Friday, 18 September 2015. National POW MIA Recognition Day in the United States.
From the Defense POW MIA Accounting Agency, this information on the observance:
“Observances of National POW/MIA Recognition Day are held across the country on military installations, ships at sea, state capitols, schools and veterans’ facilities. It is traditionally observed on the third Friday in September each year. This observance is one of six days throughout the year that Congress has mandated the flying of the National League of Families’ POW/MIA flag. The others are Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day.
The flag is to be flown at major military installations, national cemeteries, all post offices, VA medical facilities, the World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the official offices of the secretaries of state, defense and veterans affairs, the director of the selective service system and the White House.”
There is no current summary readily available of American POWs or MIAs as related to the aerial missions flown against Osaka in World War II. That is a research project of some detail to accomplish.
But as this is the anniversary year of the end of World War II, perhaps one example will suffice, as related to the massacre of fifty POWs by the Kempetai, the feared Japanese military secret police.
There were many POW camps in and around Osaka during World War II, as the listing at this link will disclose in a simple review:
But the worst for any POW anywhere in Japanese-controlled territory was to be a prisoner of the Imperial Japanese Army’s Kempeitai, roughly similar to the dreaded Gestapo of Nazi Germany.
For airmen involved in the air campaign against Japan, those of the B-29 Superfortress were considered “special prisoners” by the Japanese due to the devastating nature of some of the B-29 air raids, especially the urban incendiary attacks. They were not accorded the same rights as “regular” POWs, in fact they had no rights according to their captors.
The Imperial Rescript of Emperor Hirohito was broadcast far and wide across the Japanese empire at 12 noon Tokyo time on 15 August 1945. In it the Emperor commanded his “good and loyal subjects” to refrain from “rash” acts and accept surrender.
Unfortunately for a number of POWs in Osaka, the announcement triggered an insubordinate and violent reaction at the Osaka Kempeitai headquarters. Some 50 American airmen were beheaded by enraged Kempeitai members who took out their anger and their shame on the hapless airmen.
Information on this tragic event is obscure. A comment posted on a discussion board on 24 May 2015 by a fellow with the title of Crater Layer, made the following remarks which seem to offer some insight into the tragic event:
“On August 16, 1945, the day after Japan surrendered, there were only four American airmen still alive at the Osaka Kempei Tai prison. The men were told that they were being freed and were given back their uniforms, unloaded weapons, personal effects and even their parachutes. Korean forced-laborers reported that the men were smiling and waved to them as they were leaving the camp. One even yelled that they were “going home”.
Instead the Japanese led them to the cemetery where a large hole had been dug. They were beheaded and thrown into the ditch. On top of them were piled their personal effects, along with those of the 55 Americans previously killed, and any other evidence that Americans had ever been held there.”
When someone asked Crater Layer to cite a source for information, he added a bit more on 29 May 2015:
“…My uncle was one of the other 55, so I am close to the subject. For some reason the government classified what occurred there, I think probably because they didn’t uncover what happened until 1947, when China and eastern Europe where falling to the communists. In the early 90’s I was able to get the declassified documents from the National Archives, and its a horrible story.
There is little on the internet concerning this, at least the last time I checked. However there was kind of a humorous story of a downed airmen who b.s.’d the Japs (web log note: P-51 pilot Marcus McDilda*) about his knowledge of the atomic bomb, which saved his life because he was sent to Tokyo, unlike his crewmates who were sent to Osaka. I’ll look that story up and provide a link.
If you want more cites, I have boxes of documents, some of which I’ll scan into the computer. If there are any writers out there looking for an intense story, contact me. This is a piece of history that needs to be told.”
Until now, nothing new has been added to this conversation.
As of this date and time, the writer of this web log cannot elaborate on this terrible Osaka POW incident; don’t even know the names of the prisoners who were brutally murdered when the war ended.
But on this National POW/MIA Recognition Day let us remember them, as well as the other POWs and MIAs related to the air raids on Osaka. And although there were no POWs on the Japanese side, undoubtedly there were many military MIAs and missing civilians as a result of the air war over Japan.
*Note: 1Lt Marcus McDilda was a pilot in the 46th Fighter Squadron of the 21st Fighter Group. On 8 August 1945 he flew P-51D, serial number 44-63901, “The Gator,” on a combat mission from Iwo Jima to the Empire. He bailed out at 500 feet over the water just off the coast when his engine seized and was quickly captured. A total of seven Mustang fighters were lost on 8 August 1945. More details on his POW experience at: http://www.ww2aircraft.net/forum/stories/lieutenant-marcus-mcdilda-unsung-hero-world-war-ii-36172.html
National POW/MIA Recognition Day, poster, at: http://www.dpaa.mil/Families/Posters.aspx
Smith, Jim and McConnell, Malcolm. The Last Mission: The Secret History of World War II’s Final Battle. Broadway Books/Random House, 2007.
Kempeitai, Pacific War Online Encyclopedia entry, at: http://pwencycl.kgbudge.com/K/e/Kempeitai.htm
Osaka Kempetai POW Massacre, posting at: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?p=18400961