Flag Raising on Iwo Jima, 23 February 1945.
United States, National Archives and Records Administration. Available online at Images of American Political History, [22 December 1999].

Flag Raising on Iwo Jima, 23 February 1945.

American Marines liberate the South Pacific island of Iwo Jima.

While Canadians and their Allies celebrated VE Day (Victory-in-Europe Day), the Second World War raged in the Pacific theatre. Since the spring of 1944, American marines had been liberating islands in the South Pacific -- a combined naval and land campaign that has been called "island hopping." By the end of 1944, the United States had retaken New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and the Philippines. British forces took Burma in 1945.

Although Japan had lost many of its wartime conquests, it was still a formidable enemy in the spring of 1945. The Japanese were certainly willing to fight to the bitter end. When the Americans took Okinawa in March, almost the entire Japanese force of 100,000 was killed or captured. Convinced that an invasion of Japan would cost thousands of lives, the United States decided to compel the Japanese to surrender by using atomic weapons. On 6 August 1945, the Americans dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, killing over 70,000 people in the immediate aftermath of the blast. Three days later, Nagasaki was bombed, and another 40,000 were killed. Japan surrendered unconditionally on 2 September 1945. Victory in the Pacific was achieved. After almost six years of brutal conflict, the Second World War was finally over.

Surrender Ceremonies on the USS Missouri, Tokyo Bay, Japan, 2 September 1945.
United States, National Archives and Records Administration. Available online at Images of American Political History [22 December 1999].

Surrender Ceremonies on the USS Missouri, Tokyo Bay, Japan, 2 September 1945.

Supreme Allied Commander General Douglas MacArthur signs formal surrender documents. Lieutenant-General Jonathan Wainwright, Lieutenant C.F. Wheeler, and Lieutenant-General A.E. Percival are behind MacArthur.
 

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