The Japanese Imperial Family, 7 December 1941 [Public domain]
This week in the war, on 15 August 1945, Emperor Hirohito broadcast on the radio to the Japanese nation. His broadcast announced Japan’s acceptance of unconditional surrender to the Allies.
It was the first time that the Japanese People had heard the voice of their Emperor.
Late on the night before the broadcast, over a thousand troops attacked the Imperial Palace, hoping to prevent the transmission from taking place. They were eventually driven off and the recording of the Emperor’s speech was transmitted as intended.
A schoolgirl rings the Hiroshima Peace Bell [Surgeonsmate, GNU Free Documentation License 1.2/wiki]
This week in the war, on 6 August and on 9 August 1945, atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The necessity of using the atomic bomb is still debated today.
President Harry S. Truman meets with King George VI aboard the USS Augusta off the coast of Plymouth, England, 2 August 1945 [Public domain]
This week in the war, off the coast of Plymouth, England, President Harry S. Truman, en route home from the Potsdam Conference
aboard the USS Augusta
, met with King George VI, who was on board the British battlecruiser HMS Renown
The atomic bomb was a focus of discussion. At least one of Truman’s party, Admiral William Leahy, was sure that the power of the bomb had been exaggerated and remarked that it sounded like a ‘professor’s dream.’
Later, after he had become fully aware of the bomb’s destructive power, Leahy condemned the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as barbaric.
Clement Attlee and King George the Fifth in the grounds of Buckingham Palace, July 1945 [Public domain, wiki]
In the July general election, the British Labour Party had won its first majority in British history and, this week in the war, on 26 July 1945, Clement Attlee became the first Labour prime minister of Great Britain.
The Labour Party’s platform was based upon full employment and social reform, namely the sharing of wealth through the introduction of a welfare state.
It would also become the role of Clement Attlee to take part in the final negotiations at the Potsdam Conference.
British Prime Minister Clement Attlee, US President Harry S. Truman, and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin, Potsdam, July 1945 [Public domain, wiki]
The Potsdam conference opened this week in the war, on 17 July 1945.
Three countries participated: The Soviet Union—represented by Joseph Stalin, the United States—represented by Harry S. Truman (who had become president following the death of President Roosevelt), and Great Britain—represented at first by Winston Churchill and then by Clement Atlee, who became prime minister as a result of the Labour Party winning the July 1945 general election.
The continuation of the war against Japan was a major item on the agenda. So was the re-organization of post-war Europe, including moving the boundary of Poland westward into Germany.
Meanwhile, a top-secret telegram was sent from Washington to Potsdam, to inform the US Secretary for War, Henry Stimson, that the atomic bomb had been successfully tested at Alamogordo in New Mexico.
Troops of the US 92nd Infantry (‘Buffalo’) Division, Italy 1945 [Public domain, wiki]
This week in the war, on 15 July 1945, the first contingent of American troops that had been serving in Europe boarded their ship in Naples, Italy, and set sail for Japan.
The invasion of the Japanese homeland had been set for 1 November.
American warships had already been bombarding the Japanese mainland as a preparation, and the Japanese were making preparations of their own by training thousands of men for kamikaze air and sea attacks against Allied shipping.
Ivan Lyon enjoying a beer with friends, Brisbane 1944 [Public domain, wiki]
This week in the war saw the final and sad end of Lieutenant Colonel Ivan Lyon’s Z Force.
Since the fall of Singapore, Lyon had served with special forces (British, Australian and Free French) that were fighting behind the Japanese lines.
In September 1943, he led a successful raid against Japanese shipping in Singapore harbor.
He died while engaged in a similar raid in October 1944.
All of the members of Z Force were eventually killed or captured. Those captured were executed by beheading on 7 July 1945.
Once over twenty strong, Z Force had begun