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Crucible of Hell: The Heroism and Tragedy of Okinawa, 1945

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  • Crucible of Hell: The Heroism and Tragedy of Okinawa, 1945

    I'm just finishing this book.


    I'm relatively late to the pacific theater in terms of study, having started off more focused on the ETO and the eastern front in particular. However, since starting to read more histories of PTO battles, I've become far more interested.

    I doubt there's very much new here in this particular effort for most here, but there were a couple of items of interest to me.

    First, I am hugely impressed at the expansion of capabilities of the US in the pacific, particularly the US Navy.

    In a little more than 3 years, the US went from scratching together battle groups and being unable to keep major surface forces on station off Guadalcanal to massing armadas with thousands of ships and deploying 7-8 divisions. The effort at Okinawa rivaled D-Day yet took place hundreds of miles from major staging bases.

    The logistical effort alone is impressive.

    Second, it seems that the only real points of contention in the battle were:
    - Was Buckners performance good?
    - Did he err by not ordering a second landing behind the main Japanese defense lines?

    The first point seems to hinge on the answer to the second. The book implies that virtually all of Buckners senior staff and division commanders, especially the Marines, wanted a second landing. The book also seems to discount Buckners rationale for not ordering one. Buckner is cast as an "old school" infantry commander who believed in mass artillery (in fact the artillery on Okinawa exceeded the guns/mile of front seen in WW1).

    The book also seems to imply that Buckner's appointment was a sop to the Army after the "Smiths" incident in which Marine general Holland Smith relieved Army general Ralph Smith on Saipan.

    Any comments from those knowledgeable?

  • #2
    Originally posted by DingBat View Post
    I'm just finishing this book.


    I'm relatively late to the pacific theater in terms of study, having started off more focused on the ETO and the eastern front in particular. However, since starting to read more histories of PTO battles, I've become far more interested.

    Second, it seems that the only real points of contention in the battle were:
    - Was Buckners performance good?
    - Did he err by not ordering a second landing behind the main Japanese defense lines?

    The book also seems to imply that Buckner's appointment was a sop to the Army after the "Smiths" incident in which Marine general Holland Smith relieved Army general Ralph Smith on Saipan.
    Like you I am not as knowledgeable about the war in the Pacific as I am the war In Europe. I recently read Fire and Fortitude. It is the first in a series of books about the U.S. Army in the Pacific in World War II. Very good read.

    Classic military doctrine would advise against splitting forces. If a second landing had been badly mauled the same critics would have criticized the landing.

    From a quick look at the order of battle for U.S. forces:

    U.S. Army landed three divisions including landings on Le Shima island, plus one division in reserve. The reserve division would be committed to the battle. For a total of 4 Army Divisions.

    The USMC landed two divisions and had one in floating reserve. One regiment of the reserve division landed. So for the USMC it was a total of two divisions plus one regiment.

    It appears the Army had more troops involved. Perhaps that is why the ground commander was U.S. Army
    "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" Beatrice Evelyn Hall
    Updated for the 21st century... except if you are criticizing islam, that scares the $hii+e out of me!

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    • #3
      Originally posted by 17thfabn View Post

      Like you I am not as knowledgeable about the war in the Pacific as I am the war In Europe. I recently read Fire and Fortitude. It is the first in a series of books about the U.S. Army in the Pacific in World War II. Very good read.

      Classic military doctrine would advise against splitting forces. If a second landing had been badly mauled the same critics would have criticized the landing.
      Thanks for the book pointer. Always need more books.

      It's true that Anzio seems to have made a significant mark on the minds of many US generals at the time. It was often referenced as a factor in the decision not to go forward. On the other hand, the Japanese appear to have been extremely concerned about the prospect of a second American landing and would have been unable to divert more than a couple of regiments to oppose it. The Americans did not know that, of course.

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      • #4
        just about to start that book &can i reccomend one to you all
        Oh Sure The Old Man's Off His Rocker If Grampa Says He's Dead He Must Be Alive
        Grampa Simpson

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        • #5
          I have read Crucible of Hell. I recommend this book:

          https://www.amazon.com/Tennozan-Batt...s%2C157&sr=8-1

          And this one which is free:

          https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA...awa/index.html

          If you read these 2 books you will know everything you need to know about the battle of Okinawa. Then read the memoirs.
          Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla

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          • #6


            Hopefully, this link will work because though loosely related, is nevertheless compelling, especially for our American posters. I hope the link works!

            https://www.dnw.co.uk/auctions/catal...lot_uid=374453
            ‘Tis said his form is tiny, yet
            All human ills he can subdue,
            Or with a bauble or medal
            Can win mans heart for you;
            And many a blessing know to stew
            To make a megloamaniac bright;
            Give honour to the dainty Corse,
            The Pixie is a little shite.

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