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20 August 1945

20 August 1945

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20 August 1945




Soviet troops occupt Harbin and Mukden


The Japanese delegation leaves Manila to carry out the surrender

In Memory of Leon Trotsky

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No.㺢, 20 August 1945, p.ك.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In the past several years an increasing number of trade union activists have become accustomed to hearing the word “Trotskyist” used in the labor movement. Many of the best of them have themselves been called “Trotskyists” because of the ideas they stood for. According to the reactionary union officials and Stalin’sstooges in the labor movement, “Trotskyism” has come to mean any bold policy of action on behalf of the working class.

“Trotskyist” has come to mean anyone who is against the no-strike pledge and in favor of restoring genuine collective bargaining.

“Trotskyist” has come to mean anyone against a policy of appeasement to corporations and in favor of a militant defense of labor’s rights.

“Trotskyist’ has come to mean anyone against a policy of kowtowing to government agencies and for the withdrawal of labor’s members from the War Labor Board.

“Trotskyist” has come to mean anyone against making the trade union movement a tail to the Democratic Party kite and in favor of organizing an independent Labor Party.

“Trotskyist” has come to mean anyone against post-war unemployment and hunger under capitalism and in favor of jobs and plenty for all through a socialist system of planned production foruse.

Who Was Trotsky?

Leon Trotsky would have been proud to have had his name associated with these ideas.

And those thousands of trade unionists who have been fighting for these ideas would do well on this, the fifth commemoration of his tragic death, to resolve to acquaint themselves with the whole of Trotsky’s ideas – his real ideas and not lies and distortions which his enemies have peddled about.

Trotsky was one of the great intellectual giants of the working-class movement. Beginning as a youth, he devoted himself unsparingly and unflinchingly to the cause of socialism. His part in leading the Russian working class in the revolutions of 1905 and 1917 has become an imperishable page in history. But that which will live longest as a contribution to the liberation of humanity is Trotsky’s monumental labor to preserve, extend and apply the scientific theory of Marxism, without which the struggle for a socialist world would flounder like a mariner without charts and compass.

Trotsky carried on where Marx, Engels and Lenin left off. He took their theories and, together with the experience of the working class, developed the strategy and tactics that could lead to victory. The strategy of the working class in the struggle for power became his special sphere. He devoted himself to this question because he saw in it the bottleneck which would prove the undoing of all previous triumphs. History has proved him right in this estimate.

Trotsky viewed the Russian Revolution as the beginning of a world-wide struggle which would determine whether socialism or capitalist barbarism would prevail. He kept repeating that socialism was on the order of the day ever since the First World War and that mankind would suffer cruelly for postponing its achievement. The price it would pay, Trotsky foretold, would be new and more devastating wars worldwide economic crisis and the bloody tyranny of fascism.

Trotsky held that the working class, particularly in Europe, was ready and able to fight successfully for power and socialism. The paralysis that gripped the working class in the post-war years was not a paralysis of the ranks. Trotsky kept repeating: “The crisis of the working class is a crisis of leadership.”

Trotsky’s Great Struggle

The leadership of the old pre-war socialist movement (Second International) had led the workers into the morass of the war and the blind alley of capitalist democracy at the end of the war. It had revealed itself incapable and unwilling in the fight for socialism.

With the Russian Revolution rose the new revolutionary Marxist leadership of the Communist International. Trotsky stood in its leadership alongside of Lenin during its first five years.

With the triumph of the Stalinist counter-revolution in Russia, the Communist Parties of the world ceased being Marxist organizations and became fifth columns for the new Russian rulers.

Trotsky was exiled from Russia. His books were burned, his followers imprisoned or shot, his name blackened. But Trotsky determined to start all over again. He gathered the few revolutionary Marxists in various corners of the world who had survived the corruption and confusion of Stalinism and again organized a world organization committed to carrying on in the theories and traditions of Marx and Lenin.

Trotsky devoted the declining years of his life to this great labor. It bore fruit. His work exists today in the parties that are popularly associated with his name and in their Marxist programs. But for the brilliant light of his intellect which illuminated world politics during the eleven years of his last exile the flame of Marxism would have survived as a feeble flicker indeed.

The Workers Party was formed in 1940 as a result of a sharp political struggle against the position held by Trotsky on Russia’s rule in the war. It was our position that Marxists could no longer pledge unconditional defense to the Soviet Union.

Trotsky continued to adhere to this view. Though we separated ourselves organizationally from Trotsky, the Workers Party has carried on in his tradition and has made the essence of his ideas the foundation of its program. Those who boast that they are the “orthodox Trotskyists” with the “unsullied banner” have continued to cling desperately to the great teacher’s last words but have forgotten the scientific spirit of his method of political analysis.

The Workers Party is determined to teach and train a new generation of young Marxists in the theories of Trotsky. And through our party and its adherents we will continue to carry the fighting spirit which characterized Trotsky as a man and a thinker, into the great struggles that loom before the American working class. In the course of these struggles, increasing thousands of American workers will come to know of Trotsky, not as a foreigner with a little beard and violent notions, but as the great teacher of the international working class movement for socialism.

Wheels West Day in Susanville History – August 20th, 1945

Lassen Capital Welcomes Peace
August 20th, 1945

Noise and more noise was the chief means Tuesday of celebrating the end of four years tension of war. Whistles, sirens, horns and just plain yells were turned loose when the first flash came at 4 p.m.

For an hour the whistles at the lumber mills were tied down, literally deafening the east end of town. In the business district, the fire horn sounded periodically honking cars roamed up and down the street.

Impromptu parades were staged, a batch of 20 high school girls staged a snake dance in the middle of Main street. Streets were packed solid.

Reed Barron parked his car at the Main and Lassen streets intersection, and had it tipped on its side. Stores closed almost as soon as the flash came. By 10 o’clock p.m. the crowds began to thin out, but in private homes in town and in the valley the joyous celebration went on.

Giving thanks for victory and peace was not forgotten, Tuesday night a special service was held at the Baptist church.

Wednesday morning there were special masses at Sacred Heart Catholic church, and Wednesday night a previously planned service was held at St. Paul’s Lutheran church with special prayers and songs.

This morning all the churches are planning to have some type of “thanksgiving” service. There will be a special mass at 10:30 at Sacred Heart church.

Maoka Post Office, 20th August 1945

Post by marek O. » 05 May 2013, 11:32

I have question rather for our Japanese friends. This situation isn't well known and well described in English. Could any of You give me a full list of names of 9 telephonists on Maoka Post Office, who commited suicide on 20th August 1945, just before Soviet forces entered their building. So far I have name of just one of them:
Itoh Chie, 22, she was supposed to be the one saying last farewells from Maoka.

Re: Maoka Post Office, 20th August 1945

Post by hisashi » 05 May 2013, 16:26

Re: Maoka Post Office, 20th August 1945

Post by marek O. » 05 May 2013, 18:49

Thank You very much for Your help, and thank You for the list in both versions - English and Japanese.

Re: Maoka Post Office, 20th August 1945

Post by Heinrich George » 06 May 2013, 23:30

This incident is the subject of two films, one of which was banned for many years.

Re: Maoka Post Office, 20th August 1945

Post by hisashi » 07 May 2013, 06:14

'Karafuto - Summer 1945' was produced by an independent firm JMP. JMP asked a major production with a theater network, Toho for their film. Then Soviet media revealed discomfort on this film (no authoritative person expressed clear demand of stopping the show), and Toho stopped their talk with JMP (not yet contracted). Another network-owner Toei took on the movie, but Toei again cancelled their show in most part of Japan. For the latter, no clear pressure was known, nor any account for the cancel.
On the other hand, an exective of JMP commited a fraud on accomodation bill and arrested. JMP ceased its activity. So the reason why it was almost unscreened and why it was not available for a long time should be regarded separately.

Re: Maoka Post Office, 20th August 1945

Post by marek O. » 07 May 2013, 15:46

I knew about both films and controversy about one of them. I even try to compare list of characters played by different Japanese actresses in one film to a picture with captions [in Japanese], that I have. I've translated few of these captions quite all right, I know now thanks to list You provided, few of them totally wrong, due the fact the captions aren't to clear. None of main characters names is close to real persons names. So, I don't know if You've seen both movies, we can assume that both films are rather variations on the theme than exact account of what happened.

20 August 1945 - History

(Nagasaki, Japan, August 9, 1945)
Events > Dawn of the Atomic Era, 1945

  • The War Enters Its Final Phase, 1945
  • Debate Over How to Use the Bomb, Late Spring 1945
  • The Trinity Test, July 16, 1945
  • Safety and the Trinity Test, July 1945
  • Evaluations of Trinity, July 1945
  • Potsdam and the Final Decision to Bomb, July 1945
  • The Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima, August 6, 1945
  • The Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki, August 9, 1945
  • Japan Surrenders, August 10-15, 1945
  • The Manhattan Project and the Second World War, 1939-1945

The next break in the weather over Japan was due to appear just three days after the attack on Hiroshima, to be followed by at least five more days of prohibitive weather. The plutonium implosion bomb, nicknamed "Fat Man," was rushed into readiness to take advantage of this window. No further orders were required for the attack. Truman's order of July 25th had authorized the dropping of additional bombs as soon as they were ready. At 3:47 a.m. on August 9, 1945, a B-29 named Bock's Car lifted off from Tinian and headed toward the primary target: Kokura Arsenal, a massive collection of war industries adjacent to the city of Kokura.

From this point on, few things went according to plan. The aircraft commander, Major Charles W. Sweeney, ordered the arming of the bomb only ten minutes after take-off so that the aircraft could be pressurized and climb above the lightning and squalls that menaced the flight all the way to Japan. (A journalist, William L. Laurence of the New York Times, on an escorting aircraft saw some "St. Elmo's fire" glowing on the edges of the aircraft and worried that the static electricity might detonate the bomb.) Sweeney then discovered that due to a minor malfunction he would not be able to access his reserve fuel. The aircraft next had to orbit over Yaku-shima off the south coast of Japan for almost an hour in order to rendezvous with its two escort B-29s, one of which never did arrive. The weather had been reported satisfactory earlier in the day over Kokura Arsenal, but by the time the B-29 finally arrived there, the target was obscured by smoke and haze. Two more passes over the target still produced no sightings of the aiming point. As an aircraft crewman, Jacob Beser, later recalled, Japanese fighters and bursts of antiaircraft fire were by this time starting to make things "a little hairy." Kokura no longer appeared to be an option, and there was only enough fuel on board to return to the secondary airfield on Okinawa, making one hurried pass as they went over their secondary target, the city of Nagasaki. As Beser later put it, "there was no sense dragging the bomb home or dropping it in the ocean."

As it turned out, cloud cover obscured Nagasaki as well. Sweeney reluctantly approved a much less accurate radar approach on the target. At the last moment the bombardier, Captain Kermit K. Beahan, caught a brief glimpse of the city's stadium through the clouds and dropped the bomb. At 11:02 a.m., at an altitude of 1,650 feet, Fat Man (right) exploded over Nagasaki. The yield of the explosion was later estimated at 21 kilotons, 40 percent greater than that of the Hiroshima bomb.

Nagasaki was an industrial center and major port on the western coast of Kyushu. As had happened at Hiroshima, the "all-clear" from an early morning air raid alert had long been given by the time the B-29 had begun its bombing run. A small conventional raid on Nagasaki on August 1st had resulted in a partial evacuation of the city, especially of school children. There were still almost 200,000 people in the city below the bomb when it exploded. The hurriedly-targeted weapon ended up detonating almost exactly between two of the principal targets in the city, the Mitsubishi Steel and Arms Works to the south, and the Mitsubishi-Urakami Torpedo Works (left) to the north. Had the bomb exploded farther south the residential and commercial heart of the city would have suffered much greater damage.

In general, though Fat Man exploded with greater force than Little Boy, the damage at Nagasaki was not as great as it had been at Hiroshima. The hills of Nagasaki, its geographic layout, and the bomb's detonation over an industrial area all helped shield portions of the city from the weapon's blast, heat, and radiation effects. The explosion affected a total area of approximately 43 square miles. About 8.5 of those square miles were water, and 33 more square miles were only partially settled. Many roads and rail lines escaped major damage. In some areas electricity was not knocked out, and fire breaks created over the last several months helped to prevent the spread of fires to the south.

Although the destruction at Nagasaki has generally received less worldwide attention than that at Hiroshima, it was extensive nonetheless. Almost everything up to half a mile from ground zero was completely destroyed, including even the earthquake-hardened concrete structures that had sometimes survived at comparable distances at Hiroshima. According to a Nagasaki Prefectural report "men and animals died almost instantly" within 1 kilometer (0.62 miles) of the point of detonation. Almost all homes within a mile and a half were destroyed, and dry, combustible materials such as paper instantly burst into flames as far away as 10,000 feet from ground zero. Of the 52,000 homes in Nagasaki, 14,000 were destroyed and 5,400 more seriously damaged. Only 12 percent of the homes escaped unscathed. The official Manhattan Engineer District report on the attack termed the damage to the two Mitsubishi plants "spectacular." Despite the absence of a firestorm, numerous secondary fires erupted throughout the city. Fire-fighting efforts were hampered by water line breaks, and six weeks later the city was still suffering from a shortage of water. A U.S. Navy officer who visited the city in mid-September reported that, even over a month after the attack, "a smell of death and corruption pervades the place." As at Hiroshima, the psychological effects of the attack were undoubtedly considerable.

As with the estimates of deaths at Hiroshima, it will never be known for certain how many people died as a result of the atomic attack on Nagasaki. The best estimate is 40,000 people died initially, with 60,000 more injured. By January 1946, the number of deaths probably approached 70,000, with perhaps ultimately twice that number dead total within five years. For those areas of Nagasaki affected by the explosion, the death rate was comparable to that at Hiroshima.

The day after the attack on Nagasaki, the emperor of Japan overruled the military leaders of Japan and forced them to offer to surrender (almost) unconditionally.

  • The War Enters Its Final Phase, 1945
  • Debate Over How to Use the Bomb, Late Spring 1945
  • The Trinity Test, July 16, 1945
  • Safety and the Trinity Test, July 1945
  • Evaluations of Trinity, July 1945
  • Potsdam and the Final Decision to Bomb, July 1945
  • The Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima, August 6, 1945
  • The Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki, August 9, 1945
  • Japan Surrenders, August 10-15, 1945
  • The Manhattan Project and the Second World War, 1939-1945


Ian's Movie Reviews Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

For this list, I will mostly be including isolated events which occurred from 1900-1999. This means I am not including periods which occur over a large period of time. These will mostly be moments or events which span only a day or so. Therefore, advancements and inventions are not included, neither are the influence or works of particular people unless that influence came from a major event.

10. Attack on Pearl Harbor
December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, USA

The Second World War had been raging for two years already before Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. During that time, the United States played only a supporting role in the allied effort but had yet to engage in the fighting. Yet when those Japanese planes emerged from the western sky and bombed their Hawaiian naval base, they were thrust into the fray.

Japan had now declared itself on the side of the axis powers and the USA was now a full member of the allies. World War II had become much more worldly and touched almost every aspect of the globe. This is truly, as Roosevelt predicted, a day which has lived in infamy.

9. The October Revolution
November 7, 1917, Petrograd Russia

1917 was a highly tumultuous year for Russia a year which changed their country forever. In the midst of the Great War, Lenin and his Bolsheviks led their revolution with the ideas of Marxist communism behind them. They took over the government and captured the Winter Palace, an action which would lead to the demise of the royal family and the birth of the USSR.

Needless to say, this new, powerful ideological force which implanted itself in Russia would dominate the world scene throughout the century. The war of Democracy and Communism took seed that day drew the whole world into their conflict.

8. D-Day
June 6, 1944, Normandy, France

The 20th century appears to be split into two halves- the pre-WWII era and the post-WWII era. Both were strikingly different periods as the end of the war brought a lot of societal change along with it. And the turning point of the century which separates these two halves appears to be June 6th, 1944 when the allied forces left the shores of Britain and invaded Nazi-occupied Europe. This was the beginning of the end of the biggest conflict in world history as well as the hinge between these two distinct periods. D-Day was a massive undertaking which changed the course of history.

7. Discovery of Penicillin
September 28, 1928, London England

Now, I did claim that this list would not include technological advancements or inventions, since they are more a process than an event. The discovery of penicillin however is an exception, since its discovery did occur through a lab accident by scientist Alexander Fleming. Sure, development of the drug came afterward, but it was this unexpected event which kicked it off.

The impact that penicillin had upon medicine was profound as once devastating bacterial diseases could now be fought off with the new advent of antibiotics. This realization of using naturally formed fungal drugs may have been an mishap, but one of the most prosperous mishaps in recent history.

6. Fall of the Berlin Wall
November 9, 1989, Berlin, Germany

The tearing down of this physical and symbolic barrier between the democratic and communist worlds was a massive media event. The fall of the wall was a very concrete symbol of the fall of soviet communism itself. this would lead to the dissolution of the cold war which dominated the globe for half of a century and reduced one of the most powerful countries in the world.

5. Assassination of Franz Ferdinand
June 28, 1914, Sarajevo, Austria-Hungary

The spark which ignited the powder keg. When Serbian Black Hand member Gavrilo Princip shot the Austrio-Hungarian heir, a domino chain of international treaties was set off and World War I soon began. This was a massive war which changed warfare and changed the entire culture of international relations in the world, took the lives of 9 million soldiers and almost an entire generation of young men, and from the ashes would rise the even larger conflict of WWII. All because this one man was shot. (Well, not ALL because, but you know what I mean…)

4. Stock Market Crash of 1929
October 29, 1929, New York City, USA

Also known as Black Tuesday, the Wall Street market crash at the end of the 20’s sunk the world into the Great Depression which dominated the 30s. Life became hard as jobs were few and far between and the prosperity of the 1920’s seemed to stop altogether and it would take a full-scale war to pull the world out of its funk.
The United States and all of the countries who felt the ripple effects (which were many) learned just how important economic health was. Since then depressions have come and gone, but none so far have been as devastating.

3. Creation of Israel as a Jewish State
November 29, 1947, UN General Assembly

The United Nations did something pretty unprecedented when they actually approved a partition plan to divide Palestine and provide Jewish people with their own state. This declaration created an immediate war of independence with Palestine and the fighting has continued ever since.
Political unrest in the middle east has since become a mainstay on the world stage and the presence of Israel has caused a lot of fear and instability in the region, making governments all over the world anxious.

2. The Moon Landing
July 21, 1969, Sea of Tranquility, The Moon

Mankind walked on the moon. Think about going back one thousand, two thousand, heck even one hundred years ago and try telling people that. Think about how amazing that would seem to them. Mankind has actually reached the moon.
So why is it at #2? mostly because of the relative waste of potential of space age advancements since Armstrong and Aldrin’s fateful venture. We managed to set foot upon the heavens, yet since then progress with space exploration has been quite slow in comparison. It should have had mor of an influence as it did.
So why is it no lower than #2? It was hard not giving this the #1 spot to be honest, since its hard not to put this into a larger context and a wider perspective. If we were to do so, how can it not be one of the most world-changing events? Since the beginning of human life on earth, we have wondered and worshiped the moon, that great celestial object in the night sky. To think that we have actually managed to reach it and visit this legendary location is astounding. I can only think that in the next hundred, two hundred, one thousand years, this event will increase rapidly in importance when all other events of the 20th century fade away.

1. The Bombing of Hiroshima
August 6, 1945, Hiroshima, Japan


On August 20, 1953, one prisoner is killed and three are wounded by guard's gunfire when a riot breaks out at the Washington State Reformatory in Monroe (Snohomish County). The shots are fired when a mob of inmates rush the prison gate. The rioters retreat but go on a rampage, breaking windows and wrecking machinery, setting fire to five buildings and destroying the interiors of the cell blocks. The turmoil will last for more than 36 hours before all the inmates are finally returned to their cells. The damage to the reformatory will total more than $750,000. It is the worst riot in the history of the Washington State Reformatory.

Monroe State Reformatory

The Washington State Reformatory, opened in 1910, is located in Monroe, approximately 20 miles east of Everett. Now called the Washington State Reformatory Unit (WSRU), it is part of the Monroe Correctional Complex which comprises four separate "units" with a total population of 2,500 male inmates and custody levels ranging from maximum to minimum. The WSRU houses up to 875 inmates in two large cell blocks that are the most prominent feature of this historical building. The 11-acre compound is surrounded by 30-foot-high red brick wall with six guard towers strategically placed to monitor activity inside the compound.

In August 1953, Paul J. Squier, age 57, was the reformatory supervisor. He had held the position for only 18 months, having arrived from the McNeil Island Federal Penitentiary in April 1952 where he had been employed for 30 years, the last 12 years as warden. Squier immediately put certain reforms into effect and spent $100,000 to enlarge the rehabilitation facilities and improve living conditions for the inmates. However, his efforts were being frustrated by a few of the staff seeking to undermine his authority and by the deep-seated unrest in the prison population, brought about by years of alleged corruption and abuse at the institution.

The Riot Begins

After dinner on Tuesday evening, August 20, 1953, most of the 615 inmates at the reformatory were in the yard inside the stockade, enjoying their daily recreational period. At 7:00 p.m., Corrections Officer Elmer Grewing gave the routine signal, "Yard out," over the loudspeaker, telling the prisoners to return to their cells. But it was also a prearranged signal to start rioting, catching reformatory guards completely by surprise. While half the inmates obediently returned to their cells, the other half began running wild inside the compound. The guards watched helplessly, but with guns at the ready to prevent an escape attempt. The rioters picked up rocks, broken bricks, baseballs, bats, and other objects and began throwing them at the guards atop the parapet and breaking windows in the buildings and guard towers.

Half of the rebels stayed outside in the compound and set fire to the carpentry shop, machine shop, brick-making plant, cannery, laundry, and the grandstand at the baseball field. They tried to destroy all the machinery in the power plant and shops by pouring sand from the brick-making plant into the mechanisms and opened all the fire hydrants, vastly reducing the water pressure needed to fight the fires. A few prisoners broke into the reformatory garage and stole a 1950 Nash sedan. They drove the car around the yard for awhile, then rammed it into the greenhouse and set it on fire.

The other half of the rioters rushed inside the cell block where they broke windows, burned mattresses and blankets, pulled plumbing from the walls, broke water pipes and flooded the floors, ripped up the barber chairs, overturned benches, demolished the reformatory kitchen and mess hall, and generally destroyed anything breakable. Startled, the unarmed corrections officers hastily retreated into the administration building and barricaded the doors.

Fighting the Firefighters

The fire departments in Monroe, Snohomish and Everett were called to the reformatory shortly after the riot began. The Monroe Volunteer Fire Department was the first to arrive with two trucks and was let into the stockade through the south gate. Unfortunately, the guards neglected to inform the firefighters there was a riot in progress. When they began deploying hoses and unloading equipment, the rioters proceeded to attack the firefighters with a shower of bricks and rocks. They covered their retreat with a powerful stream of water from a fire hose, but were forced to abandon 500 feet of line. On the parapet, guards looked on indifferently, without response, as the firefighters and trucks were chased out of the compound.

Meanwhile, reformatory officials made an emergency call to the Washington State Patrol who immediately dispatched 75 state troopers to augment the force of guards at the reformatory. Sheriff's deputies from Snohomish and King counties, as well as police officers from Everett, Snohomish and Monroe, were also sent as reinforcements. To prevent convicts from escaping, all the roads in the area were blocked and the prison was completely surrounded.

Fires raging inside the reformatory compound were visible for five miles. Huge showers of sparks and burning debris shot into the sky as portions of destroyed structures collapsed. Fortunately, there was only a slight breeze that night and the flames were contained within the stockade, sparing the administration building and the cell blocks. As a precaution, firefighters remained on duty throughout the night, outside the reformatory walls.

Entering the Fray

At about 9:00 p.m., Snohomish County Sheriff Thomas V. Warnock and Sergeant O. S. Buehler, head of Washington State Patrol's Everett Detachment, led a squad of 12 deputies and state patrolmen inside the reformatory cell blocks to quell the rioting inside. The officers, wearing riot gear and armed with tear gas and batons, were ready for action. Sheriff Warnock took a rifle inside the cell block and fired twice into the ceiling, getting the prisoner's attention. After some initial resistance, the squad quickly subdued the rebels and herded them into cells. Meantime, the rampage in the compound continued unabated.

At about 9:30 p.m., the height of the riot, a mob of prisoners gathered in front of the guard tower at the northeast corner of the yard and began a barrage of bricks and rocks, breaking every window in the tower and sending the officers ducking for cover. Anticipating a mass breakout, a guard on the wall opened fire with a sub-machine gun when the inmates advanced toward the gate. Tear-gas grenades were lobbed into the center of crowd, dispersing it immediately. After the shooting, the most rioters gravitated toward the open baseball field, leaving behind four who had been shot during the melee. Prisoners carried the wounded men to a gate on the opposite side of the compound where reformatory medical personnel could administer first-aid. Two inmates had been shot in the head and were taken to Monroe General Hospital (now Valley General Hospital) by ambulance in critical condition. The other two inmates had minor wounds and were treated at the reformatory hospital.

After the shooting incident, things began to quiet down. The insurgents generally milled about the center of the yard, shouting insults at the guards. Banks of portable floodlights and spotlights were set up on the parapet to illuminate areas where convicts would be likely to hide or attack. The large, steel gates, set in the walls, were the most critical areas. The rebels were given plenty of time to calm down before state patrolmen in riot gear, herded them away from the gates onto the baseball diamond where they could be monitored by armed guards atop the wall. Sheriff Warnock led a contingent of deputies to search for prisoners who might be hiding in the burnt-out buildings, but found none. Using tools taken from the carpentry shop, the inmates tore up the bleachers for firewood and built bonfires to keep warm. They spent the night, under close supervision, corralled on the baseball field.

The Second Day

On Friday morning, August 21, sporadic trouble broke out in the compound when a group of prisoners tried to break into the reformatory garage, but guards drove them back with tear-gas. They tried again about noon, but were chased back to the baseball field. There was no food available, since the kitchen had been destroyed, so inmates in the yard scavenged tins of fruit jam from the destroyed cannery. Eventually, the rebels, desiring food and shelter, capitulated and became compliant. However, reformatory officials still deemed the situation unsafe. The prisoners spent the remainder of the day and all night on the baseball diamond, waiting to be allowed back into their cells.

Meanwhile, Superintendent Squier ordered a complete shakedown of the two cell blocks before permitting prisoners inside from the yard. The kitchen had been ransacked during the insurrection and most of the knives had disappeared. Guards completed the search about 1:00 a.m. Saturday and reported finding over 100 handmade weapons and knives. Squier also ordered a careful inspection of the entire compound before inmates would be allowed outside again, to be certain that no knives, tools or other contraband had been hidden there.

End of the Riot

By Saturday morning, after another chilly night on the baseball field without food, the danger of another uprising seemed to have passed. About 10:00 a.m., officers began moving small groups of inmates through the gate at guard tower six where they were searched for weapons and contraband, and then escorted to cells. By early afternoon, all the rebels had been cleared from the compound and locked up. A subsequent headcount confirmed that all the reformatory inmates were accounted for. Superintendent Squier suspended visitations and other privileges until further notice. Arrangements were made for hot meals to be brought to the reformatory, but prisoners had to eat inside their cells to prevent any new outbreaks of violence.

In Olympia, Lieutenant Governor Emmett T. Anderson, acting for Governor Arthur B. Langlie, immediately demanded a full-scale investigation and ordered Attorney General Donald Eastvold to launch an inquest. He sent assistant Attorney General Frank Hayes to Monroe to meet with Snohomish County Prosecutor Philip G. Sheridan and reformatory officials to determine whether criminal prosecution of the ringleaders, should they be identified, was feasible. Those responsible for the melee could be charged with assault, destruction of state property, arson, and inciting to riot. However, the likelihood of obtaining corroborating testimony from other inmates, needed for convictions, was remote.


The investigation into the cause of the riot started on Saturday afternoon, August 22, 1953.

Among complaints of intolerable conditions, inmates told the investigating committee the direct cause of the riot was the unnecessary brutality used to discipline Ernest Jack Taylor, a black male, age 18, serving 15 years for grand larceny. They claimed he had been brutally beaten with chains in retaliation for disobeying instructions.

Guards claimed the problem was their inability to maintain discipline because they had no backing from the administration. The inmates knew that nothing would happen if they were reported for infractions, even serious ones like carrying concealed weapons, assaulting a guard, or attempting escape.

The investigation revealed that Taylor, a janitor in the cannery, refused to follow an assignment that he claimed was unnecessary. On Wednesday morning, August 19, his insubordination was reported to the reformatory's "adjustment committee" (disciplinary board) to decide on what disciplinary action to take. After a hearing on Thursday morning, the three-member committee decided to place Taylor in "deadlock" (solitary confinement) for an indefinite period. Taylor refused to comply with the sentence and had to be forced into the deadlock cell. He had been slightly injured on the way to deadlock when he allegedly attacked the escorting officers. Supervisor Squier told the investigating committee that Taylor had been examined by the reformatory's doctor after the incident and, except for a few bruises, was basically uninjured.

On Sunday, August 23, reformatory officials and engineers from the state Department of Public Institutions began an intensive survey of the riot damage and formulated plans for putting vital facilities back into operation. On Monday, Harold D. Van Eaton, state Supervisor of Public Institutions, announced that only two of the reformatory buildings had been damaged beyond repair: the laundry and the cannery. The other buildings, constructed primarily of brick, could be renovated and he estimated the damage would not exceed $800.000.

On Tuesday afternoon, September 1, 1953, members of the Legislative Committee on State Institutions convened in the reformatory auditorium to determine the underlying causes of the riot and to ascertain if outbreaks of violence could be avoided by legislative action. The committee consisted of three State Senators: Neil J. Hoff. Tacoma, committee chairman Howard S. Bargreen, Everett and Albert D. Rosellini (1910-2011), Seattle and three State Representatives: Dewey C. Donohue, Asotin County Harry A. Siler, Lewis County and Robert D. Timm, Adams County. Assistant Attorney General Frank Hayes, representing the governor's office, also attended the session.

What Went Wrong

Witnesses included Superintendent Squier two former reformatory superintendents, Ray Ryan and Earl Lee reformatory administrative officers and staff law enforcement personnel, who had been present during the riot and a number of inmates, who were screened from the assembly and testified anonymously. The hearings were broadcast live by radio station KRKO and KING, as well as KING-TV.

The topics covered a wide range of subjects including morale, mismanagement, dissension among the employees, favoritism, prison security, smuggling of contraband into the institution, gambling, alcohol abuse, drug trafficking, violence and brutality inside the reformatory walls, and the shooting incident that left one inmate dead.

Some of the most surprising revelations came from reformatory staff. Benjamin Wright, Supervisor of Classification and Parole, testified that the state Department of Corrections considered the reformatory a second-rate prison, and forced it to house hardened criminals who should be incarcerated at the Washington State Penitentiary. He said the reformatory even housed eight psychopaths due to lack of space at the state mental institutions to which they had been committed.

Dr. C. Arthur Elden, the reformatory physician, testified that after an afternoon visit to a cell block on the day of the riot, he felt tension among the inmates and that trouble was coming. A group of inmates had congregated around Ernest Taylor's cell, discussing a beating he had allegedly received after objecting to being placed in solitary confinement. Dr. Eldon met with assistant Superintendent John L. "Cap" Brady and warned him: "For God's sake, don't have yard-out tonight." Brady said if the inmate's routine is changed, "they'll think we're cowards" (The Everett Daily Herald).

Superintendent Squier testified about his attempts to remove Assistant Superintendent Brady, who had been at the institution for more than 30 years. Squier said he could not carry out his program of reform as long as Brady remained on staff, undermining his authority. He told the committee that Brady frequently countermanded his orders, upsetting morale and causing considerable confusion. Other staff members substantiated Squier's position, testifying they sometimes didn't know who was in charge.

Former reformatory Superintendent Ray Ryan had Brady replaced during his administration (1945-1949). He told the committee: "This institution will never be run well with Mr. Brady there" (The Everett Daily Herald). Ryan said the dire situation at the reformatory would continue unless and until there was a high level shakeup and went on to name names.

The committee concluded the hearings late Thursday afternoon, September 3, concluding the riot was the climax to years of corruption, scandal, and unrest at the institution. The problem was amplified by the state's propensity to use the reformatory as a dumping ground for prisoners who should clearly be housed elsewhere.

Cleaning House

On Friday, September 4, Director of State Institutions Harold D. Van Eaton telegraphed Superintendent Squier: "This wire confirms authorization for you to make personnel changes immediately to assure proper administration and security at the state reformatory. I request you utilize all means available to this end and report to the department any special assistance you may require" (The Everett Daily Herald). Squier immediately dismissed assistant Superintendent Brady and told the news media other changes would follow. As expected, Brady charged that Squire was using him as a "fall guy" for the riot and refused to resign. Squier pointed out that Brady wasn't expected to resign he had been fired.

On September 19, Superintendent Squier announced the dismissal of seven more reformatory staff members. The explanation for their dismissals was their uncooperative attitude.

Assistant Superintendent Brady was replaced by Lawrence Delmore, age 50, retiring assistant warden of Alcatraz Island Federal Penitentiary. Delmore was considered one of the nations top experts in penal affairs. Paul Squier continued as Superintendent of the Washington State Reformatory until his retirement in 1956. He was succeeded by Roy Belnap.

Testimony during the three-day hearing failed to determine who had fired shots at the rioting inmates. According to the Snohomish County Prosecutor's Office, the investigation was still in process. But, as far as the guards were concerned, it was better left unsaid. Lyshall's fatal wound was ruled a death by misadventure while participating in unlawful acts.

Wounded inmates:

  • Walter Thomas Lyshall, age 21, serving 10 years for auto theft, was taken to Monroe General Hospital where he died from a head wound.
  • Glen M. Anderson, age 25, serving 15 years for grand larceny, was shot in the head and blinded. He was taken by ambulance to Monroe General Hospital in critical condition. Anderson, incapacitated, was granted a 90-day leave of absence on October 21, 1953, and subsequently pardoned on February 25, 1954.
  • Richard Phillip Brattain, age 22, serving 10 years for burglary, was treated for a scalp wound at the reformatory hospital.
  • Douglas Farris, age 20, serving 10 years for auto theft, was shot in the ankle and hospitalized at the reformatory.

Injured Officers:

  • Chief Criminal Deputy Edwin O. Walker, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Department, fractured ribs in a traffic accident while responding to the riot at the Washington State Reformatory.
  • Sergeant Marvin Paulson, Washington State Patrol, Lewis County Detachment, suffered facial injuries when his tear-gas gun backfired.

Inmates in yard during riot, Washington State Reformatory, Monroe, August 20, 1953

Courtesy Washington State Archives

Washington State Reformatory, Monroe, Snohomish County, ca. 1960

Courtesy Washington State Archives

Carpentry shop one day after prison riot, Washington State Reformatory, Monroe, August 21, 1953.

Courtesy Washington State Archives

The Everett Daily Herald, August 21, 1953

Washington State Reformatory inmate Glen M. Anderson, July 18, 1951

Courtesy Washington State Archives

Inmate in a diabetic coma being taken from yard of Monroe Reformatory during riot, August 20, 1953

Courtesy Washington State Archives

Washington State Reformatory inmate Walter Thomas Lyshall, March 6, 1953

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The Far East 1941 to 1945

The war in the Far East truly internationalised the war being fought in Europe. The war taking place in Europe took on a new dimension in December 1941 when Japan attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor. War in the Far East now made the Second World War truly global.

Today it seems astonishing that a country as small as Japan would attack America but this is what happened in December 1941. Why did Japan attack America ?

1) The Japanese at this time had a very low opinion of the Americans who they saw as drunks who were incapable of hard work. It was believed in Tokyo that the Americans would be an easy target as they lacked fighting spirit. There were those in Japan who actually believed that America could be defeated by Japan. In particular, the military high command was far more influential in Tokyo than politicians who were seen by the public to be weak and ineffective.

2) Japan was expanding throughout the whole of the Far East following her invasion of Manchuria and in 1941 it seemed that America would use her economic muscle to stop Japan Japan greatly depended on American oil and America was on the verge of stopping all oil exports to Japan which would have crippled Japan’s military machine. Japan needed to hit America hard and it was believed in Tokyo that a devastating attack would put America off of having any influence in the Pacific leaving Japan with a free hand.

On December 7th 1941, a large bomber force attacked the American Pacific Naval force based at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Three battleships were sunk and sixteen other ships damaged. Over 120 ‘planes were destroyed and 2400 people were killed and many more were wounded.

But the vital aircraft carriers stationed at Pearl Harbour were all out on manoeuvres and the oil reserves kept at Pearl Harbor had been drained into underground reservoirs. This has lead some to believe that the American government knew about the raid all along and let it go ahead so that the American public would be so angered by it that when the president, Roosevelt, announced that he had declared war on Japan it would be warmly received by the public.

At the time before Pearl Harbor there was no obvious evidence that Americans wanted to get involved in a war despite her aid to the Allies fighting Nazi Germany. On December 8th, 1941 America declared war on Japan and Roosevelt received a standing ovation in the American Congress

Why weren’t hundreds of Japanese planes seen flying into Hawaii ? America had radar so they should have been spotted. But an American B17 bomber force was also flying into Pearl Harbor and it is probable that the radar spotters knew this and ignored the sighting of Japanese planes on the radar screens thinking that they were US bombers. In fact, the radar crew did report their sighting only to be told to ignore it.

Did America crack Japan’s secret code giving details of the raid ? Many think that they had but the official reason given in Washington for not informing Pearl Harbor earlier was that American Intelligence forgot that Hawaii was in a different time zone to them and did not realise this until too late and this delayed Washington informing Hawaii. An important message to the base commanders was received after the raid on Pearl Harbor had finished.

However, it is strange that all the aircraft carriers were out at the same time – it had never happened before – and that all the oil (which would have been a vital loss) was drained into safety. The ships that were lost at Pearl Harbor were replaceable and so were the ‘planes. The carriers would have been much more difficult to replace.

Ultimately, the raid may well have been a surprise. It did infuriate America and Japan found that she had woken a “sleeping tiger”. The “dastardly attack” (Roosevelt) did not defeat America but it was to plunge the Pacific and the Far East into a horrific war that was to end in the use of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Why were the Japanese so successful at the start of the war?

1. Both the Americans and British – the major colonial powers in the Far East – were unprepared for war. The Japanese had been fighting in Manchuria and China for nearly ten years and they had developed battle tactics needed for modern warfare. Japan’s economy revolved around the military and she was simply more prepared for a full-scale assault on the Far East than either the British or Americans.

2. No soldiers fought like the Japanese. A senior British commander in the Far East – General Slim – commented that every nation spoke about fighting to the last man, but only the Japanese did this. The Japanese soldier lived by the Bushido belief. His life was unimportant and he dedicated his life to the emperor who was a god. To die for the emperor was a great honour and guaranteed a soldier a place in heaven. Therefore the Japanese fought in a manner never seen before. The sheer ferocity of an attack and the failure of the Japanese to surrender or retreat took the Allies by surprise. A Japanese soldier could not understand how or why a soldier would want to surrender and bring shame on his family and emperor. This is why captured Allied soldiers were treated so harshly by the Japanese – they had committed the ultimate sin in the eyes of the Japanese.

Japanese soldiers were trained to live off the land so that supplying troops was never a major problem at the outset of the war. Obedience to officers was total – this had been physically punched into the Japanese soldiers during their training. This culminated in the thousands of young Japanese who volunteered for the kamikazes – either through the use of planes or as ‘human torpedoes’.

In contrast to the Japanese approach to war, the British still fought ‘by the rules’. An example was the British base of Singapore. Britain fully expected Singapore to be attacked once war had started, but we expected an attack to come from the sea. Hence £50 million defence improvements to Singapore faced out to sea. When the Japanese attacked Singapore, they came through the jungles to the north. The newly placed guns to attack Japanese shipping did not face inland. We simply did not expect a military force to come through jungle as we had never experienced anything like this before. The loss of Singapore and the troops stationed there was a huge blow to Britain – both militarily and psychologically.

3. To some extent, the Japanese had the local population on their side to start with as they played on the fact that the British and Americans were the colonial masters of the region and the Japanese offered these people freedom from colonial rule. Such a promise was never kept, of course.

4. America’s military might was based in America itself and any deployment of this might would take time to organise thus giving Japan more of a free hand in the area with regards to conquering land.

Japan took vast sections of the Far East in a matter of months. However, once America got her military act together, such swift Japanese advances had to come to a halt.

Why did Japan eventually lose the Pacific War?

1) The sheer massive power of America overwhelmed Japan once the USA got itself fully organised. Her ability to produce war goods and her man power totally outstripped Japan. Also all her factories were on the US mainland so they were free from any fear of bombing. Do note that the attack on Pearl Harbour sunk a number of ships including 3 battleships – this made great propaganda for the government but the ships were not critical from a military point of view and were easily replaced in the numerous shipyards in America.

2) Japan only had 10% of America’s economic might and was very short of basic and vital minerals especially iron and oil. America had both of these in huge quantities. If the Americans lost a capital ship (a battleship or aircraft carrier) it was simply a loss. If the Japanese lost a capital ship it was a disaster as it could not be easily replaced. After the Battle of Leyte Gulf (Oct 1944) the Japanese Navy all but ceased to exist. The navy minister, Admiral Yonai, said with regards to the result at Leyte Gulf, “ I felt that that was the end.”

3) The American submarine service targeted Japanese merchant ships transporting goods from mainland Asia to Japan. She had 8.9 million tons of shipping of which the submarines alone sunk 55%. Thus Japan was starved of needed commodities. She only had 3% of America’s farmland so food was a real problem. When America had the range she bombed Japanese cities and factories.

43,000 tons of bombs were dropped on factories in Japan and 104,000 tons on 66 cities. The bombing of factories was effectively a waste of time as they were already starved of raw materials anyway. The fire bombing of Tokyo made it clear to the Japanese government that it was facing complete destruction.

4) US forces in the Pacific were commanded by Douglas MacArthur. He realised that the Japanese Imperial Army would take years to defeat if every island in the Pacific was fought over. The American casualties would be massive. Her forces at Iwo Jima and Okinawa had taken many deaths from just a handful of defenders. He adopted a policy of taking the main islands only and ignoring the smaller ones which could be ignored and isolated with the troops on them being left without any transport to get off of them. This was called “island hopping” and the small islands were “left to wither on the vine“. This does explain why Japanese troops were found on Pacific islands some years after the war but it also confirmed to those who had fought that the Japanese were fanatics who would have inflicted massive casualties on Allied troops if each island had been taken.

In mainland Asia, British and Commonwealth forces had pushed back the Japanese as they approached India. Fierce fighting took place on the mainland though it was rarely reported back home in Britain and the men who fought out in the Far East frequently referred to themselves as “The Forgotten Army”. Orde Wingates’s ‘Chindits’ fought the Japanese using what would now be called Special Forces tactics – dropping by parachute behind enemy lines, disrupting their supply routes and generally causing the Japanese the maximum damage.

5) American intelligence estimated that if a land invasion of Japan was to take place i.e. if Japan refused to surrender, then America would have to expect at least one million casualties which would be politically and militarily unacceptable. It was thought that the Japanese would get together a Home Guard of at least 14 million to guard both the country and the emperor. With the example of kamikazes, many generals in America feared that the war would go on for a long time and that a surrender would have to come from the emperor for all Japanese to obey it. With this background, President Truman authorised the use of the atomic bomb. On August 6th, 1945 Hiroshima was attacked and on August 9th, Nagasaki. The emperor ordered a surrender.

6. Once America had got herself prepared, Japan could not have won the Pacific War. Her overwhelming industrial might, her vast food producing capacity, her huge manpower and her freedom from bombing, meant that Japan had to take on the world’s most powerful nation. The fact that it took so long for this victory can be explained by the ferocious commitment of the Japanese soldier and the geography of the region. But nearly all historians are of the opinion that an Allied victory was inevitable.

August 30, 1945 U. S. FLAG FLIES IN JAPAN:

United Press Correspondent
General MacArthur Headquarters, Yokohama, Japan,
Aug. 30. —Gen. Douglas MacArthur set up headquarters in Yokohama today as the first 40,000 troops of his occupation army raised the Stars and Stripes over Japan's largest naval base, two airfields and a big slice of the Tokyo plain.


United Press Correspondent
Tokyo, Aug. 30.— Today we reached the end of the long road, to Tokyo and found what must surely be the world's worst bombed city.

Full Story
Not Told

United Press Correspondent
Washington, Aug. 30.—President Truman said today that he thought the Army and Navy Pearl Harbor reports showed that the disaster resulted fundamentally from "the "policy which the country itself pursued" in '1941—a policy of non-preparedness.

Watch the video: Η ατομική βόμβα στη Χιροσίμα (May 2022).