Being frightened of what you do in war

Discussion in 'General' started by The Aviator, Dec 15, 2007.

  1. The Aviator

    The Aviator Discharged

    Seeing the thread on Milne Bay reminds me of an old neighbor that my wife takes shopping once a week because he can no longer drive to the supermart.
    Harry invited us over for afternoon tea occasionally to say thanks.
    On one visit I was looking at his 2nd World War photo of himself in army uniform and asked what he did in the war.
    He said that he was at Milne Bay. He went on to tell me that they had Vickers machine guns set up in the sandhills behind sandbags and when the Japanese marines came ashore they mowed them down in their hundreds. He said that it was such a massacre that him and the boys became very frightened at what they were doing. He said that in war it kinda seemed like some casualties were a price to pay to inflict greater destruction on the enemy. But when it was so one sided it was like they expected to get into trouble for doing it.
    He said they felt ashamed after, when they looked at all the bodies.

    This reminds be of another action in southern Malaya in the state of Johore where it was approaching the causeway south to Singapore.
    Australian infantry mostly just boys had set up an ambush with half a dozen Bren guns on a narrow gravel road.
    Next thing along came hundreds of Japanese infantry on bicycles with their rifles slung on their backs.
    The Australians opened fire at point blank range. The carnage was unbelievable and the Japs kept coming as barrels ran hot. Riding around their fallen they seemed to be oblivious to the slaughter as they were mowed down in their hundreds.
    The young soldier telling the story said that him and his mates became very frightened at what they did and finally ran from the scene.
    He said that after all the defeats and retreating, to win something so one sided, didn't seem right.
     

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  2. SouthWestPacificVet

    SouthWestPacificVet Confirmed Liar

    Interesting,

    If I were to give a single word answer, it would be guilt for the fact I survived and so very many better men did not.

    All the best
    Jack
     
  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    If they had killed that many people and not felt some guilt they wouldn't be Human.
    After all we're all brought up to believe Thou Shalt Not Kill.
    I know as a Trained Soldier you are expected to kill the enemy but that doesn't mean you have to feel good about it.
    Thankfully I don't know what it's like to kill someone.
    I never do want to find out either.
     
  4. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Feel Guilty? About killing the Enemy? The SS? men that were responsible for Orador? The enemy that murdered, slaughtered, tortured and killed all over Europe, and elsewhere? You are joking?
    GUILTY? For putting these evil scum down? You must belong to a different generation? Guilty for shooting those responsible for the deaths of 60 million in WW2?

    Guilty for killing the nation responsible for the Death camps all over Europe and the East? Guilty?........Are you serious?
    Sapper
     
  5. SouthWestPacificVet

    SouthWestPacificVet Confirmed Liar

    Hello Sapper,

    I'm not certain if you are understanding my reply, I did my bit in helping the Jap die for his emperor, after my brother was killed I kept score for a while. As far as generations go, I was born in 1917.

    All the best
    Jack
     
  6. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Hello Sapper,

    I'm not certain if you are understanding my reply, I did my bit in helping the Jap die for the his emperor, after my brother was killed I kept score for a while. As far as generations go, I was born in 1917.

    All the best
    Jack

    Jack

    I know that Brian will reply and tell you that he was not "having a go at you in person" but I also know where he is coming from and so, until he gets around to replying, would like to add my own thoughts on the subject of "Guilt".

    Brian

    I read your emotive response on this thread and felt obliged to offer my own thoughts on the subject of “feeling guilt on killing an enemy”.

    I had what some might have considered a relatively “easy” war.

    Between 1942 and 1945, although I lived at times in horrendous circumstances, I was a wireless-op and was therefore never called upon to fire at the enemy.

    This all changed for me in late 1944, when my Ack Ack unit was disbanded and I was willy-nilly trained to be a loader/ op in tanks. Even then, as the Squadron Sgt.Major’s wireless op, I found my role was mainly that of being the signals man for someone who was the odd job man on the battlefield and we were too busy in that role to even think of actually firing at anyone.

    Except for one fateful day, which I have described elsewhere, http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/30/a2017630.shtml
    when I actually pointed a machine gun directly at the enemy and fired simply non-stop for about ten seconds.

    The fire that had been directed at us stopped almost immediately.

    I have no way of knowing how or why it stopped but sheer logic indicates that I had wounded or killed whoever was shooting at us.

    Did I feel guilt ? Did I hell !

    Why should I ?

    Even without going into Sapper’s deeper reasoning of the need to rid the world of the Nazi regime, the matter was simple to the extreme.

    I was being attacked, I defended myself, end of story.

    Ron
     
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  7. SouthWestPacificVet

    SouthWestPacificVet Confirmed Liar

    Hello Ron,

    I share your opinion, we were responding to the need to rid the world of the Japs, island by island, one at a time hand to hand when necessary.

    All the best
    Jack
     
  8. deadb_tch

    deadb_tch the deadliest b#tch ever

    Think that there can be two types of kill at war: kill to defend self or soldiers around when enemy attacks u and kill of enemy that do not attacks u, like that japanese that were just moving somewhere not trying to attack australians. This what Owen tried to say. But anyway if man feels good after he/she killed someone (even if its 1000000th enemy) think this not a good sign..
     
  9. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    These were my late Fathers thoughts on the subject:

    "............... It would get a lot easier to kill. I would get to the point where I wanted to kill. I was to change from a one-time, church going Choirboy, to being a total animal............."
     
  10. The Aviator

    The Aviator Discharged

    I am sorry that you became upset Sapper.
    There were plenty that needed killing, no doubt about it and I understand.
    But in this case we were talking about young soldiers many in their teens, who left Mum and Dad and grandma a few months ago.
    Their opposite numbers that they were mowing down were more of the same.
    Many like my father in law didn't get over it until about 1980.
    That is another story and I might tell it.
     
  11. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Hi Folks I am not upset.....certainly not... If I offended anyone? then PLEASE accept my sincere apologies. Its probably my Dorset way of speaking ..... HI Jack! Pleased to meet you mate. Hi Ron hope you are well you old battle axe!!

    Let me explain. having been in Normandy, where the 12 SS murdered our captured men in cold blood, And being aware of their terrible crimes against innocent people where ever they were. I have little pity for any of them.

    We lost damn near the equivalent of our Divisions strength in the war in Europe. We knew all about the terrible crimes of burning women and children alive in the church at Orador.....And all the almost unbelievable crimes of the concentration camps.
    Why then should anyone feel guilty about shooting this evil spawn of the devil?

    It seems to me, having seen the horrifying carnage inside the Falaise Pocket, that in some ways, they paid the price. But lets face it, for if the Germans had to pay the full price in the numbers they killed? there would hardly be a soul left in the Fatherland!
    Again If I upset anyone...Though I do not know why? let me say Sorry for what ever reason.
    Sapper
    Mind you! anyone that saw the inside of Falaise would be put off war for their rest of their natural life....YUK.
     
  12. SouthWestPacificVet

    SouthWestPacificVet Confirmed Liar

    Hello Sapper,

    Brian it is good to meet you, the pleasure is mine. My daughter just took a photo of an old snap shot of me and set it up on the computer as my avatar, I'm the fellow on the far left in the coveralls and cap, who looks like he hadn't eaten in a week, most likely I hadn't.
     
  13. The Aviator

    The Aviator Discharged

    Jack, please add that as an attachment and not an avatar so it is bigger old mate.
     
  14. SouthWestPacificVet

    SouthWestPacificVet Confirmed Liar

    That's me on the far left, the boat crew is on the charthouse.
     

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  15. Christos

    Christos Discharged

    When the distingushed author and respected journalist William Manchester returned to the Pacific , he was looking to exorcise the 'dream demons' that woke him up, strange dreams of the Sergeant he use to be as a US Marine....one of the people he interviewed was an ex-Kamikaze pilot who had miraculously been spared a mission....on meeting this old enemy, Manchester tried to 'break the ice' and joking with him, congratulated this proud Japanese on surviving his kamikaze mission.....

    The reaction he got was a very brittle smile....the rest of the interview was spent exchanging pleasantries about every other topic than the subject that Manchester had met him to talk about.....

    60-70-80 years on....veterans of this war will probably never reconcile the differences that split them as a human society into two opposing camps, one of which, to our eternal thanks to the Almighty, won the fight as they should have. The Western powers had a certain RIGHTEOUSNESS that Axis forces just could not match...no matter how much black propaganda to the contrary....the RIGHT side won.....

    But, wounds sometimes linger, and we become, like Sir Lancelot, with a wound that just wont heal.....

    In the search for the truth of world war II, historians have come up with all sorts of unpalatable facts that make the Axis cause such a losing wicket....I can't help thinking, though, that, maybe, the time has come for us all to think of ourselves, not as Axis or Allied, Japanese or American, or any other label you may wish to attach....


    Maybe, just maybe...we should all see ourselves (as War progeny generations), maybe we should finnally group ourselves all into to one catagory.......


    SURVIVORS.

    And thats the best thing about a war, yes?...Surviving it...no matter WHO's side your on.....
     
  16. The Aviator

    The Aviator Discharged

    Well written Christos. But I can't go along with that mate.
    No way will I ever parallel our society with the Japs and Germans of WW2.
    They were the badies. They can never be watered down with modernist liberal thinking.
    To do so will weaken our resolve.
    They did unspeakable things and can't ever be forgiven.

    We must never break our convenant with the war dead. To do so would be like saying that because some time has passed, what they did is now de valued.
     
  17. Christos

    Christos Discharged

    Agreed....shame to us all.....which is why I have such an interest in it.....anything , any event like WWII is bound to be controversial......we are dealing with one of the most basic and misunderstood human emotions of all....ANGER...on a nation wide scale....but you and I both know that not all that make up the nation are of one mind on any issue...the descision to go to war is, nowadays, soething we look at before we do it....rarely will a Western power go to war on a knee-jerk reaction anymore....

    All we have to do now, is make sure that we dclare war for the RIGHT reasons.....I think people will always look to WWII as 'The Great Crusade', the one conflict we can point to that had positive results for humans as a whole....

    It was the Greeks that said,

    "To save something, you must ultimately destroy it..."

    and thats what we had to do to European society, destroy it in order to save it......
     
  18. The Aviator

    The Aviator Discharged

    That's me on the far left, the boat crew is on the charthouse.

    Jack, I think we'd all like you to write a caption about the circumstances involved with that photo.
    What is it all about?
     
  19. SouthWestPacificVet

    SouthWestPacificVet Confirmed Liar

    Hello,

    The photo was taken in New Guinea late in '43 or early '44, we did recon of various Jap held islands, going ashore in rubber boats, we would travel by submarine or PT boat in the dark of night, a few times by PBY. The Navy always treated us well, a clean bunk, food, coffee, smokes, dry clothing and socks when they could spare some, and if you needed to mail a letter a Navy guy would take care of it for you. Looking at the faded snap shot now, the fellas all look like kids, with old faces.
     
  20. Christos

    Christos Discharged

    One of my relatives was the commander of a native unit called the PNGI...Papua New Guinea Infantry.....Jim used to say that these people were,
    "The best jungle soldiers I've ever seen..hands down.."

    Most of the Japanese they encountered were "starving", he said, and he remembers how these people used to come in with various trophies, in the traditional manner, to prove that they had actually met and defeated Japanese patrols....paid by the ear, apparently... A couple of storys from him...

    "I'll never forget a patrol we ran...It was 'deep' jungle and the further we went into it, the more it blocked out the sun...finally, we got to this clearing, probably the only clearing in this region for many square kilometres...and then we saw him...
    A priest, working for the International Red Cross, was sitting in the middle of the clearing...He sat under a massive Tea urn on wheels, he had a good supply of biscuits, and he was handing them out to the soldiers we went by...
    Now this Tea urn must have weighed a fair bit, and he had dragged it, over many, many miles of Jungle track, before he reached the point of no return, and just sat down to wait...then we came along....We were the first white people he had seen in THREE WEEKS..."

    "I had to go over to this American unit, for what they called, 'liason', to check what other units were in the area so that our patrols would not run into each other....We got to their base-camp...The Yanks used to land on a beach, march about 500 tards into the jungle. There, they would establish their perimeter, he said, and most of the time, it stayed that way for a good long time....So, we arrive at this unit, and the first thing we notice, are all these 'anti-personel' devices that had been set on the wire to stop or warn of a Japanese infiltration at nightime....Jim observed that the 'devices' as he called them, were hanging, "BOLD AS BRASS AND IN DAYLIGHT, clearly visable on the wire. He said the standard procedure was to remove these devices during the day, and reset them at night again, to prevent Jap recon from noticing a 'gap' during daylight hours that they could exploit at night...
    Jim wandered in, and after finishing the business he came for, he said to the American officer,
    "Look, mate...far be it from us to tell you how to run your unit, but, why in CHRISTS name don't you move those 'mines' out on the wire?"....

    The officer simply looked at him, like he was from another planet...
    "Well", he said.."If we take them down, we will just have to put them back out again....."


    Jim said they just "shook their heads", and said to him..."Ok, pal...I can see you've got it all worked out!."
     

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