June 21, 1945 – Word had flashed across newswires that the island of Okinawa, after some 82 days of endless siege, with some 250,000 casualties, Okinawa fell to the allies. After a long campaign of island-hopping, the island of Okinawa was only some 340 miles from the Japanese mainland, which would make it crucial as an air field for aerial assaults on Japan, but also a primary staging area for an eventual invasion of Japan itself.
It was by far the bloodiest campaign in the Pacific Theatre, with Japanese losses at around 80,000 and American losses at some 15,000 while native Okinawans suffered the worst, with almost 150,000 killed during the fighting, or by suicide when a U.S. victory seemed imminent.
One of the interesting sidelights to this battle, aside from its strategic importance,was the fact this the Battle of Okinawa had the largest number of cases of mental breakdown of any battle during the war up to this point. Many attributed the breakdowns to the near constant bombardment from artillery and mortars, and the high number of casualties led to a record amount of combat fatigue among the troops. Morale on the part of the U.S. forces was at a dangerous low by May. The sight of thousands of dead, both Americans and Japanese laying unburied where they fell had a marked affect on morale, along with reports of atrocities committed by the Japanese, as well as using Okinawan civilians as human shields made this one of the worst episodes of the war.
But on June 21st it was mostly all over. Save for a few pockets of resistance, the island of Okinawa was now in allied hands. And here is the direct report as relayed from Guam via NBC Radio.