The History Girls: ‘Algernon and Ernest’s Excellent Adventure’ by Lesley Downer

‘younger by six centuries’ pic from Rutherford Alcock The Capital of the Tykoon 1863

In October 1866 a young man called Algernon Mitford arrived in Japan. ‘I found myself in a world younger by six centuries than that which I had left behind,’ he recalled. Like the eponymous heroes of the 1989 film ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure’, he had stepped into a time machine, but in his case, his experiences were real.
The extraordinary world that Mitford found himself in is …

American Traitor: The Tokyo Rose – fyeahhistory

So what or who is a Tokyo Rose and how are they/it a traitor? Spoiler alert – Tokyo Rose is not a new racially appropriated perfume from a global beauty powerhouse who should know better, the return…

Source: American Traitor: The Tokyo Rose – fyeahhistory

The History Girls: Love, Sex and Romance in Old Japan – Valentine’s Day Special by Lesley Downer

Cherry blossom time in the Yoshiwara pleasure quarters. Utagawa Hiroshige. Los Angeles County Fund

Until the late nineteenth century, there was no word for ‘love’ in Japanese, no equivalent to the western concept of pure, ennobling, platonic love, the courtly love of chivalry. Love was the forbidden fruit.

The Japanese acknowledged the strength of love, its power to subvert the existing order, and…

Source: The History Girls: Love, Sex and Romance in Old Japan – Valentine’s Day Special by Lesley Downer

The History Girls: Of hair and hairdressers in historic Japan by Debra Daley

The ways in which women of low social class earned a living in the 18th century, outside of prostitution and domestic service, always arouses my curiosity. During a recent research session, I came upon a print made around 1776 in Japan of a kabuki actor dressed as a kamiyui, a female hairdresser. It interested me to read that a woman who worked as a kamiyui was likely to make enough money to…

Source: The History Girls: Of hair and hairdressers in historic Japan by Debra Daley

East Asian skeletons found in a Londinium cemetery | The Heritage Trust

An artist’s impression of Londinium, centre of the Roman Empire in Britain, circa 200ce

An artist’s impression of Londinium, centre of the Roman Empire in Britain, circa 200ce   Across the river to the south of Londinium was a small suburb that would later become Southwark. It…

Source: East Asian skeletons found in a Londinium cemetery | The Heritage Trust

Making Maps Under Fire: Surveying New Guinea in World War II | The Rant Foundry

HMAS Whyalla in camouflage in New Guinea

The part played by the Hydrographic Surveying Services of the Royal Australian Navy was acknowledged by the Allied leaders of the Southwest Pacific Area as an integral factor contributing to the su…

Source: Making Maps Under Fire: Surveying New Guinea in World War II | The Rant Foundry

Saburo Sakai, WWII Japanese Ace – know who you’re up against | Pacific Paratrooper

As the Intermission stories come to a close, until we reach the break of 1944-1945, we take a look at one of the pilots the Allied Air Forces were up against…..   Saburō Sakai in the co…

Source: Saburo Sakai, WWII Japanese Ace – know who you’re up against | Pacific Paratrooper

Japanese Diary on Kolombangara | Pacific Paratrooper

In New Georgia on the Solomon Islands a Japanese private soldier found himself thrown into a campaign that had already been lost. He and his companions from the 23rd Infantry Regiment were landed on Baanga Island, where the troops in occupation were already in retreat. U.S. forces were already well established on nearby islands and the seas around were patrolled by PT boats and destroyers, making it increasingly difficult for the Japanese to land reinforcements or supplies.Little is known about Tadashi Higa apart from what was found in his diary which was found by the Americans and translated for intelligence purposes. On the 3rd August 1943 he made the following entry…

Source: Japanese Diary on Kolombangara | Pacific Paratrooper

February 1943 (2)

Pacific Paratrooper

"Warm Reception" by Jim Dietz of the Guadalcanal Cactus Air Force. “Warm Reception” by Jim Dietz of the Guadalcanal Cactus Air Force.

7-18 February – Chiang Kai-shek agreed to use his forces in the Burma campaign, but as usual, this was in exchange for a promise of even more US financial aid.  Mahatma Gandhi started his 21-day hunger strike in India in his non-violent opposition to British policies in his country.

Chindits 1943 Chindits 1943

The 47th and 55th Indian Brigades were beaten back at Donbaik in the Arakan peninsula.  The Chindits opposed the enemy for the first time on the 18th in Burma and advanced.  They managed to cut the Japanese railroad line between Mandalay and Myitkyina.

New Guinea New Guinea

12 February – the Allies initiated the Elkton Plan; a campaign designed by MacArthur to eject the Japanese from New Guinea, New Britain and the Solomons.  This would isolate the enemy headquarters at Rabaul.  (The original plan included capturing Rabaul, but was scrapped…

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Japanese Views

Pacific Paratrooper

'Shrine Entrance in Snowstorm' by Tosuke S. ‘Shrine Entrance in Snowstorm’ by Tosuke S.

Despite some common belief and wartime propaganda, not all the Japanese people wanted war with either America or England.  Here are some quotes located to help clarify that misconception.

The following quotes have been taken from Saburo Ienaga’s “Pacific War” (Taiheiyo senso) translated by Frank Baldwin.

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In the midst of the excitement and successful sinking of the US fleet at Pearl Harbor, Onozuka Kiheiji, former president of the Tokyo Imperial University, whispered to a colleague, “This means that Japan is sunk too.” ___ Ienaga Miyako

Onozuka Kiheiji Onozuka Kiheiji

This was true for even those members of the political elite who belonged to the cautious school of thought, made their point of view at the Senior Statesmen’s Conference by, Wakatsuki Reijiro: “Do we have adequate resources for a long war or not?  I am concerned about this problem.”  Yonai Mitsumasa added, “In attempting…

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Fepows

Pacific Paratrooper

F Force enroute to the Burma Railroad, by Otto Kreeft F Force enroute to the Burma Railroad, by Otto Kreeft

Fepows – Far Eastern POWs

Countless films and books concerned with the Second World War have, through the decades, concentrated on Europe and the Holocaust and the Far East prisoners of war have barely been mentioned.  The official 5 volumes of British history for this war include only 10 pages devoted to the subject, compared to the Australian history with 170 pages.

sketch by Jack Chalker, Fepow;British Army, Konyu, Thailand sketch by Jack Chalker, Fepow;British Army, Konyu, Thailand

Japan’s army conquered the Far East in 1941-42.  Prisoners were taken from Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaya, Thailand, Java, Sumatra, Ambon, New Britain, Celebes, Guam and the Philippines.  According to the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, Japan took more than 50,000 British and Australian troops in Singapore alone; 42,000 Dutch (N.E.I.); 10,000 British in Java and 25,000 Americans in the Philippines and then transported to the mainland camps.

The Japanese government made…

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Japanese Eye Witness Account

Pacific Paratrooper

Captain Mitsuo Fuschida Captain Mitsuo Fuschida

Capt. Mitsuo Fuschida, Imperial Japanese Navy, pilot

Fuchida was the first pilot to fly over Pearl Harbor when the attack of 7 December occurred – here he describes his view of the Battle of Midway from the deck of the IJN Akagi;

“The first enemy [U.S.] carrier planes to attack were 15 torpedo bombers.  When first spotted by our screening ships and combat air patrol, they were still not visible from the carriers, but they soon appeared as tiny dark specks in the blue sky, a little above the horizon, on Akagi’s starboard bow.  The distant wings flashed in the sun.  Occasionally one of the specks burst into a spark of flame and trailed black smoke as it fell into the water.  Our fighters were on the job and the enemy again seemed to be without fighter protection.

IJN Akagi IJN Akagi

“Presently a report came in from a Zero…

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Eye Witness Account (1)

Pacific Paratrooper

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The following has been condensed from an article by author Jim Reardon.

In the raid of 4 June, 20 bombers blasted storage tanks, a warehouse, hospital, a hangar and a beached freighter, while 11 Zeros strafed at will.  Chief Petty Officer Makoto Endo led a 3-plane Zero group whose pilots were Flight Petty Officers Tsuguo Shikada and Tadayoshi Koga, 19 years old.  Koga’s Zero, serial number 4593, was light gray, with the Imperial Rising Sun insignia on its wings and fuselage.  It had left the Mitsubishi Nagoya aircraft factory on 19 February, only 3½ months earlier, so it was the latest design.

Tadayoshi Koga Tadayoshi Koga

Earlier that day, soldiers at an US Army outpost had seen 3 Zeros shoot down a lumbering Catalina amphibian.  Most of the 7-member crew climbed into a rubber raft and began paddling to shore.  The soldiers watched in horror as the Zeros strafed the crew until…

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Intelligence

Pacific Paratrooper

The Dozier Family in Japan, circa 1920's The Dozier Family in Japan, circa 1920’s

The Japanese altered their pre-war message codes after the Coral Sea (6 May 1942), and a few weeks before the Aleutians and Midway ( June 1942).  The changes were enough to send US Naval Intelligence in Honolulu scrambling.

The Secret Service brought in a well-known Southern Baptist missionary who had recently arrived in Hawaii after being booted out of Japan along with the other undesirable westerners.  Reverend Edwin Burke Dozier, who became part of the Olivet Baptist Church in Honolulu, was the son of S.B.C. missionaries from Georgia.  He had been born and raised in Japan – the Nagasaki-Fukuoka area of Kyushu’s west coast.

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Rev. Dozier’s masterful ear for the Japanese language discerned that the enemy was using Japanese baby-talk in the key parts of their altered code.  These were not words found in any dictionary and a person would have had to…

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New Year’s Day 1942

Pacific Paratrooper

Carl Mydans, "Life" mag. photographer Carl Mydans, “Life” mag. photographer

While the people of Japan celebrated New Year’s Day in their usual fashion, debts were paid, people thronged to the Meiji Shrine to throw coins at midnight and for good luck, red daruma dolls were purchased, all this was topped off with the news of military success against the Allies.  But all this gaiety did not please the military.  They were aware of just how arduous the war was going to be and strict discipline must be maintained.  General Muto said:  “The first step is to replace Tojo as Prime Minister.”  (Tojo had been opposed to the military aggression.  He had to go.)

Japanese visiting Yasukuni Jinja during the New Year's period. Japanese visiting Yasukuni Jinja during the New Year’s period.

The Japanese in the Philippine Islands celebrated differently.  They closed in on Manila from two directions.  The southern troops were slowed about 40 miles out due to the amount of bridges that had…

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