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1945: US troops take Okinawa

The Japanese island of Okinawa has finally fallen to the Americans after a long and bloody battle.

The island, situated 340 miles (550km) south of the Japanese mainland, will now provide the Americans with an invaluable air and naval base from which to launch a sustained and forceful attack on the mainland.

It is estimated more than 90,000 Japanese troops were killed in the 82-day conflict.


"I personally saw one Kamikaze hit one of (the aircraft carriers) whilst I was operating the plot for incoming bandits"


America also suffered heavy losses - at this stage 6,990 servicemen have been reported killed or missing and 25,598 wounded.

Mopping up

In a statement issued today US Fleet Admiral Chester W Nimitz said: "After 82 days of fighting the battle of Okinawa has been won.

"Organised resistance ceased on June 21. Enemy garrisons in two small pockets are being mopped up."

The Japanese fought a desperate battle until the bitter end with many hiding out in caves on the southern-most tip of the island.

As the US forces closed in many threw themselves off 150ft (45.7m)cliffs or waded into the sea to drown rather than be taken prisoner.

More than 4,000 Japanese have so far been captured.

The conflict began on 1 April, when America's newly-formed 10th Army, led by Lieutenant-General Simon Bolivar Buckner, landed on Okinawa's western coast.

By 21 April most of the island had been taken by US troops but a stalemate developed in the south around Okinawa's capital city, Naha.

The Japanese were able to secure a strong defensive position in the rugged, cave-riddled terrain and it took several weeks to finally win the battle.

In Context
The Japanese commander-in-chief on Okinawa, Lieutenant-General Ushijima Mitsuru, committed suicide on 22 June.

Okinawa was the last great amphibious campaign of the war.

America sent 170,000 troops and 1,213 warships and British forces also took part.

The island was defended by nearly 100,000 Japanese troops.

Lt-Gen Ushijima relied on mass kamikaze attacks as his main line of defence against the initial assault. More than 2,000 attacks were launched during the conflict.

The allies suffered unprecedented losses with 36 warships and landing craft being sunk, 763 aircraft lost and more than 12,500 servicemen killed.

Only 7,400 Japanese troops survived the conflict to become prisoners of war.

America returned Okinawa to Japan in 1972.


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