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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This week in the War, 14–20 May 1945: Aung San helps the British

Aung San, 1940s [Public domain]

This week in the war, on 15 May 1945, Burmese revolutionary leader Aung San—who had previously sided with the Japanese—offered to help the British. The British welcomed him.

Originally a communist, he changed to being a social democrat and later became Premier of the British Crown Colony of Burma.

He dedicated his life to fighting for Burma’s independence but was assassinated several months before his country achieved self-rule.

His daughter, Aung San Suu Kyi, would follow in her father’s footsteps, suffering persecution (including 15 years of house arrest) as an advocate of democracy.

US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Aung San Suu Kyi and her staff at her home in Rangoon, 19 November 2012 [Public domain]

She would go on to win the Nobel Prize for Peace and become her country’s head of state as First State Counsellor of Myanmar (Burma).

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This week in the War, 7–13 May 1945: VE-Day!

British VE-Day street party with bonfire, May 1945 [Public domain]

This week in the war saw an end to the war in Europe with the first Victory in Europe Day: 8 May. VE-Day has been celebrated on every 8 May since then.

On 8 May 1945, in a speech to the House of Commons that was also broadcast on the BBC, Winston Churchill declared that: “Hostilities will end officially at one minute after midnight tonight (Tuesday 8 May) but in the interests of saving lives the cease fire began yesterday to be sounded all along the front, and our dear Channel Islands are also to be freed today.”

Churchill went on to speak about the war against Japan continuing until the final victory: “We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing; but let us not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead.”

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