Okinawa - April 1945

Okinawa - Bloodiest confrontation in the Pacific.

April 6, 1945 – Word From Okinawa – Operation Iceberg Underway.

Okinawa - April 1945
Okinawa – Bloodiest confrontation in the Pacific.

April 6, 1945 – Reports from Don Pryor, Mutual Broadcasting – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

April 6, 1945 – The invasion of Okinawa had begun on the morning of April 1, 1945 – dubbed Operation Iceberg, it represented the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific Theater of World War II. To Japan, the islands were the barrier to a direct invasion of its homeland. To the Allies, once the island was under their control, it would clear the path for the final invasion of Japan. Admiral Raymond A. Spurance, USN, Commander Fifth Fleet, led the invasion onboard USS Indianapolis (CA-35). Joint Task Force, TF-51, was led by Vice Admiral Richmond K. Turner, USN, with Lieutenant General Simon B. Buckner, USA, commanding the landing troops. The U.S. Navy lost 32 ships and craft, mostly by kamikaze attacks, and 368 ships and craft were damaged. Seven-hundred and sixty-three aircraft were lost with over 4,900 sailors killed or missing in action, with an additional 4,824 being wounded. Okinawa was declared secure on June 21.

The land battle took place over about 81 days beginning on 1 April 1945. The first Americans ashore were soldiers of the 77th Infantry Division, who landed in the Kerama Islands, 15 mi (24 km) west of Okinawa on 26 March. Subsidiary landings followed, and the Kerama group was secured over the next five days. In these preliminary operations, the 77th Infantry Division suffered 27 dead and 81 wounded, while the Japanese dead and captured numbered over 650. The operation provided a protected anchorage for the fleet and eliminated the threat from suicide boats.

Japanese air opposition had been relatively light during the first few days after the landings. However, on 6 April, the expected air reaction began with an attack by 400 planes from Kyushu. Periodic heavy air attacks continued through April. During the period 26 March – 30 April, twenty American ships were sunk and 157 damaged by enemy action. For their part, by 30 April, the Japanese had lost more than 1,100 planes to Allied naval forces alone.

Between 6 April and 22 June, the Japanese flew 1,465 kamikaze aircraft in large-scale attacks from Kyushu, 185 individual kamikaze sorties from Kyushu, and 250 individual kamikaze sorties from Formosa. While US intelligence estimated there were 89 planes on Formosa, the Japanese actually had about 700, dismantled or well camouflaged and dispersed into scattered villages and towns; the US Fifth Air Force disputed Navy claims of kamikaze coming from Formosa.

Here are three reports, given by Mutual Broadcasting reporter Don Pryor who was covering the invasion and the ensuing battle of Okinawa.

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