Asiatic-Pacific Theater

Last updated
A map of the Asiatic-Pacific Theater showing its component areas. The China Burma India Theater fell under the British-led South East Asia Command. Pacific Theater Areas;map1.JPG
A map of the Asiatic-Pacific Theater showing its component areas. The China Burma India Theater fell under the British-led South East Asia Command.
Pacific Theater section of the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Pacific War Section, Nat. WWII Memorial, IMG 4652.JPG
Pacific Theater section of the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The Asiatic-Pacific Theater, was the theater of operations of U.S. forces during World War II in the Pacific War during 1941–45. From mid-1942 until the end of the war in 1945, there were two U.S. operational commands in the Pacific. The Pacific Ocean Areas (POA), divided into the Central Pacific Area, the North Pacific Area and the South Pacific Area, [1] :652–653 were commanded by Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander-in-Chief Pacific Ocean Areas. The South West Pacific Area (SWPA) was commanded by General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Allied Commander South West Pacific Area. [2] During 1945, the United States added the United States Strategic Air Forces in the Pacific, commanded by General Carl A. Spaatz.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Pacific War Theater of World War II fought in the Pacific and Asia

The Pacific War, sometimes called the Asia–Pacific War, was the theater of World War II that was fought in the Pacific and Asia. It was fought over a vast area that included the Pacific Ocean theatre, the South West Pacific theatre, South-East Asian theatre, and in China.

Pacific Ocean Areas

Pacific Ocean Areas was a major Allied military command in the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II. It was one of four major Allied commands during the Pacific War, and one of three United States commands in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater. Admiral Chester W. Nimitz of the U.S. Navy, Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, headed the command throughout its existence.

Contents

Because of the complementary roles of the United States Army and the United States Navy in conducting war in the Pacific Theater, there was no single Allied or U.S. commander (comparable to General Dwight D. Eisenhower in the European Theater of Operations). There was no actual command; rather, the Asiatic-Pacific Theater was divided into SWPA, POA, and other forces and theaters, such as the China Burma India Theater.

United States Army Land warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Army (USA) is the land warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States, and is designated as the Army of the United States in the United States Constitution. As the oldest and most senior branch of the U.S. military in order of precedence, the modern U.S. Army has its roots in the Continental Army, which was formed to fight the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783)—before the United States of America was established as a country. After the Revolutionary War, the Congress of the Confederation created the United States Army on 3 June 1784 to replace the disbanded Continental Army. The United States Army considers itself descended from the Continental Army, and dates its institutional inception from the origin of that armed force in 1775.

United States Navy Naval warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Navy (USN) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most capable navy in the world and it has been estimated that in terms of tonnage of its active battle fleet alone, it is larger than the next 13 navies combined, which includes 11 U.S. allies or partner nations. With the highest combined battle fleet tonnage and the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, and two new carriers under construction. With 319,421 personnel on active duty and 99,616 in the Ready Reserve, the U.S. Navy is the third largest of the U.S. military service branches in terms of personnel. It has 282 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of March 2018, making it the third-largest air force in the world, after the United States Air Force and the United States Army.

Dwight D. Eisenhower 34th president of the United States

Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was an American army general and statesman who served as the 34th president of the United States from 1953 to 1961. During World War II, he was a five-star general in the United States Army and served as supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe. He was responsible for planning and supervising the invasion of North Africa in Operation Torch in 1942–43 and the successful invasion of France and Germany in 1944–45 from the Western Front.

Major campaigns and battles

Pacific Ocean Area

Japanese naval aircraft prepare to attack Pearl Harbor. Carrier shokaku.jpg
Japanese naval aircraft prepare to attack Pearl Harbor.
Okinawa, 1945. A U.S. Marine aims a Thompson submachine gun at a Japanese sniper, as his companion takes cover. Ww2 158.jpg
Okinawa, 1945. A U.S. Marine aims a Thompson submachine gun at a Japanese sniper, as his companion takes cover.

North Pacific Area

Aleutian Islands Campaign battle

The Aleutian Islands Campaign was a military campaign conducted by the United States and Japan in the Aleutian Islands, part of the Territory of Alaska, in the American theater and the Pacific theater of World War II starting on 3 June 1942. In the only two invasions of the United States during the war, a small Japanese force occupied the islands of Attu and Kiska, where the remoteness of the islands and the challenges of weather and terrain delayed a larger U.S.-Canadian force sent to eject them for nearly a year. The islands' strategic value was their ability to control Pacific transportation routes, which is why U.S. General Billy Mitchell stated to the U.S. Congress in 1935, "I believe that in the future, whoever holds Alaska will hold the world. I think it is the most important strategic place in the world." The Japanese reasoned that control of the Aleutians would prevent a possible U.S. attack across the Northern Pacific. Similarly, the U.S. feared that the islands would be used as bases from which to carry out a full-scale aerial attack on U.S. West Coast cities like Anchorage, Seattle, Portland, or Los Angeles.

Battle of the Komandorski Islands naval battle between American and Japanese forces in the North Pacific area

The Battle of the Komandorski Islands was a naval battle between American and Imperial Japanese forces which took place on 27 March 1943 in the North Pacific, south of the Soviet Komandorski Islands. The battle was a daylight surface engagement in which air support played no role and in which the inferior American force escaped complete destruction mostly by luck.

Central Pacific Area

  • Attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941 [3]
  • Battle of Guam, 8–10 December 1941
  • Battle of Wake Island, 8–23 December 1941 [1] :651–652
  • Marshalls–Gilberts raids, 1 February 1942
  • Doolittle Raid, 18 April 1942 [3]
  • Battle of Midway, 4–7 June 1942 [3]
  • Makin Island raid, 17–18 August 1942 [4]
  • Gilbert and Marshall Islands campaign, November 1943 – February 1944
    Battle of Tarawa battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II, at the Tarawa Atoll in the Gilbert Islands

    The Battle of Tarawa was a battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II that was fought on 20–23 November 1943. It took place at the Tarawa Atoll in the Gilbert Islands, and was part of Operation Galvanic, the U.S. invasion of the Gilberts. Nearly 6,400 Japanese, Koreans, and Americans died in the fighting, mostly on and around the small island of Betio, in the extreme southwest of Tarawa Atoll.

    Battle of Makin Engagement of the Pacific campaign of World War II from 20 to 23 November 1943

    The Battle of Makin was an engagement of the Pacific campaign of World War II, fought from 20 to 23 November 1943, on Makin Atoll in the Gilbert Islands.

    Battle of Kwajalein

    The Battle of Kwajalein was fought as part of the Pacific campaign of World War II. It took place from 31 January-3 February 1944, on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Employing the hard-learned lessons of the Battle of Tarawa, the United States launched a successful twin assault on the main islands of Kwajalein in the south and Roi-Namur in the north. The Japanese defenders put up stiff resistance, although outnumbered and under-prepared. The determined defense of Roi-Namur left only 51 survivors of an original garrison of 3,500.

  • Mariana and Palau Islands campaign, 1944
    Battle of Saipan battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II on the island of Saipan in the Mariana Islands

    The Battle of Saipan was a battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II, fought on the island of Saipan in the Mariana Islands from 15 June to 9 July 1944. The Allied invasion fleet embarking the expeditionary forces left Pearl Harbor on 5 June 1944, the day before Operation Overlord in Europe was launched. The U.S. 2nd Marine Division, 4th Marine Division, and the Army's 27th Infantry Division, commanded by Lieutenant General Holland Smith, defeated the 43rd Infantry Division of the Imperial Japanese Army, commanded by Lieutenant General Yoshitsugu Saito. The loss of Saipan, with the death of at least 29,000 troops and heavy civilian casualties, precipitated the resignation of Japanese Prime Minister Hideki Tōjō and left the Japanese mainland within the range of United States Army Air Forces B-29 bombers.

    Battle of the Philippine Sea naval battle of World War II

    The Battle of the Philippine Sea was a major naval battle of World War II that eliminated the Imperial Japanese Navy's ability to conduct large-scale carrier actions. It took place during the United States' amphibious invasion of the Mariana Islands during the Pacific War. The battle was the last of five major "carrier-versus-carrier" engagements between American and Japanese naval forces, and pitted elements of the United States Navy's Fifth Fleet against ships and aircraft of the Imperial Japanese Navy's Mobile Fleet and nearby island garrisons. This was the largest carrier-to-carrier battle in history.

    Battle of Guam (1944) WWII battle by US forces to recapture Guam from the Empire of Japan

    The Second Battle of Guam was the American recapture of the Japanese-held island of Guam, a U.S. territory in the Mariana Islands captured by the Japanese from the U.S. in the 1941 First Battle of Guam during the Pacific campaign of World War II.

  • Battle of Leyte Gulf, October 1944 [nb 1]
  • Volcano and Ryukyu Islands campaign, 1945
Attack on Pearl Harbor Surprise attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy on the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor in Hawaii

The Attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service upon the United States against the naval base at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii on Sunday morning, December 7, 1941. The attack led to the United States' formal entry into World War II the next day. The Japanese military leadership referred to the attack as the Hawaii Operation and Operation AI, and as Operation Z during its planning.

Battle of Guam (1941) 1941 World War II battle

The First Battle of Guam was an engagement during the Pacific War in World War II, and took place from 8 December to 10 December 1941 on Guam in the Mariana Islands between Japan and the United States. The American garrison was defeated by Japanese forces on 10 December, which resulted in an occupation until the Second Battle of Guam in 1944.

Battle of Wake Island battle of World War II

The Battle of Wake Island began simultaneously with the attack on Pearl Harbor naval and air bases in Hawaii and ended on 23 December 1941, with the surrender of the American forces to the Empire of Japan. It was fought on and around the atoll formed by Wake Island and its minor islets of Peale and Wilkes Islands by the air, land, and naval forces of the Japanese Empire against those of the United States, with Marines playing a prominent role on both sides.

South Pacific Area

South West Pacific Area

China-Burma-India Theater [14]

Notes

1944 Strategy Conference in Honolulu. Left to right: MacArthur, Roosevelt, Leahy, Nimitz. The discussion weighs the options of Formosa or the Philippine Islands as the next operational target in the Pacific theater. FDR conference 1944 HD-SN-99-02408.JPEG
1944 Strategy Conference in Honolulu. Left to right: MacArthur, Roosevelt, Leahy, Nimitz. The discussion weighs the options of Formosa or the Philippine Islands as the next operational target in the Pacific theater.
  1. Note that the Battle of Leyte Gulf is listed in both the Central Pacific Area (under Nimitz) and in the South West Pacific Area (under MacArthur). Leyte Gulf is where Nimitz's western thrust across the central Pacific Ocean intersected MacArthur's northern thrust across the western Pacific Ocean. While the Pacific Ocean command structure was convoluted, operations were "designed to sequence the SWPA's operations with POA's forces across the central Pacific. [6] :IX-136The main purpose of sequencing is to arrange objectives/tasks in such a progression that collectively they lead to the accomplishment of the assigned ultimate objective in the shortest time possible and with the least loss of personnel and materiel." [6] :IX-135 Nimitz provided, but maintained control over, Admiral Halsey's Third Fleet to cover and support Admiral Kinkaid's Seventh Fleet operating under General MacArthur. The result of this imprecise arrangement was the crisis precipitating the Battle off Samar. Halsey was operating under Commander in Chief, Pacific Operating Area's (Nimitz') Operations Plan 8–44. [7]
  2. By US Navy's Third Fleet under Admirals Halsey and Nimitz.
  3. By US Navy's Task Force 38 under Admirals Mitscher and Nimitz.

Footnotes

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Potter & Nimitz (1960).
  2. Douglas MacArthur as Supreme Commander SWPA
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Silverstone (1968) pp.9–11.
  4. Kafka & Pepperburg (1946) p.185.
  5. Ofstie (1946) p.194.
  6. 1 2 Vego 2007
  7. Vego 2006, pp. 126–130
  8. Dull 1978, p. 61.
  9. Silverstone 1968, pp. 9–11.
  10. Dull 1978, p. 75.
  11. Dull 1978, p. 91.
  12. 1 2 3 Sulzberger 1966, pp. 332–333.
  13. Potter & Nimitz 1960 , p. 759.
  14. U.S. Army Center of Military History. "World War II – Asiatic-Pacific Theater Campaigns – U.S. Army Center of Military History". U.S. Army Center of Military History. U.S. Army Center of Military History. Retrieved 21 October 2015.

Related Research Articles

Asiatic–Pacific Campaign Medal military award

The Asiatic–Pacific Campaign Medal is a United States military award of the Second World War, which was awarded to any member of the United States Armed Forces who served in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater from 1941 to 1945. The medal was created on November 6, 1942 by Executive Order 9265 issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The medal was designed by Thomas Hudson Jones; the reverse side was designed by Adolph Alexander Weinman which is the same design as used on the reverse of the American Campaign Medal and European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal.

South West Pacific theatre of World War II

The South West Pacific theatre, during World War II, was a major theatre of the war between the Allies and the Axis. It included the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies, Borneo, Australia and its mandate Territory of New Guinea and the western part of the Solomon Islands. This area was defined by the Allied powers' South West Pacific Area (SWPA) command.

Pacific Ocean theater of World War II

The Pacific Ocean theater, during World War II, was a major theater of the war between the Allies and the Empire of Japan. It was defined by the Allied powers' Pacific Ocean Area command, which included most of the Pacific Ocean and its islands, while mainland Asia was excluded, as were the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies, Borneo, Australia, most of the Territory of New Guinea and the western part of the Solomon Islands.

USS LST/LST(H)-482/Branch County (LST-482) was an LST-1-class tank landing ship built for the United States Navy during World War II. Later renamed for Branch County, Michigan, she was the only US Naval vessel to bear the name.

USS Custer (AP-85/APA-40) was a Bayfield-class attack transport that served with the U.S. Navy during World War II in the Pacific Ocean theatre of operations. She carried troops into invasion areas and landed them, and, for this dangerous work, she returned home for decommissioning post-war with six battle stars to her credit.

USS <i>LST-469</i>

USS LST-469 was a United States Navy LST-1-class tank landing ship used in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater during World War II. As with many of her class, the ship was never named. Instead, she was referred to by her hull designation.

USS <i>LST-459</i>

USS LST-459 was a United States Navy LST-1-class tank landing ship used in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater during World War II. As with many of her class, the ship was never named. Instead, she was referred to by her hull designation.

USS <i>LST-22</i> WWII US tank landing ship

USS LST-22 was a United States Navy LST-1-class tank landing ship used exclusively in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater during World War II and staffed by a United States Coast Guard crew. Like many of her class, she was not named and is properly referred to by her hull designation.

USS <i>LST-452</i>

USS LST-452 was a United States Navy LST-1-class tank landing ship used in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater during World War II.

USS <i>LST-454</i>

USS LST-454 was a United States Navy LST-1-class tank landing ship used in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater during World War II.

USS <i>LST-456</i>

USS LST-456 was a United States Navy LST-1-class tank landing ship used in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater during World War II.

USS <i>LST-460</i>

USS LST-460 was a United States Navy LST-1-class tank landing ship used in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater during World War II. As with many of her class, the ship was never named. Instead, she was referred to by her hull designation.

USS <i>LST-462</i>

USS LST-462 was a United States Navy LST-1-class tank landing ship used in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater during World War II. As with many of her class, the ship was never named. Instead, she was referred to by her hull designation.

USS <i>LST-463</i>

USS LST-463 was a United States Navy LST-1-class tank landing ship used in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater during World War II. As with many of her class, the ship was never named. Instead, she was referred to by her hull designation.

USS <i>LST-466</i>

USS LST-466 was a United States Navy LST-1-class tank landing ship used in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater during World War II. As with many of her class, the ship was never named. Instead, she was referred to by her hull designation.

USS <i>LST-468</i>

USS LST-468 was a United States Navy LST-1-class tank landing ship used in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater during World War II. As with many of her class, the ship was never named. Instead, she was referred to by her hull designation.

USS <i>LST-470</i>

USS LST-470 was a United States Navy LST-1-class tank landing ship used in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater during World War II. As with many of her class, the ship was never named. Instead, she was referred to by her hull designation.

USS <i>LST-474</i>

USS LST-474 was a United States Navy LST-1-class tank landing ship used in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater during World War II. As with many of her class, the ship was never named. Instead, she was referred to by her hull designation.

References