Decommissioned in 1946, the USS Comfort received two battle stars for its participation in the Leyte and Okinawa campaigns. During 1945, the Japanese military began stockpiling hundreds of Tsurugi, Ohkas, other aircraft and suicide boats for use against Allied forces expected to invade Japan. By the time he was attacked, the Japanese had been using kamikazestrategies for a little more than a month. Photo from the collection of Doris Howard. 95-year-old Navy veteran reflects on serving aboard aircraft carrier USS Bunker Hill during WWII . I am going because I was ordered to.". Its non-retractable landing gear was jettisoned shortly after takeoff for a suicide mission, recovered and reused. Officers such as Minoru Genda, Tadashi Minobe and Yoshio Shiga, refused to obey the policy. Firsthand interviews with surviving kamikaze and escort pilots has revealed that they were motivated by a desire to protect their families from perceived atrocities and possible extinction at the hands of the Allies. It is not clear that this was a planned suicide attack, and official Japanese accounts of Arima's attack bore little resemblance to the actual events. Entering a smoke stack was also said to be "effective". The crashing action which simultaneously kills the enemy and oneself without fail is called the Special Attack ... Every Japanese is capable of becoming a member of the Special Attack Corps. Doris Gardner is pictured second from the left. USS LAFFEY (DD 724) Launched November 21, 1943 Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine Commissioned February 8, 1944 U.S. personnel gave them the derisive nickname "Baka Bombs" (baka is Japanese for "idiot" or "stupid"). , One source claims that the first kamikaze mission occurred on 13 September 1944. In the immediate aftermath of kamikaze strikes, British carriers with their armoured flight decks recovered more quickly compared to their US counterparts. ", When the volunteers arrived for duty in the corps, there were twice as many persons as aircraft available. By 17:00, Corsairs were able to land. Allied pilots were more experienced, better trained and in command of superior aircraft, making the poorly trained kamikaze pilots easy targets. Ensign Mitsuo Ohta had suggested that piloted glider bombs, carried within range of targets by a mother plane, should be developed. But as she was standing near her medicine cabinet loading a syringe with penicillin, she felt a jolt unlike any before. , On 17 October 1944, Allied forces assaulted Suluan Island, beginning the Battle of Leyte Gulf.  First Lieutenant Fusata Iida's plane had taken a hit and had started leaking fuel when he apparently used it to make a suicide attack on Naval Air Station Kaneohe.  The speedy Ohkas presented a very difficult problem for anti-aircraft fire, since their velocity made fire control extremely difficult. On 6 April 1945, waves of aircraft made hundreds of attacks in Operation Kikusui ("floating chrysanthemums"). Two 100 kg (220 lb) bombs were attached to two fighters, and the pilots took off before dawn, planning to crash into carriers. They protected the south-western flank of the American fleet during the campaign. Kamikaze Attacks Not New to Warfare . He also wrote: "I was hit so hard that I could no longer see and fell on the floor. Humble Heroes: How the USS Nashville CL43 Fought WWII by Steven George Bustin Privately published, 2007, 205 pages. While Vice Admiral Shigeru Fukudome, commander of the second air fleet, was inspecting the 341st Air Group, Captain Okamura took the chance to express his ideas on crash-dive tactics. In a 2004 book, World War II, the historians Willmott, Cross and Messenger stated that more than 70 U.S. vessels were "sunk or damaged beyond repair" by kamikazes. Japanese Kamikaze attacks - numbering close to 3,000 - against the Allies netted between thirty-five and sixty ships sunk with nearly 5,000 lives claimed. Axell and Kase see these suicides as "individual, impromptu decisions by men who were mentally prepared to die". Many warships of all classes were damaged, some severely, but no aircraft carriers, battleships or cruisers were sunk by kamikaze at Okinawa.  Saburō Sakai said: "We never dared to question orders, to doubt authority, to do anything but immediately carry out all the commands of our superiors. Kamikaze pilots sank or damaged hundreds of ships during the latter part of the war. Five A6M Zeros, led by Seki, were escorted to the target by leading Japanese ace Hiroyoshi Nishizawa, and attacked several escort carriers. A Japanese plane plunging downwards during a Kamikaze attack . The sergeant major was posthumously promoted to second lieutenant by the emperor and was enshrined at Yasukuni. Its capture provided adequate forward bases that enabled U.S. air forces using the Boeing B-29 Superfortress to strike at the Japanese home islands. "In our present situation I firmly believe that the only way to swing the war in our favor is to resort to crash-dive attacks with our planes. Lo – were followed by an immediate expansion of the program, and over the next few months over 2,000 planes made such attacks. "So eager were many minimally trained pilots to take part in suicide missions that when their sorties were delayed or aborted, the pilots became deeply despondent. , In Japanese, the formal term used for units carrying out suicide attacks during 1944–1945 is tokubetsu kōgekitai (特別攻撃隊), which literally means "special attack unit". Even during his time in World War II, which featured an encounter with a kamikaze, Wellington Mara remained concerned about the Giants. Inside the post-surgical ward of the USS Comfort, Howard began her 12-hour night shift treating some of the 517 patients aboard the ship. Residents on Kikaishima Island, east of Amami Ōshima, say that pilots from suicide-mission units dropped flowers from the air as they departed on their final missions. During World War II, the pronunciation kamikaze was used only informally in the Japanese press in relation to suicide attacks, but after the war this usage gained acceptance worldwide and was re-imported into Japan. Suicide-mission pilots looked over their shoulders to see the mountain, the southernmost on the Japanese mainland, said farewell to their country and saluted the mountain. About 19% of kamikaze attacks were successful. U.S. This will also enable you to concentrate your attention on eradicating the enemy with unwavering determination, meanwhile reinforcing your excellence in flight skills. Kamikaze aircraft were essentially pilot-guided explosive missiles, purpose-built or converted from conventional aircraft. As rescue teams searched the wreckage and doused the fires, the abandon ship order was rescinded. Two others dove at USS Fanshaw Bay but were destroyed by anti-aircraft fire.  These names were taken from a patriotic death poem, Shikishima no Yamato-gokoro wo hito towaba, asahi ni niou yamazakura bana by the Japanese classical scholar, Motoori Norinaga. Daikichi Irokawa, who trained at Tsuchiura Naval Air Base, recalled that he "was struck on the face so hard and frequently that [his] face was no longer recognizable". Tropical diseases, as well as shortages of spare parts and fuel, made operations more and more difficult for the IJNAS. How Japan's Kamikaze Attacks Went From Last Resort at Pearl Harbor to WWII Strategy. Ships Sunk or Damaged during 1945", "History and Technology - Kamikaze Damage to US and British Carriers - NavWeaps", Dr Richard P. Hallion, 1999, "Precision Weapons, Power Projection, and The Revolution In Military Affairs", "Advice to Japanese kamikaze pilots during the second world war", "The Hindu : International : A "Japanese hero" goes home", "Ore wa, kimi no tame ni koso shini ni iku (2007) – IMDb", Imperial Japanese Army General Staff Office, Imperial Rescript to Soldiers and Sailors, Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, German pre–World War II industrial co-operation, International Military Tribunal for the Far East, Japanese dissidence in 20th-century Imperial Japan, Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Kamikaze&oldid=991963561, Aerial operations and battles of World War II, Military history of Japan during World War II, Wikipedia articles needing page number citations from November 2020, Wikipedia articles needing page number citations from September 2010, Short description is different from Wikidata, Articles containing Japanese-language text, Articles with unsourced statements from December 2015, Articles with unsourced statements from March 2020, Articles with unsourced statements from March 2018, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. As the end of the war approached, the Allies did not suffer more serious significant losses, despite having far more ships and facing a greater intensity of kamikaze attacks. Eight personnel were killed and 47 were wounded. There are a total of 22 ] WW2 Japanese Kamikaze Aircraft entries in the Military Factory. On 25 October 1944, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the Kamikaze Special Attack Force carried out its first mission. by a kamikaze forward of its aft elevator on 25 October), Santee and the smaller escorts USS White Plains, Kalinin Bay and Kitkun Bay. On 20 March, the submarine USS Devilfish survived a hit from an aircraft just off Japan. and locations (including the Second Front and that irresistible but deceptive Soft Underbelly). The sinking of the ocean tug USS Sonoma on 24 October is listed in some sources as the first ship lost to a kamikaze strike, but the attack occurred before 25 October, and the aircraft used, a Mitsubishi G4M, was not flown by the original four Special Attack Squadrons. Overall, the kamikazes were not able to turn the tide of the war and stop the Allied invasion. As Allied forces made their final push toward Japan in April 1945, the U.S. Navy hospital ship joined the invasion force at the Battle of Okinawa. The Bulge!) When a kamikaze hits a Limey carrier it's just a case of 'Sweepers, man your brooms'.". Bunker Hill and Franklin were both hit while conducting operations with fully fueled and armed aircraft spotted on deck for takeoff, an extremely vulnerable state for any carrier. Seafires were heavily involved in countering the kamikaze attacks during the Iwo Jima landings and beyond. Neighbors and the destroyer USS Leutze were part of several battles before a kamikaze attack … By 1945, large numbers of anti-aircraft shells with radio frequency proximity fuzes, on average seven times more effective than regular shells, became available, and the U.S. Navy recommended their use against kamikaze attacks. U.S. carriers also suffered considerably heavier casualties from kamikaze strikes; for instance, 389 men were killed in one attack on USS Bunker Hill, greater than the combined number of fatalities suffered on all six Royal Navy armoured carriers from all forms of attack during the entire war. During the invasion of Okinawa, the British Pacific Fleet’s job was the Sakishima Islands, which are located about midway between Taiwan and Okinawa. While many stories were falsified, some were true, such as that of Kiyu Ishikawa, who saved a Japanese ship when he crashed his plane into a torpedo that an American submarine had launched. The kamikaze were escorted by other pilots whose function was to protect them en route to their destination and report on the results. I only weighed 85 pounds. , Before the formation of kamikaze units, pilots had made deliberate crashes as a last resort when their planes had suffered severe damage and they did not want to risk being captured, or wanted to do as much damage to the enemy as possible, since they were crashing anyway. Allied pilots became adept at destroying enemy aircraft before they struck ships. In spite of her injuries, Howard refused to abandon her post or the servicemen in her care, even with the orders to abandon ship. There is no other way. The unit was equipped with Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki ("Tojo") fighters, whose pilots were instructed to collide with United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) B-29s approaching Japan. , A Japanese monoplane that made a record-breaking flight from Tokyo to London in 1937 for the Asahi newspaper group was named Kamikaze. Provide me with 300 planes and I will turn the tide of war. In total, seven carriers were hit, as well as 40 other ships (five sunk, 23 heavily damaged and 12 moderately damaged). A long steel splinter speared down through the hangar deck and the main boiler room (where it ruptured a steam line) before coming to rest in a fuel tank near the aircraft park, where it started a major fire. A Foreign Office official named Toshikazu Kase said: "It was customary for GHQ [in Tokyo] to make false announcements of victory in utter disregard of facts, and for the elated and complacent public to believe them.". Most of the ships lost were destroyers or smaller vessels, especially those on picket duty. In 1945 it was crippled after a kamikaze attack. Tokkōtai pilot training, as described by Takeo Kasuga, generally "consisted of incredibly strenuous training, coupled with cruel and torturous corporal punishment as a daily routine". “And over the loudspeaker came the call, ‘Abandon ship! “I had to grab a stool because the ship was shaking,” recalls Howard, who turned 100 years of age in 2020. According to a U.S. Navy report, a kamikaze had been shot down within 75 yards of the bow of the ship on April 6 and three bombs were dropped near the ship on April 9 but missed their mark. Now wounded itself, the crippled hospital ship sailed to Guam and received temporary repairs before continuing on to California. Taking a break onboard the U.S.S. Despite radar detection and cuing, airborne interception, attrition, and massive anti-aircraft barrages, 14 percent of Kamikazes survived to score a hit on a ship; nearly 8.5 percent of all ships hit by Kamikazes sank.. Gordon says that the Warners and Seno included ten ships that did not sink. Seki became the 24th kamikaze pilot to be chosen. Before taking off, he had told his men that if his plane were to become badly damaged he would crash it into a "worthy enemy target". Some were unable to stand up and were carried and pushed into the plane by maintenance soldiers.  But in most cases, little evidence exists that such hits represented more than accidental collisions of the kind that sometimes happen in intense sea or air battles. Although international law forbade attacks on hospital ships, it appeared the USS Comfort was deliberately targeted, perhaps in retaliation for the torpedoing of the unarmed Japanese vessel Awa Maru, which had been declared a Red Cross relief ship. The Imperial Japanese Navy's 1st Air Fleet, based at Manila, was assigned the task of assisting the Japanese ships that would attempt to destroy Allied forces in Leyte Gulf. During the northern hemisphere winter of 1944–45, the IJAAF formed the 47th Air Regiment, also known as the Shinten Special Unit (Shinten Seiku Tai) at Narimasu Airfield, Nerima, Tokyo, to defend the Tokyo Metropolitan Area. The task facing the Japanese air forces seemed impossible. Commissioned in 1944, the second USS Comfort ferried injured servicemen from the Pacific Theater battlefields to field hospitals in Australia, New Guinea and the United States. I struggled to get up.” When help arrived, Howard also discovered that she had lost her hearing. Twice a week we compile our most fascinating features and deliver them straight to you. This stigma began to diminish some 50 years after the war as scholars and publishers began to distribute the survivors' stories. The kamikaze, along with all Japanese aviators flying over unfriendly territory, were issued (or purchased, if they were officers) a Nambu pistol with which to end their lives if they risked being captured. We tried to live with 120 percent intensity, rather than waiting for death. Howard earned a Women’s Army Corps Service Medal and Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal for her service, which left her with permanent pain in her spine and damage in her left ear.  Japanese planners had assumed a quick war and lacked comprehensive programmes to replace the losses of ships, pilots and sailors; and Midway; the Solomon Islands campaign (1942–1945) and the New Guinea campaign (1942–1945), notably the Battles of Eastern Solomons (August 1942); and Santa Cruz (October 1942), decimated the IJNAS veteran aircrews, and replacing their combat experience proved impossible.. Army Nurse First Lieutenant Mary Jensen of San Diego, California, looks up through the hole in the concrete and steel deck of the Navy hospital ship Comfort, punctured when a Japanese suicide pilot dive-crashed into the ship off Okinawa with his bomb-laden plane. By the Battle of the Philippine Sea (June 1944), the Japanese had to make do with obsolete aircraft and inexperienced aviators in the fight against better-trained and more experienced US Navy airmen who flew radar-directed combat air patrols. ", Commander Asaichi Tamai asked a group of 23 talented student pilots, all of whom he had trained, to volunteer for the special attack force. In 1942, when U.S. Navy vessels were scarce, the temporary absence of key warships from the combat zone would tie up operational initiatives. Their motivations in "volunteering" were complex and not simply about patriotism or bringing honour to their families. Reportedly, the first kamikaze operation of the war occurred during the Battle of the Leyte Gulf in the Philippines.. After a mission had been planned, the pilots of the “Special Attack Corps” received a slip of paper with three options: to volunteer out of a … Masafumi Arima Invented The Kamikaze Strategy. Many of the kamikaze pilots believed their death would pay the debt they owed and show the love they had for their families, friends and emperor. , The resilience of well-armoured vessels was shown on 4 May, just after 11:30, when there was a wave of suicide attacks against the British Pacific Fleet. The "USS Nevada," despite an escort and efforts to fight off a Kamikaze attack, sustained such a hit in early 1945 off the coast of Japan. The tradition of death instead of defeat, capture and shame was deeply entrenched in Japanese military culture; one of the primary values in the samurai life and the Bushido code was loyalty and honor until death. In the final moments before the crash, the pilot was to yell "hissatsu" (必殺) at the top of his lungs, which translates to "certain kill" or "sink without fail".. Although these floating hospitals embark on missions of mercy, they have also become casualties of war. , The tokkōtai pilot's manual also explained how a pilot may turn back if he could not locate a target, and that a pilot "should not waste [his] life lightly". Some kamikazes were able to hit their targets even after their aircraft were crippled. This article is from the May 2009 issue of WWII History Magazine . One man, in particular, is credited with inventing the tactic of Kamikaze attacks. Yasukuni is the only shrine deifying common men which the Emperor would visit to pay his respects. There will be more than enough volunteers for this chance to save our country, and I would like to command such an operation. The British were able to clear the flight deck and resume flight operations in just hours, while their American counterparts took a few days or even months, as observed by a U.S. Navy liaison officer on HMS Indefatigable who commented: "When a kamikaze hits a U.S. carrier it means six months of repair at Pearl Harbor.
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