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 ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Stephanie Keith / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: 5/16-5/22

    This week we have photos of an 80-foot-high tire in Michigan, dozens of Siberian students smashed into a car, two volcanic eruptions, yet another nail house in China, synchronized swimmers in a pond at the Chelsea Flower Show, a view from the top of the 104-story One World Trade Center, cows on the beach along the Mediterranean, a solar halo above Mexico, and much more.

  • Chensiyuan / Wikimedia Commons

    The Spectacular Seda Monastery

    High in a treeless valley in China's remote Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture lies the largest Tibetan Buddhist school in the world.

  • Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

    An Oil Spill Fouls the California Coastline

    A pipeline burst yesterday, spilling an estimated 21,000 gallons (79,500 liters) of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean near Santa Barbara.

  • USGS / Robert Krimmel

    The Eruption of Mount St. Helens, 35 Years Ago

    On May 18, 1980, 35 years ago today, an earthquake struck below the north face of Mount St. Helens in Washington state, triggering the largest landslide in recorded history, and a major volcanic eruption that scattered ash across a dozen states.

Join the Discussion