world war ii: pacific theater


The German U-Boat Force of the Pacific

When it comes to U-Boat warfare, most people think of U-Boats sinking Allied ships in the North Atlantic.  However, U-Boat prowled everywhere, including places like the Caribbean and South Atlantic.  One far off area of operations was the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean around the waters of Indonesia, the Straits of Malacca, and the South Pacific.  Called Monsune Gruppe, the U-Boat force was founded in 1943 when a first wave of a dozen U-Boats sailed to Asia.  Submarine bases were founded Penang in Malaysia, Kobe in Japan, and a handful of small repair and supply bases throughout Indonesia.  A few Italian submarines also sailed east to join the group, but Italy surrendered halfway through the journey, and the submarines surrendered at South African ports. One Italian submarine that was to be a part of the force, the Cappellini, attempted to surrender but was captured by the Japanese, then turned over to the Germans. Since it operated so far away from Germany, Monsun Gruppe was often dependent on Japanese supplies. In addition, six Japanese submarines joined the group, one of the few instances of direct cooperation between German and Japanese forces.   

By 1943, Allied forces had developed tactics and technology to counter submarines.  Among them was the use of naval aircraft patrols. Considering that the Pacific Theater was chalk full of carrier based aircraft, the environment for Monsun Gruppe was in many ways more dangerous for the U-Boats than the North Atlantic. As a result of these factors, Monsun Gruppe’s success was modest compared to other theaters of operation. From 1943 to 1945, Monsun Gruppe sank 66 Allied freighters. In addition, the unit delivered small amounts of strategic materials to Japan from Germany.  Out of the 44 U-Boats, six Japanese submarines, and one Italian submarine that took part in Monsun Gruppe, 28 were sunk, most by US Navy aircraft.  When the war ended, most surviving U-Boats were scuttled, their crew surrendering to the Allies.  Six U-Boats were either turned over to or salvaged by the Japanese Navy, all of which were scrapped or scuttled after the war. The Italian submarine Cappellini, then operated by a mixed German and Italian crew, was returned to the Japanese Navy and manned with a mixed German, Italian, and Japanese crew. When Japan surrendered, it was seized by the US Navy, and later scrapped in 1946.

Ben Kuroki was the only American of Japanese descent in the United States Army Air Forces to serve in combat operations in the Pacific theater of World War II. Kuroki fought for the country that institutionalized racism against his ethnic background, in order to attempt an end of the biases themselves. Kuroki died on September 1st, 2015 at the age of 98


The Japanese “Horned” Flamethrower Tank

When this vehicle was found abandoned in northern Luzon US Marines wondered if they had to fight it would they have needed a bazooka or red cape.

Inspection showed this the hull of this Japanese full-tracked, armored vehicle
was constructed in 1939, but that the interior parts, such as the flame-throwing equipment and the motor, were built in 1940 and 1941.

With an over-all length of 19 ½ feet, and width of 7 feet, the vehicle was approximately 5 feet high. This low silhouette was broken only by a small “conning tower” which rose about 5 inches above the otherwise completely flat top. Perhaps the most outstanding feature, which was found on some of the vehicles, is a horn-like fork arranged over the tracks on each side of the tank front. These forks, gave the tank a weird and distinct appearance and were presumably intended for uprooting mines or tearing down barbed wire in advance of the tank.

The armament examined was not particularly formidable, consisting of two Type 97 7.7-mm tank machine guns in addition to the flame-throwing apparatus. 

The AN/M2 was on occasion used as an infantry gun. Called the T33 it was fitted with a buttstock and bipod to allow for use without a tripod or other mount. The T33 consists of a butt stock from a M1919A6 and a rear sight and bipod from a BAR 1918. These conversions were based on field conversions carried out by soldiers in the Pacific Theater during World War II. It had a rate of fire in excess of 1,200 rpm and was nicknamed the “Stinger.”

Fanfic Grows Up

(No spoilers, of course)

Rogue One is a fan film, and that isn’t a bad thing.

In the early internet, pre-YouTube days, there was a growing crowd of young filmmakers eagerly assembling Star Wars fan films and throwing them online. Some were okay, some were horrible, and some were something truly special. It was a fertile ground for the next wave of cinematographers to hone their craft, and they did: it led to film festivals, and even had the tacit blessing of Lucasfilm LTD.

Rogue One feels like the interest being paid out on that investment. It’s a Star Wars film only in that it’s set in the galaxy far, far away. The direction, dialogue and cinematography are alien to the series. There’s no title crawl, no fuzzy wipes, no Wilhelm screams; there’s even one (admittedly clumsy) swipe at a classic Star Wars cliché. It draws less from the style of the series we know, and more from other genres entirely. Again, this isn’t a bad thing.

One sequence of the film looks like nothing less than a mashup of a classic World War II Pacific Theater epic and the sweeping space operas of days gone by. What could have been a disastrous head-on collision is instead a natural fit, the two genres blending into one of the high points of the film (of which there are more than a few). 

The word “dark” was bandied about quite a bit in regard to Rogue One, but it’s really not a dark film at all. Instead, Rogue One chooses to do what many fan films once did: it focuses on an obvious but forgotten aspect that underlies the series. In this case, it’s a choice to tell a story not from the perspective of the generals and Jedi, but instead from the point of view of the average grunts. Of course a new perspective alone doesn’t justify a film, and fortunately there’s an engaging tale included to back up the shift.

That’s not to say Rogue One is perfect, but its faults are relatively few. The largest problem is the demands of the pace. While it moves at an excellent clip and feels very tight, this means a lot of introduction and camaraderie between the ensemble has to be packed in very quickly. Quite a few very talented actors felt wasted along the way; a few performances made me want to linger with their characters, but the script rushes us along. Still, if the worst that can be said is it left me wanting more, it’s not so bad.

The rest are nitpicks. There are a few gratuitous cameos that seemed like executive mandate, because they don’t serve to do much beyond jar the audience out of the experience and say, “Hey, lookit! Remember them?” Also probably the most unsettling experience is the return of Peter Cushing in CGI form. While the use of Moff Tarkin is fairly obvious (the film is built around the story of the first Death Star, after all), his new incarnation owns a summer home in the Uncanny Valley. Every instance the CGI Tarkin has a moment on screen is one you want to end, because it’s unsettling as hell. Its intentionally imprecise precision of movement and almost-but-not-quite-right skin left me squirming. We’re talking Tom Hanks in Polar Express, people. The script justified it and it wasn’t using the character merely to please fans, but the technology just isn’t there yet.

I was skeptical when I heard about Rogue One. Not only is it a prequel, but an untold, original story. Both could have easily been combined into a disaster, but by moving Star Wars into styles we hadn’t seen before it overcame the obstacles. The story itself takes risks, doing things no Star Wars film before it would dare ask of an audience. It all comes together into something far better than this sort of project had any right to be.

Rogue One is a fan film, passing the world Lucas built down to the fans who used to run around with camcorders shooting every nook and cranny of the Star Wars universe. It’s the justification of a tradition that once got sneers. I hope when the Han Solo film rolls around, it takes its cues from fan films, too.

anonymous asked:

oooh new immersive show under the high line by sleep no more producer! i wonder what it's about. sucks it costs $70 though. seeingyou dot nyc

The Times says it’s about the Pacific Theater of World War II and is named after the Sinatra song, and if it comes from the Sleep No More producer I’m intrigued for sure. It certainly looks cool. 


“It was so good to see your handwriting.”

Those of us who work with archival collections come into contact with unique handwriting nearly every day. Although we can normally decipher the script (predominantly English in our collection), from WWII, there are times when we have to poll colleagues and guess at what is written. Does it say —? There were times when handwriting played a more central role in communication. In writing to prisoners of war, especially in the Pacific, where letters would be read by both American and Japanese censors, writers received special instruction. Most importantly, the letters were to be short (no more than 25 words) and were to be typed or block printed. Letters that did not comply with these rules, were returned.

We have examples of these failed attempts at communication from a collection of material related to the imprisonment by the Japanese of USMC Sgt. Edward A. Padbury. POWs in Japan were allowed very little, if any, correspondence with their loved ones. Mail was regularly delayed by nearly a year. General Jonathan Wainwright’s wife, Adele, reportedly sent him 300 letters over the three-plus years of his imprisonment. He received a total of six.

Catherine Faye, Edward Padbury’s sister, had some unsuccessful efforts to write to her brother. The first letter was returned on two accounts. It was longer than 25 words and written in cursive. The second letter was block printed, but also too long. We do not have any correspondence from Sgt. Padbury, but we do know that he survived the war and was liberated from Shinjoku POW Camp in the Tokyo Bay area.

Gift of Phillip Faye, 2006.128

Post by Curator Kimberly Guise.


Throwback Thursday

The Battle of Tarawa was the first American offensive in the critical central Pacific region. It was also the first time in the war that the United States faced serious Japanese opposition to an amphibious landing. Previous landings met little or no initial resistance, but this time the 4,500 Japanese defenders were well-supplied and well-prepared, and they fought almost to the last man, exacting a heavy toll on the United States Marine Corps. The Battle of Tarawa  (US code name Operation Galvanic) was a battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II, fought from November 20 to November 23, 1943.The U.S. had suffered similar casualties in other campaigns, for example over the six months of the Guadalcanal Campaign. Here the 2nd Marine Division earned a large reputation for their brutality and warrior styled strength

Midway anniversary.

A sea of white uniforms greets visitors to the Navy Memorial as sailors gather to celebrate the 72nd anniversary of the Battle of Midway in Washington, D.C., June 4, 2014. The celebration held host to Marines, Navy, and Coast Guard service members, Midway veterans and a gathered crowd of onlookers. The Battle of Midway is considered by many to be the turning point of the Pacific theater of World War II and one of the most well-known and revered victories in naval history.