Veterans of the 1st Marine Division pass a dead Japanese soldier in a village as they advanced on Shuri. Note the second man carries a box of rations for five men. Both soldiers and civilians sought shelter in the many caves and valleys of the island. The Peleliu veterans in the ranks of the 1st Marine Division were no strangers to cave warfare. Clearly, no other division in the campaign could claim such a wealth of practical experience. And while nothing on Okinawa could match the Umurbrogol's steep cliffs, heavy vegetation, and endless array of fortified ridges, the "Old Breed" in this battle faced a smarter, more numerous foe who had more artfully prepared each wrinkle in the moonscape. In overcoming the sequential barriers of Awacha, Dakeshi, and Wana, the 1st Marine Division faced four straight weeks of heavy comba. The funneling effects of the cliffs and draws reduced most attacks to brutal frontal assaults by fully-exposed tank-infantry-engineer teams. USMC General Pedro A. del Valle, the division commander, characterized this small unit fighting as "a slugging match with but temporary and limited opportunity to maneuver."
Caption ©2007 MFA Productions LLC
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