WORLD WAR II FROM A TO Z
The letter D in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge was several days ago but today is the 73 year anniversary of Doolittle’s Raid so please enjoy this A to Z Extra.
On April 18, 1942, just a little over four months since Japan’s attack at Pearl Harbor, the United States conducted an air raid against Tokyo, Japan and surrounding areas. Known as Doolittle’s Raid and Toyko Raid, it was the first air raid to strike the Japanese home islands. This raid demonstrated to Japan that they are vulnerable too and served as a retaliation for the 7 December 1941 attack in Hawaii. It also gave a much needed boost to U.S. morale and damaged Japanese morale. The raid was planned and led by Lieutenant Colonel James “Jimmy” Doolittle, U.S. Army Air Force.
Sixteen U.S. Army Air Forces B-25B Mitchell medium bombers were launched without fighter escort from the U.S. Navy’s aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8) deep in the Western Pacific Ocean, each with a crew of five men.
The plan called for them to bomb military targets in Japan, and to continue westward to land in China—landing a medium bomber on Hornet was impossible. Fifteen of the aircraft reached China, and the other one landed in the Soviet Union. All but three of the crew survived, but all the aircraft were lost. Eight crewmen were captured by the Japanese Army in China; three of these were executed. The B-25 that landed in the Soviet Union at Vladivostok was confiscated and its crew interned for more than a year. Fourteen crews, except for one crewman, returned either to the United States or to American forces.
After the raid, the Japanese Imperial Army conducted a massive sweep through the eastern coastal provinces of China, in an operation now known as the Zhejiang-Jiangxi Campaign, searching for the surviving American airmen and applying retribution on the Chinese who aided them, in an effort to prevent this part of China from being used again for an attack on Japan.
The raid caused negligible material damage to Japan, but it succeeded in its goal of raising American morale and casting doubt in Japan on the ability of its military leaders to defend their home islands. It also contributed to Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto’s decision to attack Midway Island in the Central Pacific—an attack that turned into a decisive strategic defeat of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) by the U.S. Navy in the Battle of Midway. Doolittle, who initially believed that loss of all his aircraft would lead to his being court-martialled, received the Medal of Honor and was promoted two steps to Brigadier General.
James Doolittle died at the age of 96 on 27 September 1993 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C.
USS Hornet (CV-8), the aircraft carrier that launched Doolittle’s Raid on Tokyo also participated in the Battle of Midway and the Buin-Faisi-Tonolai Raid. In the Solomon Islands campaign she was involved in the capture and defense of Guadalcanal and the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands where she was irreparably damaged and sunk. Hornet was in service for a year and six days and was the last US fleet carrier ever sunk by enemy fire. For these actions, she was awarded four service stars, a citation for the Doolittle Raid in 1995, and her Torpedo Squadron 8 received a Presidential Unit Citation for extraordinary heroism for the Battle of Midway.