Friday, March 06, 2009

Dropping The Bombs On Japan: Part II

"The Japanese had 58 more airfields in Korea , western Honshu and
Shikoku , which also were to be used for massive suicide attacks.

Allied intelligence had established that the Japanese had no more
than 2,500 aircraft of which they guessed 300 would be deployed in suicide

In August 1945, however, unknown to Allied intelligence, the
Japanese still had 5,651 army and 7,074 navy aircraft, for a total of 12,725
planes of all types. Every village had some type of aircraft manufacturing
activity. Hidden in mines, railway tunnels, under viaducts and in basements
of department stores, work was being done to construct new planes.

Additionally, the Japanese were building newer and more effective
models of the Okka, a rocket-propelled bomb much like the German V-1, but
flown by a suicide pilot.

When the invasion became imminent, Ketsu-Go called for a fourfold
aerial plan of attack to destroy up to 800 Allied ships.

While Allied ships were approaching Japan , but still in the open
seas, an initial force of 2,000 army and navy fighters were to fight to the
death to control the skies over Kyushu . A second force of 330 navy combat
pilots were to attack the main body of the task force to keep it from using
its fire support and air cover to protect the troop carrying transports.
While these two forces were engaged, a third force of 825 suicide planes was
to hit the American transports.

As the invasion convoys approached their anchorages, another 2,000
suicide planes were to be launched in waves of 200 to 300, to be used in
hour by hour attacks.

By mid-morning of the first day of the invasion, most of the
American land-based aircraft would be forced to return to their bases,
leaving the defense against the suicide planes to the carrier pilots and the
shipboard gunners.

Carrier pilots crippled by fatigue would have to land time and
time again to rearm and refuel. Guns would malfunction from the heat of
continuous firing and ammunition would become scarce. Gun crews would be
exhausted by nightfall, but still the waves of kamikaze would continue. With
the fleet hovering off the beaches, all remaining Japanese aircraft would be
committed to nonstop suicide attacks, which the Japanese hoped could be
sustained for 10 days. The Japanese planned to coordinate their air strikes
with attacks from the 40 remaining submarines from the Imperial Navy -- some
armed with Long Lance torpedoes with a range of 20 miles -- when the
invasion fleet was 180 miles off Kyushu .

The Imperial Navy had 23 destroyers and two cruisers which were
operational. These ships were to be used to counterattack the American
invasion. A number of the destroyers were to be beached at the last minute
to be used as anti-invasion gun platforms.

Once offshore, the invasion fleet would be forced to defend not
only against the attacks from the air, but would also be confronted with
suicide attacks from sea. Japan had established a suicide naval attack unit
of midget submarines, human torpedoes and exploding motorboats.

The goal of the Japanese was to shatter the invasion before the
landing. The Japanese were convinced the Americans would back off or become
so demoralized that they would then accept a less-than-unconditional
surrender and a more honorable and face-saving end for the Japanese.

But as horrible as the battle of Japan would be off the beaches,
it would be on Japanese soil that the American forces would face the most
rugged and fanatical defense encountered during the war.

Throughout the island-hopping Pacific campaign, Allied troops had
always out numbered the Japanese by 2 to 1 and sometimes 3 to 1. In Japan it
would be different. By virtue of a combination of cunning, guesswork, and
brilliant military reasoning, a number of Japan 's top military leaders were
able to deduce, not only when, but where, the United States would land its
first invasion forces.

Facing the 14 American divisions landing at Kyushu would be 14
Japanese divisions, 7 independent mixed brigades, 3 tank brigades and
thousands of naval troops. On Kyushu the odds would be 3 to 2 in favor of
the Japanese, with 790,000 enemy defenders against 550,000 Americans. This
time the bulk of the Japanese defenders would not be the poorly trained and
ill-equipped labor battalions that the Americans had faced in the earlier

The Japanese defenders would be the hard core of the home army.
These troops were well-fed and well equipped. They were familiar with the
terrain, had stockpiles of arms and ammunition, and had developed an
effective system of transportation and supply almost invisible from the air.
Many of these Japanese troops were the elite of the army, and they were
swollen with a fanatical fighting spirit.

Japan 's network of beach defenses consisted of offshore mines,
thousands of suicide scuba divers attacking landing craft, and mines planted
on the beaches. Coming ashore, the American Eastern amphibious assault
forces at Miyazaki would face three Japanese divisions, and two others
poised for counterattack. Awaiting the Southeastern attack force at
AriakeBay was an entire division and at least one mixed infantry brigade.

On the western shores of Kyushu , the Marines would face the most
brutal opposition. Along the invasion beaches would be the three Japanese
divisions , a tank brigade, a mixed infantry brigade and an artillery
command. Components of two divisions would also be poised to launch

If not needed to reinforce the primary landing beaches, the
American Reserve Force would be landed at the base of Kagoshima Bay November
4, where they would be confronted by two mixed infantry brigades, parts of
two infantry divisions and thousands of naval troops.

All along the invasion beaches, American troops would face coastal
batteries, anti-landing obstacles and a network of heavily fortified
pillboxes, bunkers, and underground fortresses. As Americans waded ashore,
they would face intense artillery and mortar fire as they worked their way
through concrete rubble and barbed-wire entanglements arranged to funnel
them into the muzzles of these Japanese guns.

On the beaches and beyond would be hundreds of Japanese machine
gun positions, beach mines, booby traps, trip-wire mines and sniper units.
Suicide units concealed in "spider holes" would engage the troops as they
passed nearby. In the heat of battle, Japanese infiltration units would be
sent to reap havoc in the American lines by cutting phone and communication
lines. Some of the Japanese troops would be in American uniform,
English-speaking Japanese officers were assigned to break in on American
radio traffic to call off artillery fire, to order retreats and to further
confuse troops. Other infiltration with demolition charges strapped on
their chests or backs would attempt to blow up American tanks, artillery
pieces and ammunition stores as they were unloaded ashore.

Beyond the beaches were large artillery pieces situated to bring
down a curtain of fire on the beach. Some of these large guns were mounted
on railroad tracks running in and out of caves protected by concrete and

The battle for Japan would be won by what Simon Bolivar Buckner, a
lieutenant general in the Confederate army during the Civil War, had called
"Prairie Dog Warfare." This type of fighting was almost unknown to the
ground troops in Europe and the Mediterranean . It was peculiar only to the
soldiers and Marines who fought the Japanese on islands all over the
Pacific -- at Tarawa, Saipan, Iwo Jima and Okinawa .

Prairie Dog Warfare was a battle for yards, feet and sometimes
inches. It was brutal, deadly and dangerous form of combat aimed at an
underground, heavily fortified, non-retreating enemy.

In the mountains behind the Japanese beaches were underground
networks of caves, bunkers, command posts and hospitals connected by miles
of tunnels with dozens of entrances and exits. Some of these complexes
could hold up to 1,000 troops.

In addition to the use of poison gas and bacteriological warfare
(which the Japanese had experimented with), Japan mobilized its citizenry.

Had Olympic come about, the Japanese civilian population,
inflamed by a national slogan - "One Hundred Million Will Die for the
Emperor and Nation" - were prepared to fight to the death. Twenty Eight
Million Japanese had become a part of the National Volunteer Combat Force.
They were armed with ancient rifles, lunge mines, satchel charges, Molotov
cocktails and one-shot black powder mortars. Others were armed with swords,
long bows, axes and bamboo spears. The civilian units were to be used in
nighttime attacks, hit and run maneuvers, delaying actions and massive
suicide charges at the weaker American positions.

At the early stage of the invasion, 1,000 Japanese and American
soldiers would be dying every hour.

The invasion of Japan never became a reality because on August 6,
1945, an atomic bomb was exploded over Hiroshima . Three days later, a
second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki . Within days the war with Japan was at a

Had these bombs not been dropped and had the invasion been
launched as scheduled, combat casualties in Japan would have been at a
minimum of the tens of thousands. Every foot of Japanese soil would have
been paid for by Japanese and American lives.

One can only guess at how many civilians would have committed
suicide in their homes or in futile mass military attacks.

In retrospect, the 1 million American men who were to be the
casualties of the invasion, were instead lucky enough to survive the war.

Intelligence studies and military estimates made 50 years ago, and
not latter-day speculation, clearly indicate that the battle for Japan might
well have resulted in the biggest blood-bath in the history of modern

Far worse would be what might have happened to Japan as a nation
and as a culture. When the invasion came, it would have come after several
months of fire bombing all of the remaining Japanese cities. The cost in
human life that resulted from the two atomic blasts would be small in
comparison to the total number of Japanese lives that would have been lost
by this aerial devastation.

With American forces locked in combat in the south of Japan ,
little could have prevented the Soviet Union from marching into the northern
half of the Japanese home islands. Japan today could be divided much like
Korea and Germany .

The world was spared the cost of Operation Downfall, however,
because Japan formally surrendered to the United States on September 2,
1945, and World War II was over.

The aircraft carriers, cruisers and transport ships scheduled to
carry the invasion troops to Japan , ferried home American troops in a
gigantic operation called Magic Carpet.

In the fall of 1945, in the aftermath of the war, few people
concerned themselves with the invasion plans. Following the surrender, the
classified documents, maps, diagrams and appendices for Operation Downfall
were packed away in boxes and eventually stored at the National Archives.
These plans that called for the invasion of Japan paint a vivid description
of what might have been one of the most horrible campaigns in the history of
man. The fact that the story of the invasion of Japan is locked up in the
National Archives and is not told in our history books is something for
which all Americans can be thankful."

It is more than clear how many more lives would have been lost had we not nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Doesn't, and will never matter to most liberals who abide by one wartime dictate and one only:

Spare our enemies, castigate, become traitor to, and ruin our allies.

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