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Operation: Coronet, the Allied (primarily United States Army) invasion of Honshū at the Kantō Plain south of the Japanese capital Tokyo, was to begin on "Y-Day", which was scheduled for March 1, 1946. Coronet would have been even larger than Olympic, with 25 divisions, including the floating reserve, earmarked for the initial operations. (The Overlord invasion of Normandy, by comparison, had 12 divisions in the initial landings.) The U.S. First Army would have invaded at Kujūkuri Beach, on the Bōsō Peninsula, while U.S. Eighth Army invaded at Hiratsuka, on Sagami Bay. Both armies would then drive north and inland, meeting at Tokyo.

Operation: Coronet in Joe SteeleEdit

Operation: Olympic succeeded in capturing the Japanese Home Island of Kyushu. It had been hoped that this would force the Japanese to surrender but they did not and so Operation: Coronet was on. This involved an U.S. invasion of the Home Islands of Honshu and Shikoku from the south with a concurrent invasion of Honshu by the Soviet Red Army from the north.[1]

Sgt. Mike Sullivan's punishment brigade, which had been part of Operation: Olympic, took part in Coronet, landing and fighting into the interior. Prime Minister and General Tojo died leading Japanese forces trying to drive the Americans off but his death did not lead to a Japanese surrender. Instead, the Japanese, both military and civilian, fought as hard as they had on Kyushu. Indeed, Sullivan's company had been charged by schoolgirls armed with spears. While it disgusted them, the U.S. soldiers did not hesitate to shoot to kill.[2]

Sullivan's company reached the highway connecting Kyoto to Tokyo where they encountered a formation of two Japanese tanks leading a black automobile flying a Japanese flag on a radio aerial and followed by two more tanks. Because of the poor cover, Sullivan didn't try to attack with bazooka teams but stayed under cover thinking the formation would quickly run into American armor. Instead, a flight of Hellcats swooped down, ripple fired rockets and machine guns destroying the auto and three tanks. The crew of the fourth tank immediately abandoned their vehicle and attempted to rescue a man from the car. Sullivan and his men quickly killed the crew and discovered the man being rescued was Emperor Hirohito who was dead from two .50 caliber machine gun bullets.[3]

Sullivan immediately sent one of his men back to inform the high command and get reinforcement to hold onto the body. A lieutenant colonel came up with extra troops and personally confirmed it was Hirohito. His body was put on ice to help keep it fresh and returned to the Japanese under flag of truce. This polite gesture along with the emperor's death led to the Japanese surrender. After hundreds of thousands of American and Russian deaths and millions of Japanese dead, Coronet succeeded in leading to victory.[4]

ReferencesEdit

  1. Joe Steele, pg. 315, HC.
  2. Ibid, pgs. 320-322.
  3. Ibid. pgs. 321-322.
  4. Ibid. pgs. 323-325.

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