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Post Honor in Warfare: Japan and Elsewhere
Created by John Eipper on 01/07/18 6:18 AM

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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.

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  • 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.

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