On This Day : 19 Feb


British navy shells Dardanelles, in prelude to invasion of Turkey

During the First World War, the British War Office approved a plan to shell the Turkish positions at the Dardanelles, the narrow strait separating Europe from Asia, and the only waterway linking the Mediterranean Sea to the Black Sea. They hoped the initial bombardments would pave the way for British and French forces to march on Istanbul, knock Turkey out of the war and open a path to Russia, which was allied with the British. However, the campaign would end in abject failure, with Allied forces in retreat, having sustained nearly 180,000 casualties.

An illustration of the grand scale of the campaign.



President Roosevelt signs order allowing detention of Japanese Americans

Following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066, allowing the removal of any or all people from military areas “as deemed necessary or desirable.” The military then defined the entire West Coast, home to most Americans of Japanese ancestry, as a military area. By June, more than 110,000 Japanese Americans were forcibly relocated to remote internment camps built by the U.S. military around the country.

A poster with the wartime instructions for the Japanese American community.




US Marines invade Iwo Jima

On this day, Operation Detachment, the U.S. Marines’ invasion of Iwo Jima, is launched. Iwo Jima was a barren Pacific island guarded by Japanese artillery, but to the US military, it was real estate on which to build airfields where bombing raids against Japan could be launched. Japan was only 660 miles away. This marked the beginning of the final chapter of the Pacific theatre in World War Two, where the fight was taken directly to the Japanese homeland, and which would culminate in the dropping of nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

US Marines land on Iwo Jima, under the cover of US battleships.



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