World War II: Daring Raids and Brutal Reprisals


In early 1942, Allied forces, still reeling from Axis blows, began to work on a wider strategy. Japan was sweeping through the southern Pacific, conquering Burma, Malaya, the Dutch East Indies, Singapore, and the Philippines. German troops had regrouped on the Eastern Front, where they were holding off Soviet attacks and preparing for a summer offensive. But during this time, American bombers successfully struck Japanese targets in a daring, morale-boosting raid led by Lt. Col. James Doolittle, and British forces destroyed an important dock facility in German-occupied St. Nazaire, France. Most of Doolittle's raiders landed in China, where they received assistance from villagers. Those locals paid dearly when Japanese reprisals killed an estimated 250,000 Chinese. The fall of the Philippines left the invading Japanese with tens of thousands more U.S. and Filipino prisoners than they'd anticipated. This led to a brutal forced relocation now known as the Bataan Death March, where thousands of weak, starving men were beaten and killed en route to a Japanese prison camp. (This entry is Part 9 of a weekly 20-part retrospective of World War II)
Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.
Jump to Comments

Most Recent

  • Horst Faas/AP

    The Vietnam War, Part I: Early Years and Escalation

    Fifty years ago, in March 1965, 3,500 U.S. Marines landed in South Vietnam, the first American combat troops on the ground in a conflict that had been building for decades.

  • Bill Ingalls/NASA

    Photos of the Week: 3/21-3/27

    This week, we have photos of the Germanwings flight crash scene, preparations for launch at the Baikonur cosmodrome, a sinkhole in New Jersey, unrest and airstrikes in Yemen, Alaskan Wood bison returning to the wild, the last Jew in the Turkish town of Edirne, a memorial to Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew, and much more.

  • AP

    On This Day 36 Years Ago: The Signing of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty

    Thirty-six years ago, on March 26, 1979, Egypt and Israel signed a historic peace treaty that has held to this day.

  • Frank Rumpenhorst/AFP/Getty Images

    The Big Thaw

    Friday was the vernal equinox, the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, despite continued wintry conditions in a few places (I'm looking at you, New England).

Join the Discussion