- Jon Diamond
- ARRSE Rating
- 4.5 Mushroom Heads
The Battle of Okinawa 1945
The Pacific War’s Last Invasion by Jon Diamond
Like all recent Images of War publications this is a very good book, only let down in part by a number of format issues but compensated by superb photographs, and many of them!
The opening pages contain a fine, if rambling, account of the Second World War in the Pacific theatre, from 1942 to its conclusion with the campaign for Okinawa in 1945, with highly descriptive accounts of the bloody, costly and gruelling actions of (mainly) US Forces.
Essentially, three forces led by Generals MacArthur, Halsey and Nimitz forced their way north-westerly towards Japan, island by island using land, sea and air assets in bitter struggles against the uninvited Japanese occupants.
Following his background text, the author then includes a host of first-rate combat photographs – many of them rare and previously unpublished – each with a good description of the action, its location, the personnel involved and, where appropriate, the equipment and materiel in use. These pictures are the true backbone of this book and, hence, will be of interest to historians, students of warfare and those with an interest in everything from uniforms and ranks to ordnance and firearms – with ships, aircraft and vehicles added to the superb mix.
Commanders and Combatants are featured in the third chapter, which also starts with a tedious but generally informative text about who was who, but this gives way to more excellent photographs and descriptions with plenty of combat shots. The subsequent chapter deals with the amphibious assault on Okinawa – which is, more or less, the penultimate island before ‘mainland’ Japan and was (and still is) Japanese territory.
There is ample detail of which Divisions took part and where they bombed, shelled or physically went ashore to take Okinawa, which involved over 16,000 troops on the first day. Unlike the previous experiences of US forces on other islands, the invasion of Okinawa produced only a small number of casualties initially. In common with earlier chapters, the text is followed with a new set of first-rate action photographs, including some spectacular ones showing shelling and rocket attacks by US warships. There is a comprehensive section showing pictures of Kamikaze airmen and their subsequent attacks – including those on HMS Formidable, a British aircraft carrier.
The final chapter details the US advance and protracted conquest of Okinawa during which the Japanese offered ferocious defence by fanatical troops, many operating from caves and using frequent and vicious hand-to-hand combat. In the text are some decent maps that are useful for plotting the daily advances of the Americans. The naval battles are covered including the sinking of the Japanese Yamamoto battleship – with its 18 inch guns – by US carrier borne aircraft.
Between late April and mid May 1945, US ground forces became involved in horrific conflicts with the Japanese defenders as they forced their way from south to central Okinawa, which is about 50 miles long and as little as 10 miles across in places, with steep ridges and some mountains. However, with sea and air support, the American ground forces finally took the last redoubt on 21 June 1945 after 82 days of continuous fighting, which prompted ritual hara-kiri amongst some of the Japanese commanders. Once again, the text in this chapter is followed by plenty of excellent photographs showing the gruelling combat endured by the US. The final figures for American deaths during the capture of Okinawa are 12,520 killed and 36,631 wounded. The Japanese, in comparison, suffered 130,000 killed with over 10,000 captured.
In conclusion this is a very good publication about an epic struggle by the US to take a relatively small island and, ultimately, to end the Second World War in the Pacific. It is recommended that any reader makes allowances for the odd text and format, and concentrates on the very special photographs and their excellent and informative descriptions.