Valor at Okinawa
by Lawrence Cortesi
Kensington Publishing, 1981, 290 pages
This forgotten paperback tells the story of mass kamikaze
attacks against American ships around Okinawa. After two chapters on
battle preparations by the American and Japanese sides, the remaining 13
chapters focus on the period from March 19 to April 12, 1945, when the Japanese
carried out numerous kamikaze and conventional aerial attacks.
This book also includes 30 pages of photos and several maps. Despite an
extensive bibliography of four pages, this paperback contains numerous historical
errors and other frequent mistakes such as misspellings of key names.
Valor at Okinawa has a couple of features not found
in other Japanese kamikaze histories: use of extensive dialogue and integration
of the stories of suicide aircraft with escort fighter planes, conventional
bombers, and the Navy's surface fleet. Frequent dialogue makes this book easier to
read, but some conversations sound quite stilted, and the author most certainly
made up most of them. An American air group commander surely did not
say the following over the radio after spotting enemy planes, "I think
those Bettys are carrying those small suicide Bakas (Ohkas) that zoom like hell
once they're released, and you can't catch them. If one of those Bakas hits a
ship, it'll do a lot of damage" (p. 169). The book's scope includes all
battle actions, not just kamikaze attacks, carried out by the Japanese Navy to stop
the advance of the American fleet at Okinawa. The author includes details of
kamikaze escorts and conventional bombers. In addition, the book tells the story
of the suicide mission of the remaining
Japanese fleet led by the battleship Yamato, which sunk on the way to
Okinawa after attacks by American planes on April 7, 1945.
Historical inaccuracies abound in Valor at Okinawa. A
few examples illustrate this. The author refers to explosive suicide
motorboats as "kaiten" (pp. 23, 103, 110), even though kaiten were
actually manned torpedoes launched from submarines. Although the book
refers to Kagoshima Air Base as one of the sortie bases for kamikazes (pp. 71, 152-3),
the actual base from which these kamikaze planes made sorties was Kushira Air Base. The paperback states a kamikaze hit the
carrier Yorktown on March 19, 1945 (p. 73), but actually a bomb hit this
carrier on March 18 and the carrier's guns then shot down the plane (Ewing
1999, 48; Hoyt 1983, 228). A Japanese bomber
dropped two bombs on the carrier Franklin (Warner 1982, 179), but the
author mistakenly reports that the plane carrying the two bombs also crashed
into the ship (p. 86). As a final example, the book states the commander of
kamikaze attacks at Okinawa, Vice Admiral Ugaki, was in Oita on March 19, 1945 (p. 48),
but Ugaki (1991, 552, 560) writes in his diary that he was at Kanoya Air Base.
This error-filled paperback deserves to be forgotten.
Ewing, Steve. 1999. Patriots Point in Remembrance.
Missoula, MT: Pictorial Histories Publishing.
Hoyt, Edwin P. 1983. The Kamikazes. Short Hills, NJ:
Ugaki, Matome. 1991. Fading Victory: The Diary of Admiral Matome
Ugaki, 1941-1945. Translated by Masataka Chihaya. Edited by Donald M. Goldstein
and Katherine V. Dillon. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.
Warner, Denis, Peggy
Warner, with Commander Sadao Seno. 1982. The Sacred Warriors: Japan's Suicide
Legions. New York: Van Nostrand