It was on Easter morning, April 1 1945, that veteran Deadeyes of the 96th Infantry Division entered into their second action against the enemy after an unopposed landing on the western shores of Okinawa. The unopposed advances came to a quick end, however, and for the balance of the 91-day operation dough boys of the 96 met some of the strongest enemy opposition and engaged in the heaviest and most prolonged fighting yet encountered in the Pacific Theater of Operations (PTO).
The Division’s first action against the Japanese came on October 20 1944 when it stormed ashore across the sandy beaches of Leyte, near Dulac, as a part of the first attack force to land in the Philippine Islands. Considerable experience, fortitude, morale and fighting spirit, such as commonly come from actual combat, were instilled in the soldiers of the 96-ID during the 115 days of combat on Leyte. They had met the Jap soldier, they had seen how he fought and what he had to fight with, and they had overcome him quite easily in every engagement.
While still engaged in cleaning out and mopping up pockets of the enemy on Leyte, orders were received and planning began for the Ryukyus campaign. Again the 96-ID was assigned a mission involving an assault landing on Japanese-held beaches, and almost before the infantrymen had cleared the Leyte’s mud from his rifle, he was rushed aboard ship bound for Okinawa.
Headquarters XXIV Corps
After Action Report
96th Infantry Division
W. H. Biggerstaff
All preparations for the Ryukyus campaign began in earnest on February 8 1945 when the 96-ID, as a part of the XXIV Corps and the 10-A, was assigned the mission to :
(a). Land at 0830, April 1 1945, on Beaches White and Brown near Sunabe, Okinawa, defeat and destroy all enemy forces encountered in its zone of action. (b). Advance rapidly inland, capture the commanding hills along the line Sunabe, Sukugawa, Hill 102 (TA 8486-A F) and seize the western and northern crests of the hill mass south of the line Sunabe, Puenzan, Koza (TA 8786-T) in its zone of action. (c). Secure the objective line marked L-10 in its zone of action at the earliest practicable time, and be prepared to continue the attack to the south on Corps order. (d). Promptly seize the river crossings immediately north and south Chatan (TA 8383-R X) and (TA 8381-G) respectively). (e). Protect the Corps right (south) flank. (f). Establish and maintain contact with 7-ID on its left (north) flank, coordinating with 7-ID along progress lines. (Field Order 45, HQ XXIV Corps, February 8 1945).
Plans were completed and the loading of supplies and equipment began on March 3. By March 14, all troops were embarked and assault units, in conjunction with the Navy, conducted two landing rehearsals near Vincay, Leyte, on March 17 and Marc 19. Last-minute loading was completed on March 24 and on March 25, LSTs sailed for the target. The balance of the task force sailed from Leyte on March 27.
96th Infantry Division CG’s Comments
In general the comments and recommendations of the Division Commander are considered sound. The following comments are made in clarification or expansion :
(a). Officer reclassification procedure throughout the entire current emergency has left much to be desired. There is no question but that in combat the word of the commander must be final and procedure should be designed to get the officer out of the command immediately. (b). The degree of success attained by War Dogs in units of this Corps through two campaigns has been extremely disappointing; insofar as their use for scouting is concerned. It is unknown whether or not this is inherent in the dog or in the training of the dog and his handler in those units attached to the Corps. (c). The candy assault ration used by units of this command in two campaigns has proved of almost no value. It is recommended that it be discontinued. Current rations throughout any active campaign should be supplemented by additional allowance’s of lard, flower. salt, baking powder, milk and yeast. Where they are available in ample quantity experience shows that the soldiers are well satisfied with what they get to eat. (d). The matter of ordnance maintenance within the division has become critical. The light ordnance maintenance company is not capable of meeting even a moderate percentage of needs in the modern division. The lack of backing up ordnance support is a factor in this need. It is urgently recommended that the division ordnance company be increased to the approximate capacity of a medium maintenance company. This headquarters has previously recommended adaptation of the Cavalry Division Ordnance Maintenance Company for the Infantry Division. (e). The matter of the superiority of Japanese smokeless powders over that supplied to our own units is believed to be a fallacy although the belief of the soldier in that superiority is extensive. This is a morals factor to the extent that definite educational measures are being taken in this command to counteract the alleged deficiency of our own powders.
The following report is a story of the events leading to the landings on Okinawa, and of the drive inland and south to the end of the island when the enemy was finally defeated and completely wiped out on June 30 1945. The human elements of the battle and stories of tho numerous heroic and courageous actions by small units can only be told in much larger volume than this. It is left to other publications to give these word pictures. The facts from the official records are presented hero net only as an official report, but also as a basis for such works.
|Cin POA : Fleet Adm Nimytz
|Officer Commanding Operation
(Com Fifth Fleet)
|Officer Commanding Joint Expeditionary Force
(Com Phib Pac) Vive Adm Turner
|Officer Commanding Expeditionary Force
(Com Gen Ten) Lt Gen Buckner
|Southern Attack Force
Rear Adm Hall
Lt Gen Hodge
|Trans Ron 14
Trans Div 40
Trans Div 41
Trans Div 42
|96th Infantry Division
Maj Gen Bradley
Regt Combat Team 381
Regt Combat Team 382 (Res)
Regt Combat Team 383
96th Infantry Division – Task Force Organization – Ruykyus Campaign
(Regimental Combat Team 381 – Col M. E. Halloran)
381st Infantry Regiment – Col M. E. Halloran
– 1/381 Lt Col J. C. Cassidy, 2 June, Maj V. N. Thompson
– 2/381 Lt Col R. Graybill, 8 May, Maj L. C. Addy, 20 June, Maj H. H. Hewett Jr
– 3/381 Lt Col D. A. Nolan Jr, 16 June, Maj H. R. Miles
Able Co, 321st Med Bn
2d Plat, Dog Co, 321st Med Bn
– 51st Port Surg Hosp attached, Maj G. S. Ortman, 18 May, Maj M. W. Hillman
Able Co, 321st Engr Bn
– Water Section attached.
Det 96th Sig Co
Det 96th CIC Team
361st FAB, Lt Col A. W. Masters
– 1st Plat, 827th Amph Trk Co attached
Charlie Co, 519th MP Bn, Lt J. W Stetzer
Btry B, 435th AAA-AW Bn
– Det Btry C, 294th S/L Bn attached
– 2 S/L Sec 14 EM, including 1 detector
– Btry A, 435th AAA-AW Bn (Assigned to RCT 381 for transportation only)
728th Amph Trac Bn, Lt Col F. B. Mann
– Det 593d JASCO
– 170th Engr Bn, Lt Col R. K. Barton Jr.
– Charlie Co, 83th Cml Wpns Bn
— 1/3 Am Sec, 88th Cml Wpns Bn Hq attached
780th Amph Tk Bn (less Charlie & Dog), Lt Col T. R. Turner Jr
– Baker & Dog Cos, 763d Tank Bn
– 293d Port Co, for Ships Plat, re-Capt F. F. Green
(reverted to 1122d Gp Hq on landing)
Prov GR Section (3 EM – 3008th GR Plat; 12 EM, 3240th QM Serv Co)
Photo Assignment Team, 3235th Sig Serv Det
2d Sound Locator Team
(Regimental Combat Team 382 – Col M. L. Dill)
382d Infantry Regiment (Reinforced) Col M. L. Dill
– 1/382 Lt Col C. W.Johnson
– 2/382 Lt Col C. D. Sterner
– 3/382 Tt Col J. R. Lewis, 18 April, Lt Col F. H. Hartline, 30 April, Maj J. H. Stell
Baker Co, 321st Med Bn
Det 96th Sig Co
Det 593d JASCO
Prov GR Sec (3 EM, 3003th GR Plat; 12 EM, 3240th QM Serv Co)
Photo Assignment Team, 3235th Sig Serv Det
(Regimental Combat Team 383 – Col E. T. May)
383d Infantry Regiment – Col E. T. May, 5 June, Lt Col D. Ballard, 14 June, Lt Col J. M. Williams
– 1/383 Lt Col B. F. King, 9 April, Maj K. W. Erickson, 16 May, Capt H. D. Young, 18 May, Lt Col G. A. Nelson, 13 June, Lt Col P. E. Clark
– 2/383 Lt Col P. E. Clark, 18 April, Maj A. T. Thorsen, 26 April, Maj G. E. Bucklin, 9 May, Capt J. A. McCaffrey, 10 May, Maj L. Morris, 18 May, Maj G. E. Bucklin
– 3/383 Lt Col E. W. Stare
Charlie Co, 321st Med Bn
1st Plat, Dog Co, 321st Med Bn
– 67th Port Surg Hosp attached Mah W. N. Block, 18 May, Capt W. E. Wescott, 21 May, Maj L. B. Goldstein
Charlie Co, 321st Engr Bn, Water Section attached
Det 96th Sig Co
Det 96th CIC Team
921st FAB, Lt Col R. R. Glenn
– 2 Plat, 827th Trk Co attached
96th Div MP Plat, Capt J. A. Kinsler
Btry D, 485th AAA-AW Bn
– Det Btry C, 294th S/L Bn attached (2 S/L Sec 14 EM)
788th Amph Trac Bn, Lt Col F. G. Hufford
Det 593d JASCO
174th Engr Bn, Lt Col A. L. Sweetland
Baker Co, 88th Cml Bn
– 1/3 Am Sec 88th Cml Bn attached
Charlie and Dog Cos, 780th Amph Tk Bn
Provisional Bn Hq attached
Charlie Co, 763d Tk Bn
204th Port Co (attached Ships Plat)
(reverted to control of 1122d Engr upon landing)
Prov GR Section (3 EM – 3008th GR Plat; 12 EM – 3240th QM Serv Co)
Photo Assignment Team, 3235th Sig
Hq 96th Inf Div, Maj Gen J. L. Bradley
Hq & Hq Btry, 96th Div Arty, Brig Gen R. G. Gard
– 362d FAB (attached), Lt Col F. W. Jenkins
— 827th Amph Trk Co, (less 1st & 3d Plats), Lt M. Z. Brown
– 363d FAB, Lt Col J. G. Hlavac
Hq Special Trs, Lt Co H. R. Damisch
– Hq Co, 96th Inf Div, Capt J. P. Hecimovich
– 96th QM Co (attached), Capt E. F. Mitchell
— 3240th QM Serv Co (less GR Secs), Capt J. M. Klaus
— 41st QM War Dog Plat, Lt H. H. Bucklin Jr
— Div GR Sec (less RCT Dets), Lt W. B. Kline
— 3d Plat, 3008th QM GR Co (less RCT Dets), Lt C. S. Kaeling
— 2d Sec, 2d Plat, 4342d QM Sup Co
– 796th Ord Co (attached), Capt W. A. Carlson, 7 May, Capt B. C. Boesser
— 632d Ord AM Co, Capt Allan and Lt Heidt
— Det 196th Ord Depot Co, Lt A. A. Meril
— 206th Bomb Disposal Squad, Lt O. B. Greenman
– 96th Sig Co (attached), Capt W. A. Carpenter
— Det 101st Sig Bn (Radio Team)
— 3235th Sig Serve Det (less RCT Dets), Lt F. K. Tones (attachments)
96th Div Band, CWO O. W. Shetney
96th Recon Tr, Capt R. B. O’Neill
321st Engr Bn (less Able, Charlie Cos) (attached), Lt Col S. R. Kolloy, 17 April, Maj E. J. Martell
– 2d Plat, 1088th Engr Depot Co, Lt Slack
321st Med Bn (less Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog Cos (attached),Lt Col G. B. Salter
– 31st Fld Hosp, Lt Col H. A. Rogan
1122d Engr Gp Hq & Hq Co, (Shore Party) (attached), Col C. J. Douglas
– 170th Engr Bn (C) (attached 381-RCT until landing), Lt Col R. K. Barton Jr
– 174th Engr Bn (C) (attached 383-RCT until landing), Lt Col A. L. Sweetland
– 173d Engr Bn (C), Lt Col O. P. Gokay
– 474th Amph Trk Co, Capt D. P. Hill
– 204th Fort Co, (attached RCT-383 until landing)
– 293d Port Co, (attached RCT-381 until landing), Capt F. F. Green
504th AAA (Gun) Bn (+ Team 3, MAWS #8 attached), Lt Col J. B. McCumber
485th AAA-AW Bn (less Btrys B, D), Lt Col A. Garvey
– Btry C, 294th S/L Bn (-1 Plat) (attached), Capt H. S. Harley
– 4 Secs & RCT attachments)
– 33th Cml Wpns Bn (Mtz) (less Able, Baker, Charlie Cos and 3 AM Secs) (attached), Maj G. A. Cain
593d JASCO (less RCT attachments), Maj F. L. Duggan
763d Tk Bn (less Baker, Charlie, Dog Cos), Lt Col H. L. Edmonson, 11 May, Maj A. E. Lancaster
96th CIC (less RCT attachments), Capt F. L. Fernandez
222d Censorship Det, Lt J. P. Stevens
38th Order of Battle Team, Lt A. Marcus
140th PI Team, Capt J. Krueger
314th Hq Intel Det, Lt (jg) D. L. Keene, 30 May, Lt A. F. Beach
– 344th Interrogator Team (attached)
– 372d Interpreter Team (attached)
– 389th Translator Team (attached)
News Team B, 1st Info & Hist Unit, Capt L. K. Soth
Civilian Correspondents Gp
2212th POA TQM Team, Lt Col R. H. Billingsley
3d Plat, 3754th QM Trk Co, Lt R. Wadlund
(transported by the 7th infantry Division then reverted to the 96-ID)
2d Plat, 244th QM Depot Sup Co, Lt R. M. Heximor
(transported by the 7th infantry Division then reverted to the 96-ID)
2d Plat, 191st QH Gas Sup Co, Lt R. H. Arnold
(transported by the 7th infantry Division then reverted to the 96-ID)
Mi1 Govt B-5, Lt Col W. E. Anderson
– 8th G-10 Disp
Mil Govt A-6, Lt Comdr E. R. Mossman
– 9th G-1O Disp
763d Tank Battalion – Nov 30 44
51st Port Surgical Hospital – Nov 30 44
CIC Detachment – Nov 30 44
140th PI Team – Nov 30 44
3008th QM GR Co (3d Plat) – Jan 7 45
67th Port Surgical Hospital – Jan 28 45
1st Info and Hist SV (News Tm B) – Feb 12 45
41st QM War Dog Plat – Feb 16 45
206th Ord Bomb Disposal Squad – Feb 16 45
2212th POA TQM Team – Feb 27 45
314th Hq Intel Detachment – Feb 27 45
389th Translator Team – Feb 27 45
372d Interpreter Team – Feb 27 45
344th Interrogator Team – Feb 27 45
3255th Sig Serv Detachment – Mar 1 45
38th Order of Battle Team – Mar 9 45
2223d Censorship Detachment – Mar 23 45
|Hq & Hq Co, 1122d Engr Gp||Jan 28 45||April 5 45|
|170th Eng Bn||Jan 28 45||April 5 45|
|173d Eng Bn||Jan 28 45||April 5 45|
|174th Eng Bn||Jan 28 45||April 5 45|
|504th AAA (Gun) Bn||Jan 28 45||April 5 45|
|485th AAA-AW Bn||Jan 28 45||April 5 45|
|Btry C, 294th S/L Bn (less 1 Plat)||Jan 28 45||April 8 45|
|Charlie Co, 519th MP Bn||Jan 28 45||April 30 45|
|632d Ord Am Co||Jan 28 45||April 7 45|
|Det 196th Ord Depot Co||Jan 28 45||April 7 45|
|474th Amph Trk Co||Jan 28 45||April 4 45|
|204th Port Co||Jan 28 45||April 7 45|
|293d Port Co||Jan 28 45||April 7 45|
|3240th QM Serv Co||Jan 28 45||April 12 45|
|31st Field Hospital||Feb 4 45||April 12 45|
|593d JASCO||Feb 16 45||April 8 45|
|827th Amph Trk Co||Feb 16 45||April 4 45|
|88th Cml Bn (less Able & 1 Am Sec Bn Hq)||Feb 15 45||April 14 45|
|Baker Co, 88th Cml Bn||Feb 16 45||April 14 45|
|Remainder 88th Cml Bn||Feb 16 45||April 29 45|
|Charlie, 88th Cml Bn (reattached)||May 7 45||June 27 45|
|1088th Engr Depot Co (2d Plat)||Feb 16 45||April 8 45|
|2d Plat, 191st QM Gas Sup Co||Feb 25 45||April 8 45|
|2d Plat, 244th QM Dep Sup Co||Feb 25 45||April 9 45|
|3d Plat, 3754th QM Trk Co||Feb 25 45||April 9 45|
|170th Eng Bn||Jan 28 45||April 5 45|
|780th Amph Trk Bn||Feb 27 45||April 3 45|
|728th Amph Track Bn||Feb 27 45||April 3 45|
|788th Amph Track Bn||Feb 27 45||April 3 45|
|Military Affairs (Unit A-6)||Mar 9 45||April 29 45|
|Med Disp Unit 11-6 (Unit G-10) #8||Mar 9 45||April 25 45|
|Military Govt (Unit B-5)||Mar 9 45||April 29 45|
|Med Disp Unit B-5 (Unit G-10) #9||Mar 9 45||April 29 45|
|2d Sound Locator Team||Mar 20 45||Mar 30 45|
|Charlie Co, 713-TB (Flame-thrower)||April 9 45||April 29 45|
|2d Bn, 11th Mar Arty Regt||April 9 45||April 16 45|
|3d Bn, 11th Mar Arty Regt||April 9 45||April 15 45|
|1st Bn, 11th Mar Arty Regt (77-MM Rack HOW)||April 10 45||April 29 45|
|106-IR (27-ID)||April 12 45||April 15 45|
|776th Amph Tk Bn (Less Able & Dog)||May 7 45||May 28 45|
|Dog Co, 776-ATB||May 17 45||May 22 45|
|Able Co, 776-ATB||May 20 45||May 22 45|
|1st Plat, Able, 519th MP Bn||May 7 45||May 26 45|
|Able Co, 713-TB||May 7 45||Not Released|
|593d JASCO (NGF)||May 7 45||June 26 45|
|S/L Team #1||May 7 45||June 20 45|
|S/L Team #4||May 7 45||June 20 45|
|S/L Team #5||May 7 45||June 20 45|
|Det A-6 Military Govt||May 7 45||June 30 45|
|Det B-4 Military Govt||May 7 45||June 30 45|
|4th G-10 Disp||May 7 45||June 30 45|
|718th Amph Track Bn||May 17 45||May 28 45|
The preliminary plans were, of course, based upon the mission assigned to the Division and were formulated to assure the accomplishment of that mission in the most successful and simplified manner. On February 8 1945, the XXIV Corps Field Order # 45 Gave the 96th Infantry Division (less the 382-RCT) the mission of landing on the west shores of Okinawa near Sunabe and destroying all enemy forces encountered in its zone of action.
The Division issued sixteen planning memoranda during the preliminary planning phase for the Okinawa operation. These planning memoranda were published by all General Staff Sections to keep lower and attached units informed at an early date on the plans and decisions made as they occurred and before they were included in the final Division field order.
Operations, G-3, Tactical Plan
In general, the tactical plan of the 96-ID for the Ryukyus campaign was no different that any other amphibious operation. After a thorough study of aerial photos, terrain maps, rubber relief maps and all available information of the enemy expected to be encountered on Okinawa, each assault Regiment was assigned landing beaches, boundary and zones of action as shown in black on Map N° 1. The Division was to land with two Regiments abreast, each with two Battalion in the assault. Regiments were immediately required to determine which of its two Battalions would be in the assault, and of these, which one would be on the right and which on the left. This permitted further detailed planning in connection with the loading, and with the ship-to-shore movement plan. The two assault Regiments, the 381st Infantry Regiment and the 383rd Infantry Regiment, were to push rapidly inland and secure the area within the Division zone north of the L plus 10 line.
The 382-IR was designated as XXIV Corps reserve, but with the prior permission of the Corps Commander it was planned that this Regiment (less the 3d Battalion), be launched on Brown Beaches immediately behind the 383-IR and proceed inland to assembly positions just west of Momobaru. This placed the Regiment in the best possible position to protect the right flank of the Division and, simultaneously the right flank of the Corps. Considerable attention during the preliminary planning phase was directed toward the the protection of this right flank, since early intelligence reports showed that the bulk of the enemy strength concentrated in the south end of Okinawa. The 3d Battalion moved to positions behind the 381-IR.
On February 12, the Division Commander and Staff attended the first planning conference with the Corps Commander concerning the coming operation. By February 18, the first draft of the Division field order had been prepared and was distributed for planning purposes. This field order prescribed the tactical plan outlined above, and based on this plan, all staff officers and lower unit commanders began their preliminary planning for the Ryukyus campaign. An alternative plan for the landing on the east shores of Okinawa (shown in red on the map above) was later prepared, but this plan was never executed.
One normal artillery attachment of one light artillery battalion to each assault Regiment was made for this operation. The artillery battalion (362-FAB) which normally supported the Reserve Regiment (382-RCT) was to land behind the 383-RCT and reinforce the fires of the 921-FAB (attached to the 383-IR) along the south exposed flank of the Division. All three light Battalions were to be pre-loaded on DUKWs and these loaded aboard one LST for each artillery Battalion so that the artillery would be able to land promptly across the wide coral reef at the target. No definite plans could be formulated for the medium artillery (383-FAB) except that it would be landed from transports by LCMs as soon as landing conditions permitted, and that would be emplaced inland from White Beach 1 in general support of the Division if beach conditions and the tactical situation permitted.
The Naval Gunfire (NGF) plan was prepared by higher headquarters and submitted to the Commanding General 99th Infantry Division, for study and comment; consequently, little prior planning was necessary or possible. Three important changes were recommended, however, which vitally improved the tactical plan of the Division. These changes, which were subsequent approved, were as follows :
1- The NGF — 3 line (the line short of which the Navy would not fire after the landing time plus five minutes) was moved in much closer to the Division right flank in order to offer better protection for that exposed flank.
2- Battleships were to blow two holes in the sea wall on each assault beach.
3- Fire support ships were to smoke, keep under observation, and fire on the Machinato Peninsula just off the right flank of the Division’s landing beaches (see Map above).
No preliminary planning for air support was possible, since higher headquarters prepared and distributed the air plan without consulting the Division. No changes in this plan are permitted.
Ship-to-Shore Movement Plan
The ship-to-shore movement plan was based on the beach and reef conditions expected at the target and on lessons learned as the result of the assault landing on Leyte. As for the beach conditions on the target, three important points were carefully studied. First, all the beaches over which the 96th infantry Division was to land were backed up by an eight to twelve foot see wall, and no known exits existed through this sea wall. Second, a fringing reef extended to the seaward from this sea wall from three hundred to six hundred yards. Third, no tide tables or other information was immediately available to indicate the height of the water over this reef at either high or low tide.
To overcome the sea wall, demolition teams were to be landed in the early assault waves and the Navy was requested to concentrate its fire along this wall, both the idea of blowing gaps through the obstacle. Although the exact height of the wall was not known it was believed that LVTs could drive head-on up against the wall and that assault troops would be able to easily scale the wall from the front of the LVT. Wooden ladders were constructed, however, and fastened on the forward end of each LVT to be used in climbing over the sea wall if necessary. No LVTs carrying assault troops were to proceed inland.
The presence of a fringing reef made it necessary that LVTs and DUKWs be used to carry all essential assault personnel and equipment ashore. With this in mind, the four assault infantry Battalions were to be landed by LVTs from LSTs. The light artillery, attached chemical mortars and high priority supply were to be landed in DUKWs. It was planned that the reserve infantry Regiment, and the reserve Battalions of the assault Regiments would have to transfer from LCVPs to LVTs to the seaward of the reef and be landed by LVTs unless high tide conditions were such that the LCVP could proceed directly across the reef up to the sea wall.
The primary mission assigned to the attached Amphibious Tank Battalion was to precede the first troop wave ashore and place direct fire on the landing beaches during the time when the LVTs would be too close to the beach to make Naval Gunfire and air bombardment safe. After the assault waves had landed, it was planned that the amphibious tanks would be utilized to furnish direct or indirect artillery support to the assault troops until the normal supporting artillery could be landed. Special prior training had been conducted to assist in the accomplishment of this latter mission. After the 383-IR (on the right) had landed and had begun its advance south along the west coast, it was planned that elements of the amphibious tank battalion move south along the reef abreast of or in front of the right flank of the 383-IR to render close fire support.
Preliminary planning concerning the employment of the attached medium tank battalion (763d Tank Battalion) was based primarily on the shipping available and the possibility of when and where tanks might be landed at the target. Only two LSDs were assigned to the Division, and since it was desired that one medium tank company land with and support each assault Regiment, these Companies were each embarked on an LSD. The third medium tank Company was embarked on an LST. Since it was possible to load light tanks on transports, and the probability of being able to land light tanks at the target by LCMs seemed very good, this Company (Dog) was spread-loaded on several transports and attached to the 381-IR to be employed on the left flank of the Division where the terrain favored the employment of light tanks. By spread-loading this Company on several transports, the number of tanks loaded in any one hold was thereby reduced so that the time required for boating the entire Company at the target was kept to a minimum, permitting the tanks to be landed with the assault waves.
H-hour was tentatively set for 0830, and high tide on the day of landing was approximately 0900. This meant that the best possible chance of floating tanks across the reef in LCMs would be within one hour after H-hour. For this reason it was planned to schedule the landing of the two medium tank Companies embarked in an LSD, and the light tank Company embarked in transports, as soon as possible behind the assault Battalions. This scheduled time of landing varied slightly on each beach, but generally, all three Companies were to be landed by H plus 60 minutes. Demolition teams were landed in the third assault wave with the primary mission of blowing gaps in the sea wall and preparing exits from the beaches prior to H plus 60 minutes so that the tanks would be able to proceed inland after landing.
4.2″ Chemical, Mortars
A.4.2″ Chemical Mortar Battalion (less one company) was attached to the Division for the operation and, in turn, one Company was attached to each assault Regiment. It was originally planned that these mortars would be loaded in DUKWs (12 DUKWs per mortar Company) and these DUKWs, in turn, loaded on the sun deck of certain assault LSTs which were equipped with ramp. Permission was later received from the Navy, however, to load these DUKWs into LCMs aboard the transports. This method of loading provided considerable additional space in the LSTs for essential items of transportation which would otherwise have had to be left behind. Upon arrival at the target area these pre-loaded DUKWs were immediately hoisted into the water, guided to the line of departure and landed as directed by the Regimental commander concerned.
Final Order Issued
The completed field, order for the Okinawa landing was issued on March 5 at a meeting of all unit commanders. At 1400 on March 25, after the completion of the landing exercises, the Division Commander held a final conference with all unit commanders to cover all last-minute changes, and to go over again the details of the operational plan.
Because of the lack of an early Signal Plan from higher headquarters, little planning was possible. Accurate communication data arrived so late that the Division SOI (Signal Operation Instructions) could not be completed until after the troops had started to embark. Information that the ‘Shackle’ code, used for enciphering numerals and for authentication, had been changed reached the Division at 1100 the day before the assault troops sailed and it was impossible to make distribution of the new code.
Information and Education
Upon receipt of knowledge of orders of the impending operation the Information-Education Office immediately began to assemble materials and make plans for a shipboard orientation program. Knowledge of the general type materials to be distributed from higher echelons was gained from those echelons and supplementary materials were prepared and reproduced to such extent as was possible in the time given. Information-Education Officers were appointed for each ship which was to carry troops of the unit and each officer selected was briefed on the mission of the Information-Education Program in two meetings with the Division Information-Education Officer. Time was allowed these officers to find and select proper personnel to staff newspapers aboard ships.
Publications which were made available and furnished to the command with indication of the source other than those from the base Command follows :
1 – Mansei Shoto, distributed on basis of 1 per 10 men.
2 – Military Government, mimeographed reference material.
3 – Our Power, this headquarters, 1 per 5 men.
4 – Deadeye Dispatch Photographic Supplement, this headquarters, lithographed new photos, 2 issues, 6000 copies.
5 – Features of the Deadeye Dispatch, this headquarters, regular weekly publication, 2 issues, 6000 copies.
6 – The Jap Soldier.
7 – Japan’s Military Masters.
8 – Guide to Western Pacific.
9 – Fighting facts : The Home front, Divided We Fall, Our Soviet Ally, Postwar Jobs, What do you know about the Navy?, Our Future in Asia, Air Force.
10 – Castaway’s Baedeker to the South Seas.
11 – Maps : Philippine Island, Target Tokyo, Germany, the Far East, the Ryukyus (Tactical Maps).
12 – Booklet on Diseases of Target Area, this headquarters, 1 per 10 men.
These materials were broken down and distributed on the basis of the number of ships in the convoy (forty-six) rather than by units, and distributed to ship’s commanders prior to embarkation.
Movement to and Arrival at Okinawa
The bulk of the Division embarked on March 13 prior to the rehearsal, and the remainder of the Division embarked on March 24 for the Okinawa operation. The convoy of LSTs sailed from theb Leyte Gulf on March 25 and the convoy of transports and command ships sailed on March 27, all bound for Okinawa. The voyage was particularly uneventful with the absence of any enemy interference, and at daylight on Easter morning, April 1, the assault forces sailed up to the landing beaches without a single mishap. The voyage was a relatively short one, seven days for LSTs and five days for APAs, but a detailed training and orientation program was put into effect during this period. Daily physical training was conducted. A complete orientation as to the tactical plan, the terrain, and habits of the people to be encountered on Okinawa, was presented to every man.
Target Information program
When the Division sailed from Leyte the target information program was instituted, with an introduction being made by the broadcast of the transcribed address by Lt Gen Simon B. Buckner, 10-A Commander. Such broadcasting was done over available public address systems, intra-ship communications systems and, when the former were not available, over electric phonographs. The orientation program was climaxed on the eve of the landing, March 31, by a final briefing at which time a message from the Division Commander, Maj Gen J. L. Bradley, was read to all troops.
The newspaper of the Division was coordinated with Navy news sheets and since there is no corresponding officer to the Information-Education Officer in the Navy, arrangements were made by the ship’s troop commanders either for joint publication of newspapers or for the publication of a paper where the ship did not normally do so. In most cases it was necessary for supplies of paper, ink, staples, and stencils to be carried aboard ship for the use of personnel designated to produce the work. During the rehearsal period editorial matter and Information-Education releases were made to the various ships in order to provide continuity in the thought of the command on pertinent subjects.
Maps provided for general orientation as to the area of the Ryukyus, their relationship to tho Japanese mainland, China and to the Philippines and Formosa were inadequate for complete visual aids sets for each ship in the movement to tho target. Difficulties of coordination with Navy authorities in connection with the use of facilities and supplies could be recently diminished if Information-Education missions were discussed with authorities of the Navy and some directive included in Naval orders concerning the matter. Specifically the items which would be helpful concern :
1. Use of public address or intra-ship communications systems.
2. Use of reproduction equipment and organization of joint Army-Navy newspaper staff.
3. Need for availability of mimeograph paper, stencil and ink supply.
From its initial assault landing near Sunabe, Okinawa, April 1 1945, to the final destruction of all enemy resistance at the southern end of Okinawa near Mkabe on June 30, the 96-ID engaged in the heaviest and most prolonged fighting and against probably the best-prepared and trained enemy troops to be encountered so far in the Pacific Theater. A story of the Division’s action during this period logically falls into six distinct phases. To permit further study, the action which took place in each of these phases is described separately in the six parts of this chapter, each with accompanying maps and photographs. For a more comprehensive study of the Okinawa action it is suggested that the parts of this narrative be studied in conjunction with corresponding parts of the Narrative of the Japanese Action.
Part 1 The Landing and Advance to Kakazu Ridge, April 1-16, describes the action of the Division from its initial landing near Sunabe, through several days of relatively unopposed advances, then against steadily increasing enemy resistance until its advance was finally stopped by the enemy’s superior defensive position on Kakazu Ridge.
Part 2 Assault of Tanabaru and the Maeda Escarpments, April 17-30, narrates the operations necessary to overcome two successive rock escarpments which the enemy had cleverly defended. The Tanabaru Escarpment was an extension to the east of Kakazu Ridge and was the central strong point to the enemy’s first defense line. When this line was finally broken, the Division pushed on to assault the Maeda Escarpment, a part of the enemy’s expertly-prepared Shuri defenses. The Division reached the top of this escarpment, but before all enemy resistance was reduced along the south slopes, it was relieved by the 77th Infantry Division.
Part 3 Assault of the Conical – Oboe Hills Area, May 1-31 May, describes the repeated heavy assaults, hand-grenade battles, and the frequent enemy counter attacks which occurred during the slow but eventual destruction of the enemy’s Shuri defense line northwest of Yonabaru. The Division was removed from the line on April 30 and until May 9 engaged in the reception and training of replacements. On May 9 the 96-ID began the relief of the 7-ID in the line near Kochi. During the twenty days which followed, assault elements steadily pounded away at the Conical Hill – Oboe Hill defenses until May 30 when these defenses were finally broken.
Part 4 Pursuit of a Retreating enemy, June 1-9, depicts the brief period of rapid advances against only delaying enemy opposition until the Japs’ final defensive line along the Yuza – Yaeju Escarpment had been uncovered. Heavy rains continued throughout this period and consequently nearly all roads were out, supply difficulties were prevalent and tanks and other supporting weapons could not be moved forward with the rapidly advancing infantry.
Part 5 Reduction of Last Enemy Defense Line, June 10-22, includes the operations of the 96-ID in scaling its third precipitous escarpment, in breaking through the Japs’ final line of defense on Okinawa, and the drive on south to Makabe to eliminate the last organized pockets of enemy resistance. During this brief period more Japs were killed than during any other phase of the operation, and as many as 1823 Japs were killed in one 24-hour period.
Part 6 Mop-Up Operations, June 23-30, covers the final phase of the Division’s action against the enemy on Okinawa. After all organized resistance had been overcome in the Medeera area, assault units were turned around and a coordinated sweep made back to the north toward Yonabaru to seek out and destroy all enemy stragglers who had succeeded in infiltrating into the rear areas.
April 1 – Storm Ashore Without Opposition
The sun climbed lazily over the rim of the ocean on Easter morning, April 1 1945 (L-Day) and disclosed the target under a cloudless sky. All plans had been completed to the last detail, all troops had been briefed, and H-Hour was set at 0830 for the second assault landing by veteran ‘Deadeyes’ of the 96-ID. This time the target was Okinawa, an enemy fortress only 350 miles from the Japanese home island of Kyushu. The rumble of supporting Naval Gunfire and Air bombardment grew more distinct as our naval Task Group arrived, without incident, in the Transport Area. All LST’s arrived in their respective areas at 0705 and proceeded to launch LVT’s according to plan. By 0759 the first wave had been discharged at the line of departure for White and Brown Beaches followed by succeeding waves on schedule. LCI rocket, 40-MM and 4.2″ mortar boats, close-in shore, gave maximum fire support for the assault troops until the first wave was well up on the reef, which extended some 500 yards out from the seawall. Amphibious tanks then opened fire on the landing beaches and proceeded inland providing direct fire support for the infantry.
At 0830, four assault Battalions Landing Teams stormed ashore across the 96-ID beaches and scaled the ten-foot seawall against no enemy opposition. Amphibious tanks, land tanks and 4.2″ chemical mortars pre-loaded in DUKW’s, rolled inland closely following the assault waves through holes previously blasted in the seawall by Naval Gunfire. Additional gaps were blasted in the seawall by demolition teams which landed with the first waves, and by 1800 the assault Battalion, 3/383, 1/383, 1/381 and 3/381, from right to left, had advanced inland some 3000 yards to easily secure the landing beaches.
The rapidity and ease with which the beaches were secured was the antithesis of what had been expected. Full advantage was taken of the light opposition, however, and by 1400 all three Infantry Regiments and the bulk of the tanks, artillery (except for the 363-FAB 155-MM HOW) and Engineers were ashore. Practically no difficulty was encountered in landing across the wide reef. Brown beaches, however, proved unsuitable initially for the landing of small boats and tanks due to the depth of the water over the reef and its high outer rim.
The 381-IR advanced rapidly inland against negligible opposition, and by 0937 the two assault Battalions had contacted each other approximately 300 yards from the beach. Both Battalions then drove rapidly inland against very light enemy resistance. The 3/381, on the left, maintained contact with 2/32 (7-ID) on its left, and by the end of the day had advanced east approximately 3000 yards. The 1/381, on the right, advanced unopposed and at 1700 had seized the high ground at 8485-XSOJ. The 2/381, in Regimental reserve, landed on White Beach 3 at 1120 and proceeded to an assembly area at 8385-BC. On the Division right, the 3/383 pushed rapidly south down the coastal highway meeting very little enemy resistance. The Battalion passed through KUE and by 0935 was 200 yards south of this town. At 1220 they crossed the river just north of Chatan securing the bridge at 8383-S intact. The Battalion dug in for the night when it reached the second bridge at 8381-G2 at 1730. This bridge had been destroyed; however, the railroad bridge nearby was passable to foot troops. The 1/383 landed on Brown Beach 3 at 0834 and moved swiftly southeast to the high ground overlooking the western coastal road. After moving through the eastern edge of Kue, they turned east and by 1745 had advanced to 8484-XY – 8584-PL. The 2/383 initially in Regimental reserve, landed on Brown Beach 4 and was committed to cover the interval between the 1st and 3d Battalions. This Battalion seized the town of Sukiran and finally took up a position astride the road at 8482-SX and 8481-DIN by 1730.
The 382-IR (Corps Reserve) landed on Brown Beaches 2 and 3 at 1345, except for the 3/382, and moved inland to assembly area at 8484-NXW, 8483-C, 8383-E. The 3/382 landed on White Beach 2 and proceeded to an assembly area at 8286-Y. At 1800, this Battalion was released to Division control and designated as Division reserve. By 1600, the three light FABs (361-FAB, 362-FAB and 921-FAB) were ashore and in position to fire. The 363-FAB (155-MM HOW) and Div Artillery Hq remained afloat. The Division Artillery air observers, in Navy planes based on carriers, flew search missions and supported the advancing infantry, reporting any activity. The 780-ATB (Amphibious Tank Bn) led the assault waves ashore on all beaches. Able and Baker Cos landed on White Beaches at 0830 while Charlie and Dog Cos landed on Brown Beaches at 0834. After securing beach exits for the infantry, they operated as supporting artillery with the normal artillery forward observers adjusting their fire. At 1700, 6 LVT’s and 6 LVTA’s established an offshore patrol on the reef, as directed by the Commanding General XXIV Corps, to warn of and delay any counter landing the Japs might attempt.
Land tanks of the 763-TB were attached to and landed with the assault waves of the infantry. Dog Co (light) and Baker Co (medium), attached to the 381-IR, landed on White Beaches 1 and 2 at 1010. Charlie Co (medium), attached to 383-IR, landed on Brown Beach 3 at 1230. All of these Cos were landed from LCM’s and experienced no difficulty in crossing the wide reef. Because of the light resistance encountered, however, Baker Co was the only company committed to action on L-Day. Able Co did not land until April 3 since it was embarked on an LST and could not be landed until beaching areas were found and prepared for LST’s. Prearranged and general support combat air missions were flown throughout the day. At 1430, the 3/383-IR requested an air strike on entrenched enemy south along the west coast highway. This mission was immediately flown and the enemy was successfully bombed and strafed. The beachhead of an average depth of 3000 yards had been established by 1800 when both assault regiments dug in for the night. The 383-IR had pushed two Battalions to the ‘L-3 line’ and secured two vital river crossings along the west coast highway. The gaps between front line units were covered by patrols.
(Above) Sea Wall : The second wave of the 3/383-IR, climb over the sea wall on Brown Beach north of Kue, Okinawa, April 1 1945. Note the height of the sea wall above the LVT’s. (Bellow) Troops Storm Ashore : Closeup of the first troop wave, 3/383-IR, infantry storming ashore on Brown Beach 4. Note the wooden ladder against the sea wall. These ladders were carried ashore across the front of the leading LVT’s.
Despite the diffic1uties inherent in a reef crossing, the ship-to-shore movement was carried out rapidly in an extremely satisfactory manner. The movement of the troops and supplies was materially aided by the fact that not a single casualty had to be evacuated from the beaches. The Assistant Division Commander and advance Division CP was set up on shore at 8285-0 by 1230. Although early indications were that unloading would have to be speed up considerably due to the threat of bad weather, the beach and shore party units were ordered to secure for the night at 2000. Enemy ground activity during the night was negligible but ships in the Transport Area were attacked by planes of the Jap Kamikaze Special Attack Force at dusk and again at dawn on L-1 Day. No damage was inflicted on any of the Division shipping.
April 2 – Advance Rapidly Against Scattered Japs
Both the 381-IR and the 383-IR resumed their advance inland at 0800. The beachhead of 3000 yards established on L-Day was extended to 6000 yards except for the salient at 8684 (Map 3). Terrain proved to be the worst obstacle; however, mine fields along the road hampered vehicular movement and increased enemy resistance was encountered.
The 3/381-IR advanced rapidly on the Division left flank for 4000 yards. The 1/381-IR moved slowly forward against moderate resistance throughout the day. At 1600 this battalion encountered a strong, well-prepared enemy position in the vicinity of Momobaru-8504-0T. The fire fight which ensued lasted until darkness and the battalion remained in contact with the enemy in front of its position. The 2/381-IR, in Regimental Reserve during the day, was moved to Yamaji, 8684, prior to darkness when it was discovered that the 1/381-IR would be unable to reach the L-3 line. The 2/383-IR, supported by a platoon of medium tanks from Charlie 763-TB, met strong enemy resistance during their advance to the Road Junction at 8581-N. An enemy road block at 8481-E was broken by 1100 with the support of tanks. The battalion continued to advance slowly east and then swung southwest taking up a position just north of Futena at 1600. The 2/383-IR killed 214 Japs in this action. The 3/383-IR moved forward approximately 200 yards where they were ordered to consolidate the battalion positions south of the river crossed on the previous day. The battalion conducted vigorous patrolling across the L-10 line to the vicinity of Chiyunna-8380. The advance of the 1/383-IR was hampered by a precipitous draw at 8584-PW. Attempting to skirt this obstacle by moving to the east, assault elements encountered a relatively small but well prepared enemy position to the northeast at 8584-T, after an advance of 400 yards, which had also stopped the 1/381-IR.
At 1740 the 382-IR (less the 3d Bn) was released to 96-ID and the 3/382-IR then reverted to Corps Reserve. The 780-ATB continued to render close support to the infantry in conjunction with the three light artillery battalions. At 1200 the Division CP opened ashore and the Commanding General 96-ID, with his party came ashore and assumed command at 1500. One L-5 liaison plane operated from Keyse Shina cub strip and two crated L-4′ s were landed and being assembled. Baker and Charlie Cos 88th Chemical Weapons Battalion (4.2 Mortars) which landed on L-Day closely supported tho 382 and 383-IRs respectively.
April 3 – Corps Beachheads Line Secure
The 3/381-IR on the Regimental left flank moved south 3500 yards to HILL 165 at 8880, in conjunction with the 1/32-IR (7-ID) on its left. The 1/381-IR moved east then south through Kishaba to Unjo-8781, against no organized resistance. The 2d Bn moved down the Yamaji-8685 – Kisaala-8782 Road without opposition to the hill mass south of Atanniya where the relief by the 184-IR (7-ID) began. The 382-IR moved south at 0800 with the 1st and 2d Battalions abreast, passing through Yaji-8683, Sukira-8582 and the western part of Atanniya-8681. At the end of the day, they dug in on a line 200 yards north of Nodake-8580 in contact with a small enemy force. The 3/382-IR was released to Division control and moved to an assembly area at Sukira. The 2/383-IR and the 3/383-IR moved south 1000 yards seizing Isa-8280, Chiyunna-8380 and Futema-8481 by noon. The 1st Battalion advanced at 0730 to the high ground southwest of Yaji and was relieved by elements of 382-IR at 1500. The Battalion then moved to an assembly area 400 yards northeast of Chiyunna in Regimental reserve. One platoon of 96-CRT (Cav Recon Troop) passed through the front lines of the 383-IR during the afternoon and reconnoitered the west coastal road (Route 1) as far south as Mashiki-8178-G, without meeting any enemy resistance.
The Division, advancing 2000 yards on the left, 4000 yards in the center and 3000 yards on the right flank, firmly established its beachhead and seized the remaining commanding terrain north of the L-10 line. In conjunction with 7-ID on its left flank, the 96-ID completed the whee1 to the right, putting its units in position for a coordinated drive directly south. At 1400, the 184/7-ID started moving in behind the 301-IR and were in the process of passing through their front lines at the close of the day. The Division Artillery now had four L-4’s and one L-5 liaison plane operating from the cub strip north of Fuenzen-8286-ST.
Field Order # 46, HQ XXIV Corps, April 3, ordered the Division to :
(a). Continue its attack to tho south in its new zone of action; (b). Seize the Urasoe Mura-807S hill mass within its zone: (c.) Hold one infantry battalion in division reserve to be committed only on authority of the Corps Commander; (d). Maintain contact with the 7-ID on its left (east) flank; (e). Time of the attack, April 4, 0800; (f). Line of Departure will be the Front lines as of 1800, April 3.
Field order # 14 (Headquarters 96-ID) ordered the 383-IR on the right to move southwest in its new zone and seize its portion of the Div objective; the 382-IR on the left to seize that portion of Div objective and maintain contact with the 7-ID on tho east flank, and the 381-IR (reserve), after being relieved east of the new Division boundary by elements of the 7-ID, to assemble, report location and be prepared to move to assembly position in the vicinity of Futema.
April 4 – Begin New Drive South
At 0300, the 96-ID renewed its attack south with the 383-IR on the right the 382-IR on the left in new zones of action. At 0900, a patrol from the 1/184-IR contacted the 1/382-IR southeast of Nodake-8680-U. At 1030, the 1/382 and the 2/382 Battalion, were held up on a line from 8479-C to 8579-KM by flanking machine gun fire from the east and from an estimated Company of Japs dug in at 8378-E. By 1430 the position at 8378-E was reduced and the remaining enemy withdrew to the south. 148 Japs were killed in this action. The advance continued until 1600 when the Regiment again ran into a reinforced Jap Company. At this time, the 1/382 was in position at 8377-HS approximately 700 yards east along the road from Ginowan. The 2/382 had cleaned up Kamiyama-8378-C and were astride the road 200 yards south of this town. Three tanks of Able 763-TB, were disabled at 1445 in this action.
A platoon of 96-CRT (Recon) made a reconnaissance of Highway 1 south of 383-IR advance. Two half-tracks and one jeep were destroyed and one armored car isolated at 8078-K. The 3/383-IR advanced rapidly south astride Highway 1 through Oyama 8179-W and Mashiki toward Uchitomart 7978-T. They were stopped 400 yards north of Uchitomart at 1030 by strong heavy machine gun, mortar and artillery fire from enemy positions on the high ground south of Machinato 7877 – 7977 – 7976, and from positions north of Kakazu 8077 – 8177. At 1400, two tanks from Charlie 763-TB, were hit by 75-MM fire at 9078-P. The 3/383-IR was still in this position under fire at 1600 although our artillery and Naval Gunfire pounded the enemy positions throughout the remainder of the day. By evening this Battalion had knocked out 3 37-MM guns, two 75-MM HOWs, 6 MGs, 10 pillboxes and had killed 135 Japs. The 2/383-IR advanced initially against light opposition until 0930 when it was held up east of Chiyunna by heavy machine gun fire from enemy pillboxes at 8479-0. At 1155, this Battalion was again held up by 2 MGs in caves On the south side of the tank ditch east of Oyama. They remained there until the 2/382-IR was able to draw abreast and then continued south toward the enemy positions holding up 3/383-IR.
The 381-IR remained in their April 3 positions until the 184/7-ID had passed through. When the situation permitted, the 381-IR assembled as the Division Reserve at 8481-W southeast of Futema. The Regiment closed in this area at 1420. The 321-ECB (Engineer) up to this time had conducted road construction and improvement on Highway #1 as far south as 8381-G and by April 5 had completed the construction of a Bailey bridge over the river at this point. Water points were now in operation at 8383-5 and 8280-0.
Men of the 381-IR (96-ID) fight their way up Big Apple Ridge in southern Okinawa. (Probably June 1945)(Note: Nambu Holster with a Nambu Pistol in it; the Colored Smoke M-16 Hand Grenade and the Assault Demolition Kit (Doc Snafu)
April 5 – Resistance Stiffens
Both, the 382 and 383-IRs advances during the day were made against well prepared positions. The terrain through which these Regiments were fighting entirely favored the enemy. The 1/382 on the left advanced 400 yards and the 2/382 advanced 900 yards on the Regimental right against well prepared enemy positions on a ridge to the southwestern edge of Ginowan. This ridge was covered by barbed wire, enemy machine guns, pillboxes and single-horn anti boat mines. The 1/382 moved forward 400 yards on the Regimental left against rein forced enemy pillboxes, and shortly after noon, broke up a counter attack supported by tanks and artillery fire. Contact was maintained between the 1/302 and the 1/184 by means of liaison officers with radio. The 3/3132 was moved to a position at 8978-W to the rear of the 1/382 to protect the latter’s left flank. Intermittent artillery and mortar fire covered the Regimental area throughout the day and 174 Japs were killed by the Regiment during this day’s action.
The 3/383 consolidated its previous day’s positions and probed hard into the Jap defenses to the south. The 2/383 on Regiment’s east flank moved forward 400 yards. It gained this ground through hard fought small unit engagements against Japs who were in groups of well planned defensive positions on the north-south ridge on their east flank. The enemy defended these positions by reverse slope mortar fire. At 1425, indications were that a counter attack was forming between the 382 and the 383-IRs. However, intense mortar and artillery fire prevented the counter attack from no materializing. The 763-TB, in support of the 382 and the 383-IRs, lost three medium and one light tank in the doy’s battle. One medium tank was lost to an enemy mine; the others were knocked out by eneny AT guns. The 96-ID CP moved to a new location situated at Futema 8581-V during the morning.
April 6 – Enemy Strong Points Crumble
After two air strikes at approximately 0800, the Division continued its advance. The two interior assault Battalions, the 2/382 and the 2/383, pushed forward against very strong resistance from extremely well prepared enemy positions southwest of Ginowan-Mura while the two flank assault Battalions, the 1/382 and the 3/383, afforded the Division advance support by fire and improved their present positions to protect the exposed flanks of the 96-ID. The 1/382 maintained their previous front line during the day and supported the Division’s advance by fire, protecting the exposed left flank of the Division. This Battalion killed many Japs along the east-west ridge 200 yards east of Kaniku due to well observed fire of all types including two air strikes.
The attack of the 2/382 resulted in a gain of 500 yards. This advance was opposed by exceptionally heavy MGs, mortar and artillery fire, regularly placed mines, anti-tank ditches, barbed wire and pillboxes which protected the entrances of deep caves. The enerny occupied good Observation Posts and were able to deliver accurate fire from strong positions on a hill at 8277-L. By 1600 this hill had been taken and front lines consolidated although the Battalion was still receiving heavy mortar and artillery fire. Then 3/382 remained in their previous position on the Division’s left flank covering the gap between the 1/382-IR and the 1/184-IR. At 0800, after an air strike on the ridge at 8178-RW, the 2/383 launched an attack and moved swiftly forward toward this ridge. It was not until 0900 that the enemy discovered our advance but from this time on the Battalion was under almost continuous artillery and mortar fire. By 1330, Fox-383 had gained the west slopes of this hill and Easy-383 was immediately to the north of it. The position covered an estimated 1500 yards frontage with an anti-tank ditch approxinately 12 feet wide and 10 feet deep running across its entire front and with a low wire entanglement 1 foot high running parallel to the ditch on the enemy side. Both Companies then began their slow advance toward this position and by 1600 had cut off the strong point and were mopping up. Approximately 170 Japs were killed in taking the hill.
The 3/383 in their previous day’s position began to receive machine gun fire at 1000 from a small ridge to their rear along the sea wall. Item-383 was sent out and had knocked out this resistance by 1150. The 1/383 moved into the gap just to the rear of and between the 2/383 and the 3/383. Former gaps in the front line were consolidated for a strong continuous defense line across the entire Division zone.
April 7 – Main Defenses Reached
During the night of April 6-7, many infiltration attempts were made along the entire Division front. 24 Japs were killed by the 383-IR. The Regiment repulsed six attempts at infiltration, resulting in 67 Japs killed. The Artillery furnished heavy and effective support for the infantry as well as many harassing fires throughout the night. On April 7, ground resistance was not as stiff as previously encountered but mortar, artillery and long-range machine gun fire was quite heavy. The 1/382 jumped off at 1000 and by 1400 had moved 300 yards forward. Due to an exposed left flank and enemy artillery and mortar fire, this Battalion was forced to remain in a position approximately 400 yards east of Kaniku.
By 1500, the 3/184 (7-ID) was abreast of and tied in with the 1/382. The 2/382 jumped off at 1015 and advanced approximately 200 yards on the right and 100 yards on the left encountering a great number of mines and heavy enemy artillery fire. This advance was made across very open ground which was swept by enemy machine gun fire from both flanks of the Battalion. By 1300 the Battalion had advanced to positions 300 yards north of Kaniku where it was ordered to remain in order to coordinate its attack with that of the 1/383 and also to permit mopping up of large numbers of caves and pillboxes previously by-passed. 3/382 maintained contact with 184/7-ID by means of small patrols. From 1120 to 1130, a Naval Gunfire and artillery preparation was placed on the area to the immediate front of 1/383 which had passed through the 2/383, the latter remaining in its position as Regimental Reserve. At 1200 the 1/383, supported by the 361, the 921, the 363 and the 198-FABs (the 198-FAB being in general support of the 99-ID), began its advance meeting strong resistance. Three air strikes were flown in coordination with this attack with excellent results, knocking out three enemy weapons emplacements while damaging other defensive positions. Throughout the afternoon the Battalion received supporting fire from the battleship New York and by 1600 had advanced 1000 yards to a position 500 yards north of Kakazu. The 3/383 remained in the vicinity of Uchitomari to prevent any possible enemy flanking movenent in the vicinity of Machinato.
The use of armor became extremely limited due to the nature of the terrain, the presence of many enemy land mines and extremely well emplaced 75-MM dual-purpose guns and 47-MM anti-tank guns. Able Co 763-TB, in support of the 382-IR, had one tank disabled by an enemy land mine and another by enemy gunfire. One assault gun of Bake Co 763-TB, in support of the 383-IR, was completely destroyed by enemy gunfiro. Baker and Charlie Cos 88-CWB (Chemical), gave excellent support and fired WP (White Phosphorus) for air strikes, shelled enemy troops, caused incendiary fires in the villages, fired numorous concentrations on enemy mortar positions, pillboxes and trenches. They also screened the movement of friendly troops.
April 8 – Advances Result in High Casualties
During the night of April 7-8 the 382-IR sustained numerous casualties from heavy enemy artillery fire ranging from 75-MM to 150-MM. At 0700, the Regiment jumped off continuing systematic destruction of mutually supporting enemy pillboxes and entrenchments. The 1/382 advanced 100 yards before encountering enfilade fire from their left exposed flank which pinned the Battalion dawn. While in this position, the Battalion received intense artillery and anti-tank fire from a ridge situated 500 yards south of Nishibaru. An air strike was ordered to neutralize the fire from this ridge. After the strike, the Battalion resumed the advance taking high casualties from fire coming from the ridges to their left flank. At 1500, the Battalion had advanced a total of 300 yards gaining a key position on the high ground 400 yards east of Kaniku.
The Battalion consolidated in this position so that the enemy fire from the opposed left flank would not continue to inflict casualties, until the unit on their left could come abreast. The 2/382 jumped off in the attach at 0700 and coordinated its advance with the 1/383 throughout the day and gained 800 yards to positions approximately 200 yards north of Nishibaru. During its entire advance the Battalion received heavy artillery and mortar bombardment. The 3/382 jumped off at 0730 and by 1030 had occupied a ridge at 8477-KL on the Regimental left flank. The Battalion maintained visual and patrol contact with the 3/184.
At 0800, the 1/383, coordinating with the 2/382, again resumed its attack to the south. The advance of this Battalion was held up by heavy automatic weapons, mortar and artillery fire from strong enemy emplacements on the ridge which continued throughout the day preventing any movement by this Battalion. The 2/383 was subjected to artillery fire during the night of April 7-8 and throughout the day. During the day, in addition to the artillery fire, this Battalion also received 320-MM spigot mortar fire. The 3/383 was relieved by the 3/381 from a position which it held the previous night south of Mashiki. After being relieved, the 3/383 swung in on the right flank of the Regimental front, advanced south through the eastern part of Uchitomari some 1200 yards and tied in with the 1/383 on its left flank and the 1/381 on its right flank. The enemy were dug in in caves and pillboxes which made this advance costly to our forces.
The 3/381 relieved the 3/383 and began its advance on Uchitomari at 1130. The town was taken at 1400 after overcoming stubborn enemy resistance. The Battalion advanced approximately 1200 yards. The 1/381 remained in its previous position while the 2/381 moved to an assembly area on the eastern edge of Mashiki.
April 9 – Japs Repulse the Kakazu Ridge Attack
Heavy enemy artillery fire fell in the Regimental zones throughout the night of April 8-9. No artillery preparation was fired for the April 9 attack in order to enable the Regiments to capitalize on the element of surprise and cover of darkness. The 1/383 began it’s attack on the Kakazu Ridge at 0500 and was on its objective 8077-XL – 8076-E2 by 0615. At this time the Japs opened up with a hail of artillery and heavy mortar fire which swept the entire Regimental front. Rear units were pinned down by this fire preventing full exploitation and integration of the Battalion’s loosely-held forward position. The 3/383 also jumped off at 0500 and Love Co promptly reached its objective. This Company, with bayonets fixed, had boldly charged the heavily defended position on the Kakazy Ridge and now occupied the high ground at 8077-L3 and 8077-Q2 overlooking the main enemy strong points along the whole ridge. The occupation of this ground was of the utmost importance to the entire Regiment. However, other elements of the 3/383 were pinned dowm when the Japs finally realized that Love 383 was on the ridge.
The enemy fire was directed from Observation Post situated atop the jagged crags which looked down on them. A large enemy force, supported by heavy mortar and massed artillery fire made at least three vicious counter attacks against elements of the 1st and the 3d Battalions. Although both Battalions were weakened by numerous casualties, they tenaciously and stubbornly defended the bitterly-contested ground repulsing each attack. One counter attack was repulsed during the morning, and during the afternoon the Japs launched counter attacks almost continuously with an estimated Company in desperate attempts to regain the position they had lost. The remaining units of both the 1/383 and the 3/383, which were still on Kakazu Ridge, finally ran out of ammunition. Casualties had been extremely high : 23 KIA, 156 WIA and 47 MIA. The constant Jap fire and frequent counter attacks made it impossible to reinforce those front line units. By 1630, it was obvious that further assault that day was futile and all units were moved back to positions occupied the previous night. Love 383 alone had killed 160 Japs. The 3/381 supported by fire the assault of the 383-IR on the latter’s right flank.
The 1/382 had been ordered to advance, improve and consolidate on more favorable terrain to their front and remain in this position until the 3/184 (7-ID) could come abreast of them. However, fire from the front and left flank continued to be extremely heavy and any movement by this Battalion was immediately observed and brought under fire by the Japs positioned on the ridge to the front and left flank. The 2/382 on the Regimental right flank coordinated its attack with the 1/383. The flank protection that this Battalion could offer the 383-IR proved to be of no avail because of the well prepared inner positions to the immediate front of the latter. As a result, the 2d Battalion consolidated in a position that physically joined with the 1/383. The 1/382 moved up at 0800 to protect the left flank of the 1st Battalion. At 1300, the remainder of the 3d Battalion jumped off from a rear position and succeeded in taking out a pocket of resistance on a ridge slightly to the rear left of this Regiment’s front lines. (Map 5)
From April 7 to April 9, the Infantry units of the Division suffered heavy casualties from enemy artillery and mortar fire. Based on rifle and heavy weapons Co strength, the effectiveness of the 381-IR was 82%; the 382-IR 61% and the 383-IR only 45%. Casualties in 1/383 were particularly heavy. At thi£ time the Battalion had only 10 officers and 190 enlisted men remaining in its four rifle and heavy weapons Cos. The 363-FAB (155-MM HOW) received heavy counter battery fire throughout the morning. One Gun was damaged. During the day, the Division Artillery was reinforced by the 2nd and the 3rd Marine Artillery Battalions (11th Marine Artillery Regiment)(1st Marine Division).
April 10 – Strong Assault Launched on Kakazu
On April 9 1945, Field Order # 16 (HQ6th Infantry Division directed an attack against the enemy’s position on the Kakazu Ridge with 301-OR on the right, the 383-IR in the center and the 382-IR on the left. This attack was preceded by intense bombardment by all Division Artillery and attached artillery Battalions from 0630 until 0700 on previously located enemy positions. Naval Gunfire and support from the 420-FAG (Group) was placed on the enemy rear positions from 0530 to 1130. Three squadrons of Navy fighters were to be on call for missions of opportunity but due to bad weather, these squadrons were not available. As a result of this attack, an average gain of 300 yards had been made along the entire Division front (Maps 3, 4, 5).
At 0645, the 3/382 jumped off. At 0700 the 1/382 and the 2/382 jumped off. Subsequently the Regiment met the bitterest resistance they had yet encountered. The 3/382, supported by tanks, inched its way forward approximately 200 yards up a ridge located at 8377-XY. At 1315 the Battalion’s advance was held up by sweeping machine gun fire from their left flank. As a result of recent rains, the supporting tanks became bogged down in the mud and it was necessary to pull them back before they became stuck. The 1/382 moved southwest, approximately 400 yards east of Kaniku, along the western tip of a ridge. As they approached the south edge of this ridge, the Japs counter attacked in force from caves on their left flank. This counter attack was supported by a terrific 320-MM Spigot mortars bombardment and intense MGs fire. Although the Battaion made a desperate effort to hold on to this ground, they received extremely heavy casualties and were forced to take up a more favorable position at 8277-XY in defilade from the heavy enemy fire. The 2/382 also encountered heavy enemy opposition but succeeded in gaining and holding a position midway between Kaniku and Kakazu facing a formidable escarpment to the south. They also received heavy 320-MM Spigot mortar fire and a counter attack supported by MGs which raked their position. Some of the Battalion positions were overrun by the fierce assault, however, the men were still in their advanced position that evening although the Battalion CO was wounded in the preceding action.
At 0630, the 2/383 passed through the 1/383 and following a 30-minute artillery preparation, the 2/383, jumped off toward the Kakazu Ridge. The Battalion was stopped as soon as it jumped off but at 1200 were able to make an advance of 300 yards before they were again stopped by fire from the front and flanks. Concentrated enemy artillery fire from the south and southeast harassed the troops throughout the day and caused many casualties. The Jap artillery covered not only the front lines but also the positions of the reserve Battalions and installations around the Regimental CP. The 2/381 which had moved forward to the right flank of the 3/383, jumped off in a coordinated attack with the latter. By 0930, the 2/381 had reached the west end of the Kakazu Ridge northwest of the town. During the first phase of this attack there was a noticeable absence of eneny artillery fire. However, upon reaching the high ground at 8077-KQ, they were pinned down by intense mortar and machine gun fire. At 1350 the Battalion received a counter attack which was successfully repulsed and by 1600 were well dug in on those forward positions.
The 3/383 moved forward in contact with the 2/381 and at the end of the day had taken up a position within the new Regimental zone at 8077-S. After the attack had jumped off at 0700, the 1/381 was ordered to move up and close the gap between the 3/383 and the 2/301. During their move forward they were engaged in a continuous fire fight but were finally able to reach a position between the two previously-mentioned Battalions.
Supporting units materially assisted the infantry in there advance. The Division Artillery, with the 2/11-MAR and the 3/11-MAR (Marine Artillery) and reinforced by the 198-FAB and the 419-FAB (XXIV Corps Artillery), grouped fires in preparation for the Division attack from 0630 to 0700. Naval Gunfire gave deep support. The 763-TB was unable to fully utilize their tanks due to inclement weather and the extremely boggy condition of the terrain. Baker and Charlie 88-MCB (Chemical), fired screening smoke barrage which assisted the infantry while digging in their new positions. An average gain of 300 yards was made all along the Division front and the 2/381 reached the west end of the Kakazu Ridge as a result of tho day’s attack.
April 11 – Assaults Continue
At 0700, the 1/381 jumped off from the north slope of the ridge 300 yards north of Kakazu and advanced 100 yards to the top of this ridge with both Co’s Able and Charlie. At 0830 the front lines of the Battalion received intense artillery and mortar fire which continued throughout the day causing some 95 casualties. After reaching the top of the ridge, the Battalion turned its attack to the southeast. In desperate attempts to stop this advance, the enemy came out of his caves and entrenchment under the cover of their own mortar fire to throw hand grenades and satchel charges down the hill into our front lines.
The fighting involved hand-to-hand combat, making progress very slow and at 1600 the Battalion had finally inched itself forward approximately 300 yards (Map 4). The 2/381 remained in its previous positions and closed out caves and pillboxes by-passed during the previous day. The 2/381 and the 3/381 fired on enemy defensive positions in support of the advance of the 1/381. The 3/383 moved abreast and on the left flank of the 1/381 and advanced 100 yards when the latter turned to the southeast. The 1/383 and the 2/383 and the Battalions of the 382-IR consolidated their previous gains and mopped up the remaining pockets of resistance to their rear. Patrols were sent out to locate and report enemy positions to the front, and sniper and observation posts were established. The 106-IR (27-ID) was attached to the 96-ID as of 1200, and moved to an assembly areas north of Kamiyana as Division Reserve.
April 12 – Jap Positions Softened by Fire
The 1/381 attacked the Kakazu Ridge 300 yards to the north of Kakazu three times during the day but were unable to make any advance against the intense mortar, machine gun and rifle fire, grenades and satchel charges. The position was defended by well-constructed concrete pillboxes, some with steel sliding door, for their embrasures. The Japs had the hill covered by zeroed mortar and machine gun fire which was brought down whenever the area was smoked and during the hours of darkness. An air strike preceded the 1/381’s attack and the resulting damage included two enemy artillery pieces and one Jap truck destroyed. The 2/381 and the 3/381, supported the 1/381’s attack with 37-MM cannon, machine gun and mortar fire.
The 2nd Battalion of the 106th Infantry Regiment (27th Infantry Division) relieved the 3/381 west of Uchitomari at 1600 and the latter moved to the northeastern edge of Oyama. The 382-IR improved and consolidated positions and continued with their mopping up in the rear areas. Patrols were sent out to contact adjacent units. The 1/383 relieved 3/383 at 1400 and the 3/383, after having been relieved, took positions in an extension of the left flank of the 1/383.
The ammunition supply problem, particularly artillery ammunition, was becoming serious due to the adverse weather and the bad beach conditions. It was necessary that action against the enemy be confined to the gaining of limited objectives while this shortage existed. The general attack was to be resumed when the ammunition stocks had been replenished and an adequate reserve established. Naval air strike became more intense. The planes were able to knock out with bombs, rockets and strafing, enemy weapons emplacements on the reverse slopes which could not be reached by our artillery.
April 13 – Japs Launch Night Offensive
During the night of April 12-13, increased enemy activity in the form of an enemy counter attack and reconnaissance in force was encountered along the entire Division front. The intensity of the enemy artillery and mortar fire was greater than any received before the hours of darkness. At 0300 this fire was shifted to the Division rear areas and the Japs launched a heavy counter attack along the Kakazu Ridge against the 381 and the 383-IRs. The attack was stopped by artillery and small arms fire while Naval Gunfire illuminated the entire area. The enemy force was estimated to be one battalion reinforced. 40 Japs succeeded in infiltrating into the 381-IR lines but were killed after daylight. 317 Japs were killed as a result of this action and a total of 850 during the 24-hour period.
During the day 3/381 passed through and relieved the 2/383 in the front lines. Due to enemy machine gun and mortar fire, it was necessary to make the change by infiltration. L-382 which had been closing the gap between the 1st, 2nd, and 3/382, returned to their own perimeter to strengthen the left flank of the Regiment. Baker 383, in conjunction with the 1/381, continued to work demolition teams up the slopes of the Kakazu Ridge. By evening, the 381-IR and the 382-IR, were firmly entrenched in good positions to withstand and counter attack.
April 14-16 – Reorganize For Further Attack
During the period April 14-16, the units of the 96th Infantry Division were rearranged and reorganized in preparation of continued offensive action to the south. The 2/381-IR repulsed two enemy counter attacks, both estimated company strength, during the night of April 13-14, killing 166 Japs. The 381-IR completed the relief of the 383-IR and adjusted front line positions. The 3/381-IR, advanced 200 yards to the base of the Kakazu Ridge at 8177-V3. The 382-IR also rearranged and strengthened front line positions. The 383-IR moved by motor to new positions in the XXIV Corps Service Area and was placed in Corps Reserve with the 1/383 at 8887-Y, the 2/383 was at 8784-E, the 3/383 at 8587-C and the Regimental CP was located at 8585-C2. In the 27-ID area, the 2/106 remained in its former position and the balance of the Regiment mowed to new positions on the east edge of Oyama.
During April 15, all units continued mopping up and intensive patrol activity. Physical contact was maintained along the entire front line. Elements of the 3/106 (27-ID) relieved the 2/381 at 0930 and the latter moved to the northern edge of Ginowan. On April 16, the 105-IR (27-ID) relieved the 1/381 who moved north to a position about 400 yards southwest of Futema. Other elements of the 105-IR relieved the 3/381 which subsequently relieved the 2/382 (Map 5). During this entire three-day period, Naval Gunfire and Air Support continued to soften up enemy positions on the Ridge and the precipitous escarpment to the south of Kakazu running east and west across the island. GP 500 bombs with an 8-second delayed fuze were used in attempts to penetrate into some of the deep caves in this escarpment. Repeated attempts were made by the Japs to infiltrate small groups carrying satchel charges and grenades behind our lines but without much success. All positions in the 96-ID zone were materially strengthened to withstand enemy counter attacks until the general offensive could be resumed.
For the first three days, the 96th Infantry Division’s advance was practically uncontested. By April 3 1945, the Division had completely secured its portion of the Corps beachhead (L-10 Line). The rapidity of this accomplishment placed the Division on the L-10 Line almost seven days in advance of the time anticipated to reach it. Subsequently the 96-ID ran into some of the bitterest fighting of the entire Campaign. Beginning April 4 1945, the enemy resistance began to stiffen until April 7 when the Division ran into the first main position on the Kakazu Ridge occupied by elements of the Japs 63rd Brigade of tho 62nd Division. From this day through April 16, the battle raged for this position. The ridge vas finally taken on April 24 and 600 Japs were found dead in and around the position. The Japs used more artillery and heavy mortar fire than had ever been encountered in any previous Pacific campaign. The enemy defended every inch of ground by well-coordinated machine gun, mortar and artillery fire and systematic counter attacks. Pillboxes, cunningly concealed, of reinforced concrete like those build by the Germans in Europa, were organized in great depth on each hill mass and strategic point. They were mutually supporting and all fire was interlocking. Some of these fortifications were two or three stories in depth with tunnels connecting them.
During the fight for the Kakazu Ridge, the 96-ID completely obliterated part of tho Japs 63rd Brigade and other elements of the 62nd Division, killing 4663 of the enemy. However, in so doing the Div suffered extremely severe casualties, a ratio or approximately 2 Japs to 1 American as follows :
96/381-IR – 68 KIA, 302 WIA, 3 MIA.
96/382-IR – 97 KIA, 548 WIA, 19 MIA.
96/383-IR – 102 KIA, 551 WIA, 314 MIA.
Total : 2004
Tank Losses – 15
Damage to the enemy
Killed – 4663
Prisoners – 6
Machine Guns – 39
Mortars – 15
Tank – 1
Pillboxes – 51
Field Pieces – 9
320-MM Spigot Mortars – 1
Caves – 131
5″ Gun – 1
Love Company, 383rd Infantry Regiment, 96th infantry Division, for its outstanding performance of duty in action against the enemy in the vicinity of Kakazu and the Kakazu Ridge was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. The Citation road as follows :
This company was assigned the mission of assaulting a heavily fortified ‘T’ shaped ridge spur in the northwestern extremity of the town of Kakazu, uhich gave the enemy complete observation and flanking fire on the entire reginent. The occupation of this spur which provided observation of the main eneny strong point along the entire ridge was of vital importance to the entire command. Love Company gained complete surprise, and, with fixed bayonets, boldly and fearlessly charged the heavily defended position and attained the assigned objective. George Company, 383-IR, on the left and Item Company, 383-IR, on the right encountered withering machine gun crossfire and intense mortar and artillery barrages and were unable to take the ridge in their sectors, thus imperiling Love Company’s security. Superior enemy forces supported by heavy mortars and nassed artillery launched four powerful and determined counter attacks. Love Company, although weakened by severe losses, displayed unexcelled courage and prowess in arms by gallantly holding its objective through the grimly raging battle until ultimately the eneny was repulsed. Love Company held this strategic position all day until forced to withdraw at 1630 because of severe flanking fire and a critical shortage of ammunition. This Company killed 160 of the enemy including one colonel and one major, and destroyed a 320-MM Spigot mortar which had been harassing the Regiment. Love Company’s losses included ten killed in action, five missing in action and thirty wounded.
The example of this Company’s action was typical of the intense fighting that took place during this part of the operation.
For all purposes :
European Center of Military History
Gunter ‘Doc Snafu’ Gillot
rue des Thiers 8
Email : gunter [at] eucmh.be
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(NB : Published for Good – March 2019)