Map of Okinawa Island


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(WORLD WAR II). Map of Okinawa Island. Washington: Army Map Service, 1945. Single sheet, measuring 20 by 22-1/2 , featuring color map.

Official U.S. Army map of Okinawa Island published September 1, 1945, the day before Victory over Japan Day, and labeled "SECRET."

The Battle of Okinawa (code name "Operation Iceberg") took place on Okinawa Island between April 1, 1945 and June 22, 1945. One of the Ryukyu Islands extending southwest of the Japanese mainland, Okinawa was of paramount strategic importance. Allied forces needed it to launch Operation Downfall, the large-scale on-the-ground invasion of Japan anticipated to take place in November 1945. Allied forces, the bulk of which were U.S. Army and marines, faced off against the Imperial Japanese Army and conscripted indigenous Okinawan civilians that spring. The Allies launched a multi-pronged amphibious assault of Okinawa and surrounding islands. Although the Allies significantly outnumbered defenders, the Japanese brooked their efforts with kamikaze and other extreme defense tactics. Approximately 250,000 died from war, starvation, illness, and mass suicide in what would be the bloodiest battle in the Pacific Theater.

This map was originally drafted before the Battle of Okinawa, in January 1945, and then updated after the battle by the U.S. Corps of Engineers. The map shows the alarming extent of militarization on the island. At left, the numbered legend corresponds to airports, docks, pontoon wharves, minefields, hospitals, training venters, recreational areas, police stations, and a post office, as well as ammunition dumps, petroleum storage sites, and a detention center for prisoners of war. Limited topographical features on the map show the heavily overgrown and mountainous terrain. A Japanese-English glossary of helpful topographical terms underscored the nature of the foreign invasion.

The conquest of northern Okinawa was slated for Phase II of the island invasion, but it was undertaken ahead of schedule because Allied forces storming beaches further to the southwest on April 1, 1945 encountered such little resistance. By April 7, Allied forces had sealed off the Motobu Peninsula, and less than a week later U.S. Marines had cleared Hedo-Misaki, the northernmost post of Okinawa, shown in the upper right quadrant of this map. Fighting in southern Okinawa would prove much more difficult.

The map also shows an inset of Iejima, a smaller island located to the west of Okinawa. It was here that American war correspondent Ernie Pyle (1900-1945) was killed while canvassing terrain in a jeep on April 18, 1945. He was buried there in his battle helmet between two other servicemen. Maps related to the Battle of Okinawa are significantly scarcer than D-Day maps (which are highly coveted).

A few tiny marginal spots of soiling. Very nearly fine condition.

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