The Battle of Okinawa was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific War of World War II.On June 21, 1945, after 82 days of battle, the Japanese troops were defeated. This was not intended to be the final major battle of World War II, only the staging ground for the Allied invasion of Japan. The ferocity of the fighting on Okinawa, combined with the massive number of casualties, forced American strategists to seek alternative means for ending the war, as the destruction on Okinawa would surely have paled in comparison to any invasion of the Japanese home islands. The following article, originally published in the January 1946 issue ofProceedings, gives a personal account of the assault on Okinawa.
The battle was one of the bloodiest in the Pacific. Based on Okinawan government sources, mainland Japan lost 77,166 soldiers, who were either killed or committed suicide, and the Allies suffered 14,009 deaths (with an estimated total of more than 65,000 casualties of all kinds). Simultaneously, 42,000–150,000 local civilians were killed or committed suicide, a significant proportion of the local population.
LVTs roll across terrain on Okinawa from beaches as Amphibious Task Force unloads. April 3, 1945
[Via Cherie Evans Kendall]
A U.S. Marine Corps Stinson OY-1 Sentinel observation plane flies low over Naha, capital of Okinawa, ca. May 1945 (exact date shot unknown). On this flight, the tiny ship drew small arms and antiaircraft fire from the city which was in Japanese control at the time (photographer: Lt. David D. Duncan, USMC; ARC Identifier: 532379; NARA file no. 127-GR-106-121116).
Tomori Lion of Okinawa
Two Sherman tanks move into position as the U.S. Marines advance on Naha, the capital city of Okinawa, during the closing months of World War II. Pfc. Harold Tayler, Company C, 1st Battalion, 29th Marine Regiment, 6th Marine Division who now lives in Lake Suzy, Fla. received the Silver Star for his exploits during the Battle for Half Moon Hill on Okinawa
Natives of Kiniawa, fright giving way to bewilderment, are "taxied" in a marine amphibious invasion craft to a refugee camp away from the gunfire on the Ryukyu stronghold (Official U.S. Coast Guard Photo)
U.S. Marine dog handler, Pvt. 1st Class Fred Muscard, washes himself in a small puddle during the Battle of Okinawa (codename: Operation Iceberg) in the company of his Doberman Pinscher named Lux. Okinawa Island, Ryukyu Islands, Japan. April 1945.
TBM-3 Avengers of Marine Torpedo
USS Tennessee Provides Naval Gunfire Support while LVTs Advance toward the Beaches
Marines pass through a small village where a Japanese soldier lies dead. Okinawa, April 1945 (Exact Date Unknown) (Norris G. McElroy, Marine Corps - NARA File #: 127-N-95-119485 War & Conflict Book #: 1231)
1st Marine Division Okinawa, 37mm gun pounding Jap pill-boxes (Photographer: Cpl John W. Saunders)
Okinawa – 105mm Howitzer firing in Naha
US landing craft arrive on Okinawa 13 days into the American invasion
Tank-borne infantry moving up to take the town of Ghuta before the Japanese can occupy it. The men are members of Colonel Victor Bleasdale’s 29th Marines (Photographer: PFC Keller)
On Okinawa, Lt. General Simon B. Buckner Jr., (foreground, holding camera), photographed with Major General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., Commanding General, 6th Marine Division (US Marine Corps photo)
OLD GLORY FLIES OVER SHURI – Braving sniper fire, Marine LtCol Richard P. Ross, Jr., of Frederick, Maryland, places the American flag on a parapet of Shuri castle on Okinawa. This 1st Marine Division flag was the first to be raised over Cape Gloucester and Peleliu by that unit. The metal staff to which the flag is attached had been used for Japanese ensigns and bears the marks of American shellfire