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British Commonwealth Occupation Forces – Japan

 

Participation in the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) marked the first time that Australians were involved in the military occupation of a sovereign nation which it had defeated in war. BCOF participation in the allied occupation force was announced on 31 January 1946, though planning and negotiations had been in progress since the end of the war. The main body of Australian troops arrived in Japan on 21 February.

Up to 45,000 Australians served in BCOF, including an infantry contingent of 4,700, base units consisting of 5,300, an air force wing of 2,200 and 130 from the Australian General Hospital. The Australian Navy also had a presence in the region as part of the British Pacific Fleet. For two thirds of the period of occupation the Commonwealth was represented solely by Australians and throughout its existence BCOF was always commanded by an Australian officer.

Japanese prefectures

The BCOF area of responsibility was the western prefectures of Shimani, Yamaguchi, Tottori, Okayama, Hiroshima and Shikoku Island. BCOF headquarters were located at Kure, the army was encamped at Hiro, the RAAF at Iwakuni, and the naval shore establishment at the former Japanese naval base at Kure. At the peak of its involvement the Australian component of BCOF was responsible for over 20 million Japanese citizens and 57,000 sq. kilometres of country. Adjacent to the area of Australian responsibility were prefectures occupied by the 2 New Zealand EF (Japan), the British and Indian Division (Brindiv) and, further away, the US 8th Army. 

100 Yen BCOF note

The main Australian occupation component was the 34th Infantry Brigade, which arrived in early 1946, and was made up of the 65th, 66th and 67th Battalions. The RAN ships that served were: HMAS Australia, HMAS Hobart, HMAS Shropshire and the destroyers: HMAS AruntaBataanCulgoaMurchisonShoalhavenQuadrantQuiberon. Landing Ships Infantry: ManooraWestralia and Kanimbla were used for transport. 

The Australian air force component was stationed at Bofu, in Yamaguchi Prefecture. The RAAF Squadrons which served were No. 76, No. 77 and No. 82, all flying Mustangs. The air force component of BCOF was known as BCAIR. By 1950 only one Australian squadron, No 77, remained in Japan.

By early 1947, BCOF had begun to decline from its peak of over 40,000 service personnel from the UK, New Zealand, India and Australia and, by the end of 1948, BCOF was composed entirely of Australians. The force was dismantled during 1951 as responsibilities in Japan were handed over to the British Commonwealth Forces Korea. Some personnel stayed on to serve in the Korean War. Members of No 77 Squadron, for example, had their ‘going home’ celebrations interrupted by the news that they were to be sent immediately to Korea. BCOF ceased to exist on 28 April 1951 when the Japanese Peace Treaty came into effect.

BCOF

The primary objective of BCOF was to enforce the terms of the unconditional surrender that had ended the war the previous September. The task of exercising military government over Japan was the responsibility of the United States forces. BCOF was required to maintain military control and to supervise the demilitarization and disposal of the remnants of Japan’s war making capacity. To this end, Australian army and air force personnel were involved in the location and securing of military stores and installations.

BCOF medal, Australian

The Intelligence Sections of the Australian battalions were given targets to investigate by BCOF Headquarters, in the form of grid references for dumps of Japanese military equipment. Warlike materials were destroyed and other equipment was kept for use by BCOF or returned to the Japanese. The destruction or conversion to civilian use of military equipment was carried out by Japanese civilians under Australian supervision. Regular patrols and road reconnaissances were initiated and carried out in the Australian area of responsibility as part of BCOF’s general surveillance duties.

The RAN component of BCOF was responsible for patrolling the Inland Sea to prevent both smuggling and the illegal immigration of Koreans to Japan. In this task they were assisted by the RAAF whose aircraft were also involved in tracking vessels suspected of smuggling or transporting illegal immigrants. RAAF squadrons also flew surveillance patrols over each of the prefectures in the BCOF zone in order to help locate left over weapons and ordnance.

During 1947, the BCOF began to wind down its presence in Japan. However, BCOF bases provided staging posts for Commonwealth forces deployed to the Korean War from 1950 onwards. The BCOF was effectively wound-up in 1951, as control of Commonwealth forces in Japan was transferred to British Commonwealth Forces Korea.

Click on images to enlarge.

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BCOF Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Kjell F. Andersen – New London, CT; Merchant Marines, WWII, ETO, / US Army, Korea

Mary Barraco – Renaix, BEL; Danish Resistance, WWII, Captain, USO, POW

Albert Bracy (104) – Durham, CAN; Queen’s Own Rifles, WWII, Hamilton Light Infantry

Leslie Edgerton – NZ; RAF/ RNZ Air Force, WWII, ETO, 75th Squadron

Lyle “Moose” Hardy – Belconnen, AUS; RA Air Force, Sgt., (Ret.)

Kenneth Johnson – Doncaster, ENG; RAF, WWII, Warrant Officer, 61st & 9th Squadrons

Alan Lepper – Taranaki, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 432823, WWII

Vera McLane – London, ENG; RAF, WWII, Photograph intelligence

James K. Thompson – Allentown, NY/Largo, FL; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Esme Wirth – Leeton, AUS; Australian Womens Land Army, WWII

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First Occupation of Japan in 2000 years

It began with the landing of the 187th RCT/11th Airborne Division – the first to set foot in Japan!  And Smitty was there!   This video was located and contributed by Pierre Lagacé.

Gen. MacArthur, 1946

 

Nippon Times article on MacArthur

 

 

 

 

Unlike Germany,  Japan retained a native government throughout the occupation.  Although MacArthur’s official staff history of the occupation referred to “the Eighth Army Military Government System”, it explained that while:   “In Germany, with the collapse of the Nazi regime, all government agencies disintegrated, or had to be purged”, the Japanese retained an “integrated, responsible government and it continued to function almost intact”:

In effect, there was no “military government” in Japan in the literal sense of the word. It was simply a SCAP (Supreme Commander, Allied Powers) superstructure over already existing government machinery, designed to observe and assist the Japanese along the new democratic channels of administration.

General Horace Robertson of Australia, head of BCOF, (British Commonwealth Occupation Force) wrote:

MacArthur at no time established in Japan what could be correctly described as Military government. He continued to use the Japanese government to control the country, but teams of military personnel, afterward replaced to quite a considerable extent by civilians, were placed throughout the Japanese prefectures as a check on the extent to which the prefectures were carrying out the directives issued by MacArthur’s headquarters or the orders from the central government.

USMC “barracks”


The really important duty of the so called Military government teams was, however, the supervision of the issue throughout Japan of the large quantities of food stuffs and medical stores being poured into the country from American sources. The teams also contained so-called experts on health, education, sanitation, agriculture and the like, to help the Japanese in adopting more up to date methods sponsored by SCAP’s headquarters.

The normal duties of a military government organization, the most important of which are law and order and a legal system, were never needed in Japan since the Japanese government’s normal legal system still functioned with regard to all Japanese nationals … The so-called military government in Japan was therefore neither military nor government.

USMC had their 10-in1 meals, 1946

The Japanese government’s de facto authority was strictly limited at first, however, and senior figures in the government such as the Prime Minister effectively served at the pleasure of the occupation authorities before the first post-war elections were held. Political parties had begun to revive almost immediately after the occupation began.

Left-wing organizations, such as the Japan Socialist Party and the Japan Communist Party, quickly reestablished themselves, as did various conservative parties. The old Seiyukai and Rikken Minseitocame back as, respectively, the Liberal Party (Nihon Jiyuto) and the Japan Progressive Party (Nihon Shimpoto).

Shigeru Yoshida

The first postwar elections were held in 1946 (women were given the franchise for the first time), and the Liberal Party’s vice president, Yoshida Shigeru (1878–1967), became Prime Minister. For the 1947 elections, anti-Yoshida forces left the Liberal Party and joined forces with the Progressive Party to establish the new Japan Democratic Party (Minshuto). This divisiveness in conservative ranks gave a plurality to the Japan Socialist Party, which was allowed to form a cabinet which lasted less than a year. Thereafter, the socialist party steadily declined in its electoral successes. After a short period of Democratic Party administration, Yoshida returned in late 1948 and continued to serve as prime minister until 1954. However, because of heart failure, Yoshida was replaced by Shinto in 1955.

In 1949, MacArthur made a sweeping change in the SCAP power structure that greatly increased the power of Japan’s native rulers, and the occupation began to draw to a close. The San Francisco Peace Treaty, signed on September 8, 1951, marked the end of the Allied occupation, and when it went into effect on April 28, 1952, Japan was once again an independent state (with the exceptions of Okinawa, which remained under U.S. control until 1972, and Iwo Jima, which remained under US control until 1968). Even though some 31,000 U.S. military personnel remain in Japan today, they are there at the invitation of the Japanese government under the terms of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan(1960) and not as an occupying force.

Information documented in the Gutenberg project.

Just one year after a devastating war…..

 

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SHOUT OUT !!!

 

Help make a 104-year old veteran very happy this Valentine’s Day.  Thanks to fellow blogger, Pat, we have the scoop!!

https://equipsblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/14/reblog-104-year-old-usmc-vet-looking-for-valentines-day-cards/

 

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Samuel Ankney – Greensburg, PA; US Navy, WWII

Philip Blakeslee – Deland, FL; US Army, WWII, ETO, Signal Corps, 1st Infantry Division

Kenneth Corder – Dayton, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 674 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Richard Hawthorne – Myrtle Beach, SC; US Navy, ETO, USS Savannah

William J. McCollum – Anderson, SC; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co. D/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Ian P. McLaughlin – Newport News, VA; US Army, Afghanistan, SSgt., 307/3/82nd Airborne Division, KIA

Joseph Peczkowski – South Bend, IN; US Army, WWII, Sgt.

John Pollard – Petrolia, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, Supply Sgt.

Austin Sicard Sr. – New Orleans, LA; US Army, Korea

Miguel A. Villalon – Joliet, IL; US Army, Afghanistan, Pfc, 307/3/82nd Airborne Division, KIA

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Smitty in December 1945 w/ the Sword Story

Christmas card

This was the Christmas card sent from Japan to Broad Channel, New York in December 1945. Anna Smith had been waiting to hear this news from her son Everett (Smitty) for over three years. On the back, it reads:

“Dear Mom:
This is the best Xmas card I’ve sent to you since getting in the army. I figured this would be what you have always been waiting to see, here it goes.

“I’m finally on my way, so don’t send any more mail.
Love, Everett
“P.S. I’ll keep you posted on my various stops.”

Smitty in Japan, at far right

Even though Smitty had earned his points to go home, he was still an NCO on General Swing’s staff and was required to finish out his duties as such. After going through combat in the South Pacific, it would be in peaceful occupational Japan where Smitty’s temper would get the better of him.

Non-nonchalantly going about his business at the headquarters of Camp Schimmelpfennig, Smitty just happened to glance through the glass partition that sealed off Gen. Swing’s office. Inside was an officer holding and admiring the Japanese sword that his commander intended to keep and bring home as a souvenir. Smitty didn’t think much of it at the time; he was busy and many people commented on the weapon. so he continued down the hallway. A short while later, the entire office could hear the general demanding to know what had become of his sword. It was gone.

Gen. Swing accepts Japanese sword at Atsugi Airfield

Major General Joseph Swing

My father didn’t think twice, this was his general. He went into the room and told Swing what he had witnessed. Without a second thought, the two men went to the other man’s office, but neither the man or sword was there. The officer in question showed a few moments later. When the general explained why they were waiting for him, the officer became indignant and professed his innocence (just a tad too much). My father said the air of tension in the room became thick enough to use a

Postcards received from a Cavite, P.I. woman

machete on. This was when Smitty’s temper went out of control and with one right cross – sent the officer through his own glass partition.

Of course, this action made it necessary to bust Smitty back down to private, but he didn’t care about that. He was still furious that the sword was never returned. It all could have gone worse if the general had not been there or if he did not believe Smitty’s word. Smitty said it was worth being busted just to wipe the smirky grin off the officer’s face. The officer, I believe, was a replacement and had not seen much (if any) combat, just a blow-heart. Smitty later offered his two Japanese swords to General Swing, but he refused. My father didn’t believe the general would have taken the Emperor’s own sword as a replacement. I can clearly see my father’s face contort when he thought of the thief and he would say, “That know-nothing mattress salesman from Texas!” I’m sure it was for the best that the two men never met again stateside as civilians.

Unfortunately, a similar incident occurred to my father. As he happily began packing to go home, Smitty noticed that an expensive set of carved ivory chop sticks he had purchased somehow had disappeared. They also were never recovered. (I had often wondered if the two incidents had been related, but I suppose we’ll never know.)

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Daniel Aiello – NYC, NY; US Army / Actor

Vernon Bartley – brn: Meerut, India/ENG; Punjab Army, WWII, CBI

John Cameron – Waipukurau, NZ; RNZ Navy, WWII, minesweeper

Frank Crane – Toledo, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Joseph Haratani – Florin, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 442nd RCT

Clarence Katwyk – Salt Lake City, UT; US Merchant Marines / US Army, WWII, PTO

Dominic Moschetti – Victor, CO; US Army, WWII, TSgt., 354th Infantry

Raymond Plassmann – CT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 navigator

Arthur Schaefer – Tucson, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Lt., B-17 navigator

Orland Webb – Harrodsburg, KY; US Army, WWII

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Current News – Japanese Librarian

TOKYO — Thousands of newspapers dating back to 1945, countless clippings of old stories and half a million priceless photographs fill a room that Norio Muroi has tended for the past 42 years.

Stars and Stripes’ library in Tokyo preserves the stories and heroics of countless service members from World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars alongside records of newsworthy events on American bases in the Far East over the past 75 years.

A tailor’s son from Otawara in Tochigi prefecture, Muroi in 1977 was studying economics at Hosei University in Tokyo when he started as a Stars and Stripes copyboy, he recalled during a recent tour of the library at Hardy Barracks, the newspaper’s Pacific headquarters in the Japanese capital.

“It was rare to see American people so much in those days and to have an opportunity to talk with native speakers,” he said of his first days on the job, when he was eager to practice the English he’d learned at school.

Just steps from the nightlife hub of Roppongi, Hardy Barracks was a hive of activity. Dozens of U.S. military and civilian staff and 180 Japanese worked to publish hundreds of thousands of newspapers each day for service members on the main islands of Japan, Okinawa, Korea and other parts of the Pacific such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan and Guam.

It was an era before online news or Google searches, when printed newspapers provided a vital link to home for troops stationed overseas.

“We were like tennis ball boys,” Muroi said of the copyboys, who spent mornings rushing about the newsroom carrying story drafts and messages to editors. The youngsters burned plenty of calories and looked forward to a free Coke from the sports editor at the end of each shift, he recalled.

In 1979, he started full time in the library. Known today as the Toshi Cooper Library, it holds at least 250,000 clippings that are stored in envelopes and filed so they can be searched by subject, such as notable figures, military units and campaigns.

But Muroi didn’t spend his entire career among the archives. Some of his most memorable experiences involved serving as an interpreter for journalists in the field.

In February 1982, he and the other librarians acting as temporary linguists joined reporters rushing to a fire at the Hotel New Japan that, ultimately, claimed 32 lives not far from the Sanno Hotel, a U.S. military property.

The following day, Muroi was back in the field as an interpreter after a Japan Air Lines pilot intentionally crashed a DC-8 airliner at Haneda Airport, killing 24 people, he said.

Two of the most memorable stars he met on the job were folk musician John Denver and baseball Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio, Muroi said, proudly showing off photographs of his 1992 encounter with Joltin’ Joe. He met the Yankee legend while helping a sports reporter cover the U.S.-Japan baseball series at the now-demolished Korakuen Stadium.

The library that he’s handing off to his successor, Akiko Takamizawa, is a recently renovated, state-of-the-art facility that features constant temperature and humidity control.

It stores hundreds of large, red volumes that contain original Stars and Stripes newspapers sorted by month all the way back to 1945, and countless clippings and old photographs preserved in hundreds of white boxes on metal racks.

The library has about 500,000 photographs taken by Stars and Stripes staff or sourced from news agencies or U.S. military service branches over the years, Muroi said.

He opened a box of photographs and found black-and-white prints of images taken during the Vietnam War by Gary Cooper, an enlisted Stars and Stripes reporter who eventually married the library’s namesake, longtime librarian Toshi Cooper.

One of those photos shows a wounded soldier getting aid from a couple of buddies on the battlefield. The print, like hundreds of thousands of others in the library, is coded to allow librarians to track negatives stored at the Stars and Stripes Europe library in Kaiserslautern, Germany. The libraries are gradually digitizing those negatives for posterity.

The library isn’t just a valuable resource for working journalists. Muroi’s work also involves tracking down old stories and photographs for veterans or those whose friends or relatives have appeared in Stars and Stripes over the years.

Muroi said he’s had plenty of useful advice over the years from Toshi Cooper, who served as librarian from 1948 to 1971. Now chairwoman emeritus of the Stars and Stripes Association, which organizes reunions of former employees, Cooper described Muroi as the ideal newspaper librarian.

“He has everything it takes to be the perfect research librarian,” she said. “He is studious, calm and steady, curious, patient, selfless, a good listener, devoted and above all that, he loves Stars and Stripes.”

Preserving Stars and Stripes’ archives and other documents in the building is important, Muroi added.  “No matter how digital technology expands in the future the original is coming from here,” he said.

Muroi plans to stay in Tokyo after retirement and spend time hiking with his wife, Yoshiko. The couple’s first trip will be to a Japanese hot spring, he said.

Condensed from an article by:

robson.seth@stripes.com

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor – 

“Stars and Stripes? Never heard of it!”

“Excuse me, you’re standing in my shaving water.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

June Chorn – Boise, ID; Civilian, jeep repair @ Gowen Field

Jack Clift (100) – Decatur, GA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Captain, 11th Airborne Division, Silver Star, Bronze Star

Daniel Fraunfelter – Falmouth, MA; US Navy, WWII, radioman

Frederick Hall – Whitefish Bay, WI; USMC, Korea & Vietnam

Claude Hensley – Asheville, NC; US Army, Vietnam, 82nd Airborne Division

Wilford K. Hussey Jr. – Hilo, HI; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co. K/3/31/7th Infantry Division, KIA (North Korea)

Robert W. Marshall – Portsmouth, VA; US Army, Major 11th Airborne Division

Hugh Palmer – Lakewood, OH; US Army, WWII, PTO, 25th Infantry, Medical Unit

Gerald Thummel – Tipton, KS; US Navy, Korea & Vietnam, Ret. (27 y.)

George Wallace (100) – St. Paul, MN; US Navy, WWII
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Emperor Hirohito

Emperor Hirohito, on white horse, January 1940

 

Japanese public broadcast service, NHK has obtained documents showing that former Emperor Hirohito repeatedly felt sorry about World War II and tried, unsuccessfully, to express his feelings by using the word “remorse” in a 1952 speech.

The records of conversations with Hirohito spanning several years were kept by Michiji Tajima, a top Imperial Household Agency official who took office after the war.

Although it’s not surprising that Hirohito had deep regrets about the war, the documents highlight how painfully strong such emotions had been.

Journals and notebooks kept by Michiji Tajima, a former top Imperial Household Agency, are seen in Tokyo on Monday, Aug. 19, 2019.
KYODO NEWS VIA AP

The Imperial Household Agency declined to comment on the report.

As he was preparing his 1952 speech at a ceremony to commemorate Japan’s return to independence with the end of the U.S. occupation, Hirohito insisted to Tajima that he “must include the word remorse” in his speech, according to NHK.

That wish was relayed to then-Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida, who advised against it, NHK said.

Yoshida’s views were that people needed to look to the future and any reference sounding like an apology would give the wrong impression.

World War II, which ended with Japan’s 1945 surrender following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, was fought in the name of the emperor.  The man who had wanted nothing more out of life than to be a Marine Biologist,  was considered divine.

After the war, the U.S. occupation allowed the emperor to stay on, although without any political powers but as a symbol of the state.

In this Jan. 26, 2016, file photo, Japan’s Emperor Akihito, right, and Crown Prince Naruhito, left, walk at Haneda international airport in Tokyo. Emperor Akihito, abdicated on April 30, 2019, in the first such abdication in about 200 years. The emperor will be 85. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)

The documents show that Hirohito felt that, instead of surrender, he wished he had been able to end the war earlier. He also privately expressed horror at the atrocities committed by the Japanese military, according to the documents. But he also told Tajima that the military was so powerful that he couldn’t influence it.

Hirohito died of cancer in 1989 at age 87. He was succeeded by his son Akihito, who recently abdicated, passing the Chrysanthemum Throne to his son Naruhito. Both Akihito and Naruhito have publicly expressed remorse for the war.

From: Stars and Stripes magazine, YURI KAGEYAMA | Associated Press | Published: August 20, 2019

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

K. Beltz – Villas, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ Co./674 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Wallace Crane – Manchester, NH; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Robert Felton – Green Bay, WI; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star

Lewis Gentry – Cookeville, TN; US Army, WWII, PTO, C/O cook, medic & Chaplin’s asst.

Mohammed S. Haitham – US Navy, KIA (Pensacola, FL)

George Kessel – Fargo, ND; US Army, WWII, ETO, 26th Infantry Division, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

James Masters – Bourne, MA; US Air Force, Vietnam, SSgt., radioman, Bronze Star

Victor ‘Pat’ Tumlinson – Raymondville, TX; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Cameron Walters – GA; US Navy, KIA (Pensacola, FL)

Joshua C. Watson – AL; US Navy, US Naval Academy graduate, KIA (Pensacola, FL)

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“Violet Lightning” and “Mighty Wind” – Japanese Late War Fighters

N1K Shiden

Two planes fielded by the Japanese late in WWII, the Kawanishi N1K1-J and N1K2-J fighters, became popular with the Japanese military, despite having an unusual development history.

In the history of aircraft design, it hasn’t been that unusual for land-based planes to be converted into seaplanes. It’s a natural step from the more familiar role to a somewhat more unusual one, removing wheels, adding floats, and making other adaptations.

For the Kawanishi N1K1-J, however, the pattern was the other way around. The N1K1-J Kyofu (meaning “mighty wind”) was a seaplane fighter. It was successful enough to be adapted into the land-based N1K1-J Shiden (meaning “violet lightning”).

By the time the N1K1-J Shiden went into production, the tide of war had already turned against Japan. The Allies, particularly the Americans, were pushing them back across the Pacific, island by island. On the mainland, the Chinese kept fighting with the help of international support, while the British pushed back in Burma. As the sphere of Japanese control shrank, so did the safe territory that the nation’s factories could operate in.

The result was production problems for the N1K1-J. Raids by Boeing B-29 Superfortress bombers on factories on the Japanese mainland added to existing difficulties of supply and production.

The N1K1-J Shiden came into service late in the war. It started to be fielded across the Pacific theater in May 1944. Despite the production problems, large numbers of N1K1-J Shidens were produced – over 1,400 by the end of the war.

The titles given to these fighters by their creators were full of dignity and drama. The codename given to them by the Allies was less so. The Japanese used “Mighty Wind” and “Violet Lightning” whereas the Allied forces referred to the planes by the codename “George”, a Christian name common in England at the time.

One of the most successful features of the plane was its automatic combat flaps. This unique feature helped pilots to make extreme combat maneuvers by giving them extra lift. This made it one of the most successful all-round fighters in the Pacific theater, able to take on fighters and bombers alike.

The N1K1-J Shiden’s biggest downside was that it perform well at high altitudes. This was a problem for the Japanese air force, as they faced, the most powerful bombers of the war. The B-29 could reach an altitude of nearly 32,000 feet for bombing runs on Japan, and from the end of 1943, the Americans decided not to use any other bombers in their raids against the Japanese. Any Japanese plane that couldn’t perform well at high altitude would struggle to defend the homeland.

Early models of the Shiden had further problems. The mid-mounted wing produced poor visibility, a serious problem for pilots caught up in dogfights. The landing gear, the most important change from the seaplane version, was also inadequate. Changes needed to be made.

N1K2 “Violetbolt”

The result was a new model, the N1K2-J Shiden-Kai. The prototype for this version first flew at the end of December 1943 and it was soon rushed into mass production.

The N1K2-J was so successful that it soon became the standard land-based fighter and fighter-bomber of the Japanese military. It could hold its own in combat against almost anything the Allies threw against it. Though the tide of war was against them, Japanese fighter pilots at least had an edge in the skies.

The N1K2-J wasn’t just better because of its superior flying abilities. As with several of the best weapons in history, its advantage also came from being easy to produce. An N1K2-J could be completed in half the time it took to build one of its predecessors. With the losses mounting and the pressure on, this was a vital feature for the Japanese.

The N1K2-J was equipped with a mix of weaponry – in the wings were four 20mm cannons, while a pair of 550lb bombs were fixed underneath. This allowed the plane to act in a support role, not just as an interceptor. It could use its cannons in the skies against other planes, or to strafe enemy infantry and ships, which were also the targets for the bombs.

The presence of cannons rather than machine-guns was important. In the early war, many fighters on both sides had relied on machine-guns. But the experience of combat had taught the military that bullets were not enough to take out the latest planes and that cannons firing explosive rounds would be needed instead.

“George”

The N1K2-J had a maximum speed of 370mph and a rate of climb of 3,300 feet per minute. This put it on a par with the Spitfires and Messerschmitts doing much of the fighting in Europe. It also made it superior to the Grumman F4F Wildcat, a fighter widely used by the Americans in the Pacific.

It was, however, slightly out-matched for speed and climb by Grumman’s major late-war plane, the F6F Hellcat. The Shiden-Kai was a good enough plane to compete with its main adversaries, but American industry still held the edge.

Despite its superiority in the air, some N1K2-Js were deliberately crashed by their pilots.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

The official Taliban Suppository

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Armstrong – Albany, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 11th Airborne Division, Honor Guard

Milton Beatty – Baton Rouge, LA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Sea Bee

Leonard Davidson (99) – Auckland, NZ; NZ Home Defense, WWII, Sgt.

Jack Gucker – Seattle, WA; US Army, WWII, APO

Nicholas Kakos – MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Norris Leafdale – Banner County, NE; US Army, WWII, PTO

Quentin W. McCall – Union Church, MS; USMC, WWII, PTO, KIA (Tarawa)

Chester Posey – Clifton, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII & Korea, navigator/gunner

Lyle Spalding – Louisville, KY; USMC, WWII

Garth Youd – Lakeshore, UT; US Army, WWII, ETO, 401st Field Artillery Battalion

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Post War Japan and Asia 1945-1951

Cold War map

In eastern Asia, the end of the war brought a long period of turmoil. In the European colonies occupied by Japan, liberation movements were established–some strongly Communist in outlook. In Indochina, Indonesia, and Malaya, wars were fought against the colonial powers as well as between rival factions.

The messy aftermath of war precipitated the final crisis of the old European imperialism; by the early 1950s, most of Southeast Asia was independent. In Burma and India, Britain could not maintain its presence. India was divided into two states in 1947, India (Hindu) and Pakistan (Muslim), and Burma was granted independence a year later.

San Francisco Treaty

Japan was not restored to full sovereignty until after the San Francisco Treaty was signed on September 8, 1951. The emperor was retained, but the military was emasculated and a parliamentary regime had been installed. Japanese prewar possessions were divided up. Manchuria was restored to China in 1946 (though only after the Soviet Union had removed more than half the industrial equipment left behind by the Japanese). Taiwan was returned to Chinese control. Korea was occupied jointly by the Soviet Union and the United States, and two independent states — one Communist, one democratic — were established there in 1948.

The most unstable area remained China, where the prewar conflict between Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists and the Chinese Communists led by Mao Zedong was resumed on a large scale in 1945.

After four years of warfare, the Nationalist forces were defeated and Chiang withdrew to the island of Taiwan. The People’s Republic of China was declared in 1949, and a long program of rural reform and industrialization was set in motion. The victory of Chinese communism encouraged Stalin to allow the Communist regime in North Korea to embark on war against the South in the belief that America lacked the commitment for another military conflict.

Korean War begins

The Korean War began on June 25, 1950, when the troops of Kim Il Sung crossed the 38th parallel, the agreed-upon border between the two states. By this stage, the international order had begun to solidify into two heavily armed camps.

In 1949 the Soviet Union tested its first atomic bomb. That same year, the U.S. helped organize a defensive pact, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), to link the major Western states together for possible armed action against the Communist threat.

By 1951 Chinese forces were engaged in the Korean conflict, exacerbating concerns that another world war — this time with nuclear weapons — might become a reality. The optimism of 1945 had, in only half a decade, given way to renewed fears that international anarchy and violence might be the normal condition of the modern world.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – Saturday Evening Post style – 

“I HOPE YOU’RE NOT ANGRY WITH ME FOR TAKING YOU AWAY FROM YOUR FRIENDS.”

 

“WELL NO…. BUT I DO HELP RUN IT.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Dustin B. Ard – Idaho Falls, ID; US Army, Afghanistan, Sgt. 1st Class, 2nd Batt/1st Special Forces, KIA

Arthur Bruce – High Point, NC; US Army, WWII / US Navy, Korea

Glen Coup – Akron, OH; US Army, 101st Airborne Division

Luis Deleon-Figueroa – Chicopee, MA; US Army, Afghanistan, MSgt., 7th Special Forces Group, KIA

Roy Ellefson – Barnesville, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Sgt., 9T/8th Air Force

Henry Fager Jr. – Wichita, KS; US Army, WWII, 2nd Lt.

Jose Gonzalez – La Puente, CA; US Army, Afghanistan, MSgt., 7th Special Forces Group, KIA

Paul Manos – Laurel, MD; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

R. Patrick Stivers – St. Matthews, KY; US Army, WWII & Korea

Leonard Stokes – Nelson, NZ; RNZ Army # 4211953, WWII

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Feeding and Occupying Japan

MacArthur’s first priority was to set up a food distribution network; following the collapse of the ruling government and the wholesale destruction of most major cities, virtually everyone was starving. Even with these measures, millions of people were still on the brink of starvation for several years after the surrender.  As expressed by Kawai Kazuo, “Democracy cannot be taught to a starving people”.  The US government encouraged democratic reform in Japan, and while it sent billions of dollars in food aid, this was dwarfed by the occupation costs it imposed on the struggling Japanese administration.

Initially, the US government provided emergency food relief through Government and Relief in Occupied Areas  (GARIOA) funds. In fiscal year 1946, this aid amounted to US $92 million in loans. From April 1946, in the guise Licensed Agencies for Relief,  private relief organizations were also permitted to provide relief.

MacArthur and Hirohito, first meeting

Once the food network was in place MacArthur set out to win the support of Hirohito. The two men met for the first time on September 27; the photograph of the two together is one of the most famous in Japanese history. Some were shocked that MacArthur wore his standard duty uniform with no tie instead of his dress uniform when meeting the emperor. With the sanction of Japan’s reigning monarch, MacArthur had the political ammunition he needed to begin the real work of the occupation.

While other Allied political and military leaders pushed for Hirohito to be tried as a war criminal, MacArthur resisted such calls, arguing that any such prosecution would be overwhelmingly unpopular with the Japanese people. He also rejected the claims of members of the imperial family such as Prince Mikasa and Prince Higashikuni and demands of intellectuals like Tatsuji Miyoshi, who sought the emperor’s abdication.

By the end of 1945, more than 350,000 U.S. personnel were stationed throughout Japan. By the beginning of 1946, replacement troops began to arrive in the country in large numbers and were assigned to MacArthur’s  8th Army, headquartered in Tokyo’s Dai-Ichi building.

Of the main Japanese islands, Kyushu was occupied by the 24th Infantry Division, with some responsibility for Shikoku.  Honshu was occupied by the 1st Calvary Division.  Hokkaido was occupied by the 11th Airborne Division.

By June 1950, all these army units had suffered extensive troop reductions and their combat effectiveness was seriously weakened. When North Korea invaded South Korea in the Korean War, elements of the 24th Division were flown into South Korea to try to fight the invasion force there, but the inexperienced occupation troops, while acquitting themselves well when suddenly thrown into combat almost overnight, suffered heavy casualties and were forced into retreat until other Japan occupation troops could be sent to assist.

Groups involved and running parallel to SCAP (MacArthur),

two women in Sasebo, Japan, Sept-Oct. 1945

The official British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF), composed of  Australian,  British, Indian, and New Zealand personnel, was deployed on February 21, 1946.  While U.S. forces were responsible for the overall occupation, BCOF was responsible for supervising demilitarization and the disposal of Japan’s war industries.  BCOF was also responsible for occupation of several western prefectures and had its headquarters at Kure.  At its peak, the force numbered about 40,000 personnel. During 1947, BCOF began to decrease its activities in Japan, and officially wound up in 1951.

The Far Eastern Commission and Allied Council for Japan were also established to supervise the occupation of Japan.  The establishment of a multilateral Allied council for Japan was proposed by the Soviet government as early as September 1945, and was supported partially by the British, French and Chinese governments.

Click on images to enlarge,

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Personal Shoutout – Hurricane Dorian appears to have his eyes on hitting here.  So, if I suddenly disappear, please understand that I might be out of power.

Thank you for understanding.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Jeffrey Aylward – Plymouth, MA; 176th Ordnance/82nd Airborne Division

Harold Bakken – Kent, WA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, SeaBee

Robert Coleman – Nashua, NH; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Robert Fraley – Flora, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. B/187/11th Airborne Division

John Isbell – Birmingham, AL; US Navy, WWII

Jerry Koerner – Paducah, KY; US Army, Vietnam

Leslie May – NZ; RNZ Navy # MX117905, WWII, ETO

Thomas Rice – Columbia, SC; US Army, WWII, ETO, Sgt.

Robert Steiner – St. Paul, MN; US Army, 81mm gunner, 86th Infantry Division

Timothy Woos – Salem, VA; US Army, SSgt., 2nd Infantry Division

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Smitty Was HERE!!

Miyajima Hotel

Being that Smitty so enjoyed taking in the sights of 1945 Japan and it is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, this post will continue with the brochures he brought home with him. Above is the Inland Sea and Miyajima Island that is approximately 45 minutes from Hiroshima; the entire island is considered a park being that two parks are actually on the island, The Omoto and the Momijidani, both famous for their cherry blossoms in spring and colored leaves in autumn.

The Great Torii

The Great Torii (52′ tall [16 metres]) is the red religious structure within the bay is from the 16th century. The earlier one had been destroyed by a typhoon. The Itsukushima Shrine has stone lanterns that remain lighted throughout the night. Senjokaku is the hall of a thousand mats and beside the shrine is a hall filled with countless rice ladles offered by worshipers. There is a five-storied pagoda (100 feet high) for Buddha close by and in the Omoto Park is a two-storied pagoda built by “Hidari-Jingoro” an ancient famous artist.

The center photo showing a patio, Smitty indicated that that was where they ate. And the circle to the right, dad wrote, “Damn good fishing and crabbing here.” It seems you can’t even take the Broad Channel, NY fisherman out of the soldier.

At the bottom picture here, Smitty wrote, “I slept here in a room like this.” On the right-hand side of the page is written, “I managed to get behind the bar at this place.” (Can’t take the bartender out of the trooper either, I suppose.) If any reader is capable of translating any of the Japanese writing in these posts, please do so. I have wondered for many years what they meant.

Gamagori Hotel

At the Gamagori Hotel, above the bottom-left photo is written, “Good Food. Chef here studied under a Frenchman. Boy was the food tasty.” The right-hand photo has, “Fishing good here.”

Gamagori Hotel

On this page of the Gamagori brochure, Smitty marked on the center diagram where his general stayed. (If viewing is a problem, please click on the photo to enlarge.) The bottom-left photo is

Gamagori Hotel

marked, “Had a room like this at this place.”

 

From Christopher:

  1. I was a student in Hiroshima and spent numerous happy times on Miyajima, the sacred island near the city. I do read Japanese and was intrigued by your curiosity around the second hotel in Gamagori. I did a wee bit of snooping and there is one hotel called the Classic Hotel that looks to be on or at least very near the site of the old hotel where your dad was, judging by the angle of the view from the balcony out towards a small shrine island (you can tell by the torii gate at the far end of the footbridge that leads out to it). The interior photos of the hotel lead me to believe that it is in fact the selfsame establishment! Take a look at this link, and be sure to look at it in satellite view to judge the island/footbridge connection. https://www.google.com/maps/place/Gamagori+Classic+Hotel/@34.8146423,137.2284047,3536m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m18!1m9!2m8!1sHotels!3m6!1sHotels!2sGamagori,+Aichi,+Japan!3s0x6004c72269565b9d:0x9147f2ae0439082f!4m2!1d137.2197862!2d34.8259551!3m7!1s0x6004c71f1b063675:0x9e5a3ad8731c513e!5m2!4m1!1i2!8m2!3d34.8158288!4d137.2359435 Then click on the Classic Hotel link!

 

 

 

This brochure is entirely in Japanese and therefore unable to give the reader a clue as to where it was or still is located.  Thanks to our fellow blogger, Christopher, we have a translation here…… Please stop by his site where you will find a lot of very interesting data!!

  1. The colorfully illustrated brochure says “Sightseeing in Miyagi Prefecture” (観光の宮城縣)and lists several of the highlights (skiing, cherry blossoms, shrines). The 3-D illustrated map shows the whole area, featuring the famous destination of Matsushima. Now, today it’s considered old-fashioned, but there is this thing called “The Three Sights of Japan” (日本三景), pronounced Nihon Sankei, which refers to what were traditionally considered the three most beautiful places in the country: Matsushima, Miyajima, and Ama no Hashidate. It looks like your dad hit at least two of them — I wonder if he also made it to Ama no Hashidate! Here is a modern link to “things to do in Miyagi Prefecture”: https://www.google.com/search?ei=42UuXZ7LMc3B7gLEwpzACQ&q=%E5%AE%AE%E5%9F%8E%E7%B8%A3&oq=%E5%AE%AE%E5%9F%8E%E7%B8%A3&gs_l=psy-ab.3..0l2j0i30l8.29273.32641..38871…1.0..0.80.438.6……0….1..gws-wiz…….0i71j0i4i37.nNS_NTAA6-Y
    Fun stuff… Thanks for sharing!

 

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE!!

*****          *****          *****          *****

… and so was Smitty !!!!

SMITTY _ New Guinea 10/24/44

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Military Humor – 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Beaudoin – Dover, NH; USMC, WWII, PTO

Charles Behrens – Bronx, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Quartermaster 1st Class, USS Chikaskia

George Evans – Toronto, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Harold Feldman (100) – Great Bend, KS; US Army, WWII, Pfc

Wilbur Henry – York, PA; US Army, WWII, CBI, 10th Chinese Army

Walter Kippen – Quebec, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, pilot

John R. McGruther – NZ; RNZ Army, WWII, ETO, KIA

Robert Peters, Bradley, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, POW

Chadwick Rickey – Boise, ID; US Navy, WWII, underwater demolition

Albert Schmoker – Austin, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, aviation instructor

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Occupation – Olympiad and Comfort !

11th Airborne troopers attempting to start a coal-burning vehicle.

 

While some of the troopers continued to await the arrival of the good ole’ American jeeps to replace the coal-burning vehicles in Japan, General Swing was striving to make the occupation as bearable as possible. They had endured some horrendous hardships and accomplished more than anyone expected from them and he felt they deserved whatever he could provide. On his orders, a Japanese auditorium was transformed into the 11th Airborne Coliseum. The complex was large enough to hold a theater that would seat 2,500, four basketball courts, a poolroom with 100 tables, a boxing arena that held 4,000 spectators, six bowling alleys and a training room.

Front gate of HQ Camp Schimmelpfennig

Aside from the sports theme, the coliseum contained a Special Services office, a snack bar, a Red Cross office and a library. I can just picture my father spending some off-duty time in the poolroom or bowling alley. When I was growing up, we had a pool table in the basement and Smitty would teach me how every shot was related to angles and geometry. My aim improved – once I figured it out.

NCO Club

In the fall of 1945, an Olympian was held in Tokyo for all the troops stationed in Japan and Korea. Football became the highlighted game. The 11th A/B Division coach, Lt. Eugene Bruce brought them to winning the Japan-Korea championship. They then went on to take the Hawaiian All-Stars in Mejii Stadium with a score of 18-0. This meant that the 11th Airborne Division held the All-Pacific Championship. The troopers went on to win in so many other sports that by the time the finals were held for the boxing tournament at Sendai, the headlines read in the Stars and Stripes sports section:
Ho-Hum, It’s the Angels Again”

Matsushima Park Hotel

On the reverse side of the photo seen above, Smitty wrote, “This is the hotel where we are now staying. That dot in the driveway is me.” The 11th A/B commander had made his home here on 16 September. After the occupation, it re-opened for business as a hotel, but unfortunately was destroyed by fire on 2 March 1969.

Smitty on far right

Smitty on far right

The division had a reputation for mission accomplishment despite being nearly half the size of other divisions. This was often attributed to their somewhat unorthodox methods. This carried over into their occupation of Japan. General Swing converted an old Japanese factory and had it turning out American-style furniture for the troops. General Headquarters wasn’t very happy about the project because they wanted the Japanese to build furniture for the entire command. But Swing was not one to wait for all the red tape. After General Eichelberger inspected the better-than-GHQ- standard brick barracks under construction, he said to Swing, “Joe, I don’t know whether to court-martial you or commend you.” (Later on, he was commending Swing.)

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

TO GO BEFORE WE LEFT!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Verne Budahn – Mankato, MN; US Air Force, Korea, Airman 2nd Class, KIA

Harvey Dumsday – Toronto, CAN; RC Navy, WWII, ETO

Edward Fischer – Park Forest, IL; US Navy, WWII, LST Quartermaster

Lyman Hale Jr. – Syracuse, NY; US Army, Korea, Medical Corps

Leo Latlip – Hallowell, ME; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Missouri

Walter McGill Jr. – Norwich, CT; US Navy, WWII, PTO / Korea

Ray Rigby – Rexburg, ID; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-29 Flight Engineer

Clarence Roberts – Brownwood, TX; US Navy, WWII, USS Wisconsin

Philip Schwhitzer – York, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Medical/221/11th Airborne Division

Ebert VanBuren – Monroe, LA; US Army, WWII, PTO, 96th Infantry Division

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