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This Day in History
World War II
Japan invades Hong Kong, 1941
On this day, Japanese troops land in Hong Kong and a slaughter ensues. A week of air raids over Hong Kong, a British crown colony, was followed up on…
An international military conflict, World War II involved most countries around the world and lasted from 1939 to 1945.
General Douglas MacArthur commanded the Southwest Pacific in World War II and led United Nations forces in the Korean War.
On December 7, 1941, Japanese fighter planes attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.
The American amphibious invasion of Iwo Jima, a key island in the Bonin chain roughly 575 miles from the Japanese coast, was sparked by the desire for a place where B-29 bombers damaged over Japan could land without returning all the way to the Marianas, and for a base for escort fighters that would assist in the bombing campaign. Iwo Jima was defended by roughly 23,000 Japanese army and navy troops, and it was attacked by three marine divisions after elaborate preparatory air and naval bombardment (sixty-eight hundred tons of bombs, twenty-two thousand shells). The battle was marked by changes in Japanese defense tactics--troops no longer defended at the beach line but rather concentrated inland; consequently, the marines experienced initial success but then got bogged down in costly attritional warfare. The Japanese fought from an elaborate network of caves, dugouts, tunnels, and underground installations that were difficult to find and destroy. Except for 1,083 prisoners (two of whom did not surrender until 1951) the entire garrison was wiped out. American losses included 5,900 dead and 17,400 wounded.
Photographer Joe Rosenthal provided the U.S. Marine Corps with one of its most enduring images with his picture (restaged for the purpose) of Americans raising the flag over Mount Suribachi at the southwest corner of Iwo, an image replicated on postage stamps as well as on the memorial statue at the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery.
A damaged B-29 landed on Iwo as early as March 4; before war's end between 2,250 and 2,400 bombers did so. Fighters began to operate from Iwo Jima on March 11, 1945.
The Reader's Companion to Military History. Edited by Robert Cowley and Geoffrey Parker. Copyright © 1996 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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