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    Sonai 祖納 (Sōnō or Sono) Iriomote Jima | Okinawa Prefecture Japan
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J. Taylan March 22, 2019
Location
Lat 24° 23' 24N Long 123° 44' 47E  Sonai 祖納 is located at an elevation of 324' / 98m on the northernwest coast of Iriomote Jima in the Yaeyama Islands in the Sakishima Islands in Okinawa Prefecture in Japan. Also known as Sonai Town, Sōnō or Sono. Offshore to the south is Marumabosan Island (Marumabonsan Rock) and further to the southwest is Shirahama and beyond Funauki.

Wartime History
During the Pacific War, Sonai was used as a small anchorage area area. By 1945, a Japanese anti-aircraft gun was emplaced at Sonai. The Allies suspected the Japanese had a chemical factory and administrative center at Sonai.

On May 17, 1945 Royal Navy (RN) Fleet Air Arm (FAA) carrier aircraft from HMS Indomitable (92) including ten Avengers escorted by four Hellcats straffed a suspected chemical factory at Sonai.

On July 21, 1945 attacked by F4U Corsairs from Marine Fighting Squadron 212 (VMF 212) attack Sonai hitting a small chemical plant and administrative center was hit by 59 rockets and thoroughly strafed, without any observed result.

F4U-4 Corsair Bureau Number 81095
Pilot McGrath MIA July 21, 1945 crashed into the sea southwest of Sonai


References
NARA "British Pacific Fleet - Rep of Opers against the Ryukyu Islands and Formosa, 3/26/45 to 4/20/45 and 5/4-25/45" page 272, 277
(Page 272) 17 May 1945 10 Av. [Avengers] 4 He [Hellcats]. Funauki and Sonai villages (Iriomote) strafed, with no observed damage."
(Page 277) "17th May 1945 Strike Baker... [straffed] the village at Sonai were there is thought to be a chemical factory."
NARA "War Diary - USMC Marine Fighting Squadron 212 - July 1-31, 1945" page 17, 33
(Page 17) "21 July [1945] Sakishima Gunto Strike: Flight composition: Major McMahon and Lts. Duncan, Wortman, Stanton, Ellis, Gillespie, Mouzakis, McGrath, Sandbach, Petty, Lingenfelter, La Marre, Jernigan and Walsh.
Major McMahon led 24 Corsairs, 12 of which were furnished by VMF-223, in a rocket and strafing attack against various targets of opportunity on and in the vicinity of Iriomote Jima, Sakishima Gunto. Principal target was Sonai Town, site of a small chemical plant and administrative center of Iriomote Jima, which received 59 rockets and was thoroughly strafed. Planes also strafed and rocketed Hatoma Jima and Kobama Jima. No specific results from any of the attacks were observed.
... 2dLt. John F. McGrath, USMCR, was killed in action when his plane failed to pull out of a rocket dive and crashed into the water several hundred yards SW of Sonai Town at 1435. The cause was unknown, but the probability that it might have been due to AA fire is indicated by the fact that 2 pilots from VMF-223 returned with flak fragments imbedded [sic] in their planes. No pilots from either squadron at any time observed AA fire. The aircraft destroyed was F4U-4, bureau # 81095. (Aee ACA-1, 063-45)."
History of Taketomi pages 766-767
"Inoue, Fumikichi writes one day when I retuned home from Ohara, [July 21, 1945] U. S. planes flown at eight o'clock and commenced firing. Bullets flew toward us. They finished at five and they returned home. During the strafing, one of their planes [F4U Corsair 81095] fell down behind Marumabosan Island. We didn't shoot even a single shot against the intruders. I heard it was downed by friendly fire."

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Last Updated
June 15, 2019

 

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