Seventy-five years ago, the most epochal event in modern history—and the largest naval war ever fought—came to an end as the surrender of Japan officially concluded World War II. In this image taken 28 August 1945, Mount Fuji forms an iconic backdrop as warships of the U.S. Third Fleet and the British Pacific Fleet steam across Sagami Wan southwest of Tokyo. In the foreground is the USS Missouri (BB-63), flying Admiral William F. Halsey’s four-star flag. The Royal Navy battleship HMS Duke of York is just beyond her, with HMS King George V farther in. The USS Colorado (BB-45) is in the far center distance. Also present are U.S. and British cruisers and U.S. destroyers.
With the Imperial Japanese Navy decimated and an Allied invasion of Japan imminent, it had seemed foregone by the end of July that some sort of capitulation was inevitable—but would it come after a protracted and bitterly fought invasion of the Japanese Home Islands—or would it come swiftly, in a stroke of devastation hitherto unseen by mankind?
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