U.S. Marine reinforcements wade ashore to support the beachhead on Okinawa, March 31, 1945
U.S. Marine reinforcements wade ashore to support the beachhead on Okinawa, March 31, 1945
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U.S. Marines Clear Motubu Penninsula after Heavy Fighting

The main landing was made by XXIV Corps and III Amphibious Corps on the Hagushi beaches on the western coast of Okinawa on L-Day, April 1, which was both Easter Sunday and April Fools' Day in 1945. The 2nd Marine Division conducted a demonstration off the Minatoga beaches on the southeastern coast to confuse the Japanese about American intentions and delay movement of reserves from there.

Tenth Army swept across the south-central part of the island with relative ease by World War II standards, capturing the Kadena and the Yomitan airbases. In light of the weak opposition, General Buckner decided to proceed immediately with Phase II of his plan—the seizure of northern Okinawa. The 6th Marine Division headed up the Ishikawa Isthmus. The land was mountainous and wooded, with the Japanese defenses concentrated on Yae-Take, a twisted mass of rocky ridges and ravines on the Motobu Peninsula. There was heavy fighting before the Marines finally cleared the peninsula on April 18.

Meanwhile, the 77th Infantry Division assaulted Ie Shima, a small island off the western end of the peninsula, on April 16. In addition to conventional hazards, the 77th Infantry Division encountered suicide bombers, and even Japanese women armed with spears. There was heavy fighting before Ie Shima was declared secured on April 21 and became another air base for operations against Japan.

By 19 April soldiers and marines of the US Tenth Army under LGEN Buckner USA were engaged in a fierce battle along a fortified front which represented the outer ring of the Shuri Line. This fighting contrasted dramatically with the unopposed landings and initial rapid advances of the previous weeks. The Shuri defenses were deeply dug into the limestone cliffs and boasted mutually supporting positions as well as a wealth of artillery of various calibers. As the battle dragged on, American casualties mounted. This delay in securing the island caused great consternation among the naval commanders since the fleet of almost 1,600 ships was exposed to heavy enemy air attacks. The most damage from the Japanese attacks came from operation Ten-Go (Heavenly Operation) which employed mass deployment of the fearsome kamikaze.