The Second World War: The War in the Pacific


(dramatic orchestral music) (bombs exploding) – [Narrator] When the Japanese
attacked Pearl Harbor, they did so intending to
smash in one single blow America’s resolution and
its inability to retaliate. They failed miserably on both counts. The Japanese sank or badly
damaged seven antiquated American battleships, but
since they were lost in harbor many of their crews were saved and all but two of the
ships were salvaged. The raid also left most of Pearl Harbor’s shore installations intact. Most important of all, the violation of United States territory united the nation behind the
declaration of war on Japan. The 1927 vintage Lexington and Saratoga and the much more modern Enterprise were out of port during the raid and were therefore untouched. By 1942, they were joined by
the Enterprise’s sister ship, Yorktown, and the newly-completed Hornet. These carriers were well-fitted
to take the offensive, for they carried a large number of effective fighters and dive bombers. The Commander in Chief of the
Central Pacific Fleet in 1942 was Admiral Chester William Nimitz. Within weeks of his appointment this great leader transformed
the morale of his men, infecting them all with his own confidence in a final Allied victory. Following his appointment, Nimitz decided to mount a series of raids on Japanese-held islands in the Pacific. On separate occasions, his
fleet attacked Japanese bases in the Marshall and Gilbert Islands. Then in March he took his fleet to attack Wake and Marcus Islands. These strikes were by no means small, and the damage inflicted on all targets throughout the first few months
of 1942 was considerable. One nightmare of pre-war
Japanese military strategists had been the possibility
of an attack by aircraft from United States carriers
on Japan’s home islands. Their worst fears were fulfilled when, on the 18th of April, 1942, 16 United States Army B-25
Mitchells struck Tokyo. They were led by Lieutenant
Colonel James Doolittle. What was even more
surprising was the fact that these 12-ton aircraft,
normally land-based, took off from the decks of the
United States carrier Hornet. (slow music) The very heart of Tokyo was bombed, and although the damage was slight, the effect on the Japanese
nation was enormous. The horror of the Japanese people led to the Commander of the Japanese fleet, Admiral Yamamoto, being granted permission for his grand plan, a final showdown between the United States
and Japanese fleets. What Yamamoto did not
include in his grand plan, however, was the fact that these plans would soon be known by his enemies. By the end of April, American intelligence were able to decrypt
85% of Japanese signals. This alone would give the Americans an incalculable advantage in the Pacific. Intelligence had been coming in indicating a major offensive was being planned in
the southwest Pacific. The Japanese plan was to isolate Australia from the United States of America, first by seizing Port Moresby and establishing a seaplane base at the tiny island of
Tulagi in the Solomons. Then they would take key
points in New Caledonia, the New Hebrides, and Fiji. To mount this offensive the Japanese had assembled an invasion force which included a formidable striking force of six modern destroyers,
two heavy cruisers, and the large fleet carriers,
Shokaku and Zuikaku. The Americans acted quickly
and the hunt was on. Admiral Nimitz ordered
a three-part naval force to the Coral Sea. In tactical command of the whole force was Rear Admiral Frank J. Fletcher on the carrier Yorktown, which was to lead Task Force 17. It was on the 7th of
May that the two enemies eventually made contact, but both sides suffered equally from
errors and accidents. At 0815 hours, a United
States reconnaissance plane reported seeing the two Japanese carriers and four large cruisers
just north of Misima Island, near the tip of New Guinea. Admiral Fletcher on the Yorktown, convinced that he had found
the main Japanese force, launched his full scale attack. 93 aircraft took off from the carriers Yorktown and Lexington. In fact, the reconnaissance
pilot had only spotted one of the Japanese support groups, two cruisers and two destroyers. The day was saved by the sharp eyes of Lieutenant Colonel Hamilton, Commander of the Lexington’s
dive bomber squadron. While on the way to
attack the support group, Hamilton drifted off-course to the east. He spotted a much more important force, a covering force for the
Port Moresby invasion commanded by Rear Admiral Arimoto
Goto in the carrier Shoho. The American planes were redirected. At first, the highly
maneuverable Japanese carrier managed to dodge the American attacks. But Shoho was eventually
overwhelmed and sunk. (bombs exploding) Meanwhile, Fletcher had directed the Australian-American force
under Rear Admiral Crace against the Port Moresby invasion group. Crace’s force was attacked by
land-based Japanese aircraft from Rabaul, and later
by United States B-26s from Australia mistaking
them for Japanese. Luckily, neither attack was successful. On the morning of the 8th, the two carrier forces
finally located each other. After the loss of Shoho, both sides now had two carriers each but the Japanese only had
95 operational aircraft against the American’s 118. Shortly after 0900 hours, both side’s aircraft were launched and the Battle of the Coral Sea commenced. (plane engines roaring) The Japanese attack
inflicted significant damage on both the Yorktown and Lexington. Yorktown managed, with clever maneuvering, to avoid the Japanese torpedoes. But bombs exploding in the water nearby badly damaged her below the waterline. Another bomb went down through four decks where, consequently, it exploded, killing 37 of her crew and wounding 33. (bombs exploding) The Lexington, bigger
and less maneuverable than the Yorktown, was
hit by two torpedoes, as well as several bombs, and was listing badly on the port side. Meanwhile, United States pilots
were launching an assault on the Japanese carriers,
Shokaku and Zuikaku. Zuikaku, the flagship,
was hidden by a rainstorm, so the full weight of the American attack fell on her sister ship, Shokaku. The few defending Zeros were
able to force the first wave of American Devastators
to launch their torpedoes too far away to make any hits, but the second wave of
Dauntless dive bombers that followed were much more successful. One Dauntless pilot,
Lieutenant John Powers, had vowed to sink an
enemy carrier unaided. During the attack on Shokaku, he swooped in a daring low-level attack, releasing his bomb a mere 19 meters above the carrier’s deck. In the resulting explosion, Powers crashed to his death in the sea. But the damage to the flight
deck caused as a result of his bomb was so severe
that the carrier’s aircraft were no longer able to take off or land. Further bombs completed the job. Shokaku had to withdraw from the battle. No longer with air cover, Inoue had to call off the whole operation and withdraw his invasion force. The Battle of the Coral Sea was thus a strategic success for the Americans. The Coral Sea had been
the first sea battle ever where two fleets have
engaged on the high seas without being in sight of one another and relying entirely upon
aircraft to strike the enemy. The Americans were quick to master this new type of naval warfare and were ready to use it
again at a later date. That date was not far away. On the 20th of May, 1942, Allied listening stations
around the Pacific picked up a lengthy radio signal in code from Admiral Yamamoto to his fleet. The message was relayed
to the United States Combat Intelligence Unit at
Pearl Harbor and deciphered. It was revealed that the
Japanese Navy was about to mount a powerful attack on the
mid-Pacific atoll of Midway with a secondary diversionary attack on the Aleutians further north. The 4th of June, and the United
States fleet’s main prey, the Japanese carrier striking
force under Admiral Nagumo, was zigzagging through dense
fog, completely oblivious of Fletcher’s fleet
lying in wait for them. In the early hours of the morning they reached calm and clear conditions. At 0430 hours, Nagumo
launched his first strike. 108 aircraft took off from
the carriers to attack Midway. They were immediately
spotted on Midway’s radar. The Zero fighters appeared
from behind the clouds, and the island’s defenses
went into action immediately. (guns firing) Midway’s fighters went
up to engage the enemy. Considerable damage was inflicted on the airfield buildings and garrison, but the airstrip remained intact. A few transport aircraft were damaged, but most of the fighter
and bomber aircraft were in the air and out of
the way during the attack. As the fires burned over Midway, the extent of the damage was surveyed. Nagumo was now in a quandary. His first attack had not knocked out the airfield as planned. It was still operational. A second air attack was needed. The Japanese commander
ordered his second-wave torpedo bombers to be re-armed with bombs for another attack on Midway. At 0728 hours, 15 minutes
after the commander had ordered his aircraft below, one
of Nagumo’s search planes spotted 10 United States warships some 335 kilometers northeast
of the Japanese carriers. Ironically, this plane had taken off 30 minutes late that morning. Had it taken off on time, it would have spotted the Americans 30 minutes earlier and got the news back before the torpedo bombs
had been sent below. If this had been the case, Nagumo would almost have certainly sent his aircraft against
the United States fleet, and the course of the
battle and of the entire war in the Pacific might
have been very different. As it was, Nagumo was
yet again in a quandary. Should he turn his attention
to the United States ships or concentrate on Midway? He halted the re-arming, but
there was one more question for the Japanese commander to worry about. Did the United States
force include carriers? His worst fears were
realized when at 0820 hours, a scout reported that
the enemy was accompanied by what looked to be a carrier. The news could not have reached
Nagumo at a worse moment. His first wave was just arriving back from the attack on Midway
and had to land to refuel. What bombers he did have
available would have to fly without fighter escort and were only armed with bombs and not torpedoes. By 0918 hours, the Japanese flight decks were full of aircraft, some now re-armed, others being refueled. The carriers were like floating bombs. Also unbeknown to Nagumo,
Fletcher had launched his aircraft and was about
to attack at any moment. (plane engines roaring) News that airborne Catalinas had spotted the Japanese carrier fleet had reached Fletcher that
morning at 0534 hours. Fletcher had ordered the Hornet and the Enterprise ahead to attack, while the Yorktown waited to
retrieve the spotter planes. At 0700 hours, the Hornet and Enterprise, still a long way off from
the Japanese carriers, launched their aircraft, 152 of them. They were aware that the Japanese were landing aircraft
after the attack on Midway, but they were taking a big gamble launching from such a
dangerously long range. Yet these men were to make probably the most decisive naval
air strike in history. However, what these pilots
didn’t know was that Nagumo had changed course when he
decided to reload his aircraft. As a result, the first aircraft had difficulty locating their prey. (plane engines roaring) At 0928 hours, the first
United States torpedo planes from the Hornet appeared
over the Japanese fleet, diving in to attack. The Japanese launched their Zeros, attempting to drive the
bombers away from the ships, and it was a fearsome
bloody fight in the skies. (bombs exploding) (guns firing) (plane engines roaring) By 0945 hours, another
wave of torpedo bombers arrived from the Enterprise, followed by another wave
from the Yorktown at 1015. (bombs exploding) The American losses were high. The Zeros and anti-aircraft fire from the ships were taking their toll. Lieutenant Commander McClusky
scanned the sparkling blue Pacific northeast of Midway Island. (slow dramatic music) He was leading 33 dive bombers from the Enterprise, and was lost. He needed to make a decision. Where he had expected to find
the enemy, there was nothing, and his plane would soon have
to turn back for lack of fuel. But McClusky had a hunch. He decided to continue his
search a little further west, and the gamble paid off. Nimitz later described this as the most important
decision of the battle. A few minutes later,
McClusky spotted the wake of an enemy destroyer and followed it. Just after 1000 hours, he
found the Japanese carriers. The first waves of bombers,
which had attacked previously, had suffered disastrously. Most of them had been
shot down by the Zeros. But this first attack had let McClusky’s dive bombers come in unnoticed. Joined by a further 17 dive
bombers from the Yorktown, McClusky could not have
arrived at a better moment. The decks of the Japanese
carriers were crammed with nearly 100 aircraft as they prepared for their own strike against
the United States carriers. All of them were loaded with explosives and high octane fuel. The tiniest spark would turn
them into floating infernos. As the Japanese carriers
were turning into the wind to launch their aircraft, 50
United States dive bombers were hurtling in from the sky. (guns firing) The first hits turned
the carriers Akagi, Kaga, and Soryu into exploding torches. One Japanese sailor later recalled, “The terrifying scream of the
dive bombers reached me first, “followed by the crashing
explosion of a direct hit. “There was a blinding flash
and then a second explosion, “much louder than the first.” (bombs exploding) Within minutes, most of the Japanese first air fleet had been wiped out. The fourth carrier, Hiryu was saved and tried a desperate counter-attack. At 1200 hours, she launched her aircraft against the Yorktown. (guns firing) During this stage of the battle, despite desperate maneuvering, the Yorktown took several direct hits. (guns firing) By 1440 hours, following another
direct hit from a torpedo, the Yorktown was so badly crippled that Fletcher had no other
alternative than to abandon her. He handed command over
to Admiral Spruance, commander of Task Force 16. At 1700 hours, Spruance
launched his aircraft from the Hornet and Enterprise. Their mission, to attack the Hiryu. The attack took the Japanese by surprise. Once again, the aircraft were on deck as they were preparing for a twilight raid on the remaining American carriers. (plane engines roaring) Four direct hits set her decks ablaze. The Hiryu was crippled beyond repair. (bombs exploding) During the night of the 4th of June, whilst the United States
crews on board Hornet and Enterprise prepared their aircraft for the next day’s battle, the Japanese carriers Soryu and Kaga sank to the bottom of the ocean. Shortly afterwards, reports came back that the remaining Japanese carrier, Akagi had followed the same
fate as the other three. Four of Japan’s finest carriers had gone. Prior to 1942 and the victories at sea, the war in the Pacific had
not been going too well for the Americans, but this
was beginning to change. (plane engines roaring) (bombs exploding) In Papua New Guinea and at Guadalcanal, the Allies had continually
harassed the Japanese, which prolonged any plans they had for invading Port Moresby,
which would give them a stepping stone to mainland Australia. By 1943, it was clear that
there was much fighting to be done before Japan could
be brought to her knees. It was also clear that the Pacific must be the decisive
theater for that fighting, since the supply problems of
supporting a major offensive in China were too great and
there was little likelihood of a major thrust into
Burma for some time to come. The United States fleet
continued to harass the Japanese shipping
convoys to the Aleutians, thus cutting their supply routes. Which left them no alternative other than to rely on supplies being brought in by submarine, which proved ineffective. The knock-on effect was that the Japanese had to withdraw from the islands, leaving the door open for
the Americans to take over. United States amphibious
craft finally landed on the island of Kiska in August, 1943. General MacArthur had pressed
for an invasion of Rabaul as being the key
objective in the Solomons, and he put forward a plan. American and Australian
forces were to make a series of landings on the New Guinea coast, whilst other Allied troops
would begin a series of what became known as island-hopping, starting from Guadalcanal. American bombers continued to pound the Japanese supply corridors. On New Guinea, the
progress was protracted. This was deep, dense jungle territory, a favorite of the Japanese soldier. And the Allies met with fierce resistance, and were also hampered
by fever and sickness amongst their troops. (bombs exploding) Progress on New Guinea was slow. The landings by amphibious
craft would continue on this peninsula for almost a year, the last of which took place in June 1944. The first stepping stone to
Rabaul would be New Georgia, but as the Americans
prepared for the invasion, their bases were attacked
by Japanese bombers. (bombs exploding) (guns firing) In April, 1943, the Americans
did score one major success against Yamamoto,
Commander of the Japanese in the southwest Pacific. Intelligence intercepted a signal that he was about to
do a tour of inspection on the island of Bougainville. His Mitsubishi bomber was
attacked and shot down. There were no survivors. The death of Yamamoto was a major blow to the morale of the Japanese. On the 21st of June, 1943, American troops invaded New Georgia. They initially met with little
resistance from the beach. In a bid to transport supplies, the Japanese started to run what became known as The Tokyo Express. These were warships
instead of transport ships, packed with supplies and reinforcements. (guns firing) On many occasions, mostly at night, the United States fleet
intercepted the convoys. But Allied losses were high. The Japanese being far superior in their night fighting techniques. Meanwhile, the fighting
continued at Munda Airfield. And it took another five
weeks to finally capture it. And another month or more
to secure the island. Bougainville was a
stronghold for the Japanese. That was until the 1st of November, 1943, when MacArthur’s troops invaded. (bombs exploding) The Japanese 17th Army of
33,000 men defending the island fought hard and
relentlessly for every inch. Matters were made even worse
when Japanese reinforcements were landed by the Tokyo Express. (bombs exploding) Further east, under the
command of Chester Nimitz, the new major Allied offensive against mainland Japan had begun. The Gilbert Islands were
the first objective. On the 10th of November,
Nimitz and his fleet set sail from Pearl Harbor. By the 13th of November,
the carrier-borne aircraft were bombarding the island defenses, clearing a path for the
amphibious landings. The Japanese could not hold
out for any length of time. And subsequently the operation was wound up within a few days. In Tarawa and Makin, however,
things were very different. Both islands had been heavily
fortified by the Japanese. And the United States Marines
suffered heavy casualties. On Tarawa in particular, the landings were slow and treacherous. Some soldiers having
to abandon their craft and wade ashore by foot, making them slow and easy targets for the Japanese. (bombs exploding) The Japanese by this time
had no hope of rescue, and they fought relentlessly for the next four days
down to the last man. Casualties were subsequently very high. 3,500 Americans and over 5,500
Japanese lost their lives. (bombs exploding) With Tarawa and Makin now secured, Nimitz turned his attention towards the next objective,
the Marshall Islands. On the 4th of December, aircraft from the United States carrier fleet attacked the islands
of Kwajalein and Wotje. In the process, the USS Lexington was damaged by torpedo fire. The amphibious assault
on the islands took place one month later on the
1st of February, 1944. The Japanese now found themselves spread too thinly over
too great a distance. But nevertheless they fought ruthlessly. Within three days, 8,000 Japanese had died at a cost of 2,000 American lives. (bombs exploding) By the end of the month,
the atoll at Enewetak was also secure in American hands. (bombs exploding) Meanwhile, on Bougainville,
MacArthur’s men were desperately trying
to open an airstrip, which they finally completed and opened on the 9th of December, 1943. Six days later they launched a preliminary assault on New Britain. Back on Bouganville the Americans were continuously
counterattacked by the Japanese, with even more
reinforcements being landed. By the end of March 1944
however, the Japanese gave up the struggle and
began to withdraw inland. By this time MacArthur had
control of the Admiralty Islands, one step further towards
his objective of Rabaul, which was now isolated. He turned his attention
towards the Philippines, the jewel in his crown. With the Marshall Islands now secure, Nimitz meanwhile was
on the move once again with one of the largest
naval forces ever assembled. His objective was the Marianas, a distance of 6,000 miles away. On the 15th of June, 1944,
United States Marines made their first landings in Saipan. In the island garrison were 32,000 determined Japanese soldiers. As the Marines came ashore in their Buffalo Tracked amphibians they knew the defenses would be heavy. But the Japanese had also
foreseen these landings on the Marianas and hatched a plan to intercept the massive
United States carrier force as it lay in wait off the islands. Again, American intelligence
beat the Japanese, and Nimitz launched his
aircraft against them. This evolved into what became known as the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot. The American fighters and dive bombers pounded the Japanese fleet and aircraft. Two carriers were sunk, and
220 aircraft were shot down. The Japanese, believing that
their aircraft were safe and had probably landed on Guam to refuel, remained in the vicinity
to await their return. Only to be attacked once more by Nimitz, losing yet another carrier as a result. Only 29 American aircraft were lost. (guns firing) (plane engines roaring) Even so, the strain of continuous battle on the pilots was immense,
resulting in many collisions as they landed back on deck. On Saipan the Americans had gradually been wearing down Japanese resistance. – The last pass, the last pass. (speech drowned out by plane engines) Stand by. They’re flying too much,
too much from northwest, too much from northwest to southeast. Too much from northwest to southeast. They’re a little bit, a little bit off. But their striking is effective,
striking is effective. Bombs are over, bombs are over. He’s flying too doggone
much northwest to southeast. Ginger Three, this is Rusty. The last pass, the striking was effective. The bombs were over, the bombs were over. (plane engines roaring) Ginger Three, this is Rusty. Ginger Three, this is Rusty. The last plane is way, way off, way off. He dropped the bombs a good
600 yards south of the target, a good 600 yards south of the target. (speech drowned out by guns firing) I would say about 100, 100 degrees (mumbles) and their target. Their bombs are still
going over the target. We’re putting our marks
low, putting our marks low but they’re going over. Stand by. – [Man] Hey Rusty, this is Ginger Three. They’re changing their course. Let us know how they’re (speech
drowned out by guns firing). – [Rusty] Ginger Three, this is Rusty. One napalm, two napalms dropped. One napalm in the target area. One low on the target area. One was low on the target area, and they still insist on
flying from west to east. They’d get a little bit of the
southern part of the target, the southern base of the
target if they could switch their strike around flying
near to 70, near to 70. Over. Oh, that is good. That is right on the (mumbles). (guns firing) Ginger Three, Ginger Three, this is Rusty. Last strike was very nice,
last strike was very nice. It was right in the target area. – E Company coming down
from the west to the east ran into that big pocket of Nips. And they probably figure there’s well under 400 of them there. So if the attack is not coordinated, if we don’t get our artillery
and infantry working together, we’re not going to be
able to knock ’em out. (mortars firing) – This is Glamor White Four. Is the barrage finished? Over. (speech drowned out by explosions) – This is Glamor White Four, Roger, out. (bombs exploding) – Glamor One, this is Glamor White Four. Is the barrage over? Over. – [Man] This is Glamor One. The barrage is over,
the infantry can move. Over. – This is Glamor White Four, Roger, out. – [Narrator] Following a last bid attempt by the Japanese to counterattack, the island was secured on the 6th of July. A staggering 26,000 Japanese soldiers had died in the process
of defending Saipan. (slow dramatic music) Guam and Tinian were the
next islands to be invaded. Once again, the Japanese proved to be tough and ferocious fighters. But the Americans soon gained strongholds. (distant bombs exploding) Unable to resist the American onslaught, both islands were in
American hands by mid-August. By now the Japanese were having
to face the harsh reality that their war in the
Pacific was not going well. Indeed, the defeated General Tojo was soon to resign as Prime Minister. (distant bombs exploding) The American submarines were also becoming increasingly effective in sinking the Japanese merchant convoys. 50 ships a month were being
sent to the bottom by 1944. And the supply of raw
materials reaching Japan was approaching crisis point. (bombs exploding) A further threat to the Japanese evolved with the capture of the Marianas. Japan itself was now
within striking distance for the mighty B-29 Superfortress bombers. These had been initially deployed to India and China in the spring of 1944. Random raids on Japan had
been tried during the summer. But a major Japanese offensive
had forced their evacuation. Airships capable of taking B-29s were hastily built in the Marianas. And the first B-29s became
operational here in mid-October. On the 24th of November,
1944, no less than 111 B-29s attacked an aero engine factory
on the outskirts of Tokyo. This marked the beginning of the strategic air
offensive against Japan. (plane engines roaring) Meanwhile, as Nimitz prepared his fleet to support the invasion
of the Philippines, MacArthur made some preliminary landings to clear the way ahead. These took place on the
Melakas and Pilau Islands, with the Leyte Gulf being the
initial Philippines target. In mid-October 1944, aircraft
from Admiral William Halsey’s Third United States Fleet
carried out attacks on Luzon, the main Philippines island, and Formosa. (plane engines roaring) On the 20th of October,
the landings in Leyte Gulf took place on a 16 mile front. The Japanese fought
venomously, but to no avail. (bombs exploding) This was a momentous moment for MacArthur, for he was now honoring his pledge to the people of the Philippines made two years previously
that he would return. At sea, however, the Japanese were by now using a new type of
weapon, one which accounted for an escort carrier
and three destroyers. This was the kamikaze or
divine wind suicide pilots, who literally aimed their
aircraft packed with explosives to crash into Allied warships. The kamikaze pilots
themselves were volunteers for what they saw as the ultimate honor of dying for their empire. Kamikaze attacks were to
plague Allied shipping for the remainder of the war. Numerous ships, both British and American, would fall victim to
these divine wind attacks. (plane engines roaring) (guns firing) The Japanese desperately continued to hold Leyte, and fought recklessly. It was not until mid-December
that MacArthur could make any further attempts to
land on the Philippines. (bombs exploding) In January 1945, a series of
landings were made on Luzon. The Marines advance inland towards Manila, the Philippine capital. The Americans reached
the outskirts of the city on the 3rd of February. But this was not going to be
an easy objective to secure. The Japanese garrison had
split itself over the city using public buildings as strongholds. Time and time again they
resisted, down to the last man. Orders were given to
the American artillery to try and avoid damaging the
city’s ancient architecture. This however became unavoidable, and Manila was systematically
reduced to rubble. The death toll was high on both sides. Japanese resistance
remained as fierce as ever, even though they were
completely surrounded. (guns firing) The 16th century citadel of Intramuros was pinpointed as being the main garrison. And this was attacked
over a two day period, reducing it to rubble. Finally, on the 3rd of March, 1945, the city of Manila was free
of Japanese occupation. Almost 100,000 civilians had died as a result of Japanese brutality. Despite being defeated, the Japanese were to continue fighting
in the Philippines for the remainder of the war. (guns firing) Meanwhile, Nimitz was
focusing his attention on his next two objectives, the islands of Okinawa and Iwo Jima. Both were seen as essential targets before final assault on mainland Japan. In November, the huge Pacific fleet began the offensive on Iwo Jima, bombarding the island before
the amphibious assault. Iwo Jima itself is just
over five miles long and is dominated by the
volcanic Mount Suribachi. Allied air power remorselessly pounded it. But the 21,000 Japanese defenders
had constructed a network of underground bunkers and tunnels, which provided ample protection. On the 17th of February, 1945, further attacks were
inflicted on Iwo Jima. (bombs exploding) (plane engines roaring) On the 19th of February, the Americans launched their amphibious assault. This took place on the
south coast of the island. Three United States
divisions were involved. The Japanese pounded the assault craft with heavy artillery fire, but the Marines still managed to reach the beaches. American casualties however
were heavier than expected. (guns firing) (bombs exploding) 30,000 Marines had been landed
by the end of the first day. They immediately advanced inland towards the volcanic Mount Suribachi. This was no easy ride for the Marines. The fighting was ferocious. (bombs exploding) Finally, on the 14th
of March, they overcame the Japanese defenses
and Iwo Jima was taken. (guns firing) A photograph taken of the
raising of the American flag on the summit of Mount
Suribachi became the most famous United States image of the Pacific War. In March 1945, the American
strategic bombing offensive against mainland Japan
had taken on a new form. High altitude bombing by day had proved relatively ineffective. Now the bombers were
loaded with incendiaries which were dropped at low level by night. These raids began not
only to devastate Japan’s largely wooden-built cities, but also any of Japan’s
remaining war industries. The worst harvest of 40 years aggravated the situation still further. (bombs exploding) On the 1st of April, 1945, the
Americans landed on Okinawa, the last stepping stone on the
long road to mainland Japan. This time the Japanese
concentrate their defenses inland. And no less than 50,000 troops
were landed on the first day. The battle to secure
Okinawa would, however, last for almost three months. By this time the Allies
were holding the last of their great wartime
strategic conferences at Potsdam in Germany. In April 1945, the Soviet
Union had renounced its 1941 non-aggression pact with Japan, and Stalin was now ready to attack her. In Japan itself there was now a body of opinion in favor of peace. In early June approaches
had been made to Moscow. But the reaction had been non-committal. There was still a strong
war party in Japan, and the Supreme War Council voted to continue the war til the bitter end. The Allies issued a declaration to Japan. The alternatives offered were stark. Unconditional surrender or
prompt and utter destruction. The Japanese announced
that they would ignore the Potsdam declaration because it made no mention of the Emperor. Consequently, the Western Allies decided to use the atomic bomb. On the 6th of August, 1945, a B-29 called Enola Gay
took off from Tinian. Its target, the city of Hiroshima. Once above the city the bomb, called the Little Boy, was dropped. It detonated at an altitude of 2,000 feet. The result was the
destruction of 42 square miles of the city, and the
death of 80,000 people. Nagasaki suffered the same
fate a few days later. But this provoked no
Japanese surrender offer. – There is still time, but little time, for the Japanese to save themselves. (guns firing) – [Narrator] Also on the 9th of August, the Russians launched a
massive three pronged invasion on Manchukuo, which quickly set the Japanese Kwangtung Army reeling back. (bombs exploding) Next day, Emperor Hirohito decreed that the Postsdam
Proclamation must be accepted. The Japanese government was split, and the Emperor got his way. A mighty Allied armada now sailed into Tokyo Bay and dropped anchor. The American battleship, Missouri, was selected for the ceremony that would finally bring the
Second World War to an end. General Douglas MacArthur was to preside over the formal Japanese surrender. The last act of a tragedy
that had been played on a global stage and
had touched the lives of millions had drawn to an end. The final curtain was
now being brought down on a tremendous drama
that had shaken the world. World War II, after six
long years of carnage, had finally come to an end. – We are gathered here, representatives of the major warring powers,
to conclude a solemn agreement whereby peace may be restored. 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. A world founded 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. Let us pray that peace be
now restored to the world, and that God will preserve it always. These proceedings are closed. (dramatic music)

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