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Why don’t we think of fanatical Japanese resistance as 'heroic'?

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  • #31
    Originally posted by Desiree Clary View Post

    Surely, in cases such as Ichiki's force, unit cohesion, always strong in the IJA kept men going when they didn't really want to. Is this heroism or just "me-too"? Cowering in a foxhole is not an option when your whole outfit stands up and charges. I would define heroism as more individualistic than that. Somebody mentioned the Light Brigade. Cardigan was as every bit an arrogant ass as Ichiki, and Tennyson knew of his arrogance. He calls the soldiers "noble," and I'll go along with that. He also wrote, "someone had blundered." "While horse and hero fell" is hyperbole, for he had a point to make.
    Ichiki was told / ordered not to attack the Americans until his whole regiment arrived. He split the force into an advance force of about 900 men that went on destroyers to Guadalcanal, and a slower contingent of about 1200 men on transport ships. Ichiki's rationale for this was to get there as quickly as possible with some of his men.

    By his and other Japanese officer's views, Ichiki believed the US troops were unmotivated to fight and would crumble at the first sign of serious combat. His belief in his regiment was they were hardened shock troops, long veterans of China, and had trained hard in using the bayonet and close combat as their preferred method of fighting. Ichiki believed that the Americans would flee seeing a determined bayonet charge headed for them.

    His assessment of his enemy was completely wrong.

    An advance scouting party of about 35 of his troops ran into a Marine patrol of about 40 men. The Japanese were all killed, the Marines lost 4 men. The alarm bells should have been going off for Ichiki given his orders. He should have recognized that waiting was the best plan and massing for a serious, planned attack would be the way to go.

    But, he didn't. He moved up to the US position... Across a wide creek / alluvial delta that was mostly swampy or sandy-soft ground. The Marines were dug in and had overhead cover in most cases.

    Ichiki's plan was simple. Send forward a bayonet charge at night (about 2 am) and send the Americans running. He further was so arrogant that the initial three assaults were all made with about 200 men each. Each time the Marines responded with artillery, mortar, machinegun and direct cannon fire in mass quantities that slaughtered the Japanese assaults. Few Japanese reached the US positions, and those that did found resolute resistance. The Americans fought for their positions.

    After losing about 750 men, Ichiki gave up the assault. Versions of his death vary from being killed in action to returning to his base camp, burning the regimental colors then committing suicide.

    That isn't heroic. That is fanatical. Ichiki ignored his orders. He ignored signs that the US troops would fight and that there were significant numbers present that he likely couldn't take on. He ignored sound military planning and expected his troops by greater moral fortitude to take on and defeat a mass defense of machineguns and other heavy weapons.

    I've read many accounts of Japanese banzai charges later in the war. There are numerous instances where individual Japanese soldiers simply stood in the middle of these and were shot down with out doing anything, likely paralyzed by fear. To a degree that is heroic, getting up and going forward with your unit knowing full well you'll die.
    It's different when you have battle hardened veterans lead by a fanatic who think that their Sh!+ don't stink, when it's really they're the little league and taking on the Yankees at Fenway. Heroism is knowing the odds and deciding you have to take your chances or beat those odds because the outcome is that important.
    Fanaticism is thinking you're so much better than your opponent you can just walk up and act scary and they'll run in the other direction. Ichiki was a victim of his own arrogance and ignorance.

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    • #32
      Those are different terms. Terrorists can be fanatic but not heroic.
      There are no Nazis in Ukraine. © Idiots

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      • #33
        Originally posted by Michele View Post

        Sure, and actually I am inclined to think that he deserved the Medal. My objection was to the notion that you had to achieve something in order to be considered heroic.



        Fine. So Ikichi and probably his superiors too displayed very bad leadership. Does this mean that any one individual soldier in Ikichi command, who fought extremly bravely and beyond his call of duty, shouldn't be considered as heroic?
        Remember, in the case of Gordon you drew a distinction between his behavior and his leadership's faults, you wrote:



        So which is which? If the orders are stupid, and nevertheless you behave so bravely that you go beyond the call of duty, you can't be considered a hero because of your leaders' faults? If so, Gordon is no hero.
        If OTOH you can have stupid orders, and you can be considered a hero if anyway you behave extremely bravely, then Gordon is a hero, and regardless of the uselessness of Ikichi's unit's performance, individual soldiers in his command may well have been heroes too.

        In general, I do not believe heroism depends on orders and on collective action. Going beyond the call of duty is a free decision and an individual one. Counter-check: your unit's orders might be sensible and right, and your unit may perform very well, and you may be a total coward within that context, not living up even just to the normal call of duty. Indeed, derelicting one's duty, hiding in a foxhole while the rest of the unit advances under fire, also is a free decision and an individual one.
        Heroism is often (always?) a result of poor leadership
        "Keep Calm. Use Less X's"

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        • #34
          Originally posted by dmf01 View Post

          Heroism is often (always?) a result of poor leadership
          Leonidas at Thermopylae? Travis at the Alamo? John Sobieski at Vienna?

          Will no one tell me what she sings?--
          Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
          For old, unhappy, far-off things,
          And battles long ago:
          -William Wordsworth, "The Solitary Reaper"

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          • #35
            Originally posted by Desiree Clary View Post
            Leonidas at Thermopylae? Travis at the Alamo? John Sobieski at Vienna?
            The defence to the last man by the garrison of Fort St Elmo against the Ottomans at the Great Siege of Malta was heroic and not the result of poor leadership. It effectively doomed the Turkish siege to eventual failure
            Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
            Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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            • #36
              Originally posted by MarkV View Post

              The defence to the last man by the garrison of Fort St Elmo against the Ottomans at the Great Siege of Malta was heroic and not the result of poor leadership. It effectively doomed the Turkish siege to eventual failure
              Is there a good book on that?
              Will no one tell me what she sings?--
              Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
              For old, unhappy, far-off things,
              And battles long ago:
              -William Wordsworth, "The Solitary Reaper"

              Comment


              • #37
                Originally posted by krichter33 View Post
                The Charge of the Light Brigade?!?
                An interesting example. Did they have a choice ? That was the point: after all self-preservation is the most basic of instinct, yet they charged anyway.

                But where do you drawn the line between "bravery' and "heroism" ?
                An example that comes to mind was the action at Rorke's Drift (depicted in the film Zulu ) Eleven VCs were awarded, more than any other single action.
                Yet, General Sir Garnet Wolseley declared that nobody should have been awarded anything as the defenders were merely fighting to save their lives, so where was the heroism ?

                The decorations were awarded to take the sting out of the catastophic reverse suffered the previous day. To play up the Rorkes Drift action as a distraction.

                Yet who can say that the defenders were not heroic ?
                Last edited by BELGRAVE; 23 Jun 18, 17:46. Reason: Proof reading
                "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
                Samuel Johnson.

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                • #38
                  Originally posted by BELGRAVE View Post

                  An interesting example. Did they have a choice ? That was the point: after all self-preservation is the most basic of instinct, yet they charged anyway.

                  But where do you drawn the line between "bravery' and "heroism" ?
                  An example that comes to mind was the action at Rorke's Drift (depicted in the film Zulu ) Eleven VCs were awarded, more than any other single action.
                  Yet, General Sir Garnet Wolseley declared that nobody should have been awarded anything as the defenders were merely fighting to save their lives, so where was the heroism ?

                  The decorations were awarded to take the sting out of the catastophic reverse suffered the previous day. To play up the Rorkes Drift action as a distraction.

                  Yet who can say that the defenders were not heroic ?
                  So if self preservation is in the equation, that takes heroism out of the picture?

                  How then would you justify the heroism of those that stormed the beaches of Normandy and managed to find a way or preserved themselves AND their mates in order to fight another day? After all, survival was the goal of so many on day 0.
                  Flag: USA / Location: West Coast

                  Prayers.

                  BoRG

                  http://img204.imageshack.us/img204/8757/snap1ws8.jpg

                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PtsX_Z3CMU

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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by Desiree Clary View Post

                    Is there a good book on that?
                    The Great Siege by Ernle Bradford covers it well and is also a good read
                    Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                    Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Originally posted by Desiree Clary View Post
                      Leonidas at Thermopylae? Travis at the Alamo? John Sobieski at Vienna?
                      Originally posted by MarkV View Post

                      The defence to the last man by the garrison of Fort St Elmo against the Ottomans at the Great Siege of Malta was heroic and not the result of poor leadership. It effectively doomed the Turkish siege to eventual failure
                      Thanks for answers. I think it helps to delete "always" from my post. But it still seems to me that poor leadership leads to heroism in lots of cases.
                      "Keep Calm. Use Less X's"

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Originally posted by MarkV View Post

                        The Great Siege by Ernle Bradford covers it well and is also a good read
                        Thanks. By a strange coincidence I just ordered a book on Gibraltar by the same author.
                        Will no one tell me what she sings?--
                        Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
                        For old, unhappy, far-off things,
                        And battles long ago:
                        -William Wordsworth, "The Solitary Reaper"

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Originally posted by BELGRAVE View Post
                          An example that comes to mind was the action at Rorke's Drift (depicted in the film Zulu ) Eleven VCs were awarded, more than any other single action.
                          Yet, General Sir Garnet Wolseley declared that nobody should have been awarded anything as the defenders were merely fighting to save their lives, so where was the heroism ?

                          The decorations were awarded to take the sting out of the catastophic reverse suffered the previous day. To play up the Rorkes Drift action as a distraction.
                          Medals are often handed out for political reasons. That said, several of the Victoria Crosses awarded in that battle were awarded to soldiers because they defended patients who would be unable to defend themselves. If I were fighting solely to save my own life, I wouldn't waste effort and time to protect an ill/wounded man.

                          Michele

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                          • #43
                            Originally posted by Michele View Post

                            Medals are often handed out for political reasons. That said, several of the Victoria Crosses awarded in that battle were awarded to soldiers because they defended patients who would be unable to defend themselves. If I were fighting solely to save my own life, I wouldn't waste effort and time to protect an ill/wounded man.
                            A good point.

                            In this context, I'm reminded of the inscription appearing in the Sanctuary of the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, Australia.

                            "GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN THAN THIS.... THAT A MAN LAY DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS FRIENDS" (John 15:13)


                            So heroism becomes a matter of choice: choosing to put oneself in harm's way when there is a clear option to do otherwise.
                            "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
                            Samuel Johnson.

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              Originally posted by lodestar View Post
                              Why don’t we think of fanatical Japanese resistance as 'heroic'?

                              If 'we' have heroes why do 'they' have errr…....ummm …..fanatics?
                              Hmm I’ve always wondered about that.

                              In fact I discussed the issue in one of my earlier thread-starter from some years ago entitled

                              Has democratizing military history made the term ‘heroes’ increasingly meaningless?
                              Thanks, to by the way to all those who contributed to that thread it was a good discussion.

                              I’ve agreed, somewhat against my better judgement I might add, to revive and prepare a sub-thematic for a tutorial I helped present decades ago along the lines of ‘race and national prejudices and perceptions of heroism in the World Wars’

                              I kid ya not. Back in those days you could run a whole tutorial along those lines and no one would have a meltdown over uncomfortable ideas or start screaming about topics like that being an example of “political correctness gone mad!”

                              But now days with the rise of nationalism and populism, the increasing militarisation of many nations’ history (especially in the ‘Angloshere) it might be kinda hard to do outside of the ole’ lefty university milieu.
                              Still I’m assuming most students will be receptive.

                              Essentially the issue is a simple exercise in taking ‘us’ out of our comfort zones and preconceptions.

                              Why do we view the Japanese soldier so differently from our lads?
                              Why are ‘they’ almost never described a s heroic in the tradition sense of how we westerners think of the term?
                              Fanatical, yes but heroic?
                              Why the differentiation and frankly why the unease?

                              Loved this topic back in the day especially when the ole “I’m not a racist but” argument would raise its ugly head.
                              Anyway as I said in my earlier thread-starter:
                              “The Japanese and German situation is far more complicated, as of course they served a vile cause, they lost and the whole issue is tainted by the atrocities committed by servicemen and women.
                              However this does not mean the issue of German and Japanese heroes should not be raised and robustly discussed.
                              Sure as heck will be in any tute I’m running.

                              Hopefully there’ll be a full range of opinions:
                              from those saying: ‘they’ were just like ‘us’

                              to those who say:
                              ‘there was a fundamental difference between, for example, an American “hero” defending Wake island in Dec ’41 or a Brit “hero” defending the northern end of the Bridge at Arnhem in Sep ’44 (where the majority of defenders in both cases eventually surrendered) and…. a Japanese “fanatic” defending Tarawa in Nov ‘43 or Iwo Jima in March ’45 (were both garrisons died virtually to a man…....err kinda like the defenders of the Alamo).”

                              The touchier the topic in those days the better I liked it.
                              Looking forward to your input
                              Regards lodestar
                              Before discussing Japans resistance one ought look at the ideology of the Japanese people during WW2 and in the years leading up to WW2.

                              Many would view the Empire of Japan or Kingdom of Italy as not being on the same moral level compared to the Third Reich. On this board we see mostly Anglo and European posters, but go over to history forums with Indian posters. If one thinks that the EOJ has its critiques, well you have not seen what some Indian folks have to say about the British Empire and Winston Churchill, basically these Indians view the British and Churchill as some European folks to this day view Japans involvement in WW2. These Indian bring forth sources and links alleging the British did the same things to Indians that some say the Japanese did to the Chinese. And the thing is these Indians like the Europeans are highly educated and take great interest in history and are nice people.

                              During WW1 Japan was a member of the allied forces. One simply can not dismiss the fact that the Empire of Japan wanted to be like the British Empire and expand its domain. The EOJ and British Empire both presented themselves as a force of modern enlightenment, bringing light to dark lands. There was the controversy, the Japanese alleged in their historic occupation of Korea to force Korean people to speak Japanese, and the British having renamed ancient cities in India because they can not take the time to properly pronounce the cities.

                              What will be said of Japans involvement in WW2 200 years from now? Well folk will start by looking into how Japan acted directly after WW1. Some of the allies after WW1 were hesitant to work with Japan reportedly because of Japan being an Asiatic power. Take a look at the Racial Equality Proposal by Japan to the allies in 1919 .. While France and Italy approved of the Proposal ...England, Australia(Prime Minister Billy Hughes made controversy here) and the USA did not want to identify Japan as being racially equal in the aftermath of WW1. Japan could have ended up an ally during WW2. Japan may not have ended up growing as Authoritarian as it did from the end of WW1 to the start of WW2 had it been a US ally. The Japanese and American people in the lead up to WW2 shared many similarities such as similar interest in dress, cinema and baseball to just name a few.
                              Last edited by Stonewall_Jack; 26 Jun 18, 09:25.
                              Long live the Lionheart! Please watch this video
                              https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_c...&v=jRDwlR4zbEM

                              Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.

                              George S Patton

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                              • #45
                                Originally posted by lodestar View Post
                                Yeah the Japanese soldier reminds me of someone.

                                Errr….. You know those ancient Greek guys with the long spears and big helmets and shields and the warrior’s death before dishonour code?

                                You know, what were they called? .....Those guys who fought to the last man at Thermopylae pass against the Persian hordes.
                                Oh what was their name again?
                                Oh now I remember the Spartans!
                                Fair call?

                                After all the Spartan warriors were subjected to brainwashing and programming (training) from birth.
                                Trained to a fanatical level of obedience and devotion.
                                Practiced a form of ‘emperor’ (or in their case ‘king’) worship.
                                They conducted genocidal atrocities, in the form of the regular helot (slave) ‘cull’ where lower class non-citizens were killed by Spartan soldiers to suppress any thought of rebellion.

                                But does anyone ever suggest that Leonidas and the 300 defenders of the pass all those years ago were NOT heroes?
                                Of course they don’t.
                                No, I’m convinced the way many of us look at some non-westerners fighting to the death (especially against westerners) is tinged with more than a hint of straight-out, jaundiced (sorry couldn’t resist) prejudice.

                                And before anyone starts, let me state:

                                Of course the Japanese fought for a vile cause.
                                Of course the IJA committed dreadful atrocities.
                                Of course it was a war of aggression etc., etc.

                                However does that make the defenders of Tarawa, Saipan, Iwo Jima and Okinawa etc. somehow less heroic?
                                After all if they weren’t involved in any atrocities prior to the battle and just did what they saw as their duty to country, king and ancestors then why do we somehow think ….?

                                Just loved this discussion back in day. Everyone (myself included) tied themselves up in knots. Always the best result for any tute.

                                Regards
                                lodestar
                                Do you think though that Japan would have turned out as Authoritarian as it did had Japan been an ally during WW2?

                                And not all Japanese "fanatically resisted" during WW2. After the two Atomic bombs Japan surrendered. The outright fanatic would have kept going even after nonstop A Bombs one might say.

                                If we were on an Indian majority forum, there would be someone itt defending the actions of Japan, the same types whom to this day champion Subhas Bose and nationalist India and Japan causes during the WW2 years. We have been brought up to think of Japan as the bad guy during WW2, and maybe that is the case certainly Japan was on the wrong side but to this day the USA and UK maintain alliances with countries that promote inequality. Folks might say well the Third Reich wanted to dominate the world, many though see the moral difference between the Reich and the British Empire both entities sought to expand but the British Empire were not in the same moral category as was the Reich. Talk with some Indian folks today they will come up with reasoned defenses of why nationalist Indians sided with the Reich and they will also present the Empire of Japan in a more positive fashion.
                                Long live the Lionheart! Please watch this video
                                https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_c...&v=jRDwlR4zbEM

                                Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.

                                George S Patton

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