12 August, 2012

12 August 1945


438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
12 August, 1945
My dearest darling –

Here it is early Sunday morning and I love you, I love you, I love you. And wonders to speak! – two (2) nice letters from you yesterday – 3 July and 1 August. You were blue in the former, darling, and I wish so much that I could be with you to forever banish that feeling. I know only too well, sweetheart, how you feel and I’m glad you’re still able to pull yourself out of it after a day or so.

But the news is so darned good I know you must feel much better now. Gosh – it’s still difficult for me to believe that it’s practically over.

By now, dear, you realize why I use V-mail more frequently now than ever before. It’s the only way you can keep up to date with me at all. But V-mail or no – I love you as strongly and yet as tenderly as I know how, darling, and I always will!

All for now. Love to the folks, dear and

All my deepest love to you


about How the OWI Influenced Japan's Surrender

The US Office of War Intelligence (OWI) was responsible for using information warfare to promote distrust of Japanese military leaders, lower Japanese military and civilian morale, and encourage surrender. OWI was manned by civilians and supported by military liaison personnel. The Director, Elmer Davis, reported to Secretary of State James Byrnes.

From "Paths to Peace" by Josette H. Williams on the CIA's web site's "Studies in Intelligence" portion on the "Information War in the Pacific, 1945" comes this:
Japan had two governments in 1945: one was a military government determined to fight to the last; the other was a civilian government that had long recognized the need to surrender. The military clearly held the upper hand, rendering the civilian leaders impotent through political intimidation and threats of imprisonment.

Civil-military friction, disagreements within political factions, and inter-generational tensions resulted in a bewildering array of conflicting reports on current conditions being disseminated to the Japanese people. The job of the US Office of War information was to cut through the confusion in Japan and its occupied territories, and to convince the Emperor, the politicians, and the civilians that victory was already in the hands of the Allies.

There is little doubt that Japanese government agencies, military and civilian alike, realized by mid-summer 1945 that their country could not win the war. Japan’s cities were being destroyed almost at will. Although attempting to avoid the Emperor’s palace, the Allies had devastated the capital in only six hours of bombing on 9-10 March 1945, leaving 100,000 dead and over 1,000,000 homeless, an even worse toll than from the later atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The Japanese military maintained a defiant stance, even as they recognized the need to shift from aggression to defense of their homeland. They were well prepared, both psychologically and technically, for this final stand. The Allies never underestimated (as we, perhaps, sometimes do today) the desire of Japan’s military leaders to preserve their honor by fighting literally to the last man, woman, and child.

There are indications that the Emperor had long wished for an end to the war for practical and emotional reasons. Ascending to the throne in 1926 at the age of 25, Hirohito was an intelligent man, a distinguished marine biologist, and a rather quiet, shy individual. He remained in Tokyo throughout the war, witnessing personally the destruction that he knew to be indicative of what was happening to the rest of his country. According to various historians, he found the arguments of the militarists to be self-seeking and born of false pride. No doubt pressure from the civilian members of his Cabinet and other government officials strengthened his resolve to end the devastation.

When Secretary of State Byrnes sent his reply to the Japanese in Switzerland [see yesterday's post], OWI began to play its most dramatic role.

Technically, Japan had not yet surrendered. The war was not yet over. President Truman had ordered the continuation of Allied bombing runs over Japanese military installations. The people of Japan knew nothing of their government’s plan to surrender. Radio Tokyo still exhorted all Japanese to prepare defenses against an enemy invasion.

In a race to save the lives of soldiers still fighting, the Allies’ acceptance of Japan’s modification of the Potsdam surrender terms was radioed to OWI in Honolulu and Saipan at the same time that it was forwarded to Switzerland. The US War Department sent an urgent dispatch ordering OWI to inform the Japanese people directly, by leaflet and radio, that their government had offered to surrender and that the Allies had accepted the offer. The order, which originated from the White House, threw OWI personnel into high gear. The text for the message was prepared in Washington and dictated by telephone to Honolulu, where it was transcribed, translated into Japanese, lettered, and transmitted to Saipan by “radiophoto” within two hours. The 17 members of the OWI staff on Saipan were challenged to a previously unmatched degree. By mid-night on 11 August, less than 48 hours after Japan’s message was received in Washington, three-quarters of a million leaflets giving notification of the surrender offer had been printed on OWI’s three Webendorfer highspeed presses running continually. By the next afternoon, production of OWI leaflet #2117 totaled well over 5 million copies.

On 12 August 1945, aircraft runs departed Saipan at 1:30, 4:30, 7:30 and 11:30 p.m., delivering to the people of Japan the news of their government’s surrender offer. The 4” x 5” leaflets rained down by the millions, telling the Japanese people:
These American planes are not dropping bombs on you today. American planes are dropping these leaflets instead because the Japanese Government has offered to surrender, and every Japanese has a right to know the terms of that offer and the reply made to it by the United States Government on behalf of itself, the British, the Chinese, and the Russians. Your government now has a chance to end the war immediately. You will see how the war can be ended by reading the two following official statements.
Two paragraphs then gave the Japanese surrender offer verbatim and the Byrnes response indicating the Allies’ willingness to accept that offer. OWI repeated the same message continuously over station KSAI.

The significance of this information barrage cannot be overstated. For the first time the Japanese people became aware that their government was trying to surrender. And it was the first that Japanese officials knew of the Allies’ acceptance of their surrender offer, because the OWI notification preceded, by about 72 hours, the receipt of the official diplomatic reply sent through Switzerland.

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