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ON THIS DAY

21 June 1945: US troops take Okinawa. The Japanese island of Okinawa has finally fallen to the Americans after a long and bloody battle. The island, situated 340 miles (550km) south of the Japanese mainland, will now provide the Americans with an invaluable air and naval base from which to launch a sustained and forceful attack on the mainland. It is estimated more than 90,000 Japanese troops were killed in the 82-day conflict. America also suffered heavy losses – at this stage 6,990 servicemen have been reported killed or missing and 25,598 wounded. In a statement issued today US Fleet Admiral Chester W Nimitz said: “After 82 days of fighting the battle of Okinawa has been won. “Organised resistance ceased on June 21. Enemy garrisons in two small pockets are being mopped up.” The Japanese fought a desperate battle until the bitter end with many hiding out in caves on the southern-most tip of the island. As the US forces closed in many threw themselves off 150ft (45.7m)cliffs or waded into the sea to drown rather than be taken prisoner. More than 4,000 Japanese have so far been captured. The conflict began on 1 April, when America’s newly-formed 10th Army, led by Lieutenant-General Simon Bolivar Buckner, landed on Okinawa’s western coast. By 21 April most of the island had been taken by US troops but a stalemate developed in the south around Okinawa’s capital city, Naha. The Japanese were able to secure a strong defensive position in the rugged, cave-riddled terrain and it took several weeks to finally win the battle. (Source: BBC)

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