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2 However, in terms of the number of bombers deployed and tons of bombs dropped, this mission, codenamed Perdition #1, 3 was the largest incendiary attack on Tokyo at that point in the … Afterward, I decided to go to medical school and do something positive for a change. or that of any of the great conflagrations of the western world—London, 1666. . The Air Force history of the war records that “the physical destruction and loss of life at Tokyo exceeded that at Rome . You can also buy the book by clicking on the buttons to the left. Each plane would fly individually, in three staggered lines between 5,000 and 7,000 feet. If they couldn’t take out the factories, they could kill the people who worked in them. But because there was no formation, there was some confusion and the alarms were not sounded until 12:15, a full seven minutes after the bombs began to fall. Our group, the 497th, was the last one to go in. He brought us down from high-altitude bombing with fragmentary bombs to low-level with incendiaries. In bomb tonnage, it was equivalent to over 1,000 B-17s. Over several hours, U.S. Army Air Forces warplanes destroyed the shitamachi, or the low-lying section of Tokyo, and killed an estimated 100,000 Japanese citizens in a firestorm. And in the short span of time, he hoped to be able to knock them so hard and so fast that they might just consider surrendering. That meant room for even more bombs. These bombings were especially horrifying because no more than two bombs destroyed many homes and killed almost 120 thousand people. In both cases, the Allies claimed the cities were legitimate military targets. When the crews came into the main hall, Tom Power, who gave the briefing as mission commander, explained that no defensive guns and gunners would be flying on this mission. Only the rear gunner would fly, and he would be there only to observe. I was home in October of that year in my own little bed, and I had not even achieved my 20th birthday. However, another bombing raid almost surpassed the death toll of Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined: the firebombing of Tokyo. Young American officers in the sky dropped hundreds of thousands of bomblets on the working-class section of the city, with its densely packed wooden dwellings mainly inhabited at the time by women, children and men too old to fight. Civilians pay the price. It is not a good thing to leave an ex-commander in the same outfit that he commanded.”. Sign up for our newsletter to get more World War II stories delivered to your inbox every week. Tokyo fire bombing 70th anniversary: Survivors beg Japan to remember the forgotten 100,000. The firebombing of Tokyo was designed to terrorise and bomb the Japanese into surrender. This article is part of our larger resource on the history of aviation in World War Two. The only course left is for Japan’s one hundred million people (the real count was closer to 72 million) to sacrifice their lives by charging the enemy to make them lose the will to fight.”. For more coverage of conflict, visit nytimes.com/atwar. But if you don’t destroy Japan’s capacity to wage war, we’re going to have to invade Japan. The more humane tactics of Gen. Haywood S. Hansell— trying to hit only military targets—may not have been all that humane in the end, and probably would have prolonged the conflict. On March 9, 1945, B-29 bombers in the U.S. Air Force began dropping incendiary bombs on the city of Tokyo. Yes, the Allied Firebombing of Tokyo Killed 100,000 Worse that the atomic bombings in number of dead? But by then, the Japanese fighter response was practically nil. But if it prolonged the war against a recalcitrant enemy—and Japan was feared for its willingness to send its men, women, and children to their deaths as human weapons—then it might not be so humane after all. From that point on, it became a matter of engineering and mathematics. An American amphibious assault on the Japanese mainland could mean a half a million more lives that the U.S. lost, to say nothing of Japanese death tolls. Exactly 66 years ago, the U.S. Airforce conducted the largest single firebombing in history over Tokyo which killed at least 100,000 residents and injured up to one million people. I’ve never smelled anything like it since, and I don’t want to. The US first mounted a small-scale raid on Tokyo in April 1942. Another factor in the firebombing of Tokyo was the problem of B-29 bombing inaccuracy at high altitude over Japan. The crew members were brought in and asked if they objected to firebombing the cities of Japan. Also, it wasn’t just Tokyo. 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tokyo firebombing deaths