Previously unseen vintage film documents US World War Two bombings of Japan


Previously unseen vintage film footage of US bombers attacking key positions over Japan near to the end of World War Two has been rediscovered.

The footage was taken from the bombers and shows various US air attacks on Japanese military positions, air fields, factories and also naval vessels in the final days of the war.

The footage is part of a US-Japanese initiative to retrieve and find vintage footage from the era for the 70th anniversary commemorations for the end of World War Two. Two groups from either side of the Pacific have trawled through hundreds of hours of film and war records to identify what, where and when the air raids took place.

The footage is all in black and white and was captured from US aircraft. One clip shows the US bombers attacking the Japanese Imperial Navy’s iconic aircraft carrier, the Amagi at the end of July 1945. The carrier was moored just outside the central Japanese naval base of Kure.

Other attacks in the footage include the Japanese heavy cruiser, the Tone, and a light cruiser called the Oyodo. The film shows bombs being dropped and those that missed shooting across the sea’s surface alongside Etajima Bay.

Factories where the Japanese were building aircraft and military equipment are also shown being destroyed. One clip shows smoke streaming out of the Kure base’s munitions depot after the US bombed it in June 1945.

The Japanese documented the US raids and recorded that over 160 US B-29 bombers led the attack on the Kure base, and it is thought that they dropped over 700 tonnes of bombs.

The initiative says that it is releasing the footage on the 70th anniversary in order to educate younger and future generations about the war and to show that the reality of conflict is nothing to be proud of. They ultimately hope that the footage will remain in the public arena with the aim of preventing future wars and particularly another world war, The Telegraph reports.

The war in Europe ended in May 1945, after Hitler had committed suicide and German commanders signed the official Nazi surrender. However, the war in the Pacific continued with the Japanese refusing to follow the German lead. Mainly American troops continued to battle the Japanese, and it wasn’t until the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that Japanese leaders surrendered in August 1945.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE