The Doolittle Raid on Tokyo
Four and half months after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle’s 1942 sixteen strike force B- 25 bombers were to take off on April 19th from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet. Early discovery by a Japanese patrol boat forced the departure be moved 20 hours earlier on Aprill8, 1942.
After successfUlly bombing Tokyo, fuel exhaustion led one B-25 bomber to land in Russia;
the other fifteen aircrafts made forced landings in Zhejiang Province, China. am5I). Of the
75 crewmen in these 15 planes: three crewmen died, 64 were rescued by a Chinese Nationalist guerrilla group and eight were captured by the Japanese. Three of the captives were later tied to a short cross, forced to kneel on the ground and executed in Shanghai by Japanese military.
One month after the 64 Doolittle raiders were rescued, the Japanese sent a division group of 30,000 soldiers to Zhejiang Province. As soon as they entered, they started slaughtering Chinese civilians. Chiang Kai-Shi sent the 61h Division to Zhejiang Province to combat them. Japanese division’s group commander, General Sakai was killed in the battle. This sent the Japanese into a frenzy of anger and shame. The Japanese used poisonous gas to annihilate all Chinese military and civilians in the region, killing 250,000 people.
In 1945, after the Japanese surrendered, farewell notes of these executed men were discovered by American intelligence officers in the files of Japanese military personnel, not destroyed in time. After the Tokyo Tribunal, all those involved in the execution of American soldier; military officers, soldiers on the firing squad and the judge, were put to death at
Yuway Tai, Nanking (南京雨花臺) China.
History shows that the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo, though not as significant as the later American B-29 bombings of Tokyo, was nevertheless crucial at the time of the war. It broke the Japanese government’s promise of immunity for attack of its Japanese homeland, and the myth of Japanese invincibility. Within three months of the raid, Japan pulled 200,000 of its military forces out of China and Southeast Asia back to Japan for homeland defense. Without this raid, the history of the Japanese in Asia may well have been quite different.