Joseph Hansen

Worldwide GI Demonstrations
Shout Demand: “Get Us Home!”

Strong Blow Dealt Imperialist Plans

(19 January 1946)

Source: The Militant, Vol. X No. 3, 19 January 1946, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcription/Editing/HTML Markup: 2018 by Einde O’Callaghan.
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Wall Street s plans for global domination have been dealt a staggering blow by the sweeping world-wide protest demonstrations of the American GIs.

In actions unprecedented in the history of victorious imperialist armies, hundreds of thousands of battle-scarred veterans have shaken their mighty fists at Washington, shouting: “Get Us Home!”

These troops have defiantly denounced the American plutocracy’s scheme to use them as tools for subjugating conquered peoples in other lands.

The angry, bitter protests against the delay In demobilisation came from all over the world. The press publicized only the most spectacular – Philippines, Germany, Hawaii, France, Japan, Korea, China, India, England, Alaska and “dozens” of other places.

This colossal new wave of protests was provoked by a January 4 War Department announcement that demobilization would be slowed-down. This reversed a December 26 promise to speed up demobilization.

Swift Action

The GIs reacted with a swiftness that stunned official circles. On January 6 in Manila thousands of GIs demonstrated at separated points, shouting their resentment. Military police “broke up” one band marching toward headquarters of Lt. Gen. Styer. Another crowd was dispersed on Quezon bridge. Meanwhile, half a dozen Army outfits issued mimeographed calls for action.

On the same day approximately 2,000 men marched on camp headquarters at Camp Boston, France. They addressed a letter to Gen. Joseph T. McNamey protesting repeated delays in their departure for the U.S.

The following day, January 1, in Manila, more than 2,500 GIs marched four abreast to the headquarters of Lt. Gen. Styer. “The capital was tense,” reported United Press.

In the evening at least 12,000 American soldiers Jammed into the shell-battered ruins of the Philippine Hall of Congress. “The crowd ran as high as 20,000,” said one report. Speakers attacked American armed intervention in China and the Netherlands Indies.

Simultaneously, on the other side of the world at Camp Boston, France, 2,000 GIs demonstrated. In Rheims more than 200 GIs cabled protests to the Senate and American newspapers, and 400 at Marseilles sent cables. Protests likewise came from 100 GIs at Frankfort, Germany; 1,800 officers and enlisted men of the 8th Air Force at London; and GIs at Tidworth, England.

Hunger Strike

In the Pacific theatre, 6,000 men on Saipan wired protests. At Guam more than 3,500 enlisted men and officers of the 315th Bombing wing of the Twentieth Air Force staged a “hunger strike” in protest against the demobilization slowdown.

Next day, January 8, milling thousands of GIs flooded communications offices in Manila.

At Batangas, south of Manila, 4,000 GIs voted funds for full- page newspaper advertisements in the United States demanding the removal of Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson and appealing to the public for pressure on Congress.

In Guam, 18,000 men attended two protest meetings. They sent a cablegram of protest signed by 6,000 soldiers.

Some 500 soldiers met in Yokohama to plan for a larger demonstration. In Honolulu more than 2,500 soldiers met at Fort Shafter. At Rheims about 1,500 soldiers gathered to protest “illogical explanations” on the demobilization slowdown.

In Paris about 500 GIs marched down the Champs Elysées. Their ranks swelled until a thousand shouting American soldiers gathered in front of the American Embassy.

Officers Booed

At Andrews Field, near Washington, D.C., 1,000 soldiers and Wacs booed down their commanding officer.

Soldiers in Munich, Germany, and London likewise protested the War Department’s slowdown order.

On January 9 the Batangas Committee came prominently into the news. This committee not only included an officer but also a well-known union leader, Emil Mazey, former president of UAW Local 212, Detroit, who acted as chairman. The committee interviewed a touring group of Senators and reported how the Brass Hats are wasting American taxpayers’ money.

In Frankfort, a demonstration of 5,000 soldiers was met at bayonet point by a small group of guards. Handbills announced a demonstration and yells of derision greeted reports that some officers had declared the demonstration “would make a bad impression on the Germans.” About 20 were arrested.

In Vienna, Austria, 362 soldiers radioed a protest to Truman, Patterson, Eisenhower, 24 Senators and a number of newspapers. And in London 1,800 officers and men joined in the swelling chorus of complaint!.

Mimeographed circulars in Calcutta, India, called a protest meeting for the following day to “back our buddies in Manila and France.” About 6,000 assembled in a public park to oppose the demobilization slowdown.

Several thousand troops met at Seoul, Korea. At Hickam Field, Honolulu, 15,000 troops held a demonstration.

Soldiers’ Committee

January 10 marked an event of great significance. In Manila 156 soldier delegates elected by as many separate Army outfits held, a meeting. Such soldier delegates organized in committees immediately call to mind the Soviets (committees) elected by the soldiers in the Russian army during the 1917 tide of revolution.

These 156 delegates in Manila represented 139,000 men, “all interested In getting home.”

The delegates unanimously elected a chairman and adopted a program. The chairman, Sergeant Schiffrin of Rochester, N.Y. appointed a Central Committee, totalling eight. “The Central Committee,” reports the January 11 N.Y. Times, includes two officers and is widely representative of creeds and backgrounds.” Emil Mazey is a member of this committee as well as the Batangas committee.

The formation of the Manila Soldiers’ Committee undoubtedly marked the high point of this mighty, globe-encircling wave of demonstrations. The GIs expect Congress to act, and act promptly. If Washington fails to respond, then another and more turbulent series of demonstrations can very likely be expected. In this event the formation of the Manila Soldiers’ Committee has already set an example for the soldiers the world over. Just as Manila’s GIs gave the lead to the demonstrators, so Manila shows them how to set up the most effective form of organization to get action on their demands.


Last updated on: 19 September 2018