Doolittle's Raid - what was the Japanese public told?

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by janel90, May 11, 2012.

  1. janel90

    janel90 Banned

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    Hi all -

    I'm continuing research for my mother (Helga Hofmeier Kiderlen) and a written version I'm trying to write up about her interesting life.

    Yesterday she and I were talking about Doolittle's Raid and I asked for more info about her story of what she was doing on that Saturday in April 1942. She remembers her parents and the press saying that only Tokyo was a target, that there was very little damage, and that it was no big deal. I told her that wasn't true - there additional city targets and it WAS a big deal. She was stunned to learn this, even 70 years later, she still thought Tokyo had been the only target!!

    I'm wondering if there is anyone who can offer info on two things --
    1. Press clippings or translations of what the people in Tokyo were publicly told about the raid? Any Japanese newspapers of the day (that I, not reading Japanese, could read)? Any German newspapers of that time that might have mentioned the raid as being of little importance?
    2. Local Tokyo information on civilian targets that had been hit or civilian casualties/injuries?

    Any info or direction for me to research on my own would be of huge help to me, and to my mom!

    Thanks so much --

    Jane Lang
     
  2. muscogeemike

    muscogeemike Member

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    Western media was censored and Japan (and Germany and Russia) were even more censored then the West.

    That your mother’s memories are remiss is not surprising. My parents were teenagers in S. Calif during the war and what they remember is what was reported in newspapers and on the radio. If a person has done no additional reading on the era their knowledge is going to be limited.

    While the raid was a huge moral booster for the US it really did little real damage to Japan, I would be interested in how the Japanese reported on the earlier raids by the Chinese Air Force. What, if anything, did the Japanese public know of the raids?
     
  3. janel90

    janel90 Banned

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    Exactly, muscogeemike --- that's what I'd like to learn, as well. What was the Japanese public told about the raid??

    Jane
     
  4. Shinpachi

    Shinpachi Well-Known Member

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    I think your mother is correct. Damage was limited with only a dozen of tons bombs though spiritual impact to the Japanese was greater.
    Japanese media reported "9 Enemy Bombers Shot Down" immediately. Few believed it as the sky was clear and no one witnessed aircrafts crashed.

    Indiscriminate bombing you mention on major Japanese cities by the B-29s began from November 1944.
    It was two and a half years later from the Doolittle raid.

    20120326_1855422.jpg
     
  5. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    The Japanese statements are true.

    It was the American public that were deceived when told the Doolittle Raid was a great military achievement. In reality this publicity stunt tied up two USN CV task forces that might have made a decisive difference at the Coral Sea battle of May 1942.
     
  6. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Yes and no - One could argue the value of the Doolittle Raid, it did provide a great propaganda tool for the American people. The raid wasn't intened to do great damage, it was intended to show the Japanese that their homeland was invunurable and it did tie up resources that could have been better used.

    From Wikipedia;

    "The raid caused negligible material damage to Japan, but it succeeded in its goal of helping American morale, and casting doubt in Japan on the ability of the Japanese military leaders. It also caused Japan to withdraw its powerful aircraft carrier force from the Indian Ocean to defend their Home Islands, and the raid contributed to Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto's decision to attack Midway—an attack that turned into a decisive rout of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) by the U.S. Navy near Midway Island in the Central Pacific.

    Compared with the future devastating B-29 Superfortress attacks against Japan, the Doolittle raid did little material damage, and all of that readily repaired. Eight primary and five secondary targets were struck. In Tokyo, the targets included an oil tank farm, a steel mill, and several power plants. In Yokosuka, at least one bomb from the B-25 piloted by Lt. Edgar E. McElroy struck the nearly completed IJN aircraft carrier Ryūhō, delaying her launch until November. Six schools and an army hospital were also hit. Japanese officials reported that the two aircraft whose crews were captured had struck their targets.

    For years before Pearl Harbor, there had been mock air raid drills in every Japanese city, although China's air force was almost non-existant. Such may have been part of the process of keeping warlike emotion at a high pitch. The Japanese press was told how to convey the news. The attack was depicted as a cruel, indiscriminate bombing targeted at civilians, women and children.

    Despite the minimal damage inflicted, American morale soared when news of the raid was released. Still reeling from the attack on Pearl Harbor and Japan's subsequent territorial gains, the American public appreciated knowing that a successful military response had been undertaken.

    The raid also had a strategic impact, though it was not known at the time: It caused the Japanese to recall some fighting IJN units to the Japanese Home Islands for defense. Its main aircraft carrier task force, spearheaded by five large, fast carriers—with its best naval aircraft and aircrews—under the command of Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, had inflicted serious losses on the Royal Navy and merchant shipping during the Indian Ocean Raid, steaming as far west as Ceylon (Sri Lanka) for air raids on British shipping and Royal Air Force airfields there. Following the Doolittle Raid, Nagumo's force was recalled to Japan, removing all pressure from the Royal Navy in the Indian Ocean.

    The Imperial Japanese Navy also bore a special responsibility for allowing an American aircraft carrier force to approach the Japanese Home Islands in a manner similar to that of the IJN fleet to Hawaii in 1941, and likewise it escaped undamaged. The fact that rather large twin-engine land-based bombers carried out the attack served to confuse the IJN's high command about the source of the attack. This confusion and the conclusion that Japan itself was vulnerable to air attack strengthened Yamamoto's resolve to capture Midway Island, with the attempt to do so resulting in the decisive Japanese loss at the Battle of Midway."
     
  7. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Sink the two Shōkaku class CVs at Coral Sea and we would have an even better propaganda tool in addition to putting a serious dent in the Japanese war effort.
     
  8. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Better than destroying 4 Japanese carriers at Midway sent there because of the raid?
     
  9. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Yes.

    Gaining naval superiority in the Coral Sea allows easy victories on Tarawa, Guadalcanal and New Guinea during the summer of 1942 if the U.S. Army and USMC are aggressive enough to seize the opportunity.
     
  10. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    That's an assumption and "would have" only took out a smaller portion of the Japanese fleet had the USN even been successful if put in that situation. The fact remains that because of the Doolittle raid, the Japanese allowed 4 aircraft carriers to be destroyed chasing an elusive enemy.

    I remember reading a quote that read something like this "When the Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor, it was like getting hit over the head with a 2 x 4. When Doolittle bombed Tokyo it was like shoving a needle into Japan's heart."
     
  11. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    A much bigger assumption then thinking the U.S. Army could occupy Tarawa and Guadalcanal almost cost free during June 1942 after gaining naval superiority in the Coral Sea.
     
  12. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    I'm not assuming that, just pointing out that the Doolittle Raid was well worth the cost of men and resources.
     
  13. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    If you want to talk about being worthwhile the Doolittle Raid has to be the best value for money bombing raid of WWII. At a cost of 10 lives and 16 aircraft the Japanese changed there strategy in the Pacific completely. Name one other bombing raid that can claim to have changed the course of a war.
     
  14. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    By May 1942 the Imperial Japanese Army had already achieved their December 1941 Pacific objectives. The Doolittle raid had no effect on the capture of Malaya, Burma, the Philippines, East Indies, Borneo, Guam or Western New Guinea. After seizing these objectives Japan had no Pacific strategy besides reacting to events. China remained the primary Japanese theater of operations.
     
  15. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    It's true that the Japanese had reached their 1941 pacific objectives, but they counted on the western powers negotiating for peace once they reached those objectives.

    The whole point of those objectives was the resources they could get from their new conquests, unhindered by any outside interference. With allies still in the war and using Austrailia and New Zealand as a base of operations, they realized they had to expand to interdict those supply routes. Then the Doolittle raid gave them a extra worry that they took very seriously. Not that the raid itself did any harm, but what would be next?
     
  16. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Check the dates of those actions and when the Doolittle Raid went down... :rolleyes:

    The Doolittle Raid PREVENTED the capture of Midway, possibly the Hawaiian Islands and an invasion of Australia and prevented valuable resources from being used in the "Primary Theater."
     
  17. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    Not so sure about the whole "invasion of Australia" thing. My reading is that Japan saw Australia as too much risk for not enough benefit.
     
  18. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    I don't think the Japanese had any realistic chance of invading Australia, but if they had took Guadalcanal, and then New Caledonia, keeping Australia in the war would have been much more difficult.
     
  19. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    #19 FLYBOYJ, May 15, 2012
    Last edited: May 15, 2012
    Perhaps, but during early 1942 the intensions of the Japanese were not known.
    Yes and that's the point here. The Doolittle Raid set into motion events that would lead to the crippling of the Japanese fleet and its ultimate defeat. What "could have" been accomplised at Coral Sea with 2 more carrier groups wasn't worth what actually happened at Midway, again events set in motion by the Doolittle Raid. Coral Sea and the Doolittle Raid gave hope to the folks back home, the victory at Midway was the proof the American people needed to show that the Japanese can be defeated.
     
  20. muscogeemike

    muscogeemike Member

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    Back to the thread subject - what did the Japanese public know of the air raids by both the Chinese AF and Gen Doolittle?
     
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