“What a Target” (March 12, 1945)
by Silvey Jackson (SJ) Ray (1891-1970)
12 x 16 in., ink on board
S.J. Ray was a student at the Art Students League of New York and was a World War I veteran. He joined the Kansas City Star in 1915 as an advertising illustrator and became the Star’s editorial cartoonist in 1931. He served in that post until retirement in 1963, drawing an estimated 10,000 cartoons. He received honors from the U.S. Treasury Dept. for his cartoons during World War II in behalf of the National War Savings Program.
The Bombing of Tokyo was a series of firebombing air raids by the United States Army Air Forces during the Pacific campaigns of World War II. Operation Meetinghouse, which was conducted on the night of March 9-10, 1945, is regarded as the single most destructive bombing raid in human history: 16 square miles of central Tokyo were destroyed, leaving an estimated 100,000 civilians dead and over 1 million homeless.
Over 50% of Tokyo’s industry was spread out among residential and commercial neighborhoods; firebombing cut the whole city’s output in half. Some post-war analysts have called the raid a war crime due to the targeting of civilian infrastructure and the ensuing mass loss of civilian life.
Emperor Hirohito’s tour of the destroyed areas of Tokyo in late March was the beginning of his personal involvement in the peace process, culminating in Japan’s surrender six months later.