American POWs of Japan is a research project of Asia Policy Point, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit that studies the US policy relationship with Japan and Northeast Asia. The project aims to educate Americans on the history of the POW experience both during and after World War II and its effect on the U.S.-Japan Alliance.
Friday, April 20, 2018
April 18, 1942, Doolittle Raid on Tokyo
On April 18, 1942, 16 B-25 bombers took off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet to attack Tokyo and other Japanese cities. The Hornet became infamous in POW history for its planes sinking Hell ships carrying hundreds of American POWs. The famous Doolittle Raid lifted American morale in the early days of the Second World War, and while it inflicted very little damage, there were unexpected consequences.
Eight men were captured by the Japanese, three of them were executed, one starved to death in a prisoner of war camp; the other four survived until the end of the war, forever broken from the torture they endured.
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The rest of Doolittle’s raiders made it back to Allied lines with the help of Chinese villagers and missionaries. In retaliation, Japanese forces killed an estimated 250,000 Chinese, an atrocity on the scale of the infamous Rape of Nanking.
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