The Sacred Warriors
This is another book about the kamikaze.
On January 8, 1941, under orders from Tojo, a pamphlet called Battle Ethics was issued, saying the following:
”A sublime sense of self-sacrifice must guide you throughout life and death. Think not of death as you push through with every ounce of your effort, fulfilling your duties. Make it your joy to do everything with all your spiritual and physical strength. Fear not to die for the cause of everlasting justice. Do not stay alive in dishonor. Do not die in such a way as to leave a bad name behind you.”
This is the type of thinking that caused wounded Japanese soldiers to hold hand grenades against their stomach and blow themselves up rather than be taken prisoner.
The book also gives details about the effect of Japanese propaganda on the people of Saipan, which lead to many of them killing themselves rather than go with the US troops.
Some of the Japanese propaganda, though, was based on unfortunate fact:
”Customs officials on the US West Coast found that large numbers of packages from the Pacific contained Japanese jawbones and even skulls sent home as souvenirs, a grisly indication of how the Americans felt about their enemies, who in Bataan, Burma, Hong Kong and Singapore executed, starved, beat, and worked prisoners to death.”
”Truck drivers mounted Japanese skulls, painted in different colors, on the fenders of their trucks as decorations. Necklaces made from the teeth of dead Japanese soldiers were much in vogue. Collarbones made unusual paper knives.”
Another incident that upset (rightly) the Japanese was the sinking of the hospital ship Buenos Aires Maru in November, 1943, by B-17 bombers.
In March of 1944, after an unsuccessful Japanese attack on Bougainville,
Major General Robert S. Beightler gave the order to shoot any wounded Japanese instead of taking them prisoner.
The Yasukuni Shrine was very important to the fighting men who felt that, if they died, their souls would go to the shrine where they would meet their warrior friends.
The Japanese honored their dead soldiers (but not necessarily the living ones.) Nine of the ten men involved in using midget submarines at Pearl Harbor died, and they were considered thereafter “nine war gods,” and national heroes.
The American military did not understand the psychology behind the bushido fighting spirit.
The book also talks about military training in the regular schools, and the Information Bureau which was responsible for the propaganda against the Allies.
”The Japanese in the field had few medical facilities. The badly wounder were regarded as 'damaged goods.'”
The kamikaze concept did not appear on any particular date, as before the actual use of “Special Attack Corps” groups, some individual pilots on their own volition tried to dive their planes into US ships.
Newspapers in Japan were one of the major propaganda sources, writing things like “It is this unique spirit of consecration to the Emperor that makes the Japanese people willing, even eager, to send forth their men to die in battle.”
Reference is made to the Emperor giving his personal approval to the Army and Navy efforts to make “surprise attack weapons.” These included explosive boats, human torpedoes, midget subs, and other similar things.
One Japanese response to the B-29 bombers was to train pilots in ramming. The training resulted in 14 deaths and 21 planes destroyed. 18 B-29s were destroyed in the first twenty-five bombing missions, and five of those were by ramming.
Newspapers urged the beheading of captured American pilots.
By March of 1944 all first-class restaurants were closed. Geisha were drafted to work in factories, and girls were forbidden to wear makeup or have their hair in a perm.
”Orders to produce Weapon No. 6, the human torpedo, or kaiten, had been the first official signal for the use of 'special attack' strategy.”
There were more volunteers than kaitens available.
A good example of media distortion of what was going on was the battle of Taiwan. The Japanese newspaper Nippon Times claimed 57 American warships were sunk or damaged, including 19 aircraft carriers. 16 ships were positively identified as being sunk. The Japanese also lost 650 planes both in the air and destroyed on the ground, while the US lost 76 planes.
In reality, two cruisers were torpedoed but not sunk.
Special Attack officers who died in “body-crashing” maneuvers were elevated two grades. Noncommissioned officers got either a three or four grade elevation if they died.
The Japanese losses at Leyte were abound 50,000 men.
On Nov. 28, 1944, a Japanese ship named the Chinano sailed, carrying fifty Ohka attack planes. The ship was sunk by the US sub Archerfish.
One of the Japanese propaganda programs was called the “One Hundred Million in Rage Destroy the Anglo-Americans.” This one gave instructions to civilians on how to use grenades and bamboo spears.
From January to October of 1944, the Japanese Navy lost 42% of the pilots it had at the start of the year. This meant more inexperienced pilots were used, and they were shot down easier, leading to more losses, even less experienced pilots being used, etc.
On March 10, the day after the first major fire-bombing of Tokyo, the Japanese government made all males from 12 to 60 and all females from 12 to 40 subject to being called up for home defense.
The Oka (which is also spelled Ohka) had a top speed of about 350 knots and an 11 second boost to escape enemy fighters. Its range was around 30,000 meters. It could dive at up to 600 mph. On March 18 of 1945 a flight of 16 Bettys with their Okas was launched against the Americans. Before they planes got close enough to launch the piloted bombs they were attacked by American fighter aircraft, and every single one of the Bettys was shot down and none of the Okas were launched.
When FDR died, Radio Tokyo described him as “a great man-one of the greatest statesmen.” The Japanese Prime Minister sent his condolences to the American people, but the Mainichi newspaper called his death “Heaven's punishment.”
American planes dropped leaflets carrying an “Appeal to the People” of Japan. The leaflets showed a B-29 dropping firebombs, and certain cities were circled, indicating that they were going to be ones attacked. The leaflet read:
”You are not the enemy of America. Our enemy is the Japanese militarists, who dragged you into this war. We believe that peace will make you free from the oppression of the militarists, and a better Japan will then be born anew. However, bombs have no eyes, and there is no knowing where they may fall. As you know,, America, which stands for humanity, does not wish to injure the innocent people, so you had better evacuate these cities.”
Not all of the kamikaze pilots were willing volunteers, however. Some “went to their deaths disillusioned, bitter, and angry...Men who did not volunteer were severely disciplined. ...Army men...who returned to base, were abused. If they continued to return from unsuccessful sorties they were put in an isolation area...They were treated as cowards who were afraid to die and accused of deliberately damaging their planes so they could return to base.”
There's a section in the book about American's who were on the bombing missions who were shot down and captured by the Japanese, and how many of them ended up being executed.
The book also goes into US preparations for biological warfare against Japan.
The book has a chapter on Operation Olympic. The Japanese had 50 special bases for suicide aircraft readied for the invasion, including 1,200 biplanes. There were also over 200 Okas ready for use.
By the end of the war there were around a hundred aircraft-producing plants being constructed underground.
Some of the Japanese plans for the invasion are detailed, including 330 Japanese Navy planes that were to attack the task force, 2,000 Army and Navy fighters to try and take air control, 825 suicide planes to hit the transports, and another 2,000 suicide plans to attack in waves of 300 to 400 each hour. Even though much of their strength would have been destroyed in the preliminary US bombardment, enough would have survived “...would have made Okinawa seem almost like a Sunday school picnic.”
Some problems with Japanese preparations for the invasion were areas that were supposed to have been mined but weren't, inadequate stocks of food and ammunition, and very vulnerable lines of communication.
”The use of aircraft on suicide missions created a psychological shock among the Allied forces that needs no exaggeration.” At least 57 ships were sunk, 85 suffered heavy damage and/or casualties, and 221 suffered lesser damage.
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