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Pacific War Trials – part three

Kempeitai

The British prosecuted Japanese along the Malay Peninsula, in Borneo, New Britain, Rangoon and Singapore. In Malay, 35 Kempeitai (secret police) were tried and 29 went to the gallows. The most publicized trial involved those at the “River Kwai” for causing almost 600 deaths of the 2,000 POWs that built the Burma Siam railroad.

Shiro Ishii

Australia listed 35 separate charges, including cannibalism and mutilation of a dead body. The most famous was Shiro Ishii of Unit 731 for subjecting prisoners to horrendous experiments. These crimes against humanity were normally held in cooperation with British and American officials. One trial held on New Guinea was for a Japanese officer who ate part of an Australian POW. The defense claimed starvation as a reason for his mental demise – he was hanged.

The largest trial of 503 Japanese was held by Australia for cruelty to prisoners on Amoina and 92 were convicted. In Rabaul, New Britain, 1,000 American and British POWs were forced to march 165 miles and only 183 made it the entire route. The Japanese commander executed the survivors. The officer had survived the war – but not the court.

Michiaki Kamada

The Netherlands tried an ugly case for Vice Admiral Michiaki Kamada who ordered 1,500 natives of Borneo murdered. Four others were executed for their participation in the awful treatment of 2,000 Dutch prisoners on Flores Island. Another case involved the treatment of 5,000 Indonesian laborers, 500 Allied POWs and 1,000 civilians.

China tried 800 defendants, whereby 500 were convicted and 149 sentenced to death.

The French held the least number of trials and dealt with them as ordinary crimes. Five Japanese were given the death penalty for the murder of American airmen in Indochina. The French were still holding their trials as late as November 1951.

As mentioned previously, the Russian “trials” were held as propaganda against the West. The charges would be dismissed, due to “arrested development.” ( suggesting that the Japanese were hindered in their development since they were not subject to Soviet culture and education.) The Soviets publicly made it clear that they were “on to” Japan and her American friend’s plot against them.

Abe Koso under guard.

The U.S. Navy tried the Japanese accused of crimes on the Pacific islands. Three were held on Kwajalein, in the Marshall Islands and 44 were put on trial on Guam. These were closely held in conjunction with British, Australian and Indonesian officials. Abe Koso, became the naval commander at Kwajalein and ordered the beheading of nine Marine Raiders that were left behind after the Makin Raid. Koso defended his acts by claiming the Marines were U.S. spies. The tribunal rejected his claim and 19 June 1947, he was hanged.

To be continued…

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

La Fayette A. Bronston – Springfield, OH; USMC, VIetnam, SSgt., 3 Purple Hearts, Bronze Star, Silver Star

Max W. Daniels (103) – Lake Como, PA; USMC, WWII, cook

WHAT IS A VETERAN?

Joe, Francis & Harry Doyle – Arthur, CAN; Canadian Armed Forces, WWII, KIA (in Memorandum by the Doyle Family)

James Fleming – Hawkes Bay, NZ; NZEF, WWII # 103747, NZ Engineers

Leo Hines – Albany, NY; US Army, Vietnam, 506/11/101st Airborne Division

Wally McLaughlin – Minneapolis, MN; US Army, Korea, 187 RCT/11th Airborne Division

William Schroeder – Boise, ID; USMC, Korea, B Co./1/7th Marines

Michaela Ticha – CZE; MFO Sgt. (Multinational Force & Observers), KIA (So. Sinai)

Gregory Troutman – Salisbury, NC; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, 187th RCT / Pentagon, Col. (Ret. 30 y.)

John ‘Val’ Wachtel IV – Topeka, KS; US Army, Vietnam, Green Beret

Pacific War Trials – part one

Yamashita at his trial.

One of the most monumental surrenders in the Pacific War was General Tomoyuki Yamashita.

General Tomoyuki Yamashita as he led his staff officers of the 14th Area Army to surrender, 2 Sept. 1945. He did not believe in hara-kiri.  He said, “If I kill myself, someone else will have to take the blame.”

Just as the Japanese surrenders occurred in different places and on different dates, so were the trials. The regulations used differed and the criminal charges varied. Preparations for the war crimes started early in mid-1942 due to the heinous reports coming out of China during the Japanese invasion in 1937. The home front recollections of these proceedings might differ from the facts stated here because of the media slant at the time and sensationalism.

Trial correspondents

Often, the stories were even inaccurate, such as in Time magazine, the writer ranted about Yamashita’s brutality during the Bataan Death March. The truth of the matter was – Yamashita was in Manchuria at the time. All in all, 5,600 Japanese were prosecuted during 2,200 trials. More than 4,400 men and women were convicted and about 1,000 were executed and approximately the same number of acquittals.

Soviet trials are not included here as these were held merely as propaganda show pieces. The defendants mostly pleaded guilty, made a public apology and said something wonderful about communism and the “People’s Paradise” of Russia.

Yamashita’s military commission

General Tomoyuki Yamashita’s case was the most famous of the American trials and was presided over by a military commission of 5 American general officers (none of which had any legal training) and held in the ballroom of the U.S. high commissioner’s residence. The charge was “responsibility for the death and murders tolerated – knowingly or not.” The general’s defense council, Col. Harry Clark, argued that no one would even suggest that the Commanding General of an American occupational force would become a criminal every time an American soldier committed a crime – but, Yamashita was just so accused.

Yamashita speaks at his trial.

MacArthur let it be known that Truman wanted the proceedings to be completed at the earliest possible date. It became obvious that the verdict was predetermined; even one correspondent at the scene reported, “In the opinion of probably every correspondent covering the trial, the military commission came into the courtroom the first day with the decision already in its collective pocket.” Many observers felt that Yamashita was not being accorded due process as MacArthur and the commission refused to provide copies of the transcript. Proof that the general had known of the atrocities was never given, but after closing arguments, it was announced that the verdict would be given in two days. Significantly, the guilty verdict was given on 7 December 1945. The general was hanged in Manila, Philippines on 23 February 1946 because the men he commanded had committed evil acts during the war.

Yamashita upon hearing the verdict.

Hundreds of others were also prosecuted in the American trials, including Lt. General Matsaharu Homma, the man who actually did order the Bataan Death March and the bombing of the undefended “open city” of Manila. His headquarters had been 500 yards from the road the prisoners had marched and died on and he had admitted having driven down that road of blood many times. He was sentenced to hang.  His wife appealed to MacArthur to spare him – which he refused, but did execute Homma by the less disgraceful method of firing squad.

Gen. Homma with his attorneys

During these trials in the Philippines, 215 Japanese faced criminal charges and 20 were declared innocent and 92 were given the death sentence. In one case, Philippine President Manuel Roxas appealed to China’s Chiang Kai-shek to spare the life of one Japanese officer who had saved his life and that of several other Filipinos. The request was granted.

Manila Hotel Annex, 1945

CLCIK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Walter Morgan Bryant Jr. – Delray Beach, FL; USMC, Vietnam (2 tours), Sgt.

Sean Connery (Sir Thomas) – Edinburgh, SCOT; Royal Navy, Able Seaman, HMS Formidable,  /  Beloved Actor

Vincent De Magistris – Chester, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, RHQ/503rd RCT/11th Airborne Division

Jean (Love) Glass – Sokane, WA; Civilian, WWII, Boeing Aircraft

Vernon Hogsett – Lamar, NE; US Army, WWII, Bronze Star

Dave Knight – Skowhegan, ME; US Army, Vietnam, Sgt., 173rd Airborne

James Larson – Denver, CO; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Clarence Mantis – Dayton, OH; US Navy, WWII

Ronald Shurer – Puyallup, WA; US Army, Afghanistan, SSgt., Senior Medical Sgt., Silver Star, Medal of Honor

Billy D. Welch – Hendersonville, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, (Ret.)

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War Trials – WWII – part two

Hideki Tojo listening to interpreter during his trial

Hideki Tojo listening to interpreter during his trial

The major trials being held in Tokyo were presided by the U.S., Britain, Australia, the Netherlands, France, China and the Philippines and began in May 1946. General MacArthur, as supreme commander of the Allied powers, largely controlled the progress of the trials. They started with 25 defendants, but two passed away during the proceedings and another was evaluated as too mentally deficient to participate.

Hideki Tojo

Hideki Tojo

Hideki Tojo was the most infamous face to symbolize Japanese aggression being that he was the Prime Minister at the time of Pearl Harbor. A 55-count indictment was drafted by the British prosecutor, Arthur Comyns-Carr. Every nation’s prosecutor signed the document listing: 36 counts of ‘crimes against peace’, 16 for murder and 3 counts for ‘other conventional war crimes and crimes against humanity’ for the major persons involved. These proceedings were held at the Japanese War Ministry Building and would last until November 1948. During this time, the prosecution called 400 witnesses and produced 800 affidavits.

Koki Hirota listening to the verdict and sentence

Koki Hirota listening to the verdict and sentence

Tojo took responsibility as premier for anything he or his country had done; others argued that they had operated in self-defense due to the ABCD power’s embargo and military assistance given to China. In Tokyo, all defendants were found guilty. The death sentence was given to: Hideki Tojo; Foreign Minister Koki Hirota; Generals Kenji Doihara, Seishiro Itagaki, Akiro Muto, Hyoturo Kimura and Iwane Matsui – these sentences were carried out three days later. Sixteen others received life in prison. Eight of the judges agreed on all of the sentences. Sir William Webb dissented, Delfin Jaramilla of P.I. thought they were too lenient, H. Bernard of France found fault with the proceedings, B.V.A. Roeling of the Netherlands voted to acquit Hirota and several others. A complete dissent came from Radhabinod Pal of India.

Tomaya Kawakita and his attorney

Tomaya Kawakita and his attorney

Another series of tribunals were held in Yokohama, Japan. These were for lower ranking officers, Shinto priests, medical personnel and farmers in association with the treatment of prisoners. One case involved the ship, Oryoko Maru, upon which 1,300 POWs died in 1944. The secret police, the Kempeitai, were brought to justice along with other spies. The trial of Tomaya Kawakita was moved from Yokohama to Los Angeles at his request being that he was born in the United States. This was a clear case of “be careful what you wish for” – the American court sentenced him to death.

The British prosecuted Japanese along the Malay Peninsula, in Borneo, New Britain, Rangoon and Singapore. In Malay, 35 Kempeitai (secret police) were tried and 29 went to the gallows. The most publicized trial involved those at the “River Kwai” for causing almost 600 deaths of the 2,000 POWs that built the Burma Siam railroad.

Siro Ishii on trial

Siro Ishii on trial

Australia listed 35 separate charges, including cannibalism and mutilation of a dead body. The most famous was Shiro Ishii of Unit 731 for subjecting prisoners to horrendous experiments. These were normally tried in cooperation with British and American officials. One trial held on New Guinea was for a Japanese officer who ate part of an Australian POW. The defense claimed starvation as a reason for his mental demise – he was hanged.

Rabaul - the gallows used

Rabaul – the gallows used

The largest trial of 503 Japanese was held by Australia for cruelty to prisoners on Amoina and 92 were convicted. In Rabaul, New Britain, 1,000 American and British POWs were forced to march 165 miles and only 183 made it the entire route. The Japanese commander executed the survivors. The officer had survived the war – but not the court.

The Netherlands tried an ugly case for Vice Admiral Michiaki Kamada who ordered 1,500 natives of Borneo murdered. Four others were executed for their participation in the awful treatment of 2,000 Dutch prisoners on Flores Island. Another case involved the treatment of 5,000 Indonesian laborers, 500 Allied POWs and 1,000 civilians.

China tried 800 defendants, whereby 500 were convicted and 149 sentenced to death.

The French held the least number of trials and dealt with them as ordinary crimes. Five Japanese were given the death penalty for the murder of American airmen in Indochina. The French were still holding their trials as late as November 1951.

As mentioned previously, the Russian “trials” were held as propaganda against the West. The charges would be dismissed, due to “arrested development.” ( suggesting that the Japanese were hindered in their development since they were not subject to Soviet culture and education.) The Soviets publicly made it clear that they were “on to” Japan and her American friend’s plot against them.

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Farewell Salute –

Charles Hines – Cypress, TX; Major General to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery

Dr. Gilbert Bahn – Moonpark,CA & Syracuse, NY; Captain, U.S. Army Air Corps, WWII Pacific Theater

Teresa Patterson – Costa Mesa, CA; U.S. State Dept., translator WWII

Robert Scott – Kobe, Japan & Los Angeles, CA; Sgt. USMC WWII; recalled for Korea, Purple Heart and Letter of Commendation Medal

Richard Burdick – Dallas, TX; U.S. Army WWII, 65th Infantry Div. ETO, 2 Bronze Stars

Lucius (Bud) Ohs – Batavia, NY; medic, U.S. Navy WWII

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Resources: history.net; WWII magazine; Wikipedia; japanfocus.org; japantimes.co.ip; Time magazine

War Trials – WWII – part one

Gen. Yamshita at defense table

Gen. Yamshita at defense table

Just as the Japanese surrenders occurred in different places and on different dates, so were the trials. The regulations used differed and the criminal charges varied. Preparations for the war crimes started early in mid-1942 due to the heinous reports coming out of China during the Japanese invasion in 1937. The home front recollections of these proceedings might differ from the facts stated here because of the media slant at the time and sensationalism. Often, the stories were even inaccurate, such as in Time magazine, the writer ranted about Yamashita’s brutality during the Bataan Death March. The truth of the matter was – Yamashita was in Manchuria at the time. All in all, 5,600 Japanese were prosecuted during 2,200 trials. More than 4,400 men and women were convicted and about 1,000 were executed and approximately the same number of acquittals. Soviet trials are not included here as these were held merely as propaganda show pieces. The defendants mostly pleaded guilty, made a public apology and said something wonderful about communism and the “People’s Paradise” of Russia.

correspondents

correspondents

General Tomoyuki Yamashita’s case was the most famous of the American trials and was presided over by a military commission of 5 American general officers (none of which had any legal training) and held in the ballroom of the U.S. high commissioner’s residence. The charge was “responsibility for the death and murders tolerated – knowingly or not.” The general’s defense council, Col. Harry Clark, argued that no one would even suggest that the Commanding General of an American occupational force would become a criminal every time an American soldier committed a crime – but, Yamashita was just so accused.

Yamashita testifies

Yamashita testifies

MacArthur let it be known that Truman wanted the proceedings to be completed at the earliest possible date. It became obvious that the verdict was predetermined; even one correspondent at the scene reported, “In the opinion of probably every correspondent covering the trial, the military commission came into the courtroom the first day with the decision already in its collective pocket.” Many observers felt that Yamashita was not being accorded due process as MacArthur and the commission refused to provide copies of the transcript. Proof that the general had known of the atrocities was never given, but after closing arguments, it was announced that the verdict would be given in two days. Significantly, the guilty verdict was given on 7 December 1945. The general was hanged in Manila, Philippines on 23 February 1946 because the men he commanded had committed evil acts during the war.

Yamashita's military commission

Yamashita’s military commission

Yamashita hearing the verdict of guilty

Yamashita hearing the verdict of guilty

Hundreds of others were also prosecuted in the American trials, including Lt. General Matsaharu Homma, the man who actually did order the Bataan Death March and the bombing of the undefended “open city” of Manila. His headquarters had been 500 yards from the road the prisoners had marched and died on and he had admitted having driven down that road of blood many times. He was sentenced to hang.  His wife appealed to MacArthur to spare him – which he refused, but did execute Homma by the less disgraceful method of firing squad.

Gen. Homma with his lawyers

Gen. Homma with his lawyers

During these trials in the Philippines, 215 Japanese faced criminal charges and 20 were declared innocent and 92 were given the death sentence. In one case, Philippine President Manuel Roxas appealed to China’s Chiang Kai-shek to spare the life of one Japanese officer who had saved his life and that of several other Filipinos. The request was granted.

Manila Hotel Annex, Dec. 1945 during trials G. Mountz collection

Manila Hotel Annex, Dec. 1945 during trials
G. Mountz collection

American tribunals were held in Shanghai for those accused of executing American airmen under the “Enemy Airmen’s Act” due to the Doolittle raid on Japan in April 1942, when many prisoners were murdered as an act of revenge for that mission of bombing Japan early in the war.

Abe Koso under guard

Abe Koso under guard

The U.S. Navy tried the Japanese accused of crimes on the islands. Three were held on Kwajalein, in the Marshall Islands and 44 were put on trial on Guam. These were closely held in conjunction with British, Australian and Indonesian officials. Abe Koso, became the naval commander at Kwajalein and ordered the beheading of nine Marine Raiders that were left behind after the Makin Raid. Koso defended his acts by claiming the Marines were U.S. spies. The tribunal rejected his claim and 19 June 1947, he was hanged.

There were 19 cases brought up for medical experiments at Truk. (Most people have only heard of these abominable acts from the Nazis.) Another was held for the slaughter of 98 Pan American airline employees on Wake Island in 1943. And ten others were sentenced to death; 18 were convicted of murdering civilians in the Palaus.

Courtroom gallery of spectators, Manila, P.I.

Courtroom gallery of spectators, Manila, P.I.

Click on images to enlarge.
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Farewell Salutes –

Sherman Wagenseller – San Diego, CA; Petty Officer 3d Class, U.S. Navy, WWII

Dr. Sidney Franklin – Philadelphia, PA & Los Lunas, NM; U.S. Army Medical Corps, 3d Army, WWII ETO

Fred T. Epson – Chicago, Ill. & Boynton Bch., FL; Illinois National Guard, WWII, ferried aircraft for the military

Joseph Phillips Morton – Long Beach, CA; Eighth Army Air Corps, 44th Bomb Group, bombardier, WWII

Harold Westmoreland – Dallas, TX; U.S. Navy, Korea

Itsuo Zoriki – Los Angeles, CA; 442d Antitank Company, WWII

Herbert Shapiro – Old Bethpage, NY & Lake Worth, FL; U.S. Navy, WWII

Jack Thomas – W. Palm Beach, FL; U.S. Merchant Marines, WWII

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Resources: history.net; WWII magazine; Wikipedia; George Mountz Collection of photos at genealogycenter.ifo/military; dastardlybastards.com

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