Pearl Harbor bombed



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1941


December 7, 1941 - Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; also attack the Philippines, Wake Island, Guam, Malaya, Thailand, Shanghai and Midway.-
Pearl Harbor bombed

At 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time, a Japanese dive bomber bearing the red symbol of the Rising Sun of Japan on its wings appears out of the clouds above the island of Oahu. A swarm of 360 Japanese warplanes followed, descending on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in a ferocious assault. The surprise attack struck a critical blow against the U.S. Pacific fleet and drew the United States irrevocably into World War II.

With diplomatic negotiations with Japan breaking down, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his advisers knew that an imminent Japanese attack was probable, but nothing had been done to increase security at the important naval base at Pearl Harbor. It was Sunday morning, and many military personnel had been given passes to attend religious services off base. At 7:02 a.m., two radar operators spotted large groups of aircraft in flight toward the island from the north, but, with a flight of B-17s expected from the United States at the time, they were told to sound no alarm. Thus, the Japanese air assault came as a devastating surprise to the naval base.

Much of the Pacific fleet was rendered useless: Five of eight battleships, three destroyers, and seven other ships were sunk or severely damaged, and more than 200 aircraft were destroyed. A total of 2,400 Americans were killed and 1,200 were wounded, many while valiantly attempting to repulse the attack. Japan’s losses were some 30 planes, five midget submarines, and fewer than 100 men. Fortunately for the United States, all three Pacific fleet carriers were out at sea on training maneuvers. These giant aircraft carriers would have their revenge against Japan six months later at the Battle of Midway, reversing the tide against the previously invincible Japanese navy in a spectacular victory.

The day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, President Roosevelt appeared before a joint session of Congress and declared, “Yesterday, December 7, 1941–a date which will live in infamy–the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” After a brief and forceful speech, he asked Congress to approve a resolution recognizing the state of war between the United States and Japan. The Senate voted for war against Japan by 82 to 0, and the House of Representatives approved the resolution by a vote of 388 to 1. The sole dissenter was Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana, a devout pacifist who had also cast a dissenting vote against the U.S. entrance into World War I. Three days later, Germany and Italy declared war against the United States, and the U.S. government responded in kind.

The American contribution to the successful Allied war effort spanned four long years and cost more than 400,000 American lives.


December 10, 1941 - Japanese invade the Philippines and also seize Guam.



Japan becomes master of the Pacific and South China Sea

On this day, 4,000 Japanese troops land on the Philippine Islands, while Japanese aircraft sink the British warships Prince of Wales and Repulse. Guam, an American-controlled territory, was also seized. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill finally exclaims, “We have lost control of the sea.”

The attack on Pearl Harbor was only one step in a larger plan to dominate the Pacific, which entailed knocking out first American, then British, naval opposition. Japanese bombing raids on Guam, Midway Island, and Wake Island followed the attack on the American fleet anchored at Pearl Harbor. American airfields there were destroyed, as were Clark and Iba airfields in the Philippines, wiping out more than half of the United States’ aircraft dedicated to the Far East. These bombing raids were followed up, on December 10, by 2,000 Japanese troops that landed on the Philippine island of Luzon in the north, and another 2,000 that landed at Vigan on the western coast. And in Guam, 700 Japanese Special Naval Landing Forces invaded and occupied the American-controlled military outpost of Guam after only a 25-minute military engagement, resulting in the capture of 500 Americans soldiers.

The United States was not alone in its struggle for the Pacific. Great Britain had also declared war on the Empire of Japan on December 8. The next day, Japan occupied the capital of Thailand and then landed in the Malay Peninsula, which could not be repulsed by the outmatched Australian and Indian troops. Britain responded by dispatching Force Z, their Royal Navy unit dedicated to supporting Singapore, when Japanese bombers spotted Z’s battleship, the Prince of Wales, and its sister ship, the Repulse, sailing for Kuantan on the eastern coast of the Malay Peninsula, on the erroneous belief that the Japanese had just put troops ashore there. The bombers rained down torpedo bombs on the British warships, sinking them and killing 840 men. “In all the war, I have never received a more direct shock,” Churchill lamented.

And the Japanese were far from finished: The humiliation of the United States in the Philippines and a more extensive occupation of Indochina and the South Pacific were still to come.

December 18, 1941 - Japanese invade Hong Kong.



1941

Japan invades Hong Kong

On this day, Japanese troops land in Hong Kong and a slaughter ensues.

A week of air raids over Hong Kong, a British crown colony, was followed up on December 17 with a visit paid by Japanese envoys to Sir Mark Young, the British governor of Hong Kong. The envoys’ message was simple: The British garrison there should simply surrender to the Japanese—resistance was futile. The envoys were sent home with the following retort: “The governor and commander in chief of Hong Kong declines absolutely to enter into negotiations for the surrender of Hong Kong…”

The first wave of Japanese troops landed in Hong Kong with artillery fire for cover and the following order from their commander: “Take no prisoners.” Upon overrunning a volunteer antiaircraft battery, the Japanese invaders roped together the captured soldiers and proceeded to bayonet them to death. Even those who offered no resistance, such as the Royal Medical Corps, were led up a hill and killed.

The Japanese quickly took control of key reservoirs, threatening the British and Chinese inhabitants with a slow death by thirst. The Brits finally surrendered control of Hong Kong on Christmas Day.

The War Powers Act was passed by Congress on the same day, authorizing the president to initiate and terminate defense contracts, reconfigure government agencies for wartime priorities, and regulate the freezing of foreign assets. It also permitted him to censor all communications coming in and leaving the country.

FDR appointed the executive news director of the Associated Press, Byron Price, as director of censorship. Although invested with the awesome power to restrict and withhold news, Price took no extreme measures, allowing news outlets and radio stations to self-censor, which they did. Most top secret information, including the construction of the atom bomb, remained just that.

The most extreme use of the censorship law seems to have been the restriction of the free flow of “girlie” magazines to servicemen—including Esquire, which the Post Office considered obscene for its occasional saucy cartoons and pinups. Esquire took the Post Office to court, and after three years the Supreme Court ultimately sided with the magazine.

March 18, 1942 - War Relocation Authority established in the U.S. which eventually will round up 120,000 Japanese-Americans and transport them to barb-wired relocation centers. Despite the internment, over 17,000 Japanese-Americans sign up and fight for the U.S. in World War II in Europe, including the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the most decorated unit in U.S. history.

War Relocation Authority is established in United States

On this day, the War Relocation Authority is created to “Take all people of Japanese descent into custody, surround them with troops, prevent them from buying land, and return them to their former homes at the close of the war.”

Anger toward and fear of Japanese Americans began in Hawaii shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor; everyone of Japanese ancestry, old and young, prosperous and poor, was suspected of espionage. This suspicion quickly broke out on the mainland; as early as February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered that German, Italian, and Japanese nationals—as well as Japanese Americans—be barred from certain areas deemed sensitive militarily. California, which had a significant number of Japanese and Japanese Americans, saw a particularly virulent form of anti-Japanese sentiment, with the state’s attorney general, Earl Warren (who would go on to be the chief justice of the United States), claiming that a lack of evidence of sabotage among the Japanese population proved nothing, as they were merely biding their time.

While roughly 2,000 people of German and Italian ancestry were interned during this period, Americans of Japanese ancestry suffered most egregiously. The War Relocation Authority, established on March 18, 1942, was aimed at them specifically: 120,000 men, women, and children were rounded up on the West Coast. Three categories of internees were created: Nisei (native U.S. citizens of Japanese immigrant parents), Issei (Japanese immigrants), and Kibei (native U.S. citizens educated largely in Japan). The internees were transported to one of 10 relocation centers in California, Utah, Arkansas, Arizona, Idaho, Colorado, and Wyoming.

The quality of life in a relocation center was only marginally better than prison: Families were sardined into 20- by 25-foot rooms and forced to use communal bathrooms. No razors, scissors, or radios were allowed. Children attended War Relocation Authority schools.

One Japanese American, Gordon Hirabayashi, fought internment all the way to the Supreme Court. He argued that the Army, responsible for effecting the relocations, had violated his rights as a U.S. citizen. The court ruled against him, citing the nation’s right to protect itself against sabotage and invasion as sufficient justification for curtailing his and other Japanese Americans’ constitutional rights.

In 1943, Japanese Americans who had not been interned were finally allowed to join the U.S. military and fight in the war. More than 17,000 Japanese Americans fought; the all-Nisei 442nd Regiment, which fought in the Italian campaign, became the single most decorated unit in U.S. history. The regiment won 4,667 medals, awards, and citations, including 1 Medal of Honor, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, and 560 Silver Stars. Many of these soldiers, when writing home, were writing to relocation centers.

In 1990, reparations were made to surviving internees and their heirs in the form of a formal apology by the U.S. government and a check for $20,000.


April 9, 1942 - Bataan Death March begins as 76,000 Allied POWs including 12,000 Americans are forced to walk 60 miles under a blazing sun without food or water toward a new POW camp, resulting in over 5,000 American deaths.



U.S. surrenders in Bataan

On this day in 1942, Major General Edward P. King Jr. surrenders at Bataan, Philippines–against General Douglas MacArthur’s orders–and 78,000 troops (66,000 Filipinos and 12,000 Americans), the largest contingent of U.S. soldiers ever to surrender, are taken captive by the Japanese.

The prisoners were at once led 55 miles from Mariveles, on the southern end of the Bataan peninsula, to San Fernando, on what became known as the “Bataan Death March.” At least 600 Americans and 5,000 Filipinos died because of the extreme brutality of their captors, who starved, beat, and kicked them on the way; those who became too weak to walk were bayoneted. Those who survived were taken by rail from San Fernando to POW camps, where another 16,000 Filipinos and at least 1,000 Americans died from disease, mistreatment, and starvation.

After the war, the International Military Tribunal, established by MacArthur, tried Lieutenant General Homma Masaharu, commander of the Japanese invasion forces in the Philippines. He was held responsible for the death march, a war crime, and was executed by firing squad on April 3, 1946.


April 18, 1942 - Surprise U.S. 'Doolittle' B-25 air raid from the HORNET against Tokyo boosts Allied morale..


1942

Doolittle leads air raid on Tokyo

On this day in 1942, 16 American B-25 bombers, launched from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet 650 miles east of Japan and commanded by Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle, attack the Japanese mainland.

The now-famous Tokyo Raid did little real damage to Japan (wartime Premier Hideki Tojo was inspecting military bases during the raid; one B-25 came so close, Tojo could see the pilot, though the American bomber never fired a shot)–but it did hurt the Japanese government’s prestige. Believing the air raid had been launched from Midway Island, approval was given to Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto’s plans for an attack on Midway–which would also damage Japanese “prestige.” Doolittle was eventually awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

A book describing the raid, 30 Seconds Over Tokyo by Ted Lawson, was adapted into a film starring Spencer Tracy in 1944.

May 7-10, 1942 - Japan suffers its first defeat of the war during the Battle of the Coral Sea off New Guinea - the first time in history that two opposing carrier forces fought only using aircraft without the opposing ships ever sighting each other.

1942

The Battle of the Coral Sea begins

On this, the first day of the first modern naval engagement in history, called the Battle of the Coral Sea, a Japanese invasion force succeeds in occupying Tulagi of the Solomon Islands in an expansion of Japan’s defensive perimeter.

The United States, having broken Japan’s secret war code and forewarned of an impending invasion of Tulagi and Port Moresby, attempted to intercept the Japanese armada. Four days of battles between Japanese and American aircraft carriers resulted in 70 Japanese and 66 Americans warplanes destroyed. This confrontation, called the Battle of the Coral Sea, marked the first air-naval battle in history, as none of the carriers fired at each other, allowing the planes taking off from their decks to do the battling. Among the casualties was the American carrier Lexington; “the Blue Ghost” (so-called because it was not camouflaged like other carriers) suffered such extensive aerial damage that it had to be sunk by its own crew. Two hundred sixteen Lexington crewmen died as a result of the Japanese aerial bombardment.

Although Japan would go on to occupy all of the Solomon Islands, its victory was a Pyrrhic one: The cost in experienced pilots and aircraft carriers was so great that Japan had to cancel its expedition to Port Moresby, Papua, as well as other South Pacific targets.


June 4-5, 1942 - Turning point in the war occurs with a decisive victory for the U.S. against Japan in the Battle of Midway as squadrons of U.S. torpedo planes and dive bombers from ENTERPRISE, HORNET, and YORKTOWN attack and destroy four Japanese carriers, a cruiser, and damage another cruiser and two destroyers. U.S. loses YORKTOWN.



1942

Battle of Midway begins

On this day in 1942, the Battle of Midway–one of the most decisive U.S. victories against Japan during World War II–begins. During the four-day sea-and-air battle, the outnumbered U.S. Pacific Fleet succeeded in destroying four Japanese aircraft carriers while losing only one of its own, the Yorktown, to the previously invincible Japanese navy.

In six months of offensives prior to Midway, the Japanese had triumphed in lands throughout the Pacific, including Malaysia, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, the Philippines and numerous island groups. The United States, however, was a growing threat, and Japanese Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto sought to destroy the U.S. Pacific Fleet before it was large enough to outmatch his own.

A thousand miles northwest of Honolulu, the strategic island of Midway became the focus of his scheme to smash U.S. resistance to Japan’s imperial designs. Yamamoto’s plan consisted of a feint toward Alaska followed by an invasion of Midway by a Japanese strike force. When the U.S. Pacific Fleet arrived at Midway to respond to the invasion, it would be destroyed by the superior Japanese fleet waiting unseen to the west. If successful, the plan would eliminate the U.S. Pacific Fleet and provide a forward outpost from which the Japanese could eliminate any future American threat in the Central Pacific. U.S. intelligence broke the Japanese naval code, however, and the Americans anticipated the surprise attack.

In the meantime, 200 miles to the northeast, two U.S. attack fleets caught the Japanese force entirely by surprise and destroyed three heavy Japanese carriers and one heavy cruiser. The only Japanese carrier that initially escaped destruction, the Hiryu, loosed all its aircraft against the American task force and managed to seriously damage the U.S. carrier Yorktown, forcing its abandonment. At about 5:00 p.m., dive-bombers from the U.S. carrier Enterprise returned the favor, mortally damaging the Hiryu. It was scuttled the next morning.

When the Battle of Midway ended, Japan had lost four carriers, a cruiser and 292 aircraft, and suffered an estimated 2,500 casualties. The U.S. lost the Yorktown, the destroyer USS Hammann, 145 aircraft and suffered approximately 300 casualties.

Japan’s losses hobbled its naval might–bringing Japanese and American sea power to approximate parity–and marked the turning point in the Pacific theater of World War II. In August 1942, the great U.S. counteroffensive began at Guadalcanal and did not cease until Japan’s surrender three years later.

August 7, 1942 - The first U.S. amphibious landing of the Pacific War occurs as 1st Marine Division invades Tulagi and Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands.



1942

U.S. forces invade Guadalcanal

On this day in 1942, the U.S. 1st Marine Division begins Operation Watchtower, the first U.S. offensive of the war, by landing on Guadalcanal, one of the Solomon Islands.

On July 6, 1942, the Japanese landed on Guadalcanal Island and began constructing an airfield there. Operation Watchtower was the codename for the U.S. plan to invade Guadalcanal and the surrounding islands. During the attack, American troops landed on five islands within the Solomon chain. Although the invasion came as a complete surprise to the Japanese (bad weather had grounded their scouting aircraft), the landings on Florida, Tulagi, Gavutu, and Tananbogo met much initial opposition from the Japanese defenders.

But the Americans who landed on Guadalcanal met little resistance-at least at first. More than 11,000 Marines had landed, and 24 hours had passed, before the Japanese manning the garrison there knew of the attack. The U.S. forces quickly took their main objective, the airfield, and the outnumbered Japanese troops retreated, but not for long. Reinforcements were brought in, and fierce hand-to-hand jungle fighting ensued. “I have never heard or read of this kind of fighting,” wrote one American major general on the scene. “These people refuse to surrender.”

The Americans were at a particular disadvantage, being assaulted from both the sea and air. But the U.S. Navy was able to reinforce its troops to a greater extent, and by February 1943, the Japanese had retreated on secret orders of their emperor (so secret, the Americans did not even know it had taken place until they began happening upon abandoned positions, empty boats, and discarded supplies). In total, the Japanese had lost more than 25,000 men, compared with a loss of 1,600 by the Americans. Each side lost 24 warships.

The first Medal of Honor given to a Marine was awarded to Sgt. John Basilone for his fighting during Operation Watchtower. According to the recommendation for his medal, he “contributed materially to the defeat and virtually the annihilation of a Japanese regiment.”

September 9/10, 1942 - A Japanese floatplane flies two missions dropping incendiary bombs on U.S. forests in the state of Oregon - the only bombing of the continental U.S. during the war. Newspapers in the U.S. voluntarily withhold this information.

1942

Japanese bomb U.S. mainland

On this day in 1942, a Japanese floatplane drops incendiary bombs on an Oregon state forest-the first and only air attack on the U.S. mainland in the war.

Launching from the Japanese sub I-25, Nobuo Fujita piloted his light aircraft over the state of Oregon and firebombed Mount Emily, alighting a state forest–and ensuring his place in the history books as the only man to ever bomb the continental United States. The president immediately called for a news blackout for the sake of morale. No long-term damage was done, and Fujita eventually went home to train navy pilots for the rest of the war.

1943

August 1, 1943- A group of 15 U.S. PT-boats attempt to block Japanese convoys south of Kolombangra Island in the Solomon Islands. PT-109, commanded by Lt. John F. Kennedy, is rammed and sunk by the Japanese Cruiser AMAGIRI, killing two and badly injuring others. The crew survives as Kennedy aids one badly injured man by towing him to a nearby atoll.

1943

PT-109 sinks; Lieutenant Kennedy is instrumental in saving crew

On this day in 1943, a Japanese destroyer rams an American PT (patrol torpedo) boat, No. 109, slicing it in two. The destruction is so massive other American PT boats in the area assume the crew is dead. Two crewmen were, in fact, killed, but 11 survived, including Lt. John F. Kennedy.

Japanese aircraft had been on a PT boat hunt in the Solomon Islands, bombing the PT base at Rendova Island. It was essential to the Japanese that several of their destroyers make it to the southern tip of Kolombangara Island to get war supplies to forces there. But the torpedo capacity of the American PTs was a potential threat. Despite the base bombing at Rendova, PTs set out to intercept those Japanese destroyers. In the midst of battle, Japan’s Amaqiri hit PT-109, leaving 11 crewmen floundering in the Pacific.

After five hours of clinging to debris from the decimated PT boat, the crew made it to a coral island. Kennedy decided to swim out to sea again, hoping to flag down a passing American boat. None came. Kennedy began to swim back to shore, but strong currents, and his chronic back condition, made his return difficult. Upon reaching the island again, he fell ill. After he recovered, the PT-109 crew swam to a larger island, what they believed was Nauru Island, but was in fact Cross Island. They met up with two natives from the island, who agreed to take a message south. Kennedy carved the distress message into a coconut shell: “Nauru Is. Native knows posit. He can pilot. 11 alive need small boat.”

The message reached Lieutenant Arthur Evans, who was watching the coast of Gomu Island, located next to an island occupied by the Japanese. Kennedy and his crew were paddled to Gomu. A PT boat then took them back to Rendova. Kennedy was ultimately awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, for gallantry in action.

The coconut shell used to deliver his message found a place in history—and in the Oval Office.



PT-109, a film dramatizing this story, starring Clift Robertson as Kennedy, opened in 1963.

1944


June 19, 1944 - The "Marianas Turkey Shoot" occurs as U.S. Carrier-based fighters shoot down 220 Japanese planes, while only 20 American planes are lost.

1944

United States scores major victory against Japanese in Battle of the Philippine Sea

On this day in 1944, in what would become known as the “Marianas Turkey Shoot,” U.S. carrier-based fighters decimate the Japanese Fleet with only a minimum of losses in the Battle of the Philippine Sea.

The security of the Marianas Islands, in the western Pacific, were vital to Japan, which had air bases on Saipan, Tinian, and Guam. U.S. troops were already battling the Japanese on Saipan, having landed there on the 15th. Any further intrusion would leave the Philippine Islands, and Japan itself, vulnerable to U.S. attack. The U.S. Fifth Fleet, commanded by Admiral Raymond Spruance, was on its way west from the Marshall Islands as backup for the invasion of Saipan and the rest of the Marianas. But Japanese Admiral Ozawa Jisaburo decided to challenge the American fleet, ordering 430 of his planes, launched from aircraft carriers, to attack. In what became the greatest carrier battle of the war, the United States, having already picked up the Japanese craft on radar, proceeded to shoot down more than 300 aircraft and sink two Japanese aircraft carriers, losing only 29 of their own planes in the process. It was described in the aftermath as a “turkey shoot.”

Admiral Ozawa, believing his missing planes had landed at their Guam air base, maintained his position in the Philippine Sea, allowing for a second attack of U.S. carrier-based fighter planes, this time commanded by Admiral Mitscher, to shoot down an additional 65 Japanese planes and sink another carrier. In total, the Japanese lost 480 aircraft, three-quarters of its total, not to mention most of its crews. American domination of the Marianas was now a foregone conclusion.

Not long after this battle at sea, U.S. Marine divisions penetrated farther into the island of Saipan. Two Japanese commanders on the island, Admiral Nagumo and General Saito, both committed suicide in an attempt to rally the remaining Japanese forces. It succeeded: Those forces also committed a virtual suicide as they attacked the Americans’ lines, losing 26,000 men compared with 3,500 lost by the United States. Within another month, the islands of Tinian and Guam were also captured by the United States.

The Japanese government of Premier Hideki Tojo resigned in disgrace at this stunning defeat, in what many have described as the turning point of the war in the Pacific.


October 23-26 - Battle of Leyte Gulf results in a decisive U.S. Naval victory.



1944

Battle of Leyte Gulf ends

After four days of furious fighting, the World War II Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest air-naval battle in history, ends with a decisive American victory over the Japanese.

With the U.S. liberation of the Philippines underway, the desperate Japanese command decided to gamble their combined naval fleet to repulse the Americans. On October 23, the enemy fleets collided, and hundreds of warships and thousands of aircraft battled for control of the Gulf of Leyte in three simultaneous battles. On October 26, what remained of the devastated Japanese fleet retreated, leaving the Allies in control of the Pacific Ocean.

After the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the Allies waged an escalating bombing campaign against the Japanese home islands, finally forcing Japan’s surrender in August 1945.


October 25, 1944 - The first suicide air (Kamikaze) attacks occur against U.S. warships in Leyte Gulf. By the end of the war, Japan will have sent an estimated 2,257 aircraft. "The only weapon I feared in the war," Adm. Halsey will say later.



1944

First kamikaze attack of the war begins

On this day in 1944, during the Battle of the Leyte Gulf, the Japanese deploy kamikaze (“divine wind”) suicide bombers against American warships for the first time. It will prove costly–to both sides.

This decision to employ suicide bombers against the American fleet at Leyte, an island of the Philippines, was based on the failure of conventional naval and aerial engagements to stop the American offensive. Declared Japanese naval Capt. Motoharu Okamura: “I firmly believe that the only way to swing the war in our favor is to resort to crash-dive attacks with our planes…. There will be more than enough volunteers for this chance to save our country.”

The first kamikaze force was in fact composed of 24 volunteer pilots from Japan’s 201st Navy Air Group. The targets were U.S. escort carriers; one, the St. Lo, was struck by a A6M Zero fighter and sunk in less than an hour, killing 100 Americans. More than 5,000 kamikaze pilots died in the gulf battle-taking down 34 ships.

For their kamikaze raids, the Japanese employed both conventional aircraft and specially designed planes, called Ohka (“cherry blossom”) by the Japanese, but Baka (“fool”) by the Americans, who saw them as acts of desperation. The Baka was a rocket-powered plane that was carried toward its target attached to the belly of a bomber.

All told, more than 1,321 Japanese aircraft crash-dived their planes into Allied warships during the war, desperate efforts to reverse the growing Allied advantage in the Pacific. While approximately 3,000 Americans and Brits died because of these attacks, the damage done did not prevent the Allied capture of the Philippines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa.

1945

February 19, 1945 - U.S. Marines invade Iwo Jima.



1945

Marines invade Iwo Jima

On this day, Operation Detachment, the U.S. Marines’ invasion of Iwo Jima, is launched. Iwo Jima was a barren Pacific island guarded by Japanese artillery, but to American military minds, it was prime real estate on which to build airfields to launch bombing raids against Japan, only 660 miles away.

The Americans began applying pressure to the Japanese defense of the island in February 1944, when B-24 and B-25 bombers raided the island for 74 days. It was the longest pre-invasion bombardment of the war, necessary because of the extent to which the Japanese–21,000 strong–fortified the island, above and below ground, including a network of caves. Underwater demolition teams (“frogmen”) were dispatched by the Americans just before the actual invasion. When the Japanese fired on the frogmen, they gave away many of their “secret” gun positions.

The amphibious landings of Marines began the morning of February 19 as the secretary of the navy, James Forrestal, accompanied by journalists, surveyed the scene from a command ship offshore. As the Marines made their way onto the island, seven Japanese battalions opened fire on them. By evening, more than 550 Marines were dead and more than 1,800 were wounded. The capture of Mount Suribachi, the highest point of the island and bastion of the Japanese defense, took four more days and many more casualties. When the American flag was finally raised on Iwo Jima, the memorable image was captured in a famous photograph that later won the Pulitzer Prize.


April 12, 1945 - President Roosevelt dies, succeeded by Harry S. Truman.



FDR dies

On this day in 1945, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt passes away after four momentous terms in office, leaving Vice President Harry S. Truman in charge of a country still fighting the Second World War and in possession of a weapon of unprecedented and terrifying power.

On a clear spring day at his Warm Springs, Georgia, retreat, Roosevelt sat in the living room with Lucy Mercer (with whom he had resumed an extramarital affair), two cousins and his dog Fala, while the artist Elizabeth Shoumatoff painted his portrait. According to presidential biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin, it was about 1 p.m. that the president suddenly complained of a terrific pain in the back of my head and collapsed unconscious. One of the women summoned a doctor, who immediately recognized the symptoms of a massive cerebral hemorrhage and gave the president a shot of adrenaline into the heart in a vain attempt to revive him. Mercer and Shoumatoff quickly left the house, expecting FDR’s family to arrive as soon as word got out. Another doctor phoned first lady Eleanor Roosevelt in Washington D.C., informing her that FDR had fainted. She told the doctor she would travel to Georgia that evening after a scheduled speaking engagement. By 3:30 p.m., though, doctors in Warm Springs had pronounced the president dead.

Eleanor delivered her speech that afternoon and was listening to a piano performance when she was summoned back to the White House. In her memoirs, she recalled that ride to the White House as one of dread, as she knew in her heart that her husband had died. Once in her sitting room, aides told her of the president’s death. The couple’s daughter Anna arrived and the women changed into black dresses. Eleanor then phoned their four sons, who were all on active military duty. At 5:30 pm, she greeted Vice President Harry Truman, who had not yet been told the news. A calm and quiet Eleanor said, “Harry, the president is dead.” He asked if there was anything he could do for her, to which she replied, “Is there anything we can do for you? For you are the one in trouble now.”

Indeed, Truman had rather large shoes to fill. FDR had presided over the Great Depression and most of World War II, leaving an indelible stamp on American politics for several decades. He also left Truman with the difficult decision of whether or not to continue to develop and, ultimately, use the atomic bomb. Shockingly, FDR had kept his vice president in the dark about the bomb’s development and it was not until Roosevelt died that Truman learned of the Manhattan Project. It was also not until FDR died that Eleanor learned of her husband’s renewed affair with Lucy Mercer.

Eleanor, in her own words, was trained to put personal things in the background. She swallowed the shock and anger about Mercer and threw herself into FDR’s funeral preparations. Thousands of Americans lined the tracks to bid Roosevelt farewell while a slow train carried his coffin from Warm Springs to Washington, D.C. After a solemn state funeral, he was buried at his family’s home in Hyde Park, New York.

July 29, 1945 - A Japanese submarine sinks the Cruiser INDIANAPOLIS resulting in the loss of 881 crewmen. The ship sinks before a radio message can be sent out leaving survivors adrift for two days.

1945 : Japanese sink the USS Indianapolis

On this day in 1945, Japanese warships sink the American cruiser Indianapolis, killing 883 seamen in the worst loss in the history of the U.S. navy.

As a prelude to a proposed invasion of the Japanese mainland, scheduled for November 1, U.S. forces bombed the Japanese home islands from sea and air, as well as blowing Japanese warships out of the water. The end was near for Imperial Japan, but it was determined to go down fighting. Just before midnight of the 29th, the Indianapolis, an American cruiser that was the flagship of the Fifth Fleet, was on its way, unescorted, to Guam, then Okinawa. It never made it. It was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. Interestingly, the sub was commanded by a lieutenant who had also participated in the Pearl Harbor invasion.

There were 1,196 crewmen onboard the Indianapolis; over 350 died upon impact of the torpedo or went down with the ship. More than 800 fell into the Pacific. Of those, approximately 50 died that first night in the water from injuries suffered in the torpedo explosion; the remaining seamen were left to flounder in the Pacific, fend off sharks, drink sea water (which drove some insane), and wait to be rescued. Because there was no time for a distress signal before the Indianapolis went down, it was 84 hours before help arrived. This was despite the fact that American naval headquarters had intercepted a message on July 30 from the Japanese sub commander responsible for sinking the Indianapolis, describing the type of ship sunk and its location. (The Americans assumed it was an exaggerated boast and didn't bother to follow up.) Only 318 survived; the rest were eaten by sharks or drowned. The Indianapolis's commander, Captain Charles McVay, was the only officer ever to be court-martialed for the loss of a ship during wartime in the history of the U.S. Navy.

Had the attack happened only three days earlier, the Indianapolis would have been sunk carrying special cargo-the atom bomb, which it delivered to Tinian Island, northeast of Guam, for scientists to assemble.

August 6, 1945 - First Atomic Bomb dropped on Hiroshima from a B-29 flown by Col. Paul Tibbets.



1945

Atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima

The United States becomes the first and only nation to use atomic weaponry during wartime when it drops an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Though the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan marked the end of World War II, many historians argue that it also ignited the Cold War.

Since 1940, the United States had been working on developing an atomic weapon, after having been warned by Albert Einstein that Nazi Germany was already conducting research into nuclear weapons. By the time the United States conducted the first successful test (an atomic bomb was exploded in the desert in New Mexico in July 1945), Germany had already been defeated. The war against Japan in the Pacific, however, continued to rage. President Harry S. Truman, warned by some of his advisers that any attempt to invade Japan would result in horrific American casualties, ordered that the new weapon be used to bring the war to a speedy end. On August 6, 1945, the American bomber Enola Gay dropped a five-ton bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. A blast equivalent to the power of 15,000 tons of TNT reduced four square miles of the city to ruins and immediately killed 80,000 people. Tens of thousands more died in the following weeks from wounds and radiation poisoning. Three days later, another bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki, killing nearly 40,000 more people. A few days later, Japan announced its surrender.

In the years since the two atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, a number of historians have suggested that the weapons had a two-pronged objective. First, of course, was to bring the war with Japan to a speedy end and spare American lives. It has been suggested that the second objective was to demonstrate the new weapon of mass destruction to the Soviet Union. By August 1945, relations between the Soviet Union and the United States had deteriorated badly. The Potsdam Conference between U.S. President Harry S. Truman, Russian leader Joseph Stalin, and Winston Churchill (before being replaced by Clement Attlee) ended just four days before the bombing of Hiroshima. The meeting was marked by recriminations and suspicion between the Americans and Soviets. Russian armies were occupying most of Eastern Europe. Truman and many of his advisers hoped that the U.S. atomic monopoly might offer diplomatic leverage with the Soviets. In this fashion, the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan can be seen as the first shot of the Cold War. If U.S. officials truly believed that they could use their atomic monopoly for diplomatic advantage, they had little time to put their plan into action. By 1949, the Soviets had developed their own atomic bomb and the nuclear arms race began.

August 14, 1945 - Japanese accept unconditional surrender; Gen. MacArthur is appointed to head the occupation forces in Japan.

1945

Japan’s surrender made public

On this day in 1945, an official announcement of Japan’s unconditional surrender to the Allies is made public to the Japanese people.

Even though Japan’s War Council, urged by Emperor Hirohito, had already submitted a formal declaration of surrender to the Allies, via ambassadors, on August 10, fighting continued between the Japanese and the Soviets in Manchuria and between the Japanese and the United States in the South Pacific. In fact, two days after the Council agreed to surrender, a Japanese submarine sank the Oak Hill, an American landing ship, and the Thomas F. Nickel, an American destroyer, both east of Okinawa.

In the afternoon of August 14, Japanese radio announced that an Imperial Proclamation was soon to be made, accepting the terms of unconditional surrender drawn up at the Potsdam Conference. That proclamation had already been recorded by the emperor. The news did not go over well, as more than 1,000 Japanese soldiers stormed the Imperial Palace in an attempt to find the proclamation and prevent its being transmitted to the Allies. Soldiers still loyal to Emperor Hirohito repulsed the attackers.

That evening, General Anami, the member of the War Council most adamant against surrender, committed suicide. His reason: to atone for the Japanese army’s defeat, and to be spared having to hear his emperor speak the words of surrender.

September 2, 1945 - Formal Japanese surrender ceremony on board the MISSOURI in Tokyo Bay as 1,000 carrier-based planes fly overhead; President Truman declares VJ Day.



Japan surrenders

Aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, Japan formally surrenders to the Allies, bringing an end to World War II.

By the summer of 1945, the defeat of Japan was a foregone conclusion. The Japanese navy and air force were destroyed. The Allied naval blockade of Japan and intensive bombing of Japanese cities had left the country and its economy devastated. At the end of June, the Americans captured Okinawa, a Japanese island from which the Allies could launch an invasion of the main Japanese home islands. U.S. General Douglas MacArthur was put in charge of the invasion, which was code-named “Operation Olympic” and set for November 1945.

The invasion of Japan promised to be the bloodiest seaborne attack of all time, conceivably 10 times as costly as the Normandy invasion in terms of Allied casualties. On July 16, a new option became available when the United States secretly detonated the world’s first atomic bomb in the New Mexico desert. Ten days later, the Allies issued the Potsdam Declaration, demanding the “unconditional surrender of all the Japanese armed forces.” Failure to comply would mean “the inevitable and complete destruction of the Japanese armed forces and just as inevitable the utter devastation of the Japanese homeland.” On July 28, Japanese Prime Minister Kantaro Suzuki responded by telling the press that his government was “paying no attention” to the Allied ultimatum. U.S. President Harry Truman ordered the devastation to proceed, and on August 6, the U.S. B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing an estimated 80,000 people and fatally wounding thousands more.

After the Hiroshima attack, a faction of Japan’s supreme war council favored acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration, but the majority resisted unconditional surrender. On August 8, Japan’s desperate situation took another turn for the worse when the USSR declared war against Japan. The next day, Soviet forces attacked in Manchuria, rapidly overwhelming Japanese positions there, and a second U.S. atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese coastal city of Nagasaki.

Just before midnight on August 9, Japanese Emperor Hirohito convened the supreme war council. After a long, emotional debate, he backed a proposal by Prime Minister Suzuki in which Japan would accept the Potsdam Declaration “with the understanding that said Declaration does not compromise any demand that prejudices the prerogatives of His Majesty as the sovereign ruler.” The council obeyed Hirohito’s acceptance of peace, and on August 10 the message was relayed to the United States.

Early on August 12, the United States answered that “the authority of the emperor and the Japanese government to rule the state shall be subject to the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers.” After two days of debate about what this statement implied, Emperor Hirohito brushed the nuances in the text aside and declared that peace was preferable to destruction. He ordered the Japanese government to prepare a text accepting surrender.

In the early hours of August 15, a military coup was attempted by a faction led by Major Kenji Hatanaka. The rebels seized control of the imperial palace and burned Prime Minister Suzuki’s residence, but shortly after dawn the coup was crushed. At noon that day, Emperor Hirohito went on national radio for the first time to announce the Japanese surrender. In his unfamiliar court language, he told his subjects, “we have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is insufferable.” The United States immediately accepted Japan’s surrender.

President Truman appointed MacArthur to head the Allied occupation of Japan as Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers. For the site of Japan’s formal surrender, Truman chose the USS Missouri, a battleship that had seen considerable action in the Pacific and was named after Truman’s native state. MacArthur, instructed to preside over the surrender, held off the ceremony until September 2 in order to allow time for representatives of all the major Allied powers to arrive.

On Sunday, September 2, more than 250 Allied warships lay at anchor in Tokyo Bay. The flags of the United States, Britain, the Soviet Union, and China fluttered above the deck of the Missouri. Just after 9 a.m. Tokyo time, Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signed on behalf of the Japanese government. General Yoshijiro Umezu then signed for the Japanese armed forces, and his aides wept as he made his signature.

Supreme Commander MacArthur next signed on behalf of the United Nations, declaring, “It is my earnest hope and indeed the hope of all mankind that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past.” Ten more signatures were made, by the United States, China, Britain, the USSR, Australia, Canada, France, the Netherlands, and New Zealand, respectively. Admiral Chester W. Nimitz signed for the United States. As the 20-minute ceremony ended, the sun burst through low-hanging clouds. The most devastating war in human history was over.

1974


March, 1974-Hiroo Onoda, a Japanese intelligence officer, surrenders in the Philippines

Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda is the most famous of the so-called Japanese holdouts, a collection of Imperial Army stragglers who continued to hide out in the South Pacific for several years after World War II had ended. An intelligence officer, Onoda was dispatched to the Philippine island of Lubang in 1944 with orders not to surrender under any circumstances. When Allied forces captured Lubang in 1945, he and three other soldiers stole away to the island’s densely forested hills. They would continue to wage their own guerilla war for several years, eventually killing some 30 Filipinos during raids and shootouts.



One of Onoda’s companions surrendered to Philippine forces in 1950, and by 1972 police had killed the other two. But despite being left alone, Onoda refused to surrender and went on to evade dozens of Philippine army and police patrols. The Japanese government attempted to track him down with search parties and even dropped leaflets over the jungle telling him the war was over, but Onoda dismissed these attempts as trickery. He would not surrender until March 1974—nearly 30 years after the war had ended—when his former commanding officer traveled to the island and ordered him to stop fighting. Amazingly, the 51-year-old Onoda was not the last Japanese straggler to surrender. Teruo Nakamura, a Taiwan-born infantryman, held out on the Indonesian island of Morotai until November 1974.

Timeline Directions:

*Create a colorful picture/map/ cartoon/ or dramatization of your assigned date in history.

*Summarize the events and description of your event into exactly 30 words.

*Be prepared to orally present your summary to the class, and be able to identify where your event occurred on the world map. (If applicable)

Timeline Directions:

*Create a colorful picture/map/ cartoon/ or dramatization of your assigned date in history.

*Summarize the events and description of your event into exactly 30 words.

*Be prepared to orally present your summary to the class, and be able to identify where your event occurred on the world map. (If applicable)

Timeline Directions:

*Create a colorful picture/map/ cartoon/ or dramatization of your assigned date in history.

*Summarize the events and description of your event into exactly 30 words.

*Be prepared to orally present your summary to the class, and be able to identify where your event occurred on the world map. (If applicable)

Timeline Directions:

*Create a colorful picture/map/ cartoon/ or dramatization of your assigned date in history.

*Summarize the events and description of your event into exactly 30 words.

*Be prepared to orally present your summary to the class, and be able to identify where your event occurred on the world map. (If applicable)

Timeline Directions:

*Create a colorful picture/map/ cartoon/ or dramatization of your assigned date in history.

*Summarize the events and description of your event into exactly 30 words.

*Be prepared to orally present your summary to the class, and be able to identify where your event occurred on the world map. (If applicable)


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