End of the Pacific War

The War in the Pacific

Australasia 1945.0806

End of the Pacific War

Australia, New Zealand and World War II in the South Pacific (6 August 1945)

Historical Map of Australia, New Zealand & the Southwest Pacific

By May 1945, Germany had been defeated and the War in Europe was over. Meanwhile in the Pacific, the Americans had pushed north and secured the Philippines, allowing the Australians to attack the Japanese in oil-rich Borneo. This still left much of East Asia under Japanese control, but in August the War came to an abrupt end when America dropped newly invented atom bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Soviet Union declared war on Japan.

Main Events

Battle of the Philippine Sea

In Operation A-Go, the Imperial Japanese Navy confronts the US Fifth Fleet of Admiral Raymond Spruance in the Philippine Sea to the west of the Mariana Islands. The following clash - in which the fleets themselves do not come within 500 km of each other - is so one-sided, given the US superiority in both technology and training, that it is nicknamed 'The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot', with over 200 Japanese aircraft shot down that morning. By the end of the two-day battle, the Japanese have lost 3 fleet carriers and some 600 aircraft for US losses of 123 aircraft.

Philippines Campaign

The US Sixth Army, led by General Douglas MacArthur and with naval and air support, lands on the eastern shore of Leyte, in the Japanese-occupied Philippines. From Leyte, the Americans advance on to Samar and Mindoro, invading the main island of Luzon in December 1944 and capturing Manila in March 1945 with Filipino support. However it is not until the end of the War that the last Japanese forces surrender.

V.E. Day

Following the German signing of the Act of Surrender on 7 May in Reims, France, and 8 May in Berlin, Germany, a public holiday - Victory in Europe Day, or VE Day - was celebrated in Allied countries to mark the Allies' formal acceptance of Germany's surrender and the end of World War II in Europe.

Battle of Balikpapan

In Operation Oboe Two, the Australian 7th Division, supported by US air and naval forces, makes an amphibious landing at Klandasan, south of Balikpapan, on the Japanese-occupied island of Borneo in the Dutch East Indies. From here they proceed to occupy the area around Balikpapan Bay, with support from Dutch East Indies forces.

Atomic bombing of Hiroshima

After being briefed in Operations Order No. 35 - the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan - the Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber Enola Gay, piloted by Col. Paul Tibbets, departed from the US-occupied island of Tinian at 02:45 on 6 August 1945. Having reached Hiroshima, they released the Little Boy atomic bomb at 08:15 from a height of 9,400 m, making it to 18.5 km away before they felt the shock waves of the blast. The explosion and resultant firestorm killed some 70,000-80,000 people in the city, with another 70,000 injured and more later dying from the after-effects.

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