Rare Historical Photos WWII Japanese Pre-Surrender

From a forwarded email.

The Japanese planes did not have armor and did not have self sealing gas tanks.  U.S. planes had a rubber bladder liner in the gas tanks.  If a bullet penetrated the gas tank, the rubber would seal the hole.  The bladder collapsed as the gas was drained so there were no fumes to ignite.  The U.S. called these bombers, “Bettys.”  The Japanese called them, “Flying Cigarette Lighters.”

Rare photos of a fascinating piece of history.  This was overshadowed by the Tokyo Bay surrender ceremony a few weeks later.  But what rare photos (and some personal descriptions of that event).

Interesting photos of the preparation of Surrender of Japan in August 1945.  (Officially signed on the USS Missouri in the Tokyo Bay, September 2, 1945).

A delegation of Japanese Representatives flew to an American Base close to Okinawa.  The Japanese planes were requested to be painted in white and have the”Meatballs” replaced by a Green Cross.

Here are photographs of some of those Green Cross flights and Green Cross aircraft, starting with the most photographed of them all “The Green Cross Bettys of Iejima.”

Let the surrender begin.  B-25J Mitchell bombers of the 345th Bomb Group (The Apaches) lead two Green Cross Mitsubishi G4M “Betty” medium bombers into the island of Iejima (called Ie Shima by the Americans).  The 345th Bomb Group (the 498th, 499th, 500th and 501st Squadrons) was based on Iejima and was given the task and the very special honour of escorting the Bettys from Tokyo to the rendezvous with United States Army Air Force C-54s, which would take the Japanese officers and envoys on to Manila to meet with no less than Douglas MacArthur himself.  Photo: USAF

The two Bettys (ironically and deliberately given the call signs Bataan 1 and Bataan 2 by the Americans) fly low over the East China Sea, inbound for Iejima wearing their hastily painted white surrender scheme and green crosses.  One can only imagine what is going on in the conflicted minds of the Japanese airmen as they fly over their own territory in the company of the hated enemy, headed for an event of profound humiliation in front of thousands of enemy soldiers. 

These two Bettys would become the most photographed Green Cross surrender aircraft of the end of the war.  Photo: US Navy

A photograph taken from the same 345th Bomb Group Mitchell that is depicted in the first photograph, looking back at another B-25 Mitchell and a B-17.  Above, P-38 Lightnings provide top cover.  The top cover was needed, because some Japanese officials had ordered the remnants of the Japanese Army Air Force to attack and bring down their own bombers rather than surrender.  Instead of flying directly to Iejima, the two Japanese planes flew northeast, toward the open ocean, to avoid their own fighters.
Photo via warbirdinformationexchange.org

The Betty was officially known as the “Type-1 land-based attack aircraft;” but to its Japanese Navy crews, it was lovingly known as the Hamaki ( Cigar), the reason for which is obvious in this photograph (also because one could light it up fairly easily).  The Betty was a good performer, but it was often employed in low level, slow-speed operations such as torpedo attacks, and it had a tendency to explode into flames when hit by even light enemy fire, leading some unhappy pilots to call them the “Type One Lighter” or “The Flying Lighter.”  We can clearly see that the Betty’s traditional armament: nose, tail, waist and dorsal guns, have been removed as demanded by the Americans.
The B-17 in the distance is from 5th Air Force, 6th Emergency Rescue Squadron carrying a type A-1 lifeboat.  The A-1 was dropped by parachute and was motorized.  It seems that American authorities did not want to lose these men in the event of a ditching.
Photo via warbirdinformationexchange.org

As thousands of American soldiers, airmen, sailors, dignitaries and press photographers on the island of Iejima look to the sky, the two 345th Bomb Group B-25J Mitchells escort the two white Green Cross Bettys over the airfield before setting up for a landing.  Photo: James Chastain, 36 Photo Recon Squadron

As thousands of suspicious, curious and anxious young men look on, the Japanese pilot brings his Mitsubishi Betty down on to the bleached coral airfield of Iejima.  Note the all-metal Douglas C-54 waiting for their arrival.  Photo via Pinterest

It is plainly obvious that in August of 1945, on the island if Iejima, it was brutally hot the day the Green Cross Bettys landed.  Here, one of the two aircraft drops on to the runway as soldiers, the formal welcoming committee and pressmen wait, finding shade where they could.  Photo: U.S. Naval Historical Center The second of the two Green Cross Bettys makes its final approach while press photographers and reporters capture the long-awaited moment.  Photo: James Chastain, 36 Photo Recon Squadron

As the second Betty alights on the coral airstrip, every eye on the island is trained on them.  One cannot even imagine what this scene looked like to these Japanese as they looked out from the aircraft windows at a sea of mistrust and a new, grim reality.  Photo: James Chastain, 36 Photo Recon Squadron

Another view taken farther back at Iejima shows the two massive and beautifully kept Douglas C-54 aircraft waiting for the passengers of the landing Betty.  Image via wwiivehicles.com

With its clamshell canopy open and her Captain standing up to direct his co-pilot through the crowd, the first Green Cross Betty to land at Iejima taxis past a seemingly endless line of enemy soldiers.  The scene is one of abject humiliation and intimidation.  That pilot must surely have felt the mistrust of the thousands of pairs of eyes burning as he rolled by.  Photo: USAAF

A close-up of the Betty taxiing along in front of the thousands of suspicious American servicemen.  This had to be intimidating to the Japanese, especially to the lone pilot standing up and accepting the glares of all.  Photo: USAAF

I found the personal family memoirs of Army combat engineer Leigh Robertson on the web.  Leigh was an eyewitness to the arrival on leshima of the Green Cross surrender aircraft.  The following link to his memory of that day is perfect as he immediately wrote it down in a letter back home to his parents:

Sunday, August 19th 1945
Dear Folks,

I don’t know how long it will be until I can mail this letter.  I am writing it now, while things are fresh in my mind.  I have just seen what is probably the most important event in the world today.  It was the arrival of the Japanese envoys on their way to Manila to sign the preliminary peace agreement with Gen. MacArthur.

We had known for the last three days that they were going to land here.  We expected them yesterday, but they were delayed for some reason.  We went to work this morning as usual and worked until about ten.  Then the word went around that the Japs were coming.  We piled into trucks and drove up to the airstrip.  We waited expectantly for over an hour.  Finally, word went out once more that they would not arrive until 1:30 P.M, so we decided to come on back to camp and eat lunch (we had baked ham, by the way).

Just before we left, we watched two giant four engine transports (C-54s) circle the field and land.  These were the planes that would take the Japs on to Manila.

Just as I was leaving the mess hall, the news came over the radio that the Jap planes were circling the island, and sure enough, they were!  I ran to my tent, put away my mess gear, grabbed my cap and climbed on a truck.  It is about two miles to the airstrip, but we made pretty good time, because all the traffic was going the same way.  As we came closer to the field, we became part of a strange procession.  Directly in front and to the rear of us were two P-38s (twin engine fighter aircraft).  Further on down the line there were tractors, motor graders, and in fact, most every kind of vehicle you can imagine–all loaded with G.I.s.

We parked the truck about a quarter mile from the strip and ran the rest of the way.  I got separated from the rest of the men and stopped on a high spot about 75 yards from the strip.  I had scarcely gotten settled when the planes started in for a landing.  The planes themselves were Japanese “Betty” bombers, with two engines, bearing some resemblance to our B-26.  They were painted white, with green crosses.  It had been a hasty paint job — you could still see the red of the rising sun showing through the white.

Naturally, the planes had been stripped of all armament.  They were escorted by two B-25s, and I don’t know how many P-38s, probably a hundred or more.  The latter continued to circle the field for an hour or more, until all the excitement was over.

Both planes made perfect landings, rolled to the far end of the strip, turned and taxied back to our end.  They parked right alongside the two large transports that had arrived earlier.  They were dwarfed by comparison to our transports.

We were not permitted within a hundred yards or so of the four airplanes.  There were several hundred people gathered around the planes, most likely photographers and Air Corps officers.  They pretty well hid from view the events of the next few minutes.  I could see various people boarding the transport but couldn’t tell much about them.

Presently they towed one of the Jap planes up a taxiway to a parking area close to where I was sitting.  One of our boys pulled his truck right up to the fence and raised the dump bed.  This gave us a grandstand seat about 15 feet off the ground.  When the plane came to rest, the crew started climbing out.  There were five in all, dressed in heavy flying clothes.  There were two jeeps waiting to take them away.  Evidently, they didn’t speak English, for there was much waving of hands and shrugging of shoulders.

About this time, two or three thousand soldiers broke through the ring of guards and started for the Japs.  They didn’t have any bad intentions, just curiosity, and wanting to take pictures.  I know that if I had been in the place of those Japs, I would have been just a wee bit scared!  At any rate, they lost no time in getting into the Jeeps and away from the mob!

Finally, they managed to get the crowd back far enough to bring the other”Betty” over to the parking area.  After a few minutes, one of the C-47s (edit C-54s?) warmed up its engines and taxied onto the strip.  With a mighty roar, she started down the runway.  Before she got halfway down the runway, she was in the air, on her way to Manila.

It was a great show, and one I don’t think I shall ever forget, for it is part of the last chapter of this war that has caused so many hardships and so many heartbreaks.  Thank God it is all over.

I wish that you would save this letter for me, or make a copy of it.  What I saw today is one of the few things that I have seen, or will see, while I’m in this army that will be worth remembering.

Just as soon as I find out from the censor that it is O.K., I’ll mail this.  You will probably have read about it in the newspapers and seen it in the newsreel, but this may give you a little different slant on it.

I sure do think of you folks a lot.  Maybe it won’t be too long now till I can be back with all of you again.  I want to write to Barbara tonight, so I’ll end this now.

Love, Leigh

The captain of the second Mitsubishi Betty also stands up to direct his co-pilot through the crowds waiting and watching.  We can tell this is a different Betty as the previous one has a window panel just behind the nose glazing under the chin of the aircraft.  This one does not have that particular window pane.  Photo: Fred Hill, 17th Photo Recon Squadron

With his twin Kasei 14-cylinder engines thundering, the Japanese pilot guides the Betty through the crowded taxi strip.  Photo: Fred Hill, 17th Photo Recon Squadron

Guiding his co-pilot from his perch above the Betty, the commander of the second Green Cross Betty commands him to swing round into position near the awaiting C-54 transports of the Americans.  In doing so, he blasts the crowd of American sailors and airmen.  We can see in this photo that all of the men in the background have their backs turned against the dust storm.  Perhaps this was the one satisfying moment for the Japanese crews in this most humiliating of days.  Photo: Fred Hill, 17th Photo Recon Squadron

One of the two Bettys comes to a stop across from the waiting Douglas C-54 aircraft that will take the envoys to Manila.  Photo: U.S. Naval Historical Center

The second Green Cross Betty to land at Iejima begins to unload its passengers and crew, while American soldiers crowd around.  The distinguishing features that help us tell this Betty from the other are the different glazing panels on the nose and the fact that this does not have the Radio Direction Finding (RDF) loop antenna on the top of the fuselage.  Photo vialeighrobertson.net

The two Green Cross aircraft are stared at by thousands of American soldiers, who watch from the gullies surrounding the airstrip, hoping to get a close look at the once hated, now defeated, Japanese airmen.  Note the RDF loop antenna at the top of the fuselage. Photo: U.S. Naval Historical Center

American soldiers and airmen, in daily working gear, gawk at the once-hated Mitsubishi G4M Betty painted white like a flag of surrender and no longer wearing her proud red rising sun roundels known as the Hinomaru.  Instead they are required to wear green crosses — Christian symbols if there ever were any.  With her RDF loop, this is clearly the first of the two Bettys.  Photo: U.S. Naval Historical Center

Moments after the second all-white Betty shuts down on the leshima ramp in the blistering sun, she is surrounded by airmen and plenty of Military Police (MPs).  While some of the Japanese stand on the ground, a young airman steps out of the doorway carrying two large bouquets of flowers as a peace offering to the American delegation.  The offer of the flowers was rejected by the Americans who felt that it was too soon to make nice with the once haughty Japanese who had treated Allied POWs so roughly.  It would be like Auschwitz survivors accepting flowers from the SS, but you have to feel sorry for the young man bearing the gift.  Photo viawarbirdinformationexchange.org

Looking more than a little worried and even terrified, the young Japanese soldiers look about them to see only angry, disdainful faces.  The soldier on the left is the one who has just had his gift of flowers rejected and is no doubt looking for a place to hide.  Photo: U.S. Naval Historical Center

Japanese officers and leaders, with a mandate to negotiate their surrender, cross from their Mitsubishi Betty to awaiting C-54 aircraft which will take them to Manila.  The truth is there were no negotiations. Surrender was unconditional.  But they were there to accept the orders of surrender.  The formal signing of the surrender would take place aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945 (two weeks later).  Photo: U.S. Naval Historical Center

Formalities on the ground were quickly performed; and within 20 minutes, the eight official commissioners were guided up a ladder into a massive Douglas C-54 transport aircraft, a luxurious accommodation when compared to the Japanese Bettys.  They were then flown to Manila in the Philippines to meet with MacArthur.  Photo: U.S. Naval Historical Center

After the Japanese delegates boarded the American C-54 Skymaster at Iejima, they were flown 1,500 kilometres over the South China Sea to Manila, the capital of the Philippines.  Here, we see General Douglas MacArthur watching the arrival of the Japanese entourage from the balcony of the ruined Manila City Hall.  Most of the city’s fine old Spanish-style buildings were destroyed in the battle to retake the city from the Japanese in February and March of that year.  Americans and Filipino citizens look on warily.  More than 100,000 Manilans and 1,000 Americans were killed battling the Japanese, so this crowd would not be considered to be welcoming.  Photo: U.S. Naval Historical Center

Reblog: Pacific Paratrooper Book Library – YTD

Pacific Paratrooper logo-the image of Everett Smith, GP's father.GP Cox is the owner of Pacific Paratrooper, a blog focusing on WWII in the Pacific.  The blog is in honor of his father, Everett Smith who served in the Pacific theater of operations.  GP  has an extensive personal library on World War II.  This includes some of the books of his via Pacific Paratrooper Book Library – YTD

Monopoly Game and WWII

May 8th is V-E Day.  Victory in Europe Day when Nazi Germany formally surrendered to the Allies in 1945.  Happy V-E Day to those that remember it or have learned about it.

I got this as part of a forwarded email so I can not vouch for it’s accuracy.  It is a fascinating story of escape during World War II.

monopoly money

You’ll never look at the game the same way again!

Starting in 1941, an increasing number of British Airmen found themselves as the involuntary guests of the Third Reich, and the Crown was casting about for ways and means to facilitate their escape…
Now obviously, one of the most helpful aids to that end is a useful and accurate map, one showing not only where stuff was, but also showing the locations of ‘safe houses’ where a POW on-the-run could go for food and shelter.

Paper maps had some real drawbacks — they make a lot of noise when you open and fold them, they wear out rapidly, and if they get wet, they turn into mush.

Someone in MI5 got the idea of printing escape maps on silk. It’s durable, can be scrunched-up into tiny wads, and unfolded as many times as needed, and makes no noise whatsoever.


At that time, there was only one manufacturer in Great Britain that had perfected the technology of printing on silk, and that was John Waddington Ltd of Leeds. When approached by the government, the firm was only too happy to do its bit for the war effort.

By pure coincidence, Waddington was also the U.K. Licensee for the popular American board game, Monopoly. As it happened, ‘games and pastimes’ was a category of item qualified for insertion into ‘CARE packages’, dispatched by the International Red Cross to prisoners of war.

Under the strictest of secrecy, in a securely guarded and inaccessible old workshop on the grounds of Waddington’s, a group of sworn-to-secrecy employees began mass-producing escape maps, keyed to each region of Germany or Italy where Allied POW camps were located. When processed, these maps could be folded into such tiny dots that they would actually fit inside a Monopoly playing piece.

POWs escape

As long as they were at it, the clever workmen at Waddington’s also managed to add:

1. A playing token, containing a small magnetic compass
2. A two-part metal file that could easily be screwed together
3. Useful amounts of genuine high-denomination German, Italian, and French currency, hidden within the piles of Monopoly money!

British and American air crews were advised, before taking off on their first mission, how to identify a ‘rigged’ Monopoly set — by means of a tiny red dot, one cleverly rigged to look like an ordinary printing glitch, located in the corner of the Free Parking square.

Of the estimated 35,000 Allied POW who successfully escaped, an estimated one-third were aided in their flight by the rigged Monopoly sets. Everyone who did so was sworn to secrecy indefinitely, since the British Government might want to use this highly successful ruse in any other, future wars.

The story wasn’t declassified until 2007, when the surviving craftsmen from Waddington’s, as well as the firm itself, were finally honoured in a public ceremony.

It’s always nice when you can play that ‘Get Out of Jail’ Free’ card!

I realize some of you are (probably) too young to have any personal connection to WWII (Sept ’39 to Aug. ’45), but this is still interesting.

Taking Books to the People, Part 4: Armed Services Editions and the Paperback Book Kits (part b)

When Books Went to War:  the Stories that Helped Us Win the War by Molly Manning is an excellent overview of the Armed Service Editions.  She not only tells you what happened but also why it mattered. The public had donated hardback books to the troops but they needed something they could take with them easily–on a ship or When Books Went to Warairplane, in the barracks, or in foxhole or tank. Manning deals with issues ranging from cost, transportation limitations (books vs beans vs  bullets), censorship (if the Nazis were restricting what people could read would the Council  on Books in Wartime do the same), and the impact of the books on the soldiers and sailors as written by the readers themselves.

For more information about the book, where you can buy it, and the author, check out Molly Manning’s website.  The website includes excerpts, reviews and a museum  which includes pictures and captions from Nazi book burning, to advertisements for the Victory
Book Campaign, small sized magazines (of regular magazines like the New Yorker and Saturday Evening Post Yarn), and the Armed Service Editions.

l-picture of a Nazi book burning in Berlin on the Openplatz  r-Display at Yad Vashern of books burned by the Nazis

l-Commemorative plaque of the book burning at Frankfort Hesse Germany r-American propaganda poster on why the Freedom to Read is important

After World War II, the military  services began their own paperback book programs.  The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines provide paperback book kits to deployed soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen whether they are in the field, in a combat zone, on a ship, in the brig or correction facility, or assigned to embassy duty.  The contents of the book kits have changed over the years.

Army MWR LIbrary LogoThe Army “Family and MWR Libraries also support deployed Soldiers in remote locations through monthly deliveries of paperback book kits and Playaways, small MP3 players containing an audio book. Kits contain about 25 paperback books or 24 Playaways specially selected to match the interests of Soldiers.”

Navy MWR LibraryThe Navy “(s)upport for deployed forces includes compact, battery-powered audio books and monthly shipments of popular paperbacks to afloat and shore commands.


USMC Logo The Marine Corps Order 1700.33  was published  18 September 2015, spelling out what the Marine Corp General Library would support including: deployed garrison and remote locations and Marine Corps Embassy Security Group personnel at foreign missions and deployed and remotely stationed Marines and families throughout the world.

Air Force Library ImageThe Air Force Libraries “ship magazines, paperback books and DVDs monthly to deployed and remote units world-wide. We also provide support to exercises through the USAFE Library Service Center (LSC) at Ramstein AB, GE. runs small libraries at several downrange locations in conjunction with education services at Learning Resource Centers. Support to military missions, including Defense Attache Offices (DAOs), Offices of Defense Cooperation (ODCs), Military Liaison Teams (MLTs) in CENTAF is also handled by the USAFE LSC.”



Taking Books to the People, Part 4: Armed Services Editions and World War II (part a)

The Army marches on it’s stomach.  The Navy provides 3 hots and a cot.  According to  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the physiological needs of food and shelter are the most Maslow's hierarchy of needsbasic needs.  Would reading be a safety, love-longing, esteem or self-actualization need?  The level of need may depend upon the reader and his/her circumstances.

Many  Americans had a visceral reaction to the Nazi book burnings beginning in 1933.   By 1938, millions of books had been burned in Germany.  Franklin Roosevelt famously said that “Books can not be killed by fire. People die, but books never die.

Books can not be killed by fire.

According to Wikipedia, ” Armed Services Editions (ASEs) were small, compact, paperback books printed by the Council on Books in Wartime for distribution within the American military during World War II. This program was in effect from 1943 to 1946. The ASEs were designed to provide entertainment to soldiers serving overseas, while also educating them about political, historical, and military issues. The slogan of the Council on Books in Wartime was, “Books are weapons in the war of ideas.”

Historynet shares that before the Armed Service Editions were created, American citizens donated books to the troops.  ALA’s Victory Book Campaign “to benefit the army and merchant marine—were wildly successful. Civilians contributed books of every genre, shape, and size; by January 1942, 25,000 books had been donated in New York City alone.”

But, as Lieutenant Colonel Ray L. Trautman, head of the Army Library Service, found, the efficient delivery of those volumes across the globe was another challenge entirely. … Trautman tried a “book kit” program, shipping crates of reference books, paperbacks, and hardbacks to camps overseas, but the same issues surfaced. Trautman was at a loss. He needed books that were light, uniformly sized, and portable—books that, ideally, would cater to every taste: mysteries, westerns, bestsellers. They didn’t exist; he would have to create them. But how?

Penguin Armed Services editions

According to the Library of Congress Blog from September 30, 2015, Books in Action: The Armed Service Editions by Erin Allen:

In 1942, U.S. Army librarian Ray Trautman and Army graphic arts specialist H. Stahley Thompson approached a publisher with their idea to distribute inexpensive paperback editions overseas. They enlisted support from the Council on Books in Wartime, a nonprofit coalition of trade publishers, booksellers and librarians who viewed books as “weapons in the war of ideas.” The council turned a good idea from the U.S. Army into an efficient cooperative enterprise that involved the Army, the Navy, the War Production Board and more than 70 publishing firms.

Designed to appeal to a wide variety of reading tastes, the Armed Services Editions included best sellers, classics, mysteries and poetry. A total of 1,324 titles were published in the series. The Library of Congress holds one of only a few complete sets that survive today.

Books in ActionDefense Technical Information Center (DTIC) has a PDF of John Cole’s Books in Action, printed as part of the 40th anniversary of the ASE in 1983.   The PDF includes an introduction by John Cole who wrote the original Books in Action, the “Armed Services Editions in Publishing History by Michael Hackenberg, “Recollections of an ASE Collector” by Matthew Bruccoli and other relevant essays.

Have you ever seen an Armed Services Edition?  Have you ever read one of its titles without realizing that it might have been an ASE?  Join in the conversation and share your stories about ASEs or their titles.  Did you know that the military services have libraries and provide book kits to troops in war zones, on ships, Marines at embassies around the world?