Military history

37

Summer, Winter, Spring, and Fall

The destiny of mankind is not decided by material computation. When great causes are on the move in the world … we learn that we are spirits, not animals, and that something is going on in space and time and beyond space and time, which whether we like it or not, spells duty.

— From a speech by Winston S. Churchill, Rochester, New York, 1941.

BY SUMMER 1952, as the rice began to ripen in the muddy brown paddies, and as the Korean valleys, which had been glacial in December, turned into malarial swamps, the only serious obstacle to a cease-fire was the problem of prisoners of war. The armistice line had been drawn, and by that agreement each side had relinquished any wholesale designs on the other's territory.

But now, with the Communist POW's once again under firm control, the Communist powers could not refute the fact that not more than 83,000 of the 132,000 of their personnel in U.N. hands would voluntarily return to their homelands, and this was a loss of face that they could not accept.

At Panmunjom, General Harrison had to face every kind of devious tactic, including the most flagrant lies and virulent abuse bordering on the personal. The Communists, who had deeply shocked the U.N. Command with their admission that they themselves held only 12,000 men—leaving thousands of Americans and 250,000 South Koreans, the latter mostly civilians who had disappeared during the Communist occupation unaccounted for—in addition to claiming torture and slaying of their people, also claimed that the U.N. held 40,000 more Communist POW's in secret.

Whatever heinous act the Communists committed, or intended to commit, they considered it good tactics to accuse the other fellow first.

Because U.N. POW's had died or disappeared by thousands in their own death camps, it was inevitable that they must accuse the U.N. of the same. But with the failure of planned mass breakout on Koje-do—which might have confused and concealed the real facts forever—it had soon become apparent to the world where the truth lay.

The International Red Cross, banned from Koje while Haydon Boatner cleaned up the island, returned there on 2 July. And while the IRC handed General Clark a stinging rebuke over the death and injury of certain POW's in the cleanup—which Clark shot back in similar language—neutral observers such as the IRC continued to uphold the U.N.'s word.

The Communists tried side gambits—in what was now primarily a propaganda war—such as the germ—warfare accusations. While it was true that wholesale epidemics, mainly typhus, raged over North Korea, this was due to the ravages of war, the destruction caused by the continual United States air bombardment, and the passage of huge, unwashed Chinese armies across a land lacking sanitation and medical facilities—not deliberate seeding of virulent bacteria by Americans.

The Communists were able to back up their accusations with statements by American airmen shot down over North Korea. Under great physical and mental pressure, a number of Americans confessed or otherwise acquiesced that the United States engaged in germ warfare.

While quite naturally scoffed at in the West, these claims—and their written and pictorial documentation—had great effect in the East.

After all, every Asian nation was quite aware of who had dropped the first nuclear bomb—and on whom.

One of the ironic and deeply tragic trends of the middle of the twentieth century was that just as the Westerners were gradually abandoning their own racial shibboleths and awarenesses, the rest of the world was adopting a virulent racial consciousness, which would, however unspoken, color all international policy.

When hemorrhagic fever—a particularly dreadful and at first fatal disease, causing bleeding from skin and eyeballs—attacked U.N. troops in western Korea, and a research laboratory was set up on a hospital ship off Korea, the ship was branded as a germ-warfare factory. General Harrison, a member of an old and distinguished Virginia family, and a quiet, Christian gentleman, was once provoked to say "that when you deal with Communists, you deal with common criminals."

General Harrison was wrong—and his error pointed up the dangerous weaknesses of the West in dealing with Communism. The charge of criminal, flung at a Hitler or an Eichmann, clings—because by the ethos of the society in which these men were born, they were criminal—but Communist society does not have a common ethos with the West. It cannot be evaluated by the cultural standards common to the West.

These vital differences made General Harrison's job at Panmunjom desperately difficult.

For the United States and its U.N. allies, to be true to their own concepts, could not in conscience do what the Communists now demanded as the price of peace: force their unwilling captives home at gunpoint.

There was some grumbling inside the United States, and more in Europe, at continuing the war for the sake of a few grubby POW's in Korean stockades, who probably didn't even know their own minds. But the United States Government never wavered.

And as the State Department reported, regardless of the moral issue, to force the POW's to return would be a propaganda defeat of the utmost magnitude; it would be surrender, and the significance of such breach of faith would not be lost throughout Asia.

Offering to return only those POW's who desired to return, the U.N. Command reiterated:

You have been repeatedly informed of the finality of our 28 April proposal … our stand is unshakable. We will not make further concessions. We are, however, always ready to explain the elements of our proposal.

The answer was no, but the door was still open.

Now the United Nations Command in Korea recommended to Washington that the POW's who refused repatriation be granted asylum as political refugees, and released in South Korea or on Taiwan, depending on their nationality. For as Edwin D. Dickinson, an authority on international law, wrote in the New York Times, … in the absence of treaty, the competence of states to grant asylum is unlimited.

States have unlimited right to grant asylum—but no obligation, if they do not choose. Washington rejected the proposal.

With both sides now intransigent, but still willing to talk, negotiations on the POW question droned through June and July.

The United Nations Command made further offers: to let the POW's be screened again by neutrals, and by the Communists themselves, in public. The Communist powers screamed foul to each proposal.

With growing discouragement, the U.N. negotiators began to recess frequently. In all, they threw out three alternative proposals, none of which, however, required an unwilling POW to return home if he did not so desire.

By early fall it became obvious that the Communist powers were not going to accede to anything short of return of all prisoners. And it had also become obvious that with the United States in the throes of a bitterly disputed presidential election, they preferred to stall, to continue the propaganda war.

On 8 October 1952, Harrison, now a lieutenant general, stated: "The United Nations Command has no further proposals to make. The proposals we made remain open. The U.N.C. delegation will not come here merely to listen to abuse and false propaganda. The U.N.C. is therefore calling a recess.… We are willing to meet with you again at any time you are willing to accept one of our proposals … which could lead to an honorable armistice. I have nothing more to say."

The United Nations Command, from Mark W. Clark on down, had had enough of lies, calumnies, sophistry, and flaming propaganda.

The talks of Panmunjom recessed. They would not begin again, except for liaison meetings, until the following year.

In the United States, as the day of presidential election neared, there was basic disagreement, not only between the parties but also within them. This conflict centered on Korea.

The problem was that the United States seemingly could not win victory, secure an armistice, or get out of Korea. It was a situation the American people had never faced before. It was one that their government had shown no skill for handling since the peace talks began more than one year before.

The United States was unwilling to accept the losses required in putting new pressure—other than air bombardment—on the enemy, and it was so desirous of peace that it hesitated to rock the boat in any fashion. Thus, the proposal to free the non-Communist POW's was denied, for fear of its effect on the enemy. And the U.N. cloak continued to bind United States operations tightly. To work within the U.N. the nation had to observe that body's wishes, and the U.N. wanted only peace.

By the fall of 1952, Americans could agree on one thing: that Dean Acheson's remark to Harry Truman in July 1950, "that your decision may not always be the popular one," was the understatement of the decade.

It was not the decision to intervene in Korea, however, that caused the frustration and anger and disquiet. It was the continuing stalemate. More and more people began to say, "Win it, or get out."

The anguish of the United States Government, politically unable to win, strategically unable to withdraw, can be easily understood. The government, from failure to understand clearly that Communists negotiate fairly only when it is in their interest to do so, or when unbearable pressure is placed upon them, had clamped itself in a Communist trap. The most difficult thing for all Western statesmen to learn was that there never had been, and probably never would be, a permanent community of interest between themselves and the Communist bloc. The understanding was so often rejected, no doubt, because its acceptance meant that the world was a checkerboard, the pressure unending, and that competition would prevail further than any man could see.

Oddly, in America, both pacifists and jingoes combined in anger against the Administration. Legislators who had never voted favorably on a single military budget cried for victory; while professional anti-Communists hinted that the POW's should be abandoned as the U.S. withdrew back into its own Festung America.

Inside the government there was considerable sentiment to accede to the Communist demands on the POW question in order to achieve peace before the election. All this sentiment was centered in the domestic, or "political," area of the Cabinet. The guts of the Cabinet—State and Defense—remained adamant that the United States would have to continue present policy, however politically unbearable.

The opposition was also deeply split. Some wanted peace at any price; some wanted complete victory at any price; some wanted escape into a world with less danger and fewer insolvable problems. But an opposition party—as each party discovers periodically in America—has certain shining advantages: it can carp and criticize all past and current mistakes without being too specific with its own remedies.

In the presidential election of 1952, the majority of words and arguments did not concern Korea. The majority of words and arguments—on both sides—had no relevancy to any current problem.

Men tend to repeat political slogans and arguments a generation after they have become obsolete. There were Democrats running against Hoover, and Republicans opposed to Franklin Roosevelt, though 1929 was a generation gone, and the New Deal had sputtered and died for all practical purposes in 1938.

Yet, there is little doubt that political historians will grant the Korean War, and its side pressures, such as fear of Communism both international and domestic, the principal credit for the Republican victory.

There were inflation and high prosperity in America; there were guns, autos, and margarine in high plenty; there were millions of people happily content, unconcerned with the Far East.

But there were too many millions, touched in some way by the men holding the grim and dangerous battle line, who were troubled.

On its foreign policy, as opposed to its domestic, the Democratic Administration still could not effectively communicate. It was not that so many people did not approve; it was that they did not understand what had to be done and what had been done. Within the Administration there had always been a reluctance to use the hard sell on its foreign policies; the government had preferred to act in secret where possible rather than submit delicate questions to public debate.

In the middle of the century, this course was impossible. Neither Metternich nor Talleyrand's various bosses had had to stand for election. Harry Truman's boy Stevenson did.

Perhaps a little blunt speech, a declassification of government communications prior to the first week of November 1952, when it was much too late, a certain amount of public screaming by the Secretary of State that Communism was the Antichrist—however he personally would have detested such an emotional display—and the throwing to the wolves of a few cronies and misguided officials who in the thirties and forties had mistakenly thought that Communists were human beings, would have saved the architects of containment.

But perhaps it was time for a change, and nothing could have saved them. As it was, they won the election everywhere in the free world except where the votes were counted.

The Republican attack was many-pronged, but in its van were men trumpeting the traditional American views toward war: never get involved if possible, but once you're in, give 'em hell.

The moral issue, which sounded metallic and out of place in the mouth of an Acheson, rang cold and righteous in the tones of a Dulles. Americans had always fought for moral issues since 1776, not for the balance of power, not to restore world order. And they had always struck hard for victory, not balance, even if such victory left the world in ruins.

The Republican leaders, saying and implying that they would either end the war, or in one great upsurge end the evil underlying it, struck much closer to the hearts of the public than had the framers of containment.

They called for a rolling back of the iron curtain, which the architects of containment knew to be patently impossible, short of general war, and emotionally satisfied millions, who accepted a Soviet veto on U.S. actions only with frustration and grave disquiet.

Their views and their calls to action were far more in line with those of Wilson and Roosevelt, Democratic saints, than those of the Democratic leaders of 1952. The new Democratic leaders were much more inclined to accept the fact that the outside world had changed, in 1952, than were the Republicans.

It was probably necessary for the opposition to win, in 1952.

Whatever the domestic issues, only a Republican Administration could have dragged the American liberal middle classes into world affairs—an entanglement they violently distrusted. Only a Cabinet of men who never once, not even in college, had seen anything attractive in the far left could have brought to Americans understanding that Communism must be lived with, even while it is opposed.

This Republican Administration would do damage—it would toy with solutions such as "massive retaliation," and it would seek cheap answers: "More bang for a buck." It would continue to dislike professional legions, and try to do away with them. It would find, painfully, that all the old ideas dear to business-liberal society would not work.

It would, after a year or two, adopt containment, and continue virtually unchanged, every foreign policy of the Truman Administration.

They found, as would a new Democratic champion in the future, that despite the call for new looks, new solutions, such looks still revealed only the stone face of Communism and Soviet power; and new solutions, however appealing, remained too dangerous.

And therein continued the tragedy of Americans of these years. Containment of Communism could never be a solution, of itself; it could be only a ploy for time, a stopgap, a pragmatic attempt to hold a dangerous line as long as possible.

But the destiny of America, hopefully, did not lie in pragmatism or stopgaps. The pragmatic man worries about today or tomorrow, never the day past tomorrow. He rarely seeks, and he seldom creates.

Pragmatists create no new ways of life; they found no new religions, nor do they become martyrs to them. They believe in balance, compromise, adjustment. They distrust enthusiasms; they trust what works.

They make good politicians, excellent bankers, superb diplomats.

They never build empires, either of the earth or of the spirit.

They often preside, wisely and temperately, over their liquidation.

Pragmatists did not land at Plymouth Rock, nor did they "pledge their lives, property, and sacred honor," at Philadelphia.

Containment, forged in the forties and carried through the fifties and into the sixties, was a pragmatic policy. It was necessary, for there is a time for defense, even as there is a season for all things. But it was sterile; it could afford only time, and time, of itself, solves some problems, but not many.

In the middle of the century, hopefully, as Democrat and Republican hammered at each other on the hustings, mouthing moth-eaten arguments, and as men held high and lonely hills along the battle line of civilization in Korea, a new policy might have come forth.

It seemed the hour, now, for a concept as brilliant as Wilson's world democracy—so glorious in vision, so utterly impossible of attainment—without Wilson's flaws, or a crusade with a base as practical as that of containment, without its emptiness of spirit. For the one thing no American might have, in the middle of the century, was the status quo ante quem. He could hold the far frontiers, with money, guns, men, or trade. He could try to soothe a worsening world as the hour demanded, day to day, year to year, from Acheson to Dulles, to Herter and Rusk.

But so long as he had no new policy, so long as he sought only to contain, the enemy without would always hold the initiative.

In Washington, in November 1952, there was a changing of the guard. There was nothing new, but that changing of the guard affected history. It did one thing good and one thing bad—it froze in men's minds the political dangers of sending men to hold the far frontier, and every future government would be reluctant to order it, but it hastened the end of the Korean War.

In Korea, it was stalemate.

Neither side could advance; neither side would retreat. Each side held its own hills and valleys in depth, but from November 1951 onward, the enemy continued to be more aggressive than the U.N.

He patrolled aggressively, and he launched limited attacks, again and again. He took hills, and he took the platoons and companies that had been on them. And he killed more men when the U.N. attacked to take its property back. Usually, the action was minor, except to the men hip-deep in swarming Chinese, or pounded by artillery fire falling at the rate of hundreds of shells per minute.

One division commander in Korea recognized that the warfare resembled that of the Western Front, 1915-1918. And like that trench fighting, it was more costly than those unfamiliar with it would think.

Exactly half as many men were killed and wounded during the stalemate as were lost during the violent war of maneuver that surged up and down the peninsula.

By summer 1952, the enemy had grown more aggressive. He waged a bitter struggle over a number of U.N. outposts from Mabang to Kumsong to Oem'yon. On 17 July at 2200 hours, after devastating artillery preparation, a CCF battalion overran the U.N. outpost on Old Baldy, west of Ch'orwon, a hill neither completely inside one defensive system nor in the other.

For four days a seesaw battle raged for the blasted, denuded hill. The 23rd Infantry eventually had elements of E, F, I, L, B, K, and G companies on the hill at one time or another; it took hundreds of casualties. Its commander, trying to control the action day after day, without rest, lost control and had to be relieved.

The battle for Old Baldy, which the CCF eventually lost, proved that the enemy had as many, if not more, field guns as the U.N. He could not, however, switch their fires of employ them as effectively as the Americans.

It was not until 31 July that a full battalion attack of 1/23 retook the hill—a position that could accommodate comfortably only a single rifle company.

Here, and elsewhere, the U.N. defenders learned that they would have to dig deeper. Soon, more and more positions were completely underground, and all of the bunkers—which tended to collapse under rain or artillery—were reinforced with logs.

On 16 September the CCF tried for Old Baldy again. First, an estimated 1,000 rounds of artillery fell on the small hill in a ten-minute period; then a battalion of CCF surrounded it and assaulted it from all sides. They took Baldy, and K Company, 38th Infantry on it, with lightning speed, while a diversionary attack overran Pork Chop Hill, to the northeast of Old Baldy.

On the night of 20 September, after heavy artillery preparation, 2/38 attacked to retake their property. Plunging through a hail of enemy fire, the battalion cleared the crest and was in control 21 September. The attack was well coordinated and well-pushed home, and it killed or wounded more than a thousand Chinese.

But the American losses, overall, were nearly as high.

The pattern of this hill fighting, which resembled that of Heartbreak and Bloody ridges, was repeated again and again. Aggressive, the CCF would plaster a forward hill or outpost with tremendous concentrations of artillery, then assault it with large forces, and overrun it.

Soon, most of the artillery fires of two to four divisions would be falling into one tiny area, as a seesaw battle raged. The U.N. would not initiate such attacks, as a rule, but it would not permit the enemy to push it about. Given an inch, it was the custom of the Chinese to strike for a mile. The U.N. forces had to return the CCF maneuver, in spades.

During these immense artillery and infantry duels, in which thousands of men were hurt or killed, the crowning horror was that usually units on either side of them, or beyond regimental HQ on the front, were completely unaware there was a war on.

Again and again the CCF felt free to attack, into a limited area.

On 6 October they struck east of Baldy and Pork Chop, against Arrowhead and White Horse Mountain—now, with long occupancy, every hill along the battle lines had its own name—and the preparatory fires there exceeded anything yet seen. Jim Fry, CG of the 2nd Division, said they were beyond anything he had known in his previous considerable military experience.

The artillery fires laid down in Korea during the latter periods normally far exceeded anything fired in either of the two world wars, day after day. The average fire falling on U.N. lines was 24,000 per day.

The CCF sent two divisions piecemeal into White Horse and Arrowhead. The French Battalion held Arrowhead for four days, under incessant attack, losing no ground. White Horse, held by ROK's of the 9th Division, changed hands twenty-four times between 6 and 15 October. When the battle ended, all U.N. territory was back in friendly hands.

And the hillsides were dotted with the bodies of thousands of ROK's and Chinese.

On White Horse, and on the central front, around the Iron Triangle, the ROK Army now proved it had come of age. With only a few American tanks, and generally with American artillery in support, the ROK's were weaker in firepower than American units, and at first more easily overrun. The CCF preferred to hit them, given a choice. But the ROK's had had two years to prepare; they counterattacked with stubborn courage, and time after time threw the CCF back.

On the Kumwha sector, ROK's and CCF locked in heavy combat, all over limited objectives. On Sniper Ridge, changing hands daily during November 1952, the ROK soldier proved he had lost all his superstitious horror of his ancient masters.

He killed thousands of Chinese, while that fall he himself suffered forty thousand casualties. But the front hardly changed at all. In front of the ROK position, the ground was cleared of Chinese only to the extent of six hundred yards.

During these bloody battles there was some comment that KMAG was presiding over the slow death of the ROK Army, to preserve American lives.

The hill battles that raged all across the front, though mostly in the western zone, accomplished little, except again to provide revulsion in American ranks against the casualties suffered. When the totals reached Washington, there was a certain amount of despair. Quietly, some men began to talk of taking the offensive, and even more quietly, of the use of the atomic weapon.

The Chinese, seemingly, had no regard for the lives of their conscript soldiers; the West did.

But doing its best to preserve lives, the U.N. Command still had to defend its ground. And while men died, the names of blasted, forsaken humps of ground, outposts Reno, Carson, and Vegas, of the Marines; Baldy, Arrowhead, and Pork Chop of the 2nd Division; Triangle Hill and Sniper Ridge and Big Nori of the ROK's, and dozens of others, became infamous. U.S. and ROK divisions went on line and off it; they turned over their prize property to other units; then, weeks later, came back to reclaim it.

When enough men had died on a hill, their comrades began to hold a grim fondness for it. "Take good care of our Pork Chop," soldiers of the Thai Battalion wrote on their bunker walls when they turned it over to the 7th U.S. Division on relief.

The intense attacks on the U.N. outposts during 1952 were undoubtedly political in nature. The Chinese, balked on the POW question, took this means during an election year to pressure the United States out of the war. The policy was a costly failure.

The American soldier and officer who held the line in late 1952 and early 1953 was yet another breed from the man who had gone into Korea, who had fought during the massive battles of 1951, or who had watched the front during the second Korean winter.

The recalled reservists were largely gone now, their time—seventeen months for veterans, twenty-four for others—expired. The National Guardsmen of the 40th and 45th divisions had gone home, though these two divisions remained on the FECOM trooplist, as Army of the United States units, filled with other personnel.

The average man of the infantry companies was a selectee, and rapidly, he was becoming a special sort of selectee.

The first of draft call, in the summer of 1950, was a vacuum cleaner—sprung without warning, it took skilled and unskilled alike, high-school senior and college teacher together; there was no time to escape.

The Army got a great number of highly skilled men, which it badly needed. Throughout all history, only the pinch of poverty or the pressure of the draft board has made men in large numbers enter the ranks; this has always been the defensive weakness of a mercantile society, whether Carthage, Britain, or America. But by 1951, there was little poverty, and the draft pressures had relaxed.

Thousands of young men, with no stomach for infantry war, entered other services to avoid it, generally in the following priority: Coast Guard, which could pick and choose the best; then Navy and Air Force, where skills were more at a premium, and combat dangers—in this particular war—less. The Marine Corps, which had written some of its most glorious history at Changjin, and which kept its standards high, had difficulty recruiting up to authorized strength. For as one high-school student, who had been at the reservoir as a reservist, returned to his old school and said: "For God's sake, watch where you enlist—the Marines will kill you!"

There was exemption for students, and anyone who could get into college and keep his marks up, or join ROTC, had it made. Parenthood—even ex post facto—was a good out.

Understandably, with an unpopular war that had little public enthusiasm or support, the quality of men left over for the Infantry declined.

By May 1952, of over 5,000 new trainees entering the 1st Armored Division at Fort Hood, Texas, slightly over half had Army General Classification Test scores of 80 or under—by Army standards unfit for training at any Army school, including cooks and bakers. It seemed an unmistakable trend that only those too stupid to figure an out were coming into the ground forces.

Yet, these men proved they could fight, and fight well, when trained.

The involuntary Reserve officers who had fought on Bloody and Heartbreak had left, most saying "Damnation memoriae" to the service, and their places had been taken by the new products of the college Reserve Officers Training Corps.

Very few of these young men, though intelligent and better educated than almost any wartime American officer corps had been, had seen hardship before. They were keen and alert, but tended to be permissive with their men. They had a difficult time with platoon command, because ROTC had given them little practical experience with the rough and tumble of combat; but graduated to staff jobs, they gave the Army an indispensable balance of poise and education junior officers promoted from the ranks could not.

Ironically, the officer who is often best at leading small units of men, who can rough it in the earth, living in filth and danger beside his men, the familiarity breeding no contempt, often is helpless when put behind a desk.

The ROTC boys worried their battalion commanders while they were in command of platoons and companies, at ages ranging from twenty-one to twenty-four, but—if they survived—they were invaluable later up on staff, where the pen is always mightier than the sword.

Few of these men, either officer or soldier, had a strong belief in the reasons for which this war was fought. They came because they had to, they did what they had to do, with one eye on Panmunjom, and when their time was up, they went home.

Oddly, they were never sanguine about their own combat prowess. Most of them, officers and men, felt a deep respect for, and almost an inferiority before, the various professionals that comprised the other U.N. troops in Korea. Their praise of the allies—the French, Thais, Turks, and Abyssinians—was far removed from the grousing about allies that had marked most previous wars. Most Americans, privately, would admit the U.N. troops were better than they were.

Which was highly surprising, since until the last, captured CCF intelligence documents always indicated the Chinese considered Americans the best.

For, unassuming, unaggressive, with no desire whatever to kill the man they called Joe Chink, when backed into a corner, or assaulted on their hills, these men showed that the spirit of the Alamo was not dead.

They had had the benefit of what had gone before. They came to Korea knowing in some measure what it would be like. The word was out. Like Frank Muñoz, when offered George Company, they wouldn't volunteer—but what had to be done they would do.

If the job was pointed out to Americans, and they understood it had to be done, with no escape; if they were trained to do it, as they were from 1951 onward, Americans could do what had to be done.

If another war follows Korea, if American policy is threatened anywhere on the globe, it will not be years and months, as in the two world wars, or days, as in Korea, but only hours until American troops are committed.

In battle, Americans learn fast—those who survive.

The pity is, their society seems determined to make them wait until the shooting starts.

The word should go out sooner.

In May of 1952, a treaty of peace was signed between the United States and Japan. The Army ceased to occupy, and now became honored guests of the shrunken Empire of Japan.

Very little changed, except that now the Japanese were free to criticize their best customers, if they dared.

In Japan, the Korean War was always close, but always far away. While the Korean people were inevitably the real losers of the war, the Japanese became the true winners. The Korean War poured billions of American dollars into the Japanese economy.

Millions of Americans passed through Japan, moving to and from the combat zones. These had money in amounts unbelievable to the Nipponese—and the Japanese, among the world's most industrious people, soon found Americans would spend it for almost anything, if given the opportunity.

The Japanese, who view the nude human body with the same aplomb they view the naked dawn, soon found nudity was highly marketable. Farm areas were scoured for girls whose bosoms measured up to Western standards, to walk about in clubs without clothes. Some Americans, understandably, when buying tobacco from the strolling cigarette girl, picked up the wrong brands.

There were other business ventures. One young chaplain from a tank battalion, a Methodist with a family back home, was accosted by procurers fourteen times in 1952 while walking from his Tokyo hotel to a cab.

All Americans, passing through, found that good Canadian whiskey was $1.50 a fifth, and drinks a quarter U.S. a throw. As one officer said, happily, "At these prices I can't afford to stay sober!"

These things were inevitable in war. Men going to and from a battlefield, even in crusades, have usually sought the same things. The Japanese could not be blamed for turning their nation into a large red-light district, for what the customer with money wants, he always gets.

The big money, and the prosperity that flushed the Japanese economy, however, came from American arms expenditures. American military procurement officers found Japanese industry—far more capable and efficient than it is generally given credit for—could produce almost anything needed at the front—and much cheaper than it could be made in the States and sent across the Pacific.

Thousands of American military vehicles, damaged or worn out in Korea, were rebuilt in Japanese shops, some as many as three times, far more cheaply than they could have been replaced. The Japanese, under contract, could manufacture ammunition, tools, equipment, almost anything. They could produce millions of tons of food for Koreans and Americans in FECOM. All in all, the Japanese economy hummed. They made big money.

The benefits did not all accrue to the Japanese, however.

Without its solid industrial base in Japan, in privileged sanctuary from the battles, the United States would have found it as difficult to fight the Korean War as it would have been to land on Normandy on D-Day, had Britain not been there.

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