Steve and Jen bring you this daily review of the news
Premium Advertiser

News Blog Sponsors

News Links

BBC World Service
The Guardian
Washington Post
Iraq Order of Battle
NY Times
LA Times
ABC News

Blogs We Like

Daily Kos
Digby's Blog
Operation Yellow Elephant
Iraq Casualty Count
Media Matters
Talking Points
Defense Tech
Intel Dump
Soldiers for the Truth
Margaret Cho
Juan Cole
Just a Bump in the Beltway
Baghdad Burning
Howard Stern
Michael Moore
James Wolcott
Cooking for Engineers
There is No Crisis
Whiskey Bar
Rude Pundit
Crooks and Liars
Amazin' Avenue
DC Media Girl
The Server Logs

Blogger Credits

Powered by Blogger

Archives by
Publication Date
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
Comments Credits
Comments by YACCS
Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Strategic bombing and its effects

The strategic bombing survey was conducted after WWII to see the effectiveness of allied bombing. Here are the sections on civilians from the European and Pacific sections

The Civilians


word should perhaps be added on the effect of the air war on the German civilian and on the civilian economy. Germany began the war after several years of full employment and after the civilian standard of living had reached its highest level in German history. In the early years of the war -- the soft war period for Germany -- civilian consumption remained high. Germans continued to try for both guns and butter. The German people entered the period of the air war well stocked with clothing and other consumer goods. Although most consumer goods became increasingly difficult to obtain, Survey studies show that fairly adequate supplies of clothing were available for those who had been bombed out until the last stages of disorganization. Food, though strictly rationed, was in nutritionally adequate supply throughout the war. The Germans' diet had about the same calories as the British.

German civilian defense was examined by Survey representatives familiar with U. S. and British defenses. The German system had been devised as protection against relatively small and isolated attacks. The organization had to be substantially revised when the attacks grew to saturation proportions. In particular, arrangements were made by which a heavily bombed community might call on the fire-fighting and other defensive resources of surrounding communities and, as a final resort, on mobile reserves deployed by the central government

Page 15

through the more vulnerable areas. In the attacks on German cities incendiary bombs, ton for ton, were found to have been between four and five times as destructive as high explosive. German fire defenses lacked adequate static and other water reserves replenished by mains independent of the more vulnerable central water supply. However, in the more serious fire raids, any fire-fighting equipment was found to have been of little avail. Fire storms occurred, the widespread fires generating a violent hurricane-like draft, which fed other fires and made all attempts at control hopeless.

German shelters, so far as they were available, were excellent. In England the policy was to build a large number of shelters which protected those taking refuge from bombs falling in the area and from falling and flying debris but which were not secure against a direct hit. The Germans, by contrast, built concrete bunkers, some of enormous size, both above and below ground, designed to protect those taking shelter even against a direct hit. One such shelter in Hamburg, named the "Holy Ghost" for its location on Holy Ghost Plaza, sheltered as many as 60,000 people. There were not, however, enough such shelters; at the close of the war shelter accommodation was available for only about eight million people. The remainder sheltered in basements, and casualties in these places of refuge were heavy. After raids the Germans did not attempt systematic recovery of all bodies or even of all trapped persons. Those that could not readily be removed were left.

Official German statistics place total casualties from air attack -- including German civilians, foreigners, and members of the armed forces in cities that were being attacked -- at 250,253 killed for the period from January 1, 1943, to January 31, 1945, and 305,455 wounded badly enough to require hospitalization, during the period from October 1, 1943, to January 31, 1945. A careful examination of these data, together with checks against the records of individual cities that were attacked, indicates that they are too low. A revised estimate prepared by the Survey (which is also a minimum) places total casualties for the entire period of the war at 305,000 killed and 780,000 wounded. More reliable statistics are available on damage to housing. According to these, 485,000 residential buildings were totally destroyed by air attack and 415,000 were heavily damaged, making a total of 20 percent of all dwelling units in Germany. In some 50 cities that were primary targets of the air attack, the proportion of destroyed or heavily damaged dwelling units is about 40 percent. The result of all these attacks was to render homeless some 7,500,000 German civilians.

It is interesting to note some of the effects of air attack upon medical care and military casualties during the war. The aerial warfare against Germany forced the German military and civilian authorities to recognize that national health and medical problems were a joint responsibility. The destruction of hospital equipment, pharmaceutical production, and medical supplies, incident to area raids, forced a dispersal of medical supply installations and the removal of hospitals from city to suburban and country sites. This program came in late 1943 at a time when air raids on cities were causing increased casualties among civilians and resulted in shortages in ether, plasters, serums, textiles, and other medical supplies. At the same time the increased tempo of tactical air action was having an effect on military casualty rates, and is reflected in the fact that, according to German reports, war casualties from aerial weapons moved from third place in 1942 to first place in late 1943, 1944, and 1945, followed in order by artillery fire and infantry weapons. The casualty effects of air action are shown by the fact that the proportion of wounded to killed shifted from a ratio of eight to one in 1940 and 1941 to a ratio of three to one in 1944 and 1945. Personnel wounded by air action suffered as a rule multiple wounds and shock, resulting in longer periods of hospitalization and convalescence, and in a decided reduction in the number of patients who could be returned to either full or limited military duty.

The sad part is that Air Force proponents ignore the conclusions here to this day


Total civilian casualties in Japan, as a result of 9 months of air attack, including those from the atomic bombs, were approximately 806,000. Of these, approximately 330,000 were fatalities. These casualties probably exceeded Japan's combat casualties which the Japanese estimate as having totaled approximately 780,000 during the entire war. The principal cause of civilian death or injury was burns. Of the total casualties approximately 185,000 were suffered in the initial attack on Tokyo of 9 March 1945. Casualties in many extremely destructive attacks were comparatively low. Yokahoma, a city of 900,000 population, was 47 percent destroyed in a single attack lasting less than an hour. The fatalities suffered were less than 5,000.

The Japanese had constructed extensive firebreaks by tearing down all houses along selected streets or natural barriers. The total number of buildings torn down in this program, as reported by the Japanese, amounted to 615,000 as against 2,510,000 destroyed by the air attacks themselves. These firebreaks did not effectively stop the spread of fire, as incendiaries were dropped on both sides of the breaks. They did, however, constitute avenues of escape for the civilian population.

The Japanese instituted a civilian-defense organization prior to the war. It was not until the summer of 1944, however, that effective steps were taken to reduce the vulnerability of Japan's civilian population to air attacks. By that time, the shortage of steel, concrete and other construction materials was such that adequate air-raid shelters could no longer be built. Each family was given the obligation of providing itself with some kind of an excavation covered with bamboo and a little dirt. In addition, tunnels were dug into the sides of hills wherever the topography permitted.

Japanese planning and the means for carrying out the plans were thus deficient for a first-class civilian defense program. In spite of these limitations, such civilian defense measures as they were able to put through contributed substantially in minimizing casualties. School children and other nonessential urban dwellers were evacuated to the country. Those who remained were organized to combat fires and to provide mutual assistance. The air raid warning system was generally efficient. The weight of the individual attacks was, however, far heavier than the Japanese had envisaged or were able to cope with. In the major fire attacks, the civilian defense organizations were simply overwhelmed.

The growing food shortage was the principal factor affecting the health and vigor of the Japanese people. Prior to Pearl Harbor the average per capita caloric intake of the Japanese people was about 2,000 calories as against 3,400 in the United States. The acreage of arable land in Japan is only 3 percent of that of the United States to support a population over half as large. In order to provide the prewar diet, this arable acreage was more intensively cultivated, using more manpower and larger quantities of fertilizer than in any other country in the world; fishing was developed into a major industry; and rice, soybeans and other foodstuffs amounting to 19 percent of the caloric intake were imported. Despite the rationing of food beginning in April 1941 the food situation became critical. As the war progressed, imports became more and more difficult, the waters available to the fishing fleet and the ships and fuel oil for its use became increasingly restricted. Domestic food production itself was affected by the drafting of the younger males and by an increasing shortage of fertilizers.

By 1944, the average per capita caloric intake had declined to approximately 1,900 calories. By the summer of 1945 it was about 1,680 calories per

Page 21

capita. Coal miners and heavy industrial workers received higher-than-average rations, the remaining populace, less. The average diet suffered even more drastically from reductions in fats, vitamins and minerals required for balance and adversely affected rates of recovery and mortality from disease and bomb injuries.

Undernourishment produced a major increase in the incidence of beriberi and tuberculosis. It also had an important effect on the efficiency and morale of the people, and contributed to absenteeism among workers.

Survey interrogation of a scientifically designed cross-section sample of the Japanese civilian population revealed a high degree of uniformity as between city and rural sectors of the population and as between various economic and social strata in their psychological reaction to the war. A uniformly high percentage considered Japan's greatest weaknesses to have been in the material realm, either lack of resources, productive plant or modern weapons, and her greatest strength to have been in the Yamato spirit of the Japanese people, their willingness to make every personal sacrifice, including that of life itself, for the Emperor or Japan.

The Japanese people reacted to news of the attack against the United States and its Allies with mingled feelings of fear, insecurity and hope. To a people wearied by 10 years of war in China, it was clear that this would be a major war and not an "incident". The early Japanese military successes, particularly the capture of Singapore and the southern regions, were followed by a wave of optimism and high confidence. Subsequent defeats were studiously withheld from the people or disguised as strategic withdrawals. Prior to the loss of Saipan confidence in eventual victory remained high in spite of exhausting work, poor nutrition and rising black market prices. In June 1944 approximately two percent of the population believed that Japan faced the probability of defeat. The fall of Saipan could not be kept from the Japanese people. Even though the psychological effect of this disaster was far greater on the Japanese leaders and intellectuals than on the mass of the population, all indices of Japanese morale began thereafter to decline. By December 1944 air attacks from the Marianas against the home islands had begun, defeats in the Philippines had been suffered, and the food situation had deteriorated; 10 percent of the people believed Japan could not achieve victory. By March 1945, when the night incendiary attacks began and the food ration was reduced, this percentage had risen to 19 percent. In June it was 46 percent, and just prior to surrender, 68 percent. Of those who had come to this belief over one-half attributed the principal cause to air attacks, other than the atomic bombing attacks, and one-third to military defeats.

Sixty-four percent of the population stated that they had reached a point prior to surrender where they felt personally unable to go on with the war. Of these, less than one-tenth attributed the cause to military defeats, one-quarter attributed the cause to shortages of food and civilian supplies, the largest part to air attack.

A striking aspect of the air attack was the pervasiveness with which its impact on morale blanketed Japan. Roughly one-quarter of all people in cities fled or were evacuated, and these evacuees, who themselves were of singularly low morale, helped spread discouragement and disaffection for the war throughout the islands. This mass migration from the cities included an estimated 8,500,000 persons. Throughout the Japanese islands, whose people had always thought themselves remote from attack, United States planes crisscrossed the skies with no effective Japanese air or antiaircraft opposition. That this was an indication of impending defeat became as obvious to the rural as to the urban population.

Progressively lowered morale was characterized by loss of faith in both military and civilian leaders, loss of confidence in Japan's military might and increasing distrust of government news releases and propaganda. People became short-tempered and more outspoken in their criticism of the government, the war and affairs in general. Until the end, however, national traditions of obedience and conformity, reinforced by the police organization, remained effective in controlling the behavior of the population. The Emperor largely escaped the criticism which was directed at other leaders, and retained the people's faith in him. It is probable that most Japanese would have passively faced death in a continuation of the hopeless struggle, had the Emperor so ordered. When the Emperor announced the unconditional surrender the first reaction of the people was one of regret and surprise, followed shortly by relief.

The interrelation of military, economic and morale

factors was complex. To a certain extent each reacted on the other. In the final analysis the Japanese military machine had lost its purpose when it could no longer protect the Japanese people from destruction by air attack. General Takashima, when asked by the Survey as to his reaction to the Imperial Rescript, stated that surrender had become unavoidable; the Army, even should it repel invasion, could no longer protect the Japanese people from extermination

posted by Steve @ 3:01:00 AM

3:01:00 AM

The News Blog home page


Editorial Staff

Add to My AOL

Support The News Blog

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More
News Blog Food Blog
Visit the News Blog Food Blog
The News Blog Shops
Operation Yellow Elephant
Enlist, Young Republicans