Publish date:
Updated on
Year
1942

Red Cross announces Japan refuses passage of supplies for U.S. POWs

On this day in 1942, the international humanitarian agency, the Red Cross, reveals that Japan has refused free passage of ships carrying food, medicine, and other necessities for American POWs held by Japan.

In January 1941, the U.S. government requested that the American Red Cross begin a blood-donor program to provide ready and ample supplies of blood plasma and serum albumin for transfusions for wounded soldiers. More than 13 million donations (each about a pint) were collected.

Among other grassroots efforts organized by local Red Cross chapters were bandage-making “assembly lines,” working out of local churches, synagogues, and town halls. Abroad, volunteers worked in military hospitals, reading and writing letters for the wounded. Tens of millions of food packages were prepared and funneled to Allied POWs through Geneva, which served as a clearinghouse. But getting such packages to prisoners in Japan proved particularly difficult. Japan refused to allow even “neutral” ships to enter Japanese waters, even those on humanitarian errands. Despite protests by the Red Cross, Japan allowed just one-tenth of what POWs elsewhere received to reach prisoners in their territories.

As the war came to a close, the Red Cross followed on the heels of liberating military forces to supply relief and aid to those suffering from the ravages of battle. Approximately 20,000 professional Red Cross workers served during the war, along with countless other volunteers.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Pizarro Executes Last Inca Emperor

Atahuallpa, the 13th and last emperor of the Incas, dies by strangulation at the hands of Francisco Pizarro’s Spanish conquistadors. The execution of Atahuallpa, the last free reigning emperor, marked the end of 300 years of Inca civilization. High in the Andes Mountains of Peru, ...read more

Soviets explode atomic bomb

At a remote test site at Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan, the USSR successfully detonates its first atomic bomb, code name “First Lightning.” In order to measure the effects of the blast, the Soviet scientists constructed buildings, bridges, and other civilian structures in the ...read more

Humphrey nominated in Chicago

In Chicago, the Democratic National Convention nominates Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey for the presidency, bringing to a close the most violent political convention in U.S. history. In the days preceding the convention, thousands of antiwar demonstrators descended on ...read more

Eamon de Valera dies

Eamon de Valera, the most dominant Irish political figure of the 20th century, dies at the age of 92. Eamon de Valera was born in New York City in 1882, the son of a Spanish father and Irish mother. When his father died two years later, he was sent to live with his mother’s ...read more

Khanh steps down

Nguyen Khanh steps down as president of South Vietnam and Xuan Oanh, former professor at Trinity College in Connecticut, is named prime minister. Khanh had been a major player in the instability that followed the assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem in November 1963. This period was ...read more

Marathoner assaulted at Olympics

On this day in 2004, Brazilian distance runner Vanderlei de Lima is attacked by a spectator while running the marathon, the final event of the Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. At the time of the incident, De Lima had a 30-second lead in the race with four miles to go. De Lima, ...read more

Ishi discovered in California

Ishi, described as the last surviving Stone Age Indian in the contiguous United States, is discovered in California. By the first decade of the 20th century, Euro-Americans had so overwhelmed the North American continent that scarcely any Native Americans remained who had not ...read more