Sunday, August 14, 2005


In February 1945, a woman now dying of lung cancer grabbed two of her children and jumped out the window to escape Imperial Japanese Marines crashing through the door intent on bayoneting everyone in the burning house. Finding no one, they went on to the next house to continue their massacre on a street not far from the Rizal Memorial ballpark, where Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth both played in sunnier days before the forgotten Battle of Manila. The 100,000 civilians who died in the largest urban battle of the Pacific War -- more than at Hiroshima -- are not remembered in beautiful candles floating down darkened rivers or in flights of doves soaring into the blue sky; there is no anti-American significance to their deaths. But they still live in the fading memory of that woman, who hid for two days in the smoldering ruins of the neighborhood until the first American patrols came into view.

I saw my aunt last as she stood in a window of a Sydney hotel and waved goodbye. I hope to see her again.

I bruise you
You bruise me
We both bruise too easily
Too easily to let it show
I love you and that's all I know

But the ending always comes at last
Endings always come too fast
They come too fast
But they pass too slow
I love you and that's all I know
-- Jimmy Webb and Art Garfunkel


Blogger 49erDweet said...


8/14/2005 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger Andrew Scotia said...


That's an interesting insight. I was born in 1940, and as a consequence of early socialization have a built in bias regarding the Japanese given their history of fanaticism and the atrocities in and before WW II. Except for scale and the type of engagement I find many similarities to the present.

Given the casualties projected for both sides in Operations Olympia and Downfall I have always felt that the "ethical metric" fell on a decision favoring the use of the two atomic weapons.

Of course, the Left using their "shame based" card loves the little candles on the river and forgets Manchuria, Manila, Nanjing and the many other mass and individual actions of the Japanese. Of course, any reference to them is "racist". But, I can't help thinking that the core engine of these horrors still lurks in the Japanese cultural archive.

8/14/2005 08:16:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

Thanks for sharing, Wretchard.

We all just learned more about you and the underlying sentiments that often show up here: "not remembered in beautiful candles floating down darkened rivers or in flights of doves soaring into the blue sky; there is no anti-American significance to their deaths."

Best wishes and prayers for your aunt.

8/14/2005 08:19:00 AM  
Blogger Cardozo Bozo said...

My condolences.

8/14/2005 08:40:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

I have known more than a few Japanese over the years. The core of Japanese self superiority exists, no, it thrives. They tend to be legends in their own minds.
There is but a thin veneer of modernism on Japanese society, IMHO

8/14/2005 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger romanesq said...

A touching honor of historical note done with class and your typical efficiency.

A tip of the cap, once again.

8/14/2005 09:10:00 AM  
Blogger Ray said...


I hope that you do see your aunt one more time, and I thank her for what she has taught you, which you in turn have shared with us.


8/14/2005 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger WildMonk said...

The cleanest, most defensible philosophical point upon which a critic of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki may rest his case is the observation that there were "other ways" to end the war than to incinerate so many innocent civilians. Perhaps a "demonstration drop" away from civilians would have sufficed (or perhaps not).

What strikes me, though, is how remote, bloodless and ethereal all of these critiques sound. How hollow they ring. Quite aside from the usual contextual defenses of the bombings - which may still not weaken the case against 'some other way' to end the war - we forget just how bloody was the rise and fall of Imperial Japan.

It is easy to slur Truman's decision from the comfort of a prosperous and free America with no memory of the heart-rending events you describe. For some reason, it is much harder for modern liberals to look straight into the face of the evil that was Imperial Japan - with its orgy of bloodletting and its uncompromising fanaticism - and simply to lay the blame upon them for starting that war. In 2005, we must acknowledge that the Japanese are exceptional allies and now manage one of the finest states in modern history. But all of us should never forget that, in the 1940s, they gave no quarter, asked no quarter and gave Truman no reason to avoid this bloody coda to the war.

8/14/2005 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger PalaceRat said...

Characteristically literate, thoughtful, and more than typically affecting. I wonder if there's any effective difference between historical ignorance and anti-Americanism. I increasingly doubt that there is much real disagreement over things we consider here; rather it's almost entirely a case of large groups of people embracing false factual premises, and tenaciously clinging to them. The examples from daily experience grow and grow -- and this in an environment with folks far more literate about military and other history than most. Discouraging.

8/14/2005 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Poignant, but, as with so much of your work, with a core of spring steel.
I recall that when the 50 anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor was being observed, a reporter with considerable experience in Japan said something very interesting – and more than a little disturbing.
He said that the Japanese drew no association between their attack on Pearl Harbor and the American attack on Hiroshima. The attack on Pearl Harbor was simply an act of war in their minds, regrettable perhaps, even a bit shameful, but just war.
The attack on Hiroshima they thought of in the same terms as of a great natural disaster, horrifying, sorrowful, great suffering and a great loss.
But the two attacks were not connected in their minds.
As the writer Larry Miller put it:
“When I see a bumper sticker that says ‘No more Hiroshimas’ I think that I want one that says ‘You first; no more Pearl Harbors.”
My very best wishes and prayers for your aunt.

8/14/2005 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger Common Cents said...

Everyone go see "The Great Raid " a very entertaining movie which does not spare Japanese sensibilities.

"Set in the Philippines in 1945, "The Great Raid" tells the true story of the 6th Ranger Battalion, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Henry Mucci (Benjamin Bratt) who undertake a daring rescue mission against all odds. Traveling thirty miles behind enemy lines, the 6th Ranger Battalion aims to liberate over 500 American prisoners-of-war from the notorious Cabanatuan Japanese POW camp in the most audacious rescue ever."

8/14/2005 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger Tlear said...

There are some significant differences between Hiroshima and Manilla that give atomic bomb critics ammunition. Main one is that there was no battle for Hiroshima, there was inciniration of it.

I personally believe that bomb was justified since fire bombing of Tokyo and other cities is Japan really was quite simillar in casualties and such. LeMay's famous quote about war "criminals" can also be mentioned here.

Japanese are proud and nationalistic people, is it bad? They have alot to be proud of. Same as Americans believeing in some sort of manifest destiny and Russian considering Moscow "third Rome"

8/14/2005 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger Wild Bill said...

For those with their head in the sand, this scenario could be replayed today, in upwards of 30 countries around the world.. If it happened in the U.S. or U.K., I have no doubts that the death toll would be far above 100k in those few days before the American and/or Brit Forces gained control again.. Just think of Beslan times 1000, and that was a botched hostage situation and not outright mass murder.. Still doubt me ?? It may not be floating down a river, but my candle burns for those who have suffered in those tragic episodes like what Wretchard describes, Beslan, and all too many more.. Until ALL of the worlds population has been completly civilised and world dominance is no longer anyones objective,and we can ALL live in peace, this will happen again and more candles will burn, lest we not forget..

8/14/2005 10:46:00 AM  
Blogger Hanba'al said...

There is 2 million Vietnamese death in Au-Dau famine 1945 caused by Japanese hoarding foods from farmers for their troops and fuel for their transportation. My parent and parent in law and many Vietnamese are the witnesses. No candle there neither, for no anti-American signficance to their death.

8/14/2005 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger Cutler said...

Mentality-wise, the Imperial Japanese were the most similar enemy to Al Qaeda we've ever fought. Suicidally inclined, considered their enemies largely subhuman, and treated them accordingly - from fellow Asians to Westerners. Ironically they largely treated fellow Asians even worse than they did Westerners, so much for the Co-prosperity sphere.

Unfortunately, I think at the rate we're going, both stories might have a somewhat similar ending.

8/14/2005 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger PatCA said...

My condolences.

8/14/2005 11:41:00 AM  
Blogger Grim said...


My respects to your aunt.

8/14/2005 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger Huan said...

safe passage

8/14/2005 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

There are some significant differences between Hiroshima and Manilla that give atomic bomb critics ammunition. Main one is that there was no battle for Hiroshima, there was inciniration of it.

That there was no battle for Hiroshima--which likely would have accompanied battles throughout Japan on a par with (if not worse than) what allied and Japanese forces engaged in at Iwo Jima and Okinawa--give defenders of the atomic bombing ammunition as well. There are, as usual, two sides to the argument.

8/14/2005 01:12:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

My brother and I went to see the Great Raid on Friday. It was mostly an old crowd in the audience.

The movie describes Japanese in full retreat and the frontline as very fluid and confused.

This was true to a story our dad told from time to time over the years of his ambulence unit getting ahead US lines and entering Baguio before the frontline of the 33rd Division. The Japanese had evacuated the town but for one Japanese soldier whom dad captured.

It was the high point of that war for dad. His feat was not comparable to the work of the men in The Great Raid but when the colonel in that movie talked about glory as not a public thing but something that successful soldiers carried in their hearts for the rest of their lives...I thought I understood because I thought I saw something of that in my dad.

My family was reminded again of the valor the old man when he was a young man,when the guns cracked as they lowered him in his grave in Pennsylvania last year.

The earth seemed to roll in that green valley where he was laid next to his parents and grandparents. Dad hit the dirt in a way that he might not think complimentary since he was army. But I swear I thought I could hear the skid of jet wheels hitting the deck of an aircraft carrier as dad's casket went down. And the earth did seem to roll like a carrier deck.

The 33rd Infantry division association web page is here

8/14/2005 01:29:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

Wretchard, is there anyway to trackback you?

8/14/2005 02:41:00 PM  
Blogger Mike O said...

As tragic as what happened in Manila was, it pales to what the Japanese did in Nanking (300,000 civilians, most bayoneted) and innumerable other places in China.

Yesterday, I attended a 60th VJ anniversary celebration held by our local Chinese community (my wife is from Taiwan). these people will fogive, but are determine never to forget. You could ask them what they thought of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; they'd say it was a shame the U.S. only had two nukes at the time.

They had a handful of WWII vets there including three Flying Tiger pilots. I was proud to trigger the lloud and long standing ovation for these men; lest we forget.

8/14/2005 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Wretchard, prayers and admiration for your Aunt. Sorry she will not be around much longer, but she lived her life likely knowing she had made a difference in the lives of others and actually had saved lives at one point.

It is a pity that WWII has boiled down in the Western media to being a half dozen or so key moments amenable to sound bites or the thin chapter of school texts - sparing space of course for inspirational minorities - the Australian Abo tracker, the black mess cook with a machine gun at Pearl Harbor...Well, WWII can be boiled down to the Blitz, Pearl Harbor, D-Day, Nazi Death Camps, the American Concentration camps, and the A-bomb.

It sucks because that shallowness ignores the places of some of the worst, most interesting, and most valorous episodes of WWII occured - China, SE Asia, the Soviet block, the Balkans.

Ian Nguyen reminds us of 2 million dead in the Vietnam famine the Japs caused.

They also killed 4 million in Indonesia, 1 million in Burma in the same way in 1943-45 - scooping up the entire harvest in certain locales and leaving people to die with no thought or concern for the lesser-race "dogs". How many movies and articles have been made about those people? How many Americans even know it happened? Or the 13 million killed in China by Jap forces that had less humanity to their conduct than even the Nazis?

Or the additional 7-15 million the Chinese claimed were killed by Jap-caused famine? But we do know all about the 110,000 enemy Jap nationals and their dependents because their humane treatment has been spun by anti-Americans into a racist Nazi death camp motif. (Funny how the racist Americans didn't bother Chinese or Filipo Asians!)

When I was in Manila, we hooked up with some great locals who knew the history and instead of the customary trip to Corrigedor, we toured the mesuem and went out to see the worst things imaginable, some of the monuments to what the Japs were all about in their occupation and in the Battle Manila. The wharf where the prison ships were tied up, the Bank, Jose Rizal Park where they still find butchered remains, a preserved prison where some cells were built below the high water mark to kill prisoners slowly as the tide came in if a waterproof gate was opened, and the bullet-pocked wall where the Imperial Japanese Naval troops killed all the male juniors & seniors in a Filipino HS.

It was the 80's and we heard the stories of many locals - some bitter at us Americans for giving up the Philippines so easily - but most about their feelings about what happened to them and their families during Occupation. And their feeling about Japs, which was a shade less than genocidal. One guy said he and one sister were the only two out of a family of 8 who survived the slaughter of the Japanese Navy one Saturday.

All the stories you want to forget, as with some of the sights, but you know you never will.

I think back though and have some appreciation that I am one of a small minority of Americans that has a basic knowledge of what happened in Manila. I don't know what is overkill on D-Day, Midway, Nazi death camps, Hiroshima, the "plight" of enemy Japanese nationals in America...but we are there. I hope our future histories and media seek more balance and cover the Eastern Front and Asia more.

8/14/2005 02:47:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

As I child I listened to the story of a man who, after being released from Capas concentration camp, went on to being an anti-Japanese guerilla in Calumpit, a town north of Manila. One day the Japanese rounded up all the military age men and lined them up on the highway bridge over the river. The man reminiscing was standing next to his secret commanding officer.

The Japanese brought up a man masked with a bag over his head who pointed out the guerilla commanding officer. The Japanese officer took out his sword and told the guerilla CO he would begin cutting pieces off him until he started identifying his men. He proceeded to do so. What struck the man telling the story was how that officer kept pulling himself back to the position of military attention after his ears, his fingers and different parts of his body were cut. "He was right beside me. He could have turned me in. But he looked straight ahead." Finally the Japanese officer shot him, and all the men were sent home.

A man might steal and cheat for money, but he will only do that for self-respect and love.

8/14/2005 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger El Jefe Maximo said...

Well done. What happened at Manila, and in the Philippine Islands generally in that war is too often forgotten now.

Interested persons would do well to check out "Share of Honor" by Ralph Graves - an excellent novel about life in the Philippines during the war, and the Filipino/American underground that kept up the fight. Mr. Graves was the stepson of Hon. Francis Sayre, the US High Commissoner in 1941.

Other good books include "Bataan, Our Last Ditch" by John W. Whitman -- as good a military history on the sad events of December 41 to Mid 1942 as we are ever likely to have. For the real grognard, look at Louis Morton's "Fall of the Philippines" -- part of the US Army official history of the war. Ward Rutherford's book "Fall of the Philippines" is worth a look.

For the return, and the Battle of Manila, check out Stanley Falk's "Liberation of the Philippines" and Robert Smith's "Triumph in the Philippines."

Can't wait to see "The Great Raid."

8/14/2005 05:19:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

When the mayor of Nagasaki declared a 'minute of silence for the victims', I thought of Nanking, Phillipines, Borneo, Saipan, Corregidor, Bataan Death March, Okinawa, northern China, Burma, River Kwae Thailand, ... and the minute was up!

God bless your aunt, for her memory bears stark witness to the truth of those dry, albeit horrific, historical accounts!

8/14/2005 05:22:00 PM  
Blogger Huan said...

there are certainly worse tragedies than death

8/14/2005 06:19:00 PM  
Blogger PatCA said...

I saw The Great Raid today. Excellent. A tribute to your aunt and every true freedom fighter. Today in Iraq; tomorrow, who knows.

8/14/2005 06:22:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...


Nag-dadasal kami (Claudia at ako) para sa iyong tiya.

Marcus & Claudia

8/14/2005 07:19:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Amazing Stories. What a remarkable life she has lived, from those dark days to modern times in Australia.
Like Tony,
Best wishes and prayers for your aunt.

I'll repost the links on The Great Raid.
Actor Joseph Fiennes was shocked to learn that at Cabanatuan where there were only 500 POWs to be rescued, whereas originally there were 12,000!
So was I.
A woman calling in to the Laura Ingraham show had an uncle that was on the death march and survived, but she said he was a haunted man.
(She didn't get to know him, as he became a firefighter and was run over by his own truck.)

I have written before about my late friend Basil Cuizon, who was also a survivor, but this woman's call reminded me again how remarkable Basil was in that he ALWAYS presented a cheerful demeanor in public.

I imagine he must have had his demons, but it is amazing how some individuals can cope so well, whereas others are forever overcome by the experience.
I'm quite sure I'd be a lot different than Basil, but who can tell except those that were there?
One blessing is that your aunt survived long enough for you to get to know her as an adult.
. The Great Raid.
The extra urgency of the rescue was due to the fact that orders were coming down to eliminate ALL prisoners.
. Review: 'The Great Raid' Worth the Wait (
. The Great Raid

8/14/2005 07:38:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Joint Statement By Surviving Members Of The Enola Gay Crew
08/07/2005 05:08:32 PM

Surviving members of the Enola Gay crew, in observance of the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, last week issued a joint statement reaffirming that none of them regret having dropped the world's first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, in hopes of expediting the end of the war.
The second atomic bomb was dropped on Aug. 9.
Brig. Gen. (ret.) Paul W. Tibbets, who piloted the Enola Gay, said he has received many letters from people worldwide--including Japan--and the vast majority have expressed gratitude that the 509th Composite Group was able to deliver the means that brought the war to a close.

In the joint statement, Tibbets said,
"To our fellow veterans and the American nation, we all echo one sentiment, We pray that reason will prevail among leaders before we ever again need to call upon our nuclear might.
There are no regrets.
We were proud to have served like so many men and women stationed around the world today. To them, to you, we salute you, and goodbye."

Aviation Week, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

8/14/2005 07:49:00 PM  
Blogger Dymphna said...


Garfunkel's song reminded me of Enya's "Evacuee"

Each time on my leaving home
I run back to my mother's arms,
one last hold and then it's over.

Watching me, you know I cry,
you wave a kiss to say goodbye,
Feel the sky fall down upon me!

All I am,
a child with promises
All I have
are miles full of promises of home.

If only I could stay with you,
my train moves on, you're gone from view,
Now I must wait until it's over.

Days will pass, your words to me,
it seems so long; eternity,
but I must wait until it's over.

It was all so long ago, Wretchard.

Dona nobis pacem.

8/14/2005 08:34:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Ah, but yer a sweet lass, indeed, Dymphna.

8/14/2005 08:43:00 PM  
Blogger Hanba'al said...

Joint Statement By Surviving Members Of The Enola Gay Crew

Must be a dissappointment moment for the Old York Times.

8/14/2005 08:58:00 PM  
Blogger Dymphna said...


Glad to see your carpal tunnel syndrome has improved.


8/14/2005 09:19:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

My desk has a yellowing black-and-white photo of four GI's grinning in front of their tents in wartime Georgia.

They display four left forearms, tattooed the night before with THEIR design, resembling a lucky Ace of Spades and drawn by my father, the one with his arm on Willy's shoulder.

Little Willy Furno was assigned to the Phillipines, and when 3 Ace of Spades returned from the War, they found out Willy didn't live through the Bataan Death March.

I knew this, and more, before I enlisted at age 17, and I am STILL proud to have stood FOR America's freedom, courage and dignity! Still willing to follow Willy into battle against the Sharia-crazed racists and terror-mongers violently dealing hatred and pain today!

Being a Baha'i does NOT mean turning off one's brain!

8/14/2005 09:39:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

I will dove tail on Doug's statement. First, given the Imperial Japanese Army's string of atrocities including the Rape of Nanking, the murders in the Philippines (including the Bataan Death March), Burma, Okinawa the River Kwae and so on, the use of the Atom bomb was necessary.

I will also say that military icons such as Gen. Patton and Gen. Lemay were probably not given their just recognition. Considering monsters like Joe Stalin and his psychotic plans such as the "doctors plot" which could have been a pretext for war against the United States, one is grateful that Gen. Lemay blunted that threat with his feared Stratigic Air Command complete with highly trained pilots, nuclear armed bombers, nuclear ICBMs and a command post in air 24/7.

If one reads Wretchard's On a Weekend and follow his links you will get the sense of how extreme (or psychotic) Stalin had become.

If Stalin had the military might to subdue the US he surely would have done so. It may have started with the "doctors plot" or it may have started with an attack similar to Pear Harbor. One thing is certain, totalitarian aggression starts small but, left unchecked grows to enormous sizes. Lemay checked Stalin. In retrospect, walking quietly but having a big stick is a good idea. But, the best defense a good offense.


[from actual statement]:

Joint Statement By Surviving Members Of The Enola Gay Crew

Together with Great Britain's Churchill, and Russia's Stalin, the President of the United States urged the Japanese to " … proclaim the unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces … The alternative," they said, "for Japan is prompt and utter destruction". Ignoring the obvious military situation, the Japanese Prime Minister Baron Kantaro Suzuki issued the Japanese refusal to surrender which included these words: "… there is no other recourse but to ignore it [the surrender demand] entirely and resolutely fight for the successful conclusion of the war." While it is certainly unfortunate this course of action was necessary, for the allies, at that moment in time, there was no other choice. Secretary of War Henry Stinson wrote, "The decision to use the atomic bomb … was our least abhorrent choice".

President Harry S. Truman approved the order to use the atomic bomb... An invasion that would have cost tens of thousands of Japanese and allied lives. Winston Churchill concurred with the decision saying, "To avert a vast, indefinite butchery [the invasion], to bring the war to an end, give peace to the world, to lay healing hands upon its tortured peoples … at the cost of a few explosions, seemed after all our toils and perils, a miracle of deliverance." ...The surviving members of the Enola Gay crew: Paul W. Tibbets (pilot), Theodore J. "Dutch" Van Kirk (navigator) and Morris R. Jeppson (weapon test officer) have repeatedly and humbly proclaimed that, "The use of the atomic weapon was a necessary moment in history. We have no regrets"

See: statement

[Bio of the pilot of the Enola Gay and story of bombing]

[Pilot] Paul Tibbets was born Feb. 23, 1915, son of Enola Gay and Paul Warfield... On February 25th, 1937, Paul enlisted as a flying cadet in the Army Air Corps at Fort Thomas, Kentucky. A year later he got his pilot wings at Kelly Field, Texas and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant. He graduated first in his class... 1938 through 1940, while at Fort Benning, he flew O-46 and O-47 observation planes and B-10 bombers. Here he met George Patton, then a Lieutenant Colonel, and destined to become the world-famous tank General in World War Two. While Tibbets was a lowly Second Lieutenant, they went skeet shooting together. Patton was a fierce competitor and did not take it lightly when he lost a few quarters competing with Tibbets... In February 1942, Paul became the Squadron Commander of the 340th Bomb Squadron, 97th Bombardment Group.... He flew 25 missions in B-17s, including the first American Flying Fortress raid against occupied Europe. In November of that year he was in Algeria leading the first bombardment missions in support of the North African invasion... Tibbets' B-17 group was based first at Maison Blanche (outside Algiers), then at Tafaraoui, and then at Biskra. In early 1943, he was transferred to the 12th Air Force, under General Jimmy Doolittle...

[The A bomb]

...Sept. 1944, he reported to Colorado Springs for a top secret assignment - to organize bombardment group to deliver the atomic bomb... he was introduced to General Uzal Ent and Professor Norman Ramsey, who explained the project to him. Tibbets force, the 509th Composite Group, included 15 B-29's and 1,800 men. The 509th settled on Wendover, Utah as their base. Due to its remote location, it was ideal for security. From his old B-17 crew in Europe, he selected Tom Ferebee (bombardier), Sgt. George Caron (tail gunner), Dutch Van Kirk (navigator), and Sgt. Wyatt Duzenberry (flight engineer). These men were assigned to Tibbets' airplane. Bob Lewis flew as co-pilot. As Tibbets could get any men and any planes he needed... 509th quickly filled out, and the entire organization was complete by Dec. 1944... By May, 1945, Tibbets and the 509th had moved out to the Pacific, to the island of Tinian in the Marianas... Tinian was ideal; its 8,500 foot runways were among the longest in the world at the time. Tibbets ran into various confrontations... in part from the secrecy of the operations. He flew back and forth to the States three times between May and July, but missed the first atomic test at Alamogordo because he had to return to Tinian to persuade General Curtis LeMay not to switch the atomic mission to another outfit.

[The 15-foot crate]

The cruiser Indianapolis dropped anchor off Tinian and unloaded a 15-foot wooden crate on July 26th. Inside was the atomic bomb, complete except for a second slug of uranium that a B-29 later delivered. Having delivered its load without incident, Indianapolis moved on toward the Philippines. Four days after departing Tinian, Indianapolis was sunk by a Japanese submarine. scientists estimated that a B-29 could survive the shockwave at a distance of eight miles. Flying at 31,000 feet, the B-29 would already be six miles in the air. To gain the extra distance, Tibbetts determined that a sharp 155 degree turn would be the best maneuver. In less than 2 minutes, the B-29 would reverse it direction and fly five miles. Another critical concern was accuracy; using the Norden bombsight, the bombardiers would have to put the bomb within 200 feet of the aiming point... Until this time, Tibbets' own plane had been simply number 82, when he decided to name it Enola Gay, after his confidence-building and loving mother... At the last minute, it was decided to complete the final assembly of the bomb in flight, thus eliminating the risk of it exploding if Enola Gay crashed on take-off... They loaded the bomb into the Enola Gay that afternoon. "Little Boy" was 12 feet long and 28 inches in diameter - bigger than any bomb Tibbetts had ever seen. Its explosive power equalled 20,000 tons of TNT; or roughly as much as two thousand Superfortresses could carry - all in a single bomb that weighed about 9,000 pounds. Deak Parsons practiced the delicate arming process... At 8:30 they received the coded message "Y-3, Q-3, B-2, C-1." The message meant that cloud cover over Hiroshima, the primary target, was less than three-tenths. Tibbets gave the word to his crew, "It's Hiroshima." ...Tom Ferebee peered into his Norden bombsight, and cranked in the information to correct for the south wind. Tibbets reminded the crew to put on their heavy dark Polaroid goggles, to shield their eyes from the blinding blast. It had been calculated to have the intensity of ten suns... 43 seconds later, a tingling in Tibbets' teeth told him of the Hiroshima explosion: the bomb's radioactive forces interacting with his fillings. The bomb exploded at 1890 feet above the ground. Bob Caron, the tail gunner was the only crew member to see the fireball. Even wearing the goggles, he thought he was blinded. The plane raced away, while the shockwave from the explosion raced toward them at 1,100 feet per second. When the shockwave hit, it felt like a near-miss from flak. The mushroom cloud boiled up, 45,000 feet high... The city had completely disappeared under a blanket of smoke and fire. They radioed back to headquarters that the primary target had been bombed visually with good results... Twelve hours after they had taken off, Tibbets and the crew of the Enola Gay touched down, to be greeted by all the military brass that could be mustered: General Carl Spaatz, commander of the Strategic Air Force; General Nathan Twining, chief of the Marianas Air Force; General Thomas F. Farrell and Rear Admiral W.R.E. Purnell, both with the atomic development project; and General John Davies, 313th Wing Commander. Spaatz pinned a Distinguished Service Cross on Tibbets as he descended from the plane... they were debriefed and given a quick medical checkup. The interviewers were skeptical of their accounts of the blast. The news of the atomic bomb was promptly announced to the world. The Japanese were given an ultimatum, to accept the Potsdam call for unconditional surrender, or face further atomic attacks. Three days later, Chuck Sweeney, in Bock's Car, dropped the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki.... Not long after the surrender...


Check out:

8/14/2005 10:39:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...


For many history is just a story about things that happened a long time ago in places far away. But in fact history happened to real people and many of those real people still live and walk among us.

For me the dozens of members of my family that were murdered in the Holocaust are real. I know their names, I have their photos and to a certain extent I know their stories. For most people the Holocaust is ancient history. They see a simulacrum of the horror, but not the horror itself. For those who lived it, and still live, they know the horror itself. Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, Grafenek are not just names for a history lesson, they are the places where my relatives' ashes are.

I have and have had German friends and Japanese friends. All born after the war. They are all nice people and in most, or all, ways like us. None have ever asked me to forgive what happened, which I couldn't do, and I certainly won't forget. We each mourn our own dead, however.

The events will exist in living memory for a long time yet, and in the memories of those that heard the stories second hand for a long while after that. It is only recently that the last widow of a US Civil War veteran died, after all.

8/14/2005 11:08:00 PM  
Blogger x_minus_one said...

After Japan surrendered in August 1945, Japanese troops stationed overseas were taken as POWs by the Allied Forces, and those who had mistreated Allied POWs during the War were prosecuted, punished and some of them were executed in the POW camps.

And, until the signing of the San Francisco Treaty of 1951, Japan had been occupied by the Allied Forces. The General Head-Quarter (GHQ) of the Allied Power had absolute power to do anything they wanted since September 1945.

If atrocities were committed by Japanese troops, there had been ample opportunity to prosecute those who were directly and indirectly responsible for such crimes while real culprits were still alive and well.

Isn't it a fact that the Allied Power was not interested in hunting down war criminals when victims were not Westerners?

8/15/2005 02:19:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...


"Isn't it a fact that the Allied Power was not interested in hunting down war criminals when victims were not Westerners?"

It's not a fact, but it is an article of Leftist faith. Douglas MacArthur has been widely accused of lynching General Tomoyuki Yamashita for his role in the Philippine atrocities, which "only" involved Filipinos. It's been argued, with some truth, that Yamashita was innocent of the Battle of Manila, which was prosecuted by the Japanese Navy. But MacArthur was angry and vengeful.

I do know that Japanese stragglers were hunted down by Filipinos like dogs. My father saw teenaged Japanese soldiers being slowly beaten and hacked to death. The only chance for a surrendering Japanese soldier lay in giving up to the Americans. It's ugly and shameful in retrospect that so easy-going a people as the Filipinos could do this; but it is the truth.

There were exceptions. My grandfather gutshot a Japanese soldier with a '03 Springfield in 1945 and spent the next hours tending to the dying man. Gramps had been tortured as a suspected guerilla at Fort Santiago, but he knew there was a difference between being defending your country and being cruel. The beatings of Japanese stragglers were more likely to be carried out by the instant "resistance fighters" than by real guerillas or regular troops. In my own experience there is less difference between the behavior of races than you'd think, but the gap between a real man and scoundrel is unbridgeable.

Your remark about the implicit racism of Western armies is the funniest thing I've ever heard. It had no operational meaning on Luzon.

8/15/2005 04:44:00 AM  
Blogger raymondshaw said...

'Isn't it a fact that the Allied Power was not interested in hunting down war criminals when victims were not Westerners?'

Does 900 executed war criminals sound like Allied dis-interest?


8/15/2005 05:02:00 AM  
Blogger raymondshaw said...

General Tomoyuki Yamashita's chief of staff, General Muto Akira was executed on December 23rd 1948.

8/15/2005 05:14:00 AM  
Blogger Noel said...

In the dishonest vernacular of the modern Left, all the charges hurled at Bush could also be made against FDR: he'd already decided to go to war, all about the oil, he wants a draft, he invaded the wrong country, Hitler had no WMDs, the occupation was a mess, military tribunals, etc., ad nauseum.

BTW, we did give the Japanese a "demonstration bombing"; it was called "Hiroshima". And they still didn't surrender until after Nagasaki. Why would we think a demonstration bombing on an uninhabited island would have yielded a better result?

Thanks for lighting your own floating candle.

8/15/2005 05:54:00 AM  
Blogger paul said...

Once again, great post.

For an infuriating example of the selective memory of the Japanese, read the recent "Peace Declaration" from the mayor of Hiroshima to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the A bomb. With criticism of the US, France, Britain etc. countries that believe "might is right", it ends with this line regarding the bombing, calling for complete global nuclear disarmament - "we seek to comfort the souls of all of its victims by declaring theat we humbly reaffirm our responsibility never to "repeat the evil". Ironic.

To the list of Japanese atrocities, I would add Ping Fan and "Unit 731" sites of Japanese germ warfare experiments in China. Thousands of Chinese "sacrifices" were made at "factories" that would have made Joseph Mengele proud. Prisoners slated for experiments were referred to as "logs" (Japanese told locals that the facilities were "lumber yards") and "monkeys". Live dissection was common, and it is estimated that over 250,000 Chinese died from plagues that was released (unknowingly) into the countryside.

The Japanese felt racially superior to other Asians (and Westerners for that matter), and saw the subjugation of Asia as their destiny.

So, x minus one, is there any recognition of the thousands of Americans who died freeing millions of non-Japanese Asians from their true racist oppressors?

8/15/2005 07:22:00 AM  
Blogger WildMonk said...


'Isn't it a fact that the Allied Power was not interested in hunting down war criminals when victims were not Westerners?'

May I respectfully submit that you haven't thought very carefully about your slur? I don't know where you have received your education or your attitudes but I have a hard time believing that you can really believe what your statements imply (that the U.S. and it military are racist to their core).

Think about it and compare the behavior of the U.S. to that of any other power. The essential foundation of Japanese militarism was the belief in Japanese racial superiority. The same is true of the Nazis. This, my friend, was real racism.

The U.S., at enormous cost, lifted the strangling hand of Japanese imperialism from the throat of all of Asia. Once victorious, did they exploit the prostrate Japanese? Did they slaughter Koreans in pursuit of material wealth? Did they rape Nanking and massacre the Chinese?


They *may* not have been as zealous in prosecuting Japanese war criminals whose crimes were not against Americans (although Raymond makes the point that they did indeed pursue many of these men).

And for that, they deserve rebuke from the likes of you?? Americans are people. They are subject to the same weaknesses, excesses and errors that every other people have suffered. And yet they emerged from WWII with an astonishing ability to forgive and rebuild the people of the Axis powers. By every right and by every example of history we should have seen an orgy of recriminative slaughter unparalleled in history. We did not. And the reason lies in the essential decency of the American character - a decency that you slur with the easiest and most casual disdain.

What makes you so smug, so ignorant of human nature and history that you now imply that Americans - this motley crew of men drawn from every corner of the world - deserve your rebuke for their imagined racism? Are they not perfect enough for your tastes? Well, pal, such casual slurs may play well in whatever overfed and underchallenged group of 'children' you call friends, but such words are embarrassingly out of place here.

8/15/2005 07:52:00 AM  
Blogger PatCA said...

Frankly, I think x is just a troll trying to get a rise out everyone, but here's an anecdote our our "racism" in Japan:

"My great-grandmother and my grandmother faced the occupiers alone, having ordered the children to hide. The Japanese had been warned that the invading barbarians would rape and pillage. My great-grandmother, a battle-scarred early feminist, hissed, "Get your filthy barbarian shoes off of my floor!" The interpreter refused to interpret. The officer in command insisted. Upon hearing the translation from the red-faced interpreter, the officer sat on the floor and removed his boots, instructing his men to do the same. He apologized to my great-grandmother and grandmother."

8/15/2005 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger subpatre said...

For as long as history, groups have annihilated others; usually for ideology (including race and religion) of superiority. At times we're forced to wonder if annihilation isn't the social instinct, and that ideology formed to give it expression.

In stark contrast, for just as long humans have performed acts of compassion and bravery; sometimes for belief, more often for affection. No library could ever hold the records of sacrifice for devotion and love.

Few of us shape world events, but each can shape some part of the whole. In the end, your aunt survived and the silly candles are lit, all because of others' sacrifice. Many of them just ordinary folk from my beloved Valley.

One was a small-time farmer, part-time factory worker, and (according to local gossip) occasional moonshiner and poacher. Member of a pacifist sect, he volunteered and wound up in the Pacific. He was part of the dogged operation moving toward your aunt that day. He'd picked his way through the woods, would pick his way across the city, and then into the woods again.

He may have seen your aunt. After four years covering the advance of American forces, he went home and resumed life; back to factory, chickens, cows, occasional distilling or deer, and driving the church-school bus to his last years. He's long passed, and perhaps your aunt will explain to his wife that his service wasn't the sin she thought it was.

Wretchard, I don't know the solution except tributes like yours. The attempt to use a single instance to commemorate all of them has failed; the Holocaust not only lets people discount other cases, but also overlook current genocides. The ideology that freed the Pacific also permits another ideology to canonize one set of lost innocents and ignore another; in turn raising the probability of recurrence.

It will be hard we know
And the road will be muddy and rough,
But we'll get there, heaven knows how we will get there,
We know we will.

We are going, heaven knows where we are going,
We'll know we're there.
- Art Garfunkel, 1973

8/15/2005 09:07:00 AM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

X minus One,
My uncle who is buried in the U.S. cemetery in Manila would likely object to your post.

8/15/2005 09:50:00 AM  
Blogger nikita said...

I wonder if there's any effective difference between historical
ignorance and anti-Americanism.

Sorry to slide off-topic, but that sounds ironical, given how one-sided
and distorted an average "American" presentation of WWII history is. If
judged by any objective metric, like amount of resources and troops
deployed, WWII was definitely mainly a war of the continental Europe,
and its main events occurred at the East front thereof. (As an example,
at the D-Day only about one fifth of the German army was on the West,
and moreover, afterwards, Axis continued to move forces from West to
East). All the facts to the contrary notwithstanding, standard
exposition of WWII usually concentrates on the Pacific theater and
things like African Rommel affair that are completely below radar when
compared with the battles of mainland Europe (like Kursk battle, where 10
thousand tanks were deployed).

Maybe at least some part of presumed "anti-Americanism" is but a
natural reaction to ignorance --where not contempt-- about dozen million
peoples who died fighting for their freedom only be to demoted to the
obscure position by historians with revisionist agendas.

8/15/2005 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger hank_F_M said...


May God grant your aunt the courage and strength for this final voyage, and a place of everlasting comfort and joy in his kingdom.


8/15/2005 04:12:00 PM  
Blogger El Jefe Maximo said...

On the subject of war criminals, I realize that others may disagree, but I have always thought that General Yamashita was railroaded, and I'm far from being a leftist. His conviction was based on his responsibility for atrocities committed primarily in Manila, mostly by Japanese Navy units in theory under him, but the reality of his command over them was fuzzier. The case is Yamashita v. Styer, 327 U.S. 1 (1946), and in particular I'd recommend the dissent of Mr. Justice Murphy.

I think, also, that many persons who should have been called to account for wartime atrocities, both Japanese and German, were not, for various reasons, some good, some bad.

8/15/2005 05:22:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

but it is the truth.

Thanks to all you fellow patrons of the Belmont Club for your uplifting conversation. Thanks most of all to Wretchard, who through this virtually Kerouac-ian burst of honesty and feeling, has told us why we're all drawn here.

There really are Good Guys and Bad Guys in this world.

but it is the truth.

8/15/2005 08:11:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

I meant to copy Wretchard saying:

the gap between a real man and scoundrel is unbridgeable.

8/15/2005 08:16:00 PM  
Blogger anybudee said...

You will, TC.

You will.

8/16/2005 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

VJ day 60 years on
.Forgotten Army gathers

8/16/2005 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger Grant Jones said...

"There are some significant differences between Hiroshima and Manilla that give atomic bomb critics ammunition. Main one is that there was no battle for Hiroshima, there was inciniration of it."

There should have been no fighting in Manila in Feb. 1945 either. MacArthur declared Manila, in December 1941, an "open city" because it was indefensible.

Yamashita also ordered a pull out of Manila, he wanted those troops for the defense of northern Luzon. But the Naval commander decided to ignore his orders and level the city instead. It was all totally pointless even from a strictly military viewpoint.

8/16/2005 09:55:00 PM  
Blogger x_minus_one said...

I forgot to mention a couple of things.

Most Japanese troops were deployed in China, Indonesia, and Indo-china, and these areas were not under the US jurisdiction when Japan surrendered.

I recall I had read some remark by a prominent Japanese right-wing, uyoku, politician, expressing gratitude to General Chiang Kai-shek for his lenient treatment of Japanese troops after the War. In short, Chiang Kai-shek had let them go, for whatever reasons he had.

In Vietnam, the French rushed in immediately after the War and started fighting with the independence movement.

In Indonesia, after Japanese Army surrendered there, the Allied Powers (that is the Dutch) ordered Japanese troops to put down the independence movement led by Sukarno. The Dutch people have been very vocal about the mistreatment of their nationals in the hands of the Japanese Army. But what had they done?

The GHQ of Douglas MacArthur may not have had the authority to deal with incidents which had occurred during the War outside of Japan, but it is very troubling that the Allied Powers were satisfied with a show trial and execution of dozens of Japanese generals and politicians.

On the other hand, those who had killed or mistreated captured American airmen during the War were hunted down vigorously and executed by the GHQ.

Japanese troops who had committed hideous crimes during the War came back quietly, shut their mouths, and mingled in the society. Most of them are dead now.

And now, the current generation of the Japanese is being held somewhat responsible for those crimes?

8/18/2005 01:18:00 AM  
Blogger Ken said...

There are two important points that should be considered in regard to Hiroshima.

First, there is a huge difference between taking an act of war knowing that it will cause civilian deaths and taking an act of war for the purpose of causing civilian deaths. The circumstances of Hiroshima and the U.S. prosecution of the war suggest that the use of atomic weapons was not for the purpose of inflicting civilian deaths.

We fire bombed Dresden and Tokyo and caused numerous civilian casualties. If we wanted simply to inflict civilian casualties, there were much cheaper and easier ways than dropping one of the precious few atomic weapons. Moreover, there were better and more densely populated targets if we wanted simply to inflict civilian casualties.

The second thing to note is that attacking a port city like Hiroshima makes military sense in light of the war in Europe. Despite the break out from Normandy and the rapid advance east, the Allies were not able to seize any significant ports in Europe.

Accordingly, all the supplies, all the weapons, and all the men had trickle into the continent across beaches. Prosecuting the war in Europe without robust logistics and support made the Allied advance unduly slow and lacking in depth. If the Allies had been able to seize a port, they may have been able to defeat the Nazis before Christmas 1944, rather than having to fight the Battle of the Bulge, force a crossing of the Rhine, and fight through German armies that had had months to prepare.

The other important lesson from Europe was that the Allies didn’t want to fight in cities. The Soviets lost 2000 tanks in one week of fighting in Berlin. Leaving aside any concerns for the tankers who die, losses like that are not sustainable. Such losses would have resulted in Allied defeat in Japan.

The way to ensure access to a port and provide a point of entry through which forces could flow without urban fighting was to flatten Hiroshima. If civilians died, too bad, they were just in the way, and they certainly were on the wrong side to complain.

I am not arguing that the Japanese deserved it because of the Japanese policy of atrocities in China, the Philippines, Korea, and well, everyplace they went. I am suggesting that Japanese civilians were not themselves the target in Hiroshima and that the intent was clearly to open a port and create room to maneuver.

That civilians die in war is sad, but it’s a fact of life. It’s always been that way.

Military operations cause friendly civilian casualties. When the Allies had to break out of Normandy, we bombed St Lo. We obliterated an area three and a half miles wide. While the St Lo casualties were obviously on a lesser scale than Hiroshima, those casualties were on our side, and if you want to engage in the calculus of weighing Japanese lives, it’s an even trickier proposition when it comes to French civilians. St Lo and Monte Cassino also illustrate a point about strategic bombing as a mobility enhancer. Standard high explosive bombs leave craters that inhibit mobility. Duds leave behind the hazard of unexploded ordnance. That Hiroshima was flattened rather than cratered suggests that the right weapon was used for the right reason.

One can’t seriously argue that the U.S. killed civilians because of racism. We killed lots of fine Aryan stock in Dresden. As noted, we had Allied POW in the area.

The bottom line is that Hiroshima was a military operation with a military objective in mind. When civilians died, that was unintended and tragic, but I’m all out of sympathy for the people who started the whole war.

11/23/2005 01:46:00 PM  

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