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Volcano and Ryukyu Islands campaign

Volcano and Ryukyu Islands campaign
Part of World War II, the Pacific War
Two U.S. Marines advance on Wana Ridge during the Battle of Okinawa.
Date19 February – 21 June 1945
LocationVolcano Islands and Ryukyu Islands, Pacific Ocean
Result Allied victory
23x15px United States
23x15px United Kingdom
23x15px Canada
23x15px Australia
23x15px New Zealand
23x15px Empire of Japan
Commanders and leaders
23x15px Chester W. Nimitz
23x15px Holland Smith
23x15px Simon B. Buckner 
23x15px Joseph W. Stilwell
23x15px Ray Spruance
23x15px Marc A. Mitscher
23x15px Sir Philip Vian
23x15px Bruce Fraser
23x15px Tadamichi Kuribayashi 
23x15px Mitsuru Ushijima 
23x15px Isamu Cho 
23x15px Hiromichi Yahara (POW)
23x15px Seiichi Itō 
23x15px Minoru Ota 
23x15pxKosaku Aruga 
23x15px Keizō Komura
Casualties and losses
19,840 dead or missing,
58,105 wounded,
33,096 non-combat losses,
79 ships sunk and scrapped,
773 aircraft destroyed
116,844+ dead or missing,
17,000 wounded,
7,671 captured,
21 ships sunk and scrapped,
3,130 aircraft destroyed,
75,000-140,000 civilians dead or missing

The Volcano and Ryūkyū Islands campaign was a series of battles and engagements between Allied forces and Imperial Japanese forces in the Pacific Ocean campaign of World War II between January and June, 1945.

The campaign took place in the Volcano and Ryukyu island groups. The two main land battles in the campaign were the Battle of Iwo Jima (February 16-March 26, 1945) and the Battle of Okinawa (April 1-June 21, 1945). One major naval battle occurred, called Operation Ten-Go (April 7, 1945) after the operational title given to it by the Japanese.

The campaign was part of the Allied Japan campaign intended to provide staging areas for an invasion of Japan as well as supporting aerial bombardment and a naval blockade of the Japanese mainland. The dropping of atomic weapons on two Japanese cities and the hammer-blow Soviet invasion of Japanese Manchuria, however, caused the Japanese government to surrender without an armed invasion being necessary.


Iwo Jima and Okinawa were two important islands, as they were right at Japan's doorstep, and could provide bases for B-29 bombers to raid the Japanese mainland. The operation to take Iwo Jima was authorized in October 1944. On February 19, 1945, the campaign for Iwo Jima was launched. The island was secure by March 26. Only a few Japanese were captured, as the rest were killed or committed suicide as defeat befell them. However, the Americans suffered a heavy toll in casualties in their initial landing, as opposed to the main fighting. Fighters began operations from March 11, when the airfields were secured, and the first bombers hit the home islands. Meanwhile, on Okinawa 131,000 Japanese soldiers dug in for similar resistance as compared to Iwo Jima, trying to mow down the Americans as they disembarked from their landing vehicles. Gen. Mitsuru Ushijima made sure that the Americans would not even come close to the beaches, using kamikazes under Soemu Toyoda to stem the tide. This was the greatest effort by the suicide bombers of legend, sinking 34 ships, damaging 25 beyond economic repair, and 343 were damaged to varying degrees.[1] On the land campaign, 48,193 military personnel were killed, wounded, or missing in the campaign to secure the island. By the end of the battle, three-quarters of the Japanese officers were killed or had killed themselves. Only a handful of officers survived the battle, although more soldiers capitulated. On April 7, the great Japanese battleship Yamato was commissioned and sent out to use a kamikaze method, codenamed Ten-Go, but was sunk. The Vice-Admiral Seiichi Ito and the commander of the battleship, Kosaku Aruga, were killed in the fatal mission, and the battleship was destroyed before it could engage the US navy. Control of the Volcano and Ryukyu Islands enabled the US Army Air Forces to conduct missions against targets on Honshu and Kyushu, with the first raid occurring on Tokyo, from March 9–10.

See also


  1. ^ HP Willmott, Robin Cross, Charles Messenger: World War II (2004)

Further reading