The killing lost all dimension

Discussions on WW2 in the Pacific and the Sino-Japanese War.
User avatar
Roberto
Member
Posts: 4505
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 15:35
Location: Lisbon, Portugal

The killing lost all dimension

Post by Roberto » 07 Mar 2003 19:49

[...]The patrols filtered along the trails behind the Japanese lines. In great numbers they threaded all the aisles of the maze, hacked through the jungle itself to find any survivors who might have crawled up a game trail. From early in the morning until twilight, the patrols were out and always with the same mission.
It was simple, a lark. After months of standing guard at night, of patrolling up-trails which could explode into ambush at any moment, the mopping up was comparatively pleasant, almost exciting. The killing lost all dimension, bothered the men far less than discovering some ants in their bedding.
Certain things were SOP. The Japanese had set up many small hospitals in the last weeks of the campaign, and in retreating they had killed many of their wounded. The Americans who came in would finish whatever wounded men were left, smashing their heads with rifle butts or shooting them point-blank.
But there were other, more distinctive ways. One patrol out at dawn discovered four Japanese lying in stupor across a trail, their ponchos covering them. The lead man halted, picked up some pebbles and flipped them into the air. The pebbles landed on the first sleeping soldier with a light pattering sound like hail. He awakened slowly, stretched under the poncho, yawned, groaned a little, and stretched with the busy stupid sounds of a man rousing himself in the morning. Then he poked his head out from under the poncho. The lead man waited until the Jap saw him and then, as he was about to scream, the American sent a burst of tommy-gun slugs through him. He followed this by ripping his gun down the middle of the trail, stitching holes neatly through the ponchos. Only one Jap was left still alive, and his leg protruded from the poncho, twitching aimlessly with the last unconscious shudders of a dying animal. Another soldier walked up, nuzzled the body under the poncho with the muzzle of his gun, located the wounded man’s head, and pulled the trigger.
Occasionally they would take prisoners, but if this was late in the day and the patrol was hurrying to get back before dark, it was better if the prisoners did not slow them. One squad picked up three prisoners late in the afternoon, and was delayed grievously by them. One prisoner was so sick he could hardly walk, and another, a big sullen man, was looking for a way to escape. The third had gigantically swollen testicles which were so painful that he had to cut away his trousers from his groin the way a man with bunions slits the toe off an old shoe. He walked pathetically, hobbling along and groaning as he held his testes.
The platoon leader looked at his watch at last and sighed.
"We’re going to have to dump them," he said.
The sullen Jap seemed to know what he meant, for he stepped off the trail and waited with his back turned. The shot caught him behind the ear.
Another soldier came up behind the prisoner with the swollen genitals and gave him a shove which sprawled him on the ground. He gave a single scream of pain before he was killed.
The third one was half in coma and had no idea of what happened.[...]


(From "The Naked and the Dead", by Norman Mailer. "The best war novel to come out of the United States", according to The Times.)

sand digger
Member
Posts: 33
Joined: 11 Mar 2003 04:42
Location: Australia

Post by sand digger » 14 Mar 2003 05:08

So, what is your point, Roberto?

Mike R
Member
Posts: 555
Joined: 04 Jun 2002 04:20
Location: Ohio, USA

Post by Mike R » 14 Mar 2003 05:53

I should think that if the rest of the book is written like this, it would make an excellent piece to show the brutality of war in the Pacific. Perhaps something of an "eye-opener" for those who believe that war was fought as cleanly as it is shown in the old John Wayne flicks. And also to show that the Japanese soldier wasn't always the only "bad guy" fighting in that war.

Regards,
-Mike

User avatar
Napoli
Member
Posts: 224
Joined: 02 Oct 2002 13:23
Location: Adelaide, Australia

Post by Napoli » 15 Mar 2003 13:32

Thanks for that Roberto, always good to see something different written about the smaller things of war.

User avatar
Roberto
Member
Posts: 4505
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 15:35
Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Post by Roberto » 17 Mar 2003 18:54

sand digger wrote:So, what is your point, Roberto?
This forum's slogan is "Information not shared is lost", from which I conclude that information shared must not necessarily be aimed at making a "point".

But if you want a "point", how about this:
PACIFIC ISLAND CASUALTIES (WW 11) ISLAND
CAMPAIGN; JAPANESE KILLED; AMERICANS KILLED
GUADALCANAL; 23,800 Approx.; 1,769
TARAWA; 4,580 "; 1,090
LEYTE; 65,000 "; 3,593
IWO JIMA; 21,900 "; 4,554
OKINAWA; 73,000 "; 12,281 (Land and Sea)
SAIPAN; 30,000 "; 3,426
PELELUI; 10,000"; 1,241
GUAM; 10,000 "; 2,124
Source:

http://members.iinet.net.au/~gduncan/Facts-2.html

Note the disproportion between Japanese killed on the one hand and Americans killed on the other, especially at Guadalcanal, Leyte and Saipan.

The question arises whether this sometimes extreme disproportion was only due to American superiority in terms of technology, training and logistics, or also related to the fact that American troops ruthlessly hunted down the troops of the Japanese island garrisons after they had, often due as much to tropical diseases and a breakdown of their logistics as to American action, ceased to be a cohesive fighting force, as described by Norman Mailer.

mars
Member
Posts: 1164
Joined: 03 Oct 2002 19:50
Location: Shanghai

Post by mars » 18 Mar 2003 00:52

here is one thing, Roberto, about the American and Japanese causalities at battle of TARAWA, about 4,580 vs 1,090, technically it is correct, but this statistics only tell part of story, there were indeed 4500+ men (as we will see, not all of them were Japanese) on Tarawa, 2700 well-trained Japanese Marine, nearly 1000 Japanese construct unit (rougly equal to Amaerican "Sea Bea", they rceived virtually no infantry training and virtually had no weapon except few rifles), and 1000+ Koeran Force labor, however these Japanese construct unit soldiers were committed into the battle, these Koeran force labor were not, although most of them were killed by American bombard, and it was ridiculous if you included them into Japanese's military strength.
However, these Japanese, around 3600 men, fought well at Tarawa, they faced about 20,000 US Marine, overwhelming US firepower, these Japanese fought 3 whole days, and US Marine suffed about 4000 causility

User avatar
Zachary
Member
Posts: 1153
Joined: 13 Jul 2002 21:55
Location: Sunshine State, USA

Post by Zachary » 19 Mar 2003 02:28

Wow those statistics surely show how the difference between American and Japanese casualties. I am wondering why this is, why did the Japanese always have so much more? It wasnt because the Americans were better soldeirs or anything were they.
Regards,
Zachary

sand digger
Member
Posts: 33
Joined: 11 Mar 2003 04:42
Location: Australia

Post by sand digger » 19 Mar 2003 04:38

Some facts relevant to Japanese casualty figures. They were often left to fight to the death. Often their deaths came about through their own voluntary suicidal actions as an 'honourable' alternative to surrender. Even when they indicated 'surrender' they would often seek to kill their 'captors' at the first opportunity.

The Allies learnt through bitter experience that taking Japanese prisoners during a battle was a risky and pointless exercise. If they couldn't kill their captors they usually would take their own life anyway before being excavated to the rear where usually they were properly treated. Treated far better than they themselves treated Allied prisoners.

User avatar
Dan W.
Financial supporter
Posts: 8494
Joined: 12 Mar 2002 01:53
Location: IL.

Post by Dan W. » 19 Mar 2003 04:56

Zachary wrote:Wow those statistics surely show how the difference between American and Japanese casualties. I am wondering why this is, why did the Japanese always have so much more? It wasnt because the Americans were better soldeirs or anything were they.
Regards,
Zachary
During the initial stages of the Pacific Campaign there was an unusual and bizarre willingness to die on the part of the Japanese, many of whom would march slowly across wide open prarie to a certain death. There are many instances of Japanese soldiers who, when given the oppotunity to use stealth would instead makes themselves fully visible to American troops, who were often shocked to mow down the Japanese in droves. There are instances of officers attacking tank with Samaurai swords. Others quote entire platoons on a death march in full combat gear some 300 yards away from machinegun positions set up with a full view
of the approach. And the Japanese knew these guns were in place.

This attitude of futile "Banzai" charges gradually changed as the war progressed, culminating in fierce resistance (and high U.S. casualties) in the last campaigns of the Pacific, Iwo Jima and Okinawa, where a determined enemy did not willingly give up his life in futile headlong charges but instead dug into the volcanic earth, utilizing a series of deep tunnels and intricate fortifications.

Also, the amount of munitions dropped on the Japanese was much greater than anything the Japanese could retaliate with, and naval gunfire, aerial campaigns and the small arms fire of Army and Marines front line troops was always done in an overwhelming fashion. In these last two campaigns the aerial and naval barrages had little effect against a dug in enemy force well prepared for the onslaught.

Their religion (Shintoism I believe) was rooted in the fact that death for the Emperor would lead them to heaven. Surrender was eternal disgrace, and if you were to surrender your family in Japan was to erase your name from their memory. It was the only way they could deal with the shame of your actions.

All of this, including their brutal training and militant attitude meant that peer pressure must have been intense, and the result was a cult-like following in search of sacrifice, which meant death and, according to the indoctrination of the time, a place in heaven.

Return to “WW2 in the Pacific & Asia”