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MacArthur | Timeline

The War In the Pacific

President Roosevelt signing the declaration of war against Japan. December 1941. Library of Congress.

July: American government freezes all Japanese assets in the U.S.

December: U.S. and Britain declare war on Japan; China declares war on Japan later in December.

War in Philippines begins with Japanese air attacks; much of the American bomber force is destroyed on the ground at Clark Field.

Japan invades Malaya (known today as Malaysia); Japanese aircraft sink a British battleship and a battle cruiser off the coast of Malaya.

Japan takes Guam and Wake Island in the central pacific.

Japan invades Hong Kong; British forces surrender.

In the Philippines: Japanese forces take Manila; American and Filipino troops withdraw to Bataan peninsula.

January: Japan invades Burma.

Malaya and the Solomon Islands fall. Rabaul, on the New Britain island north of New Guinea, becomes an important Japanese base.

February: In the first U.S. carrier offensive of the war, air raids are launched on the Japanese bases in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands.

Japan invades Singapore; British surrender.

Japan overruns Butch East Indies.

FDR announces that, by Executive Order, Pacific Coast Japanese Americans will be relocated to internment camps. During the course of the war, over 17,000 Japanese Americans volunteer and fight for the U.S. in Europe.

FDR orders MacArthur out of the Philippines.

Battle of the Java Se in Indonesia: Japan destroys Dutch-American naval force.

March: Japan takes Indonesia and the Dutch East Indies; Rangoon, Burma falls.

Japan invades New Guinea.

MacArthur leaves the Philippines.

April: American and Filipino forces in Bataan surrender.

bataan Death March: Over 12 days, Japanese troops force captured American and Filipino troops to walk 60 miles without food or water to prison camps. Approximately 1,000 Americans die during the march.

Surprise U.S. air raids on Tokyo led by Lt. Col. James Doolittle.

May: American and Filipino forces on the Corregidor in the Philippines surrender.

Battle of the Coral Sea: In the first Japanese defeat of the war, American forces sink a Japanese carrier and badly damage two others heading for New Guinea.

Japan completes capture of Burma and reaches India.

June: Battle of Midway: In what is later seen as the "turning point" of the Pacific war, American carrier aircraft sink all four of the Japanese navy's major aircraft carriers along with a cruiser. (Japan faced a critical shortage of experienced pilots for the rest of the war.)

Japan invades Aleutian Islands.

August: Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands: After the first U.S. amphibious landing of the war, American marines gain a foothold by capturing the airport.

February: American forces take Guadalcanal.

March: Battle of the Bismarck Sea: Americans sink eight Japanese transports and four destroyers bound for New Guinea.

June: Americans retake Aleutian Islands.

July: Battle of New Georgia: American army and marine forces attack main Japanese base in the Solomon Islands.

August: Allies take New Georgia and Vella Lavella, also in the Solomons, where they establish a major base.

November: American marines attack Bougainville in the Solomon Islands.

December: Allied troops assault New Britain.

February: American forces take Kwajalein and Majura Atolls in the Marshall Islands.

U.S. planes destroy Japanese bases at Rabaul, on New Britain, and Truk, in the Caroline Islands.

March: MacArthur's forces take the Admiralty Islands.

April: MacArthur's forces take Hollandia in New Guinea.

June: American forces land on Saipan in the Mariana Islands, defended by more than 25,000 Japanese troops.

Battle of the Philippine Sea: American naval forces destroy three Japanese aircraft carriers and 450 aircraft during the invasion of Saipan.

July: Americans take Saipan, Tinian, and Guam in the Marianas.

August: Japanese troops in New Guinea surrender.

September: American forces take the Palau Islands.

October: MacArthur's Philippines campaign begins: American forces land on Leyte island. MacArthur wades ashore declaring, "People of the Philippines, I have returned."

Battle of Leyte Gulf: In the largest naval battle of the Pacific War, American forces destroy much of the remaining Japanese navy. The first kamikaze air attacks occur during this battle.

November: British forces in Burma begin an offensive.

December: Philippines campaign: American forces retake Leyte.

January: Philippines campaign: MacArthur's forces invade Luzon.

February: Philippines campaign: Americans retake Bataan.

March: Philippines campaign: Americans retake Manila and Corregidor.

U.S. forces take Iwo Jima.

American planes firebomb Tokyo, hoping to force a surrender.

April: Australian and American troops begin offensive that will recapture the Dutch East Indies.

Battle of Okinawa: In the final amphibious landing of the war, American forces launch a major attack against more than 130,000 defenders. Okinawa, in the Ryukyus, is the nearest staging point to Japan itself.

May: British-led forces in Burma take Meiktila, Mandalay, and Rangoon.

Japanese resistance in the Philippines ends.

August: American B-29s drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki (August 9).

Japan accepts unconditional surrender.

September: VJ Day (September 2): Japan formally surrenders.

MacArthur enters Tokyo.

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