April 18: ON THIS DAY in 1942, U.S. bombers blast Tokyo and Yokohama
ON THIS DAY IN 1883, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported, “Mr. William C. Kingsley, vice president of the bridge, [said] this afternoon that it was expected that the great structure would be opened to the public with appropriate ceremonies on Thursday, May 24. That day will be the sixty-fourth anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria, and it is said that it has been recommended as a fitting time to commemorate the union of the two cities. The committee who will decide on the matter consists of J.S.T. Stranahan, General Henry W. Slocum, John T. Agnew, Jenkins Van Schaick, William C. Kingsley and Mayors [Seth] Low and [Franklin] Edson, as representatives of Brooklyn and New York. The bridge office has been crowded all day long by applicants for passes, who have made every possible excuse for securing the coveted privilege of crossing on the airy pathway. A very amusing feature in connection with the requests made is the plea that the parties expect to go out of town and will not return to the city for four months. Judging from the number of persons who offered this as a basis for obtaining a pass, there must be an unusually large exodus of Brooklynites even before the usual summer vacation.”
ON THIS DAY IN 1912, the Eagle reported, “All day long a man sat in The Eagle news rooms with a harness over his head holding two receivers, similar to telephone receivers, to his ears. From time to time he would write on a pad of paper. He was a wireless operator and what he wrote were the messages he heard in the air. The Eagle wireless station was constantly in touch with stations within a radius of 200 miles and heard each attempt made to get in touch with the Carpathia, as she nears New York with the survivors of the Titanic. But the wireless man in The Eagle office waited in vain for some details from the Carpathia of the Titanic’s fate to be flashed through the air. Every minute, wireless stations and ships were ticking off ‘M.P.A.,’ the Carpathia’s call, but there was no answer.”
ON THIS DAY IN 1942, the Eagle reported, “U.P. – Japan announced today that Allied planes, taking the war to Japan for the first time, had bombed Tokio, the world’s third city, and the industrial and naval base cities of Yokohama, Kobe and Nagoya. (Tokio radio, in a Chinese-language broadcast recorded by CBS in San Francisco, identified the planes as American. ‘American airplanes raided Tokio for the first time,’ the radio said.) After hours in which it asserted first that no damage had been done and then that damage was slight, Tokio admitted that incendiary bombs had caused fires at Nagoya and Kobe, two of Japan’s greatest cities.” The raid, which raised American morale, was led by Lt. Col. James Doolittle, who received the Medal of Honor. The last surviving member of the Doolittle Raiders, Lt. Col. Richard Cole, died on April 9 at age 103.
ON THIS DAY IN 1945, the Eagle reported, “Washington, April 18 (U.P.) – Ernie Pyle has been killed in frontline action. Secretary of Navy [James] Forrestal announced that the 44-year-old war reporter for the Scripps-Howard newspapers was killed instantly by a Japanese machine-gun bullet on Ie, a little island off Okinawa. He was killed, Mr. Forrestal said, in the company of ‘the foot soldiers, the men for whom he had the greatest admiration.’ It was because he always sought the company of the foot soldier that Mr. Pyle became known as the foxhole reporter. President [Harry] Truman received the news in an already bereaved White House while conferring with Secretary Forrestal, Secretary of War [Henry] Stimson and Secretary of State [Edward] Stettinius. The president immediately wrote out a statement in which he said the nation, sorrowing for its late president, was ‘saddened again by the death of Ernie Pyle. … No man in this war has so well told the story of the American fighting man as American fighting men wanted it told.’”
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