Americans readily accepted the no-quarter idea of the Japanese

Friday, May 31st, 2019

Americans readily accepted the no-quarter idea of the Japanese, Dunlap reminds us:

No one ever defended a Jap, the only thing I remember a cavalryman saying in that vein was that we should not squawk about how the Japs treated prisoners, since nothing they did was as bad as the things we did to them. I think he was one of a crew which overran and wiped out a Jap hospital and then used it as an ambush to catch wounded Nips, for a day or so. Americans readily accepted the no-quarter idea of the Japanese, with improved variations, much to the pained surprise of the enemy.


  1. KIrk says:

    This is a reflection of the only really workable way that you can come up with and enforce any such thing as a “Law of War”.

    You have rules; you break rules, you suffer consequences. The Japanese chose not to follow the rules in WWII, after having established really positive records in the Russo-Japanese War and WWI. Whatever possessed them during the years between those wars and WWII is something we can only really speculate, but they consciously chose to embrace a code that didn’t include any of the traditional measures of amelioration that the West had set. And, they paid. Oh, did they pay…

    Thing is, this is a bit of an overall lesson that the rest of the world might want to pay some attention to–The average Western combatant is a practical sort, and if he decides that it’s a waste of time to conduct himself in a genteel manner because you’re not, well… Yeah.

    Ya might want to think back on just how many SS members made it to the POW camps after the lesson they taught American troops at Malmedy. The actions towards the SS by the Canadians after the slaughter at the Ardenne Abbey show that it isn’t just the Americans who take a pragmatic view on these issues. Or, any of the multitudinous times the Japanese abused the established standards.

    Japan is probably fortunate that they didn’t get the chance to “teach” their ideas to members of a conventional invasion, because after about the second charge made by Japanese civilians into an American unit, it would have been a much different invasion–With some of the planned weapons and tactics they’d prepared, I’m of the opinion that Operation Olympic would have turned into an Operation Raid or Decon, an exercise in pest control that would have looked an awful lot like genocide. I doubt there would have been much left, TBH–Especially after the losses the fleets would have suffered after the typhoon that hit. Public sentiment wouldn’t have accepted a surrender, and the troops wouldn’t have been in any mood to allow survival by anything looking even vaguely Japanese.

    We should all be grateful that didn’t happen, especially the Japanese.

  2. Paul from Canada says:

    “..The actions towards the SS by the Canadians after the slaughter at the Ardenne Abbey…”

    Yeah, I heard that first hand when I was a teenager from an old vet at the local Legion (Canadian version of a VFW post), after a Remembrance Day parade . The way he put it, was “After that, when we fought the SS we didn’t take prisoners. If we did find an SS man in a group of other prisoners, we took him aside and gave him a shovel”. It was a bit un-nerving how casually he said it.

    Interestingly, General Chris Vokes, who commuted the death sentence of Kurt “Panzer” Meyer, the officer responsible, had this to say about it.

    “there isn’t a general or colonel on the Allied side that I know of who hasn’t said, ‘Well, this time we don’t want any prisoners’”; indeed, he had ordered the shooting of two prisoners in 1943 before his divisional commander intervened.

    There is also an interesting passage in the book that was the basis of the play and film “Breaker Morant”. Besides the evidence of higher headquarters either ordering or condoning the actions that Morant and his do-defendants were accused of, there was also this curious statement. Something about this being a common practice by other mounted infantry units, “…like Strathcona’s Horse…”

  3. Bruce says:

    Laws of anything prohibit what the losers did.

  4. Harry Jones says:

    If laws of war were enforceable, we could just outlaw war and enjoy endless peace.

    The notion of rules of war is just pacifism lite. The only real rule of war is to win.

Leave a Reply