File footage of some of the key moments of World War Two between 1943 and 1945: the Allies liberate Rome from the Germans, the Italian campaign becomes a sideshow as the Normandy landings get underway, small Jewish militant groups fight against the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Paris is liberated following four years of Nazi occupation, allies firebomb the east German city of Dresden, leaders of Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union meet for the historic Yalta conference, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s remains are supposedly found in a shallow bomb crater, millions of Jews are systematically killed in concentration camps, one of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific war takes place on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima, Germany surrenders to the allies, the U.S. drops atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Japan surrenders.
VARIOUS, MYANMAR (REUTERS ARCHIVE) – Officially, World War Two ended on September 2, 1945, with the surrender ceremonies on board the U.S. battleship “Missouri” in Tokyo Bay.
But the announcement that Japan had accepted the Allied surrender terms on August 15 was widely celebrated by the Allies as VJ-Day — Victory in Japan.
Five weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, December 7, 1941, that dragged the U.S. into World War Two and extended the theatre of war from Europe and Africa, into Asia and the Pacific areas, the Japanese land columns already in Thailand, moved across the border into Myanmar.
On January 15, 1942, a Japanese land column, moving from Thailand, struck across the frontier into southern Myanmar.
The British forces fought the advance with great courage, but they were unable to cope with the superior jungle tactics of the Japanese.
Myanmar fell to the Japanese at the end of May.
At the end of the battle, more than 3,500 British and Indian troops were killed or wounded, with more than 6,000 missing.
Japanese casualties were 4,597 killed and wounded.
Back in Europe, on June 4, 1944, the Allies liberated Rome from the Germans, who had occupied the Italian capital since the fall of wartime fascist dictator Benito Mussolini the year before.
The advance from Sicily that started on July 11, 1943, claimed the lives of 40,000; more than 100,000 lay wounded.
The triumphant announcement that Rome had finally fallen was soon overshadowed by news of the D-Day landings two days later.
Approximately 160,000 Allied troops crossed the English Channel in the initial D-Day assault on June 6, 1944, paving the way for an Allied onslaught which would bring Adolf Hitler’s German empire to its knees less than twelve months later.
The initial assault resulted in approximately 6,000 U.S. and 4,300 British and Canadian casualties.
German casualties are unknown but are estimated at between 4,000 and 9,000.
The D-Day assault eventually won back control of France from German forces after four years of occupation and was a decisive stage in the liberation of Europe in World War Two.
In April 1943, in Nazi-occupied Poland, a few hundred badly armed Jewish youngsters picked an uneven fight with the Nazi occupiers in a month-long insurrection of Jewish fighters in the city’s ghetto, known as the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
Nearly half a million Jews from the ghetto had already been transported to the Nazi’s Treblinka death camp.
Around 6,000 of the civilian Jewish population of the ghetto, which the Germans carved out of the occupied Warsaw, died in the fighting and about 50,000 were killed after it ended.
The emptied ghetto was then burned to the ground.
Poland was home to the biggest Jewish population in Europe before 1939, but most of them perished in the Holocaust.
The liberation of Paris in August 1944 was a dramatic victory for the city’s people, the resistance movement and General Charles de Gaulle.
Paris had fallen to the German army in June 1940.
In the four hard years that followed, the fighters of the resistance movement built themselves up into a power which finally helped vanquish the Nazi invaders.
On February 4 1945, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt the American President, met in the Crimean town of Yalta to plan the final defeat and occupation of Nazi Germany.
They agreed they would only accept unconditional surrender.
The historic Yalta conference was to shape the whole of post-war Europe.
Dresden in 1945 was a German city that was the scene of one of the fiercest and most controversial Allied bombing raids of World War Two.
Untouched by bombing just months before the end of World War Two, the city was attacked by two waves of British bombers, three hours apart, on the night of February 13, 1945.
The official death toll is put at around 25,000.
But many survivors believe the number was higher as bodies were reduced to ashes in the firestorm.
On April 30 1945, with the Soviet troops laying siege to Berlin, Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun, retired to their bunker beneath the Chancellery.
Both committed suicide and charred remains, believed to be theirs, were found in a nearby bomb crater.
It was the end of the Third Reich which Hitler claimed would last 1,000 years.
By the time he had been defeated, Hitler also left behind the terrible legacy of concentration camps and his plans to exterminate the Jewish race.
The Nazi attempt at genocide left more than six million dead with the Jews of Germany, Poland and the Soviet Union being the most numerous among the victims.
Up to 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, perished at Auschwitz during Nazi Germany’s wartime occupation of Poland.
It was the centrepiece of Hitler’s “final solution” – the eradication of Jews across Europe.
When the killing reached its peak, 1500 people at a time were packed into bunkers and gassed with deadly Zyklon B.
The end came as Soviet forces swept through Poland in early 1945.
The horrific testimony gathered from survivors of this Holocaust was later presented at the trials of German war criminals in Nuremberg.
Advancing Soviet and U.S. troops met on the Elbe River south of Berlin, on April 12, 1945, sealing Adolf Hitler’s fate.
On May 4th, 1945 at his headquarters on Luneburg heath, Field-Marshal Montgomery accepted the surrender of all the German forces in Holland, Denmark and north-west Germany.
Throughout Europe, peace brought massive rejoicing.
Release from the black-out and long hours in the war factories, the people of London swarmed out into the streets to celebrate.
And Britain’s 70-year-old Prime Minister Winston Churchill gave his famous V for victory sign telling the people: ‘This is your victory’.
In the Pacific, on February, 1945, one of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific war took place.
On the island of Iwo Jima, more than 30,000 US Marines and 21,000 Japanese were locked in battle — the US emerged victorious and the Japanese suffered crippling losses.
Japanese resistance became fanatically courageous — suicide pilots, the kami-kaze, sped their planes into Allied targets.
In the closing days of World War Two, the U.S. B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay, carrying 12 crew members, dropped the atomic bomb, nicknamed “Little Boy”, on Hiroshima.
The death toll from the blast by the end of the year was estimated at about 140,000, out of the total of 350,000 who lived there at the time.
Three days after the Hiroshima bombing, the United States dropped an atomic bomb nicknamed “Fat Man” on Nagasaki.
Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945, bringing World War Two to an end.
On September 2, 1945, a Japanese delegation headed by Foreign Minister Shigemitsu boarded the USS battleship, “Missouri” to sign the surrender document.
It was the end of World War Two, but the beginning of a new era in world politics.