Presentation on theme: "War in the Pacific. Pearl Harbor Coral Sea Battle of Midway Guadalcanal Leyte Gulf Iwo Jima Battle of the Philippine Sea Marianas Okinawa."— Presentation transcript:
War in the Pacific
Pearl Harbor Coral Sea Battle of Midway Guadalcanal Leyte Gulf Iwo Jima Battle of the Philippine Sea Marianas Okinawa
December 7, 1941
The 7 December 1941 Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor was one of the great defining moments in history. A single carefully-planned and well-executed stroke removed the United States Navy's battleship force as a possible threat to the Japanese Empire's southward expansion. America, unprepared and now considerably weakened, was abruptly brought into the Second World War as a full combatant. Eighteen months earlier, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had transferred the United States Fleet to Pearl Harbor as a presumed deterrent to Japanese agression. The Japanese military, deeply engaged in the seemingly endless war it had started against China in mid-1937, badly needed oil and other raw materials. Commercial access to these was gradually curtailed as the conquests continued. In July 1941 the Western powers effectively halted trade with Japan. From then on, as the desperate Japanese schemed to seize the oil and mineral-rich East Indies and Southeast Asia, a Pacific war was virtually inevitable.
By late November 1941, with peace negotiations clearly approaching an end, informed U.S. officials (and they were well-informed, they believed, through an ability to read Japan's diplomatic codes) fully expected a Japanese attack into the Indies, Malaya and probably the Philippines. Completely unanticipated was the prospect that Japan would attack east, as well. The U.S. Fleet's Pearl Harbor base was reachable by an aircraft carrier force, and the Japanese Navy secretly sent one across the Pacific with greater aerial striking power than had ever been seen on the World's oceans. Its planes hit just before 8AM on 7 December. Within a short time five of eight battleships at Pearl Harbor were sunk or sinking, with the rest damaged. Several other ships and most Hawaii-based combat planes were also knocked out and over 2400 Americans were dead. Soon after, Japanese planes eliminated much of the American air force in the Philippines, and a Japanese Army was ashore in Malaya.
These great Japanese successes, achieved without prior diplomatic formalities, shocked and enraged the previously divided American people into a level of purposeful unity hardly seen before or since. For the next five months, until the Battle of the Coral Sea in early May, Japan's far- reaching offensives proceeded untroubled by fruitful opposition. American and Allied morale suffered accordingly. Under normal political circumstances, an accomodation might have been considered. However, the memory of the "sneak attack" on Pearl Harbor fueled a determination to fight on. Once the Battle of Midway in early June 1942 had eliminated much of Japan's striking power, that same memory stoked a relentless war to reverse her conquests and remove her, and her German and Italian allies, as future threats to World peace.
7-8 May 1942
The Battle of the Coral Sea, fought in the waters southwest of the Solomon Islands and eastward from New Guinea, was the first of the Pacific War's six fights between opposing aircraft carrier forces. Though the Japanese could rightly claim a tactical victory on "points", it was an operational and strategic defeat for them, the first major check on the great offensive they had begun five months earlier at Pearl Harbor. The diversion of Japanese resources represented by the Coral Sea battle would also have immense consequences a month later, at the Battle of Midway. The Coral Sea action resulted from a Japanese amphibious operation intended to capture Port Moresby, located on New Guinea's southeastern coast. A Japanese air base there would threaten northeastern Australia and support plans for further expansion into the South Pacific, possibly helping to drive Australia out of the war and certainly enhancing the strategic defenses of Japan's newly- enlarged oceanic empire.
The Japanese operation included two seaborne invasion forces, a minor one targeting Tulagi, in the Southern Solomons, and the main one aimed at Port Moresby. These would be supported by land-based airpower from bases to the north and by two naval forces containing a small aircraft carrier, several cruisers, seaplane tenders and gunboats. More distant cover would be provided by the big aircraft carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku with their escorting cruisers and destroyers. The U.S. Navy, tipped off to the enemy plans by superior communications intelligence, countered with two of its own carriers, plus cruisers (including two from the Australian Navy), destroyers, submarines, land-based bombers and patrol seaplanes. Preliminary operations on 3-6 May and two days of active carrier combat on 7-8 May cost the United States one aircraft carrier, a destroyer and one of its very valuable fleet oilers, plus damage to the second carrier. However, the Japanese were forced to cancel their Port Moresby seaborne invasion. In the fighting, they lost a light carrier, a destroyer and some smaller ships. Shokaku received serious bomb damage and Zuikaku's air group was badly depleted. Most importantly, those two carriers were eliminated from the upcoming Midway operation, contributing by their absence to that terrible Japanese defeat.
4-7 June 1942
The Battle of Midway, fought over and near the tiny U.S. mid-Pacific base at Midway atoll, represents the strategic high water mark of Japan's Pacific Ocean war. Prior to this action, Japan possessed general naval superiority over the United States and could usually choose where and when to attack. After Midway, the two opposing fleets were essentially equals, and the United States soon took the offensive. Japanese Combined Fleet commander Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto moved on Midway in an effort to draw out and destroy the U.S. Pacific Fleet's aircraft carrier striking forces, which had embarassed the Japanese Navy in the mid-April Doolittle Raid on Japan's home islands and at the Battle of Coral Sea in early May. He planned to quickly knock down Midway's defenses, follow up with an invasion of the atoll's two small islands and establish a Japanese air base there. He expected the U.S. carriers to come out and fight, but to arrive too late to save Midway and in insufficient strength to avoid defeat by his own well-tested carrier air power.
Yamamoto's intended surprise was thwarted by superior American communications intelligence, which deduced his scheme well before battle was joined. This allowed Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, the U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, to establish an ambush by having his carriers ready and waiting for the Japanese. On 4 June 1942, in the second of the Pacific War's great carrier battles, the trap was sprung. The perserverance, sacrifice and skill of U.S. Navy aviators, plus a great deal of good luck on the American side, cost Japan four irreplaceable fleet carriers, while only one of the three U.S. carriers present was lost. The base at Midway, though damaged by Japanese air attack, remained operational and later became a vital component in the American trans-Pacific offensive.
August February 1943
In the six months between August 1942 and February 1943, the United States and its Pacific Allies fought a brutally hard air-sea-land campaign against the Japanese for possession of the previously-obscure island of Guadalcanal. The Allies' first major offensive action of the Pacific War, the contest began as a risky enterprise since Japan still maintained a significant naval superiority in the Pacific ocean. Nevertheless, the U.S. First Marine Division landed on 7 August 1942 to seize a nearly-complete airfield at Guadalcanal's Lunga Point and an anchorage at nearby Tulagi, bounding a picturesque body of water that would soon be named "Iron Bottom Sound". Action ashore went well, and Japan's initial aerial response was costly and unproductive. However, only two days after the landings, the U.S. and Australian navies were handed a serious defeat in the Battle of Savo Island.
A lengthy struggle followed, with its focus the Lunga Point airfield, renamed Henderson Field. Though regularly bombed and shelled by the enemy, Henderson Field's planes were still able to fly, ensuring that Japanese efforts to build and maintain ground forces on Guadalcanal were prohibitively expensive. Ashore, there was hard fighting in a miserable climate, with U.S. Marines and Soldiers, aided by local people and a few colonial authorities, demonstrating the fatal weaknesses of Japanese ground combat doctrine when confronted by determined and well-trained opponents who possessed superior firepower. At sea, the campaign featured two major battles between aircraft carriers that were more costly to the Americans than to the Japanese, and many submarine and air-sea actions that gave the Allies an advantage. Inside and just outside Iron Bottom Sound, five significant surface battles and several skirmishes convincingly proved just how superior Japan's navy then was in night gunfire and torpedo combat.
With all this, the campaign's outcome was very much in doubt for nearly four months and was not certain until the Japanese completed a stealthy evacuation of their surviving ground troops in the early hours of 8 February Guadalcanal was expensive for both sides, though much more so for Japan's soldiers than for U.S. ground forces. The opponents suffered high losses in aircraft and ships, but those of the United States were soon replaced, while those of Japan were not. Strategically, this campaign built a strong foundation on the footing laid a few months earlier in the Battle of Midway, which had brought Japan's Pacific offensive to an abrupt halt. At Guadalcanal, the Japanese were harshly shoved into a long and costly retreat, one that continued virtually unchecked until their August 1945 surrender.
24 October 1944
At daybreak on 24 October 1944, as Japanese Navy forces were approaching the Philippines from the north and west, Rear Admiral Frederick C. Sherman's Task Group 38.3 was operating about more than a hundred miles east of central Luzon. With other elements of Admiral William F. Halsey's Third Fleet, TG38.3 had spent the last several days pounding enemy targets ashore in support of the Leyte invasion operation. This morning Sherman's four carriers, Essex, Lexington, Princeton and Langley, had sent off fighters for self-protection and other planes on search missions. Still more aircraft were on deck, ready for attack missions. Though the Japanese had sent out many aircraft to strike the Third Fleet, most were shot down or driven away. However one "Judy" dive bomber escaped notice and, at 0938, planted a 250 kilogram bomb on Princeton's flight deck, somewhat aft of amidships. It exploded in the crew's galley after passing through the hangar, in which were parked six TBM bombers, each with full gasoline tanks and a torpedo. In its passage, the bomb struck one of these planes, which was almost immediately ablaze.
For some reason, the carrier's firefighting sprinklers did not activate and the entire hangar space was quickly engulfed, while smoke penetrated compartments below. Princeton was still underway, but at 1002 a heavy explosion rocked the after part of the hangar. This blast was followed by three more, which heaved up the flight deck, blew out both aircraft elevators and quickly made much of the ship uninhabitable. With all but emergency generator power gone, and much of her crew abandoning ship, Princeton now depended on the light cruisers Birmingham and Reno, plus the destroyers Irwin (DD-794) and Morrison (DD-560), to help fight her fires. While alongside, Morrison's superstructure was seriously damage when she became entangled in Princeton's projecting structures. After more than three hours' work, with the remaining fires almost under control, a report of approaching enemy forces forced the other ships to pull away.
By the time they returned Princeton was again burning vigorously, heating a bomb storage space near her after hangar. At 1523, as Birmingham came alongside, these bombs detonated violently, blowing off the carrier's stern, showering the cruiser's topsides with fragments, and killing hundreds of men. There was now no hope that Princeton could be saved. Her remaining crewmen were taken off and Irwin attempted to scuttle her with torpedoes and gunfire, but with no success. Finally, Reno was called in to finish the job. One of her torpedoes hit near the burning ship's forward bomb magazine and USS Princeton disappeared in a tremendous explosion. Princeton was the first U.S. fleet carrier sunk in more than two years, and the last lost during the Pacific War. However, her ordeal by fire would be repeated several times during the six months, as the U.S. Navy closed in on an increasingly desperate Japan.
February 19 – March 26, 1945
A battle in which the United States fought for and captured Iwo Jima from Japan. The U.S. invasion was charged with the mission of capturing the two airfields on Iwo Jima. The battle produced some of the fiercest fighting in the Pacific Campaign of World War II. The Japanese positions on the island were heavily fortified, with vast bunkers, hidden artillery, and 11 miles of underground tunnels. The Americans were covered by extensive naval and air support, capable of putting an enormous amount of firepower onto the Japanese positions. The battle was the first American attack on the Japanese Home Islands, and the Imperial soldiers defended their positions tenaciously. Of the more than 18,000 Japanese soldiers present at the beginning of the battle, only 216 were taken prisoner. The rest were killed or were missing and assumed dead.
Despite heavy fighting and casualties on both sides, Japanese defeat was assured from the start. The Americans possessed an overwhelming superiority in arms and numbers—this, coupled with the impossibility of Japanese retreat or reinforcement, ensured that there was no plausible scenario in which the United States could have lost the battle. The battle was immortalized by Joe Rosenthal's photograph of the raising of the U.S. flag on top of Mount Suribachi by five Marines and one Navy Corpsman. The photograph records the second flag-raising on the mountain, which took place on the fifth day of the 35-day battle. The picture became the iconic image of the battle and has been heavily reproduced.
The 82-day-long battle lasted from early April until mid-June, 1945.
The battle resulted in one of the highest number of casualties of any World War II engagement. Japan lost over 100,000 troops, and the Allies suffered more than 50,000 casualties. Simultaneously, more than 100,000 civilians (12,000 in action) were killed, wounded, or committed suicide. Approximately one-quarter of the civilian population died due to the invasion. Five divisions of the U.S. Tenth Army, and two Marine Divisions fought on the island while the 2nd Marine Division remained as an amphibious reserve and was never brought ashore. The invasion was supported by naval, amphibious, and tactical air forces. The main objective of the operation was to seize a large island only 340 miles away from mainland Japan. After a long campaign of island hopping, the Allies were approaching Japan, and planned to use Okinawa as a base for air operations on the planned invasion of Japanese mainland, coded Operation Downfall. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Soviet entry into the war caused Japan to surrender just weeks after the end of the fighting at Okinawa.
After six months of intense strategic fire-bombing of 67 Japanese cities the Japanese government ignored an ultimatum given by the Potsdam Declaration. By executive order of President Harry S. Truman the U.S. dropped the nuclear weapon "Little Boy" on the city of Hiroshima on Monday, August 6, 1945,followed by the detonation of "Fat Man" over Nagasaki on August 9. These are the only use of nuclear weapons in war. The target was chosen as Hiroshima was a city of considerable military importance, containing Japan's Second Army Headquarters, as well as being a communications center and storage depot. Within the first two to four months of the bombings, the acute effects killed 90,000–166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000–80,000 in Nagasaki, with roughly half of the deaths in each city occurring on the first day. The Hiroshima prefectural health department estimates that, of the people who died on the day of the explosion, 60% died from flash or flame burns, 30% from falling debris and 10% from other causes.
During the following months, large numbers died from the effect of burns, radiation sickness, and other injuries, compounded by illness. A plausible estimate of the total immediate and short term cause of death, 15–20% died from radiation sickness, 20–30% from flash burns, and 50–60% from other injuries, compounded by illness. In both cities, most of the dead were civilians. Six days after the detonation over Nagasaki, on August 15, Japan announced its surrender to the Allied Powers, signing the Instrument of Surrender on September 2, officially ending the Pacific War and therefore World War II. Germany had signed its unavoidable Instrument of Surrender on May 7, ending the war in Europe. The bombings led, in part, to post-war Japan adopting Three Non-Nuclear Principles, forbidding the nation from nuclear armament. The role of the bombings in Japan's surrender and the U.S.'s ethical justification for them is still debated.