In the closing months of World War II, the U.S. Navy sailed with near impunity off the coast of Japan. U.S. submarines had relentlessly sunk Japanese merchant ships carrying oil, raw materials, and foodstuffs back home from that country’s overseas empire; B-29 Superfortresses had incinerated vast sections of its industrial cities; the U.S. Navy had bombed selected Japanese coastal targets and shelled port cities. But the fanatical Japanese resistance encountered throughout the Pacific war increased proportionately as the conflict came to the Home Islands. Such was the experience of U.S. forces on Iwo Jima and Okinawa. It soon would be discovered by naval aviators attacking targets at low level over Japan proper, including myself. Captured airmen rarely survived an enraged populace in these latter days of the war.
Finishing Off the Japanese Navy
A Helldiver radioman/gunner recollects dive-bombing the remnants of the Imperial Japanese Navy during the massive July 1945 U.S. carrier strikes on Kure Naval Base.
By Charles G. Westwater