Jim B. Smith
8606 Pershing Drive #19
Playa Del Rey, California 90293-8009
Phone/Fax: (310) 822-1676
My 10 man crew was attached to the 315th Bomb Wing and flew a B-29B named The Boomerang. I had been a former flying cadet caught in the pilot surplus classification closure, and subsequently was re-assigned as a B-29 radio operator.
Note: All 315th Missions were flown at night by B-29B Aircraft that had been stripped of all armament except for two 50 caliber machine guns in the tail. (The idea of stripping the ships was to achieve more range with heavier bomb loads.)
The 315th Bomb Wing Was The First Stealth Bomb Wing. The Bottom Of The Aircraft Was Painted Black To Avoid Searchlights.
Ube Liquefaction Plant Japan
August 6th, 12:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m.
A. We of the 315th Wing bomb Ube Liquefaction Plant located 72 miles south of Hiroshima. (We received a Distinguished Unit Citation for sinking our target).
B. At dawn, on our way back to Guam, we see three lone B-29 flying North bound (Later we determined that one of the lone B-29s was the Enola Gay and the other airplanes were either weather or supporting aircraft for the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.)
August 6 Hiroshima Japan
The Atomic bomb is dropped on Hiroshima
The Boomerang Crew has been debriefed and is back in the barracks getting ready for sleep. The "Sack Rat" radio show emanating from Guam is interrupted to bring a special bulletin reporting the decimation of Hiroshima after it was struck with one "Super" bomb.
Nagasaki Japan August 9th,
A. Atomic bomb is dropped on Nagasaki.
B. Russia enters the war against Japan.
C. 315th Bomb Wing is ordered to bomb the Amagasaki Oil Fields. The 315th.Wing bombs Amagasaki at Midnight (we received a Distinguished Unit Citation for this mission).
Amagasaki Japan bombed by 315th Wing at Midnight
(same day that Nagasaki is bombed)
Japan/San Francisco August 10th
A. Japan's acceptance of the Potsdam Proclamation is sent, in International Morse Code, to a San Francisco radio station.
B. A bombing moratorium is ordered for the 315th Wing.
Guam August 13th
Solid rumors of the Japanese surrender sweep the 20th Air Force. The 315th Wing had begun to celebrate victory on 10 August, but an unexpected "last" show-of-force missions are ordered to strike Japan. The 315th is spared from the flying this mission and so we double our celebration efforts believing that the war is over. Rumors of peace fill the air.
In Japan August 14th,
Japanese Coup d' Etat is hatched by War Minister General Anami's military staff. Principally: Colonel Arao, Lieutenant Colonel Takeshita (brother-in-law to General Anami), Lieutenant Inaba, and Major Hatanaka. The objectives of the coup are to kidnap the Emperor, confiscate his recordings of peace and keep the war going. The recording by the Emperor had become the key to war or peace. The Japanese, dedicated to fight to the death, could only be stopped by words from the Emperor.
Guam August 14th,
The 315th, in the middle of their end-of-the-war celebration, is shocked as the Wing is ordered to fly a last mission to Akita (the longest mission from the Marianas and the longest mission ever attempted with a "max" bomb load and without bomb bay tanks). The enroute target course will take us almost directly over Tokyo. The code word "Apple" is given to the radio operators at briefing. That word, sent in international morse code, will signal an enroute mission termination. In this event the 315th would be required to salvo bombs and return to base.
U.S. radio operator on Okinawa picks up a message from the Domei News Agency informing the Allies that the Japanese surrender is imminent
(3:49 Guam time--53 minutes before we takeoff to bomb Akita).
We of the 315th. Wing assemble on Northwest Field, and prepare to fly the last mission. We are ordered to start engines, then ordered to shut engines down and stand by.
We are ordered to restart engines and fly the mission to Akita.
Major Hatanaka sets the revolt in motion.
The Boomerang and the 315th Wing take off for Akita.
The Emperor signs the Rescript (surrender) and the Imperial Seal is affixed.
The Boomerang has reached Iwo Jima enroute to Akita.
The men from NHK are setting up for the Emperor's peace recording in The Household Ministry Building.
Major Hatanaka, and a Lt. Colonel thought to be Lt. Col. Mikasa, the Emperor's youngest brother, enter the Palace grounds and is joined by Colonel Haga, commander of the 2nd Regiment of the Imperial Guards Division. This Regiment had the responsibility of protecting the Emperor. Colonel Haga had agreed with Hatanaka that they should "protect" the Emperor from his traitorous peace seeking advisors. Hatanaka and Haga set up plans to intercept the Emperor and to insure that his recordings of peace are confiscated. (The 2nd Regiment has added an extra battalion so the Regiment numbers over 1000 soldiers).
At the Foreign Office, The Vice-Minister, Shunichi Matsumoto approves the text of Japan's acceptance of the Potsdam Proclamation.
The prime minister Baron Kantaro Suzuki signs the Potsdam Proclamation peace treaty.
A. Naval Captain Kozono, commander of the 302nd Air Corps, snarls at the peace effort, and gives orders to his officers and men to prepare for action.
B. Captain Sasaki of the Yokahama Guards: "There is no such word as surrender in the Japanese vocabulary. Japan must fight! why should it surrender? There is still a huge Japanese army on the Chinese mainland, and Japan still holds 350,000 Allied prisoners of war."
The Boomerang and the 315th Wing 29s are approaching 200 miles south Tokyo and are picked up by Japan's early warning radar.
In Japan 11:05 p.m.
A. The Japanese Cabinet completes the signing of surrender. A
full-on blackout punctuates the process just as the last signature is affixed. The surrender is cabled to the United States and Allied forces through Switzerland.
B. Emperor Hirohito is about to enter his Mercedes Benz and be transported to the Household Ministry Building where he will record the surrender messages for the Japanese people. The blackout forces him to his bomb shelter for 27 minutes.
C. The blackout confuses and confounds the conspirators who are waiting to intercept the Emperor.
The coup's leader, Major Hatanaka and the Colonel Haga's guards divert their position and with the aid of hooded flashlights push through the blackout to the office of General Mori, commander of the first guards division. The blackout signaled the urgency to enlist Mori and take over the entire Palace post haste.
Kodama, Japan August 15,
Thirty six planes of the 27th Air Corps takeoff to engage the 315th as we skirt to the eastern perimeter of Tokyo.
I move to a port side window back of the aircraft commander and try to make out Tokyo. Outside there is total impenetrable blackness. There is no moon, making an ink black night seem even blacker.
In Japan Hirohito Records Peace Rescript
Emperor Hirohito records the peace message in the Household Ministry Building with the aid of an auxiliary generator (2 takes and 2 records to a set). The records are put into metal cases, and since the lids didn't fit well were subsequently place in khaki colored cotton bags around 18 inches square, that were used for defense uniforms. Chamberlain Tokugawa, using a flashlight, hides the records in a small safe located in an office used by a member of the Empress's retinue. After Tokugawa locks the safe, he piles up papers in front for a camouflage.
The Boomerang Crew Heads for Akita (270 miles northwest of Tokyo)
Major Hatanaka and Captain Uehara confront General Mori, Commander of the 1st Imperial Guards Division, and his brother-in-law, Colonel Michinori Shiraishi, in Mori's office. Mori stalls for time and Hatanaka explodes a bullet into the General's chest killing him. Colonel Michinori Shiraishi charges Captain Uehara, but the latter is faster and nearly slashes off his head. Both Mori and Shiraishi die instantly.
In Japan Between
1:00 a.m. and 2:00 a.m.
(False Order #584)
Major Hatanaka affixes General Mori's private seal to copies of false orders which Hatanaka had approved earlier. These "official" but false orders would direct the Imperial Guards Division to sever all communications with the Imperial Palace except through Division Headquarters. The document was known as the Imperial Guards Division Strategic Order No. 584. The Emperor would be held incommunicado, and Hatanaka could issue "Imperial" orders to keep the war going.
The Boomerang Bombs Akita
The Boomerang bombs Akita. This mission was not declassified until 1985. Akita represented 68% of the annual Inner Zone oil refined at the time we attacked it. The mission destroyed the target. (The Japanese were using Pine Tar derivatives in some of their fighters, and they didn't have enough fuel at the end for burying the dead. The destruction of Akita unplugged one of Japan's major lifelines for continuing the war.)
Conspirators search the Imperial Palace premises for the peace recordings. Personnel leaving the Household Ministry Building are searched and then held prisoner in a guard's hut. The palace has been cut off from the outside and the conspirators are in control. Communication lines have been cut.
The Boomerang flies back over Tokyo. In total disgrace for Japan's defeat, War Minister General Anami prepares to kill himself.
The conspirators conduct a frantic search for the peace recordings in the Imperial Household Ministry Building. Gun butts are used against personnel, and Chamberlain Tokugawa is knocked down after giving an unsatisfactory answers regarding the whereabouts of the recordings. The blackout makes the search of the labyrinthine Household Ministry complex next to impossible.
4:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.
A. Captain Sasaki, of the Yokahama Guards, and thirty seven soldiers look to kill Prime Minister Susuki. Sasaki wants to lead the final battle for Japan.
B. Major General Tatsuhiko Takashima, Chief of Staff of the Eastern District Army, tells Hatanaka it's all over.
C. The First Regiment of the Imperial Guards surround the NHK (broadcast station) Building. False order #584 was in operation.
5:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m.
A. Major Hatanaka enters NHK brandishing a pistol and demanding to broadcast his own message to the Japanese people.
B. War Minister Anami pins on medals preparing for seppuku.
C. Soldiers Burn Prime Minister's House.
A. General Korechika Anami completes Hara-Kiri.
B. The engineer stalls Hatanaka from getting on the air, and the Major departs the NHK Building.
I pick up the official surrender broadcast from Saipan radio. The crew goes wild in celebration of war's end!
Northwest Field, Guam
The Boomerang lands back at Northwest Field after completing the longest B-29 mission ever flown from the Marianas.
In front of the Imperial Palace, on Greensward between Double Bridge and Sakashita Gate, Major Hatanaka and Lt. Colonel Shiizaki take their lives. Hatanaka uses the same pistol that killed General Mori and fires a bullet into the center of his forehead. Shiizaki drives a sword into his belly and then shoots himself in the head.
In Japan at NHK Building The Emperor Speaks Though His Recordings of Peace (12:00 noon)
"A broadcast of highest importance", said announcer Wada, "is about to be made. All listeners will please rise. His majesty the Emperor, will now read his Imperial Rescript to the people of Japan. We respectfully transmit his voice." The strains of "Kimigayo," the Japanese national anthem, followed.
"To Our good and loyal subjects...