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Twentieth Century Chivalry

Innocents of Hiroshima: Exploding the Myth
by Roger S. Bratby, Gordon Highlanders

There is the oft-repeated myth of 200,000 innocent people being killed. There were no innocent people in Hiroshima. The city was a beehive of war industry. Every home was involved in the manufacture of parts for planes, boats, shells, and rifles. Even bedridden and wheelchair patients were assembling booby traps to leave in the path of the Armerican aggressors.

Hiroshima was the lynchpin in the defence of the western half of Japan. The 2nd General Army of Field Marshal Shunroku Hata, comprising over 50,000 troops, was stationed around the city. The Headquarters of the infamous Kempi Tai of over 900 officers was situated in Hiroshima Castle. In the huge complex of the shipyard they were constructing battleships, cruisers, destroyers, and submarines and the small one-man Kaiten submarines. The Mitsubishi factory was making all types of tooling machinery. The Yoshikiwa Army Airfield contained a massive store of soldiers’ equipment, a large gun store, warehouses full of aircraft spares and the Army-to-Navy complex. In Hiroshima Harbour were hundreds of small boats and one-man submarines fitted with explosive warheads. These were to be used by suicide sailors to attack the ships of the expected invasion of Kyushu.

The authorities in Hiroshima knew that the city was bound to come under air attack as soon as the Americans held the airfield on Okinawa. Consequently they had constructed huge shelters throughout the city. Fire measures could have saved thousands of lives but when the aeroplane spotters saw only one aircraft they decided not to sound the alarm as it would interrupt the production of armaments.

It has been voiced many times that the Japanese would have given up and capitulated by November 1945 without the use of the atom bomb. This was a pipe dream. People have no idea of the determination of the Japanese nation to resist the invasion until everyone was killed. Field Marshal Hata decreed, “When the invasion begins every man, woman and child will be armed.”

The Americans estimated that the small three-square-mile island of Iwo Jima would be overrun and captured within four days. It took four weeks. The cost in human life was enormous. The Americans suffered 25,851 battle casualties. The conquest of the sixteen-mile long island of Okinawa was expected to take four weeks. It took three months. Over 200,000 Japanese died. Mass kamikaze attacks sank 400 ships and killed 9,724 naval ratings. The number of American G.I.s killed was 49,151.

All the Allied prisoners in Japan were engaged on war work. Our task was tunnelling into the hills surrounding Nagasaki. In this rabbit warren of passages the Japanese were storing kamikaze aeroplanes. With the wings folded back they were quite small and the Japanese seemed to be packing them in by the hundred. In fact, after the war it was discovered they had 3,850 kamikaze planes. As we travelled back and forth to work we saw the women being trained. Many of them had bayonets fitted with bamboo shafts. Others were practising with hand grenades. Their task was to kill one American soldier. They were being shown how to hide in a manhole or a ditch or the undergrowth and wait for the unsuspecting Allied soldier. It was the type of warfare carried out by the Japanese on Okinawa and Iwo Jima.

The line-up for the defence of the Japanese homeland was massive ~ over 2,000,000 regular troops, 2,300,000 battle-hardened soldiers being ferried over from China and 28,000,000 being trained. When President Truman asked General MacArthur how long it would take to overrun and defeat Japan the General replied, “If they use the same guerrilla tactics as on Iwo Jima and Okinawa it will take about ten years.” President Truman was stunned.

I wonder why no one ever plants a tree for the innocent victims of Nanking. In a recent documentary a Japanese verteran soldier, Shiko Azuma, described the Army’s advance into China. “When we came to a village we raped all the women and then killed everyone silently with the bayonet. We did this so the next village would not hear gunfire and then we could sleep without fear of attack. Also dead people tell no tales.” Another Japanese veteran, Shozo Tominaga, declared, “When we came to Nanking most of the Chinese Army had escaped across the Yangtse River. It was decided then that we should kill every living person in the city. For three weeks we carried on with our rape and kill policy and the banks of the Yangtse became clogged with corpses for miles down river. The officers urged us on. We acted like animals. However, to kill everyone became too great a task, we were ordered to cross the Yangtse and move on against the Chinese. The landing-craft could not reach the riverbank and we were told to leap over the rotting corpses to reach the boat.”

In Singapore the Japanese carried out the same policy as in Nanking but to a far lesser degree. All the Malay, Indians and other nationals were spared. Thousands of Chinese, hands tied behind them with their own shoelaces, were pushed into the docks. Some time later we prisoners spent weeks hauling their bloated cadavers out of the docks with grappling irons and piling them on lorries to be taken away and buried.

The Singaporeans have now erected a huge four-pillared obelisk in remembrance of the thousands of Chinese murdered by the Japanese.

This is an extract from BEYOND THE BAMBOO SCREEN edited by Tom McGowran, OBE, and published by Cualann Press at £ 9.99

Page 1 ~ Bushido
Page 2 ~ The poem
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