Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What They Fought For

Pacific Theater of Operation (PTO)

A)    Pearl Harbor – Despite the fact that the US was well on its way toward full wartime mobilization, the Japanese attack was still a surprise to the US forces in Honolulu (discuss evidence that some in the US were aware that an attack on Pearl Harbor was imminent)

1)      Initial Japanese successes

(a)    Indonesia (Dutch)

(b)   Indochina (French; spawned the creation of the Vietminh, who with US backing carried on a guerilla war against Japanese—Vietminh were led by a previously exiled, French-educated Vietnamese who renamed himself Ho Chi Minh)

(c)    Hong Kong, Malay, and Burma (Great Britain)

(d)   Most of eastern China (China)

(e)    Philippines (US)

2)      US turns tide

(a)    Battle of Coral Sea – depleted navy fleet won its first battle of the PTO

(b)   Battle of Midway – US gained control of the Central Pacific

3)      1943 – US, with major assistance from Australia and New Zealand, and from many of the indigenous populations of the various Pacific islands and East Asia continental areas, regains the iniative.

B)     Island hopping – the strategy of choosing to battle Japanese fortifications on some islands, while skipping (or “hopping”) over others.

1)      Amphibious assault

IV)              European Theater of Operation (ETO)

A)    Soviet Union – from mid-1941 on, the Soviet Union bore the brunt of the war with Germany

1)      “Scorched earth” tactics – much of the eastern front had to be given up by the Red Army in a series of strategic retreats, but the Soviets burned to the ground anything that they could not carry with them, which prevented the German Army from obtaining the material, which caused the supply lines of the Germans to be stretched dangerously thin.

2)      Battle of Stalingrad – German Army was encircled, supplies from the West were cut off, and the Germans were starved into submission.

B)     Air War – to relieve some pressure on the Soviet Union before the Allies were ready to open a second front in Europe.

1)      “Precision bombing” – a misnomer; when attacks on industrial areas increased, Germany decentralized its industry, which led to the Allied bombing of population centers—like Dresden in Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five (much of the same thing was happening in the United States, as the government paid industry to build new factories in previously rural areas)

C)    Allied invasion of Europe

1)      D-Day at Omaha Beach – (show Private Ryan)
D-Day, as it would have been seen on the homefront in the fall of 1944

A more recent re-creation of D-Day

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