Guam, Monday, April 2 -- The United States Tenth Army landed yesterday morning on Okinawa, main island of the Ryukyus, 362 miles from the Japanese home islands. This morning found the invaders three miles inland and holding two airfields, with the defenders retreating all along the eight-mile landing line.
The veteran doughboys and marines met amazingly light resistance from the minute they landed yesterday at 8:30 A.M. They pushed up the steep slopes from the landing beaches with ease, although the shore was dominated by enemy guns on high ground.
Marines took the Yontan airfield at the northern end of the beachhead while Army troops captured the Katena airdrome in the southern area.
In his second communiqué on the operation Admiral Chester W. Nimitz at 9:30 A.M. today reported:
"United States forces on Okinawa advanced inland rapidly throughout the first day of the assault and by 18:00 (6 P.M.) on April 1 (East Longitude date), forward elements of the Twenty-fourth Army Corps and Marine Third Amphibious Corps had expanded in the beachhead to a three mile depth at several points. Enemy resistance continued to be light.
Warships Continue Attack
"Sporadic mortar and artillery fire fell on the beaches early in the day. The landing beaches were made secure against small-arms fire as our forces deepened their positions behind the beaches. Heavy units of the first continued to shell enemy installations on the island and carrier aircraft gave close support to the ground troops throughout the day. Four enemy planes attacking our surface forces were destroyed. Unloading of supplies on the beaches had begun."
The Admiral said that the British Task Force, commanded by Vice Admiral Sir Henry Bernard H. Rawlings and including battleships and cruisers, joined in the operation.
[Superfortresses bombed military works in the Tokyo area before dawn Monday in support of the Okinawa action.]
1,400 Vessels is Operation
Announcement of the invasion by Admiral Nimitz disclosed that we put ashore a very strong force with more than 1,500 naval aircraft of all types engaged in the fight. A fleet of 1,400 vessels, from battleships to landing ships, went close inshore to help in establishing the beachhead. The number of Japanese troops holding on the strategic island is estimated at from 60,000 to 80,000.
The landing was made by the Twenty-fourth Army Corps and the Marine Corps Third Amphibious Corps. The men stepped from their craft to the narrow sandy beach on the west coast of the island near the mouth of the Biahi River.
The attack is under the overall direction of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, commander of the fifth fleet. The amphibious landing was in command of Vice Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner and the Tenth Army is led by Lieut. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr., a descendant of a general in the Confederate Army.
Admiral Nimitz is reporting the invasion set a precedent by reading the communiqué over the Navy radio to San Francisco. He spoke from the radio headquarters here at 10 P.M. last night and his voice was scheduled to have been picked up there by the four major broadcasting systems for a nation-wide relay.
In his first communiqué the admiral had this significant paragraph:
"The capture of Iwo Island gave us an air base only 660 miles from Tokyo and greatly intensified our air attack on Japan. The capture of Okinawa will give us bases only 325 nautical miles from Japan, which will greatly intensify the attacks of our fleet and air forces against Japanese communications and against Japan itself. As our sea and air blockade cuts the enemy off from the world and as our bombing increases in strength and proficiency our final decisive victory is assured."
Preceding the main operation yesterday, the Seventy-seventh Army Division, largely made up of New York men, took the Kerama Island group west of the southern end of Okinawa. The capture was effected last Monday. Led by Maj. Gen. Andrew D. Bruce, who was one of the first ashore, the doughboys here, too, encountered relatively light resistance and made short work of the invasion.
Almost with the landing of the Seventy-seventh on the beaches at the Kerama objectives, construction of emplacements for heavy artillery was started. This morning the big guns from the Kerama group opened up in support of the main landing on Okinawa.
The taking of Okinawa was expected to be difficult. "We expect a hard struggle," one officer had said- but the size of the invading force, which cannot be disclosed, is expected to count heavily.
Before the Army went ashore and began to scale the rising ground, the United States Fleet, which for nine days had hammered Okinawa and its outposts, moved in yet closer and laid down a fire believed to have exceeded the terrific pasting administered to Iwo Island before the shore battle began. Wave after wave of bombers and fighters, rising from the crowded decks of the plane carriers of Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher's task force, swept in.
As the doughboys commanded by Maj. Gen. R. Hodges and the marines led by Maj. Gen. Roy S. Geiger jumped to sandy beaches, the planes swung low. With the airplanes almost touching, the airmen loosed bombs that seemed almost to cover the sand completely. As the inrushing Americans made for their initial objectives the exploding lines of bombs moved ahead of them.
The line of battleships, cruisers and destroyers lying off the island included some of the famous "unsinkables." These battleships were ready for decommissioning when the war in the Pacific broke out but were continued in service because they are almost immune to bombing. The old standbys are commanded by Rear Admiral W.H.P. Blandy, who directed the support for the capture of the Kerama Islands.
While our forces were engaged at Okinawa, the British fleet steamed in close to the Sakishima group, southeast of Okinawa, British planes winged over the islands, starting on Saturday and continuing into yesterday, bombing strategic points. Twenty Japanese planes attacked the force during the engagement. Fourteen were destroyed and the remaining six were damaged.
The landings on Okinawa, which has about 400,000 Japanese civilians as inhabitants, roughly half of the entire population of the Ryukyus or Nansei Archipelago, was the largest amphibious operation of the war in the Pacific. Some idea of the far-flung attack was given by the communiqué of Admiral Nimitz. In addition to the Navy and marine aircraft engaged, land-based planes of tremendous strength have gone into action. These planes of many types are from the air forces of the southwest Pacific flying from the Philippines, those from the Pacific Ocean area with bases in the Marianas and at Iwo Island and the big bombers of the Twentieth Air Force based in China. Although the communiqué did not go into details, it is presumed the air attack and support are converged on Okinawa from the three points of a triangle. The air onslaught is virtually non-stop and as Admiral Nimitz reported, is "proceeding according to plan."
Landing almost in the immediate wake of the doughboys and the marines, went military government officers to tackle a new angle in the Pacific war area- the problem of handling civilians in large numbers. Leaflets had been showered on the Ryukyus for more than a week perhaps in an effort to overcome Japanese propaganda that our invading forces would subject the civilians to all manner of torture.
The Japanese on Okinawa, who are more or less held in contempt by the Japanese of the main islands, may not prove to be a great problem. The Seventy-seventh Division men found the civil population on the Kerama island group thoroughly frightened at first, were quick to respond to humane treatment.