Operation Bombing of Yokkaichi

The 'Bombing of Yokkaichi' 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 (18 June 1945).

Although Yokkaichi was not a major regional industrial and commercial centre when compared with nearby Nagoya, it had port facilities of military significance, as well as a major oil refinery complex operated by the Imperial Japanese navy. The Kansai main line railway connecting Nagoya and Osaka also ran through the city.

Yokkaichi was bombed on nine occasions during World War II. The first raid, starting at 00.45 on 18 June 1945, was the most severe of these. A total of 89 Boeing B-29 Superfortress four-engined heavy bombers of Brigadier General John H. Davies’s 313rd Bombardment Wing targeted the centre of the city, rather than its military and industrial zones on the outskirts, in a major firebombing attack. Some 11,272 incendiary bombs totalling 567.3 tons were dropped, killing 736 civilians, wounding 1,500 others, and leaving 63 persons missing and 47,153 homeless. A year after the war, the US Army Air Forces’s Strategic Bombing Survey (Pacific War) reported that 35% of the city had been destroyed.

Yokkaichi was attacked again on 22 June, 26 June, 9 July, 24 July, 28 July, 30 July, 2 August and on 8 August. During these latter attacks, the factories and oil refineries were destroyed. During one of these final attacks, 11,780-lb (5345-kg) 'Pumpkin' bombs (aerodynamic and ballistic versions of the 'Fat Man' atomic bomb) fillable with 6,300 lb (2858 kg) of high explosive, were dropped as part of rehearsals for the 'Centerboard' atomic bombing of Nagasaki.