Richard Sams. After the war, the United States Strategic Bombing Survey estimated the casualties as 87,793 killed and 40,918 injured. [139], The attack considerably damaged the morale of Japanese civilians, with it and the other firebombing raids in March convincing most that the war situation was worse than their government had admitted. [148], Few other memorials were erected to commemorate the attack in the decades after the war. Firebombing is one of the cruelest ways to attack a city. Rubble was often not cleared from the firebreaks, which provided a source of fuel. [107] Similarly, thousands of people who gathered in the grounds of the Sensō-ji temple in Asakusa died. [97] Soon after the start of the raid news broadcasts began advising civilians to evacuate as quickly as possible, but not all did so immediately. When the United States launched a bombing operation over Japan on Mar. These weapons were dropped from B-29s in clusters, and used napalm as their incendiary filler. The planners estimated that incendiary bomb attacks on Japan's six largest cities could cause physical damage to almost 40 percent of industrial facilities and result in the loss of 7.6 million man-months of labor. Tokyo had already been hit by many firebombing raids, it would be too difficult to tell the damage they caused from the damage caused by atomic bombs. Japan's main industrial facilities were vulnerable to such attacks as they were concentrated in several large cities, and a high proportion of production took place in homes and small factories in urban areas. [16], USAAF planners began assessing the feasibility of a firebombing campaign against Japanese cities in 1943. Damage to Tokyo's heavy industry was slight until firebombing destroyed much of the light industry that was used as an integral source for small machine parts and time-intensive processes. These altitudes were calculated to be too high for the light Japanese antiaircraft guns to reach, and below the effective range of the heavy antiaircraft guns. Alongside the two atomic bombings, the firebombing of Tokyo remains obscure. [164], Like the bombing of Dresden, the bombing of Tokyo on 10 March 1945 is used as an example by historians and commentators who criticize the ethics and practices of the Allied strategic bombing campaigns. [58] The radar stations had a short range and fire control equipment for the antiaircraft batteries was unsophisticated. [44] Instead, the attack was led by the 314th Bombardment Wing's commanding officer, Brigadier General Thomas S. At the time of the raid the 314th Bombardment Wing was arriving at Guam in the Marianas, and able to provide only 56 B-29s. What is true about the firebombing of Tokyo? By Lily Rothman. This attack was code-named Operation Meetinghouse by the USAAF and is known as the Great Tokyo Air Raid in Japan. [6] Few attempts were made to target industrial facilities, with the goal of the campaign being to terrorize civilians and cut the Chinese forces off from their sources of supplies. 9, 1945, firebombing was hardly a new tactic. [126] For instance, both Arnold and LeMay regarded the 10 March raid and subsequent firebombing operations as being necessary to save American lives by bringing the war to a rapid conclusion. On the night of 9/10 March 1945, the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) conducted a devastating firebombing raid on Tokyo, the Japanese capital city. [72], The orders for the raid issued to the B-29 crews stated that the main purpose of the attack was to destroy the many small factories located within the target area, but also noted that it was intended to cause civilian casualties as a means of disrupting production at major industrial facilities. Courtesy of S. Smisek. The first raid targeted an aircraft engine factory on the city's outskirts, and caused little damage. [43] USAAF intelligence had determined that the Japanese had only two night fighter units, and these were believed to pose little threat. Conrad C. Crane has observed that "the resort to fire raids marked another stage in the escalation towards total war and represented the culmination of trends begun in the air war against Germany". The March 1945 firebombing of Tokyo and the immorality of war A residential section of Tokyo is seen destroyed following Operation Meetinghouse, the … from The Water's Edge. Of central Tokyo 16 square miles (41 km ; 10,000 acres) were destroyed, leaving an estimated 100,000 civilians dead and over one million homeless. On the night of March 9, 1945, U.S. warplanes launch a new bombing offensive against Japan, dropping 2,000 tons of incendiary bombs on … These were accumulated on the basis of XXI Bomber Command plans which specified that the B-29s would each carry 4 short tons (3.6 t) of the weapons on 40 percent of their monthly sorties. [52], The military forces assigned to protect Tokyo were insufficient to stop a major raid. [77] A total of 346 B-29s were readied. [129], The raid was followed by similar attacks against Nagoya on the night of 11/12 March, Osaka in the early hours of 14 March, Kobe on 17/18 March and Nagoya again on 18/19 March. [50] On the night of 3/4 March, the Japanese military intercepted American radio signals which indicated that the XXI Bomber Command was conducting a major night flying exercise. The plaintiffs also claimed that the Japanese Government had violated the post-war constitution by compensating the military victims of the raid and their families, but not civilians. This area was divided by the Sumida River, and included most of Asakusa, Honjo and Fukagawa Wards. Survivors of the Tokyo firebombing feel their pain has been forgotten, by history and by the government. The March 1945 firebombing of Tokyo and the immorality of war A residential section of Tokyo is seen destroyed following Operation Meetinghouse, the … [52] Due to this vulnerability, it had suffered extensive damage and heavy casualties from fires caused by the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake. However, they must have realized that in the process of bombing suspected factories, they would probably spread fire throughout the closely packed wood-frame neighborhoods of Tokyo, potentially killing large numbers of civilians. There has been a long-running debate over the morality of the 10 March firebombing of Tokyo. [80], The attack on Tokyo commenced at 12:08 am local time on 10 March. Flying individually would also lead to reductions in fuel consumption as the pilots would not need to constantly adjust their engines to remain in formation. [66] However, many other civilians had moved into Tokyo from impoverished rural areas over the same period. [140], Few steps were taken to improve Tokyo's defenses after the raid. [61], Tokyo's civil defenses were also lacking. [107] These were not proof against the firestorm, with smoke inhalation and heat killing large numbers of people in schools. American airmen who took part in the 1945 firebombing missions grapple with the particular horror they witnessed being inflicted on those below. [161][162][163] British historian Max Hastings shares this view, and has written that the circumstances in which XXI Bomber Command shifted to area attacks in 1945 mirrored those which led Bomber Command to do the same from 1942. [105], The raid also caused widespread destruction. [168] Some commentators believe that racism motivated the decision to use firebombing tactics, in contrast to the USAAF's greater emphasis on precision bombing in its air campaign against Germany. The full fury of firebombing and napalm was unleashed on the night of March 9-10, 1945 when LeMay sent 334 B-29s low over Tokyo from the Marianas. Tokyo was beyond the range of Superfortresses operating from China, and was not attacked. [157] Mark Lardas has written that 10 March operation was only the second genuinely successful raid on Japan (after an attack against an aircraft factory on 19 January), and "LeMay's decision to switch from precision bombardment to area incendiary missions and to conduct the incendiary missions from low altitudes" was the most important factor in the eventual success of the strategic bombing campaign. Capt. [138] American newspaper reports focused on the physical damage to Tokyo, made little reference to casualties and did not include estimates of the death toll. The three main instances of incendiary warfare in WWII began in Hamburg in 1943 and followed by Dresden and Tokyo in 1945. The bombings and resulting fires inflicted a greater area of fire damage and loss of life than the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima or Nagasaki as single events. More than 90,000 and possibly over 100,000 Japanese people were killed, mostly civilians, and one million were left homeless, making it the most destructive single air attack in human history. The attack was conducted in daylight, with the bombers flying in formation at high altitudes. [109] Many of the people who attempted to shelter in canals were killed by smoke or when the passing firestorm sucked oxygen out of the area. [65] Firebreaks had been created across the city in an attempt to stop the spread of fire; over 200,000 houses were destroyed as part of this effort. The purpose was to break the morale of the enemy. [69] These wards formed part of the informally defined Shitamachi district of Tokyo, which was mainly populated by working-class people and artisans. Prior to this operation, the USAAF had focused on a precision bombing campaign against Japanese industrial facilities. The Tokyo raid involved hundreds of B-29 bombers arriving and attacking over the course of several hours. [9] Arnold and the Twentieth Air Force's headquarters regarded the campaign against Japan up to that time as unsuccessful, and LeMay understood that he would also be relieved if he failed to deliver results. Many of those who attempted to evacuate to the large parks which had been created as refuges against fires following the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake were killed when the conflagration moved across these open spaces. This attack was code-named Operation Meetinghouse by the USAAF and is known as the Great Tokyo Air Raid in Japan. Wikibuy Review: A Free Tool That Saves You Time and Money, 15 Creative Ways to Save Money That Actually Work. Many other bodies were not recovered, and the city's director of health estimated that 83,600 people were killed and another 40,918 wounded. [100], Civilians who stayed at their homes or attempted to fight the fire had virtually no chance of survival. Chongqing, China's provisional capital, was frequently attacked by aircraft using incendiary and high explosive bombs. Such massive groups of B-29s could be heard and tracked from a considerable distance. Wars are fought between governments. As with dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the firebombing of Tokyo has remained controversial since the end of World War II. These Superfortresses arrived over the city shortly before midnight on 9 March. [124], Few concerns were raised in the United States during the war about the morality of the 10 March attack on Tokyo or the firebombing of other Japanese cities. Firebombing also killed or made homeless many workers who had been taking part in war industry. [3] Their M47 bombs rapidly started fires in an X shape, which was used to direct the attacks for the remainder of the force. [34], Most of the bodies which were recovered were buried in mass graves without being identified. He also argues that the USAAF would have used firebombing tactics in Europe had German cities been as vulnerable to fire as Japanese cities were and intelligence on the German war economy been as lacking as it was on the Japanese war production facilities. [64] The basic equipment issued to the firefighting associations was incapable of extinguishing fires started by M69s. [132], The Japanese government initially attempted to suppress news of the extent of the 10 March raid, but later used it for propaganda purposes. Bombs dropped from 279 Boeing B-29 Superfortressheavy bombers burned out much of eastern Tokyo. The firebombing of Tokyo was designed to terrorise and bomb the Japanese into surrender. The Tokyo raid involved hundreds of B-29 bombers arriving and attacking over the course of several hours. The survey also stated that the majority of the casualties were women, children and elderly people. [108] Others sheltered in solid buildings, such as schools or theatres, and in canals. Over 50% of Tokyo's industry was spread out among residential and commercial neighborhoods; firebombing cut the whole city's output in half.The destruction and damage was especially severe in the eastern areas of the city. The Japanese Government responded with a combination of repression, including heavy penalties for people accused of disloyalty or spreading rumors, and a propaganda campaign focused on restoring confidence in the country's air and civil defense measures. Historian Michael Howard has observed that these attitudes reflected the limited options to end the war which were available at the time. Civilians pay the price. [135] Stories about the attack were on the front page of all Japanese newspapers on 11 March. 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