Jimmy Doolittle and the Tokyo Raiders

Tokyo. April 18, 1942. A clear and quiet morning. The one hundred and thirty-third day of Japan’s war with the United States.

Everything seemed normal in the island empire’s sprawling capital. Tokyo staged an air raid drill that Saturday morning, but it bore little realism. No sirens sounded. Air raid wardens gazed at a placid sky. Fire-fighting brigades trundled their equipment through the streets. Barrage balloons rose along the waterfront. It all seemed a matter of going through the motions.

At about noon the drill came to an uneventful end. Because no sirens had announced its beginning, none signaled its conclusion. War workers laid down their tools and began their midday break. Millions of other Tokyo residents went shopping, visited parks and shrines, attended festivals, and watched baseball games.

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