Thursday, September 17, 2015


Wielding bamboo spears, village women on Kyushu - Japan's southernmost main island-prepare enthusiastically to repel invaders in April 1945.

 Soldiers, farmers and women in traditional garb build a camouflaged gun emplacement as part of a defense network along Shibushi Bay on Kyushu.

Japan planned a nasty reception for American invaders. Everything the nation had left was to be thrown into a last, desperate battle designed to shatter American morale and force the Allies to abandon their demand for unconditional surrender.

Applying the lessons of Saipan and Okinawa- that the enemy must be stopped on the beaches or not at all-construction battalions fortified the shorelines of Kyushu and Honshu with tunnels, bunkers and barbed wire. More than 5,000 planes were rigged for one-way missions and lay camouflaged in coastal meadows or on mountainside ramps- loaded with just enough fuel to reach the invasion beaches. Automobiles were relieved of their engines to power hundreds of suicide launches that would attack American landing craft.

Meanwhile the 28 million women, children and old men in the People's Volunteer Army drilled with bamboo spears and pitchforks, convinced that "strength in the citadel of the spirit" would make up for their primitive weapons. They were joined by another four million well-drilled civil servants and 2.5 million soldiers, many of them brought home from Manchuria and Korea for the "divine chance" to save the Empire- or die trying. If these sacrificial warriors had doubts, they hid them well. "The Imperial Army is confident," boasted one general. "Our men are fortified with the admirable spirit of Kamikaze."


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