Battle of Okinawa (1945)

The Pittsburgh Press (April 1, 1945)

Navy planes blast 47 ships off Okinawa

Invasion armada on way, Tokyo says

Devastating task force attacks on Okinawa Island continued Saturday for the ninth day, Adm. Nimitz announced. Minami Daito Island, 300 miles east of Okinawa, and the Sakishima Islands were also attacked by the task forces. Units of the British Fleet made the Sakishima attack. Superfortresses blasted targets on Kyushu, Jap home island, in what Tokyo said was part of the preparations for an early invasion of Okinawa.

GUAM (UP) – U.S. carrier-based planes have destroyed or damaged 49 Jap ships in almost continuous attacks on the Ryukyu Islands, it was announced today.

Radio Tokyo reported that a huge, heavily guarded transport armada was bearing down on Okinawa, chief island of the Ryukyus, 330 miles south of Japan, led by minesweepers.

More than 100 Superfortresses from the Marianas blasted targets on the southern Jap island of Kyushu. Big guns of Adm. Raymond A. Spruance’s U.S. Fifth Fleet hammered Okinawa with thousands of shells Saturday for the ninth successive day. The British Pacific Fleet again battered the Sakishima Islands between Formosa and Okinawa.

Naval power massed

The Japs were reeling under some of the heaviest blows of the Pacific war.

Radio Tokyo said “one-fourth to one-third” of all of America’s naval power now was concentrated in the Far Western Pacific on Japan’s doorstep intensifying attacks which have cost the Japs 967 planes and 104 to 108 ships destroyed or damaged in two weeks.

Dispatches from the U.S. Fleet flagship said Okinawa was a scene of “utter desolation.” A thick black cloud of smoke covered the island. Pilots saw no human activity and concluded that the Japs had taken to the rugged northern hills to escape the hellish bombardment.

Nimitz gives score

Adm. Chester W. Nimitz announced that fast carrier task forces battered Kyushu and the Ryukyu Islands Wednesday and Thursday.

They ran up the following score:

  • SUNK: Two destroyer escorts, one medium cargo ship, ten small cargo ships, four luggers, one motor torpedo boat – Total 18.
  • PROBABLY SUNK: Nine medium cargo ships, five small cargo ships – Total 14.
  • DAMAGED: One destroyer escort, 13 small cargo ships, one medium cargo ship – Total 15.

In addition, carrier planes attacking Okinawa Friday, destroyed four submarine pens and two torpedo boats in the submarine base at Unten Bay on the west coast.

29 planes bagged

The carrier planes, in the Wednesday-Thursday attacks, shot down 29 Jap planes and one glider in air battles, destroyed 16 planes on the ground and damaged or destroyed 42 others aground.

In addition, they damaged airplane hangars, shops and other installations on Tokuno Island, 70 miles northeast of Okinawa, on Yaku Island, 49 miles south of Kyushu, and in the southern Kyushu cities of Kanoya, Kushira. Chiran, Tojimbara and Ibusuki. U.S. losses were 12 planes and six pilots.

Ninth day of attacks

Fleet battleships, including new 45,000 tonners, Friday steamed up to Okinawa and shelled shore installations at close range. They breached sea walls and hammered gun positions, airfields and bridges.

Adm. Nimitz said the Okinawa attacks by both planes and surface ships continued through Saturday, the ninth successive day of a terrific bombardment similar to those which preceded the invasions of other Pacific islands, only more intense.

Tokyo radio said the gigantic fleet had been reinforced and warships alone numbered 150, including 17 battleships. The enemy said part of the fleet: had approached Kume Island, 50 miles west of Okinawa.

Decisive battle predicted

The enemy said the start of landings on Okinawa could be only a matter of time and the radio quoted one Jap newspaper that “the time for the decisive battle between Japan and America finally has come upon us.”

The London radio said U.S. planes had laid mines in Japan’s Inland Sea and off Southern Kyushu.

Tokyo said U.S. minesweepers were preparing for landing operations off Okinawa and were followed by a powerful transport armada. It said “thousands upon thousands of shells are landing on Okinawa.”

Adm. Nimitz announced that surface forces had attacked barracks, warehouses, the radio station, ammunition dumps and the airdrome on Minami Daito, 200 miles east of Okinawa and 635 miles west of Iwo.

British hit Sakishimas

The British Fleet yesterday struck the Sakishimas, which it also had hit last Monday and Tuesday, Adm. Nimitz said. Army Liberator bombers attacked the Jap naval base at Kataoka on Shumushu in the Northern Kuril Islands.

Headquarters of the XXI Bomber Command announced that Superfortresses had battered Kyushu again yesterday for the second time in five days. Tokyo radio said the raid lasted for two hours and that principal targets were airfield installations.

It was revealed that in the previous Superfortress attack on Kyushu 56 Jap planes were destroyed or damaged, and heavy damage was inflicted on the great Omura aircraft factory as well as on two Kyushu airfields.

Where the heck did they come from? Did they peel of some ships from the Atlantic theater?


By late 1944, there was very little need for capital ships in the ETO, so the more modern carriers, battleships, and cruisers were assigned to the new British Pacific Fleet. Remember that there’d been a British Indian Ocean Fleet operating since December, 1941.


As in the RIN or the British proper?

U.S. Navy Department (April 1, 1945)

CINCPOA Communiqué No. 317

The United States Tenth Army, whose principal ground elements include the XXIV Army Corps and the Marine III Amphibious Corps, invaded the west coast of the island of Okinawa in the Ryukyus in great force on the morning of April 1 (East Longitude Date). This landing is the largest amphibious operation of the war in the Pacific to date.

ADM R. A. Spruance, USN, Commander Fifth Fleet, is in overall tactical command of the operation. The amphibious phase of the operation is under command of VADM Richmond Kelly Turner, USN, Commander Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet. The Tenth Army is under command of LTG Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr., USA.

The landings were made by ships and landing craft of the United States Fifth Fleet supported by the guns and aircraft of that fleet.

The attack on Okinawa has also been covered and supported by attacks of a strong British carrier task force under VADM Sir Bernard Rawlings against enemy positions in the Sakishima group.

Troops of the XXIV Army Corps are commanded by MG John R. Hodge, USA, and the Marines of the III Amphibious Corps are commanded by MajGen Roy S. Geiger, USMC.

The attack on Okinawa was preceded by the capture of the islands of the Kerama group west of the southern tip of Okinawa which commenced on March 26. The amphibious phases of this preliminary operation were commanded by RADM I. N. Kiland, USN. The troops consisted of the 77th Army Division under command of MG Andrew D. Bruce, USA. The capture of these outposts was completed prior to the main landings on Okinawa and heavy artillery is now emplaced there and in support of the Okinawa attack.

The amphibious support force is under command of RADM W. H. P. Blandy, USN, who was also present at the capture of the Kerama group of islands and in general charge of those operations. The battleships which form the principal gunfire support element are commanded by RADM M. L. Deyo, USN.

Fast Carrier Task Forces of the U.S. Pacific Fleet which are participating in the attack are under command of VADM Marc A. Mitscher, USN. The escort carriers which are supporting the attack are under command of RADM C. T. Durgin, USN.

More than 1,400 ships are involved in the operation. The landings were preceded by and are being covered by heavy gunfire from battleships, cruisers and light units of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. U.S. carrier aircraft are providing close support for the ground troops. Strategic support is being given by the shore‑based air forces of the Southwest Pacific Area, the Pacific Ocean Areas, and by the 20th Air Force.

The operation is proceeding according to plan. The troops who went ashore at 1830, Tokyo Time, advanced inland rapidly and by 1100 had captured the Yontan and Kadena airports with light losses.

The capture of Iwo Island gave us an air base only 660 miles from Tokyo and greatly intensified our air attacks on Japan. The capture of Okinawa will give us bases only 325 miles from Japan which will greatly intensify the attacks by our fleet and air forces against Japanese communications and against Japan Itself. As our sea and air blockade cuts the enemy off from the world and as our bombing increases in strength and proficiency our final decisive victory is assured.

CINCPOA Communiqué No. 318

United States forces on Okinawa advanced inland rapidly throughout the first day of the assault and by 1800 on April 1 (East Longitude Date) forward elements of the XXIV Army Corps and Marine Third Amphibious Corps had expanded the beachhead to a three-mile depth at several points. Enemy resistance continued to be light. Sporadic mortar and artillery fire fell on the beaches early in the day. The landing beaches were made secure against small arms fire as our forces deepened their positions behind the beaches. Heavy units of the Fleet continued to shell enemy installations on the island and carrier aircraft gave close support to the ground troops throughout the day. Four enemy planes attacking our surface forces were destroyed. Unloading of supplies on the beaches has begun.

Installations on Ishigaki and Miyako Islands in the Sakishima group were heavily hit by carrier aircraft of the British Pacific Fleet on March 31 and April 1. Of 20 Japanese aircraft which landed in the Sakishimas during these attacks, 14 were destroyed and 6 damaged by British aircraft.

Mustangs of the VII Fighter Command bombed Susaki airfield and harbor installations at Chichi Jima and other targets on Haha Jima in the Bonins on March 31.

Corsair and Hellcat fighters bombed supply areas in the Palaus on March 31. One of our fighters was destroyed but the pilot was rescued. On the same date, Marine fighters bombed the airstrip on Yap in the western Carolines.

U.S. Navy Department (April 2, 1945)

CINCPOA Communiqué No. 319

Elements of XXIV Army Corps moved across the island of Okinawa on April 2 (East Longitude Date) to a point on the east coast near the village of Tobara. Advances averaging several thousand yards were made along the entire Tenth Army line against scattered resistance. In the center of the island in rugged terrain increasing enemy activity was being encountered by some of our troops. In the northern sector advances were made throughout the day by the Marines of the III Amphibious Corps. The ground troops were supported in their drive by carrier aircraft, by gunfire from heavy units of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, and by field artillery. Observation planes began operation from Yontan and Kadena airfields. During the night of April 1 and 2, five enemy aircraft were shot down. The unloading of supplies is proceeding satisfactorily.

Corsair and Hellcat fighters and Avenger torpedo planes of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing attacked houses, a causeway, and a bridge and set a supply dump afire in the Palaus on April 2.

Liberators of the 7th Army Air Force bombed runways on Susaki airfield on Chichi Jima in the Bonins on March 31.

The Pittsburgh Press (April 2, 1945)

Yanks splitting Okinawa

Jap resistance flares on southern flank as invaders near capital

Ashore on a key Jap base, U.S. soldiers and Marines were closing on Naha, the capital of Okinawa Island. U.S. forces seized a beachhead 8¾ miles long on the west coast of the island and drove halfway to the eastern shore. The Americans landed between Zampa Cape and Chatan and drove through the latter town toward Naha. British warships supported the American operation by bombing the Sakishima Islands to the southwest.

GUAM (UP) – U.S. invasion troops smashed forward more than halfway across Okinawa today in a swift advance against scattered Jap sniper and pillbox resistance.

Front dispatches said an announcement that Okinawa had been split in two was expected hourly.

Hard fighting flared on the southern flank of the U.S. Army-Marine front where tank-led infantrymen were driving toward Naha, the island’s burning capital, less than seven miles distant.

Tokyo radio reported without Allied confirmation that Americans completed a new landing today on Kume, 52 miles west of Okinawa and 340 miles northwest of Formosa.

Tens of thousands of troops of the new U.S. Tenth Army smashed ashore along a wide beachhead. Two airfields and more than a dozen villages were captured. Dispatches indicated U.S. planes soon would be using at least one of the two captured airdromes.

United Press writer E. G. Valens, accompanying forward elements of two Army units driving across Okinawa from the captured Kadena Airfield, said resistance continued to be comparatively light. This column was heading downhill toward Noza and the Nagusuku Bay naval anchorage on the east side of the island.

The hardest fighting raged in the “badlands” north of Naha, the prime objective of this invasion only 362 miles south of Japan.

Roads heavily mined

There, the troops under Lt. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner collided with Jap-prepared positions and machine-gun nests. Roads were heavily mined. But when the mines were neutralized, soldiers moved in on bulldozers to widen the roads.

Carrier planes from the invasion armada lying offshore pinpointed enemy targets ahead of advancing troops.

Mr. Valens said one dauntless dive bomber made an emergency landing on Kadena airstrip. It was the first large American plane to land there.

Wrecked planes everywhere

At Kadena, the attackers found gun emplacements were little more than wooden pigsties. The wreckage of Jap planes lay scattered across the captured airfields, indicating the effectiveness of the pre-invasion bombardment and carrier strikes.

Norman Paige, Blue Network correspondent, reported from Okinawa that Jap civilians here begun surrendering “in droves.” “They seemed glad to give themselves up,” Mr. Paige said.

Mr. Paige said the “general impression” on Okinawa was that the main Jap garrison had moved to Formosa, was hiding in the hills or underground, or had been fooled into believing the landing would occur at the southern tip of Okinawa instead of the south-central west coast.

Capital’s towers in sight

Radio towers of Naha, a city of 165,000, were clearly visible to advancing U.S. troops.

The Yanks were already days ahead of schedule on their greatest invasion of the Pacific war.

Reinforcements of men, tanks, guns and supplies were flowing across the beaches in a steady stream.

Warships ranging from new 45,000-ton battleships to rocket-firing gunboats poured a steady drumfire of shells into enemy positions ahead of the ground forces. Some 1,500 carrier planes also shuttled back and forth over the island.

A Jap communiqué conceded that the Americans were continuing to reinforce the beachhead, but claimed that Jap forces had intercepted the invaders in “furious fighting.”

Melbourne radio reported that Australian monitors heard a Jap broadcast asserting that Allied invasion forces also landed on Kume Island, 52 miles west of Naha. Kume is the westernmost of the Ryukyu Island chain.

The enemy communiqué also asserted that 41 more ships in the invasion armada had been sunk or damaged.

Close on Japan

The landing on Okinawa brought U.S. forces nearly twice as close to Japan proper as they are on Iwo, 750 miles south of Tokyo. The northern tip of 65-mile-long Okinawa lies only 330 miles southwest of Kyushu, southernmost of the Jap home islands.

Capture of the island would give the Americans strategic air, land and sea bases from which to mount an eventual invasion of Japan proper or the China coast, only 400 miles to the west.

Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, commander of the Pacific feet, hailed the invasion as assuring “our final decisive victory.”

Severing life line

Adm. Richmond Kelly Turner, commander of the invasion fleet, said capture of Okinawa would sever Japan’s lifeline to her southern empire and make it impossible for her fleet to operate or base in Southern Japan. Traffic on the Yangtze River, lifeline of the Jap Army in China, also would be shut off. he said.

The main landing on Okinawa was preceded by landings beginning last Monday on the Kerama Islands 10 to 20 miles west of Okinawa.

Maj. Gen. Andrew D. Bruce’s 77th Infantry Division quickly seized all eight islands in the group and set up heavy artillery to support the Okinawa invasion. A seaplane and harbor base was established at one island.

10-day bombardment

An unprecedented 10-day air and sea bombardment, during which warships alone hurtled 5,000 tons of steel and explosives into the Jap defenses, paved the way for the landing on Okinawa by the Tenth Army under Lt. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr., former commander in Alaska.

Front dispatches said Maj. Gen. John R. Hodge’s XXIV Army Corps, veterans of Leyte, landed at the southern end of the beachhead against little more than occasional sniper fire.

Meet light opposition

The first regiment ashore swept a mile south across rice paddies and grain fields to the burning farm village of Kue, then swarmed down onto the flat, rolling shoreline leading south to Naha.

Command post radios reported battalion troops along the shore before dusk last night had driven through Chatan, eight miles north of Naha, against light opposition, including some mortar and rifle fire.

Other Army troops, spearheaded by amphibious tanks, struck inland and seized the Kadena Airfield, then fanned out against still bafflingly-light resistance. The Japs blew up few bridges, but others were captured intact by the Army troops.

Capture height

Another Army column captured a strategic height at Nozato, northernmost point of a hill mass dominating the southern sector of the assault area.

Late reports from the Army front said heavy American equipment was rolling inland over narrow roads six to eight feet wide and through sandy fields. Many troops walked boldly upright through rolling fields of sugarcane, sweet potatoes and grain.

Even lighter resistance, if possible, was met by Maj. Gen. Roy S. Geiger’s III Marine Amphibious Corps, conquerors of Guam, at the northern end of the beachhead.

Not a single Marine was killed or wounded in the first half hour of the invasion and, 8½ hours later, most Marines were yet to see a Jap soldier. U.S. casualties were described as “incredibly light.”

Take airfield quickly

The Marines went ashore at and south of Zampa Cape, some 16 miles north of Naha and westernmost point of the island, and in the first hour captured Yontan Airfield.

Gen. Geiger, veteran of many other Pacific campaigns, expressed amazement at the lack of resistance met by his forces.

“I’m damned if I’ve ever been on a battlefield hike this,” he said. “They’re sunk now.”

Big Jap force on island

The Japs were known to have 60,000 to 80,000 troops on Okinawa and their failure to oppose the landing was even more surprising in view of the fight to the death put up by the enemy garrison at Iwo.

Okinawa is also the most heavily populated Jap island yet invaded by the Americans. Its 435,000 inhabitants comprise nearly half the entire population of the Ryukyu Island chain, stretching from Japan to Formosa.

At the end of the first day, Gen. Buckner said he was “elated” with the progress of the campaign.

“We are locking down the Mikado’s throat.” he said.

Adm. Turner, on his flagship, was more conservative. He was “satisfied.”

Eleven to 13 Jap planes attempted to attack the invasion armada during the landing operations, but all were destroyed.

A British task force supported the invasion with a carrier-based air assault on Ishigaki and Miyako Islands in the Sakishima group southwest of Okinawa Saturday and Sunday. Of 20 Jap planes which landed in the Sakishimas during the attacks, 14 were destroyed and six damaged by the British aircraft.

200 Japs commit suicide as Yanks invade Keramas

Survivors on island near Okinawa say they were told Americans would torture them
By E. G. Valens, United Press staff writer

WITH 77TH INFANTRY DIVISION, in the Ryukyus (April 1, delayed) – Fear implanted by their own authorities caused an estimated 200 Jap civilians to attempt mass suicide on Tokashiki Island in the Keramas.

Some disemboweled themselves with grenades, others hanged themselves from trees. A number of them were still living when the Yanks reached the scene, but a Jap machine-gunner cut down the first litter-bearers, He was eliminated quickly, however.

The mass suicide, the first recorded since Saipan, was discovered when one battalion prepared to bivouac for the night about three miles north of Tokashiki town. Horrible cries of pain came from a small valley almost a mile away. When the troops investigated, they found the civilians scattered about, some dead, some dying.

White flag hauled down

Cpl. Alexander Roberts, Army photographer of New York City, was one of the first to arrive. He estimated the number of Japs at more than 200.

A white surrender flag flashed momentarily from amid the group, but it was hauled down before soldiers or doctors could reach it.

First aid was given immediately to those who could be saved. Morphine was given to the others to ease their pain.

The survivors told officers that their officials said if the Americans came all the women would be tortured and the men killed.

With these fears in mind, many fathers strangled their families and then took their own lives by pressing grenades against their stomachs or by leaning into the noose of a rope tied to a tree. One old man wept when he saw how the Americans treated the women. Only a short time ago he had strangled his daughter who was wounded in the pre-invasion bombing.

The invasion of the Keramas last Monday was one of the oddest in amphibious warfare. Each of the eight islands was invaded in an independent operation under the direct control of only a captain, major or lieutenant colonel.

Seize suicide fleet

It was a lightning small-scale stepping-stone operation right under the Jap noses on Okinawa with enemy air bases in every direction – north, south, east and west.

But now all the eight islands guarding the Okinawa landing beaches, less than 20 miles away, are secure and a major portion of a secret Jap suicide boat fleet is at the bottom of the Pacific.

The Yanks seized or destroyed 290 of these 16-foot boats, which might have seriously hampered the Okinawa operation. They were discovered in caves along the shores of four of the Kerama Islands.

Special Japanese currency carried by Okinawa Yanks

U.S. troops for first time invade area heavily populated by enemy civilians
By Mac R. Johnson, United Press staff writer

ABOARD INVASION FLAGSHIP, off Okinawa (April 1, delayed) – U.S. troops set several precedents in the invasion of Okinawa today.

For the first time in the Pacific war, they carried yen – Japanese currency – and hit an area heavily populated by Jap civilians.

Before they went ashore the troops were required to exchange their U.S. dollars for yen at a rate of 10 yen to the dollar.

The invasion yen, especially designed to differentiate from the Jap yen, was declared legal tender on proclamation and the Yanks were not permitted to take any greenbacks ashore. No metal coins will be honored in the Ryukyus.

435,000 Japs on island

The invasion of Okinawa may be a guide to what is in store as the Americans move closer to Japan. the island has a population of 435,000 Japs – more than half of the entire Ryukyus – although they are different in many ways from the Japs in the homeland.

They look like Japs, but are a little shorter, stockier and dark, often with coarser features. Lt. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr., commander of the U.S. Tenth Army, describes them as the “scrubby type of Jap – if there’s anything scrubbier than a Jap.”

The Okinawans consider themselves closer to China and Chinese culture than to Japan, and the Japs consider them an inferior people.

Some several hundred of the Ryukyuans already have returned to their homes on Zamami, in the Keramas, and the Americans are following a policy of “leave ‘em alone as long as they behave.”

Naha largest town

The civilian problem on the conquered islands is being handled by a large Military Government organization under the Tenth Army civil affairs officer, Brig. Gen. William E. Crist of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

On Okinawa, most of the population is concentrated in the southern third of the island, where the largest town, Naha, with more than 65,000 persons, is located.

The rest of the island, which like the nearby islands is very unhealthy, is very mountainous and of little value. Malaria is common in this section and the water supply usually is contaminated.

There are many insects and the jungles are infested by five species of deadly snakes of the pit viper variety.

Air blockade of Japan sealed

Okinawa assaults cost Japs 1,052 planes
By Lloyd Tupling, United Press staff writer

ABOARD ADM. MITSCHER’S FLAGSHIP OFF OKINAWA – The invasion of Okinawa, viewed as the last step in completing an air blockade of Japan, was the crowning blow of an almost continuous assault which started March 17 and has cost the enemy 1,052 planes destroyed or damaged.

The strategic importance of the island was emphasized today by high-ranking officers who pointed out that only the North Japan Sea which leads to Manchuria and Siberia will be out of striking range of U.S. bombers based on Okinawa.

Strikes at fleet first

Operations against Okinawa started March 17 with strikes against the Imperial Jap Fleet hiding in the Inland Sea. Since that time, Vice Adm. Marc A. Mitscher’s carrier planes have flown more than 8,000 sorties, bagged 1,052 Jap planes, knocked out 20 enemy warships and sank or damaged 200 other vessels, mostly small coastal craft.

The air attack was climaxed yesterday when wave after wave of fighter planes swept Okinawa’s beaches with a curtain of hot lead in front of Lt. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner’s Tenth Army troops.

Most of the past two weeks have been spent bombing, rocketing and strafing gun positions, underground hangars, submarine pens and scores of small craft which could have opposed the invasion troops.

Astride supply route

Establishment of air bases on Okinawa will make even more desperate the Jap supply problem which became acute when U.S. planes from Philippines bases closed off the South China Sea. With our air force sitting astride the East China Sea at Okinawa and the Western Pacific at Iwo Jima, Japan’s problem of supply will be doubly difficult.

Air operations from Okinawa will put a double squeeze on the enemy war effort, keeping the remnants of Hirohito’s fleet bottled up in sheltered home waters and making it difficult to haul supplies to troops in northern China or bring in raw materials to the homeland.

Operations to pin down shipping in Japan’s home waters actually started several days before the invasion of Okinawa when U.S. search planes started operating out of Kerama Retto, 15 miles west of Okinawa. Kerama Retto was occupied six days ago.

Japs say Okinawa will decide war

Warn entire strategy depends on island
By the United Press

The Tokyo newspaper Yomiuri Hochi, in a remarkably frank editorial on the significance of the Okinawa invasion, warned the Jap people today that the loss of that key bastion will mean that “there can be no hope of turning the course of the war.”

The editorial, as quoted by Tokyo radio, said the “entire strategy of the Pacific” was based on the battle of Okinawa.

“The loss of Okinawa will mean the collapse of the vanguards of Japan proper,” the newspaper said.

Two other Tokyo dailies maintained the usual Jap propaganda line. The Asahi Shimbun, according to the broadcast, asserted the invasion “does not mean the war situation is turning in their [Allied] favor,” adding that at the “decisive moment everything should be thrown into the encounter.”

The Mainichi Shimbun said that “if we succeed in destroying the enemy, we will be able to turn to the offensive.”

Okinawa called Easter gift – landing like rehearsal

Gunboats touch off swooshing barrages of rockets in support of new Pacific invasion
By William McGaffin

WITH THE U.S. TENTH ARMY ON OKINAWA (April 1, delayed) – A mighty new army of Marines and soldiers went to church ion their transports 13 hours earlier than folks on Fifth Avenue this beautiful Easter Sunday. Then they walked ashore on Okinawa Island in an almost unopposed landing.

It was virtually a bloodless beachhead they established on this strategically vital island. Not since Kiska have we had such an easy time.

I watched the landing through glasses from the bridge of an amphibious flagship. This afternoon I followed the troops ashore and walked over the major part of the Marine beachhead with gray-haired Maj. Gen. Roy S. Geiger, commanding general of the Marine III Amphibious Corps troops, who comprise half of the Tenth Army.

Asks about casualties

At every command post we visited on this picturesque pine tree-clad island, the 60-year-old general inquired about casualties and everywhere the answer was a fantastically low figure. There were, for example, only 10 wounded and one killed in one Marine regiment up to two this afternoon, according to Lt. Col. Fred Beans of Cleburne, Texas, who is the executive officer of the regiment.

“I’ve seen only six dead Japs,” the colonel added.

Casualties were described as “exceedingly light,” too, with the XXIV Army Corps making up the rest of the Tenth Army.

Some called it an Easter present, other dubbed it “April Fool.” The general commented: “Doggone. I never, never have been on a battlefield like this before. It’s just a rehearsal. only more fun.”

1,500 planes attack

This is officially credited with being the “largest amphibious operation of the war in the Pacific to date.” More than 1,400 ships are involved and 1,500 carrier-based planes are providing close support.

It was exhilarating to watch the battleships slamming away at point blank range in the grand climax to a solid week of preparatory naval bombardment, to see the gunboats touch off swooshing barrages of rockets, to see flight after flight of planes thunder in to bomb and strafe and rocket.

After this, landing-boats paraded by with flags flying and started toward shore with their precious human cargoes. Half a mile from shore they surmounted a nasty reef and kept on going. At 0846 (8:46 a.m.) they hit the beach.

A clean beach

No landing craft were lost to enemy action on the half of the beach I visited ana no mines were found. It was a clean beach with no bodies, no damaged equipment, no crowded first-aid stations.

It was such a strange looking beachhead it didn’t seem as though we could be landing on hostile territory.

One Marine said: “It looks just like Jones Beach (on Long Island) on a Sunday afternoon.”

We control the sea and air. There is no sight of enemy fleet. Our planes have had a field day over the target, with no ack-ack opposing them. The weather, which worried us on our way here, was perfect today – cool, with a bright sun and a smooth sea.

Troops walk upright

The troops walked upright after they landed and made excellent progress. They captured two airfields before the end of the morning.

It is believed that there were anywhere from 60,000 to 80,000 enemy troops here. If that is true, we cannot understand why they didn’t oppose our landing more vigorously. The only living things we encountered were civilians. They were friendly and bowed low to the Marines who then led them to reception camps.

The general expressed himself as mystified by the Jap conduct. It is quite possible that there will be some bloody struggles yet. But we got artillery and tanks ashore today. And by letting us take two airfields the Japs simply gave us Okinawa.

It was almost all Royal Navy with some help from the Dominion navies (including HMCS Uganda, a Canadian cruiser which voted itself out of the war before the Hiroshima bombing). The bulk of the Royal Indian Navy during the war were escort ships, minesweepers, coastal defence and amphibious landing vessels, so they didn’t directly contribute to the blue water fleets in the Indian or Pacific Oceans.


Völkischer Beobachter (April 3, 1945)

US-Landung auf Okinawa

Tokio, 2. April – Die seit Tagen erwartete feindliche Landungsoperation gegen Okinawa, die Hauptinsel der Riukiugruppe, begann am Morgen des 1. April. Wie das Kaiserliche Hauptquartier am gleichen Tage dazu meldet, hat der Feind zunächst am 31. März einige Einheiten auf den benachbarten kleinen Inseln Kamiyama und Majima gelandet, und es gelang ihm dann am Morgen des nächsten Tages, im Südteil Okinawas Fuß zu fassen.

Gleichzeitig meldet das Hauptquartier weitere schwere Schiffsverluste des Feindes, und zwar zusätzlich zu denjenigen, welche bereits am 27., 29. und 31. März bekanntgegeben wurden. Demnach versenkten Einheiten der japanischen Luftwaffe und Flotte einen Flugzeugträger, zwei Kreuzer, zwei Zerstörer, drei Kriegsschiffe unbekannter Klasse, und beschädigten ein Schlachtschiff (oder schweren Kreuzer) so schwer, dass mit seinem Sinken gerechnet wird.

Weiterhin erzielten sie Treffer auf einem Schlachtschiff (oder Kreuzer), zwei Zerstörern, zwei Kriegsschiffen unbekannter Klasse, einem Transporter.

Somit belaufen sich die vom Kaiserlichen Hauptquartier gemeldeten feindlichen Verluste in der seit dem 23. März andauernden Invasionsschlacht in den Gewässern der Riukiugruppe auf 105 Kriegsschiffe und Transporter, von denen insgesamt 59 versenkt wurden.

U.S. Navy Department (April 3, 1945)

CINCPOA Communiqué No. 320

The Marine III Amphibious Corps and the XXIV Army Corps made rapid gains in all sectors of the lines on Okinawa Island on April 3 (East Longitude Date). In the north, the Marines advanced generally from 4,000 to 6,000 yards reaching the East Coast near Katchin Peninsula and cutting it off. Units of the 7th Infantry Division which had reached the eastern shore of Okinawa the previous day moved southward along the shore of Katsurin Bay on the east coast from a point near the town of Takaesu to Kuba Town. Our front lines in the southern sector at nightfall of April 3, approximated a line from Kuba Town in the east to Chiyunna in the west. Resistance throughout the day was negligible. The advancing troops were supported by gunfire from heavy units of the Fleet. Ships’ guns and carrier aircraft shot down 11 enemy planes during the day. Unloading of supplies continues satisfactorily.

Fast carriers of the U.S. Pacific Fleet attacked targets in the Sakishima Group on April 3.

On March 30-31, Corsair and Hellcat fighters, Helldiver bombers, and Avenger torpedo planes from carriers of the U.S. Pacific Fleet supporting the Okinawa operation inflicted the following damage on enemy forces in the Ryukyus:


  • Seventeen shot out of the air.
  • Five destroyed on the ground.
  • Nineteen damaged in the air and on the ground.



  • Three motor torpedo boats.
  • Two small cargo ships.
  • Nine small craft.


  • One small cargo ship.
  • Four small craft.


  • One motor torpedo boat.
  • Four small cargo ships.
  • One lugger.
  • Fourteen small craft.


  • Six submarine pens at Unten Bay, Okinawa, destroyed and another heavily damaged.

  • Mills, barracks, bridges, radio stations, pillboxes, buildings, docks, gun positions and covered revetments destroyed or damaged on Okinawa.

Other installations on Tokuno, Amami, Kikai and Minami, Daito Islands, heavily hit.

Installations on Marcus Island were bombed on April 2 by Army Liberators of the Strategic Air Force.

Planes of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing attacked buildings, vehicles and barges in and around the Palau Islands on April 3.

During the week ending March 31, 69 Japanese were killed and 13 taken prisoner by U.S. patrols on Saipan, Tinian and Guam in the Marianas.

Navy Search Aircraft of Fleet Air Wing Two made neutralizing attacks on enemy-held bases in the Marshalls on April 2.

The Pittsburgh Press (April 3, 1945)

Japs digging in on Okinawa

Yanks split island, move within 6 miles of its capital city

The Yanks on Okinawa today sliced the Jap island in two, widened their hold on Nakagusuku Bay, secured Zampa Cape and moved within six miles of the capital, Naha. Allied observation planes were already using Yontan and Kadena airfields, and early use of the fields by fighters and bombers was forecast.

GUAM (UP) – Army invasion troops who sliced Okinawa in two with a six-mile dash to the east coast widened their hold on the vital Nakagusuku Bay anchorage to at least three miles today and still were advancing.

Other units of Maj. Gen. John R. Hodges’ XXIV Army Corps advanced south along the west coast to within a little more than six miles of Naha, capital of Okinawa, in the first hard fighting of the three-day-old invasion.

Indications grew that the Japs were preparing to defend a line across the narrow isthmus just above Naha. The Japs were reported “digging in.”

Marines at the northern end of the Tenth Army’s front broadened the west coast beachhead to at least 10 miles with an advance of more than a mile.

The Marines cleaned out and secured Zampa Cape and sent an armored spearhead along the coastal highway to the north.

Casualties continued astonishingly light on both sides.

The XXIV Corps’ push to the east coast gave the Americans a wide corridor from which to attack either north or south. It also secured a foothold on all vital north-south communications.

United Press reporter Edward L. Thomas said the first doughboys reached the beaches of Awasi Harbor near Tobaru Village at 3 a.m. yesterday. They had achieved in 36 hours what the original invasion schedule said might take more than five days. Awasi Harbor lies at the northern end of Nakgusuku Bay and today the troops were probing forward out of the peninsula.

Mr. Thomas said the troops sliced through meager Jap resistance “like a hot knife through butter” in their dash to the east coast.

It was indicated that the troops had seized control of the northern face of the Awasi hill mass dominating the Bisha Gawa Valley and territory to the north. The victory firmly anchored the American beachhead 362 miles southwest of Japan proper.

Maj. Gen. Roy S. Geiger’s III Marine Amphibious Corps extended the west coast beachhead another 3,000 yards to the north by pushing across the base of Zampa Cape to the approaches of 770-foot Yontan Zan peak.

Observation planes were operating from Yontan and Kadena airfields captured in the first hours of the invasion. Engineers were rushing repairs to the fields to permit their use by fighters and bombers.

Reinforcements pour in

The 1,400-ship invasion fleet continued to pour reinforcements of men, tanks, guns and supplies across the invasion beaches unmolested while 1,500 carrier planes shuttled protectively overhead.

Warships in the armada joined carrier planes in supporting the ground forces, hurling everything from 16-inch shells to flaming rockets into already-burning Naha and other enemy strongpoints.

Jap planes made a feeble attack on the invasion armada Sunday night and five were shot down. A Jap communiqué claimed that 13 more U.S. warships had been sunk and 17 damaged.

A CBS correspondent broadcasting from the fleet and Tokyo claims that 150 ships had been sunk since the start of the invasion operations were just about 99.44 percent wrong.

Though the Jap communiqué obviously was exaggerated, there was no inclination at Adm. Chester W. Nimitz’s Pacific Fleet headquarters here to write off Okinawa as already won. On the contrary, hard fighting was anticipated as the invaders come to grips with the enemy garrison totaling 60,000 to 80,000 troops.

The Jap commander was expected to fight desperately to gain time while Japan itself rushes construction of anti-invasion defenses. Next on the American invasion schedule may be Japan itself.

Big fight ahead, Navy warns

WASHINGTON (UP) – A Navy spokesman voiced surprise today at the “amazingly light” U.S. casualties on Okinawa. But he warned that when the Japs come out of hiding, they will fight as fanatically as on Saipan and Iwo Jima.

The official said the bulk of the Jap defenders probably would be encountered as U.S. forces drove southward.

Much friendlier than expected –
Okinawa civilians prove docile, most respectful to Americans

By William McGaffin

WITH THE U.S. TENTH ARMY ON OKINAWA (April 2, delayed) – The civilians of Okinawa are friendly.

That has been our experience to date with the hundreds who are coming into our lines, bowing respectfully, with grave faces that break into smiles when we smile at them.

It is my guess that the docile attitude of the 1,200 or more whom I saw this afternoon will be typical of the entire civilian population here. There are approximately 450,000 of them.

Through an interpreter I talked with a group of civilians. They were Yakusho Imi Yakusho – farmers – from villages we have overrun in our sensational two-day advance. Among them were a 35-year-old man with his wife, three children and 81-year-old father.

The husband, barefoot and dressed in a blue kimono and American style snap-brim felt hat, said Okinawa was “overjoyed” because the Americans had come, although they were very frightened at first of “bakugeki imi bakugeki” – which was their words for “bombing by planes.”

Few had been injured, however. They had taken refuge in caves, heeding our pamphlet warning three days before the landing.

Three and a half million pamphlets were dropped, instructing the natives in Japanese to clear out of the towns and stay away from the airfields because we were going to bomb and shell them. On the reverse side was conveyed in picture language – a huge fleet of U.S. planes and ships of all types converging on Okinawa.

Many civilians came in with pamphlets clutched in their hands. Their eyes still were wide with astonishment. They said they never had seen so many ships and planes before.

Provost Marshal Lt. Col. Floyd Stephenson of Washington, D.C., said:

They are coming in much faster than we expected. We thought they’d be hostile or at least critical and distrustful of us. After all their only word about us has come from the Japanese.

The colonel said:

But they are not real Japanese. They have a heavy Chinese strain. The Jap overlords made them very conscious of their “inferior” position. All they have known has been years of oppression. It is possible they resent this more than we expected.

The Jap military went off leaving these people without food or water. They said until we came, they had had none for 10 days.

Fed by Americans

I watched a long line of them getting some of the K-rations that our troops are eating. Most of them were barefoot and in kimonos. Invariably each one, whether a two-year-old, or a gray-bearded elder, would bow politely to the Marine as the package of K-ration was doled out.

And each time the Marine solemnly bowed back.

The Marines say that “they are very simple and amiable and always think of the old folks first.”

Many civilians are still hiding fearfully in caves, but they come out without making trouble when our men go up to the entrances and talk to them. There have been no acts of sabotage.

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Jap in a cave

WITH XXIV CORPS, Okinawa Island – One American patrol found their first Okinawa civilian today – behind a cedar chest in a cave. The civilian was not over four feet tall, barefooted and dressed only in a dark blue kimono.

Editorial: Okinawa shortens the war

Almost every time there is a battle, the public is told it is the most important yet. So, the public by this time is beginning to discount such reports as something it has heard too often before. Hence the rather take-it-for-granted attitude toward the Okinawa landing.

Actually, this island with the strange name is the key to our entire offensive against Japan. the Marianas and the Philippines are essential waystations, but they are too far away from Japan to serve as advance bases. Iwo is important, though too small for major air, naval and supply bases. But Okinawa is the works.

All the experts agree on this - including the Japs. According to Tokyo, “The entire strategy of the Pacific hangs on this island… The loss of Okinawa would mean the collapse of the vanguards of Japan proper, and then there could be no hope of turning the course of the war.” Our Army commander there, Lt. Gen. Simon Buckner, says:

It is difficult to overemphasize the importance of this operation, from the standpoint of our offensive, this is the most valuable island yet invaded.

Okinawa is large enough for adequate bases. It can provide harbors for surface fleets, submarines, supply and troopships. It has several airfields and facilities for more.

It is the most perfect location for our offensive purposes. It dominates the East China Sea and is within striking distance of all four of our eventual objectives – Formosa, the China coast, Korea and Japan proper. The China coast is only 400 miles away, Formosa 350, and the Jap home island of Kyushu 325.

From this position our Navy will be able to cut the main enemy supply lines across the East China Sea, and its submarines can roam the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan, hitherto private Jap waterways. That will further reduce enemy shipping. It will seriously interfere with the two-way war traffic of raw materials and food to Japan and of military supplies from Japan to troops in China.

And Okinawa is close enough to launch our invasions of China and Japan. Our Easter landings in great force and with infinitesimal loss have shortened the war.