2017
Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips
January 9, 2017
Unfortunately, this cartoon, released in April 1944, can no longer be found online in its entirety. Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips, portrayed classical Western racist stereotypes of the Japanese - short, buck-toothed people wearing thick eyeglasses and talking jibberish. At one point in the cartoon, Bugs hands out ice cream bars saying: Here's yours, bow legs Here, one for you, monkey face Here ya are, slant eyes The racism of this cartoon was largely ignored until the release of  the laser disc  The Golden Age of Looney Toons, Volume 1, when Japanese-American protests forced its withdrawal from the series.
2016
Japan Faces Defeat
October 27, 2016
  By the end of 1943, with no prospect of joining forces with its German allies who were being pushed out of Africa, and American forces penetrating its defensive ring, Imperial Japan was having great difficulty maintaining its distant holdings in the Western Pacific. The tide of the Pacific War had turned. On the home front, the Japanese public received exaggerated reports of military successes and minimal information regarding defeats, initially leading them to believe they were winning the war. But by late 1943, when the army invented a new verb tenshin (to march elsewhere) instead of referring to retreat, most of the public were probably aware of the stark difference between propaganda and actual fact.      Although American and British films were banned, German and French films were still allowed with their love scenes edited out—love-making seen as an indulgence countering the spirit needed for war. In addition, some Japanese songs with suggestive lyrics were banned along with "enemy music," including jazz. In 1944 baseball, electric guitars, the banjo and ukulele were banned. As war news worsened, Japanese citizens were reminded that their nation had never lost a war and had sometimes won against great odds. Military leaders clung to the belief in Yamato damashii, Japanese raw courage, which in the end would overcome all Western technological and material advantages. In December 1943,  Prime Minister Tojo described combat as a fight of the spirit of one side against the spirit of the other side. Guns were only advanced technology, he said. One could fight without them.
Home For Christmas
October 20, 2016
 Ironically, Bing Crosby’s elegant Toluca Lake mansion was virtually destroyed by fire. The culprit was none other than the family Christmas tree. ______________________   Want to hear the top hits of 1943? Check this out: Jukebox 1943     
Christmas at Leningrad
October 10, 2016
    Christmas 1943 Poem written by an un-named German soldier, subsequently lost in the battle of Leningrad. Irgendwo in Russland zünden wir zur Nacht die Kerzen an. Und so wird Euer Herz mich finden, da ich nicht bei Euch sein kann. Stumm und ungesprochen bleiben alle Worte, die von mir mit Sternen heimwärts treiben in die Einsamkeit zu Euch. Viele tausend Wünsche wandern leuchtend durch die fromme Nacht, wo ein Mensch um einen andern sorgend liebt und denkt und wacht. ___________________________ Somewhere in Russia we light the candles for the night. And so will your heart find me, because I can't be with you. Silent and unspoken stay all my words drifting homewards with the stars through the solitude to you. Many thousand wishes wander glowing through the divine night, where one human for another, cares, loves and thinks and guards.
Tarawa
October 6, 2016
 Heart-breakingly ferocious, the Battle of Tarawa, an atoll in the Gilbert Islands the first American offensive in the central Pacific region, reminds me of Walt Whitman's Civil War poem: __________   The moon gives you light,  And the bugles and the drums give you music, And my heart, O my soldiers, my veterans,    My heart gives you love. - Walt Whitman ___________        
Nazis Rescue Mussolini
October 3, 2016
On July 24, 1943, following the Allied invasion of Sicily, the Italian fascist Prime Minister Benito Mussolini was arrested and a provisional Italian government, under Marshal Pietro Badoglio was established. Opposed to the alliance with Nazi Germany, Badoglio signed an armistice with the Allies. With King Victor Emmanuel III and Marshal Badoglio in command, the Royal Italian Army entered the war on the side of the Allies. The Royal Army soon faced a crisis of leadership, however, and a swift German occupation of Italy and Italian positions in the Balkans resulted in >70,000 casualties within a few months. After his release by the Germans in September 1943, Mussolini established the Republica Sociale Italiana, a puppet state of Germany in northern Italy that existed until the end of the war. Adolf Hitler, concerned that the Allies would establish air bases in Italy that could threaten southern Germany and important oil supplies in Romania, ordered the deployment of 16 new divisions to the Italian mainland. The subsequent advance of the Allied Italian campaign was costly and prolonged. The last German forces in Italy surrendered in May 1945.    
Japanese Soldier’s Diary
September 26, 2016
  Excerpts from the diary of Tamura Yoshikazu. Wewak New Guinea March 1943 When I hear birds of paradise sing, I remember cuckoos back in Japan. They live among tropical coconut trees. I don’t know what they are saying, but they make very weird cries that sound like “keukoh, kiou, keukoh, kiou." A mate of mine received a letter from home and he showed me a copy of a newspaper dated the end of January. Nothing seemed to have changed at home. It also contained an article about the front line in New Guinea. Who could know that I am in New Guinea now? The climate here is similar to that of mid-August in Japan. Yet, there are so many noxious insects, and the mosquitoes in particular are a real nuisance. Since many of us are sick and do not feel well, our fighting spirit seems to be low. ____________ May 1943 A few days ago, my friend was killed by enemy shells in this bay. However, the bay with its white waves does not look any different. There are a few drums floating away from boats. The landscape of the headland is as lush as before. Boats are moored to the wharf as before. But I feel so devastated! _______________ April 1943 From the top of the hill with its fresh green grass I gaze towards the ocean horizon. Across the Pacific, across the Japan Current, From far away, a boat is coming with might and courage With letters from our homeland. Sitting in the shade of a coconut tree Looking across the sky above the ocean waves Thinking about home from New Guinea. With the heat, it hurts to realize How far this place is from home. _____________ Tamura Yoshikazu was killed in battle in March 1944 at Biliau, New Guinea.
Zoot Suit Riots
September 22, 2016
Zoot suit attire consisted of baggy legged, narrow- cuffed, waist-high pants, a short tie over a buttoned shirt, suspenders, a long coat with wide lapels and padded shoulders, wide-legged, pegged trousers, flashy shoes and either a fedora or a tando hat with a feather of varying lengths. In the summer of 1943, Zoot suit riots broke out between predominantly black and Mexican gang members in Zoot suits and mostly white American servicemen stationed along the Pacific coast. On June 3, eleven sailors on shore leave claimed they were attacked by a group of Mexican pachucos. In response, over 200 uniformed sailors charged into the Mexican American community of East Los Angeles, attacking any zoot suiter they encountered. For several nights, uniformed servicemen (including sailors, soldiers and marines), joined by some white civilians, marched down the streets of east Los Angeles, breaking into bars and theaters, and assaulting anyone in their way. Many zoot suiters were beaten and often stripped of their clothes. Civilians cheered as the local press depicted the marauding servicemen as heroes combating a "Mexican Crime Wave." Los Angeles police arrested over 600 Mexican-American youth in a preventive action. None of the roving gang of attackers was arrested. Finally, at midnight on June 7th, military police stepped in to stop the rioting and declared Los Angeles off limits for all military personnel.    
PT-109
September 16, 2016
Seeking combat duty in February 1943, Lt. John F. Kennedy was assigned to Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 2 at Tulagi Island in the Solomon Islands. On August 1, 1943 PT-109, commanded by JFK, was rammed and sunk by the Japanese Cruiser Amagiri. Two of PT-109's crew were killed and several others badly injured. JFK saved a badly-burned crew member by towing him three miles to a nearby atoll.
Economic Reality Japan
September 12, 2016
    Country % of Total War making Potential United States 41.7% Germany 14.4% USSR 14.0% UK 10.2% France 4.2% Japan 3.5% Italy 2.5% Seven Powers (total)            (90.5%) Even in the midst of economic doldrums, wartime USA still had: Nearly twice the population of Japan Seventeen time's Japan's national income Five times more steel production Seven times more coal production Eighty times the automobile production.                       Source: Grim Economic Realities
Japanese Soldier Diary
August 22, 2016
Although prohibited by the U.S. military in WWII, a few servicemen kept secret personal journals - of particular note: U.S. Marine Eugene B. Sledge, author of With the Old Breed, and U.S, Navy sailor James J. Fahey, author of Pacific War Diary, 1942–1945, The Imperial Japanese military apparently had no such restrictions. Allied forces advancing across the Pacific found many Japanese diaries, which often provided rich intelligence. Here are excerpts from Toshihiro Oura, who was stationed on New Georgia island during the American advance.   June 29, 1943 : I wonder if they will come today. Last night it drizzled and there was a breeze, making me feel rather uncomfortable. When I awoke at 4 this morning, rain clouds filled the sky but there was still a breeze. The swell of the sea was higher than usual. However, the clouds seem to be breaking. I have become used to combat, and I have no fear. In yesterday’s raid our air force suffered no losses, while nine enemy planes were confirmed as having been shot down and three others doubtful. Battle gains are positively in favor of our victory, and our belief in our invincibility is at last high. Some doughnuts were brought to the officers’ room from the Field Defense HQ... They were awfully small ones, but I think each one of us had 20 or so. Whether they were actually tasty or not didn’t make much difference because of our craving for sweets. Each one was a treasure in itself. While eating the doughnuts, I lay down in the sand, and I pulled out the handbook my father had bought for me and which was now all in pieces from a bomb fragment. As I looked at the map of my homeland, which was dear to me, I thought I would like to go to a hot spring with my parents when I get home... July 23: ...Where have our air forces and battleships gone? Are we to lose? Why don’t they start operations? We are positively fighting to win, but we have no weapons. We stand with rifles and bayonets to meet the enemy’s aircraft, battleships, and medium artillery. To be told we must win is absolutely beyond reason... In the rear, they think that it is all for the benefit of our country. In short, as present conditions are, it is a defeat. However, a Japanese officer will always believe, until the very last, that there will be movements of our air and naval forces. There are signs that I am contracting malaria again. This was Oura’s last entry. His fate is unknown, but it is unlikely he survived.
Bombing of Rome
August 11, 2016
Bombing Rome, the "Eternal City" and capitol of Catholicism, was a controversial WWII act for many Americans. Although both Allied and Axis bombers made an effort to avoid attacking the Vatican, Vatican City was bombed once by the British and once by the Germans. In July 1943, despite Pope Pius XII plea to have Rome declared an open city, 500 American bombers dropped 1,168 tons of bombs in the first air raid on the city. With few military targets, ~3,000 Italian civilians were killed in the raids over five residential/railway districts. In 110,000 subsequent sorties over Rome, 600 Allied aircraft were lost and 3,600 air crew members died. From 1940-45, ~60,00 Italian civilians died in Allied air raids.  
U.S. Retakes Attu
August 4, 2016
In June 1942, Japan seized Attu and its neighbor Kiska, establishing garrisons on these remote U.S.-controlled Aleutian Islands. Barren, and mountainous with extreme weather, the islands may have been taken to divert U.S. forces away from the planned attack on Midway Island in the central Pacific. A toehold on these islands also prevented a possible U.S. force buildup closer to mainland Japan.  The Battle of Attu from 11–30 May 1943 was the only WWII land battle fought on incorporated U.S. territory. The battle ended with the death of most Japanese defenders in brutal hand-to-hand combat after a final banzai charge broke through American lines. BANZAI CHARGE ON ATTU  - from History.com Before dawn on May 29, 1943, Yamasaki and his remaining troops charged the American position in one of the largest banzai charges (an all-out, often desperate attack) of the Pacific War. Their sudden frontal assault on the Americans cut through U.S. combat posts and penetrated all the way to surprised support troops in the rear of the American camp. Brutal hand-to-hand combat followed until Yamasaki and his men were finally routed by overwhelming firepower. Most of the Japanese who were not killed in the ferocious charge committed suicide, in many cases by detonating hand grenades near their stomachs. Afterward, American soldiers counted more than 2,000 Japanese dead. Of the approximately 2,500 Japanese troops on Attu when the Americans landed, fewer than 30 survived to be taken prisoner. Some 1,000 U.S. troops died in the retaking of Attu. A subsequent Allied landing on Kiska turned out to be a no show for the Japanese.  When the initial Allied invasion units reached the beaches on August 15, 1943, they found just four dogs and the corpse of a Japanese soldier. Deciding there was little value in hanging on to the Aleutians, Japan had evacuated the 5,000-man garrison three weeks earlier.
Allies Invade Sicily
August 1, 2016
In July 1943, the Allied amphibious and airborne Operation Husky captured the island of Sicily from German and Italian forces. With Axis forces removed from the island, sea lanes in the Mediterranean were opened for Allied merchant ships for the first time since 1941.
Batman
July 25, 2016
This  1943 movie featured the first screen appearance of Batman played by Lewis Wilson. With J. Carrol Naish playing the evil Japanese agent, the film is almost laughably crude and racist.
Food Insecurity Japan
July 21, 2016
Although Japan had become an industrialized nation in the early 20th century, it remained resource poor. Prior to WWII, limited efforts were made to raise agricultural production, but land reform that would increase tenure for the peasantry was firmly resisted by the right wing government. Important food imports included salt, sugar, soy beans, and rice. Because Japan was not self sufficient in food production, a substantial number of citizens were always at risk for malnutrition. The need to import rice and other food stuffs was therefore a major stimulus for Japanese incursions into China. With a limited amount of arable land in a heavily-populated island nation, the military-dominated government decided to embark on an aggressive campaign to increase access to natural resources. In 1943, when the American submarine campaign began to achieve success, the Japanese food situation worsened. Loss of boats and shortage of fuel caused the supply of fish, the principal protein in the Japanese diet, to decline. Toward the end of the war, the return of troops from China to defend the Home Islands further stressed the domestic food supply. With no way of expanding production by cultivating more land, and the lack of healthy young men to work the existing fields, women and school children became the rural work force. More than a million school children ended their studies and were sent into the countryside to perform agricultural labor. A poor harvest in 1945, combined with the destruction of the Japanese merchant marine fleet, drastically decreased food supply - rationing reduced rice and other food purchases to 1,500 calorie subsistence levels. Following the American strategic bombing campaign of Japanese cities in mid-1945, the food situation became unsustainable. Japanese civilians would have faced starvation if the country had not surrendered in August.
▶Food is Ammunition
July 14, 2016
This WWII government film, with very explicit recommendations, emphasizes good nutrition as a weapon of war. "Eventual victory in this war may depend on what we eat." Although rationing was imposed in the USA, food insecurity was never an issue for Americans during WWII. As we shall see in the next two posts, this was not the case in Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan.    
Eternity
July 11, 2016
Eternity (万世流芳), a controversial collaborative film effort between Japanese and Chinese filmmakers, was made in Japanese-occupied Shanghai in 1943. Relating the story of Lin Zexu and the Anglo-Chinese First Opium War, the film was a Japanese attempt to produce an anti-Western film that would appeal to the occupied Chinese. At war's end, the film was considered a propaganda tool of the enemy, and many of its production staff left Shanghai due to the hostile environment. The cast included the Chinese actor Chen Yunshang. Chen Yunsang   However, the major star of the film was the Manchuria-born Japanese actress Yoshiko Ōtaka who had previously appeared in several Chinese films using her Chinese name of Li Xianglan. In addition to acting, she was a popular singer with popular hits including the Candy-Peddling Song (賣糖歌) and Quitting (opium) Song (戒煙歌).   Unlike her previous films, which were blatantly pro-Japanese, Eternity brought Li stardom, and entry into the mainstream Chinese film market. Yamaguchi Yoshiko  
Battle of Kursk
July 7, 2016
Although this video relates some disputed statistics, and seems skewed toward Germany's aces, it is an interesting overview of this important battle that effectively ended the German offensive on the Eastern Front.   The Battle of Kursk  between German and Soviet forces took place 280 miles southwest of Moscow during July and August 1943. The German offensive, met by two Soviet counter-offensives, led to one of the largest armored clashes in history. Alerted months in advance by British intelligence, the Soviets reinforced the area and prepared an elaborate defense system to repel the German armored spearhead. The resulting Battle of Kursk, with ~ 6,000 tanks, 4,000 aircraft and 2 million fighting men, is regarded as the greatest tank battle in history: Soviet Dead: 254,470 killed+missing.  German casualties: 203,000 killed, wounded + missing. After the catastrophic losses at Stalingrad, the Battle of Kursk was the final strategic offensive the Germans were able to launch on the Eastern Front. For the rest of the war, the Soviet Red Army maintained the strategic initiative.
Allied Victory in North Africa
June 30, 2016
From June 1940 until May 1943, major campaigns were fought in the Libyan and Egyptian deserts, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. The Allied North African war effort was dominated by the British Commonwealth with American assistance beginning in May 1942.   The North African campaign began in June 1940 with the Italian declaration of war and a series of cross-border battles in Libya and Egypt. When British Commonwealth forces destroyed the Italian 10th Army in December 1940, the German Afrika Korps, commanded by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel ("The Desert Fox") was dispatched to North Africa to reinforce Italian forces and prevent a complete Axis defeat. A see-saw series of battles for control of Libya and parts of Egypt followed, reaching a climax in the Second Battle of El Alamein in November 1942 when British forces under the command of Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery pushed the Axis forces back into Tunisia. After the British-American Operation Torch landings in late 1942 conquered Vichy French forces in Morocco and Algeria, Axis forces encircled in Tunisia were finally forced to surrender in May 1943. The Allies then prepared for the invasion of Italy. In 1943, with the disastrous loss at Stalingrad in February and the Afrika Korps defeat in May, the boundaries of the Third Reich were beginning to be threatened.  
Tottori Earthquake
June 27, 2016
    The 7.2 Richter scale Tottori earthquake had an epicenter offshore from Ketaka District (now part of Tottori). Tottori city, with many antiquated buildings was the hardest hit with ~80% of its structures damaged or destroyed. As the earthquake struck in the evening when most kitchens were preparing the evening meal, fires broke out all over the city.  1083 people were killed, including numerous Koreans working in the nearby copper mines. Put into the greater context of the war, this tragedy came at a time when the perimeter of the Japanese Empire was beginning to recede.  The map below shows the extent of the empire in 1943. However, at the time, Japan was losing the battle for the Solomon Islands and beginning to lose most of New Guinea. August 6/7, 1943 - Battle of Vella Gulf in the Solomon Islands. August 25, 1943 - Allies complete the occupation of New Georgia  September 4, 1943 - Allies recapture Lae-Salamaua, New Guinea.    
Ronald Reagan ID’s a Zero
June 23, 2016
Recognition of the Japanese Zero Fighter was a 1943  film produced by the United States Air Force  to instruct pilots in the Pacific theater how to recognize enemy aircraft at long distances and avoid "friendly fire" incidents. Emphasis was on recognizing difference between a USAAF P-40 Warhawk  and a Japanese Mitsubishi Zero.              
Ted Williams
June 16, 2016
                                       What's My Line -  1954 Ted Williams won six batting titles and led the American League in on-base percentage seven straight years and 12 times overall. His .482 career on-base percentage is the best of all time. He led the league in home runs four times, and his .634 career slugging percentage is second only to Babe Ruth. Williams was a U.S. Navy  F4U Corsair  fighter plane instructor from 1943-1945. Recalled to duty in 1952, during the height of the Korean War, he flew combat missions in a U.S. Marine Grumman F9F-5 Panther jet. After missing the all-star game as a rookie, Williams was an all-star every year (when not in the military) for the rest of the rest of his career. In 1960, his final season, the 41-year-old Williams batted .316 with 29 home runs. In his last years, Williams suffered from cardiomyopathy. After several strokes and congestive heart failure, he died in 2002 of cardiac arrest at the age of 83.    
Münchhausen
June 13, 2016
In 1942, the Nazi policy of forced coordination (Gleichschaltung) unified Universum Film AG and its competitors (Tobis, Terra, Bavaria Film and Wien-Film) together with several foreign film production companies into one corporation (Ufa-Film Gbmh) with its headquarters in Berlin.   Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels ordered the production of the 1943 technicolor comedic fantasy Münchhausen to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the UFA film studio which released it. Münchhausen, a "peoples film" (Volksfilm) designed to entertain the masses and distract them from the war, utilized many colorful Hollywood-style visual techniques.      
Japanese Behavior
June 9, 2016
Composed of apparent movie clips with mildly condescending narration from a Western point of view, the film actually provides an excellent overview of many aspects of Japanese culture: discipline, order, ceremony and hierarchy. The film evokes a melancholic realization of how much of the beauty inherent in the Japanese culture would soon  be destroyed. https://youtu.be/3TY6tnNGORU
▶ Homefront
June 6, 2016
This somewhat quirky propaganda film, working the concept of 'no exceptions', is worth watching to feel the level of concern on the American home front in 1943.    
Memorial Day
May 30, 2016
Now... for the second year of this great war, there are fresh graves on Guadalcanal, on New Guinea, in North Africa. In them are buried the hopes, the laughter, the enthusiasms of young men who were not weary of life. The sea is the deep grave of others whose burial place cannot be marked. And this is not the end. We are in the midst of battle. Young men must still die by land and by sea. Others nightly and daily, must take to the higher ceiling, clouds and stars, and some will not return. We remember and honor many of them today. There will be more to honor and remember tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, and on many tragic morrows....                           New York Times - May 30, 1943   But not all we honor on Memorial Day died in battle. For example, ~half of the 24,000 Americans and nearly three-quarters of the 64,000 Filipino prisoners of war died during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. The death rate at the Carbanatuan POW camp was ~20 daily. Malaria, wet beri-beri, scurvy, blindness and dry beri-beri took a heavy toll, along with dysentery, yellow jaundice and dengue fever. Regulations Concerning Cabanatuan Concentration Camp Art. 58. The penalty for attempting riot, attempted or actual escapes will be death by shooting. Art. 59. Penalty for opposing the orders of Nipponese Soldiers or insulting the Nipponese Corps and Soldiers will be death by shooting. Art. 60. Each barracks will organize squads of about 10 men and in case a member escapes the squad to which he belongs will be jointly responsible, and the squad leader and all members of the squad will be shot. Art. 61. Violations of any of the various regulations may result in death by shooting or in confinement to the guard house. _______________________________________ "...On Memorial Day, May 30th, 1943, the Japanese permitted services at the cemetery at Camp Cabanatuan in the Philippines. Every man in camp wanted to attend this special ceremony but only 1,500 were allowed to go. All but a small group of Chaplains were lined up outside the cemetery fence. A chorus sang "Rock of Ages," and "Sleep, Comrades, Sleep." Prayers were read by Protestant Catholic Chaplains and a Jewish Cantor gave part of the Jewish burial ritual. One could hardly recognize this plot as the cemetery of 1942. At that time the mud was shoe top deep, bloody water stood in the ditches and the air was full of the stench of rotting bodies. Now, the ant hills which had infested the cemetery had been destroyed. Graves had been built up and leveled off; paths had been made; the entire area had been ditched, the stream controlled, and white crosses with the names of the 2,644 who had died there, erected. Those attending the service returned to camp with thankful hearts that in these small ways loved ones had been cared for." Source: http://www.us-japandialogueonpows.org/MemorialDay.htm
Tokio Jokio
May 26, 2016
This 1943 Looney Tunes cartoon mocks an imagined Japanese documentary film. With Mel Blanc supplying all the voices, the film contains many silly stereotypes and racial insults typical of the era.      
Black Thursday
May 23, 2016
At the beginning of WWII, British daylight strikes against Germany soon resulted in unacceptable losses and the Royal Air Force (RAF) turned to night time ‘thousand bomber raids.’ When these strategic nocturnal strikes against military targets proved relatively inaccurate, the RAF began razing urban areas (carpet-bombing) in an effort to destroy civilian morale. These night attacks continued for the remainder of the war. By the summer of 1943, USAAF bomber forces in England had grown substantially and were ready to participate in operations against Germany. Despite the British experience, General Ira Eaker, commander of the U.S. 8th Air Force, was an advocate for daylight "precision" bombing of military and industrial targets, while minimizing civilian casualties. Eaker argued, "If the RAF continues night bombing and we bomb by day, we shall bomb them round the clock and the devil shall get no rest." In August 1943,  although USAAF B-17 Flying Fortresses inflicted heavy damage on German ball bearing factories in Schweinfurt and Regensburg, the raid was a catastrophe for the Americans with 60/376 bombers lost and many more severely damaged. In the second Schweinfurt raid on October 14 (later known as "black Thursday") 60/291 B-17s were lost along with 650/2900 crew members. With these staggering losses, the USAAF ceased unescorted, daytime bombing raids deep in German territory. Two premises of USAAF daylight strategic bombing appeared to be erroneous: unescorted bombers could penetrate enemy defenses in daylight & return safely destruction of German industry would cripple its war effort  
USS Wahoo Atrocity
May 19, 2016
The facts regarding the USS Wahoo (SS-238) January 1943 attack on the Japanese troop ship Buyo Maru remain highly controversial. The Wahoo, under the command of  Lt. Commander Dudley W. “Mush” Morton, attacked the Buyo Maru, one of the four ships in a Japanese troop convoy off the northern coast of New Guinea. After ~1,000 Japanese troops abandoned shop in 20 wooden lifeboats, torpedoes from the the Wahoo sank the Buyo Maru. Dependent on where they were located during the action, crew members reported different accounts of of the actual events that followed. Surfacing amidst the lifeboats, the Wahoo reportedly received small arms fire as it approached the scene. In response, Lt. Cdr. Morton ordered the Wahoo’s 4”/50 cal. deck gun and .50 caliber machine guns to open fire on the lifeboats. A total of 282 men were killed. Morton later stated his intention was to destroy the lifeboats so the Japanese troops could not reach friendly territory. After review by the chain of command, Morton received a glowing endorsement from Commander Submarines Pacific, Admiral Charles Lockwood. Morton claimed killing "most of the troops" from the Buyo Maru, grossly overestimating the number at 1,500-6,000.  Sadly, it was later determined that 491 Allied Indian P.O.W’s were also aboard the Buyo Maru and 195 of them were killed in the Wahoo attack. The remainder of the ship’s 1,126 troops, P.O.W’s, and crew were rescued by the Japanese. All told only 87 Japanese were killed. The USS Wahoo was sunk by Japanese aircraft in October 1943 while returning home from a patrol in the Sea of Japan.  
All Out For Victory
May 16, 2016
After the entry of the U S. into WWII, many manufacturers such as the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company de-emphasized the sale of their products and services in their advertising campaigns in favor of demonstrating their support the war effort. Advertising was presented as an aid to help the public understand why some products were no longer available for purchase because the manufacturer was now producing war material (e.g., new washing machines were on hold as the manufacturer turned to producing war machinery).                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
Private Snafu
May 12, 2016
https://youtu.be/siEK24Pq2xc Private Snafu was a WWII US Army cartoon character in a series of War Department short subjects produced from 1943-1945. The films were intended to teach military personnel about security, sanitation, booby traps etc. and to boost morale. The Private Snafu series, directed by Chuck Jones and other prominent Hollywood animators, featured the voice of  the voice of Mel Blanc as Private Snafu. It is interesting that the obscene WWII term "SNAFU" (situation normal, all ****ed up) had already entered the accepted lexicon without apparent difficulty.
New Georgia Campaign
May 9, 2016
Darkness came to the jungle like the click of a camera shutter. Then the Japanese crept close to the American lines. They attacked with bloodcurdling screams, plastered bivouacs with artillery and mortar barrages, crawled silently into American foxholes and stabbed or strangled the occupants. Often they cursed loudly in English, rattled their equipment, named the American commanding officers and dared the Americans to fight, reminding them that they were “not in the Louisiana maneuvers now.” For sick and hungry soldiers who had fought all day, this unholy shivaree was terrifying. They shot at everything in sight – fox fire on rotting stumps, land crabs clattering over rocks, even comrades. - Historian Samuel Eliot Morison on the disastrous battle of Munda   When the loss of Guadalcanal appeared inevitable at the end of 1942, Japanese military commanders began preparations for anticipated attacks in the central Solomon islands and on their huge base at Rabaul on New Britain. But in early 1943, instead of directly attacking the formidable fortress of Rabaul, the Allies devised a plan (Operation Cartwheel) to cut off (rather than directly attack) Rabaul with simultaneous offensives in the Territory of New Guinea and northward through the Solomon Islands. The resulting costly New Georgia Campaign, was a series of land and naval battles taking place in the central Solomon Islands from late June through early October 1943. After a series of advances and setbacks, the Allies triumphed.   New Georgia in the Solomon Islands
Operation Gomorrah
May 5, 2016
On July 25 1943, following a 5-month air campaign against Germany’s industrial Ruhr district, the RAF began a 10-day series of air raids on Hamburg known as Operation Gomorrah. Due to unusually hot and dry weather, the July 27 raid on the city’s working class districts produced a swirling vortex of superheated air that ignited a firestorm with temperatures reaching 800°C. Many civilians jumped into waterways; others were asphyxiated in bomb shelters as the firestorm consumed oxygen. Over 10 days, 42,600 citizens of Hamburg were killed and 37,000 injured in Operation Gomorrah. __________________________ In May 2014, my wife and I visited Hamburg on a research trip for the book I am writing about the Battle of the Atlantic in 1942. Our visit to the St. Nikolai Church memorial museum beneath the bombed-out church was one of the most moving experiences I've had.                Lira Walter was here. Mother is alive. Father is dead.  
Detroit Race Riot
May 2, 2016
In June 1943 a race riot erupted in Detroit Michigan, a city brimming with ~400,000 wartime migrants competing for jobs and housing. Fueled by false rumors of racial attacks in both black and white communities, the rioting continued from June 20 until June 22 when 6,000 federal troops were ordered to restore peace. 34 people were killed (25 of them black) by police or guardsmen and 433 were wounded (75% black).  ~$2 million of property was destroyed, most of it in the black area of Paradise Valley, the poorest neighborhood of the city. Contemporary reports by commissions made up of whites attributed the riot to black hoodlums. The NAACP, however, identified longstanding problems in Detroit with housing, job discrimination, lack of minority representation in the police, and police brutality. Historical analysis suggests that most white rioters were young, unemployed or in semi-skilled jobs. Many traveled far to join armed groups that attacked black neighborhoods. The black rioters were mostly older working men, married and longtime residents of Detroit who were defending their homes and neighborhood against the police and white rioters; however, they also looted and destroyed white-owned property.  
Killing Japanese Zoo Animals
April 28, 2016
The Japanese government disposed of "dangerous animals" (not only carnivores but also herbivores, such as elephants) in zoos and circuses during WWII, including those in Japan and occupied Korea, Taiwan, and Manchuria. While some European zoos also destroyed their animals, no country conducted as nationwide and systematic a disposal of captive animals as Japan. Some claim the Japanese government ordered the killings to mobilize the whole civilian population into total war, rather than for the ostensible purpose of public safety. Here is an excerpt from my book Enemy in the Mirror:Love and Fury in the Pacific War: In the morning, during a brief stop at Kobe, they heard the terrible news. Hundreds of B-29s had rained incendiary bombs on Tokyo during the night. Forty square kilometers of the city had been set afire and more than 90,000 people were dead. It was beyond imagination. Everyone sat in numbed silence as the train moved on. After staring blankly out the window for many kilometers, Isamu finally closed his eyes and drifted into reverie. It was a warm Sunday afternoon in 1932 at Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo. Lighthearted families strolled between the enclosures of exotic animals. Rising Sun flags fluttered over the promenade and the cherry trees were in full bloom. A banner proclaimed: “Enrich the country, strengthen the Army.” Like a caring older brother, Japan was bringing light to Manchuria. Soon all of Asia would be joined in a sphere of co-prosperity. Isamu beamed at his parents when they bought him a delicious brown sugar rice and millet cake. He loved all the animals, but his favorite was Tonki, the performing elephant. Tonki carried logs, walked along wooden beams and blew a toy trumpet with his trunk. As a finale, he stood on a podium and raised his trunk and a front leg saluting the crowd. The children cheered and the adults applauded. Isamu opened his eyes. Tonki and the other zoo animals were long gone - starved to death by their keepers in 1943 for fear they might run wild in an air raid. Now the great city itself was burned to the ground. He rubbed his forehead and ran his fingertips through his hair. How much longer can this go on?
442nd Regimental Combat Team
April 25, 2016
The 442nd Regimental Combat Team was organized on March 23, 1943 when 2,686 Japanese-American volunteers from Hawaii and 1,500 from the U.S. mainland received basic training in Camp Shelby, Mississippi. In May 1944, the 442nd, attached to the 5th Army under the command of General Mark Clark, drove German forces north in the heavily defended mountainous terrain of northern Italy In August 1944, the Anti-Tank Company was separated and sent to France in a glider landing to support the Allied invasion of the Continent In France in the winter 1944, the 1st Battalion, 141st Regiment of the 36th "Texas" Division was surrounded by German troops and running out of food and ammunition. After two previous attempts at rescue by other units failed, the 442nd enter the Vosges Mountains. After five days of horrific combat, the Texans were rescued by the Japanese Americans who suffered heavy casualties In April 1945, the 442nd led the attack which broke through the Gothic Line, an obstacle that had thwarted Allied efforts for months in northern Italy The 100th Battalion/442nd RCT, a segregated unit composed of Japanese-Americans, while compiling an astonishing combat record, suffered an equally large number of casualties - ~ 800 killed or missing in action.
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
April 21, 2016
In the summer of 1942, German SS and police units deported ~ 265,000 Jews from the Warsaw ghetto to to the Treblinka killing center and ~11,600 to forced-labor camps. More than 10,000 Jews in the ghetto were murdered during these deportation operations. While ~35,000 Jews were granted permission to remain in the ghetto (with another 20,000 remaining in hiding), the eventual deportation of all seemed inevitable. When German SS and police units resumed mass deportation of the ghetto on January 18, 1943, a group of Jewish fighters, armed with pistols, fought their German guards. Although most of the Jewish fighters died in the battle, the Germans (after deporting ~6000 ghetto residents) suspended further deportations on January 21. Believing they had halted deportations, ghetto residents constructed subterranean bunkers and shelters in preparation for an uprising. With orders to liquidate the residents, German forces entered the ghetto on April 19, 1943. With most residents in hiding, the streets were deserted. Suddenly, Jewish resistance fighters, armed with pistols, grenades, automatic weapons and rifles, attacked. The Germans, who were forced to retreat outside the ghetto wall, reported 12 men killed or wounded during this first assault on the ghetto. On the third day of the uprising, the Germans began burning the ghetto, building by building, to force the remaining Jews out of hiding. By May 8, the Germans had effectively razed the ghetto, captured the Jewish command post and and killed the leaders. A few survivors fought on sporadically for several weeks. Ultimately, the Germans deported almost all of the ~42,000 remaining Jews from the ghetto. With the exception of a few thousand forced laborers, all of these Jews were later murdered.
Casablanca Conference
April 18, 2016
In January 1943, two months after the Anglo-American landings in French North Africa in November 1942, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill met in Casablanca, Morocco. Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin, engaged in the decisive battle of Stalingrad, did not attend. At the Casablanca Conference, FDR and Churchill agreed to: concentrate efforts against Germany in an effort to draw Axis forces away from the Eastern front increase shipments of supplies to the Soviet Union launch an invasion of Italy and increase strategic bombing of Germany prior to invading France increase efforts against Japanese forces in Papua New Guinea open new supply lines to China through Japanese-occupied Burma. demand unconditional surrender from the Axis powers
Der Führer’s Face
April 14, 2016
Der Fuehrer's Face, an animated Walt Disney propaganda film released in 1943 by RKO Radio Pictures, features a nightmare in which Donald Duck works in a factory in Nazi Germany. The film, intended to promote the sale of war bonds  was scored with original music by Oliver Wallace which included  "Der Fuehrer's Face",  released earlier by Spike Jones. Der Fuehrer's Face won the 1943 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film .  
Victory Through Air Power
April 11, 2016
Victory Through Air Power was a 1943 Walt Disney animated documentary feature film based on the controversial 1942 book Victory Through Air Power by Alexander P. de Seversky. De Seversky maintained: rapid expansion of both range and striking power of military aircraft meant the U.S. would soon become vulnerable to air attack (as was Britain at the time) the U.S. must begin preparing immediately for inter-hemispheric war directly across oceans the U.S. must become the dominant air-power nation, as England in its prime was the dominant sea-power After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Disney studios began to produce propaganda films for the U.S. government. But, unlike most WWII training films, Victory Through Air Power was created to influence government officials as well as enhance public morale. According to film historian Leonard Maltin, the film had a significant influence on President Roosevelt's commitment to long-range bombing.
Sanshiro Sugata
April 7, 2016
The directorial debut of the famed Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa,  姿三四郎 (Sanshiro Sugata) was released in March 1943. Based on a novel by Tsuneo Tomita (the son of a prominent Judo practitioner), the film follows a youth who travels to the city to learn Jujutsu, but discovers a new form of self-defense known as Judo. The main character is based on Saigō Shirō, one of the earliest disciples of Judo. The film includes many of Kurosawa's directorial trademarks, such as the use of transition wipes (where one shot replaces another with a special shape or travels from one side of the frame to another), weather patterns reflecting character moods, and abruptly changing camera speeds. The film Sanshiro Sugata was remade several times and a sequel, Sanshiro Sugata Part II, was released in 1945.      
Kinderlandverschickung – Evacuation of Children
April 4, 2016
The term Kinderlandverschickung (KLV) was first used in the late 19th century to describe the foster care relocation of sick and underprivileged children to the countryside. At the outbreak of WWII, although there were no large scale civilian evacuations as in Britain, the National Socialist People's Welfare (NSV) organized the relocation of mothers with very young children, with or without older siblings (and some pregnant women) to host families in safer areas. The relocation of children aged 10-14 years was the responsibility of the Hitler Youth.   Due to lost records, the total number of evacuations during the war is unknown but in 1943, a senior official in the Hitler Youth estimated about three million children and young people (including 1 million in KLV camps) had been evacuated.    
U.S. Retakes Attu
March 31, 2016
  In June 1942  Japanese infantry invaded the Aleutian Islands of Kiska and Attu and established garrisons. In May 1943 American forces retook Attu; in August Americans retook Kiska.  
Let the Storm Break Loose!
March 28, 2016
Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels' speech on February 18, 1943 at the Berlin Sportpalast is often considered his most important of the war. Unlike previous Nazi propaganda that claimed incontestable German victories, the Sportpalast speech acknowledged, for the first time, that Germany was in danger and the war would be long and difficult. Calling for total war, Goebbels exhorted the entire population to fight for Germany and the survival of a non-Bolshevist Europe. Goebbels concluded the speech with: “Now, people rise up, and let the storm break loose!”
Changjiao Massacre
March 24, 2016
While the most infamous was the 1937 Rape of Nanking, the Japanese Army also committed many other atrocities throughout Asia during WWII. The Changjiao Massacre, a four day rampage carried out by the Japanese China Expeditionary Army in May 1943, involved the murder of ~30,000 Chinese civilians. It is highly likely that all armies have some soldiers who commit atrocities in wartime. However, it is probable that most regular army command structures do not condone such behavior and incidents are usually isolated. Organized atrocity, as seen with the Holocaust or the German Einsatzgruppen who murdered Jews, Soviet Commissars and other "undesirables" on the Eastern Front is less common. Numerous well-documented reports indicate the Japanese Army was exceptionally brutal in its conquest and occupation of Asian countries. The Japanese "big brother" who was supposed to represent the "Light of Asia" and free exploited people, ended up being an abusive, murderous occupier. It is very disturbing today, that unlike modern-day Germany, a country that has gone through a great deal of processing about Nazi wartime crimes, Japan has still not come to complete terms with the atrocities their soldiers committed throughout WWII.  
Defeat at Stalingrad
March 17, 2016
In September 1942, the German Sixth Army under General Friedrich Paulus was on the outskirts of Stalingrad, expecting to take the city within a few days. But Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, realizing the loss of Stalingrad would allow the Germans to advance into the Caucasus, committed significant reinforcements and supplies for defense of the city. The ensuing desperate battle for Stalingrad involved fierce urban street fighting with tremendous losses on both sides. In November 1942, Marshal Georgy Zhukov launched a counteroffensive and encircled the stalled Wehrmacht 6th Army. In December 1942, a major relief operation failed and promised Luftwaffe air support did not materialize. In January 1943, General Paulus requested permission for a break-out withdrawal (probably still possible). In response, Hitler promoted Paulus to Generalfeldmarschall and ordered him hold ground at all costs. On February 2, 1943, General Paulus, with ~150,000 dead soldiers, surrendered the remaining 91,000 men of his army. At the end of the war, only 6,000 soldiers of the 6th army returned home. With ~2 million combined civilian and military deaths, the battle of Stalingrad was one of the bloodiest battles in history. Like the Battle of Midway for the Japanese, the disastrous Battle of Stalingrad proved to be a major turning point for Germany in WWII.
New Guinea
March 10, 2016
"Monsoon-soaked wilderness, debilitating heat, impassable mountains, torrential rivers and disease-infested swamps -  New Guinea was a battleground far deadlier than the most fanatical of enemy troops." - James P. Duffy In January 1942, overwhelming Japanese forces captured Rabaul at the northeastern tip of New Britain Island. Although frequently bombed by the Allies, Rabaul went on to become a mighty stronghold of Japanese forces in the area. Rather than attack, the Allies subsequently isolated and contained Japanese forces around Rabaul for the remainder of the war. Upon surrender in August 1945, Japan still had ~69,000 Japanese troops in Rabaul. In preparation for an invasion of Australia, Japanese forces then concentrated on taking Port Moresby on southern Papua. The battle of the Kokoda Track exemplified heroic Allied efforts to halt this part of the New Guinea Campaign. In January 1943 the Allied and the Japanese forces facing each other on New Guinea were like two battered heavyweights. Round one had gone to the Americans and Australians who had ejected the Japanese from Papua, New Guinea.  Over three grueling months of frontal attacks against well-entrenched Japanese forces, General Douglas MacArthur was able to establish a military staging area and airstrip at Buna on the north coast. The cost of this bloody operation: Deaths of ~13,000 Japanese and 8,500 Allies (5,698 Australians). James Lloyd Evans 41st U.S. Army Division/163 Infantry Regiment/3rd Batallion/Co. M My late father-in-law Jim Evans, who slogged through that terrible campaign, has been an inspiration for my writing about World War II as a war baby born in 1942. The New Guinea campaign of the Pacific War lasted from January 1942 until the end of the war in August 1945.
Yamamoto Killed
February 25, 2016
Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, a few hours before his death, saluting Japanese naval pilots at Rabaul, April 18, 1943 - Wikimedia Commons “In the first six to twelve months of a war with the United States and Great Britain, I will run wild and win victory upon victory. But then, if the war continues after that, I have no expectation of success.” Isoroku Yamamoto, the architect of Imperial Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, lived in the United States from 1926-28 as a young naval attaché in Washington D.C. Impressed by American vitality and industrial capacity, he cautioned Japan's military planners that a war with the USA would prove costly. In his private life, Yamamoto was a calligrapher and poet who also enjoyed challenging games such as billiards, bridge, Ma Jong, poker, Shoqui (a chess-like game) and gambling. The father of four children, but apparently not close with his wife, Yamamoto was a frequent visitor at geisha houses. As commander of Japan's naval forces in the Pacific, Admiral Yamamoto was an advocate of air power. Early in the Pacific War, he promoted a strategy intended to draw the U.S. into a decisive naval battle that would force a negotiated peace. The catastrophic outcome of the Battle of Midway Island in June 1942 is seen by most historians as the major turning point in the Pacific War. In the early morning of April 18, 1942, unaware of Allied decryption of Japan's secret military messaging cipher , Admiral Yamamoto took off from the Japanese stronghold at Rabaul with a bomber and fighter escort. At his intended destination Bougainville Island, he planned an inspection tour, hoping to boost the morale of Japanese troops who, after the fall of Guadalcanal, were struggling to maintain control of the Solomon Islands. That same morning, acting on intercepted radio transmissions regarding Yamamoto’s flight plan, 18 fork-tailed P-38G Lightnings left Henderson Field on Guadalcanal. To avoid detection, the Americans flew in radio silence, 50 feet above the water. At 0930 AM, after two hours in the air,  the American “Killer Flight” group engaged the bombers and Zero fighters transporting Yamamoto. Raked with machine gun fire, Yamamoto's  bomber crashed in the jungle. A search party later found Yamamoto’s body, thrown from the plane, still sitting in his seat with a hand on his Samurai-style katana sword. There were two bullet holes in his head and shoulder.
Pentagon Constructed
February 18, 2016
Before the Pentagon was built, the United States Department of War, a civilian agency created to administer the U.S. Army, was spread out in temporary buildings in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. With the onset of the European conflict in 1939, the War Department rapidly expanded in anticipation of U.S. entry into WWII. Designed by the architect George Bergstrom, construction of the Pentagon building began in September 1941. The building was dedicated  in January 1943. Across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., the Pentagon has five sides, two basements, five floors above ground with five ring corridors per floor and a five-acre central plaza shaped like a pentagon. Source: The Pentagon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Japan Withdraws From Guadalcanal
February 15, 2016
The battle for Guadalcanal was the first major offensive by Allied forces against the Empire of Japan. I wrote a short piece about a woman waiting on the home front for her husband who would never return from Guadalcanal. By the end of 1942, all attempts by the Japanese army to recapture Henderson Air Field on Guadalcanal had been repulsed with heavy losses. Japanese troops were beginning to die from starvation and lack of adequate medical care. Japanese naval forces in the area were also suffering heavy losses in attempts to reinforce and resupply their ground forces. In January 1943 the Japanese decided to concede the island of Guadalcanal to Allied Forces. Operation Ke (ケ号作戦) evacuated 10,652 Japanese soldiers at a cost of one destroyer sunk and three damaged. On February 9, Allied forces declared Guadalcanal secure, ending the six-month bloody campaign for control of the island. Casualties and Losses                       USA                                     JAPAN                                             Dead: 7,100                         19,200 (8,500 killed in action) Wounded: 7,789+                 ? Captured: 4                           11 Ships lost: 29                       38          Aircraft lost: 615                 683-880
2015
Momotarô’s Sea Eagles
December 17, 2015
This rather eerie Japanese wartime cartoon features Momotaro the mythological Peach Boy fighting alongside several different animal species (representing East Asians) in an attack against the demons on the island of Onigashima (Americans and British).
Military Secrecy
November 19, 2015
Private Snafu, featured in a 1943-45 series of American military instructional cartoons, was often ironic and humorous1943.  
2014
The Monuments Men
February 26, 2014
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=CreneTs7sGs The Monuments Men is an enjoyable and interesting film, filled with great actors. Still, just like the Japanese and Germans, American film makers usually produce WWII films that make American soldiers seem almost too "honorable" to be true. 
2013
Biological Weapons Program – USA
January 9, 2013
Although the United States did conduct some preliminary tests with the highly toxic compound ricin at the end of WWI, the development of biological weapons, felt to be impractical, was not emphasized in the inter-war period. As late as 1942, the USA had no biological weapons capabilities. However, by November 1943 a biological weapons facility was opened at Fort Detrick, Maryland  along with three other facilities in Indiana, Mississippi and Utah. The U.S. biological weapons program focused primarily on the offensive potential of botulinum toxin, anthrax and smallpox. Unlike Japanese and Nazi programs, no human experimentation was performed.  
2012
Daniel Inouye
December 18, 2012
Born in Hawaii of Japanese immigrants,  Daniel Inouye joined the all-Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team in 1943. He lost an arm in Italy while leading an assault on German machine gun positions.  After receiving  the Medal of Honor,  Inouye completed law school and served in the U.S. Senate for nine terms. Daniel Inouye died December 17, 2012.

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