Occupation Duty in Japan.

Scenes that today would make a curator for an air and space museum wince, were typical as the 33rd Division set about to forever end Japan's war potential. Munitions and armaments were loaded aboard barges to be deep-sixed; torpedoes and depth charges, with explosive charges removed, were crushed in hydraulic presses.

Japanese seaplanes stacked like cordwood before being torched.

The 3rd Battalion of the 130th Infantry was sent to the port of Maizuru, a city of 80,000 dependent upon the sea for its livelihood. Naka Maizuru, Higashi Maizuru and Nishi Maizuru were three of the sectors into which the city was divided.. A sizable task faced men of the 130th since 54,000 members of the Imperial Japanese Navy still occupied the Maizuru Naval District awaiting demobilization orders. The battalion also found one cruiser, six destroyers, and seven submarines tied up at docks fronting the harbor.

At this time, the 33rd also experienced depletion of personnel, as high pointers continued to return to the States. Leaving for home were most of the non-toms that were with the Division at Camp Forrest in 1941-1942. Young and inexperienced replacements partially offset dwindling numbers in ranks of older personnel.

General Clarkson personally bid farewell to those of his command `headed' home.' Some likened Kobe rail yards to New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Band music filled the air as loud cries of "See you in Chicago!" echoed through the area.

The Division Commander tossed aside formality to mingle with the crowd of returnees, exchanging wisecracks and wishing a speedy return to all.

Then the long trains, with their noisy and air polluting engines, pulled away for Nagoya as the band played "Auld Lang Syne." For many newer replacements their turn was still a year away.

by Jim McNicol AT/123

During this early phase of the occupation, we were assigned to certain areas to ensure compliance with Division directives for destruction of enemy ordnance.

Our task was to witness the placing of arms in shear-type machines that would cut them into pieces. The result was large amounts of scrap metal that ultimately would be used for peaceful purposes.

Seeing all that scrap in 1945-1946 reminded one of all the scrap steel the U.S. had shipped to Japan in the 1930s that was used in creating its weapons.

Our task now was to make sure these weapons were now converted into "plowshares."

Other Areas of Ordnance Disposal

The destruction of the Japanese war machine was not without its hazards. As Jim McNicol remembers on 16 December 1945 in Kobe when the destruction of fuses resulted in an explosion where windows were shattered and buildings rocked.

Then on 28 December 1945, the munitions site at Arai, Honshu had a series of explosions resulting in several casualties and two known deaths.

At Maizuru, depth charges and torpedoes were being crushed in big hydraulic presses after their warheads had been removed. It was the task of a Japanese laborer with a T -wrench to go to each torpedo and twist a valve to release pressure inside. He missed one, and as the press crushed down the pressure increased. The nose cone separated, and blew right past the GI supervising the task and took out a corrugated wall of the building.

Then there was the recalcitrant Japanese "boss" who was less than cooperative with the 3rd Bn. 130 officer. Result: the flat side of a .45 barrel to the temple restored respect.

Back to History