Battle of Okinawa

British navy vessel HMS Formidable on fire during the Battle of Okinawa after being struck by a kamikaze
British navy vessel HMS Formidable on fire during the Battle of Okinawa after being struck by a kamikaze

Historical Context

The Battle of Okinawa was one of the major battles of the Pacific theater of World War II. The island of Okinawa was strategically important to the Allies as they intended to use the airfields for the impending invasion of mainland Japan, Operation Downfall.

The US naval task force assembled for the battle began bombing Okinawa on March 23, 1945, ahead of the amphibious invasion on April 1, 1945, which was the largest amphibious assault of the Pacific War.

Okinawa was devastated by the battle. The fighting was extremely fierce on both sides, and Japan used numerous kamikaze attacks to try and sink Allied naval vessels, which assembled in the hundreds for the battle. Okinawa's pre-battle population was about 300,000; nearly 150,000 were killed, committed suicide or went missing.

The Americans eventually captured the island, losing between 14-20,000 soldiers, while Japan lost between 77-110,000 dead. Okinawa would remain occupied by the United States until 1972, and the continued presence of an American military base on the island is a center of controversy in Japan.

Photo Info


Photographer: Royal Navy
Date taken: May 4, 1945
Location taken: Okinawa, Japan

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Related Events

  • 1945-03-23 Battle of Okinawa: US Navy ships bomb the Japanese island of Okinawa in preparation for the Allied invasion; it would become the largest battle of the Pacific War in World War II
  • 1945-04-01 Battle of Okinawa: US ground forces invade Okinawa during World War II in the largest amphibious assault of the Pacific theatre

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