Battle For Okinawa: World War II | home
A new field command, the Tenth Army, had been formed in the Pacific under the command of Lieutenant General Simon Bolivar Buckncr, Jr. Buckner was to seize the Ryukyus---the island chain directly south of Japan he was given six battle-tried divisions. The 7th Division was put in the van of the assault.
The attack against Okinawa was launched on Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945. 7th moved inland fast, seized the Kadena airfield many hours ahead of schedule, and on the second day of the operation stormed across the remainder of the 14-mile-wide island to reach its east coast. Okinawa was split into.
Buckner sent one corps into the north, another to the south.
The 7th, assigned to XXIV Corps, pivoted at the east coast and started on the drive south. Soon it experienced the heaviest Japanese artillery fire of the Pacific war, absorbing more than 40,000 rounds of high explosive in two weeks.
The 10th Army had to take The Pinnacle, a Japanese watchtower rising 3o feet above a 450-foot saw-toothed ridge. The 184th Infantry took the heights by storm after a bitter struggle.
The Division then pushed ahead, taking Tomb Hill and Ouki town.
The 32d Infantry was on the Division's left on the Nakagusuku Wan (later Buckner Bay); the 184th Infantry under Colonel Roy A. Greene was on the right.
Colonel Frank Pachler's 17th Infantry soldiers were in close support.
Finn's 32nd Soldiers met a strong Japanese force on Skyline Ridge, which became the scene of bitter conflict.
One platoon found itself under attack by a hundred spear-wielding Japanese.
Later, when the Gl's examined the enemy dead, they found the spears were ahout six feet long with a sharpened ten-inch point. In his official report a company commander remarked, "Their appearance suggests that they would be effective if the soldiers using them could get close enough to the enemy."
The Division drove down to the hill mass dominated by Hill 178; again the Japanese threw down what seemed to be an impenetrable curtain of fire.
Then the 7th soldiers on the front line were suddenly joined by a mammoth 155-mm howitzer, a gun normally fired from far to the rear. A bulldozer had scooped out the gun's firing position, and the big piece was set into the hole so that its muzzle was almost level with the ground. Then it went into action, and pounded away at the enemy-held ridge.
This technique proved so successful that two more 155's were brought into play at the front.
Despite the counterbattery fire which ensued, none of the 7th's big guns were hit. Watching the peak of the enemy's hill being lowered some 25 feet, an infantry sergeant said, "Them guns talk the kind of language I like to hear."
After five days of gruelling fighting the 184th secured Hill 178 and the surrounding terrain. The 7th was once again committed to combat to fight another twelve-day battle at Kochi Ridge, an important approach to the Shuri defenses. Kochi Ridge was finally taken by the 17th Infantry, and the Hourglass Division was sent into reserve after 39 days of continuous combat in which it had suffered more casualties than in the entire 110-day campaign on Leyte.
On Okinawa the 96th Infantry Division captured Conical Hill, the Marines drove into Naha and Shuri, and the Hourglass Division, back in the lines, advanced to important positions in the southern Ozato Mura hills, where the enemy resistance was the heaviest.
Again on the extreme left flank of Tenth Army, the 7th pushed ahead slowly by day and fought off night attacks by enemy swimmers seeking to penetrate the U. S. lines on the east coast. Soon the 184th Infantry was on the coastal plain near Shikya town. On the Division's left, the infantry drove across rain-soaked rice paddies to take the Ghinen peninsula and seize Sashiki and a number of nearby hills. It took O Shima, near the Minatoga cove, in a driving rain; then moved further south to Hanagusuku town, and to Hill 95, where it threw back a series of counterattacks.
The stubborn Japanese resistance continued, even though the 7th Division won the Yaeju-Dake escarpment in a daring surprise attack in the rain. The weather seesned to be on the enemy's side, and the Division's advance was slowed to a crawl. Some days it didn't even advance 300 yards from the previous night's position.
The end, however, was clearly in sight. On June 18th the Tenth Army smashcd the enemy's lines and started barreling through in earnest. The 7th finished the day's fighting less than a thousand yards north of the key village of Mabuni. The official end of the campaign finally came on June 21, after 82 days of rugged fighting.
In assessing the Division's accomplishments in the Okinawa campaign, the staff reckoned that the Hourglass men had killed betwecn 25,000 and 28,000 Japanese soldiers, and had taken 4,584 prisoners--more than half of them soldiers of the Japanese regular army, including more than a hundred officers up to the rank of major. The Division suffered 1,116 killed, and nearly 6,000 wounded, to make the total of its World War II casualties 8,135.