The History Place - World War Two in the Pacific

U.S. Troops in Action

Flag raising on Iwo Jima

Selected Battle Photos

"...we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain... Remember Dec. 7th!" U.S. Armed Forces recruiting poster from 1942.
Allied POWs with hands tied behind their backs pause during the Bataan Death March. About 76,000 prisoners including 12,000 Americans were forced on the 60 mile march under a blazing sun without food or water toward a new POW camp in the Philippines. Over 5,000 Americans died on the march which began April 10, 1942, and lasted six days for some and up to twelve days for others.
Upon completing the Bataan Death March prisoners wound up at Camp O'Donnell, a new Japanese POW camp, where many continued to suffer and die. This photo, often identified as a view of the death march itself in progress, has recently been re-identified by Bataan survivors as a later photo depicting an Allied burial detail removing bodies of fallen comrades to a mass grave located outside the POW camp.
With only 450 feet of 'runway,' one of sixteen Army B-25 Mitchell bombers takes off from the deck of the USS HORNET on its way to take part in the Doolittle Raid, the first U.S. bombing raid on Japan. The all volunteer strike force, trained and led by Lt. Col. James Doolittle, flew 800 miles then bombed Tokyo and 3 other cities without opposition. The raid inflicted little damage but gave a big boost to Allied morale in the face of the seemingly unstoppable Japanese. April 18, 1942.
U.S. troops surrender to the Japanese at Corregidor in the Philippine Islands, May 6, 1942. A total of 11,500 Americans and Filipinos became POWs, including the commander, Lt. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright. POWs from Corregidor and Bataan were among the worst treated. May 6, 1942.
Map of the Japanese Empire at its height in 1942.
A U.S. Navy officer at the periscope in the control room of a submarine. 1942.
A periscope photo of a torpedoed Japanese destroyer. June 1942.
Although it was against Japanese regulations and could have meant death, these American POWs celebrate the 4th of July, 1942, in the Japanese prison camp of Casisange in the Philippines. Overall, an estimated 40 percent of U.S. Army and Air Force POWs died while in Japanese captivity, compared to 1.2 percent in German and Italian custody.
Landing operations on Rendova Island in the Solomon Islands. Attacking at dawn in a heavy rainstorm, the first Americans ashore huddle behind tree trunks and any other cover they can find. June 30, 1943.
A 165th Infantry assault wave attacks Butaritari, Yellow Beach Two, finding it slow going in the coral bottom waters while Japanese machine gun fire from the right flank makes it even more difficult. Makin Atoll, Gilbert Islands. November 20, 1943.
Marines assault a heavily reinforced Japanese pillbox on Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands by climbing to the top and shooting down inside. November 21, 1943.
Two enlisted men of the U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier LISCOME BAY, torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in the Gilbert Islands, are buried at sea from the deck of a transport ship. November 1943.
Crewmen lift Kenneth Bratton out of the turret of a Navy torpedo plane on the USS SARATOGA after an air raid on Rabaul. November 1943.
As the invasion of the Solomon Islands gets under way, U.S. troops go over the side of a transport ship to enter landing barges at Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville. November 1943.
A Japanese torpedo bomber blown out of the sky after a direct hit by 5 inch shell from the U.S. Aircraft Carrier YORKTOWN which it attempted to attack, off Kwajalein. December 4, 1943.
In an underground surgery room behind the front lines on Bougainville in the Solomon Islands, an American Army doctor operates on a U.S. soldier wounded by a Japanese sniper. December 13, 1943.
Marines hit three feet of rough water as they leave their landing ship to take the beach at Cape Gloucester, New Britain. December 26, 1943.
Marine Raiders, with a reputation as lethal jungle fighters, pose in front of a Japanese dugout they took on Cape Totkina on Bougainville, Solomon Islands. January 1944.
Marine machine gunners repel a Japanese counter-attack in the jungle of Cape Gloucester. January 1944.
A Marine survivor emerges after two days and nights of Hell on the beach of Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands. February 1944.
Two LSTs open their giant jaws on Leyte Island as soldiers build sandbag piers out to the ramps to speed up unloading operations. 1944.
Mopping up on Bougainville. A tank goes forward as infantrymen follow in its cover. Each night the Japanese would infiltrate American lines. At dawn, U.S. troops went out looking for them. March 1944.
American Army troops of the 163rd Infantry Regiment storm the beach during the invasion of Wakde Island, New Guinea. May 17, 1944.
Using a canvas tarpaulin for a church and packing cases for an altar, a Catholic Navy chaplain holds mass for Marines at Saipan in memory of those who lost their lives during the initial landings. June 1944.
A Marine patrol on Saipan found this Japanese family hiding in a hillside cave. The mother, four children and a dog had taken shelter from the fierce fighting in that area. June 21, 1944.
A Japanese plane shot down as it attempted to attack the USS KITKUN BAY near the Mariana Islands. June 1944.
Just 8 minutes after U.S. Marines and Army assault troops landed on Guam, two U.S. officers plant the American flag, using a boat hook as a mast. July 20, 1944.
Taking time out for a cigarette while mopping up on Peleliu Island are Marine Pfc. Gerald Churchby (left) and his buddy Pfc. Douglas Lightheart, who cradles his 30-cal. machine gun in his lap. September 14, 1944.
The USS PENNSYLVANIA along with a second battleship and three cruisers move into Lingayen Gulf preceding the landing on Luzon in the Philippines. January 1945.
Landing barges sweep through the waters of Lingayen Gulf carrying the first wave of invaders to the beaches of Luzon following a naval bombardment of Japanese shore positions. January 9, 1945.
Marines of the 5th Division inch their way up a slope on Red Beach No. 1 toward Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima, defended by seven Japanese Battalions. By nightfall, 566 Marines were killed and 1,854 wounded. February 19, 1945.
Smashed by Japanese mortar and shellfire and trapped by Iwo Jima's soft black sands, amtracs and other vehicles lay wrecked on the beach. February 1945.
Across Iwo Jima's black sands, Marines of the 4th Division shell cleverly concealed Japanese inland positions on the tiny volcanic island. February 1945.
Five Marines and a Navy hospital corpsman raise the flag on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, using a piece of Japanese pipe as a mast, February 23, 1945. Three of the flag raisers were later killed as the fighting raged on. By March 16, when Iwo Jima was declared secured, 6,821 Americans and 21,000 Japanese (the entire force) had died. The flag raising photo and subsequent statue came to symbolize being a Marine.
Pilots aboard a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier receive last minute instructions before taking off to attack industrial and military installations in Tokyo. February 17, 1945.
40mm guns of the USS HORNET fire at Japanese suicide dive bombers, the Kamikazes, as the carrier's own planes were raiding Tokyo, February 16, 1945. By the end of the war, Japan will have sent an estimated 2,257 Kamikazes. "The only weapon I feared in the war," Admiral Halsey said.
USS BUNKER HILL hit by two Kamikazes in 30 seconds off Kyushu, resulting in 372 dead and 264 wounded. May 11, 1945
Transfer of the wounded from the USS BUNKER HILL to the USS WILKES BARRE, off Okinawa. May 11, 1945.
Marines unload a Japanese POW from a submarine which just returned from patrol. May, 1945. By the end of the war the U.S. held about 20,000 Japanese POWs.
On Okinawa, just 350 miles from Japan, a Marine dashes through Japanese machine gun fire while crossing a draw, called 'Death Valley' by the men fighting there. Marines sustained more than 125 casualties in eight hours crossing this valley. May 1945.
A member of the Marine 1st Division draws a bead on a Japanese sniper with his tommy-gun as his companion ducks for cover while his division works to take Wana Ridge before the town of Shuri, Okinawa. The ferocious hand to hand fighting on Okinawa resulted in 12,281 Americans and 110,000 Japanese killed by June 21, 1945. The suicidal dedication of the Japanese defenders indicated an invasion of Japan itself would be costly, with estimates of at least 500,000 potential Allied casualties.
A Corsair fighter plane fires its load of rockets against a Japanese stronghold on Okinawa. June 1945.
The Tapel Massacre of July 1, 1945. Pedro Cerono, the man who discovered the group of 8 skulls is shown. Philippine Islands, November 23, 1945.
Col. Paul W. Tibbets, pilot of the B-29 Superfortress ENOLA GAY, waves from the cockpit just before taking off from Tinian Island to drop the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima. The 9,000 lb. bomb was dropped from 31,600 feet and detonated at 8:15 a.m., August 6, 1945, about 1,900 feet above the center of Hiroshima. A blinding light, tremendous explosion and dark gray cloud enveloped the city, followed by a rising mushroom shaped cloud. The Japanese estimated 72,000 were killed and 70,000 out of 76,000 buildings in the city were destroyed.
A Roman Catholic cathedral on a hill is all that remains in this section of Nagasaki following the dropping of the second Atomic Bomb from a B-29 flown by Major Charles W. Sweeney, August 9, 1945. The Japanese estimated 25,680 were killed and 44 percent of the city was destroyed.
Japanese POWs at Guam, with bowed heads, after hearing Emperor Hirohito announce Japan's unconditional surrender. August 15, 1945.
Allied POWs at Aomori camp near Yokohama cheer their U.S. Navy liberators, waving flags of the United States, Great Britain and Holland. August 29, 1945.
Gen. Douglas MacArthur signs as Supreme Allied Commander during formal surrender ceremonies on the USS MISSOURI in Tokyo Bay. September 2, 1945.
Standing amid row upon row of crosses in an American cemetery, two men pay silent homage to a fallen comrade. 1945.

(Photo credits: U.S. National Archives)

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