September Handgrenade. The Doolittle Raid: How Important?

John T Kuehn's picture

The Doolittle Raid:  How Important?

Handgrenade of the Month*

September 2019

John T. Kuehn

 

            In March and April of 1942 Admiral Ernest King, the brilliant but acerbic Commander in Chief of the US Navy (COMINCH) during World War II (as well as the CNO) ,put into execution a plan to use the carrier USS Hornet, newly arrived from the Atlantic Fleet, to launch 16 North American B-25 bombers on a one way trip to bomb Japan in retaliation for Pearl Harbor.  Famed aviation pioneer and US Army Air Force Lt. Colonel Jimmy Doolittle commanded the air component.  The overall naval commander for this stunt was Vice Admiral William F. Halsey, embarked on USS Enterprise of TF-16.  Thus two valuable aircraft carriers would be tied up for six weeks in total.  The raid would also serve, if successfully executed, as a morale boost to the American public mood, which was stunned from the two-ocean setbacks from the Japanese Imperial Navy (IJN)  in the Pacific (Singapore had fallen in February) and the German Operation “Drumbeat” by U-boats in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.

            For years yours truly ascribed to the idea that this raid achieved not only its planned purposes, but was a critical causal element that led to the Midway operation by the IJN’s premier striking force, Dai Ichi Kido Butai.  The argument goes that the humiliation of the Japanese Navy’s promise to protect the Emperor from any US bombers or naval attacks in the sacred home islands belied by this attack convinced key elites in the Supreme Council for the Direction of the War-- composed of Japanese Army and Navy officers –to approve Admiral Isoruku’s proposal to seize Midway Island.  Yamamoto’s plan was a gambit to intended to lure the US Pacific Fleet, which had also been raiding from New Guinea to the Gilbert Islands with its carriers, into an ambush as they came out to defend Midway.

            However the math does not work.  Yamamoto’s original plan had been to actually invade further east, closer to Hawaii, but he finally settled on the Midway plan and his advocacy of this more moderate goal, and his stature as the commander of a Combined Fleet that had delivered nothing but victory since December 7, 1941, convinced the Imperial Naval General staff to agree to his proposal BEFORE the Doolittle Raid occurred.

This fact makes estimating the impact of the Doolittle Raid, which Nimitz believed a rash operation with little payoff, more problematic.   Nimitz was concerned that the commitment of half of his available carriers to this operations left his southern flank and developing base structure at risk.  One lone carrier task force, under Frank Jack Fletcher (embarked on Yorktown) was left warily watching all by itself in the Coral Sea.  USS Lexington, on canned spinach rations for almost a month had left and returned to be re-victualed and rested in Pearl.

What say the naval historians on the H-WAR (or historians in general).  Has the Doolittle Raid been over-rated in its importance to the progress of the Pacific War?  Was it an unwise gambit that violated Nimitz’s own policy of “calculated risk.”?  What else should be factored in, eg. the reputed reinforcement of fighter squadrons for home defense in the home islands of Japan?

 

Sources: 

 John Lundstrom, The First South Pacific Campaign, Pacific Fleet Strategy December 1941 -June 1942 (1976)

________. Black Shoe Carrier Admiral:  Frank Jack Fletcher at Coral Sea Midway, and Guadalcanal (2006)

Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully, Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway (2005).

*I will be going into this, and many other things, at a lecture at the Dole Center at the University of Kansas sometime at 1500 on 12 September 2019 in a lecture entitled "The Forgotten Admiral:  Frank Jack Fletcher."

Pearl Harbor was a military base, however Jimmy Doolittle's 30 seconds over Tokyo was an indiscriminate bombing on a civilian population . This is surely a war crime, Even Le May , said if the Japanese win this war we will be prosecuted as war criminals, Doolittle dropped 16 tons of bombs on a civilian housing area , houses made on mostly wood,The civilian death toll was high.
A war crime did nothing to shorten the war or its costs, It was a PR stunt to shown that the government was doing something , and was basically racist in nature.
Walter McIntosh
Bluff, New Zealand

You pose an interesting question. My question is, "Where was the Kido Butai when the task force sortied? Did the US Navy know where it was?" If I remember correctly it was in the Indian Ocean sinking British ships. Could the Jap[anise muster the forces to find and destroy the American task force? To me, it looks as though it was a gamble, but one that was worth taking given the successes of the Japanese. The decision to keep the raid secret from the Chinese is another matter, which is not part of your question.
In re Admiral Fletcher, his relief after the Battle of the Eastern Solomons and his conduct in the early days of Guadalcanal, demonstrates, to me, that he he was cautious, he understood the importance of preserving the aircraft carriers.

While I agree that Prof. Kuehn is correct in that the Doolittle Raid played no role in setting up the Battle of Midway. That is the narrative of it's importance is wrong.

There were two places where the Doolittle Raid was extremely important.

The first was for domestic American politics...but not what the incorrect narrative says it was...and the other was for the development of Japanese radar.

What the Doolittle Raid did in American domestic political terms was that it save COMINC Admiral King's "phony baloney job" from his professional incompetence in dealing with the German "Operation Drumbeat" U-Boat offensive that savaged the American oil tanker fleet in the Caribbean sea and delayed American ground troop participation in North Africa for six months from the lack of shipping tonnage Adm. King's incompetence lost.

Consider that Operation Drumbeat lasted from January to August 1942 and the Doolittle raid happened in April 1942.

Once Admiral King had the Doolittle Raid in his back pocket. He had the popular political support of the American people such that FDR was no more in a position to dismiss him than he was General Douglas MacArthur after six months of popular radio broadcasts from Bataan of "Successful US-Filipino Resistance" that were picked up and popularized by the Hearst papers. on the US West Coast.

Second place the Doolittle raid had a huge impact was In terms of the development of Japanese Radar in WW2.

The Japanese sent a technical mission to Germany after the fall of France in the summer of 1940. While it was not shown German radars, it was shown captured British ones and while there the Royal Navy destroyed several Italian cruisers in a night action that the Germans credited radar as being the reason for the lopsided Italian defeat.

When the mission returned to Japan several radars were quickly developed including a microwave band 10cm wavelength/3 Ghz frequency cavity magnetron based radar, the Mark 2, Model 2  (AKA Type 22) surface search equivalent to the US Navy's SG radar.

The problem with this very impressive technological advancement by the Imperial Japanese military in the field of RADAR between technical team visits to Germany and the attack on Pearl Harbor was that it effectively missed an "Opportunity Window" in Imperial Japanese military planning.

For reasons of culture -- the Japanese being a classic "Face and Shame" culture -- the Imperial Japanese military liked big, complicated operational plans with lots of moving parts, where everybody got a piece of the action. This worked with the consensus style of Japanese leadership in that it let the various military factions participate with the least amount of political friction.

When there was a lot of time to plan and collect intelligence. There were highly trained forces that had long lead times to execute rehearsals of the plan, and most importantly an unprepared foe. This style worked and it was used on the Russians successfully in 1905. It was the “Short Victorious War” planning style.

Because radar was not going to be of immediate use in the planned “Short Victorious War,” RADAR had no independent military faction, nor powerful flag rank patrons in the existing military factions, to push it's rapid adoption.  The rivalry between the Japanese Army and Navy was such that it kept it's own RADAR a deep secret that the other rival military service could not be trusted with.  Since those secrets were kept, arrangements for new operational paradigms and organizations to use them were still born.   There simply was not room for the new, the secret and the untested in the big complicated attack plans that the Imperial Japanese Military services were about to execute.

The period from August 1941 (The start of the American oil embargo) through October 1942 was absorbed with the preparation of war plans, the execution of war plans -- with the Imperial Japanese Kido Butai Carrier fleet rampaging from Pearl Harbor to the Indian Ocean, and from Darwin, Australia to Kiska, Alaska --  then followed by the unplanned, grinding, sea saw, war of attrition that was the Guadalcanal campaign. 

The end result was that a number of RADAR technological avenues that the Germans and Anglo-Americans took from August 1941 through October 1942 -- when Japanese warships received RADAR directed gunfire at the Battle of Cape Esperance outside the visual range of IJN lookouts -- were simply deferred by the press of events and technical imperative of existing weapons systems.

The Doolittle raid caused Japanese flag rank officers to lose face with the Japanese people, Emperor, and most importantly with each other and that was what cleared the way institutionally for radar in the Japanese military.

Where this clearing out made a huge difference was the 1942-1944 siege of Rabaul.

The cost of the 1930's War in China to the Imperial Japanese military included missing a generation of ground force modernization in terms of anti-aircraft armament. In particular the Japanese -- like the British for some of the same cost reasons -- missed a generation of development in electromechanical fire control computers (also called directors) for heavy anti-aircraft guns that the American and German military's did not.

The Japanese military's heavy anti-aircraft guns and their anti-aircraft fire control directors were early 1930's technology with very severe limitations.  As a series of articles in the late 1970's from  AIR DEFENSE Magazine, the quarterly journal of US Army Air Defense School, stated --

"Guns were considered ineffective below about 35° elevation, due to the instability of the carriages at low angle. The field of fire for antiaircraft guns was divided into a far zone, a central zone, and a near zone. The central zone was within the quadrant elevation of 30° and 55°. Guns usually were restricted to firing in their central zone, which had range and altitude limits where fire effect was considered greatest."

and

"The inaccuracy of the Japanese directors on courses other than approaching courses (directly approaching or at an angle of less than 500 mils** either side of this line) was taken into consideration, and the normal zone was thus the sector that would include targets approaching within these limits. Guns were fired at maximum rate."

[** "Mils" in this case is plural for a measurement of unit of angle called "Mil-Radian" -- one-thousandth of a radian -- or a "Mil."  The '1000 mils' on both sides of the "approaching course" meant ~57 degrees out of 360.]

Japanese RADAR early warning at Rabaul and elsewhere was vitally necessary to set up the electro-mechanical directors in time for accurate engagement of enemy aircraft in the limited engagement arcs of the Imperial Japanese military high velocity anti-aircraft guns. 

And note, while this was limited compared to American and German fire control directors.  This same lack of fire control director-to-gun electrical signal-by-wire automation was what doomed British heavy anti-aircraft guns to irrelevance in the 1940 Battle of Britain.  And at that, the Imperial Japanese resorted to the same sort of "Barrage Box" that the British did because of the Imperial Japanese Army gunfire directors had the same limits as the British Army plus both Japanese military services directors had poor predicted point "following fire" capabilities. All be it, the Japanese "creeping barrage boxes" in 1942-43 were still faster reacting and more accurate than the British in 1940's Battle of Britain.

Found this answer on the web at: https://www.quora.com/Did-the-Doolittle-Raid-have-any-major-impact-besid...

The biggest impact was a totally unforeseen one!

After the Doolittle Raid in early April 1942 the IJN mobilized almost their entire fleet to chase the retreating American ships. What this meant was an enormous amount of radio traffic. Because the goal of the Japanese operation was known, US Navy intelligence got a huge boost in trying to figure out the IJN radio codes. Although the IJN called off the chase after two days the amount of material gathered by US Navy intelligence was enough for them to make significant inroads into breaking the Japanese Naval codes.

This was enough to give the US Navy in the Pacific enough insight to realize that a major southward thrust by the Japanese in the South Pacific was just about to start. This allowed the US Navy to concentrate enough of their meager resources at the time to deflect the invasion fleet headed for Port Moresby on the southern side of Papua New Guinea. This action played out as the Battle of the Coral Sea in early May 1942.

Can anyone on the list verity this comment?

Retrospective analysis is often useful but we should keep in mind the strategic context of early 1942 as it was understood by the principal US military decision-makers. The Doolittle Raid was launched with the expectation that it would come as a humiliating shock of some unknown degree to Japanese decision-makers. By exercising extreme caution (launching the B-25s early after the task force was sighted by a Japanese patrol vessel) Vice-Admiral Halsey was able to minimize the risk to his two carriers, which surely earned a sigh of relief from CINCPAC. And utilizing these two carriers in this fashion would probably not upset the strategic calculus in the minds of Navy planners. Most of the Japanese carriers were expected to be returning from the Indian Ocean and would probably need a period of rest before the next big operation -- whatever that might be. On our side, Yorktown was temporarily alone in the South Pacific but would soon be joined by Lexington. Nimitz and King had reason to believe that the Navy would be reasonably well-positioned to meet the next Japanese push(es). With this reasoning and the expectation of some useful propaganda fallout from the Doolittle Raid, the latter had been a justifiable risk. I doubt if too many American planners and decision-makers saw this raid as a huge positive development in the Pacific war, at that early stage. They were waiting for other shoes to drop.

Also, Dr. Kuehn, is your lecture on Admiral Fletcher available online, by any chance? Having read Lundstrom's book, I think he has been too easily dismissed by many naval historians. We need to remember that he was in command during a period of the war in which reconnaissance and communications were thoroughly unreliable.

I really do not understand why the various people discussing this issue are disregarding the fact that the Doolittle raid was a massive war crime that set a precedent for a number of other massive war crimes. . I expect historians to also be humanitarians,

Walter McIntosh
Bluff, NZ

Tom, short answer yes, can be found in Eliot Carlson’s bio of Joe Rochefort. I think Prada also makes this point in Combined Fleet Decoded, although I’d have to check.
John T. Kuehn

Walt, I don't think there would be general agreement to a "fact" of the Doolittle raid being a "massive war crime." A number of industrial and military targets were hit, and surely no precedent was set. "Area bombing" in Europe by the RAF was being conducted well before April of 1942, and I think the jury is still out about whether an industrial landscape that encompasses residential neighborhoods ought to be off-limits in warfare.

Attacks on Japanese cities later in the war continues to horrify, but those highly-flammable residential areas contained a great many distributed war production facilities, which were surely legitimate military targets. This industrial infrastructure supported a ruthless and aggressive regime waging unprovoked warfare against Asiatic nations that posed no threat to Japan.

The level of innumeracy and factual variance with historical reality demonstrated with Mr McIntosh's "Doolittle Raid was War Crime" accusation are awesome in scope.

Starting with the Pacific War, the Japanese Army Air Force civilian terror bombing of Chongqing kicked off in 938 and the raids of May 1939 killed more than five thousand Chinese civilians.

For which see:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_Chongqing

The German fire bombing of Rotterdam happened on 14 May 1940 and killed 884 Dutch civilians.

For which see:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_bombing_of_Rotterdam

In contrast to the two previous raids, the Doolittle raid killed at best 50 people -- including civilians -- and, despite it's lack of pre-raid photo reconnaissance, still managed to place a 500 lb (230 kg) bomb into the then undergoing under conversion hull of the IJN aircraft carrier Ryūhō.

See:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_aircraft_carrier_Ry%C5%ABh%C5%8D

The comparison of the two previous Axis raids to the Doolittle Raid underlines two points.

1. Orders of magnitude mean things. The 1942 Doolittle raid was one or two places left of the decimal point _less_ in terms of civilian death toll than the Axis civilian terror bombings of 1939 and 1940.

2. Demonstrated military intent means things. Neither Axis raid hit anything having military value. The Doolittle raid struck a major fleet element -- arguably a 2nd line capital unit -- of the Imperial Japanese fleet.

Given the actual scale of atrocities the Imperial Japanese Army committed on the Chinese civilians in retaliation for the Doolittle raid, see:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/untold-story-vengeful-japanese-at...

It leaves this statement:

>>I really do not understand why the various people discussing this issue are disregarding the fact that the Doolittle raid was a massive war crime that set a precedent for a number of other massive war crimes.

...with the same level of moral agency as the issuance of a parking tickets after a demolition derby.

Regarding Walter McIntosh's concerns about war crimes. By the time of the Doolittle Raid in 1942 bombing of civilian targets had become an accepted strategy of war on both sides. Inititated by the German bombing of London, it was soon followed by Bombing Command. To quote form The Bombing War by Richard Overy (Allen Lane 2013), page 258:

In May 1941 the [British] Ministry of Economic Warfare, which had been monitoring the ineffectiveness of Bomber Command on precise economic objectives in Germany, sent a memorandum recommending that RAF abandon military targets and focus instead on economic warfare against major industrial concentrations or "whole cities." . . . In April 1941 a reveiw of bombing policy recommended "carefully planned, concentrated and continuous 'BLITZ' attacks delivered ON THE CENTRE OF the WORKING-CLASS AREA OF THE GERMAN CITIES AND TOWNS [I've capitalized for emphasis].

If Doolittle should be charged with war crimes, a guess the British should be too.

So long as the target cities contain military targets, they're valid targets in international law. If you think otherwise, you'll to need to cite the relevant clauses from the major international legal treaties like the various Hague and Geneva Conventions.

Ralph, I really do disagree . It is very clear that the Doolittle raid , was a violation of the existing laws of war, and was not a humanitarian act, and it was a precedent for such atrocities as the bombing of Dresden, and the later even more horrifying bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,, Indiscriminate bombing is outlawed by Int'l law.
Walter McIntosh
Bluff, New Zealand.

Walt, there are the "Laws of War" and the laws of necessity -- not always anticipated but responding to modern conditions and driving the use of military force in unexpected directions. In popular memory one of the chief Allied villains of World War II was Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris, who led the RAF Bomber Command through most of the war. Here are a couple of quotations laying out his strategy:

[In a memorandum to the Air Ministry] "The aim of the Combined Bomber Offensive and the part which Bomber Command is required by agreed British-US strategy to play in it, should be unambiguously and publicly stated. That aim is the destruction of German cities, the killing of German workers and the disruption of civilized community life throughout Germany. It should be emphasized that the destruction of houses, public utilities, transport and lives, the creation of a refugee problem on an unprecedented scale, and the breakdown of morale both at home and at the battle fronts by fear of extended and intensified bombing, are accepted and intended aims of our bombing policy. They are not by-products of attempts to hit factories."

[A comment to his USAAF counterpart, Lt. Gen. Ira Eaker, who led the VIII Bomber Command & the 8th Air Force for a time] "You destroy a factory and they rebuild it. In six weeks they are in operation again. I kill all their workmen, and it takes twenty-one years to provide new ones."

The laws of warfare agreed upon by the "civilized" nations prior to the two world wars were obviated by the "industrialization" of warfare in the 20th century. It hardly mattered that nobody got around to writing new laws in time to guide strategy in World War II.

Jason, the Hague's convention on warfare of 1907 applies, and even more so humanitarian law, which bans the indiscriminate bombardment of cities. There is no doubt that the Doolittle raid was precedent for any number of unlawful atrocities, by Americans , British, and Japanese. In fact, war itself is a crime against humanity. I, myself survived the horrendous rocket and artillery barrage into the civilian housing area of Tay Ninh Vietnam in early 75. At one I was in the hospital there due to injuries, and while being operated on the hospital was receiving sustained shelling from the so-called liberated zone some 20 kilometers distant.

Walter McIntosh
Bluff, New Zealand .

@Walter McIntosh: What about the Japanese bombing of Chinese cities, and the German firebombing of Rotterdam, mentioned above and which occurred before the Doolittle raid?

Strikes me, if you're looking for precedents for indiscriminant bombing of civilians, those stand out as for more serious. And we're not mentioning almost countless previous attacks, including those by German Gotha bombers on England in WW 1:

https://www.historychannel.com.au/h100/gotha-bombers-struck-london/

It also srikes me that you have a particular animus against the Doolittle attack — why? And how did it differ in your view from the (amply documented) previous aerial attacks on civilians? What made the Doolittle raid so heinous and precedent-setting where the earlier ones weren't?

All: This issue of strategic bombing and the moral debate that surrounds it is very important. Especially today when we threaten to kill dozens of people when unmanned reconnaissance aircraft get shot done.

A very fine book on the topic is not just Overy's work, which I highly recommend, but
A.C. Grayling's masterpiece _Among the Dead Cities:The History and Moral Legacy of the WWII Bombing of Civilians in Germany and Japan_. I used this text in two courses I taught, one for a WW II course at Wolverhampton U. in the UK and another in war and morality for the advanced military studies program (AMSP), which is the junior course at Fort Leavenworth's School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS).

There are two ways (at least) to approach this, from an absolutist ethical viewpoint and from a utilitarian viewpoint.
From an absolute ethical viewpoint this form of warfare is criminal and unvirtuous. It is never "okay." My ethical baseline for this
view are I. Kant's lectures in ethics. But Erasmus is also in the mix as well as the Gospels.

However, there is the second viewpoint, the utilitarian one that takes into account social norms and context and then asks,
"so was this extreme step worth it?"
My answer for that is much less extreme, but extreme nonetheless--and at both ends of the spectrum. For conventional bombing the bang delivered by the strategic bombing campaign in WW II does not measure up, it did not deliver the quick and ultimately "cheaper in lives" solution (based on being quick" that it promised, It failed miserably on that score and it only became more effective due to second and third order effects (such as destruction of Luftwaffe fighter force). Worse, it was expensive, especially in manpower, causing the US to almost run out of combat troops if not for....perhaps...the surprisingly quick end to the war in the Pacific.

Thus, for atomic weapons the utilitarian argument has some value (this is the other extreme), it was a key component in Japan's decision to surrender thus avoiding a costly bloody war in Asia for several more years, to say nothing of the famine and starvation that would have resulted without the surrender.

Standing by for counterfire and don't worry, no women and children in the vicinity.

John T. Kuehn

Walter,
The relevant text of the Hague Convention of 1907 is:

Art. 25.
The attack or bombardment, by whatever means, of towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings which are undefended is prohibited.

Do you seriously maintain that Tokyo was an undefended city?

Your individual case appears to have been a violation of:

Art. 27.
In sieges and bombardments all necessary steps must be taken to spare, as far as possible, buildings dedicated to religion, art, science, or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals, and places where the sick and wounded are collected, provided they are not being used at the time for military purposes.

It is the duty of the besieged to indicate the presence of such buildings or places by distinctive and visible signs, which shall be notified to the enemy beforehand.

Note the important qualifier in Art. 27, "as far as possible" Even a bad lawyer can drive a truck through that.

Have I missed anything?

The bombing of England by zeppelins/dirigibles/airships in WW I should also be noted. The Germans mounted about 51 raids, mostly over London (civilian target, lots of women and children, more than two decades before the "precedent-setting" Doolittle raid) ranging as far afield as Tyneside and the Midlands. The German zeppelins suffered very heavy casualties, including the commander of the German zeppelin force. No parachutes were carried for weight reasons, so when one of these giants went down, all aboard were burned alive.

It dawned on me recently that post- WW I every single airship, but one, not built by Germany crashed! And the one that did survive (GB's R-100) was almost torn to pieces in a storm over the St. Lawrence River on its transatlantic voyage in 1930. (R-100 remains the largest object ever to fly in Canada's skies.)

ALL US airships crashed. Ah ha! you may reply; "what about the "Los Angeles"'? Well, it was built by Germany as war reparations to the US. The one German exception to all this, of course was the "Hindenburg".

Flying low and slow is very dangerous.

Regards,

Stanley Sandler

John , A very thoughtful post IMO. I think this discussion is both important and growing in importance. At the beginning of the 19th century only 10-15 % of persons killed in war were civilians but by the end of that century it was 50% . Now about 75% of the people killed in war are civilians. War is bad enough but indiscriminate bombing is a crime against humanity. By the way if list members want to talk about Japanese or British , or German war crimes, so be it, and start a new discussion , but this thread was about Doolittle's 30 seconds over Tokyo. It was an American War Crime.
Walter McIntosh
Bluff, New Zealand

All, There have been several attempts by people on this list to point fingers elsewhere in an attempt to shift the blame for USA committing war crimes. The discussion was about the Doolittle raid , Not about the atrocities committed by the Japanese in revenge for the Doolittle raid, nor about the war criminal Bomber Harris. The Doolittle raid was a war crime, did nothing to shorten the war or reduce causalities. Jimmy Doolittle was awarded the Medal of Honer for committing a war crime.And racist one at that.
Historians are supposed to tell the truth and not omit unpleasant details.
Walter McIntosh
Bluff, New Zealand

Walt, I know your feelings run deep and you saw more of the Vietnam War than most people, but I believe the historians on this list, along with those of us who are merely students of history, would be skeptical about applying a 1907 war crime definition to an event that happened 35 years later, when the whole nature of war had changed, not to mention the technology. The incomparably greater role that a nation's industrial infrastructure played in the great wars of the 20th century made the original Hague Convention largely irrelevant, in my opinion. I'm not sure we've learned, even now, how to legislate modern warfare. We live in a time when most large-scale application of military force will inevitably involve collateral damage -- even when our own country tries, whenever possible, to wage war with precision-strike drones and special forces.

But to John's original question: As I see it, the Doolittle Raid was a legitimate gamble made solely for propaganda purposes, with risks manageably contained. And Jimmy Doolittle was certainly the right guy to lead that mission. When he died in 1993 a large delegation from the Air Staff (including one or two reservists like me) hiked on foot from the Pentagon over to the Arlington Cemetery chapel for his funeral service. As a pilot, an aviation technology expert, and a combat leader he had few peers. Really, how many prewar reserve officers accumulated as many stars as he did?

Walter McIntosh writes of: "the atrocities committed by the Japanese in revenge for the Doolittle raid, nor about the war criminal Bomber Harris. The Doolittle raid was a war crime, did nothing to shorten the war or reduce causalities. Jimmy Doolittle was awarded the Medal of Honer for committing a war crime.And racist one at that.
Historians are supposed to tell the truth and not omit unpleasant details.

1. If the Doolittle Raid was "racist", how do we explain our bombing the hell out of German cities, almost exclusively inhabited by fellow Caucasians?

2. I find "Historians are supposed to tell the truth and not omit unpleasant details" offensive. I've known plenty of historians, including some on H-War postings. I know of none who needed lessons from Mr. Macintosh on historical morality. They may often be wrong, God knows, but I wonder if you can give me examples of mainstream historians who do not "tell the truth" and "omit unpleasant details.", deliberately. Again, please, documentation.

Stanley Sandler

Stanley, I certainly meant no offense . There are many examples of historians who did not tell the truth , but for me one of the most blatant in recent times was contained in Mark Philip Bradley's Imaging Vietnam & America . Bradley asserts that the French replica of the Statue of Liberty was standing on the other end of Ba Dinh square when Ho Chi Minh made his Independence speech . Anyone who had Hanoi's newspapers or history of the era , knew or should have known that the Mayor of Hanoi had warehoused this replica statue ,as well as many other French artifacts , The assertion that the Statue of Liberty was on the other end of Ba Dinh square when Ho made his speech had a nice irony effect for the book but was not true, and Bradley who is certainly a mainstream historian should have known that..
As to the bombing of Japan being racist , it is hard for me to convince that anyone would question that fact considering the racist sentiment against the Japanese in USA, . I had many Japanese friends in my youth, who were removed to interment camps . Their houses taken over by Chinese at 10 cents on the dollar. Churchill & Bomber Harris were bombing German cities as eary as 1940 , before USA entered into WWII.
Walter McIntosh
Bluff, New Zealand

Prof. Kuehn

Since you threw this out as bait:

>>My answer for that is much less extreme, but extreme nonetheless--and at both ends of the spectrum. For conventional bombing the bang delivered by the strategic bombing campaign in WW II does not measure up, it did not deliver the quick and ultimately "cheaper in lives" solution (based on being quick" that it promised, It failed miserably on that score and it only became more effective due to second and third order effects (such as destruction of Luftwaffe fighter force). Worse, it was expensive, especially in manpower, causing the US to almost run out of combat troops if not for....perhaps...the surprisingly quick end to the war in the Pacific.

...I cannot help but bite.

Short form:

You're wrong and need to read the following books:

1. Phillips Payson O’Brien’s How the War was Won: Air-Sea Power and Allied Victory in World War II (Cambridge Military Histories) https://www.amazon.com/How-War-was-Won-Cambridge-ebook/dp/B00VAOVM2A/ref...

2. Alfred C. Mierzejewski "The Collapse of the German War Economy, 1944-1945: Allied Air Power and the German National Railway"  (Paperback)
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0807858501/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=U...

3. Adam Tooze, "The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy"
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B008DR6YXO/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UT...

Long form:

Understanding the full impact of the strategic bombing campaigns requires a deep understanding of the major economies involved in WW2. And pretty much everything academic military history thought it knew about WW2's economics, and by extension strategic bombing, was made obsolete by these works.

Starting with Tooze's book "The Wages of Destruction" first, it would more accurately subtitled "How Hitler Controlled the Nazi Mobilization and War Economy Through Steel Allocations." The idea that the Nazi German economy was not mobilized at the beginning of WW2 is an utter myth. In fact, it was heavily mobilized and Hitler was doing everything he could to win fast enough, big enough, to put together an economy to take on a fully mobilized USA.

You can see Tooze's numbers on that in his on-line power point presentation here:

War in Germany (17): The High Point of German Militarism, the death of the Weimar Republic and the Making of the Third Reich
https://adamtooze.com/2018/08/11/war-in-germany-17-the-high-point-of-ger...

Tooze asserts that this overwhelming strategic need to prepare for the USA's mobilized war economy was the main reason the Germans went in to Russia in 1941 – the fact that Hitler had no other option but to do it now or never. Nazi Germany was on a strategic, oil driven, American mobilization economic clock. On p. 666 we have part of a summary by Tooze on the reasons why Hitler widened the war in 1941:

“The astonishing defeat of France in the early summer of 1940 had promised to change everything. But in fact the Wehrmacht’s spectacular victory did not solve Hitler’s fundamental strategic dilemma. The German navy and air force were too weak to force Britain to the negotiating table. The competitive logic of the arms race continued to apply in 1940 and 1941.

Rather than surrender to Hitler’s will, Britain proved willing to go to the point of national bankruptcy before being rescued by lend-lease. And thanks to its comparatively abundant foreign reserves and American assistance it could mobilize a far larger percentage of foreign resources than Germany at this critical point in the war.

In Berlin, by contrast, once the euphoria of victory had worn off, a considerable disillusionment set in over the economic viability of Germany’s new Grossraum. Conquering most of Western Europe added a drastic shortage of oil, nagging difficulties in coal supply and a serious shortage of animal feed to Germany’s already severe deficiencies. The populations of Western Europe were a vital asset, as was their industrial capacity, but, given the constraints imposed by the British blockade, it was far from clear that these resources could be effectively mobilized. Unless Germany could secure access to the grain surpluses and oil of the Soviet Union, and organize a sustained increase in coal production, continental Europe was threatened with a prolonged decline in output, productivity and living standards. Added to which, Roosevelt had launched his own spectacular rearmament program within days of Germany’s breakthrough at Sedan.

The strategic pressure on Hitler to preempt decisive American intervention in the war can only really be appreciated if we do full justice to the scale of the Anglo-American effort from as early as the summer of 1940. In this respect, the truly vast discrepancy between Anglo-American aircraft procurement and Germany’s relatively insignificant outsourcing to France and the Netherlands is very telling. it was an imbalance that was not lost on Goering and the German Air Ministry.”

Tooze made the observation based on the above that RAF Bomber Command's area bombing of the Ruhr was most effective because the Ruhr's "feeder" industries were the bed rock upon which Nazi War Mobilization was built. The 2nd & 3rd order effects of damage to those 'feeder industries" by Bomber Command's 1942-1943 strikes on the Ruhr stopped German war production expansion dead. And that "Bomber Harris" decision to strike Berlin in Winter 1943/1944 in lieu of the Ruhr was a strategic mistake that underpinned German war production expansion in 1944.

Listen to Tooze here regards the Ruhr:
http://bobrowen.com/nymas/podcasts/Adam%20Tooze%20-%20Nazi%20Economy%203...

Next is Mierzejewski's "The Collapse of the German War Economy, 1944-1945..." which would be more accurately subtitled "How Bureaucratic Fights of Ultra Intelligence Delayed Giving the German Economy a Coal Distribution Heart Attack Via Strategic Bombing."

Mierzejewski's key insights are that coal was the key precursor material for electric power, transportation and most other German economic activities. That the German railways not only used coal to provide most transportation, but that it was utterly key in distributing coal through out the German economy. And that my hitting every major Reichbahn railway marshaling yard simultaniously. You could stop German coal distribution "Heart Attack" to such a degree that the Reichbahn could not delver coal to it's own engines.

Figuring these facts out took the transportation campaign in France, the strategic bombing strikes on Reichbahn marshaling yards supporting the German Ardennes Offensive, collecting data on both, and the discovery that the Oil bombing advocates in the UK were excluding data on the effectiveness of Combined bombing marshaling yard strikes to SHAEF in Feb 1945 in the intelligence postmortem of the Ardennes Offensive.

See the following from a October 1990 RAF historical seminar by Lord Zuckerman via page 65 at the link —

https://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/documents/Research/RAF-Historical-Society-J...

“We now know that the destruction of the railway system had ruined the German economy by October 1944. We also know that the Combined Strategic Targets Committee (CSTC) were sitting on ULTRA intercepts that told the true story from October; they had 20,000 intercepts a week they either didn’t have an interest in or the staff to deal with, and it is now known that had we gone on hitting at those nodal centers in a concentrated way, that we had been doing in the last quarter of 1944, the Air Forces would have played a greater part in ending the war than in fact they did.

The Railway Marshaling Yard "lessons learned" of the Ultra intelligence postmortem were applied March-April 1945 with Dresden as one of the major Reichbahn railway marshaling yard targets struck based upon it.

The final book, O’Brien’s "How the War was Won..." whose real sub-title ought to be "My PHD thesis successfully proving Imperial Japan punched in an economic weight class above the Soviet Union and that air & sea power were the decisive factors in defeating the Axis, not the Eastern Front" is a real treat in examining those 2nd & 3rd order economic effects caused by air and sea power.

I'll note that O’Brien can't read Pacific Theater maps or place names worth beans, and has that traditional UK academic sneer at MacArthur, but otherwise it is very solid work as this Amazon review I clipped below makes clear --

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"Interesting, Sometimes Controversial, Often Insightful By Writing Historian on April 22, 2015 Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase

I bought this book just to see if the author could introduce some plausible twists on the accepted wisdom on how WW2 unfolded, which nation accomplished what, and how air/naval power figured in the various campaigns that took place from 1939 to 1945. I found Dr. O'Brien's insights to be quite unique on occasion, for the most part well informed, and guaranteed to be controversial in some circles. That is not to say that controversy is without merit. Among the many pleasant surprises is that a book chock full of analysis and facts/figures could be fairly entertaining and well-written.

Scope of coverage: Although the book centers on air and naval power, O'Brien does not neglect land armies. In terms of combatants, his coverage is heavily weighted toward the US, Great Britain (rather than the Commonwealth per se), Germany and Japan. He does talk about the Soviet Union and Italy, although the latter is normally discussed as a millstone around the neck of their Nazi allies. Some of the topics explored in this book include:

1. The Soviet Army's defeat of German land power on the Eastern Front was not as decisive to the Third Reich's downfall as portrayed in recent scholarship (post-Cold War). He argues instead that the Germans did not start losing until their air and naval power were no longer decisive factors in various theaters - in part because it had to fight in a growing number of theaters and in part because Anglo-Americans won the technical struggle between surface ship and U-boat.

2. Japan was a much more formidable industrial adversary than heretofore acknowledged. He states that the Japanese matched the industrial output of the Soviet Union - which caused me to reflexively shake my head in disbelief for a moment before reading his explanation: The Soviets invested heavily in the ground forces, much less so in air forces (most Soviet aircraft were lend lease or Russian designs built using American provided aluminum and flown using American provided aviation fuel).

The Japanese invested the equivalent of the Soviet Army in production assets allocated to their air and naval power. This is no surprise when one learns that naval and merchant shipping was allocated more than half of all of the finished steel production between 1943 and 1945. (pp. 61 - 63)

Naval production comparisons between Great Britain and Japan were also interesting: Between 1942 and 1945, the Japanese built one battleship, 13 aircraft carriers, five cruisers, 55 destroyers, and 99 submarines. The British built 2 battleships, 6 aircraft carriers, 15 cruisers, 141 destroyers, and 111 submarines. The disparity was closer than I thought in more categories than I believed possible. [Note: The USSR commissioned 2 cruisers, 25 destroyers, and 52 submarines during the entire war].

In addition, the British only built fourteen percent more merchant shipping than the Japanese (who built 3,392,814 tons worth of shipping) - which is closer than one might imagine because the latter's shipyards did come under increasing air attack in 1945, whereas British merchant shipyards were rarely attacked from the air.

The Japanese also introduced more types of updated aircraft and higher performing aircraft than their German or Soviet counterparts.

So, what happened to the Axis achieving victory? Despite tremendous investments in air and naval power at the onset of the war, the Germans could not keep up with the Anglo-Americans - in part because of increasingly effective bombing and in part because they didn't make efficient use of available assets.

One point that he uses to drive home that claim is that the Germans spent as much money (percentage wise) on the V-2 program as the Americans spent on the Manhattan project. It’s not hard to figure out who got the better return on investment.

Even if you disagree with his conclusions, Dr. O'Brien brings a number of unique or overlooked insights into the equation as he examines non-operational losses for the German and Japanese Air Force(s) caused by poorly trained ferry pilots and dispersed delivery bases, how many workers would have ACTUALLY been needed to build more Me-262s earlier in the war, why the Japanese had to turn to kamikazes (dropping pilot skill levels), and why Allied strategic bombing had a much greater impact than imagined (physical damage, worker morale and diversion of fighter and AAA resources to homeland defense) by ADDING into the equation the impact on German industry created by the dispersal of factories coupled with their efforts to build underground factories for their higher priority programs.

All that stuff cost money, consumed resources, and drained off manpower.

He begins to delve into strategy in the latter half of the book, noting how air and naval power drove how the Allies waged war in all theaters.

He buttresses those assertions by looking at Admiral Ernie King and General Douglas MacArthur's machinations to acquire a greater share of air and naval assets during their campaigns - to the point where O'Brien states the former basically lied about the percentage of US naval assets dedicated to the European and Pacific theaters to the Combined Chiefs over a period of years.

This is one of the few times where I found an error in his analysis, as he confuses Canton Island with Canton, China when discussing some of Admiral King's strategy oriented notes about the "Funafuti, Gilberts, and Canton" [region] - which in fact comprises a triangular area in the south Central Pacific.

I also thought his use of a post-war German account to discuss the experience of the Panzer Lehr Division in Normandy was a bit weak - he bought off on "air power destroyed everything" statements which more recent scholarship - such as Niklas Zetterling's book on the German Army in Normandy, has determined to be an exaggeration.

Otherwise, based on my own knowledge base of reading [and publishing] military history for the past several decades I don't have much to criticize about the level of expertise he acquired on an amazingly wide spectrum of topics.

Sources: His work is grounded to a great degree on the results of the US Strategic Bombing Survey. You can imagine how those documents would lend greater weight to an argument that air and naval power won World War 2. Still, I cannot shake the thought that the Germans did fairly well as long as they could overmatch their opponent or at least hold their own at sea and in the air in a particular theater. That kind of makes sense of the fact that their ground forces were defeated on all fronts, despite having far better weapons in many cases.

As I stated at the beginning of my review, not everyone is going to agree with him - I certainly did not agree with all of his conclusions, but I did like his writing/presentation style and I think he covers much discussed material in an interesting and novel manner.

I am glad that I bought this book, which I liked so much that I also bought a second one for a friend. Highly recommended, primarily because of its thought provoking narrative."

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As for the sources, Tooze's book is available in Amazon kindle form for less than $16 dollars.

O’Brien’s for less than $6 dollars.

Sadly, Mierzejewski's book is a pricey academic tome I obtained via inter-library loan. However, he has a newer book on the same subject out in Kindle form, but haven't bought it yet.

My conclusion after reading these books is that for military historians to understand the strategic bombing campaigns of WW2, they -really- need a heavy professional economics background.

Have been following this discussion with some interest. It does seem to have turned in focus from just the subject, Doolittle's Raid and its importance to concern not only under the laws of war, but actual practices and results, historically, the may be indicated as justification for the illegal or violations of laws designated to conduct warfare.

Think Walt's observations that Doolittle's Raid may have an importance as an example of unlawful war, or war crime, deserves consideration; not because it did violate law but because the latitude allowed under war law may not have risen to a war crime. This would indicate requires not only those versed in military law but realization that war law is not any more precise necessarily than civil law can often prove. In short, 2 lawyers might not agree that the Doolittle Raid actually resulted in a war crime.
That is one importance of the Doolittle Raid. A second, is the actual Raid itself as demonstration that Japan, which had sailed across the Pacific to attack Pearl Harbor and the US Fleet was not 'immune' but actually vulnerable to both attack and retaliations despite its distance from the thrust of its own
proved operational and technologic history.

These two points would present here as important consequences of Doolittle Raid. But at another level, it also brings into focus as Jason Long[ whose materials enable more specific a view of War Law] and Ralph point out, the Laws of War; as set down in the Hague Convention of 1907, possibly warfare had outrun thru technical and weapons developments it provisos. Much 20th Century History indicates the mass warfare of Nations, instituted and realized since introduction of its practice by Napoleon in the 19th Century has changed both war and the relation of its principles and practices with regards to noncombatants.
Before civilian populations may have been considered one of the prizes of victory in war but modern History has designated them, as wars between Nations and Peoples War[Communist practices], legitimate targets for determining the course and outcome of wars. Law, like other fields of human history do change over time and modern warfare certainly would not be removed from changes in Law to take into account modern history, practices, principles and technologies of weaponry. WW II did differ from the generation of WW I in so far as total war practices were allowed; but one of the weapons employed and advanced was that superior Laws and legal systems were pursued by those who advocated for Democracy over Totalitarian and Fascist practices, governments, as legal outcomes.
If Democracy merely offers the same results as Dictatorships, then the choice between, available to populations and civilians is none at all. Democracy struggles with these historical differences.

Doolittle's Raid, whether deemed by law and its conclusions, legal or outlaw as a matter of history, does present what can happen
in the age historically of modern warfare and its practice.

After having gone to the trouble of looking up the Laws of War in effect at the time of the Doolittle Raid, I have come to the conclusion that Mr. McIntosh does not know what he is talking about.

These were the Laws of War in effect at the time of the 1942 Doolittle Raid with the link:

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The Laws of War
https://avalon.law.yale.edu/subject_menus/lawwar.asp

Miscellaneous Treaties, Conventions and Agreements

1856 - Declaration of Paris; April 16

1863 - General Orders No. 100 - Instructions For the Government of Armies of the United States in the Field by Francis Lieber : April 24

1868 - Declaration of St. Petersburg; November 29

1904 - Convention for the Exemption of Hospital Ships, in Time of War, From the Payment of All Duties and Taxes Imposed for the Benefit of the State; December 21

1928 - Kellogg-Briand Pact and Associated Documents; August 27

Hague Conference of 1899
Correspondence, Instructions and Reports of the United States Commission

Hague I - Pacific Settlement of International Disputes : 29 July 1899

Hague II - Laws and Customs of War on Land : 29 July 1899

Hague III - Adaptation to Maritime Warfare of Principles of Geneva Convention of 1864 : July 29,1899

Hague IV - Prohibiting Launching of Projectiles and Explosives from Balloons : July 29, 1899

Declaration I - on the Launching of Projectiles and Explosives from Balloons; July 29, 1899

Declaration II - on the Use of Projectiles the Object of Which is the Diffusion of Asphyxiating or Deleterious Gases; July 29, 1899

Declaration III - on the Use of Bullets Which Expand or Flatten Easily in the Human Body; July 29, 1899

Final Act of the International Peace Conference; July 29, 1899

Hague Conference of 1907
Hague I - Pacific Settlement of International Disputes : 18 October 1907

Hague II - Limitation of Employment of Force for Recovery of Contract Debts : October 18, 1907

Hague III - Opening of Hostilities : 18 October 1907

Hague IV - Laws and Customs of War on Land : 18 October 1907

Hague V - Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers and Persons in Case of War on Land : 18 October 1907

Hague VI - Status of Enemy Merchant Ships at the Outbreak of Hostilities : 18 October 1907

Hague VII - Conversion of Merchant Ships into War Ships : 18 October 1907

Hague VIII - Laying of Automatic Submarine Contact Mines : 18 October 1907

Hague IX - Bombardment by Naval Forces in Time of War : 18 October 1907

Hague X - Adaptation to Maritime War of the Principles of the Geneva Convention : 18 October 1907

Hague XI - Restrictions With Regard to the Exercise of the Right of Capture in Naval War : 18 October 1907

Hague XIII -Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers in Naval War : 18 October 1907

Geneva Conventions
1864 - Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded on the Field of Battle; August 22

1928 - Geneva Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating Gas, and for Bacteriological Methods of Warfare; February 8

1929 - Convention Between the United States of America and Other Powers, Relating to Prisoners of War; July 27
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Given that HAGUE IV convention on aerial bombing from balloons and "by other means" timed out twice and was made moot by aerial bombing in World War I, the only Hague article that might in any sense of the word "apply" is HAGUE IX --

https://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hague09.asp

Laws of War :
Bombardment by Naval Forces in Time of War (Hague IX); October 18, 1907
IX CONVENTION CONCERNING BOMBARDMENT BY NAVAL FORCES IN TIME OF WAR

Even leaving aside the unavoidable fact air forces are _NOT_ naval forces. The nut of the matter is all a combatant power has to do is announce under Art. 3. of HAGUE IX he is going to bomb an undefended civilian area unless they comply with the "naval power" and they can.

Since America declared war after a major attack without a declaration of War by Japan. and demanded "Unconditional Surrender" of Japan as it's war aims in return. All the proper forms and structures seem to have been checked off.

This also leaves aside the matter the USA always makes clear in it's Senate approval of such treaties it's exceptions to the various articles of war.

This would require looking up the relevant Hague and Geneva Conventions exceptions in the US Congressional Record in the ratification debates.

I believe that the Shimoda case of 1968 settles the issue of Doolittle's Raid (or other bombings beyond the two atomic raids) being a war crime. In short, the Japanese court held that it was not, nor was any other strategic bombing of that war.

The court noted that the concept of a "military objective" as defined by earlier conventions was clearly enlarged under the conditions of total war. Furthermore, in recognition that the Japanese had a long history of Kanai kogyo (crafting, cleaning, or assembling items in civilian homes, to include military items in time of war) and that military targets were concentrated in a comparatively small area, and that anti-aircraft defenses were present, then the destruction of non-military objectives was lawful if done in smaller proportion to the intended military target. The court used this same reasoning to note that the atomic bombings were illegal.

As for the issue of racism, and as a combat veteran myself, I will simply say it is a null-null matter. Enemies hate each other and it is "normal" in a combat situation to dehumanize your enemy. There are plenty of propaganda posters (and by WWII movies) from all sides to prove this case. Japanese were "buck-toothed inferiors," Germans were "murderous barbarians," Americans were "sex fiends" and so on. It is the nature of mankind (both officially and unofficially) to blunt the horrors of war by somehow making the enemy less.

Now, on to the start of all of this. I find Doolittle's Raid to amount to little more than a very risky propaganda stunt. The U.S. needed something to feel better, and this was it. Had it failed, and the US lost the carriers, the impact would have been stunning, probably lengthening the war in the Pacific by several months or even forcing Roosevelt off his "Germany First" position. With respect to grand strategy, or even shifting the tactical outlook, I think the impact was minimal.

Patrick, I do not put much stock in the Japanese Court Case, in that Japan also awarded one of the world's worst War Criminals , General Curtis Le May , a high award as well. If you agree with me that targeting and killing civilians in war is a crime then the Doolittle raid was a crime. In addition to it being a propaganda stunt , it was also revenge for Pearl Harbour , I noted earlier that I arrived in Giessen Germany as a soldier in January1955, Giessen was 75% destroyed in WWII and the motivation of the bombings was revenge . No matter what the mission of the British they saved a few bombs for Giessen , as early on in the war, two downed British Air Men were dragged through the streets of Giessen until dead. Some of the most traumatized were only children when this took place, but now ten years llater in 1955 they were my age and became my friends, I also , first handedly recall the massive artillery and rocket attacks on the civilian housing area of Tay Ninh , Vietnam in 1975. The Communist's aim was to cause panic among the civilian population , The main civilian causalities were children playing in the streets,
In WWII about 3% of the world's population were killed , the majority of those killed were civilians. .
Do you do not think that killing civilians iis a crime?
Walter McIntosh
Bluff, New Zealand

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Folks -- I think we've gotten stuck in a back and forth that makes the same points repeatedly, without advancing much. Given that, I'm going to wrap this thread up. If someone has a last on-topic comment to make, I'll consider it for *one* more round, but otherwise, I think we've seemingly done what we can with this.]

Talking about "killing civilians" is imprecise. If a civilian works in the war industries, he or she is not really a civilian. Not, in my opinion, exempt from risk. General Curtis LeMay, like Air Chief Marshal Arthur "Bomber" Harris, knew exactly what he was doing, and that it would be construed as a war crime under long-obsolete "rules of war." And both men DID deliver strategic results, if maybe a day late and a dollar short. Meaningful economic activity was grinding to a halt in both Germany and Japan, in consequence of the strategic bombing campaigns. War is Hell, as General W. T. Sherman famously said, long ago.

Ralph, Other than Curtis Le May , W.T. Sherman may hold the title as the worst war criminal.I would hold that so-called Strategic Bombing were ac counter-productive as they tended to strengthen the resolve of those being bombed.And made the bombers criminals . . If " Bomber" Harris and Curtis Le May actually knew what they were doing they would not have done it. The bombing of German and Japanese cites were the great examples of inhumanity and resulted in mass murder.
Walter McIntosh
Bluff, New Zealand

Many aspects to the discussion of civilian casualties, strategic bombing, etc... as they relate to "war crimes." While deliberate targeting of clear non-combatants is obvious, many other things are not, especially if we put ourselves in older times with limited technology... But even in modern times I like to point out one clear statistic, and that is the number of blue-on-blue casualties which occur in wartime (forces wounding/killing their own people). You would think absolutely the highest order of business would be to prevent such things and yet they still happen very commonly. So when certain pundits scream every time a civilian is injured and claim deliberate targeting because "obviously we could prevent it if we wanted to..." I throw the nonsense flag... Back to WWII there were many cases of friendly fire, the best known was possibly the post-Normandy bombing of our own forces when LTG Lesley McNair was among the casualties.

(EDITOR'S NOTE)

Folks--

With the two posts that just went out, we've finished with the September Handgrenade thread. Thanks for your participation!

regards,
David Silbey
H-War List Editor