Tuesday 12 May 2020

IJAAF & IJNAF wrecked aircraft #15 - Atsugi pt. 1

In this series we will examine details from various clips, some well-known some less so, featuring the arrival of U.S. forces and Genral Douglas MacArthur in Atsugi base and what they found there. The sources for the videos will be included in the last post.

Below is a quite detailed piece about what transpired (from the U.S. point of view ofcourse) during these first days (source: here)  

Implementation of Operations:
"Blacklist "

General Eichelberger had moved his Eighth Army Command Post from the eastern coastal plain of Leyte to Okinawa on 26 August. On Okinawa both the 11th Airborne and the 27th Division were stalled on the scheduled airlift to Japan by the succession of typhoons.
All available troop transports of the Far East Air Force and dozens of the huge "Skytrains" and "Skymasters" of the Pacific Air Transport Command had been mobilized at Okinawa for this mammoth air operation-the greatest aerial movement during the Pacific war. The initial target date was officially postponed from 26 August to 28 August because of the adverse weather.
Then the weather cleared and a cool, refreshing breeze, "very refreshing to the spirit," blew over the Kanto Plain.
At Atsugi airfield near Tokyo, Japanese planes sat helplessly stripped of their propellers. A picked detachment of the Naval Security Corps, armed with clubs, guarded the Atsugi airfield where Lt. Gen. Seizo Arisue, Lt. Gen. Senichi Kamada, Captain Chuzaburo Yamazumi and Ken Tsurumi of the Foreign Office awaited the arrival of the American advance forces.
The heralds of that advance force, American Corsairs and Grummans, had appeared with the dawn of that historic day and continued to fly in strong formations over the entire Tokyo Bay and Atsugi area.
The first American formations flying from Okinawa were not expected until 0900, but half an hour earlier a twin-engined aircraft appeared in the skies from the south. It was a C-46 transport. The plane circled the field and then came in from the south to touch down upon the center runway at 0828. This plane was followed by fifteen others.
From the leading plane debarked Colonel Charles P. Tench, GSC, of the G-3 Section of GHQ, commanding the advance party. Waiting automobiles conveyed Colonel Tench and party to the Japanese reception group.
General Arisue stiffly saluted Colonel Tench and, after introductions, the group entered a tent in the center of the field. General Arisue offered food, but Colonel Tench who had brought his own rations, declined with thanks.
Colonel Tench explained that his party consisted of approximately 150 officers and men and that their directive from the Supreme Commander was divided into four main divisions. It was as follows:
a. Reconnaissance of the Atsugi airdrome area to determine its suitability for the airborne operation to follow.
b. Establishment of required air installations and supplies to support initial phases of the air operations in the area as provided by the Commanding General, FEAF.
c. Supervision and coordination of improvements required at the Atsugi airdrome.
d. Establishment of communications with GHQ, AFPAC, without delay and reporting on suitability or non-suitability of the Atsugi airdrome for the purpose intended. All messages to be transmitted in code. Reporting over signal communications net additional information desired by the Commanding General, FEAF.
While this initial conference took place, soldiers debouched from the planes coming to earth every few moments, unloaded jeeps, and prepared to form exploratory parties. Colonel Hutchinson, who had been assigned as billeting officer, led the first of these on an inspection of the former Sagamigahara Air Unit barracks at the west end of the airfield. It was proposed by the Japanese that this barracks should serve as accommodations for the advance party. Other inspection teams immediately deployed over the entire airfield area.
A second flight of fifteen C-54's, C-46's, and C-47's arrived at 0935 and a third group of fifteen C-54's landed at 1100. These planes, carrying a total of 30 officers and 120 men wearing regular combat equipment were escorted by ten carrier-based Seventh Fleet F6F liaison planes flying from Sagami Bay.
The Japanese were amazed by the efficiency with which these Grumman fighters, landing on the grass, folded their wings "like cicadas," even while the planes were taxied into position. The Japanese made no attempt to conceal the degree to which they were impressed by the speed with which the Americans motorized themselves and invested the entire field area. Their amazement was outspoken when within forty-five minutes after the leading planes had touched down, portable Signal Corps transmitters were on the air establishing communications with Okinawa. The last planes of the party brought fuel, lubricants, and maintenance equipment to make the intrepid little unit compact and self-sustaining until the anticipated arrival on 30 August of the main airborne force which would constitute the first of the Occupation troops for Japan.
It was imperative that every effort be made to insure the early and safe arrival of the 11th Airborne force of some seven thousand men. An inspection of Atsugi revealed the necessity for the immediate construction of landing strips long enough to accommodate B-29s and C-54s which would be landing in rapid succession once the movement had started. Only one night could be devoted to this construction work involving strips one and one-half kilometers in length. Under the supervision of the small American force, the Japanese workmen recruited by the indefatigable General Arisue became efficient to a degree apparently never before experienced by the Japanese officers. With the break of dawn, the work was near enough to completion to enable the advance party to signal GHQ at Manila for relay to Okinawa that everything was in readiness for the initiation of the real Occupation of Japan-the first by a foreign army in the recorded history of that nation.

Japanese sources mention that during the initial communication, the U.S. forces wanted to be based in central Tokyo or in the Kamakura, Zushi and Hayama areas. But the Japanese had already started preparation of the Yokohama area. Gas and electric connections were fixed, proper houses to accomodate the U.S. troops were designated, even western style toilets were installed. All the regidents in the area and even school children were put to work to make everything as suitable as possible. In the end the Americans were persuaded that Yokohama was the best option regarding the safety, health or otherwise, of their troops.

In the three clips below, we can first see U.S. troops inspecting bombsights, radios and other high tech equipment, then it seems that schoolchildren were employed to carry 20mm Type 99 (Oerlicon) cannons (note the "Raiden" in the background).


Honza78 said...

Unspeakably great !! Thanks for another great article !!

Danilo said...

So interesting, so sad! These images leave a sense of emptiness, sadness and worthlessness of the war - all those radios, gunsights, guns and planes built and now useless, no future. I imagine the feelings of the vanquished, what a tough times! and despite this I would like to know more and more of those days immediately after the war's end in Japan as well as in Europe

Dan Salamone said...

Seeing the fuel trucks so clearly, and they are all painted in IJA khaki, too. Very interesting!