North America 1945: Victory in World War II
In 1944, the Western Allies liberated France and, together with the Soviet Union, conquered Germany the following year. That August, the US used the newly invented atomic bomb to help force the Japanese surrender and bring the Second World War to an abrupt end.
6 Jun 1944 D-Day▲
After extensive aerial and naval bombardment, including the landing of 24,000 airborne troops, 156,000 US, British, and other Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy, German-occupied France, in the largest seaborne invasion in history. The landings began at 06:30 and met heavy fire from gun emplacements overlooking the beaches, along with numerous mines and obstacles. Over the day, the Allies suffered at least 10,000 casualties vs about 1,000 for the Germans, but secured their beachhead.
3 Nov 1944–5 May 1945 Fire balloon offensive▲
In the first attack using an intercontinental weapon, over 9,300 incendiary balloons were launched from eastern Japan into the jet stream over the Pacific Ocean. Some 300 of the balloons eventually made it to the North America, where they fell over a range extending from Alaska to Texas and as far inland as Michigan. Although damage was minor, with only one lethal incident in May 1945, the attacks were covered up by the US press to avoid widespread panic.
8 May 1945 V.E. Day▲
Following the German signing of the Act of Surrender on 7 May 1945 in Reims, France, and on 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.
26 Jun 1945 United Nations Charter▲
In June 1945 the United Nations Charter was signed at the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center in San Francisco, United States, by fifty of the original fifty-one founding members (Poland, the only founding member not present, would sign the charter two months later). The treaty entered into force on 24 October 1945, after being ratified by the five permanent members of the security council—China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States—and a majority of the other signatories.
16 Jul 1945 Trinity test▲
The United States conducted the first detonation of a nuclear weapon at Trinity Site in New Mexico.
6 Aug 1945 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.
15 Aug 1945 Jewel Voice Broadcast▲
Japanese Emperor Hirohito read out the Imperial Rescript on the Termination of the War in a radio broadcast, announcing to the people of Japan that their government had accepted the Potsdam Declaration and agreed to unconditional surrender. The speech was the first time the Emperor had spoken to the common people.