Americans keep pushing toward Japan despite the heavy cost, and the last island before Honshu is Okinawa. Japanese make a strong stand at Okinawa with more defensive innovation, and launch the biggest kamikaze attacks of the war off its shore. Americans are determined to push ahead and try to take Okinawa to stage an invasion of the Japanese homeland. At 82 days it is the longest battle of the Pacific war, and costs the lives of both commanding officers. Halfway through, President Roosevelt dies and Truman takes over.
The battle for Peleliu drags on far longer than expected. Japanese defences confound Americans and bodies pile up on both sides. Meanwhile, MacArthur returns to the Philippines, fulfilling his long-standing promise. The Battle at Leyte Gulf isolates Japanese troops on the Philippines from their own navy, but they have enough supplies and willpower to make the Philippines a long and bloody campaign. Manila will end up in ruins. B-29 raids into Japan begin from the Marianas, and war on a grand scale comes to the mainland for the first time - in the form of massive firebombing raids. The first raid on Tokyo is as destructive as any bombing raid in human history. Finally, on Iwo Jima, island hopping reaches its bloody apex as 50,000 men fight over eight square miles.
The Allies start building out Saipan into a forward base and B-29 anchor point. There are advantages to invading islands so close rather than thousands of miles away. But just as Americans are putting past battle lessons to good use, so are the Japanese. Guam and Tinian will not be easy. Meanwhile, B-29 raids into mainland Japan begin from bases in China, and the learning curve is steep. They are mostly ineffective, between Japanese air defenses, weather challenges, and the B-29's own mechanical failures. Many planes are lost. It all makes the Marianas even more critical for Americans to capture. After Roosevelt, MacArthur and Nimitz share a tense strategy meeting, Allies move to Peleliu to support MacArthur's looming invasion of the Philippines. As the episode concludes, America finds Peleliu will be anything but easy.
The US aims for the heart of Japan's inner defence ring - starting with Saipan in the Marianas. Saipan is the largest and most distant island invaded by the Americans so far - an unprecedented logistical challenge. Japan employs more ingenious defensive tactics and sends their navy into the fray with the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Americans prevail in Saipan, but not without spending more time and blood than expected - and overcoming a Marine vs Army rivalry that threatens to divide the fighting force. America is developing the B-29 bomber and hope the Marianas can become a forward airbase, but the B-29 is beset with problems and may not be ready in time.
America decides to drive up a Central Pacific toward Japan with island-by-island amphibious assaults. The first is in the Gilbert Islands - the invasion of Tarawa. Amid their own mistakes and an enemy stronger than expected, it is a far deadlier battle than America anticipated. From this confrontation, both sides learn lessons and alter their strategies, equipment, and tactics. America invents new machinery and weapons; Japan develops stronger defenses and begins to prepare their inner defensive ring and the home islands. This episode also describes the action in the Marshall Islands and the Southwest Pacific - Rabaul, Truk, and New Guinea.
The Allies struggle to push the Japanese back on land, and break the Tokyo Express supply line. In New Guinea and the Solomons, what began as rearguard actions gradually becomes Allied advances. Progress is painfully slow and diseases like dysentery and malaria take a heavy toll on both sides. In summer of 1942, at the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway, American and Japanese navies face off in decisive battles that will prove pivotal for the rest of the war. Additional non-combat stories of the war's effect in faraway places - Tibet, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, even Miami - show the global reach of the Pacific War.
This two-part documentary shows the War in the Pacific seen for the very first time in colour. From exclusive footage of pre-War Japan to Pearl Harbour, Guadalcanal, Saipan, Midway, as well as kamikazes and atomic devastation, this program provides an insight into this war with previously unseen colour footage.
From the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, to the dropping of the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima in 1945. The Pacific War In Colour will include never-before-seen footage of the battles of Midway, Saipan and Okinawa, along with images of the ultra-secret A-bomb tests in the American desert.
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