Japanese Army Air Service Commences Aerial Bombing of Nanking

On September 21, the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service, commanded by Prince Naruhiko Higashikuni, began aerial bombardment of Nanking.

The aerial bombardment campaign consisted of more than 100 fly-overs. Most of the bombs fell on non-military targets. Southern Nanking, the most lively and densely populated area of the city, suffered from the worst bombings. The single most devastating bombing attack occurred on the 25th of September. From 9:30 am until about 4:30pm, Japanese planes made five fly-overs, a total of ninety-five sorties, and dropped about 500 bombs, resulting in more than 600 civilian casualties. A refugee camp at Xiaguan [a neighborhood in Nanjing adjacent to the Yangtze River] was hit, resulting in more than 100 deaths. In addition to bombing infrastructure targets such as power plants, water works and a radio station, the Japanese also dropped bombs on the Central Hospital despite the fact that there was a large red cross painted on its rooftop.

The fall of Nanking evidenced perhaps the most brutal massacre in the history of war. Having taken the city, the Japanese, unsystematically and indiscrimately, slaughtered over 100,000 innocent civilians and probably an equal number of rapes. The event, known to history as "The Rape of Nanking," was so brutal that the Japanese military kept it a secret from even the Japanese until the end of the war.