Operation Bombing of Toyokawa

The 'Bombing of Toyokawa' by Major General Curtis E. LeMay’s US 20th Army Air Force was part of the strategic bombing campaign waged by the USA against military and civilian targets and population centres during the Japanese home islands campaign in the closing stages of World War II (7/8 August 1945).

Although Toyokawa was not a major population centre, it did possess one major target of military significance in the form of the Toyokawa naval arsenal, one of the largest such facilities in the Imperial Japanese empire and which manufactured 7.7-mm (0.303-in) machine guns, 13-mm (0.51-in) machine guns and 20-mm cannon for aircraft use, and 25-mm anti-aircraft cannon and associated munitions for the Imperial Japanese navy. By February 1945, the facility had 56,400 workers and covered an area of 815.5 acres (330 hectares). The Tokaido main line railway, connecting Tokyo and Osaka, also ran through the city.

Despite its obvious military significance, Toyokawa was not bombed until the later stages of World War II. On 1 November 1944, there was a small-scale air raid occurred, and this was followed on 23 November by a midnight fly-over by a lone camera-equipped Boing B-29 Superfortress four-engined heavy bomber on a reconnaissance mission.

A major air raid did not occur until the morning of 7 August 1945, however. During this attack, 135 B-29 bombers of Brigadier General Roger M. Ramey’s 58th Bombardment Wing, Brigadier General Emmett O’Donnell’s 73rd Bombardment Wing, Brigadier General John H. Davies’s 313th Bonbardment Wing and Brigadier General Thomas S. Power’s 314th Bombardment Wing departed bases on the newly captured islands of Guam, Saipan and Tinian in the Mariana islands group. They were joined in the air by 48 North American P-51 Mustang single-engined escort fighters deployed from the island of Iwo Jima. Arriving over the target area at 10.13, 12 B-29 bombers attacked the Toyokawa naval arsenal while the remaining bombers concentrated their efforts on Toyokawa’s civilian population centre, and the P-51 fighters strafed targets of opportunity. A total of 813 tons (3,256 500-lb/227-kg bombs) was dropped on the city from altitudes between 15,000 and 17,000 ft (4570 and 5180 m). The civilian casualty estimates range from 2,544 to 2,677 people killed, and the dead included 452 school children and teenaged girls, some of whom had been conscripted and many of whom had volunteered to work at the naval arsenal.

Japanese anti-aircraft fire damaged 21 of the B-29 bombers during the raid, one of which crashed into the ocean near Iwo Jima. There were no US fatalities. Another B-29 lost course and dropped its bombs on the rural village of Futamata.