The World War II Multimedia Database

For the 72 Million

The Rising Sun, December 1941 – June 1942

Allied planners had seriously underestimated the strength and effectiveness of Japanese Forces. Allied opinion held that they could not shoot straight, since many Japanese were nearsighted. Despite reports in China, and then in late 1941 the arrival of the American Volunteer Group, it was still believed that the Western aircraft were superior to their Japanese counterparts.

So the shock of the Japanese assault on December 7/8, 1941 (depending on which side of the International Date Line you were on) was unbelievable. The Japanese seemed to be everywhere at once; on the first day of the war alone, they attacked by sea, land or air all over the Pacific: Pearl Harbor, Manila, Midway, Hong Kong, Thailand, Shanghai, Wake, Guam, Singapore, Dutch East Indies, Malaya, and Burma. The Japanese Forces often enjoyed superior numbers and equipment as well as tactics and training, allowing them to move quickly across the Pacific.

Allied possessions fell in rapid succession:

8-DecThe Foreign Quarter of Shanghai
25-DecHong Kong
2-JanManila, Philippines
25-JanBalikpapan, Java
14-FebParatroops landed on the oil works on Palembang, Sumatra
19-FebBombers from the First Air Fleet attack Port Darwin
5-MarBatavia, Java
20-MarThe occupation of Admiralty and Western Solomons complete
8-AprRangoon, Burma
9-MayCorrigedor fell, ending all resistance in the Philippines

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