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    Kerama Island Group (Kerama Islands, Kerama Retto) 慶良間諸島 Okinawa Prefecture Japan
Location
The Kerama Island Group (Kerama Islands) is located roughly fifteen miles west of the southwestern tip of Okinawa Island in Okinawa Prefecture in southern Japan. Also known as "Kerama Retto" meaning "Island chain between Happiness and Good".

Wartime History
The first American landings in the Ryukyu Islands (Nansei Shoto) was to capture the Kerama Islands six days before the the main invasion of Okiniawa Island on April 1, 1945. The islands were also occupied to eliminate Japanese "Sea Raiding Units" based in the Kerama Islands with suicide boats that could target American vessels.

On March 20, 1945 the "Western Islands Attack Group" departed Leyte Gulf in two convoys consisting of LSTs, 14 LSMs, and 40 LCIs, organized into a tractor flotilla with its own screen, Two days later on March 22, 1945 twenty transports and large cargo vessels joined, screened by two carrier escorts and destroyers. Aboard was the U. S. Army, 77th Division commanded by Maj. Gen. Andrew D. Bruce tasked with the landing. The 420th Field Artillery Group would land on Keise Shima, eleven miles southwest of the Hagushi beaches, to provide artillery support for the amphibious landing.

On March 24, 1944 US Navy Task Force 58 (TF 58) off eastern Okinawa began operations against the Keramas with mine sweeping operations, joined on March 25, 1944 by a Naval support force led by Vice Admiral William H. Blandy and by that evening a seven mile wide shipping lane had been cleared from the south to Kerama a slightly larger one from the southwest with few Japanese sea mines located and cleared. Meanwhile, Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT) were landed and found the approaches to the Kerama beaches clear of man-made obstacles, though the reefs were studded with sharp coral heads, many of which were only a few feet below the surface at high tide and flush with the surface at low tide.

On March 26, 1945 after an uneventful voyage, broken only by false submarine alarms the "Western Islands Attack Group" arrived off the Kerama Islands. On March 27, 1945 in the morning the amphibious landings began with the islands secured over the next five days. During the battle, the first Japanese civilian mass suicides of the Okinawa campaign took place. By March 29, 1945 Kerama Retto was occupied by American forces and quickly developed into an American fleet anchorage and seaplane base to support the main invasion of Okiniawa Island on April 1, 1945.

Kerama Anchorage
The Kerama Anchorage is located between Tokashiki Island to the east and Zamami Island to the northwest. On March 26, 1945 occupied by the U. S. Navy (USN) warships.

Kerama Retto Seaplane Base
Wartime seaplane base and anchorage used by the US Navy

Tokashiki Island
Located at the east of the group

Zamami Island
Large island located on the northwestern side of Kerama Anchorage

Amuro Island
Small island located at the western side of Kerama Anchorage

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Last Updated
March 28, 2020

 

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