Okinawa was the last major battle of the Pacific War with the intent of capturing an island nearby to the mainland Japan to use as a staging ground for a possible invasion and to eliminate any threat to friendly bombers to and from bombing missions on the mainland. This objective was also that of the nearby iconic island of Iwo-Jima. This invasion was also the biggest Pacific invasion in the theater as more ships were used, more troops put ashore, more supplies transported, more bombs dropped, and more naval guns fired against shore targets than any other operation in the Pacific. The Battle of Okinawa was also the bloodiest battle in the Pacific War. Australian, New Zealand, American, Canadian and British forces fought against the Japanese. The battle lasted for 82 days; between April 1, 1945 to June 21, 1945.
America had four Army Divisions. The 10th Army was made up of the 7th, 27th, 77th and 96th and two Marine divisions, the 1st and 6th, while the 2nd Marine Division was held in reserve.
Tactics of the Battle
After the Okinawa approaches had been cleared, the main landing was carried out at Hagushi Beach on April 1, 1945. To their surprise, the US Marines landed virtually unopposed, with the fighting only commencing when they moved inland. The Japanese steadfastly defended every square meter of ground from log and bamboo bunkers, slit trenches and caves - both natural and specially blasted - in the walls of every valley and gulley on Okinawa. The willingness of the defenders to die rather than surrender forced the attacking infantry to adjust their tactics.
This resulted in the formation of small teams of five men, consisting of two riflemen, a flamethrower operator and two sub-machine gunners, trained in the set procedure for dealing with entrenched Japanese personnel. This called for the infantry team to approach the target, under the cover of supporting fire from machine gun or rifle teams, which was occasionally supplemented by a Bazooka to deal with obstacles. Once within range, the flamethrower operator would burn the entrance, with additional burns being made as the team approached. The riflemen would then throw grenades into the target, before the sub-machine gunners would spray the interior with automatic fire.
- War Machine issue 6 - Sub-machine guns of World War II