In January 1941, the Commander in Chief of the Japanese Combined Fleet, Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto began planning for a surprise attack on the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. Yamamoto feared that he did not have the resources to win a long war against the United States. He therefore advocated a surprise attack that would destroy the US Fleet in one crushing blow.
Yamamoto's plan was eventually agreed by the Japanese Imperial Staff and the strike force under the command of Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo sailed from the Kurile Islands on 26th November, 1941.
Richard Sorge, a German journalist working as a Soviet agent in Tokyo, discovered details of the plan for the attack on Pearl Harbor. However, this information does not seem to have been passed onto the United States. US Army intelligence. It did intercept two cipher messages from Tokyo to Kichisaburo Normura, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States, that suggested an imminent attack, but no action was taken.
Nagumo's fleet was positioned 275 miles north of Oahu. On Sunday, 7th December, 1941, 105 high-level bombers, 135 dive-bombers and 81 fighter aircraft attacked the the US Fleet at Pearl Harbor. In their first attack the Japanese sunk the Arizona, Oklahoma, West Virginia and California. The second attack, launched 45 minutes later, hampered by smoke, created less damage.
In two hours 18 warships, 188 aircraft and 2,403 servicemen were lost in the attack. Luckily, the navy's three aircraft carriers, Enterprise, Lexington and Saratoga, were all at sea at the time. The following day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and a united US Congress declared war on Japan.
The following day Japanese troops invaded Malaya, Thailand, Batann Island in the Philippines. In the next few weeks the also made further landings in the Philippines. Burma was invaded on 11th December and Borneo two days later. On 25th December, 1941, Hong Kong surrendered with the loss of its 12,000 garrison.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor Admiral Chester Nimitz was was placed in charge of the Pacific Fleet. Urged on by Admiral Ernest King, Commander in Chief of the US Fleet, Nimitz sent William Halsey to attack the Marshall Islands and Frank Fletcher to raid the Gilbert Islands.
In the early months of 1942 the Japanese Army continued to make gains in the Pacific War. On 8th February, 1942, 13,000 Japanese troops landed on the northwest corner of Singapore. The next day another 17,000 arrived in the west. General Arthur Percival, the British commander of forces in Singapore, moved his soldiers to the southern tip of the island but on 15th February he admitted defeat and surrendered his 138,000 soldiers to the Japanese.
The Japanese Army also made steady progress in the Philippines and soon held the three air bases in northern Luzon. General Douglas MacArthur now ordered a general retreat to the Bataan peninsula. A series of Japanese assaults forced the US defensive lines back and on 22nd February, 1942, MacArthur was ordered to leave Bataan and go to Australia. General Jonathan Wainright remained behind with 11,000 soldiers and managed to hold out until the beginning of May.
On 9th March the Japanese gained complete control over the Dutch East Indies and soon afterwards they took Rangoon, the capital of Burma. They had also made their first incursion into New Guinea in March when they landed troops in the Huon Gulf. By May most of Burma was under Japanese control and British troops had been pushed back to the Indian border.
Evans Carlson and Merritt Edson of the US Marines advocated the use of guerrilla warfare against the Japanese Army in the Pacific. Eventually Edson was given command of the 1st Raider Battalion whereas Carlson got the 2nd Raider Battalion.
Admiral Ernest King, Admiral Chester Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the US Pacific Fleet, and General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander of the Southwest Pacific, decided that their first objective should be to establish and protect a line of communications across the South Pacific to Australia. This resulted in the battle of Coral Sea (6th-8th May, 1942).
In the summer of 1942 Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto decided to try and capture the US base on Midway Island. He believed that the Japanese Air Force would be able to launch air attacks on the US Fleet at Pearl Harbor. Yamamoto devised a complex plan where the Combined Fleet was split into eight task groups. Two of these groups made a diversionary attack on the Aleutian Islands. The rest of the fleet led by Yamamoto, Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo and Vice Admiral Nobutake Kondo, would head for Midway.
Unknown to Yamamoto the US intelligence service and broken the Japanese communication code and informed Admiral Chester Nimitz of the Japanese plans. Nimitz was able to assemble two task forces under Admiral Frank Fletcher and Rear Admiral Raymond Spruance. With the carriers Yorktown, Enterprise and Hornet, eight cruisers, and fifteen destroyers, they also headed for Midway.
On 3rd June, 1942, 100 aircraft from Nagumo's carrier force bombed Midway. The US Marine fighters were outnumbered and were unable to stop extensive damage being caused. While the Japanese aircraft were being rearmed they were attacked by carrier planes from Spruance's Task Force.
While this was taking place Yorktown and Enterprise arrived and scored hits on the Japanese ships, Akagi, Soryu and Kaga. The Hirpu managed to sink the Yorktown before it was set afire by the Enterprise. The Japanese Navy had now lost all four of her aircraft carriers and Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto was forced to order a withdrawal.
In August 1942, Evans Carlson and 222 marines set off from Pearl Harbor and they were landed on the small island of Makin Atoll. After two days of fighting Carlson's men were able to destroy the radio station, burned equipment and captured important documents. As a result of the raid the Japanese Army fortified the Gilbert Islands.
In the summer of 1942 fighting in the Pacific was concentrated around Rabaul, the key Japanese military and air base in the Soloman Islands. Lieutenant General Alexander Vandegrift and the US Marines had the task of removing the stranglehold of the Japanese in the South Pacific.
The Japanese garrison of 4,000 held out for two days on Tulagi. Progress was slower on Guadalcanal and despite attempts by the Japanese Army, Japanese Navy and Japanese Air Force, the US Marines were able to stay and build the Henderson Field airstrip.
The US Marines managed to withstand continuous attacks including the battles of Tenaru River (21st August) and Bloody Ridge (12th September).Another 20,000 Japanese soldiers were landed on Guadalcanal and this led to a renewed offensive at Matanikau River on 23rd October.
In October, 1942, TG 16 (Enterprise) and TG 17 (Hornet) were combined to form TG 61 and was placed under the command of Rear Admiral Thomas Kinkaid . He faced Nobutake Kondo at the battles that took place at Santa Cruz Islands (26th-27th October, 1942). During the battle Hornet was sunk and the Enterprise was severely damaged. However, the Japanese Navy had greater difficulty replacing her losses and found it difficult to provide supplies to the Japanese Army in the region.
Admiral William Halsey took control of naval operations during the Guadalcana campaign (12th-13th November, 1942) and sunk two Japanese battleships, two destroyers and six transport ships for the loss of two cruisers and four destroyers.
Vandegrift, who was awarded the Navy Cross and the Medal of Honor, for his achievements on Guadalcanal, was relieved by General Alexander Patch and the 14th Corps in December 1943. It is estimated that the Japanese Army lost more than 25,000 men during the Guadalcanal campaign.
General Douglas MacArthur now developed what became known as his island hopping tactics. This strategy involved amphibious landings on vulnerable islands, therefore bypassing Japanese troop concentrations on fortified islands. This had the advantage of avoiding frontal assaults and thus reducing the number of American casualties.
In 1943 Admiral Chester Nimitz began to plan the removal of the Japanese from the Gilbert Islands. The attack force was headed by Vice Admiral Raymond Spruance and his fleet included six aircraft carriers, five light carriers, six new battleships and several smaller warships.
The two most westerly of the Gilbert Islands, Makin and Tarawa, were invaded by the 5th Amphibious Corps under Major General Holland Smith on 20th November 1943. Makin, defended by only 800 Japanese soldiers, was taken without too much difficulty.
Tarawa was much more heavily fortified and the 5,000 US Marines that were landed on the first day had to wade ashore under considerable Japanese artillery fire. Further landings took place on the 21st and the island was not made secure until the 23rd November. The capture of these two islands cost nearly 1,000 dead and 2,000 wounded.
After the capture of the Gilbert Islands the United States Air Force were able to launch air attacks on Japanese positions on the islands. On 31st January 1944 the US Marines took Majuro, which provided a good anchorage for the US Navy to bombard Kwajalen. Over the next couple of days they fired 36,000 shells and the defences were so badly damaged that only 373 US troops were lost during the invasion. Another large island, the Eniwetok, was captured on 18th February.
By the spring of 1944, 100,000 Japanese soldiers were cut off at Rabaul and the Japanese 18th Army were surrounded in New Guinea. In September US troops took Morotai and all of New Guinea was now in Allied hands.
It was not until October 1944 that General Douglas MacArthur was given permission to begin the campaign to recapture the Philippines. The first objective was the capture of Leyte, an island situated between Luzon and Mindanao. After a two day naval bombardment General Walter Krueger and the 6th Army landed on 22nd October, 1944.
The Japanese Navy now made a strenuous effort to save the Philippines. Admiral Soemu Toyoda, Commander in Chief of the Combined Fleet, deployed every surviving Japanese warship in two groups under Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita and Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa. The strategy was to use Ozawa's smaller fleet to draw the US Navy away from Leyte.
Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita and his fleet now moved in to attack the Allied invasion force. However Vice-Admiral Thomas Kinkaid and the 7th Fleet was still in the area providing cover for the 175,000 members of the US Army landing on Leyte.
The battle of Leyte Gulf was the largest naval engagement in history. It was a decisive victory for the Allies with the Japanese Navy lost four carriers, three battleships and ten cruisers. It was now clear that the US Navy had control of the Pacific and that further Allied landings in the region were likely to be successful.
After the successful amphibious landings General Douglas MacArthur and General Walter Krueger pushed the Japanese 35th Army out of the central valley onto the mountainous inland backbone of Leyte. After bitter fighting the US forces captured the important port of Ormoc on 10th December. By the time the island was completely secured the US Army had lost 3,500 men. It is estimated that over 55,000 Japanese soldiers were killed during the campaign.
On 9th January 1945 Allied troops landed on Luzon, the largest of the islands in the Philippines. The Japanese Army, under General Tomoyuki Yamashita, fought a vigorous rearguard action but within a month General Douglas MacArthur and his troops had crossed the Central Plain and were approaching Manila.
It was now decided to try and capture the small volcanic island of Iwo Jima that was defended by 20,000 veterans of the Japanese Special Naval Landing Force. During February, 1945, the Japanese, who had created a fortress on Mount Suribachi, faced an immense air and sea bombardment launched by the 5th Fleet under Admiral Raymond Spruance.
On 19th February American soldiers began landing on the island. Over 250,000 men and 900 ships were involved in this amphibious operation under the command of Admiral Richmond Turner. The main objective was to capture the island's three airstrips and to to obtain a forward air base for the planned Allied attack on the Japanese home territories.
The US Marines managed to capture Mount Suribachi in three days but strong resistance from the Japanese meant that the second airstrip at Motoyama was not won until 28th February, 1945. The final stage of the fighting took place in the fortified hills and these last defensive positions were not taken until 10th March.
Small groups of Japanese soldiers carried on fighting and the three airfields were not ready to receive the vast fleets of B-29 Superfortress bombers until the end of March. Of the 23,000 Japanese soldiers defending Iwo Jima, only 216 were taken alive. The American forces also suffered during the bitter fighting on the island with 5,391 Marines killed and 17,400 wounded.
The United States Army Air Force was now able to use the island to launch bombing attacks on Japan. The large number of Japanese buildings made of wood made it easy for the bombers to create firestorms. On the 9th and 10th March 1945, a raid on Tokyo devastated the city. This was followed by attacks on Nagoya, Kobe, Oska and Yokohama. An estimated 260,000 were killed and 9.2 million left homeless.
On Luzon General Tomoyuki Yamashita and his main army withdrew to the mountains but left enough troops in Manila to make the capture of the city as difficult as possible. An estimated 16,000 Japanese soldiers were killed before it was taken on 4th March 1945.
General Robert Eichelberger and the US 8th Army landed on Mindanao on 10th March and began advancing through the southern Philippines. This included the capture of Panay, Cebu, Negros and Bohol.
America's last amphibious operation was at Okinawa. Lying just 563km (350 miles) from the Japanese mainland, it offered excellent harbour, airfield and troop-staging facilities. It was a perfect base from which to launch a major assault on Japan, consequently it was well-defended, with 120,000 troops under General Mitsuru Ushijima. The Japanese also committed some 10,000 aircraft to defending the island.
Ushijima decided not to put his men on the coast where they would be subjected to US Naval heavy bombardment. Instead they were positioned at the southern end of the 60 mile long island on the volcanic mountain of Shuri.
After a four day bombardment the 1,300 ship invasion forced moved into position off the west coast of Okinawa on 1st April 1945. The landing force, under the leadership of Lieutenant-General Simon Buckner, initially totalled 155,000. However, by the time the battle finished, more than 300,000 soldiers were involved in the fighting. This made it comparable to the Normandy landing in mainland Europe in June, 1944.
On the first day 60,000 troops were put ashore against little opposition at Haguushi. The following day two airfields were captured by the Americans. However when the soldiers reached Shuri they came under heavy fire and suffered heavy casualties.
Reinforced by the 3rd Amphibious Corps and the 6th Marine Division the Americans were able to repel a ferocious counter-attack by General Mitsuru Ushijima on 4th May. At sea off Okinawa a 700 plane kamikaze raid on 6th April sunk and damaged 13 US destroyers. The giant battleship, Yamato, lacking sufficient fuel for a return journey, was also sent out on a suicide mission and was sunk on 7th May.
On 11th May, Lieutenant-General Simon Buckner, ordered another offensive on the Shuri defences, and the Japanese were finally forced to withdraw. Buckner was killed on 18th June and three days later his replacement, General Roy Geiger, announced that the island had finally been taken. When it was clear that he had been defeated, Mitsuru Ushijima committed ritual suicide (hari-kiri).
The capture of Okinawa cost the Americans 49,000 in casualties of whom 12,520 died. More than 110,000 Japanese were killed on the island.
While the island was being prepared for the invasion of Japan, a B-29 Superfortress bomber dropped an atom bomb on Hiroshima on 6th August 1945. Japan did not surrender immediately and a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki three days later. On 10th August Emperor Hirohito announced the surrender of Japan.
General Tomoyuki Yamashita and his remaining men continued to fight from isolated mountain positions on Luzon. Yamashita and his 50,000 troops did not surrender until 2nd September 1945.
This alliance is directed exclusively against American warmongers. To be sure that is, as usual, not expressly stated in the treaty, but can be unmistakably inferred from its terms. Its exclusive purpose is to bring the elements pressing for America's entry into the war to their senses by conclusively demonstrating to them if they enter the present struggle they will automatically have to deal with the three great powers as adversaries.
In two or three minutes Mr. Roosevelt came through. "Mr. President, what's this about Japan? "It's quite true," he replied. "They have attacked us at Pearl Harbor. We are all in the same boat now."
No American will think it wrong of me if I proclaim that to have the United States at our side was to me the greatest joy. I could not foretell the course of events. I do not pretend to have measured accurately the martial might of Japan, but now at this very moment I knew the United States was in the war, up to the neck and in to the death. So we had won after all!
Yes, after Dunkirk; after the fall of France; after the horrible episode of Oran; after the threat of invasion, when, apart from the Air and the Navy, we were an almost unarmed people; after the deadly struggle of the U-boat war - the first Battle of the Atlantic, gained by a hand's-breath; after seventeen months of lonely fighting and nineteen months of my responsibility in dire stress. We had won the war. England would live; Britain would live; the Commonwealth of Nations and the Empire would live.
How long the war would last or in what fashion it would end no man could tell, nor did I at this moment care. Once again in our long Island history we should emerge, however mauled or mutilated, safe and victorious. We should not be wiped out. Our history would not come to an end. We might not even have to die as individuals. Hitler's fate was sealed. Mussolini's fate was sealed. As for the Japanese, they would be ground to powder.
The Japanese, without any warning, yesterday afternoon began war on the United States with air attacks on the naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and the adjacent city of Honolulu. Imperial Headquarters in Tokyo later announced that Japan had entered into a state of war with Britain and the United States in the Western Pacific from 6 a.m. today.
President Roosevelt has mobilized the Army and ordered all the armed forces to take up their war stations and imposed a censorship.
As more than 150 planes took part in the attacks on Pearl Harbor and Honolulu, it is thought that there must be at least three Japanese aircraft-carriers, and probably more, engaged. Several planes were shot down.
Considerable damage was done at Pearl Harbour and there were numerous casualties. It is officially announced that the Army casualties were 104 killed and 300 wounded. It is thought that these occurred when the airfield was hit. The civilian casualties are unknown.
At 3.40 on Sunday morning, December 8, 1941, Manila time, a long-distance telephone call from Washington told me of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, but no details were given. It was our strongest military position in the Pacific. Its garrison was a mighty one, with America's best aircraft on strongly defended fields, adequate warning systems, anti-aircraft batteries, backed up by our Pacific Fleet. My first impression was that the Japanese might well have suffered a serious setback.
We had only one radar station operative and had to rely for air warning largely on eye and ear. At 9:30 a.m. our reconnaissance planes reported a force of enemy bombers over Lingayen Gulf heading toward Manila. Major General Lewis H. Brereton, who had complete tactical control of the Far East Air Force, immediately ordered pursuit planes up to intercept them. But the enemy bombers veered off without contact.
When this report reached me, I was still under the impression that the Japanese had suffered a setback at Pearl Harbor, and their failure to close in on me supported that belief. I therefore contemplated an air reconnaissance to the north, using bombers with fighter protection, to ascertain a true estimate of the situation and to exploit any possible weaknesses that might develop on the enemy's front. But subsequent events quickly and decisively changed my mind. I learned, to my astonishment, that the Japanese had succeeded in their Hawaiian attack, and at 11:45 a report came in of an over- powering enemy formation closing in on Clark Field. Our fighters went up to meet them, but our bombers were slow in taking off and our losses were heavy. Our force was simply too small to smash the odds against them.
Confirmation that the Japanese have completely evacuated Guadalcanal, in the Solomons, came last night in a Navy Department communiqué, which said that no opposition had been encountered by American troops in their latest advances. A great amount of Japanese equipment was taken.
Major General A. M. Patch had earlier reported officially to Admiral Halsey C-in-C. South Pacific; "Guadalcanal has been taken completely. There is no longer any vestige of Japanese forces on the island." Mr. Elmer Davis, Director of the Office of War Information, said last night that the Japanese might have got a few men off the northern end of Guadalcanal. "But I believe an over-whelming proportion have been killed," he said.
The first phase of the Solomons battle was now over. He promised that the Navy Department would release this official story as soon as possible. Some naval actions appeared to be continuing. American losses were relatively light.
Describing the fighting which won the island. Captain Miles Browning, on the staff of the naval commander-in-chief said: "There was no definite surrender. Our flanking forces closed in a pincer and a ' blot-out' occurred." He placed Japanese losses during six months at between 30.000 and 50.000. Over 1,100 Japanese planes were destroyed, he estimated, and 71 ships sunk, with 11 more probably sunk.
The Japanese News Agency last night claimed that the recent naval-air battle off Isabel Island, in the Solomons, was a "large-scale air offensive to support the withdrawal of Japanese troops from the Solomons and New Guinea.'
Formidable army units, it said, succeeded in shifting to new positions under extremely difficult conditions without suffering the slightest losses. Tokyo claimed that Guadalcanal had now lost all strategic value and that with control of the waters around the group completely in Japanese hands the battle for the Solomons had become a struggle for the mastery of the air.
Clawing and crawling up the cliff went platoons that were no more than squads, and companies that were no more than large platoons. From the base of the cliffs we could pick out each man and follow him until he got hit, went to the ground or climbed to the top. Not many made the top.
As they toiled, caves, gulleys and holes opened up and the Japanese dashed out to roll grenades down on them, and sometimes to lock, body to body, in desperate wrestling matches. Knives and bayonets flashed on the hillside. I saw one man straighten and lunge to kick something that attacked his legs like a mad dog. He reached and heaved, a Japanese soldier came end over end down the hill. The machine gunners yelled encouragement.
The Marine Corps has espirit de corps it to a high degree. But when the going gets toughest, when it takes a little more drive to stay sane and to keep going, and a man is hungry and tired, then he needs more than espirit de corps. It takes conviction. Our greatest weakness is the caliber of our officers, and that, of course, is a reflection of our system of education
Tarawa was won because a few enlisted men of great courage called out simply to their comrades, 'Come on, fellows. Follow me!' And then went on, followed by men who took heart at their example, to knock out, at great sacrifice, one Jap position after another, slowly, until there were no more. Tarawa is a victory because some enlisted men, unaffected by the loss of their officers, many of whom were casualties in the first hour, became great and heroic commanders in their own right.
But with all that courage and fortitude and willingness to die on the part of some of the men, too many others lacked initiative and resourcefulness. They were not trained to understand the need for sacrifice. Too many men waited for orders - and while they waited they died. What if they had been trained not to wait for orders?"
At noon of February 11th, the Joint Chiefs met with the President to review plans for attacking Japan at the earliest practicable date, preferably with the support of heavy air assault from the Chinese mainland. Thousands of Chinese were engaged during the winter of 1943-4 in building huge landing fields for the great new B29 aeroplane, which by summer would be unloosing its destructive bomb load on the heart of
industrial Japan. These super-bombers, half as large again as the familiar Flying Fortress (B17) were beginning to come off the US assembly lines in useful numbers. The Joint Chiefshoped this new fighting aircraft, with its exceptionally long range, would be able to surmount the problem of distance and give material support to the offensive against Japan.
The general strategy was to go west through the Japanese-held islands until we were in a position to strike Japan proper. Admiral Chester W. Nimitz was in command in the Central Pacific and was sending us his plans for taking some islands on the route and by-passing others. The JCS usually approved the plans, because we felt that in Washington we were too far away to judge the details of his operations.
The next day (February 12) Major-General Richard K. Sutherland, Chief of Staff to General Douglas MacArthur, conferred with me regarding future operations in the South-west Pacific area. It appeared that MacArthur's ideas might conflict with those of Nimitz, and the difference in the personalities of these two able commanders was going to require delicate handling.
Day after day we followed the Old Man's jungle-guerrilla tactics, putting into practice his theory of the mobile fire team. The team worked wonders. Toward evening we'd make a base; then next morning fan out patrols to find the enemy as well as the site of a forward base. The Old Man would okay it, and we'd all move up to it. The next day would be the same. The Old Man led the whole battalion over the ridge. Carlson called out, "Let's sing, Onward, Christian Soldiers." We didn't care whether or not the Japs heard us. We felt good singing.
We had spent a month in the jungle, and marched one hundred and fifty miles, met the enemy daily, captured and destroyed his guns and ammunition and food and medical supplies; we reassured the command that nothing important was going on in the interior; we mapped out his exit-west route; we destroyed 'Pistol Pete,' and finally we killed officially 488 Japs, but the Seabees who went in later to bury them said we killed 700. For all this, we lost 17 men, and 17 wounded.
Most significant, though, was the demonstration of the ability of American troops, properly trained and indoctrinated, to operate independent of established supply lines in the jungle. In the thirty engagements it fought, the battalion had been surprised only twice. On the other occasions it gained complete surprise over the enemy. This fact, plus its skill in jungle fighting and its tremendous fire power, explain the low casualties we sustained in comparison to those of the enemy. The heroes of Makin Island had added another exceptional feat of arms to their history.
MacArthur was convinced that an occupation of the Philippines was essential before any major attack in force should be made on Japanese-held territory north of Luzon. The retaking of the Philippines seemed to be a matter of great interest to him. He said that he had sufficient ground and air forces for the operation and that his only additional needs were landing-craft and naval support.
Nimitz developed the Navy's plan of by-passing the Philippines and attacking Formosa. He did not see that Luzon, including Manila Bay, had advantages that were not possessed by other areas in the Philippines that could be taken for a base at less cost in lives and material. As the discussions progressed, however, the Navy Commander in the Pacific admitted that developments might indicate a necessity for occupation of the Manila area. Nimitz said that he had sufficient forces to carry out either operation. It was highly pleasing and unusual to find two commanders who were not demanding reinforcements.
Roosevelt was at his best as he tactfully steered the discussion from one point to another and narrowed down the area of disagreement between MacArthur and Nimitz. The discussion remained on a friendly basis the entire time, and in the end only a relatively minor difference remained - that of an operation to retake the Philippine capital, Manila. This was solved later, when the idea of beginning our Philippine invasion at Leyte was suggested, studied and adopted.
This is a tour of the Okinawa battlefield after the guns have fallen silent-a battlefield where many valorous young Americans fell but carried with them into eternity an even greater number of Japanese.
The jeep bumps along - moving slowly through the dust clouds to keep from running down Okinawans - past the ruined and deserted villages into the rubble heap of what was once Naha, the capital of Okinawa.
Then up the hill to Shuri Castle, where the Japanese had their headquarters until the shells and bombs pulverized the walls, five feet thick.
There was Chocolate Drop Hill, where the wreckage of 15 American tanks stopped by Japanese shells are mute monuments to the valor of the men who fell in the battle to conquer it.
It is peaceful now on Conical Hill, where the Americans fought up and were driven back and finally went up to stay.
Not far away is a cemetery where many of those who fought on Conical Hill lie buried. Helmeted soldiers are painting white crosses.
In the center of one cemetery was a low picket fence around the grave of Lieut. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr., commander of the U.S. Tenth Army, who fell just as final victory was in view.
The sporadic fire of Japanese snipers from distant Hill 89 reminds the visitor that men still are falling although the campaign has long since ended.
We are allowed to say quite a bit now about where we have been and what we have done. Its funny, but if wasn't the idea of getting wounded or killed that worried me. Instead, dreaded the prospect of being caught as the Japs were, with no navy to back them up, no reinforcements and absolutely no chance at all.
The time of my big fight came a week or two after we landed on Gavafu, I had dug myself a nice comfortable fox hole which was actually rain proof, mosquito proof, had a candle or two, and even a box to keep chow and water in, in case of attack. It was placed in what I figured was a safe place for a fox hole on the island and was close to our radio dugout. That night, a Sunday night, while on radio watch I copied a coded urgent message from Tulagi. There were forty thousand Jap troops on transports on their way in. Right then our commanding officer figured it was time to send a radio operator to Tanambago. Me!!! That is when that funny feeling hit my knees and the pit of my stomach! had to leave my nice fox hole and go over where I had none. If I had to fight, I at least wanted a good place to fight from. In case of attack my position was in an old Jap pillbox which stuck up right out in the open like a sore thumb, and would have been blown sky high by a three inch shell. By dawn though, felt better, for during the night while on guard I heard a rumble and saw flashes of battle way out at sea. And the Jap task force never came in!