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                                     From Norm Farmen of Bluff Point, NY

                                       to Jeanne Hosenfeld, now his wife

26 March 1945

Today we invaded Zamani Shima. We were very close before dawn and could make out the cruisers and destroyers shelling the island. Only once through the whole operation did I see any enemy fire.

As soon as it was daylight the carrier planes came over and bombed and strafed the island. We were anchored about a mile off shore and really had a grandstand seat.

16 September 1945

The entrance to Tokyo Bay is a curving channel about five miles wide. It was in this channel I saw the most impressive sight I’ve ever seen. It caused me to choke up inside and I felt very humble and very thankful. So many fellows would have liked to witness such a view, the fellows that made our entrance into Tokyo Bay a reality.

The sky was completely covered with low, gray, rainy layer of clouds and it was about the last hour of daylight. Situated high on a promotory jutting into the channel is a lighthouse. It was not the lighthouse that attracted my attention, however, for in front of the lighthouse and fully unfurled in a stiff breeze was a large American flag. I was looking at it through a pair of field glasses and the sight will forever remain with me.

There was the American flag, flying boldly in the very heart of Japan. As I was looking through the field glasses, a plane, flying low under a blanket of clouds, came within my scope of vision.

Beyond the promotory and in Tokyo Bay itself was a part of our fleet – battleships, carriers, transports, merchantmen … It made a beautiful picture.

16 September 1945

We’re now anchored about 2 miles off Yokohama. With the aid of field glasses, the city can be brought up within an arm’s reach. The Pittsburgh of Japan is now about equal to the Podunk of USA. There is a surprising number of smoke stacks, cranes and oil tanks remaining… the buildings, however, have been pretty thoroughly gutted…

At the top of one of the buildings in huge white letters is the phrase, "Three cheers for the U.S. navy." We are undecided as to whether the author was one of our sailors or if it was the work of some penitent Jap.

There are quite a few shipwrecks around the harbor… Right next to us is a small Jap tanker broached on a concrete breakwater. Near the entrance to the Bay is the charred remains of what once was one of Japan’s largest battleships…

We passed close by what was once a small fortified island but now is merely a mass of concrete rubble


19 September 1945

From 1 o’clock until 5 o’clock this afternoon I had liberty. The day was ideal… It has been quite a long time since we’ve worn anything even remotely resembling clothes. Some of the fellows had quite a time remembering how to tie their kerchiefs.

You can read article after article, and see one newsreel after another and still presence is necessary to understand how thoroughly beaten the Japanese people are. For the most part, they are completely destitute, their only possession being the tattered clothing covering their bodies…

The people seem to be awed and somewhat scared of us. They were careful to keep out of our way, and, if one accidentally nudged us, apologetic bows were in order.

The business district was pretty thoroughly bombed. Block upon block were in complete ruins, with not even foundations remaining. In other sections, the buildings were still standing but in need of considerable repair. Part of the business district, like all of the residential districts, was unharmed in any way. It was a fine example of precision bombing.

Springing up through the debris in a helter-skelter manner, are shanties, made with whatever is available… The people are thriving on whatever they can get and their sole source of supply is from the ruins of what used to be.

I particularly remember looking down what once must have been a fashionable street. A nicely paved concrete avenue flanked by ornate lampposts (minus bulbs) and on the plots facing this street there isn’t a thing standing; not even a pile of debris more than four feet high. When a bombardier says ‘leveled’ you may take him literally.


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