Okinawa (1952)





Director:    Leigh Jason.

Starring:    Pat O'Brien (Lt. Cmdr. Hale), Cameron Mitchell ('Grip' McCleary), Richard Denning (Lt. Phillips), Rhys Williams (Robby Roberg), James Dobson (Emerson), Richard Benedict (Delgado), Rudy Robles (Felix).

The island of Okinawa is part of the Ryukyu Islands (south of the four big islands of Japan). The plan was to take the island in the largest amphibious assault during the Pacific Campaign of World War II.  Captain Hale (Pat O'Brien) takes over command of a U.S. Naval vessel in the invasion of Okinawa.


Spoiler Warning:







Historical Background:


In early 1945 attention was on Okinawa, just 350 miles from Japan proper. It would be the perfect place from which to launch the attack on Japan.

Okinawa consists of hundreds of the Ryuku Islands in a chain over 1,000 km long extending southwest from Kyushu (the southwesternmost of Japan's main four islands) to Taiwan.

The main island (Okinawa Island) of Okinawa roughly goes from the southwest to the northeast.  There are a number of towns, including:  (north to south)

Hedo  -- east coastal town  at the northern tip;

Ada  -- east coast;

Kaata  -- east coast;

Nago  --  west coast;                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Kin  --  east coast; 

Ishikawa  --  the narrow waist of the main island separating north and south;

Henna  -- easternmost town at the tip of a peninsula;

Naha  --  towards the bottom of the main island on the west coast but a little inland;

Itoman  -- west coast;

Nakaza  --  east coast. 


FDR returned from Yalta the conference with Great Britain and Russia. He said we must be prepared for a long and costly struggle against Japan.

3 divisions wiped out the enemy on Iwo Jima.

If Okinawa was taken, they could sever the Japanese supply line to mainland Asia.

In March 1945 at Olyffe in the Caroline group an armada was massed to move north under Vice Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner. Carrier planes of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance’s fifth fleet hit the home islands of Japan and then softened up the target island of Okinawa.

Meanwhile the warships of the 95th fleet moved to Okinawa.

March 25 --- warships fired on Okinawa.

March 26 -- 77th division soldiers assaulted the Kerama Islands (20 miles southwest of the main island).

April 1 -- Okinawa invaded.

Assault made by the 10th army and some marines. There was no opposition. They suspected an April’s fools trick by the enemy. Only scattered opposition as they moved up the island.

April 4 -- the island cut in two when they reached the east coast. A thousand ships involved in the operation. Heavy air attacks from the enemy. Kamikaze attacks. The Navy took heavy loses.

At airfields on the southernmost island of Japan more and more planes took off. On the carrier Franklin casualties were very heavy. Father Callahan received a Congressional Medal of Honor. Flight deck was littered with the dead and dying. More than 250 ships were sunk or damaged.

April 12, 1945 -- death of FDR. Truman became president.

The battle for Okinawa was far from won. The 6th marine division had the job of cleaning out the north end. On one of the peninsulas they ran into heavy resistance. Three day fight. In the 13 day campaign for the peninsula 2,014 enemy soldiers died. In taking the northern section they killed all but a handful of the enemy.

April 20 -- northern section secured.

77th division marines took the island of Ie Shima. Writer Ernie Pyle met his death there.

On southern Okinawa Army General Simon Boulevard Buckner ran up against the enemy’s main line of defense. Artillery and tanks went to work on the defensive line.

early May -- the army’s 24th corps stalled. Reinforced by marines of the third amphibious corp. Gen Ushishima made his defense on a line that stretched from Naha to Shuri and Yonabaru.

May 8 -- the 6th division marines wanted to pierce the defensive line. A stalemate partly due to the heavy rains that left the battlefield mired in mud. Rained daily in Okinawa’s famed plum rains.

May 28  --  The tank infantry team moved up and completed the capture of Naha by May 28. The city was almost a total wreck. The fall of the capital city signaled the beginning of the last phase of the operation. Marines of the first division pierced the line at Shuri. The US forces suffered a considerable number of casualties. Receive news of the defeat of Germany.

6th division marines encounter stiff resistance on the Oroku peninsula. Enemy suffered 5,000 casualties in defense of this peninsula.

Gain control of the airfield at Naha.

By mid June -- they had completely broken the enemy’s main line of defense on Okinawa.

June 17 -- only a few miles from the southern tip of the island. Japanese soldiers begin to give themselves up. Many of the Okinawans now came out of hiding.

83 day battle for Okinawa.

Some 196,000 of the island’s population were herded into internment camps to keep them out of the way of the final assault. Tried to keep families together. Had more prisoners now than any previous place. The bushido code breaking down.

At the southern front, 10th Army commander Gen. Buckner hit by an enemy shell and killed, the only field army commander killed in battle during the Pacific War.

A new weapon, the recoilless rifle was used in the campaign’s final days.

June 22, 1945 -- last enemy unit overwhelmed. American fighting men controlled Okinawa. And the US had gained still another island.


Men: US 2,520; Japan  110,000

ships: US 36; Japan 16

planes: US 763; Japan 7800


The Battle of Okinawa was the last major battle of the war. 


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