Okinawa invasion bigger than Normandy?

Discussion in 'War Against Japan' started by tmac, Oct 18, 2011.

  1. tmac

    tmac Senior Member

    I'm sure this may have been asked before, so my apologies if the subject is already covered.
    The question is: Was the U.S. invasion of Okinawa in April 1945 bigger than the 1944 Normandy D-Day operation in terms of numbers of ships, troops, etc?
    I heard the claim for Okinawa made recently in a TV documentary and after Googling it, I see that it is quite a wide-held view. Others claim that Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa in 1942, was the biggest amphibious operation of the war.
     
  2. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Tmac
    Torch is way down the list as Husky was the biggest until D Day - having said that Okinawa was probably the biggest with ONLY American Troops involved even the South of France thingi was a joint operation- many Hollywood devotees still believe that NO ONE else took part in WW2.....and millions of them don't know who Hitler was - according to a TV survey just this week

    Cheers
     
  3. wtid45

    wtid45 Very Senior Member

    Landing Areas:Normandy coast on the SE edge of the Cotentin Peninsular ("Utah"),


    and between Rivers Vire and Orne ("Omaha", "Gold", "Juno", "Sword") 21st Army Group - Gen Montgomery


    Five US, British, Canadian infantry divisions, followed by one US infantry and one British armoured division, total of 130,000 Allied troops


    Forces landing and areas of departure:US Beaches
    US First Army - US Gen Bradley
    "Utah" Beach - US 7th Corps from Dartmouth area
    "Omaha" Beach - US 5th Corps from Portland area
    "Omaha" Beach follow-up:eek:ne US infantry division from Plymouth areaBritish & Canadian Beaches
    British Second Army - Gen Dempsey
    "Gold" Beach - British 30th Corps from Southampton area
    "Juno" Beach - Canadian forces of British 1st Corps from Portsmouth area
    "Sword" Beach - British 1st Corps from Newhaven area
    follow-up:British armoured division from Thames areaNaval Task Forces and Commanders (RN refers to both Royal and Dominion Navy vessels)Western
    Rear-Adm A G Kirk USNEastern
    Rear-Adm Sir P VianAssault PhaseWarshipsWarshipsBattleships3 US3 RNCruisers10 (5 RN, 3 US, 2 French)13 (12 RN, 1 Allied)Destroyers & escorts51 (11 RN, 36 US, 4 French)84 (74 RN, 3 French, 7 Allied)Other warships, incl. minesweepers & coastal forces260 (135 RN, 124 US, 1 Allied)248 (217 RN, 30 US, 1 Allied)Total Warships324 (151 RN, 166 US, 6 French,
    1 Allied)348 (306 RN, 30 US, 3 French,
    9 Allied)Major Amphibious ForcesLanding & Ferry VesselsLanding & Ferry VesselsLSIs, landing ships & craft 644 (147 RN, 497 US)955 (893 RN, 62 US)Ferry service vessels & landing craft 220 (RN & US)316 (RN & US)Totals incl. Warships1,1881,619Grand Total2,807Plus minor landing craft8361,155

    .

    Sorry its a mess! see the link for the tidy version and at the moment I cant find comparison figures for Okinawa but im sure someone will, and for me Normandy had to be bigger. Amphibious operations in World War 2 - Dunkirk, Norway, Crete, Madagascar, North Africa, Sicily, Italy etc
     
    gunbunnyB/3/75FA likes this.
  4. Tab

    Tab Senior Member

    There were 5,000 ships at Normandy and 195.000 seamen both military and civilian. 24,000 Paratroopers both English and American were dropped in during the early hours of the 6th June. The beach head were the troops landed stretched for 50 miles and I think that in the first day some 160.000 men were put ashore, this was the largest landing ever to take place.

    Okinawa........It should be remembered that the British Pacific fleet was there along side the Americans with several Aircraft Carriers. The British carriers had a flight deck some three feet thick of armoured plate and when hit by a suicide plane all they had to do was sweep the remains into the sea
     
  5. dave500

    dave500 Senior Member

    There were 5,000 ships at Normandy and 195.000 seamen both military and civilian. 24,000 Paratroopers both English and American were dropped in during the early hours of the 6th June. The beach head were the troops landed stretched for 50 miles and I think that in the first day some 160.000 men were put ashore, this was the largest landing ever to take place.

    What happened to the Welsh, Irish, and Scottish paratroopers? :)


    Dave
     
  6. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member

    Tmac
    Torch is way down the list as Husky was the biggest until D Day - having said that Okinawa was probably the biggest with ONLY American Troops involved even the South of France thingi was a joint operation- many Hollywood devotees still believe that NO ONE else took part in WW2.....and millions of them don't know who Hitler was - according to a TV survey just this week

    Cheers

    Hi Tom,

    It is scary how many high schools kids don't know who Hitler was. My mother over heard some of them in a food court studying for a test and one boy said, " I can never remember if Hitler was a good guy or a bad guy', and this was twenty years ago.

    Hollywood movies emphasize Americans, I agree, but 'The Longest Day' had good Commonwealth representation. Peter Lawford was a major charecter as Lord Lovat. Richard Burton was great as the wounded RAF pilot. My friends and I still use his line, 'I'm dyingggggggggg for a cigarette'. The British Beachmaster and his bulldog giving Sean Connery hell and bashing the Bren Carrier wih his shillelagh . The paradummy section got pretty good play. Also the carrier pigeon soldiers. It's not a nonfiction documentary, but I like it. :)

    Dave
     
  7. A-58

    A-58 Not so senior Member

    Tmac
    Torch is way down the list as Husky was the biggest until D Day - having said that Okinawa was probably the biggest with ONLY American Troops involved even the South of France thingi was a joint operation- many Hollywood devotees still believe that NO ONE else took part in WW2.....and millions of them don't know who Hitler was - according to a TV survey just this week

    Cheers
    I really doubt that there were many people who thought that the US was the only participant in WW2, after all, everyone knows the Germans and the Japanese were there too for us to deal with.
     
  8. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    The US Navy landed four divisions on Okinawa, two Marine and two Army.

    Perhaps the show was including the numbers of men on the ships, which was quite large, considering it included the entire US Fifth Fleet.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Had Op. Olympic went off as planned, it would have dwarfed Normandy by landing a reinforced infantry division four days prior on outlying islands, then 11 infantry divisions on X day. Two more infantry divisions were slated to land later as needed.

    The follow-up on Honshu, Op. Coronet in Mar of 46, would have included 15 infantry divisions, with two armored in floating reserve.

    These numbers only included the assualt forces. As I understand it, European & CONUS units were to follow as the invasion progressed.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    . The British carriers had a flight deck some three feet thick of armoured plate

    Do you realize what you are saying?

    That amount of armor is far more than the largest battleships of the era were armored with. I think the number that you are looking for is 3 inches of armored plate.

    Using HMS Implacable as an example

    Total desk space - @62,000 sq feet of flight deck (beam X length, rounded down to nearest thousand)

    Steel weights 489lbs per cubic foot.

    Each sq foot of deck (3 cubic feet) would weigh 1337lbs.

    Multiplied by 62000 equals 82,894,000 lbs or 41,447 tons. That is a mighty heavy flight deck.

    The Implacable displaced almost 29,000 tons full load or a little less than 3/4 of that proposed flight deck.

    There has been a great deal of discussion about US and British carrier design in WWII. Bear in mind Essex class carriers were armored also, but at the hangar deck and not the flight deck.

    An excellent read by Ricahrd Worth & Stuart Slade, comparing the the two design theories, is available on the web. I encourage anyone to read it.

    Were Armored Flight Decks on British Carriers Worthwhile?
     
  9. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member Patron

    There were 5,000 ships at Normandy and 195.000 seamen both military and civilian. 24,000 Paratroopers both English and American were dropped in during the early hours of the 6th June. The beach head were the troops landed stretched for 50 miles and I think that in the first day some 160.000 men were put ashore, this was the largest landing ever to take place.

    Okinawa........It should be remembered that the British Pacific fleet was there along side the Americans with several Aircraft Carriers. The British carriers had a flight deck some three feet thick of armoured plate and when hit by a suicide plane all they had to do was sweep the remains into the sea

    Tab,
    1st Canadian Paratroop Battalion also landed with the British and Americans in advance of DDay. 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion C Coy
     
  10. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

  11. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

  12. gunbunnyB/3/75FA

    gunbunnyB/3/75FA Senior Member

    i always thought the brit carriers with the whole steel deck was a cool thing but then again, perhaps that's why they could not build any where near as many carriers as the us. not trying to be judgemental or insulting.
     
  13. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    In all there were 11,000 ships that took part in the Normandy landings. Not all at once, but over a period. Source? A document on the disposition and berthing of ships of every description. Prior to "Piccadilly Circus" all of them in serials that enabled them to "Peel off" In the right order and set sail for Normandy.
    Om the high ground in front of Caen, it was possible to see that you could walk back to home over the assembled ships
     
  14. RJL

    RJL Senior Member

    I remember reading that the initial landings on Sicily were bigger than those at Normandy.
     
  15. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    In all there were 11,000 ships that took part in the Normandy landings. Not all at once, but over a period. Source? A document on the disposition and berthing of ships of every description. Prior to "Piccadilly Circus" all of them in serials that enabled them to "Peel off" In the right order and set sail for Normandy.
    Om the high ground in front of Caen, it was possible to see that you could walk back to home over the assembled ships

    My friend, Old Hickory, mentioned the trip across on the 10th of June and the large numbers of ships visible at all points of the compass.
     
  16. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

  17. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    We have all heard these comparisons before. If one puts enough qualifications in, then one eventually finds a grain of truth.

    Sadly these comparisons are made because if there are few people that know of Normandy than there are fewer people that know of Okinawa.

    I'll add these points.

    I have also heard Husky was a larger amphibious operation than Normandy from what I consider a reliable source. When I think about it, I suspect the comparison is made for the number of assault troops afloat and maybe the total landing area. I suspect Normandy was larger for troops in the initial waves and total troops landed the first day (and certainly the following days).

    Given the distances involved with Okinawa it is easy to imagine that the total shipping was larger. Given all the ground support needed to start airfield operations and supply all troops for possibly up to a month the shipping was enormous.

    On the total US ground troops, I'll add to the four main divisions a reserve Army division that conducted preliminary operations and secondary operations. I'm not sure but there may have also been a Marine division in floating reserve, if not present at the time of Y-Day then en-route from Saipan.

    One comparison that I have not been able to pin down is that total casualties for Okinawa were larger than Normandy. This is taking the whole three months of both campaigns. It must be counting Japanese and German casualties. I'm not sure if it counts US and British/CW casualties, but if not then they would need to divide German casualties between the two and count total US and "Germans facing US troops" casualties which seems impossible. And I would guess it is not counting German captured as casualties (usually listed as missing) but maybe so. On the other hand, if it is just US casualties in the two operations that should be easy to track down.

    I don't enjoy researching these questions but if someone who does enjoy these inquiries could come up with a creditable comparison I'd be interested to know.
     
  18. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    I read Atkinson's Day of Battle during the summer. I remember him stating something to the effect that the Salerno landings were larger than Normandy in some capacity, either in numbers of troops in the initial assault or numbers of landing craft used, I can't remember. If I get a chance, I will try to find the correct comparison and cite it here.

    One comparison that I have not been able to pin down is that total casualties for Okinawa were larger than Normandy. This is taking the whole three months of both campaigns. .

    Initially casualties on both sides were relatively light, as the Japanese made only minimal efforts to defend the northern 2/3 of the island. They more than made up for that in the southern part of the island.
     
  19. wtid45

    wtid45 Very Senior Member

    A link on casualties in Okinawa, I cant atest to its accurcy though. Battle of Okinawa
     
  20. Peccavi

    Peccavi Senior Member

    Okinawa - 300 warships, 1139 other ships, 60,000 men landed first day.

    Less ships than Husky (2500) and less men on first day than DDay.
     

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