Okinawa, Japan. A city known for being the place for the final battle of WWII in 1945. But as bad as the battle on the surface was, what was underneath was even worse.
For nearly three months the Japanese were able to keep Allied forces at bay. Tens of thousand of Japanese soldiers, local citizens, and Korean laborers had dug a vast series of tunnels and caves under the city in preparation of the Allies landing. After the war many of the tunnels were sealed and forgotten. A few of them have been explored, but are considered dangerous and are not open to the public. The Japanese used the tunnels to store their armaments and there could still be some. They also built them with multiple entrances and exits so the Japanese could get in and out easily, affording them the element of surprise. The tactic proved so effective, with over 7,000 men lost between the two sides in just 11 days, that the atomic bomb was eventually used to win there.
The residents of Okinawa feared for their life and well-being and did not have access to the military caves dug beneath their city. Many of them fled to a large caverns in the nearby city of Itoman. The caves were naturally carved out of ancient coral reefs by water erosion. A small river ran through the caves and whenever it rained outside, the water level got so high inside the cave that many people drowned. People fled their homes for the caves so quickly they brought little in the way of food and supplies. Deadly insects also lived within the caves. A lack of sanitation combined with all the dead bodies that were within the cave created a bad living situation. The Japanese army pushed the people further back into the cave so they could not be heard and they were not allowed to leave. Rockfalls happened inside the caves and more people were killed.
The Japanese navy had built an underground command center on Oroku Penisuala during the war. The tunnels were concrete-lined with ventilation and electricity. Some of the tunnels were 1000 feet long. The rear admiral was stationed there, as well as the other elite of the military. They were cut off from the rest of the island during the fighting. They committed suicide, in various ways including grenades and poison, with the last man shooting himself.
A small town called Haebaru contained a small military hospital. Local girls, some as young and teens, were made to help with the wounded. The hospital had to be moved to underground beneath a ridge for safety as the battle was raging above ground. The tunnels were filled with bunk beds, with two men per bed due to a lack of space. Too many men and too little fresh water caused disease to run rampant. Doctors, nurses, and civilians worked round the clock to the point of exhaustion. Once the Americans approached the military staff fled the hospital and those that remained were killed by military officers to keep them from revealing any secrets. At the end of the war, many of the hospital tunnels collapsed and the entrances were sealed.
While everything was happening on land and under it, there were also battles raging at sea and in the air. Off the coast of the Japanese islands there are several wreckages of ships and planes from that time. Kamikaze plane fighters took out several of the ships in the US Fleet, including the 348 foot USS Emmons. The ship now rests under 150 feet of water. Diving down to the ship is now the only way to see it, so it's under the water we go.
To see these segments and learn all the details of Okinawa's underground watch Tunnels Of Hell!
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