Chapter 16: Peaceful Invasion

Then the news of Japan’s willingness to surrender broke, it found the Jungleers training for another amphibious assault. This would have been the ninth invasion for General Doe’s troops and would have hit at the very heart of the enemy homeland. Now that the enemy had capitulated there was much speculation as to what part the 4lst Division would play in the final settlement of accounts with Japan. The Jungleers did not have to wait long for the answer because on 10 September General MacArthur announced at his press conference that the Sunset Division would occupy the Kure-Hiroshima area on western Honshu.

Kure was the enemy’s largest naval base and the center of the Japanese shipbuilding industry. Hiroshima had hit the headlines as the city which first felt the wrath and fury of the atomic bomb. For this operation the 41st Division was relieved from attachment to I Corps and passed to X Corps control, effective on 17 August.

Meanwhile, the training program, which had been geared for an assault landing on the Japanese homeland, was altered and the troops were trained for the occupation duties which lay ahead. Numerous orientation lectures were held to give the men the rudiments of the Japanese language while other lectures were given on the climate, geography and finances of Japan and the customs and morals of the Japanese people.  Combat units were trained to handle traffic direction, security guard and other military police functions.  Preliminary preparations for the movement were begun immediately upon receipt of the X Corps field order, dated 10 September. This order directed that the troops would go ashore on a “peaceful invasion” but would be fully prepared for combat in the event there was a resumption of hostilities, treachery or sabotage.  Loading began on 15 September, and four days later the 41st Division ceased operations at Zamboanga, Mindanao, Philippine Islands, and the last elements of the first echelon boarded the ships. The Division moved in two echelons, the first embarking during the period 15 to 19 September while the second echelon, which was composed of thirteen LSTs, got under way from Zamboanga on 14 October.

The first convoy, fourteen APAs and five AKAs, lifted anchor and sailed from Zamboanga at 1400 on 19 September, and arrived at Bugo, Macajalar Bay, the following morning. Here elements of X Corps joined the convoy. The ships departed from Bugo that same day and arrived at Leyte on 21 September. Here fresh stores were taken aboard, and the following day the convoy proceeded to Okinawa, arriving in Buckner Bay during the late afternoon hours of 25 September. An advance party left the convoy at Okinawa on 26 September with the mission of proceeding to Japan to locate and arrange bivouac areas for the Division and Corps troops. This party spent the night of 27 September at Wakayama, Honshu, and about mid-afternoon the following day left for Hiro, arriving there during the morning of 29 September.

Weather reports indicated that a typhoon was moving in a southerly direction toward Okinawa and the convoy pulled out of Buckner Bay on 28 September and headed for the open sea in a typhoon retirement formation. The flotilla sailed due west toward Fuichow, China, but after going 230 miles it returned to Okinawa, arriving there on 30 September.

A second departure was made from Okinawa that same day but word was received that the typhoon had hindered the progress of mine-sweeping activities in the Inland Sea, so once again the ships returned to Buckner Bay, arriving on 1 October. The final takeoff from Okinawa was made on 3 October. Two days later the ships arrived at Matsuyama, Shikoku, where elements of the advance party came aboard to report to the Commanding General on conditions in the area to be occupied.  The convoy continued on its way on 6 October and as the ships passed through the channel the Americans had an opportunity to get a close view of the land which they were to occupy. On all sides the lofty mountains appeared to rise from beneath the sea and there was very little flat land. Fishing villages were scattered along the shore line and from these rose ladders of terraces which comprised hillside farms. Every inch of the land appeared to be utilized, and once the men went ashore this conception was confirmed. The ships arrived in the Kure area during the afternoon of 6 October. The 2d Battalion, 163d Infantry, landed immediately on the beach adjoining the airstrip at Hiro where it fulfilled the duties of a shore battalion. Kure had an excellent harbor and some docking facilities but the Jungleers went ashore onto the airstrip at Hiro, four miles east of Kure.

The unloading of supplies and equipment continued throughout the night. As the first traces of dawn appeared on the horizon, the main body of troops prepared for the peaceful invasion of the Nip homeland. By 0640, 7 October the remainder of the 163d Regiment had come ashore and immediately proceeded to its area about one mile east of Hiro. Division Artillery went into bivouac in the barracks near the Hiro airstrip, while the 186th Infantry moved to Kaidaichi on the eastern outskirts of the atom-bombed city of Hiroshima.

The 162d Infantry moved into Kure and garrisoned in the submarine base about two miles west of the main navy yard while Division Headquarters, Division Artillery Headquarters and Special Troop units were established about a half mile west of Hiro in the Japanese Naval School buildings and barracks. The entire unloading procedure, which consumed fifty-four hours from start to finish, was made without incident.

As the troops poured ashore and boarded vehicles to move to their respective areas, there were very few Japs moving in the streets. Buildings bordering on the streets were boarded up and occasionally one would catch sight of the natives peering through cracks and holes in the hurriedly constructed fences, obviously intent upon catching a glimpse of these alleged looters, rapists and bloody butchers who had played such an important role in bringing the war lords of Japan to their knees. Those Japs who were on hand to aid the American forces, did so with the utmost cooperation and, in general, the attitude of the Japanese populace throughout the early stages of the occupation ranged from extreme fear and skepticism to an unpredicted degree of apparent friendliness and cooperation. Policemen, dressed in neat, dark blue uniforms and wearing small, shining swords which dangled at their sides, were standing at uniform distances along the highway, facing away from the Americans. This was in accordance with the Japanese custom that the greatest honor and respect which can be paid a person is not to look upon him.

As the units arrived in their respective areas, details were formed to handle the many odd jobs which confronted the Jungleers. Warehouses were manned and supplies unloaded and stored. Temporary kitchens and living quarters were established. For the most part the men found their new quarters partially roofless and completely flea-ridden. As the day wore on a light drizzle began falling and this soon developed into a steady rain which poured for five days, transforming the surrounding countryside into a sea of mud.

The period from 9 to 16 October was devoted to camp improvement and local patrolling. The task of prime importance was the conversion of the barracks into liveable quarters. Some of the areas were so dirty that medical authorities advised the men to live in tents until the proper cleaning could be completed.  Rotten, shaky floors were replaced, glass was inserted in the windows and shingles and tarpaulins were used temporarily on unserviceable roofs, these being replaced later with sheet iron as it became available. Almost all of the floors were covered with thick, flea-infested straw mats. These were removed and burned, and the barracks were saturated with a solution of DDT . Wiring was inspected and repaired, latrines were constructed, and heating and shower facilities were installed. The buildings were constructed of highly combustible material and the fire hazards were recognized immediately. The necessary precautions were taken in accordance with directives from higher headquarters.  Fire marshals were designated and fire-fighting crews were formed and instructed in the use of fire fighting equipment which had been salvaged and repaired.  Buckets of sand and barrels of water were placed at strategic locations throughout the area while most barracks areas had small reservoirs of water nearby. While the garrison areas were being improved the 116th Engineers were busy opening water points, constructing messhalls and repairing bridges and roads.

The sudden change in climate already was noticeable and the 41st Quartermaster Company issued winter clothing as rapidly as i t was received. By early November fresh meat, and occasionally fresh vegetables, had made an appearance on the menu.

A field order published on 16 October designated the infantry regimental and field artillery battalion zones of responsibility for the protection, assembly, destruction and the turning over of Japanese Army, Navy and Air Corps supplies and equipment to the Japanese Home Ministry. There was much shuffling of troops during this period. On 28 October units of the 162d Infantry left their submarine base garrison at Kure and moved to Onomichi, Fukuyama and Matsue where occupation, reconnaissance and destruction of materiel was to be conducted. Company B of the 116th Engineers, the 181st Bomb Disposal Squad and the 58th Chemical General Service Company were attached to the regiment for this mission. The movement was completed by 5 November and the Cannon Company assumed the military police duties in the new regimental area. The 1st Battalion established its headquarters in the Matsue sector, the 3d Battalion located at Fukuyama, the headquarters group set up at Onomichi, and the 58th Chemical General Service Company took over the Tadanoumi area, where there were large stores of toxic gas to handle.  The 167th Field Artillery Battalion became responsible for reconnaissance of a group of islands southeast of Kure and moved detachments to these islands while the 218th Field Artillery Battalion was responsible for a series of islands south of Hiroshima and to the west of Kure. Battery A of the 218th Battalion moved to Eta Jima on 27 October and three days later was followed by the remainder of the unit. Meanwhile, the second echelon of 4lst Division troops had arrived from Zamboanga on 23 October and had finished unloading by the following afternoon.

Road reconnaissance and the checking of Japanese warehouses and dumps was progressing at an ever increasing tempo. Destruction work had already been started and was being conducted at a vigorous pace.  However, there seemed little possibility of meeting the deadlines established by higher headquarters. The Japanese, except in rare instances, were most cooperative.

For stores which were to be turned over to the Home Ministry the figures furnished by the Japanese were accepted but new inventories were compiled for all other items. Such articles as pistols, revolvers, sabers, swords and binoculars were declared controlled items.  Disposal of the materiel was accomplished by the following methods: (1) destruction and scrapping; (2) using it for operations; (3) returning it for use by the Japanese; (4) issuing it to the troops as war trophies; (5) shipping it to the United States for training purposes; (6) shipping it to the United States for war trophies. Methods by which destruction was accomplished varied according to the facilities and transportation available and the nature of the items to be destroyed.

The forces carrying out this program did a miraculous job considering the many obstacles they encountered.  Much difficulty arose because of the difference in the Japanese Army classification of supplies as compared with the system used by the United States Army. Too, as the American noose became ever tighter and tighter around the neck of the Empire as the war progressed, the Japs dispersed their supplies over widespread areas to avoid destruction by Allied bombings.

All inland roads and bridges had been washed out by a flood caused by a recent typhoon, making many of the dump areas inaccessible. Furthermore, there always was an acute shortage of interpreters. Lack of acetylene, insufficient number of boats, a shortage of technical advisers and the slowness of the mine-sweeping activities were other factors which greatly hindered the destruction operations.

The destruction of the Japanese means of waging war was of the highest priority for the Occupation Forces. However, from the viewpoint of the Japanese Home Ministry, the release of Japanese Army food and clothing for distribution to the civilian populace was of primary importance. Local civilian manufacturers, who had recently been involved in large-scale war production for the Japanese forces, were eager to procure scrap metals and construction supplies to reconvert their plants for civilian production. Lack of transportation and the equipment for reducing Japanese war materiel to scrap handicapped the efforts of these manufacturers.

One incident of an unusual nature occurred on 23 October when the 186th Infantry Regiment assumed responsibility for the control of approximately three hundred Chinese forced laborers, located at Kake, north of Hiroshima. The laborers were short of food and clothing and had revolted during July. They were reportedly planning another outbreak. However, a six-man patrol from the 186th Regiment maintained control until late November when roads became passable and adequate housing was secured in Hiro. These Chinese laborers were later repatriated to their native land.

Vast stores of chemical warfare items were discovered in the 41st Division area. More than 3,200 metric tons of bulk toxic chemical agents were found on Okuno Shima, off the coast from Tadanoumi, and 1,536,400 toxic smoke candles were located at Tadanoumi.  Another 6,382 tons of toxic gas were found in the Hachinomatza area. The bulk chemicals had to be carried out to sea, ten miles from any land, and dumped in fifty fathoms of water. The Inland Sea was found unsatisfactory for this operation because of the peculiarities of the current which would have carried the chemicals shoreward. The gas was stored in containers with capacities ranging from forty-five to ninety tons, thus necessitating the draining of the gas into smaller containers. This job was given a high priority and was carried out under the supervision of the 273d Chemical Service Platoon, the 58th Chemical General Service Company, the 41st Division Chemical Office and the Chemical Office of X Corps. Cold weather set in before the job had progressed very far and the bulk chemicals became frozen in the large containers, halting all work until the advent of spring and warm weather.

Other items of importance which were destroyed in large quantities included signal equipment, airplanes and airplane parts, coast-defense and antiaircraft guns, artillery pieces, ammunition, powder, small arms, and tools and dies used for the manufacture of war materiel.  A serious tie-up occurred at collection points in mid-November when higher headquarters prohibited the use of American craft for carrying Jap war materiel out to sea in waters which still contained mines. However, as channels were cleared through the mined waters more Jap barges and tugs became available and were pressed into service, although there never were enough to meet the demands.

Among the items found in the 41st Division sector were 124 midget submarines. Another highlight of the destruction and reconnaissance program was the discovery of 759,376 grams of silver, 318 grams of diamonds and 2,522 grams of platinum, which were found in the 146th Field Artillery Battalion area. Fourteen bars of silver were discovered accidentally when a Jap naval officer made an effort to pass off some lead ingots as silver. This precious loot was turned over to the Division Finance Office for disposition.

There was a premature explosion of two hundred tons of black powder on Eta Jima in the 218th Field Artillery Battalion area on 23 November. There were no American casualties. Further reconnaissance revealed that there were three caves of picric acid on the island. Imminent danger of another premature explosion existed since the acid was subjected to pressure of rotting timbers on the ceilings of the caves. Numerous underground magazines and warehouses of ammunition were in the vicinity, adding further hazard. Evacuation of all personnel from the island was begun immediately and plans were initiated to blow up the caves, this being accomplished early in December without further mishaps. Meanwhile, several smelters were put into operation throughout the Division area and were used to melt down guns and other metal objects of warfare.

Besides rendering the Japanese war machine ineffective by the destruction of its weapons and materiel for waging war, the Jungleers were charged with the task of demobilizing Japan’s armed forces. Approximately eighty-nine percent of the 166,987 Army, Navy and Air Corps personnel, garrisoned in the Hiroshima-Kure area at the conclusion of hostilities, had been demobilized

by the time the Division landed in the objective area. The remaining 17,762 were demobilized during the period from 6 October to 1 December as the job of destruction of materiel slackened. Many of the Japs who still were on foreign soil were repatriated through the ports in the 41st Division zone and some four thousand Jap soldiers were kept on hand to aid in this project. By 1 December an estimated 300,000 persons passed through the Hiroshima ports of Ujina and Otake. This figure included some 100,000 Chinese and Koreans who left Japan for their native lands via these ports.

The attitude of the Japanese people was observed very closely throughout the occupation and strict surveillance was maintained over all newspapers in the area. The attitude of the populace, in general, went to two extremes—from that of outright fear and skepticism to an uneasy and unpredicted degree of friendliness.  The first of these attitudes was traceable to the Japanese system of education, training, psychology and military background. It was the result of propaganda which portrayed the Americans as robbers, rapists and downright devils from the very depths of hell. Much of the fear came from the belief that any occupying force would use the same brutal methods which the Japanese had employed during their own occupations of foreign lands.

A marked difference in attitude was noticeable according to geographical regions. Those natives of metropolitan areas such as Kure, Hiro and Hiroshima - particularly the latter—were openly fearful and presented a more reserved and bitter attitude. The obvious miseducation of the Japanese people with regard to American soldiers and their behavior plus the excellent discipline and conduct of the troops and the American generosity soon dispelled the Japs’ notions that all Americans were plundering barbarians.  As this attitude was dispelled there was in its wake a surprised and grateful feeling.

As time passed, however, the Japanese came to recognize the occupation in its true light. They learned that it was neither a cruel hardship, nor a great deliverance, but a victorious army pursuing a policy which might benefit Japan’s future but would still impose some difficulties in the immediate future. For a short period—as was evident from the press and statements of the people—the Japanese had the feeling that the Americans would “ fix “ Japan without the natives having to do anything except follow orders. Soon, however, it became apparent that this new era for Japan would require some work and self-sacrifice on the part of the people.

The return of men to the United States via the point system really rolled into high gear in November and December of 1945. The point system and the impending return to home and civilian life dominated every conversation and each day there would be a new directive or a dozen new rumors. And each day would see another group of men packing equipment, bidding good-bye to their buddies and heading for Nagoya, the Sixth Army Disposition Center, a ship and eventually home. Units, now were operating far below their Theater of Operations strength because the replacements were trickling in while those eligible for return to the States were pouring out. This placed additional burdens upon the shoulders of those left behind to fulfill occupation duties, but they continued carrying out their task and dreaming and talking of the day when they too would leave for home.

Thanksgiving Day arrived and the men were treated to a real old-fashioned turkey dinner with all the trimmings.  It was a day of rest and relaxation for all and for the privates it was really a holiday since all details, including KP, were pulled by the highest-ranking noncoms.

With the arrival of the Christmas season the weather in Japan became more like that to which many of the men had been accustomed at home. Christmas on Biak the previous year had been sweltering, but in Japan the climate was more temperate and there was more of the Yuletide atmosphere. Much time was spent in decorating barracks, mess halls and recreation rooms and, for a change, the men had real Christmas trees.  Japan, prior to the war, manufactured and sold to the United States the bulk of the Christmas ornaments used in America and with this in mind the men scoured the shops in every nearby town and village and purchased all available Christmas supplies and decorations. Religious services, a well planned dinner, special entertainment, rest and relaxation were the order of the day for all.

Once the job of destroying the enemy’s war materiel and demobilizing his war machine was pretty well in hand, much attention was directed to an athletic and recreation program for personnel of the Division. Basketball and badminton courts, baseball and softball diamonds and boxing rings were constructed throughout the Division area and games and matches were scheduled. There also was a basketball and football team composed of personnel from Division units to represent the Jungleers in the Pacific Theater Olympics.  The 41st Division boasted particularly outstanding basketball and football teams, the former crowned champion of the Occupation Forces and later king of the entire Pacific Theater, while the latter advanced to the semi-finals in the race for the Occupation Forces title and then bowed to the 11th Airborne Division, which later copped the Pacific Theater crown.

The basketball team, under the tutelage of Lieutenant Gerald Tucker, a former All-American from Oklahoma University and a member of the 41st Division Artillery, first commanded the attention of the Occupation Forces when it journeyed north, covering most of the Sixth Army area and winning games by lopsided scores from teams representing I Corps, the 98th and 33d Divisions. Then came the Occupation Forces playoffs in Tokyo where a champion was to be crowned and later pitted against teams from other sections of the Pacific Theater for the theater title. In its quest for the Occupation Forces’ championship the Jungleer aggregation took easy wins over the 7th Division, 33d Division, and 11th Airborne Division, the latter victory advancing the Sunset five to the finals where it met the 77th Division, winning 48-38, to cop the championship of the Occupation Forces. Further laurels were added by the Jungleers as they beat the Showa Base Fifth Air Force Flyers of Okinawa, 52-33 arid 44-43, to earn the privilege of going to Manila to compete for the Theater championship. The Pacific Theater finals were held in Rizal Coliseum, in Manila, and here the 41st Division copped two decisions over an all-star team from Hawaii to reign supreme on the basketball courts in the Pacific Theater. The Jungleers went the distance with an unblemished record.

The 41st Division football team was coached by Captain Jack Faubian, former Oklahoma A&M star, and Lieutenant Colonel Fred Thompson, former Arkansas University coach. The team played three games, the first being played at Nagoya where the Jungleers whitewashed the Nagoya Base eleven, 20-0. This earned them a spot in the Christmas Day contest staged in Kyoto Stadium where the 41st Division trounced USASCOM-C, 27-2. This victory took the Jungleers to the semi-finals for the Occupation Forces championship and in a New Year’s Day Tokyo Bowl game the 41st Division suffered its first defeat, 25-12, at the hands of the 11th Airborne Division.

There were other phases of this occupation program beside the athletic program. The G-3 section of the Division instituted a broad and intensive Information and Education program which trained men for Army technical and specialist jobs or provided them with courses which would aid them in civilian life. Four small schools were established, designed to offer courses in algebra, bookkeeping, accounting, crop management, education, Bible study, mechanics, small business,

electrical wiring, English grammar, general science, American history, elementary Japanese, photography, psychology, radio, Spanish, German, plane trigonometry and heavy road equipment operation.  Where possible the courses included practical work. To fill the many vacancies being caused by the rotation program the Division also operated the following schools: cooks’ and bakers’, mechanics, buglers’, radio code, message center, rifle marksmanship, typing, shorthand, and military correspondence and records. In line with this program all men were provided the opportunity to visit Hiroshima and the shrine island of Itsuku Shima.

The Army was formulating its post-war policy and setting up a program of occupation for the conquered countries. Under these plans some divisions were being returned to the United States where they were inactivated while many more were being inactivated on foreign soil. The latter was to apply to the 41st Division.

Shortly after Christmas, replacements were coming into the Division in smaller and smaller lots, and some units of the Division were directed to transfer men to other units in Japan. It seemed an established fact that the Division was going to cease operations, yet there was no official word on the matter. Finally at noon on 30 December came a message from Sixth Army Headquarters stating that as of 2400 hours, 31 December 1945, the 41st Division would be inactivated. Men pitched in and began the long, tedious process of completing the necessary papers to put the Division out of business. Finally after a week of almost ceaseless toil the 41st Division wrote “Finis” to its deeds in World War II and the 24th Infantry Division took over what had been the Jungleer occupation zone.