Pacific Theater WWII

Pacific Theater

The Pacific Theater during World War II is generally regarded as the area of military confrontation between the Allied powers and Imperial Japan. The Pacific Theater consists of the entire operational expanse of the war from the Aleutian Islands in the north to Australia in the south, including island chains such as the Solomons, Gilberts, Marshalls, and Marianas. The China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater is also considered a major component of the Pacific Theater.

Pacific Theater

Charlie Mott: Flying Tiger Caged

By Bob Bergin

­­Charles D. Mott was a U.S. Navy dive-bomber pilot when he joined the American Volunteer Group (AVG), the small band of Americans who flew under the leadership of General Claire Lee Chennault and became known to history as the Flying Tigers. Read more

Pacific Theater

Still a Splendid Sight: Merrill’s Mauraders

By Al Hemingway

Private First Class Frank Rinaldi cautiously made his way through the dense foliage. He and other soldiers were on patrol when they heard the unmistakable sound of Japanese voices, and they inched their way forward to investigate. Read more

With their Ka-Bar fighting knives at their sides, U.S. Marines sit atop a pile of spent shells and provide cover for comrades moving inland on Iwo Jima.

Pacific Theater

The Marine Corps’ Ka-Bar Fighting Knife

By Mike Haskew

When Private Clarence Garrett of the 28th Regiment, 5th Division, United States Marine Corps, clung to the loose black volcanic sand on the sloping beach of Iwo Jima on Feburary 19, 1945, he probably had no idea that his photograph was being taken. Read more

During an inspection tour of OSS headquarters in New Delhi, General William, "Wild Bill" Donovan stands fifth from the left. To Donovan's right is Colonel John Coughtlin, commander of the New Delhi unit. Elizabeth McIntosh stands third on Donovan's right.

Pacific Theater

Inside the OSS: An Interview With Elizabeth P. McIntosh

By Bob Bergin

The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was America’s first strategic intelligence organization. President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized its establishment on June 13, 1942, six months after World War II began, to collect and analyze strategic intelligence and to conduct special services, including subversion, sabotage, and psychological warfare. Read more

En route to the Chinese 74th Army headquarters at Wukong, five Japanese prisoners are marched out of the guerrilla headquarters at Tien Toh. All five appear to be well fed and clothed. (National Archives)

Pacific Theater

Saving Face After the Surrender of Japan

By Ulrich A. Straus

It will not come as a surprise to American readers that when the Japanese emperor delivered his surrender message on August 15, 1945, Allied forces led by the United States had thoroughly defeated Japan’s naval and air power in the Pacific. Read more

Pacific Theater

Guadalcanal: Bloody Encounter at Hell’s Point

By Al Hemingway

On the humid morning of August 19, 1942, infantrymen from Company A, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines carefully eyed the landscape for any signs of Japanese soldiers as they slowly made their way through the thick jungle on the island of Guadalcanal, located in the Solomon Islands. Read more

In a photo taken from another B-29 in formation, this heavy bomber disgorges incendiary bombs from the skies above Formosa. The largest B-29 raid of the war to date took place on October 14, 1944. The target was the repair and supply facilities at Okayama on the island.

Pacific Theater

B-29 Superfortress: The Plane That Bombed Japan Into Submission

By Sam McGowan

As the Japanese delegation stood on the deck of the battleship USS Missouri on September 2, 1945, preparing to sign the documents that ended World War II, a large formation of Boeing B-29 Superfortress heavy bombers swooped low over Tokyo Bay as a reminder of the terrible destruction that had befallen their nation and turned Japan’s cities into ruins. Read more

A U.S. Navy destroyer escort was originally conceived as something of a stopgap measure during World War II. Later, the design proved to be effective in all theaters. Here, a destroyer escort is shown under way during sea trials.

Pacific Theater

Holding the Line on the High Seas

By Paul B. Cora

Also Through the first half of World War II, Allied shipping losses to German U-boats climbed steadily from over 400,000 tons in the last four months of 1939 to more than two million tons each in 1940 and 1941, before reaching a staggering 6,266,215 tons in 1942 following the entry of the United States into the war. Read more

U.S. Navy dive-bombers attack a Japanese cruiser at the Battle of Midway in this painting by Robert Benny.

Pacific Theater

Lifting the Japanese Military

By John W. Whitman

Japanese military successes in 1941 and 1942 shocked the West. Behind those successes lay a logistics effort not often appreciated, that of shipping. Read more

A Japanese balloon bomb in flight during World War II. The Japanese launched some 9,000 such weapons, one-tenth of which reached the continental United States.

Pacific Theater

Project Fugo: The Japanese Balloon Bombs

By Allan T. Duffin

On Saturday, May 5, 1945, three days before the end of World War II in Europe and just three months before the Japanese surrendered, spinning shards of metal ripped into the tall pine trees, burrowing holes into bark and tearing needles from branches outside the tiny logging community of Bly, Oregon. Read more