Photo above: World War II Poster, United We Are Strong, United We Will Win, 1943, Henry Koerner, Office of War Department. Courtesy Library of Congress.
World War II - United States Involvement
For the first two years of World War II, the United States repeated its initial reaction of the first world war, attempting to stay neutral and broker peace. The nation was in the beginning of its recovery from the Great Depression, was celebrating a renewed vigor with World's Fairs in New York and San Francisco, and was not of the mindset to join the initial years of fighting. That, of course, would change. Their neutrality had always been an allied stance with the nations of Europe fighting Nazi Germany, Italy, and Japan even during the first two years of war, but without troops. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the sleeping bear would awaken, forced into the fight with full mettle. They would fight the remaining five years of war in theaters around the world, from the European theater to the Pacific Ocean nations of the Orient. And the final act would succumb to use of weapons not thought possible, with a ferocity unsurpassed in warfare to that point with the dropping of two atom bombs on Japan.
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- Battle Timeline
World War Two, U.S. - Quick Battle Timeline 1942
USA and World War II, 1942
After the attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, President Roosevelt began to set up a new command structure for United States forces and begin operations against the Japanese in the Pacific Theater while making plans for assisting Great Britain and the allies in North Africa and Europe. A new body, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was formed by Admiral William D. Leahy, modeled after the British Chiefs of Staff Committee with a first meeting on February 2, 1942. They would join with their British counterparts in an agreement established during the Arcadia Conference led by Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt of one month before. A series of strategies formed; it was agreed to invade North Africa in 1942, send American bombers to England, and for the British to strengthen their presence in the Pacific Theater.
During the Arcadia Conference, the Declaration by United Nations was agreed to by twenty-six nations. It stated that the Allies would make no separate peace with the Axis enemies and that the war would be conducted fully until victory. This document would become the basis for the establishment of the United Nations in 1945.
January 1 to April 9, 1942 - Battle of Bataan, Philippines (Pacific Theater)
Troops: USA 120,000, including Philippine troops; Japan 75,000.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA 30,000 killed, plus 75,000 captured; Japan 19,000.
Japanese invade Philippines and battle Douglas MacArthur's U.S. force on the Bataan Peninsula in three month retreat. Eventual capture, which was the largest American capture since Harper's Ferry during the Civil War, results in Bataan Death March and loss of last Allied stronghold in Southeast Asia.
February 27, 1942 - Battle of the Java Sea, Dutch East Indies (Pacific Theater)
Troops: USA/UK/Netherlands/Australia 14 ships; Japan 28 ships.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA/UK/Netherlands/Australia 2,300, plus 5 ships; Japan 36.
Devastating defeat of Allied forces results in occupation by Japanese of entire Dutch East Indies, the fourth largest oil producing region in the world. It gave Japan a source for food supplies as well.
February 28 to March 12, 1942 - Battle of Java (Pacific Theater)
Troops: USA/UK/Netherlands/Australia 34,250, including 750 USA; Japan 34,000.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): Allies 921 plus, additional 903 captured; Japan NA.
Land battle for control of Java with split Japanese force results in formal surrender at Batang of Allied forces on March 12.
March 31 to April 10, 1942 - Indian Ocean Raid (Pacific Theater)
Troops: USA/UK/Netherlands/Australia/Canada 110 ships, 7 submarines, 100 aircraft; Japan 36 ships, 5 submarines, 350 aircraft.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA 31 ships, 40 aircraft; Japan 20 plus aircraft.
Naval raid by Imperial Japanese Navy near Ceylon inflicts heavy damage and partial retreat of Allied forces from Indian Ocean, but prevents, in part, any Japanese attempt to take the island at any time during the war.
April 18, 1942 - Doolitle Raid of Tokyo, Japan (Pacific Theater)
Troops: USA 80, 16 aircraft, 14 ships; Japan NA.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): Allies 3, plus 8 captured, 15 aircraft; Japan 450, 5 captured, 3 aircraft, 5 ships.
First air attack against Japanese homeland showed vulnerability and retaliation for Pearl Harbor. Little affect on the war, but large morale boost for USA forces.
May 5-6, 1942 - Battle of Corregidor, Philippines (Pacific Theater)
Troops: USA and Philippines 13,000; Japan 75,000.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA and Philippines 1,800, plus 1,100 captured; Japan 2,100.
Successful attempt by Japanese to take Corregidor bastion which defended Manila Bay ended with Japan in full control of the Philippines and Southeast Asia, except for Australia.
May 4-8, 1942 - Battle for the Coral Sea (Pacific Theater)
Troops: USA/Australia 27 ships, 128 aircraft; Japan 55 ships, 127 aircraft.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): Allies 656, plus 69 aircraft, 3 ships; Japan 966, 92 aircraft, 5 ships.
Invasion of New Guinea and the Solomon Islands repelled after initial success in taking the Solomon Islands. Japanese retreat despite tactical victory and Allied success in naval battle bodes well for June Battle of Midway.
June 4-7, 1942 - Battle of Midway (Pacific Theater)
Troops: USA 26 ships, 16 submarines, 360 aircraft; Japan 21 ships, 264 aircraft.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): Allies 307, plus 150 aircraft, 2 ships; Japan 3,057, plus 37 captured, 248 aircraft, 5 ships.
Decisive American victory led by Admiral Nimitz against attacking fleet becomes the largest blow in naval warfare. Considered one of two major turning points in the War in the Pacific. Japanese losses would be difficult to replace while American industrial might was supplying war material at a much faster rate.
June 3 to August 15, 1942 - Aleutian Islands Campaign, Alaska Territory (Pacific Theater)
Troops: USA/Canada 144,000; Japan 8,500.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): Allies 5,537, plus 8 captured, 225 aircraft, 2 ships; Japan 4,350, plus 28 captured, 16 ships.
Allied attack to remove small Japanese force that had captured islands of Attu and Kiska in Alaska territory on June 6-7. Known as the "Forgotten Battle" due to its proximity to larger battles at Midway and Guadalcanal.
August 7, 1942 to February 9, 1943 - Battle of Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands (Pacific Theater)
Troops: USA/Australia/UK/New Zealand/Fiji/Solomon Islands/Tonga 60,000; Japan 36,200.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): Allies 14,889 killed, 4 captured, 29 ships, 615 aircraft; Japan 19,200, 1,000 captured, 38 ships, over 683 aircraft.
First major Allied offensive against Imperial Japan takes forces by surprise, but is followed by three major land battles and seven major naval battles. Eventual Allied tactical victory with Japanese abandoning their attempt to retake Guadalcanal. With victory at Battle of Midway, this series of battles is considered the turning point of the Pacific War.
August 25 to September 7, 1942 - Battle of Milne Bay, New Guinea (Pacific Theater)
Troops: USA/Australia 8,824; Japan 1,943.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): Allies 387 (14 USA); Japan 936.
Japanese attacked the reinforced airfields of Milne Bay, encountering more forces, predominantly Autralian, than anticipated. Considered one of the first land victories by Allied forces in the Pacific, outcome allowed Milne Bay to become major base for American and other Allied forces in the Pacific for the duration of the war.
November 16, 1942 to January 22, 1943 - Battle of Buna Cona, Papua (Pacific Theater)
Troops: USA/Australia 20,000; Japan 11-12,000.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): Allies 14,291, including sick; Japan 8,200 plus 250 captured.
Battle against the Japanese beachheads of Buna, Sanananda, and Cona in the New Guinea campaign when Allied air power effectively ended the ability of the Japanese to resupply the beachheads. Allied victory despite high rate of casualties, almost five times as many to malaria and other sickness than battle casualties.
November 8-16, 1942 - Operation Torch, French Morocco and French Algeria (North Africa Campaign)
Troops: USA/UK/Free France & other Allies 107,000, 850 ships; Vichy France/Germany 125,000, 11 ships, 13 submarines, 500 aircraft.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): Allies 1,220; Axis 3,343.
Anglo-American invasion of North Africa preferred by English instead of European invasion meant to dislodge Vichy French from Morocco and Algeria amid suspicion that Vichy French would not fight against former allies USA. Vichy French forces initially resist the invasion, but in the aftermath, most joined the Allies, taking control over French territory in North Africa instead of De Gualle's Free France coalition while USA forces moved on to attack Tunisia.
Full Text, Declaration by United Nations
Declaration by the United Nations, January 1, 1942
Contents - A Joint Declaration by the United States, the United Kingdom, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, China, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Poland, South Africa, Yugoslavia.
The Governments signatory hereto, ... Having subscribed to a common program of purposes and principles embodied in the Joint Declaration of the President of the United States of America and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland dated August 14, 1941, known as the Atlantic Charter.
Being convinced that complete victory over their enemies is essential to defend life, liberty, independence and religious freedom, and to preserve human rights and justice in their own lands as well as in other lands, and that they are now engaged in a common struggle against savage and brutal forces seeking to subjugate the world,
DECLARE: (1) Each Government pledges itself to employ its full resources, military or economic, against those members of the Tripartite Pact :and its adherents with which such government is at war.
(2) Each Government pledges itself to cooperate with the Governments signatory hereto and not to make a separate armistice or peace with the enemies.
The foregoing declaration may be adhered to by other nations which are, or which may be, rendering material assistance and contributions in the struggle for victory over Hitlerism.
Done at Washington, January First, 1942
Additional nations would join in signatory to the document over the next three years:
1942 - Mexico, Philippines, Ethiopia.
1943 - Iraq, Brazil, Bolivia, Iran, Colombia.
1944 - Liberia, France.
1945 - Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Paraguay, Venezuela, Uruguay, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria.
Note: Image above: Photo of U.S. Navy planes on deck of the USS Enterprise carrier preparing to take off for Battle of Midway, June 4, 1942. Courtesy National Archives via Wikipedia Commons, Official U.S. Navy photograph. Info source: Wikipedia Commons; Avalon Project, Document in Law, History, and Diplomacy, Yale Law School.