http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/asia-p ... 266173.stmBy 1944 the tide of the Second World War had turned and the Axis powers - Germany and Japan - saw the writing on the wall.
As US forces captured one Pacific island chain after another and the enemy's forces got closer and closer to their homeland, the Imperial command resorted to desperate measures.
They dreamt up the so-called Special Attack planes, better known as kamikaze (divine wind), a name derived from a typhoon which thwarted a Mongol invasion of Japan in the Middle Ages.
Pilots would take a one-way trip in planes packed with high explosives and hurl themselves at British and American aircraft carriers and battleships.
Albert Axell, who recently published a book called Kamikaze: Japan's Suicide Gods, said only one in five got through the waves of anti-aircraft flak to reach their target.
He told BBC News Online: "They failed to sink a capital ship, a large aircraft carrier.
"But this was the first time in history there had been mass suicides in war and it came as a complete shock to the Allies."
Mr Axell's co-author, Hideaki Kase, discovered a manual for kamikaze pilots and translated it into English for the first time.
The manual not only gave practical advice on the angle and speed of approach but also gave spiritual tips.
Hichiro Naemura, 82, is one of a select group of people who can call themselves "former kamikaze pilots".
He volunteered for a suicide mission in January 1945 but was given the task of instructing kamikaze pilots in navigation and dive-bombing techniques.
One of the most tragic tales in Mr Axell's book is that of Lieutenant Hajime Fujii who, in December 1944, was turned down for a kamikaze mission because he was a family man.
A few days later he returned home and found a note from his wife Fumiko.
She had drowned herself and her two children, one-year-old Chieko and Kazuko, four, in the Arakawa river to free her husband for his mission. Five months later he flew to his death off Okinawa.
The Japanese Government was so shocked by this incident they prohibited its publication until the war was over.
Up to 7,000 kamikaze pilots died
Most were Japanese but some were Korean or Taiwanese
Japan also produced human bombs (ohka) and kamikaze submarines known as kaiten
In April 1944 Kiyu Ishikawa saved a Japanese ship by crashing his plane into a US torpedo
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Over het hier en nu (nieuwsberichten, actualiteiten en dergelijke, in relatie met WOII)
1 bericht • Pagina 1 van 1
- Roel R.
- Berichten: 5675
- Lid geworden op: 21 sep 2003, 01:50