Year
1945
Month Day
June 22

Battle of Okinawa ends

During World War II, the U.S. 10th Army overcomes the last major pockets of Japanese resistance on Okinawa Island, ending one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. The same day, Japanese Lieutenant General Mitsuru Ushijima, the commander of Okinawa’s defense, committed suicide with a number of Japanese officers and troops rather than surrender.

READ MORE: Remembering the Battle of Okinawa 

On April 1, 1945, the 10th Army, under Lieutenant General Simon Bolivar Buckner, launched the invasion of Okinawa, a strategic Pacific island located midway between Japan and Formosa. Possession of Okinawa would give the United States a base large enough for an invasion of the Japanese home islands. There were more than 100,000 Japanese defenders on the island, but most were deeply entrenched in the island’s densely forested interior. By the evening of April 1, 60,000 U.S. troops had come safely ashore. However, on April 4, Japanese land resistance stiffened, and at sea kamikaze pilots escalated their deadly suicide attacks on U.S. vessels.

During the next month, the battle raged on land and sea, with the Japanese troops and fliers making the Americans pay dearly for every strategic area of land and water won. On June 18, with U.S. victory imminent, General Buckner was killed by Japanese artillery. Three days later, his 10th Army reached the southern coast of the island, and on June 22 Japanese resistance effectively came to an end.

The Japanese lost 120,000 troops in the defense of Okinawa, while the Americans suffered 12,500 dead and 35,000 wounded. Of the 36 Allied ships lost, most were destroyed by the 2,000 or so Japanese pilots who gave up their lives in kamikaze missions. With the capture of Okinawa, the Allies prepared for the invasion of Japan, a military operation predicted to be far bloodier than the 1944 Allied invasion of Western Europe. The plan called for invading the southern island of Kyushu in November 1945, and the main Japanese island of Honshu in March 1946. In July, however, the United States successfully tested an atomic bomb and after dropping two of these devastating weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, Japan surrendered.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Zong slave ship trial

Hearing arguments in the case of the Zong, a slave ship, the Chief Justice of the King’s Bench in London states that a massacre of African slaves “was the same as if Horses had been thrown over board” on June 22, 1783. The crew of the Zong had thrown at least 142 captive Africans ...read more

Notorious Boston mobster Whitey Bulger is arrested

On June 22, 2011, after 16 years on the run from law enforcement, James “Whitey” Bulger, a violent Boston mob boss wanted for 19 murders, is arrested in Santa Monica, California. The 81-year-old Bulger, one of the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” fugitives, was arrested with his longtime ...read more

Henry Hudson set adrift by mutineers

After spending a winter trapped by ice in present-day Hudson Bay, the starving crew of the Discovery mutinies against its captain, English navigator Henry Hudson, and sets him, his teenage son, and seven supporters adrift in a small, open boat. Hudson and the eight others were ...read more

This Day In History: FDR signs G.I. Bill

FDR signs G.I. Bill

On June 22, 1944, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the G.I. Bill, an unprecedented act of legislation designed to compensate returning members of the armed services–known as G.I.s–for their efforts in World War II. As the last of its sweeping New Deal reforms, ...read more

Germany launches Operation Barbarossa—the invasion of Russia

On June 22, 1941, over 3 million German troops invade Russia in three parallel offensives, in what is the most powerful invasion force in history. Nineteen panzer divisions, 3,000 tanks, 2,500 aircraft, and 7,000 artillery pieces pour across a thousand-mile front as Hitler goes ...read more

Bernstein, Copland, Seeger and others are named as Communists

The Red Scare of the 1940s and 1950s famously ended the careers of numerous film-industry professionals and forced others to avoid blacklisting by repudiating their political beliefs and “naming names” of suspected Communist sympathizers to the House Committee on Un-American ...read more

General Lee strikes back at Petersburg

On June 22, 1864, Union forces attempt to capture a railroad that had been supplying Petersburg, Virginia, from the south, and extend their lines to the Appomattox River. The Confederates thwarted the attempt, and the two sides settled into trenches for a nine-month siege. The ...read more

Blockbuster hit movie “The Fast and the Furious” released

On June 22, 2001, “The Fast and the Furious,” a crime drama based in the underground world of street racing in Southern California, debuts in theaters across the United States. In the film, directed by Rob Cohen, Paul Walker starred as Brian O’Connor, an undercover cop who ...read more

Congress issues Continental currency

On June 22, 1775, Congress issues $2 million in bills of credit. By the spring of 1775, colonial leaders, concerned by British martial law in Boston and increasing constraints on trade, had led their forces in battle against the crown. But, the American revolutionaries ...read more

Author Erich Maria Remarque born

On June 22, 1898, Erich Maria Remarque, the author of the great World War I novel All Quiet on the Western Front, is born in Osnabruck, Germany. A student at the University of Munster, Remarque was drafted into the German army at the age of 18. He fought on the Western Front ...read more