Entry #80

“Oct 23 – Was at movie when Jap plane snuck in and dropped phosphorus bomb near strip. First time they used it on us. Burns from it are fatal.”
Entry#80(2)

Alright so Mike starts this entry off pretty casually by writing “Was at movie when”. The words that follow completely change the ambiance of this entry.

Mike wrote “Jap plane snuck in and dropped phosphorus bomb near strip.” The reason he wrote the “Jap plane snuck in” is because they most likely were not expecting it, as they were relaxing and watching a movie. This date was also a Monday, so the beginning of the week, and this most likely occurred at night, so I doubt the soldiers were expecting too much. The next part gets very interesting and horrific at the same time. Mike follows this up by writing “dropped phosphorus bomb near strip.”

Just to give a little background / outside information, phosphorus is a chemical that comes in two variants: red and white. This will be very long and off topic, so if you’re not interested I would suggest scrolling down until you skip it.

phosphorus

The periodic symbol for phosphorus.

Red phosphorus is not very harmful, and is not used in purposes directly related to warfare.

red phosphorus

This is what red phosphorus looks like in a powder format.

It is actually used on the outside strip part on some match boxes to help ignite them better. It is also used in flares / smoke bombs (and other similar smoke creating devices), flame retardant, and even used in the creation process of certain drugs. You can read more about some of the uses of red phosphorus here if you’re interested.

On the complete opposite side of the spectrum is white phosphorus. It is incredibly dangerous when in comparison to it’s red counterpart, and is commonly used in warfare, even to this day.

whitephoshorus

This is what white phosphorus looks like in a powder format.

This chemical is utilized in warfare through two distinct ways: To inflict injuries / casualties or to create a smoke screen. In order for this chemical to damage or kill it’s target during warfare it is placed inside grenades or missiles. When the object explodes the chemical is ignited and creates a thick, white smoke. For a short period of time after the initial explosion the smoke is very deadly. When the chemical comes in contact with a person (whether it be through inhalation or contact with the skin) it can cause third degree burns and beyond. The main reason it is so lethal when used in warfare is because it spreads very quickly, as it’s a gas, meaning it’s very hard to escape from it’s radius. If you’re interested in the uses of white phosphorus throughout history and how it works, you can read about it here.

It was actually first manufactured into grenade format during WWI and used by Britain. During WWII it was used very frequently by axis and allied forces. From that point forward it has been used in almost every major conflict: Korea, Vietnam, Iraq / Afghanistan, parts of Africa, etc. During Korea and Vietnam it was used by both sides and lead to military and civilian casualties. I will not be talking about it’s use in modern times, as it is a pretty polarized issue, and I want to keep this website free from modern politics and things along those lines, hopefully you can understand.

Don’t worry, I am getting back on track now. Hopefully that you have an understanding of this chemical in warfare, the rest of what Mike wrote will make sense. Mike wrote “dropped phosphorus bomb near strip. First time they used it on us. Burns from it are fatal.” 

This bomb most likely landed semi-close to where Mike and the other soldiers were. The one line Mike wrote; “First time they used it on us.” does not mean this was the first time it was used during WWII. U.S. forces used it against the Germans prior to this, and the Germans used it against U.S. forces prior to this. He either means this was the first time it was used against him and his unit by Japanese forces, or this was the first time it was used by the Japanese against anyone.

As I previously mentioned, it is a very deadly chemical when used in warfare. This is highlighted in the next line Mike wrote: “Burns from it are fatal.” Now did anyone get killed or injured from this specific bombing? That I am not sure of, as Mike did not mention anything about it. If I had to guess, I am thinking there was probably at least one injury, but again that is only a guess.

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If any of this entry confuses you or you would like to know more, feel free to leave a comment below and I would be more than happy to get back to you.


Where I found the periodic symbol of phosphorus image.

Where I found the image of red phosphorus powder.

Where I found the image of white phosphorus powder.

Where I found the image of a white phosphorus bomb striking a Japanese airfield during WWII.

Where I found the image U.S. Army soldiers watching a white phosphorus explosion during WWII.

Where I found the image of white phosphorus shells striking German soldiers during WWII.