Truman - June 18, 1945 Memo on Japanese Invasion

This document (in rough-draft form) is part of a 45-page memo summarizing President Truman's discussions with his generals on the 18th of June, 1945. 

The costly Battle of Okinawa was winding down at the time, and it was on the President's mind as he considered an invasion of Japan's home islands (weighed against the possibility of using the still-untested atomic bomb).  The long fight on Okinawa caused a great deal of misery and many American casualties.

The following is the text of the memo page, depicted here, but split into more paragraphs for easier reading:

THE PRESIDENT expressed the view that it [an invasion] was practically creating another Okinawa closer to Japan to which the Chiefs of Staff agreed.

THE PRESIDENT then asked General Eaker [Ira C. Eaker] for his opinion of the operation as an air man.

GENERAL EAKER said that he agreed completely with the statements made by General Marshall in his digest of the memorandum prepared for the President.  He had just received a cable in which General Arnold [Henry Harley "Hap" Arnold] also expressed complete agreement. 

He stated that any blockade of Honshu [one of the Japanese home islands] was dependent upon airdromes on Kyushu [another home island]; that the air plan contemplated employment of 40 groups of heavy bombers against Japan and that these could not be deployed without the use of airfields on Kyushu. 

He said that those who advocated the use against Japan of air power alone overlooked the very impressive fact that air casualties are always much heavier when the air faces the enemy alone and that these casualties never fail to drop as soon as the ground forces come in. 

Present air casualties are averaging 2 percent per mission, about 30 percent per month.  He wished to point out and to emphasize that delay favored only the enemy and he urged that there be no delay.

THE PRESIDENT said that as he understood it, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, after weighing all the possibilities of the situation and considering all possible alternative plans were still of the unanimous opinion that the Kyushu operation was the best solution under the circumstances.

Later, in the final version of the memo (page six), the President asked whether an invasion of Japan by a foreign power would serve to unite even those Japanese who disfavored the war, generally:

THE PRESIDENT...asked if the invasion of Japan by white men would not have the effect of more closely uniting the Japanese.

MR. STIMSON [the Secretary of War] thought there was every prospect of this.  He agreed with the plan proposed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff as being the best thing to do, but he still hoped for some fruitful accomplishment through other means.

Click on the image for a much better view.

Media Credits

Image online, courtesy U.S. National Archives.

Quoted passages from the final version of the document, online courtesy The Truman Library.



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