World War II was a long and brutal war. From Iwo Jima to the Potsdam Conference, take a look at the moments leading up to the end of the deadliest war. Follow the action in this series that details, week by week, the last six months of World War II and explores the high and low points of the march to war’s end.
As the deadliest war in history draws to an end, the bloodshed is far from over, and on the horizon stood a new type of conflict, the Cold War, as tensions between the Allies rise well before V-E Day.
On September 9, 1945, the deadliest war the world has ever known formally came to an end. Four months earlier, the Third Reich had suffered its final defeat, the capture of Berlin. After that, the German forces across Europe began to surrender and Victory in Europe was declared on the 8th May 1945.
However, across the Pacific, battle still raged. Despite being pushed back from all fronts, the culture of the Japanese meant that they were determined to go down fighting. The final nine months of the war in the Pacific produced some of the most brutal and deadliest fighting of World War II. The war was suddenly ended with the dropping of the atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Each week is minutely examined with high technology maps, rare archive film, the recollections of servicemen and state of the art 3D computer graphics which bring alive for today’s viewer, the tactics and strategy employed to free the world by August 1945 from those who sought to destroy it. Week by week the series builds to the inevitable and exciting climax which culminates in the final Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay in August 1945.
Produced by Nugus/Martin Productions Ltd. for The History Channel
Part 1: July 8-14
In Indochina, Chinese forces advance rapidly eastwards and cut the last link between the Japanese army and its garrison, while the U.S. 3rd Fleet joins the attack on Tokyo for the first time. In Berlin, U.S. and British troops take control of their allotted sectors from the Red Army. In turn, the two countries agree to share some control with the French. And General Eisenhower issues a farewell message to all Allied troops in Europe. Finally, this episode profiles the F-6 Hellcat as the “Weapon of the Week.”
Part 2: July 15-21
The Manhattan Project
In Europe, the war’s aftermath is gaining steam: the Municipal Council in Berlin confiscates the property of former Nazi party members while President Truman and Prime Minister Churchill arrive in Potsdam for the “Big Three” conference. But in the Pacific, the fighting rages on: U.S. navy ships launch an attack on Japan’s second biggest steelworks, while 1,000 carrier-based planes bomb six of the island’s main towns. And in New Mexico, the U.S. tests the first atomic bomb at the Alamogordo Bombing Range.
Part 3: July 22-28
The Final Ultimatum
As the last vestiges of Japanese resistance crumble, Truman announces his intention to drop the atomic bomb. In Burma, 5,000 Japanese troops, trapped in the Pegu Hills, attempt to make a break east towards the Sittang River. In the Philippines, all organized Japanese resistance in the Sarangani Bay area ends. At the Potsdam Conference, President Truman announces that the atom bomb will be used against the Japanese as soon after August 3rd as is possible. And in New York, a freak accident leaves a B-25 bomber implanted into the side of the Empire State Building. This episode of LAST DAYS OF WWII also chronicles the wartime career of Winston Churchill, who became Britain’s Prime Minister on the day Germany attacked France and the Low Countries.
Part 4: July 29-August 4
American forces attack Japanese aircraft factories at Hamamutsu and southern Honshu. Allied mines are dropped in China to stop Japanese shipping on the Yangtze Rive. The U.S. heavy cruiser Indianapolis is sunk by the Japanese in the Philippines. The Allied forces decide to suppress the growth of the German economy. The Potsdam Conference comes to a close, and Soviet Union joins the war against Japan.
Part 5: August 5-11
The War Comes to an End
The final stage of WW2 saw American forces drop atomic bombs on the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagaski in August 1945, killing at least 129,000 people. The Soviet government declares war on Japan for its refusal to respond to demands to surrender, and the U.S. Army arrives at Luzon and prepares for the invasion of Japan.
Part 6: August 12-18
In Tokyo, the Japanese government at last accepts the inevitable and surrenders to the Allies unconditionally. President Truman declares that “this is the day we’ve been waiting for since Pearl Harbor.” Emperor Hirohito makes an emotional broadcast to the Japanese nation saying that they had to surrender to keep the country from being destroyed by “a new and most cruel bomb.” The surrender is formally made to General MacArthur at a ceremony aboard the U.S. battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay.