Killing Ground on Okinawa: The Battle for Sugar Loaf Hill

Overview

On May 12, 1945, the 6th Marine Division was nearing Naha, capital of Okinawa. To the division's front lay a low, loaf-shaped hill. It looked no different from other hills seized with relative ease over the past few days. But this hill, soon to be dubbed "Sugar Loaf," was very different indeed. Part of a complex of three hills, Sugar Loaf formed the western anchor of General Mitsuru Ushijima's Shuri Line, which stretched from coast to coast across the island. Sugar Loaf was critical to the defense of that line, ...
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Overview

On May 12, 1945, the 6th Marine Division was nearing Naha, capital of Okinawa. To the division's front lay a low, loaf-shaped hill. It looked no different from other hills seized with relative ease over the past few days. But this hill, soon to be dubbed "Sugar Loaf," was very different indeed. Part of a complex of three hills, Sugar Loaf formed the western anchor of General Mitsuru Ushijima's Shuri Line, which stretched from coast to coast across the island. Sugar Loaf was critical to the defense of that line, preventing U.S. forces from turning the Japanese flank. Over the next week, the Marines made repeated attacks on the hill losing thousands of men to death, wounds, and combat fatigue. Not until May 18 was Sugar Loaf finally seized. Two days later, the Japanese mounted a battalion-sized counterattack in an effort to regain their lost position, but the Marines held. Ironically, these losses may not have been necessary. General Lemuel Shepherd, Jr., had argued for an amphibious assault to the rear of the Japanese defense line, but his proposal was rejected by U.S. Tenth Army Commander General Simon Bolivar Buckner. That refusal led to a controversy that has continued to this day.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Sugar Loaf Hill, 50 feet high and 900 feet long, was a key to the Japanese position on Okinawa during WWII. On the hill, the Japanese manned 25 sophisticated defenses with grim tenacity, supported by the heaviest firepower since Pearl Harbor. On the American side, the 6th Marine Division, which attacked the hill in the spring of 1945, may have been the best division in the Corps at the time. Even so, as Hallas (The Devil's Anvil, 1994) details in this intellectually and emotionally compelling account, it took all the raw courage and tactical skill of the division's junior officers and enlisted men to crack a Japanese position that might better have been flanked by an amphibious end run. Hallas uses firsthand accounts by Marine participants to depict the sustained close-quarter fighting that tested the Americans to their physical and moral limits as they engaged in a battle that saw 2000 Marine casualties in seven days. At Sugar Loaf, as on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue; Hallas's chronicle of the former battle's many instances of grace under fire will enhance all collections devoted to war's human dimensions. (Apr.)
Booknews
Recounts the battle over the hill known to the US Marines as Sugar Loaf near Naha, the capital of Okinawa, in May 1945, and the controversies over whether an amphibious assault to the rear of the Japanese defense line could have averted the loss of thousands of men. Includes b&w photos. Distributed by Greenwood. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591143567
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 237
  • Sales rank: 310,779
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

JAMES H. HALLAS is publisher of the Glastonbury Citizen, a newspaper in Glastonbury, Connecticut.

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Table of Contents

Maps
Preface
1 The Reason Why 1
2 The Marines Head South 15
3 George Company Meets Sugar Loaf 35
4 The Push Continues 53
5 Night Attack 71
6 Counterattack 95
7 On the Line 117
8 The Bitterest Day 135
9 A Hard Day for Easy 149
10 Sugar Loaf Falls 163
11 Enter the 4th 177
12 Bitter Victory 197
13 Forgotten Warriors 209
Sources 221
Index 229
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 4, 2011

    Grandson

    I am the grandson of Howard Lee Mabie who is in this book. My mother's father. She has the flag with 48 stars on her wall that was raised on this Hill when we finally achieved it's dominance. I will inherit this flag someday as I was a Navy "Doc" assigned to the Marines in Okinawa and have visited this site. And I will cherish the flag for all of my life then pass it on to one of my sons. It is legend to those few of us who know of the 6th MARDIV's sacrifices. Semper Fidelis "Papa".

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2003

    A Man I Know.....

    I'm not very familiar with the Battle for Sugar Loaf Hill, but where I'm from, a man who fought in this battle, saving the lives of 6 soldiers, was only a corporal. His name was Tom Crunk, a formally known Kennett, Missouri resident who died at the age of 84 this sunday. He was known throught the whole Tristate area and will be remembered greatly. If you have any questions, feel free to write me.

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