Blog Archives

Truman and the Pacific War

Potsdam Conference w/ Churchill, Truman & Stalin

Harry S. Truman did not have the outstanding record that most people look for in a president. He had poor eyesight and was unable to complete a 4-year college. Later, he failed as the owner/operator of a small mining and oil business, as a farmer and then as a haberdasher. (In my opinion, that only left politics as an option.)

HST was elected to the Senate with the assistance of the corrupt Thomas J. Pendergast and proved to be an unimportant legislator. His only military achievement was in successfully tightening up the discipline of the rag-tag outfit he was given. He was chosen as the Vice-Presidential candidate because southern democrats liked him and FDR needed those votes. (I’m afraid these facts were located during research, they are not my own thoughts – unless specified.)

This was the man sent to Germany, sailing on the “Augusta” with Secretary of State, James Byrnes and Admiral Leahy to attend the Potsdam Conference to begin on 17 July 1945. The primary agenda for the massive meeting dealt with the revision of the German-Soviet-Polish borders and the expulsion of several million Germans from the disputed territories. The code name for this conference was “Terminal,” with Stalin, Churchill and Truman representing the three major powers.

16 July was significant in that the Atomic bomb was successfully tested, exploding the equivalent of 20,000 tons of TNT and a blast point of 750 degrees F. Oppenheimer would then prepare the test results for his report to Henry Stimson in Potsdam. Truman confided the news to Churchill and the two rulers instantly decided that at least two bombs would be dropped on Japan.

This decision was made despite the arguments of Adm. Leahy, General “Hap” Arnold and Gen. Dwight Eisenhower who strongly spoke against it’s use, calling it completely unnecessary. Many of the scientists that worked on the Manhattan Project felt that such a dramatic scientific discovery should not be used. The petition, “…the liberated forces of nature for the purpose of destruction … open the door to an era of devastation …,” was signed by 57 scientists. They had the foresight to visualize the nuclear problems that we face today, but their qualms went unheeded.

The Potsdam Proclamation demanded the unconditional surrender of Japan, but did not make mention of two clearly important issues – (1) that the atomic bomb was is existence and (2) whether or not the Emperor would retain his seat in the palace. Both of these provisions would have clarified the true situation for the Japanese Army. Many, on-site at Potsdam, believe that the Japanese were purposely and maliciously misguided.

26 July, the same day that Clement Attlee defeated Winston Churchill in the election for Prime Minister, the Potsdam Declaration was sent to the enemy. The exact wording of this document made it unthinkable for Japan to accept. Once again, the lack of understanding for a foreign culture would hinder the road to peace.

MGeneral Makato Onodera, in Norway, 1942

Keep in mind, while still at sea on the ‘Augusta,’ Byrnes had received a message from Sweden stating that Japanese Major Gen. Makoto Onodera, having authorization from the Emperor, wished to enter into peace negotiations. The only stipulation being that the Emperor remain in power.

By this time, Prince Konoye had spent two years laboring to uncover a route to peace. The prince had had the correct procedure all along, but mistakenly had chosen the Soviet Union as the go-between. Stalin had his own agenda in mind for the Japanese and their territories and therefore he deceitfully strung the envoys along with various delaying tactics.

Allen Dulles, OSS

OSS Allen Dulles, who assisted in negotiations when Italy fell, was working on the same premise in Switzerland. Nevertheless, as spring turned to summer, militarists in Japan continued to plan for Operation Decision (Ketsu-Go) and ignored their government’s attempts for peace. Disregarding Japan’s concern for their Emperor, the Potsdam Declaration was considered by Premier Suzuki and the military to be a re-hashing of the Cairo Declaration which deemed it to be marked as “mokusatsu” (‘ignore entirely’ or ‘regard as unworthy of notice’)

In regards to the A-bomb, Secretary of War, Stimson and his assistant, John McCloy, told Truman, “We should all have our heads examined if we don’t try to find a political solution.”

Truman laughed.

Click on images to enlarge.

############################################################################################

Political Sarcasm – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

############################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Otis ‘Pete’ Clemons – Oceola City, FL; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Robert Dugan Sr. – Yonkers, NY; US Navy, WWII, USS Amsterdam

David Giammattalo – Toronto, CAN; Canadian Army, WWII

Edward Herod – East Chicago, IN; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO

James I. Jubb – Eastport, MD; US Army, Korea, Cpl., KIA

Cletis L. Leatherman – Sparks, NV; US Army Air Corps, Japan Occupation, 11th Airborne Div.

Raye Montaque – Little Rock, AR; US Navy, Engineer, Program Manager of Ships

Lester Schner – Jericho, NY; US Army

Merle (Stiles) Shelton – Bakersfield, CA; Civilian, Manhattan Project (Berkeley)

Jerry Wilde – Boca Raton, FL; US Army, Korea

#############################################################################################

Advertisements

General Douglas MacArthur

Douglas MacArthur, West  Point, 1903

Douglas MacArthur, West Point, 1903

Acheson warned Truman of the home front unrest that might result from MacArthur’s dismissal and General Marshall felt the general should be brought home for “consultation,” but after pressure, he withdrew his suggestion.

In reply to the rumors of his dismissal, MacArthur sent a defiant letter to Gen. Bradley. Representative Martin read this letter on the floor of the House. Truman, fearing the political upheaval of firing MacArthur, stated he would leave the decision up to the military.

Manila, 1945

Manila, 1945

When Truman was told that if the general ever got wind of his definite dismissal, he might resign. The president became furious, “The son of a bitch isn’t going to resign on me. I want him fired!” To precede any actions of MacArthur, Truman then made an official statement – a broadcast on the radio, 10 April 1951 at 1:00 am.

11 & 13 April, while the newspapers were preoccupied with stories on MacArthur, the Joint Chiefs of Staff secretly approved the general’s plan to “send a message” to Beijing. The operation, off the coast of China, in the Taiwan Strait, was to show force and obtain photographs; 20 warships and 140 planes would participate.

MacArthur's desk - as he left it.

MacArthur’s desk – as he left it.

Secretary of the Army, Pace, received a call at the Command Post of the 5th RCT/24th Division, “You will advise General Matthew Ridgeway that he is now the supreme commander of the Pacific… You will proceed to Tokyo where you will assist Gen. Ridgeway… in assuming his command.” Pace had the messenger repeat his orders a second time due to their importance.

MacArthur kept a stiff upper lip and said upon receiving the news to Ambassador William Sibald, “Publicly humiliated after 52 years of service in the Army.” When Ridgeway arrived in Tokyo on 12 April, MacArthur said, “If it had been up to me to pick my successor, I would have chosen you.”

MacArthur addressing 50,000 at Soldier's Field, Chicago, April 1951

MacArthur addressing 50,000 at Soldier’s Field, Chicago, April 1951

The home front Gallup Poll had MacArthur’s popularity at 69% in sympathy with the general. Truman, upon arriving at the Washington Senator’s baseball game was booed. In Ponca City, OK, a dummy of the president was burned in effigy. PFC William Hayward related that despite the shortages they had in the 674th Tactical Control Squadron, none of their liabilities were due to MacArthur. He said from commanding officers on down, the air crews were irate about his being sacked. In other units, the troops merely shrugged; the change in the higher command did nothing to alter their situations.

While most major newspapers supported Truman, the “Chicago Tribune” suggested that the president could be impeached for ordering troop to the Korean front without a declaration of war. The famous Walter Winchell called the dismissal the “greatest scandal in American history.” Equally famous, author James Mitchner, was on the critical side with his views.

Japanese school children were given a holiday and throngs of genuinely sorrowful Japanese gathered along the route from the American embassy to the airport on 16 April as MacArthur went to board the “Bataan.” Over a loud-speaker, in Japanese for those unable to see the procession, sounded, “Good-bye, General MacArthur.” Banners were hung that read, Sayonara, we Love You, We Are Grateful to the General and With Sincere Regret. As the MacArthur party went up the plan’s ramp, the Army band played, “Auld Lang Syne.”

MacArthur's parade, NYC 20 April 1951

MacArthur’s parade, NYC 20 April 1951

MacArthur returned to the United States to a hero’s welcome that included a ticker tape parade in Manhattan, attracting 7 million spectators. But, the talk of running the general as a Republican presidential candidate faded away.

MacArthur's farewell speech to Congress

MacArthur’s farewell speech to Congress

19 April 1951, Gen. Douglas MacArthur addressed a joint meeting of Congress where he repeated his statement, “In war, there can be no substitute for victory.” And in conclusion: “Old soldiers never die; they just fade away. And like the old soldier of that ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away – an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty. Goodbye.”

*********** General Douglas MacArthur (26 January 1880 – 5 April 1964)***********

########################################################################################

Farewell Salutes –

Hugh Harvey – Childs, MD; US Coast Guard, WWII

James Bloom – NY & W. Palm Bch., FL; US Army, WWII

Gilbert Butts – W.Palm Bch., FL; US Army (Ret.) Sgt.

Gerald Smith – Dallas, TX; US Navy, Captain (Ret.) Korea

Harold Hayward – White Plains, NY; 761st Tank Battalion, WWII

Albert Dubuc – Springfield, MA & Lake Worth, FL; US Air Force, MSgt, PTO

#########################################################################################

Click images to enlarge.

#########################################################################################

Personal note – Please relay all correspondence thru the blogs. Anything sent to my personal e-mail goes directly to spam and is discarded. I value all of you and want to hear what you have to say, so please add it here. (If you wish, I will delete the message after it is read.) Thank you for your cooperation.

#########################################################################################

Korean War (3)

tfsmithfirstpg

MacArthur, in his memoirs, stated that he began his plan for Operation Bluehearts (later named Chromite); the amphibious landing above Seoul to cut off the enemy. This was without approval from Washington. General Stratemeyer radioed Earl Partridge, deputy commander of the FEAF, “Take out North Korean airfields immediately. No publicity. MacArthur approves.” The general was counting on official approval after the fact – which he did receive. But, Maggie Higgins, reporter for the NY Herald-Tribune, did report the incident claiming that she had no knowledge of a security blackout. (The media interfered even back then.)

29 June 1950, Truman gave MacArthur the authority to restore order up to the 38th parallel, but Acheson made a broader interpretation of the statement. Russia said openly they would not interfere unless the U.S. crossed outside of North Korea. (They were quite willing to let the Chinese do their fighting for them.) The 24th Division, under MGeneral William, was ordered to make ready. As all occupation forces were, the unit was inexperienced, included few WWII veterans and were using WWII left-over equipment, but their proximity to Korea made them the obvious choice to land at Pusan. The U.S. Navy had its first combat action on this date. The USS Juneau (CL-119), the flagship of RAdmiral John Higgins fired her 5″ guns at shipping and shore targets.

North Korean invasion 25 July - 4 August 1950

North Korean invasion 25 July – 4 August 1950

Knowing that the news of American troops going to Korea would leak out, Truman announced,”This is all very delicate. I don’t want it stated any place that ‘I’ am telling MacArthur what to do. He is not an American general now, he is acting for the United Nations.” (Everyone in the loop knew otherwise, along with General Marshall having a firm hold on Truman’s ear.)

Norway, traditionally a neutral country, no longer held a peaceful attitude after spending 5 years under Nazi control. Wilhelm Munthe de Morgenstierne, the Norwegian ambassador to Washington, went to Acheson personally at the State Department to convey those feelings from Trygve Lie, the First Secretary General of the U.N. to support the international action.

In seeing additional troops enter Korea in piecemeal fashion, General Dean reported to Doyle Hickey, Deputy Chief of Staff to MacArthur, that “I am convinced that the North Korean Army and the North Korean soldier and his status of training and equipment have been underestimated.” He had politely implied that the American troops, equipment and training were highly overrated. The logistics outside Tokyo were primitive, the list of inadequacies huge and maps were non-existent. (Gen. Dean, with no previous combat experience, won the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions and leadership. His medal was awarded to his wife since he became MIA and presumed KIA. Later he was found after being a POW. A very brave and honorable story)

Russian T-34 tank

Russian T-34 tank

30 June, Task Force Smith was formed, (named for Lt. Col. Charles Smith), and included the 21st, 34th and 19th divisions to join the 24th. They also would be using outdated weapons and many of the shells being duds as they landed 5 July. Immediately, they were attacked by the enemy with Russian T-34 tanks and the first American soldier was killed. (his name lost in history). There had already been Air Force casualties. After three days of fighting, 85 men were dead or missing out of a 130-man rifle company. MacArthur radioed the Pentagon that he needed 4 to 5 divisions, an airborne regimental combat team and an armored group; and this was the minimum. The NKPA leadership and tactical skills were rated as “excellent,” as good as any seen in WWII.

Gen. William F. Dean

Gen. William F. Dean

Gen. Dean’s 25th Division deleted the 7th in the attempt to be brought up to strength and embarked for Korea on 9 July. Communications were poor, the radios had short-range and replacement batteries were nowhere to be found. With the ROK forces running south and no way to distinguish the northern and southern troops, the first 4 Royal Australian pilots, on their first mission, sprayed a ROK ammunition train at Pyongtaek. An American pilot, having the same problem, was shot down and taken prisoner. MacArthur ordered ALL ROK vehicles to have a white star painted on top to be visible from above.

Edward R. Murrow in Korea

Edward R. Murrow in Korea

Edward R. Murrow was met by fellow CBS correspondent, Bill Downs, who sported a full beard and was covered with dirt from the front, told Murrow, “Go back! Go back you silly bastard! This ain’t our kind of war. This one is for the birds!” (In the future, Murrow would call this warning, “the best advice he ever ignored.”) Murrow watched as what was left of a black unit from the 24th Infantry return. The highest ranking officer of that regiment, Lt. Col. Forrest Lofton, refused to go to Korea. He remained at Gifu in Honshu. He was a follower of a preacher that held the opinion that it was inappropriate for black soldiers to fight an enemy of “color.”

The communist soldiers who had infiltrated groups of refugees made heroin easily available to the incoming troops and as the 24th debarked at Moji, the military began receiving reports of rape, robbery and desertion. Drugs were now entered as yet another problem in the war. The soldiers were shipped out on freighters, ferries and fertilizer haulers and they regrouped on 13 July in Pusan, boarded trains for Pohang and then onward to Kumchon by truck. There they were ordered to dig in and protect ROK forces on one side and the 27th on the other. The next day, they were under fire.

At Yechon, 20 July, Dean was injured and captured. The next day, the city was temporarily re-occupied by the 24th. Two days after that, when the 1st Cavalry Division relieved them, the 24th retreated 100 miles and had abandoned most of their equipment and had lost 30% KIA. Unashamed of their retreat, the men were heard singing “The Bugout Bogie”:
When the Commie mortars start to chug,
The Ol’ Deuce Four begin to bug…
When you hear the pitter-patter of little feet,
It’s the Ol’ Deuce Four in full retreat.

Washington disliked the term ‘bugout,’ but the press continued to use it.

Lt. Leon A. Gilbert refused a direct order to take his men back into the fight. He was given a chance to change his mind, on the threat of a treason charge, “No,” he said, “I’ll get killed.” Gilbert was tried and given the death sentence, but Truman intervened and cut the sentence down to 20 years. Following his sentencing, mass court-martialing of whole units of the 24th ensued.

The embarrassing facts about the war gradually made their way out even as reporters made their headlines out of the smallest of victories. Truman carefully chose his words to retain public support from here on out. I believe it is becoming clear why many of us learned very little of this war during our school years.

Click photos to enlarge.

#######################################################################################

Farewell Salutes –

Edward O’Hara – Phoenix, AZ; U.S. Navy, PT boat radioman, WWII

Hugh Sisler – Friendsville, ME; U.S. Navy, WWII Aleutians and Okinawa

Alice Magruder Thompson – born 1914, Washington D.C.; pilot with the Civil Air Patrol & administrative aide Dept. Of Navy

Frederick Walton, Jr. – Maryland; U.S. Air Force, WWII

########################################################################################

Resources: “MacArthur’s War” by Stanley Weintraub; militarymuseum. org; history.army.org; Wikipedia; “Warfare of the 20th Century” by Christopher Chant; history.navy.mil; “Korean War” by Stephen Badsey

########################################################################################

Be sure to tune in for my latest guest post for Greatest Generation Lessons this coming Tuesday, “Rationing Gone Wild” is a step back in time for the home front. See you there.

Background for Korea

Dai Ichi Building in Tokyo flying both the American and United Nations flags

Dai Ichi Building in Tokyo flying both the American and United Nations flags

Korea was not a happy nation and hadn’t been for a long time. After the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5, it was annexed by Japan in 1910. Korea was then promised her independence in 1943 by the Allied conference in Cairo; this was reaffirmed by the July 1945 Potsdam Conference. But, when Japan surrendered one month later, Soviet forces were already entering Korea via Manchuria. The sector north of the 38th was given to Russia and the southern zone to the U.S.

After two years of political debate, the Communists still refused to leave and the U.S. handed the problem over to the United Nations. The U.N. attempted, with nationwide elections, to help unite the country, but without Soviet cooperation, it was to no avail. The southern Republic of Korea was created 15 August 1947 and Seoul, its capital. The Communists responded by declaring the northern part to be called the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea shortly afterward and established Pyongyang as its capital.

Korean War map

Korean War map

The Soviet forces officially left North Korea in December 1948, but left behind advisers, instructors and massive amounts of matériel and supplies.  On the other hand, the Americans departed in June 1949, leaving behind very little. The South Korean army was left pretty much to fend for themselves and one year later, on 25 June 1950, the movement and tactical surprise attacks would be overwhelming.

MacArthur and Sygman Rhee

MacArthur and Sygman Rhee

While handling the affairs of Japanese occupation, MacArthur only visited Korea twice before the war would erupt with Russia and China both influencing those north of the 38th. South Korea still felt the U.S. would back them in their wish to reunite the country, despite public American statements to the contrary. The four military divisions in Japan in May 1950 had only one regiment in three as infantry and they were not prepared for or experienced combat.

Between 1945-50, the U.S. government, in its struggle to halt the rapid spread of communism, prepared for a WWII-style of war and they expected it to be fought in Europe. Congress had ratified the Truman Doctrine and sent economic and military aid to Turkey and Greece. Afterward came the Marshall Plan for a foreign aid program to rebuild Europe. The U.S. military reduced its forces, with the bulk of the remaining men stationed across the Atlantic. The U.S. was wholly unprepared for another war in the Pacific. Any defensive plan they did have, excluded Korea altogether. A soldier who received orders for Japan considered it a plum assignment and had not been given combat training.

Formosa was the only cause for U.S. concern at this time. Mac Arthur’s intelligence, from a source in Taipei in June, found “undeniable evidence” of a Communist invasion fleet along the Chinese coast near Formosa; 121 miles across the Strait of Korea. But, the U.S. State Department had jurisdiction, not the general. Also, MacArthur’s data was coming through MGeneral Willoughby (Chief of Intelligence for MacArthur), who was known to pretty much tell the general what he felt he wanted to hear; and he kept the CIA out of the area as well. (so no confirmation of intel.)

General Omar Bradley

General Omar Bradley

Omar Bradley did not trust MacArthur and asked BGeneral William Roberts, who sat 25 miles from the 38th parallel, for his opinion. The reply came back that the U.S. Korean Military Group were perfectly capable of taking care of themselves. But, during the first half of 1950, no one apparently was aware of construction going on; roads and railroads were being built to accommodate heavy equipment and troops. MacArthur did apparently give Cyrus Sulzberger, a “N.Y. Times” correspondent, the opinion that if another war broke out – it would be there [Korea]. The general told him, “WWII had changed the nature of war. Scientists had made mass killing easy… Even the public realizes all too well in terms of war that there can be no victory in a future war.”

By early June, Kim Il Sung’s army (with men and women) had infiltrated the south with orders to disrupt transportation and communications once war broke out. Russian “training officers” withdrew and elite operation advisers took their place. Attacks were to begin at 0400 hours on 25 June, as per orders from Pyongyang, but one participant observed border defenses going on as early as the 21st.

Kim Il Sung speaking at a mass rally

Kim Il Sung speaking at a mass rally

The ROK army had no heavy artillery and many of the troops had left to harvest the crops on their farms. The divisions, in all reality, were no more than gendarmerie who were unable to put a halt on any offensive action. Five hours after his own invasion had started, Kim Il Sung announced in a radio broadcast that the south had “dared to commit armed aggression north of the 38th parallel.” North Korean troops, armed with Russian T-34 tanks were met by grenades and American supplied 2 36-inch bazookas, that did nothing to slow the onslaught.

This is a digested version of events combated with the U.S. only having concern for Formosa and the sparse or lack of concern for intelligence, that would lead to the start of the Korean War. What becomes evident here, is this and any future conflict would be a political battle. The one fact that remains constant – our troops die. During my section on Korea, I will disregard any of Truman’s memoirs on the subject. After reading countless pages of quotes, I discovered that the politician’s recollections to be contrary to his actions and statements at the time of the war.

Click on photos to enlarge.

######################################################################################

Farewell Salutes –

George “Bud” Day – Shalimar, FL; Colonel USMC, WWII, Korea, Vietnam; POW for over 5 years, Medal of Honor recipient.

Alice Brausch – Honea Path, SC & W.Palm Beach, FL; U.S. Army Nursing Corps during Korea

George Fenimore, Jr. – Bertrand, MI & LA, CA; U.S. Air Force, WWII

George O’Shea – Ft Lauderdale, FL; USMC, class of 1945 Annapolis

Edgar Wyant – born in Germany, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; became U.S. citizen and enlisted U.S. Army prior to Pearl Harbor, WWII ETO

Albert Steidel – Alexandria, VA, U.S. Navy, Korea

J. Roger Miller – Phoenix, AZ; U.S. Air Force, WWII

#######################################################################################

Resources: “MacArthur’s War” by Stanley Weintraub; History.com; WikiCommons; Kansas.com; historyinink.com; Army photos

#######################################################################################

What would become known as: The Bomb

Harry S. Truman

Harry S. Truman

In a 1958 interview, Truman was asked about the soul-searching decision he went through to decide on dropping the bomb. He replied, “Hell no, I made it like _ (snapped his fingers) _ that!” One year later at Columbia University, he said, “The atom bomb was no great decision.” He likened it to a larger gun.

The components for the 20-kiloton weapon were being shipped to Tinian Island, in the Marianas, aboard the “Indianapolis.” The top-secret package arrived at its destination a mere 24 hours after the official operational order for the bomb was sent to General Carl (“Tooey”) Spaatz.

Prince Konoye, after laboring two years for a route to peace, swallowed poison and died the day before he was to turn himself in as a war criminal.

Prince Konoye

Prince Konoye

Sadly, four days later, the ‘Indianapolis’ was hit by three torpedoes and sunk within twelve minutes. The ship was without a sufficient number of lifeboats, her disappearance went unnoticed for almost four days and the navy search team was called off early. Therefore, only 316 men of her 1,196-man crew were rescued. This has been considered the most controversial sea disaster in American history.

The bomb, when it arrived, was a metal cylinder approximately 18 inches in diameter and two feet high, but when fully assembled, it measured ten feet long and 28 inches in diameter. It had originally been nicknamed “Thin Man” after the movie and the expected shape, but when it was completed, they changed it to “Little Boy” and gave the small bundle its own hiding place. The secrecy involving the bomb storage area was so secure that a general was required to have a pass to enter.

The other members of the 509th Bomber Group, not included in the mission, knew something was brewing, but they also were unaware of the exact plans. Hence, an anonymous writer was inspired:
Into the air the secret rose,
Where they’re going, nobody knows.
Tomorrow they’ll return again,
But we’ll never know where they’ve been.
Don’t ask about results or such,
Unless you want to get in Dutch.
But take it from one who is sure of the score,
The 509th is winning the war.

The crew of the ‘Enola Gay’ even received a humorous menu as they entered the mess hall for breakfast:
Look! Real eggs (How do you want them?)
Rolled oats (Why?)
Milk (No fishing)
Sausage (We think it’s pork)
Apple butter (Looks like axle grease)
Butter (Yep, it’s out again)
Coffee (Saniflush)
Bread (Someone get a toaster)

After takeoff, they met up with their two escort planes, ‘The Great Artiste,’ which carried scientific equipment and Number 91 (never named) carrying photographic gear.

men of Enola Gay

men of Enola Gay

6 August 1945, “Enola Gay,” dropped the first atomic bomb, the equivalent of 20,000 tons of TNT, on the city of Hiroshima, killing 180,000 people. The B-29 bomber was piloted by Colonel Paul Tibbets, Jr. and First Lieutenant Morris Jeppson. The crew was required to wear special goggles after the bomb was released to avoid blindness. Due to the lack of information, the crew of the Enola Gay did not expect to return from their bombing mission. The Manhattan Project (two cities built to develop the weapon) originally cost two billion dollars (The equivalent today would be approximately 27 billion.)

All clocks in Hiroshima stopped precisely at 8:15 am.

Bomb released on Hiroshima

Bomb released on Hiroshima

Hiroshima University surprisingly stood intact after the explosion presumably due to its completely white veneer, but for some unknown reason its clock had eerily stopped at 8:15 — the previous day.

The Emperor, throughout his life, had been described as looking like a small town mayor, completely unselfish, without vanity or ambition. He had always wished to be a marine biologist rather than a monarch. As Emperor, once the military leaders and the cabinet made a decision, he could not withhold his support. He had never wanted war, but had complied. (To explain the complex layout of the Japanese government at that time would require much more room than we have here.) Once the atomic bombs were dropped, the Emperor threw tradition to the wind and emphatically insisted upon peace. This would cause a civil war of sorts with the government.

Emperor seeing Hiroshima for the first time.

Emperor seeing Hiroshima for the first time.

8-9 August, at midnight, the Soviets declared war on Japan and Manchuria. This was contrary to their original agreement to wait until the 15th of the month. It became obvious to all that Stalin was now making his agenda quite clear as to his wish for the “spoils of war.” Truman, who had wanted the Soviets in the war, now realized that they would be a hindrance.

9 August, ‘Bock’s Car’ dropped the next atomic bomb, “Fat Man,” which was nicknamed after Churchill or Sidney Greenstreet’s character in “The Maltese Falcon,” there are two conflicting stories. The bomb killed 80,000 people. This second bomb was different in that it was a spherical plutonium missile, ten feet long and five feet in diameter. The plane made three unsuccessful runs over the city of Kokura, but due to the lack of visibility, they went on to Nagasaki. Jake Beser, an electronics specialist, was the only crew member
to make both atomic bomb runs.

navigator's view, Nagasaki bombing

navigator’s view, Nagasaki bombing

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Always sad to see another veteran pass on …

11th Airborne Obituary

11th Airborne Obituary

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Resources: Pacific War On-line Encyclopedia; “The Rising Sun” by John Toland; “The Last Great Victory’ by Stanley Weintraub; “VFW Pictorial History of WWII”; AOL Images; Palm Beach Post.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Remeber to click on a photo to view more clearly.

March/April 1945

Kamikaze near-miss

Kamikaze near-miss


During March, Japan’s city of Osaka and Kobe were devastated and enemy resistance collapsed on Iwo Jima. The U.S. began its bombardment of Okinawa and kamikaze aircraft became a persistent threat to the Navy.

“Operation Iceberg” (Okinawa) began in 1 April with the U.S. Tenth Army (6th Marine Division and 1st Marine Division) making their landings. Their objective was to advance west and then north on the island. The U.S. Army XXIV Corps (7th Infantry Div. and 96th Infantry) was ordered to clear the southern region. The units encounter very little resistance at their initial targets, but 130,000 Japanese soldiers were prepared for battle in the interior area and rougher region of the island.
________________________________________________________________________________________________

General Masatoshi Fujishige

General Masatoshi Fujishige


18 April, Col. Pearson brought in tanks and 155mm howitzers to coordinate with the 187th and their fighting would continue for two more days. The 11th Airborne had pushed the Japanese back to Malepunyo. On the 19th, any cave found near the 1st battalion was sealed. Those hideouts discovered near Cuenca Ravine had gasoline drums rolled into them and were ignited by grenades. This not only killed a number of enemy soldiers, but also eliminated the vegetation that would normally provide cover and possible infiltration routes by the enemy. When the battle for Macolod was over on the 20th, the regiment had 13 casualties and 11 wounded.

General Fjishige gave an interview on 27 May 1946 at the Luzon POW Camp No. 1. He said, in reference to the plans for Macolod, that he took one month of planning and organizing the defense himself. He had their positions so well camouflaged that they could not be detected by land or air and were stocked with some of the best troops he had. The general stated that whoever attacked Macolod deserved the highest U.S. Army honors.

The next operation was Malepunyo. The exhausted men of the 187th were sent to Tiaong to relieve the 188th and allow them to join up the 511th regiment and the 8th Cavalry while they (the 187th) would remain to cut off any Japanese fleeing the high ground. The 187th laid ambushes for 10 miles and confirmed some 400 enemy killed or captured. During three simultaneous banzai attacks coming across the bridges, the 187th were told by a prisoner that they had nearly caught Gen. Fujishige.

Swing received orders to “go it alone, capture Mount Malepunyo and destroy all the Japanese thereon.” This was an area of thirty square miles of hills with a mangled rain forest and bamboo thickets. It had no roadways and was surrounded by wet slopes intermingled with sharp ridges. At one ridge, the troopers spotted fifty to sixty Japanese about 300 feet below them bathing in a stream as if they were oblivious to a war shattering the world around them. The men of the 11th A/B were certain that there was nothing luckier than to literally catch the enemy with his pants down!

after one fray, a patrol of the 187th found a Japanese diary attesting to the starving conditions the enemy were facing. The book read that they were without any communication to or from their headquarters. They were praying for help from Manila and hoped they would die bravely in their fight with the Americans. (Any papers found on the enemy were immediately handed over to a Nisei G.I. for translation).
_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Indian Parachute Regiment insignia

Indian Parachute Regiment insignia

Between December 1944 and the end of April 1945, the British and Indian troops liberated Burma. The Japanese Army evacuated Rangoon on 29 April 1945. I should have included the campaigns of these men here as well, my apologies.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________

All throughout April, the U.S. Marines land on the smaller islands surrounding Okinawa.

On 17 April, President Truman extended the lend-lease act, thereby giving a grand total of $39 billion for Europe’s war effort. The U.S. only received $5.5 billion in return.

29 April, Mussolini and his mistress Signorina Petracci were executed and hung by their heels in front of a filling station nd Italy surrenders. (I have a photo of this, but feel it is not suitable for all viewers.)
________________________________________________________________________________________________

Remember – click onto any photo to enlarge.

________________________________________________________________________________________________

%d bloggers like this: