Those “forced labor battalions” showed a hell of a lot of fight

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

Japanese pilots were specimens, Dunlap noted — at first:

One of the wounded prisoners in the hospital was a Jap Naval pilot, a warrant officer in rating. He was a pocket Hercules and looked like an ad for a physical culture magazine. Only 21, he had been flying fighter planes for a year and a half, and had started his training at 16. He told us that the Japanese army air force was only spending four months in pilot training, and that the men were no good (the Jap army and navy did not get along very well together). This bird had been around too long and was too smart to act like most of the Japs. Being captured did not bother him at all and he was actually anxious for us to win the war so he could go home. He did not believe much of the propaganda, either Japanese or American, so he did not give us any trouble. The suicide type was either the ignorant soldier or the newer recruits. The smart Nips did not go for it, though they were often forced to go along with their orders.

Prisoners needed protection:

When a prisoner did show up outside the hospital, we had to protect them as well as watch them. All Filipinos and half the G.I.’s were anxious to knock them off. I remember one morning a tall slant who kept grinning idiotically and tapping himself on the chest as he repeated “Taiwan, Taiwan,” meaning he was a Formosan. He even pretended not to understand Japanese. Probably was a Jap peasant who fancied himself a bright boy and did not want to die for the Emperor. Two or three native boys, Filipinos about 14 or 15 years old, were standing watching and carrying on a very polite conversation with me. Finally one asked “Please, sir, you give him to us? We kill.” As if he were asking for a match. I explained that I had signed a receipt for this particular specimen, but that I would be pleased to try and save an odd one for them if he turned up off records.

Both Formosans and Koreans were as bad as the Japanese in ill-treatment of native populations and prisoners of war. Some Filipinos went so far as to say that the Japs were easier to get along with, and the Koreans the worst of all. Which is why a lot of ex-soldiers and ex-prisoners of war will refuse to get worked up about the delay of independence for the noble and oppressed Koreans. Those “forced labor battalions” showed a hell of a lot of fight when the Japs were still riding high. In the Admiralties and and New Guinea they made banzai charges, sometimes with bayonets tied to poles, spear fashion, when they did not have rifles for all.


  1. Kirk says:

    Korea is a weird country with an even weirder culture. They’ve been doormats for the Chinese and Japanese for so long that they’ve basically internalized a lot of the same behavioral patterns you see with abused kids and women–Particularly with regards to how they treat others of perceived “lower” status in the abuse hierarchy. A lot of what was going on with the Koreans in WWII (and, after…) stemmed from them being treated like animals like the Japanese occupation forces, and then they turned around and treated everyone who was “beneath” them even worse–To the approval of the Japanese, who likened the Koreans to being the “toughened up” vicious guard dogs of the Japanese Empire.

    To a degree, the Koreans still suffer from a lot of this syndrome in their culture. It’s a really odd country, with odd customs and beliefs that seem really hypocritical to the outsider.

    Couple of cases in point–The Koreans incessant whinging about the “Comfort Women” BS. OK, yeah, sure–There were a lot of women abused by the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy. Absolute true. What the Koreans don’t even want to begin to acknowledge is that the vast majority of the pimps and panderers that provided those women, under contract, to the Japanese military were… Koreans. Just like the poor little country girls who were sold for debt by their families under the post-war government, those pimps and panderers were the ones doing most of the abuse–The Japanese military just paid for it, with no requirement that the Korean contractors treat their employees one way or another. Treating the “comfort women” like shit was all on the Koreans running the brothels, mostly. Same crap went on during the US Army days of yore–You would find the bar girls were usually poor country girls who got sold to the landlord to clear debts, and then got sold on in literal slavery to the bars and other organizations. All that happened under Koreans, and you won’t see anyone going after Korean companies, some of whom reputedly got their start from participating in the activity. Hypocrisy, meet Korea…

    Likewise, the Koreans went berserk over the incident where those two girls got run over by the AVLB. That was my old company, about a year or so after I left, and the crap that got published about that whole incident was entirely bullshit. For one damn thing, a fact never brought up was that the girls were run over on a road where they weren’t supposed to be, in a training area, and were family members of farmers who’d actually encroached on the training area to grow crops, basically squatters. As well, the US Army had warned everyone involved to stay the hell off the roads in the training areas, and the Koreans ignored all of that. Koreans, in general, are absolute crap for following safety rules and regulations–Being Confucian fatalists, they figure that if death was gonna happen, it was gonna happen. Poor bastards driving that AVLB literally couldn’t see the girls, who were not supposed to have been where they were in the first damn place, and when they were run over, it was treated in the Korean press as though the drivers of the vehicle had been out looking for little girls to run over, and had dragged these poor kids off the street to throw under the tracks. Utter BS–90% of the “at fault” in that situation was purely on the Koreans, because those kids shouldn’t have been on the shoulder of a narrow gravel road in the middle of a training area in the dark in the first damn place.

    Meanwhile, Koreans killed Koreans in even more egregious circumstances every damn day in Korea, because they simply couldn’t be bothered to perform or enforce basic safety standards, and that was perfectly OK, ‘cos it wasn’t Americans killing them.

    Same shit with pollution–The Koreans went berserk because a Korean civilian employee of the US Army dumped formaldehyde into the Han river, pouring it into a drain. This was against the rules established by the Army, but because it was a Korean employee, they couldn’t even discipline him, let alone fire his ass. Meanwhile, the Korean press went berserk about the US Army polluting Korea, completely ignoring the purely Korean pollution their own companies and people caused. Same time frame, I watched Koreans dump HAZMAT-marked containers in ditches next to bus stops where little kids played, and God alone knows what was in them. The utter lack of care and concern with such things in Korea by Koreans was a constant hassle for us in the Army–Those bastards had to be watched like hawks, or they’d be dumping used motor oil in rice paddies, rather than go to the trouble of disposing of it properly. The depot up the road from us had to spend over ten million dollars one year, cleaning up after their Korean employees who’d just totally ignored the pollution control and abatement processes we’d had in place for over 20 years, at that point. It was nuts.

    But, point any of that out to a Korean, and you’re gonna get your throat slit. They don’t want to admit it, at all–They’re always the victim, just like your usual child or spousal abuse victim who displays the same spread of behaviors. The Koreans are a damaged people, and I think they’re going to take generations to recover. The North Koreans may never recover, ever–And, if there is reunification, it’s just going to get worse for South Korea as they blend their two countries. Look for a lot of strangeness, if that ever happens.

  2. Bruce says:

    Copyright 1948 and Dunlap is talking about media chatter about the ‘noble and oppressed Koreans’. Wonder if he smelled the 1950 war coming, if this edition had additions after 1948, or if he was reacting to some 1948 fuss I never heard of. Could just be WW II Allied liberation speeches.

  3. Kirk says:


    There is a ton of context you were likely never exposed to, thanks to the “education” system you had inflicted upon you. Korea was always a bit of a cause celebre, due to the various missionaries who’d tried their luck in colonial Korea, and the infamous abuses that the Japanese were known for. Syngman Rhee was well-known on the lecture circuit here in the US during the inter-war era, and there were tons of political prisoners and the like who were also well-known. Korea could be said to be the Tibet of the Japanese Empire, in a lot of very analogous ways. Tibetans are even infamous in China for their uses as prison guards on other ethnic groups, much as the Koreans were feared throughout Manchuria.

    Of course, precisely none of this nuance makes its way into any curriculum, these days. Not even at the college level…

  4. Bruce says:

    Thanks, I’d been exposed to the ‘Syngman Rhee, Japanese collaborator’ lefty party line.

    So if Koreans are the Irish of Japan, and Tibetans are the Irish of China, and Irish are the Irish of the British Empire, then the Troubles must be about who gets to be the Irish of Ireland.

  5. Kirk says:

    Syngman Rhee, Japanese collaborator…? WTF?

    You could call him a lot of things, but a collaborator? Yeesh… The damage that propaganda has done to the educational system. Wikipedia has a decent casual biography of the man, and he was a pretty complex character. From my reading of his biographies and works, he was initially an idealist that essentially lost his shit with his fellow Koreans and the rest of the world, becoming the eventual tyrannical despot he’s remembered for being.

    That said, I don’t think the Koreans would have responded to anything else. Korea was (and, to some degree, still is…) a very unrealistic country that lives in a state of essential conflict with reality. You go back and look at the history, and there’s a long run of impracticality and sheer fecklessness that stretches throughout the national history. The Koreans, for example, had the first really effective armored ships–And, the reigning monarch at the time did everything but assassinate Admiral Yi Sun-sin, the guy who invented the things and led them to victory over the Japanese, back in the day.

    An overview of Korean history shows folly after folly, and the incessant idiocy of the leadership class is hard to match–Although, our current lot here in the states seems hell-bent on giving them a run for their money.

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