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    Shuri (Shui, Syuri) Okinawa Prefecture Japan
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USMC May 29, 1945

PacificWrecks.com

USN 1945

Location
Lat 26° 13' 15N Long 127° 43' 3E  Shuri is located at an elevation of 164' / 49m in the center of the southern Okinawa Island in Okinawa Prefecture of Japan. Also known as Shuri-ikehatacho, Syuri, Shui or Shuri. To the north is Shuri Ridge (Shuri Heights). To the northwest is Wana and beyond Dakeshi. Beyond to the west is Naha.

Shuri Castle (Shuri-jo)
1-2 Kinjo-cho, Shuri, Naha-shi

Background
Shuri Castle (Shuri-jo) was built in 1429 on a hilltop overlooking Naha as the seat of the Ryukyu Dynasty with the castle built by 1544. An outer stone wall protecting the inner wooden buildings including the Seiden (main hall). During the Ryukyu Dynasty era, the buildings inside burned down three times and were rebuilt until annexed by Japan.

Wartime History
During the Battle of Okinawa in April 1945 Shuri Castle was used by the Imperial Japanese Army 32nd Army as a command post and anchored the entire Japanese defense of southern Okinawa. Underground below the castle was a command cave used by General Ushijima as his command post until late May 1945.

To the north of Shuri, the Japanese strongly defended terrain features the U. S. dubbed Jane Hill (Three Sisters Hill), Dorothy Hill with tunnels and caves and Tom Hill. The Japanese defended the Shuri Line fanatically and heavy rains cause flooding. For a month the Shuri Line was the main line of resistance and was subjected to intense artillery bombardment, Naval gunfire and close air support attacks.

By late May 1945, as the U. S. Marines and U. S. Army close on Shuri Castle, the Americans believed the Japanese would defend fanatically to the death. During the night of May 21, 1945 General Ushijima and his staff debated the merits of defending Shuri to the last man or prolonging the Battle of Okinawa with a withdraw to the south that was ultimately adopted. The Japanese began withdrawing and were aided by bad weather that prevented American air power from observing or interfearing with the withdrawal.

By May 29, 1945 the U. S. Army 96th Infantry Division captured Conical Hill to the east and the the 6th Marine Division captured Sugar Loaf to the west. That morning, U. S. Marines from Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment led by Captain Julian D Dusenbury reached the ruins of Shuri Ridge with barely any resistance aside from a rear guard. With the ruins of Shuri Castle under American control, the Battle of Shuri had ended.

The U. S. casualties in and around Shuri totaled 26,044 KIA. The U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) suffered 1,718 KIA 8,852 WIA, 101 MIA plus 6,315 cases of combat fatigue. The U. S. Army XXIV Corps suffered 2,871 KIA, 12,319 WIA, 183 MIA plus 7,762 cases of combat fatigue. By American estimates, they claimed 64,000 Japanese killed in the fighting in the Shuri fortified zone area, a casualty rate of roughly one American killed for ten Japanese.

After the battle, the U. S. estimated that roughly 200,000 rounds of artillery and naval gunfire including 14" shells and 16" shells were directed against Shuri. In addition, numerous air strikes cratered the area with bombs, rockets and napalm plus mortar fire from infantry attacks. After the battle, only two structures remained standing: the big normal school and the Methodist church at the center of Shuri had four wall standing. All the roads were impassable from rubble.

Shuri Castle was totally destroyed by U. S. bombardment and left in ruins. Even the massive walls of Shuri Castle were destroyed with only a few sections intact. Inside the ruins of the castle, the Americans dug out two large brass bells. By 1992 the castle was reconstruction to the original specifications and in became a Unesco World Heritage site and was a popular tourist attraction for visitors to Okinawa. On October 31, 2019 at 2:40am a fire started that was aided by strong winds that burned down the seven wooden building in the inner castle.

Okinawa Prefecture Museum
Onaka-cho, Shuri, Naha-shi. First floor dedicated to the WWII

References
U. S. Army in World War II Okinawa: Chapter VIII: The Attack of 19 April on the Shuri Defenses pages 184-185, 187, 194, 198, 200, 202, 205
U. S. Army in World War II Okinawa: Chapter IX: Fall of the First Shuri Defense Ring
pages 208, 219, 220, 247, 248
U. S. Army in World War II Okinawa: Chapter X: Tactics And Tactical Decisions pages 249, 250, 255, 258-260, 262-264
U. S. Army in World War II Okinawa: Chapter XI: Assaulting The Second Shuri Defense Ring pages 265, 267, 269, 271, 276
U. S. Army in World War II Okinawa: Chapter XII: The Japanese Counteroffensive And Its Aftermath pages 283, 286, 291, 299, 301, 302, 303, 304, 307, 309, 310
U. S. Army in World War II Okinawa: Chapter XIII: The May Attack on the Shuri Defenses pages 311-312, 314, 317, 318, 323, 324 (photo), 325, 328-330, 332, 333, 335, 344, 345 (photo), 351, 352, 356-357
U. S. Army in World War II Okinawa: Chapter XIV: Battle in the Rain pages 360, 365, 366
U. S. Army in World War II Okinawa: Chapter XV: The Fall of Shuri pages 383-401
The Final Campaign: Marines in the Victory on Okinawa pages cover photo, 1-2, 9, 19-21, 26-28, 33 (map), 30-31, 35-36, 39-42, 51

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Last Updated
May 29, 2020

 

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