APRIL 1st 1945 US Forces Land At Okinawa
Marines landing on OkinawaAmerican forces landed on the island of Okinawa. The Japanese changed their tactics and, instead of opposing US troops at the beaches, put up their defense away inland. At the same time, Japanese aircraft and ships made Kamikaze attacks on the US fleet. The attacks exacted a heavy price: over 14,00 US serviceman and 77,000 Japanese soldiers were killed on Okinawa.
After over two years of Island hopping the Allied forces arrived at the last island short of the Japanese Okinawa. The Island was considered the perfect base to prepare for the invasion of Japan. The Japanese attempts at defeating the Americans was hopeless, the allies would arrive with 541,000 troops compared to 96,000 Japanese and native Okinawan soldiers. The US navy was able to initially keep 13 fleet carrier and between 14 and 18 escort carriers. The British navy contributed an additional 6 escort carriers to the fleet. A dozen battleships, large number of cruisers and destroyers were part of the fleet.
Six days before the landing the fleet arrived off the island and began bombarding it from the air and the sea. The only weapon that the Japanese could use was Kamikaze planes, pilots on a suicide mission. While the kamikaze were able to sink some small planes, the successful damage control of the larger ships that were hit managed to keep all of the carriers, battleships and cruisers hit afloat.
The landing began on April 1, 1945, on the western coast of Okinawa . The American forces led by the 6th Marine Division succeeded in quickly gaining control of the beaches and moving inland seizing the Kadena and Yomitan airbases. When the Army 96th and 7th infantry Division moved across the island they began to encounter significant Japanese resistance.
Meanwhile the Japanese made one last naval sortie. They sent the battleship Yamato and nine other ships with the goal of making it to Okinawa and beach itself there. US forces intercepted the ships on April 7th and 300 US aircraft attacked the Japanese ships. The Yamato the cruisers Yahagi and 4 destroyers were sunk.
The main Japanese defensive line became known as the Shuri line, Heavily fortified with Japanese soldiers who took part in personal Kamikaze attacks. Fighting remained heavy with the Japanese putting up fierce resistance to the slow American advances. After the Shuri line was breached by US forces the Japanese retreated to their last line of defense in the Kiyan Peninsula. The marines landed behind Japanese lines and once there was no ability to continue to resist over 4,000 Japanese sailors committed suicide. It took until June 21st to fully secure the island.
It was the bloodiest battle of the Pacific. 14,009 American soldiers were killed, the panes lost 77,166 soldiers and 149,193 civilians on the island were killed.