Preparations for the Assault
Training and Rehearsing1
Because of the vast distances separating Tenth Army Headquarters and its subordinate commands, General Buckner charged corps and division commanders with the responsibility for supervising unit training. At Schofield Barracks on Oahu, army section promulgated training directives for appropriate echelons of Expeditionary Troops. In order to maintain maximum efficiency FMFPac (Fleet Marine Force, Pacific) continued to supervise the training of Marine units, basing its actions, however, on the Tenth Army directives. Monthly status of training reports were submitted by all units, enabling ICEBERG planners to evaluate combat readiness. In the latter part of January 1945, General Buckner, accompanied by his principal staff officers, personally checked the state of readiness of the scattered elements of his command during a series of flying visits to each division and corps headquarters.2
The shortage of service and support troops that had been a definite factor in postponing the Formosa-South China operations continued to plague Tenth Army during the training period. Many units, assigned in the operation plans to reinforce corps and divisions for the assault and to augment Island Command during the base development period, had primary missions intimately connected with the build-up for the operation. It was impossible, without seriously disrupting logistical time schedules, to release many of these vital troops for attachment to assault units for training. A strong effort was made, though, to meet individual training goals such as weapons qualification and adequate physical conditioning.3 If the
final status of training report revealed deficiencies, extensive shipboard training programs were instituted.
Although all the major assault units of Tenth Army were combat experienced, each needed intensive training to absorb replacements and maintain a high level of fighting efficiency. Army and Marine units in the South Pacific and the 2d Marine Division on Saipan completed planned training programs. Units of XXIV Corps, however, committed in battle on Leyte until 25 December 1944 and then engaged in further extensive combat operations4 were not released for ICEBERG until February, a scant month before embarkation.
The few elements of XXIV Corps that were available during January found themselves helping to load out units scheduled for the Luzon operation.5 The chronic shortage of service troops within Leyte’s base command, charged with processing supplies for Luzon and Okinawa, necessitated large labor drafts from infantry divisions as soon as they were released from mopping-up. This fact, coupled with the need for servicing, crating, and loading organic equipment, precluded any major training program. As one division reported, “deterioration of the physical and mental condition of combat personnel after 110 days of continuous contact with the enemy made it plain that rigorous field training in the wet and muddy terrain would prove more detrimental than beneficial.”6
However, XXIV Corps did ensure that the special problem presented by the sea walls behind the beaches at Okinawa was covered in intensive breaching and scaling training of infantry-engineer assault units. Within the divisions, in the short time available, emphasis was placed on tank-infantry training. This was especially true with the replacements received just prior to mounting out who had little or no experience in combined arms tactics. The 96th Infantry Division was fortunate in that it received many replacements during the mopping-up stages, on Leyte. These men had an opportunity to take an “active part in combat and reconnaissance patrols, gaining valuable battle indoctrination through physical contact and skirmishes with small isolated groups of Japanese.”7
From an over-all viewpoint, the necessity for conducting both combat rehabilitation and preparation during February 1945 severely curtailed the scope of XXIV Corps training for ICEBERG. The record of the corps on Okinawa, therefore, is an effective testimony of the battle readiness, despite substantial handicaps, of its veteran units.
The training picture for Tenth Army troops in the South Pacific and Marianas was substantially brighter. The last elements of the 27th Infantry Division, assigned the role of floating reserve, arrived on Espiritu Santo from Saipan late in October 1944. In common with the divisions that staged and trained in the torrid and inhospitable Solomons, the 27th regarded its base in the New Hebrides as a “hellhole,” ill suited by climate and topography for rehabilitation or effective training.8 Once word was received, however, that the division was earmarked for ICEBERG, an intensive training program was undertaken with the idea of readying the unit for a prolonged combat operation by 30 January 1945. From 23 October when the program started, the training progressed from individual schooling through
small unit, company, and battalion exercises, to two weeks of RCT (Regimental Combat Team) maneuvers. During this period 2,700 replacements were absorbed. Special emphasis was laid on training for night operations, which paid off in substantial gains of Japanese territory on Okinawa.
Training schedules of IIIAC units were just as thorough as those for the 27th Division. The limited areas available for large unit problems, however, especially in the Russells and on Saipan, curtailed the effectiveness of some portions of the planned program. During the training period, each Marine command absorbed large numbers of replacements, but IIIAC Artillery’s replacement problem was the most pressing. Cadres were withdrawn from existing units to form the 6th 155mm Howitzer Battalion and Headquarters Battery of the 2d Provisional Field Artillery Group during October-November 1944. Five hundred veterans, mostly NCO’s, were rotated to the states in late November. Among the replacements received, experienced field artillerymen were at a premium.
Therefore, concurrently with practice for the coming operation, Brigadier General David I. Nimmer’s battalions were forced to conduct extensive training (retraining in the case of radar and antiaircraftmen from disbanded AAA units) to ensure optimum firing efficiency.9 The delay in the return from Peleliu of the 3d 155mm Howitzer and 8th 155mm Gun Battalions until 15 November and 10 December respectively, further complicated the training problem. The observation squadron assigned to corps–VMO-7–did not arrive prior to mounting out and joined later at the target. Despite these very real problems, which affected division artillery regiments in a similar manner,10 corps artillery considered all its embarked units combat ready, although “both individual and unit proficiency were not up to the standards that could have been obtained under more favorable circumstances.”11
Between 11 and 13 January, all Marine artillery in the Solomons assigned to ICEBERG conducted a combined firing problem on Guadalcanal, simulating as near as possible the conditions at the target.12 Guadalcanal was also
the site of most of the combined arms training and field maneuvers of IIIAC. The 1st Marine Division’s RCT’s were rotated from their base at Pavuvu Island in the Russells to the larger island as their training cycle reached the large unit stage. However, the press of time limited each regiment to little more than two weeks intensive combined arms training prior to the final rehearsal. The division’s home, rat-infested Pavuvu, was so small “that eventually units were forced to skirmish down company streets” and so unpopular that a universal sigh of relief went up when the transports pulled away from its palm-shrouded shores for the last time.13 In one aspect of training the 1st Division faced a new problem, for it was “the first time it was landing as an integral part of a much larger landing force, and matters of coordination and control not met in previous campaigns had to be considered.”14
The 6th Marine Division, although it had not as yet operated as a unit in combat, was composed of veteran troops. Division Headquarters, substantially the same as that of the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade which had operated under IIIAC at Guam, and most men of the 4th and 22d Marines as well as substantial portions of the 15th and 29th Marines, had at least one campaign under their belts.15 Since it was based on Guadalcanal, the 6th Division was better off than the 1st in the matter of training room. The presence of corps troops and large supply installations did crowd the bivouac area, but kunai grass plains and tangled reaches of jungle bordering the unit tent camps were available for a rugged training and conditioning program. A full schedule, stretching from fire team to regimental combined arms problems, culminated in a eight-day division exercise in January. Anticipating the nature of the division’s employment on Okinawa, General Shepherd stressed efficient execution of large unit maneuvers, swift movements, and rapid redeployment of troops.
The remaining major element of IIIAC, the 2d Marine Division, effectively integrated its training with mopping-up operations on Saipan. Over 8,000 replacements absorbed during the training period gained valuable experience routing Japanese holdouts. Eventually, the extensive development of Saipan as a supply center and air base crowded the division out of its training grounds until there was no room for battalion problems or artillery impact areas. In fact, lack of suitable beaches confined the division’s final rehearsals to simulated landings. Because of the indefinite nature of its employment, the division had to select an arbitrary landing scheme of two RCT’s abreast as the rehearsal pattern. Bad weather prevented LVT launchings on two days, neither air nor NGF support was available, and finally, on the last day of the exercises (19 March), only the naval portion of TG 51.2 (Demonstration Group) was able to participate in the demonstration rehearsal. Taken altogether, the accomplishments of the rehearsal period of the 2d Division were not up to the standard met by other elements of Expeditionary Troops.
The other relatively isolated division of Tenth Army, the 27th, conducted its rehearsals
from 20-25 March at Espiritu Santo while loading of its transron was being accomplished. Faced as was the 2d Marine Division with a multiplicity of possible roles at Okinawa, the 27th Infantry Division also concentrated on a hypothetical landing maneuver. Although the available LVT’s had been allotted to assault divisions, General Griner’s unit substituted landing boats for tractors and practiced transshipment of troops and reef transfer during simulated landings.
Both Tenth Army corps were able to conduct satisfactory landing rehearsals, putting ashore all assault troops. Although no reef existed off the Cape Esperance-Doma Cove beaches on Guadalcanal, IIIAC established a transfer line 200 yards offshore in an attempt to duplicate landing conditions at the target. Throughout the six-day rehearsal period, 2-7 March, naval officers of Rear Admiral Lawrence F. Reifsnider’s Northern Attack Force placed emphasis on control of assault waves and training of communication elements at all echelons of command. Limited NGF and air support were available during the exercises to approximate the tremendous volume of fire to be delivered on the Hagushi beaches. On 6 March, after two preliminary landings and a critique, the entire assault echelon of IIIAC was landed. Advanced elements of corps and division command posts set up ashore, and token unloadings of equipment were made. The reserve regiments, 1st Marines for the 1st Division and 29th Marines for IIIAC, formed boat waves and exercised off the beaches, landing themselves on 7 March.
Across the Pacific in Leyte Gulf XXIV Corps conducted rehearsals from 14-19 March. The 77th Infantry Division, scheduled to make the initial assault, practiced separately in landings on islands in Hinunangan Bay that closely resembled Kerama Retto. Although adverse weather conditions on 14 March considerably retarded planned exercises, the nature of the 77th’s mission, independent battalion operations, permitted landings to go ahead despite schedule interruptions. When heavy swells and rain continued on 15 March, the division was forced to cancel portions of a planned rehearsal for the capture of Ie Shima. With clear weather, the division reserve (307th Infantry) was able to practice its landings on 16 March. General Bruce considered that the rehearsals were successful since “all elements scheduled for a specific mission satisfactorily executed a close approximation of their mission.”16 On the other hand, the Western Islands Attack Group Commander, Admiral Kiland, felt that “considering the complexity of the operation and the relative inexperience of naval personnel involved, the curtailment of these exercises by weather conditions made the training provided entirely inadequate.”17
The weather was not a factor in the landings of the 7th and 96th Divisions on 17 and 19 March. A corps landing was made on both days with unit critiques held on 18 March to help iron out difficulties discovered in the first exercise. After the full-scale landing on the 19th during which NGF and air support were simulated, another critique was held for units involved and points of error noted for correction. On 21 March, on board USS Teton, flagship of Admiral Hall, a meeting of all major Army and Navy commanders was held to evaluate the whole rehearsal and ensure coordination during the actual landing. Admiral Turner and General Buckner were present at this critique-briefing which raised the curtain on the final preparatory stages for ICEBERG.
Mounting and Staging for the Assault18
Each attack force of the Joint Expeditionary Force was organized differently for loading, movement, and unloading at the target. The three transrons (nine transport divisions) of Admiral Hall’s Southern Attack Force were divided into eleven transport divisions. Assigned to the two temporary divisions were the
ships slated to lift XXIV Corps troops and those which loaded Tenth Army and Island Command forces at Oahu. Separate provisional units to carry IIIAC troops were not formed within Admiral Reifsnider’s Northern Attack Force. Ships from Transrons 12 and 18 which loaded Tenth Army support troops accompanying III Corps reported to parent organizations when they reached the Solomons. The ease of control during movement and increased efficiency during loading and unloading phases of Admiral Hall’s temporary reorganization led General Geiger to request formation of a similar corps shipping group for future IIIAC operations.
The proximity of Leyte Gulf to Okinawa allowed XXIV Corps both to mount and stage in that area for the operation. The relative closeness of Saipan, Tinian, and Guam to the target also allowed units on those islands to complete both these phases of assault preparation in the Marianas. Since the normal duties of most of the scattered squadrons of the Tactical Air Force constituted their combat training, the main problem facing air units was the coordinated loading of ground and flight echelons. Local area commanders supervised the mounting out of the air groups, whose planes and pilots proceeded to the target on board escort carriers, while ground crews accompanied assault and first echelon shipping. The funnel through which some of these air units and most of the remaining elements of Expeditionary Troops eventually poured was the immense anchorage at Ulithi Atoll.
IIIAC made the 1st and 6th Divisions responsible for the loading and embarkation of their respective organic and attached units, while the corps itself supervised loading of corps troops. Units in the first reinforcing echelon, due at the target immediately following the assault, were loaded under control of local naval area commanders. Although some vessels were partially loaded prior to the rehearsal period, all required additional time off the beaches of Guadalcanal and the Russells to take on vital cargo.
When the Northern Tractor Flotilla got under way for Ulithi on 12 March, its landing ships carried full loads of amphibious vehicles, tanks, artillery, and combat equipment. Corps wanted to avoid exposing assault troops to the crowded conditions imposed by the limited berthing space available on LST’s and LSM’s for as long a period as possible. To avoid the debilitating effects of prolonged shipboard confinement, many of these men were embarked on the faster attack transports (AKA’s) for movement to Ulithi. Three days after the tractor flotilla departed, APA’s and AKA’s (cargo ships, attack) of the transport groups, now fully loaded with men and equipment left the Solomons for the staging area.
Both elements of TF 53 arrived at Ulithi on 21 March, and the transfer of APA-borne assault troops to landing ships took place the following day. Within the confines of the vast anchorage lay a substantial portion of the greatest amphibious fleet ever assembled in the Pacific. During their stay at Ulithi some of the embarked troops were put ashore on the tiny islets of the atoll to take part in a limited program of physical conditioning and recreation. The best cure for boredom, however, was the fascinating sight of the constantly shifting fleet which changed in makeup from day to day as some ships departed for preliminary strikes and bombardment and others arrived with the scattered elements of Expeditionary Troops. The shooting war remained close at hand, even at Ulithi, with Japanese snooper planes causing nightly alerts and the battered carriers of TF 58 limping into the anchorage in mute testimony to the fury of enemy suicide air attacks.19 On 25 March, the tractor flotilla sortied from the anchorage bound for Okinawa, and two days later the remainder of the assault echelon steamed toward the target.
On these same dates, 25 and 27 March, the tractor and transport echelons of the Demonstration Group left Saipan. The 2d Marine Division had been aided in its loading operations by the fact that Transron 15, which carried it to Okinawa, had passed through Saipan en route to Iwo Jima. With accurate tables of ship’s characteristics available, unit TQM’s (Transport Quartermasters) were able to plan the most efficient utilization of cargo and personnel space.20The commanding general, Major General Thomas E. Watson, in addition to the responsibility for loading his reinforced division, was given the duty of coordinating all assault and first echelon shipping in the Marianas and at Roi in the Marshalls.21
Since the XXIV Corps had no intermediate staging area, it departed for the target directly from Leyte. The 77th Division, which was to lead the way with the assault on Kerama Retto, completed loading its landing ships on 18 March and transports on 20 March, each echelon leaving for the target the following day.22 Under the supervision of General Hodge’s staff, which handled the details of ship spotting, each division conducted its own loading. The Southern Tractor Flotilla departed Leyte the morning of 24 March, and the transport groups followed in three days. By the evening of 27 March all assault elements of Tenth Army were at sea converging on Okinawa.
Preliminary Covering Strikes23
A Japanese replacement, confiding to his diary on 3 January 1945 that “seeing enemy planes for the first time since coming to Okinawa somehow or other gave me the feeling of being in a combat zone,”24 may have made one
of the classic understatements of the Pacific War. The raid which aroused his apprehension was merely his first taste of the destructive efforts of the Fast Carrier Task Force. On 22 January, when the naval pilots returned, his prose became more vehement.
While some fly around overhead and strafe, the big bastards fly over the airfield and drop bombs. The ferocity of the bombing is terrific. It really makes me furious. It is past 1500 and the raid is still on. At 1800 the last two planes brought the raid to a close. What the hell kind of bastards are they? Bomb from 0600 to 1800.25
In some ways this infantryman’s reaction was typical of those contained in surviving personal records. The first carrier raid on 10 October 1944 had indicated the shape of things to come and the promise was fulfilled with each successive visit. The gutted remains of Naha furnished eloquent testimony of the effectiveness of that first raid and the hapless guess of one Japanese witness that “the enemy is brazenly planning to completely destroy every last ship, cut our supply lines, and attack us,”26 was a concise summation of the American objective.
During January, Task Force 38 under Vice Admiral John S. McCain struck Formosa and the Ryukyus twice and paid an unfriendly visit to the ports of the South China Coast, while covering General MacArthur’s landings on Luzon. After its last attack, TF 38 retired to Ulithi where reinforcing carriers were waiting to join. On 27 January, concurrently with the arrival of Admiral Nimitz at his advance headquarters on Guam, Admirals Spruance and Mitscher took over command of the Pacific Fleet’s striking force from Halsey and McCain. When the carriers sortied again on 10 February, it was in the guise of Task Force 58, destined as usual to cover Marines in the assault.
Within the next four months, the amphibious forces of the Fifth Fleet, guarded by the planes and ships of TF 58, would mount, land, and support the expeditionary troops at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. To cover the landing of VAC on Iwo Jima, Admiral Mitscher’s pilots struck heavily at the Tokyo area on 16-17 February and again on 25 February. On 1 March, while on its retirement route to Ulithi, TF 58 sent its planes over Okinawa to photograph enemy positions and hit defenses anew. The thoroughness with which the strafing, rocketing, and bombing covered the island led one veteran Marine flight leader to note that he had “never seen so many [planes] over one target at the same time.”27
During the period when the fast carriers were ranging the Western Pacific, the Navy’s submarines and patrol bombers were taking a steady toll of Japanese shipping. Working in close conjunction, the underseas wolf packs and seaplanes littered the bottom of the China Sea with the hulls of cargo vessels and the bodies of reinforcements who never reached their destination. By mid-February 1945 the enemy garrison was effectively isolated in the Ryukyus since “communications between the mainland of Japan and Formosa had been practically severed.”28
From bases in China, India, the Philippines, Marianas, and Palaus, strategic bombers were smashing the industrial potential of Japan in a continuous series of strikes on the factories of the main islands and their outlying sources of raw materials. Giant B-29’s, rising from fields in the southern Marianas in steadily increasing numbers, were staging 300-plane raids on Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, and Kobe by mid-March, increasing the fire-swept area of devastation on each occasion. In the interludes between carrier plane attacks, the superfortresses hit important targets in the Ryukyus with such frequency that the beleaguered Japanese troops referred to their visits as the “regular run.”29
As L-Day approached, the tempo of covering operations increased throughout the Pacific. On 14 March, TF 58 sortied again from Ulithi for its final strike on Japan before the Okinawa operation began. Planes were launched on 18 March to interdict the airfields on Kyushu, and on the following day fighters and bombers swept over enemy installations on Shikoku and Honshu Islands. This time, however, the Japanese were ready and retaliated with powerful strikes on the task force. The retaliatory attack was sparked by suicide-bent Kamikaze (Divine Wind) pilots who were determined to crash on board an American ship. Five carriers, the Franklin, Yorktown, Intrepid, Wasp, and Enterprise, were hit, the Franklin so badly that it had to limp back to Pearl Harbor. The Wasp and Enterprise, temporarily out of action, were made part of a provisional task group for escort to Ulithi for repairs. The remaining carriers, the battleship force, and the protective screen were reorganized on 22 March into three relatively equal task groups. Admiral Mitscher’s force then began its run to Okinawa for the opening of the pre-invasion bombardment.
Seizure of Kerama Retto30
An essential feature of the ICEBERG operation plan was the seizure prior to L-Day of Kerama Retto and Keise Shima. Possession of a logistical support base close to the target would be an incalculable asset to the success of the operation. Emergency repair of battle damage, refueling and rearming operations, and the provision of “front line” supply and service support for the fleet meant maximum saving of lives and material. Once the proposed seaplane base was established in the anchorage, Navy patrol bombers could range from Korea to Indo-China in search, rescue, and antisubmarine operations. When the long-range guns of XXIV Corps artillery set up on Keise Shima, the complete cycle of preparations for the main assault would be completed. (See Map 7)
In the process of concentrating their defenses in southern Okinawa, the Japanese had gradually denuded the islands of Kerama Retto of defenders. Originally the garrison stood at 2,335 men, mostly personnel of the1st, 2d, and 3d Sea Raiding Squadrons and Base Battalions. The conversion of the base battalions to infantry in February 1945 left about 1,000 men, who were augmented soon by 700 Korean laborers of the 103d Sea Duty Company. Before the 77th Division stormed ashore, however, many of these troops had returned to Okinawa during the general reinforcement of the Shuri-Shimajiri defenses in late March. Left as defenders were about 975 soldiers of varying combat value, distributed on four islands of the group–Zamami (400), Aka (300), Tokashiki (200), and Geruma Shima (75).
The real strength of Kerama Retto was centered around the more than 350 suicide boats of the sea raiding squadrons. Japanese records make it clear that the mission assigned them in the battle for Okinawa was destruction of the invasion transports lying off the Hagushi beaches. It is equally clear that, while it was
Seizure of Kerama Retto
not dismissed, the concept of American seizure of the Kerama group prior to L-Day was lightly regarded. Perhaps too much depended on the success of these boats for the staff of the Thirty-second Army to entertain thoughts of complete destruction. If the Americans should attempt seizure of Kerama, orders were issued to shift the squadrons to the Naha area31 and to “employ the minimum strength necessary for self-defense” in holding the islands.32
Were it not for the protected anchorage in the lee of its islands, Kerama Retto would hardly have been classed as a priority target. There was nothing there to attract attention. So little flat land existed that the group could only support a population of 6,073 in 1940, and the main occupation of many of these people was fishing, not farming. Most of the area of the eight main islands, mountainous and blanketed with brush and trees, was inhospitable to the extreme. Except for small beaches at the mouths of crooked, narrow valleys, steep slopes and cliffs extended to the water’s edge.33 In order to secure Kerama Retto it would be necessary to mount a series of semi-independent landing operations.
The mine sweepers of Admiral Blandy’s Amphibious Support Force had cleared the way for the approach of the Western Islands Attack Group by nightfall of 25 March.34 During the day members of UDT’s (Underwater Demolition Teams) had reconnoitered the beaches of target islands in the Kerama group. The “frogmen” reported that no beaches were suitable for landing boats; all assaults would have to be made by amphibian tractors.35
The 77th Division’s operation plans were flexible enough to allow for just such a contingency. Originally, two battalions had been slated to land on 26 March in LCVP’s, 2/307 on Yakabi Shima and 3/306 on Kuba Shima.36 When the UDT reports negated employment of landing boats, General Bruce notified unit commanders by dispatch that the preferred plan would be used with certain modifications. The four battalions originally scheduled for LVT-borne assaults would carry through their attacks on Zamami, Aka, Hokaji, and Geruma Shima. Those tractors which carried 3/305 into Aka Shima would immediately return to parent LST’s and embark 2/307, which would meanwhile have transferred from its transport to the landing ships. A fifth landing of the day would then be made by 2/307 on Yakabi
Shima. The remaining assault battalion, 3/306, would remain on board ship ready to land the following day as reserve in the 306th Infantry’s operations against Tokashiki Shima, largest island of the group.
After TG 51.1 stood into the transport area in the early morning hours of 26 March, Admiral Kiland confirmed 0800 (M-Hour) as the time for the initial assaults on Kerama Retto.37 LST’s discharged their cargo of armored amphibians and troop-laden assault tractors for the run to the beaches. Carrier planes covered the transports and landing vehicles from Japanese suiciders who were beginning to filter through the outer fighter screen. Bombers plastered the landing beaches as mixed teams of LCI support craft formed to lead in the assault waves.38
A battleship and two large cruisers, supported by four destroyers, had been designated the NGF support unit for Kerama. The five-inch guns of the destroyers saw extensive service, but the larger ships, which remained on standby, were not called upon to fire. As each assault group approached its target, its support craft team commenced fire, with mortars opening up at 3,200 yards, rocket barrages beginning 1,100 yards, and automatic weapons within effective range. Fire was lifted at minimum range, and where possible these craft maintained steerageway to let assault waves pass through before retiring seaward. Destroyer support shifted to the flanks and inland to cover the landing when troops were 800 yards offshore.
Between 0801 and 0921 the four assault battalions landed on their objectives, which enclosed the Kerama anchorage from the west and north, although records disagree as to the
exact time each BLT came ashore.39 By 1130, 2/306 had secured Hokaji Shima after finding no enemy and 1/306 had silenced the scattered opposition it had met on Geruma Shima. Both battalions reembarked on their LST’s that afternoon to prepare for the 27 March assault on Tokashiki Shima which dominated the anchorage’s eastern reaches. Two battalions of 105mm howitzers which landed in DUKW’s on Geruma Shima to support further operations were emplaced and ready to fire at 1600.
The 3d Battalion, 305th Infantry landing on Aka Shima and that of 1/305 on Zamami Shima were met with light mortar and sniper fire at the beaches. Steady advances on both islands drove back the enemy defenders and secured beachheads by 1130. When night fell both units held secure positions from which they could launch the next day’s attack.
While the units of the 305th and 306th Infantry were securing their objectives, the 2d
Battalion of the 307th was transferring to LST’s. When the LVT’s returned from Aka Shima, the troops embarked and made their unrehearsed assault. There was virtually no opposition, and Yakabi Shima was declared secure at 1600.
On 26 March the 77th Infantry Division had seized three islands of Kerama Retto and had a firm foothold on two others. Garrison elements on Aka and Zamami Shima had put up steady but light opposition, and the men of the 1st and 2d Sea Raiding Squadrons with their supporting base companies and Korean laborers had been driven back into the rugged island hills. Large numbers of suicide boats, which had not had time to get sea-borne because tactical surprise was achieved, had already been discovered hidden in caves and inlets along the rugged coast lines.40
While troops of the 77th Division awaited the next day’s attacks, Marines of Major James L. Jones’ FMF Reconnaissance Battalion (less Company B) made a night landing on the four reef islets of Keise Shima, discovered no enemy, and reembarked on board their destroyer transports.41 During the night of 27-28 March Company A made a rubber boat landing on Aware Shima with the same result. No enemy were met by the scouts until 29 March when, in its last night landing before L-Day, the battalion reconnoitered two small islands, Mae and Kuro Shima, lying midway between Kerama Retto and Keise Shima. Although no garrison was present, the Marines’ automatic weapons did destroy an enemy suicide boat which attempted to land on Mae Shima.
The story of enemy resistance was different on Zamami Shima, where the defending forces were bulwarked by the 1st Sea Raiding Squadron. During the night of 26-27 March, 1/305 repulsed ten separate counterattacks. One hundred and thirteen enemy dead lay in front of the battalion positions in the morning. During the day the 1st Battalion flushed out Japanese stragglers in the brush-covered hills to the north, while covering the administrative landing of 2/305, garrison for Kerama Retto. At 1300, Company B of 1/305 made a shore-to-shore assault on neighboring Amuro Shima; there was no opposition and the unit returned to Zamami at 1500. Both battalions made preparations that evening for a final clean-up drive on 28 March.
The remaining battalion of the 305th Infantry, the 3d, had spent a quiet night on Aka Shima. Extensive patrol action on 27 March developed an enemy position held by 75 men, reinforced by machine guns and mortars. An air strike, followed by a mortar barrage, enabled one company to scatter this pocket, and the battalion held up its attack at dusk.
The last remaining major target in the island group was assaulted by the 306th Infantry on 27 March. Preceded by rocket and destroyer fire, the 1st and 2d Battalions landed on separated beaches on Tokashiki Shima, with all elements coming ashore between 0908 and 0943. Resistance was light, but the broken terrain held up the attack. At 1300, 3/306 began landing in reserve with the mission of cleaning out the southern part of the five-mile long island. By nightfall the two assault battalions had joined and were ready for a drive to the north. On 28 March the scattered remnants of the 3d Sea Raiding Squadron were hunted down with relentless vigor.
One more island was added to the 77th’s bag for 27 March when Company G, 2/307 moved via LVT from Hokaji to Kuba Shima and effected a bloodless occupation. After its second day of operations, General Bruce’s division were ready to mop up Kerama Retto. On 28 and 29 March, units of the 305th and 306th Infantry did just that. Aka, Zamami, and Tokashiki Shima, where resistance had been centered, were secured and the few enemy remaining were incapable of organized resistance. After detaching 2/305 for garrison
duty, with the mission of patrolling the group from its base on Zamami, the 77th Division reembarked its troops. The last unit to board, 1/306, left Tokashiki Shima on 31 March.
While the division was securing the Retto, UDT’s from TF 52 were blasting a path through the reefs of Keise Shima for the 420th Field Artillery Group’s 155mm guns. Early on 31 March, 2/306 was landed on Keise in a last minute check for enemy opposition. Results were the same as those in previous searches–negative. Soon thereafter men and equipment of the 420th Group, whose tractor group had come up during the night, began landing. At 1935 the big guns began registration fire on selected targets in southern Okinawa where, as the Japanese reported, they “incessently obstructed our movements by laying a great quantity of fire inside our positions.”42
Within a few days the fire had become so galling that a special Japanese attack unit was formed to raid Keise. The 5th Artillery Command’s 150mm guns were also ordered to concentrate on silencing the American “long toms.” Neither measure proved to be successful, nor was theThirty-second Army ever able to enforce its order to “stop the use of enemy artillery on Keise Shima.”43
Between 26 and 31 March, at a cost of 31 killed and 81 wounded, the 77th Infantry Division, vanguard of Expeditionary Troops, had completely fulfilled its combat mission. Five hundred and thirty Japanese had been killed in the process, 121 had been taken prisoner, and 1,195 civilians had been rounded up. Although scattered enemy remained hidden in the hills of Kerama Retto and even communicated with Okinawa on occasion,44 the Japanese garrison had ceased to exist as a threat to operation of the anchorage.
Before L-Day the floating naval base was performing all its planned functions. Seaplanes were already coursing the China Sea seeking out enemy submarines and ships. Repair vessels were busy patching up the damage caused by Japanese suicide planes, saving many of the ships concerned for further duty in Okinawan waters and a host of others from a permanent berth at the bottom of the ocean. Tankers and ammunition ships were engaged in a steady round of refueling and rearming operations. Without this logistic anchorage base “many more ships and personnel of the service force than were available in the Okinawa operation would have been required at sea to make replenishment an accomplished fact for all fleet forces.”45
Two days before the 77th Division’s assault on Kerama Retto, the first elements of TF 52 were operating at the target. At daybreak on 24 March, sweepers of Mine Group One began clearing a channel outside the 100-fathom curve off the southeast coast of Okinawa. Then, while planes of TF 58 covered these operations and struck enemy installations ashore, the battleships of Admiral Mitscher’s force, temporarily organized as TF 59, steamed through the swept area and opened fire on Okinawa. The impact of the 16-inch shells gave the garrison its first taste of “the ferocity of naval gunfire.”47 By late afternoon, as TF 59 was retiring to rejoin the carrier force, the mine vessels had finished their planned preliminary sweeps near Okinawa and Kerama Retto.
During this day’s operations Task Force 54 with elements of TF 52, Admiral Deyo serving as Officer in Tactical Command, had completed their run from Ulithi and formed approach dispositions. Two fire support units separated themselves from the task force, one to cover
mine sweeping between Tonachi Shima and Kerama Retto and the other to cover mine sweepers off Okinawa and begin bombardment of the demonstration beaches. Underwater Demolition Group Able, mounted in high speed transports and covered by destroyers, formed for the next day’s UDT and NGF operations at Kerama. The remainder of Admiral Deyo’s force remained concentrated, ready to repulse any Japanese surface and aerial attacks.48
This concentration of strength was a carefully planned feature of the ICEBERG operation. To the east of the island group lay TF 58 with sea room and fighting power sufficient to overwhelm any or all of the remnants of the enemy navy. Closer in, on the west, the majority of the combat ships of the Amphibious Support Force were to concentrate, ready to stop any attempt to reinforce or evacuate the garrison. Those ships assigned to bombardment of the southeast coast of Okinawa were to retire together at night so that there would be no delay when they resumed their mission each morning. Each of the task groupings was able to sustain itself in any contemplated surface action.
As the mine sweepers cleared progressively larger areas around Okinawa, destroyers and gunboats moved in to patrol the intra-island waters and completely isolate the beleaguered garrisons. The ever present threat of enemy air was answered by the establishment of radar picket stations which eventually ringed the entire island group. Fighter director teams on board destroyers in each picket group controlled the combat air patrol which orbited over the station during daylight hours. These picket ships, which bore the brunt of the Navy’s costly battle for Okinawa, were of incalculable value in protecting the vulnerable transport and service areas.
The devastating raids of TF 58 on the airfields of Kyushu had temporarily disorganized the attack plans of the enemy in the home islands. Once it was clear that an amphibious assault was in the offing, however, the Japanese began to mount an increasing number of strikes from the Formosa area on the inviting targets in the waters of Okinawa Gunto. Forward elements of the 8th Air Division, rising from fields in Sakishima Gunto, made their first Kamikaze attack on ships standing off Kerama Retto at dawn on 26 March.49
At 0624, the first of many ships to be crashed during the campaign, the destroyer Kimberly, was hit by a suicider which knocked out four five-inch guns, a 20mm cannon, and two depth charge throwers. Four men were killed, 33 wounded, and 17 were missing. During the hour-long attack four other ships were damaged by suicide planes crashing close aboard,
and the casualty list was swelled by three more killed and eight wounded.
The toll in ship damage and seamen’s lives mounted each day as bombers and suiciders attacked the amphibious force in the half-light of dawn and dusk. On 26 and 27 March, Vice Admiral Sir Bernard Rawling’s British Carrier Force (TF 57) struck the Sakishima Gunto as part of its planned schedule of preliminary operations supporting the assault. On 27 March, therefore, the Japanese carried the fight to the American task force with planes based on Okinawa. All available aircraft, including trainers, liaison planes, and a special attack unit which managed to fly in from Kyushu, were put into the air. By 29 March, after three suicide attacks, the air strength of the Okinawa garrison was expended.50
Before L-Day, the 8th Air Division sent 64 aircraft, 45 of them potential suiciders, against TF 52. Only 29 planes returned, but those that did brought back glowing reports of having sunk a battleship, a cruiser, and 11 other warships, while damaging 15 more.51
While the claims were as usual grossly exaggerated, the actual damage done was extensive. Starting on 27 March with work on the Kimberly, the repair ships at Kerama Retto handled a constant stream of cripples. Between 26 and 31 March six ships, including Admiral Spruance’s flagship Indianapolis, were crashed by suiciders. Ten vessels were damaged by bombs and suicide misses. In addition, a destroyer and a mine sweeper that hit floating mines were sunk and an LCI(G) was damaged in an encounter with a Japanese torpedo boat. As a grim portent of things to come, TF 52’s casualty list for the six days (26-31 March) showed 74 killed, 216 wounded, and 48 missing in action.
Steadily throughout this period of enemy air attacks, the support force proceeded with its main task of preparing the target for assault. Underwater Demolition Group Able, comprising four of the ten UDT’s assigned to TF 52, cleared the beach approaches in Kerama Retto on 26 March and began working on the reefs of Keise Shima the next day. Although reconnaissance and demolition work off Okinawa’s beaches had been scheduled to begin on 28 March, the need for additional offshore mine sweeping forced a delay. On 29 March, Underwater Demolition Group Baker made a reconnaisssance of the Hagushi beaches while elements of Group Able scouted the demonstration beaches.
The pattern of support for the UDT’s paralleled that used in previous operations. Successive lines of gunboats, destroyers, cruisers, and battleships smothered a 1,000-yard zone inland of the water line with suppressive fire. The cruisers and battleships, firing from stations 3,700 yards out, used their secondary batteries for UDT support while continuing main battery destructive fire on specific targets inland.52
During their reconnaissance on 29 March, the swimmers of Group Baker discovered approximately 2,900 wooden posts, six to eight inches in diameter, loosely set in rows into the reefs off the Hagushi beaches. Demolition operations were begun to remove these obstacles on 30 March, while UDT men operating off the demonstration beaches detonated charges of tetratol to persuade the Japanese that there would be a landing made on the southeast coast. Most of the posts were blown during the first day’s operations, but two charges failed to explode and the teams returned on 31 March to remove the remainder. Only 200 scattered posts remained on L-Day and UDT guides with landing waves could lead the LVT’s safely past
these points.53 After the reconnaissance and initial demolition operations had been completed on 29 and 30 March, troop observers with the UDT’s were dispatched by ship to join the approaching attack groups with the latest intelligence information on the landing beaches.54 The reports were generally favorable to a successful landing across the entire Tenth Army front.55
The principal deterrent to meeting the planned schedule of NGF preparation for ICEBERG was the presence of mines in the waters around Okinawa. Task Force 52 estimated its mine vessels swept and reswept over 3,000 square miles in the period 25-31 March, destroying 257 mines in the process. It was not until 29 March (L-minus 3) that the inshore approaches were declared safe enough for fire support ships to close to ranges of maximum effectiveness. Prior to that date, beginning with the first TF 54 bombardment of southeastern Okinawa on 25 March, the cruisers and battleships fired limited schedules which increased in scope as familiarity with the target and progressively closer ranges were obtained.
Although the full power of NGF bombardment was not realized until late in the preparation period, carrier air was able to strike the target repeatedly, hampered only by the AA fire of the defenders. The close air support unit (CASU) of TF 52 directed 3,095 sorties against Okinawa Gunto prior to L-Day. Special emphasis was laid on smashing submarine pens, airfields, suicide boat installations, bridges leading into the landing area, and gun positions. Each day’s strike results were evaluated by CASU officers on board Admiral Blandy’s command ship Estes,coordinated with NGF plans, and a revised schedule of missions issued for the next day’s sorties.
Aerial observation and photo reconnaissance supplemented by reports of results obtained by fire support ships, enabled task force gunnery officers to maintain target information on a current basis. Ships were encouraged to conduct exploratory fire and seek profitable secondary targets in addition to completing priority fire missions. Because provision had been made in naval operation plans for ammunition replenishment at Kerama Retto, the expenditure of shells was high.
Despite the fact that 27,226 rounds of five-inch or larger caliber were fired in seven days of preliminary bombardment, losses to the deeply dug-in Japanese were slight. Damage to surface installations was extensive, however, especially in the vicinity of the airfields. By midafternoon of 31 March, Admiral Blandy had evaluated the effect of the air and NGF bombardment and could report that “the preparation was sufficient for a successful landing.”56
During the period of prelanding preparation, the Thirty-second Army had been able to keep its tactical dispositions relatively concealed. Although the Americans knew generally where the enemy was disposed, actual revelation of many Japanese positions waited the probing attacks of ground elements. Overbalancing this enemy achievement was the American success in maintaining the illusion of a landing in southeast Okinawa. Naval bombardment and UDT operations convinced the enemy staff that “the possibility could not be ruled out, that powerful elements might attempt a landing.”57 Accordingly, a substantial portion of the enemy’s
artillery and infantry strength was kept out of the first days’ action by a threat that never materialized.
The Hagushi beaches, however, were still considered to be the most probable target. The scratch force formed from airfield personnel in this area to oppose the landing had been heartened by the reports of successes of Kamikaze attacks against the invasion fleet, but its commander cautioned his men not “to draw the hasty conclusion that we had been able to destroy the enemy’s plan of landing on Okinawa Jima.”58 The regimental commander, Lieutenant Colonel Tokio Aoyanagi, was something of a prophet, since less than 24 hours after his message was distributed, the Northern and Southern Attack Forces were moving into their respective transport areas ready to launch the assault.
1. Unless otherwise noted the material in this section is derived from Tenth Army AR; TAF, Tenth Army AR, Phase I, Nansei Shoto, 8Dec44-30Jun45, 12Jul45, hereinafter cited as TAF AR; IIIAC AR; IIIAC Arty AR; XXIV Corps AR, Ryukyus; 1Apr-30Jun45, n. d., hereinafter cited asXXIV Corps AR; XXIV Corps Arty AR, 31Mar-30Jun45, n. d., hereinafter cited as XXIV Corps Arty AR; 1st MarDiv SAR; 2d MarDiv AR, Nansei Shoto, Phase I, 15Apr45, hereinafter cited as 2d MarDiv AR; 6th MarDiv SAR, Ph I&II; 7th InfDiv AR, Ryukyus Campaign, 30Jul45, hereinafter cited as 7th InfDiv AR; 27th InfDiv OpRpt, Phase I, Nansei Shoto, 1Jan-30Jun45, 19Jul45, hereinafter cited as 27th InfDiv OpRpt; 77th InfDiv OpRpt, Phase I, (in 3 parts: Kerama Retto and Keise Shima; Ie Shima; Okinawa). n. d., hereinafter cited as 77th InfDiv OpRpt and appropriate part; 96th InfDiv AR, Ryukyus Campaign, 28Jul45, hereinafter cited as 96th InfDiv AR.
2. “This personal visit by General Buckner and his staff did much to weld the far flung units of the Tenth Army into a unified whole.” Blakelock.
3. In addition to normal accomplishment of all subjects in individual training programs, Tenth Army required personnel staging in the Hawaiian area to complete: (1) a minimum of one week’s jungle training; (2) three days to one week of amphibious training; (3) qualification with individual and familiarization with organizational weapons; (4) physical conditioning; and (5) combat swimming qualification. IsCom AR, Okinawa, 13Dec44-30Jun45, 30Jun45, Chap 4, Sect 0, 1, hereinafter cited as IsCom AR.
4. According to the G-3 of XXIV Corps the period following the official declaration of the end of organized resistance “was not regarded at that time as mopping up'” and was, in fact, “a continuation of bitter fighting marked by repeated Japanese attempts at reinforcement on an extensive scale.” Col J. W. Guerard Ltr to CMC, 9Sept54.
5. “Approximately 700 troops” of the 77th InfDiv, scheduled to make the first assault in the operation, “actually accompanied other unit’s shipping to Luzon, acting as ships’ platoons and returning to the division just prior to loading for ICEBERG.” 77th InfDiv OpRpt, Kerama Retto and Keise Shima, 19.
6. 7th InfDiv AR, 28.
7. 96th InfDiv AR, Chap V, 1.
8. Capt E. G. Love, The 27th Infantry Division in World War II, (Washington, 1949), 521, hereinafter cited as 27th InfDiv History.
9. Approximately 10% of corps artillery’s strength joined after active unit training had ceased in February. Seventy-eight communication and 92 field artillerymen joined after embarkation.
10. In commenting on the complexities of the division artillery personnel situation during the training period, the CO of the 11th Mar stated that “the heavy casualties suffered at Peleliu plus the rotation without immediate replacement of all officers and men with 30 months’ service in the Pacific after that battle posed a severe problem. Only one battalion commander remained of the four who went to Peleliu. There were only eight field officers in the regiment including myself and the NGF officer. Fourteen captains with 24 months’ Pacific service were allowed a month’s leave plus travel time in the United States, and they left Pavuvu at the end of November and were not available for the training maneuver at first. I recall that the 4th Battalion (LtCol L. F. Chapman, Jr.) had only 18 officers present including himself. He had no captains whatever. The other battalions and RHQ were in very similar shape. The 3d Battalion had to be completely reorganized due to heavy casualties on Peleliu and was the only one with two field officers. But it had only about 20 officers of all ranks present.” MajGen W. S. Brown Ltr to CMC, 10Oct54, hereinafter cited as Brown.
11. IIIAC Arty AR, 10.
12. After the arrival of the 11th Mar on Guadalcanal on 15Dec44, both division artillery regiments trained with IIIAC Arty for seven straight weeks with only one break–Christmas day. Proper conduct of fire was stressed with battalions displacing, registering, and firing several times a day “to overcome the improvised jungle methods theretofore used by the divisions in previous campaigns.” Brown.
13. One of the many tragicomic stories told of this island’s effect on its reluctant inhabitants is related in the division’s history, about “the man who ran out of his tent at dusk and began to pound his fists against a coconut tree, sobbing angrily, ‘I hate you, goddamit, I hate you.’ ‘Hit it once for me,’ came a cry from a nearby tent, the only comment that was made then or later by the man’s buddies.” G. J. McMillan, The Old Breed, (Washington, 1949), 231, hereinafter cited as The Old Breed. For the story of Pavuvu’s selection as a training base and conditions on the island see Maj F. O. Hough, The Assault on Peleliu, MC Historical Monograph, (Washington, 1950), 25-29, hereinafter cited as Peleliu.
14. 1st MarDiv SAR, Chap IV, 2. For the story of the division’s other campaigns in the Pacific see: Maj J. L. Zimmerman, The Guadalcanal Campaign, MC Historical Monograph, (Washington, 1949); LtCol F. O. Hough and Maj J. A. Crown, The Campaign on New Britain, MC Historical Monograph, (Washington, 1953), Peleliu.
15. For the story of the combat action of the 6th MarDiv’s components see: Maj O. R. Lodge,The Recapture of Guam, MC Historical Monograph, (Washington, 1954); LtCol J. A. Crown and LtCol R. D. Heinl, The Marshalls: Increasing the Tempo, MC Historical Monograph, (Washington, 1954); Saipan.
16. 77th InfDiv OpRpt, Kerama Retto and Keise Shima, 20.
17. CTG 51.1 AR, Capture of Okinawa Gunto, Phases 1 and 2, 9Mar-2Apr45, 26May45, Chap II, 2, hereinafter cited as CTG 51.1 AR.
18. Unless otherwise noted the material in this section is derived from CTF 51 AR; Tenth Army AR; TAF AR; IIIAC AR; XXIV Corps AR; 1st MarDiv SAR; 2d MarDiv AR; 6th MarDiv SAR, Ph I&II; 7th InfDiv AR; 27th InfDiv OpRpt; 77th InfDiv OpRpt, Kerama Retto and Keise Shima; 96th InfDiv AR.
19. BrigGen E. W. Snedeker Ltr to CMC, 18Oct54, hereinafter cited as Snedeker.
20. Ship characteristics furnished by FMFPac proved to be in error and no definite loading plans could be made until Transron 15 passed through the Marianas in February.
21. Units involved were: MAG-31 at Roi; 1st SepEngBn and 16th AAA Bn at Tinian; Corps EvacHosp No 2 and 2d AAA Bn at Guam; and 7th FldDep, 1st Prov MP Bn, and LFASCU-1 at Saipan.
22. While returning from the rehearsal on 16 March, USS Samuel Chase, carrying one BLT of the 77th InfDiv, ran aground. Between 18 and 21 March, troops and cargo from the Chase were transferred to the USS Pitt and LST 990 so that the mishap caused no delay in mounting out.CTG 51.1 AR, Chap III, 4-6.
23. Unless otherwise noted the material in this section is derived from CinCPac War Diaries for January, February, and March 1945.
24. CinCPac-CinCPOA Bull 147-45, Translations and Interrogations No 32, 16Jun45, Dairy of unidentified superior pvt, 273d IIB.
26. CinCPac-CinCPOA Bull 161-45, Translations and Interrogations No 34, 27Jun45, Diary of unidentified signalman, 5th Sea Raiding Base Hq.
27. Statement of Maj D. C. Andre contained in VMF(CV)-112 War Diary, March 1945, Strike Rpt 19-45.
28. OCMH, Japanese Monograph No 135, Okinawa Operations Record, Revised Edition, November 1949, 45, hereinafter cited as Okinawa Operations Record. This study, prepared by surviving officers of the Thirty-second Army under the auspices of the Japanese First Demobilization Bureau, is a detailed account of the day-to-day operations of the army with supplemental sections covering the 24th InfDiv and 8th Air Div activities.
29. CinCPac-CinCPOA Bull 147-45, Translations and Interrogations No 32, 16Jun45, Diary of unidentified superior pvt, 273d IIB.
30. Unless otherwise noted the material for this section is derived from CTG 51.1 AR; 77th InfDiv OpRpt, Kerama Retto and Keise Shima; AmphReconBn, FMFPac AR, Phase I and II, Nansei Shoto Operation, n. d., hereinafter cited as AmphReconBn AR.
31. Okinawa Operations Record, 49.
32. CICAS Trans No 231, 32d Army OpOrd A #115, 23Mar45.
33. CinCPOA Bull 161-44, 56-58; CinCPac-CinCPOA Bull No 53-45, Okinawa Gunto, 2d Supplement, 28Feb45, 35-46.
34. In order to avoid needless duplication, activities of TF 52 and TF 58 have been treated in this section only when they are intimately connected with Kerama Retto operations.
35. Adm Kiland commended the “superb” performance of duty by these men from Underwater Demolition Group Able (Capt B. H. Hanlon, USN) whose accurate and timely reports “permitted changes to be made in the preferred landing plan which undoubtably saved many LCVP’s and the lives of [many of] the 77th Division troops.” RAdm I. N. Kiland Ltr to CMC, 28Oct54, hereinafter cited as Kiland.
36. Because of the damage to the Samuel Chase in Leyte Gulf and the resultant commercial loading of 2/305 in the Pitt, 2/307 was assigned to assault Yakabi, originally part of 2/305’s mission.
37. Originally, Adm Kiland had delayed M-Hour, prompted by the necessity that he “be assured that a modification of the preferred plan had been received by all Attack Units concerned. . . . When assured that the changes in the landing plan were received and understood, it was possible to reestablish the original [M-Hour].” Kiland.
38. The Support Craft Flotilla was composed of two mortar, three rocket, and four gunboat divisions. The 54 LCI’s were organized into teams of various types and assigned to a specific beach and landing.
39. CTG 51.1 AR, Chap III, 23-24 lists the landing times for Aka, Geruma, Hokaji, and Zamami Shima as 0804, 0801, 0921, and 0855, respectively. 77th. InfDiv OpRpt, Kerama Retto and Keise Shima, 29-31 gives the same landings as occurring at 0904, 0825, 0921, and 0900.
40. More than 350 suicide boats were captured or destroyed at Kerama Retto. The G-3 of the 77th InfDiv noted in a definite understatement “that the capture of these boats was of major assistance to the success of the main landings, for had they not been eliminated some damage would undoubtedly have been done to the landing force ships, particularly at night.” Col. F. D. Miller Ltr to CMC, 22Oct 54.
41. For operations in the Kerama area the ReconBn was split into two tactical groups, one under the battalion CO, the other under the battalion ExO. Co B, which was assigned to VAC for Iwo Jima, was not available until after L-Day.
42. Okinawa Operations Record, 49.
43. CICAS Trans No. 266, 32d Army OpOrd A #127, 6Apr45. Although this order specifically directed the CO of the shipping engineers to organize a raiding unit and attack Keise on the night of 6 April, no contemporary records show that this operation was carried through.
44. Okinawa Operations Record, 49.
46. Unless otherwise noted the material in this section is derived from CinCPOA OpPlan 14-44, 31Dec44; CTF 51 OpPlan A1-45, 16Feb45; CTF 51 AR; CTF 52 AR.
47. CinCPac-CinCPOA Bull 147-45, Translations and Interrogations No 32, 16Jun45, Diary of unidentified superior pvt, 273d IIB.
48. Command relationships between CTF 52 (RAdm Blandy) and CTF 54 (RAdm Deyo) were somewhat complicated. CTF 52 as SOPA was in overall command of all operations at the target, while CTF 54 was responsible for the movement and approach to the objective of TF 54 and ships of TF 52 moving with TF 54, for fighting surface actions should there be any, and for night retirements.
49. Okinawa Operations Record, Record of the 8th Air Div, Chart 1.
50. The only air reinforcements to reach Okinawa, the 32d Makoto Special Attack Unit (nine planes), landed at Kadena during the night of 26 March. At dawn on the 27th it made an all-out suicide attack and some of its planes crashed the Biloxi and Nevada. On 28 and 29 March the seven aircraft remaining on the island were lost in similar attacks. Ibid., 48-49.
51. Ibid., Record of the 8th Air Div, Table No 9, Part 2.
52. The main departure from previous tactics of NGF support of UDT’s was the circuitous approach used by the LCI(G)’s to avoid the appearance of an assault landing. At Iwo Jima, Japanese coast-defense guns had opened up on gunboats supporting UDT reconnaissance because the enemy thought a landing attempt was being made. See LtCol W. S. Bartley, Iwo Jima: Amphibious Epic, MC Historical Monograph, (Washington, 1954), 44-47, hereinafter cited asIwo Jima.
53. Gen Shepherd noted “that many of these stakes were not in any sense a hazard to our ship-to-shore movement, they being primarily emplaced for either fishing purposes or deception. In any case, a UDT officer stated that he could remove most of them with his hands, without any demolitions required.” CMC Memo.
54. One officer for each battalion in assault, one for each RCT, division, and corps, and one for the army were assigned to go with the UDT’s as reconnaissance and liaison personnel. Liaison officers briefed the UDT’s on the scheme of maneuver to enable the teams to make certain that specific landing areas were cleared; they also observed the terrain in the vicinity of their assigned beaches. Tenth Army Tentative OpPln 1-45, 6Jan45, Appendix A, 1-z.
55. In the 6th MarDiv zone of action “considerable question was raised as to the extent to which the defenses on the beaches were manned. The UDT personnel stated that they had been unable to detect any evidence of enemy in the beach emplacements while [the division] troop representative was of the opinion that those positions were in fact manned.” CMC Memo.
56. CTF 52 AR, Chap V, Sect C, 5.
57. Okinawa Operations Record, 50.
58. CinCPac-CinCPOA Bull 107-45, Translations and Interrogations No 28, 14May45, 1st Specially Established Regt OpOrd No 1, 30Mar45.