I concur with the last two lines of this
piece of history. May make it my Logo of life.
On Sat, 16 Sep 2006 20:12:07 -0700, "Brig Gen R. Clements USAF
Deep in the recesses of the National Archives in Washington,
for nearly four decades lie thousands of pages of
yellowing and dusty
documents stamped "Top Secret". These
documents, now declassified, are the plans for Operation Downfall,
the invasion of Japan during World War II.
Only a few Americans in 1945 were aware of the elaborate plans
that had been prepared for the Allied Invasion of the Japanese home
islands. Even fewer today are aware of the defenses the Japanese had
prepared to counter the invasion had it been launched.
Operation Downfall was finalized during the spring and summer of
1945. It called for two massive military undertakings to be carried
out in succession and aimed at the heart of the Japanese Empire.
In the first invasion - code named "Operation Olympic"- American
combat troops would land on Japan by amphibious assault during the
early morning hours of November 1, 1945 - 61 years ago. Fourteen
combat divisions of soldiers and Marines would land on heavily
fortified and defended Kyushu, the southernmost of the Japanese home
islands, after an unprecedented naval and aerial bombardment.
The second invasion on March 1, 1946 - code named "Operation
Coronet"- would send at least 22 divisions against 1 million
Japanese defenders on the main island of Honshu and the Tokyo Plain.
It's goal: the unconditional surrender of Japan.
With the exception of a part of the British Pacific Fleet,
was to be a strictly American operation. It
called for using the entire Marine
Corps, the entire Pacific
Navy, elements of the 7th Army Air Force, the 8 Air
(recently redeployed from Europe), 10th Air Force and the American
Far Eastern Air F orce. More than 1.5 million combat soldiers, with
3 million more in support or more than 40% of all servicemen still
in uniform in 1945 - would be directly involved in the two
amphibious assaults.Casualties were expected to be extremely
Admiral William Leahy estimated that there would be more than
Americans killed or wounded on Kyushu alone. General
chief of intelligence for General Douglas
MacArthur, the Supreme Commander of the Southwest Pacific, estimated
American casualties would be one million men by the fall of 1946.
Willoughby's own intelligence staff considered this to be a
During the summer of 1945, America had little time to prepare for
endeavor, but top military leaders were in almost
unanimous agreement that
an invasion was necessary.
While naval blockade and strategic bombing of Japan was
considered to be
useful, General MacArthur, for instance, did n
ot believe a blockade would bring about an unconditional surrender.
The advocates for invasion agreed
that while a naval blockade
chokes, it does not kill; and though strategic
destroy cities, it leaves whole armies intact.
So on May 25, 1945, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, after extensive
issued to General MacArthur, Admiral Chester
Nimitz, and Army Air Force
General Henry Arnold, the top secret
directive to proceed with the invasion
of Kyushu. The target date
was after the typhoon season.
President Truman approved the plans for the invasions July 24.
later, the United Nations issued the Potsdam
Proclamation, which called
upon Japan to surrender
unconditionally or face total destruction. Three days
Japanese governmental news agency broadcast to the world
Japan would ignore the proclamation and would refuse to
this sane period it was learned -- via
monitoring Japanese radio broadcasts --
that Japan had closed all
schools and mobilized its school children, was arming its civilian
population and was fortifying caves and building underground
Operation Olympic called for a four pronged assault on Kyushu.
was to seize and control the southern one-third of
that island and establish naval and air bases, to tighten the naval
blockade of the home islands, to destroy units of the main Japanese
army and to support the later invasion of the Tokyo Plain.
The preliminary invasion would began October 27 when the 40th
Division would land on a series of small islands west
and southwest of
Kyushu. At the same time, the 158th Regimental
Combat Team would invade and occupy a small island 28 miles south of
Kyushu. On these islands, seaplane bases would be established and
radar would be set up to provide advance air warning for the
invasion fleet, to serve as fighter direction centers for the
carrier-based aircraft and to provide an emergency anchorage for the
invasion fleet, should things not go well on the day of the
the invasion grew imminent, the massive firepower
of the Navy - the Third and
Fifth Fleets -- would approach Japan.
The Third Fleet, under Admiral William
"Bull" Halsey, with its
big guns and naval aircraft, would provide strategic
the operation against Honshu and Hokkaido. Halsey's fleet
be composed of battleships, heavy cruisers, destroyers,
dozens of support
ships and three fast carrier task groups. From
these carriers, hundreds of
Navy fighters, dive bombers and
torpedo planes would hit targets all over
the island of Honshu.
The 3,000 ship Fifth Fleet, under Admiral Raymond
carry the invasion troops.
Several days before the invasion, the battleships, heavy cruisers
destroyers would pour thousands of tons of high explosives
into the target
areas. T hey would not cease the bombardment
until after the land forces had
been launched. During the early
morning hours of November 1, the invasion
would begin. Thousands
of soldiers and Marines would pour ashore on beaches all along the
eastern, southeastern, southern and western coasts of Kyushu. Waves
of Helldivers, Dauntless dive bombers, Avengers, Corsairs, and
Hellcats from 66 aircraft carriers would bomb, rocket and strafe
enemy defenses, gun emplacements and troop concentrations along the
The Eastern Assault Force consisting of the 25th, 33rd, and 41st
Divisions, would land near Miyaski, at beaches called
Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, and Ford, and move
inland to attempt to
capture the city and its nearby airfield.
The Southern Assault Force,
consisting of the 1st Cavalry
Division, the 43rd Division and Americal
Division would land
inside Ariake Bay at beaches labeled DeSoto, Dusenberg, Essex, Ford,
and Franklin and attempt to capture Shibushi and the city of Kanoya
and its airfield.
On the western shore of Kyushu, at beaches Pontiac, Reo, Rolls
Saxon, Star, Studebaker, Stutz, Winston and Zephyr, the V
Amphibious Corps would land the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th Marine Divisions,
sending half of its force inland to Sendai and the other half to the
port city of Kagoshima.
On November 4, the Reserve Force, consisting of the 81st and 98th
Divisions and the 11th Airborne Division, after feigning
an attack on the
island of Shikoku, would be landed -- if not
needed elsewhere -- near
Kaimondake, near the southernmost tip of
Kagoshima Bay, at the beaches
designated Locomobile, Lincoln,
LaSalle, Hupmobile, Moon, Mercedes,
Oldsmobile, Packard, and Plymouth.
Olympic was not just a plan for invasion, but for conquest and
as well. It was expected to take four months to
achieve its objective, with
the three fresh American divisions
per month to be landed in support of that
operation if needed. If
all went well with Olympic, Coronet would be launched
1,1946. Coronet would be twice the size of Olympic, with as many as
28 divisions landing on Honshu.
All along the coast east of Tokyo, the American 1st Army would
5th, 7th, 27th, 44th, 86th, and 96th Infantry
Divisions, along with the 4th and
6th Marine Divisions.
At Sagami Bay, just south of Tokyo, the entire 8th and 10th
strike north and east to clear the long western
shore of Tokyo Bay and
attempt to go as far as Yokohama. The
assault troops landing south of Tokyo
would be the 4th, 6th, 8th,
24th, 31st, 37th, 38th, and 8th Infantry
Divisions, along with
the 13th and 20th Armored Divisions.
Following the initial assault, eight more divisions - the 2nd,
91st, 95th, 97th, and 104th Infantry Divisions and
the 11th Airborne
Division -- would b e landed. If additional
troops were needed, as expected,
other divisions redeployed from
Europe and undergoing training in the
United States would be
shipped to Japan in what was hoped to be the final push.
Captured Japanese documents and post war interrogations of
military leaders disclose that information concerning
the number of Japanese
planes available for the defense of the
home islands was dangerously in error.
During the sea battle at Okinawa alone, Japanese Kamikaze
aircraft sank 32
Allied ships and damaged more than 400 others.
But during the summer of
1945, American top brass concluded that
the Japanese had spent their air
force since American bombers and
fighters daily flew unmolested over Japan.
What the military leaders did not know was that by the end of
Japanese had been saving all aircraft, fuel, and pilots
in reserve, and had
been feverishly building new planes for the
decisive battle for their
As part of Ketsu-Go, the name for the plan to defend Japan -- the
were building 20 suicide takeoff strips in southern
Kyushu with underground
hangars. They also had 35 camouflaged
airfields and nine seaplane bases.
On the night before the expected invasion, 50 Japanese seaplane
100 former carrier aircraft and 50 land based army
planes were to be launched in a suicide attack on the fleet.
The Japanese had 58 more airfields in Korea, western Honshu and
which also were to be used for massive suicide
Allied intelligence had established that the Japanese had no more
2,500 aircraft of which they guessed 300 would be deployed
in suicide attacks.
In August 1945, however, unknown to Allied intelligence, the
had 5,651 army and 7,074 navy aircraft, for a
total of 12,725 planes of
all types. Every village had some type
of aircraft manufacturing activity.
Hidden in mine s, railway
tunnels, under viaducts and in basements of
work was being done to construct new planes.
Additionally, the Japanese were building newer and more effective
the Okka, a rocket-propelled bomb much like the German
V-1, but flown by a
When the invasion became imminent, Ketsu-Go called for a fourfold
aerial plan of attack to destroy up to 800 Allied ships.
While Allied ships were approaching Japan, but still in the open
initial force of 2,000 army and navy fighters were to
fight to the death to
control the skies over Kyushu. A second
force of 330 navy combat pilots
were to attack the main body of
the task force to keep it from using its fire
support and air
cover to protect the troop carrying transports. While these
forces were engaged, a third force of 825 suicide planes was to hit
As the invasion convoys approached their anchorages, ano ther
planes were to be launched in waves of 200 to 300,
to be used in hour by
By mid-morning of the first day of the invasion, most of the
land-based aircraft would be forced to return to their
bases, leaving the
defense against the suicide planes to the
carrier pilots and the shipboard
gunners. Carrier pilots crippled
by fatigue would have to land time and time again to rearm and
refuel. Guns would malfunction from the heat of continuous firing
and ammunition would become scarce. Gun crews would be exhausted by
nightfall, but still the waves of kamikaze would continue. With the
hovering off the beaches, all remaining Japanese aircraft
would be committed
to nonstop suicide attacks, which the Japanese
hoped could be sustained
for 10 days. The Japanese planned to
coordinate their air strikes with
attacks from the 40 remaining
submarines from the Imperial Navy -- some
armed with Long Lance
tor pedoes with a range of 20 miles -- when the
was 180 miles off Kyushu.
The Imperial Navy had 23 destroyers and two cruisers which were
operational. These ships were to be used to counterattack the
American invasion. A number of the destroyers were to be beached at
the last minute to be used as anti-invasion gun platforms.
Once offshore, the invasion fleet would be forced to defend not
against the attacks from the air, but would also be
confronted with suicide
attacks from sea. Japan had established a
suicide naval attack unit of midget
submarines, human torpedoes
and exploding motorboats.
The goal of the Japanese was to shatter the invasion before the
Japanese were convinced the Americans would back off
or become so
demoralized that they would then accept a
and a more honorable and
face-saving end for the Japanese.
But as horrible as the battle of Japan would be off the beaches,
be on Japanese soil that the American forces would face
the most rugged and fanatical defense encountered during the
Throughout the island-hopping Pacific campaign, Allied troops had
out numbered the Japanese by 2 to 1 and sometimes 3 to 1.
In Japan it would be different. By virtue of a combination of
cunning, guesswork, and brilliant
military reasoning, a number of
Japan's top military leaders were able to
deduce, not only when,
but where, the United States would land its first
Facing the 14 American divisions landing at Kyushu would be 14
divisions, 7 independent mixed brigades, 3 tank brigades
and thousands of
naval troops. On Kyushu the odds would be 3 to 2
in favor of the Japanese,
with 790,000 enemy defenders against
550,000 Americans. This time the bulk of the Japanese defenders
would not be the poorly trained and ill-equipped labor battalions
that the Americans had faced in the earlier campaigns.
The Japanese defenders would be the hard core of the home army.
troops were well-fed and well equipped. They were familiar
with the terrain, had stockpiles of arms and ammunition, and had
developed an effective system of transportation and supply almost
invisible from the air. Many of these Japanese troops were the elite
of the army, and they were swollen with a fanatical fighting
Japan's network of beach defenses consisted of offshore mines,
suicide scuba divers attacking landing craft, and
mines planted on the
beaches. Coming ashore, the American Eastern
amphibious assault forces at
Miyazaki would face three Japanese
divisions, and two others poised for
counterattack. Awaiting the
Southeastern attack force at Ariake Bay was an
and at least one mixed infantry brigade.
On the western shores of Kyushu, the Marines would face the most
opposition. Along the invasion beaches would be the three
divisions, a tank brigade, a mixed infantry brigade and
an artillery command.
Components of two divisions would also be
poised to launch counterattacks.
If not needed to reinforce the primary landing beaches, the
Reserve Force would be landed at the base of Kagoshima
Bay November 4, where they would be confronted by two mixed infantry
brigades, parts of two infantry divisions and thousands of naval
All along the invasion beaches, American troops would face
batteries, anti-landing obstacles and a network of
pillboxes, bunkers, and underground fortresses.
As Americans waded ashore, they would face intense artillery and
mortar fire as they worked their way through concrete rubble and
barbed-wire entanglements arranged to funnel them into the muzzles
of these Japanese guns.
On the beaches and beyond would be hundreds of Japa nese machine
positions, beach mines, booby traps, trip-wire mines and
Suicide units concealed in "spider holes" would
engage the troops as they
passed nearby. In the heat of battle,
Japanese infiltration units would be
sent to reap havoc in the
American lines by cutting phone and communication
lines. Some of
the Japanese troops would be in American
English-speaking Japanese officers were assigned to
break in on American radio mtraffic to call off artillery fire, to
order retreats and to further confuse
troops. Other infiltration
with demolition charges strapped on their
chests or backs would
attempt to blow up American tanks, artillery pieces
ammunition stores as they were unloaded ashore.
Beyond the beaches were large artillery pieces situated to bring
curtain of fire on the beach. Some of these large guns
were mounted on
railroad tracks running in and out of caves
protected by concrete and
The battle for Japan would be won by what Simon Bolivar
lieutenant general in the Confederate army during the
Civil War, had called
"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
Marines who fought the Japanese on islands all over the
-- at Tarawa, Saipan, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
Prairie Dog Warfare was a battle for yards, feet and sometimes
was brutal, deadly and dangerous form of combat aimed
at an underground,
heavily fortified, non-retreating enemy.
In the mountains behind the Japanese beaches were underground
networks of caves, bunkers, command posts and hospitals connected by
miles of tunnels with dozens of entrances and exits. Some of these
complexes could hold up to 1,000 troops.
In addition to the use of poison gas and bacteriological warfare
Japanese had experimented with), Japan mobilized its
Had Olympic come about, the Japanese civilian population,
inflamed by a
national slogan - "One Hundred Million Will Die for
the Emperor and
Nation" - were prepared to fight to the death.
Twenty Eight Million Japanese
had become a part of the National
Volunteer Combat Force. They were armed with ancient rifles, lunge
mines, satchel charges, Molotov cocktails and one-shot black powder
mortars. Others were armed with swords, long bows, axes and bamboo
spears. The civilian units were to be used in nighttime attacks, hit
and run maneuvers, delaying actions and massive suicide charges at
the weaker American positions.
At the early stage of the invasion, 1,000 Japanese and American
would be dying every hour.
The invasion of Japan never became a reality because on August 6,
atomic bomb was exploded over Hiroshima. Three days
later, a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. Within day s the war
with Japan was at a close.
Had these bombs not been dropped and had the invasion been
scheduled, combat casualties in Japan would have been
at a minimum of the
tens of thousands. Every foot of Japanese
soil would have been paid for by
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 1 million American men who were to be the casualties
of the invasion, were instead lucky enough to survive the war.
Intelligence studies and military estimates made 50 years ago,
latter-day speculation, clearly indicate that the battle
for Japan might
well have resulted in the biggest blood-bath in
the history of modern
Far worse would be what might have happened to Japan as a nation
and as a
culture. When the invasion came, it would have come
after several months of
fire bombing all of the remaining
Japanese cities. The cost in human life
that resulted from the
two atomic blasts would be small in comparison to
number of Japanese lives that would have been lost by this
With American forces locked in combat in the south of Japan,
have prevented the Soviet Union from marching into
the northern half of the
Japanese home islands. Japan today cold
be divided much like Korea and
The world was spared the cost of Operation Downfall, however,
because Japan formally surrendered to the United Nations September
2, 1945, and World War II was over.
The aircraft carriers, cruisers and transport ships scheduled to
invasion troops to Japan, ferried home American troops
in a gigantic
operation called Magic Carpet.
In the fall of 1945, in the aftermath of the war, few people
themselves with the invasion plans. Following the
surrender, the classifieddocuments, maps, diagrams and appendices
for Operation Downfall were packed away in boxes and eventually
stored at the National Archives. These plans that called for the
invasion of Japan paint a vivid description of what might have been
one of the most horrible campaigns in the history of man. The fact
that the story of the invasion of Japan is locked up in the National
Archives and is not told in our history books is something
which all Americans can be
I had the distinct privilege of
being assigned as later commander of the 8090th PACUSA detach, 20th
AAF, and one of the personal pilots of then Brig General Fred Irving
USMA 17 when he was commanding general of Western Pacific Base
Command. We had a brand new C-46F tail number 8546. It was different
from the rest of the C-46 line in that it was equipped with Hamilton
Hydromatic props whereas the others had Curtis electrics. On one of
the many flights we had 14 Generals and Admirals aboard on an
inspection trip to Saipan and Tinian. Notable aboard was General
Thomas C. Handy, who had signed the operational order to drop the
atomic bombs on Japan. President Truman's orders were verbal . He
never signed an order to drop the bombs
On this particular flight, about half way from Guam to
Tinian, a full
Colonel (General Handy's aide) came up forward and
told me that General Handy would like to come up and look around. I
told him, "Hell yes, he can fly the airplane if he wants to, sir
He came up and sat in the copilots seat, put on the headset and
chatting. I asked him if he ever regretted dropping
the bombs. His answer was, "Certainly not. We saved a million lives
on both sides by doing it. It was the right thing to do"
I never forgot that trip and the honor of being able to tal k to
General Handy. I
was a Lt at the time. A postscript about General
Irving. He was one of the finest gentleman I ever met. He was the
oldest living graduate of West Point when he passed on at
He was on of three Generals who had the honor of being both the
"Supe" and "Com" of West Point. I think the other gentleman were BG
Sladen class of 1890 and BG Stewart Class of 1896
I am very happy the invasion never came off because if it
had I don't think I
would be writing this today. We were to
provide air support for the boots on the ground guys. The small arms
fire would have been devastating and lethal as hell to fly through..
Just think what it would have been like on the ground.....
C'est la vive. You do what needs to be done. You don't act like
wonders and carry peace signs
"If It Weren't For The United States Military"
Would Be NO United States of