*** World War II air war bombing city targets China

World War II Bombing Targets: Country Vulnerability -- China

Japanese bombing in China
Figure 1.--Here we see ann unidentified group of Chinese children rushing for a make-shift shelter as Japanese bombers approached. The Chinese had an early warning system of outlying villages abd tiwns. We believe it was in Chunking before the American Flying Tigers arrived (January 1942). The early warning system was an important prrt of the Flying Tiger success. Chunking was the Nationalist capital abd the most heavily bombed city in China. Mny iother major cities in China were iover run before even mke-shift shelter could be built.

China at the time of World War II was the most populace country in the world. There were many cities, but the vast proportion of the population were peasants living in the country side. This was not a population that could be effectively bombed. There was very little industry. This meant that there were very few actual targets of any strategic importance. Even so, the Japanese heavily bombed China beginning nearly a decade before the outbreak of World War II. The Japanese did not have a well-thought out strategic bombing campaign. They just assumed that if they bombed Chinese cities that the Government would capitulate. This was not just as Japanese belief, it was one widely held in Europe at the time by many military strategists. Japan began bombing China as part of the seizure of resource-rich Manchuria (1931). Japan with its large, densely populated wood and paper cities was a country vulnerable to strategic bombing. perhaps the most vulnerable in the world. The Japanese War Lords, however, like the NAZIs believed that their own cities could never be bombed. This of course would prove to be a giant miscalculation. although it seemed safe at the time. China did not have bombers and American bombers did not have the needed range to cross the vast Pacific Ocean and reach Japan. Japan invaded China proper (1937) and began bombed Chinese cities. As China was not heavily urbanized nor industrialized, the Japanese bombing had little impact on China's ability to resist the Japanese aggression. Thus the Japanese bombing while creating a humanitarian disaster in the cities, did not significantly impact the Chinese war effort. Strategic bombing is effective only against industrialized, not agricultural countries. There were no important war industries in Chinese cities to be destroyed, only civilians to be terrorized. The Japanese destroyed the small Chinese Air Force in first few months if the War. Thus China's cities were unprotected until the Americans arrived (1942) Japanese bombing, however, was essentially punching into air. During the first year of the War, the Chinese resisted with traditional forces. Set piece battles were fought. There armies were defeated and people in the temporary capital at Nanking subjected to unspeakable horrors. The Rape of Nanking is one of the most grizzly atrocities of World War II (1937). After Nanking fell, the Nationalist Government retreated into the interior where the Japanese Army could not get to them. Japan initiated a 5-year bombing campaign targeting the Nationalist war-time capital of Chunking (Chongqing) and other targets in Sichuan (February 1938-August 1943). The goal was to force the Nation lists to surrender. The Nationalist cities were undefended until the American Flying Tigers arrived (1942). The Chinese report 268 raids. Chunking became one of the most heavily bombed cities of the War. The Japanese bombing of China is today largely forgotten in Japan and the West. For many if not most people, World War II brings up images of shattered Japanese cities. Hiroshima and Nagasaki has touching memorials to the lives lost there as a result of the American bombing. But I note not a single mention of the much larger number of Chinese people killed by the Japanese bombing of China and even more by the atrocities committed there. The Japanese killed some 15 mullion Chinese, mostly civilians. Japanese school children who visit these memorials annually leave wondering, why did the Americans do this to our beautiful, peaceful country?


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Created: 4:29 AM 5/20/2023
Last updated: 4:29 AM 5/20/2023