Following their aerial attack on the US navy in Pearl Harbour (1941), the Japanese rapidly took possession of a vast swathe of the eastern Pacific. This rapid advance left them overextended and vulnerable to counterattack. Meanwhile, the United States rapidly replenished their navy, while their codebreakers managed to intercept Japan’s military communications. Advance warning of Japanese intentions was critical in the decisive battle at Midway (June 1942), in which four Japanese aircraft carriers were destroyed. The Allies were now on the offensive. Operation Cartwheel accomplished the capture of Guadalcanal in bitter fighting, effectively ending the Japanese threat to Australia. By the end of 1943, US forces were driving through the central Pacific, systematically mopping up Japanese resistance. In 1944, the Japanese invasion of India was repulsed with heavy losses by the British. In October, the Battle of the Philippines Seas saw the destruction of 450 Japanese planes: the end game was in sight, culminating in the nuclear attacks of August 1945.
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