Thursday, November 24, 2005

November 24, 1944

November 24, 1944

The Los Angeles Times for Nov. 24, 1944 reported:

WASHINGTON, Nov. 24 (Friday.) (U.P.)—A force of perhaps 100 B-29 Superfortress planes, mightiest in the world, bombed Tokyo by broad daylight today, opening a planned two-way aerial offensive from the Marianas Islands and China aimed at softening the heart of the Japanese homeland for the final American invasion.

[See a Universal newsreel here.]

LA Times 11-24-44 mapThe attack was made by the new 21st Bomber Command of the 20th Air Force by planes based on Saipan in the Marianas Islands 1550 miles south-southeast of Tokyo.

It was the first attack on Tokyo since Gen. James Doolittle's flyers bombed it more than two years ago.

"The battle for Japan has been joined,'' Gen. Henry H. Arnold, commander-in-chief of the global 20th Air Force and chieftain of all Army Air Forces, said in a special report to President Roosevelt.

"This operation is in no sense a hit-and-run raid. It is a calculated extension of our air power ... No part of the Japanese Empire is now out of our range, no war factory too remote to feel our bombs . . .

Hit City at Noon

"The systematic demolition of Japan's war production, begun six months ago from China bases, henceforth will be carried out with decisive vigor, softening up the Japanese heart for the ultimate invasion by combined United Nations land, sea and air forces."

It was noon Tokyo time when the giant Superforts, capable of carrying a 10-ton bomb load, roared in over the sprawling, flimsily built enemy capital, heart of the enemy spider web which had spread its now disintegrating network over a vast area from the Central Pacific to equatorial Southeast Asia.

The Superforts hit at war industry targets, plotted in advance.

Tokyo Version on Raid

Some four hours after the attack Japan acknowledged that a strong force of Superfortresses had dropped bombs on Tokyo.

Tokyo radio said the Superfortresses "failed to attain any tangible results" due to "effective interceptions."

The broadcast said the bombers appeared shortly after noon, Tokyo time, "in ten odd groups, each comprising several bombers."

The broadcast acknowledged that bombs and incendiaries were dropped in the southern and northern outskirts of the capital city. "Residential sections, including one hospital" were slightly damaged, the enemy broadcast asserted.


Industries Blasted

The communique issued by Gen. Arnold in his capacity of commanding general of the 20th Air Force said:

"A sizable task force of B-29 aircraft of the 20th Air Force today attacked industrial targets in Tokyo.

"The mission was a daylight operation by the newly established 21st Bomber Command under command of Brig. Gen. H. S. Hansell Jr., from bases on Saipan.

"A communique covering this operation will be issued when further details are available."

Rock Heart of Japan

Besides the communique and his report to the President, Gen. Arnold issued the following statement:

"The 20th Air Force today rocked the heart of Japan with bombs from a mighty new task force of B-29 aircraft based on Saipan.

''The mission was accomplished by Gen. Hansell's 21st Bomber Command. Its vigor should be convincing proof that these far Pacific Islands, captured by our Army and Navy at great cost in men and materiel, have been put to the greatest possible use. Tokyo's war industries have been badly hurt by a blow made possible by the Americans who fought and died for the Marianas.

"Now, as our American factories feed the voracious appetite of our B-29's with replacements and bombs, we will pound Japan's war machine out of existence."

Double Blow Seen

"With Gen Le May's 20th Bomber Command in China and Hansell's 21st Bomber Command on Saipan, we may now strike at Japan from two directions, and sustain the attack until the destructlon of her war industries has been completed.

"No matter where the Japanese may try to hide their factories, we will seek them out and destroy them. We are going to do just that. Japan has sowed the wind, now let it reap the whirlwind."

The work of building the air fields in the Marianas was started at almost the moment the last organized enemy resistance ceased in those islands now held by the United States. Saipan was secured on July 8 and Guam a few weeks later.

The 21st Bomber Command was activated on March 8 this year and started training at Smoky Hill Alr Base, Salina, Kansas, a few weeks later.

In addition to the shortened distance for operations against Japan the new bases in the Marianas have a great logistics advantage over operatlons from the China bases.

One of the big handicaps that had to be overcome in operating from China was supply—all fuel bombs and other material had to be flown in from India until extension of an oil line into Burma shortened some of the supply route.


Anyway, if I'm not mistaken this is the last diary entry that concerns the war, which is just fine by me. Happy Thanksgiving to us all.


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