Ushijima’s Last Stand
Breakout to the South1
Rain squalls on 30 May continued to hamper Tenth Army operations, as forward elements maintained a steady pressure on the collapsing enemy front. The problem of keeping an adequate supply of rations and ammunition up with assault troops were almost impossible to solve although both corps attempted to maintain minimum levels by use of amphibious craft and vehicles along the coasts. Seas of mud effectively blocked inland approach routes for trucks, and TAF planes were called upon to make 11 supply drops to front line battalions despite the terrible flying weather. But the weather on 30 May was responsible for one unique event in the bloody two-month history of the Okinawa operation–“For the first time no enemy planes were detected in the area for the 24-hour period.”2
General Hodge’s troops secured all the broken ground east and northeast of Shuri during the day’s advance. At noon a change in the boundaries between the Army divisions became effective; the direction of advance of the 77th and 96th was oriented toward the corps boundary below Shuri, while the 7th was assigned the zone below the Naha-Yonabaru valley. Strong patrols of the 184th Infantry penetrated the Chinen Peninsula fastness, encountering only light enemy resistance. To the north and west the 32d Infantry advanced 400-1,200 yards through the hills and hamlets flanking the rail line to Kokuba. Opposition was sporadic but bitter as Japanese 62d Division units guarded the withdrawal corridor.
General Bradley employed elements of all his regiments to push the 96th Division’s attack. Approximately 1,200 yards were gained throughout the zone of advance against relatively light resistance. Small enemy strong points held out on each successive hill until they were wiped out or withdrew to the next high ground. By nightfall the division had taken most of the ground north of the Naha-Yonabaru road in its assigned area and pushed a company of 1/381 forward to the new boundary where it tied in with 2/32 of the 7th Division and 2/382 of its own.
The 382d Infantry had coordinated its drive toward Shuri with that of the 307th attacking on the left of the 77th Division. The holding forces of the enemy 32d Regiment resisted fiercely as they attempted to gain time for the last elements of Thirty-second Army to evacuate the abandoned fortress. During the day the 306th Infantry captured Ishimmi and mopped up the gutted ruins of the village. The enemy defenses north and east of Shuri were penetrated all along the division front, but gains
were limited to 600 yards in the face of the fanatical rear guard action.
Although the 3d Battalion, 1st Marines was in complete possession of Shuri Castle, the enemy forces north of the castle heights in the city and on the ridges at its outskirts still held out. The supply situation was so bad that Lieutenant Colonel Ross sent a message to Colonel Mason requesting that an adequate supply and evacuation route be established before any major attack was carried out. He indicated that his men had been without food for two days and that the ammunition on hand was grossly inadequate to support an all-out drive. Attempts to succor the battalion by air were only partially successful as the low ceiling and stormy weather obscured the drop zones. Each man, however, did receive one-third of a K ration and a canteen of water from supplies that were recovered.
During the morning of 30 May, General del Valle sent G-2 representatives up to Shuri Castle to look for the Thirty-second Army headquarter’s caves. He also sent along the division colors with a request that they be raised over the castle. Lieutenant Colonel Ross located the remnants of a Japanese flagpole and scaled the southern wall of the ruins to plant the American flag on the ancient citadel of the Okinawan kings. Ross and all nearby observers rapidly cleared the vicinity of the flag raising since this event was expected to draw Japanese artillery fire.3
Colonel Mason confined the activities of his regiment to vigorous patrolling on 30 May while the supply deficit was somewhat alleviated by carrying parties and air drops. The 2d Battalion was relieved on the left by elements of the 306th Infantry and in turn took over part of 1/1’s zone. Patrols of the 1st Battalion scouting to the north through the city ruins were driven back by 47mm and machine-gun fire from strong enemy positions in a ravine southwest of Wana Draw.
The 5th Marines on the right of the division zone of action also confined its day’s activities to patrolling. The 2d Battalion, in reserve, furnished carrying parties to build up supply dumps for assault units and to evacuate casualties. Although enemy resistance was negligible, the barrier of mud prevented any effective advance that would strain the already overextended supply route.
Taking full advantage of the water route on its flank, the 6th Division advanced 600-800 yards during 30 May, seizing the key high ground overlooking the Kokuba Gawa from the north. The day’s attack, originally scheduled for 0900, was delayed an hour while division language personnel and prisoners of war attempted to persuade enemy holdouts in front of the 22d Marines to surrender. The only response to the loudspeakers was a rain of enemy mortar and small-arms fire from the 44th IMB defenders. An intense artillery preparation was fired on the uncooperative enemy, and the assault battalions of the 22d and 29th Marines jumped off at 1000.
A network of Japanese machine gun positions hidden in the clusters of tombs on the low hills to the Marines’ front made progress slow and costly. Heavy sniper fire whipped the lines and killed Lieutenant Colonel Woodhouse of 2/22 who was forward controlling his battalion’s attack. Major John G. Johnson, the executive officer, took command immediately and continued a steady pressure. The advance consisted of a series of local assaults and mop-up actions that brought the battalion to secure hill positions overlooking the Kokuba Estuary and the rail line leading to the north by nightfall.4
Lieutenant Colonel Shisler’s 3d Battalion passed through 1/22 during the morning’s attack and behind a screen of artillery, mortars, naval gunfire, and rockets drove onto the high ground at the eastern outskirts of Naha. By means of a series of holding attacks and flank assaults, Shisler was able to move his companies into the maze of enemy defenses where close quarter grenade and small-arms exchanges decided the issue. Once the dominating ground was won, the battalion was subjected to intense artillery and mortar fire.5
The 1st Battalion, 29th Marines moving forward on the flank of 3/22 made the main effort
in Colonel Whaling’s zone of action on 30 May. Initially, Companies A and C were in assault, but the blowing up of a tomb full of enemy explosives caused 25 casualties in Company C, and Company B was passed through to maintain the impetus of advance.6 Machine-gun emplacements and snipers hidden in tombs stubbornly resisted 1/29’s advance, but the battalion was able to fight its way through 600 yards of enemy territory before it held up for night defense. The 3d Battalion, which had supported the attack of 1/29 by fire during the day, linked with 3/5 on the division boundary in the early afternoon to present a solid line tied in all across the 6th Division front.
The volume of enemy harassing artillery and mortar fire falling on Tenth Army front lines decreased noticeably during the night of 30-31 May. However, when assault troops jumped off against the Shuri positions in the morning, they were not prepared for the eerie silence, broken only by scattered sniper and machine-gun fire, that greeted them. Following their withdrawal plan, the Japanese holding forces from the 44th IMB, 32d Regiment, and 22d IIB had evacuated their positions during the hours of darkness and pulled back behind the second line of blocking positions north of Tsukasan.7
The immensely strong Shuri bastion, labeled “a perfect final defensive position”8 was an empty shell. By 1000 on 31 May, the 77th Infantry Division had driven to all its objectives, and the 305th Infantry had taken over the entire zone with orders to mop up and cover the right rear of the XXIV Corps advance. The rest of the division, less its artillery battalions which continued to fire supporting missions for the corps, moved to the rear areas for sorely needed rest, rehabilitation, and absorption of replacements.
In the 96th Division zone, attacking battalions also moved quickly to their assigned objectives and spent most of the day mopping up isolated enemy holdouts. Only on the extreme left flank where elements of 1/381 encountered enemy forces defending the Tsukasan line did the division fail to reach the corps boundary. At 1255 the encirclement of Shuri was completed when patrols of 3/383 contacted Marines from Company C of 1/5 south of the city.9
Attacking in concert with the 77th Division on its left, the 1st Marine Division completed the occupation of Shuri on the last day of May. Like a bright omen, the sun broke through the solid overcast and rain that had shrouded the battle front for over ten days. It considerably cheered the sodden infantrymen as they went about their mop-up tasks. The troublesome positions on the northern outskirts of Shuri and the formidable Wana Draw were cleared by noon. The 1st Marines was ordered into division reserve and given the task of thoroughly patrolling Shuri.
The 1st Division advance on 31 May was continued by the 5th Marines with 3/5 making the main effort. At 1445, fifteen minutes after it had received an air drop of badly needed water and ammunition, Major Poland’s battalion moved out against scattered resistance. When it reached the hills just north of Shichina machine-gun and rifle fire from the Thirty-second Army’s second holding line forced the Marines to dig in for the night. Company F of 2/5 was attached to the battalion to bridge the gap between it and 1/5 on the corps boundary.10
Resistance was much stronger on both flanks of the Tenth Army attack on 31 May than it was in the center where the 1st, 77th, and 96th Divisions profited from the Japanese withdrawal from Shuri. The 6th Division moved forward rapidly during the morning, but the assault companies of the 22d and 29th Marines soon contacted the hill complex to the west of Shichina and Kokuba where naval troops and units of the 32d Regiment were dug in to delay the advance. At 1300 a heavy artillery preparation and the long-range supporting fire of a company of tanks, which had moved up as close to the front lines as mud and mine fields permitted,11 enabled the division to gain another 400 yards before nightfall.
Although leading platoons of both 2/22 and 1/29 were able to reach the dominating high ground in their respective regimental zones, the
Breakout to the South
1-3 June 1945
intensity of enemy fire from reverse slope and flank defenses drove them off. After this repulse, the five assault battalions (1/22 had been committed during the morning’s attack) consolidated their lines on a series of low hills just west of the core of enemy resistance. Preparations were made for a coordinated attack on 1 June, and an all-night artillery preparation was called down to silence the Japanese guns.
On the eastern shore of the island the 7th Infantry Division continued its drive down the Naha-Yonabaru valley on 31 May. A chain of hill strong points, stubbornly defended by 62d Divisiontroops, were taken by the 32d Infantry which advanced an average of 800 yards and reached the corps boundary at Chan and along the main valley road. During the day, the 184th Infantry sent strong combat and reconnaissance patrols into the Chinen Peninsula and the mass of hills and ridges that guarded its neck.
The last day of May had seen the end of organized resistance at Shuri and the development of a new defensive position along the Kokuba Gawa and around Tsukasan. In two months of constant, steady fighting the Tenth Army had killed an estimated 62,548 Japanese defenders and taken 465 military prisoners; it had occupied all but eight miles of the island; and it was rapidly driving the remnants of the Thirty-second Army into a pocket where its only possible end would be surrender or annihilation. The cost of this success was considerable: 5,309 had been killed or died of wounds, 23,909 had been wounded, and 346 were missing in action in Tenth Army units.12
On 1 June the XXIV Corps changed the direction of its main attack. The 381st and 383d Infantry relieved the 7th Division’s 32d Infantry along lines that paralleled the corps boundary north of Chan and turned to the east at that village to reach a point 1,000 yards due north of Karadera. The 96th Division regiments reorganized on their new lines and prepared to attack south the following day with their objective the hill mass in the Tomui-Aragusuku-Meka area. The 77th Division assumed responsibility for the former 96th Division zone, and 2/305 moved out along the corps boundary to guard the right rear of the XXIV Corps advance.
With a much narrower zone of action and orders to advance directly south, the 7th Division attacked early on 1 June with the 17th and 184th Infantry in assault. The reconniassance patrols of the previous two days had done their work well and the division’s front lines were advanced 1,100 yards despite steadily mounting resistance. The defending elements of the 7th Heavy Artillery and 23d Shipping Engineer Regiments gave way slowly during the day, retiring in the direction of Itokazu.
In the IIIAC zone a coordinated attack by both divisions secured all the high ground overlooking the main east-west road in the Kokuba Gawa valley. Two battalions of the 5th Marines were the attacking force of the 1st Division. Enemy resistance was light, and the regiment advanced 1,500-1,800 yards before setting up on the hills east of Shichina.
The story of rapid advances against light opposition was the same in the 6th Division zone where the enemy defenses that had held up the 22d and 29th Marines collapsed during a combined tank-infantry attack. By nightfall the assault battalions held the high ground north of the Kokuba Gawa, and 6th Division patrols were scouting the river banks looking for suitable crossing points. Having fulfilled their mission of delaying the American advance, the Japanese second holding force had withdrawn during the night, and the way was open for a crossing of the Kokuba Gawa. (See Map 32)
General Geiger had instructed General Shepherd early in the morning of 31 May to study the practicality of a shore-to-shore landing on Oroku Peninsula. Plans were immediately laid to use Major Walker’s 6th Reconnaissance Company to make an amphibious reconnaissance of the peninsula that evening. At 1110, III Corps issued a warning order that stated the 6th Division would probably reorient its attack and go into Oroku to secure Naha harbor and seize the big naval airfield. A directive was issued to all units to restrict the use of flares and illuminating shells between 2030 and 0300 while the reconnaissance was being made.13
RAIN-SWOLLEN STREAMS, mud, and water-filled shell holes typified the terrain south of Shuri in the early days of June.
At 2100 four teams, each with four men, used plastic boats to move silently across the mouth of the Naha estuary and land on the northern part of the peninsula. After six hours deep in enemy territory, during which they drew some fire and observed and heard considerable activity, the scouts returned to Naha. Major Walker estimated on the basis of the team reports that the high ground to the north and east of Oroku airfield was occupied but not in great strength.
Before the reconnaissance was completed General Shepherd issued a warning order to all his units to alert them for a possible amphibious assault on Oroku Peninsula.14 General Geiger, acting on orders from General Buckner, confirmed the 6th Division’s alert for Oroku operations late on 1 June and directed that the 1st Marine Division take over the zone of the 6th the following day.
The 7th Marines, which had been in 1st Division reserve, moved up to relieve the 22d and 29th Marines on 2 June. The 2d Battalion took over the 22d Marines’ zone along the north bank of the Kokuba Gawa and 3/7 replaced the 29th Marines on the hills west of Kokuba village. At 1215 General del Valle assumed command of the former 6th Division zone, and Colonel Snedeker ordered Lieutenant Colonel Berger to move 2/7 across the river to the hills on the south bank. Picking a path over the wreckage of a bridge in the battalion zone,15 Company E made the first crossing and quickly moved onto the northern nose of the high ground that overlooked the river. While Company G was filing over the bridge ruins, Company E engaged and repulsed a group of 50-100 Japanese that attempted to turn its right flank. By 1930 Company F had joined the rest of the battalion in a solid defensive line to the south of the river, and the crossing site was safe.
The 5th Marines established a bridgehead across the north branch of the Kokuba on 2 June. Using a railroad bridge that the withdrawing Japanese had left intact, 1/5 and 3/5 crossed early in the morning and moved to the ridge line that guarded the approaches to Tsukasan. When the assault companies attempted to advance beyond this ridge, a storm of machine-gun and rifle fire from the front and flanks pinned them down. Although further gains south of the river were very limited, the day’s advance by the 5th Marines had placed the entire Naha-Yonabaru road in American hands.
On the left of the 1st Division General Bradley’s assault regiments drove back 62d Divisiondefenders 800-1,200 yards all along the front. Moving down the corps boundary, 2/383 cleaned out Chan and then attacked in conjunction with 3/383 to seize high ground just north of Tera and Kamizato. The 381st Infantry made repeated attacks on hill positions that held up its advance and succeeded in penetrating to Kamizato and Karadera.
The 7th Division maintained relentless pressure against the retreating garrison of the Chinen Peninsula and advanced its lines 2,400 yards. Rain had begun to fall again on the night of 1-2 June, and as a result air drops and carrying parties shouldered most of the burden of supplying the infantry spearheads of General Arnold’s division. Despite the debilitating effects of their rapid advance over steep ridges and through muddy draws, at the end of day the 17th and 184th Infantry were in position to make a drive to the southeast coast and close the mouth of the Chinen Peninsula.
As the east flank of Tenth Army continued to sweep in on Kiyamu Peninsula on 2 June, the 6th Division prepared for its assault landing. An analysis by the division staff of intelligence available indicated that the most successful scheme of maneuver would be an amphibious assault against the Nishikoku beaches which opened directly onto low, rolling ground that offered access to Oroku airfield and the shore of Naha harbor. Except at these beaches, which were northeast of the airfield, the shore of the peninsula was ringed by a sea wall and dominated by high ground immediately inland.
Only 72 LVT’s were available to the division for the landing, and many of these were in poor shape from continual use during the extended rainy spell when the sea and reef offered the most practical supply route. Largely because of this shortage of amphibious craft, the decision was made to land only one regiment as division assault troops. Colonel Shapley’s 4th Marines was designated for the task, and he in turn
Thirty Second Army Dispositions
4 June 1945
picked his 1st and 2d Battalions to spearhead the movement. The 29th Marines was alerted to move in behind the 4th as soon as the beachhead allowed and sufficient LVT’s were available. Since it was not feasible to supply the assault troops entirely over water, the 6th Reconnaissance Company, reinforced by a company of LVT(A)’s, was to seize Ono Yama Island in the middle of the Naha estuary and provide protection for the 6th Engineer Battalion which would replace the demolished bridge that had crossed the island from the capital city to the peninsula. D-Day was set as 4 June and H-Hour as 0500 for Ono Yama and 0545 for the main landing.
Preparation for the assault continued through 3 June as the Tenth Army attack to the south picked up momentum. Jumping off from positions it had seized on 2 June, the 7th Division, spearheaded by 1/184, advanced to the coast of Okinawa southeast of Kakibana by late afternoon. The Chinen Peninsula was completely cut off, and General Arnold moved the 32d Infantry into its rugged hills to mop up any surviving members of the garrison. The front lines of the 17th and 184th Infantry were consolidated in the hills above Itokazu and Toyama in readiness for an attack to the southwest against the Kiyamu Penninsula.
General Bradley’s 96th Division met with similar success on 3 July. By noon the 383d Infantry had secured Kamizato and Tera against relatively light resistance. The 381st Infantry after assisting in the capture of Kamizato moved on to take Inasomi. Both regiments, despite continued bad weather and extremely difficult supply conditions, were able to garner 1,400 yards of enemy territory before they held up for night defense. Stiff resistance from the Japanese defending forces marked the last few hours of daylight as the 96th Division fought its way to dominating positions in the hill mass north of the road and rail junction at Iwa. The pace of the XXIV Corps advance had widened the already existing gap between
Army and Marine units, and General Hodge kept the 305th Infantry advancing down the corps boundary during the day to guard his exposed flank.
When the 5th Marines sent probing patrols forward during the morning of 3 June, they were pinned down by heavy fire from Japanese positions south of Tsukasan and west of Gisushi. With 1/5 and 3/5 unable to advance without taking excessive casualties, Colonel Griebel received permission to move his reserve battalion through the XXIV Corps zone and outflank the enemy strong points. At 1330 Lieutenant Colonel Benedict and his men, stripped of all nonportable gear, started a wide swing through the rear areas of the 383d Infantry. After an exhausting struggle in the morass of mud that covered the broken countryside, 2/5 arrived at a position 400 yards east of Gisushi at 1800. Attacking immediately with Companies E and G in assault, the battalion quickly seized the ridge line west of Gisushi against negligible resistance.
Before digging in for the night the Marines attempted to blast shut the many cave openings in the ridge beneath them. A white phosphorus grenade thrown at two Japanese holdouts evidently ignited a hidden ammunition dump, and the ground in Company E’s sector erupted with a terrific explosion that killed three and wounded 17 of the men. Isolated as it was ahead of the 1st Division’s main battle line, 2/5 faced a tremendous task in evacuating these casualties, and only through the “invaluable assistance” of the 96th Division units on its left was it able to move the wounded Marines to the rear.16
At 1530 as 2/5 was moving on Gisushi, Colonel Griebel ordered a resumption of his regiment’s attack. The volume of enemy fire had slackened considerably since morning, and the 1st and 3d Battalions were able to move through Tsukasan in a 1,500 yard advance that brought them to the hills south of the former Thirty-second Army rear command post. The success of the day’s attack made it evident that Japanese holding forces were again withdrawing toward Kiyamu. (SeeMap 33)
On the right flank of the 1st Division, the 7th Marines, preceded by patrols of the 1st Reconnaissance Company, made a steady advance against small enemy delaying groups. Harassing fire from mortars, machine guns, and machine cannon emplaced in the hills guarding the entrance to Oroku Peninsula hit the right flank of the battalion and the attached reconnaissance company throughout the day. Supply and evacuation were conducted solely by carrying parties which had to plod through a gantlet of sniper fire to reach the only bridge leading over the Kokuba Gawa in the regimental zone. Air drops were again resorted to in order to keep a minimal level of rations and ammunition available on the front lines.17 At dusk Colonel Snedeker had both his assault battalions across the Kokuba and firmly dug in on the southern edge of the hill mass below the river; the 3d Battalion had established contact with 1/5 and the regiment was tied in across its front.
Preparations for the 6th Division’s shore-to-shore assault were completed on 3 June. At 1215 the beacon lights marking the line of departure 1,200 yards north of the Nishikoku beaches were set in place.18 The various assault units prepared for the landing the next morning by moving to positions along the west coast where their LVT’s could pick them up. General Geiger placed the 22d Marines in corps reserve in and around Naha and moved the regimental weapons company to the shore of the estuary where its 37mm’s and self-propelled assault guns could support the 4 June attack. In addition to artillery, NGF, air, and their own organic weapons, the assault troops were to have the supporting fires of a company of LVT(A)s, a company of tanks, a company of 4.2-inch mortars, and a detachment of mobile rocket launchers. At 2300 the 6th had completed all its preparations and was ready for the Oroku operation.
The Capture of Oroku Peninsula19
The units of the 4th Marines designated to make the assault on Oroku, the 1st and 2d Battalions, received the landing order during the
ASSAULT TROOPS of the 4th Marines pause to reorganize just after their landing on Oroku Peninsula.
late afternoon of 3 June and immediately began loading supplies and equipment. The next morning at 0300 the troops of 1/4, bivouacked farthest from the line of departure, commenced embarkation and an hour later were underway. Moving out to sea in column, the 1st Battalion turned south to pick up the 2d Battalion off its loading-out area.20 At 0446, 3/15 opened fire on Ono Yama, and armored amphibians put the 6th Reconnaissance Company ashore there 15 minutes later. Simultaneously, the guns of one battleship, two heavy cruisers, and a destroyer started pounding the landing area on Oroku Peninsula. As the leading waves of the 4th Marines approached the line of departure, in the first “gray light of dawn,”21 the two by three mile peninsula rocked under the impact of the shells of 15 artillery battalions joining in the bombardment.22
In the meantime, the waterborne assault battalions rendezvoused according to plan. But almost immediately difficulties beset the 1st Battalion, when tractors started falling out because of mechanical failures. By the time the red beacon marking the line of departure was reached, nine LVT’s had broken down and only six were present for the assault. Lieutenant Colonel Bell radioed the regimental commander that only two platoons of the right assault company and one of the company on the left were on the line of departure. Colonel Shapley ordered the attack to proceed on schedule with the troops on hand,23 and at 0530 the first wave of troop carrying vehicles started for shore in the wake of a line of LVT(A)’s.24
At 0600 the assault platoons landed under sporadic machine-gun fire and pushed on to the high ground 300 yards inland against minor resistance. In little more than half an hour all of the 2d Battalion was ashore. By 0700 Companies A and C of the 6th Tank Battalion were on the beach, together with four self-propelled guns of the Regimental Weapons Company. But the troops of the 1st Battalion, delayed by tractor breakdowns, continued to come ashore throughout the remainder of the morning.25
After the initial foothold had been secured the attack ground ahead slowly against mounting resistance on the left. Dense mine fields also impeded the advance and the heavy rains of the preceding 10 days had made a veritable morass of the ground. Movement of armor was restricted to the roads, which were blown in numerous places, thus denying the infantry tank support until repairs could be effected.26
Inasmuch as Company B, in reserve, was the only unit of 1/4 to land at anywhere near full strength, it was immediately committed to seize the high ground on the right flank of the beach. The company soon overran its objective and in doing so was instrumental in maintaining the impetus of the attack, for enemy resistance from that point had held up the entire battalion.27
The regimental reserve, 3/4, reached the peninsula at 0845 and within 20 minutes was committed on the right of 1/4 where it pushed forward to the edge of the airdrome.28 By 1000 the beachhead had been expanded sufficiently to
Battle for Oroku Peninsula
4-6 June Progress
warrant landing a second regiment. Accordingly, Colonel Whaling was directed to start embarking the 29th Marines immediately.
Although rain was coming down in driving sheets and it appeared that it might be difficult and dangerous to cross the bay, Colonel Whaling’s regiment completed loading and landing on schedule.29 By 1300 the 2d Battalion was ashore and relieving the left flank elements of 2/4. The remainder of the zone of that battalion was taken over by 3/29 an hour and a half later, and 2/4 passed to regimental reserve.
While the 29th Marines was moving to Oroku, division wiremen ferried a four-trunk cable across the mouth of the Naha Harbor, overheaded it to the mast of a sunken ship, and established wire communication with the assault units by 1100. In the early afternoon bridging operations were set afoot between Naha and Ono Yama, which had been secured against negligible resistance concurrent with the main landing.
Despite the harassment of continuous fire from hostile automatic weapons emplaced on the high ground along the northern Oroku coast, the division engineers had a Bailey bridge installed by 1845. Although pontoons had been readied in the meantime to span the estuary between Ono Yama and the peninsula, the emplacement of this bridge was held in abeyance pending neutralization of the enemy machine-gun fire which might well have punctured and sunk the pneumatic pontoons.
The afternoon storm prevented the movement of the remainder of the 6th Tank Battalion to the Oroku area; but the 1st Battalion, 29th Marines was landed and assembled in regimental reserve by nightfall. The end of the day found the assault battalions 1,500 yards inland with the left of the 29th secured on the bay of Naha, while on the right the open flank of the 4th was firmly anchored on the sea. There, the perimeter of 3/4 contained approximately one-third of Naha airfield which was swampy, overgrown with grass, and harbored only a few planes that had been “bombed and strafed to a mess of useless wreckage.”30
During the day development of the enemy’s defense had revealed an inordinate number of
OROKU AIRFIELD and the terrain inland towards Naha is shown during a carrier strike. (Navy Photograph)
automatic weapons, ranging in various calibers up to 40mm. Subsequently, it was disclosed that the Japanese had stripped the armament from the air defenses and damaged aircraft in the area and integrated these weapons into the ground fortifications to stiffen materially the resistance on Oroku. Besides meeting with the most extensive mine fields yet encountered during the campaign, on this day the 6th Division had its first contact with an awesome weapon: an 8-inch rocket that exploded with terrific concussion. However, there was little fragmentation and accuracy was poor. While the noise the huge projectiles made, tumbling through the air end over end, sounded “like a locomotive from hell”31 to the troops, the rockets were mainly a source of annoyance and caused few casualties. Rockets continued to fall in the rear areas during the night, snipers and infiltrators were active, and the entire front came under intermittent heavy mortar fire. (See Map 34)
The 1st Battalion, 22d Marines reverted to the 6th Division from corps reserve at 0700 on 5 June and moved to the division left flank to give protection to the right (west) flank of the 7th Marines pushing south from the Kokuba Gawa. Shortly thereafter, the attack on Oroku jumped off and progressed slowly but steadily against uniformly stubborn resistance until about noon, when the 4th Marines was halted by a heavily fortified locality north of Toma.
This strong point lay in the zone of 3/4 where Company I came under fire from its left front. While Company K patrolled the high ground on the right with negative results, Company I pushed forward and swung southeast to clean out the pocket. Artillery was not too effective against the deep caves of the hill fortress, and although 37mm guns were used to advantage, the infantry badly needed the support of direct fire weapons of heavier caliber.32
Tanks were ordered up but were immobilized by the soft mud and impassable roads. However, one platoon of Company C, 6th Tank Battalion worked its way along the reef on the seaward side of the airdrome to a rift in the sea wall. Passing through the breach, the platoon crossed the airfield and made contact with 3/4.33 Aided by the tanks and the fires of self-propelled 105’s located in the zone of the 1st Battalion, the infantry overran the noxious position late in the afternoon. As soon as Company I had cleared its area, Company L was committed to establish contact with 1/4 on the left.
The 1st Battalion had met stiff resistance along its entire front. Company C on the left slowly fought its way forward. But Company A was pinned down almost immediately by the heavy fire from its right front. After the Toma fortifications were cracked by 3/4, Company A advanced to the high ground overlooking that village. When the attack ceased at 1700, Company C, suffering heavy casualties, had inched its way to commanding terrain southeast of “Oroku-Mura.”34
Despite bitter opposition and difficulties of supply and evacuation engendered by the water-soaked ground, the lines were advanced about 1,000 yards, securing three-fourths of the airfield. The 4th had also encountered heavy concentrations of artillery fire. Counterbattery of the 15th Marines silenced four 120mm dual-purpose guns, one 6-inch rifle, and several smaller field pieces, but enemy shelling still made it necessary for Company K, returning from the ridge at 1600, to move behind the sea wall and back along the defended lines to the battalion reserve area. Hostile artillery also prevented LVT’s from using the route the tanks had taken, and supplies had to be hand-carried to 3/4.35
Meanwhile, the 29th Marines had experienced enemy opposition similar in nature to that met by the 4th. Progress was slow against intense rifle, machine-gun, and mortar fire. As the advance continued, thickening mine fields provided an additional impediment. Roads and bridges, damaged beyond local repair facilities, together with the soggy terrain, served to immobilize the tanks. However, their direct fire destroyed several automatic weapons and a 3-inch dual-purpose gun.36
Resistance was overcome painfully and laboriously. By 1400 the 29th was heavily engaged with a strong center of resistance near Hill 57, which was also delaying the left of the 4th Marines. An enemy counterattack against 3/29 was successfully broken up, and the battalion pushed forward almost 1,000 yards before its attack was stalled by heavy fire from the areas of the adjacent battalions.37
The 2d Battalion, 29th Marines continued to push its left flank along the estuary and cleared the bridge site. Covered by security detachments from 2/29, a 300-foot pontoon bridge was floated into position, despite enemy machine-gun fire from the vicinity of Oroku village. Before dark the first tractor had rumbled over to the peninsula from Ono Yama, opening a ground supply line to the assault troops.
Supported by a platoon of tanks firing overhead from a high ridge, 2/29 moved forward slowly on 6 June. On the left of the 2d Battalion, another tank platoon was able to move along the shore line and assist the advance until halted by a destroyed bridge.38 After a gain of several hundred yards, 2/29 was pinned down by heavy fire, and the advance came to an abrupt standstill.
On the right of the 29th Marines the attack was stymied from the outset. The terrain confronting the 3d Battalion there “consisted of a series of small temple-like hills, each of which had been converted into a fortress . . . from which mutually supporting automatic weapons could cover adjacent positions and deny the open ground between the hills.”39 These gun positions were well dug-in and impervious to artillery fire. Because the narrow roads in the area had been made impassable by mines and shell cratering, tank support was not forthcoming, and a day of bitter fighting netted 3/29 a gain of a scant 150 yards.40
The baneful strong point, dubbed Little Sugar Loaf, which had frustrated the efforts of 3/29 rendered the attack of the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines equally futile. Denied tank support for the same reasons as 3/29, the left flank of 1/4 (where Company B had passed through Company C) remained stationary in the outskirts of “Oroku-Mura.” On the right Company A, in an attempt to turn the flank of the enemy position, became involved in a vicious fire fight. One platoon was pinned down for the better part of six hours, and was able to pull out only after the direct fire of self-propelled 105’s was brought to bear on Little Sugar Loaf. By the time tank dozers and armored bulldozers had painstakingly repaired the mine-infested roads so that armor could be brought up, insufficient daylight remained to execute the attack. Consequently the 1st Battalion fell back to the lines it had occupied in the morning with little to show for a day of hard fighting.41
Although the coordinated attack of two regiments accomplished little in the center, the operations of 6 June revealed that the major enemy defenses were located in the area of the axial ridge, running northwest to southeast along the length of the peninsula. Progress was found to be less difficult on the right of the 4th Marines, and every effort was made to push 3/4 to the south in order to place the regiment on the flank of the principal resistance.
Preceded by air strikes on the ridges to its front, the 3d Battalion moved out on 6 June with Companies I and L in assault. Company I on the right began to receive fire from 20mm machine cannon and an artillery piece of heavy caliber located on Senaga Shima, a small island 500 yards west of the midpoint of Oroku’s southern shore. Counter fire from tanks, artillery, and support craft was immediately laid down. An urgent call for an air strike on the island was answered in less than half an hour, and “as rack after rack of bombs fell on the Nip positions, the troops stood up and cheered.”42
The artillery piece was soon silenced, but 20mm fire was received spasmodically. Nevertheless, 3/4 pressed forward with its open flank covered by continued air strikes on Senaga Shima and completed the capture of Naha airfield before noon. While maintaining contact with the stalemated units in the center as the attack swept down the coast 3/4 became over-extended and Company K was committed on the right of Company I. In addition, Colonel Shapley ordered the 2d Battalion to relieve the left flank company of the 3d. Company E took over the zone of Company L about 1600, and the latter unit moved over to the coast to tie in with the right of Company K.43
The day had been warm and clear, and the ground was drying out. Engineers went to work on the main north-south road and disarmed 83 mines of various types. Company B, 6th Tank Battalion landed at noon with the remainder of the division tanks which were assembled in reserve.44 By the next day wheeled transportation was available to lessen the supply difficulties of the assault troops.
The 4th Marines resumed the advance on 7 June and again made the most rapid progress
Battle for Oroku Peninsula
7-9 June Progress
along the seaward flank. But resistance increased in the late afternoon when Company L, on the right of 3/4, attempted to secure the last high ground on the west coast of the peninsula, near Gushi village. A report at 1615 that the hill had been taken proved to be premature. Soon thereafter, murderous machine-gun fire from the left and front, coupled with a heavy mortar barrage, forced the company to pull back to the next ridge for the night.45 (See Map 35)
Stiff resistance and bitter fighting characterized the action in the center and on the left of the 4th Marines’ area. However, the attack forged ahead against machine-gun fire coming “from everywhere,” while “countless caves were methodically cleaned out and sealed by the old process of direct fire, flame, and demolitions.”46
On the left 1/4 reverted to regimental reserve during the morning of 7 June, when Major Carney’s 2d Battalion passed through its lines with Companies F and G abreast. It was 1000 before the attack could be coordinated with 3/4 and all supporting units. But by that time tanks, M-7’s, and 37mm guns were all brought to bear on Little Sugar Loaf. Company F commenced to advance slowly and steadily against the enemy entrenched in the most dominant piece of terrain of central Oroku.
Covered by the fire of Company E from the positions it had occupied the previous afternoon, Company G executed a wide envelopment from the right (south) and was on its objective by noon. Major Carney immediately ordered Company E to attack on the right of G. After Company E had also taken its objective from the right flank and Company F had wrested the position in its zone from the stubborn enemy,47 the formidable bastion was overrun late in the afternoon.
On the left of the 4th Marines, 3/29 began three days of heavy combat, during which very little enemy territory was captured. But in this period Lieutenant Colonel Wright’s command brought about the demise of some 500 Japanese, destroyed large quantities of all types of their weapons, and sealed numerous caves filled with troops, weapons, and equipment.48
Progress continued to be slow throughout the 29th Marines’ area. The 37mm guns were manhandled to commanding positions, and did effective work with direct fire against hostile automatic weapons. The division engineers replaced the destroyed bridge that had impeded the advance of the tanks along Naha Bay, and armored support enabled 2/29 to enter the village of Oroku on 7 June. The following day 1/29 was committed partially, when Company C entered the lines on the left of the 2d Battalion, while A and B remained behind it in reserve. Company C continued to tie in the flank of 2/29 with the estuary on 9 June and sent patrols toward Hill 53, which were met by heavy artillery, mortar, and machine-gun fire.49
The original scheme for the capture of Oroku had envisioned a southeasterly drive toward the base of the peninsula by the 4th and 29th Marines abreast. By 8 June, however, as the attack developed, the changing tactical situation demanded a shift in the axis of the main effort. While the 29th Marines was stalled at the key ridge line on the left, the 4th had pushed far forward along the beach and lower ground on the right, pivoting to the east in a counterclockwise movement which faced its lines northeast, approximately at right angles with the 29th. Consequently, Colonel Shapley’s direction of attack was reoriented northward toward the core of enemy resistance.50
At the same time the general attack of the Tenth Army pressed southward, and the 7th Marines swept past the base of Oroku and the unguarded flank of the 6th Marine Division along its boundary with the 1st Division. General Geiger released the 22d Marines to General Shepherd for the purpose of covering the left of the 6th Division zone and giving protection to General del Valle’s exposed flank. As the 7th Marines advanced to the sea on 7 June, 3/22 captured Hill 103.51 Thus, the 22d began to
SENAGA SHIMA and the tangled ridges on the west coast of Oroku photographed shortly after the peninsula was secured.
swing to the west across the peninsula to face the 4th and 29th.
Early in the morning of 8 June 1/4, covered by smoke from the artillery, skirted the eastern edge of Naha airfield and moved to positions on the right of 3/4. At 1030 the 1st Battalion attacked, with Company A in assault, to seize the high ground at the base of the peninsula just south of Gushi. Only one platoon was committed initially, and this was pinned down at once by a hail of rifle, machine-gun, and mortar fire.
Although tanks had been positioned on the north bank of a stream to support the attack, their fires were masked by the configuration of the terrain until the vehicles succeeded in crossing the creek and moving farther south. Under cover of smoke fired by the tanks, the harassed platoon was withdrawn to cover, and preparations were made to launch a coordinated assault. After a 20-minute preparation of direct overhead fire by two platoons of tanks, while two more pounded the reverse slope of Gushi Ridge from positions on the reef, Company A attacked to the south and within 15 minutes overran the strong point which had held up 1/4 for almost half a day.
As soon as the objective was reached, Company A changed its direction of advance to the northeast. At the same time Company C continued the attack to the south, on the right of A, and cleared the high ground down to the last hill overlooking the sea wall. Meanwhile, Company B swung in on the left of A and attacked north.
Thus, Lieutenant Colonel Bell was in the unusual position of having each of his three rifle companies attacking in a different direction. But the maneuver was successful, and the end of the day found the 1st Battalion in possession of the dominant terrain at the base of Oroku. Company B tied in for the night with 3/4, while Company C covered the exposed flank by moving into a position on the right rear of A, commanding the north-south road to Itoman.52
In changing its direction of advance to cross the peninsula, the 3d Battalion, 4th Marines attacked into rugged terrain consisting of a maze of interlaced ridges. Every hill was honeycombed with mutually supporting caves which were often dangerous to blow because of the enormous amounts of explosives and ammunition which some of them contained.53 Progress was slow but steady, requiring much maneuver, close cooperation between units, and careful coordination of supporting fires. Mines continued to be detected and removed, and hundreds of pounds of demolitions were used to seal caves.
The advance on the left of the 4th Marines’ zone of action was resumed by the 2d Battalion on 8 June at 1000. All three rifle companies were on the line; but in order to shift the axis of the attack toward Oroku village, only Company E on the right moved out initially while Companies F and G supported by fire. After Company E had gained about 300 yards, Company G attacked on its left and by 1130 both companies had completed the swing to the northeast. Only 200 yards from the day’s objective, G and E reorganized to continue the attack and shortly after 1300 resumed the advance, with Company F supporting by fire. Although forward progress was contested with determination, the assault companies were on the objective by 1530 and digging in for the night.54
In reaching this goal, Major Carney’s men employed a tactical maneuver which had been used successfully by the 96th Division in the fighting southwest of Conical Hill. The center of bitterest resistance in the 2d Battalion’s area was Hill 39 northeast of Tamikamiya. Rather than move down the forward face of the hill, which was swept by blistering automatic weapons fire, Company E passed through instead of over its objective. A fire team, quickly followed by a light machine gun section was sent through a Japanese tunnel. The line rapidly built up on either side of the exit, and the troops were soon on their way to the next hill. This technique proved highly successful on two other occasions during the day.
In the meantime the 22d Marines continued to pivot on its right, wheeling the left flank clockwise toward a juncture with the 4th. On the morning of 8 June, 1/22 was ordered to send strong patrols to seize Hills 55 and 55(1). The 3d Battalion, 22d Marines with Company B attached, moved out toward the sea to contact the 4th Marines. Late in the afternoon 2/22 moved down the Kokuba Gawa to positions in rear of the 1st Battalion. Hill 55 was in the hands of 1/22 at 1800. But heavy mortar fire, coupled with an ammunition shortage, forced the battalion to pull back 150 yards after dark.55
Meanwhile, Company B, meeting only an occasional sniper, patrolled to the coast but failed to contact the 4th Marines. At the same time the advance of 3/22 was gradually reoriented to the northwest as Company I probed toward Chiwa. During the day patrols worked north to a ridge line half a mile south of the village, meeting little local resistance but receiving heavy fire from Hills 55 and 55(1).
Company B reverted to 1/22 at 0500 on 9 June.56 All units were scheduled to jump off at 0830: the 1st Battalion to regain Hill 55; the 2d to seize Hill 55(1); and the 3d with its objective Hill 28 on the outskirts of Chiwa. At 0700, however, the time of attack was delayed until 0900, at which time 1/22 moved on Hill 55. As soon as the 1st Battalion had taken its objective the 2d was to pass through and capture Hill 55(1).57
After hard fighting and suffering heavy casualties, 1/22 secured Hill 55 late in the afternoon. Although 2/22 had been ready to attack
all day, 1/22 had not progressed as rapidly as had been expected, and it was decided to postpone the assault of the 2d Battalion until 10 June.
Similarly, hostile fires from Hill 55(1) prevented 3/22 from occupying Hill 28, but Company I secured the high ground just south of it by 1000 and contacted the 4th Marines when patrols of that unit cleaned out Chiwa. Company K manned the positions vacated by I in the morning, while Company L returned from mopping up the coastal area to fill the gap between K and 2/22.58
The action in the zone of the 4th Marines on 9 June remained unchanged from that of preceding days:
The advance was still slow and tedious against bitter resistance. Every Jap seemed to be armed with a machine gun, and there was still the same light and heavy mortar fire. Casualties continued to mount and the number of Japs killed soared over the maximum of 1500 which were supposed to be defending and there were still plenty left.59
On the right of the 4th the 1st Battalion moved out with Companies A and B in assault to seize the high ground near Hill 55(2) and Uibaru. The attack was delayed until armor could be brought to bear from the road running along the right flank of the battalion. But when the tanks were in position, a rail-mounted 75mm gun, firing from two cave ports in the face of a small cliff south of Chiwa, forced them to scurry for cover.60
Nevertheless, the attack moved out through machine-gun and mortar fire at 1230. Each of the innumerable caves had to be demolished before it could be passed, and progress was slow. Late in the afternoon, after 1/4 had pushed through Gushi, a tank was moved through the village onto the Oroku-Itoman road. The tank came in on the flank of the cliff-dwelling 75mm gun, “knocking it out with only two shots fired–one from the gun which missed and one from the tank which did not.”61 By evening
SATCHEL CHARGES, such as this one being flung into an enemy dugout on Oroku, were often the only means of silencing Japanese opposition.
the right of 1/4 was anchored on a ridge northwest of Chiwa, while the left rested in the outskirts of Uibaru, which 3/4 had taken as its day’s objective.62
As the infantry regiments converged from three directions to compress the Oroku garrison in the southeast corner of the peninsula, restrictions upon the employment of supporting arms (an inherent difficulty in the execution of a double envelopment) conspired with the ruggedness of the terrain and the tenacity of the defenders to retard the progress of 2/4 on the afternoon of 9 June. Since the 2d Battalion was attacking toward its own artillery and across the front of the 29th Marines, only tanks, M-7’s, and 37’s could be used. Consequently, when it was necessary to effect road repairs to move tracked vehicles forward, and neither tank dozers nor armored dozers were available, the advance of 2/4 bogged down after a scant gain of 150 yards.
But on 10 June the momentum of the attack accelerated. Early in the morning equipment was obtained to clear all tank approaches to the front lines of 2/4. By 0815 supporting arms were moving into position to cover the advance, and the 2d Battalion launched a three-company assault at 0945 which was coordinated with the 29th Marines. An hour later 2/4 had broken
Battle for Oroku Peninsula
10-11 June Progress
through, seized the last commanding ground in its zone, and commenced preparing defensive positions from which it supported the adjacent units by fire for the next two days.63 (See Map 36)
The battle for Oroku was entering its final stages. In the remainder of the 4th Marines’ area the 1st and 3d Battalions also advanced against decreasing resistance. In the center 3/4 moved forward on a narrow, one-company front until 1400, when it was squeezed out of the line by 1/4 converging on 2/4 at Hill 58. On the right 1/4 occupied Hill 55 (2).64
Meanwhile, the 22d Marines moved northeast toward Tomigusuki and abreast of the 4th. While 1/22 retained its positions and supported 2/22 by fire, the attack of the latter battalion jumped off in column at 0845 with Company F in assault, followed by Company E. Company G, reinforced by a 37mm platoon, assisted by pounding the reverse slope of Hill 55 (1). At 1045 Company F was on the crest of the hill which was declared secure just before noon. By 1500 Company G rejoined on the high ground at 55 (1).65
Concurrently, 3/22, which had also supported the attack of the 2d Battalion, was ordered to advance to the northeast in concert with 1/4. Company K remained in position, but Company I occupied Hill 28 and tied in with the 4th Marines. Company L was ordered to positions in the 1st Battalion sector.66
Although the 29th Marines made only limited gains on 10 June, it had clearly defined the last major pocket of resistance in the high ground west of Oroku village. Up to this point enemy resistance had continued without faltering, but the defense of Oroku was beginning to crumble. In one case during the day’s advance, elements of 1/4 overran the retreating Japanese who were trying to pull out toward Tomigusuki.67 Further evidence of the extreme pressure to which the enemy was subjected appeared during the night in a series of local counterattacks all along the front. The heaviest of these were against the perimeter of 1/4, where 200 enemy dead were counted after daylight.
To break through the remaining resistance, a concerted attack was launched on 11 June by the greater part of eight battalions. In the zone of the 22d Marines, the 2d Battalion was to seize Hill 62 north of Tomigusuki, while the 3d Battalion, less Company I which was to support the 4th Marines until the advance of that unit masked its fires, moved to an assembly area near Hill 55. After 2/22 secured its objective, 3/22 was to pass through to Hill 53 overlooking the Kokuba Estuary.
Preceded by a half hour of intense artillery preparation,68 2/22 jumped off at 0825 on 11 June with the assault companies, E and F, in column, Company G standing fast to support the attack by fire initially. By 0900 the attacking echelon held the high ground south of Tomigusuki. But at 0950 it was still there with an open left flank. Consequently, Lieutenant Colonel Johnson ordered Company E to remain in place until contact was established by the 4th Marines approaching from the left rear. Company G was directed to move forward with Company F to attack the strongly fortified Hill 63. After a five-minute M-7 bombardment, the advance was resumed at 1115, and less than an hour later a heavy fire fight was in progress on the slopes of the objective.69
In the meantime Lieutenant Colonel Shisler, who had been directed to render assistance, ordered Company L of 3/22 to seize the eastern shoulder of Hill 63 and support 2/22 by fire. At 1145 Company L was in position to execute this mission, and 2/22 moved onto the objective. By 1220 Tomigusuki was declared secure.70
Without artillery preparation,71 but preceded by a half hour 81mm mortar barrage, 3/22 launched the assault against Hill 53 at 1435. Company K passed through the 2d Battalion to attack, while Company L moved to envelop the hill from the east. Company I rejoined in battalion
Battle for Oroku Peninsula
12-13 June Progress
reserve. Company K on the left met stiff resistance, and although it was unable to participate in the assault with Company L, it contributed materially by reducing pressure on L which occupied Hill 53 at 1450.72
The 29th Marines made repeated attacks against the high ground west of Oroku village with only limited gains in the heavily fortified hills. In the 4th Marines’ zone the 1st and 2d Battalions remained in position while 3/4 passed through 1/4. Company I seized the hill to its front after a day of hard fighting. But Company K on the right fell 300 yards short of contacting the left of 2/22.73
Nevertheless, the ramparts of the Oroku fortress were cracking, and Admiral Ota released his last dispatch to General Ushijima:
Enemy tank groups are now attacking our cave headquarters. The Naval Base Forceis dying gloriously at this moment . . . We are grateful for your past kindnesses and pray for the success of the Army.74
During the night of 11-12 June artillerymen killed or dispersed a group of Japanese troops attempting to cross the Kokuba Gawa,75 while 51 infiltrators were killed trying to pass through the lines of the 22d Marines. The following day saw the first real break in the enemy’s stubborn, well-coordinated defense. Units of the 22d Marines consolidated their positions and mopped up the area which had been secured the day before. The 4th and 29th continued to compress the enemy pocket west of Tomigusuki.
The 3d Battalion, 4th Marines resumed the attack and proceeded slowly and methodically, eliminating all resistance and sealing caves as the troops advanced. By 1550, 3/4 tied in with the 22d Marines and as the day ended only one hill intervened between the battalion and Naha Harbor, 500 yards to the front. (See Map 37)
During the day the 29th Marines broke through the hard core of the enemy defense that had been holding it up for a week. The 2d Battalion completed cleaning out Oroku village, and before dawn the 1st Battalion successfully launched the first of a series of coordinated attacks against the mutually supporting tactical localities west of Oroku.76
By 1540, 1/29 had overrun the center of resistance, permitting 2/29 to move up on the left. Company F moved out from Oroku to seize Easy Hill, immediately south of the village–the last strong point in the zone of the 29th Marines. The capture of this key terrain feature forced the enemy into the alluvial flats along the coast between Oroku and Hill 53. “In the late afternoon enemy troops began displaying flags of surrender. Language officers equipped with loud speaker systems were dispatched to the front line areas to assist in the surrender of those Japs who desired to. The attempt was partially successful, 86 enemy soldiers voluntarily laid down their arms.”77
At daybreak on 13 June, 3/29 relieved 1/29 in the lines and jumped off with 2/29 to destroy the remaining enemy in the regiment’s zone of action. Their advance to the southeast was rapid, sweeping past 2/4 and 1/4 to pinch them out of the line. Concurrently, 3/4 also drove swiftly toward the beach. Advancing in skirmish lines, the assault companies flushed the demoralized Japanese from the brush in the marshy ground along the waterfront. Reserve companies followed with flame throwers and demolitions sealing bypassed caves.
The battle turned to a rout. Some of the enemy threw down their arms and fled at the Marines’ approach. Large numbers surrendered; but some fought back with hand grenades in desperate, individual last ditch stands, while many more used grenades to destroy themselves in despair.
The sea wall was reached at noon, and the remainder of the day was spent running to earth small groups hiding in the cane fields and rice
FINAL SWEEP on Oroku brings a skirmish line of Marines into action against Japanese hiding out in the marshes north of Tomigusuki.
paddies. In the late afternoon General Shepherd notified General Geiger that all organized resistance on Oroku had ceased.
At noon of 13 June orders were issued to the 6th Reconnaissance Company to secure Senaga Shima, which that unit had scouted on the night of 10 June. The island had been subjected to intense bombardment for four days and was kept under interdiction all night. Company C of 1/29 was attached to the reconnaissance company, and at 0500, 14 June, the attack was launched. No resistance was encountered, but as mopping up continued on the peninsula., Major Walker’s men thoroughly combed the island, finding only the victims of artillery, air, and naval bombardment: enemy dead and the silenced guns which had been used against the troops on Oroku.
Operations of 14 June marked the completion of the Battle for Oroku:
The ten day battle was a bitter one from its inception to the destruction of the last organized resistance. The enemy had taken full advantage of the terrain which adapted itself extraordinarily well to a deliberate defense in depth. The rugged coral outcroppings and the many small precipitous hills had obviously been organized for defense over a long period of time. Cave and tunnel systems of a most elaborate nature had been cut into each terrain feature of importance, and heavy weapons were sited for defense against attack from any direction.
Despite the powerful converging attacks of three regiments, the advance was slow, laborious, and bitterly opposed. The capture of each defensive locality was a problem in itself, involving carefully thought out planning and painstaking execution. During ten days fighting almost 5,000 Japs were killed and nearly 200 taken prisoner. Thirty of our tanks were disabled, many by mines. One tank was destroyed by two direct hits from an 8″ naval gun fired at point blank range. Finally, 1,608 Marines were killed or wounded.78
The most notable aspect of this operation, however, was that during a critical phase of the campaign Tenth Army was able to exploit fully an amphibious capability despite the fact that the extremely short notice precluded major preparations. Besides the complications arising from a lack of time for rehearsals, or even the detailed briefing of participating units, the approach and landing were executed for the most part in the darkest hours of the early morning with inadequate navigation aids. Moreover, it was done without wave guides, control boats, or any other control feature common to an amphibious assault. Yet, in a period of 36 hours the operation was effected on schedule and according to plan.79 Thus, the significant point in an analysis of the seizure of Oroku Peninsula is that “with trained troops and competent staffs in all echelons, the amphibious landing of a division is not of excessive complexity.”80
As the 6th Marine Division initiated operations on Oroku Peninsula, the 1st Marine Division continued its resolute, albeit slogging pursuit of the Japanese forces withdrawing from the Shuri battle position. The atrocious weather
Tenth Army Progress
4-12 June 1945
had converted the already muddy roads to impassable morasses. Transport was hopelessly mired north of the Kokuba Gawa. South of the river the “trails were only negotiable by foot troops–vehicles could not have been used” even if it had been possible to bring them across the inlet.82 The acute supply situation could be coped with only by carrying parties and air drop. Yet, despite the difficulties imposed by the weather and the terrain, the 1st Division chalked up gains of as much as 1,800 yards on 4 June as the drive southward from the Naha-Yonabaru valley began. (See Map 38)
While the 4th Marines secured the initial foothold on the northwest tip of Oroku, the 7th Marines, on the right of the 1st Division, moved south from the bridgehead at the mouth of the Kokuba to isolate Admiral Ota’s force on the peninsula. The hill mass at the base of Oroku was the dominating terrain in the division zone of action, culminating in Hill 108 overlooking the East China Sea and the objective town of Itoman. Thus as the 7th moved forward, its open right flank was exposed to constant harassment from the commanding ground along the boundary between the 1st and 6th Divisions. On the other hand, the left of the division where the corps boundary ran generally southward from Shuri to Iwa was secure. The adjacent 96th Infantry Division was well ahead at the outset of the advance from the line of the Kokuba Gawa.
Upon the collapse of the Shuri line, the 1st Marines had remained behind to patrol and mop up in the vicinity of the city while the 5th drove forward in pursuit of the retreating enemy. But at 0430 on 4 June the 1st joined the chase as the 3d Battalion left Shuri to make a wide envelopment through the 96th Division zone in order to seize the high ground north of Iwa and Shindawaku in concert with the 1st Battalion which was to pass through the 5th Marines’ lines near Tomusu.83
By 0930, 3/1 had reached the village of Tera immediately south of Chan.84 At 1300 the point was pinned down by hostile fire, and Company L, which constituted the advance guard, attempted to clean out the enemy pocket. Because he lacked mortar ammunition and had no communications with artillery or NGF support ships, Lieutenant Colonel Ross ordered the company to disengage, and the battalion bivouacked in rear of the 383d Infantry. At 1500, 3/1 was brought under enemy artillery fire, but as the battalion was in defilade no casualties were sustained.
Torrential rains continued all day, making rivers of the roads and churning the fields into seas of calf-deep mud, of such viscosity that the soles were torn from the shoes of many of the men. Food was scarce, but through the wholehearted cooperation of the 96th Division the Marines procured two meals of K rations per man.85 It was the considered opinion of at least one member of 3/1 that “this day probably was the most miserable spent on Okinawa by men of this battalion.”86 To compound these problems and discomforts, the 3d Battalion also found itself without a supply route or communications with the regiment 11,000 yards to the rear.87
The day’s events proved to be no more propitious for the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines than for the 3d. The occupation of the high ground across the front of the 5th Marines had been completed shortly after daylight, when Company F of 2/5 secured Hill 107 without opposition, and Lieutenant Colonel Benedict’s battalion held the entire frontage of the regimental position.88 After a long, wet, and tedious march 1/1 took over from 2./5 about noon. The latter
unit maintained its positions as a secondary line while passing into corps reserve with the remainder of the 5th Marines.
Lieutenant Colonel Shofner immediately began preparations for an attack at 1400 against the Iwa-Shindawaku Ridge with Companies A and C in assault, the former on the right. But as the rain increased to cloudburst proportions to aggravate the supply problem, General del Valle ordered the attack cancelled.89 The 7th Marines on the right, however, had already moved out, and counterorders for 1/1 to resume the advance were received an hour later. At 1630 the assault companies of 1/1 started for a ridge 1,500 yards ahead. Meeting no opposition, the advance progressed rapidly until the troops reached a stream some 300 yards short of the objective. The day’s downpour had transformed the rivulet into a raging torrent. Shofner could see no way of getting his battalion across until a reconnaissance upstream to his left resulted in the discovery of a bridge.
An attempt was made to cross and redeploy on the other side, and two platoons of Company C negotiated the narrow span without molestation. But as they floundered forward through the mud, the enemy suddenly opened up with mortars and machine guns, pinning down those men who were south of the stream. Inasmuch as 3/7 on the right was held up90 by the flooded water course, and the bridge area was covered by pre-arranged fires from the 200-foot ridge to the front, Shofner recognized the futility of further attempts to force a crossing and ordered a withdrawal to the 2/5 sector. The battalion had suffered a number of casualties, and a covering force was left behind which brought the wounded out after dark. The next day 1/1 was ordered to bypass the entire area by swinging east into the 96th Division zone and moving in the trace of 3/1 to Iwa.91
Because the advance of the 1st Marines southward, in common with those of other regiments, was so extended, the sole means of contact between Colonel Mason’s headquarters and his two assault battalions was by radio at extreme range. But this was considered so precarious that the movement orders provided that in the event communications broke down completely, the senior battalion commander would assume tactical control of both battalions.92 In consequence on 5 June, after a long, tiresome, and muddy trek to the south, during which the 1st Battalion lost 50 men from exhaustion and outran its communications, 1/1 came temporarily under the over-all command of Lieutenant Colonel Ross of the 3d Battalion.93
Meanwhile, 3/1 had received no word from the regiment since leaving Shuri. But the corps objective had not been taken, so the battalion commander departed on reconnaissance with his command group early in the morning of 5 June. While this preliminary reconnaissance was underway, the shivering troops built fires and tried to dry out as much as possible before moving. Intermittent showers continued, but between rain squalls 19 plane drops were made to 3/1. A battalion observation post was established by 0700, and information was received from 2/383 that Iwa had been patrolled with negative results. The 3d Battalion left its bivouac at 1030, and upon its arrival in the assembly area Lieutenant Colonel Ross issued his orders for the capture of the Iwa-Shindawaku Ridge.94
The attack jumped off at 1230. A delay occurred while a small pocket of the enemy was cleaned out, but the advance continued against moderate machine-gun and rifle fire and at dusk the battalion was on the objective west of Iwa, having advanced more than 3,000 yards to effect the envelopment. During the day 2/1 in regimental reserve, moved to a bivouac area within supporting distance between Tsukasan and Chan. The advance echelon of the 1st Marines had also moved forward, and the regimental commander was able to issue oral orders for 6 June. The 3d Battalion was directed to continue the attack and secure the village of
Shindawaku, while the 1st Battalion eliminated all enemy resistance in the regimental zone from the rear of 3/1 to the stream which had stalled the 4 June advance.
Striking out at dawn, 1/1 swung down to Iwa and wheeled to the north. With all three companies deployed in skirmish lines, the 1st Battalion swept northward over the bypassed area on an extremely broad front, passing 3/7 attacking south in its zone. The ridge from which the enemy had stymied the advance two days before was overrun from the rear, surprising the few enemy soldiers remaining there to the extent that some were caught in the act of shifting to civilian clothes, and all were wiped out before they could return a single shot. This curious maneuver was completed by 1400 and 1/1 went into reserve near Tomusu.95
Although the rain had finally stopped, supply was still practically nonexistent. But 3/1 obtained one and a half meals of field rations from the 383d Infantry and jumped off at 0900.96 The battalion attacked to the west and reached the outskirts of Shindawaku at 1045. By 1800 3/1 had pushed on to the ridge running from the northwest to the village and 2/1 had moved to the vicinity of Iwa. The left flank of the 3d Battalion was tied in with the 383d Infantry, but its right was not in contact with the 7th Marines. Early the next morning 2/1 moved up on the right of 3/1 to close the gap.
Enemy resistance on the front of the 1st Marine Division consisted of relatively small groups of approximately company strength and aggregating about two battalions, bent on restricting or diverting the advance. Orthodox tactics, however, provided the 1st Division with the means for driving in these covering forces. Patrols were used to find them and feel them out. A secondary attack fixed them by applying pressure frontally, while the main attack took them in flank or rear to finish them. And in spite of the prevailing terrain and weather conditions, the division commander felt that “it was refreshing to be able to maneuver again, even on a modest scale.”97
On the critical right flank of the 1st Division, the 7th Marines drove steadily south against mounting resistance with the 2d and 3d Battalions in assault. The 1st Battalion followed in their tracks, patrolling and mopping up. On the open right flank, the attached 1st Reconnaissance Company screened the advance of 2/7, and the deep patrols of this unit initially furnished the regiment with valuable information. But the reconnaissance company’s lack of effective communications and supply organization subsequently imposed severe restrictions upon its employment.98
In addition to the exposure of 2/7 to harassment from outside the division zone, a potential threat also existed on the interior flank. There, knowledge of the location of adjacent units was often nebulous because of communication difficulties and the leap-frogging tactics of the 1st Marines. But artillery fire served to neutralize the first threat effectively, and the reserve battalion was held in readiness to counter the second. For the 7th Marines as well as the 1st, river crossings, communications, weather, terrain, supply, and evacuation proved far more difficult to cope with than the enemy.
With adverse weather and difficult terrain conspiring to slow down time and space factors, each day’s attack was inevitably delayed until air drops could be made. Supply by air delivery reached unprecedented proportions, marking the route of advance of the 7th with a trail of bright-colored cargo parachutes. As the lines of communication extended, eight to ten litter bearers were needed to move a single casualty through the rain and mud over distances of as much as five miles.99
The initial attack from the Kokuba Gawa bridgehead on 4 June carried 1,100 yards in the zone of 3/7, and 2/7 seized Takanyuta. On 5 June the waters of the swollen stream to the front of 3/7 subsided revealing a causeway over which part of the battalion passed, while the remainder crossed in the zone of 2/7.100 The 7th Marines drove to positions just north of Hanja, scoring gains up to 1,000 yards. During the day the 1st Division received blanket clearance from IIIAC for artillery fires in the 6th Division’s zone until cancelled by the latter. At the same time the 22d Marines began moving
WOUNDED MARINES are evacuated by liaison plane from a temporary airstrip north of Itoman.
to close the widening gap on the division boundary.
When the advance resumed on 6 June, the 22d Marines had not yet closed on the right of 2/7. Consequently, although Hill 103 was in the zone of the 6th Division, its hostile automatic weapons and mortars were a constant source of annoyance, and it was determined to clean up this threat before proceeding across the base of the peninsula. The 2d Battalion had almost reached the crest of the hill when the 22d Marines arrived and 2/7 continued the attack toward Hill 108, advancing 1,000 yards before meeting stiff resistance and digging in for the night near Dakiton. On the left 3/7, changing its direction of attack to the southwest, pushed through Dakiton to the high ground south of the village.
Under the clearing skies of 7 June, the 1st Division broke to the sea and slammed the door on the Naval Base Force on Oroku. Following an air, naval gunfire, artillery, and mortar preparation Company G of 2/7 seized Hill 108. The fleeing Japanese were pursued by the fires of machine guns and supporting weapons, and the 2d Battalion pushed on to the high ground overlooking the beach. The 3d Battalion overran Hanja, established contact with 2/1 on the left, and dug in just north of Zawa.101 The attack veered south again on 8 June, and resistance stiffened as 3/7 passed through Zawa and advance elements of 2/7 probed positions in the Itoman area.
The break-through to the sea had cut the last escape route of the enemy facing the 6th Division and brought the troops of the 1st Division into position to swing south for the final drive against the Kiyamu defenses. In addition, the expansion of the foothold on the west coast opened a water supply route to the forward areas. The first LVT’s, supported by LVT(A)’s, arrived at the newly-uncovered beaches at noon on 8 June, and shortly thereafter General Hodge sent General del Valle “congratulations for cutting the island in two.”102
After more than a week on reduced rations, supply by LVT made it possible for the men of the 7th Marine to receive a full issue on 9 June. On the return trip the amphibious vehicles evacuated casualties to ships offshore. Evacuation soon was further improved by the use of a narrow concrete road north of Itoman as a landing strip from which cub planes carried out the wounded by air. Moreover, the rains were becoming light and infrequent, some bridges had been constructed over the streams to the north, and a few wheeled vehicles were beginning to make their appearance. Even the enemy contributed towards improving the supply situation. During the night of 8 June Japanese planes dropped several cases of demolitions into the 2/7 area, which were used to seal enemy caves the following morning.
When the axis of the 1st Division attack shifted to the southwest on 7 June, the 1st Marines paced the 7th Marines’ drive to the sea with substantial advances. The 2d Battalion of the 1st, filling the gap between 3/1 and the 7th Marines with Company E, secured Hill 75 just north of Zawa. The 3d Battalion, moving on Yuza along the corps boundary, made gains up to 1,200 yards against moderate artillery fire on the right and occasional machine-gun fire on the left.
Logistical difficulties, however, still dogged the regiment. Air delivery continued to be the only means of supply, and by the time this could be accomplished the assault companies were far forward of the drop zone. Supplies were then manhandled by headquarters personnel to forward
dumps, from whence reserve company men carried them to the assault units. Water supply by air was not practicable and it was necessary for the troops to use stream water treated with halazone.103
The continuing good weather of 8 June eased the supply situation, but enemy resistance stiffened. Nevertheless the 3d Battalion maintained its advance toward Yuza, secured its objective at 1600, and after being relieved by 1/1, went into reserve north of Shindawaku. The 2d Battalion, 1st Marines moved rapidly against increasing resistance to its objective on the high ground overlooking the Mukue Gawa. During the night pressure on the enemy was maintained by patrols. The next day advance elements of the 1st Division probed the outposts of the last defense line on Okinawa in preparation for a major assault on 10 June.
Driving the enemy’s outer shell of covering forces from the line of hills running generally northeast to southwest through Zawa had been accomplished without too much difficulty; but as the 1st Division closed on the outpost line of resistance in the Tera-Ozato area, the going got tougher. All units on the division front dispatched strong patrols south of the Mukue Gawa on 9 June. Both the 1st and 7th Marines were met by heavy rifle and machine-gun fire and found that the only means of forcing the stream was by infiltration of individuals and small groups. Because of the severity of hostile fire, 2/1 was obliged to await the fall of darkness before evacuating casualties sustained by its patrols.104
On the right of the division zone the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines relieved the 3d on the interior flank and made two attempts to seize a hill overlooking the northern edge of Tera. While trying to negotiate the deep gorge of the Mukue Gawa, Company B observed the Japanese reinforcing commanding ground to the southeast, and 1/7 withdrew under cover of smoke. A second attempt was driven back by heavy fire.105
On the seaward flank of the regiment the initial attempt of 2/7 to seize the ridge north of Itoman106 was also frustrated by a fusillade from the 1st Battalion’s zone of action. A platoon from Company E was allowed to cross the river, but was pinned down immediately at the base of the ridge by heavy and accurate fire from the front and left flank. Lieutenant Colonel Berger, operating from a mobile LVT(A) observation post some 100-200 yards offshore, had a clear view of the action and came ashore to order the rest of Company E to cross the Mukue at its mouth and reinforce the patrol. Enemy machine-gun fire turned back the first attempt to cross on foot and repulsed a later effort to move the Marines forward by LVT. At dusk, Berger ordered the exposed platoon to withdraw north of the river under cover of LVT(A) fire.107
The following morning Companies G and F passed through Company E’s night defense positions, dropped over the ten-foot sea wall, and waded 400 yards to a point opposite the ridge. Following a terrific LVT(A) preparation, the assault platoons mounted the sea wall and attacked the ridge and town.108 Five officers were lost to enemy fire in the first seven minutes of fighting, but the assault continued, clearing the ridge and sweeping through the rubble-strewn streets to positions on the high ground on the southern edge of the town.
While 2/7 was securing Itoman, the 1st Battalion with Company A in assault made a swift, unopposed advance to the crest of the hill north of Tera which had been the center of enemy opposition to the 7th Marines’ advance on 9 June. Lieutenant Colonel Gormley sent Company C forward to reinforce Company A, and both units patrolled the ruins of Tera after a white phosphorus barrage by the battalion’s 81mm mortars had fired most of the buildings
VIEW FROM YUZA HILL looking toward Yuza Dake. In the background a flame tank sears enemy positions in Yuza village.
still standing. A number of dazed civilians were found in the village and directed to the rear, but there was no enemy opposition. As the battalion dug in for night defense, orders were received to seize Kunishi Ridge on 11 June.109
Although the rains had ceased, movement of transport was still difficult. But wheeled vehicles were beginning to appear in appreciable numbers to facilitate supply from the beaches, and a number of tanks had struggled through the mud to the forward areas.
With armored support at last available on 10 June, the 1st Marines with 2/1 on its right succeeded in cleaning out the southern slopes of the dominant ridge between Tera and Yuza, which Company G occupied late in the afternoon. Fairly heavy mortar and artillery fire fell on the battalion during the night, but an anticipated counterattack failed to materialize. The following day the 2d Battalion was ordered to seize Hill 69 just west of Ozato.
The battalion jumped off at 1030 in column of companies, Company F in assault followed by Company E. Company G maintained its position and supported the attack with overhead fire. At the outset progress was rapid, but as the leading company moved into the low ground forward of the hill hostile mortars and artillery began to inflict losses. As the left flank of Company F neared Ozato, heavy machine-gun and rifle fire added to the toll. With mounting casualties slowing the advance, Company E was committed on the right of F. The massed fires
of supporting weapons did little to diminish the enemy fire. But disregarding its waning strength and the loss of three supporting tanks, the attacking echelon pushed the assault home late in the afternoon. By dark the lines were consolidated on the objective and defensive fires established. During the night the battalion frustrated continual attempts on the part of the Japanese to infiltrate and repulsed one moderately heavy counterattack.110
In the meantime, the left battalion of the 1st Marines had likewise been heavily engaged. During the morning of 10 June, Army units succeeded in coming up on the flank of 1/1, and at 0915 the 1st Battalion moved against Yuza Hill, immediately west of the village. Although the attack was made in the face of withering machine-gun and artillery fire the advance was rapid. Leaning against a rolling barrage laid down by the 11th Marines, Company C in assault swarmed up the western nose of the hill and onto the crest. But the price was high. Some 70 men of the 175 composing the company were killed or wounded in the assault.
The seizure of Yuza Hill, however, carried 1/1 well ahead of the 96th Division which had been halted in its tracks before the heavily fortified Yuza Dake escarpment. In consequence the eastern flank of Company C was dangerously exposed to the dominant positions before the units on the left. Lieutenant Colonel Shofner ordered Company B to work through Yuza village and tie in with the left of C and the 96th Division. Intense mortar and artillery fire from the Yuza Dake area, however, prevented this movement, and late in the afternoon Company B was sent around to the right to join C on the hill. Company C had lost all its officers and during the night was commanded by a mess sergeant.111 Company A, in reserve, occupied positions in rear of the open flank.
The excellent artillery support had pinned the Japanese garrison down until the Marines were right on top of them. However, there was considerable fighting on the hill after its capture. The two assault companies suffered 120 casualties during the day, but the issue was never in doubt. The battle continued well into the night with the enemy laying heavy mortar and artillery concentrations on the hill. Machine-gun fire from Yuza Dake grazed the position from time to time, adding to the toll of casualties, and at 0400 on 11 June, Company C lost another 20 men repulsing a counterattack. For the next three days the 1st Battalion remained in position on Yuza Hill awaiting the reduction of Yuza Dake. Although 1/1 had no real difficulty holding the hill, the battalion was under constant fire for two days until advances by adjacent units straightened out the salient.112
On June 11 the 7th Marines pushed forward against mounting resistance for gains of 400 to 1,000 yards during the morning. The 1st Battalion cleared Tera and attacked to reach the heights immediately south of the village, while the 2d Battalion mopped up in Itoman and advanced 500 yards beyond. Ahead of the 7th Marines, some 800 yards from the southern fringes of the two settlements, lay “the scene of the most frantic, bewildering, and costly close-in battle on the southern tip of Okinawa”113–Kunishi Ridge.
This precipitous coral escarpment constituted the western-most anchor of the last heavily defended line on Okinawa. The ridge contained innumerable caves, emplacements, and tombs on both the forward and reverse slopes. The intervening area between this formidable fortress and the lines of the 7th Marines was a broad valley of grassy fields and rice paddies which offered no protection to advancing infantry. The supporting tanks were restricted to two approaches into the position: a road across the valley which cut through the center of the ridge and another along the coast line. Both of these routes were covered by antitank guns. (See Map 39)
Shortly after noon patrols from the 1st and 2d Battalions moved out with armored support to probe the Japanese defenses. Intense frontal fire from Kunishi Ridge, enfilade fire from the enemy on Hill 69 opposing the attack of 2/1, and artillery concentrations directed at the tanks forced a withdrawal at 1447.
Because of the complete fire coverage of the
open valley enjoyed by the Japanese, both from the heights and slopes of the ridge itself and from the Yuza Dake area, it was apparent that a daylight assault of the position would be a costly affair. Consequently, after Colonel Snedeker had made a personal reconnaissance of the objective from a light liaison plane,114 it was determined to attack at night.
The commanding officers of the 1st and 2d Battalions were oriented on the general plan during the afternoon. The central road and a line of telephone poles was designated as the boundary between battalions upon which the assault units would guide. The scheme of maneuver contemplated a penetration of the ridge where the road passed through it, followed by an expansion of the initial foothold to the right and left flanks to secure the remainder of the objective in the regimental zone of action. Normal artillery would be placed alternately on Kunishi Ridge and Mezado Ridge (500-600 yards southwest of Kunishi) until H-Hour and thereafter on the latter.
For several days General Buckner had been sending messages to the Japanese commander by radio broadcast and air drops pointing out the hopelessness of the enemy situation in an attempt to persuade General Ushijima to surrender. During the afternoon of 11 June, Tenth Army representatives were conducted to the 2d Battalion OP overlooking Itoman to await any enemy party that might desire to negotiate. At 1700 all fire was suspended in the 7th Marines’ area pending the doubtful appearance of a white flag. About 15 Japanese wearing white headgear appeared in the 1/7 zone in front of Company A at 1740, but dispersed when hailed. Six of the enemy surrendered to Company C at 1802, but the situation returned to normal two minutes later when hostile mortar fire fell on the captors’ position.115 Final orders for the resumption of the attack were issued by Colonel Snedeker about 2000 setting H-Hour at 0330, 12 June.
Both 1/7 and 2/7 were to make the assault with one company each, and at 0225 Company C moved out to establish contact with Company F on the line of departure. The attack was launched on schedule at 0330 and at 0500 Companies B and G moved out in support of the assault companies. Concurrently, Company F reached the objective at a point 500 yards north of Mezado village, as Company C came up on its left to extend the line eastward. The enemy was completely surprised and several small groups were wiped out by Company C while they were engaged in preparing breakfast. But the enemy quickly recovered, and the Japanese on Kunishi Ridge braced for the final stand in southern Okinawa.
At daylight the companies moving up to reinforce those on the ridge were pinned down by murderous machine-gun fire and forced to withdraw. Tanks were sent up to support a second attempt, but upon clearing Tera were driven back by enemy artillery. The troops moved out again at 0815 under cover of a smoke barrage and once again recoiled under withering fire from the Japanese battle position. The tanks were ordered to destroy tombs and suspected emplacements in the valley north of Kunishi, and a third and equally abortive effort to cross the fireswept plain under smoke cover was beaten back at 1300.
At 1555, 1/7 began sending tanks forward with critical supplies for the beleaguered companies on Kunishi. When these had been delivered, the tanks undertook reinforcement of the ridge.116Troops were loaded in concealment at Tera and disembarked through the tank escape hatches upon arrival on the position. Before darkness suspended these operations, nine tanks had carried a reinforced platoon of 54 men of Company A forward to bolster Company C and brought out 22 wounded.117
After nightfall Company B moved forward again and reached the ridge without incident,
WESTERN END OF KUNISHI RIDGE as seen from the air, showing the exposed terrain over which the 7th Marines had to advance.
building up the line on the left of C which was tied in with 2/7. The front of the 2d Battalion was similarly extended to the west at 2030 when Companies G and E arrived on the escarpment.118 By midnight the positions there could be considered reasonably secure.119 But as General del Valle put it, “The situation was one of those tactical oddities of this peculiar warfare. We were on the ridge. The Japs were in it, both on the forward and reverse slopes.”120
While the desperate, bloody battle of the 7th Marines was in progress during 12 June, patrols of the 1st Marines ranged southward along the corps boundary through Ozato. On Hill 69 outside of this village 2/1 continued to mop up and seal caves under sporadic fire from Kunishi Ridge, towards which the battalion sent patrols the next day preparatory to a pre-dawn attack on the 14th.121
Preparations to commit the 1st Marines to the struggle for Kunishi Ridge was the principal consideration throughout the 1st Division zone on 13 June. The entire southern portion of the island still in the hands of theThirty-second Army rocked under continual bombardment from the guns of the artillery and the ships offshore. Rocket craft stood in to the southern tip of the island to augment naval gunfire by raking reverse slope defenses. The villages of Makabe and Komesu alone were saturated with more than 800 5-inch rockets in a single hour.
The tanks available to the 1st Marines were not committed, but those with the 7th performed yeoman service. Some worked over the western nose of the ridge in the 2/7 sector, while others with 1/7 pounded enemy positions on Kunishi and covered that unit’s supply route. This road, through the center of the ridge, had been blocked late in the preceding afternoon when a bridge caved in. But a tank dozer constructed a bypass and several tanks were able to provide fire support, continue to transport troops and supplies, and evacuate the wounded, some of them strapped to the sides and sandbagged in for protection against enemy fire. More than 50 more men of Company A dropped through the tank hatches onto the battle position, and 35 wounded were carried to the rear.122 The excellent performance of the armored workhorses of the 1st Tank Battalion in building up supply reserves was matched by the equally outstanding
aerial delivery service of the torpedo bombers of VMTB-131 and -232.123
Infantrymen of the 7th Marines concentrated on consolidating their positions on hard-won Kunishi and expanding to both flanks. The enemy, however, continued to lace the ridge with shells and bullets from both the front and flanks, and very little progress was made. Patrols of 1/7 probed eastward along the ridge line seeking the enemy. The Japanese were observed using screening smoke in the village of Kunishi, and a heavy 81mm mortar concentration was laid there. Mopping-up operations netted two 90mm mortars, a light machine gun, and a grenade discharger destroyed. Late in the afternoon the 1st Battalion placed heavy mortar and small-arms fire on a concentration of hostile troops observed on Mezado Ridge.124
The 2d Battalion patrolled along the west coast but was pinned down by heavy fire from the eastern reaches of Kunishi Ridge, necessitating a withdrawal under cover of smoke. Despite the excellent counterfire of a supporting battleship during which four direct hits on gun emplacements were observed and main battery fire was brought within 250 yards of the troops, enemy opposition continued to be intense and several tanks were put out of action by AT fire in the 2/7 area.125
After half an hour’s artillery preparation, the 2d Battalion, 1st Marines moved out with Companies E and G in assault at 0330, 14 June to take up positions on Kunishi Ridge east of the 7th Marines. Although flares from adjacent units illuminated the 600 to 800 yards of open valley floor between the line of departure and the objective,126 initial advances were made without resistance, and by 0500 two platoons of Company E were on the topographical crest of the objective. But the support platoon and the company headquarters were stopped cold, well below the summit, by intense machine-gun fire. Company G on the left met heavy mortar, machine-gun, and rifle fire 300 yards short of the objective, but one platoon succeeded in working up and tieing in with Company E. With the coming of dawn the severity of enemy fire increased, halting the support platoons in their tracks and isolating the assault platoons on the high ground. In like manner the battalion headquarters and reserve were effectively cut off from the assault companies.127
This situation continued throughout the day as the heavy fire continued unabated. Casualties rose to staggering proportions; one company lost six of its seven officers. Tanks were brought forward; but they were so sorely needed to evacuate the wounded and bring up critical supplies of ammunition, water, and blood plasma that their tactical employment was relegated to a minor role. The troops clung grimly to their precarious toehold, and after dark Company F, in reserve, moved up to tie in with both G and E and establish a perimeter defense on the ridge.
Enemy small-arms, grenade, mortar, and artillery fires continued throughout the night, and the following day brought no respite. There was no relaxation of pressure on the part of the Japanese, and casualties mounted. Supply and evacuation by tank continued, but the 1st Marines was less fortunate than the 7th with air delivery. A drop scheduled for 0900 was not made until midafternoon and then two-thirds of the ammunition and rations fell within the enemy lines and could not be recovered. Company G, however, with the aid of gun and flame tanks, clawed its way along the ridge and extended the line about 200 yards to the left. But despite the heroic efforts of the men, Kunishi Ridge was still far from being secured when 2/5 relieved 2/1 that night.128
The 5th Marines, which had been bivouacked in reserve near Gisushi,129 began relieving the
1st during the morning of 15 June. By noon 3/5 (Lieutenant Colonel Robert E. Hill)130 had taken over 1/1’s lines on Yuza Hill and relieved its reserve company which had moved forward to blocking positions on Hill 69 to the left rear of 2/1. During the afternoon 1/1 assembled at Dakiton and 3/1 at Shindawaku.
Because the area for 1,000 yards in rear of 2/1 was still being swept by small-arms fire, it was impossible for Lieutenant Colonel Benedict of 2/5 and his company commanders to make an adequate reconnaissance, adding greatly to the normal difficulties involved in the relief of a unit engaged in a fire fight. All company commanders of 2/5 were taken to the 2/1 area in tanks and returned at 1600 to report that the situation on the ridge had not improved. The 1st Marines’ troops held only a 75-yard sector on the crest with no contact with adjacent units. The bulk of the battalion was pinned down in a small pocket on the forward slope by fire from the rear and both flanks. After a conference between Lieutenant Colonels Benedict and Magee it was decided to begin the relief immediately after dark.
The battalion commander of 2/5 also decided to commit only Company G initially to prevent congestion in the restricted area under control. At 2000, Company G moved out and arrived on the position half an hour later without suffering any casualties.131 The relief was completed by 2300 and 2/1 moved to Dakiton. The 1st Marines reverted to division reserve after 12 days in the line, during which the regiment had sustained almost 500 casualties.
Meanwhile, on 14 June, the 7th Marines had continued “the slow, methodical destruction of enemy emplacements on the ridge, to which the descriptive word ‘processing’ had come to be applied.”132 In the zone of 1/7, Company A attacked east to seize the remainder of the reverse slope of Kunishi Ridge in the regimental zone of action, with Companies B and C mopping up the area held and supporting by fire. The attack encountered exceedingly difficult terrain, and the enemy resisted stubbornly. Shortly after noon Company B was ordered to move east through Kunishi village and attack north over the ridge to secure the forward slope of the 7th Marines’ objective.
Company B gained control of the village, but in assaulting the high ground to the north was met with machine-gun fire. The company continued to press the attack until two rifle squads reached the ridge line. But a strong Japanese counterattack drove the troops from the high ground, and Company B was ordered to withdraw under cover of a heavy mortar barrage. The battalion established its lines as of the previous nlght.133
On the front of 2/7 enemy fire continued to mount in intensity, despite the use of suppressive barrages, and that unit made only negligible gains. Tanks supported the 7th Marines, logistically and tactically, until 1530 when all tanks were withdrawn for employment with the 1st Marines.134During the day 48 men were ferried forward to the 7th Marines on Kunishi by Company C, 1st Tank Battalion, and all three of the tank companies evacuated a total of 160 wounded.135
Although an overwhelming amount of naval gunfire, artillery, air, rockets, and 81mm mortars was brought to bear on the enemy on 15 June, the progress of 2/7 was again limited to no more than local gains. However, with armored support, patrols from the 2d Battalion were able to probe the northwest slope of Mezado Ridge and destroy numerous caves and emplacements.136
On the left of the regiment, the action of 1/7 was similar to that of the previous day. After preliminary patrolling and artillery preparation Company C attacked directly east along the ridge, while Company B again swung down through the village of Kunishi to assault the ridge line from the south. Company B encountered considerable resistance, and Company C was unable to advance far enough east to relieve the pressure on B. Consequently, at 1600 the companies were again withdrawn to the defensive positions of 13-14 June.
Before resuming the attack on 16 June, the left flank troops of 1/7 were withdrawn about 200 yards to the west in order to permit an extremely heavy concentration of artillery, mortars, and rockets to be placed on the ridge. These preparatory fires commenced at 0700 and continued unabated until the troops moved out at 0945. The attack began with Company A working along the northern slope of Kunishi Ridge and Company B patrolling Kunishi village. Both units were covered by Company C in reserve.
Company A advanced cautiously, demolishing caves and emplacements. As it continued forward slowly and methodically destroying all enemy resistance, Company C followed on its heels, building up the line from the west, consolidating the gains of Company A and mopping up. Although the progress of Company B was slowed by the large number of civilians encountered in the village,137the company destroyed numerous groups of the enemy who were found “wandering through the town of Kunishi in a confused, disorganized, and bewildered state.”138
During the afternoon Company A cracked a particularly difficult strong point called “The Pinnacle,” which had defied reduction for two days, breaking through to the eastern boundary of the regimental zone of action. But even after the fall of this bastion, a single sniper remaining killed or wounded 22 Marines before he could be located and eliminated. On the right, despite heavy casualties and a continuing loss of tanks to 47mm guns and land mines, 2/7 extended the lines some 400 yards to the west to complete the capture of the objective in its zone. By the end of the day 2/7 occupied the first high ground of the Mezado hill mass, and the 1st Battalion held its sector of Kunishi ridge with Company A on the left, C in the center and B on the right.139
The ground that had been so tenaciously defended and the approaches to Mezado had been virtually cleaned out. Kunishi Ridge was no longer a major obstacle in the 7th Marines’ zone of action, and operations were set afoot for a passage of lines to continue the attack the following morning. The 22d Marines, in assault for the 6th Division, were to take over the front of 2/7 while 3/7 would attack through the lines of the 1st Battalion.
As 1/7 had advanced eastward on 16 June, visual contact had been established with 2/5 attacking toward the west. At daybreak Company G of 2/5 assaulted a coral peak on the ridge which commanded its position. Bitter close-quarter combat broke out almost immediately and continued until 0900 when two fire teams managed to reach the summit. The company commander then ordered an attack on his left flank to extend the front eastward along the crest of the ridge. Two gun tanks and an armored flame thrower went forward at 1130 to assist. Mortar and small-arms fire was extremely heavy all along the company front, and at 1330 a smoke screen was requested to enable a tank to evacuate casualties. Fighting continued throughout the day with Company G making slow but steady progress.
On 17 June, as on the previous day, 3/5 continued to mop up in its area and maintain contact with the 96th Infantry Division. The 2d Battalion resumed its attack to secure the 800 yards of Kunishi Ridge remaining in Japanese hands. The battalion moved out at 0800 with Company E working along the ridge to the left and Company G attacking to the front to destroy enemy reverse slope defenses. A rocket barrage was laid down at 0820 to assist the advance of Company E, and by 1030 an armored bulldozer had opened a road around the right flank enabling tanks to join the fighting on the southern face of the escarpment. This eased the pressure on Company G considerably, but armored support was hamstrung throughout the afternoon by the necessity of using tanks to evacuate casualties under heavy fire. Stretcher cases posed a particularly difficult problem, inasmuch as they could not be loaded through the escape hatches and many of them were wounded again while being carried to the aid station lashed across the rear of the tanks.
From the outset fighting was heavy all along the line, and at 1130 the entire front of Company E was enfiladed by murderous machine-gun fire from the XXIV Corps area. Although
Seizure of Kunishi Ridge
it was impossible to advance against this devastating fire on the crest of the ridge, Company E continued a gradual extension to the left along the forward slope. During the afternoon tank-infantry teams working over the valley north of the ridge secured a route of approach to the battle position. It was therefore determined to commit Company F shortly before dark, and by 1745 the company had reached positions in rear of E. At 1800, Company F attacked eastward along the ridge, and by nightfall 2/5 held all but 400 yards of the 1,200 yards of Kunishi in the 5th Marines’ zone.
Company K of 3/5 was attached to 2/5 and moved into position to protect the battalion rear at dusk. Towards midnight the enemy launched a frenzied counterattack which was broken up by Companies G and E. The few Japanese who managed to infiltrate were cut down by Company K.140
The 6th Marine Division having been assigned the coastal zone of action, effective 17 June, the 22d Marines began the passage of lines through 2/7 at 0300 that morning. The relief of 2/7 proceeded without incident, and dawn found the 22d in position on the north slope of Mezado Ridge prepared to attack with the 1st and 3d Battalions in assault, the former on the right.
The 3d Battalion, 7th Marines, which had relieved 1/7 during the night, jumped off with the 22d Marines at 0730 to seize the high ground just east of Mezado village. The battalion moved out in column with Company K in assault, followed by I and L. As Company K approached the objective, Company I maintained contact with the 22d Marines, and Company L occupied positions on the left of K to cover the increasing gap between 3/7 and the stalemated 5th Marines.141 An advance of 1,400 yards was made before heavy enemy fire from the commanding heights protecting the Kuwanga-Makabe road forced the battalion to dig in. Because 2/5 had been unable to advance, 3/7 bent its left flank well to the rear for night defense.
In the rear of 3/7 and the 22d Marines, the 1st and 2d Battalions of the 7th Marines remained in position on Kunishi Ridge to complete mopping up. As these units continued “processing” the escarpment during the day, enemy fire in the valley north of Kunishi almost ceased and supply lines were opened to normal traffic.
Die-hards holding out in caves on the southern face of Kunishi halted the attack of 3/22 soon after the 22d moved out on 17 June. After the troops on the ridge had cleaned out the infested area, Lieutenant Colonel Shisler ordered Company L to positions on Kunishi from which it could support Company K in assault.
Preceded by a 20-minute mortar barrage, Company K resumed the advance at 1130. By noon the company had secured the hill just north of the village of Mezado, and Company L immediately moved up to reinforce K, mop up, and prepare to attack the final objective. After a 15-minute artillery preparation 3/22 jumped off at 1415, supported by tanks. Company I passed through the eastern edge of Mezado village and attacked on the left of K, which was trailed by Company L. Company I reached the high ground east of the village at 1620 and tied in with 3/7 on the left.
The right of the company was in contact with Company K on the southern slope of Mezado Ridge, and Company L filled the gap between K and 1/22. Company E of 2/22 was attached to the 3d Battalion to tie in with 3/7 and 1/22 for all-around night defense. Orders were issued shortly after dark providing for a passage of the lines of the 3d Battalion by the 2d on 18 June. While 3/22 mopped up Mezado and delivered overhead fire support, 2/22 was to assault the next objective to the south in the 6th Division sector: Kuwanga Ridge.142
On the right of the 22d Marines, 1/22 also secured a foothold on Mezado Ridge after a day of hard fighting, but it was prevented by heavy fire from penetrating the reverse slope defenses. Companies A and B, the former on the right, were pinned down early in the assault, and the battalion commander was wounded.143 Company C which was committed on the right of A, also met heavy fire from caves in the steep, brush-covered hillside. Although Companies
A and C were unable to advance, Company B on the left worked a platoon through the zone of 3/22 to the top of the hill mass. The remainder of the company built up on this precarious foothold and secured positions from which the crest of the ridge could be enfiladed.
About 1500, after repeated futile attempts to gain the ridge, Company C was withdrawn and positioned in reserve in rear of A and B. With Company B and the battalion mortars providing a base of fire, Company A pushed up the hill to the right, but in doing so opened a gap in the center of the battalion. Company C moved into the breach. With the assistance of the supporting fire of Company B, A and C continued the attack and secured positions on the military crest of Mezado about 1700.144
After nightfall about 50 Japanese launched a last gasp counterattack against 1/22; but it was a gesture of despair, for the remnants of the enemy 22d Regiment had been completely annihilated during the afternoon, thus collapsing the Japanese left flank and opening the way for an envelopment of the enemy 32d Regiment standing at bay near Makabe.145 (See Map 39)
Fresh troops were available to exploit the success the following day. For at the height of the 7th Marines’ battle on Kunishi Ridge, the 8th Marines (Reinforced) had been landed and attached to the 1st Marine Division. As the battered 7th prepared to pass into reserve, the 8th Marines of the 2d Division moved to assembly areas in readiness to pass through 3/7 before dawn and continue the attack.146
Elements of the 2d Marine Division had reappeared on the Okinawa battle scene on 3 June as the landing force of an operation that had been planned early in May. Admiral Turner, deeply concerned at the heavy damage suffered by his light fleet units on picket duty, had requested General Buckner to initiate a study for the capture of outlying islands of Okinawa Gunto on which long-range radar and fighter director facilities could be established. The result had been a decision that Tori, Iheya, Aguni, and Kume Shima would be taken in the order listed. On 12 May a reinforced company of the 165th Infantry had made an unopposed landing on the rocky little island of Tori Shima about 45 miles west of Okinawa. The next step in the plan was the occupation of Iheya and Aguni Shima.
General Buckner felt that the forces on Okinawa were nearing the crucial stage of their struggle with the Japanese and should not be diverted to secondary operations. Therefore the 8th Marines of the 2d Division, suitably reinforced, was selected to conduct both landings, and Brigadier General LeRoy P. Hunt, ADC of the Division, was designated the landing force commander. General Hunt and key members of his staff flew to Okinawa on 15-16 May and were briefed on the operation plan during the next few days.
The 8th RCT (Colonel Clarence R. Wallace) began loading on LST’s at Saipan on 21 May and the troop convoy departed three days later, arriving off Okinawa on 30 May. A regular schedule of air and NGF support was set up for the Iheya landing, and detailed plans were made to meet any foreseeable opposition that might develop on the island. Early on 3 June the attack force, commanded by Admiral Reifsnider, sortied from the Hagushi anchorage for the target island 15 miles northwest of Hedo Misaki.
H-Hour was 1045 and the preliminary bombardment and assault landings by 2/8 and 3/8 went off on schedule. There was no opposition and no enemy troops, only 3.000 docile civilians to be cared for by military government teams of Island Command. General unloading commenced late in the afternoon and on 4 June the island was officially declared secure.
After several delays because of inclement weather, on 9 June BLT 1/8 under Lieutenant Colonel Richard W. Heyward executed a similar unopposed landing on Aguni Shima, 30 miles west of Okinawa. On both islands seized by the 8th Marines, immediate steps were taken to set up air warning and fighter director installations to strengthen the defensive perimeter surrounding Okinawa.
The instructions to General Hunt and Colonel Wallace in the Iheya-Aguni operation orders
were to be prepared for future operations against the enemy. Thus, when the need for additional troops arose in the last stages of the battle to reduce the Kiyamu Peninsula the regiment was ready.147
Yaeju Dake–Yuza Dake148
The outpost line of Kiyamu Peninsula was fully manned on 4 June. Japanese Army headquarters estimated that the strength of its now concentrated forces totaled 30,000, distributed as follows:24th Division and attached units, 12,000; 62d Division and attached units, 7,000; 44th IMB and attached units, 3,000; 5th Artillery Command and attached units, 3,000; and units directly underThirty-second Army command, 5,000. The difference in total strength between the 50,000-man estimate late in May and the 30,000 left in Kiyamu Peninsula was attributed to “attrition during retirement operations.”149 (See Map 33)
Only about 20 per cent of the remaining troops were survivors of the original crack infantry-artillery units; the rest were untrained rear echelon personnel or Boeitai. Most senior commanders at battalion level and above were still alive, however, and capable of bolstering the fighting spirit of their motley collection of men. But the Thirty-second Army had suffered grevious losses in weapons and equipment since L-Day. Hand grenades and explosives were almost entirely expended. Four out of every five machine guns had been destroyed, and the supply of heavy infantry cannon and mortars had been reduced to the vanishing point. Despite the fact that two 150mm guns, sixteen 150mm howitzers, and ten AAA guns had been successfully withdrawn to the Kiyamu battle position, artillery ammunition levels were insufficient for more than ten days of sustained firing.
General Ushijima’s Thirty-second Army was in desperate straits, its destruction merely a question of time, but the tradition, discipline, and indoctrination of Japanese military forces promised only a violent, last-ditch, man-to-man struggle before the battle for Okinawa was ended.
Taking cognizance of the assault forces available and the relative strength and importance of enemy strong points in Kiyamu Peninsula, General Buckner shifted the corps boundary to the west on 4 June. The 1st Marine Division, attacking in the narrowed IIIAC zone, was made responsible for cutting off Oroku Peninsula, capturing Itoman, reducing the Kunishi and Mezado ridge positions, and driving to the southernmost point of the island, Ara Saki. The XXIV Corps was assigned the commanding Yaeju Dake-Yuza Dake Escarpment as its primary objective. Both of the towering crags that gave the escarpment its name fell within the 96th Division zone of advance. Capture of the remaining high ground of the escarpment, dominated by Hill 153 northeast of Medeera, was left to the 7th Division.
Substantial gains were made by all assault units of XXIV Corps on 4 June. Driving down the corps boundary, 2/383 and 3/383 hit isolated but strong enemy delaying groups. Heavy machine-gun fire from hill positions in the IIIAC zone pinned down the 2d Battalion on the right flank until neutralizing fire from the regimental reserve, 1/383, smothered the enemy opposition. The outskirts of Iwa were secured by dusk and the regiment held a line 1,400-2,000 yards forward of its night positions on 3 June.
Matching the progress of the 383d, the 381st Infantry with the 1st and 3d Battalions in assault drove in enemy outposts all the way to the hills north of Aragusuku. Fire from an isolated ridge, over 325 feet high, which guarded the approaches to the village stopped the regiment’s attack. Resistance to the 96th Division’s advance increased steadily as the day wore on, but it was obvious that the bulk of enemy defenders had not as yet been engaged.
While the 32d Infantry completed the mop up of Chinen Peninsula on 4 June, the 7th Division’s assault regiments advanced rapidly to the southwest. Resistance was spotty and ineffective, and the 184th Infantry reached and crossed the shallow river north of Minatoga. On the
Seizure of Yaeju Dake-Yuza Dake Escarpment
division right flank the 17th Infantry established positions controlling the Minatoga-Meka road. By nightfall General Arnold’s men had secured the high ground backing the much feinted demonstration landing beaches. Investigation of the abandoned but highly developed defensive network covering the beaches indicated that their capture would have required a major and costly operation. (See Map 38)
The rainy weather which had been a decisive factor in delaying the reduction of Shuri, aiding the Japanese withdrawal, and slowing the Tenth Army pursuit, continued on 5 June. The vast sea of mud surrounding the hills and ridges and the absolute lack of usable roads in southern Okinawa prevented tanks and artillery from fulfilling their vital role of close support for the infantry. Until the sun dried the ground and cleared the air, Tenth Army assault troops would be denied their most effective weapons.
Infantry spearheads of XXIV Corps continued to penetrate the enemy outpost zone on 5 and 6 June, developing the fringes of the main Japanese battle position. After two days of progressively harder action the 7th Division stood at the outskirts of Gushichan, and the 96th Division, having captured Iwa and Aragusuku, held forward positions in Shindawaku and Tomui. A deadly barrier of enemy fire shielded the looming heights of the escarpment to the front of the Army infantrymen.
The Japanese position was extremely strong. Low, rolling ground marked by small hill fortresses led to the foot of the escarpment on the north and northeast. A precipitous bluff line rising 160 feet above this low ground extended throughout the zones of the 96th Division and 17th Infantry. On the west the escarpment barrier continued to the coast in the 1st Marine Division sector at Kunishi Ridge. The 184th Infantry, on the left of the XXIV Corps, faced the only natural avenue of approach into the enemy position: the narrow Gushichan-Nakaza Valley. The valley, however, was completely dominated by high ridges on either flank, notably Hill 95 along the coast, which paralleled the direction of advance and offered fields of fire along the eastern face of the escarpment. (See Map 40)
The plateau which topped the bluffs was wildly broken by outcroppings of coral and limestone and riddled with cave positions. Two hill strong points on the northern edge of the plateau, Yuza Dake which rose 340 feet over the plain at its foot and Yaeju Dake which towered to 400 feet, possessed perfect observation of the American zone of advance. Hill 153, the apex of a triangle which had Yuza Dake and Yaeju Dake at its base, blocked the path of advance from the Gushichan-Nakaza Valley.
It was obvious to General Hodge from the volume of enemy fire received and the natural strength of the position his corps faced that reduction of the escarpment required an all-out effort. On 7-8 June the principal offensive efforts of the 7th and 96th Divisions were directed at probing enemy defenses and advancing assault battalions to more favorable positions for an attack. The small port of Minatoga which had been opened on 6 June handled a steady flow of ammunition and supplies to replenish dwindling stocks. Clear skies and drying roads allowed the tanks, assault guns, and artillery that had been bogged down far to the rear to move up to supporting positions. The ground was still muddy, however, and engineers had to work feverishly to maintain the access roads throughout the 8,000-10,000 yard zone that the XXIV Corps had penetrated in a week of rapid advances.
On 9 June when the corps attack opened, the 96th Division confined its activities to an intensive effort to soften the enemy positions on the escarpment to its front. A day-long barrage of artillery and NGF, coupled with air strikes and direct tank fire, hit all along the heights, concentrating on the northern faces of Yaeju Dake and Yuza Dake.
The key objectives in the 7th Division zone were Hill 95 on the coast and the southeastern extremity of Yaeju Dake at a point just north of Nakaza where the steep slopes offered a path to the top of the escarpment. The 32d Infantry had replaced the 184th in its lines before Gushichan during the afternoon of 8 June, and at 0730 the following morning the leading company of 1/32 attacked the eastern end of Hill 95. Machine-gun, knee mortar, and rifle fire pinned down the assault troops before they
could move a hundred yards. A flanking attack from the north was driven back, but not before the most troublesome sources of enemy fire had been located and marked for destruction. The net gain of enemy territory in the 32d’s zone was zero, but the groundwork had been laid for a successful attack on 10 June.
To the north 3/17, making its regiment’s main effort, managed to gain a precarious toehold on its objective. Assault companies had to crawl across open ground swept by waves of machine-gun fire. Individuals and small groups broke through the fire barrier and climbed the escarpment, wiping out the Japanese as they struggled upward. By nightfall 20 men from Company I had wrested a small area on the lip of the escarpment from the enemy and Company K had secured positions on the southeastern slope of Yaeju Dake. Despite showers of grenades and three determined counterattacks, the enemy failed to dislodge Company I from its entering wedge in the Kiyamu battle position.
The entire 711th Tank Battalion moved into the 7th Division’s front lines on 10 June as the 17th and 32d Infantry renewed their attack. Under cover of tank guns on the landward side and NGF from the sea, 1/32 made a slow but steady advance onto the eastern slopes of Hill 95, while 2/32 moved through Gushichan toward Hanagusuku as its left flank was gradually uncovered. Armored flame throwers were brought up to burn the enemy out of the jagged coral outcroppings that crowded the crest and sides of the ridge. The 17th Infantry’s forward progress during the day’s attack was limited as the 3d Battalion strengthened its tenuous hold on the escarpment and 1/17 blasted the southeastern face of Yaeju Dake from its positions near Tomui. The division for the first time since the rainy season began was able to employ the full power of its supporting weapons.
Tanks and artillery also played an important part in the 96th Division’s 700-yard advance on 10 June. A constant drumfire of shells exploded on and against the escarpment, seeking out enemy guns and reserve assembly areas. Under cover of the supporting fire the four assault battalions attempted to cross the open areas at the foot of the slope. In the 383d Infantry zone the 1st and 3d Battalions were able to secure the railroad track that led from Itoman to Iwa before their advance was stopped. Enemy machine guns firing from Yuza Dake and a hill near Yuza just within the 1st Marine Division sector raked both battalions with murderous fire and forced them to dig in. The combined fire of tanks, assault guns, artillery, and experimental 57mm and 75mm recoilless rifles150 was insufficient to silence the enemy opposition, and the 383d was forced to dig in just south of the rail line.
The sheer bluff at the foot of Yaeju Dake was interrupted by a secondary escarpment, relatively easy to ascend but completely dominated by guns on the higher ground. Moving behind a barrage of flat trajectory weapons and a heavy smoke screen, 1/381 fought its way to positions on the lower escarpment by midafternoon. The torrent of fire that poured down on the exposed men prevented any further advances. On the left of the 1st Battalion, 3/381 attempted to take Yaeju Dake from the northeast by moving through Tomui. Once the assault companies cleared the village ruins, they were stopped by the accurate fire of Japanese guns emplaced in the deep caves and fissures that scarred the slopes of the escarpment. Night positions that offered some protection from the galling fusillade were taken up on the northwestern and southern edges of Tomui.
The defense of the escarpment from Hill 95 to Yaeju Dake was the responsibility of the 44th Independent Mixed Brigade, while the 24th Division held the remainder of the high ground including Yuza Dake. The immense natural strength of the positions along the northern edge of the escarpment enabled the Japanese to hold back the assaults of the 96th Infantry Division with only one reinforced regiment, the veteran 89th.
The enemy troops that manned the front in
the 7th Infantry Division zone, however, were not of the same caliber as those holding Yuza Dake. Miscellaneous shipping engineer, sea raiding, mortar, and line of communication troops loosely organized as provisional infantry regiments held most of the 44th IMB line. The survivors of the 15th IMR were entrusted with the vital Hill 95-Nakaza Valley area. On 11 June the steady, punishing pressure of General Arnold’s attack began to crack the front of the enemy brigade on both flanks, imperiling the whole of the Thirty-second Army position. Attempts to reinforce the crumbling battle line with makeshift infantry units composed of service and support troops proved to be “as ineffective as throwing water on parched soil.”151
Seas of flame engulfed Hill 95 on 11 June as 1/32 slowly advanced toward the crest of the enemy position behind the jets of armored flame throwers. Flame fuel was pumped and sprayed from hoses over portions of the ridge inaccessible to tanks and then ignited. Infantrymen moved among the still hot and smoking rocks and drove back the surviving defenders. That night the battalion dug in just short of the Hill 95 peak.
Although little forward progress was made by 2/32 or the 17th Infantry on 11 June, the enemy position was considerably weakened. Intensive fire from supporting weapons was concentrated against the slopes of Yaeju Dake, and strong patrols cleaned out enemy groups that held positions near the 7th Division front lines.
Reinforcements had been able to cross the open ground to join forward elements of 1/381 on the lower escarpment during the night of 10-11 June. With daylight, however, the enemy fire from Yaeju Dake prevented the battalion from doing more than consolidating its newly-won positions. Advances throughout the 96th Division zone were negligible in the face of this killing fire. Although tank-infantry teams of 2/383 working with 1/1 along the corps boundary were able to penetrate Yuza, they were driven back by heavy machine-gun fire from the heights south of the village. Most of the day was spent ferreting out bypassed enemy holdouts and silencing some of the guns on the
PATROL of the 381st Infantry advances toward Yaeju Dake on 10 June. (Army Photograph)
escarpment whose fire raked the division sector.
Pre-dawn attacks were planned for vital points all along the Tenth Army front on 12 June. The 29th Marines on Oroku Peninsula, the 7th Marines at Kunishi Ridge, and the 17th Infantry at Yaeju Dake were all successful in catching the enemy off guard and gaining vital territory.
A dense fog blanket hid the men of Companies A, B, and L of the 17th Infantry who moved out at 0400 to climb the escarpment. The surprise was complete. By 0530 the assault companies had reached their objectives and joined Company I which had held its advanced position against all comers since 9 June. The men of 1/17 and 3/17 had a field day when the startled Japanese emerged from their holes and caves at dawn. Many of the enemy were shot down before they were even aware that the Americans had established themselves in a position that threatened the collapse of the Thirty-second Army’s entire eastern flank. During the day Company C of 1/17 mopped its way up the escarpment to join its parent unit, while 2/17 with Company L attached relieved 3/17 and enlarged the regiment’s hold on the escarpment’s edge.
The 381st Infantry was able to capitalize on the 17th Infantry’s successful night attack on 12 June. Company L of 3/381 moved through the 7th Division’s zone to the top of the escarpment
and then advanced north to take up positions on the slopes of Yaeju Dake that guarded the rest of the battalion in the valley immediately below the peak. The 2d Battalion, 381st Infantry joined 1/381 on the secondary escarpment during the day’s advances and delivered suppressive fire that enabled 3/383 to cross the open ground and extend the division front on the face of the main escarpment. Yuza was secured during the morning by 2/383 and hill positions were captured south of the village despite continuous machine-gun fire. The ferocity of enemy opposition seemed undiminished along the front of the 89th Regiment, but 12 June had been the beginning of the end for the 44th IMB. Urgent pleas for reinforcements secured the release of two battalions of the 62d Division to the brigade commander but the time for their effective use had passed.
Repeated counterattacks were launched against 7th Division positions during the night of 12-13 June, but the assault battalions held their ground. In the morning the attack was resumed against the rapidly disintegrating remnants of the 44th IMB. On the left the 32d Infantry completed the capture of Hill 95 and cleaned out the ruins of Hanagusuku. Nakaza was secured, and the 17th Infantry expanded its hold on the escarpment top. Three objectives now lay ahead of the division: Hill 153 which covered the rear of Yaeju Dake and Yuza Dake; Hill 115, a fingerlike ridge which extended northeast along the coastal side of the Nakaza Valley; and Hill 89, location of General Ushijima’s headquarters, just south of the village of Mabuni. The approaches to these positions lay across a rolling tableland broken by jagged outcroppings of coral and garrisoned by desperate groups of last-ditch defenders.
The clear weather enabled General Hodge to bring all his supporting agencies into play. Air, artillery, and NGF pounded the reinforcing units of the 62d Division that were attempting to bolster the shattered 44th IMB. Enemy communication with Yaeju Dake was lost on 12 June, and the brigade commander was unable to regain it the following day after the remainder of 3/381 fought its way to the top of the escarpment.
The 89th Regiment, reinforced by the 24th Reconnaissance Regiment, still held Yuza Dake, but the danger to its rear and flank from the penetration south of Yaeju Dake was acute. Although 3/383 and 2/381 could not gain the top of the escarpment west of the peak despite repeated attacks, the strength of the defenders was seriously whittled down by the tremendous volume of covering fire.
On the right flank of the 96th Division, substantial progress was made on 13 June by 1/383 which passed through Yuza at 0730 and drove south to Ozato. The strongly defended village in the shadow of Yuza Dake was secured in a day of bitter fighting, but mine fields prevented further advances. On 14 June, the battalion mopped up Ozato and cleared the mines from the littered streets. Direct fire of tanks and AT weapons were directed against Yuza Dake before 1/383 withdrew from its exposed position to tie in for night defense with 1/1 and 2/383. Tank fire was invaluable in aiding 2/383 and 3/383 to beat down enemy fire from the escarpment and advance during the day. At nightfall the 3d Battalion held positions just under the lip of the escarpment west of Yaeju Dake.
The remaining defenders of the enemy stronghold had been annihilated during the day by 3/381 which secured the peak at 1125 and pushed forward down its south slopes. A coordinated regimental attack, making full use of tanks and armored flame throwers which had worked their way up tortuous paths to the plateau, had been responsible for the success. Advancing despite heavy mortar and machine-gun fire, 2/381 and 1/381 had kept constant pressure on the northern face of Yaeju Dake and finally gained the top of the escarpment.
Night lines of the 381st Infantry tied in with the 7th Division which had made no spectacular gains on 14 June. The 200-300 yard average advance by the 17th and 32d Infantry had, however, smashed the 13th Independent Infantry Battalion which had been committed in an unsuccessful effort to stop the division’s drive.
After a night of disorganized counterattacks and infiltration attempts, the 7th Division attacked toward Hills 115 and 153. A sweeping 1,200-yard advance was made all along the front which brought the assault troops to the outlying slopes of the hill positions. As a result of the
7th Division’s advance, General Ushijima was forced to commit his last reserves, the remaining battalions of the 62d Division, in an effort to delay the inevitable end.
The 89th Regiment continued to hold the north and west slopes of Yuza Dake on 15 June, and its fire prevented 1/383 from moving south of Ozato. Forward progress in the rest of the 383d’s zone was significant, however. A fresh battalion, 2/382, relieved 2/383 on the outskirts of Yuza and fought its way well up on the north slopes of Yuza Dake before digging in for the night. The attack of the 381st Infantry and the left flank battalion of the 383d, 3/383, was very successful. The escarpment between Yuza and Yaeju Dake, considered by the Japanese to be “the strongest defensive zone,”152 was taken and the flank of the 89th Regiment exposed to crippling attacks.
On 16 June the enemy position continued to contract as steady advances by the Americans eliminated more and more of the remaining strong points. The 32d Infantry, driving down the coast, took Hill 115, while the 17th Infantry pushed its assault companies onto the forward slopes of Hill 153. The Japanese Thirty-second Army headquarters lost all contact with the last cohesive element of the 44th IMB during the day’s fighting when the 15th IMR was wiped out by the three battalions of the 32d Infantry attacking abreast.
The 62d Division, attempting to move from its reserve positions southwest of Makabe to back up the crumbling Japanese lines, was savagely battered by artillery, ships’ guns, and planeloads of rockets and napalm. The 96th Division took advantage of the confusion caused by continuous bombardment of the enemy rear areas and smashed its battalions through the Yuza Dake perimeter. The 382d Infantry moved into the lines of the 383d and drove forward over the crest of the enemy peak in a coordinated attack with 3/383 (attached to the 382d) making the final effort. By 1800 the battalion was in complete control of the highest ground, and the 382d had tied in all along its front with 3/382 in Ozato, 1/382 and 2/382 on the high ground southwest of Yuza, and 3/383 on Yuza Dake. The 381st Infantry gained some 600 yards along its front and reached the saddle between Yuza Dake and Hill 153. Heavy enemy fire from the south and west slopes of Hill 153 in the 7th Division zone appreciably slowed the 381st’s attack during the day.
The 17th Infantry relieved this pressure on the 96th Division’s flank with its successful attack on 17 June. The peak of Hill 153 fell after dogged resistance by the makeshift enemy forces that attempted to stem the tide of advance. On the left the 32d Infantry secured the reverse slopes of Hill 115 and readied an attack on Mabuni and Hill 89. At 1730 the 184th Infantry moved into the front lines of the 17th and took over Hill 153 and the intervening high ground to Hill 115. Its final objective was that portion of the Medeera-Makabe-Komesu triangle in the XXIV Corps zone lying 1,000-2,000 yards to the front.
All organized enemy resistance in the Yuza-Ozato-Yuza Dake area was eliminated by the 382d Infantry on 17 June. Using flame and demolitions, assault guns and tanks, and artillery and NGF, the infantry mopped up the peak and surrounding escarpment. The 96th Division’s front lines were advanced 600 yards on the right and 200 on the left as the assault battalions converged on Aragachi and Medeera.
By nightfall on 17 June the XXIV Corps controlled all the commanding ground on the Yaeju Dake-Yuza Dake Escarpment. Between its front lines and the southern coast of the island were a heterogeneous mixture of units and individuals from the 62d Division, 44th IMB, and 89th Regiment, most of whom were determined and destined to die fighting in a hopeless attempt to protect the headquarters of the Thirty-second Army. (See Map 40)
End of Organized Resistance153
The intensity of enemy resistance steadily lessened in the face of Tenth Army advances
THE 8TH MARINES cross Oroku airfield en route to assembly areas behind the 1st Division battle positions.
on 18 June. Isolated pockets of stubborn defenders clung to ridge and hill positions until they were driven off or killed by advancing tank-infantry teams. Two major areas of resistance developed during the day, one around Medeera and the other at Mabuni. The Medeera position was held by the remnants of the 24th Division, while elements of the headquarters and troops of the other major Thirty-second Army units centered their lines on Hill 89, south of Mabuni.
General Buckner’s attack on 18 June was highlighted by the first introduction of a fresh unit to the Okinawa battle line in two months. The 8th Marines had been attached to the 1st Division upon landing on 15 June. By 0630 on the 18th, 2/8 had relieved 3/7 on Mezado Ridge and 3/8 had taken over the positions of 1/7 on Kunishi Ridge.154 In order to split the Japanese defenses in two again, General del Valle decided to commit Colonel Wallace’s regiment in column of battalions “for a quick decisive thrust” to the sea at the southern tip of the island.155
After a thorough preparation by artillery, the 8th Marines jumped off with 2/8 (Lieutenant Colonel Harry A. Waldorf) in assault to seize the Kuwanga-Makabe Road. Moderate machine-gun and rifle fire, interspersed with mortar and light artillery rounds, hit the Marines from the left front and flank as they made a spirited advance of over 1,400 yards. Tanks from Company A, 2d Tank Battalion delivered suppressive fire on the high ground around Makabe.156 By late afternoon the battalion had reached its objective and begun to dig in. Company B of 1/8 was attached for night defense to refuse the open left flank.
Colonel Wallace’s observation post on Mezado Ridge was visited by General Buckner at midday. After watching the steady progress of 2/8 in the valley for about an hour, the Tenth Army commander decided to move on to another front.157 Almost simultaneously with this decision, the Japanese, perhaps attracted by the cluster of figures on the ridge heights, zeroed in five artillery shells on the observation post. Fragments of jagged coral filled the air and mortally wounded General Buckner. He died within minutes, just a few scant days short of his goal, the capture of Okinawa. General Geiger, as senior troop commander, assumed temporary command of Tenth Army and directed its final combat operations.
Hill 79 northwest of Makabe was the objective for the 5th Marines’ attack on 18 June.158 Lieutenant Colonel Shelburne’s 1st Battalion moved around the east end of Kunishi Ridge through the zone of the 8th Marines and attacked at 0730 to take the troublesome hill position from the flank. Almost immediately after jump-off the assault companies were pinned down by heavy and accurate machine-gun fire. Tanks were called for, and after they came forward the attack was renewed at 1100. A suspected AT gun position on Hill 81 just north of Makabe was smoked so that the tanks could operate successfully. An experienced tank officer flying above
End of Organized Resistance
the battlefield during the day’s action spotted enemy AT guns and directed their reduction.159With the help of armored firepower, 1/5 was able to gain the lower slopes of Hill 79 at dusk. During the day 3/5 moved up from reserve to a support position behind the 1st Battalion, and tank-infantry teams of 2/5 eliminated the last organized resistance on Kunishi Ridge.160
Another of the enemy-infested ridges in the IIIAC zone was secured on 18 June. Passing through 3/22 in a column of companies, 2/22 attacked under smoke cover across the valley between Mezado and Kuwanga. In less than an hour the leading Company (E) was astride Kuwanga Ridge, and the men, aided by direct fire of tanks, swung left to push their attack toward the division boundary. The rest of the battalion mounted the ridge and fanned out to flush the defenders from their caves and crevices. A hot, dusty day-long struggle secured the 1,800-yard ridge line, but the understrength 2d Battalion was spread too thin to cover the whole of the position. At 1406 General Shepherd ordered the 4th Marines to attach one battalion to the 22d for night defense,161 and Colonel Shapley ordered 3/4 forward to occupy the eastern end of the ridge.
Small enemy groups still occupied considerable stretches of the reverse slopes of Mezado Ridge, and 1/22 and 3/22 spent a busy day hunting down the desperate holdouts and silencing their fire. Observation posts on the ridge and positions on its crest were all subjected to the sporadic fire which also struck down men from 2/22 on Kuwanga.162 At 1430 Colonel Roberts, commanding the 22d Marines, was killed by a sniper near his observation post, and Lieutenant Colonel August Larson, the regimental executive officer, assumed command.
The 96th Infantry Division, attacking the Medeera position from the east in a coordinated effort with the 1st Marine Division attack on the west, tightened the deadly ring around the enemy-held area on 18 June. On the north 3/382 smashed through a rugged cave and pillbox complex in a 600-yard advance to the base of the rock-studded ridges north of Aragachi. The 381st Infantry with the 1st and 2d Battalions in assault moved rapidly across the plateau against scattered resistance to seize high ground only 400 yards north of Medeera.
The 7th Division assault regiments made a two-pronged attack with elements of 1/184 and 3/184 driving down the reverse slopes of Hill 153 to close on Medeera and the division and corps boundary from the southeast. The 32d Infantry moved down the coast toward Mabuni with all three battalions in line against increasingly stiff resistance. The night was marked by infiltration attempts and scattered small attacks all along the Tenth Army front in which the Japanese lost at least 340 men.163 (See Map 41)
General Ushijima, realizing that his “Army’s fate had been sealed” sent farewell dispatches to Japan and Formosa on 19 June and a last message to all Thirty-second Army units that still had contact with Mabuni, congratulating the survivors on performing their “assigned mission in a manner which leaves nothing to regret” and exhorting them “to fight to the last and die for the eternal cause of loyalty to the Emperor.”164 Most of the army staff officers were directed to leave the command post disguised as native Okinawans in order to infiltrate American lines and escape to northern Okinawa. Some men, like Colonel Yahara, were given the mission of reaching Japan to report to Imperial General Headquarters, while others were directed to organize guerilla operations and harass the rear areas of Tenth Army and Island Command.165
Not all of the Thirty-second Army survivors were imbued with a will “to die for the eternal cause of loyalty to the Emperor.” Loudspeakers mounted on tanks in the 7th Division’s front lines and on LCI’s that cruised up and down the coast line were successful in convincing over 3,000 civilians to surrender. Far more significant, however, were the 106 Japanese soldiers and 238 Boeitai who voluntarily gave up during the division’s advance on 19 June.166 The relentless attack of American troops, coupled
with intensive efforts by psychological warfare teams, brought in increasing numbers of battle-weary Japanese and Okinawans who had decided that the war was lost and their cause was hopeless. It is not inconceivable that every enemy soldier who surrendered meant one less American casualty as the wind-up drive of Tenth Army continued.
Despite the influx of civilian and military prisoners that slowed the advance of assault units, the 32d Infantry reached positions only 200 yards from the outskirts of Mabuni. Tanks delivered direct fire on the cave openings in Hill 89, inadvertently timing their bombardment to coincide with General Ushijima’s farewell supper for his departing staff officers.
On the right of the division zone the 184th Infantry operated in concert with the 381st to close on Medeera from the south and east. While the volume of enemy fire was not as heavy as had previously been encountered, the small enemy groups that defended the hills and ravines guarding the 24th Division headquarters had to be wiped out before the front lines could advance. The story was much the same north of Aragachi where the 382d Infantry overcame determined resistance in reaching the ridges that overlooked the village. While observing this fighting, Brigadier General Claudius M. Easley, ADC of the 96th Division, was killed by enemy machine-gun fire.167
Hills 79 and 81 which bulwarked that part of the Medeera defensive position in the 1st Division sector were repeatedly assaulted by the 5th Marines on 19 June. The 1st Battalion was directed to seize Hill 79 and continue its attack to Hill 81.168 Despite covering fire from a company of medium tanks Lieutenant Colonel Shelburne’s men were unable to seize the crest of Hill 79, and the tank company lost three tanks to enemy action.169 Colonel Griebel then committed 2/5, which had been relieved of its mop-up responsibilities on Kunishi Ridge by 3/7 at 1500, to take Hill 81 from the south and relieve some of the pressure on the 1st Battalion. Lieutenant Colonel Benedict moved his battalion out at 1515 in a wide, swinging movement through the 8th Marines’ zone and arrived opposite Hill 79 at 1700. As soon as 2/5 attempted to attack Hill 81 through Makabe, which had been secured by 3/5 earlier in the day, it came under heavy sniper fire from Hill 79. Company G which led the battalion column was forced to run a 1,000-yard gantlet of fire to reach cover at Makabe, and as a result 20 men were reported to be exhaustion cases.
Lieutenant Colonel Benedict, wishing to attack as soon as possible, passed Company F through Company G’s lines and accompanied the assault platoon which was pinned down as soon as it tried to move up the slope of the objective. The volume of enemy fire, the lateness of the hour, and the condition of his men caused Benedict to call off the attack and order the battalion into a perimeter defense southwest of Makabe.170
The desperate defense that met the 5th Marines on 19 June was not matched in the rest of the 1st Division zone of advance. The 8th Marines passed 3/8 (Lieutenant Colonel Paul E. Wallace) through 2/8 at the opening of the morning’s attack, and the fresh battalion, moving against light resistance, took Ibaru Ridge, the last high ground before the sea. Company K, the battalion reserve, was then passed through the assault companies “more for the experience rather than for any tactical necessity”171 and led the advance to the coastal cliffs which it reached at 1623. By 1634 the entire battalion line was established on the sea and the Kiyamu Peninsula defensive position was severed. The 5th Marines’ 3d Battalion, which had secured Makabe during the morning, kept pace with 3/8 during the day’s 2,500-yard advance and reached the coast at almost the same instant as Company K.172 The 8th Marines, with 3/5 attached, took charge of the coastal zone for night defense and tied in with the 5th and 4th Marines along a crescent-shaped line from Komesu to the boundary between Marine divisions.173
On the right of the 1st Division, the 4th Marines, making the 6th Division’s main effort on 19 June, paralleled the advance of the 8th Marines during most of the day but was unable to reach the coast. A strong enemy position developed along the Kiyamu-Gusuku hill mass that shielded the southern tip of the island, Ara Saki. The assault battalions, 3/4 and 1/4, were forced to dig in at the foot of the cliff-like hills under a heavy rain of machine-gun and mortar fire. The 2d Battalion, which had been committed to cover the regiment’s open west flank174 during the day’s advance and which had taken part in the attack on Kiyamu-Gusuku, was relieved by the 29th Marines at 1900.
In accordance with orders to be ready to move his regiment into the front lines on the right of the 4th Marines on 20 June, Colonel Whaling had started his men marching south from Oroku Peninsula at 0800, 19 June. At 1415 he received orders to commit 1/29 and 2/29 immediately. The two battalions jumped off from Kuwanga Ridge at 1705 and, moving rapidly against light resistance, reached the base of the Kiyamu-Gusuku hill mass and linked up with the 4th Marines before darkness fell.
After a night of unorganized infiltration attempts all along its front, the 6th Division launched its attack on the hill mass with 3/4, 1/4, 1/29, and 2/29 in assault. The key points on Kiyamu-Gusuku, Hills 72 and 80, were in the 4th Marines’ zone, and the regiment concentrated its efforts on reducing these enemy positions. Lieutenant Colonel Bell of 1/4, whose line of departure was directly beneath Hill 72, was unable to get enough of his men to the top of the cliff to his front to maintain a foothold. Enemy defenders hidden among the boulders and brush that screened the narrow paths to the top drove back the points of Company C’s assault platoons. Attempts to cut a tank road to the crest on the flank of the position were stopped when a satchel charge thrown from about 15 feet completely demolished an armored bulldozer. Blind fighting raged all day at grenade range, and the battalion dug in for the night in the same positions it had held on 19 June, barely 20 yards from the enemy on the hill above.175
The ridge to the front of 3/4 was steep, with irregular rock cliffs ranging from 50 to 200 feet in height covered by heavy undergrowth. Lieutenant Colonel Hochmuth’s estimate of the situation indicated that a frontal assault against the enemy holding this tangled ground would be futile. Accordingly, he ordered Company I to pass around the east end of the ridge by moving through the zone of the 8th Marines and to mount its attack up the nose of the ridge from the flank. After the leading company had mopped up the eastern slope, Company L was committed on the left to link up with the 8th Marines and extend the battalion’s hold on the ridge. By late afternoon 3/4 held strong positions on the left flank of Hill 72 and was ready to close on the enemy strong point.176
The regimental reserve, 2/4, had been alerted at the start of the day’s attack to support either assault battalion. At 1040 Major Carney was ordered to move his unit into the front lines and take over the right 400 yards of 1/4’s zone of action. The battalion objective was Hill 80, and Company G reached it at 1330 after overcoming moderate resistance. Company E was held up at the base of the hill by an enemy pocket, which Major Carney decided to contain with one platoon while he moved the rest of the company around through the right of Company G and assaulted the objective from the west. By 1645 Company E had overrun the hill crest and 2/4 had sealed the right flank of the Hill 72 position.177
Except for enfilade fire from the reverse
slopes of Hill 80, the attack of the 29th Marines on 20 June met only light resistance and swept forward to the south coast on a two-battalion front. When General Shepherd decided to envelop the Kiyamu-Gusuku position from the left, he shifted the boundary of the 29th Marines to the east to include all of Ara-Saki. The regiment’s night lines tied in with the 4th Marines and barred escape from the tip of the island.
The attack of the 6th Division had been greatly hampered during the day as an ever-increasing horde of enemy civilians and soldiers attempted to surrender. Loudspeakers mounted on LCI’s persuaded many to give up and leave the inaccessible caves on the coastal cliffs that had been their refuge. Over 4,000 natives and 800 military were herded through the front lines before dark.178
Action in the 1st Division sector on 20 June centered on Hills 79 and 81. The 7th Marines at Kunishi Ridge, the 8th Marines along the south coast, and 3/5 around Komesu conducted extensive mopping-up operations and added about 50 POW’s and 2,000 natives to the IIIAC total.179 Fire support to 7th Division operations was given by 3/5 from positions on Komesu Ridge, and patrols from the Marine battalion linked up with 1/184 at 1520. For night defense physical contact between the corps was broken, but the battalions occupied high ground near Komesu and Udo and covered the gap by fire.180
A pre-dawn soaking rain turned the roads around Makabe into quagmires and prevented effective support of 2/5 by tanks and assault guns until late in the morning. In 1/5’s zone of action, however, the tanks were able to move up with the assault troops at 0730 and fire on enemy emplacements on Hill 79. Lieutenant Colonel Shelburne had reoriented his direction of attack from northwest to southeast and jumped off with three companies in line. By 1300 Company C had fought its way to within 75 yards of the hillcrest and Companies A and B with flame and gun tanks in support, were burning and blasting out the enemy machine gun nests and snipers that infested the hillside. At 1635 Company A reported it had seized the top of the hill, but two hours later it was forced to withdraw because its understrength platoons were unable to consolidate their positions in the face of heavy and accurate enemy small-arms fire.181 The battalion dug in for the night in possession of most of Hill 79 and with good prospects of cleaning up the enemy position the following day.
After being freed from the mud which had bogged down their earlier efforts, the tanks supporting 2/5 were stopped by road blocks in Makabe when they tried to pass through the village towards Hill 81. An armored bulldozer cleared the streets by 1400, and the tanks moved to the road along the corps boundary to deliver direct fire on the hillside.
The battalion jumped off from the northern outskirts of Makabe at 1520 with Companies E and F in assault. Company F was pinned down in the low ground south of the hill almost immediately, but Company E, attacking from the southeast, was able to secure about 100 yards of the eastern slope before fire from the front and right rear stopped the advance. Company F and then Company G were ordered to pass through Company E and continue the attack, but enemy machine-gun and mortar fire prevented both moves. After the tanks ran out of ammunition at 1910 and withdrew, and the assault companies had tried for another hour to gain more ground, Lieutenant Colonel Benedict ordered his men to pull back to better night defensive positions.182
Two enemy strong points remained in the XXIV Corps zone at the close of the fighting on 20 June. One was centered on Hill 89 south of Mabuni, the location of the Thirty-second Armyheadquarters cave, and the other was in Medeera and on Hills 79 and 85 to the west of the village which together with Hill 81 in the 1st Division sector formed Makabe Ridge.
The 2d Battalion, 32d Infantry reached the
eastern slope of Hill 89 on 20 June despite desperate resistance from enemy hidden in coral outcroppings and caves along the coastal cliffs, and 1/32 halted its attack on the northern outskirts of Mabuni. The 3d Battalion, reinforced by a company of the 17th Infantry, held a long looping line northwest of the village that paralleled the axis of 32d Infantry’s attack and joined the positions of 3/184 and 1/184 in the hills above Udo. Company-sized strong points of 2/184 south and southeast of Medeera blocked escape routes from the final defensive position of the enemy24th Division.
The last courier contact between the two enemy pockets was made during the night of 20 June after Lieutenant General Amamiya, 24th Division commander, had directed all his units “to fight to the last man in their present positions.”183 The general had few of his infantrymen left to protect the Medeera position at the time he issued the order, since IIIAC had virtually destroyed the 22dand 32d Regiments during its advance to the coast, and the 96th Division had annihilated the89th Regiment at Yuza Dake and Aragachi. The remaining defenders were a conglomeration of artillerymen, drivers, corpsmen, engineers, Boeitai, and headquarters personnel from virtually every unit of the L-Day island garrison. Those who did not surrender or take their own lives fought with the determination of fanatics.
The 382d Infantry cleaned out Aragachi on 20 June and the 381st seized the northern outskirts of Medeera. The 305th Infantry of the 77th Division, which had been fighting a vigorous mopping-up action behind the lines of the 96th Division since its attachment on 16 June, was designated by General Bradley to wipe out the Makabe Ridge position in the XXIV Corps zone. To allow for detailed reconnaissance and assembly of troops and supporting weapons, the time of attack was delayed until noon on 21 June; the direction of attack was to be northwest through the lines held by 2/184.
At 1027 on 21 June, General Shepherd informed General Geiger that organized resistance had ended in the zone of the 6th Marine Division. Colonel Shapley had directed 2/4 and 3/4 to make a double envelopment of Hill 72 on Kiyamu-Gusuku ridge. Both battalions began their turning movements at 0800 and by 0930 had linked up and were driving north over the reverse slopes of the hill. In less than an hour the objective was secured and the troops, aided by tanks and armored flame throwers, were cleaning out the last enemy defenders. The 29th Marines encountered very light resistance in its sweep of Ara Saki, and Company G of 2/22, attached to 1/29, planted the division colors on the southernmost point of the island during the day.184
The task of flushing out Japanese holdouts and handling the mounting stream of soldiers and civilians who wanted to surrender fell to the 7th and 8th Marines on 21 June. The 5th Marines concentrated its efforts on reducing Hills 79 and 81. The 1st Battalion completed the capture of Hill 79 by late afternoon after a day of small unit mop-up actions by tank-infantry teams. Hill 81 was a tougher nut to crack.
Lieutenant Colonel Benedict delayed the attack of 2/5, originally scheduled for 0900, until 1104 in order that approach routes for tanks could be prepared, and the battalion could take advantage of an intense rocket barrage on the hill.185 The scheme of maneuver called for the leading company (E) to seize the eastern slope of the hill and for Companies F and G to be committed successively from the left until the hill was taken. By 1214 Company E had occupied its objective after destroying two machine guns that had temporarily stopped its advance, and Company F had begun to fight its way up the hill, burning and blasting caves as it ascended. Company G attacked shortly
MEN OF THE TENTH ARMY pay final tribute to their gallant commander, General Buckner.
thereafter and also began the tortuous climb in the face of heavy fire from the interconnected cave positions.
The slow advance by all companies continued throughout the afternoon. About 1300 word was received at the battalion command post, incorrect as it turned out, that Hill 81 was the last organized enemy position on Okinawa, and there was considerable pressure to effect its capture. Benedict’s several requests for reinforcements were refused, and at 1430 he was ordered to report to the regimental commander. He turned over the battalion to his executive officer, Major Richard T. Washburn. At 1500 Lieutenant Colonel Hill of 3/5 assumed joint command of both battalions, and Company L started moving to Makabe to support the Hill 81 attack. Enemy fire slackened off as 2/5 neared the crest, and at 1700 all assault companies reported the hill secured, marking the end of organized enemy resistance in the IIIAC zone.186
The 1st Battalion, 305th Infantry attacked Hill 79 at 1200 behind a concentrated 4.2-inch
mortar preparation. The battalion mortars and machine guns of both 1/305 and 3/305 furnished supporting fire, and gun and flame tanks led the assault. The intensity of enemy rifle and machine-gun fire from caves and pillboxes on Makabe Ridge increased sharply at 1315 when the explosion of an ammunition-filled cave disrupted the battalion advance and disorganized the leading company. Firm control was quickly recovered, however, and 1/305 continued its advance behind a heavy mortar barrage. The troops gained the forward slopes of the hill and at 1630 launched a successful attack on its crest. The battalion dug in in control of Hill 79 and in contact with 3/305 which had followed the attack during the day and was slated to pass through the front lines in the morning to seize Hill 85.
A series of small local attacks and mopping-up actions, frequently halted to allow large numbers of civilians and soldiers to surrender, occupied most XXIV Corps units on 21 June. Where resistance was met it was bitter and costly; enemy pockets were silenced only when the defenders were wiped out. The 32d Infantry secured Mabuni and drove to the tableland atop Hill 89. Flame tanks enabled the attacking infantry to scour and burn out the enemy defenders who tried to protect the entrances to the headquarters cave. By nightfall the hill was secured and the enemy within were reduced to desperation attempts to break out from their massive tomb.
The rapid progress of assault units during 21 June and the obvious collapse of major enemy opposition led General Geiger to declare that the island of Okinawa was secure and that organized enemy resistance had ended by 1305. A formal ceremony at 1000, 22 June, attended by representatives of all elements of Tenth Army, marked the official end of resistance by the Japanese Thirty-second Army.
1. Unless otherwise noted the material in this section is derived from Okinawa: The Last Battle; Tenth Army AR; IIIAC AR; XXIV Corps AR; 1st MarDiv SAR; 6th MarDiv SAR, Ph III; 7th InfDiv AR; 77th InfDiv OpRpt, Okinawa; 96th InfDiv AR; 1st Mar SAR; 4th Mar SAR, Ph III; 5th Mar SAR; 7th Mar SAR; 22d Mar SAR, Ph III; 29th Mar SAR, Ph III.
2. CTF 31 AR, Part III, 41.
3. 3/1 SAR, 36-38.
4. 2/22 SAR, Ph III, 9.
5. 3/22 SAR, Ph III, 6-7.
6. 6th MarDiv Jnl, Ph III, 30May45.
7. Okinawa Operations Record, 99.
8. 3/1 SAR, 38.
9. 1/5 SAR, 9.
10. 3/5 SAR, n. p.
11. 6th TkBn SAR, Ph III, 14.
12. Tenth Army G-3 Rpt No 67, 1Jun45.
13. 6th MarDiv Jnl, Ph III, 31May45.
15. 7th Mar History, 21.
16. 2/5 SAR, 16.
17. 2/7 SAR. 7.
18. CTF 31 AR, Part III, 49.
19. Unless otherwise noted the material in this section is derived from 6th MarDiv SAR, Ph III; 6th MarDiv Jnl, Ph III; 4th Mar SAR, Ph III; 22d Mar SAR, Ph III; 29th Mar SAR, Ph III.
20. 1/4 SAR, Ph III, 4.
22. Between 0445 and 0545 over 4,300 rounds of high explosive ammunition, varying from 75mm to 14-inch, were placed on the high ground immediately fronting the landing beaches.
24. 1/4 SAR, Ph III, 4; 2/4 SAR, Ph III, 5.
26. 6th TkBn SAR, Ph III, 15. During the battle on Oroku Peninsula the need for engineer support grew so critical that the armored dozers of the 6th EngBn and a liaison officer were attached to the 6th TkBn. In addition, the tank battalion was given first priority on engineer work and equipment. Ibid., 26.
27. Maj J. R. Kerman Ltr to CMC, 7Jan48, hereinafter cited as Kerman.
28. 3/4 SAR, Ph III, 5.
30. 3/4 SAR, Ph III, 5.
31. Maj P. D. Carleton, The Conquest of Okinawa: An Account of the Sixth Marine Division,(Washington, 1947), 104.
32. 1/4 SAR, Ph III, 5; 3/4 SAR, Ph III, 6.
33. 6th TkBn SAR, Ph III, 16.
34. Ibid.; 1/4 SAR, Ph III, 5; 3/4 SAR, Ph III, 6. Actually this village was unnamed on the map, but because the name Oroku-Mura (denoting the township within which the peninsula lay) was superimposed over it, the settlement was designated by that name during the operation for clarity and simplicity. Kerman.
35. 3/4 SAR, Ph III; 6; 6th TkBn SAR, Ph III, 16.
36. 6th TkBn SAR, Ph III, 16.
37. 3/29 SAR, Ph III, 4.
38. 6th TkBn SAR, Ph III, 16.
39. 29th Mar SAR, Ph III, 8.
40. 3/29 SAR, Ph III, 5.
41. 1/4 SAR, Ph III, 5; Kerman.
42. 3/4 SAR, Ph III, 6.
44. 6th TkBn SAR, Ph III, 16.
45. 3/4 SAR, Ph III, 6.
46. 4th Mar SAR, Ph III, 11.
47. 2/4 SAR, Ph III, 6.
48. 3/29 SAR, Ph III, 5.
49. 1/29 SAR, Ph III, 4.
51. Ibid.; 3/22 SAR, Ph III, 8-9. Hill 103 proved to be an important observation post. Although it was occupied in strength, the defense was weak inasmuch as the Japanese elected to stay in their caves. This definitely restricted the fields of fire which could be easily outflanked by way of covered routes of approach. Ibid.
52. 1/4 SAR, Ph III, 6; 6th TkBn SAR, Ph III, 17; Kerman.
53. 3/4 SAR, Ph III, 7.
54. 2/4 SAR, Ph III, 6-7.
55. 1/22 SAR, Ph III, 4.
56. 3/22 SAR, Ph III, 9-10.
57. 2/22 SAR, Ph, III. 12.
58. Ibid.; 3/22 SAR, Ph III, 10.
59. 4th Mar SAR, Ph III, 12.
60. 1/4 SAR, Ph III, 6. “The gun seemed as surprised by the arrival of the tanks as the tanks by fire from the gun, because it fired only HE [High Explosive] and no AP [Armor Piercing] and the tanks were able to get to cover without loss.” Kerman.
62. 1/4 SAR, Ph III, 6; 3/4 SAR, Ph III, 7.
63. 2/4 SAR, Ph III, 7-8.
64. 1/4 SAR, Ph III, 6-7; 3/4 SAR, III, 7.
65. 2/22 SAR, Ph III, 12.
66. 3/22 SAR, Ph III, 10.
67. 1/4 SAR, Ph III, 7.
68. Six battalions of 105mm and one of 155mm howitzers.
69. 2/22 SAR, Ph III, 12.
70. Ibid.; 3/22 SAR, Ph III, 10.
71. “As the three regiments came closer together, it became dangerous and finally impossible to use even 60mm mortars, and some casualties were incurred from friendly fire on both flanks.”Bergren.
72. 3/22 SAR, Ph III, 10.
73. 3/4 SAR, Ph III, 7-8; 2/22 SAR, Ph III, 13.
74. Okinawa Operations Record, 105.
75. IIIAC Arty AR, 30.
76. By the afternoon of 9 June, the heavy fighting of the previous three days had seriously depleted the ranks of 3/29. Consequently, the 3d Bn was reinforced by the attachment of Co B from the regimental reserve. The following evening 1/29 relieved 3/29, Co A taking over from Cos G and H, while Co I remained in the line attached to the 1st Bn. On 11 June Co H was attached to 2/29, replacing Co C on the left flank of that battalion. After the initial attack of 12 June, Co I was squeezed out of the line passing to 1/29 reserve. The evening of 12 June both H and I reverted to the control of 3/29. 3/29 SAR, Ph III, 5.
77. 6th Mar Div SAR, Ph III, Part III, 21.
78. Ibid., 22.
79. CMC Memo 1955.
80. 6th MarDiv SAR, Ph III, Part III, 60.
81. Unless otherwise noted the material in this section is derived from Tenth Army AR; 1st MarDiv SAR; 1st MarDiv G-3 Jnl; 1st Mar SAR; 5th Mar SAR; 7th Mar SAR; 22d Mar SAR, Ph III; 7th Mar History; MajGen P. A. del Valle, “Southward from Shuri,” MC Gazette, October 1945, hereinafter cited as Southward from Shuri.
82. 2/7 SAR, 7.
83. 1/1 SAR, 20; 3/1 SAR, 41.
84. This locality is not to be confused with the Tera near Itoman on the west coast.
85. In the opinion of the CG, 96th InfDiv these Marines were not equipped or organized for a protracted campaign. I was glad to assist in supply, air drops, and the care of their wounded. They were fine comrades and cooperated to the fullest extent.” MajGen J. L. Bradley Ltr to CMC, 22Oct54.
86. 3/1 SAR, 41.
88. 2/5 SAR, 16-17; LtCol W. E. Benedict Ltr to CMC, 28Mar47, hereinafter cited as Benedict.
89. 1/1 SAR, 20; 2/5 SAR, 16.
90. “There was no bridge in the 3/7 ZofA. Several men were drowned attempting to carry lines across the stream in an attempt to get troops across.” LtCol W. Holoman Ltr to CMC, 22Mar55, hereinafter cited as Holoman.
91. Ibid.; Notes on Interview with LtCol Austin C. Shofner, USMC, by Capt James R. Stockman at HQMC, 19Mar47, hereinafter cited as Shofner Interview.
93. 1/1 SAR, 21.
94. 3/1 SAR, 42.
95. 1/1 SAR, 21; Shofner Interview.
96. 3/1 SAR, 43.
97. Southward from Shuri, 39.
98. 2/7 SAR, 7; Snedeker 1947.
99. 7th Mar History, 22-23.
101. 3/7 SAR, 4.
102. 1st MarDiv G-3 Jnl, 8Jun45.
103. 2/1 SAR, 13. Halazone is a chemical compound used to disinfect water; tablets were carried by every individual in the field to meet just such emergencies.
105. 1/7 SAR, 18.
106. Although on the 1:25,000 battle map a large inhabited area north of the Mukue Gawa was labeled Itoman, the town was actually south of the river. Snedeker 1947, Enclosure D; 2/7 SAR,8. The misnamed village was actually a suburb of Itoman, undefended and constituting no obstacle to the advance of 2/7. Interview with Capt V. E. Ludwig, 27Jan55, hereinafter cited asLudwig Interview.
107. Ludwig Interview.
108. 2/7 SAR, 8.
109. 1/7 SAR, 18-19.
110. 2/1 SAR, 14.
111. Col A. C. Shofner Interview, 22Mar55.
112. 1/1 SAR, 21-22; Shofner Interview.
113. Okinawa: The Last Battle, 451.
114. Maj J. S. Hudson Ltr to CMC, 27Mar47.
115. 1/7 SAR, 20. The message from Gen. Buckner, offering Ushijima an opportunity to surrender did not arrive at Thirty-second Army Headquarters until 17 June, a week after it had been dropped behind the Japanese lines. Col Yahara stated that the delay was normal for frontline headquarters communications at that stage of the operation. Yahara Interrogation.When the message was delivered, “Cho and Ushijima both laughed and declared that, asSamurai, it would not be consonant with their honor to entertain such a proposal.” Shimada Interrogation.
116. 1/7 SAR, 21-22; 2/7 SAR, 7-8.
117. 1st TkBn Summary, 12Jun45.
118. 1/7 SAR, 21-22; 2/7 SAR, 7-8.
119. “. . . the large amount of artillery support available could destroy any enemy counterattack which might be made against the initial ridgehead seized on Kunishi Ridge.” Snedeker 1955.
120. Southward from Shuri, 40.
121. 2/1 SAR, 15.
122. 1st TkBn Summary, 13Jun45.
123. “The air drops were mostly well made and were largely successful. Some drops did fall where they could not be retrieved but they were in the minority.” Snedeker 1947.
124. 1/7 SAR, 22.
125. 2/7 SAR, 9 with marginal note by LtCol S. S. Berger.
126. Besides the constant fire of Japanese artillery, mortars, and small arms, continual enemy attempts to infiltrate during the night were equally characteristic of the fighting on Kunishi Ridge. Although it was standard procedure to forbid the use of flares during a night operation, the orders did not always reach all units.
127. 2/1 SAR, 15.
129. Less 1/5 which had been covering the western boundary of the division since 11 June. 1/5 SAR, 11.
130. LtCol Hill assumed command of 3/5 on 8 June while the battalion was in reserve.
131. 2/5 SAR, 19-20.
132. 7th Mar History, 31.
133. 1/7 SAR, 23.
134. Ibid.; 2/7 SAR, 9.
135. 1st TkBn Summary, 14Jun45.
136. 2/7 SAR, 9.
137. 1/7 SAR, 23-24.
138. 7th Mar History, 32.
139. 1/7 SAR, 24; 2/7 SAR, 9-10.
140. 2/5 SAR, 20-21.
141. 3/7 SAR, 5.
142. 3/22 SAR, 11; 6th MarDiv Jnl, Ph III, 17Jun45.
143. The battalion commander, Maj Earl S. Cook, was wounded about 0800. The executive officer, Maj Norman R. Sherman, took over temporarily until 1300 when LtCol Gavin C. Humphrey assumed command. LtCol G. C. Humphrey Ltr to CMC, 27Jan48.
145. Okinawa Operations Record, 29-30.
146. IIIAC AR, 64.
147. CT 8, 2d MarDiv AR–Iheya and Aguni Operations. n. d. The only casualties in the Iheya operation were two Marines killed and 16 wounded by short NGF rounds and aerial rockets.
148. Unless otherwise noted the material in this section is derived from Okinawa: The Last Battle; CTF 31 AR; Tenth Army AR; XXIV Corps AR; 7th InfDiv AR; 96th InfDiv AR; Okinawa Operations Record.
149. Okinawa Operations Record, 101.
150. The War Department sent teams of ordnance men to Okinawa to test the combat utility of recoilless rifles. Demonstration firing against enemy caves and pillboxes were conducted late in May, and after air shipments renewed the extremely limited ammunition supply the new weapons were used by both the 7th and 96th Divisions against the Yaeju Dake-Yuza Dake Escarpment. The destructive power, accuracy, and portability of the recoilless rifles impressed unit commanders who had the opportunity to use them in action and led to recommendations by both divisions that they be adopted as standard infantry weapons.
151. Okinawa Operations Record, 106.
152. Ibid., 108.
153. Unless otherwise noted the material in this section is derived from Okinawa: The Last Battle; Tenth Army AR; IIIAC AR; XXIV Corps AR; 1st MarDiv SAR; 6th MarDiv SAR, Ph III; 7th InfDiv AR; 77th InfDiv OpRpt, Okinawa; 96th InfDiv AR; 4th Mar SAR, Ph III; 5th Mar SAR; 8th CT AR, Okinawa Operation, 11-22Jun45, hereinafter cited as 8th CT AR; 29th Mar SAR, Ph III; Okinawa Operations Record.
154. 1st MarDiv G-3 Jnl, 18Jun45.
155. LtGen P. A. del Valle Ltr to CMC, 9 Mar 55, hereinafter cited as del Valle 1955.
156. 1st TkBn Summary, 18Jun45.
157. R. W. Johnston, Follow Me: The Story of the Second Marine Division in World War II, (New York, 1948), 270.
158. The rapid advance of the 8th Mar left Gen del Valle’s eastern flank uncovered. Consequently, “the battle-weary and decimated infantry of the 1st MarDiv had to be employed in attacking the various hill positions along the [eastern] flank simply to cover it. . . . We knew that the XXIV Corps could not keep up with the penetration executed by fresh troops, so we planned our maneuver to provide for this expected contingency.” del Valle 1955.
160. 2/5 SAR, 22.
161. 6th MarDiv Jnl, Ph III, 18Jun45.
162. 2/22 SAR, Ph III, 15.
163. Tenth Army G-2 Rpt No 86, 20Jun45.
164. Okinawa Operations Record, 110-111.
165. Shimada Interrogation; Yahara Interrogation.
166. Tenth Army G-2 Rpt No 86, 20Jun45.
167. 96th InfDiv History, 182-183.
168. 1/5 SAR, 12.
169. 1st TkBn Summary, 19Jun45. One tank was hit by enemy AT fire, abandoned, and then destroyed by friendly tank fire. Two others, temporarily abandoned because of mine damage to tracks on 18 June, had to be destroyed because Japanese machine gunners had converted them into pillboxes.
170. 2/5 SAR, 22-23.
171. 3d Bn, 8th Mar AR, 6, Enclosure to 8th CT AR.
172. 3/5 SAR, n. p.
173. 1st MarDiv G-3 Jnl, 19Jun45.
174. An impromptu amphibious assault against a small islet 300 yards off Nagusuku was organized by WpnsCo, 4th Mar after a POW revealed the presence of enemy troops and the regimental CP reported it was receiving fire from there. A POW was sent over to induce the Japanese to give up. “The answer that came back was a definite no, and also included a remark that was not exactly complimentary to Marines. So a task force was immediately organized from  LVT(A)’s, two 37mm platoons organized as infantry, and the 1st War Dog Platoon. Under the Weapons Company CO, the island was stormed and cleared without a casualty.” 4th Mar SAR, Ph III, 15. Several machine guns and knee mortars were captured, 20 enemy killed, and 5 POWs were taken.
175. 1/4 SAR, Ph III, 3-9.
176. 3/4 SAR, Ph III, 9-10.
177. 2/4 SAR, Ph III, 9.
178. IIIAC G-2 PrdRpt No 81, 21Jun45. Most of the enemy surrendered in 3/4’s zone of action where a few men were detailed to strip and search the military prisoners. Before the POW’s were sent to the rear, they were used to distribute air-dropped supplies. 3/4 SAR, Ph III, 10.
179. IIIAC G-2 Rpt No 81, 21Jun45.
180. 1st MarDiv G-3 Jnl, 20Jun45.
181. 1/5 SAR, 12-13.
182. 2/5 SAR, 24.
183. Okinawa Operations Record, Record of the 24th Div, 30.
184. Co G was also the first unit to raise the flag over the northernmost point of Okinawa, Hedo Misaki. 6th MarDiv History, 174-175. The 22d Mar evidently had a proclivity for securing the extremities of island objectives since units of the regiment duplicated the Okinawan feat during the recapture of Guam. Maj O. R. Lodge, The Recapture of Guam, MC Historical Monograph, (Washington, 1954), 154.
185. LtCol W. E. Benedict Ltr to CMC, 28Mar47. Because of the compression of the Japanese defenders into a restricted area at Hill 81, no artillery support was available on 21 June. Brown 1955.
186. 2/5 SAR, 25.