Operation AI

It was seventy years ago today . . .

Nation pauses to remember Pearl Harbor

Survivors of the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor gathered Wednesday to remember the 2,400 people who lost their lives exactly 70 years ago.

“Just as every day and unlike any other day, we stop and stand fast in memory of our heroes of Pearl Harbor and the Second World War,” Rear Adm. Frank Ponds, commander for Navy region Hawaii, told the gathering.

U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus took note of the devastating legacy of the two-hour attack on Pearl Harbor 70 years ago.

“The history of December 7, 1941, is indelibly imprinted on the memory of every American who was alive that day. But it bears repeating on every anniversary, so that every subsequent generation will know what happened here today and never forget,” Mabus said.

See also:
Nation marks 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor Day: Survivors remember attack, pay respects on 70th anniversary
Nation marks 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor
Survivors, veterans mark somber Pearl Harbor remembrance
Pearl Harbor survivor remembers day of infamy
Senator Inouye Recalls Pearl Harbor Attack’s ‘Black Puffs of Explosion’
Pearl Harbor survivors group says it will disband
Veteran Of Pearl Harbor Dies On Anniversary Of Attack
Pearl Harbor survivors return to ships after death
Pearl Harbor survivors who lived until their 90s have their ashes interred in their ships
Overview of The Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941
Attack at Pearl Harbor, 1941
Attack on Pearl Harbor

Never forget.

/and more importantly, never let it happen again

All Great Wars Must Come To An End

No one can accuse Germany of not finishing the wars they start.

Germany Closes Book on World War I With Final Reparations Payment

Germany will make its last reparations payment for World War I on Oct. 3, settling its outstanding debt from the 1919 Versailles Treaty and quietly closing the final chapter of the conflict that shaped the 20th century.

Oct. 3, the 20th anniversary of German unification, will also mark the completion of the final chapter of World War I with the end of reparations payments 92 years after the country’s defeat.

The German government will pay the last instalment of interest on foreign bonds it issued in 1924 and 1930 to raise cash to fulfil the enormous reparations demands the victorious Allies made after World War I.

The reparations bankrupted Germany in the 1920s and the fledgling Nazi party seized on the resulting public resentment against the terms of the Versailles Treaty.

The sum was initially set at 269 billion gold marks, around 96,000 tons of gold, before being reduced to 112 billion gold marks by 1929, payable over a period of 59 years.

Germany suspended annual payments in 1931 during the global financial crisis and Adolf Hitler unsurprisingly declined to resume them when he came to power in 1933.

But in 1953, West Germany agreed at an international conference in London to service its international bond obligations from before World War II. In the years that followed it repaid the principal on the bonds, which had been issued to private and institutional investors in countries including the United States.

Under the terms of the London accord, Germany was allowed to wait until it unified before paying some €125 million in outstanding interest that had accrued on its foreign debt in the years 1945 to 1952. After the Berlin Wall fell and West and East Germany united in 1990, the country dutifully paid that interest off in annual instalments, the last of which comes due on Oct. 3.

See also:
Germany to pay off its WWI reparations debt Oct. 3
Germany finishes paying WWI reparations, ending century of ‘guilt’
Germany finishes paying WWI reparations, ending century of ‘guilt’
‘Germany makes final payment for WWI reparations’
Germany to settle last World War One debt
Germany pays off WWI debt
Germany set to pay off last WW1 reparations
Germany to finally clear WW-I reparations
Why has Germany taken so long to pay off its WWI debt?
World War I reparations

It’s king of ironic that Germany, the loser of two world wars, can afford to pay off it’s 100 year old debt in full, while the United States, the winner of those two world wars, continues to dig a bottomless debt hole that we may never be able to climb out of.

/think maybe Germany can spare $14 trillion?

Operation Iceberg

It was 65 years ago today . . .

Battle of Okinawa: Operation Iceberg

When two United States Marine and two Army divisions landed abreast on Okinawa on Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945, they faced an estimated 155,000 Japanese ground, air and naval troops holding an immense island on which an estimated 500,000 civilians lived in cities, towns and villages. Operation Iceberg was to be, in every way, vast when compared to any other operation undertaken by Allied forces in the Pacific War under U.S. Navy command. Indeed, using mainly divisions that had already undertaken island-hopping operations in the South and Central Pacific since mid-1942, the U.S. Pacific Fleet stood up the Tenth U.S. Army under Lieutenant General Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr., consisting of III Amphibious Corps and XXIV Army Corps — the largest land command ever assembled under the Navy’s direct control.

To those Japanese who thought the war was winnable, Okinawa was the last chance. The island lay within 350 miles — easy flight distance — from the Japanese homeland and was, by American design, to be the base from which the southernmost Home Island, Kyushu, would be pummeled to dust ahead of the expected follow-on invasion. Anything short of complete victory over Allied air, naval and ground forces spelled doom for Japan — and no such victory was remotely in the cards. Thus, from the Japanese view Okinawa was and could be no more than a delaying battle of attrition on a grand scale. The few Japanese who knew that their country’s war effort was in extremis were content to fight on Okinawa simply for reasons of honor, for all military logic pointed to the same dismal conclusion: Japan was vanquished in all but name as soon as the first Boeing B-29s left the ground in the Marianas, as soon as American carrier aircraft hit targets in Japan at will, as soon as even twin-engine bombers could strike Japanese ports from Iwo Jima, as soon as Japan dared not move a warship or cargo vessel from a port in any part of the shrinking empire for fear it would be sunk by an Allied submarine. By April 1, 1945, all those events were taking place routinely.

Although the Japanese commanders counted 155,000 defenders, of whom 100,000 were soldiers of Lt. Gen. Mitsuru Ushijima’s Thirty-second Army, the rest were of widely mixed abilities, and there were not nearly enough troops to cover the ground the way 23,000 troops had covered Iwo Jima. Therefore the forces on Okinawa were concentrated in a number of sectors that offered the best prospects for a robust, attritional defense. The northern half of the island was virtually conceded, and the south was turned into four extremely tough hedgehog defense sectors. The proportion of artillery and mortars to infantry was the highest encountered in the Pacific War.

Coming to put their defense arrangement to the test was the Tenth Army. The new 6th Marine Division (1st Provisional Marine Brigade plus the 29th Marines and attachments) would land over the northernmost beaches on the western side of Okinawa a little south of the island’s midpoint. It was to strike across the island, then turn north to pacify a little more than half of Okinawa on its own. To the right, the 1st Marine Division was also to strike across the island, then become part of the Tenth Army reserve. The Army’s 7th and 96th Infantry divisions were to land side by side in the southern half of the Tenth Army beachhead and pivot south to cover the width of the island. Also on April 1, the III Amphibious Corps’ (IIIAC) reserve, the 2nd Marine Division, made a feint toward a set of beaches in southeastern Okinawa. This feint was in line with where the Japanese predicted the main landing would take place, so for once a feint actually held large numbers of defenders in place looking the wrong way. Other units, including the Fleet Marine Force’s Pacific Reconnaissance Battalion, were assigned objectives elsewhere in the Ryukyu Islands, most of which were taken or at least assaulted before what was dubbed L-day on Okinawa.

Immediate objectives were Yontan and Kadena airfields, in the IIIAC and XXIV Corps zones, respectively. As soon as these airfields could be brought to operational status, combat-support aircraft would operate from them. Also, many aircraft carriers would remain on station off Okinawa for as long as their air groups were needed. The land-based component was a Marine command named the Tactical Air Force and consisting of several Marine air groups of fighters and light bombers. Marine fighter squadrons based aboard fleet carriers and several new Marine carrier air groups (fighters and torpedo bombers) based aboard escort carriers would be available throughout the land operation.

The landings were made against zero opposition and with almost no casualties. Far from going into a state of optimism, however, the many veterans in the assault force realized that a very hard road lay before them, that the Japanese had chosen to dig deep and fight on their own terms.

Yontan Airfield fell by midmorning, after Marines overcame very light opposition along the juncture of the 1st and 6th Marine divisions. Reinforcements moved to fill gaps that developed due to rapid advances by the 4th, 7th and 22nd Marines. Marines of the 1st Division captured an intact bridge across a stream at the IIIAC-XXIV Corps boundary and overcame hastily built field fortifications all across the division front. Divisional and IIIAC artillery battalions landed routinely, and many batteries were providing fire by 1530 hours. The IIIAC advance halted between 1600 and 1700 to avoid more gaps and to help the Marines on the far right maintain contact with the 7th Infantry Division, whose left flank outpaced the 1st Marine Division right-flank unit by several hundred yards. The halt also gave artillery units outpaced by the rapid advance time to move forward and register night defensive fires.

Basically, all of L-day’s headaches arose from the light-to-nonexistent defensive effort, and not the usual spate of battle problems. Both airfields, Kadena and Yontan, were firmly in American hands by nightfall, and engineers were already at work to get them operational in the shortest possible time.

See also:
Chapter I: Operation Iceberg
Operation Iceberg: The Assault on Okinawa – The Last Battle of World War II (Part 1) April – June 1945
Operation Iceberg: The Assault on Okinawa – The Last Battle of World War II (Part 2) April – June 1945
Battle of Okinawa
Operation Iceberg – Okinawa Invasion
Operation Iceberg: The Battle of Okinawa

Although the initial landings were practically unopposed, the fight for Okinawa quickly deteriorated into a nightmare.

The Battle of Okinawa, which began on Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945, and lasted for three months, was a descent into hell. At no place, at no time, was combat worse than on Okinawa – not at Gettysburg, not in the trenches in World War I, not on the Eastern Front in World War II, not on Iwo Jima. Losses were dreadful: 12,520 U.S. dead, 36,631 wounded; 110,071 Japanese soldiers killed, 7,401 captured (almost all badly wounded); and 140,000 Okinawan civilians dead.

As horrific as the Battle of Okinawa was, Operation Downfall, the invasion of the Japanese mainland, would have been far worse by many orders of magnitude.

/so, don’t let anyone tell you that the U.S. dropping of the two atomic bombs didn’t save lives, on both sides

65 Years Ago Today

/US Army Signal Corps

CHAPTER 20 CHRISTMAS EVE

CHRISTMAS EVE WAS QUIET. The commanders and staffs took official notice of the occasion. To all of the command posts within Bastogne went a G-2 reminder from the 101st’s chief joker, Colonel Danahy. It was a sitrep overlay in red, white and green, the red outlining the enemy positions completely encircling the town and the green showing only in the words “Merry Christmas” across the position held by the defenders.1 (Map 18, page 156.)

General McAuliffe also rose to the occasion with an inspired communiqué in which he told his men about the German demand for surrender and his answer to them. The rest of his Christmas message read as follows:

What’s merry about all this, you ask? We’re fighting, it’s cold, we aren’t home. All true, but what has the proud Eagle Division accomplished with its worthy comrades of the 10th Armored Division, the 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion and all the rest? Just this: We have stopped cold everything that has been thrown at us from the north, east, south and west. We have identifications from four German panzer divisions, two German infantry divisions and one German parachute division. These units, spearheading the last desperate German lunge, were heading straight west for key points when the Eagle Division was hurriedly ordered to stem the advance. How effectively this was done will be written in history; not alone in our Division’s glorious history but in world history. The Germans actually did surround us, their radios blared our doom. Allied troops are counterattacking in force. We continue to hold Bastogne. By holding Bastogne we assure the success of the Allied armies. We know that our Division commander, General Taylor, will say: “Well done!” We are giving our country and our loved ones at home a worthy Christmas present and being privileged to take part in this gallant feat of arms are truly making for ourselves a merry Christmas.2

Privately, on the phone that night to General Middleton, McAuliffe expressed his true feeling about Christmas in these words:

Map 18
“The finest Christmas present the 101st could get would be a relief tomorrow.”

But General McAuliffe’s greeting to his troops proved to be in every part a prophetic utterance though the quiet of Christmas Eve did not last for long.

That night the town was bombed twice. During the first raid, in the late evening, a bomb landed on the hospital of the 20th Armored Infantry Battalion near the intersection of the main roads from Arlon and Neufchâteau. It caved in the roof, burying 20 patients and killing a Belgian woman who was serving as a nurse. Another bomb landed on the headquarters of Combat Command B, doing heavy damage and knocking down the Christmas tree in the message center. The men set up the tree again, and in an elaborate ceremony, one of the sergeants pinned the Purple Heart on a mangled doll.2A

Except for those bombings Christmas Eve passed without unusual pressure from the enemy. (Plate 35 A and B.) The journal entries of the different regiments all use the word “quiet” in describing the period. But that is a word that simply does not record the tumult in the thoughts and emotions of the men of Bastogne. Such was their reaction to the Christmas and to the memories surrounding it, that for the first time all around the perimeter men felt fearful. It seemed to them that the end was at hand. That night many of them shook hands with their comrades. They said to one another that it would probably be their last night together. Many of the commanders saw this happening, though they knew it had little relation to the still strong tactical situation.2B (Map 19, page 158, shows the situation.)

In the 502d Parachute Infantry the officers heard Christmas Eve Mass in the tenth-century chapel of the beautiful Rolle Château (plate 34) which they were using for a command post.” It was a happy occasion, well attended by the neighboring Belgians who had rounded out the regimental messes with contributions of flour and sides of beef from their own stores.4

. . .

See also:
Bastogne: The Story Of The First Eight Days In Which The 101st Airborne Division Was Closed Within The Ring Of German Forces
Bastogne: The Story Of The First Eight Days In Which The 101st Airborne Division Was Closed Within The Ring Of German Forces (Hardcover)
Bastogne – Dec. 1944, a journal
Siege of Bastogne

And you think you have problems?

/take a few moments today to give prayers and thanks for those troops, away from home on Christmas Eve, past, present, and future, who have sacrificed and will sacrifice to defend and protect your uniquely American way of life, freedom isn’t free