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Letters from the Front

( Editor’s note: Welcome to a brand new series that will debut every several months as Battlefield V’s live service continues to push out content and will depend on how well the Live Service does. If the Live Service fails, this series will be canceled since the expansions for Battlefield V will also be canceled. DICE  intends to release the expansions in chronological order and attempt to follow World War II in order. This series will delve into every aspect of the Second World War that EA DICE chooses to highlight in their expansions. I hope you enjoy this little mini-series and stay tuned for my BFV: Awakening the Giant First Impressions.)

By the late 1930s, Japan controlled Manchuria and parts of China while moving further into the country. The Marco Polo Bridge incident triggered a full-scale war between the Chinese and the Japanese with the Soviet Union and America sending supplies to the Chinese.

By 1940, Japanese forces invaded Indochina after France had fallen to the Germans in the Battle of France that resulted in British forces evacuating from continental Europe and in September 1940, the Japanese signed the Tripartite Pact with Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, officially forming the Axis Powers. By 1941, the war in China came to a stalemate while Japan’s standing with the outside world, especially with the West came crashing down that led to Japan beginning to plan for war with the Allied nations, especially with the United States.

Following prolonged tensions and negotiations with the West, especially with the United States, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and simultaneous attacks on Britain, Australian, Dutch, and American territories that led to a new front opening in the Pacific and the United States finally entering the Second World War on the side of the Allies after a year of neutrality.

After two years of war with Germany and being committed in North Africa, the European Powers didn’t stand a chance against the Japanese Empire’s conquest of their territories on the same day as the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Allies suffered great defeats at the hands of the Japanese but came back in the latter half of 1942 once the Americans got situated and started to pour men and resources in the Pacific.

Having completed their objectives, the Japanese now moved onto the second half of their overall campaign in the Pacific. This second phase called for expansion by adding New Britain, the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, the Fiji Islands, Samoa, Midway, and half the Pacific to their outer ring of defenses but the Allies thought differently. By early 1942, things were changing in the Pacific as American bombers conducted raids against the Japanese in eastern New Guinea which caused the Japanese to stop their advance in the South Pacific. In April 1942, the USAAF launched the Doolittle Raid where 16 bombers took off to bomb Tokyo and destroy the Japanese war effort. The raid minimally damaged Japan but it was a stepping stone to victory against Japan as the raid had caused great psychological effects in Japan and exposed the Japanese homeland to American bombing as the east coast of Japan was vulnerable.

In May 1942, the Japanese Army and the IJN developed an operation codenamed Operation MO in which Port Moresby  would be invaded from the sea and this operation included the capture of Tulagi where the IJN would establish bases for air operations against Allied territories in the Pacific. Unknown to the Japanese, US Navy intelligence intercepted messages related to Operation MO and British intelligence deciphered that Port Moresby was the most likely target for Operation MO and that the Japanese fleet was en route from the Japanese base at Truk. From the point of view of the Allies, if Port Moresby fell into Japanese hands then the Japanese would have control of the seas west of Australia and could leave the country to a Japanese invasion. The Battle of the Coral Sea was the first naval battle in which the ships never attacked each other but was fought from the skies.

After the Battle of the Coral Sea, Midway would be the next decisive engagement. Midway was viewed as a battle that would destroy the US Navy as the Japanese would lure the US Navy into a trap but American and Allied intelligence discovered of the lure at Midway and so this decisive battle began in June 1942 and would result in an American victory. The Coral Sea and the Battle at Midway would balance the war in the Pacific into Allied hands and the Allies now had the upper hand against the Japanese as their naval power was weakened.

As Spring turned into Summer 1942, battles were raging across New Guinea when Allied intelligence became aware of a secret airfield being constructed at Guadalcanal and this was the perfect spot for an invasion force. In August 1942, in their first ground action of World War II, US Marines landed on Guadalcanal and Tulagi in the Solomon island chain and over the next six months, both the Marines and Japanese poured resources into a battle that was escalating and many forces including some units of the US Army being relocated to fight in the Pacific and the Japanese Navy being relocated to Guadalcanal. After the six month battle of attrition, the Japanese fell back and evacuated the island and the battle would go down in history and it is considered to the most important victory in the Pacific Theater and was a major turning point in the fight against Japan. In June 1943, the Allies launched Operation Cartwheel which would determine the strategy in the Pacific which aimed to isolate the Japanese base at Rabaul and would become the stepping stone for the island hopping campaign.

Over the next two years, American forces were now approaching the Japanese homeland at a steady pace. Allied forces were approaching rapidly towards the base at Rabaul while the Marines initiated their island-hopping campaign in a series of beach assaults across the Pacific while breaking through the Japanese defensive perimeter while the US Army and General Douglas MacArthur returned to the Philippines in October 1944.

By 1945, American forces now had breached the inner ring of the Japanese defensive perimeter and were on Japanese soil. Operation Detachment began in February in which US Marines assaulted Iwo Jima where they reached the summit of Mount Suribachi and raised the American flag where the raising of the flag would become an iconic moment of the war and became the representation of the entire war in the Pacific. By March 1945, the Marines had taken control of the island and now American bombers had Japan in their sights.

The largest and most costliest battle in the Pacific came at Okinawa where the US Marines and US Army stormed the island in an effort to capture the island as the US High Command sought out air bases to bombard Japan and prepare an invasion of the Japanese homeland. After an intense bombardment, American soldiers and Marines stormed the island and fought tooth and nail with an enemy that was now fanatical. American forces declared victory in June 1945, Okinawa would become the bloodiest American battle of World War II.

Hard fought battles across the outer ring of the Japanese homeland and the Soviet invasion of Manchuria alongside the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki led to the surrender of Japan after a last-ditch effort to repeal the Allied offensive. The effects of the atomic bombings and the Soviet entry into Manchuria were so profound that the Japanese Empire had no way out except to surrender. Japan surrendered on August 15th, 1945 and the war in the Pacific and World War II came to an end.

Following the surrender of Japan, American forces alongside the British Commonwealth occupied Japan and this came to be known as the occupation in the history of Japan. Unlike the post-war occupation of Germany, the Soviet Union had no influence in Japan which caused them to be even more suspicious of the West.

Japan signed the treaty of San Francisco which ended the occupation and came into effect in 1952, formally ending the Allied presence and restoring full sovereignty to Japan, except the islands of Iwo Jima and Okinawa which would return to Japan in 1960 and 1972 with the United States building bases on Okinawa for the US Marine Corps.

Japan in the post-war era continued to experience American culture as American soldiers were often stationed there. American movies and music, especially the introduction of rock and roll in 1955, had a great influence in Japan. During this period, Japan started to become an exporter of their culture and young people across the world began consuming anime, manga, and Kaiju movies like Godzilla. Marines, Sailors, and Soldiers returning from Japan brought with them martial arts, stories, and artifacts from the country.

Much like the Eastern Front and the brutal battle for the Soviet Union during World War II, the Pacific Theater of war is considered to be one of the most brutal conflicts of the war and in the history of warfare. Casualties for both sides were immense with American forces losing 426,000 casualties while Japan lost 2 million soldiers and 800,000 civilians. The Pacific Theater in the present day is often overlooked in forms of entertainment and media about World War II and is often an unknown aspect of the war despite the immense loss of life and some of the famous battles that raged across the Pacific.

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