This day in history, August 15th, marks Japan’s official surrender to Allied forces and the end of World War II.
May 9th is known as VE day for victory in Europe and the surrender of Nazi Germany, the end of European combat but the war was still going on in the Pacific Theatre of Operations. At the beginning of 1945 Russia agreed with Roosevelt to transfer Russian troops to the Pacific theatre to help win the war against Japan. Three months after VE day Russia sent 1 million combat experienced troops from the East German lines into the Pacific. It was August 9th, 1945 when Russia invaded the Japanese territory of Manchuria. On 6 August 1945, the B-29 Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshema. On 9 August another was dropped on Nagasaki. These were the first and have been the last nuclear attacks in history. More than 240,000 people died as a direct result of these two bombings.
Debates still abound as to whether a continued conventional bombing of Japanese cities and an inevitable troop invasion would not have caused more casualties and drawn out the conflict. The fact is the Russian involvement and the two H bombs caused the speedy end to the war. September 2nd marks the official signing of the surrender aboard the Missouri carrier and on September 8th General MacArthur entered Tokyo.
The key dates surrounding the opening of the conflict are:
December 7, 1941 - Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; also attack the Philippines, Wake Island, Guam, Malaya, Thailand, Shanghai and Midway. December 8, 1941 - U.S. and Britain declare war on Japan. Japanese land near Singapore and enter Thailand. December 9, 1941 - China declares war on Japan. December 10, 1941 - Japanese invade the Philippines and also seize Guam. In the new year of 1942 Japan bombed Australia, marking their introduction to the war.
The Summer of 1942 was the turning point for the American forces, the naval battle of Midway pushed out the Japanese navy from the southern Pacific seas. In November of 1942, after intelligence spotted the Japanese constructing a new air strip (allowing them access to Australian airspace), the Marines invaded Guadalcanal to hard losses, not gaining complete victory until February 1943. November 1943 the Marines took Tarawa, the summer of 1944 the Paulaus, and in February 1945 the Marines invaded Iwo Jima.
All in all from 1940-45 there were 354,523 United States casualties (106,207 killed, 248,316 wounded and missing), 52,000 British casualties including 12,000 deaths in captivity, 17,501 Australian casualties. Around 500,000 American troops came down with malaria during the years of the conflict. In comparison there were 2.1 million Japanese military deaths 1937-1945.
Some quotes from those in the Pacific:
“It is the function of the Navy to carry the war to the enemy so that it will not be fought on U.S. soil.” Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet.
“Among the men who fought on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue.”
Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz (March 16, 1945)
“All right, they’re on our left, they’re on our right, they’re in front of us, they’re behind us; they can’t get away this time.”
Lieutenant General Lewis B.”Chesty” Puller (when surrounded by 8 enemy divisions)
“A bright light filled the plane. The first shock-wave hit us. We were eleven and a half miles slant range from the atomic explosion but the whole airplane cracked and crinkled from the blast… We turned back to look at Hiroshima. The city was hidden by that awful cloud… mushrooming, terrible and incredibly tall.” Colonel Paul Tibbets, the pilot of the B-29 Enola Gay
“It is my earnest hope, 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, a world found upon faith and understanding, a world dedicated to the dignity of man and the fulfillment of his most cherished wish for freedom, tolerance and justice.” General Douglas Macarthur, Supreme Allied Commander of South-West Pacific (1945)
If you are a first time guest here on the blog, thanks for reading, my faith and my understanding of history inform my view of our postmodern world. I am grateful to God for the courage of our parents and grandparents, let us never forget their sacrifice, no matter what side of the world we are on. For those of us who are believers let us be courageous in how we follow hard after Christ and be bold in how we tell others of His gospel of grace.