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PostLt General Saito's Final Message to Japanese Troops Defending Saipan (Brian Blodgett, USA, 01/06/18 6:14 am)
Lieutenant General Saito's last message to Japanese officers and men defending Saipan
An intelligence officer of the Japanese 434 Division, stated that this message was delivered by Saito at approximately 0800 the morning of 6 July, just prior to the General's death at 1000 that day. The officer was captured on 9 July 1944.
"Message to Officers and Men defending Saipan"
I am addressing the officers and men of the Imperial Army on Saipan.
For more than twenty days since the American Devils attacked, the officers, men, and civilian employees of the Imperial Army and Navy on this island have fought well and bravely. Everywhere they have demonstrated the honor and glory of the Imperial Forces. I expected that every man would do his duty.
Heaven has not given us an opportunity. We have not been able to utilize fully the terrain. We have fought in unison up to the present time, but now we have no materials with which to fight and our artillery for attack has been completely destroyed. Our comrades have fallen one after another. Despite the bitterness of defeat, we pledge "Seven lives to repay our country."
The barbarous attack of the enemy is being continued. Even though the enemy has occupied only a corner of Saipan we are dying without avail under the violent shelling and bombing. Whether we attack or whether we stay where we are, there is only death. However, in death there is life. We must utilized this opportunity to exalt true Japanese manhood. I will advance with those who remain to deliver still another blow to the American Devils, and leave my bones on Saipan as a bulwark of the Pacific.
As it says in the "Senjinkun" (Battle Ethics), "I will never suffer the disgrace of being taken alive," and "I will offer up the courage of my soul and calmly rejoice in living by the eternal principle."
Here I pray with you for the eternal life of the Emperor and the welfare of the country and I advance to seek out the enemy.
NOTE: Seven lives to repay our country was the password designated by the Bn. Order (26 June) setting the attack that resulted in a breakthrough from Nafutan Point.
JE comments: Brian Blodgett forwarded a number of primary documents, both Japanese and US, from the bloody Saipan campaign. In the coming days I'll post a fascinating account (with sketches) from Lloyd C Hall, one of the "American Devils."
The Imperial Japanese war ethic, based on the Bushido code, has become synonymous with supreme commitment and devotion to duty. Let's call it honor. How exactly did this image evolve from the savage, bucktooth Japanese fanatic we Americans knew in WWII? Perhaps because the Japanese have "behaved" and excelled since 1945? I have to ask: will the reputation of today's suicide bombers in the Middle East also change a half-century down the road?
Honor in Warfare: Japan and Elsewhere
(Eugenio Battaglia, Italy
01/07/18 6:18 AM)
I was delighted to read the two posts from Brian Blodgett about Japan's heroic defense of Saipan.
What satisfaction to read about the Japanese fighters, not the usual "yellow monkey criminals" of Hollywood BS, notwithstanding the good, if propagandistic Marine documentary. General Saito called the enemies "American Devils," but that can even be a sort of praise.
Just a few notes on Saipan, the largest of the Marianas Islands. It was discovered by the Spaniards in 1600 and ruled by them until 1898, when following the Spanish-American war it was sold to Germany. After WWI it became Japanese and now it is American-ruled. Saipan has a population of 48,000: 51% Asians, 34% locals Chamorros, plus Americans. It has a surface o f115 square Km, with Mount Tapechau 475 mt height.
The battle lasted from 15 June until 9 July 1944, and it was the beginning of the end of the Japanese Empire. The Japaneses lost practically their entire garrison of 30,000 men (only 921 prisoners were left, nearly all of whom were wounded), plus 20,000 civilians, including 1000 who committed suicide by jumping from Suicide Cliff and Banzai Cliff.
From that point onward the landings were always a success for the Allies.
The Allies needed such a victory after the ridiculous reconquest of Attu (Aleutian Islands) under the Japanese from 3 June 1942 through 15 August 1943 when finally, after ten days of bombing the void, the US landed to find it unoccupied. Even so, the US forces lost 313 soldiers due to friendly fire, illness, etc.
But other two major attempts at landings had previously failed badly.
At Dieppe on 19 August 1942, 6100 Canadians tried unsuccessfully to land, losing 4100 men, one destroyer, several landing crafts and 99 planes while the Germans had 345 casualties and 48 planes lost.
On 13-14 September 1942 came Operation Daffodil. The Britons tried to occupy Tobruk (Libya) from land and sea. The British used a trick (against the International Conventions) from land when sending a group of 90 commandos disguised as prisoners escorted by a group of British soldiers speaking German and in Wehrmacht uniforms to pass through the Italian lines, killing the Italians taken prisoner underway, so they would not hinder the operation.
From the sea, the landing began after intense aerial bombing, but it was completely repulsed. At the end the British forces lost 774 men, 576 prisoners plus the loss of the cruiser Coventry (sunk by the Luftwaffe) and the destroyer Zulu (sunk by Italian Macchi airplanes), plus various landing craft and minor vessels: The Italian losses were 70 casualties plus 1 German.
It was a clear Italian victory, even if according to the political correctness and the sinking of the Coventry by the Germans many historians prefer to call it a German victory. To be beaten by the good enemies of Hitler and Rommel is one thing, beaten by the Italians is a no-no.
By the way, in this action my father got his promotion from lieutenant to captain and became commander of a battery.
For the 2018 WAIS conference, please forget sad Belgium and consider somewhere in Italy. Siena, a small town but a large jewel of history and art could be considered, there is even the legend that it was founded by the nephew of Romulus, but it was Etruscan from the beginning.
Yesterday I finally finished the olive harvest. I am now resetting nets, pruning, cleaning and so on.
JE comments: Re: the Aleutians. If I had to participate in an amphibious assault, I would gladly forego glory in exchange for an empty beach!
Brian Blodgett sent a memoir of the Saipan campaign from one of the American Devils. Stay tuned. And congratulations, Eugenio, on finishing up this year's harvest.
Two Gentlemen Farmers: Battaglia and Guimaraes
(Tor Guimaraes, USA
01/08/18 4:34 AM)
I envy Eugenio Battaglia's family set-up based on his olive groves. I have bought a small farm for my kids and my son-in-law manages it. He has about 40 head of beef cattle, honey bees, chickens, and a few pigs. It is a lot of fun for the next-generation kids, who think they are at Disney World.
I grew up in a farm (that explains a lot about me, eh?) and had a fantastic time helping my dad with cattle and crops (corn, rice, beans, soy beans, etc.). I am half Portuguese and at least one-fourth Italian, but my Italian genes have taken over, and I love it.
Before I get too old I would love to visit Eugenio for a few days to help with the farm, if he would have me. Based on past experience, I bet it is a lot of hard but emotionally rewarding work. Of course, also I would be tickled to death if Eugenio would come to visit me for a few days to practice my Italian. One way or the other, I imagine it would be great fun.
JE comments: Absolutely. The joys of the gentleman (and gentlewoman) farming go back at least to Jefferson. Or to Horace and his Beatus ille? I'm very bourgeois and travel too much to take on the responsibility, although I'd also appreciate a few days of fresh Savona air with Eugenio Battaglia. Roy Domenico is the only colleague I'm aware of who has spent time Eugenio's groves, and he reminded us that olive farming is very hard work.
Is your farm near your house, Tor? And if I may pry, does your enterprise make money, or at least break even? Please don't take offense at the question, but you are an economist and your answer will be of interest to WAISers.
- Japan's Changing National Image, WWII-Present; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 01/08/18 3:42 AM)
Gary Moore writes:
When commenting on Brian Blodgett’s
important documents from Japanese forces on Saipan in World War II, JE raised an understandable question:
How could Japan morph so quickly from the devil-hating fanatics of
World War II into the enlightened civilization of today—and does this mean,
in another part of the world, the suicide bombers of today may become
peaceful a half-century from now?
Others will know more about this, but it seems modern Japan has always shown
an almost incandescent flexibility and adaptability from the time it emerged from
feudalism in the mid-nineteenth century. On the other hand, Islam has been perhaps
too successfully the religion of stasis, which is always going to mean an axe to grind
with the more adaptive. Almost since its inception, Islam has been generating violent
splinter movements—which may stop tomorrow, for all anyone can say, but then
who will defend the stasis?
JE comments: These questions of national character are as unanswerable as they are endlessly fascinating. Perhaps unlike any other nation, Japan managed to put a humiliating defeat in its past, without the rise of revanchism. One possible explanation: the Emperor was not martyred, but simply "de-deified." I can think of no other example in history of such a thing. Imagine the official secularization of Jesus or Muhammad.
Our dear departed colleague Les Robinson was assigned to Saipan shortly after the invasion. One of my favorite war stories is the time a Japanese prisoner asked Les to give him his watch, "because he [Les] is rich." Typically, watch transfers go in the other direction, from prisoner to jailer. See this post from January 2008:
Have the Japanese *Really* Changed since WWII?
(Eugenio Battaglia, Italy
01/09/18 4:46 AM)
Gary Moore (8 January) makes some very good points. I totally agree that modern Japan has always shown an extraordinary flexibility and adaptability.
But have the Japanese really changed considerably?
Of course it is impossible to completely understand a foreign country, but I traveled a lot and I almost married a woman from Nagasaki. Talking with many Japanese, I had the impression that they are always the same great nation with the same basic feelings.
From them I understood that they are extremely resentful of the US occupation troops. Just see the continuous protests on Okinawa. But I understood also that they are forced to put up with this situation for the present.
As an Italian, I was generally always welcomed very warmly in Japan, in contrast to the above. But once I was in a Yokohama bar, and a tough-looking local fellow approached me and asked if I was an American. I answered that I was Italian expecting the usual change of humor and smiles, but instead he looked at me with contempt, saying to me in Italian, "Traditore di Mussolini." I was so surprised that I could not tell him his mistake, as he had already left.
In Nagasaki there is a huge statue with a man who has one arm pointing to the sky and the other pointing East. They explained that the meaning was: the bomb fell from the sky but then it will go East too.
Finally about the de-deification of the Japanese Emperor, they told me that on 1 January 1946 Hirohito had to make the "Ningen-sengen" (declaration of humanity) just to satisfy an arrogant and ignorant occupier, as no Japanese believed that the emperor was a god or that he was the offspring of the goddess Amaretasu. This was akin to the nice legend of the she-wolf of Rome.
By the way there is nothing comparable between the Japanese kamikaze and the present suicide terrorist from the Middle East. This is an insult to the gallant Japanese aviators, even if today's suicide terrorists are better than many partisans of WWII who conducted terrorist attacks and then escaped.
JE comments: To my mind, suicide fighters are all cut from the same fanatical cloth. Is Eugenio Battaglia making this distinction because the Japanese kamikazes were serving a traditional nation-state? Or because they targeted only enemy combatants?
Eugenio: tell us more about Mussolini vis-à-vis Japan. What did Il Duce have to say about his distant allies?
Relations between Mussolini and Imperial Japan
(Eugenio Battaglia, Italy
01/16/18 5:01 AM)
John E (9 January) asked me about the relations between Mussolini and Imperial Japan.
As far back as 1919, Mussolini spoke of an Asian century under Japanese leadership. The future Duce in the spring of 1920 wanted to participate as a pilot/newsman in the air expedition from Rome to Tokyo organized by Gabriele D'Annunzio and Harucuchi Shimoi but was refused. The flight over Europe and Asia and was carried out by Arturo Ferrari from 14 February through 31 May 1920, with 122 hours of actual flight time.
After WWI, Italy at first looked to China, but then there was a shift in policy towards Japan. The cinema industry founded by Mussolini started exalting Japan with its ability to absorb Western technology without renouncing its history. It also praised the productivity of Japan's industries and its rich bucolic countryside, its martial soul, the health of its people and above all the the spirituality of its traditions. This goal of a new world order within traditions was a similarity between the two nations.
At that time many Japanese delegations visited Italy and Puccini's opera Madame Butterly was a must.
During the years 1941/43, Italy published a monthly cultural magazine Yamato, in order for the Italians to know the characteristics of Japan, together with its achievements, history, and culture. Japan had a similar magazine titled Italia. It is very worthwhile to read these magazines; unfortunately I have only reprints.
In the same years Germany published the magazines Signal and La Svastika. The latter was the equivalent of the Yamato. Again I have only the reprint.
On 14 July 1945 the new Italy, a defeated nation but cooperating with the Allies and pressured by them, "very heroically" declared war on Japan, but for such a ridiculous act no peace treaty has ever been signed. Similarly, the declaration of war on Germany one and half years earlier never resulted in a treaty.
A curiosity about Italy: its national anthem has a reference to Poland, while Poland in its anthem has a reference to Italy. This is the only such case in the world and shows the great relations between the two countries. They were also the only two nations in WWII that did not declare war on each other, even if theoretically they were on opposite sides.
JE comments: I believe Finland and the US never declared war on each other.
Regarding D'Annunzio's 1920 flight from Rome to Toyko, Eugenio Battaglia originally described this as a "raid." Spanish also uses the word to refer to an expedition in aviation's early days. In English, an "air raid" is very different and far less peaceful. Who can walk us through the history of the term?
- Relations between Mussolini and Imperial Japan (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 01/16/18 5:01 AM)
- Japan's Changing National Image, WWII-Present; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 01/08/18 3:42 AM)
- Two Gentlemen Farmers: Battaglia and Guimaraes (Tor Guimaraes, USA 01/08/18 4:34 AM)