This week in the War, 25 June–1 July 1945: The San Francisco Conference

Future Canadian prime minister, Lester B. Pearson, addresses one of the committees at the United National Conference in San Francisco, 1945 [Public domain]

A photograph of future Canadian prime minister, Lester B. Pearson, addressing delegates at the San Francisco Conference is fitting for Canada Day, 1 July.

The United Nations Conference on International Organization, which had opened on 26 April 1945, ended two months later, this week in the war, with the signing of the United Nations Charter.

Delegates to the conference came from nations that had fought on the Allied side.

A central feature of the Charter was the agreement that the Security Council of the United Nations would assume responsibility for order in the world and that the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, France, and China (the ‘Big Five’) would have permanent seats on the Council.

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This week in the War, 18–24 June 1945: The marshal and the stallion

Marshal Zhukov, riding his stallion ‘Idol’ during the Moscow Victory Parade, 24 June 1945 [Public domain]

June was the month for victory parades in places as far apart as Moscow and Rangoon.

This week in the war, on 24 June 1945, Marshal Georgy Zhukov rode his white stallion, Idol, in a gigantic march-past in Moscow’s Red Square. (Zhukov had begun his army career as a private in the Czarist cavalry.)

Soviet soldiers carried hundreds of captured German banners and laid them before the Lenin Mausoleum.

 

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This week in the War, 11–17 June 1945: Victory parade in Rangoon

Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia Command, Admiral the Lord Louis Mountbatten, takes the salute during the Rangoon Victory Day Parade, 15 June 1945 [Public domain]

By June 1945, the Japanese army had pulled out of Rangoon. This week in the war, on 15 June 1945, Lord Louis Mountbatten held a victory parade in the city.

Rangoon—where Aung San Suu Kyi, the current head of state for Myanmar (Burma), has her home—had been occupied by the Japanese since 8 March 1942.

Fighting continued in Burma well into July, with the Japanese suffering heavy losses in their attempts to withdraw their armies.

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This week in the War, 4–10 June 1945: Hirohito holds a meeting

Emperor Hirohito presides over an Imperial General Headquarters meeting, 1943 [Public domain]

This week in the war, on 8 June 1945, Emperor Hirohito presided over a meeting of the Japanese cabinet. They decided that Japan would continue fighting until the very end.

Japanese kamikaze pilots were still effective and, in his book Second World War (Stoddart, 1989), Martin Gilbert reports that, on average, an American infantryman on Okinawa could expect to become a casualty after three weeks of fighting.

 

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This week in the War, 28 May–3 June 1945: Shuri Castle

Present day Shuri Castle, Okinawa [Public domain]

This week in the war, in early June 1945, after a three-day bombardment by the battleship USS Mississippi, American troops occupied the site of Shuri Castle, which had served as Japanese headquarters in Okinawa.

In one form or another, the castle had existed for 450 years. It had been burnt down many times and repeatedly rebuilt.

The American, Commodore Perry, had visited the castle in the 1800s.

Shuri Castle, Okinawa, 1934 [Public domain]

The castle now serves as a campus for the University of the Ryukyus, which is one of the national universities of Japan.

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In the news: Memorial Day 2017

Military working dog Astra, June 2009 [Public domain]

We honour our troops and veterans on Memorial Day, Monday 29 May 2017.

The photograph on the left shows Specialist Pamela Gibson and her military working dog, Sergeant Astra.

The US K-9 Corps was created on 13 March 1942 although the use of dogs in warfare goes back to ancient times.

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This week in the War, 21–27 May 1945: British troops arrest Grand Admiral Doenitz

British troops arrest Grand Admiral Doenitz in Flensburg, 23 May 1945; behind Doenitz in a civilian raincoat is Albert Speer and to his right is German Armed Forces Chief of Staff, Alfred Jodl [Public domain]

This week in the war, on 23 May 1945, British troops arrested Grand Admiral Doenitz, who had been leader of Germany since the death of Hitler on 30 April.

Doenitz and cabinet members of his government—known as the Flensburg government—were taken into custody in the German port of Flensburg.

Doenitz was known the world over as the Commander in Chief of the German U-boat fleet during the Battle of the Atlantic.

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