World War II
American progress in the Pacific in 1944
Unit 7: Learning Objective M,
- [Voiceover] We're now entering into 1944 where the Americans and the Allies are able to go even more on the offensive versus the Japanese and get closer and closer to Japan, get in bombing range of Japan and deprive the Japanese of, I guess you could say, their forward bases. And so right as we enter into 1944, and once again I'm giving you an overview I'm not giving every single battle that occurs, the Unites States is able to take Kwajalein. Which, once again, the strategic value of a lot of these, these islands are tiny they're barely large enough to have primitive bases plus, kind of an air field, but they're incredibly valuable because the bombers can land, refuel, get resupplied and then take off from there and then be on the offensive even further in. I guess you could say in Japanese territory. And with the taking on Kwajalein, just as a bit of a reminder, the Americans, amongst other things, now had control of the Soloman Islands. They now have control of the Marshall and Gilbert Islands. They now have control of the Marshall and Gilbert Islands. And as we'll see, the real theme of 1944 as we get into the middle of and the end of the year is to get as close as possible to the Japanese mainland. Because the Americans now had a B-29, or they had the B-29 bomber that had a 1500 mile radius. 1500 mile, I guess I could say 1500 mile range. Which means if they're able to get points of where their bombers could land and take off, and once again these bombsers are way too large and heavy to land on a carrier, but if they can find islands where they can do that from within a 1500 mile range of Japan then the United States could have bombing attacks directly on Japan and hopefully get closer to an end to the war. So that was really the theme, get as close as possible to Japan and then there was a secondary theme of take back The Philippines. One, it was a matter of pride, it was a former US possession ever since the Spanish-American War. But then on top of that, The Philippines are incredibly strategic for shipping lanes from Indonesia, remember those raw materials, those resources, that oil that Japan wanted from Indonesia. If you control The Philippines you're gonna control the shipping lanes between Indonesia and Japan. So you could deprive Japan of those natural resources. So The United States' kind of main focal areas in 1944, get as close as possible to Japan, get within bombing range, and take The Philippines. And this is exactly what they did. As we go into the summer of 1944, and one, there were some, as early as the summer of 1944, some bombing raids that took off in China to Japan with the new B-29s. So you do have some of these that happened as early, some of these bombing raids happened as early as summer of 1944. But in terms of actual islands, or territory The United States takes or takes back in the summer, in June of 1944, you have The Battle of the Philippine Sea. So Battle of Philippine Sea occurs right around, right around here. It's a victory for The US. It's a victory for The US. And it ends up really, really hurting Japanese ability to field carriers, have air warfare from carriers because so much of their carrier capability was damaged in The Battle of Philippine Sea. So, The Battle of Philippine Battle of the Philippine Sea this occurs in June 1944. And along with that, in the summer, the Allies are able to take several islands in The Mariana Islands. Once again, this is gonna be super important because from The Marianas, they're able to launch B-29 bombing attacks on the mainland in Japan. And so over that summer the Allies, the Americans in particular, are able to take Saipan, they are able to take Guam, they are able to take Tinian, which is this little island right over here. Some of these islands are quite hard to find. They're super small, in fact, even these little dots exaggerate their size, if you were to actually go onto Google Maps or Google Earth you'll see how small these are. And I encourage you to look at them it's really fascinating to see how small some of these islands are. They're really atolls, a lot of these are more atolls then islands. Not all of them are atolls. But you see, they barely have enough space for a landing strip for planes, especially the B-29s. And then as we go further into the summer and we start entering kind of later in the year, the Americans are able to take, at the time what was called Peleliu, now it's Palu. So Peleliu, they're able to take Morotai, and then perhaps most importantly in 1944, this might be the biggest deal out of all of these pacific battles that occur and all of these naval battles that occur, is The Battle of Leyte an The Battle of Leyte Gulf. Because The Battle of Leyte was important because in the process of taking Leyte The United States essentially is able to knock out the Japanese's ability to further defend, I mean they will continue, but realistically defend the rest of The Philippines. So once Leyte is taken by the Allies the odds of the Japanese being able to hold the rest of The Philippines becomes very low. And maybe even more important, The Battle of Leyte Gulf, which occurs right around there, it's an incredibly decisive battle for the American Navy. The Japanese go all in, and that bet is not a good one. The Japanese Navy is pretty much destroyed in The Battle of Leyte Gulf. And so 1944, once again, very good year for the Allies. Very bad year for the Japanese. Now the Allies are in control of they're in control of air strips, from which they can take B-29 raids to the mainland of Japan. So air strips, they can now, they're now within range to do bombing attacks on the mainland of Japan, and they now are very likely to control The Philippines and control the shipping lanes from Indonesia to Japan and they've all but destroyed the Japanese Navy. So, once again, things are not looking very good for Japan. And as we go into 1945, we'll see the Allies get closer and closer and get more intense bombing raids on Japan. And every time they get closer, the battles to take these islands, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, incredibly incredibly bloody and The United States says, 'Well what do we have to do to get the Japanese to surrender?' And we'll see what, at least in the mind of Truman, needs to happen.