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Still other infiltrators 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 at key points to bring down a devastating curtain of fire on the avenues of approach along the beach. Some of these large guns were mounted on railroad tracks running in and out of caves where they were protected by concrete and steel. The battle for Japan, itself, would be won by what General Simon Bolivar Buckner had called on Okinawa "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 American soldiers and marines whose responsibility it had been to fight and destroy the Japanese on islands all over the south and central Pacific. "Prairie Dog Warfare" had been the story of Tarawa, of Saipan, of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. "Prairie Dog Warfare" was a battle for yards, feet and sometimes even inches. It was a brutal, deadly and dangerous form of combat aimed at an underground, heavily fortified, nonretreating enemy. "Prairie Dog Warfare" would be what the invasion of Japan was all about. In the mountains behind the beaches were elaborate underground networks of caves, bunkers, command posts and hospitals connected by miles of tunnels with dozens of separate entrances and exits. Some of these complexes could hold up to 1,000 enemy troops. A number of these caves were equipped with large steel doors that slid open to allow artillery fire and then would snap shut again. The paths leading up to these underground fortresses were honeycombed with defensive positions, and all but a few of the trails would be booby-trapped. Along these manned defensive positions would be machine gun nests and aircraft and naval guns converted for anti-invasion fire. In addition to the use of poison gas and bacteriological warfare (which the Japanese had experimented with), the most frightening of all was the prospect of meeting an entire civilian population that had been mobilized to meet our troops on the beaches. Had "Olympic" come about, the Japanese civilian population inflammed by a national slogan, "One Hundred Million will die -12- [[end page]] [[start page]] for the Emperor and Nation", was prepared to engage and fight the American invaders to the death. Twenty-eight million Japanese had become a part of the "National Volunteer Combat Force" and had undergone training in the techniques of beach defense and guerilla warfare. these civilians were armed with ancient rifles, lunge mines, sachel charges, Molotov cocktails and one-shot black powder mortars. Still others were armed with swords, long bows, axes and bamboo spears. These special civilian units were to be tactically employed in nighttime attacks, hit and run maneuvers, delaying actions and massive suicide charges at the weaker American positions. Even without the utilization of Japanese civilians in direct combat, the Japanese and American casualties during the campaign for Kyushu would have been staggering. At the early stage of the invasion, 1,000 Japanese and American soldiers would be dying every hour. The long and difficult task of conquering Kyushu would have made casualties on both side enormous and one can only guess at how monumental the casualty figures would have been had the Americans had to repeat their invasion a second time when they landed at heavily fortified and defended Tokyo Plain the following March. The invasion of Japan never became a reality because on August 6, 1945, the entire nature of war changed when the first atomic bomb was exploded over Hiroshima. On August 9, 1945, a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, and within days the war with Japan was at a close. Had these bombs not been dropped and had the invasion been launched as scheduled, it is hard not to speculate as to the cost. Thousands of Japanese suicide sailors and airmen would have died in fiery deaths in the defense of their homeland. Thousands of American sailors and airmen defending against these attacks would also have been killed with many more wounded. On the Japanese home islands, the combat casualties would have been at a minimum in the tens of thousands. Every foot of Japanese soil would have been paid for, twice over, by both 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 one million American men who were to be the casualties of the invasion, were instead lucky enough to survive the war, safe and unharmed. Intelligence studies and realistic military estimates made -13-
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