The battle for Guadalcanal, 7 August 1942 to 21 February 1943 was a ferocious and bloody one with 1,592 killed in action, 4,183 wounded, and thousands more disabled by disease. It led to the famous Guadalcanal epitaph:
And when he gets to Heaven
To Saint Peter he will tell:
One more Marine reporting, Sir!
Ive done my time in Hell.
Approximately 37,000 Japanese ground troops died on
Guadalcanal; 9,000 of these casualties were non-combat deaths caused by malaria, dengue fever, and starvation and about 1,000 taken prisoner. The victory was in logistics: The Japanese could not compete with American logistics. For example, both sides lost 26 warships with nearly equal tonnage. The Japanese could not replace their losses, while the productive arsenals of were providing materiel for the allies while at the same time supplying their own armed forces. The Japanese lost over six hundred aircraft and pilots. The eventual victory on Guadalcanal was important because it turned back the Japanese drive toward Australia and gave the Allies a strong base from which to continue attacks against Japanese forces, especially those at Rabaul, the enemy's main base in the South Pacific. America
The Japanese propagandists really hit their stride in Guadalcanal. There are at least two-dozen different leaflets that were dropped over the American forces. They covered a multitude of themes, were mostly in full color and of fairly high quality. We mention a few of the more interesting ones below.
Many of the leaflets used the theme "you are cut off." Among these, some added a touch of sex or nostalgia to drive home the concept. One full-color cartoon leaflet shows American soldiers in a trench looking at explosions overhead at the left, and civilians looking at a dancing girl at the right. Text in the center is a poem, "The good old days I love to praise, the days I sadly miss. The good old days, the good old days, for which I've such a yen. I'm sorry, though I didn't know that they were good old days then. Richard Armour." The back of the leaflet depicts an American soldier trying to dodge bombs on the tiny island while back in the United States his wife dances with a civilian, and the mysterious text, "Wake up! What a companion! Between you and back home. Way you're fighting for?"
One leaflet depicts an American Navy plane flying over Guadalcanal, covered with burial crosses. The text is, "And the Navy solemnly took to the air but down below there was no glamour for the Army." Later in the war, during MacArthurs island-hopping campaign, the same sort of propaganda would be used against the bypassed Japanese army troops.
Another unknown Japanese artist did a series of very interesting leaflets in what appears to be charcoal, with the text at the right in bright red with a single word as the title.
The leaflet above depicts President Roosevelt pushing a soldier forward toward a burial cross marked The Unknown while a vast fleet of Japanese bombers flies overhead. The soldier is well-drawn, and there are small details like the
on his canteen and the old symbol of the Army Chemical Corps. The text is: US
You did not want to fight
You did not want to leave your sweetheart
Your mother and your kids
You did not ever think it would be necessary
For you to dig your own grave
He did it all for you!
A second propaganda leaflet by the same artist depicts a black American soldier looking at white soldiers beating his black brothers, still in loin cloths as if right off the slave ship from
Africa. In the background we see blacks being whipped and lynched. The text is:
Did you believe that slavery was truly abolished with the Civil War?
Have you ever stopped to figure what would happen to you when all the rest of the colored world became free men?
Why should the black man alone remain fettered when the time comes?
A third leaflet in this series shows a black infantryman running alongside a black sprinter in track gear, perhaps Jesse Owens. The title of the leaflet is Tops and reminds the black troops that they excel in the Olympics but are used as cannon-fodder by the white man.
A fight Between Two Races
Another leaflet meant to drive a wedge between American black and white fighting men is in the form of a written leaflet without image. Some of the text is:
A Negro youth was lynched in
On March 12th for the reason of having raped a white girl but as his innocence was made clear, the neighboring Negroes raised and attacked the girls house for revenge the nearby army unit had to rush to the scene There were 172 dead among the Negroes after having been machinegunned Detroit, Mich.
Whites always seem to be right When it comes to war Negroes are quite useful but after its over, all colored heroes will have to go back where they belong----Slaves again .
Other Japanese leaflets seem to use photographs from old Army recruiting publications. One shows a baker in the foreground and photographs of a classroom and a bakery in the background. The text is, "I spend much of my time studying - Bobby" and "You remember my buns, don't you? - Bud." The back of the leaflet depicts a U.S. Marine in the foreground and tourists in Japan and soldiers in a tent in the background. The text is, "Hello Chaps! We sometimes go on sightseeing - Howell" and "Available as 'Passport to Life,' JAPANESE ARMY HEADQUARTERS."
Do You Believe
A similar leaflet depicted two smiling U. S. Marines, one singing to the other and playing a guitar. The text is "DO YOU BELIEVE." On the back, three smiling Marines are at the top, and two carry crates of food with a Red Cross label at the bottom. The text is "You're prisoners of war?"
Another theme on Guadalcanal was "letters home." These alleged letters from American POWS were full of praise for life in Japanese captivity.
One such leaflet is entitled: "SHOULD MIRACLE BRING YOU SOME DAY. PLEASE TAKE THESE MESSAGES FROM YOUR FRIENDS IN JAPAN TO THE ONES WHOM THEY LOVE DEARLY. This leaflet has three letters on the front and four on the back, all handwritten. An example is, "Mrs. Josephine M. Keck, 19 Russel Street, Portsmouth, N. H. We go on walks once a week and have visited many shrines. Japan is beautiful at this time of the year. We also have many good books in our library. Please send some pictures (snap shots) when you write as I only have the one you sent me from Honolulu on your way home. Write me as often as you can. Now please don't worry about me as I am well taken care of and will be until the war is over. We all hope for a war prisoner exchange soon. Truman Wilber Keck."
A similar leaflet is more pictorial and depicts three photographs of happy Americans in captivity with the text "Prisoners calling!" on the front. The back depicts a long hand-written letter telling of the joys of prison camp signed by 13 prisoners, including several naval officers.
Tell it to the Marines
Another leaflet depicts a group of Marines trapped on Guadalcanal. Text in red is, "They say it to the Marines, but look where you stand." The politicians back in Australia are in a panic and one says "Hopeless! Better abandon the Solomons, Chief!" while another lies to the Marines "U.S. Fleet scores another major victory."
Kiss me Hard
Another leaflet depicts troops in a storm on Guadalcanal while back in Australia other troops are with women. The text is:
Freedom, Freedom, Oh yes. Kiss me hard. Lets enjoy life more.
I Could Enjoy Life
This leaflet has an interesting concept. At the top a civilian kisses a sexy woman with the text:
Past: I could enjoy life as much as I can with .
A second picture below depicts the man, now a soldier hanging onto a board in the ocean. His ship has been sunk by the Japanese we assume. He sees a shark looking hungrily at him and the text is:
Present: Now same mouth but oh
Here I am in Person!
This is one of the strangest Japanese leaflets that I have seen. It depicts a naked woman looking at a banana and apparently about to use it as a sex toy. We knew the Japanese believed the western troops were weak and immoral, but this seems to go way past that. The text is:
HERE I AM IN PERSON!
Honey, look in the back for my love call.
The back shows two hands holding the leaflet. Notice that on the front there is a blank space around the vaginal area (a white square). On the back the lower hand has placed a finger through that blank space. Apparently, the soldier is expected to cut that blank space out and then masturbate and have sex with the picture. This one is strange, even for the Japanese.
The Japanese reference says about this leaflet:
Written on the back of the leaflet:
Come back and continue our relationship... I'm going crazy without you. Hurry dear Johnny, Johnny, you got me crazy.
How to use the picture above.
Put your right finger on the cutout as shown in the right picture and move it as you like. yes, yes.
I'm already excited. (Target, US soldiers of Guadalcanal, Purpose, Fostering anti-war sentiment).
Timing of use, immediately after battle)
Don't go West
This Japanese leaflet depicts a photograph of a British or Australian soldier with his young son who is in tears. The text is simply:
Don't go west
My Japanese reference books show this leaflet as having been dropped on Allied troops in Guadalcanal, but since that island is directly south of Japan, the message makes no sense. The soldier seems to be British and the Japanese could be telling the British at home not to head west, but it would seem to be too late if they were already on Guadalcanal. The problem is that U.S. Marines, not British "Tommies," fought on Guadalcanal. This leaflet is a mystery.
The United States produced a booklet called White Bombs to instruct the troops about the value of propaganda leaflets. Here they show a Japanese leaflet depicting a ticket to Armistice. Below, we show that this was a common theme and used over and over again with different images.
>Inside Page: White Bombs
Some of the booklet text in regard to this leaflet is:
When one of our soldiers on Guadalcanal picked up a Japanese leaflet with a picture of a naked woman on it that promised kind treatment if he deserted he got the first good laugh he had in weeks.
Japs dropped this beauty over the Marines on Guadalcanal, promised her to U.S. deserters, but there were no takers.
Please Please Come Back
"TICKET TO ARMISTICE"
"Ticket To Meet Your Wife and Kid"
There are about a half-dozen different leaflets that feature the "TICKET TO ARMISTICE" surrender instruction text. The text is identical to that used on the Philippines, except that there is no signature by General Homma. The text is:
USE THIS TICKET TO SAVE YOUR LIFE! YOU WILL BE KINDLY TREATED.
Follow These Instructions:
1. Come towards our lines waving a white flag.
2. Strap your gun over your left shoulder muzzle down and pointed behind you.
3. Show this ticket to the sentry.
4. Any number of you may surrender with this one ticket.
JAPANESE ARMY HEADQUARTERS.
There are also a number of leaflets with a similar text entitled TICKET TO PEACE. One such leaflet is 5 x 7-inches in size:
TICKET TO PEACE
USE THIS TICKET, SAVE YOUR LIFE. YOU WILL BE KINDLY TREATED.
Follow These Instructions:
1. Come towards our lines waving a white flag.
2. Strap your gun over your left shoulder muzzle down and pointed behind you.
3. Show this ticket to the sentry.
4. Any number of you may surrender with this one ticket.
JAPANESE ARMY HEADQUARTERS.
Sing your way to peace pray for peace
Ticket to Armistice
Another version of the Ticket to Armistice. Some are all in English to American troops; some are half-English and half-Japanese so that the Japanese soldier will understand what the paper means when he is approached by a surrendering enemy.
Poor, Reckless, Yankee Doodle - Battle of Palau
In order to secure the flank for U.S. forces preparing to attack Japanese forces in the Philippines, U.S. Marine and Army forces landed on the islands of Peleliu and Angaur in Palau. The island of Peleliu was finally secured by U.S. forces in November 1944. Following their landings in the Mariana and Palau Islands, Allied forces continued their campaign against Japan by landing in the Philippines in October 1944 and Okinawa in January 1945.
The strange Japanese leaflet was dropped by a seaplane on Palau or one of the other islands in early 1945 and indicates that the Americans had dropped surrender leaflets to the Japanese which were rejected. The grammar and spelling are so bad in this leaflet that it cannot be an official Japanese product. I suspect the pilot or some of the crew members produced this leaflet in their patriotic fervor. The United States had no 58th Fleet, and I doubt they had 19 aircraft carriers take part in any one battle in the Pacific.
You cant keep her waiting
The Japanese liked the look of women on their leaflets. They would often show a single woman, kind of a pin-up photo. Here they pull out all stops and depict no less than eight women, all apparently awaiting the return of the local soldier kissing a girl in the middle photo. The text is:
Here you can do the things that youve always wanted to do
You cant keep her waiting forever
Among the various picture sides of these surrender passes are "cheesecake" photographs of women showing their legs, strips of photographs showing a man kissing his wife, A sliced ham, and even a Hollywood pin-up portrait of as reclining brunette looking at the camera in a rather sexy way. One Full-color cartoon leaflet pictures a man with a cane talking to a woman. She says in broken English, "Gee Honey, how can you get back here. Iam certainly glad to have with you." He answers in kind, "Thas simple, darling! Ive done my duty. Then, surrendered with honor. Thats why Iam here with you.
As in the Philippine campaign, there were a number of morale leaflets in the form of Christmas cards. At least seven different Christmas cards were dropped on U. S. forces on Guadalcanal in December of 1942. The text is in English. Some of these cards are described in the Japanese-language book Paper War, published by the Preservation Society of the Peace Museum. 45 pages of Japanese wartime leaflets were also pictured in a special 214-page edition of the magazine Nihon Shuho (Weekly Japan Report) published by Nihon Shuhosa on 4 June 1959. I should point out that the first four cards are in the form of "Vargas girls" pinup posters, so GIs would be likely to collect them as much for the pictures of the girls as for the Christmas sentiments. The last few cards are classic Christmas scenes and could have been found on any Hallmark greeting card.
Can't he be original? Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
1. This card is on blue paper and depicts a pinup drawing of a girl in a transparent white negligee talking on a telephone. Text on the front says "Can't he be original? Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year." The back of the card shows a similar picture of a girl in a black negligee. When opened, the card has a long handwritten note to "Dearest Jim," which starts "Another day passes without word from you and I write wondering whether this will reach you or not. Why, oh why don't I hear from you ?" The letter is signed "Love and kisses, Claire."
2. The front of this beige-colored card depicts a pinup of a girl in a bunny suit talking on a telephone. The text reads, "It's me, darling, saying Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year." The back shows a girl in a transparent summer outfit with a wide-brimmed hat. The hand-written letter inside begins "Dearest husband, It's Christmas time again and here I am, sending you my love and greetings, instead of being able to wish you the same in person. I'm sure your life is full of hardship and misery. My head aches when I wonder why we had to start this war " and ends "Love and kisses, Joan."
The same line Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
3. This bright yellow card features, in the front, a girl in a bathing suit talking on a telephone. The text is "The same line Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year." The back shows a girl in a bathing suit on a swing. The text begins "My dearest darling. They promised us that the war would be over by autumn and so I could see you by Christmas, but their promise hasn't come true. They make all sorts of promises, these politicians, but it all just so much air! When will the war end? It seems like it'll go on and on forever " and ends, "With love and kisses, Lorraine."
4. A girl in a beautiful formal black dress reclines across both the front and back of this beige-colored card. Text on the front reads "Oh, Darling, you say it in the sweetest way Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!" The text inside begins "Dearest Darling, it was rumored that this awful war would end by Christmas last year. We all hoped that the rumor would come true, but Christmas is here again and peace seems as far away as ever, and I feel so lonely and so despondent " and ends, "With love, Nancy." This card was first illustrated in Psychological Warfare, Paul Linebarger, Combat Forces Press, Washington DC, 1954. Linebarger treats this propaganda as sexual in nature and ignores the Christmas connection. He says, "Young human beings, especially young males, are apt to give considerable attention to sex. In areas of military operations, they are removed from the stimuli of secondary sex references, which are (in America) an accepted part of everyone's daily life: bathing beauty photos, magazine covers, semi-nudes in advertisements, etc. Our enemies tried to use the resulting pin-up craze for propaganda purposes, hoping that a vain arousal of oestrum would diminish morale." Linebarger states that this leaflet was used in the Philippines, so it might have been dropped more than once.
5. This is the first of the more traditional cards. The front shows "Greetings!" with a candelabrum and a picture window through which we see a snowy Christmas scene. Inside on the left: "He that oppresseth the poor and just to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want. Proverbs 22. 16." Inside on the right: "The question on which strikes at the heart of the war situation like a dagger is not: who caused the war? It is not even: who brought America into the war? The revealing question is: who profited by the war, pocketed the profit and defends the profit? The major portion of the war profits goes into the hands of the wealthiest families of America. (by) Frederick Wiehl, President of the All-American Association. But whether or not these plutocrats will come to want is another question."
6. The front of this blue-colored card shows "Greetings", with three homes with snowy roofs and a bright moon above. Inside on the left is the same verse from Proverbs 22.16 as in the preceding card. Inside on the right: "The capitalists that oppress the poor to increase their riches, and the government that helpth (sic) the rich in waging this war shall surely come to grief."
Christmas Eve - All's well - Let us remember one thing...it isn't our war.
7. There is another Christmas card leaflet printed only on the front of a single page. The leaflet is 128 x 90 mm in size. The card shows an American corporal in a tattered overcoat walking with crutches. His right leg is heavily bandaged. Behind him there is a nighttime holiday scene of snow-covered homes beneath a starry sky. The text on this leaflet is "Christmas Eve - All's well - Let us remember one thing...it isn't our war." The back is blank.
Finally, there were a number of rather well done leaflets showing maps or official photographs that looked very much like newsletters. These were more serious, with none of the cartoons or bright colors found on the other leaflets.
One shows a meeting of a pacifist group in America with a sign in the background "Save Our Sons - No deaths for American boys." The other side depicts three photos of happier days and attractive girls with the text, "Sweet days.... and bitter today." The National Liberation front prepared very similar leaflets years later for use against Americans in Vietnam showing peace demonstrations back home.
Another depicts a dance at the top and a cart full of dead bodies below with the text "Melancholy was reserved for darkness and the day after." The back of the leaflet depicts a couple at the top, a soldier in the jungle at the center, and a grave at the bottom. The text is "Today...and Tomorrow."
DEVIL or DEMIGOD?
One Japanese leaflet depicts two photographs of President Roosevelt. Beneath him is the text:
DEVIL or DEMIGOD?
(Signed) Franklin D. Roosevelt."
Notice that the six descriptive words start with letters that spell out Damned. I suspect many Americans would be stumped by the term nutshelling. I certainly am.
The final leaflet we will mention here depicts a map of Australia and Guadalcanal. The text is "GUADALCANAL - is isolated - reinforcement is out with the Navy down no help...no hope...resistance is futile." The back of the leaflet depicts a news photograph of a burning aircraft carrier with the caption, " A most dramatic moment as the Lexington exploded in the Coral Sea: The crew of the aircraft-carrier swarming down ropes from the flight deck after it had been set on fire by Jap bombs: the great explosion which followed is believed to have been caused by the blowing up of the petrol tanks. 'The Sphere' July 11."
WE GUARANTEE YOUR LIFE AND PROPERTY
The Japanese invaded the island of Tulagi, about 30 miles north of Guadalcanal on 3 May 1942. This was part of Operation Mo, the Empire of Japan's strategy in the South Pacific and South West Pacific Area in 1942. The plan called for Imperial Japanese Navy troops to capture Tulagi and nearby islands in the Solomon Islands Protectorate. The occupation of Tulagi by the Japanese was intended to cover the flank of and provide reconnaissance support for Japanese forces that were advancing on Port Moresby in New Guinea. On 7 August 1942, 3,000 U.S. Marines landed on Tulagi and nearby islands. The Japanese troops on Tulagi and nearby islands were outnumbered and killed almost to the last man. The leaflet above was found on Tulagi by an American sailor. It appears to be aimed at the native population. The text is:
WE GUARANTEE YOUR LIFE AND PROPERTY
Nippon has declared war against the United State of America and England and is going to the grorious war with them to keep the independence and honour of the Yellow Race. Already Navy of Nippon is wining a victory everywhere, and occupied all Bismarck archipelago Therefore you dont belong to the sovereignty of England but the sovereignty of Nippon. See your circumstances in past time! There is nothing but oppression and squeeze of the White race! Follow us! And happiness and wealth will be given
NAVY OF NIPPON
To Indian Troops fighting with the British
Since the Japanese claimed to be freeing the natives of Asia from their colonial powers, it was only natural that they would attempt to drive the British out of India. There were two major PSYOP campaigns used in this attack on the British Raj. The first was propaganda directed at the Indian military forces fighting on the British side, asking them why they fought to protect the masters that dominated and enslaved them. The second was the support of an Indian National government, which would give some legitimacy to the Japanese claims of fighting for Indian freedom and independence.
Britain had controlled the Indian subcontinent since the late 18th century. There had been numerous uprisings and agitation as the Indians attempted to free themselves from the British yoke. When war between Britain and Germany broke out on 2 September 1939, the British viceroy in India unilaterally declared India to be a belligerent. The move infuriated the Indian people and eventually the Indian Congress adopted a resolution on 8 August 1942 demanding freedom from Britain as a condition for Indian participation in the war. The British rejected this resolution, which led to widespread public disorder. The British then jailed members of the Indian Congress and this helped to create a leadership vacuum and provided an impetus for the ascendancy of Subhas Chandra Bose as a leader of the militant opposition.
Back about 2020 I worked with an author named Graham Shaw on his research into the Japanese leaflets supporting the Free India movement. I gave him the complete use of all my leaflet images for his study, A Little-known Dimension of Indian Freedom Movement Iconography: Indian-language leaflets printed by the Japanese during the Second World War. I thought I might add some of Graham’s comments to this article (edited for brevity):
These are typical examples of the very striking polychromatic leaflets with Indian-language slogans produced by the Japanese in support of the Indian Independence League in East Asia (IIL) and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army (INA) for whose troops the British coined the derogatory acronym ‘JIFs’ – ‘Japanese-Inspired Fifth Columnists’ or ‘Japanese–Inspired Fascists’. These leaflets were the product of the fierce propaganda war waged between the Allies and the Japanese to win the hearts and minds of Indians not only in India itself but also in mainland Southeast Asia during the later years of the Second World War.
The images produced by the Japanese in support of the IIL and INA seem to have been almost totally ignored, despite their presence in major public collections such as the Imperial War Museum and the National Army Museum, both in London. These leaflets deserve to be better known as they add a new dimension to the iconography of the Indian Freedom Movement.
Subhas Chandra Bose
Subhas Bose (1897-1945) had been a fervent nationalist since his youth. For a time he was a follower of Gandhi, but he soon became disillusioned with the philosophy of non-violence. His book, The Indian Struggle, was published in 1934 and advocated a dictatorship form of government for India. Between 1920 and 1941, Bose was arrested eleven times for fomenting agitation. In 1939 he had visited Berlin where he attempted to enlist Nazi support for his independence movement. Back in India, He was placed under close house arrest in 1940, but managed to deceive the British and escape, and after a historic overland trek to Kabul made his way back to Berlin in 1941. While in Germany he made broadcasts advocating freedom for India. He supported the elite special unit (Sonderkommando B) and the Indian Legion numbering about 3000 men that were formed by the Germans from Indian prisoners of war in North Africa. On 3 February 1943 Bose began a voyage aboard German submarine U-180 to the coast of Madagascar where he was met by Japanese submarine I-29. He reached Sabang on 1 May. He was immediately flown to Tokyo. He met with and impressed Prime Minister Hideki Tojo, and was sent to Singapore where he assumed the presidency of the Indian Independence League and command of the reconstituted Indian National Army (INA). On 21 October 1943, a Provisional Government of Azad Hind was formed with Bose as its first president. The Provisional Government of Azad Hind immediately declared war against Great Britain and the United States of America. By now Bose was well known throughout India and was called Netaji ("Revered Leader").
Azad Hind Propaganda Postage Stamp
This stamp is one of a set produced in Germany and sent to Japan to be used by the Free Indian Army. They had no value and since the Indian Army never controlled any territory saw no use. My original 1972 description of these stamps is "A turbaned soldier carrying the Azad Hind flag with two companions in German-style field caps, the design flanked by two ceremonial swords."
After the fall of Singapore in early 1942, the Japanese took 40,000 Indian soldiers as prisoners of war. Some volunteers were organized into an Indian National Army, better known as Azad Hind Fauz. This unit saw no action, and was torn by dissention among its high officers and with the Japanese. It was not an effective fighting force until the arrival of Netaji Bose in Singapore. In 1944, while under the command of Bose, the INA fought alongside the Japanese on the Burma front in an attempt to advance into India. The drive toward Imphal stalled. The Japanese retreated, and there was a horrendous loss of life among the troops of the INA. It became clear to Bose that his dream of a free India was ended. It would only be realized after the war by political rather than military means. Bose moved from Rangoon to Bangkok to Saigon. Two days after the Japanese surrender on 15 August 1945, he attempted to preserve his political movement by flying to Manchuria where he hoped to gain asylum with the advancing Soviet forces. Bose was killed on 18 August in an aborted takeoff after a refueling stop at Taihaku airport on Taiwan.
Like the Guadalcanal campaign, there are dozens of Japanese leaflets that attempt to divide the Indian troops from their British allies. Except for a very small minority, almost all of the leaflets are written in the various languages of the Indian subcontinent. As a result, we cannot mention the text on most of these leaflets, but we can describe some of the more interesting ones.
The Japanese propaganda leaflets to the Indians were quite different from the German leaflets. Whereas the German leaflets tended to be monochromatic and sometime wordy on the back, the Japanese leaflets were very bright and full-colored; sometimes very busy with numerous images piled one upon another, and with minimal text. They also made great use of political satire and cartoons attacking Allied leaders such as Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Chiang Kai-shek, and also the various nations opposed to
. For those who want to know more about the Japanese psychological operations against Japan , I suggest you read my article Axis Propaganda Against Indian Troops. India
The Japanese attitude toward psychological warfare against Indian troops is mentioned by Lieutenant Colonel Mahmood Khan Durrani in The Sixth Column, Cassell and Company, 1955. Durrani was a prisoner of the Japanese and quotes a lecture given by a Japanese officer on how leaflets should be prepared for use against the Indians fighting for the British. He says in part:
Propaganda leaflets dropped for troops must be easily noticed and yet at the same time easily concealable on the person of the soldier so that he might hide them from his officers and read them at his leisure.
The handbill should be of an attractive color so that it might not escape the notice of all soldiers.
The leaflet should have, if possible, the picture of a beautiful woman, after the method used by the Germans in the First World War. This device would insure that the soldier would be attracted and would be unable to resist looking at the picture over and over again. This would rouse his passion, and his heart would be inclined for love and to hate fighting.
The text of the posters must remind soldiers of their wives and children in trouble, thanks to their serving as mercenaries in the hands of foreigners who had selfish motives. This would have the effect of striking the most tender chords.
The poster should give a photograph of or mention the gardens and fruits of the country the soldiers belonged to, so that it might remind them of the happy and bubbling life of their countrymen in contrast to their own wretched lives as soldier and the deadly destruction of war in store for them. Thus the soldier would have a craving to go back to the peaceful and happy life he had once lived, and he would be likely to desert at the first opportunity.
The handbill should include a definite promise that it would serve as a ticket for entry into their fold as a friend to whoever should desert their ranks of his army and come to their side with it. And as such a friend, he would be given a long holiday and sent to his country to meet his parents, wife, children and friends.
One, English-language leaflet pictures Gandhi, and has the slogans: "God bid Nippon to help India drive out the British Devil and "Japan is sworn to aid India fight." Another states "Vindicate Asiatic honor: wipe out Anglo-Saxon superiority."
The remainder of the leaflets I have seen are all in native tongue. Many of the leaflets depict the victorious Japanese fighting side-by-side with the Indians. In one, an Indian National Army (INA) member stands by a Japanese soldier while a British politician and an American officer try to get another Indian, holding what I assume is a bag of cash, to fight.
In another, Indian and Japanese soldiers attack and British troops are run away.
Your Demand for Independence
A third such leaflet pictures a number of allied leaders such as Roosevelt and Churchill trying to push or pull an Indian into the fight against the Japanese. By coincidence, I described this same leaflet in a 1972 booklet I wrote entitled Azad Hind and Chalo Delhi Stamps, Jal Cooper, Bombay, India. The text in Hindi and Bengali is:
The defeated countries, whose destruction is inevitable, are casting greedy eyes on India. Do not pay attention to their sweet talk.
Churchill holds a whip with a flag attached with text:
We accept your demand for independence.
Another leaflet shows John Bull with a pistol at the back of an Indian forcing him to advance. The text in Hindi and Bengali is:
Kill all the British.
I don't want to die for British!
A fifth leaflet shows Japanese Prime Minister Tojo speaking on the radio. The lightning bolts from his voice knock over Roosevelt and Churchill.
In some leaflets the Indians are depicted as British stooges. One shows a blindfolded colonial Indian being ridden and whipped by Churchill approaching a strong Japanese soldier. Destroyed British ships and aircraft are in the foreground. The text is:
What purpose of yours is served by fighting the Japanese army?
Other such leaflets depict dead or dying Indians hung from trees while John Bull saunters down a path. The text is:
Never forget 1857. 100,000 Indian patriots were victims of the British barbarism
Another leaflet depicts Indians tied to cannon barrels by the British. The text is:
When will you get an opportunity to take revenge, if not now? Do not forget the British
practice of blowing apart Indians after tying them to mouth of a cannon's barrel.
A number of leaflets tell how the British eat well while the Indians starve. One shows a fat husband and wife eating a turkey while a number of starving Indians are collapsed on the floor by the table. Another shows Churchill eating at a table while a caricature that seems to be President Roosevelt stabs an Indian in the back.
Churchill, the Fight Promoter
One leaflet shows Churchill encouraging Indians to kill each other within a ring that is a map of India. The text is:
Stop dancing to the English tune and come together forgetting religious differences for the sake of independence.
Leaflets that show bad treatment of the Indians are common. In one, a giant pile of skulls is depicted in front of a British fort. The text is in the Urdu, Hindi and Bengali languages and says:
The English are prepared to feed hundreds of Indians to the cannons to save their empire.
In another, a caricature of Churchill is about to chop the hands off an Indian worker at a textile sweat shop. The leaflet is written in Hindi and Bengali. The text is:
To save Manchester, the British rulers shed the blood of Indians and in return gave them hunger and poverty
Still another leaflet shows a British soldier bayoneting a worker while other soldiers shoot at agricultural workers in the field.
Axe to liberate
This is an interesting leaflet that shows Churchill holding a rope tied to the leg of an Indian. The Indian has an axe labeled Freedom and is about to chop the rope, freeing him from the British weight. Chiang Kai-shek is in the background, seeming confused. Off to the right are a number of bundles the probably had been carried by the Indian; the first two labeled Bound for England, the last bundle says British Atrocities; Indian goods. The text is:
This axe is way to liberate us from the British Demon!
We Indians have had a bad experience. There is no way to save fellow Indians other than to use the axe for freedom. We will end 300 years of murder and atrocity-filled history by using the freedom axe. We will end the life of the British Demon that rules over 350 million Indians from Asia and from the world. This is the time for it.
No Room in the truck
Another leaflet shows a truck full of European troops of different nations trying to escape the Japanese. A number of Indian troops are forced off the truck and left to die by their allies.
Indian Boot-Shine Leaflet
The above leaflet shows an Indian shining the boots of a English officer about to be freed by attacking INA soldiers.
Elephant and John Bull Leaflet
Another leaflet depicts an Indian elephant with the INA symbol lifting John Bull high over its head. The text is:
Oh sleeping Elephant! Wake up and stand up.
At this opportune time, break the English chain and be free.
One leaflet shows a Japanese soldier breaking the chains of an enslaved Indian.
Another depicts Churchill as a spider with a bag of gold.
Churchill the Spider
A Japanese leaflet to the Indians vilifies Churchill as a spider with a bag of gold. The text is:
The time has come to make India free. Rise up and shatter the British fetters.
Several leaflets show Indians on horseback charging. Similar leaflets are found in both horizontal and vertical format. Notice how similar this is to the same type of leaflet produced for Burma below. The flag is the major change in the leaflet design. The text is:
Burma and the Philippines have attained freedom. Oh India! You must also awaken and rise.
Fight for Liberation.
This leaflet shows an Indian with spear charging forward and stepping on a British flag. The text in Hindi and Bangla is:
Fight for Liberation.
India shall make herself free and fight for the defense of the Indian races.
The tyrannical British are the enemies of all Indians.
Don't Unnecessarily Waste your Life
This leaflet has very simple symbolism. John Bull has the wealth of India on a cart and is seeking to escape while British Indian Army soldiers are killed on the front lines. The text in Hindi and Bangla is:
Don't unnecessarily waste your life for the British!
All of the East Asian races
Patriotic Indians chase John Bull in this leaflet. The ground is littered with British armaments destroyed by the Indians and Japanese. The text in Hindi and Bangla is:
All of the East Asian races have awakened.
Liberate your countries by striking and completely destroying your enemies.
In general, this is a wonderful field of study. The leaflets are almost all highly colorful, well-drawn, and many seem to have some historical tie to British-Indian clashes in the past. The Japanese appear to have done their homework well.
German Leaflet "Boycott foreign goods!"
Before we leave the discussion of Axis propaganda to the Indians, we should mention that the Germans also produced such leaflets for use against Indian troops fighting with the British in
. The book PAPER WAR: Nazi propaganda in one battle, on a single day, Italy , May 11, 1944, Mark Batty, 2005, depicts such a leaflet featuring Mahatma Gandhi. Some of the text on this leaflet coded [Delta] 163-944 is: Cassino, Italy
Boycott foreign goods!
The Mahatmas life is full of sorrow, with many problems and sacrifices.
His thousands of companions also have to face the hardships of being a political prisoner. This is all for love of their country! They are doing all this for their country, for their Indian brothers, for you. Yes for you! And your children too!
Another German leaflet tells the Indians in part:
Now Free Indian Army!
Under the leadership of Subhash Chandra Bose the Japanese Army has entered
Indiathrough and at this moment the Free Indians flag is waving in the premises of Manipur. This army will fight until the British are completely destroyed. Thousands of Indian soldiers in the British Army are running to join the Indian National Army to fight for their freedom against the British. Burma
Think about it. What should you be doing now?
Readers who want to learn more about propaganda to India will find my article on that subject here.
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