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World War II: Pacific Theater

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  1. World War II: Pacific Theater Lsn 27

  2. ID & SIG: • atomic bomb, China-Burma-India Theater, Hiroshima, Holocaust, island-hopping, MacArthur, mutual assured destruction, Operation Cartwheel, Pearl Harbor, roles of women, Stilwell, total war, Truman

  3. The Pacific Theater

  4. Imperial Japan • Japan saw the US and others as a threat to its influence in Asia and in 1940 the Japanese began developing plans to destroy the US Navy in Hawaii • On Dec 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor In May 1940, the main part of the US fleet was transferred to Pearl Harbor from the west coast

  5. Pearl Harbor • Dec 7, 1941 • “a date which will live in infamy” • Americans taken completely by surprise • The first attack wave targeted airfields and battleships • The second wave targeted other ships and shipyard facilities

  6. Tactical Damage • Eight battleships were damaged, with five sunk • Three light cruisers, three destroyers, three smaller vessels, and 188 aircraft were destroyed • 2,335 servicemen and 68 civilians killed • 1,178 wounded • 1,104 men aboard the Battleship USS Arizona were killed after a 1,760-pound air bomb penetrated into the forward magazine causing catastrophic explosions.

  7. Broader Results • In spite of the tactical success, the attack on Pearl Harbor was an operational and strategic failure for the Japanese • The attack failed to destroy the American aircraft carriers, fleet repair facilities, or fuel reserves • The “sneak attack” galvanized American support for entry into the war

  8. Fall of the Philippines • Shortly after Pearl Harbor the Japanese made initial landings on Luzon, then made their main landings on Dec 22 • On Dec 24, MacArthur ordered his forces to withdraw to the Bataan Peninsula • By Apr Bataan surrendered • By early May Corregidor surrendered Douglas MacArthur in his headquarters tunnel at Corregidorin March 1942

  9. Bataan Death March • President Roosevelt ordered MacArthur to relinquish command to Lieutenant General Jonathan Wainwright and MacArthur escaped to Australia • 25,000 Americans and Filipinos died on the Bataan Death March to captivity

  10. Centrifugal Advance • Japanese attacked Malaya, the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies, Wake, Guam…. • Instead of halting, establishing a defense, and pressuring the US to sue for peace (the prewar plan), the Japanese decided to extend their control over the Pacific planning operations in New Guinea near Port Moresby and against Midway (1,300 miles northwest of Honolulu) • US achieved a moral victory with Doolittle’s Raid on the Japanese home islands on April 18, 1942 • Minimal damage but humiliated Japanese high command and led them to advance the date for their attack on Midway

  11. Coral Sea (May 4-8, 1942) • US had been able to intercept Japanese radio traffic in an operation called “Magic” • Magic intercepts allowed Admiral Nimitz to position two carriers off the eastern tip of New Guinea • Both sides suffered heavy losses but the Japanese were forced to call off their amphibious attack on Port Moresby • Battle waged exclusively via air strikes • Opposing surface ships never made direct contact Admiral Chester Nimitz, Commander in Chief Pacific and Pacific Ocean Areas

  12. Midway (June 3-6, 1942) • Japanese planned a diversionary attack on the Aleutian Islands while the main force attacked Midway to destroy the American fleet • Thanks to Magic intercepts, US didn’t fall for the Alaska feint and reinforced Midway • Americans destroyed four Japanese carriers and most of their flight crews • Japanese advance was checked and initiative in the Pacific began to turn to the Americans

  13. Greatest Extent of Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere

  14. China-Burma-India • The Chinese Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek was on the Allied side of World War II • In the spring of 1942 Lieutenant General Joseph Stilwell became commander of the China-Burma-India Theater and Chiang’s chief of staff • Stilwell was impatient, direct, and indiscreet • He was publicly critical of Chiang and eventually would be removed from command over the controversy in 1944 Generalissimo and Madame Chiang Kai-shek with Stilwell in Burma

  15. China-Burma-India • In addition to Chiang and Stilwell’s command difficulties, the Americans, Chinese, and British lacked common objectives in the CBI • The US wanted the Chinese to actively engage the Japanese to keep the Japanese occupied as US forces advanced through the Pacific theater to the Japanese home islands • Chiang’s main objective was to preserve his own strength and political power • The British wanted to preserve their colonial administrations in Burma and India and initially opposed giving any authority to Chiang

  16. China-Burma-India • In the spring of 1942 the Japanese launched an offensive that captured Singapore, defeated the Allied navies in the Battle of Java Sea (which exposed Australia to attack), and drove the Allies out of Burma into India • General William Slim led British forces on a 900 mile retreat to Imphal, India • Stilwell had to personally march his staff 140 miles through the wilderness to reach safety in India

  17. China-Burma-India • The loss of Burma effectively cut China off from its Allies • The US responded by supplying China by air which meant flying over the high altitude Himalayas (“The Hump”) • The US also constructed a road from Ledo, India through northern Burma to southern China

  18. China-Burma-India • In late Dec 1943, Stilwell initiated an offensive to retake Burma • Key to the attack were Merrill’s Marauders, a commando unit that was designed to conduct long-range patrols and raids well behind enemy lines, disrupting communications and supply efforts • Slim had also shown excellent leadership in rebuilding the British forces and instilling in them an offensive spirit Field Marshall William Slim, considered by many to be the best British commander of World War II

  19. China-Burma-India • The Japanese resisted ferociously and the Allies did not retake Burma until May 1945 • In the meantime, relations between Chiang and Stilwell grew intolerable • On Oct 19, 1944 Stilwell received word that President Roosevelt was recalling him and that Stilwell had just 48 hours to leave Stilwell’s nickname, “Vinegar Joe,” gives insight into his caustic personality

  20. China-Burma-India • While the Allies ultimately retook Burma and the Chinese army developed into an effective fighting force, China never became an important arena of combat operations • After World War II, Chiang led the Nationalist Chinese in the civil war against the Communist Chinese • In 1949, the Nationalists lost and fled to the island of Taiwan which Chiang governed until his death in 1975

  21. Twin Drives • Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Ernest King favored a drive across the central Pacific moving toward Japan over the coral atolls scattered across the Pacific • Take advantage of ability to leap across vast distances • MacArthur favored an advance across the South Pacific via New Guinea and the Philippines • Meet obligations to Filipinos • Maintain pressure against the retreating Japanese • Protect against a renewed threat against Australia Admiral Ernest King

  22. Compromise • King’s planned drive would move first against the Gilbert Islands and then toward the Philippines • MacArthur would likewise advance toward the Philippines • Joint Chiefs gave no clear priority to either drive • “Mutual supporting” or “mutually competing?” Chester Nimitz, Commander in Chief Pacific and Pacific Ocean Areas andWilliam Halsey, Commander, South Pacific Area and South Pacific Force

  23. Operation Cartwheel • MacArthur requested five additional divisions and 1,800 aircraft to capture Rabaul • Joint Chiefs of Staff concluded there were not enough resources to capture Rabaul in 1943 so they accepted MacArthur’s proposal for a two-pronged drive to isolate it

  24. Operation Cartwheel • MacArthur would be in overall command • Admiral William Halsey, commander of the naval forces in the South Pacific, would advance up the Solomons as far as Bougainville • MacArthur would move along the coast of New Guinea before attacking the western end of New Britain

  25. Operation Cartwheel • Became the model for Pacific commanders throughout the rest of the war • don’t move island to island; advance by great bounds using air superiority • bypass major strongpoints and leave them reduced to strategic and tactical impotence • hit Japanese weak spots; avoid frontal assaults; use deception and surprise • seize existing airfields and ports and use these newly acquired bases to support the next leap forward

  26. Retaking the Philippines • The invasion of the Philippines brought MacArthur and Nimitz’s twin drives together • On Oct 20, 1944, MacArthur attacked Leyte

  27. Battle of Leyte Gulf • The American and Japanese surface fleets made contact the night of October 24-25 in the San Bernardino Strait • Two Japanese task forces entered the strait, Halsey did the classic naval maneuver of crossing the “T” and sank all but one enemy destroyer

  28. Battle of Leyte Gulf • However, Halsey was surprised shortly after dawn when Japanese heavy cruisers and battleships passed unopposed through the San Bernardino Straits and threatened the invasion fleet • American aircraft turned back the already weakened Japanese • Still the Japanese did not give up, delivering their first wave of kamikaze attacks Escort carrier St. Lo sunk by kamikaze attack

  29. Battle of Leyte Gulf • The Battle of Leyte Gulf secured the beachheads of the U.S. Sixth Army attack on Leyte and destroyed Japanese naval power • By the end of December 1944, the Allies controlled Leyte and MacArthur was in position to attack Luzon, the heart of the Philippines Walter Krueger, commander of Sixth Army

  30. “I shall return”

  31. Final Campaigns • From Feb 19 to Mar 11, 1945 the Marines captured Iwo Jima • From Apr to June Americans captured Okinawa • Total American battle casualties were 49,151, of which 12,520 were killed or missing and 36,631 wounded • Approximately 110,000 Japanese were killed and 7,400 more were taken prisoners • Okinawa showed how costly an invasion of the Japanese home islands would be Raising the flag on Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima

  32. Plan to Invade Japan • US planned to invade Japan with eleven Army and Marine divisions (650,000 troops) • Casualty estimates for the operation were as high as 1,400,000 • Truman decided to use the atomic bomb to avoid such losses Operation Cornet, the plan to take Tokyo

  33. The Atomic Bomb • In the early 1940s, America had started an atomic weapons development program code named the “Manhattan Project” • A successful test was conducted at Alamogordo in New Mexico in July 1945 J. Robert Oppenheimer and General Leslie Groves at the Trinity Site soon after the test

  34. Hiroshima and Nagasaki • Hiroshima Aug 6, 1945 • 90,000 killed • On Aug 8, the USSR declared war on Japan and invaded Manchuria the next day • Nagasaki Aug 9, 1945 • 35,000 killed • Okinawa had been much more costly than Hiroshima and Nagasaki Captain Paul Tibbets piloted the plane that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima

  35. Hiroshima, vicinity of ground zero

  36. Surrender Japan surrenders Sept 2, 1945 aboard the USS Missouri

  37. Beyond World War II • Growth of Total War • Holocaust • Post-war impact of the atomic bomb • Expanded roles of women

  38. Growth of Total War • Total war describes a war in which nations use all of their resources to destroy another nation's ability to engage in war. • Conscription • Military-industrial complex to include women workers • Unconditional surrender • Civilian targets to include the Holocaust • Rationing, price controls, and other impacts on the homefront • More destructive weapons to include the atomic bomb

  39. Holocaust • Jews were the primary targets of Hitler’s racially motivated genocidal policies, but Slavs, Gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, communists, and others suffered as well • Sometime during 1941, the Nazi leadership committed to “the final solution” of “the Jewish problem” • At the Wansee Conference on Jan 20, 1942, experts gathered to discuss and coordinate the implementation of the plan to kill all the Jews living in Europe

  40. Holocaust • Jews were rounded up and sent to concentration camps • The largest was Auschwitz where at least a million Jews died • The process was organized and technologically sophisticated • Gassing was the preferred method of killing, but electrocution, phenol injections, flamethrowers, hand grenades, and machine guns were also used

  41. Roll Call at Auschwitz

  42. Holocaust • Victims were subjected to industrial work, starvation, medical experimentation, and extermination • Large crematories were used to hide the evidence • Approximately 5.7 million Jews perished in the Holocaust • Helps generate support for the creation of Israel as a Jewish state Auschwitz crematory

  43. Mass Grave at Bergen-Belsen

  44. Children Subjected to Medical Experiments in Auschwitz

  45. Survivors ofAmpfing Subcamp of Dachau

  46. Prisoners liberated at Auschwitz

  47. Post-war Impact of Atomic Bomb • Changed the very nature of war • Presented the possibility of annihilation of humankind • US came to place great strategic reliance on atomic bomb • War plans emphasized sudden atomic attack against USSR to allow time for conventional mobilization 15 megaton thermonuclear device test on Bikini Atoll in 1954