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Banzai charges

Discussion in 'Land Warfare in the Pacific' started by Class of '42, Jun 16, 2020.

  1. Class of '42

    Class of '42 Active Member

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    Always seemed to be fascinated with the Japanese banzai charges in battle. Felt that either it was a honorable way to die vs surrendering or simply a total waste of lives in a desperate situation given the circumstances. But the greatest effect of the banzai charge was not casualties, but the decrease in morale on many allied troops. For many soldiers feared "the dreaded banzai attack" and this itself affected nerves in the field.

    Sitting in your foxhole and hearing hundreds or even thousands cries of "Banzai!..Banzai!..Banzai!" charging toward you, is enough to fear any man. The Battle of Saipan in '44 was one of the most famous banzai charges and which inflicted heavy casualties on the Allies.

    Battle Of Saipan Suicides: The Largest Banzai Charge of the Entire War, 4000 Japanese Troops
     
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  2. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    These are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
     
  3. belasar

    belasar Court Jester

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    Considering the firepower advantage available to US forces that upon reflection many Marines and Soldiers would welcome the Banzai charge over weeks of slowly winkling out Japanese one of two at a time from spiderholes or caves.
     
  4. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Agree with Belasar...Some well positioned machine guns (Brens) and mortars...a Banzai attack was repulsed over and over again by the Australians. Thye trick is to keep your head and have a plan...the Japanese stupidly would telegraph most of these attacks with shouts to rouse the group or a bugle call prior to charging, so the Aussies could get ready.
    Australian Vietnam vets will tell you the feeling of fear and dread when they heard the Vietnamese bugler call the charge...they still have nightmares about it.
     
  5. Christopher67

    Christopher67 Member

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    Who was the Japanese writer, when speaking of the Japanese soldiers sent to the Pacific, saying...."The Army was used to fighting the Chinese..."

    The Banzai attack must have had far better results in China, otherwise it's use against the armwed forces of the United States would not have been so prevelant.

    And anyhow, it wasn't only the Japanese in the Pacific that engaged in combat behaviour that guaranteed your chances of getting home at zero....

    Think of "Torpedo 8" at Midway. Those boys must have known that an unsupported attack like that one would have been a virtual death sentence...

    As well, the very decision by Wade McKluskey to get his divebombers to do a "box" search pattern when the IJN carriers were not at the bit of the ocean that his strike handlers were telling him...Mckluskey eventually found the "Kido Butai" by chance, spotting the destroyer "Arashi" making full speed to reform with the rest of the fleet after being detached to deal with a U.S. submarine. All McKluskey had to do was fly in the direction that the wake from the Arashi was pointing him in...and BINGO...he found the carriers!

    That whole divebomber group were past the point of no return for fuel consumption....they all must have known their chances of not ditching after conducting an attack would have been practically zero...yet on they flew, to change the whole nature of the battle of Midway, and the war itself...

    An American Banzai?
     
  6. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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  7. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Not really, they knew other strikes were going in, not to mention air attacks from Midway Island. Further, because they did not go directly in, the Enterprise attacks would get their first. Finally, they knew that at Coral Sea, it was the SBDs that had bore the brunt of the losses, while the TBDs had been virtually unscathed.

    They were not past Bingo fuel, but they were reaching their fuel limit. You might bet thinking of the fighters from Hornet or Enterprise that turned back because they had reached their fuel link (the F4F-4s had a shorter range than the previous F4F-3s) or perhaps the several Hornet SBDs that diverted to Midway, because they did not think they had the fuel to return.
     
  8. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    McCluskey would probably have spotted Kido Butai even without sighting Arashi. As @Christopher67 noted, after his outbound leg, approximately SW, he flew a dogleg NW starting at 0945, intending to turn NE at 1000. About five minutes before the planned turn he spotted Arashi and realized that she would lead him directly to the carrier force. Note that Arashi was heading in the direction where McCluskey expected the Japanese to be. At that point Arashi, Kido Butai, and TF16 were roughly in line to McC's NE.

    Without the sighting, McC would have turned NE a few minutes later, intending to search another stretch of ocean on his way back to his carrier. The enemy had to be to one side or the other of his outbound path, and he assessed that they were more likely to be to the north. He'd be a few miles further west, but with sixty pairs of eyes searching, 22 ships maneuvering at high speed, kicking up wakes, guns firing, smoke from crashed planes, etc. he'd probably spot them.

    Related question - most sources describe McC turning 90 degrees for the dogleg, but one book I read recently said he made a couple of 45 degree turns. Doesn't really change things, but it's curious, anyone know for sure? @R Leonard?
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2020
  9. Christopher67

    Christopher67 Member

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    John Basilone indeed.....

    What about Alexander Bonnyman at Betio? No one ordered him, he just stood up and did it.

    And who was that brave individual at Iwo Jima who was there at the landings, and went all the way through every day of the battle. The final day found him assaulting a Japanese cave or bunker complex, and apparently, he was injured and had not been able to stand up straight for many days, but wouldn't quit....

    God Above, they were an amazingly unselfish generation of people
     
  10. Class of '42

    Class of '42 Active Member

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  11. Half Track

    Half Track Well-Known Member

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  12. harolds

    harolds Member

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    The Japanese Imperial army was very attack oriented. Most JIA officers were almost religious in their belief that aggressive attacks were the only way to victory. they thought it was unmanly to wait in a hole for the enemy to show himself. A young JIA soldier went off to war that he should not hope to come back. On Iwo Jima and Okinawa the Japanese commanders decided that the best way to inflict casualties on the Americans was to wait out the American bombardment in caves and then shoot the American attackers from prepared positions. They were right but in both battles junior officers defied their commanders and organized "banzai charges", which of course were cut to pieces.

    This, and the Code of Bushido made sure that Japanese survivors were few or non-existent. The Japanese soldiers who were captured were indeed treated horribly by their fellow countrymen (and even family) after they returned home.
     
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  13. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ..I didn't think there were that many Banzai charges--especially compared to total fighting in the battles
    ..I've been meaning to bring up that I've been doing some quick searches on the Solomon Islands battles..I've been seeing a lot of ''running away''/retreating by the Japanese...
     
  14. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    You would be correct. Most sources do not differentiate between a bayonet charge(an accepted and previously successful tactic albeit with possibly large casualties - which was accepted as the cost of victory) and a Banzai charge(basically the final gasp of a Japanese unit that has been cut off and cannot retreat).
     
  15. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ....good way of putting it- -not differentiating = good point
    good call --as I was thinking about Bloody Ridge as an example for 2 issues:
    1. they were ''assaulting''/''banazaiing''/etc--somewhat--as you state with bayonets...
    2. in my readings, it was a ''disorganized'' assault---not a ''total'' assault at one time with all or even complete units.....especially night ''banzais'' = disorganized/faulty/not ''en masse'' [ not hundreds or thousands ]
    ..you still had the ''banzai'' yells at times.....taunting/etc
     
  16. Class of '42

    Class of '42 Active Member

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    Wondered if the banzai charge was indoctrinated during basic training for the average Japanese soldier?..or was this simply a spur of the moment decision during a heated desperate battle..here drink some sake..grab your weapons and follow me into rousing glory for the emperor???..and if you disobeyed???..I think the outcome would be the same.

    Banzai charge aftermath.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2020
  17. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    There is a report dated 13 Jun 1942 from CO USS Enterprise, Subject: Air Battle or the Pacific, June 4-6, 1942 report of, which includes a narrative and a track chart.

    Skipping forward to the McClusky decision . . .

    (1) Dive bombing attack: At 0906, June 4, 1942, the first group consisting of 33 SBD’s (Group Commander Section, VS6, VB6) was launched. About 0945 the Air Group was ordered to proceed on assigned mission. At 0930, the position of the enemy, based on the 0810 contact report, was at Latitude 30-05 N, Longitude 179-03 W, course 135° speed 25 knots. At the time of expected interception no contact was made. With few broken clouds and excellent visibility, a thorough search of the area was made with negative results. The Air Group Commander made the decision to fly a reverse course of the enemy force, assuming that they had retired. (NOTE: This was the most important decision of the entire action.) After flying 30 miles on course 315°, contact was made with a lone destroyer or light cruiser on a northeasterly course. The dive bombing group then changed to that course, northeast, and 15 minutes later, at 1202, contact was made with a Japanese striking force consisting of four carriers (definite), 2 battleships, 4 cruisers (or 6 cruisers), and 6 destroyers, position Latitude 30-05 N, Longitude 178-45 W. With broken clouds and from an altitude of 19,000 feet, positive identification of battleships and cruisers was Impossible. The Japanese force appeared to be in a widely separated circular disposition with each carrier and accompanying vessels maneuvering radically.”

    And just being clear, everything in parenthesis, especially the “. . .(NOTE: This . . .” passage in the above is as so written in the report, it is not commenting on my part.

    So, and presuming true headings, 315° for about 30 minutes then a turn to the northeast, roughly bearing 45° for another 15 minutes to contact. Looks like a roughly a 90° turn from generally a northwest track to a northeast track. The apparent turn earlier than he had planned allowed for cutting the corner and a more direct movement to contact. Had he continued as planned, he probably would have still seen the Kido Butai, but it would have been off to his southeast, undoubtedly producing lots of smoke resultant from the YAG attack by then would have already occurred.

    Track chart of EAG air operations.
     

    Attached Files:

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  18. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Not per se. The Japanese soldier was indoctrinated to follow orders no matter what they were. If an officer told you to fix bayonet and charge, you fixed your bayonet and charged.

    It was not the ordinary soldier who would instigate the charge, but an officer. The Banzai charge was usually done by a unit that had been cut off(no orders coming from HQ), had no where to retreat to, and were low on food and ammunition. The thinking was along the lines of...If we stay here we will die, but if we charge we might die or we might win.
     
  19. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    Not to mention the attitude that surrender brought shame & disrespect on oneself & one's family. Better to die with honor in a futile, hopeless attack than live with the social stigma of shame.
     
  20. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ..I thought some of Ichiki's remaining soldiers tried to swim away and others hid/etc? ....they did not fight to the death.....
    ..I'm thinking human nature was still in some Japanese soldiers --more than we think --survival and/or not rushing to death into MGs/Garands/etc--especially if comrades and officers were not around
     

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