USS Abbot Shelling of Kamaishi , Japan


September 1945. Allen Silk was at a POW Camp included in the steel works at Kamaishi, Japan. US Navy was unaware of the camp's existence. 32 American died in the shelling. Click the image below to view the rare color film of this shelling.


Hint: If the movie does not play for you, you can view it at: USS Abbot

At 11:00 the battleship South Dakota hoisted the flag signal “Never Forget Pearl Harbor” to Task Force 38.4.1, and a little more than an hour later the bombardment of the Japan Iron & Steel Co. factory in Kamaishi began. Abbot was there, cruising about 3,000 yards offshore to spot the fall of the shells and screen the battleships.
According to Time magazine:
“For two hours the guns roared, and their shellbursts walked through the steel plant. The Japanese reply from shore batteries was only a whispered echo. The “sacred soil” of Japan, from which the Kamikaze (divine wind) was supposed to disperse all attackers, had been violated.”

Unknown to anyone in the task force — or anywhere else in the navy — the Japanese kept enslaved Allied prisoners in the steel works and nearby camps. Just as during many air raids and sea battles throughout the war, the Japanese policy of systematically ignoring the Geneva Conventions led to needless death and suffering among Allied prisoners.

That first bombardment lasted about two hours, and is recounted in the 2006 book Ship of Ghosts by James D. Hornfischer. Abbot participated in other major bombardments of Japan, including the Royal Navy’s Hamamatsu bombardment of 29 and 30 July, but the initial Kamaishi raid was its most significant strike against the Home Islands and the one best remembered by the Abboteers.

The New York Times quickly reported the raids of 14 July and 30 July 1945, (see below) and gave more details than usual, a sign that navy censors no longer feared Japan’s ability to use military intelligence.

The U.S. Navy, which used color film in the Asia-Pacific theater of operations, recorded these historic raids. Although the navy archives are vague, it appears that the first Honshu sequences of the reel were photographed from Abbot. If so, these are the only known color images of Abbot from World War II. Several other Fletcher-class destroyers and battleships can also be seen.

As a result of the 14th July 1945 shelling, 1460 houses were burned and about 240 citizens died. At the second shelling, on 9th August, the city of Kamaishi was again bombarded by British warships. This time they were rained with 2700 shells. 1470 houses were set on fire and over 100 citizens lost their lives. In the camp, 5 POWs died. Within the ironworks, workers and POWs ran into the shelters. 17 POWs died through gas inhalation and 20 others were injured.