As a semi-supplement to the podcast we just released regarding the legacy of Japanese warfare during the second world war, a news story posted three days ago reports that another one of these historic bombs has been found by loggers in Eastern British Columbia. (Source)
These bombs were called “Fu-Go” – the Japanese for “Wind Weapon” and were planned as a weapon of opportunity against the Allied forces in North America by launching bombs held aloft by weather balloons and carried by the winds to the North American continent.
Japan launched 9,300 fire balloons during the war, with anywhere between 100 and 300 completing the aerial journey from the Japanese islands to their intended targets.
The program was extremely unsuccessful with the biggest loss of life being inflicted on an Oregon school teacher and five of her students who were on a trip to the woods one day in 1945.
The Japanese balloon bombs are just another example of the terrorist lengths that the Japanese were willing to adopt in pursuit of a military victory. Much like landmines, these weapons of fear will most likely continue to be found across North America for decades.
In addition to the podcast recently released on Operation JEDBURGH titled “Meet the Jedburghs”, I wanted to touch on a group I brought up during the podcast.
In “Meet the Jedburghs” we talked a lot about how the allies exploited the juncture between military intelligence and sabotage during WWII. But the allies weren’t the only intelligence game in town. So who were they up against?
As a quick recap, we covered the Commando Order put in place by Hitler in 1944 – a direct violation of the Geneva convention of 1929. We also talked a little bit about how Jedburgh operators caught under this order could be transferred to a Sicherheitsdienst (or SD) prison camp for interrogation.
The Sicherheitsdienst was what you could consider a sister organization to the infamous and brutal Gestapo. The purpose the SD served was as more of an intelligence gathering and investigative organization more than a capture/kill service like the Gestapo.
The SD became much more focused on the military aspect of intelligence consumption being used in support of offensive and defensive military operations rather than domestic and political crime enforcement in the way that the Gestapo was used for.
When it comes to Nazi intelligence gathering efforts, there were a number of very interesting dynamics that came into play. For example, there were a number of organizations that existed before the SD was created including the well known military intelligence organization called the Abwehr. Some of these organizations (Abwehr included) didn’t necessarily follow Adolf Hitler ideologically.
As a product of Hitler’s paranoia and the rampant nepotism in the Nazi system, Hitler created many redundant organizations with a more National Socialist focus (i.e. political enforcement) rather than practical military goals (again, like Abwehr).
These new organizations didn’t always get along great with each other, and the rivalry between the SD and Abwehr has been well recorded.
In the end, we remember the SD as an political intelligence organization tasked with locating political opponents to the National Socialist cause both inside and outside the borders of Germany.