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US Firestorming of Tokyo Rivaled the Hiroshima Bombing

Shane Quinn

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At the outbreak of war, Roosevelt had strongly condemned the killing of civilians from the air.

Featured image: Charred remains of Japanese civilians after the firebombing of Tokyo on the night of 9–10 March 1945. (Source: Ishikawa Kōyō / Wikimedia Commons)

In the early hours of 10 March 1945, as America’s heavy aircraft dropped over 1,600 tons of bombs on Tokyo, a firestorm larger and hotter than ever before was brewing. During the firebombings of Dresden and Hamburg, temperatures reached 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit, but in Tokyo it soared to a blinding 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit.

Such was the heat unleashed by US bombers over the Japanese capital, that civilians in their air raid shelters were beginning to suffocate. Rather than be overwhelmed, they fled into the streets, becoming glued to the melting asphalt under their feet. Those now stuck in the roads or pavements were helpless, many of whom were heavily charred by the .....