Archive footage of wartime bombings of Saga found

A citizens’ group that collects footage of U.S. air raids on Japan has obtained films of bombing missions in seven prefectures, including Oita and Kagoshima, showing scenes of carnage as part of efforts to show the importance of peace.

Oita Prefecture-based Toyo no Kuni Usa-shi Juku obtained a total of 10 minutes of footage from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. It includes such scenes as smoke rising from fires around Kagoshima Station in Kagoshima.

The group, headed by Soei Hirata, started the project in 2010. Its researchers determine the dates and locations of the recordings by referring to U.S. military records and Japanese documents. So far, the group has acquired about 15 hours of film, of which it has analyzed several hours.

The most recent footage is of bombing runs in Oita, Kagoshima, Saga, Hiroshima, Ehime, Kochi and Ibaraki prefectures from March to August 1945 during the closing stages of the war. It was apparently recorded from bombers and by cameras mounted on the wings of fighter planes.

The Oita Prefecture footage shows an attack by 48 fighters from the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier on the Oita naval air corps in Oita in March 1945, as well as footage of machine-gun fire in Usuki.

The Kagoshima Prefecture recordings show a B-24 bomber attack on an area around Kagoshima Station, a key transport terminal.

There are also scenes showing machine-gun fire on Kubota Station and freight cars in modern-day Saga, a factory in Saga Prefecture’s Ogi city, and other targets.

The film taken in Hiroshima Prefecture shows a squadron of 27 fighters from the Yorktown assaulting Hitachi Zosen Corp.’s Innoshima shipyard in Onomichi and one of the army’s special landing ships, the Kumano Maru. Anti-aircraft fire from Imperial Japanese Army forces has also been confirmed.

In a recording of an attack in Ehime Prefecture in March, machine-gun fire can be seen striking the boiler of a locomotive pulling a train between Takihama and Iyodoi stations on the Yosan Line in present-day Shikokuchuo. After being fired on, the train stops just outside a tunnel.

A recording from August shows the 1st class transport vessel No. 21 under attack in waters off Matsuyama in the prefecture.

Footage from Kochi Prefecture in March shows a Shiragiku training plane from the Kochi naval air corps taking machine-gun fire in present-day Nankoku.

The Ibaraki Prefecture footage shows the Tsukuba naval air corps in Kasama, as well as homes and apparently a school in the town of Ibaraki, under attack by a 23-strong squadron from the USS Bennington aircraft carrier.

The head of the citizens’ group said the organization will now shift its focus.

“We will direct our efforts at discovering film of air raids over (Japan’s main island of) Honshu,” Hirata said. The group plans to make the footage public at the peace museum in Usa in the future.



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