Okinawa..the last days

Discussions on WW2 in the Pacific and the Sino-Japanese War.
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megjur
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Okinawa..the last days

Post by megjur » 09 Mar 2003 03:17

After the Shuri line fell to the US, why was in necessary to continue the battle? The Japanese were isolated on the south part of the island. They could not mount an effective counter attack. They had no airfields or port facilities. It seems it would have been easier, and far less costly in terms of US lives lost (not to mention Okinawan civilians) to just contain the Japanese on the south end and let them wither on the vine. I wonder why US command felt it important to rout out all the defenders?

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ckleisch
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Post by ckleisch » 10 Mar 2003 09:30

The Japanese Samauri spirt was such that surrender was not an option. Able leadership in the presence of Admiral Ohnishi prevented this also. imperial high command had ordered him to fight to the death and maintain the fighting as to tie down units and American navy ships. Remember these ships were to be used in the invasion of japan. Japans last effort to forestaw this was to send the navy in the form of theYamato. this attempt failed when the Yamato was sunk. Alot of trust was put into what the Kamikaze and the Ohka Bombs could do to cripple the American fleet. Alot of damage was done but not in sufficient quantity to effect events. The Japanese surrenders started after Admiral Ohnishis death by Hari-kiri. he wrote the following to the Japanese people:
" I wish to express my deep appreciation to the souls of the brave special attackers. they fought and died valiantly with faith in our ultimate victory. In death I wish to atone for my part in the failure to achieve that victory and I apologize to the souls of those dead flyers and their bereaved families.
I wish the young people of japan to find a moral in my death. to be reckless is to only aid the enemy. you must abide by the spirt of the Emperors decision with utmost perserverence. Do not forget your rightful pride in being japanese.
You are the treasure of the nation. with all the fervor of spirit of the special attackers, strive for the welfare of japan and for peace throughout the world"

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megjur
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Post by megjur » 11 Mar 2003 06:37

I fully agree with what you said, but I'm referring to the fighting on the isalnd in late May and June. It seems pointless to me to have spent lives to finish off an enemy that could have been easily contained and renedered useless. We did the same thing to Rabaul, leaving thousands of Japanese troops isolated and unable to continue the fight. It seems that with these last Japanese on Okinawa, unable to be resupplied and with no means to really effect a counter attack it may have been a better and less costly decision to let them wither on the vine than to try to rout them from fortifications such as Kunishi ridge.

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Post by Caldric » 11 Mar 2003 08:39

megjur wrote:I fully agree with what you said, but I'm referring to the fighting on the isalnd in late May and June. It seems pointless to me to have spent lives to finish off an enemy that could have been easily contained and renedered useless. We did the same thing to Rabaul, leaving thousands of Japanese troops isolated and unable to continue the fight. It seems that with these last Japanese on Okinawa, unable to be resupplied and with no means to really effect a counter attack it may have been a better and less costly decision to let them wither on the vine than to try to rout them from fortifications such as Kunishi ridge.
As hard as it sounds but do you think, which I do, it was a hard lesson learned that would set the stage for the atomic weapons use? A horrible battle, however only a taste of things to come.

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Takao
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Post by Takao » 11 Mar 2003 15:32

While continuing the battle may seem pointless to you, The Japanese forces that left the Shuri Line numbered some 45,000 troops(5,000 were left to perform a rear-guard action against the American troops). During the retreat, some 10,000 Japanese troops and 15,000 Okinawa civilians were killed by American bombing and shelling. Still, no final attack would have left some 30,000 combat-effective troops on the island of Okinawa.

How many troops would the Americans had to leave on Okinawa to keep the island secure? However many it would be, it would be too many. These troops would most certainly be better used in the upcoming battle on mainland Japan rather than defending Okinawa. IIRC the Americans were planning to use 250,000 troops to invade Japan. Guarding Okinawa on a man to man basis would be roughly 10% of the troops slated to invade Japan.

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megjur
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Post by megjur » 12 Mar 2003 01:46

The invasion of Japan wasn't scheduled until several months after Okinawa. The Japanese having no way to resupply were not equipped to mount any kind of counter offensive and were no threat to the airfield on Okinawa. It seems they could have been contained with a smaller force that you state and basically starved out in their caves and hideouts.

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Post by David C. Clarke » 12 Mar 2003 02:11

Hi Megjur, I disagree to the extent that I believe your observation ignores the brilliance and will-power of General Mitsuru Ushijima, who literally fought his Army to death while knowing it was doomed. Acting in the best Samurai spirit, he committed Seppuku when all was finally lost.
To speculate that such a general would remain passive at any time is not warranted, in my humble opinion. Ushijima know from the start that his
efforts were bound to fail and that the Army had written Okinawa off, yet he motivated and manuvuered his troops into one of the most desperate battles of the entire Pacific war. I suspect he would have expended them wholesale the moment it appeared that the Americans were not going to try to crack the Shuri line. And, at that point, his Army was largely intact.

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Takao
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Post by Takao » 12 Mar 2003 16:31

I agree with David on this one. Remember Cpt. Oba on Saipan? The remanents of his unit held out on Saipan until after the war had ended. IIRC, they surrendered in December, 1945, some 16 months after the battle for Saipan. Granted, he only had 47 men, but the fact remains that they did not die of starvation, nor did they surrender when their situation was beyond saving.

IMHO, Leaving 30,000 Japanese troops on an Okinawa was an invitation to disaster. Sooner or later these troops would have attacked the American positions. With the Americans' covering ships and aircraft gone, putting up a good defense would have been that much harder.
Again, if the invasion of Japan was to succeed, it would need all availible American troops. So the American defenders of Okinawa would have no tank support and little or no artillery.

Any way, it would be a good "What If?"

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Andy H
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Post by Andy H » 16 Mar 2003 03:35

I agree with Megjur, seems like a waste of manpower against an enemy that was going nowehere and had nothing left to fight with.

I believe that there was a German 88 at the Kinishi Ridge battle that claimed several tanks-will post more later today.

Andy

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Post by Musashi » 16 Mar 2003 12:22

Takao wrote: IMHO, Leaving 30,000 Japanese troops on an Okinawa was an invitation to disaster. Sooner or later these troops would have attacked the American positions. With the Americans' covering ships and aircraft gone, putting up a good defense would have been that much harder.
Again, if the invasion of Japan was to succeed, it would need all availible American troops. So the American defenders of Okinawa would have no tank support and little or no artillery.
I totally agree.

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Andy H
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Post by Andy H » 16 Mar 2003 12:40

I've finally finished reading an article on the battle for Kunishi Ridge and I'm more convinced that this was a battle that didn't have to be fought.

All the key objectives were in US hands, the airfields were out of range of any enemy artillery and the southern end of the island held no value bar for the ground in itself.

People have mentioned that the enemy still numbered some 30,000, but how many were effective?, and ammunition supplies were limited. The ground which any mass attacks was easily defended by the US troops, which would be able to call on Aircraft based at any of the 3 airfields on the island, plus any US artillery on the island.

I could even imagine the southern part of the island beyond Kunishi Ridge becoming sometype of morbid Live practice range with living targets, with new units being bloodied or troops trying out there skills-such as Snipers, Forward Artillery Observers etc

The battle for Kunishi Ridge cost the Marines some 1150 casualties and IMO a sheer waste given what was at stake.

Andy

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