The Doolittle Raid, also known as the Tokyo Raid, on 18 April 1942, was an air raid by the United States on the Japanese capital Tokyo and other places on Honshu island during World War II, the first air raid to strike the Japanese Home Islands. It demonstrated that Japan itself was vulnerable to American air attack, served as retaliation for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour on 7 December 1941, and provided an important boost to U.S. morale while damaging Japanese morale. The raid was planned and led by Lieutenant Colonel James “Jimmy” Doolittle, U.S Army Air Forces..Sixteen U.S. Army Air Forces B-25B Mitchell medium bombers were launched without fighter escort from the U.S Navy’s aircraft carrier USS Hornet deep in the Western Pacific Ocean, each with a crew of five men. The plan called for them to bomb military targets in Japan, and to continue westward to land in China—landing a medium bomber on Hornet was impossible. Fifteen of the aircraft reached China, and the other one landed in the Soviet Union. All but three of the crew survived, but all the aircraft were lost. Eight crewmen were captured by the Japaneses Army in China; three of these were executed. The B-25 that landed in the Soviet Union at Vladivostok was confiscated and its crew interned for more than a year. Fourteen crews, except for one crewman, returned either to the United States or to American forces.After the raid, the Japanese Imperial Army conducted a massive sweep through the eastern coastal provinces of China, in an operation now known as the Zhejiang-Jiangxi Campaign, searching for the surviving American airmen and applying retribution on the Chinese who aided them, in an effort to prevent this part of China from being used again for an attack on Japan.The raid caused negligible material damage to Japan, but it succeeded in its goal of raising American morale and casting doubt in Japan on the ability of its military leaders to defend their home islands.] It also contributed to Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto decision to attack Midland Island in the Central Pacific—an attack that turned into a decisive strategic defeat of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) by the U.S. Navy in the Battle of Midway. Doolittle, who initially believed that loss of all his aircraft would lead to his being court-martial led, received the Medal of Honor and was promoted two steps to Brigadier General.. Jimmy Doolittle died very old age 96 on 27-09-1993 in Pebble Beach, California. It was learned that two of the missing crewmen, Staff Sgt. William J. Dieter and Sgt. Donald E. Fitzmaurice , drowned when their B-25 crashed into the sea. The other eight were captured: Lieutenants Dean E Hallmar, Robert J. Meder, Chase Nielsen, William G. Farrow, Robert L. Hite, and George Barr, and Corporals Harold A. Spatz and Jacob DeShazer. On 28 August 1942, pilot Hallmark, pilot Farrow, and gunner Spatz faced a war crimes trial by a Japanese court for strafing and murdering Japanese civilians. At 16:30 on 15 October 1942, they were taken by truck to Public Cemetery Number 1, and executed by firing squad.
Robert L. Hite, blindfolded by his captors, 1942
The other captured airmen remained in military confinement on a starvation diet, their health rapidly deteriorating. In April 1943, they were moved to Nanking, where Meder died on 1 December 1943. The remaining men, Nielsen, Hite, Barr and DeShazer, eventually began receiving slightly better treatment and were given a copy of the Bible and a few other books. They were freed by American troops in August 1945. Four Japanese officers were tried for war crimes against the captured Doolittle Raiders, found guilty, and sentenced to hard labor, three for five years and one for nine years. DeShazer graduated from Seattle Pacific University in 1948 and returned to Japan as a missionary, where he served for over 30 years.
Total raid casualties: 3 KIA: 2 off the coast of China, 1 in China; 8 POW: 3 executed, 1 died in captivity, 4 repatriated.
George Barr died, of heart failure, in 1967, Chase Nielsen in 2007, Jacob DeShazer on 15 March 2008, and the last, Robert L. Hite, died March 29, 2015.