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Truth - I Was There!
By F William (Bill) Broome
Sunday, November 21, 2004
Rated "PG13" by the Author.
"In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary."
- Aaron Rose in Orion
by F. William Broome
Former member of 7th Airways Communications Wing, Pacific Theater, WWII
Few episodes in our lives have the power years later to create the frame of mind, the temperature and even the smell associated with the experience. Such was my attendance at the War Crimes Trial held at Nichols Field in October and November of 1945. Both were on Luzon, Phillipine Island, near Manila. A few weeks before I had began I had been transferred there from Hawaii.
The heat and perspiration of closeness in the crowded court room will never leave me. The fierce players, intense and determined to prosecute and defend, come alive in an instant.
On trial was the infamous Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita, conqueror of Malaya, Singapore, Bataan and Corregidor. He commanded all of the occupying Japanese forces in the Philippines and his depraved orders to kill and consume gave him the name, "The Tiger." He surrendered to the US Supreme Command in the Philippines on September 2, 1945.
He was being tried as a war criminal. As area commander he was responsible for the conduct of his men even though he claimed not to have been aware of their brutality. Yamashita was held accountable for atrocities of Japanese naval personnel in Manila whom he never commanded. Specific charges were not all that necessary in circumstances demanding a special revenge for the years of occupation by Japan's military forces.
An old newspaper clipping from a Manila newspaper in late 1945, tells of witnesses at the trial testifying about the Japanese soldiers killing upwards of 25,000 civilians who resisted them. At the trial some of the first witnesses told about the Japanese saving ammunition by forcing helpless victims to jump into deep wells at bayonet point.
The incident was recorded on February 15, 1945. The victims were tied together and marched to an old well 60 feet deep. Of the more than 300 forced into the well, only six came out of that hell-hole alive.
During my three months in the Philippines, I had learned enough about the Japanese occupation to make me hope for his conviction on every count. Every adult Filipino had a story of horror. What had happened to them was the same horror visited upon peoples of conquered countries throughout history.
This time it happened in a small country, and to a people who lived peacefully in a US "protectorate." The Japanese invasion was as if Big Brother had suddenly deserted them. The invaders came to steal their goods, rape their women, and put them into slave work camps.
Individual Filipinos told stories of their own family's girls and women being picked up in Japanese army trucks at the end of the week, taken to the camps, and distributed to the troops for sex and recreation. Older women were recruited as nurses, cooks, waitresses, and sewing workers.
Some served as mid-wives to younger women who were forced to live with, and have babies by, Japanese officers. Food was the currency of the land, and it was for something to eat that the female population gave themselves to the conquerors.
SEEDS OF SOLDIERS Before Allied forces liberated the country almost every Philippine family included one or more children fathered by a Japanese military man. The babies were cared for by the deeply religious families and raised as Philippine citizens.
In a Manila newspaper printed in November, 1945, is a front page editorial saying in part, "To Philippine young people: Get married, get married now, and have Filipino children. Have many Philippine children, and help stamp out the stain that the invaders have placed on our people!"
The military trial of General Yamashita is written into history as wrongfully allowing opinion and hearsay to be admitted as evidence. In the heat of the moment, with almost four years of horrible existence under Japanese military rule, the people wanted severe punishment.
They had been enslaved by the invaders and they wanted revenge. There was no other way to conduct a military trial for war crimes, and the judges conducted the trial toward conviction of the vicious "'Tiger." Men under his command had been allowed to rape, pillage, starve, and to dehumanize an entire nation.
General Yamashita was convicted and sentenced to death on the fourth anniversay of Pearl Harbor, December 7th, 1945. Perhaps a rumor, but easily believed by those who were there, was that US General Douglas MacArthur had a hand in the verdict because Yamashita was the general who had defeated him in the Philippines. The convicted war crimes general was hanged in Manila in January of 1946.
TYING THE ENDINGS The war in Europe had ended as Germany was overrun on two fronts. Japan had not survived the island hopping of MacArthur's forces. In the Fall of 1945, the world had participated in modern war's three greatest events:
1. The unconditional surrender of Germany with the total invasion and conquest of the country by Allied and Russian forces;
2. The use of the atomic bomb on two Japanese cities to forestall or preclude the invasion of the Japanese islands, and
3. The unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces and the national government.
Debate about the use of bombs continues today, led by the Japanese people, and by misguided and younger historians who were not alive at the time. Their position that the war was almost over, and that the Allies' invasion of Japan could have been accomplished with token forces is pure ignorance and hogwash.
Such views show no understanding of the fanatical state of mind the Japanese people had reached by 1945. One has only to observe that our naval losses had increased solely because their Navy was using Kamikaze pilots to attack our ships. Those who had studied the Japanese people stated in 1945 that the suicide flyers represented what the Japanese people would do if their country was invaded.
TRUMAN AND THE BOMB President Truman's decision to drop the atomic bombs on two Japanese cities to end the most costly war in history is increasingly misunderstood. Historians continue to criticize the President as if they were privileged to all the facts and stresses of the besieged President. Young thinkers and writers who believe their research and modern outlook qualifies them to differ are grossly mistaken.
Little is proven in publications on the subject. There is one that comes close to speaking the minds of the people who built the bombs, and the presidential advisers. The personal anguish felt by the President before his decision comes through to the reader.
Published in 1996, "Harry S Truman and the Bomb, A Documentary History," edited with commentary by Robert H. Ferrell, speaks more truth than modern critics can handle. In less than 120 pages one can learn why the bombs were used, and why the decision to do so was made. It also makes the case that the decision was the correct one at the time!
Two excerpts from a letter Truman wrote to a noted historian in 1952 dispels the charges that the bombings were indiscriminate and inhumane: "Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the two largest Japanese cities where industry was devoted exclusively to war production;" and "Dropping the bombs ended the war, saved lives, and gave the free nations a chance to help rebuild the world at peace."
My life was vitally affected by the way the war was ended. It was a tremendous and miraculous event that canceled any chance that I would be a part of invading forces on the mainland of Japan. No American or Allied serviceman would die fighting a fanatical people defending their homeland.
Naysayers on the necessity of using the atomic bombs to conquer the people of wartime Japan should remember this: The suffering in Japan's atomic aftermath finds its equal in the thousands of Allied peoples who lost their lives in the slaughter of millions living in the countries occupied by Japanese forces during the four year conflict. Thousands of Allied troops and civilians died or were maimed for life by Japan's occupation and subjugation of entire populations.
The number who died in the two atomic explosions, while terrible beyond measure pale in comparison to civilian and military deaths and mutilations before the two atomic bombs were dropped. Far too many former combat soldiers and sailors in the United States still occupy veteran and civilian hospitals. However, their losses haven't produced a controversial major event through which moralists and historians could rally and decry the inhumanity of such savagery upon peaceful peoples!
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Why the above is important to each American in the future...
"More than any other war in history, this war has been an array of the forces of evil against those of righteousness. It had to have its leaders and it had to be won -- but no matter what the sacrifice, no matter what the suffering of populations, no matter what the cost, - the war had to be won."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
Allied Forces, Europe
This is an excerpt from my book, "A Will Of My Own, A Memoir" - Get your hard cover copy for 60% off on Authors Den - or click on my website below to order this $36 book for only $10 - including postage. And, I'll sign it for you like real authors do.
Site: F. William Broome, Writer
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|Reviewed by Denise Contreras
|William Thank you for serving our Country. Great story..|
|Reviewed by mz kimi
|wow, so great! bless your informative heart!|
|Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
|excellent story, william; thanks for sharing! god bless you and thank you for serving our country, sir!|