History Channel: Hell in the Pacific: - Inferno
Ten years before Pearl Harbor, Japan seized Manchuria, three north-eastern provinces of China. Then in 1937, Japanese swept into China, shocking the world with much-publicized atrocities such as the Nanking Massacre.
Now, some countries in the region, like the rich possessions of Britain in Malaya would have to be given 'liberation' under Japan's benign authority. The West would not cede these territories. Indeed, by 1941 the West was severing its supplies of oil, scrap metal and other essentials to Japan. Japanï¿½s answer was war.
Despite warnings throughout 1941, the commanders in Pearl Harbor did not believe the Japanese would dare attack. On 7th December, Japanese planes shattered the calm of a Sunday morning: a row of warships engulfed in a mass of smoke and flame, aircraft destroyed on the ground, some two and a half thousand people killed.
Britain's colony of Malaya was attacked simultaneously. Out-fought and out-gunned, the British retreated down the Malay Peninsula. The Japanese headed towards the great strategic prize, the fortress of Singapore, thought to be impregnable.
Singapore fell on February 15th 1942, the greatest humiliation in British military history. The Japanese proved ruthless in conquest, even rampaging through a hospital slaughtering patients and staff.
The first episode ends with Japan triumphant and the Allies dazed and cowed.
Japan's tentacles reached from Manchuria in the north almost to the shores of Australia in the south. Hundreds of thousands awaited their fate as prisoners of war.
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Feb 04, 2007, 13:02:31
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