11th Airborne Division in Japan

Smitty’s, Broad Channel, NY

Atsugi Airfield, Japan

 

Just as General Douglas MacArthur said to Gen. Robert Eichelberger that it was a long road to Tokyo, so it was for Smitty. Yes, the stretch from Broad Channel to Camp MacKall and finally Atsugi Airfield was a long and arduous road, but here, the 11th Airborne Division arrives in Japan to begin the Occupation and to help start the rebuilding of a country.

Aerial view, Atsugi Airfield

With the initial arrival of the division, rarely was a female between the ages of 8 and 70 seen on the streets. The Japanese had heard their government’s propaganda for years as to the American looting and raping, so they were understandably afraid of the conquering troops. But many were confused about the peaceful attitude of the soldiers and a member of the 511th regiment was stopped one day by a Japanese officer, he asked, “Why don’t you rape, loot and burn? We would.” The trooper answered that Americans just don’t do that.

Yokohama, 1945

With the New Grand Hotel surrounded by troopers, the manager and his staff bowed to Gen. MacArthur and his party and directed them to their suites. Tired and hungry from their long flight, the Americans went to the dining room and were served steak dinners. Gen. Whitney remembered wanting to take MacArthur’s plate to make certain it hadn’t been poisoned. When he told the general his concern and intentions, MacArthur laughed and said, “No one can live forever.”

The hotel would become his headquarters and later that evening, MacArthur told his staff, “Boys, this is the greatest adventure in military history. Here we sit in the enemy’s country with only a handful of troops, looking down the throats of 19 fully armed divisions and 70 million fanatics. One false move and the Alamo would look like a Sunday school picnic.” (The fact that nothing happened, I believe, said quite a bit about Japanese integrity.)

The division Command Post was moved from the Atsugi Airfield to the Sun Oil Compound in Yokohama. This compound had about 15 American-style homes complete with furniture, dishes, silver and linens. The senior staff officers were not so fortunate. They were put up in warehouses on the docks, often without heat.

In the Philippines, the Japanese emissary General Kawabe, finished their surrender talks. Kawabe’s aide, Second Lt. Sada Otake, introduced himself to a Nisei G.I. standing guard outside. The guard, in response, said his name was Takamura. Otake said he had married a Nisei by the same name and did he had a sister named Etsuyo? The guard nodded and Otake said, “I’m her husband. Look me up in Japan.” And the brothers-in-law shook hands. (Small world or fate?)

Smitty @ Sun Oil

On the reverse side of this photo, Smitty wrote: “A picture of the General”s gang taken in the

Smitty (2nd from left) and rest of the crew

living room at Yokohama. Reading left to right – baker, first cook, Mess Sergeant, me headwaiter and on the floor, second cook. Those glasses you can see were always full. You can’t beat this Japanese beer.

Tokyo Rose – on the air

On 1 September, newsmen Harry Brundige and Clark Lee, with the help of a Japanese newsman, located Tokyo Rose with her husband in their hotel, the Imperial. Brundige offered her $2,000 for an exclusive interview for “Cosmopolitan” magazine. She agreed and together they typed out 17 pages of notes. The editor of the magazine was so astounded that Brundige had made a deal with a traitor that he rejected the story. The notes were handed over to Lee, who wrote his own version of the story for the International News Service.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Archer – Coffeyville, KS; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Ronald Best (100) – Whangarei, NZ; RNZ Army # 280763, WWII

Robert Carman – Wheeling, WV; US Army, WWII, field artillery

Andrew Hooker – Brooklyn, NY; US Army, Vietnam, helicopter crew chief

Emil Kamp – St. Louis, MO; US Army, WWII, Sgt.

Raymond Lane Sr. – Ashland, VA; US Air Force, Vietnam, Tech. Sgt. (Ret. 20 y.)

Roy Markon – Pittsburgh, PA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Sgt., 88th Division, Purple Heart

Edward Salazar – Colton, CA; US Army, Vietnam, 1st Cavalry Division

Lawrence Taylor – Stevensville, MT; US Navy,WWII, PTO, corpsman

Leo Zmuda – Somerset, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 511/11th Airborne Division

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on May 20, 2019, in Broad Channel, SMITTY, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 107 Comments.

  1. GP, I changed my phone number… whoops. So, now I’m having trouble getting back into my blog due to Authenticator thingy. Anyway, to hopefully fix the problem, i made another WP blog and invited myself to be an Administrator on my site, so to speak. Naturally, I accepted the invitation. Lol. Anyway, I’m using my same name and everything, but I’m so confused. More so than usual! Hugs! I’m still here. ♥️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fascinating. MacArthur was a great man. Before his death he foresaw the danger of intervening in French Indo-China (Vietnam). He warned against it, but was ignored by the Washington Establishment.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great reading gp, your accounts really bring moments down to earth and alive as opposed to official versions, the statement, Why don’t you rape, loot and burn indicates just how much the Japanese were indoctrinated as to their perception of the Allies.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The military in Japan back then felt they had to create such myths to keep their ever-growing population under control. I appreciate all the reading you do here, Ian. You’ve been a great friend all these years.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for your like of my post, “17 Israel – Shabbat – May 31, 2019;” you are very kind.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I too loved that little story within of the brothers in law! But I was very taken with MacArthur’s comment on the fact that no one lives for ever, says a lot about the man.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. The photos are a wonderful addition, as is that story of the brothers-in-law. I read the linked article about Tokyo Rose, too. I loved the woman’s attitude: if someone is going to be Tokyo Rose, and someone’s going to get some money for an interview, it might as well be me! Today, that initial story would have been published in a flash — traitorous behavior isn’t quite the no-no it used to be.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Excellent post. The differences between the two countries is clear in this story. Thanks for including photos.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. It amazes me that the Japanese were not more belligerent toward the Americans when they came back to help rebuild. It just isn’t human nature to be kind to someone who just defeated you. I would not have eaten their food!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Their wars had been going on far longer than our participation in WWII, perhaps their remaining population were grateful for life to return to some sort of normalcy.

      Like

  9. What a great story.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Love your cartoons!!🤣

    Liked by 2 people

  11. “Americans just don’t do that”… we need to get back to that thinking.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Tokyo Rose fared better than Lord Haw-haw, although she was found guilty of treason she was not executed, unlike William Joyce, despite him being American born and Irish-raised. Apparently, he was the last person to be executed for treason in the UK

    Liked by 2 people

    • I was surprised when I learned that Tokyo Rose was only sentenced to 10 years. I imagine there were extenuating circumstances. I’d need to research it more.

      Like

  13. Must admit I shake my head at times, first the Yanks bomb the japs almost off the face of the earth, then they go in and rebuild the country for them. As for Tokyo Rose after getting paroled and eventually pardoned she got off lightly. At least we made William Joyce Lord Haw Haw, our traitor keep an appointment with Albert; Albert Pierrpoint that is, executioner extraordinaire

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know, we rebuilt Europe too, but how did that work out for us? Sometimes I think we’re too soft for our own good. Now, here at home, the liberals want to open the borders – just how do you think that’ll work out? Where do Americans go when the cartels take over?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve often thought about and wondered what would have happened and how would the world be now had the USA joined England in declaring war on Nazi Germany on the 3rd September 1939. I don’t think there would ever have been a Pearl Harbor. The Japanese would have known then that they Americans were not to be trifled with. The holocaust would never have happened and in all probability the war would have been over long before December 1941, Russia would not have gained the strength it did, with the aid of German scientist captured and utilized much as the US did with Werner von Braun that Nazi war criminal, who should have met Mr Pierrepoint IMNSHO,
        Would Korea have happened or Vietnam, hard to say but it would not have been to easy for the communists of the day had they have known then that the Americans were serious about being a world leader, I think at times that you left your run to late, instead of taking the lead when you had the power and strength to lead. England never recovered from the first world war or the Washington Treaty where it’s navy was virtually emasculated

        Liked by 1 person

        • Trying to make long explanations short – We were in the same Great Depression as the rest of the world at that time. People preferred the idea of trying to fix their own nation rather than spend all their money protecting Europe. FDR was choking Japan on his own because of their treatment of the Chinese as Japan fought to get the European countries out of the Pacific and raping their colonies of all resources. They needed food and assets themselves.
          Vietnam and Korea was already brewing during WWII, Nam because of the French Vichy government and Chinese Communists; Korea because of China and Japan and Russia. So that’s a hard one. WWII generals warned D.C. not to get into either one – but when the heck has any politician listened to reason?

          Liked by 1 person

        • An interesting (and much scarier) line of thinking is this: What if Hitler had not honored his treaty commitments and did not declare war on the U.S. on 10DEC41? Germany did not itself attack the U.S., and while American public opinion wanted revenge on the Japanese for the Pearl Harbor attack anti-German opinion was not nearly as strong. America would not have declared war on Germany without provocation. You could argue that would have been inevitable, but would a delay in America entering the European war have resulted in England or Russia being defeated? You can certainly postulate scenarios where that outcome would have been likely, and American planners were anticipating those scenarios.

          Liked by 1 person

          • England declared war on Germany without provocation; The Germans invaded Poland and that was the reason we declared, Germany would have been happy to on friendly terms with England rather than at war. The Nazi aggression in Europe went too far and England/ Great Britain bit the bullet and stood up to be counted, knowing full well that the Germans were in a very strong position. Had the US stood with Great Britain when the ultimatum was given to Hitler, then they would have thought long and hard before invading Poland. A country really doesn’t need direct provocation to stand up and act for what is right,

            Liked by 1 person

            • If I may interject something here between you and Jeff. The last line in your comment is true, Beari, but when you are trying to convince a Congress to declare war, you’re dealing with politicians here – how many politicians do you know that do the right thing? Heck right now we have half our Congress spending 2 1/2 years trying to dish the president rather than get any work done for their own constituents!!

              Liked by 2 people

  14. That’s why Tom Brokaw called it “The Greatest Generation.” I enjoyed reading that book several years ago.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I had not seen an actual photo of Tokyo Rose before now. Your posts truly flesh out the bare bones history I learned in school, thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Informative post GP but then aren’t they all? Well done.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. “And the brothers-in-law shook hands. (Small world or fate?)”
    There are no accidents.

    Too bad that guy intruded on Tokyo Rose’s interview story. That would have been an hell of read. Now probably lost forever.

    Great post.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. I am really enjoying reading about the activity after the war ended. I would have enjoyed reading that article on Tokyo Rose, too.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Incredible story about the two brother in laws how met each other.

    It reminded me of an incident from the Gulf War. We’d had several Iraqis surrender to us, and we took them to 4th platoon who was running the POW collections. There was a young NCO running things there, and all of a sudden, one of the Iraqis looked at him and said, “Hi, Rich. How’s the family?”

    The next thing we know we got back slapping and the two of them talking a mile a minute. Seems they’d been room mates in college.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. It is amazing what propaganda has done to the people of Japan. The fear of Japanese women fortunately was completely unfounded. By contrast the Red Army allowed its soldiers to rape German women in the final weeks of the war in Europe.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Thanks for sharing this, GP. I had an uncle who served with the occupation forces. Unfortunately, I can’t remember which unit and he passed many years ago. As you know, the Japanese were fanatical fighters, most preferring death to surrender. It seems their government largely brainwashed the civilian population. War is such a nasty business, touching everyone, soldier and civilian, in one way or another.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The military gradually took over everything, schools, books, radio, newspapers. It started way before the world war as we know it, for them, they had been at war for quite a while and needed a united front.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. A fascinating story GP, keep up the great work!

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Fascinating account of the time! I have read that women were ordered to hide because the Japanese thought the Americans would rape them. Didn’t some of them committed suicide en masse jumping over a cliff somewhere? Love the brother-in-law story!.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. You are so fortunate to have your father’s stories and photographs. Their historical value is immeasurable.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Great story again. Thank you very much GP, and have a nice week! Michael

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Great post, GP. Glad you shared Smitty’s adventures with us. Love the anecdote about McArthur. I feel we were extremely lucky to have him as the Supreme Commander in Japan. The meeting of the two brothers-in-law has me humming ‘It’s a small world after all.” which is a horrible earworm to try to get rid of. This post was like reading one of WEB Griffith’s WWII novels.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Wonderful photographs. I’m sure you treasure them!

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Pierre Lagacé

    I can’t remember if I read this post before GP.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Awesome stories!

    Liked by 2 people

  30. My Grandfather Gilbert was older when he got drafted at the end of the war and so served on General MacArthur’s staff during the occupation of Japan. His office was just down the hall from General MacArthur’s.

    He was also quite the trumpet player and played with several USO bands entertaining the troops stationed in Japan.

    There are always stories if good and bad in every human endeavor, especially in war. Stories of atrocities as well as stories of friendships or heroics.

    My grandfather developed several good friendships with Japanese business men while stationed in Japan; one of whom owned some kind of hot springs resort in the mountains. On several occasions, he and some buddies took a train to where the resort was and stayed for the weekend as the spa owner’s guest. That Japanese businessman was very glad the war was over.

    Liked by 4 people

  31. God bless your Pop and comrades…

    Liked by 2 people

  32. The brother-in-law incident is amazing!

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Nice to see the personal photos. I agree that the Japanese were unlikely to have suddenly massacred the small occupying force. Despite that officer admitting that they would have ‘killed, raped, and burned’, they had a code as far as military behaviour was concerned at least.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Smitty said they were given instructions. Why the Japanese soldiers would have their backs turned, etc. These were battle-weary veterans. The problems came more as the new fresh replacements were sent over.

      Liked by 1 person

  34. A fascinating occupation, nevertheless, must have been a precarious period.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. Thank you, Ian.

    Like

  36. Thank you for sharing this moment in history.

    Like

  1. Pingback: 11th Airborne Division in Japan — Pacific Paratrooper | Ups and Downs of Family History V2.0

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