23 February 1944

23 February 1944

23 February 1944

February

1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
29
>March

Pacific

US Task Force attacks Japanese aircraft and shipping on the Marianas.



You were born on a Friday

February 23, 1940 was the 8th Friday of that year. It was also the 54th day and 2nd month of 1940 in the Georgian calendar. The next time you can reuse 1940 calendar will be in 2024. Both calendars will be exactly the same.

There are left before your next birthday. Your 82nd birthday will be on a Sunday and a birthday after that will be on a Thursday. The timer below is a countdown clock to your next birthday. It’s always accurate and is automatically updated.

Your next birthday is on a Sunday


Notes

I am grateful for critical responses to earlier drafts of this paper from John Gittings, Cary Karacas and Satoko Norimatsu.

A small number of works have problematized the good war narrative by drawing attention to US atrocities in the Asia-Pacific War, typically centering on the torture, killing and desecration of captured Japanese soldiers. These include Peter Schrijvers, The GI War Against Japan. American Soldiers in Asia and the Pacific During World War II (New York: NYU Press, 2002) and John Dower, War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War (New York: Pantheon, 1986). Two recent works closely assess the bombing of noncombatants in both Japan and Germany, and the ravaging of nature and society as a result of strategic bombing that has been ignored in much of the literature. A. C. Grayling, Among the Dead Cities: The history and moral legacy of the WW II bombing of civilians in Germany and Japan (New York: Walker & Company, 2006), provides a thoroughgoing assessment of US and British strategic bombing (including atomic bombing) through the lens of ethics and international law. See also Michael Bess, in Choices Under Fire. Moral Dimensions of World War II (New York: Knopf, 2006), pp. 88-110.

Grayling, Among the Dead Cities, pp. 90-91.

Michael Sherry, “The United States and Strategic Bombing: From Prophecy to Memory,” in Yuki Tanaka and Marilyn B. Young, eds., Bombing Civilians: A twentieth century history (New York: The New Press, 2009), pp. 175-90 Cary Karacas, “Imagining Air Raids on Tokyo, 1930-1945,” paper presented at the Association for Asian Studies annual meeting, Boston, March 23, 2007. Sherry traces other prophecies of nuclear bombing back to H.G. Wells 1913 novel The World Set Free.

David Fedman and Cary Karacas. “A Cartographic Fade to Black: Mapping the Destruction of Urban Japan During World War II.” Journal of Historical Geography 36, no. 3 (2012), pp. 306–28.

Robert Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986), pp. 596-97 Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Gate, The Pacific: Matterhorn to Nagasaki June 1944 to August 1945. Vol. 5, The Army Air Forces in World War II (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953 1983 Office of Air Force History imprint) pp. 609-13 E. Bartlett Kerr, Flames Over Tokyo (New York: Fine, 1991), pp. 146-50 Barrett Tillman, Whirlwind. The Air War Against Japan, 1942-1945, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010) pp. 134-73 Kenneth P. Werrell, Blankets of Fire. U.S. Bombers over Japan during World War II (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996) pp. 150-93.

Sherry, Air Power, p. 276. A detailed photographic record, including images of scores of the dead, some burnt to a crisp and distorted beyond recognition, others apparently serene in death, and of acres of the city flattened as if by an immense tornado, is found in Ishikawa Koyo, Tokyo daikushu no zenkiroku (Complete Record of the Great Tokyo Air Attack) (Tokyo, 1992) Tokyo kushu o kiroku suru kai ed., Tokyo daikushu no kiroku (Record of the Great Tokyo Air Attack) (Tokyo: Sanseido, 1982), and Dokyumento: Tokyo daikushu (Document: The Great Tokyo Air Attack) (Tokyo: Yukeisha, 1968). See the special issue of the Asia-Pacific Journal edited by Bret Fisk and Cary Karacas, The Firebombing of Tokyo: Views from the Ground,The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 3 No 1, January 17, 2011.

Dokyumento. Toky o daikushu, pp. 168-73.

The Survey’s killed-to-injured ratio of better than two to one was far higher than most estimates for the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki where killed and wounded were approximately equal. If accurate, it is indicative of the immense difficulty in escaping for those near the center of the Tokyo firestorm on that windswept night. The Survey’s kill ratio has, however, been challenged by Japanese researchers who found much higher kill ratios at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, particularly when one includes those who died of bomb injuries months and years later. In my view, the SBS estimates both exaggerate the killed to injured ratio and understate the numbers killed in the Tokyo raid. The Committee for the Compilation of Materials on Damage Caused by the Atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Hiroshima and Nagasaki: The Physical, Medical and Social Effects of the Atomic Bombing (New York: Basic Books, 1991), pp. 420-21 Cf. U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey, Field Report Covering Air Raid Protection and Allied Subjects Tokyo (n.p. 1946), pp. 3, 79. In contrast to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which for fifty years has been the subject of intense research by Japanese, Americans and others, the most significant records of the Tokyo attack are those compiled at the time by Japanese police and fire departments. The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey study of Effects of Air Attack on Urban Complex Tokyo-Kawasaki-Yokohama (n.p. 1947), p. 8, observes that Japanese police estimates make no mention of the numbers of people missing. In contrast to the monitoring of atomic bomb deaths over the subsequent six decades, the Tokyo casualty figures at best record deaths and injuries within days of the bombing at a time when the capacity of the Tokyo military and police to compile records had been overwhelmed. Many more who died in the following weeks and months go unrecorded.

Barrett Tillman, Whirlwind, pp. 144-45 documents the startling lack of preparedness of Japanese cities to cope with the bombing. “One survey noted, ‘The common portable fire extinguisher of the C2, carbon tetrachloride, foam, and water pump can types were not used by Japanese firemen.’ In one of the most urbanized nations on earth there were four aerial ladders: three in Tokyo and one in Kyoto. But in 1945 only one of Tokyo’s trucks was operational . . . Their 500-gpm pumps were therefore largely useless.”

Karacas, “Imagining Air Raids,” p. 22 Thomas R. Havens, Valley of Darkness. The Japanese People and World War II, (New York: WW Norton 1978), p. 163, puts the number of urban residents evacuated to the countryside overall at 10 million. He estimates that 350,000 students from national schools in grades three to six were evacuated in 1944 and 100,000 first and second graders in early 1945.

John W. Dower, “Sensational Rumors, Seditious Graffiti, and the Nightmares of the Thought Police,” in Japan in War and Peace (New York: The New Press, 1993), p. 117. United States Strategic Bombing Survey, Summary Report, Vol I, pp. 16-20.

Sahr Conway-Lanz, Collateral Damage, p. 1.

Bret Fisk and Cary Karacas, The Firebombing of Tokyo and Its Legacy: Introduction, The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 3 No 1, January 17, 2011. Fisk and Karacas draw on Overall Report of Damage Sustained by the Nation During the Pacific War, Economic Stabilization Agency, Planning Department, Office of the Secretary General, 1949, which may be viewed here.

The numbers killed, specifically the numbers of noncombatants killed, in the Korean, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq wars were greater, but each of those wars extended over many years and bombing accounted for only a portion of deaths.

It may be tempting to consider whether the US willingness to kill such massive numbers of Japanese civilians can be understood in terms of racism, a suggestion sometimes applied to the atomic bomb. Such a view is, I believe, negated by US participation in area bombing attacks at Dresden in 1944. Cf. John Dower’s nuanced historical perspective on war and racism in American thought and praxis in War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War (New York: Pantheon Books, 1986). In Year 501: The Conquest Continues (Boston: South End Press, 1993) and many other works, Noam Chomsky emphasizes the continuities in Western ideologies that undergird practices leading to the annihilation of entire populations in the course of colonial and expansionist wars over half a millennium and more. Matthew Jones, After Hiroshima. The United States, Race and Nuclear Weapons in Asia, 1945-1965 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010). Jones emphasizes factors of race, but not racism in the Pacific War, the atomic bombing (there is no mention of the firebombing) and the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He considers US consideration of use of the atomic bomb in all of these, noting US plans to drop an atomic bomb on Tokyo when more bombs became available by the end of August, if Japan had not yet surrendered.

The master work on the world history of peace thought and activism is John Gittings, The Glorious Art of Peace. From the Iliad to Iraq (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), chapters 5-7.

Geoffrey Best, War and Law Since 1945. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994) pp. 180-81. Could be interpreted . . . but at the Tokyo Trials, defense attempts to raise the issue of American firebombing and the atomic bombing were ruled out by the court. It was Japan that was on trial.

Bombing would also be extended from cities to the countryside, as in the Agent Orange defoliation attacks that destroyed the forest cover and poisoned residents of sprayed areas of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. See Fred A. Wilcox, Scorched Earth. Legacies of Chemical Warfare in Vietnam (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2011).

An insightful discussion of Japanese war crimes in the Pacific, locating the issues within a comparative context of atrocities committed by the US, Germany, and other powers, is Yuki Tanaka’s Hidden Horrors: Japanese Crimes in World War II. Takashi Yoshida, The Making of the “Rape of Nanking”: History and Memory in Japan, China and the United States (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006) examines the understanding of the Nanjing Massacre in each country.

Mark Selden, “String of Pearls: The Archipelago of Bases, Military Colonization, and the Making of the American Empire in the Pacific,” International Journal of Okinawan Studies, Vol 3 No 1, June 2012 (Special Issue on Islands) pp. 45-62.

Jones, After Hiroshima, pp. 24-25. Peter Kuznick, “The Decision to Risk the Future: Harry Truman, the Atomic Bomb and the Apocalyptic Narrative,”suggests that those who held that dropping atomic bombs on Japan was morally repugnant and/or militarily unnecessary in the immediate postwar period included Admiral William Leahy, General Dwight Eisenhower, General Douglas MacArthur, General Curtis LeMay, General Henry Arnold, Brigadier General Bonner Fellers, Admiral Ernest King, General Carl Spaatz, Admiral Chester Nimitz, and Admiral William “Bull” Halsey. The fact of the matter, however, is that, with the exception of a group of atomic scientists, these criticisms were raised only in the postwar.

Ian Buruma, “Expect to be Lied to in Japan,” New York Review of Books, November 8, 2012. See See also, Monica Braw, The Atomic Bomb Suppressed. American Censorship in Occupied Japan (Armonk: M.E. Sharpe, 1991). See the extensive discussion of censorship in Takemae Eiji, Inside GHQ: The Allied Occupation of Japan and Its Legacy (London: Continuum, 2002), espec. pp. 382-404, and John W. Dower, Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II, espec. pp. 405-40.

William R. Laurence, U.S. Atom Bomb Site Belies Tokyo Tales: Tests on New Mexico Range Confirm that Blast, and not Radiation Took Toll, New York Times, September 12, 1945. Quoting Gen. Leslie Groves, director of the atom bomb project and the point man on radiation denial: "The Japanese claim that people died from radiation. If this is true, the number was very small."

Cary Karacas, “Place, Public Memory, and the Tokyo Air Raids.” Geographical Review 100, no. 4 (October 1, 2010), pp. 521–37.

SPECIAL FEATURE

Perspectives on the Bombing of Civilians From World War II to the Present


Celebrating a Great American Composer and Pianist!

This site is dedicated to providing in-depth information about the great American composer and pianist Amy Beach, and for celebrating her remarkable life and achievements.

This site is sponsored by Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy. If you wish, you may Support Our Work – Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy is a 501(c) 3 non-profit charitable organization based in the state of California, and our EIN is 83-4274435. Your donation is fully tax deductible according to U.S. law, and you will receive a thank you note that will serve as your receipt for your generous gift.

For regular blog posts concerning Amy Beach, such as (1) newly published scholarship, (2) upcoming or recent changes to this site, (3) upcoming events, (4) newly available music editions and (5) recently released recordings, simply select the corresponding submenu option under the News menu. Our 5 most recent posts are located in the right-hand content sidebar. Simply click on the post title to view the entire post!


The Battle of Kohima 1944

The Battle of Kohima was one of the turning points in the war in the Far East. Kohima, some thirty miles from the border of Burma, had to be taken by the Japanese if their 1944 ‘March on Delhi’ was to succeed. The fact that British and Commonwealth forces held them off at Kohima, coupled with the Japanese failure to take Imphal, ended this offensive.

The ‘March on Delhi’ started on March 7 th /8 th 1944. Imphal was a major target for the Japanese and two divisions attacked this city. On March 15 th another Japanese division, the XXXI, attacked Kohima. The Japanese moved swiftly on Kohima. In the previous two weeks before the attack started, a small group of Japanese soldiers had reconnoitred the whole area and selected the best routes to use. Their information and choice of routes was vital and their work “must rank as one of the most brilliant feats of reconnaissance in the history of war.” (A Swinson) The advance, however, had one major flaw. The Japanese took 5,000 oxen with them to feed their troops. It was believed that these would provide meat for 50 days – which the Japanese believed would be sufficient. However, many died on the journey and a shortage of food was to become a major problem for the Japanese.

British forces at Kohima learned of the Japanese advance on March 18 th when they received information from fleeing refugees. On the same day General Slim decided to move the 7 th Indian Division to Imphal to strengthen the garrison there. Imphal was some 50 miles to the south of Kohima. Slim also ordered that the 2 nd British Division should be moved to the area. This division contained such regiments as the 1 st Royal Scots, the 1 st Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, the 2 nd Royal Norfolk and the 2 nd Durham Light Infantry. Some had fought and been evacuated at Dunkirk but up to the spring of 1944, many had not taken part in an offensive operation for many months. However, getting together all the units of the 2 nd Division took time as they were dispersed all over India. Time was one thing that the defenders at Kohima did not have as the Japanese advanced with some speed. Slim was not even aware of the strength of the Japanese force advancing on Kohima and such was the general confusion that a garrison commander was only appointed for Kohima on March 22 nd – a full four days after it was known that the Japanese were advancing on the base. The garrison commander – Colonel Hugh Richards – was told that three Japanese battalions were advancing on Kohima with almost certainly one held in reserve. When he arrived at Kohima, Richards found that few of the officers there knew what was going on. Far worse, no one could tell Richards just how many men he had at his command in Kohima – and the Japanese were just 60 miles away at this time. On March 24 th , the 2 nd West Yorkshire Regiment arrived but was swiftly redeployed elsewhere. Richards found that he could acquire no barbed wire to protect the base’s perimeter as a regulation stated that no barbed wire was to be placed in the Naga Hills, where Kohima was, after complaints from local people that it disrupted their farming.

Men from the Assam Regiment formed defensive zones some 35 miles to the east of Kohima at Jessami and Kharasom. Indian forces first came into contact with the Japanese at Jessami on March 28 th . They had been ordered to fight to the last man though this order was later withdrawn as it was felt that it would lead to wholesale slaughter. However, those at Jessami fought bravely:

“Young and inexperienced sepoys were fighting like veterans red-hot machine gun barrels would be ripped off, regardless of burns suffered in the process Japanese grenades and cracker-bombs were picked up and thrown clear of the trenches with all the calmness in the world and there did not seem to be a man in the garrison afraid to carry out any task given to him.” Captain Peter Steyn, Assam Regiment.

However, by April 1 st , these men pulled back to Kohima. The order withdrawing the previous order to fight to the last man at Kharasom was never received and while some men made it back to Kohima, many did not, including the commander there, Captain Young.

With Jessami and Kharasom taken, the road to Kohima was open for the Japanese.

Men from the 161 st Brigade were stationed at Jotsoma, two miles to the west of Kohima, including an artillery unit. It was this artillery that was to play a vital part in supporting the Kohima garrison.

When the Japanese started their attack on Kohima at 04.00 on April 5 th , Colonel Richards had about 1,500 men under his command. Facing him were 12,000 Japanese troops. They attacked outlying defensive positions, which had been given various nicknames such as Jail Hill and FSD. Though the Japanese took these positions, they suffered heavy casualties.

On April 13 th , the Japanese launched a major attack on Kohima itself. However, they reckoned without the artillery that had been set up at Jotsama. Accurate artillery fire on Japanese positions proved very effective. But the Japanese had numbers on their side and on the 17 th they restarted their attack on Kohima. A relief column was due at Kohima on the 18 th April. Richards later said that he believed at the time that it would be 12 hours too late.

At 08.00 on April 18 th , a major artillery assault targeted Japanese positions as men from the 1/1 st Punjab Regiment marched on Kohima. These reinforcements meant that the Japanese did not take Kohima. The relief of Kohima was completed when the Royal Berkshire Regiment arrived on April 20 th .

The Japanese restarted their attempt to capture Kohima on April 22 nd /23 rd . However, this attack at night backfired. The attack started with a major Japanese mortar attack on Kohima. Men in weapons pits were safe but an ammunition dump was hit. The explosion set fire to nearby trees and as the Japanese infantry attacked up Kohima Hill, they were clearly silhouetted against the night sky. Men from the Royal Berkshire’s and the Durham Light Infantry raked the advancing Japanese with accurate small arms fire. On the morning of the 23 rd , British forces counter-attacked to removed the Japanese from Kohima Hill. The attempted Japanese attack had been a dismal failure. The commander of the Japanese forces there, Sato, told his Intelligence Officer, Colonel Yamaki:

“We’re losing so many troops this way that before long we’ll be too thin on the ground to achieve anything.”

Sato faced another major problem – a chronic shortage of food. Only 1,000 out of the 5,000 oxen had reached Sato’s headquarters. The local population had done what they could to remove any food that might have been available locally.

Sato was incorrectly sent a telegram from his commanders congratulating him on his capture of Kohima. Sato replied:

“It is not your congratulations we want but food and ammunition.”

Those defending Kohima also suffered from supply issues. To make matters worse, the RAF announced that it would have to re-deploy its transport aircraft to the Middle East, meaning that airdrops would cease. The issue was raised with Mountbatten who ordered the aircraft to remain in the region. In this Winston Churchill supported him:

“Let nothing go from the battle that you need for victory. I will not accept denial of this from any quarter, and will back you to the full.”

On May 3 rd , the 2 nd Division launched their attack on Japanese positions surrounding Kohima. Japanese mortar fire proved especially effective in countering this attack, as did the series of inter-locking trenches that the Japanese had dug around Kohima. The hilly terrain was also taking its toll, as was the weather. Rain became a major problem affecting the use of transport. Men fell ill with dysentery. Sleep was a luxury. However, the success of the Japanese was completely undermined by their supply problem. Sato had been promised 250 tons of food but none arrived. Men who scoured the countryside for food never returned – the Naga people despised the Japanese. Junior officers under Sato started to question his command, believing that he was too far back from Kohima to fully understand what was going on.

On May 12 th , Lee-Grant tanks were used to attack Japanese bunkers – much to the delight of the infantry who had been detailed to attack them. By 15.00 the tanks had completed their task. On May 13 th , Japanese soldiers were seen to be leaving their trenches in other areas around Kohima. Sato sent a message to his commander:

“Because of the rain and starvation there is no time. Decided this division, accompanying the sick and wounded, should move to a point where it can receive supplies.”

Sato’s commanding officer, Mutaguchi, replied:

“It is very difficult to understand why your division should evacuate under the pretext of supply difficulties, forgetting its brilliant services. Maintain the present position for ten days. A resolute will makes the Gods give way.”

Sato followed his orders and maintained his position. Ironically, while he had lost the middle ground in Kohima, his men still held very strong positions on either flank around Kohima. These were attacked in a series of highly successful moves by men from the Ghurkhas. By June 3 rd , Lee-Grant tanks were in a position where they could attack those Japanese defenders who remained.

Sato ordered his men to withdraw. Mutaguchi sent him a message:

“Retreat and I will court-martial you.”

The last major Japanese unit moved back on June 6 th /7 th . The Battle of Kohima had lasted for 64 days.

A Japanese war correspondent, Shizuo Maruyama, wrote:

“We had no ammunition, no clothes, no food, no guns. At Kohima, we were starved and then crushed.”

Both Sato and Mutaguchi lost their filed commands and were given administrative positions.

Kohima “was one of the greatest battles of the Second World War, rivalling El Alamein and Stalingrad, though it still remains comparatively unknown. However, to the men who fought there, it remains “The Battle”. (Swinson)


British Palestine Mandate: History & Overview

The Mandate system was instituted by the League of Nations in the early 20th century to administer non-self-governing territories. The mandatory power, appointed by an international body, was to consider the mandated territory a temporary trust and to see to the well-being and advancement of its population.

In July 1922, the League of Nations entrusted Great Britain with the Mandate for Palestine. Recognizing "the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine," Great Britain was called upon to facilitate the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine-Eretz Israel (Land of Israel). Shortly afterwards, in September 1922, the League of Nations and Great Britain decided that the provisions for setting up a Jewish national home would not apply to the area east of the Jordan River, which constituted three-fourths of the territory included in the Mandate and which eventually became the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

The British Mandate authorities granted the Jewish and Arab communities the right to run their internal affairs thus the yishuv established the Elected Assembly and the National Council. The economy expanded, a Hebrew education network was organized and cultural life flourished.

The Mandatory government did not succeed in maintaining the letter and spirit of the Mandate. Under Arab pressure, it withdrew from its commitment, especially with respect to immigration and land acquisition. The White Papers of 1930 and 1939 restricted immigration and acquisition of land by Jews. Later, immigration was limited by the 1930 and 1939 White Papers, and land acquisition by Jews was severely restricted by the 1940 Land Transfer Regulations.

After the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution to partition Palestine on November 29, 1947, Britain announced the termination of its Mandate over Palestine, to take effect on May 15, 1948. On May 14, 1948, the State of Israel was proclaimed.

Download our mobile app for on-the-go access to the Jewish Virtual Library


Japanese Troops Defeated on Okinawa

On June 21, 1945, Japanese troops were defeated on the Pacific island of Okinawa after one of the longest and bloodiest battles of World War II. Having seized the Ryukyu Islands from Japanese control, the United States next prepared to launch an onslaught against the Japanese mainland.

Japanese Soldier. Photograph by U. S. Signal Corps, 1942. Prints & Photographs Division

In September 1940, Japan allied itself with Germany and Italy to form the Axis powers and established a base in French Indochina. One year later, Japan moved troops to southern French Indochina and was poised to move against the Netherlands Indies, seeking to acquire an oil source.

When the United States, Britain, and the Netherlands placed an embargo on oil exports to Japan, that country responded quickly with an attack against the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor. Japanese military forces occupied the Philippines, the Netherlands Indies, Malaya, and Singapore in rapid succession, and invaded Burma and Thailand, achieving its goal of complete control of the South Pacific.

We’ll Lick ‘Em—Just Give Us the Stuff!” U.S. Government Printing Office, 1943. Prints & Photographs Division

In the meantime, the United States had mobilized its industrial and economic resources. The Office of War Information, created in June 1942, generated a propaganda campaign to mobilize the manpower and the womanpower of the United States in support of the war effort.

During its offensive in the Pacific, Japan had captured many American and Filipino prisoners, who were enduring forced marches and cruelty in prisoner of war camps. Reports of these atrocities fueled American resolve to defeat Japan. The tide turned with the Battle of Midway in June 1942, at the northern tip of the Hawaiian islands, where the United States began its counteroffensive by air and sea, successfully crippling the Japanese fleet.

The U.S. strategy for conquering Japan was to capture a succession of weaker Japanese outposts, “island-hopping” toward the Japanese mainland. Slowly, in many bloody battles in the Pacific jungle, at Guadalcanal, the Solomon Islands, the Philippines, and Iwo Jima, the U.S. forces wrested Pacific territory from the Japanese, island by island.

LSM’s Sending Rockets at Shores of Pokishi Shima, near Okinawa, Five Days Before Invasion. U.S. Navy photograph, May 21, 1945. Joseph J. Spagnola Collection. Prints & Photographs Division

Okinawa was the last critical outpost the United States needed to reclaim before launching an attack on the Japanese home islands. As in the progressive invasion of the other Pacific Islands, the U.S. began the onslaught with a series of air attacks on Okinawa and islands nearby, from October 1944 to March 1945.

From this time until the end of the war, the Japanese responded with an intense and desperate effort, increasing the kamikaze attacks on American ships and other targets and introducing to these suicide missions a new weapon, the baka, a piloted missile. In these guided missiles, the pilot reached more than 600 miles per hour in his final dive, and crashed into his target with more than a ton of explosives built into the nose of the aircraft.

On April 1, 1945, some 60,000 U.S. troops landed on the beaches, where they met with little resistance. However, more than 77,000 Japanese troops of the 32d Army were on the island under the command of Lieutenant General Mitsuru Ushijima, who withdrew his soldiers to the southern section of the island where the Japanese held out for nearly three months—hiding in the jungle and in caves, and engaging the Americans in intense guerilla warfare. Some 12,000 American lives and 110,000 Japanese lives were lost in the campaign. To avoid the dishonor of enemy capture, General Ushijima committed ritual suicide on June 23 as approaching U.S. forces were mopping up pockets of Japanese resistance.

Crew Members of a Marine Torpedo Squadron Lugging Their Own Bags Across the Okinawa Airstrip… Corporal William Beall, photographer U.S. Marine Corps, [1945]. Prints & Photographs Division Marines Wait at Entrance to Cave in Which Japanese Soldiers Are Hiding. U.S. Marine Corps photo, 1945. Prints & Photographs Division Major General Lemuel C. Shepherd…Seated on Shore, Studying Map of Okinawa. June 28, 1945. Prints & Photographs Division

Japan still refused to concede that World War II was over even after their defeat on Okinawa. The ultimate surrender of Japan to the Allies would be, according to Japanese cultural norms, an unthinkable dishonor. However, Japan was able to hold out less than two more months. Emperor Hirohito was forced into an unconditional surrender in August 1945 after the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were decimated by the United States’ new weapon of mass destruction, the atomic bomb.

Hirohito, Emperor of Japan…Wearing Imperial Regalia and Shinto Priest Headdress. U.S. War Department. Signal Corps, 1942. Prints & Photographs Division Japanese POW at Guam…. U.S. Navy photo, Aug. 15, 1945. Prints & Photographs Division


World War II

The ACED page for the Second World War with an historical summary of the event and relevant facts and figures about it.

Chronology of World War II

This chronological coverage of the Second World War provides comprehensive day by day summaries of events for each day from September 1, 1939 to September 30, 1945 - a total of 2222 days. Political, military, economic as well as socially significant events are included. There are over one thousand images of war incorporated in the chronology.

Maps of World War II

The battles and campaigns of the Second World War are presented by a collection of 86 high resolution maps. These maps are organized by campaigns in chronological order. Most of the maps show strategic or operational level information. This selection of maps gives the student of history an appreciation of the military situation at significant moments during the war.


Black Nationalist Marcus Garvey recognized that his Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) would find its most enthusiastic audience in the United States, despite the organization’s professed worldwide mission. After fighting World War I, ostensibly to defend democracy and self-determination, thousands of African-American soldiers returned home to find intensified discrimination, segregation, racial violence, and hostile relations with white Americans. Sensing growing frustration, Garvey used his considerable charisma to attract thousands of disillusioned black working-class and lower middle-class followers and became the most popular black leader in America in the early 1920s. The UNIA, committed to notions of racial purity and separatism, insisted that salvation for African Americans meant building an autonomous, black-led nation in Africa. To this end, the movement offered in its “Back to Africa” campaign a powerful message of black pride and economic self-sufficiency. In Garvey’s 1921 speech, “If You Believe the Negro Has a Soul,” he emphasized the inevitability of racial antagonism and the hopelessness of interracial coexistence.

Marcus Garvey: Fellow citizens of Africa, I greet you in the name of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League of the World. You may ask, “what organization is that?” It is for me to inform you that the Universal Negro Improvement Association is an organization that seeks to unite, into one solid body, the four hundred million Negroes in the world. To link up the fifty million Negroes in the United States of America, with the twenty million Negroes of the West Indies, the forty million Negroes of South and Central America, with the two hundred and eighty million Negroes of Africa, for the purpose of bettering our industrial, commercial, educational, social, and political conditions. As you are aware, the world in which we live today is divided into separate race groups and distinct nationalities. Each race and each nationality is endeavoring to work out its own destiny, to the exclusion of other races and other nationalities. We hear the cry of “England for the Englishman,” of “France for the Frenchman,” of “Germany for the German,” of “Ireland for the Irish,” of “Palestine for the Jew,” of “Japan for the Japanese,” of “China for the Chinese.” We of the Universal Negro Improvement Association are raising the cry of “Africa for the Africans,” those at home and those abroad. There are 400 million Africans in the world who have Negro blood coursing through their veins, and we believe that the time has come to unite these 400 million people toward the one common purpose of bettering their condition. The great problem of the Negro for the last 500 years has been that of disunity. No one or no organization ever succeeded in uniting the Negro race. But within the last four years, the Universal Negro Improvement Association has worked wonders. It is bringing together in one fold four million organized Negroes who are scattered in all parts of the world. Here in the 48 States of the American Union, all the West Indies islands, and the countries of South and Central America and Africa. These four million people are working to convert the rest of the four hundred million that are all over the world, and it is for this purpose, that we are asking you to join our land and to do the best you can to help us to bring about an emancipated race. If anything stateworthy is to be done, it must be done through unity, and it is for that reason that the Universal Negro Improvement Association calls upon every Negro in the United States to rally to this standard. We want to unite the Negro race in this country. We want every Negro to work for one common object, that of building a nation of his own on the great continent of Africa. That all Negroes all over the world are working for the establishment of a government in Africa, means that it will be realized in another few years. We want the moral and financial support of every Negro to make this dream a possibility. Our race, this organization, has established itself in Nigeria, West Africa, and it endeavors to do all possible to develop that Negro country to become a great industrial and commercial commonwealth. Pioneers have been sent by this organization to Nigeria, and they are now laying the foundations upon which the four hundred million Negroes of the world will build. If you believe that the Negro has a soul, if you believe that the Negro is a man, if you believe the Negro was endowed with the senses commonly given to other men by the Creator, then you must acknowledge that what other men have done, Negroes can do. We want to build up cities, nations, governments, industries of our own in Africa, so that we will be able to have a chance to rise from the lowest to the highest position in the African Commonwealth.

Source: Courtesy of the Marcus Garvey and the UNIA Papers Project at the University of California, Los Angeles. Recording courtesy of Michigan State University, G. Robert Vincent Voice Library.


Watch the video: The Massive Deportation of the Chechen People on February 23, 1944