Commonly referred to as the Pacific War, the Asia-Pacific War was a series of World War II battles that saw the Allied forces pitted against the Empire of Japan. Japan and its puppet states together with Thailand fought against the British Empire, the United States, Australia and other Allied states.
The Pacific War started on December 8, 1941, when Japanese forces invaded Thailand and launched an assault on British possessions of Malaya, Singapore, and Hong Kong; and the United States military bases of Wake Island, Hawaii, the Philippines and Guam. Before the formal surrender of Japan that marked the end of not just the Pacific War but the Second World War, several battles were fought on land and sea.
Here are eight well-known battles of the Asian-Pacific War.
8. Battle of Okinawa
Also known as Operation Iceberg, this series of attacks that took place in Japan’s Ryukyu Islands with the central point being Okinawa Island makes the list as one of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific War. Fought between April 1 and June 22, 1945, the Battle of Okinawa saw some of the greatest losses in history not only in the Pacific War but the Second World War in general.
The United States wanted to take control of the islands in the southern tip of Japan to use as their base for air attacks on the country. They also wanted to use the island to prepare for the planned invasion of Japan’s main islands. But what followed had not been anticipated. The Japanese forces responded aggressively, which resulted in the outbreak of numerous attacks on both sides.
By the end of the war, about 50,000 U.S. troops were wounded, and nearly a quarter of these were deaths. The Japanese, on the other hand, lost up to 100,000 out of 110,000 soldiers. The war, which is also reported to be the largest amphibious campaign of the Asian-Pacific War claimed heavy civilian casualties. An approximated 100,000 civilians died during the campaign.
As some historians assert, the Battle of Okinawa widely influenced the US decision to drop nuclear weapons on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, during the final stage of World War II. Following the two side encounter during the war, it was evident that the invasion of Japan would claim huge casualties on both sides.