DUTCH HARBOR, ALASKA, with buildings burning after the Japanese bombing of June 1942. On 3 and 4 June the Japanese attacked the Army installations there. Of the two bombings, the first resulted in little damage, but the second considerably damaged ground installations. On 4 June the Japanese landed a battalion on Attu, and on the 6th troops landed on Kiska. Since most of the available U.S. ships, planes, and trained troops were needed in other areas, no immediate action was begun to recapture Attu and Kiska. Both the United States and Japan learned that, because of the extremely bad weather conditions, this area was one of the most unsuitable in the world for combat operations and the Aleutians were not used as an important base for operations.

Atomic Bomb

THE BOMBING OF HIROSHIMA with the first atomic bomb to be used against an enemy, 6 August 1945. With the refusal of the enemy to accept the unconditional surrender terms of the Potsdam Proclamation, it was decided to release a single atomic bomb from a Superfortress. The city chosen for the attack was Hiroshima, where important Japanese military installations were located.

HIROSHIMA was approximately 60 percent destroyed by the bomb. Ground zero (the point on the ground directly below the air burst of the bomb) was approximately 5,000 feet away from the hospital building in the center of the photograph, in the direction of the arrow. (This picture was taken a year after the atomic bomb was dropped.)

A PORTION OF NAGASAKI after the atomic bomb was dropped. Nagasaki was a large industrial center and an important port on the west coast of Kyushu. About 45 percent of the city was destroyed by the bomb. The rectangular area in the lower left portion of the photograph is the remains of the Fuchi School. Along both sides of the river are buildings of the Mitsubishi factories which manufactured arms, steel, turbines, etc. The tall smoke stack in the right portion of photograph is that of the Kyushu electric plant. The school was approximately 3,700 feet from ground zero while the electric plant was approximately 6,700 feet away.

DAMAGE AT NAGASAKI, showing large areas where most of the buildings were leveled. Buildings constructed of reinforced concrete suffered less than other types. The circular structure, at lower center, is the Ohashi Gas Works, approximately 3,200 feet north of ground zero. The concrete building at left center is the Yamazato School, approximately 2,300 feet north of ground zero.

Battle of the Coral Sea

AIRCRAFT CARRIER USS LEXINGTON burning after the Battle of the Coral Sea. The Japanese planned to strengthen their bases in the Southwest Pacific and to sever the line of communications between the United States and Australia. One enemy task force, sent to take Tulagi in the southern Solomons, was attacked at sea and lost a number of ships, but nevertheless landed troops and captured Tulagi. Another task force intended for Port Moresby did not reach its objective because of an attack by U.S. naval forces. This battle, called the Battle of the Coral Sea, was fought on 7–8 May 1942 and was the first carrier against carrier battle in history.

Bombing of Japan

FIRES which resulted from the first raid on Tokyo by Superfortresses; note native dress of the women in the bucket-brigade line (top). Extinguishing the f ires of a blazing building; note antiquated fire equipment (bottom). These photographs are copies of the originals taken from Japanese files.

JAPANESE SHIPPING in a northern Honshu harbor during a U.S. carrier-based aircraft attack (top); enemy cruisers anchored in the Japanese naval base at Kure Harbor, Honshu, being bombed by U.S. naval carrier planes (bottom). On 10 July 1945 carrier-based planes struck the Tokyo area, concentrating on airfields. This was the first of a series of attacks by aircraft and surface warships of the U.S. and British fleets. In late July attacks were carried out against enemy warships anchored in the harbors of Honshu.

A SHANTYTOWN which sprang up in a section of Yokohama after B–29’s destroyed the original buildings (top); destruction of buildings by incendiary bombs in Osaka, Japan’s second largest city (bottom). The bombing of Japan’s key industrial cities was stepped up from less than two thousand tons of bombs dropped during December 1944 to over forty thousand tons dropped in July 1945. More and more bombers were sent against Japan with less fighter opposition until, by the end of July, the targets were announced in advance of the raids. This did much to undermine the civilian morale and the people began to realize that the end of the war was close at hand.

Burma Road

FIRST CONVOY OVER THE LEDO ROAD, renamed the Stilwell Highway; cargo truck (top) is a 21/2-ton 6x6. In December 1942, engineers started to construct the Ledo Road starting from Ledo, Assam, across northern Burma to an intersection with the Burma Road near the China border. They moved ahead as fast as the combat troops, often working under enemy fire.


JAPANESE TROOPS posed in the streets of Shanghai. The Japanese had been fighting in China since the early 1930’s. During late 1941 and early 1942 Hong Kong and Singapore fell to the enemy along with Malaya, North Borneo, and Thailand. Control over the latter gave Japan rich supplies of rubber, oil, and minerals—resources badly needed by the Japanese to carry on the offensive against the Allies.

JAPANESE WARSHIP UNDER ATTACK by North American medium bomber B-25 near Amoy, China, 6 April 1945; some enemy survivors can be seen in the water as others cling to the side of the wreckage (bottom). In the spring of 1945 the Japanese began to withdraw from south and central China.

Gilbert Islands

CAPTURED JAPANESE COMMAND POST with enemy tank in foreground. Shells and bombs had little effect on this reinforced concrete structure. Most of the command posts, ammunition dumps, and communications centers found here were made of reinforced concrete and were virtually bombproof. Powerful hand-to-hand infantry assault tactics were necessary to dislodge the enemy.


JAPANESE TRANSPORTS AFIRE off the coast of Guadalcanal, 15 November 1942. A group of eleven transports proceeding to Guadalcanal were intercepted by aircraft from Henderson Field. Seven ships were sunk or gutted by f ire. Four were damaged and were later destroyed near Tassafaronga Point where they had been beached.

A TWO-MAN JAPANESE SUBMARINE after being raised from the sea, the remains of the Japanese transport Yamazuki Maru in the background. The Guadalcanal Campaign was a costly experience for the enemy. In addition to the loss of many warships and hundreds of planes with experienced pilots, the Japanese expended some two and one-half divisions of their best troops.


ENEMY BEING ROUTED FROM ONE OF MANY CAVES ON GUAM; before dynamite charges were set in his pillboxes, dugouts, and caves, he was given a chance to surrender (top). Men washing behind the defensive line after a long hard trek (bottom). The advance to the north end of the island was considerably hampered by jungle terrain. The enemy put up a stubborn defense on the high ground in the north and organized resistance did not cease until 10 August.

Iwo Jima

A DUMMY JAPANESE TANK carved in the soft volcanic ash. This tank had previously drawn fire from the attacking U.S. troops.

FLAME THROWERS burning out enemy troops in a hidden cave while a rifleman waits behind the cover of a rock. One by one the marines knocked out the enemy pillboxes and sealed the caves, gradually breaking down the defense system.

THREE JAPANESE COMING OUT OF THEIR CAVE to surrender (top); five captured enemy soldiers (bottom). On 16 March it was officially announced that all organized enemy resistance had come to an end, although mopping up continued for many days in the Kitano Point area. The exact number of casualties to the enemy is not known as many were lost in their caves and tunnels, but by 21 March over 21,000 dead had been counted, while only 212 prisoners were taken. Out of approximately 20,000 casualties the Marines lost over 4,000 killed, while Navy casualties amounted to over 1,000. Iwo Jima was probably the most strongly fortif ied island selected as an objective during the war.

Marshall Islands

WRECKAGE OF A JAPANESE POWER INSTALLATION found on one of the islands in the Kwajalein Atoll on 31 January 1944. As a result of the air, naval, and artillery bombardment, the islands were greatly damaged. With exception of rubble left by concrete structures, there were no buildings standing; all those which had been made of any material other than concrete were completely demolished.

INFANTRYMEN, supported by a medium tank M4A1, move forward to wipe out the remaining enemy on the island. The fire raging in the background is the result of pre-invasion bombing and shelling.

ENEMY SHIPS ON FIRE, the result of direct hits during the 17–18 February air raid on Truk. During the two-day strike, 270 enemy aircraft and 32 of his ships were destroyed.

JAPANESE DIVE BOMBER PLUNGING TOWARD THE SEA, downed by antiaircraft f ire from a Navy carrier during the Battle of the Philippine Sea, which started on 19 June. Aircraft in the foreground are Grumman Avengers (TBF–1 torpedo bombers). A Japanese naval force approaching the Marianas caused U.S. ships at Saipan, except for those unloading the most necessary supplies, to withdraw to the east. Troops ashore were left without naval gunfire, air support, or sufficient supplies.

JAPANESE FLEET UNDER ATTACK by aircraft from carriers operating west of the Marianas. In the late afternoon of 20 June the enemy fleet was discovered at extreme range and shortly before sunset U.S. carrier planes took off. In this attack the Japanese lost one carrier and two tankers; four carriers, one battleship, one cruiser, and one tanker were severely damaged. The Battle of the Philippine Sea broke the enemy effort to reinforce the Marianas.


BURNING JAPANESE AIRCRAFT CARRIER during a bombing attack at the Battle of Midway, 3–6 June 1942. The Japanese Grand Fleet, comprised of 4 aircraft carriers, 11 battleships, 14 cruisers, 58 destroyers, and all the requisite auxiliaries, left Japan to engage the U.S. Fleet in a major battle, if possible, and at the same time to occupy Midway Island. The U.S. Fleet, warned of the impending attack, divided its ships into two carrier task forces consisting in all of 3 aircraft carriers, 8 cruisers, and 14 destroyers. Twenty-five submarines covered all the approaches and heavy and medium bombers were flown to Midway to supplement the air power on the island.

New Guinea


ENEMY PRISONERS being fed canned rations by Australian soldiers. The enemy suffered heavy casualties in the Papua Campaign. Disease and starvation claimed many; only a few were evacuated and about 350 were captured by Allied troops.

TAR BARRELS BURNING after a Japanese bombing raid, May 1943. After the enemy had withdrawn from the area of Wau, months of constant fighting followed in the jungle-clad ridges between Wau and Salamaua, during which time the enemy suffered heavy casualties. On 30 June the islands of Woodlark and Kiriwina, off the northeast coast of Papua, were occupied. This facilitated the movement of troops and supplies by water to that area and gained valuable new airfields for the Allies.

B–24 OVER SALAMAUA, on north coast of New Guinea, during an air raid, 13 August 1943. Smoke from bomb bursts can be seen on Salamaua. While the ground forces were battling with the enemy, aircraft were striking at his bases at Salamaua, Lae, Finschhafen, Madang, and Rabaul as well as at the barges and ships bringing supplies and reinforcements to the enemy in New Guinea.


PILOTED SHORT-RANGE FLYING BOMBS found on Okinawa. On 6 April the Kamakase Corps began a thirty-six hour mass suicide attack, one of the most destructive air battles of the war. Over 350 suicide planes accompanied by as many orthodox bombers and fighters sank or damaged some 30 U.S. ships. The second great mass suicide attack began on 12 April when the new Baka bomb was used for the f irst time. This piloted short-range flying bomb, with a ton of explosive in its war head, was carried to the target slung beneath a twin-engined medium bomber. When released in a rocket-assisted dive it attained a speed of 400 to 500 miles per hour but was not very accurate.

Pearl Harbor

FLYING FORTRESSES, BOEING B–17C heavy bombers, burning at Hickam Field, Oahu, on 7 December 1941 (top); wreckage at the Naval Air Station at Pearl Harbor, after the enemy attack, 7 December (bottom). At 0730 on 7 December the first waves of Japanese aircraft struck the U.S. defenses. Although a few U.S. fighter planes managed to get into the air and destroyed some of the Japanese planes, the attack wrought severe damage. After neutralizing the airfields the Japanese struck at the U.S. Navy warships in the harbor.

THE DESTROYER USS SHAW EXPLODING during the attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December. The first attack on the U.S. warships anchored in the harbor was delivered at 0758. By 0945 all the Japanese aircraft had left Oahu and returned to their carriers. The U.S. Pacific Fleet suffered a major disaster during the attack which lasted one hour and fifty minutes. Sunk or damaged during the attack were the destroyers Shaw, Cassin, and Dowries; the mine layer Oglala; the target ship Utah; and a large floating drydock. Also hit were the light cruisers Helena, Honolulu, and Raleigh; the seaplane tender Curtis; and the repair ship Vestal.

DAMAGED WARSHIPS. The U.S. destroyers Dowries, left, and Cassin, right, and the battleship Pennsylvania, in background, shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Of the eight battleships hit, the Arizona was a total loss; the Oklahoma was never repaired; the California, Nevada, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Tennessee were repaired and returned to service. The slight depth of Pearl Harbor made possible the raising and ref itting of these ships.

DESTROYED CURTIS P–40 FIGHTER PLANE at Bellows Field (top); wrecked planes at Wheeler Field after the 7 December attack (bottom). Of the Army’s 123 f irst-line planes in Hawaii, 63 survived the attack; of the Navy’s 148 serviceable combat aircraft, 36 remained. Only one small airfield on the north shore near Haleiwa was overlooked during the raid.


MARINES PINNED DOWN BY ENEMY FIRE on Peleliu Island in the Palaus. An American force from Guadalcanal assaulted Peleliu on 15 September and Anguar on 17 September, the two southernmost islands in the Palau group. Peleliu was the site of the major Japanese airfield in the group of islands and Angaur was important as a suitable location for the construction of a large-size bomber base.

RAGING FIRE OF AN AMERICAN AMMUNITION DUMP after a direct hit by an enemy mortar. Compared with the battle on Peleliu, opposition was considered fairly light on Angaur. No landings were planned on Babelthuap Island, the largest and most strongly garrisoned island in the Palau group.



CAVITE NAVY YARD, Luzon, during a Japanese aerial attack. Early on the morning of 8 December 1941 the Japanese struck the Philippine Islands. By the end of the f irst day the U.S. Army Air Forces had lost half of its bombers and a third of its fighter planes based there. During the morning of 10 December practically the entire Navy yard at Cavite was destroyed by enemy bombers. The first Japanese landings on Luzon also took place on 10 December. On 14 December the remaining fourteen U.S. Army bombers were flown to Port Darwin, Australia, and the ships that were undamaged after the attack were moved south.

JAPANESE ADVANCING during the drive on Manila. The medium tank is a Type 94 (1934), with a 57-mm. gun with a free traverse of 20 degrees right and left. It had a speed of 18 to 20 miles an hour, was manned by a crew of 4, weighed 15 tons, and was powered by a diesel engine.

AERIAL VIEW OF CORREGIDOR ISLAND off the tip of Bataan. On 25 December, Headquarters, United States Army Forces in the Far East, was established on Corregidor. Manila was declared an open city on the following day and the remains of the naval base at Cavite were blown up to prevent its supplies from falling into enemy hands.

JAPANESE PRISONERS, captured on Bataan, being led blindfolded to headquarters for questioning. On 1 January 1942 the Japanese entered Manila and the U.S. troops withdrew toward Bataan. Army supplies were either moved to Bataan and Corregidor or destroyed. The remaining forces on Bataan, including some 15,000 U.S. troops, totaled about 80,000 men. The food, housing, and sanitation problems were greatly increased by the presence of over 20,000 civilian refugees. All troops were placed on half-rations.

JAPANESE SOLDIERS FIRING A MACHINE GUN TYPE 92 (1932) 7.7-mm. heavy machine gun, gas-operated and air-cooled. This was the standard Japanese heavy machine gun (top). Japanese firing a 75-mm. gun Type 41 (1908), normally found in an infantry regimental cannon company (bottom). Called a mountain (infantry) gun, it was replaced by a later model. Light and easily handled, it was very steady in action. When used as a regimental cannon company weapon it was issued on the basis of four per regiment.

JAPANESE TROOPS ON BATAAN during the spring of 1942. The Japanese commander insisted upon unconditional surrender of all the troops in the Philippines and was furious when he learned that only the U.S. forces on Bataan Peninsula had surrendered. The forces on Corregidor held their fire until the captured Bataan troops were removed from the area. (This picture was reproduced from an illustration which appeared in a captured Japanese publication.)

U. S. PRISONERS ON BATAAN sorting equipment while Japanese guards look on. Following this, the Americans and Filipinos started on the Death March to Camp O’Donnell in central Luzon. Over 50,000 prisoners were held at this camp. A few U.S. troops escaped capture and carried on as guerrillas.

CAPTURED AMERICAN AND FILIPINO TROOPS after the surrender on Corregidor. The 11,500 surviving troops on Corregidor became prisoners of war and on 28 May 1942 were evacuated to a prison stockade in Manila. The fall of Corregidor on 6 May marked the end of the first phase of enemy operations. The Japanese had bases controlling routes to India, Australia, and many islands in the Central and South Pacific and were preparing for their next assaults against the Allies. (This picture is reproduced from an illustration which appeared in a captured Japanese publication.)

DAMAGE AT HENDERSON FIELD following the bombardment of 13 and 14 October 1942 by enemy bombers and field artillery which severely damaged the runways and destroyed more than fifty planes. Japanese bombing at first was amazingly accurate. Smoking ruins are all that remain of an airplane hangar after a direct hit (top). Marines extinguish fire destroying a burning Grumman Wildcat fighter by the bucket brigade method (bottom). The raid also destroyed most of the ready ammunition available at the time.

DIRECT HIT ON A JAPANESE WARSHIP by a B–25 in Ormoc Bay. Two transports and six escorting ships were sunk in the 2 November raid; however, by 3 November the Japanese had landed some 22,000 fresh troops at Ormoc Bay to reinforce the 16,000 original troops on Leyte.


REPUBLIC P–47’S AND LOCKHEED P–38’S (top and bottom respectively) drop napalm fire bombs on enemy positions in the mountains east of Manila. As each bomb hit the target or ground it would explode and burn everything over an oval-shaped area of approximately 70 by 150 feet. The bombs were effective in eliminating the enemy troops in their well-dug-in positions.


PARACHUTE BOMBS dropping from low-flying American planes during a raid over Rabaul. Parachute bombs were used to prevent self-destruction of the attacking low-flying bombers by the blasts of their own bombs. It was claimed that more than 200 enemy aircraft were destroyed or damaged on this raid, in addition to other materiel, ships, and installations.

LANDING BEACH in Holtz Bay area, Attu, as seen from atop the ridge separating Holtz Bay and Chichagof Bay. In the foreground can be seen a crashed Japanese Zero airplane. To the right, men and equipment are unloading from landing craft. It was soon found that the steep jagged crags, knifelike ridges, and boggy tundra greatly impeded the troops and made impracticable any extensive use of mechanized equipment.

Solomon Islands


USS WASP lists to starboard, 15 September 1942, as smoke billows from the ship. Several men and a plane can be seen at the bow of the ship. This aircraft carrier, patrolling near Guadalcanal, was struck by three torpedoes from enemy submarines. Despite efforts of her crew, f ires and explosions made such a shambles of the ship that she had to be sunk by her own men.

NAVAL-AIR ACTION IN THE SOLOMONS, October 1942. The USS Hornet after a Japanese dive bomber hit the signal deck; note Japanese dive bomber over the ship and the Japanese torpedo bombing plane on left (top). The USS Enterprise, damaged during the one-day battle of Santa Cruz when a great Japanese task force advancing toward Guadalcanal was intercepted by a much weaker American task force (bottom). The American ships were forced to withdraw but the enemy turned and retired to the north instead of pursuing them.

Main Index
Japan main page
Japanese-American Internment Camps index page
Japan and World War II index page