This Day in History
B. B. Washington Under Attack

First Kamikaze Attacks on American Ships
October 25, 1944

The Battle of Leyte Gulf, October 20 - 25th, was, says Admiral Morison, “the greatest naval battle of all time” - and the greatest naval victory, too. The Japanese navy never thereafter recovered. It was during this battle that the Japanese first resorted to suicide, or “kamikaze,” attacks on American ships. The word “kamikaze” means “heavenly wind” and was the name given to a typhoon which, centuries earlier, had driven hostile Chinese ships from Japanese shores. Doubtless, the Japanese were hoping once again for such divine intervention. As the Japanese navy was slowly bled to death, it relied increasingly on these suicide attacks to cripple American warships. The new tactic was used with considerable effect, most notably in the prolonged struggle for Okinawa (April 1 - June 22, 1945) where kamikaze pilots took a toll of twenty-nine ships sunk and some sixty others put out of service.

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All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.