions, the 306th set up a night defense on a line running from the forward slopes of Ishimmi Ridge, through the outskirts of Shuri, to 110 Meter Hill.
The assault battalions of the 307th Infantry, the other 77th Division frontline regiment, jumped off at 0300 to take the regimental objective, a triangularly shaped mass consisting of three hills located in open ground about 350 yards south of Flat Top. The lead elements reached the objective at dawn, but following units were unable to exploit the successful maneuver when they were discovered by the enemy and pinned down by his frontal and flanking fire. Any further move forward was prohibited by this continuous and accurate fire, and the battalion was forced to dig in at nightfall on the ground then held.
Overall, the most important advances on 21 May in the XXIV Corps zone were made by 96th Division units. As 1/383 moved out against moderate opposition to take Oboe Hill, 2/383 paced the advance by attacking over exposed terrain to its southeast to take a hill approximately 400 yards from Shuri. At 1130, when enemy elements were noticed pulling out of their positions in front of the attacking infantry, the Japanese were fired upon as they retreated towards
higher ground. Despite this withdrawal of the enemy, American forces were prevented from advancing any further during the day by isolated enemy counterattacks along the regimental lines.
On Love Hill, enemy defenders who had successfully refused to yield ground during the past week again steadfastly maintained their positions on the 21st. They called down heavy and accurate artillery concentrations on American tank-infantry teams reaching the base of the hill and forced them to turn back.
The western slopes of Hogback Ridge were secured by 2/383 as the 3d Battalion, 381st Infantry, fought its way up the eastern slopes to the top of Sugar Hill. Every yard acquired during the day came because of the individual soldier's efforts in the face of fanatic enemy determination to hold. Nevertheless, advance elements of 3/381 were in position about 200 yards from the Naha-Yonabaru highway by nightfall. As a result of this hard-won success, a 700-yard-long corridor down the east coast of Okinawa was secured, giving promise that the final reduction of the Shuri redoubt might be launched from this quarter.
To strengthen the attack on Shuri, which General Hedge believed could be outflanked when he viewed the progress of the 96th Division, he alerted the 7th Infantry Division and ordered it to move to assembly areas immediately north of Conical Hill on 20 May. Two days later, the division was committed in the line and attacked to take the high ground south of Yonabaru.
Intermittent rain beginning on 21 May increased steadily to become soaking torrents before the assault infantry of the 7th Division was in jumpoff positions. In no time at all, "the road to Yonabaru from the north--the only supply road from established bases in the 7th Division zone . . . became impassable to wheeled vehicles and within two or three days disappeared entirely and had to be abandoned."34 Like the Tenth Army divisions on the west coast, those on the east were effectively stymied by the mud and the rain, which now seemed to be allied with General Ushijima and his Thirty-second Army.
FIGHTING THE WEATHER35The Naha-Yonabaru valley served as a funnel through which American forces could pass to outflank Shuri. A major obstacle blocking the entrance to this route is the Ozato Hills, a rugged and complex terrain mass paralleling Nakagusuku Wan and lying between Yonabaru and the Chinen Peninsula. Since strong blocking positions were needed in the Ozato Hills to safeguard the left flank and rear of the force assigned to assault Shuri, the 184th Infantry of the 7th Division was ordered to take Yonabaru on 22 May and secure the high ground overlooking the village.
In a surprise attack at 0200, 2/184 spearheaded a silently moving assault force which passed through Yonabaru
quickly, and was on the crest of its objective--a hill south of the village--by daylight. When the enemy arose at dawn and emerged from cave shelters to man gun and infantry positions, he met sudden death under American fire. The Thirty-second Army was completely taken aback, for an American night attack was totally unexpected in this sector, much less an attack unsupported by armor.36 When the commander of the 184th saw that his initial effort was successful, he committed a second battalion and drove forward to secure other key points in the zone. By the end of the day, the regiment had advanced 1,400 yards and gained most of its objectives, even though rain and mud drastically hampered all phases of the operation.
While the 7th Division scored for the Tenth Army on the east coast, IIIAC units pushed forward on the west. In the 6th Marine Division zone, the 4th Marines attacked to gain the northern bank of the Asato Gawa. (See Map 15.) The 1st and 3d Battalions advanced as 2/4 maintained positions on Half Moon Hill and kept contact with the 1st Marine Division. Assault troops seized the objective by 1230, when patrols crossed the shallow portion of the Asato and moved 200 yards into the outskirts of Naha before drawing any enemy fire.37 Frontline Marines dug in reverse slope positions along the northern bank of the river under the sporadic fire of heavy caliber artillery weapons and mortars. At 6th Division headquarters, plans were drawn for a river crossing on 23 May.
Although the flank divisions of the Tenth Army were making encouraging progress, the three divisions in the center of the line found success to be an elusive thing during the week of 22 May, A fanatic Japanese defense compounded the difficulties arising because of the steady rain. Supply, evacuation, and reinforcement were all but forestalled by the sea of mud, which caused the troops to wallow rather than maneuver. Under these conditions, infantry units could only probe and patrol ahead in their immediate zones.
The rain continued for nine days, and ranged from light, scattered showers to driving deluges. In the end, the entire southern front became a morass that bogged down both men and machines. Footing was treacherous in the mud swamps appearing in valley floors, and all slopes--from the gentlest to the most precipitous--were completely untrafficable. Because TAF planes had been grounded and could not fly airdrop missions, all supplies had to be manhandled to the front. Tired, wornout foot troops from both frontline and reserve units were pressed into action and formed into carrying parties.
Despite the unrelenting round-the-clock efforts of engineers to keep the road net between forward supply dumps
and the frontlines in operating condition, continued use by trucks and amtracs finally caused the roads to be closed, but only after the mud itself had bemired and stalled the vehicles. As a result, division commanders found it impossible to build up and maintain reserve stocks of the supplies needed to support a full-scale assault. With the movement of American forces all but stopped, the entire front became stalemated.
During the advance to the south, responsible Tenth Army agencies had reconnoitered both the east and west coasts of Okinawa behind the American lines in an attempt to find suitable landing and unloading sites. When discovered and found secure from enemy fire, they were developed and LSTs and other landing vessels were pressed into use to bring supplies down the coasts from the main beaches and dumps in the north.38 The two divisions deriving the major benefits from use of the overwater supply routes were the 6th Marine and 7th Infantry Divisions anchored on the open coasts. Behind the 1st Marine and 77th and 96th Infantry Divisions, in the center of the Tenth Army line, was a mired road net which prevented any resupply effort by vehicles coming both from the north and laterally from the coasts.
A sanguine outlook for continued advances by the Tenth Army flanking divisions was dispelled when they ran into resistance of the same type and intensity offered to the center units. A combination of this increased resistance and the appalling weather forestalled the potential envelopment and isolation of the main forces of the enemy, and forced the two coastal divisions into the same sort of deadlock the rest of the Tenth Army was experiencing.
Attacking to the west on 23 May, the 7th Division immediately ran into heavy resistance in the hills just north of the Yonabaru-Naha road. Both division assault regiments met increasingly stiff opposition during the day, because: "The Japanese realized that this advance along the Yonabaru-Naha road threatened to cut off the Shuri defenders. . . ."39 Even in the midst of the American attacks, the enemy attempted to infiltrate and counterattack.
At the same time that the 184th Infantry moved into the Ozato Hills and towards the mouth of the valley leading to Shuri, the 32d Infantry struck out to the west and southwest through Yonabaru to isolate the forces protecting the Thirty-second Army redoubt. Units spearheading the regimental drive were slowed and unable to advance in the face of the considerable machine gun and mortar fire coming from positions in the low hills east of Yonawa. Here, a mile southwest of Yonabaru, the regiment was forced to halt and dig in a line for the night because tanks, urgently needed to sustain the drive, had become immobilized by the mud.
On the west coast, despite the continuing rain during the night of 22-23 May, 6th Division patrols crossed and recrossed the Asato almost at will to feel out the enemy. (See Map 15.) Scouts from the 6th Reconnaissance Company patrolled the south bank of
the upper reaches of the river, and reported back at 0718 that the stream was fordable at low tide, resistance was light, and no occupied positions had been found.40
Because the patrol reports of this and other units indicated "that it might be feasible to attempt a crossing of the Asato without tank support,"41 early that morning General Shepherd ordered the 4th Marines to increase the number of reconnaissance patrols south of the river, and to be ready to cross it if enemy resistance proved light.
Between dawn and 1000 on the 23d, Marine lines received long-range machine gun and rifle fire from high ground near Machisi, but the patrols met no determined resistance at the river bank. General Shepherd decided to force a crossing here with two assault battalions of the 4th wading through ankle-deep water to the other side. At 1130, a firm bridgehead was established against only light resistance; 1/4 was dug in and prepared to continue the attack on the right, 3/4, on the left.
The regimental objective was a low ridge, running east to west, about 500 yards south of the river in the vicinity of Machisi. The attacking Marines approaching this point began to meet sharply increased opposition. Previous suspicions concerning the nature of the defenses here were confirmed when the infantry neared the height. In addition to reverse-slope mortar emplacements,, the face of the height was studded with many Okinawan tombs that had been fortified. Darkness halted the attack 100 yards short of the objective, where the troops were ordered to organize and defend the high ground they held.
Although the Asato could be waded at the time of the assault crossing,42 strong, steady rain had turned it into a chest-high raging torrent by the next day. Supply and evacuation, difficult enough over the muddy terrain, now became almost impossible. At least 12 men were required to carry a stretcher case safely across the river to the rear.43 Supplies were sent forward under the same conditions; men stood in the water hour after hour under intense artillery and mortar fire, forming a human chain in a successful attempt to supply the advance companies.44 By midnight, the 6th Engineer Battalion had constructed two footbridges and was to have begun building a Bailey bridge, but heavy enemy fire during the afternoon prevented the engineers from bringing the components of the bridge forward.
General Geiger shifted the boundary between the two IIIAC divisions slightly to the right (west) to concentrate the corps attack on the right flank. At the same time, 2/4 could both contract its overexpanded lines and better protect the left flank and rear of the regimental bridgehead. As a result of this change, 3/5 relieved 2/4 at 1400, and the latter moved laterally to its right to ease the tension on the strained lines of 1/4.
No forward progress was marked in the center of the Tenth Army line on 23 May by the assault regiments of the 1st
Marine and 77th and 96th Infantry Divisions. Activity in the immediate front of each division was limited to patrol action.
Assessing the threat to Shuri by the American advances down both coasts, General Ushijima, his commanders, and his staff believed that the Thirty-second Army was "still able to halt the collapse of all positions by holding positions in depth to the line of Shichina and Kokuba" even though Marines "had broken into the city of Naha."45 This evaluation was tempered somewhat by the realization that Thirty-second Army troops would "be unable to maintain their Shuri front"46 if the American spearhead in the Naha-Yonabaru valley was not blunted. To stem the tide of the XXIV Corps attack against his positions north and east of Shuri, General Ushijima threw every available man into a defense line that began on the southwest slopes of Conical Hill, ran through Yonawa, and was anchored at the road junction in the village of Chan.
When the 7th Division attempted to expand its hold on the valley and the high ground to the south, the soldiers received ample proof of the presence of enemy reinforcements. Following increased and determined Japanese stands, which reach a climax in a series of counterattacks on the night of 24-25 May, the 7th Division ground to a halt, unable to push any further west. In sharp contrast to the stubborn and immediate reaction aroused by these efforts to gain the road net east of Shuri, a few American patrols progressed slightly towards the Chinen Peninsula against only sporadic interference.
A break in the weather on 24 May was too short-lived to enable the Tenth Army to build up supply reserves, repair roads, or to attack in any great force. The enemy, however, took advantage of the brief respite to counterattack the 7th Infantry Division. In support of this ground action was Kikusui No. 7 and the airborne attack against Yontan airfield on 24-25 May.
Although their participation in the air defense of Okinawa was often more glaringly spectacular than destructive, on the night of 24 May, Marine and Army antiaircraft artillery battalions guarding Yontan and Kadena airfields scored heavily against Kamikaze raiders over the island. Marines manning 1st Provisional Antiaircraft Artillery Group guns were credited with destroying five planes, damaging six, downing one probable, and assisting in the destruction of another plane during this action.47
In the entire month of May, Marine AAA gunners destroyed 8 planes, damaged 15, scored 5 probables, and had 1 assist.48 For the same period, the 53d AAA Brigade was alerted to 53 air raids in which 88 planes were tracked by its radar, gun directors, and guns. The May score of the brigade overall was 24 planes destroyed, 15 damaged (all by Marine AAA units), and 5 probables.49
The clear weather permitting the flurry of enemy air activity held for a brief time only. The rains came again. Gravely concerned over the effects the weather was having on his division supply system, General Shepherd believed it necessary to establish firm vehicular and foot crossings over the now-rampaging Asato if 6th Division assault battalions were to be provided with adequate rations, ammunition, and medical supplies. In addition to replenishing Marine forces at the bridgehead, a well-stocked supply reserve would be required to support a continued attack to the south.
At the same time that the 4th Marines sent probing patrols south to the vicinity of Machisi on the 24th, the regimental objective was bombarded by a heavy artillery concentration and an air strike--one of the first to be flown in clearing skies that day in support of ground forces. The 6th Engineer Battalion bridge builders who had labored throughout the night to erect some sort of crossing over the Asato,50 began putting together a Bailey bridge at dawn. Working all morning and part of the afternoon under enemy artillery and mortar shelling, the Marine engineers finished the bridge at 1400 and opened it for traffic 45 minutes later.51 A pile bridge, to be utilized as a tank bypass, was completed at 1840. Informing the division commander that the passage was open, the commanding officer of the engineer battalion matter-of-factly added: ". . . tanks should cross as soon as possible as arty [artillery] is falling in area."52
To intensify 4th Marines efforts south of the river, 3/22 moved into the line on the division left, relieving 2/4 at 1000 on the 24th. Once in position, Lieutenant Colonel Clair W. Shisler's battalion tied in with 3/5 and 1/4. At this time, the 2d Battalion moved across the river "to relieve the battered 3/4 on the right" of the 4th Marines line.53 The 3d Battalion became regimental reserve and moved to an assembly area in the rear where it held muster; none of its companies had over 90 men.54 Major Walker's 6th Reconnaissance Company, which had been attached to the 4th Marines on 23 May as regimental reserve, reverted to division control when the 1st Battalion, 29th Marines, was ordered to an assembly area just south of the Asato. In order to beef up Colonel Shapley's reserve for the continuation of the drive south, 1/29 was attached to the 4th in place of the scouts.
With the rain beating down once again, the 4th Marines attacked on 25 May to capture that part of the regimental objective near Machisi not taken on the 23d. Although severely restricted by the deep mud and limited visibility, assault infantry seized the greater part of the north-south ridgeline lying west of the village. At 1030, the 4th overcame determined Japanese defenders entrenched
on the reverse slope and occupied the objective. Once the captors had reorganized their forces and consolidated the newly won positions, they prepared to carry on further. The attack now progressed slowly as assault troops forged ahead against a storm of frontal and flanking fires.
When the regiment halted for the day at 1630, the battalions established firm contact along the line and dug in night defenses. During the preinvasion rehearsal phase 6th Division training had emphasized village and street fighting. This training was first put into practical use on the 25th when attacking troops entered the eastern outskirts of Naha and came under fire from Japanese- defended houses. The heavy fire from these as well as from the many burial vaults along the ridges in this area inflicted numerous casualties in the Marine units.
Effectively dividing this section of Naha into two separate zones of action was a canal connecting the Asato River and the estuary of the Kokuba. The waterway was 20 yards wide, had a thick mud bottom, and stone banks 3 to 5 feet high.
As the 4th Marines fought in the eastern portion of Naha, the 6th Reconnaissance Company crossed the Asato to enter the once-urban, now-razed, area of Naha west of the canal. Major Walker's men quickly cleared a sector of snipers and a few disorganized troops, and set up defenses for the night. At 1900, the engineers completed construction of a footbridge across the mouth of the Asato. The bridge was anchored on the southern bank behind the defense perimeter 'of the scouts, and on the northern bank in front of 2/22, which manned the lines of the 22d Marines. Company G of the battalion was assigned as a clutch unit to relieve or support the reconnaissance company upon order.
Although the reconnaissance company had experienced a relatively quiet night, the two assault battalions of the 4th Marines spent the hours of darkness in fighting off counterattacks. At 2000, 1/4 reported that the enemy was forming up approximately 200-250 yards in front of its positions and had begun smoking Marine lines. A Japanese mortar barrage preceded the counterattack, which was broken up almost immediately under a mixed artillery and mortar shelling that continued on for another two hours without letup. Later, at midnight, when Company E, 2/4, was hit by a counterattack, it was immediately reinforced by a platoon from 1/29. After a two-hour-long hand grenade duel, in which the Marines suffered only light casualties, the enemy was successfully repelled.
Across most of the rest of the Tenth Army front on the 25th, high water and mud limited activity to patrol actions. The 7th Infantry Division, however, which had forced the enemy from commanding terrain features and inserted an opening wedge into the southeastern defenses of Shuri on 24 May, continued its vigorous drive on the 25th. Additional key positions were secured against ever-stiffening resistance and under conditions of terrain and weather that favored the enemy. Limiting the 7th Division attack was the problem of getting
supplies forward, after its only supply route to the front sank in a sea of mud under the ravages of continuous use.
In the 96th Division zone, troops holding positions south and west of Conical Hill were all but isolated from rear area facilities of the division. Suffering serious losses under a rash of small counterattacks and continual attempts by the enemy to infiltrate, the depleted infantry companies holding the line were forced to utilize all available manpower from battalion and regimental service and support units. The frontline units put these soldiers into the line as riflemen or assigned them to the tremendously wearing task of hand-carrying supplies forward over the muddy ground. Descriptive of these agonized efforts is a comment made by one of the 96th's officers, who said: "Those on the forward slopes slid down. Those on the reverse slopes slid back. Otherwise, no change."55
A happy change in these gloomy reports of a bogged-down campaign--and possibly a favorable portent for the future-occurred on 26 May, when it appeared as though the enemy was pulling out of Shuri. Observers at the 1st and 5th Marines regimental observation posts ( OPS) reported that there was a good deal of enemy movement south, and thus prompted the 1st Marine Division G-2 to request air observation of the suspected area at 1200.56
Despite hazardous flying conditions in rain and poor visibility, which in themselves would limit the value and amount of information gained, a spotter plane was catapulted from the New York almost immediately after receipt of the G-2 request. Upon arrival over the target area, the airborne observer confirmed the presence of a large number of Japanese troops and vehicles clogging the roads leading south from Shuri.
Within 13 minutes after this sighting, the USS New Orleans had fired the first salvo in a continued devastating barrage that was brought to bear on the withdrawing enemy by artillery, mortars, the main and secondary batteries of gunfire support ships, and the machine guns and bombs of Marine aircraft that had risen from rain-sodden fields to harry the enemy from above.57 Commenting on the part played by gunfire support ships at this point, the naval gunfire officer in the IIIAC staff recalled:
. . . the New York was some distance from the beach but the New Orleans was close in. The New Orleans heard the report of the New York's plane and asked the spotter for coordinates. She positioned herself and began adjustment by full salvos of main battery. . . . Other firing ships and support craft with H&I [Harassing and Interdiction] missions or otherwise in the area, noticed the increased activity, sent UP planes, and got into the act. Ships without planes asked to be cut in with ships that did have them and often a plane
spotter was firing two or more ships at the same time.58
Enemy hopes for a successful withdrawal under the inclement weather conditions were shattered by the massed fires which caught and blasted some 3,000-4,000 Japanese troops with their tanks, vehicles, and artillery pieces in the open, The pilots of observation planes zoomed through the overcast to treetop height and lower to count and report back an estimated 500 enemy killed.59
The continuing stubborn reluctance on the part of some Japanese to give way to the Americans seemed to belie the fact that General Ushijima's forces were indeed withdrawing. The Tenth Army found that only local attacks and patrols could be accomplished in the rain against enemy resistance. Even limited forward movement directed towards the heart of Shuri aroused heavy and immediate response, and indicated that Japanese inner defenses were holding firm. Light resistance was found only along the coasts; in the IIIAC zone on the right, where the 6th Reconnaissance Company held the levelled and deserted Naha, and in the east, where patrols of the 184th Infantry approached Chinen Peninsula.
Following the discovery of the enemy withdrawal and the initial bombardments placed on his movements, artillery batteries and gunfire support ships fired continuous harassing and interdiction missions on all routes, road junctions, and crossroads in the area leading south from Shuri. To keep the enemy disorganized and unable to make a stand, and to exploit the implications inherent in the Japanese withdrawal, General Buckner sent the following message to his two corps commanders on 27 May:
Indications point to possible enemy retirement to new defensive position with possible counteroffensive against our forces threatening his flank. Initiate without delay strong and unrelenting pressure to ascertain probable intentions and keep him off balance. Enemy must not repeat not be permitted to establish himself securely on new position with only nominal interference.60
Continued rains and their subsequent effect on the terrain precluded a full-scale attack all along the front. Therefore, the Tenth Army settled for aggressive patrol action against the remaining Japanese strongpoints facing its lines. Apparently contradicting what influence the previous day's withdrawal
AERIAL VIEW of Shuri on 28 April before it was bombed.
SHURI, one month later. [USAF 83752]
should have had on the tactical situation, patrol reports reading "Does not appear that resistance has lessened," or "No indication of Japanese withdrawal," implied that Shuri would not yet, if ever, fall easily.61
Assault units of the 7th Infantry Division, driving west from Yonabaru, ran into 62d Division elements hastily committed by General Ushijima to shore up his threatened right flank. On the far left flank of the Tenth Army, advance patrols of the 184th Infantry reached Inasomi, approximately two miles southwest of Yonabaru, without meeting any organized resistance. To contain the overall threat this potentially deep penetration posed to Japanese defenses in the south, the Thirty-second Army moved additional troops of the 62d Division down from Shuri.62
On the opposite flank of Tenth Army, early on the 27th, Company G, 2/22, moved across the Asato, passed through reconnaissance company lines, and pressed well into Naha against only slight resistance. At the same time, patrols from the 4th Marines moved 200-300 yards ahead of regimental lines to take advantage of the apparent enemy weakness here. Lieutenant Colonel Woodhouse was ordered at 0915 to move the rest of his battalion across the river, and nearly two hours later 2/22 was directed to attack and seize the high ground approximately 100 yards north of the Kokuba estuary. The 4th Marines received the same order to seize the rest of Naha. Colonel Shapley attacked with 1/4 on the left, 2/4 on the right; 3/4 filled in on the left flank between 3/22 and 1/4.
Following a pre-attack nine-battalion artillery preparation, 6th Division forces advanced abreast at 1230 against light opposition, reached the objective at approximately 1700, and dug in for night defense at 1900, when regimental lines were tied in all around.63 Actually, occupation of the objective in force amounted to the same thing that had been accomplished by patrols that morning. Badly in need of rest after a 10-day tour in the lines, the 4th Marines was alerted that it would be relieved by the 29th Marines; the changeover was scheduled to begin at 0630 the next morning.
Another important change in the ICEBERG command structure occurring in May took place on the 27th, when the Fifth Fleet once again became the Third Fleet and Admiral Halsey took over the responsibility for supporting the ICEBERG campaign from Admiral Spruance. As in February, when the latter had taken over from Halsey, the ships and men of the fleet remained the same, only the numerical designations of the task groupings changed (i.e., TF 58 became TF 38, etc.). At the same time that this command change was effected, General Buckner became directly responsible for CinCPOA for the defense and development of captured positions in the Ryukyus.64
Large-scale movements were still impracticable on 28 May because of the mud, although: "The morning . . . was clear with no rain."65 Despite the limited trafficability of both roads and terrain, local commanders hewed to the concept of General Buckner's directive of the previous day and maintained constant and continuous pressure on enemy forces, In the XXIV Corps zone, the 184th Infantry deepened the 7th Division salient in the Ozato Hills by moving to within 1,000 yards of Shinzato, a village located where Chinen Peninsula joined the mainland.
Less satisfactory progress was registered for the units driving west, as 62d Division blocking forces held up other 7th Division troops. Strongly held positions southwest of Conical Hill frustrated 96th Division attempts altogether, and the 77th Division made little or no headway against a determined defense of Shuri heights. At the end of the day, XXIV Corps gains were negligible and inconclusive. Despite reports of increased troop withdrawals, the enemy's obstinate reluctance to yield indicated that General Ushijima either had established a strong rearguard to protect the withdrawal or that he was in fact not abandoning Shuri.
In the IIIAC sector, Marines were no more successful in prosecuting their portion of the war and had no easier time of it than had the Army units. In its attack on 110 Meter Hill, 2/1 was covered by the fires of 3/1 and 3/306. Once 2/1 had gained its objective, 3/1 was to advance down Wana Draw. The 2d Battalion gained the hilltop twice, only to be thrown back by mortar barrages coming from reverse slope emplacements and vicious machine gun fire raking positions on the crest from three directions. Lieutenant Colonel James C. Magee, Jr., believed that, even if his battalion succeeded in carrying the hill, "it could not possibly hold it against a strong counterattack."66 Heavy casualties had depleted the size of the battalion to a point where its total effective strength was 277 men; no rifle company could muster more than a total of 99 Marines.67
At first glance, it would appear as though reinforcement of the battalion at this time might possibly have tipped the scales of victory in favor of the Marines and enabled them to capture 110 Meter Hill. Replacements were available; the 1st Marine Division had received a total of 53 officers and 1,255 enlisted men in the three-day period of 27-29 May, when the 57th, 59th, and 63d Replacement Drafts arrived at Okinawa.68 The division was precluded by IIIAC orders, however, from inserting these fresh troops into the line during a battle situation, the course of which depended upon close teamwork by experienced veterans. Only after several days of indoctrination and training in reserve areas could the men be sent forward. Infantry replacements were at a premium in any case because of the heavy losses sustained by the rifle regiments. This condition existed even though over 350 emergency replacements
had been assigned from division special and service troops to the infantry regiments in mid-May and the regular "flow of Marine replacements was beyond expectations. . . ."69 Nonetheless, despite this constant infusion of new Marines, at no time during the drive to the south were 1st Division infantry regiments able to exceed more than 85 percent of effective T/O strength.70
To the commanders of undermanned companies and battalions in this period of the campaign, immediate reinforcement was not only desirable--it was of paramount importance. From the point of view of senior commanders, such as the regimental commander of the 1st Marines:
. . . the existence of a replacement pool which could not, at the moment, be used for combat proved to be extremely valuable. At the end of May, when the rainy period had rendered the roads and the countryside impassable to anything on wheels or tracks, the supply of forward troops became most critical. Something like 500 replacements, if any recollection is correct, were available to the 1st Marines; these men were formed into man-pack trains, under the direction of the executive officer. Their exhausting struggles, heavily laden, through mud which even an unburdened man found difficult to negotiate were the solution to the supply problem at this time, though with no margin to spare.71
Even though 2/1 and other assault units could not be reinforced, supply support from non-committed elements permitted them to concentrate on the immediate problem of fighting the enemy. Late on the 28th, after being withdrawn to that morning's jump-off position, organic crew-served weapons of 2/1 worked over the reverse slopes of 110 Meter Hill as the battalion lines were themselves raked by the continual fire of Japanese flat-trajectory cannon. With unabated fury and determined fanaticism, the enemy stood his ground and even sought to infiltrate 2/1 lines after dark when many Japanese soldiers were killed.
Also on 28 May, patrols from 3/1 penetrated some 300 yards into Wana Draw under intense machine gun and rifle fire. At 1600, Colonel Mason ordered the battalion to clear all Japanese troops from the draw, but the battalion commander's request that the attack be delayed until the following morning instead, in order that he might organize and concentrate his forces for the drive, was approved.
The 1st Division concluded that: "The beginning of the end for Shuri came on the 28th."72 Although rear-guard action continued unrelentingly in the high ground north of the city in the 77th Division zone, the 5th Marines attacked at 0730, captured the village of Asato, and 1/5 patrolled 300 yards beyond that without appreciable opposition. During the same day, the 306th Infantry managed to mop up the area approximately 150 yards in front of its lines. On the corps boundary, 3/306 sent strong patrols forward, coordinating their movements with those of 2/1. By dark, 1/307--to the left of the 306th--attacked the high ground east of Shuri against determined opposition. Despite the fact that it was bitterly opposed and repulsed by heavy mortar fire initially, the battalion
inched forward under the cover of smoke and managed to dig in for the night.73
While the 1st and 77th Divisions were moving slowly forward, the 29th Marines began relieving the 4th in position. Enemy shelling during the relief added to the more-than 1,100 casualties already sustained by Colonel Shapley's regiment. Beginning at daylight, 3/29 relieved 1/4 and 3/4, the elements on the left of the 4th Marines line, 1/29 moved into the western portion of Naha relieving 2/4, and 2/29--in regimental reserve--moved to an assembly area near Colonel Whaling's CP. Upon its relief, the 4th Marines marched and motored to beach areas near Machinato airfield, where it became 6th Division reserve.
Continuing to advance after passage of the 2/4 lines, 1/29 moved abreast of and then paced the attack of the 22d Marines. The direction of the battalion attack changed to the southwest when Company C pivoted on Company A--on the right boundary--and gained 250 yards through the rubble of Naha. Heavy small arms fire and a scattered mortar and artillery shelling followed the Marines, who finally set in a night defense along a line 800 yards from the Kokuba. Here visual contact was established with the 22d Marines across the canal on the right, and with 3/29 on the left flank.74
The 22d Marines had moved out on the 28th before dawn, At that time, 1/22 passed through the lines of the 2d Battalion to take up the assault in the direction of the banks of the Kokuba estuary, west of the canal running through Naha. Moving rapidly against only slight resistance, its flanks and rear protected by 2/22,, the battalion captured its objective by 0845.
General Shepherd then assigned the task of defending western Naha to his reconnaissance company in order to release the 22d Marines for further offensive action to the east against Japanese positions in the Kokuba hills. Major Walker was first notified of the scouts' new assignment at 1030, when he received the following message from the division G-3, Lieutenant Colonel Victor H. Krulak:
Reposing great confidence in your integrity and political ability you are hereby named acting mayor of Naha. The appointment effective 281600 carries all pay and emoluments accruing to office. To be collected from Imperial Treasury.75
Shortly after midday, the 6th Engineer Battalion was ordered to reconnoiter all bridge crossings over the canal. Also, it was to install a jeep crossing and at least two foot bridges over the canal prior to 0400 on the 29th to facilitate the 22d Marines attack east of the Kokuba. The engineers worked in the dark in front of Marine lines under a constant downpour of rain and shells, as they manhandled the bridge construction material up to the various bridging sites. The task was completed at 0420. At 0430, elements of 1/22 were across the canal and organized on the
eastern shore. This was the division's third opposed river crossing in 20 days.76
The attack began a half hour later and the Marines made some immediate progress against scattered machine gun and rifle fire. Supporting the assault was 2/22, while the 3d Battalion followed in reserve. At 0845, 1/22 made contact with 1/29 and the two infantry battalions pushed on abreast of each other. As spearhead elements approached the hills north of Kokuba, increased resistance indicated that the enemy was positioned there in strength. Because of the hard fighting and numerous casualties experienced by 1/22, at 1500 2/22 was alerted to relieve it, when the situation permitted, on the ground then held. Since the 1st Battalion was heavily engaged at the time, its commander advised against the relief being effected then. Instead, Companies E and G were committed into the line at 1800 to reinforce the night defenses of the regiment.
Until darkness fell the 6th Division assault regiments continued the attack in an effort to reduce the strong enemy position encountered earlier that afternoon. Aggravating the situation was the fact that the routes of approach to these Japanese emplacements were across open ground that afforded the attacking Marines little or no cover from the fire of well-dug-in machine guns and mortars. The position itself was centered on a small group of hills on which were located several radio towers that had been demolished in air raids when the rest of Naha was razed earlier. Rain and mud precluded the use of vital armor support. It still remained an infantryman's war.
On the same day, 29 May, the 29th Marines attacked to the south and then cut east in order to come abreast of the 22d Marines; the 29th's objective was the high ground immediately northwest of Shichina. Like the 22d Marines approach route, that of the 29th was over low and open ground, causing the regimental commander to comment that the terrain was "about as suitable to fighting as a billiard table."77 The 1st Battalion maintained a slow, steady pace against moderate resistance, and dug in at dark slightly to the left rear of 3/22, on the regimental boundary. The 3d Battalion of the 29th paced the advance of 1/29, but 3/5 on the left had advanced so rapidly during the day that 3/'29 was forced to bring its lines forward some 600 yards at the end of the day to maintain firm contact with the 5th Marines.
Tuesday, 29 May 1945, is a significant date in the history of the Okinawa campaign, for it was on this day elements of the 1st Marine Division captured Shuri Castle. This ancient redoubt, once the seat of the rulers of Okinawa, had served as General Ushijima's center for controlling the defense of the island.
The 5th Marines attack began at 0730; 1/5 on the left, 3/5 on the right. The 3d Battalion jumped off with Company L in assault. Enemy machine gun, mortar, and small arms fire was placed on the attacking Marines but was unable to prevent them from advancing a total of 600 yards at day's end. Following
CORKSCREW: Marine assault team attacks a Japanese cave after a satchel charge has exploded.
BLOWTORCH: A flame tank bunns out Japanese positions in hillside tombs during the drive for Naha.
Company L, Companies I and K moved out later in the morning in an attempt to strengthen and protect the left of the battalion line, but enemy mortars positioned west of Shuri fired a furious barrage that seriously limited forward movement. Despite the efforts to destroy them by bazooka fire, the mortars remained active and held the companies back. The battalion night defense set up at dusk showed 3/5 lines cutting back sharply from the left of Company L's exposed position to tie in with 1/5 at Shuri Ridge.
The 1st Battalion moved rapidly over muddy terrain against little opposition and immediately occupied Shuri's ridge crest in close proximity to the castle. From this position, at approximately 0930, Lieutenant Colonel Charles W. Shelburne, the battalion commander, requested permission to send one of his assault companies to storm the apparently lightly manned fortification. Despite the fact that the castle itself was within the zone of the 77th Infantry Division, General de] Valle granted the request when it was forwarded to him for approval. He believed that the capture of this enemy strongpoint would favorably effect and shorten the campaign; this opportunity, therefore, had to be seized at once. Shortly after the island was secured, General del Valle offered the opinion that "at that time the position of the 77th Division was such that it would have taken several hard days' fighting through enemy resistance,"78 if he had waited for the tactical situation to unfold normally.
Bowling over the few Japanese that were in their way, Marines from Company A, 1,/5, drove east along the ridge and right into the castle itself, securing it at 1015. The 77th Division had programmed an air strike and a heavy artillery bombardment on the bastion for 29 May and had received warning of the attack of the 5th Marines only a few short minutes before it was mounted. Fortunately for the Marines, General Bruce and his staff worked frantically to contact all supporting arms and were just "barely able to avert called strikes in time."79
The air and artillery preparation of Shuri by the 77th Division resulted from General Bruce's decision on the 28th to attack the next day, weather permitting. The 1st Marine Division had given him no indication that it planned to enter the zone of the 77th, for: "Had timely notice been given and the move been properly coordinated," the Army commander believed "the 77 Div could have rendered adequate support to the Marines. . . ."80
Overshadowing this near tragedy was the fact that Company A success resulted from the close teamwork of Tenth Army support and assault troops who had not permitted the enemy to relax for an instant. Without this unrelenting pressure, the breakthrough would not have been possible.
To profit from the 1/5 gain, General del Valle quickly revised his attack plan and sent 3/1 through the lines of the
5th Marines to relieve 1/5. At 1400, the relief had been effected and 1/5 continued the attack south. The commander of 3/1 immediately set up his battalion in perimeter defense around the battered walls of the castle. Augmenting this defense were two companies from 1/1 which fought their way into assigned positions that faced north, and tied in with the lines of 3/1.
Upon the 5th Marines sweep into Shuri, the 1st Marines was ordered to follow the attack closely; 3/1 was to relieve 1/5, and 1/1, tailing 3/1 around Hill 55, was to attack east into the yet-unoccupied sector north of Shuri. Moving out in a column of companies, the battalion crossed the linen of departure in front of Hill 55 where the leading element came under intensive fire from a heavy machine gun hidden in a deep and rugged cut a few hundred yards south of bypassed Wana Draw. Unable to either silence the weapon or attack through its curtain of fire, the battalion axis of advance was angled to the right and the troops eventually made contact with 3/1 south of Shuri. While 1/1 and 3/1 hit Shuri from the west, the 2d Battalion was ordered to hold Wana Ridge, from which it was to provide fire support to regimental assault elements. To augment and increase this effort, "all battalion headquarters personnel, cooks, wiremen, and stretcher bearers were sent forward to help man the lines."81
At no time after the capture of Shuri Castle was there any indication that the Japanese defenders of the hills north of the city were either being worn down or concerned with the Americans positioned in their rear. Reports from Tenth Army units all along the line gave proof that Japanese resistance remained undiminished. Only in a goodly portion of Chinen Peninsula, scouted by 7th Division troops during the day, was there little or no opposition.
Offsetting the relatively unhindered advance down the coasts by Tenth Army flanking divisions, a vividly contrasting picture was presented by the massive struggle down the center of the island. Despite the efforts of General Buckner's forces to execute a mass double envelopment successfully and encircle the bulk of General Ushijima's troops at Shuri, all signs pointed up the fact that the Japanese rear guard had accomplished its mission well; the greatest portion of the units defending Shuri had indeed escaped to the south.
Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (II-7) * Next Chapter (II-9)
1. Unless otherwise noted, the material in this section is derived from: Tenth Army AR; IIIAC AR; 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.
2. 6th MarDiv SAR, Ph III, p. 5.
3. Upon learning of the death of Major Myers, General Shepherd commented: "It's the greatest single loss the Division has sustained. Myers was an outstanding leader. Whenever I called on him for a job he never failed me.'" Cass, 6th MarDiv Hist, p. 117.
4. 6th MarDiv G-2 Periodic Rpt No. 45, dtd 16May45.
5. Okinawa Operations Record, p. 109.
6. 6th MarDiv SAR, Ph III, p. 7.
7. 22d Mar SAR, Ph III, p. 5.
8. IntelMono, pt I, sec B, pp. 15-16; CICAS Trans No. 202, Naval Attack Force T/O&E, dtd 4May45. No standards for the organization or equipping of these units had been established prior to their organization; but the makeup of one of them, found in the translation of the above-noted T/O&E, fairly well reflects the composition of the others. As of 4 May 1945, the 3d Battalion of the Iwao Force, a three-battalion group organized to reinforce the Thirty-second Army, was composed of 415 men in two companies armed with a total of 28 machine guns, 258 rifles, 27 grenade dischargers, and 1,744 grenades
9. Okinawa Operations Record, pp. 110-111.
10. 6th MarDiv SAR, Ph III, p. 9. The division defined battle casualties as killed and wounded; non-battle casualties included the loss of men due to exhaustion, sickness, and combat fatigue.
11. "Close examination of the aerial photo available was the cause of some concern since it appeared that the long ridge occupied by Co F was honeycombed with caves at, and slightly above, the level of the valley floor. . . . The counterattack which dislodged Co F apparently was initiated by Japanese from those caves." Fraser ltr.
12. Colonel Roberts and Lieutenant Colonel August C. Larson had relieved Colonel Schneider and Lieutenant Colonel Karl K. Louther, as commander and executive officer, respectively, of the 22d Marines at 1430 on 17 May.
13. The commanding officer of 4/15, who controlled the artillery fires directed at the counterattack and whose unit was in direct support of the 4th Marines, related an interesting incident of the action. He said that "I was able to talk directly to the front line commander of 3/4, LtCol Bruno Hochmuth, during the entire action. . . . This proved to be very handy indeed, because as usually happens when a large number of artillery units are firing in close proximity to our own front [15 battalions were firing by 2315], 3/4 started receiving an uncomfortably large number of our own rounds. Because of the fact that I was talking directly to LtCol Hochmuth, who was observing the action from his OP, we were able to pick a lull in the fight, straighten out our 'shorts,' and still continue the very heavy artillery support he had requested early in the attack." Col Bruce T. Hemphill ltr to CMC, dtd 28Feb55.
14. 3/4 SAR, Ph III, p. 3.
15. Lieutenant Colonel Beans had been replaced on 1 May, when he resumed his duties as executive officer of the 4th Marines.
16. Unless otherwise noted, the material in this section is derived from: IIIAC AR; 1st MarDiv SAR; 1st MarDiv G-3 Jnl; 1st Mar SAR; 5th Mar SAR; 7th Mar SAR.
17. 1st MarDiv G-2 PeriodicRpt No. 44, dtd 15May45.
18. 1st MarDiv G-2 PeriodicRpt No. 47, dtd 18May45.
19. Because the first two versions of the official battle map had incorporated incorrect topographical data, this terrain feature was identified first as Hill 57 and then 59. A third and more accurate map, issued in late May designated this point as Hill 55, which shall be used in this text.
20. 1st MarDiv G-2 PeriodicRpts Nos 44-50, dtd 15-21May45.
21. 5th Mar SAR, p. 4.
22. While returning to his jeep from a visit to the 7th Marines OP near Dakeshi, Brigadier General Smith "passed a battalion coming up to go in the lines. . . . These men were not going into combat for the first time. They were veterans. There was no signing and laughing. They were deadly serious and business like. The men had already been separated from the boys." Smith, Personal Narrative, p. 110.
23. 1st TkBn Summary, 16May45.
24. 1st MarDiv SAR, pt VII, p. 5.
25. 1st MarDiv SAR, pt VII, p. 6.
26. 2/5 SAR, p. 13.
27. Variously named 100 Meter Hill, Knob Hill, and Conical Hill by combat troops who viewed it from different points on the ground, the designation found in the 2/1 SAR will be used hereafter.
28. 1st MarDiv G-2 PeriodicRpt No.50, dtd 21May45.
29. Lieutenant Colonel Sabol was relieved on 21 May, when he was transferred to the 7th Marines to become regimental operations officer.
30. 1st MarDiv G-Z PeriodicRpt No. 52, dtd 23May45.
31. Unless otherwise noted, the material contained in this section is derived from: Tenth Army AR; XXIV Corps AR; 77th InfDiv OpRpt, Okinawa; 96th infDiv AR.
32. Okinawa Operations Record, "Record of the 24th Division," p. 177.
33. Ibid., pp. 179-181, Map 5.
34. XXIV Corps AR, p. 31.
35. Unless otherwise indicated, the material in this section is derived from: Tenth Army AR; IIIAC AR; XXIV Corps SAR; 1st MarDiv SAR; 6th MarDiv SAR, Ph III; 7th InfDiv AR; 77th InfDiv OpRpt, Okinawa; 96th InfDiv AR; 1st Mar SAR; 4th Mar SAR, Ph III; 5th Mar SAR; 22d Mar SAR, Ph III; 29th Mar SAR, Ph III.
36. Yahara Interrogation.
37. By this time, "Naha was no longer tenable by the Japanese as it had been thoroughly flattened by prior bombardment and its flat terrain offered no cover from our fire from the high ground north of Naha. However, the Japanese held the hills south of the narrow harbor of [the city] and to have put any great number of troops in Naha would have invited severe casualties. Therefore, until such time as the hill mass south of the harbor . . . was captured, Naha itself [was] a no-man's land in which only patrols operated." Smith, Personal Narrative, p. 105
38. Blakelock ltr 1965.
39. Smith, Personal Narrative, p. 111.
40. 6th MarDiv G-3 Jnl, Ph III, 23May45.
41. 6th MarDiv SAR, Ph III, p. 12.
42. 6th MarDiv G-3 Jnl, Ph III, 23May45.
43. 3/4 SAR, Ph III, p. 4.
45. Okinawa Operations Record, p. 111.
47. 53d AA Brig AAR, pp. 40-43.
48. Ibid., pp. 39-43.
49. Ibid., p. 34.
50. "An attempt . . . made during the night to install a makeshift bridge built on LVTs . . . was unsuccessful due to the large number of enemy mines encountered along the river bank. During the effort two LVTs were seriously damaged." 6th MarDiv SAR, Ph III, p. 12.
51. 6th MarDiv G-3 Jnl, Ph III, 24May45.
53. 6bth Mar SAR, Ph III, p. 5.
55. Quoted in Orlando R. Davidson, et. al., The Deadeyes: The Story of the 96th Infantry Division (Washington: Infantry Journal Press, 1947), p. 159, hereafter Davidson, et. al., 96th Inf Div Hist.
56. IIIAC G-2 PeriodicRpt No. 56, dtd 27May45.
57. CTF 31 AR, pt III, p. 27.
58. LtCol William M. Gilliam ltr to CMC, dtd 16Mar55. During this and other incidents in the Okinawa campaign, gunfire support from all arms was superb. "It was not uncommon for a battleship, tanks, artillery, and aircraft to be supporting the efforts of a platoon of infantry during the reduction of the Shuri position." Ibid.
59. Commending TAF and the LFASCUs for their day's work, General del Valle sent a message reading "Congratulations and thanks for prompt response this afternoon when Nips were caught on road with kimonos down." 2d MAW WarD, May 45,
60. Tenth Army AR, chap 7, sec III, pp. 24-25. "During the period of May 22d to 30th when the southern front was engulfed in mud, General Buckner chafed at the slow progress being made" and constantly urged his corps commanders to greater speed. "He was under considerable pressure to make faster progress, as the Navy was sustaining heavy casualties by being forced to remain in the vicinity of Okinawa," exposed to the damaging Kamikaze raids. Smith, Personal Narrative, p. 123.
61. 1st MarDiv G-3 Jnl, 27May45.
62. Okinawa Operations Report, pp. 116-119.
63. At 1630, Major Walker's company was attached to 2/22 for the night; at 2000, 1/29 reverted to parent control.
64. ComFifthFlt AR, 1Apr-27May45, Ryukyus Operation, dtd 21Jun45, pt III, p. 7; see also section entitled "The Task Defined" in chap 2, supra.
65. 2/1 SAR, p. 11.
67. Ibid. The authorized T/O strength of a Marine rifle company at this time was 7 officers and 235 enlisted Marines.
68. 1st MarDiv SAR, Pers Anx, p. 7.
69. Ibid., p. 8.
71. Col Arthur T, Mason ltr to CMC, dtd 10Mar47.
72. 1st MarDiv SAR, p. 7.
73. 77th InfDiv OpRpt, Okinawa, p. 61.
74. 1/29 SAR, Ph III, p. 3. Lieutenant Colonel Samuel S. Yeaton relieved the temporary battalion commander, Major Robert P. Neuffer, who then became battalion executive officer.
75. 6th MarDiv G-3 Jnl, Ph III, 28May45. The new "Naha City Command" was reinforced by 1 officer and 40 Marines from the 6th Motor Transport Battalion. Ibid.
76. 6th MarDiv SAR, Ph III, pt III, p. 14.
77. 6th MarDiv G-3 Jnl, Ph III, 29May45.
78. MajGen Pedro A. del Valle, "Old Glory on Shuri," Marine Corps Gazette, v. 29, no. 8 (Aug45), p. 17.
79. Myers, 77th InfDiv History, p. 357; "However, arrangements had been made to see that our own artillery did not come down on these troops." Smith, Personal Narrative, p. 114.
80. 77th InfDiv OpRpt, Okinawa, p. 62.
81. 2/1 SAR, p. 12.