By the beginning of 1945, there is little doubt as to the ultimate outcome of the War, although the Allies in Europe were still reeling from the setback the Germans delivered in the Battle of the Bulge. The Axis forces seem to have abandoned hopes for Victory, concentrating their efforts in holding on to the fight as long as possible so that when the time finally came to sue for peace they could do so on more favorable terms. The Allies sought any opportunity to strike a decisive and hopefully final blow which would bring the conflict to a close so they could get on with the business of the post-war world.
Hard fighting continued around the world through January, with advances in the Philippines, the jungles of Burma, the Russians moving into Poland, and British and American forces sweeping from Paris to the Rhine. The Belgian Bulge is finally secured on January 25.
As Hitler begins to feel the squeeze from both sides, we hear his final public address, still predicting final victory for the Germans on Jan 30. On Feb 4, President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill and Soviet Premier Stalin met at Yalta in Crimea to discuss the post-war reorganization of Europe. Roosevelt addresses the American people over the radio at his return on Feb 12, and on Feb 19 the first Marines landed on Iwo Jima. The five week battle would see some of the fiercest fighting in the Pacific.
On March 1, Roosevelt addresses a joint session of Congress to report on the Yalta Conference, it would be his last address before Congress. American forces cross the Rhine into Germany at Remagen on March 7. On the 21st the British liberate Mandalay, Burma, and on the 26th the Battle of Iwo Jima officially comes to a close. The March of Time reports the supposed superiority of German tanks over the American Sherman tank, the "Kitchen of Tomorrow” and efforts to increase employment after the War on Mar 29. The Battle of Okinawa begins on the First of April as the fighting continues to move closer to the Japanese homeland.
President Roosevelt died suddenly on April 12, at his retreat in Warm Springs, Georgia, and Harry Truman assumes the office. Truman is widely praised as a hard working "typical mid-westerner” as the Nation mourns Roosevelt.
Beloved war correspondent Ernie Pyle is killed on an island off Okinawa by a Japanese machine gun bullet on April 17. On the 27th, Anglo-American and Soviet forces link up in the heart of Germany.
Adolf Hitler commits suicide on April 30 as the Red Army is approaching his bunker (Hamburg Radio reports the Fuhrer gave his life in battle, fighting against Bolshevism). The first week of May is filled with news of German forces finding ways to surrender, but not until the Russians enter Berlin. VE Day is unofficially declared on May 7 in an unofficial statement from the Associated Press.
Official or not, the news was met with celebration tempered with the knowledge that the War in the Pacific was still to be won. That did not mean that dancing in the streets could be restrained, or reflections curtailed. The parties are well represented with victory announcements and local news reports. The reflections are best represented by Norman Corwin's "On a Note of Triumph”.
Robert St. John announces final victory on Okinawa on the June 20 edition of NBC News and points out the huge force of ships waiting to carry the troops towards Japan. The first Marine Division has a special broadcast for Tokyo Rose- "the Flight of the Bumble B-29”! On the July 8 CBS Admiral Radio News, we hear a report three British aircraft carriers which received only slight damage from kamikaze attacks during the Battle of Okinawa. The same broadcast covers the first week of the American occupation of Berlin.
On July 28, a USAAF flying through heavy fog crashes into the tallest building in the world, the Empire State Building in New York City. The Admiral CBS News for July 29 reports on progress of the Big Three Conference at Potsdam without revealing very much of what is actually discussed. The Australians expressed dismay that the proposed surrender ultimatum for Japan was more liberal than those for Germany. On the 29th, the Japanese announced their rejection of the Potsdam Declaration, and President Truman goes on the air to promise a rain of destruction from the sky.
That destruction assumed a never before seen form on August 6, when President Truman, on board the USS Agusta returning from Potsdam, announces that the US has used an atomic bomb against Hiroshima, "na military base”. Having beaten the Germans in the race of discovery, Truman vows to continue using the bomb until Japan's power to wage war is destroyed. On August 8, the same day that the second bomb is dropped on Nagasaki, Edward R. Murrow reports from London of Russia's declaration of war against Japan, but the news is received rather somberly in light of the dawn of the atomic age.
The Allied nations wait anxiously through August 10 with news that Japan has offered to surrender with the provision that the Emperor be allowed to retain his position. WEAF in New York spends the day alternating between special announcements, regular programming and bulletins of what becomes known as a false VJ Day.On August 11, at 7PM Washington time, President Truman announces that Emperor Hirohito has accepted the terms of the Potsdam Declaration. The Allies declare VJ Day on the 14th, the day that the Emperor announces the surrender to the Japanese people over the radio. It is thought to be the first time that the common people have heard the voice of their Emperor.
On September 2, Bob Hope reads the late Ernie Pyle's thoughts on Victory. On the same day, we hear Supreme Allied Commander, General Douglas MacArthur, broadcasting from the deck of the USS Missouri as the formal instrument of surrender is signed.
The CBS World News for September 9 is lead by news of unrest in Hanoi, Vietnam, and the occupation of Korea by US soldiers in the south and Soviet troops north of the 38th parallel.
On the Lear Program, on September 23, Orson Welles makes a few dire predictions about the atomic age, but most of the programs of those days center around troops returning home and the formation of the new United Nations. 1945 ends with the Command Performance Christmas Special from Los Angeles, Bob Hope poking fun at civilian shoppers.