|About the Book|
World War II was the largest and most violent armed conflict in the history of mankind. However, the half century that now separates us from that conflict has exacted its toll on our collective knowledge. While World War II continues to absorb theMoreWorld War II was the largest and most violent armed conflict in the history of mankind. However, the half century that now separates us from that conflict has exacted its toll on our collective knowledge. While World War II continues to absorb the interest of military scholars and historians, as well as its veterans, a generation of Americans has grown to maturity largely unaware of the political, social, and military implications of a war that, more than any other, united us as a people with a common purpose.Highly relevant today, World War II has much to teach us, not only about the profession of arms, but also about military preparedness, global strategy, and combined operations in the coalition war against fascism. During the next several years, the U.S. Army will participate in the nations 50th anniversary commemoration of World War II. The commemoration will include the publication of various materials to help educate Americans about that war. The works produced will provide great opportunities to learn about and renew pride in an Army that fought so magnificently in what has been called the mighty endeavor.World War II was waged on land, on sea, and in the air over several diverse theaters of operation for approximately six years. The following essay is one of a series of campaign studies highlighting those struggles that, with their accompanying suggestions for further reading, are designed to introduce you to one of the Armys significant military feats from that war.This brochure was prepared in the U.S. Army Center of Military History by Stephen J. Lofgren. I hope this absorbing account of that period will enhance your appreciation of American achievements during World War II.GORDON R. SULLIVANGeneral, United States ArmyChief of Staff-----From the Allied vantage point early in the spring of 1943, progress clearly had been made in the wars against Germany and Italy in Europe and the Mediterranean and Japan in the Pacific. During the winter an entire German army had been killed or captured deep within the Soviet Union at Stalingrad. In Africa, once-invincible Axis forces were in full-scale retreat, eventually to surrender in mid-May. The specter of continued Axis expansion in Europe was no longer the threat it had been a year before.Halfway around the world, the Japanese offensive in the Pacific also had crested. The May 1942 Battle of the Coral Sea, followed quickly by the great American victory at Midway, had cost Japan the strategic initiative. By February 1943 American and Australian troops had thwarted a Japanese pincer movement in Papua New Guinea, defeating an overland drive on Port Moresby, evicting the Japanese from Buna, and beating back an attack against Wau. That same month, hundreds of miles to the east in the Solomon Islands, American troops had wrested Guadalcanal from the Japanese. Victory required seven months of torturous fighting, but it secured the Allied line of communications to Australia. The Allied High Command now could take advantage of its improved strategic position.