Determined to match the conquests of its German ally, a militarist Japan launched a surprise air attack on the US Fleet at its main Pacific base, Pearl Harbour in Hawaii on December 6th 1941. Recovering from the blow, the US hit back at the Battle of Midway, destroying Japan’s aircraft carrier fleet. Meanwhile, Japan’s army had overurn Indo-China and Hong Kong, seized Singapore ( and with it thousands of Australian and British prisoners); taken Burma and menaced India, the jewel in Brtitain’s Imperial Crown. Despite these humiliating defeats, British General Bill Slim’s 14th Army, helped by General Orde WIngate’s Chindit guerillas, struck back and pushed the Japanese back from Burma. US General ‘Vinegar Joe’ Stilwell helped China’s CHiang Kai-Shek galvanise Chinese counter-attacks and in a series of gruelling island-hops Japan’s Pacific conquests were reversed by the US. Still Japan refused to surrnder, until the dropping of two atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 proved that further resistance would be useless.
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