World War II Day by Day: July 1945

In this final year of the war, Germany and Japan were defeated by a relentless tide of aircraft, tanks, ships, and men. Their cities were devastated by fleets of bombers, their armies were encircled and then annihilated, and their merchant and naval fleets were either sunk or trapped in port. There was no match for the economic might of the United States and the numerical superiority of the Soviet Union. Atomic bombs finally ended the war against Japan.

3-11 July

Far East, Burma

The remnants of the Japanese Thirty-third Army - 6000 men - attack Allied positions at Waw from the Pegu Yomas. The aim is to threaten and, if possible, to cut the British Twelfth Army’s rail and road links to Rangoon, and also draw some of its units away from the center, thus making possible the movement of the Japanese Twenty-eighth Army east between Toungoo and Nyaunglebin. However, in the face of heavy ground and air resistance, all Japanese efforts to take Waw cease by the 11th.

12 July

Politics, Japan

War leader Shigenori Togo instructs the Japanese ambassador in Moscow to inform the authorities that the emperor wants the war to cease. To this end, Prince Konoye is to be sent as a special envoy to the Soviet Union, with authority from the emperor to discuss Soviet and Japanese relations, including the future of Japanese-occupied Manchuria. However, Togo has repeatedly stressed that the Allied demand for unconditional surrender leaves his government with no choice but to continue fighting. Indeed, the Allies are laying plans to invade the Japanese mainland. Its is proposed that the first landings, code-named Operation Olympic, will take place in November. The second, Operation Coronet, is scheduled for March 1946. The US planners expect to suffer severe casualties. However, neither operation will take place.

16 July

Technology, United States

The world’s first atomic bomb is exploded at Alamogordo, New Mexico. The secret work to develop the weapon is code-named the Manhattan Project. A specialized bomber unit, the 509th Composite Group, is training to attack Japan with atomic bombs.

17 July-2 August

Politics, Allies

The Potsdam Conference takes place in Germany. The ‘Big Three’ - US President Harry Truman, Soviet leader Marshal Joseph Stalin, and British Prime Minister Clement Attlee (who had defeated Churchill in a general election on July 5) - meet to discuss postwar policy. Japan is informed that an immediate surrender would result in the continued existence of its nation, although not its empire. War criminals will be prosecuted and there will be a temporary occupation. The proclamation also makes it clear that continued resistance will lead to the ‘utter devastation of the Japanese homeland.’ This is a veiled reference to the use of atomic weapons against Japan.

19 July

Far East, Burma

The Japanese Twenty-eighth Army attempts to break out of the Pegu Yomas east across the Sittang River. Forewarned, the Indian 17th Division’s guns cut down the Japanese in their hundreds, while many others drown in the river. The breakout is a shambles, and signals the end of the army.

26 July

Pacific, Philippines

Following an amphibious landing at Sarangani Bay on the 12th, Japanese resistance on Mindanao is overcome.

28 July

Politics, Japan

Prime Minister Kantaro Suzuki announces that both he and his cabinet will ignore the recent Allied Potsdam Proclamation.