We continue our look at World War II by examining the Allied campaigns in the central Pacific, Philippines, and Okinawa. Building on their success at Guadalcanal, Allied leaders began advancing from island to island as they sought to close on Japan. This strategy of "island hopping" allowed them to bypass Japanese strong points, while securing bases across the Pacific. Moving from the Gilberts and Marshalls to the Marianas (left), US forces acquired airbases from which they could bomb Japan. In late 1944, Allied troops under General Douglas MacArthur returned to the Philippines and Japanese naval forces were decisively defeated at the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Following the capture of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, the Allies opted to drop the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki rather than attempt an invasion of Japan.
Photograph Courtesy of the US Naval Historical Center