6 April 1942

6 April 1942

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6 April 1941

April 1942


Far East

Japanase troops land at Bougainville and on the Admiralty Islands

Japanese aircraft bomb parts of Madras

April 1942 Alternate Indian Ocean

1515 Hours, 6 April 1942, Center Force (Carrier Task Force) Malay Force Bay of Bengal – Expert damage control had gotten the cruiser Chokai up to a 16 knots and Captain Mikio had ordered all torpedoes jettisoned while launching his two remaining Dave floatplanes to deal with the British reconnaissance aircraft still orbiting to the stern of the task force. The enemy biplane darted into a cloud bank and began playing hide and seek with the floatplanes. Ozawa thought they just might make it when at 1530 lookouts spotted ten more of those damned biplanes coming in low, this time from the southwest. The destroyer captains kept their ships close to the Chokai to protect the cruiser until Ozawa himself got on the radio and ordered them to take evasive action, as there was nothing they could do to save the Chokai other than act as torpedo sponges which was pointless. The two Dave's on patrol over the task force attempted to break up the attack but their 7.7mm machine guns were ineffective against the sturdy biplanes and the Albacores' rear gunners brought down one of floatplanes in return. Anti-aircraft fire erupted from all three ships but as before, the British pilots held steady attacking from port and starboard, releasing their weapons at 2000 yards with one torpedo plane falling to the Asagiri's guns. There weapons gone, the attacking aircraft turned for home.

Captain Mikio did his best to maneuver his damaged ship but two torpedoes struck the cruiser, one ten feet aft of where the torpedo from the earlier attack had hit. The Chokai came to a dead stop and began taking on water. Captain Mikio still hoped to save his ship but the destroyers were ordered to come alongside to take off non-essential personnel, including Vice Admiral Ozawa as well as to provide power to the stricken cruiser. However, after 30 minutes of furious damage control it became obvious the cruiser was done. All remaining personnel were taken off the ship except for Captain Mikio who refused to leave the bridge. At 1630, the destroyers pulled away and the Asagiri put two Long Lance torpedoes into the Chokai, causing the cruiser to roll over and sink in a matter of minutes. With the Chokai gone, the destroyers increased speed to 20 knots and turned southeast for Port Blair.

Somers, CT – April 6, 1942

On April 6, 1942, a U.S. Army P-38 Lightning, (AF-112) piloted by 2nd Lt. Raymond Allen Keeney, 24, crashed in a potato field in the Somersville section of the town of Somers, Connecticut, and burst into flames. The wing of the plane clipped a tree just before the crash.

Lt. Keeney was born and raised in Somers, Connecticut, and was familiar with the area which he was flying over. He attended local schools, and after graduation from the Texas Institute of Technology he enlisted in the Air Corps on March 17, 1941, in Lubbock, Texas. It was while attending Texas Institute that he met his wife Christine, whom he married October 31, 1941, which was also the day he received his pilot’s wings. At the time of his death he was assigned to the 62nd Pursuit Squadron.

Lt. Keeney died on his 24th birthday. He’s buried in the family mausoleum in West Cemetery in Somers, CT.

Pawtucket Times, “U.S. Pilot Killed In Plane Crash”, April 6, 1942,Pg. 7

U.S. Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-12-30-1

Unknown newspaper attached to Air Corps investigation report, “Flyer Meets Death Near Somers Home”, unknown date.

Unknown newspaper attached to Air Corps investigation report, “Lt. Keeney Killed In Somersville”, unknown date.

Hartford Times, “Funeral Wednesday For Lieut. Keeney Air Crash Victim”, April 7, 1942.

April 1942 Alternate Indian Ocean

Note - additional guns and engine components for HMS Dorsetshire in fact arrived in Colombo on 6 April OTL.

0900 Hours, 10 April 1942, Colombo Harbor – The damaged battleships Resolution and Revenge dropped anchor in Colombo Harbor along with their two escorting destroyers. Initial damage reports indicated that a few days of emergency repairs could make both ships sea worthy enough to make the long voyage to Durban, South Africa where they could receive more extensive repair work and where it would be easier to determine if they needed to head back to the home islands. However, Vice Admiral Layton was certain they did not have a few days and as much as he hated to admit it, neither ship was likely to survive the Japanese attack everyone expected later that day or early the next day. Layton ordered all non-essential personnel off both battleships leaving only the senior officers, the gun crews, and necessary damage control personnel on board. He also ordered the destroyers Scout and Arrow to replenish and then get clear of the harbor before sundown. All other sea worthy merchant ships and auxiliaries in port at both Colombo and Trincomalee were making frantic preparations to get underway as well.

Beyond that there was not much Layton could do. No. 222 Group’s fighter squadrons, the anti-aircraft gun crews, and the military and civilian emergency response teams were all in high states of readiness. Colombo’s anti-aircraft defenses had been supplemented by an unexpected gift. On 6 April a merchant ship had pulled into the harbor with engine components and additional anti-aircraft guns that Captain Agar had ordered for the ill-fated cruiser HMS Dorsetshire. Although designed for ship use, enterprising Royal Navy and Air Force machinists had managed to jury rig the guns in makeshift emplacements around the harbor. It was not much but every little bit helped.


Note - additional guns and engine components for HMS Dorsetshire in fact arrived in Colombo on 6 April OTL.

0900 Hours, 10 April 1942, Colombo Harbor – The damaged battleships Resolution and Revenge dropped anchor in Colombo Harbor along with their two escorting destroyers. Initial damage reports indicated that a few days of emergency repairs could make both ships sea worthy enough to make the long voyage to Durban, South Africa where they could receive more extensive repair work and where it would be easier to determine if they needed to head back to the home islands. However, Vice Admiral Layton was certain they did not have a few days and as much as he hated to admit it, neither ship was likely to survive the Japanese attack everyone expected later that day or early the next day. Layton ordered all non-essential personnel off both battleships leaving only the senior officers, the gun crews, and necessary damage control personnel on board. He also ordered the destroyers Scout and Arrow to replenish and then get clear of the harbor before sundown. All other sea worthy merchant ships and auxiliaries in port at both Colombo and Trincomalee were making frantic preparations to get underway as well.

Beyond that there was not much Layton could do. No. 222 Group’s fighter squadrons, the anti-aircraft gun crews, and the military and civilian emergency response teams were all in high states of readiness. Colombo’s meager anti-aircraft defenses had been supplemented by an unexpected gift. On 6 April a merchant ship had pulled into the harbor with engine components and additional anti-aircraft guns that Captain Agar had ordered for the ill-fated cruiser HMS Dorsetshire. Although designed for ship use, enterprising Royal Navy and Air Force machinists had managed to jury rig the guns in makeshift emplacements around the harbor. It was not much but every little big helped.

Zheng He

Rob Stuart

Zheng He

Zheng He


Zheng He

The damaged battleship HMS Resolution seen from the stern of HMS Revenge limps into Colombo Harbor:

Zheng He

Rob Stuart

Rob Stuart

Rich Rostrom

Well I may be wrong, but the damage to the two battleships may see them sunk, or at least beached. As others may say, this could prove to be the lure that keeps Nagumo focused on Colombo and allow the rest of Force B and A to get away. Shame that I-3 escaped after its ambush. Let us hope that the Allies will have a chance to return the flavor to the KB. Sinking or at least damaging a carrier or two can go a long way.

While the loss of Resolution and Revenge may be painful, getting those ships out of the OOB and freeing up the crews for other ships may in the long run pay off. If they sink in shallow enough waters, many components can be salvaged, including the 15 in turrets.

Here's my really clever-dick suggestion.

Resolution and Revenge are already due for major repairs, and IIRC the nearest drydocks that can take them are in the U.S. or UK. So they're going to be out of action for a year anyway, and might never be returned to action (the U.S. has the Pearl Harbor victims to fix, and Queen Elizabeth and Valiant). So if they get written off, it's not huge loss, especially if the crews are OK.

Resolution and Revenge get into Colombo harbor. They get grounded on a even keel in water that leaves their main decks about 1.5 meters above water, with all internal spaces flooded.

Granted that this is going to mess up the ship's internals. But it will prevent capsizing, secondary explosions in the magazines, and I think reduce hull damage from torpedo hits. (AIUI, underwater damage is more severe because the water outside drives the force of the explosion against the empty hull, which deforms. If there's water inside as well, then the shock wave is passed on to that water and through internal bulkheads and the opposite hull back into open water.)

The AA batteries can still be fought, provided all the ammo is carried up out of the magazines before they are flooded.

Meanwhile - sittlng in Colombo, looking normal from overhead, they are almost certain to attract a strike from Kido Butai. That strike can be opposed by a lot of land based aircraft and other land-based a/c can track and harass the Japanese carriers. Meanwhile, Somerville with Force A can loop way out to the south and back east for a strike.

For safety, the strike could be launched to hit at dusk. They can't be recovered, but they can bingo to Ceylon while Force A beats feet to the west.

This exposes Resolution and Revenge to additional attack, but they're probably not getting clear anyway. It keeps them where they can be salvaged, potentially adds another (fleet!) carrier or two to Somerville's bag, and chews up Kido Butai's air groups a bunch.

If Germany delayed Barbarossa until April 1942 they would have defeated Russia

1. Japanese invade USSR from the east
2. Instead of doing an extremely aggressive land grab, and going beyond the supply line capacity (which gets greatly diminished at the end of winter, unpaved roads yay). Instead they do it steadily, entrench in winter and spring then in the second wave they'd crumble

Most problems Europeans have in invading Russia is the fact that their countries are on the rather thin "peninsula" between the Mediterranean and Baltic - however Europe starts getting big and wide beyond, which doesn't allow to simply rush to capture everything


I think the best bet was if AGC concentrated on a limited encirclement operation in October with reduced forces, with the intention of wintering near Smolensk, while AGS becomes the main effort. This would allow more trucks to be used for the AGS advance. I went looking for support for my conclusions. Here,

Excerpts below. Note that the author, like me, also identified PZ Group 2 as the key swing element, and also, like me, concluded that at a minimum Rostov could be held,

After the disaster near Kiev the Red Army had managed to scrape together 541,600 men to defend the Eastern Ukraine. Meaning that had the Germans decided to push east rather than north with the Ostheer's main striking power following the Kiev victory the combined might of an Army Group South reinforced with Panzer Group Two would have easily rampaged deep into Southern Russia.

However, Brauchitsch not only ignored Rundstedt but rather fancifully insisted that objectives as far flung as Stalingrad and the oilfields at Maykop, in the Caucuses, still needed to be taken. Ironically, had Guderian's Second Panzer Army and Army Group South's forces previously sent to Army Group Center remained in the Ukraine following the collapse of the Soviet pocket near Kiev there is little doubt those objective could have been accomplished. But of course that is not what happened.

Overall, one has to look at the events following the victory at Kiev as a lost opportunity to put a boot on the throat of the Soviet Union's war effort. Stripped of powerful resources Army Group South was denied the ability to exploit its success and take full advantage of the immense gap torn in the Red Army’s lines. Though penetrating southeast into the Caucuses was probably not in the cards during the fall of 1941, had Army Group South not been denuded there is little doubt that, at a minimum, Rostov could have been held.

Yet Hitler and OKH instead had already decided to redirect the Wehrmacht’s efforts back to the front’s center for a move on Moscow. A move that was counter to what had been done in the two previous large-scale German campaigns of the war - when taking Warsaw and Paris had ranked as decidedly secondary or even tertiary goals. Ironically, this also contradicted Hitler's previous Supplement to Directive 33 that had been issued on July 23rd whereby he had ordered not only Panzer Group One, but Panzer Group Two and significant other assets to concentrate on taking the entire Eastern Ukraine and penetrate past the Don River well into Southern Russia and the Caucuses. But as a result of the change in plans (codified in Directive 35 on September 6th) Army Group South sent significant assets north (two corps command staffs, one panzer division, two motorized divisions and seven infantry divisions) to Army Group Center for Operation Typhoon and the drive toward Moscow. And this wasn't the worst of it. To redirect their efforts against Moscow the Germans also had to shift Panzer Group Four several hundred kilometers south (placing it between Panzer Group Three and Two) while Panzer Group Two had to turn completely around and head back northeast an equally immense distance. All of which was done at a time when the German rail and logistical network was under immense strain. Far too often such manuevoring is almost blithely explained away when in reality it not only strained the already frayed German supply base but put enormous wear and tear on the German panzer armies (for instance the 11th Panzer Division, taken from Army Group South and given to Army Group Center's newly acquired Panzer Group Four was forced to road march 465 miles to reach its new assembly areas) that were otherwise far better positioned to carry the fight to anywhere but near Moscow.


The Puyallup Assembly Center, better known by the euphemism Camp Harmony, a name coined by an Army public-relations officer during construction in 1942, was situated at the Western Washington fairgrounds in the heart of Puyallup, located in Pierce County. The assembly center was a temporary facility into which Japanese Americans, known as Nikkei, were forced to gather beginning in March 1942, following U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt's (1882-1945) Executive Order 9066, which set into motion the expulsion of 110,000 Japanese Americans from the West Coast. The mass expulsion forced some 7,500 people from Seattle and the rural areas around Tacoma into the assembly center, where they remained in crowded conditions until their transfer to permanent "relocation centers" (inland prison camps). A key figure in these events was James Sakamoto (1903-1955), a newspaper publisher and a founder of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL).

Forced Exile

On March 30, 1942, 257 Nikkei residents of Bainbridge Island, Washington, walked onto a cross-sound ferry under military guard, then boarded a train in Seattle bound for the Manzanar Reception Center in California’s Owens Valley, 200 miles east of Los Angeles. This transport began the forced exile of 92,000 Japanese Americans and their immigrant elders directly from their homes in Washington, Oregon, California, and Arizona into temporary barbed-wire facilities known as “assembly centers.” There they remained for approximately 100 days until their transfer to permanent “relocation centers” located in remote regions of the American West and Arkansas.

The Army’s task of evicting and housing 92,000 men, women, and children was daunting. In early March 1942, planners from the Wartime Civil Control Administration (WCCA), headquartered in San Francisco, appropriated 15 operational public facilities at fairground, racetrack, and livestock pavilion sites, each providing sufficient acreage and infrastructure necessary to assemble the centers quickly. Located near city limits with significant Nikkei populations, 12 new sites were developed in California and one each in Arizona, Oregon, and Washington. Built for temporary occupancy, the centers offered few amenities and meager social services. Inmates would eat in mess halls and sleep in noisy barracks while enjoying little privacy throughout their captivity.

The Puyallup Assembly Center, better known as the euphemism Camp Harmony, a name coined by an Army public-relations officer during construction, was situated at the Western Washington fairgrounds in the heart of Puyallup. The center also included three adjoining parking lots, thus creating four separate areas cut off from one another by city streets. Although this arrangement complicated the work of administrators charged with inter-area movements, it was the only way 7,500 people from Seattle and the rural areas surrounding Tacoma could be warehoused at a location in the state.

Sakamoto's Role

The Army had help from leaders in the Seattle Nikkei community in bringing the forced eviction to fruition. Shortly after Pearl Harbor, 39-year old Jimmie Sakamoto, editor of the all-English-language Japanese American Courier and an outspoken personality known both within and without the Japanese community, organized friends and other trusted Nisei to respond to the national emergency and growing negative attitudes toward the Japanese community.

Later, in April 1942 as the forced exile approached, Army planners requested that Sakamoto’s Emergency Defense Council help with the impending evacuation and form an administrative body at the Puyallup Assembly Center to help with day-to-day activities and serve as an interface between the inmates and administration.

Sakamoto’s undemocratic process of hand-picking his associates, combined with the perception within the Japanese community that he and his group were accommodationists, created unresolved tensions with fellow inmates and led to unfortunate consequences during the incarceration experience at Camp Harmony.

Preparing for Exile

As the Army’s forced evacuation from the Puget Sound region approached, Nikkei communities in the area prepared for their exile. Advertisements appeared in Seattle and Tacoma area newspapers, and readers soon learned there were bargains to be had:

  • JAPANESE evacuation necessitates immediate sale 55-room brick hotel. Best linens, furnishings: steam heat, steady tenants.
  • 1936 DESOTO sedan. Attached overdrive, gas-saver transmission four new tires. Evacuation forces sale.

Problems for Nikkei farm operators in the Kent valley, the White River Valley, and the Puyallup River Valley, and elsewhere often proved complex. Long-term leases had to be transferred, expensive farm machinery disposed of or stored by sympathetic neighbors. Until the last minute, the government pressured growers to plant for the 1942 season, equating continued production to a measure of national loyalty: Soon crop neglect or damage was elevated to an act of sabotage.

The eviction operation went smoothly in part because of civil control stations the Wartime Civil Control Administration set up in community halls, school gymnasiums, and other public places near Nikkei centers. Six stations were set up throughout Seattle’s central area, with a seventh in Puyallup. There government personnel registered families, provided pre-induction medical screenings, and helped arrange for storage or sale of properties. Five-digit identification numbers assigned there relegated family units to anonymity: the Itois of Seattle -- family 10710 the Unos -- family 10936.

On each appointed evacuation day, families arrived at pre-arranged gathering points dragging their personal belongings. The gathering area at 8th Avenue and Lane Street near the heart of Seattle’s Japantown was located in the city’s red-light district. Shosuke Sasaki remembered baggage lining both sides of the street and Nikkei standing in a chilling spring drizzle awaiting the order to board buses. Among them his sister and her two infant children. The door of a brothel opened, and the madam invited the three into her parlor to wait out the rain, an act of kindness recalled with emotion a half century later.

Shock and Crowding

New Camp Harmony arrivals faced strangers in unaccustomed close quarters, sharing communal realities of mess halls, latrines, shower rooms, and the barracks, themselves. Late at night was no exception, for open spaces between walls and ceilings amplified sounds that ricocheted through the entire darkened barrack. Insomniacs endured snoring, coughing, whispering, arguing, crying, pacing, and sounds of lovemaking.

As rain fell on the tarpaper roofs at Puyallup during the drenching 1942 Pacific Northwest spring, water trickled down low angled slopes through cracks and onto blankets, clothes, and faces. Such misery informed the early experience of the King and Pierce county Nikkei as they endured the shock of their sudden loss of freedom.

Nevertheless, Camp Harmony inmates built a semblance of community. Sakamoto’s cadre of Nisei (American-born to Japanese immigrants) volunteers, coordinating their activities with the center manager’s instructions, organized work, recreational, and educational activities. Many went to work, most to the mess halls, with others employing specialized skills as clerks, organizers, and medical aides. Nisei teachers and volunteers guided young charges through “vacation school,” while other volunteers set up a rotating inter-area library with books donated by the Seattle Public Library. Workers’ payroll ranged from $8 per month for unskilled labor to $16 for professionals. In 2008 dollars, overworked physicians earned a meager $212 per month.

Other workers organized recreational activities to help stave off boredom and boost morale: boxing, kendo, sumo, basketball, horseshoe pitching. Softball leagues provoked instant inter-area rivalries reminiscent of the region’s popular Courier Leagues that dominated the prewar years. Women formed knitting, sewing, and crochet groups, and older men set up go and shogi tournaments. Dance-crazy young people headed for the recreation hall to swing to the recorded sounds of Glen Miller.

Getting Through the Day

Yet for most people, absent distractions provided by employment and volunteerism, time passed slowly. Tamako Inouye remembered the summer boredom she and friends experienced at the Camp Harmony:

"There was this space between the barracks. When it was really hot everybody would go to one side of this lane, lean against the building, and just sit there. And later on in the day when the sun changed its course we’d go to the other side" (Inouye interview).

As helpful as Sakamoto and his “Japanese Administration” were in helping inmates occupy their time and maintain morale, the group’s heavy-handedness in carrying out center regulations, such as a ban on Japanese language books and music and setting up a self-government antagonized the inmates and alarmed administrators. As a result, mid-way through the ordeal at Camp Harmony, the Wartime Civil Control Administration banished members of Sakamoto’s group to other centers and reduced the group’s status to an advisory council stripped of power. Worse, self-government was banished at all the assembly centers.

For the most part, getting through the day took on greater importance than self governance. Although physically isolated from their former communities, Camp Harmony inmates accessed news and world events through AM band radio broadcasts and mail subscriptions to English language newspapers. In addition, the center produced a mimeographed newsletter known as the Camp Harmony-Newsletter published by Nikkei editorial and production staff. All issues were distributed free. The center manager communicated his regulations and directives, while editor Dick Takeuchi reported center-wide happenings, such as births and deaths, ball scores, and Sunday church schedules. Content was censored, frustrating Takeuchi and his colleagues everywhere. The editor of the Manzanar Free Press noted privately that only the subscription fee for his publication was free.

With no access to telephone or freedom to move about, letter writing provided the sole means of communication with the outside world. Although the newsletter was heavily censored, first-class mail passed freely. The Puyallup city post office provided civil service employees to sell stamps, money orders, and handle registered mail, while inmates were put on the WCCA payroll at $8 per month to sort incoming mail and provide “home” delivery to the barracks.

Health and Sanitation

Early incompetence by Army planners led to occupancy of the assembly centers before installation of refrigeration and other safe food storage equipment. Initially, inmates ate army rations designed for troops in the field. Fortunately short lived, the canned meat, vegetable, and fruit diet, lacking in ethnic sensitivity, soon gave way to fresh and more palatable fare. However, healthful sanitary conditions evolved more slowly, resulting in public health threats everywhere.

Outbreaks of diarrhea plagued most assembly centers because of inexperienced workers and improper oversight. In early May, spoiled Vienna sausages caused a severe flare-up among the Puyallup inmates. Symptoms emerged after curfew, and the commotion led to near panic by sentries in the guard towers. Flashlights helping light the way, with all public stalls occupied pinpoints of light moved erratically in the darkness. Fearing an insurrection, sentries manned the spotlights and called for reinforcements. But with order soon restored, tragedy was averted, and the epidemic passed quickly. Given crowded and unsanitary conditions at most assembly centers, that more frequent, if not serious, outbreaks of gastroenteritis did not take place is surprising.

Nikkei doctors, nurses, dentists, and pharmacists, themselves inmates, provided most of the health care at Camp Harmony. Even though the center’s temporary occupancy relegated its medical facilities to infirmary status, Army statisticians recorded for the Puyallup Assembly Center a total of 37 births, 11 deaths, and, in the month of August alone, seven operating room surgeries and 2,260 outpatient treatments.

Leaving Early

A few fortunate inmates succeeded in leaving Camp Harmony early. As the nation’s farm labor crisis deepened with draft-age workers entering military service or taking on higher paying jobs in the war industry, sugar processors turned to the assembly centers as an untapped labor source. Recruitment at the Portland and Puyallup Assembly Centers began in mid-May, and soon 72 volunteers from Camp Harmony departed for eastern Oregon and Montana. By the time the assembly center period ended, nearly 1,600 strong-backed volunteers from half a dozen centers worked the sugar beet fields of the American West. By November Nikkei farm hands, most of them former Camp Harmony inmates, harvested 25 percent of Idaho’s sugar beet crop, with the state’s farmers expressing their gratitude.

Nisei college students, their educations at the University of Washington abruptly suspended, had slimmer opportunities to leave the center. Although the next three years would see more than 4,000 students enter inland colleges and universities, including several hundred from the University of Washington, the student relocation program began modestly in the assembly centers with 360 transfers and just three from Camp Harmony. The Army opposed student relocation on national security grounds and imposed sufficient restrictions, permitting only a few colleges and universities to participate. Students had to document their financial resources and undergo cumbersome FBI intelligence checks.

Freshman Economics major Kenji Okuda had his acceptance letter from Oberlin College in hand for the 1942 fall term. But even with a statement of his financial resources (a $3,000 trust fund) and multiple testimonies from Caucasian friends attesting to his loyalty, he waited in vain for a travel clearance from San Francisco. His slot was given to another student, thus delaying his education until the following spring. Most Nisei former UW students prepared their college applications while at the Minidoka Relocation Center.

Moving to Prison Camps

Transfer out of the assembly centers and into the relocation centers began in June 1942 and continued through October. The first movement to Minidoka occurred on August 9th when 213 volunteers left Camp Harmony to prepare the center for the new arrivals scheduled to arrive in trainloads units of 500 a day. Wartime demands to move troops on the nation’s rail lines forced the Wartime Civilian Control Administration to use re-commissioned passenger cars, hulks that generated universal complaints from Nikkei passengers and officials, and added to the humiliation of incarceration. Dirty, with inadequate water pressure, faltering air conditioning, and sealed windows preventing air circulation, only the passing landscape provided temporary diversion from the misery. The transfer to Minidoka required 21 specially requisitioned trains.

On November 1, 1942, six days after the final transfer of inmates from Santa Anita Assembly Center to the Manzanar Relocation Center, the Army under prior agreement with the War Relocation Authority turned over jurisdiction of 111,000 Japanese Americans. The assembly center period then came to a close.

Jimmie Sakamoto, who had created such a disruption at Camp Harmony, accompanied his fellow inmates to Minidoka, but never rose to a leadership position. Alerted ahead of time, administrators at Minidoka barred him from rising above the rank of a block manager.

One silver lining to the difficult assembly center period may be that life in these holding pens prepared inmates for the several years of incarceration that lay ahead. Sharon (Tanagi) Aburano shared with the author an insight from her own experience:

"I think that was the best adjustment really the Army could give us, to herd us all together to get us used to queuing up in lines and being a bit more patient and learning to get along because we were in such tight quarters. I think without them knowing, it was the greatest thing to do. When we went to Minidoka the trauma wasn’t there.”

Barracks, Camp Harmony (Puyallup Assembly Center), 1942

Courtesy MOHAI (1986.5.6680.1)

Camp Harmony under construction, Puyallup, 1942

Courtesy UW Special Collections (UW6914)

Posting of Japanese Exclusion Order (No. 17, dated April 24, 1942), Seattle, 1942

Social Trends in Seattle Vol 14 (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1944)

Bainbridge Island High School pupils bid farewell to their Japanese American classmates, March 1942

Social Trends in Seattle Vol 14 (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1944)

Empty Japanese American business G. Oishi Co., Pike Place Market, May 1, 1942

Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives (31900)

Camp Harmony (Puyallup Assembly Center), drawing titled "Air Conditioning!" August 1942

Drawing by Eddie Sato, Courtesy UW Special Collections (PH Coll 664.27)

Japanese American evacuees, Camp Harmony (Puyallup Assembly Center), 1942

Photo by Howard Clifford, Courtesy UW Special Collections (UW526)

Internees lined up in the rain, Camp Harmony (Puyallup Assembly Center), 1942

1942 Siege of Sebastopol

The Siege of Sebastopol took place in 1942, after the Russian failure to re-take Kharkov. The Germans had to take Sebastopol if they were to fulfill their aim in completing the southern arm of Operation Barbarossa – taking the oil fields of the Middle East.

Sebastopol was a port in the Black Sea. As such, the city had a strategic value to the Germans in their drive south-east to the oil fields. The successful taking of the city would also compensate for the failure of the Wehrmacht to take Moscow and Leningrad. The German XI Army was already engaged in fighting in the Crimea during the time of the Kharkov Offensive. Five German divisions were assigned the task of blockading Sebastopol from the land side and were supported in the air by VIII Fliegerkorps and Luftflotte IV. The Luftwaffe had a two-to-one advantage in this campaign. The push to Sebastopol started on May 8th, 1942. Initially, the Germans were very successful. Russian defenders had little chance against 1,800 aerial sorties a day and the Russians had poor defences and fared badly on the ground. When the Russians lost the Kerch peninsula in the Crimea to the Germans in May 1942, it allowed the invaders to turn their full attention to Sebastopol. However, early success was to give way to rugged defending.

The city was defended by the Soviet Coastal Army led by General I.E. Petrov. This force amounted to 106,000 men, 600 artillery guns, 100 mortars and 38 tanks. Petrov only had 55 serviceable planes at his disposal. The Germans had a formidable array of weaponry at their disposal, including super-heavy 615mm mortars. The 800mm ‘Dora’ mortar (carried by rail) was also brought up for the attack. For the attack on Sebastopol, the Germans could muster 204,000 men, 670 artillery guns, 720 mortars, 655 anti-tank guns, 450 tanks and 600 aircraft. In the Black Sea, the Germans stationed 19 MTB’s, 30 patrol boats and 8 anti-submarine boats. Surrounded at land and sea, getting supplies into Sebastopol would prove to be very difficult for the Russians. Plans were already afoot for submarines to bring in food and ammunition and a number of fast boats from the Black Sea Fleet were almost tasked for the same. However, whatever they brought in would never be enough.

On June 2nd, the Germans started to bombard Sebastopol. This lasted for five days. On June 7th, German infantry started their attack. To start with, the Germans attacks were vigorously repulsed. But slowly, the impact of the blockade was felt by the defenders. Petrov only got one-third of what his forces needed on a day-to-day basis with regards to ammunition. The Germans later reported that the Russians had to fight hand-to-hand as they had no ammunition for their rifles etc. Russian machine gun fire was very sporadic – in an effort to preserve what ammunition there was. However, the Germans faced an almost fanatical enemy, willing to defend at all costs. The defenders of the ‘Maxim Gorky’ battery in Sebastopol is a classic example: of 1,000 men who defended the battery, only 50 were taken prisoner and all of them had been wounded. This alone represented an attrition rate of 95% for the Russians.

By the end of June, the Russian defenders were in a critical position and on June 30th, the Germans fought their way into Sebastopol itself. An evacuation of the Russian forces in the city was ordered. It started on June 30th and lasted until July 3rd.

The whole process of evacuation was gravely hindered by constant attacks by the Luftwaffe and by dug-in German artillery positions picking off targets at will. By the end of the siege, 90,000 Russian prisoners had been taken and the Russians had lost the equivalent of two armies. Russians who were not evacuated and had not been wounded, tried to get into the countryside of the Crimea to join up with the partisans.

“We knew how many planes they had, and they knew how hard it was to defend a city with all its roads cut. But they forgot one thing: Sebastopol is not merely a city. It is the glory of Russia, the pride of the Soviet Union. We have seen the capitulation of towns, of celebrated fortresses, of states. But Sebastopol is not surrendering. Our soldiers do not play at war. They fight a life-or-death struggle. They do not say ‘I surrender’ when they see tow or three more enemy men on the chessboard.”IIya Ehrenburg

In recognition of what the defenders had achieved against almost impossible odds, the defenders of Sebastopol were awarded the ‘Defence of Sebastopol’ medal by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet.

April 1942: Message Received

Elmer also received a steady stream of letters from young women. Irene Sykes, Shirley Ryder, and Dorothy Wekking wrote him “every few weeks.” Pat had recently stopped writing him, mainly because Elmer once again stopped responding to her letters. In fairness, he had a lot of correspondence to answer, which promoted him to reassure his worried mother. “I’m not much for reading the Bible or religious literature,” he wrote, “but I do nothing that I am ashamed of.” In spite of Elmer’s aversion to such things, his father announced that he was going to send his son some Christian Science materials, presumably before Elmer could have had a chance to finish reading the New Testament his mother’s pastor sent him weeks earlier.

While Elmer did not necessarily find comfort in religion, he took his self-improvement seriously. At the end of the month he wrote that he was looking forward to coming home and visiting with his parents, but he hoped that he would be “more of a man” than “the boy who left a good home.” Nevertheless, he confessed that he did not regret joining the Navy, and that in spite of him now being in the middle of a war he believed that the experience would shape him in a positive way.

Of course, there was always a risk involved when serving in the Navy during a war. But Elmer wanted his parents to not spend their time worrying about it, and instead embrace his hope for a brighter future. And thanks to the Doolittle Raiders, that future seemed a little more likely than before.

Making the model minority

Over the past decade, from Pulitzer Prizes to popular films, Asian Americans have slowly been gaining better representation in Hollywood and other cultural industries.

Whereas “The Joy Luck Club” had long been the most infamous depiction of Asian-ness in Hollywood, by the 2018 Golden Globes, Sandra Oh declared her now famous adage: “It’s an honor just to be Asian.” It was, at least at face value, a moment of cultural inclusion.

However, so-called Asian American inclusion has a dark side.

In reality, as cultural historian Robert G. Lee has argued, inclusion can and has been used to undermine the activism of African Americans, indigenous peoples and other marginalized groups in the United States. In the words of writer Frank Chin in 1974, “Whites love us because we’re not black.”

For example, in 1943, a year after the United States incarcerated Japanese Americans under Executive Order 9066, Congress repealed the Chinese Exclusion Act. White liberals advocated for the repeal not out of altruism toward Chinese migrants, but to advocate for a transpacific alliance against Japan and the Axis powers.

By allowing for the free passage of Chinese migrants to the United States, the nation could show its supposed fitness as an interracial superpower that rivaled Japan and Germany. Meanwhile, incarcerated Japanese Americans in camps and African Americans were still held under Jim Crow segregation laws.

In her new book, “Opening the Gates to Asia: A Transpacific History of How America Repealed Asian Exclusion,” Occidental College historian Jane Hong reveals how the United States government used Asian immigration inclusion against other minority groups at a time of social upheaval.

For example, in 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration signed the much-celebrated Hart-Celler Act into law. The act primarily targeted Asian and African migrants, shifting immigration from an exclusionary quota system to an merit-based points system. However, it also imposed immigration restrictions on Latin America.

Russian trucks move towards Berlin. The final assault. Entering the hated foe's den. The Russian woman is beautiful.

The final chapter in the destruction of Hitler's Third Reich began on April 16, 1945 when Stalin unleashed the brutal power of 20 armies, 6,300 tanks and 8,500 aircraft with the objective of crushing German resistance and capturing Berlin. By prior agreement, the Allied armies (positioned approximately 60 miles to the west) halted their advance on the city in order to give the Soviets a free hand. The depleted German forces put up a stiff defense, initially repelling the attacking Russians, but ultimately succumbing to overwhelming force. By April 24 the Soviet army surrounded the city slowly tightening its stranglehold on the remaining Nazi defenders. Fighting street-to-street and house-to-house, Russian troops blasted their way towards Hitler's chancellery in the city's center.

Inside his underground bunker Hitler lived in a world of fantasy as his "Thousand Year Reich" crumbled above him. In his final hours the Fuehrer married his long-time mistress and then joined her in suicide. The Third Reich was dead.


Source: Eyewitnesstohistory

Berliners, gaunt from short rations and stress, had little to celebrate at Christmas in 1944. The mood in Germany had changed exactly two years before. Rumours had begun to circulate just before Christmas 1942 that General Paulus's Sixth Army had been encircled on the Volga by the Red Army. The Nazi regime found it hard to admit that the largest formation in the whole of the Wehrmacht was doomed to annihilation in the ruins of Stalingrad and in the frozen steppe outside. To prepare the country for bad news, Joseph Goebbels, the Reichsminister for Propaganda and Enlightenment, had announced a 'German Christmas', which in National Socialist terms meant austerity and ideological determination, not candles and pine wreathes and singing '
Heilige Nachf'
. By 1944, the traditional roast goose had become a distant memory.

Soviet soldiers loading Katyusha multiple barreled rockets. The Russian tactic was clear. Blow everything that comes in the way to bits.

Dorothea von Schwanenfluegel was a twenty-nine-year-old wife and mother living in Berlin. She and her young daughter along with friends and neighbors huddled within their apartment building as the end neared. The city was already in ruins from Allied air raids, food was scarce, the situation desperate - the only hope that the Allies would arrive before the Russians. We join Dorothea's account as the Russians begin the final push to victory:

"Friday, April 20, was Hitler's fifty-sixth birthday, and the Soviets sent him a birthday present in the form of an artillery barrage right into the heart of the city, while the Western Allies joined in with a massive air raid.

The radio announced that Hitler had come out of his safe bomb-proof bunker to talk with the fourteen to sixteen year old boys who had 'volunteered' for the 'honor' to be accepted into the SS and to die for their Fuhrer in the defense of Berlin. What a cruel lie! These boys did not volunteer, but had no choice, because boys who were found hiding were hanged as traitors by the SS as a warning that, 'he who was not brave enough to fight had to die.' When trees were not available, people were strung up on lamp posts. They were hanging everywhere, military and civilian, men and women, ordinary citizens who had been executed by a small group of fanatics. It appeared that the Nazis did not want the people to survive because a lost war, by their rationale, was obviously the fault of all of us. We had not sacrificed enough and therefore, we had forfeited our right to live, as only the government was without guilt. The Volkssturm was called up again, and this time, all boys age thirteen and up, had to report as our army was reduced now to little more than children filling the ranks as soldiers."

There was a pervasive atmosphere of impending downfall in personal lives as much as in the nation's existence. People spent their money recklessly, half-assuming that it would soon be worthless. And there were stories, although hard to confirm, of girls and young women coupling with strangers in dark corners around the Zoo station and in the Tiergarten. The desire to dispense with innocence is said to have become even more desperate later as the Red Army approached Berlin.


Encounter with a Young Soldier

"The Soviets battled the German soldiers and drafted civilians street by street until we could hear explosions and rifle fire right in our immediate vicinity. As the noise got closer, we could even hear the horrible guttural screaming of the Soviet soldiers which sounded to us like enraged animals. Shots shattered our windows and shells exploded in our garden, and suddenly the Soviets were on our street. Shaken by the battle around us and numb with fear, we watched from behind the small cellar windows facing the street as the tanks and an endless convoy of troops rolled by.

It was a terrifying sight as they sat high upon their tanks with their rifles cocked, aiming at houses as they passed. The screaming, gun-wielding women were the worst. Half of the troops had only rags and tatters around their feet while others wore SS boots that had been looted from a conquered SS barrack in Lichterfelde. Several fleeing people had told us earlier that they kept watching different boots pass by their cellar windows. At night, the Germans in our army boots recaptured the street that the Soviets in the SS boots had taken during the day. The boots and the voices told them who was who. Now we saw them with our own eyes, and they belonged to the wild cohorts of the advancing Soviet troops.

Facing reality was ten times worse than just hearing about it. Throughout the night, we huddled together in mortal fear, not knowing what the morning might bring. Nevertheless, we noiselessly did sneak upstairs to double check that our heavy wooden window shutters were still intact and that all outside doors were barricaded. But as I peaked out, what did I see! The porter couple in the apartment house next to ours was standing in their front yard waving to the Soviets. So our suspicion that they were Communists had been right all along, but they must have been out of their minds to openly proclaim their brotherhood like that.
As could be expected, that night a horde of Soviet soldiers returned and stormed into their apartment house. Then we heard what sounded like a terrible orgy with women screaming for help, many shrieking at the same time. The racket gave me goosebumps. Some of the Soviets trampled through our garden and banged their rifle butts on our doors in an attempt to break in. Thank goodness our sturdy wooden doors withstood their efforts. Gripped in fear, we sat in stunned silence, hoping to give the impression that this was a vacant house, but hopelessly delivered into the clutches of the long-feared Red Army. Our nerves were in shreds."

"The next morning, we women proceeded to make ourselves look as unattractive as possible to the Soviets by smearing our faces with coal dust and covering our heads with old rags, our make-up for the Ivan. We huddled together in the central part of the basement, shaking with fear, while some peeked through the low basement windows to see what was happening on the Soviet-controlled street. We felt paralyzed by the sight of these husky Mongolians, looking wild and frightening. At the ruin across the street from us the first Soviet orders were posted, including a curfew. Suddenly there was a shattering noise outside. Horrified, we watched the Soviets demolish the corner grocery store and throw its contents, shelving and furniture out into the street. Urgently needed bags of flour, sugar and rice were split open and spilled their contents on the bare pavement, while Soviet soldiers stood guard with their rifles so that no one would dare to pick up any of the urgently needed food. This was just unbelievable. At night, a few desperate people tried to salvage some of the spilled food from the gutter. Hunger now became a major concern because our ration cards were worthless with no hope of any supplies.

Shortly thereafter, there was another commotion outside, even worse than before, and we rushed to our lookout to see that the Soviets had broken into the bank and were looting it. They came out yelling gleefully with their hands full of German bank notes and jewelry from safe deposit boxes that had been pried open. Thank God we had withdrawn money already and had it at home."

"The next day, General Wilding, the commander of the German troops in Berlin, finally surrendered the entire city to the Soviet army. There was no radio or newspaper, so vans with loudspeakers drove through the streets ordering us to cease all resistance. Suddenly, the shooting and bombing stopped and the unreal silence meant that one ordeal was over for us and another was about to begin. Our nightmare had become a reality. The entire three hundred square miles of what was left of Berlin were now completely under control of the Red Army. The last days of savage house to house fighting and street battles had been a human slaughter, with no prisoners being taken on either side. These final days were hell. Our last remaining and exhausted troops, primarily children and old men, stumbled into imprisonment. We were a city in ruins almost no house remained intact."

Source: Eyewitnesstohistory.com

It was a pitiless battle. At Hermersdorf, south-west of Neuhardenberg, Soviet infantry advanced past a T-34 still burning from a panzerfaust. A German soldier in a nearby foxhole screamed to them for help. A grenade dropped in the foxhole had blown off his feet and he lacked the strength to pull himself out. But the Red Army soldiers left him there, despite his cries, in revenge for the burned crew.

German prisoners sent towards the rear were overawed by the endless columns of tanks,self-propelled guns and other tracked vehicles moving forward. 'And this is the army,'some of them thought, 'which in 1941 was supposed to have been at its last gasp.' Soviet infantrymen coming up the other side of the road would greet them with cries of ' Gitler kapuuutt!' , accompanied by a throat-cutting gesture.One of the German prisoners was convinced that a number of the dead they passed were 'Soviet soldiers who had been crushed by their own tanks'. He also saw Russian soldiers trying out some captured panzerfausts by firing them at the wall of a half-ruined house.Others were stripping greatcoats from their own dead, and in one village, he saw a couple of soldiers taking pot shots at nesting storks. Target practice seemed compulsive even after the battle. Some of the prisoners, taken to the magnificent schloss at Neuhardenberg,were alarmed when their escort, spotting a 'superb chandelier', raised his sub-machine gun and fired a burst at it. A senior officer reprimanded him, 'but that seemed to make little impression'.

The Feldgendarmerie and SS groups continued to search for deserters. No records were kept of the roadside executions carried out, but anecdotal evidence suggests that on the XI SS Corps sector, many, including a number of Hitler Youth, were hanged from tree son the flimsiest of proof. This was nothing short of murder. Soviet sources claim that25,000 German soldiers and officers were summarily executed for cowardice in 1945.This figure is almost certainly too high, but it was unlikely to have been lower than10,000.

Fighting the last vestiges of German resistance in the Berlin subway

The 19th of April was another beautiful spring day, providing Soviet aviation with perfect visibility. Every time Shturmoviks came over, strafing and bombing, the road emptied as people threw themselves in the ditches. Women and girls from nearby villages, terrified of the Red Army, begged groups of soldiers to take them with them: 'Nehmt uns mit, nehmt uns bitte, bitte mit!'

The remnants of trainee and officer candidate battalions from the CI Corps found themselves retreating 'village by village' westwards to Bernau, just north of Berlin. Most had lost nearly three-quarters of their strength. They were exhausted, hungry and thoroughly confused. As soon as they halted for a rest, everyone fell heavily asleep and their officers had to kick them awake several times when it was necessary to move on.Nobody knew what was happening on either side or even in front or behind. Radios and

field telephones had been abandoned. There was also no hope of re-establishing an effective front line, despite the best efforts of the more experienced officers, who grabbed any stragglers from other units and incorporated them into their own little command

Friday 20 April was the fourth fine day in a row. It was Adolf Hitler's fifty-sixth birthday.A beautiful day on this date used to prompt greetings between strangers in the street about 'Führer weather' and the miracle that this implied. Now only the most besotted Nazi could still hint at Hitler's supernatural power. There were still enough diehards left,however, to attempt to celebrate the event. Nazi flags were raised on ruined buildings and placards proclaimed, ' Die Kriegsstadt Berlin grüst den Führer!'

Captured employees of the infamous Ministry of Propaganda

Hitler told General Krebs to launch an attack from the west of Berlin against Konev's armies to prevent encirclement. The force expected to 'hurl back' the 3rd and 4th Guards Tank Armies consisted of the
Friedrich Ludwig Jahn Division, made up of boys in Reich Labour Service detachments, and the so-called 'Wünsdorf Panzer formation', a batch of half a dozen tanks from the training school there.A police battalion was sent to the Strausberg area that day 'to catch deserters and execute them and shoot any soldiers found retreating without orders'. But even those detailed as executioners began to desert on their way forward. One of those who gave themselves up to the Russians told his Soviet interrogator that 'about 40,000 deserters were hiding in Berlin even before the Russian advance. Now this number is rapidly increasing.' He went on to say that the police and the Gestapo could not control the situation.

An intensive artillery bombardment of Berlin began at 9.30 a.m., a couple of hours after the end of the last Allied air raid. Hitler's SS adjutant, Otto Günsche, reported that the Führer, a few minutes after having been woken, emerged unshaven and angry in the bunker corridor which served as an anteroom. 'What's going on?' he shouted at Genera Burgdorf, Colonel von Below and Günsche. 'Where's this firing coming from?'Burgdorf answered that central Berlin was under fire from Soviet heavy artillery. 'Are the Russians already so near?' asked Hitler, clearly shaken.

The Reichstag paints a gloomy look. Perhaps it symbolised the condition of Germany then

From that morning until 2 May, they were to fire 1.8 million shells in the assault on the city.The casualties among women especially were heavy as they still queued in the drizzling rain, hoping for their 'crisis rations'. Mangled bodies were flung across the Hermannplatzin south-west Berlin as people queued outside the Karstadt department store. Many others were killed in the queues at the water pumps. Crossing a street turned into a dash from one insecure shelter to another. Most gave up and returned to their cellars. Some,however, took what seemed like the last opportunity to bury silver and other valuables in their garden or a nearby allotment. But the relentlessness of the bombardment and the random fall of shells soon forced the majority of the population back underground.

Side roads and main routes alike were encumbered by civilians with handcarts, prams and teams of farm horses. Soldiers were surrounded by civilians desperate for news of the enemy's advance, but often had no clear idea themselves. Pickets of Feldgendarmerie at each crossroads again grabbed stragglers to form scratch companies. There were also men hanged from roadside trees, with a card on their chest stating, 'I was a coward.'Soldiers sent to defend houses either side of the road were the luckiest. The inhabitants gave them food and some hot water to shave and wash in, the first for many days.

Russian officers in the Reichstag

Perhaps as a side-effect of this law linking death with sexual maturity, the arrival of the enemy at the edge of the city made young soldiers desperate to lose their virginity. Girls,well aware of the high risk of rape, preferred to give themselves to almost any German boy first than to a drunken and probably violent Soviet soldier. In the broadcasting centre of the Grossdeutscher Rundfunk on the Masurenallee, two-thirds of the 500-strong staff were young women - many little more than eighteen. There, in the last week of April, a 'real feeling of disintegration' spread, with heavy drinking and indiscriminate copulation amid the stacks of the sound archive. There was also a good deal of sexual activity between people of various ages in unlit cellars and bunkers. The aphrodisiac effect of mortal danger is hardly an unknown historical phenomenon.

Berliners now referred to their city as the 'Reichsscheiterhaufen' - the 'Reich's funeralpyre'. Civilians were already suffering casualties in the street-fighting and house-clearing.Captain Ratenko, an officer from Tula in Bogdanov's 2nd Guards Tank Army, knocked at a cellar door in Reinickendorf, a district in the north-west. Nobody opened it, so he kicked it in. There was a burst of sub-machine-gun fire and he was killed. The soldiers from the 2nd Guards Tank Army who were with him started firing through the door and the windows. They killed the gunman, apparently a young Wehrmacht officer in civilian clothes, but also a woman and a child. 'The building was then surrounded by our men and burned down,' the report stated.

Mere boys. Perhaps of Hitler Youth. These were the fighters that were defending Hitler in his last days. Sad.

Serov was perhaps most surprised by the state of Berlin's defences. 'No serious permanent defences have been found inside the ten- to fifteen-kilometre zone around Berlin. There are fire-trenches and gun-pits and the motorways are mined in certain sections. There are some trenches just as one comes to the city, but less in fact than any other city taken by the Red Army.' Interrogations of Volkssturm men revealed how few regular troops there were in the city, how little ammunition there was and how reluctant the Volkssturm was to fight. Serov discovered also that German anti-aircraft defence had almost ceased to function, thus allowing Red Army aviation a clear sweep over the city.

The last of the German fighters surrender. The guns fell silent in Berlin

Civilian casualties had been heavy already. Like Napoleonic infantry, the women standing in line for food simply closed ranks after a shell burst decimated a queue.Nobody dared lose their place. Some claimed that women just wiped the blood from their ration cards and stuck it out. 'There they stand like walls,' noted a woman diarist, 'thosewho not so long ago dashed into bunkers the moment three fighter planes were announced over central Germany.' Women queued for a handout of butter and dry

sausage, while men emerged only to line up for an issue of schnapps. It seemed to be symbolic. Women were concerned with the immediacy of survival while men needed escape from the consequences of their war.

Watch the video: 6 April 1942: The Blenheims and the Gneisenau TDIWH