August - 60 Years Ago - 1945

World War II Timeline
1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945


World War II, Pacific

Dec 7, 1941  -  While Pearl Harbor is being Attacked

The 14-Part Message delivered an hour after the strike on Pearl Harbor began.

The Japanese Government regrets to have to notify hereby the American Government that in view of the attitude of the American Government it cannot but consider that it is impossible to reach an agreement through further negotiations.

Dec 8, 1941  -  Before the Congress

President Roosevelt addresses the Congress of the United States.

    Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the United State of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
    The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking towards the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after the Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador and his colleague delivered to the Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. While the reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.
    It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
    The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost. In addition American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.
    Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya. Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong. Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam. Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands. Last night the Japanese attacked Wake Island. This morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.
    Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation. As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.
    Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us. No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory.
    I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again. Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in gave danger. With confidence in our armed forces -- with the unbounded determination of our people -- we will gain the inevitable triumph, so help us God. I ask that Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, 1941, a state if war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.

Mar 12, 1942  -  On arrival in Australia

MacArthur's arrival in Australia having escaped from Corregidor.

The President of the United states ordered me to break through the Japanese lines and proceed from Corregidor to Australia for the purpose, as I understand it, of organizing the American offensive against Japan, a primary object of which is the relief of the Philippines. I came through and I shall return.

Oct 20, 1944  -  On wading ashore

MacArthur after wading ashore at Leyte.

    People of the Philippines. I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God our forces stand again on Philippine soil. The hour of your redemption is here. Your patriots have demonstrated an unswerving and resolute devotion to the principles of freedom. . . . Rally to me. Let the indomitable spirit of Bataan an Corregidor lead on. As the line of battle roll forward to bring you within the zone of operations, rise and strike. . . . For future generations of your sons and daughters, strike ! In the name of your sacred dead, strike ! Let every arm be steeled.


Aug 6, 1945 First atomic bomb, Little boy is dropped on Hiroshima


The Agricultural Exposition Hall, directly beneath the atomic bomb explosion


Aug 7 America's highest scoring ace, Richard Bong is killed while flying a F-80 jet fighter on a routine flight  
Aug 8 Russia declares war on Japan and launches a massive attack into Japanese held areas  
Aug 9 Second atomic bomb, Fat Man is dropped on Nagasaki


The devastation at Nagasaki


SPEECH  -  President Truman on the second atomic bomb.

    Having found the bomb we have used it. . . .
    We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, against those who have abandoned all pretence of obeying international laws of warfare. We have used it in order to shorten the agony of war, in order to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans. We will continue to use it until we completely destroy Japan's power to make war. Only a Japanese surrender will stop it.


Aug 14 Japanese Emperor broadcasts acceptance of surrender

In his first ever address to his people, played at noon, Hirohito gives up.

    "We, the Emperor, have ordered the Imperial Government to notify the four countries, the United States, Great Britain, China, and the Soviet Union, that We accept their Joint Declaration. To ensure the tranquility of the subjects of the Empire and share with all the countries of he world the joys of co prosperity, such is the rule that was left to Us by the Founder of the Empire of Our Illustrious Ancestors, which We have endeavored to follow. Today, however, the military situation can no longer take a favorable turn, and the general tendencies of the world are not tour advantage either.
    "What is worse, the enemy, who has recently made use of an inhuman bomb, is increasingly subjecting innocent people to grievous wounds and massacre. The devastation is taking on incalculable proportions. To continue the war under these conditions would not only lead to the annihilation of Our Nation, but to the destruction of human civilization as well."


Aug 15 VJ Day   (Victory over Japan Day)

A Japanese military and a government official sign the document of surrender in Tokyo Bay; MacArthur concludes :

We are gathered here, representatives of the major warring powers, to conclude a solemn agreement whereby peace may be restored. The issues involving divergent ideals and ideologies, have been determined on the battlefields of the world and hence are not for our discussion or debate. Nor is it for us here to meet, representing as we do a majority of the people of the earth, in a spirit of distrust, malice, or hatred. but rather it is for us, both victors and vanquished, to serve, committing all peoples unreservedly to faithful compliance with the understanding they are here formally to assume. It is my earnest hope, indeed the hope of all mankind, that form this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past . . . a world dedicated to the dignity of man . . . Let us pray that peace be restored tot he world, and that God will preserve it always. These proceedings are closed.

Nimitz broadcast to the Fleet upon the signing of surrender.

    On board all naval vessels at sea and in port, and at our many island bases in the Pacific, there is rejoicing and thanksgiving. The long and bitter struggle . . . is at an end. . . .
    Today all freedom-loving peoples of the world rejoice in the victory and feel pride in the accomplishments of our combined forces. We also pay tribute to those who defended our freedom at the cost of their lives.
    On Guam is a military cemetery in a green valley not far from my headquarters. The ordered rows of white crosses stand as reminders of the heavy cost we have paid for victory. On these crosses are the names of American soldiers, sailors, and marines -- . . . ---names that are a cross-section of democracy They fought together as brothers in arms; they died together and now they sleep side by side. To them we have a solemn obligation -- the obligation to insure that their sacrifice will help to make this a better and safer world in which to live.
    Now we turn to the great tasks of reconstruction and restoration. I am confident that we will be able to apply the same skill, resourcefulness and keen thinking to these problems as were applied to the problems of winning the victory.

On acceptance of surrender of the Japanese North Pacific forces, Fletcher says,

"Recalling the rape of Nanking, the treachery of Pearl Harbor, the Death March of Bataan, and the murder, torture, and starvation of our comrades in arms, ours will not be an occupation in the Japanese manner. We have shown the Japanese and the world the superiority of our arms. We must now demonstrate to the world and the Japanese people the superiority of these standards of justice and decency for which we fought."



The pretty arc of the nurse and the seaman's stylish stance made a "one in a million" composition, says Eisie. "They were very elegant, like sculpture."

From the October 1980 issue of LIFE


Sailor Our story so far: It all started coming back to pretty Edith Shain as she studied once more the famous picture of the nurse being embraced by the sailor there in Times Square that glorious V-J Day 35 years ago. She decided the time had come to declare her identity as the woman in Alfred Eisenstaedt's photograph. Eisie, delighted with the discovery, flew to Beverly Hills to photograph Edith as she appears today at 62--and that story ran in LIFE in August, 1980, along with a request for the real sailor to please step forward. Thus it was that memories stirred old seafaring hearts across the land, moments of danger and tossing seas and those too-brief winsome moments ashore. Then, most vividly, that unforgettable day--August 15, 1945--when any swabbie worth his bell-bottoms kissed any girl within reach. No fewer than 10 sailors, as well as two more nurses, have managed to recall to the last detail how it happened and how they happened to be in Times Square--persuading us that all their stories are true. But who is in the picture? And who kissed whom? Truth be told, only Eisie (who passed away on Wednesday, August 23 at the age of 96) ever knew the answer. But since his notes and other negatives have vanished, he couldn't make a final choice. It leaves us to wonder if, in some almost supernatural way, through the magic of his photographic artistry he didn't manage to get a picture of them all...

The sailor, says Bill Swicegood, "looks exactly like I looked--the hands, the body, everything," including, he notes, his then 32-inch waist. The odds too are on his side, says Swicegood, 55, a Kansas City, Mo., artist. "I must have kissed a thousand women that day in Times Square." Bill says his claim has achieved the status of local oral history due to all the years he has hauled out that picture in boastful kiss-and-tell.
That distinctive way his hairline comes to a point at the temple--that cinches it, believes Clarence "Bud" Harding. "My hair stylist," reports Bud, 60, a printer at the Indianapolis Star and News, "says very few people have that." But that's not all, notes Harding, pointing to his clincher, the hands match up just right. "I also have a bulging vein," Bud says, elbowing aside any lingering doubts, "on my right arm when I apply pressure."
When Wallace C. Fowler confessed to his wife that he was the exuberant sailor, she retorted that that sailor appeared to be, well, taller. "Consequently," says the five- foot-seven Fowler, 55 of Tampa, Fla., "I perished the thought." But the blissful memory lingered. Fowler hit upon an explanation for the apparent discrepancy: "I realized that the angle of the camera could give a taller impression."
George Mendonsa, 57, who now runs a fish business in Newport, R.I., recalls the moment clearly. "I had quite a few drinks that day," he says, and I considered her one of the troops--she was a nurse." George says that in the photograph, dangling from his pants pocket, is his newly acquired Quartermaster 1st Class rating patch, which he couldn't take time to sew on. He was just too busy with victory ceremonies.
"It suddenly hit me," says Jack Russell, "that our ship wouldn't be going to Japan and that the whole terrible thing was ending." Russell, now a 54-year-old psychologist in Whittier, Calif., recalls that he immediately began to manifest a high affect. "I started grabbing girls like everyone else was doing and started kissing." His clinical proof that he is the man: "My unusual left-handed kissing clutch."
Marvin Kingsbury avers, "I was the only one on the street who did anything like that just then." The instant news was flashed of the Japanese surrender, recalls Kingsbury, 54, a Round Lake Beach, Ill., school custodian, he turned to three pals and cried, "The first girls we come to, grab 'em and kiss 'em." To strengthen his claim, Marvin points to a mole he can discern on his right cheek.
James Kearney, 59, a refrigeration mechanic at Harvard University and second from left in the group of beer drinkers notes that although he stood five feet eight inches tall in 1945, he is nonetheless the shabby in the picture. "That day I felt ten feet tall!"
Donald Bonsack, 56, of Germantown, N.Y., at last decided, "I've lived with this for so long, I guess I can take it." His explanation: the bare sleeve. "I had a rate on my right arm but I had lost it for insubordination--which I won't go into. I was a hell-raiser then."
Arthur Leask, 53 a teacher of history both at Point Pleasant Beach high school and Ocean County College in New Jersey, says he held back the truth for years, but he recollects precisely how he kissed the nurse--and the little old lady in the background too.
John Edmonson, 53, of Charlotte, N.C., explains his lack of stripe: he had joined just months before. On a pass at the time, Edmondson had gone to Times Square, "where a lot of kissing was going on." He says, "That's my poise."
The brother and sister of Walker Irving, who died in 1951, remember the picture hanging in the family home. Walker, holding a niece above, called his folks in Portland, Maine, that August to tell them he was in LIFE, and he immediately became "a famous-faced man." For the Irvings, there is just no question about the identity of the sailor: "Look at those hands!"


"Let me tell you," says Edith Shain, "the sun goes up, the sun goes down. It didn't change things. It wasn't a big deal." After all, a pretty girl gets more than one kiss, right? But for the record, Edith describes the situation. "It was a good kiss, it went on for a long time," she recalls. "I closed my eyes, I didn't resist. I think, sometimes, if I hadn't been with my girlfriend, I might have stayed."
Greta Friedman is understanding. "There's no doubt that Mrs. Shain was there and got kissed," she grants, "because every female was grabbed and kissed by men in uniform." But, says Greta, 56, of Frederick, Md., "it definitely is my shape. I used a comb in my hair. I had a purse like the one in the nurse's hand. i remember being kissed by a sailor, right on Broadway."
Just before it happened, Barbara Sokol recalls, she got "an ucky, sloppy kiss" and was wiping her mouth with a handkerchief when up walked this gob who yelled, "'Gotcha' I said, 'No! No! No!' and when he bent me back I thought, 'My God, I'm gonna fall'" Barbara, 56, a nurse in Derby, Conn., has kept the pictured moment preserved in a frame, "my one claim to fame





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