World War II: Daring Raids and Brutal Reprisals
In early 1942, as the Axis powers pursued their war aims, Allied forces were still reeling but working on a wider strategy. Japan swept through the southern Pacific, conquering Burma, Malaya, the Dutch East Indies, Singapore, and the Philippines. Germany regrouped on the Eastern Front, holding off several 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, receiving 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.
Above: Sergeant P. Dorzhiev, a Russian sniper who killed 181 Germans on the Leningrad front, looking through binoculars, and holding a rifle, sometime in 1942.
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