Skip to main content

tv   Okinawa Survival of China During World War II  CSPAN  April 24, 2021 6:59pm-8:01pm EDT

6:59 pm
election. learn more about the 1864 presidential election tonight at 8pm eastern five pacific here on american history tv. the battle of okinawa was the last major battle of world war ii up next author's saul david and rana mitter recount the events leading up to the battle and the role it played in ending the war. they also discussed china's conflict with japan before world war ii and how that affected china's future. they're joined by historian richard frank author of tower of skulls a history of the asia-pacific war july. this discussion was part of an annual conference hosted by the national world war ii museum which provided the video? i'm jeremy collins with the national world war ii museum. well, we're now in full swing. we've got our first two sessions under our belt for a great conference thus far and the next session is sure to continue that.
7:00 pm
this session brings three of the world's leading scholars together and they all have new books out as well to chair. this session is another one of our presidential counselors and also one of our valued members of the conference planning committee that puts these programs together with our staff every year and that is richard frank. rich's latest book is maybe one of the best titles that we've ever seen tower of skulls a and i look forward to rich's comments, but also the roundtable discussion with saul david and rana mitter, but rich the show is yours. so take it away. and thank you jeremy. this session is about two particularly important topics in the asian pacific war one focuses on the battle of okinawa, which is important in
7:01 pm
his own right but particularly in terms of its impact in terms of how the war ended the other the survival of china in 1945 talks about an extremely important event. not only in terms of the asia-pacific war, but also china's modern history. our guides are dr. saul david and dr. rana meter a saul david is a professor at military history at the university of buckingham. uh, he has an accountant and a claims historian as well as broadcaster his works of one numerous awards. there's a sort of a trio of books about the victorian era one's about the indian mutiny and other was about the zulu world war heroism and tragedy in the zulu war of 1879 and once called victoria's wars and then he parachuted into the 20th century and he did a book about the and copyright by the israelis, and then also more recently a book called the force the legendary special service operations unit and its mission impossible in world war ii most
7:02 pm
recently he's done a book about okinawa called the crucible of hell heroism and tragedy of okinawa in 1945. this is a driving narrative that covers the battle from top to bottom with many really graphic personal accounts of both american and japanese combatants as well as okinawans most of whom are non-combatants in this great tragedy on okinawa in 1945. he's been given accolades by some of the great figures in the field like sir anthony beaver and david ronald. and our other speaker will be dr. rana miller of oxford. we welcome him back again. he is an internationally as acclaimed historian of a modern china a subject. i would class is one of the most challenging of modern historical disciplines is publications. focused on china they include mentorian myth nationalism resistance collaboration and modern in china a better revolution modern china of very short introduction to this
7:03 pm
important and outstanding body of work. i would particularly add and underscore his forgotten ally a china's world war 1937 1945 published in the us and 2013 in my view. this represents a singular contribution to the history of world war ii. it's been highly celebrated properly so internationally and phil perps my view the greatest gap that we really had in the historography of world war ii going back some seven decades last year. he published china's good war. how world war ii is shaping a new nationalism. this is an early fascinating account of the official and public histories of china's world war two experience past who's reinterpretations are very important and what we deal with today with people's republic. so with that introduction out of the way, let me turn it over to saul david who's going to talk about okinaw. thanks very much. rich, i think we got the map coming up in just a second so we can orientate ourselves just a little bit, but we're going all the way back 76 years to the
7:04 pm
first of april 1945 when american troops invaded the 70 mile long island of okinawa. we just move on one slide. you should be able to see now. i know so quite a broad map there, but just below the japanese home islands you can see the that marking the flash for the battle and that is okinawa it was as i've just pointed out 325 miles south of the japanese home islands and the reason possession of it was important is because it would allow a live planes to bomb strategic targets on the mainland and prepare the ground for an amphibious invasion. it was the culmination of a two pronged american advanced through new guinea and the philippines and further north through the islands of the central pacific that had been gathering pace since the landings on guadal canal which you can see right right down the bottom of that map there in the solomon islands in august. 142 the operation codenamed iceberg was was an astonishing logistical feat for the assault echelon alone more than 183,000
7:05 pm
troops and 747,000 tons of cargo were loaded onto 430 assault transports and landing ships at 11 different ports from seattle to late in the philippines. the bulk of resupply would come from the west coast of the united states a distance of 6,250 nautical miles or 26 days sailing most of the 440,000 allied servicemen navy air and army who fought in the campaign were american they included the men of the us fifth fleet the most powerful in history with more than 20 fleet aircraft carriers 10 battleships and 1200 aircraft. we can just move on one slide we can now see the actual landings themselves. he's the landing crafts on off the her gucci beaches as we can see here on 1st of april these things interesting enough were unopposed them by night form more than 60,000 men were occupying a beachhead 15,000 yards long and in places 5,000 yards deep if we move on one
7:06 pm
more map. this is actually the plan of attacks. so this is what they hoped their achieve what they actually achieve was much more successful. so by the second day us troops had reached the east coast all the way across the island cutting okinawa into they would soon hold a slice of okinawa 50 miles long and from three to 10 wide including two airfields. you can see the airfields in the center of the map here the american commander and son of a famous confederate leader left 10 in general simon bolivar buckner, jr. was elated we landed practically without opposition. he noted in his diary and gain more ground than we expected to for three days. the japanese have missed their best opportunity. actually that wasn't quite the case. in fact, the americans had effectively walked into a trap. well aware that their 80,000 soldiers bolstered by rap by around 20,000 militiamen were outgunned and outnumbered the japanese commanders had chosen to concentrate the bulk of their forces in the southern third of the island where they had dug
7:07 pm
and blasted into coral rock turning and this is a quotation several jagged lines of ridges and rocky escarpment into formidable nests of interlocking pill boxes and firing positions all were connected by a network of caves and passageways inside the hills the loud the defenders to move safely to each point of attack and if we move on one more map, this is the map of the center of okinawa and this is really where all the defenses were and you can see from the from the lines across the center how effective this ridge line defensive system was and it would take button as men almost three months to get through. these multiple layers of defenses and subdue japanese resistance on the island and some days they advance barely 100 yards and were forced to use high explosives flamethrowers and even gasoline to kill or in tune the defenders in their underground bunkers and these
7:08 pm
bunkers i should add ran for 60 kilometers underneath the surface and they were incredibly hard to to get the defenders out of move on one more map and we come to one of the most famous images of the battle. i don't have time of course to talk about all the many really gruesome engagements in this in the battle, but this is one of the most famous this is sugarloaf hill as you can see from the caption here some of the most savage fighting okinawa took was involved in the in the capture of this seemingly in significant feature described by one veteran as an ugly hive of coral and volcanic rock 300 yards long and 100 feet. i the week-long battle to capture the hill in mid-may 1945 would cost the sick marine division more than 2,600 casualties including three battalion commanders and nine company commanders and here's another telling statistic 1200 cases of combat fatigue. there were enormous numbers of
7:09 pm
cases of combat fatigue during the battle with heavy rain adding to the misery the battlefield became a hellish site. here's a quote from one of the most famous writers of the of the actual battle eugene sledge of the three fifth marines. he wrote for several feet around every course maggots crawled about in the mark and then were washed off by the runoff of the rain. there wasn't a tree or bush left or was open country shells had torn up the turf so completely the ground cover was non-existent. the scene was nothing but mud shelfire flooding craters with their silent pathetic rotting occupants knocked out tanks and amtraks and discarded equipment utter. isolation determined to defend okinawa to the last the japanese fought with fanatical bravery the garrison was supported by waves of kamikaze attacks some planes manned rockets human torpedoes and even ships launched on suicide missions from the home islands the plains were flown by officers of the
7:10 pm
so-called shampoo. takatai, the divine wind special attack units who had pledged to crash their airplanes into enemy ships in acts of self immolation. we move on one slide. you can see just one of those pilots who as you can see playing is playing hits the uss bunker hill on the 11th of may 1945 1945 and if we move on one more slide you get the grim picture of the strike on the bunker hill, which killed 400 men actually there were two planes that hit the bunker hill but 400 men killed. the many japanese suicide attacks were designed to drive wood destroy or drive off the ships of the us fifth fleet including a powerful royal navy component and isolate the american troops on okinawa, but they failed and thousands of japanese lives were lost but they did manage to sing 36 relative and damage the 3608 the heaviest naval us naval losses
7:11 pm
of the war move on one more slide and we get a sense of of the final bit of the fighting which took place right at the southern tip of the island the last stand now left to fight on alone after the kamikaze had failed the japanese garrison made desperate last stand here in the southern tip of the island where it also herded many civilians the end came on june 22nd 1945 when the 10th army had quarters announced that all organized resistance on okinawa had ceased we won one more map and you you get a visual image of that not quite as famous as the razing on iwo, jima, of course, but a similar type of image the had lasted for 83 blood-soaked days as the fighting plum depth of savagery that in my eyes were absbad as anything seen on the eastern front in russia in that time us president franklin d. roosevelt died the war in europe ended and more than 250,000 people lost their lives on or near okinawa the most southerly of japan's 47 prefectures the dead included the vast majority of the 110,000 japanese in
7:12 pm
okinawaan defenders, including air and navy personnel. most of you refuse to surrender 12 and a half thousand american serviceman out of total casualties. oh 70,000 making it by far the bloodiest us battle of the pacific and one of the costliest in the country's history and most tragically 125,000 okinawaan civilians a third of the pre-wall population who are either caught in the crossfire murdered by the japanese or victims of japanese propaganda that it was better to commit mass suicide that be raped and killed by the americans. move on one more slide and we can see the almost the last moment of bolivar simon bolivar book now the american commander. he's he's to the right of this picture. he was killed on the 18th of june observing an attack by the eighth marines move on one more picture and another casualties very unusual in a battle of this size the other field commander. he actually commits ritual
7:13 pm
suicide four days after butner's death on the 18th of june. move back to the main map now. this is the final slide now, but even more than the appalling ferocity of the fighting it is the far-reaching consequences of the battle that in my view make it one of the most significant in world history on june 18th with the japanese resistance on okinawa all but broken the new us president harry s truman met his military chiefs to discuss the next step in the war against japan. the advice of the joint chiefs of staff and general macarthur explained us army chief of staff george c marshall at that meeting was to invade kyushu the most southerly of japan's home islands, and if you look at the home islanders, you can see queue show at the bottom there and nagasaki of course is marked on it. the plan was to invade kyushu with a force of 766,000 men on november the 1st. they would be opposed by japanese force of marshall estimated at least eight divisions of 350,000 men such a move was in marshall's view the
7:14 pm
only way to ensure japan's defeat airpower alone. he said was not sufficient to put the japanese out of the war now admiral king the navy chief also at the meeting agreed that we should do key you should now after which there would be time to judge the effect of possible operations by the russians and chinese so far as preparation was concerned we must aim now for tokyo plane now what he's referring to in this comment is the even bigger invasion of honshu the main island of the that had been scheduled for spring 1946. casualties were impossible to estimate said marshall, but given the huge number of men lost on okinawa a third of the total used and the fact that the enemy would fight even more fanatically in defensive japan proper. it would be a terrifying bloody ordeal for the us servicemen involved secretary of war henry simpson who was at the meeting expected casualties of over a million for both invasions marshall thought half a million americans might die and told truman that at a separate time.
7:15 pm
now this meeting ended with truman agreeing that preparations for the invasion of q shoes should continue but there was of course possible alternative and that was to use the newly developed atom bomb truman had known about the atom bomb since his first day as president april 12th, and it's since been told that it's first crucial test firing in the new mexico desert would take place in july. he also knew that the interim committee that had been set up to advise on the future use of the bomb had recommended on june 1st. that's 17 days, of course before the meeting. i've just been talking about that if it worked the atom bomb should be used against japan as soon as possible against a wall plants surrounded by workers homes and without prior warning to follow any other course ar a committee would be to put at risk the major objective of obtaining a prompt surrender from the japanese and this view interestingly enough was mirrored by a panel of distinguished physicists including robert oppenheit. sorry including robert
7:16 pm
oppenheimer who reported we can propose no technical demonstration likely to bring an end to the war. we see no acceptable alternative to direct military use it is my contention therefore, but truman ultimately accepted this advice because as he put it he feared them in that an invasion of japan would look like okinawa from one end of japan to the other and that it would cost the us millions of american dead and wounded it would also kill countless japanese soldiers and civilians. my object wrote truman is to save as many american lives as possible, but i also have a human feeling the women and children of japan. thank you. well, thank you saul and now let me turn it over to ron. thanks very much. indeed. rich, and it's a huge pleasure to be on this panel with such one of the stories as saul and rich and to enjoy this audience. i think from many countries in
7:17 pm
fact, but hosted by the national world war ii museum. jeremy could i get the the first slide please. thank you. i've called this brief set of remarks endgame in china because i want to spend the next 10 minutes or so talking about one aspect of the last days of world war ii which doesn't tend to get so much attention in the western historiography. and that is the ending of the war in china itself within the china theater. this is of course an integral part of world war ii and in fact, of course the china theater starting with the outbreak of the sino japanese war in 1937 is in its own right the single longest theater of the second world war as a whole and i think that's worth remembering just briefly in terms of the context when we think about what happened in i think some very packed very fateful days in 1944 and 1945.
7:18 pm
so just to remind ourselves it is worth remembering that the outbreak of war between china and japan which became the asian theater of or two and important part of it ahead of the pacific war started in july 1937. and therefore the chinese had been fighting the japanese for four and a half years before pearl harbor actually happened in other words both communist and nationalist chinese the communist thunder mounted on and the communists under shanghai sheikh coming together in an uneasy alliance during the course of those eight years. we also know that even though statistics then were very scattered in many ways and even now by no means complete we can reasonably say that we think that including civilians and military that around 10 million or more chinese were killed during that conflict and also that's something like 80 to 100 million chinese became refugees within their own country. in other words the
7:19 pm
infrastructure of china. was devastated the kind of settled agricultural and urban lifestyle of china was thrown into turmoil because of huge refugee flight and we're all the price that was paid for holding down its peak more than half a million japanese troops in the japanese mainland from the summer of 1937 was a very high price paid by chinese of all political persuasions and indeed of none. and as i say the reason that i remind us of this sketch, is that when the end days of world war ii in china are considered at all in the historiography outside china itself. it tends to be in slightly dismissive terms the idea of china as a side show the idea of china has not really a serious battlefield one web apps. even the chinese defenders the nationalists have changed didn't really fight properly and i think that what i want to say in the next few minutes, i hope at least go some way towards pushing back very firmly against that idea. i'm not going to argue that the
7:20 pm
last battles of world war ii in china were great triumphs in the sense. that's always wonderful presentation on okinawa can make a place for for the united states, but i am going to argue that they were serious that they made a difference and perhaps most centrally to what i want to say for the huge population of china hundreds of millions of people. they were immensely important essentially two simultaneous campaigns one in central china and one actually outside. china's own borders in burma came together pretty much the same time the the middle of 1944 to essentially play out what became a last existential set of battles between two near exhausted competitors and rivals imperial japan and the national government of china the nationalist party or gourmandang as it's often known you may have
7:21 pm
seen that abbreviation led by shank and essentially one could argue that in one way or another both of them lost because the last stren. each of those forces had was essentially brought to bear in ways that came to an uneasy resolute resolution by the beginning of 1945, but overall showed that both players had almost exhausted the men the supplies the infrastructure that had kept them going for eight very long and weary years of war in china itself. so let me start with the first of those campaigns known as operation ichigo and this on the map that you can see in front of you if you look to the middle of the map with the pink shaded area you will see essentially the core area of attack that was made by the japanese ichigo. just means number one so number one operation in this in this sense. and by the way the second operation which we'll talk about
7:22 pm
in just two minutes, which you see on the western side of the map on burma was known as operation google. okay. so operation ichigo was rumored and certainly being talked about in the chinese. orientation not least from the then chinese leader change in his diaries as something that was likely to come in 1944 in other words. they've been a relative stalemate and still plenty of fighting going on, but it was a relatively low-key for the previous two years 1942 into 1944. and chang as it turned out rightly was convinced the japanese in some desperation were going to make one last massive thrust into the center of china to try essentially to knock the stalemate out of the condition it at fallen into and finally achieve what they really wanted to do, which was the full scale land conquest of china. they've got about halfway across essentially the yankee river by the end of 1938, but then essentially they became stark and china became divided international stones
7:23 pm
communications and zones of collaboration with the with the japanese the latter being mostly on the prosperous eastern part of the chinese land mass. so although john had it, right. in terms of there being the prospect of a strong and powerful japanese last thrust into central china. he had thought that actually it might come from the south and in fact it didn't it came from the sort of north central part or central part of china anyway as you see from the top of the of the map of the map there. but nonetheless his estimation was essentially dismissed by most of the western intelligence that he was working with on the side of the british and the americans who were not particularly convinced that there was going to be such a thrust and anyway for very good reasons that all of you in this audience will know very well. there were a few other things going on in the spring and summer of 1944 on the part of the west allies to to be fair. also, of course the preparation of the eastern of the attack on the eastern front by stalin on the russian side meant that
7:24 pm
there were a whole variety of other priorities that meant from genco sheck's point of view that his priority was being sidelined whereas from the overall allied command point of view. there was a set of priorities china came relatively speaking low down on the list nonetheless once the campaign started essentially the japanese who had managed to essentially mobilize about half a million troops as well as horses cars whole variety of different means of essentially trying to make that really major last thrust became a force. that was very very hard for the defending chinese nationalist forces to come back against and one of the the most notable in some ways poignant defeats at that time was the great chinese city central city of changsha, which had been attacked three times already and have been defended not least by general
7:25 pm
shea one of the most skill tacticians of that of that particular conflict this time around. he's tactics particularly trying to surround the japanese and attack. in a sort of encircling move have been seen through he tried it once before to work previously. it didn't work this time. and essentially what was a gallon defense of changsha quickly turned into a defeat even more violent even more drawn out and even more bloody was the battle in the city of hungyang which you can see if you look i think just in the middle of the the map and we have here a scene, i think more than likely possibly slightly staged scene, but nonetheless there was a lot of war photography and this area in china which took place on a genuine battlefield, but nonetheless with a certain amount of posing going on for the the camera so you can call it about semi-stage would be the right way to put it it does give an idea of what hung young like so many other cities in china looked like during the heart of this particular.
7:26 pm
campaign and i think it's worth noting that you know, if this kind of destruction, that's rubble this sort of seed is seed of last stands looks familiar from the european front. we know such pictures from france from italy from germany and so forth. it's worth remembering these pictures that every bit as much as part of the warscape of wartime china as well. it's just that those campaigns tend to be less. well known outside china itself hanging was finally defeated after around a month or so of really thess fighting. i remember speaking actually to one of the last remaining veterans. i think sadly no longer with us, but at the time about five years ago, he was still alive in his in his 90s who remembered you know, the the horrors of the time including of course the complete lack of food. there was very little possibility of flying in supplies and therefore in the end soldiers not only run out of ammunition, but also found themselves chewing all bits of leather or anything that might
7:27 pm
have some kind of food flavor to it. even if there was no actual food food left, so it was a pretty savage set of campaigns that took place during ichigo before the camp. finally came to an end in 19 at the end of 1944 beginning of 1945 jerich just move us forward to the next one. so it's worth remembering that while that was going on one of the things that put more pressure than anything on genco sheik's government was the fact that simultaneously he was also sending chinese troops as part of the wider expeditionary force into burma for the recapture of that particular colony in 1944. many of you here, i think will know a lot about the burma campaign and reasons both of time and the fact that i suspect that you have quite a bit of background on it means that i won't go into all the overall details of that in particularly the relevance of figures like general slim, but what i will say because i think it is probably less appreciated. is that chinese participation in the 1944 burma campaign and
7:28 pm
indeed the previous 1942 campaign was significant and real even of course the chinese were not the main force involved at the time. we have both so called x-force which was about 20,000 troops trained in ramgar in bihar province in india and then brought through into burma for the the campaign in e44 and also from yunnan province in southwest china bordering burma the so called y force being brought in from that side part of the national sixth army, which was essentially being used to provide a chinese element to the force against the japanese the reasons for that chinese participation were twofold one was an increasing pressure in my views. what miskited from the western allies that china couldn't be taken seriously as an ally after world war ii unlisted for somewhere outside its own borders. so burma was chosen as the as the as the plays and second a desire, of course by chezek to show that it was possible for
7:29 pm
him to make that sort of contribution but on the other hand, i think that the pressure of having to fight essentially two campaigns both in burma and ichigo at the same time at a time when china's finances economy trading for structure and overall. do you of conscription. were really at breaking point not to mention famine and a whole variety of other problems coming together. this was in my view not a time to pressure them into making this particular gesture, but nonetheless to this day those chinese and their descendants who fought in the 1944 burma campaign. remember it very well in a very proud of it jeremy just shows the picture there rather nice shot here of the chinese. i think not with their own tanks of who which they didn't really have any but being allowed i think to hitch a ride on some of the the western allies and their their equipment. let me finally take us if i made the next slide jeremy which is to say where all this all this
7:30 pm
went because as i've said these two campaigns simultaneously 1944 to 45 ichigo and hugo so from the japanese side, so the defense of central china and the recapture of burma from the chinese side as well as the the allied side, we're taking part of the time when china itself was absolutely on its it was all on its knees it got to take it the other way around and the need for unrah the united nations relief from rehabilitation affiliate administration, which came into china at this point from actually from 1943, but this is pictures from 44 to to 45 was essentially part of what eventually became a 600 million dollar donation to essentially try and reconstruct china and deal with mass starvation malnutrition and the destruction of most of china's economic infrastructure during that time and we had just one picture here of little boy showing some scraped up flower to one of the american unrave visitors, but by bringing these three elements
7:31 pm
together, i'd like to essentially make this point about the last year of the war and how it looked through chinese eyes and well, i'm sure have a discussion about whether or not this is the right way to see it but for a moment put yourself in the eyes or in the in the shoes that say of chang. the chinese lead at the time shank was being asked by his western allies having fought, you know for longer than any other allied past since 1937 both to send troops into burma to help relieve that particular colony and bring it bring it back into british rule and somehow to use his own forces to defend against this huge japanese thrust into central china bearing in mind. of course, there are no ground troops other than chinese troops in china at this time, of course, they're a famous additions like the the avg the flying tigers of general chanel the relatively small the although useful and glamorous glamorous group, but bearing although it's true that chinese soldiers didn't fight outside their own territories except in
7:32 pm
burma. they're not so true that nobody else fought on the ground for china except the chinese so it goes both both ways. so both of these things are happening in terms of military priorities at the same time in a very weak and under supplied country, which is also having to take this huge amount of un assistance to keep itself going both during the last war years themselves and then of course in the two or three years after the war was over in in 1945 at the same time, the one factor i'll end with which we haven't mentioned the communist party of gathering strength not fighting either in burma or in ichigo, but waiting together their strength for the civil war that they know is coming against you as soon as the war against japan ends in 1945. that is a political situation of great difficulty. that does not by any means either excuse the many flaws and disasters caused by changes own misjudgments of which frankly they were very very many, but i hope it pulls us back from the
7:33 pm
longstanding story that in china was ruled by fools or incompetence or people who didn't simply didn't wish to fight and instead see it as a place that was placed in the midst of the most terrible set of military economic and social dilemmas in a geopolitical world where it was extremely weak but expected to act as if it were strong and then understand why the many tragic choices and outcomes that face china in the end of the war at the end of the war and the years that followed ensued as they did rich. let me leave it there and turn it back to you so we can turn to some discussion. hey, thank you very much. and once again, i the trilogy i'm doing it gets to the long term arcs and i thought about it from 30 second 45 exactly as rana says they put up tremendous fighting in the early part of the war and then their ability to continue fighting particularly economically and from a supply standpoint is just a completely eroded so by 44 45,
7:34 pm
you know the expectations that can do great things at that point was extremely unrealistic listeners as the nominal chair here. i'm going to overrule everything and we're going to move right on into questions because i'm confident we'll get some really great questions from our audience. great. thank you. gentlemen. it was i don't know how saul was able to make his. three-month campaign into under 15 minutes and rana the same goes for you covering about a year or at least a half a year's worth of fighting in in just at 15 minutes, too. so we'll get to our questions. we'll see how many of these we can get into. i will direct them to whom i think they're meant for but please feel free anyone to answer as well. so the first question is coming in from jack jack is busy today typing all these questions for us. that's great.
7:35 pm
i've read that general ushujimas and the japanese defense of on okinawa was the culmination of lessons learned from prior us amphibious landings. hence the method the method of drawing the us inland instead of attacking promptly on love day. can you comment and i guess that's more for saul? yes, the basic answer is it's true. they did learn the lessons chiefly from pelalu, of course, which had been fought towards the end of 1944 now interestingly enough on pelelu, they do actually attack the americans as their landing and what they decide on okinawa as they're not even going to do that as i think i explained in my talk, but what's interesting is that decision was taken relatively late on it wasn't a direct result of pelelu where of course a number of japanese had lost their lives trying to defend the beaches. it really came about because one of the best divisions on okinawa was taking away the 9th division and that's the veteran division
7:36 pm
of 25,000 men and in the view of bushidima and his main staff officers that seriously denuded the defenses on okinawa, but the man really who's the architect of the defensive system and who drives forward this insistence that you just wait for the americans to come to you rather than you go to them was a man called. horror, and he's left a wonderful testament and a very unusual testament actually in the sense that most senior japanese officers as i explained in my talk with ushajima committed ritual suicide that was expected if you lose a battle yahara did not actually he was he was given permission not to buy yoshidima and his deputy joe and they wanted him to go back and report to tokyo but to finish the answer to the question it was it was yahara who decided that this battle of attrition was the only way they could take on the masked firepower and of course the great advantage in numbers that the americans would of course bring to the island. so it was a race, you know from the japanese perspective. it was a very sensible tactic to
7:37 pm
take and it was one that of course as i've explained led to the drawing out of this battle for three long months during which time of course it gave the japanese an opportunity to put in place defensive procedures and tactics and and fortifications in japan proper and that of course was the end game to defend the home islands. let me just jump in very briefly. the japanese technique initially was to meet all invasions of the water's edge by 1944. they figured out that was not working. and appellate was first time they really made a major effort to fight inland, iwo. jima was even worse in okinawa. face another probably a direct really direct link, yahara's concept of how they were going to do. okinawa really was distinctive i think by itself, but the point that they were trying to buy
7:38 pm
time for the home islands is really extremely important to underscore. and rich we can tell you're busy working on the second and third volumes by looking over your right shoulder there. a question is i believe geared towards rana coming from david lee benesh. how much did the corruption within the chinese nationalist government hinder the fighting spirit of the rank and file chinese soldier. thanks very much. indeed. david lee. that's a really great great question. so i would say that the answer is different depending whether you're talking about the period that we're focusing now, which is the very last year or so of the war and the early period of the war. so just briefly on the earlier period it's worth breaking down or busting one particular myth and if you look at the absolutely seminal work of the historian hans van de van and you haven't read it. i recommend this book china at war which is a wonderful military history this period it's worth noting that for instance conscription actually was done on a system that
7:39 pm
actually had quite a lot of volunteers within it rather than sort of simply pulling people out of the villages or whatever and there were certain number of perks and privileges that you could get. as part of that recruitment in the early phase of the war by the end of the war. this had turned into a complete bloodbath, you know, this was the stage in which you got the kind of classic news shots that american journalists like theodore white put out and sent out through through time magazine, you know. of being essentially kind of what men being kidnapped and tied up with ropes and then marched away so they couldn't run back to their home villages. i mean that sort of forced recruitment which was in the way unsurprising considering that by this period of war essentially the nationalist government was throwing every single thing it had into the machine to keep the war going and they were essentially, you know cannibalizing their own system by doing so they you know, they were confiscating gay grain from the peasants to feed the soldiers and therefore as a result many many peasants were starving in the countryside in
7:40 pm
hunan province. so, you know corruption can take many forms, but you know that sort of strong arm tactic is is clearly one it also black marketeering was one of the things that happened but one of the reasons for that amongst, you know many was of course that the japanese were infiltrating large numbers of fake banknotes into the nationalist areas, which meant that the currency was being very heavily devalued as well. of course the fact that black marketeering happens when as happened with nationalist china the entirety of its supply route is almost entirely cut off except for dangerous, you know flying over the hump and also the difficulties of getting anything across the burma road, which kept being opened and sharp and then finally ended up being shut so, you know getting supplies into nationalist. china was a very difficult thing to do through november to the nationalist chinese and that of course led to this kind of black mark tiering so i give you all those background and kind of context to say did morale basically dip heavily because of what had happened what was happening in terms of the way to context which of course the
7:41 pm
ordinary fighting man and you know middle class civilians too would have either, you know, neither known nor cared very much about i think the answer is yes, we don't have that much of an oral record of what ordinary soldiers thought they were very few of them were literate, but certainly the impressions that we do have is that they were deeply unhappy obviously with being snatched away from their families, you know often they weren't paid let alone being fed in in some cases and that made people very angry on the flip side. corruption basically of high officials who were able to get sort of special goods shipped through over the humble whatever and you know special them. consignments got around not just because it was in many cases true, but also the rumors which basically fill the atmosphere in the wartime capital at chung king chongqing that this kind of corruption was going on made people feel, you know, very unhappy with the regime. so by the time the war ended in summer of 1945, you're right that it caused a huge amount of disillusionment not just amongst the word of population, but also amongst that always politically
7:42 pm
important middle class that became very alienated from the nationalist government. iranah the next question is for saul and it sort of touches on what rana just mentioned about the lack of personal accounts from the chinese. but did you find in your research? what was the troops initial reaction to the unopposed landings on okinawa and this comes from phil? just just to clarify that's that's the american troops of the japanese troops. i'm gonna say the american troops at wading ashore and finding no opposition. well, they they need they were delighted. i mean there was some wonderful accounts, of course from the american side as you can imagine and their expectation particularly the marines who had fought on pelelu the first marine division the old breed where they had been badly cut up in particularly the first marines the first marine regiment there was an assumption and they'd been told by their officers the landings were going to be opposed because they
7:43 pm
assume they would be and they were delighted and relieved and felt, you know, goodness me, you know, we we've actually got through this. i think they were lulled into a full sense of security it goes without saying because the marines in particular were sent north once they came ashore and they didn't have much to do the sixth marine division eventually fights, you know, some tough fighting them or tobu peninsula, but nothing compared to what he was going to have to come up against when it got down to the main japanese defenses in the center of the island. so it's the army troops who came up against the toughest fighting first, but but the answer to the question is they were delighted and relieved, but of course they were pretty shocked by what was to come. let me just toss into this although okinawa i was i think these single most important you always have to marrow in mind. it comes right after iwo, jima. so you have back-to-back these tremendous battles with tremendous american casualties in the pacific theater and then on top of that what you have to bear in mind is germany
7:44 pm
surrenders on the 8th of may and okinawa rules on and on and on it's the number one story that americans are reading and it's a clearly a very difficult extremely bloody campaign. and that is the framework in which americans are viewing. what an ingame with japan is gonna be like and what mr. truman use the end game is saul's pointed out. there's a staff officer who's been delivering daily updates which include casually reports to truman and he says, you know, mr. chairman is perturbed by the reports. he's getting from okinawa and that's very much the case. great. thank you. rich. the next question this seems to be towards rana and maybe rich as well. comes from jack again. you guys got to give jack a run for his money. he's he's getting a lot of air time here. i've seen postwar reports and photos of soviet troops stripping japanese made factories in manchuria. how much did this set china back
7:45 pm
economically and industrially? sure. should i come in first on that? yes, please. okay, great. so actually this is really something on my mind right now because i can give you an exclusive revelation don't know if anyone cares or not, but i'll give it to you. anyway jeremy which is right. now i'm working actually on a book on the post-war decay 1945 to 55 and i'm reading the diaries of some of the chinese officials you had to deal with the soviets in manchuria and this precise issue of stripping of factories. and what happens with the kind of hotspot for which stalin's guys were noted is that they're both kind of ripping off all the factories, but also demanding that the the chinese government sign and agreement. they'll do a kind of economic cooperation in the region with the soviets as well, which is you can imagine the chinese were not very keen on the basic story. i think it's fair to say is is this the japanese for all the economic exploitation that they carried out in manchuria, which was horrific including a social many people will know back to
7:46 pm
your logical and chemical experiments. on live human beings installed a very efficient industrial machine in terms of coal mining in terms of power generation and so forth. it may actually manchuria one of the most economically advanced regions of china results far more industrialized than actually almost anywhere else in in the chinese mainland by 1945. it was actually a sort of backward step when after the soviet union of manchuria in the summer of 1945, which really took a couple weeks now as we know and ended as an invasion as opposed to being an occupation with the with the atomic bombings as well that they essentially turn their hand pretty quickly to looting. you know, this was something that was not agreed part of the plan, but essentially regard as being part of the kind of war booty that the soldiers are allowed to take it took two forms both in terms of you know, horrific treatment of some of the local population has happened with soviet troops elsewhere in europe, but also in
7:47 pm
terms of this mantling and taking back parts of the factories. let's actually turned out to be a really foolish move for a couple of reasons one is that the soviets in many cases didn't take enough of the factory equipment to actually make it useful across the board of the soviet union. so basically you have all this kind of metal junk that gets taken across the the border and then lies rusting just the board in the soviet union because nobody can do anything with it. so it's doing no good in the soviet union. it's doing no good in manchuria, and they also of course ended up destroying many of the essential infrastructure elements in the region such as the power plants 1945. 46 was a very very cold winter and there are plenty of reports of plenty people starving to death because heating and the power in the cities wasn't working properly eventually had to get whole variety of japanese engineers who are essentially being held prisoner of war or rather not prisoner of war but being held for eventual repatriation back to japan to get the -- things working again, and there are some records
7:48 pm
slightly sort of virtue ones of some you know, chinese administration has been rather grateful to the japanese for hanging around helping to mend. or patch up the factories, which the soviets had destroyed so of all the acts and they were quite a few that really alienated the soviet liberators from the local population in manageria trashing. the factories was certainly one of them. thank you, rana. our next question will be geared towards saul it's regarding. how well did the army and the marines work together for the invasion of okinawa this comes from joseph craig and that makes me think of the battle of the general smith. yeah, the smith versus smith controversy. i mean this potentially leads into a different issue, which is that how effectively did general buckner perform on on okinawa, but i'll deal with the specific question first actually very well, and that was partly down to buckner himself. so buckner simon buckner who commands the tenth armies us
7:49 pm
army his father as a famous confederate general as i mentioned. he's really been brought in as a sort of compromised candidate. really i mean, holland smith the the man at the center of the smith vs. smith controversy had during the campaign on saipan sacked his one of his subordinates an army general called ralph smith and this of course infuriated the us army chief of staff and the senior people in the us army because they felt it was, you know as an insult really and this almost certainly leads to the exclusion of holland smith. maybe he wouldn't have been chosen anyway, but it certainly led to his exclusion from being considered as the army commander and they bring him butner instead. the problem with buckner is that he doesn't have any experience. he doesn't actually commanded in the field. in fact, he hasn't even been in a battle up to this point either the first world war the second world war so quite a curious choice, but whatnot was very good at which is jermaine to the question is getting on very well with people who are his immediate subordinates. he had an accent staff all of
7:50 pm
whom got on well with them and he tended to get on well with at least most of his subordinate commanders the divisional commanders both the marines and the army and i think it's that kind of diplomatic role. that was one of the reasons he was chosen for now. i should add that towards the end of the campaign the marine generals in particular are getting a little bit fed up with him and there's a lot of criticism coming from them, but there was it was justified criticism to a certain extent because he has used a very inflexible method of attack during the island campaign. it's a very narrow island. you can see from the map. and of course with this very formidable system of defenses in the center of the island. the obvious thing would have been to go round here and he was encouraged to do that by some of his interesting enough his army commanders both general hodge, who was the core commander and and the command of the 77th division andrew bruce whose division the 77th had experience in later of anthroughious
7:51 pm
operations. both of them were urging him very much to try a second landing and he refused and i think he refused because he wanted to play it safe. the excuse of you know, there would be difficult for resupply and it would be an issue of you know, we might have another we might have another issue on our hands in which they can't got off the beaches and they're all destroyed. but certainly it should have been attempted because it's very unlikely particularly when the second request was made in honor on or around the 26th of april by which time the japanese had already taken very heavy casualties in the defensive system, and we're moving troops out from the south of the island and the americans new they were doing that because they had intelligence to show them that that was the case. that's the point the book now buckner probably should tried a second landing. let me let me say i agree with everything saul said and i think having gone over this buckner is faced with these urgings by both army and and a marine officers
7:52 pm
of for an enron amphibious landing in the south part of the island, and i think his original decision to turn it down was at least defensible. what happens is this saul said by the time the second go around on this occurs. that's when they've pulled the main japanese forces, which actually waiting for a landing they expected possibility of a landing in the southern part of the island. they pulled them up to the main battle front and the big point about this to me is that it would have been difficult. i buckner was right. the terrain was not great or the landing in the south but seems to me it might very well have material reduced, okinawa and casualties civilian casualties had we gotten in the southern part of the island instead of slogging our way step by step press. down and given basic an outlet to it. the okinawaan civilians get out of the battle. thank you. the next question is going to be for rana.
7:53 pm
and it asks why did china have such difficulty in creating competitive army units? they did not have enough industry to field task forces or large air forces. but it seems that basic infantry formation should have been achievable. joe relation has that question for you, rana. joke, thanks very much for that that question. short answer is if you look at it one way. which is the way that i think the japanese high command looked at one point you could argue that despite. it's huge. deficiencies the chinese the chinese armed effort actually did extremely well because of course the japanese invaded china understanding that china's capacity to fight back was so weak that they would essentially conquered the entire country within about three months. at least. that's what they seem to have told the emperor. and of course as he pointed out on the eve of pearl harbor, you said, you know, he said to his general said to that they would be able to to perform a
7:54 pm
successful candidate at that point. he said what he said that about china four and a half years ago and yet was still bog down so at some level clearly enough chinese troops were doing something right to make japanese plans in the end unachievable. however, you make a centrally, you know, very very important point, which is that the vast majority of chinese troops were not well trained. so the answer to that is to look at what happened in terms of training and really when the nationalist government of chun kaishek took power and it took it in literal sense of you know, by fire and the sword. i mean it was not a democratic transition in 1928 one of the top priorities was basically to create a well. and central army set of units that would essentially have a very very high quality training and several important. german advisors were actually brought in to do this hands-on seeked alexander van falcon harrison and others who actually had a huge amount to actually try and train what would it be? what was actually for a brief
7:55 pm
time a relatively small but very very effective european style fighting force. so what happened to those troops? well, the answer is essentially the war with japan came too soon. what are the big dilemmas for chekashek and is commanders in 1937 when the japanese yet again pushed forward near the marco polo bridge in north china near beijing was is this the right moment to go to war and the argument against it was if you wait it's like the appeasement argument in a sense, you know if you wait another two years three years four years we live able to train more troops and be able to push back more effectively but in the end for a variety of reasons chang decided no, this is a time when we actually have to push back and he threw many of his very best troops into the battle. not at beijing but further south at shanghai where there was a tremendously powerful set of opponents thrown against each other japanese troops up against some of the very best nationalist chinese troops the ones who had been german trained the ones who were actually given
7:56 pm
that european style training the ones who had essentially learned, you know, from what falcon house and take to talk to joe and they managed to last out for several for several months about three or four months before having to retreat but of course by that stage, you know, very large numbers tens of thousands of them have been killed and so many the deficiencies that existed within the chinese military system. maybe there were lots of them, but just to give one specific example the ability to maintain supplies and keep frontline supplied over and over again over steve absolutely essential was never worked through sufficiently or at least haven't been given my preparation to allow that to happen so many cases they were very well trained troops, but if the troops essent was stuck in places where they couldn't be resupplied. it didn't matter how well trained they were they were ultimately going to either have to retreat or they would be, you know defeated as indeed. they they were in many cases and the vast majority of china's armies which of course were huge in numbers on paper were essentially old militarist warlord type armies who are basically been trained in the field of training is even the
7:57 pm
term that you can use we have to remember that china were the 1930s was not a country much there at wish to be that was the kind of united republic under one centralized government. it wasn't like japan in that sense as national leader was having to pull together lots and lots of generals. he trusted him that's even less than they trusted the japanese. so all of those factors came together to mean that the fighting man was not as effective as he might have been patrick remember that over the eight years of war. he was a lot more effective than many people expected him to be including the japanese. we're gonna have money. oh, i'm sorry richard, please. it's toss in here. one thing that was really striking. is to me, is that the chinese armies do fight put up tremendous resistance particularly in 3738. and the japanese expectation was clearly that they would win as ron assist in about three months and here there two years into it and at the end of 1938, even though i've driven deep into china to to the wuhan area at
7:58 pm
the end of that phase and imperialism headquarters. they write near a war diary that they've now realized that they cannot conquer china military by military means alone that the chinese arm forces have compelled them to recognize that they simply cannot defeat them on the battlefield and expect an end of the war and that's to me is one of the most important things about china's war of eight years duration. and i think everybody knows which book to recommend if they want to learn more about china's war. that's of course rana mitters. forgotten ally. i'd like to thank rich not just for chairing this session and providing commentary, but for all the work he puts in for the conference planning committee and helping us design these sessions and selecting speakers. i think this one was a home run. thank you rich also for the work he does with our travel department you can travel overseas once we get our programs back up and running you
7:59 pm
can travel over to some of these battlefields with them saul it's great to have you with us for the first time. we got to get you in person for the first time next time and rana. we will have you back in september for our memory wars conference and that's when we can finally catch up on those sazeracs that we owe each other. thank you to the audience for their great questions. american history tv on c-span 3 every weekend documenting america's story funding comes from these television companies and more including charter communications. broadband is a force for empowerment. that's why charter has invested billions building infrastructure upgrading technology empowering opportunity in communities big and small charter is connecting us charter communications along with these television companies supports american history tv on c-span, 3 as a public service.
8:00 pm
on lectures in history christopher newport university professor jonathan white teaches a class about the 1864 presidential election pitting incumbent abraham lincoln against his former top general democrat george mcclellan with casualties mounting and union armies stalemated in the field professor. white says by august 1864 lincoln was unpopular with the electorate leaving the commander-in-chief convinced he would lose. but a democratic platform conciliatory to the confederates viewed by many as traitorous coupled with the fall of atlanta to union forces helped propel lincoln to a landslide victory. all right. good morning. everyone today. we're going to be talking about the election of 1864. and i've put on the screen here for ballots from that election. and i want you to look at these ballots and think about what you see.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on