Events leading to the attack on Pearl Harbor
Before we discuss the actual attack of Pearl Harbor at 0800 on December 7th, 1941 we need to look at the reasons behindJapan’s drastic action to attackAmerica’s naval assets in the Pacific.
Japanis an island nation that has very few naturally occurring mineral assets. They were at the time of the war and still are dependent on imports for their manufacturing needs for both domestic needs and for exports. Equally and more importantly at the time was the need for raw materials for the rapid expansion of their military. Japan’s need for raw materials was the driving factor in its expansion into Manchuriain 1931 and the all out war between the two nations in 1937. In 1940 Japan invaded French Indochina in an attempt to embargo all supplies into China including war supplies purchased for the U.S. In retaliation for this America embargoed all oil exports to Japan and caused a serious supply problem for Japan’s expanding navy. The Japanese Navy estimated it had a mere two years of reserve oil supplies in their bunkers for domestic use and a one year supply if they went to war and that would seriously effect their planned invasion of the Dutch East Indies to seize not only their oil assets but their rich rice and hemp assets.
In early 1941 Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto started planning the attack on Pearl Harbor with other military leaders as a pre-emptive strike to prevent the U.S. from retaliating against Japans incursions and attack’s in the Eastern Pacific. It was thought by all that with the destruction of the American Pacific Fleet and specifically the American Carriers that America would sue for peace and allow Japan to stop its advances but keep the areas they had taken over. Unfortunately for the Japanese the American carriers were not in port that morning as they were at sea practicing maneuvers and were spared being attacked. That fact would later come back to haunt the Japanese Navy at the battle of Midway Island where the Japanese lost four of their front line carriers, the Akagi, Kaga, Soryu and the Hiryu. All four Japanese Carriers sunk had been part of the attacking force that had attackedPearl Harbor. After the battle the Japanese Navy was never again a major factor in the Pacific War.
Admiral Yamamoto took full responsibility for the major defeat the Japanese fleet suffered as was the custom of commanders in the Japanese military. The Admiral was later killed in an ambush by American P38 Lightning’s after American intelligence personnel intercepted and decoded his flight plans to visit front line units. The attack occurred on April 18, 1943 and killed the greatest strategist the Japanese had, thus limiting their effectiveness for the rest of the war.
The mistake that cost Japan her National Honor
Japan’s sense of Honor is both historic and on going. The major religion’s at the time of WW2 were Shintoism, Buddhism and Bushido Bushido meaning “Way of the Warrior-Knight”. These three separate religions were merged into one belief and the military embraced Bushido as its Code of Honor. Honor was and still is a very important part of the Japanese culture.
With this in mind we come to why through a series of errors, incompetency and the Japanese military’s practice of keeping Top Secret information away from their Diplomats and their staff the attack on Pearl Harborwas viewed by both sides as a sneak attack. The attack had been in the planning stages for months by Admiral Yamamoto and his staff of advisors and after it had been accepted on November 3rd, 1941. The date set for the attack was December 7th, 1941 and the attacking Japanese Fleet left port on November 26th, 1941.
The 14 part memo ending negotiations with America about America’s embargo and Japans incursions and any peace negotiations was supposed to be delivered 30 minutes before the attack. Due to a problem with decoding the message using their Alphabetical Typewriter 97 the message wasn’t delivered until several hours after the attack had begun.
Without the memo being delivered on time, the United Statesconsidered the attack on Pearl Harboras unprovoked and intentionally subversive. With this feeling in mind President Roosevelt delivered his famous Day of Infamy speech to Congress and the American people.
With the attack occurring before the memo was delivered the Japanese felt they had dishonored themselves in the eyes of theUnited Statesand the world
The Philosophical and Religious differences between the United States and Japan.
WW2 in the Pacific against Japanwas a war that was especially brutal and intense. This was due in part because of the differences in the way each country looked at the other. As mentioned previously the Japanese military were for the most part followers of Bushido and it Code of Honor. That code required its followers to give complete and utter obedience to Emperor Hirohito. Because he was considered a living God, the Emperors word was final and obeyed without question. Along with that the military followed the Bushido code of honor that thought the act of surrender was a sign of dishonor and cowardice. When American troops surrendered to Japanese forces they were looked upon a sub-human and not deserving of any treatment even coming close to humanitarian. They like any other surrendering military were imprisoned in crowded and deplorable prison camps and starved, tortured and killed in many cases. When it came to the battles themselves the Japanese soldiers, sailors or pilots would in almost all cases fight to the death rather than dishonor himself or his family by surrendering to their enemy. The Banzai charge was a tactic used by Japanese troops as a last resort to either win the battle or die with Honor rather than surrender in disgrace. This made for some of the most intense and brutal battles of any war before or since that time. The Japanese thought it was their duty to their Emperor and their families to die with Honor rather that survive in Shame and Dishonor for eternity. American and Allied troops on the other hand thought that ritual suicide was against the laws of God. Although surrender was their last choice it was generally though it is better to survive to fight another day.
This difference in philosophy was to make the entire war one of unprecedented brutality and horror. The Allied forces found it necessary in most cases to completely wipe out Japanese strongholds killing the enemy rather than taking prisoners. No quarter or mercy was given by either side as the war progressed. The dead and wounded reached unbelievable numbers as the two sides fought for domination of the pacific. As the war started and continued to go badly for the Japanese they became more and more desperate to regain the offensive. Banzai charges and Kamikaze attacks became the norm rather than the exception as the Japanese military became more desperate the closer the Americans got to Japan itself.
The Attack on Pearl Harbor
The attack on Pearl Harborbegan with the launching of Japanese attack planes as dawn broke and 361 attack aircraft took off from six different Japanese Carriers The 1stWave consisted of 183 attacking aircraft divided into 3 Groups.
1st Group: 50 Nakajima BN5 (Kate) Bombers equipped with 800 kg. (1760 lb.) armor piercing bombs organized into 4 sections, 40 BN-5 bombers equipped with Type 91 torpedoes organized into 4 sections. Their targets were the Battleships and Aircraft Carriers.
2nd Group: 54 Aichi D3A (Val) Dive Bombers equipped with 249 kg. (550 lb.) general purpose bombs. Their targets wereFordIsland and Wheeler Field.
3rg Group: 45 Mitsubishi A6M (Zero) fighters. Their assignment was air control andstrafing.
The Second Wave consisted of 171 attacking aircraft also divided into 3 Groups.
1st Group: 54 BN5 (Kate) bombers equipped with 249 kg (550 lb) and 60 kg (132 lb) general purpose bombs. Their targets were as follows: 27 aircraft targeting aircraft and hangars at Kanoehe,FordIsland and Barbers Point. 27 aircraft targeting aircraft and hangars at Hickam Field.
2nd Group: 81 D3A (Val) Dive Bombers equipped with 249kg (550lb) general purpose bombs. Their targets were Aircraft Carriers and Cruisers.
3rd Group: 36 A6M (Zero) Fighters Their targets were aircraft at Ford Island, Hickam Field, Wheeler Field, Barber’s Point and Kaneohe. They were also to engage any American fighters who tried to engage their attacking force and to strafe any targets of opportunity they saw.
Source: Geografic Travels
The Japanese has accomplished complete surprise and the attacking aircraft were unopposed in their initial attacks. The code words TORA TORA TORA were sent back to Japanese Fleet Commander Admiral Chuichi Nagumo that complete surprise had been achieved. The attack crippled the American Pacific Fleet but missed the most important targets being the American Aircraft Carriers who were at sea during the attack. The damage and casualties are listed below.
USA: 218 KIA, 364 WIA.
USN: 2,008 KIA, 710 WIA.
USMC: 109 KIA, 69 WIA.
Civilians: 68 KIA, 35 WIA.
TOTAL: 2,403 KIA, 1,178 WIA.
USS Arizona (BB-39) – total loss when a bomb hit her magazine.
USS Oklahoma (BB-37) – Total loss when she capsized and sunk in The harbor.
USS California (BB-44) – Sunk at her berth. Later raised and repaired.
USS West Virginia (BB-48) – Sunk at her berth. Later raised and repaired.
USS Nevada – (BB-36) Beached to prevent sinking. Later repaired.
USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) – Light damage.
USS Maryland (BB-46) – Light damage.
USS Tennessee (BB-43) Light damage.
USS Utah (AG-16) – (former battleship used as a target) – Sunk.
USS New Orleans (CA-32) – Light Damage..
USS San Francisco (CA-38) – Light Damage.
USS Detroit (CL-8) – Light Damage.
USS Raleigh (CL-7) – Heavily damaged but repaired.
USS Helena (CL-50) – Light Damage.
USS Honolulu (CL-48) – Light Damage..
USS Downes (DD-375) – Destroyed. Parts salvaged.
USS Cassin – (DD-372) Destroyed. Parts salvaged.
USS Shaw (DD-373) – Very heavy damage.
USS Helm (DD-388) – Light Damage.
USS Ogala (CM-4) – Sunk but later raised and repaired.
USS Curtiss (AV-4) – Severely damaged but later repaired.
USS Vestal (AR-4) – Severely damaged but later repaired.
USS Sotoyomo (YT-9) – Sunk but later raised and repaired.
188 Aircraft destroyed (92 USN and 92 U.S. Army Air Corps.)
Source: Pearl HarborStatistics
The death toll atPearl Harborwas 2,403 military and civilians; the death toll from 9-11-11 was 2,977. Pearl Harbor led to a war with the Japanese Empire that ended in victory for theUnited States. 9-11 led to a war withIraqandAfghanistanand world wide Terrorism, victory against terrorism has yet to be totally achieved at this time.
The War in the Pacific
The following is a time line of events after the attack on Pearl Harbor by American forces.
Timeline source: Emerson Kent.com…… http://www.emersonkent.com/history/timelines/wwii_asia_pacific.htm
Map source: U.S. History.com Link: http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1693.html
Battle of the Coral Sea
The United States went on the offensive in the Pacific War starting with the Battle of the Coral Sea .This battle marked to first time in history opposing aircraft carriers battled each other; the battle was fought with out either force seeing each other visually. The Americans lost 3 ships sunk, the USS Lexington (aircraft carrier), the USS Neosho (oiler) and the USS Sims (destroyer) and the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown was severely damaged. Japanese losses were light by comparison loosing only the light carrier Shoho sunk and the carrier Shokoku receiving only moderate damage. The importance of the battle was that althoughAmerica lost the Tactical Battle it was a Strategic Victory in that the Japanese were stopped for the first time and turned back. It was also a moral boost for the American people.
Battle of Midway Island
The next major battle was the Battle for Midway Island where American and Japanese forces met again in what may have been to most pivotal battle of the war. The Japanese Navy had been using the same code JN-25 for years because they believed it to be unbreakable. American intelligence cipher experts were able to read just enough to intrepid the planned Japanese attack onMidwayIsland. They knew the date and time of the attack and positioned their carrier force to intercept them. The ensuing battle was to change the color of the rest of the war,Japan would now be on the defensive instead of the offensive and her military forces although fighting viciously would also be fighting a loosing battle. There was also a huge moral victory scored by the U.S. Navy as all four Japanese carriers that took part in the attack onPearl Harbor were sunk. The Japanese also lost a huge number of aircraft but more importantly they lost many of their veteran and seasoned pilots and air crews that would come back later to haunt them.
Casualties of the battle were also very lopsided in men and equipment and follows below.
US Pacific Fleet Losses
- 340 killed
- Aircraft Carrier USS Yorktown
- Destroyer USS Hammann
- 145 aircraft
Imperial Japanese Navy Losses
- · 3,057 killed
- · Aircraft Carrier Akagi
- · Aircraft Carrier Kaga
- · Aircraft Carrier Soryu
- · Aircraft Carrier Hiryu
- · Heavy Cruiser Mikuma
- · 228 aircraft
Guadalcanalwas the next major hard fought battle and it was strategically important to both sides because of the airfield the Japanese were desperately trying to complete. If they were able to complete it they could then stage long range bombers there and Hawaii would be within reach once again and denying the Americans a port to harbor their fleet. Fortunes were not to smile on them though because after a prolonged and hard fought battle the Americans were successful in winning the battle and the U.S. Navy’s Sea Bee’s were able to complete the airfield and it was the Americans who were able to use it as a launch point for their long range bombers and fighters to reek havoc on Japanese forces.
After many more successful but bloody campaigns, came the Battle of the Philippine Sea also know as The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot and spelled the end of Japanese air dominance for the rest of the war. The capture of the island of Tinian would later prove to be the key battle and victory that would end the war with the Japanese Empire. Tinian was also a test of the Marine Corps new Amphibious Assault Vehicles also know as LVT’s they now allowed the Marines to ride past the beach and into safer fighting positions and allowed more options for the American battle planners.Tinian was also at that time the largest airfield in American possession.
Next came the Battle of Leyte Gulf
and this Naval Battle would spell the end of the Japanese navy as a threat and an effective fighting force. The Japanese had gambled they could lure Admiral Halsey and his 3rd Fleet to go after their decoy force of carriers. It was planned for that Northern Decoy Force would be discovered and attacked while the two Southern Forces could sneak up through the San Bernardino Straight and the Surigoa Straight to spring a surprise attack on the beach covering force and the supply transports and thus repelling the attacking forces on Leyte. Their plan started to go astray when the decoy force was not detected but the two main attacking forces were. The main Japanese attack forces were engaged and forced to retreat back the way they came and the Americans thought they had beaten off the enemy. The decoy fleet was then discovered and Admiral Halsey set off with his 3rd Fleet, TF-34 that consisted of the battle ships to engage what Admiral Halsey wrongly thought was the main attacking force. That error left the support anchorage lightly defended and vulnerable to the return of the Japanese Fleet. A defensive force of 13 ships designated Taffy 3 were all that stood between the unarmed troop transports and supply ships for the landing atLeyte. This battle was called the Battle of Samar.
Battle of Samar
Taffy 3 consisted of the following 13 ships commanded by Rear Admiral Clifton A. F. “Ziggy” Sprague U.S.N..
6 Escort Carriers: USSFanshawBay (CVE-70),USS St Lo (CVE-63), USS White Plaines (CVE-66), USSKalininBay (CVE-68), USSKitkunBay (CVE-71) and the USSGambierBay (CVE-73).
3 Destroyers : USS Heermann (DD-532), USS HOEL (DD-533) and the USS Johnston (DD-557)
4 Destroyer Escorts : USS John C. Butler (DE-339), USS Raymond (DE-341), USS Dennis (DE-405) and the USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413)
These 13 lone and under armed ships engaged 23 ships of the Japanese Imperial Navy including 4 Battleships, 6 Heavy Cruisers, 2 Light Cruisers, 11 Destroyers and 30 Aircraft. One of the battleships was the mighty Yamato with her huge 18 inch guns. Out numbered and out gunned the American escorts who could not outrun the faster Japanese ships had no choice but turn into the enemy and go on the offensive. Being armed with 5 inch or smaller guns that would not penetrate the heavy armor of the enemy ships all 7 US Destroyers and Destroyer Escorts used their Torpedoes as their mail attack weapons and fired their smaller weapons as both a distraction and to cause whatever damage they were able to. Although suffering significant damage to themselves they were able to inflict much damage themselves and in so doing made the Japanese fleet retreat and head home.
American Casualties and Losses
2 escort carriers
1 destroyer escort sunk
3 escort carriers
2 destroyer escorts damaged
23 aircraft lost
1,583 killed and missing
913 wounded 3 heavy cruisers sunk
3 heavy cruisers damaged
1 destroyer damaged
The Battle of Iwo Jima
Source: History of War
Iwoas most Marines will say in public was a island atoll that was only 4.5 miles long at its longest and 2.5 miles wide at its widest. Its most obvious feature isMt.Suribachithat towers over the rest of the island. The words Iwo Jima in Japanese meansSulfurIslandand the island smelled strongly of it. The Marines would say that smell came from the open gates of Hell because of the smell and tenacity with which the Japanese fought. The Japanese had fortified the island with 750 major defense positions connected by 13,000 yards of tunnels that allowed the Japanese to shift positions to reinforce where needed. There were also 21,000 Japanese soldiers hiding underground waiting for the pre-invasion bombardment to stop so they could then engage the Marines at point blank range. OnMt.Suribachialone there were 1,000 cave entrances and pill boxes. The Commanding Officer Tadamichi Kuribayashi had well planned the defense of the island and broke with the standard defense tactics of stopping the enemy before they reached the beach. His plan was to allow the Marines to bunch up on the beach and then bring down on them all the fire his troops could manage. Each Japanese soldier was expected to die fighting for the Emperor and take at least 10 of the enemy with them. This mindset meant that of the 21,000 soldiers on the island, only 212 were taken prisoner and most of those were wounded to a point they could no longer fight or die by ritual suicide.
Iwo Jimawas the only battle where American casualties were higher than the Japanese. Of the 30,000 Marines that landed 6,891 were killed and 18,070 were wounded. 25% of all the Medals of Honor that were given to Marines during the Pacific War were given to Marines who fought onIwo Jima. Although the Marines suffered more wounded it is deceiving because 20,788 of the 21,000 Japanese soldiers were killed and not counted as wounded.
Iwo Jima was important mainly because of its 2 functioning airfields and the 3rd under construction. The Japanese aircraft stationed there routinely attacked American B 29 and other bombers on their way to bomb Okinawa and theisland ofJapan itself.
In American hands the island offered a forward airfield where B 29 and B 24 heavy bombers along with P 51 Mustang fighters who flew escort for the bomber formations, could be stationed for bombing missions all over the central and eastern pacific including Japan herself.
Battle of Okinawa
The Battle of Okinawa was the final battle in the pacific prior to the planned invasion of the Japanese home island. It was for the Japanese to last stronghold between the Allied Forces and their homeland and they fought with the tenacity of desperation. The Japanese commander General Mitsuri Ushijima knew before the battle even started that the Japanese would not prevail so his goal was to delay the American invasion force for as long as he and his men could hold out and to kill or wound as many Americans as possible. The two highest ranking officers on both sides, Japanese General Mitsuri Ushijima and American General Simon B. Buckner were both killed in battles on the island.
The Battle of Okinawa held many firsts, it was the first time American troops fought on Japanese soil, between American and British forces it was the largest group of forces to land in the pacific totaling 548,000 personnel by the end of the operation. There were a total of 1,300 ships lying off of the coast including war ships and supply vessels. This included more than 40 Aircraft Carriers with more than 1,000 attack aircraft, 18 Battleships and 200 Destroyers. The rest of the ships were Amphibious Assault ships, supply and repair vessels. The British Navy also had a contingent of their warships including 50 warships of which 17 were Aircraft Carriers with 450 aircraft. Side Note: British aircraft carriers had steel decks instead of the wood plank decks American carriers had so the effects of Japanese Kamikaze had much less effectual damage than on American carriers and no British carriers were sunk as a result.
Operation Ten-go was a Japanese Imperial Navy operation involving 10 Japanese ships including the mighty Heavy Battleship Yamato ,the Light Cruiser Yahagi and 8 Destroyers. The battle plan was for this small but powerful fleet to sail to Okinawaand fight their way through the Allied fleet and then beach themselves and act like an additional shore battery until their expected destruction. Unfortunately for the Ten-go Force they were spotted by American submarines who radioed their course and speed to the American 5th Fleet Commander Admiral Raymond Spruance who dispatched an opposing force to intercept and sink the Ten-go force before they became a threat. On April 7th, 1945 The Ten-go force came under attack by 300 American carrier based attack aircraft. In a two hour span the Battleship Yamato, Light Cruiser Yahagi and four of the eight Destroyers were sunk and the other were damaged and forced to retreat. Operation Ten-go was to be the last naval battle the Imperial Japanese Navy was to be involved in meaningfully for the rest of the war. Casualties were totally lopsided with the loss of 6 major fighting ships and 3,700 sailors, while the American attack force lost only 10US aircraft and 12 airmen.
The Japanese would now use their Kamikaze aircraft with a vengeance to reap as much death and destruction as possible to the Allied Fleet. The Battle of Okinawa would prove to be the bloodiest battle fought in the entire pacific war. The casualties were enormously high on both sides. They were as follows and controversy still abounds because accurate counts on Japanese and Okinawan civilians are hard to confirm.
34 Allied ships were sunk
368 ships and crafts were damaged
763 fleet aircraft
12,000 American Marines, Sailors and Army Killed
16 combat ships (including Battleship Yamato)
107,539 soldiers and sailors killed
7,830 aircraft destroyed
23,764 were sealed in caves
142,058 civilians killed
The Battle of Okinawa was so large that I won’t take the time to go over the entire battle but will provide you with links should you wish to read all about it.
1. http://www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/okinawa/ The most comprehensive link
Americas Submarine Service
The submarines of the US Navy played a critical part in the war with Japan. Not only did they sink many Japanese war ships but more importantly they shut off Japan’s supply lines of raw materials and most importantly OIL. This feat was something the German Navy was never able to accomplish in the Atlantic. On Dec. 7th, 1941 the US Navy had 21 submarines attached to the Pacific Fleet. The makeup of this submarine fleet was 6 V Class , 3 P Class and 12 T Class subs. Of the 21 subs only 11 could really be considered ready for action. At 1600 hours (4:00 pm) Admiral Harold Stark sent a message to the pacific submarine fleet to “Put to Sea” and begin “Unrestricted Warfare” against ships of the Imperial Japanese Navy and ships belonging to the Empire of Japan. By using the words Unrestricted Warfare it in effect nullified the 1930 London Naval Treaty specifically concerning ships “Part 4 Article 22” that were not classified as warships. This then allowedAmericas submarines to attack and sink Japanese supply vessels with out any notice of the attack. By eliminatingJapan’s supply line for raw materials including oil their military would be denied the supplies needed to conduct the war.
One of the early problems the US Navy had with its Mark 14 torpedoes were the Magnetic Influence Exploder Mechanism that resulted in most fired torpedoes being duds and not exploding on contact. After intensive investigations and modifications the US Navy’s Submarine Fleet was equipped with effective torpedoes and the Japanese Imperial Navy and the merchant fleet of the Empire of Japan came under unrelenting and successful submarine attacks. Total tonnage sunk by the 187 American subs in the pacific was 1,284 Japanese war ships and supply vessels with a combined tonnage of 5,146,307 tons. American submarine losses were 52 by the end of the war. Casualties were extreamly high with a percentage of 20% meaning 1 out of every 5 submariners in the pacific gave the ultimate sacrifice totaling 3,505. Submarines lost were the:
Key to Symbols
|(1) Lost due to enemy action: Aircraft||(5) Lost due to enemy action: Mines|
|(2) Lost due to enemy action: Surface Vessel||(6) Lost due to enemy action: Submarines|
|(3) Lost due to enemy action: Stranding||(7) Lost due to enemy action: Circular run|
|(4) Lost due to enemy action: Operational||(8) Lost due to enemy action: Unknown|
|∆ Killed in Action||* Friendly Forces|
Where more than one number is listed, the indicated causes are probable but not certain.
Source: Valor at Sea Link: http://www.valoratsea.com/losses1.htm
“THE ETERNAL PATROL”
Submarine veterans of World War II never consider their fellow submariners “lost”. Rather, because they went down with their ship in the service of their country and are now entombed in their final resting place beneath the sea, they and their boats are forever on “Eternal Patrol”
Air War over Japan
Map of Fire Bombing Targets
Doolittle Raid 4-18-1945
Map source and link:
The air war over Japanstarted with the Doolittle Raid in April 18th, 1942. It was conducted not so much for the material damage it might cause but to demoralize the Japanese people and to force the recall of some combat forces for defense. The raid also added an urgently needed moral boost for the American people. The raid consisted of 16 B-25 Mitchell Medium Bombers that took off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet Until the capture of some vital Japanese airfields the Japanese had built on some of the pacific islands only a few bombing raids were launched from bases in China and the American Aleutian Islands that were basically ineffective. With the taking of the Mariana Islands the home island of Japan was now within the range of American B 29 Super Fortresses. Initially the B 29’s flew high level bombing runs at 25,000 feet and above because at this altitude the bombers were out of range for both the anti-aircraft artillery and Japanese fighters that were unpressurised. The problem with bombing from this high altitude accuracy was severely effected, a little know effect at the time was the Jet Stream and its effects on both the aircraft as well and the bombs themselves. Bombers flying into the jet stream may have an indicated air speed of over 350 MPH the actual over the target ground speed may have been as low as 50 MPH. Bombing at this altitude although safe for the aircraft and their crews proved ineffective and the mission parameters were soon changed. In July 1944 Major General Curtis E. LeMay took over as Commander of the XXI (21st) Bomber Command. After seeing the poor results of the high level bombing raids he broke with traditional American bombing stratigy of high level bombing missions.LeMay decided on a strategy of nighttime low level bombing raids using early cluster bombs filled with incendiary bomblets of Napalm. To facilitate the greatest bomb loads he ordered all defensive armament removed from the bombers including all .50 Caliber machine guns along with their ammunition and the gunners themselves. This allowed the B 29’s to double their bomb load and at flying at such low elevation the accuracy was greatly improved. The Fire Bombing raids proved to be very effective but even at the time was very controversial and time has made them even more so and the same can be said of the fire bombings ofGermany. The strategy of fire bombing was to drop the incendiaries in a complete circle with multiple groups of bombers to cause the effect of a fire storm. As the fires grew because of the wooden houses and structures in the Japanese cities the fires would cause hurricane force winds as the fires consumed more and more oxygen. Temperatures of over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit were reached incinerating everything and everyone caught in it. The large cities ofTokyo andOsaka and many more were burned out and civilian casualties may have reached 500,000.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki
No story about the Pacific War can be complete with out a discussion of the two Atomic Bombs Little Boy and Fat Man and the Trinity Bomb Test and the Manhattan Project. So much has been said and discussed about the morality of using such weapons both at the time of the war and ever since that it is reasonable to take some time to discuss the thinking of the time. The plan to invade the home island of Japan was called Operation Downfall and fortunately it was not needed. The estimated casualties for both the Allies and the Japanese people were almost to appalling to even contemplate. Estimates ranged for American forces to be between 1.2 million casualties with 267,000 deaths to 4 million with up to 800,000 deaths. Japanese casualties were estimated to be at least 10 million. Now one has to look at the casualties caused by the two atomic bombs. The bomb that was dropped onHiroshima killed an estimated 70,000 to 80,000 people at the time of the explosion and that number rose to between 90,000 and 150,000 as the effects of radiation poisoning took effect. The bomb that was dropped onNagasaki killed an estimated 40,000 to 75,000 at the time of the explosion and that number rose to approximately 80,000. Adding these numbers together you have a approximate total of 230,000 people that were killed by the two bombs combined. By subtracting the difference between that number and the estimated number of Japanese casualties of Operation Downfall in reality approximately 9,770,000 Japanese lives were sparred along with the estimated 1,000,000 to 4,000,000 American lives.
The mind set at the time for the Japanese people was to defend their homeland utilizing all of their population including all men women and children in a fight to the death. Their Religion and their belief that the Emperor was a living God compelled them to make that decision without hesitation. As controversial as the two atomic bombs were and are to this day, it is clear that they indeed did save millions of lives. At the time they were just considered for the most part just another weapon of war to be used to end the war. The morality of their use will be debated until the end of time but one should also consider the morality of the 14,000,000 lives that were saved by their use. With the threat of more atomic bombs to be dropped Emperor Hirohito of the Empire of Japan unconditionally surrendered August 15, 1945 and ended the war withAmerica
War Deaths in the Pacific War with the Japanese Empire.
Japan: App. 2,700,000
United States: App. 106,207
Civilian: App. 24,000,000
Exact numbers will never really be know or confirmed.
One must put themselves in the place of people involved at the time, America and Japan were involved in a war that had cost both sides tremendously and both sides were trying to either win or survive as a people. It is easy now to sit in judgment of both countries on the tactics that were used but at the time it was “Win at all costs war”. It is also a fitting tribute that these two countries that were locked in a war to the death have become the greatest of allies today. War is never a good solution for disagreements between nations and therefore must be entered into with the greatest of care and considerations of the end ramifications to the parties involved and to the world as a whole. The War in the Pacific was a tragedy of greatest magnitude for all of humanity and one can only hope and pray such a conflict never happens again. It is the author’s deepest hope and prayer that the world learned an important lesson in the way humanity views each other. Only God can change the hearts of man and turn the “Swords into Plowshares and the Spears into Pruning Hooks”
Those who fail to learn from history are destined to repete it, let us hope and pray that not only have we learned but that we will also never forget.
This is humbly dedicated to all the Veterans Past, Present and Future.
FREEDOM ISN’T FREE, SOMEONE HAS TO PAY FOR IT. THE AMERICAN MILITARY HAS GIVEN THEIR BLOOD IN PAYMENT, NOW IT IS UP TO YOU .