This map is part of a series of 15 animated maps showing the history of The second World War, 1939-1945.
During 1944, Japan launched a number of attacks on the Asian mainland.
In April, a first offensive against Burma, which would have opened the route to the British Indian Empire, was unsuccessful.
However, in the following months, the Japanese army won several victories over troops led by Chiang Kai-shek and, by December 1944, had advanced as far as the Indochinese border. The defeats suffered by their Chinese ally forced the Americans to move a number of air bases away from southeast China.
In the Pacific, the American war machine was well trained in carrying out landing operations in the islands and in quickly installing airbases and runways.
During the summer of 1944, Admiral Nimitz’ troops captured the Mariana Islands, thus breaking through Japan’s defensive lines and provoking a serious political crisis in Tokyo. The way to the Philippines was now open, while Japanese towns were within striking distance for American heavy bomber aircraft.
In October, victory over the Japanese navy in the Gulf of Leyte allowed American troops to establish a foothold in the Philippines. It took several more months of combat, however, before Manila fell on 4 February 1945.
The next phase in the campaign against Tokyo involved capturing the fortified islands of Iwo Jima and Okinawa from which Americans bombers could launch more raids against the Japanese mainland. The Japanese defenders on the islands put up strong resistance, and it took the US Marines a month to take control of Iwo Jima and nearly 3 months for Okinawa.
While the Americans advanced towards Japan, the British forces were pushing the Japanese out of Burma and the Australian Army, with support from US navy and air forces, landed along the coast of Borneo.
Despite these successes by Allied armies and the bombing raids that destroyed much of Tokyo and other major cities, the Japanese government refused to surrender.
Worried by predictions of heavy casualties during an invasion led by the Marines, President Truman decided to drop the atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki early in the month of August.