September 5, 1945 — Iva Toguri D’Aquino is arrested under suspicion of being “Tokyo Rose”

During the Second World War, Japanese propagandist and DJ Tokyo Rose broadcasted to American and Allied soldiers from somewhere behind enemy lines. Her broadcasts were intended to disrupt morale, although it is questionable how much of a real effect they had. Still, it was rumoured that she named individual GIs, and that she accurately predicted attacks.

In fact, “Tokyo Rose” seems to have been was not one woman but a group of women, possibly as many as a dozen. The identity or identities of Tokyo Rose have never been conclusively established, but the best known suspect is Iva Toguri D’Aquino, who was charged with various crimes related to Tokyo Rose on September 5, 1945 (two days after the official Japanese surrender).

She was tried for treason and other crimes, convicted despite somewhat dubious evidence against her, and sentenced to ten years imprisonment, plus a fine of US $10,000. She was later paroled after serving a little over six years of her sentence. In 1976, an FBI investigation found that several witnesses had lied on the stand to damage her chances. On his last day in office, President Gerald Ford granted Toguri a full and unconditional pardon, and restored her US citizenship.

August 6, 1945 — The Bomb is dropped on Hiroshima

The Enola Gay left its base on Tinian with two companion aircraft on the morning of August 6, 1945. It flew for the Japanese mainland, aiming for the city of Hiroshima. Its payload was the nuclear bomb code-named ‘Little Boy’, which was dropped and detonated over the target at approximately 8:15 local time.

Of the 340-350 thousand people who lived in Hiroshima, about 20% were killed in the blast itself. Another 20% died of injuries sustained in the blast or its aftermath, or from radiation sickness. Still more died later of related medical issues such as a cancer. All in all, about 200,000 human lives were ended by the first use of a nuclear bomb as a weapon of war. Hiroshima itself was devastated – the few structures that survived the initial blast were damaged or destroyed in the resulting fires.

Along with the detonation of another nuclear bomb, ‘Fat Man’, over Nagasaki three days later, and similar destruction and death there, the attack on Hiroshima was the proximate cause of Japan’s surrender to the Allies, thus ending World War Two.

July 16, 1945 — The Trinity nuclear test is carried out

The world entered a new age – the nuclear age – when the scientists and soldiers of the Manhattan Project test detonated the first ever atomic bomb at White Sands in Nevada. Less than a month later, two more bombs just like it would destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki, bringing World War Two to an abrupt end.

On the day, however, no one knew quite how destructive the bomb would be (some worried that it would ignite the entire atmosphere of the planet, for example), or how long its effects would last. But after the explosion, Robert Oppenheimer’s apropos quote from the Bhavagad Gita was generally agreed to be the most apt: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

Trinity Detonation T&B

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Russians — Sting

April 29, 1945 — Adolf Hitler marries Eva Braun

Eva Braun first met Adolf Hitler in 1929, when she was only 17 years old. At the time, she was employed by Hitler’s personal photographer in Munich. Two years later, they began dating, and in 1936, she moved in to his house at the Berghof near Berchtesgaden.

The two were rarely seen together publicly – not until 1944 did she appear with him at a public event, and of course, the two were eventually married. The marriage ceremony – and the forty hours of wedlock that followed it – all took place in the Berlin bunker to which Hitler had retreated as the war drew to a close. Two days after the wedding, the pair committed suicide together, and a week later, Germany surrendered to the Allies.

April 28, 1945 — Benito Mussolini executed by partisans

Benito Mussolini had been dictator of Italy, styling himself Il Duce, for twenty years in 1945. But the Italian army was in retreat, fleeing north up the peninsula in the face of the Allied advance. By April of 1945, he had already lost power once, needing to be rescued from prison by Nazi forces, and installed as the head of a new Italian state, holding only the northern third or so of Italy and obviously a Nazi puppet.

Perhaps Mussolini couldn’t read the writing on the wall, but the majority of other Italians were less sanguine about his chances. On April 27, he was captured by communist partisans while fleeing for the Swiss border. The following day, Mussolini and other fascist leaders captured with him were summarily executed by rifle fire. The corpses of Mussolini and four other leading fascists were hung by their feet in Milan, where everyone could see them.

Hitler learned of his ally’s death the following day – and the day after that, committed suicide.

Cross mezzegra

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Join Mussolini — Anaerobic

April 12, 1945 — Franklin Delano Roosevelt dies in office

Consistently one of the highest ranked Presidents in United States history, far and away the longest serving President, and despite the long years since his death, one of the most controversial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was only 63 years old when he died. It was his thirteenth consecutive year as President, and the last year of World War Two.

Roosevelt had long suffered from polio and his health had become increasingly fragile in the last years of his life, with the stress of leading his nation through World War Two taking its toll on him. In the last months of his life, he was diagnosed as suffering from hardening of the arteries, and his death was the the result of a cerebral hemorrhage. His death shocked and dismayed America and her allies, as the details of Roosevelt’s health had been a closely held secret. The nation mourned his loss, and on V-E Day, less than a month later, President Harry S. Truman, who had succeeded Roosevelt, dedicated the victory to the fallen man.

August 2, 1943 — The Japanese destroyer Amagiri rams and sinks US Navy PT-109

Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109, under the command of Lieutenant junior grade John F. Kennnedy, was one of 15 PT boats sent out on a mission to intercept the Tokyo Express on the night of August 1, 1943. Along with three other boats of the flotilla, it stayed behind to guard the retreat of the others and continue patrolling.

At about 2am in the morning, on a moonless night, the crew realised that they were about to collide with a Japanese ship. The destroyer Amagiri rammed them amidships, cutting the boat in half.

Under the command of Kennedy, all but two of the crew made it to safety on Plum Pudding Island, from which they were rescued by PT-157 six days later.

PT-109 crew

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PT-109 – Jimmy Dean

February 2, 1943 — The Germans surrender at Stalingrad

The Battle of Stalingrad was one of the decisive battles of World War Two. It lasted from July 17, 1942 and finally concluded on February 2, 1943. Stalingrad (now Volgograd) was a city in southern Russia, located roughly midway between the borders of Ukraine and Kazakhstan on the Volga river. It was the furthest east that the Nazi forces had reached at that point. Over the course of the next seven months, it would become the absolute extremity of their advance.

The battle dragged on for months, with the Nazis in particular regarding their forces there as sacrificial, spending their lives to tie up Russian forces as it became increasingly obvious that the war had turned against them. Finally, on January 7, 1943, the Red Army High Command sent three envoys while simultaneously aircraft and loudspeakers announced terms of capitulation. A low-level Soviet envoy party (comprising Major Aleksandr Smyslov, Captain Nikolay Dyatlenko and a trumpeter) carried generous surrender terms to Generalfeldmarschall Friedrich Paulus: if he surrendered within 24 hours, he would receive a guarantee of safety for all prisoners, medical care for the sick and wounded, prisoners being allowed to keep their personal belongings, “normal” food rations, and repatriation to any country they wished after the war. Rokossovsky’s letter also stressed that Paulus’ men were in an untenable situation. Paulus requested permission to surrender, but Hitler rejected his request out of hand.

Over the few weeks, the Russians mopped up the remaining pockets of Nazi troops. In the end, around 91,000 exhausted, ill, wounded, and starving prisoners were taken, including 22 generals.

July 20, 1942 — the defence of the Kokoda Trail begins

It is one of Australia’s greatest military triumphs: a simple holding action across a narrow dirt trail that spanned the inhospitable mountains of the central spine of New Guinea. A much smaller Australian force aided by allied natives struck, fell back, harassed and repeated these steps against the might of the Japanese Army.

Although at almost every step the Australians gave ground, they slowed down the Japanese advance to a crawl, while nibbling away at their forces until the invaders’ supply lines were hopelessly over-extended – and until the Australians could be reinforced. The tide of battle swiftly reversed, but the retreat of the Japanese was much less a fighting retreat than that of the Australians had been.

February 19, 1942 — Japanese planes attack Darwin

The Japanese air raid on Darwin was mounted by 242 Japanese planes launched from four aircraft carriers. It was intended to soften up the air force and navy bases there in preparation for the Japanese invasion of Timor the following day. Between 9:58 and 10:40AM that day, the planes sank three warships and five merchant ships, while damaging ten more. Twenty-one dock workers were killed in the raids.

This would be the first of a total of 97 air raids against targets either in Australian waters or on the Australian mainland. Most of these were on various sites across the northern coast of Australia between Port Hedland, Western Australia and Townsville, Queensland, with the great majority of them being on military or civilian targets in Darwin. The last air raid took place on November 12, 1943, striking Parap, Adelaide River and Batchelor Airfield (all in the Northern Territory). By that time, the tide of war had turned, and Japan could no longer strike so close to Australia, although the end of the war was still nearly two years away.

Darwin 42

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Tojo — Hoodoo Gurus