Military Battles

World War 2

Battle of Atlantic

3 September 1939 - 8 May 1945


WHEN: 3 September 1939 – 8 May 1945
WHERE:Atlantic Ocean, Arctic Ocean, Gulf of St. Lawrence etc..
WHO:Grand Admiral Karl Donitz, commander of the German U-Boat force, Admiral Max Horton Commander in Chief Western Approaches Britain.
WHAT: This nearly 6 year battle was fought between Germany and Great Britain. Within hours of the declaration of war on Germany, the germans sunk the ship SS Athenia, thus beginning the Battle of Atlantic. Hitler used every advatange possible to weaken the British starting by cutting off all food and military equipment being given to them by allied countries. British supply ships crossed in convoys and the ships that brought in food were slow and they could barely protect themselves. German ships would form groups called wolfpacks, they were mass-attack tactics used against convoys by German U-boats. After the fall of France the Germans had dierct access to the Atlantic which proved to be a huge problem for the British and a large advantage for the Germans. For 5 years and 8 months, over 5000 ships were sunk, the height of it being in 1942 where 1661 ships were sunk. With all this being said, how did the Britsh survive this ongoing violent onslaught? The convoys carrying supplies and food were escorted by corvettes which were must faster and stronger. A mixture or bad weather and new technological advances all helped the much need support for the British. In the end, the germans failed to stop the oncoming supplies going to Britain. This proved fatal for them because the soldiers that arrived there by ship were ultimaley the ones who were invovled in the D-Day landings. Victory finally came when the british destroyed the German U-Boat, this ensured that the vicotry would be celbrated in Britain.
WHY: After Britain decalred war on Germany on September 3rd, Germany was quick to attack the British ships and thus the Battle of Atlantic begins. Hitler wanted to cripple Britains food and military supplies so he could starve them out as he liked to say. After he conquoer Britaim he could then turn his attention elsewhere and continue on his path of domination.
SIGNIFICANCE: This was the longest battle of World War II, it was vital that the British won because if they hadnt it would have been a detrimental loss and Germany would have gained more power and maybe even won the war.

Fall of France

10 May 1940 - 25 June 1940


WHERE: France
WHO: General Gerd von Rundstedt, the commander of Army Group A and Maurice Gamelin, Supreme Commander of the French Army

WHY: After defeating and capturing countries such as Lithuania, Poland, Denmark, and Latvia, Germany then turned its attention to Britain and France. In the case since France was in direct line of fire, it was not surprising they were to be first. Germany wanted to gain more territory while also taking back what was already “there's”.
WHAT: France was gearing up for a defense against the German invasion they knew was coming. Germany has been allowed to push the restrictions placed on them after World War I by an arms buildup, re-militarizing the Rhine, and dominating both Austria and Czechoslovakia. This gives them both an advantage and a sense of superiority because of the lack of opposition. By this time, Norway, Belgium and the Netherlands have already fallen to the Germans in northern Europe and an assault against the northern channel ports was expected to be the next target. In May 1940, French forces supported by the British were concentrated in northern France where they expected the Germans to attack from, just like in WWI, but the Germans instead launched their assault and entered France through the Ardennes where the blitzkrieg was met by little French resistance. The key effect of the blitzkrieg into France was the division of Allied forces which were effectively split in two and backing up the British Expeditionary Force and the French First Army to the English Channel. In the meantime, Italy has also declared war against France. By mid-June, French Premier Paul Reynaud has resigned and the Germans have now captured the city of Paris. There use of the Luftwaffe showed complete air superiority giving the French no chance since they were not only dominating on the ground but in the air also. Outnumbered and outgunned the French quickly succumbed to the Germans.

SIGNIFICANCE: This battle shows the strong and powerful country of France falling within a matter of days. Germany very easily defeated the country with their new found strategy the blitzkrieg. The conquest of France from Germany shifted and shredded the balance of power in Europe. With France out of the equation Britain was the only major problem at the moment that could cause uncertainty for their eventually planned world domination.

Battle of Dunkirk

26 May 1940 - 4 June 1940


WHERE: Dunkirk, France
WHO:General Lord Gort of the Allies, General Gerd von Rundstedt of the Axis
WHAT: This was a battle between the Allies and the Axis powers in Dunkirk, France. Despite efforts the allies were unable to stop german advancement through the English Channel. As the German troops were crossing the canal to Dunkirk the attack on Arras began, this confused Hitler who then ordered the push on Dunkirk to be halted. British troops no longer had any ammunition in Arras and were defeated unable to successfully break through the Panzer units. So on May 25 the government decided the troops were to retreat to Dunkirk where hopefully most of them could be saved. General Gerd von Rundstedt reccommened the army to halt for three days, this unintentionally gave the Allies time to organise an evacuation and build a defensive line. Boats over every size came to rescue soldiers and after 8 days 330,000 soldiers were successfully saved! This evacuation is sometimes referred to the miracle of Dunkirk, or strategy wise Operation Dynamo.
WHY: To gain more territory and hit a lethal blow to the Allies by destroying and killing many troops.
SIGNIFICANCE: The victory not only saved british soldiers but a significant amount of Polish, French, Dutch, and Belgian too. Losing the 330,000 troops from Dunkirk would have left Britain with a strong weakness and known to be uncapable of resisting an invasion. This may have forced Britain to surrender and cause a lethal blow to British morale. Deemed a stunning success the evactuion of the troops was worth while since these troops later on fought in later wars ahead.

Battle of Britain

10 July 1940 - 31 October 1940


WHERE: Britain
WHO: Hermann Göring, the commander of the Luftwaffe and Hugh Dowding commander of RAF Fighter Command.
WHY: Germany's main objective was to destroy and cripple Britain's air force, or force Britain’s hand in signing an armistice with Germany. Hitler knew that he must gain air superiority over Britain to assure his success. Winston Churchill, the prime minister of Britain, knew if the Luftwaffe gained air superiority it wouldn’t be long before they would be on home soil.
WHAT: Casualties were high for Britain however, for every British aircraft that went down the Germans lost three Luftwaffe's as well. The new technological advancement made, radars, helped Britain out immensely when preparing for air raids from the Germans. They could no longer be surprised and soldiers could prepare ahead thus preventing many ground losses. In the end Germany lost 1,700 planes to the British's 900. The Battle of Britain marked the first defeat of Hitler's military forces, with air superiority seen as the key to victory.
SIGNIFICANCE: This battle was very significant because it was Germany's first serious setback in their plans of world domination. It showed that the German's weren't unstoppable and were possible to defeat. This also showed how superior Britain Air Force was compared to the Germans. This battle was the most important because if Britain had lost it then no sooner would German troops be on home soil and would have probably defeated them.

Operation Barbarossa

20 June 1941 - 5 December 1941


WHERE: Eastern Europe/U.S.S.R
WHO: Generals Manstein and Guderian of Germany, Georgy Zhukov Soviet career officer in the Red Army.
WHY: Operation Barbarossa was an attack against the U.S.S.R. Hitler knew he had to take out the Russians in order to be fully safe on either side geographically. This ambitious operation set out by Hitler was to sate his desire to conquer the better half of Russia so he could complete his goal of world domination.
WHAT: Adolf Hitler launched his great attack into the Soviet Union by using his famous blitzkrieg tactics and crushed the Soviet armies then swept through western Russia. Operation Barbarossa ended in the winter, with the German Army split into 3 directions, one pointing at, and nearly taking, Moscow, one pointed at Leningrad, and one sweeping into the Caucasus in a wild bid to take the Russian oilfields. All three attacks bogged down with winter. It was a done deal that U.S.S.R was about to lose, but Mother Nature fortunately for the Russians came with a vengeance. The German army was not prepared for the winter war; with temperatures dipping below the freezing mark the Germans didn’t stand a chance. Cold and hungry Germany eventually lost on all three major battles. Stalingrad cost them their biggest, best equipped army, and was the real turning point for the whole war in Europe.
SIGNIFICANCE: Operation Barbarossa's failure led to Hitler's demands for further operations inside the USSR, all of which eventually failed. Operation Barbarossa was the largest military operation in human history in both manpower and casualties. Its failure was a turning point in the Third Reich. Most importantly, Operation Barbarossa opened up the Eastern Front, to which more forces were committed than in any other theater of war in world history. Regions covered by the operation became the site of some of the largest battles, deadliest atrocities, highest casualties, and most horrific conditions for Soviets and Germans alike.

Pearl Harbour

7 Dec 1941


WHEN: 7 Dec 1941
WHERE: U.S. Naval Base near Honolulu, Hawaii
WHO: Hundreds of Jpanese fighter planes attacked the American Naval Base.
WHY: The Japanese were tired of negotiations with the United States. They wanted to continue their expansion within Asia but the United States had placed an extremely restrictive embargo on Japan in the hopes of curbing Japan's aggression. Negotiations to solve their differences hadn't been going well. Rather than giving in to U.S. demands, the Japanese decided to launch a surprise attack against the United States in an attempt to destroy the United States' naval power even before an official announcement of war was given.
WHAT: On the morning of December 7, 1941, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor began. At 6:00 a.m., the Japanese aircraft carriers began launching their planes amid rough sea. In total, 183 Japanese aircraft took to the air as part of the first wave of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
At 7:15 a.m., the Japanese aircraft carriers, plagued by even rougher seas, launched 167 additional planes to participate in the second wave of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The first wave of Japanese planes reached the U.S. Naval Station at Pearl Harbor (located on the south side of the Hawaiian island of Oahu) at 7:55 a.m. on December 7, 1941. Just before the first bombs dropped on Pearl Harbor, Commander Mitsuo Fuchida, leader of the air attack, called out, "Tora! Tora! Tora!" ("Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!"), a coded message which told the entire Japanese navy that they had caught the Americans totally by surprise.
SIGNIFICANCE: The attack at Pearl Harbor so outraged Americans that the U.S. abandoned its policy of isolationism and declared war on Japan the following day -- officially bringing the United States into World War II.

Battle of Midway

4 June 1942 - 7 June 1942


WHEN: 4th-7th June of 1942
WHERE: The Battle of Midway, fought over and near the tiny U.S. mid-Pacific base at Midway atoll, represents the strategic high water mark of Japan's Pacific Ocean war. Prior to this action, Japan possessed general naval superiority over the United States and could usually choose where and when to attack. After Midway, the two opposing fleets were essentially equals, and the United States soon took the offensive.
WHO: Japanese Combined Fleet commander Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto moved on Midway in an effort to draw out and destroy the U.S. Pacific Fleet's aircraft carrier striking forces
WHY: Because US Pacific fleet had embarrassed the Japanese Navy in the mid-April Doolittle Raid on Japan's home islands and at the Battle of Coral Sea in early May.
WHAT: He planned to quickly knock down Midway's defenses, follow up with an invasion of the atoll's two small islands and establish a Japanese air base there. He expected the U.S. carriers to come out and fight, but to arrive too late to save Midway and in insufficient strength to avoid defeat by his own well-tested carrier air power.
SIGNIFICANCE: It is a turning point of battle of the Pacific theatre. What is important is that the American Pacific Fleet defeated the Japanese fleet by sinking four of the Japanese aircraft carriers as well as one heavy cruiser. The Americans lost one aircraft carrier and one destroyer. Naval aviation was confirmed as the most important element of combat in the pacific. The Japanese had lost their irreplaceable aircraft carriers and their equally irreplaceable pilots.

Battle of El-Alamein

1 July 1942 - 11 November 1942


WHERE: El Alamein, Egypt
WHO: Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery of Britain, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel of Germany
WHAT: The Battle of El Alamein was fought in the deserts of North Africa. The first battle had only stalled the Axis advance into Egypt. The biggest threat that the Allies faced was if th Axis powers gained control of the Suez Canal, and very vital trading route for Britain. They would also gain acess to the middle east and oil fields if won. Churchill was in desperate need for a victory to boost up morale for Britiain and this was the perfect solution. Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery was chosen to lead the attack against the Axis. On October 23, Operation Lightfoot was intiatied. Operation lightfoot was launched to remove Rommel from El Alamein. The idea was to send in infantry too light to trip the anti tank mines as well as sappers to clear a road for the tanks. Although the operation failed it destroyed enough of Rommel's forces to convince him to retreat.
WHY:The Battle of El Alamein was fought for control of the Suez Canal. The Suez canal was a major supply route to European allies. If the Germans had won they would have access to the large oil fields in the middle east.
SIGNIFICANCE: The victory was the turning point for the Allies in Western Desert Campaign. Churchill believed "Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein we never had a defeat." This quote descirbes how important this win was for the Allies.

Battle of Stalingrad

23 August 1942 - 2 February 1943


WHEN: 1st September 1942
WHERE: The Germans attack on the suburbs of Stalingrad.
WHO: In September 1942, German Commander of the sixth army, General Paulus assisted by the Fourth Panzer army advanced on the city of Stalingrad.
WHY: General Paulus primary task was to secure the oil fields in the Caucasus and to do this He was ordered by Hitler to take Stalingrad.
WHAT: The battle for the city descended into one of the most brutal in WW2. Individual Individual streets were fought over using hand-to-hand combat. The Germans took a great deal of the city but they failed to fully assert their authority. Areas captured by the Germans during the day, were re-taken by the Russians at night. On November 19th, the Russians were in a position whereby they could launch a counter-offensive. Marshal Zhukov used six armies of one million men to surround the city. The 5th tank regiment led by Romanenko attacked from the north as did the 21st Army (led by Chistyakov), the 65th Army (led by Chuikov) and the 24th Army (led by Galinin). The 64th, 57th and 521st armies attacked from the south. The attacking armies met up on November 23rd at Kalach with Stalingrad to the east. The bulk of the Sixth Army –some 250,000 to 300,000 men - was in the city and Zhukov, having used his resources to go around the city, north and south, had trapped the Germans in Stalingrad. Paulus could have broken out of this trap in the first stages of Zhukov’s attack but was forbidden from doing so by Hitler. Unable to break out, the Germans also had to face the winter. Temperatures dropped to well below zero and food, ammunition and heat were in short supply.
SIGNIFICANCE: The Battle of Stalingrad is considered by many historians to have been the turning point in World War Two in Europe. The battle at Stalingrad bled the German army dry in Russia and after this defeat; the Germany Army was in full retreat. One of the ironies of the war is that the German Sixth
Army need not have got entangled in Stalingrad. Army Groups A and B were well on their way to the Caucasus in south-west Russia, when Hitler ordered an attack on Stalingrad. From a strategic point of view it would have been unwise to have left a major city unconquered in your rear as you advanced. However, some historians believe that Hitler ordered the taking of Stalingrad simply because of the name of the city and Hitler's hatred of Joseph Stalin. For the same reason Stalin ordered that the city had to be saved.

Normandy Landings

6 June 1944


WHEN: 6th June 1944
WHERE: It took place at the beaches on the Normandy coast in north western France.
WHO: Allies: General Bernard Montgomery's 21st Army Group comprising General Miles Dempsey's 2nd Army and General Omar Bradley's US 1st Army; 6th Airborne Division; US 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions; Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsey's Allied Naval Expeditionary Force
Germany: Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's Army Group B comprising General Friedrich Dollmann's 7th Army and General Hans von Salmuth's 15th Army; four Panzer divisions held in army reserve
WHY: The establishment of Allied beachheads on the Normandy coast, a successful start to the Allies' invasion of North West Europe.
WHAT: The initial attack would be carried out by 175000 men in another of the now common amphibious assaults. This day the Allied troops were to take five beaches. Beaches named Utah and Omaha were to be taken by the Americans while the British took Gold and Sword. The fifth beach Juno was left to the Canadian forces.
SIGNIFICANCE: Disoriented by Allied deception operations, the Germans had not taken the overnight operations seriously enough to alert Rommel or Hitler, both asleep in Germany. As a result, their ability to repel the landings was fatally compromised; four tank divisions under Hitler's personal command were not mobilised until late afternoon, and played no part in the first day's battles. The landings were further secured by air and naval support. Even the near disastrous Omaha landings - where high flying bombers had left much of the coastal artillery intact - ended with the establishment of a precarious beachhead. The outcome of the landings was a tribute to the care with which they had been prepared.

Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

6 August 1945 - 9 August 1945


WHERE: Japanese city of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
WHO: General Douglas McArthur and other top military commanders favoured continuing bombing Japan but would result in high casualty rate so President Harry Truman wanted to avoid that circumstance. Instead they created the two jobs during the Manhattan project.
WHAT: On August 6, 1945, during World War II (1939-45), an American B-29 bomber dropped the world’s first deployed atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The explosion wiped out 90 percent of the city and immediately killed 80,000 people; tens of thousands more would later die of radiation exposure. Three days later, a second B-29 dropped another A-bomb on Nagasaki, killing an estimated 40,000 people.
WHY: It was the retaliation against the attack on Pearl Harbour. Japanese refused to surrender to the American and the y had no choice but to bomb Hiroshima first. The Japanese did not budge and three days later they bombed the city of Nagasaki.
SIGNIFICANCE: At noon on August 15, 1945 (Japanese time), Emperor Hirohito announced his country's surrender in a radio broadcast. The news spread quickly, and "Victory in Japan" or "V-J Day" celebrations broke out across the United States and other Allied nations. The formal surrender agreement was signed on September 2, aboard the U.S. aircraft carrier Missouri, anchored in Tokyo Bay.

Invasion of Mainland China 1931-1945

Manchuria

19 September 1931 - 27 February 1932


WHERE: Outside Mukden in Manchuria
WHO: The instigators of the incident were Kanji Ishihara and Seishiro Itagaki, staff officers in the Kwantung Army, a unit of the Imperial Japanese Army. Some blame these two men for starting World War II in the Pacific. They modeled their attack on the assassination of Zhang Zuolin, a Chinese warlord with a strong influence in Manchuria, whose train was blown up in 1928
WHAT: The 10,000-man Japanese Kwantung Army was responsible for guarding the Manchuria railway. In September 1931, it attacked one of its own trains outside Mukden (present-day Shenyang). Claiming that the attack had been carried out by Chinese soldiers, the Japanese used the event—now known as the Manchurian Incident—to provoke a fight with Chinese forces in Mukden and as an excuse to start a full-scale war in China.
WHY: After the Manchurian Incident Japan sent 100,000 troops to Manchuria and launched a full-scale invasion of Manchuria. Japan took advantage of China's weakness. It encountered little resistance from the Kuomintang, taking Mukden in a single day and advancing into Jilin province. In 1932, 3,000 villagers were massacred in Pingding, near Fushan.
SIGNIFICANCE: Chiang Kai-shek's army offered no resistance against the Japanese after Japan entered Manchuria in 1931. Out of disgrace Chiang resigned as head of the nation but continued on as head of the army. In 1933, he made peace with Japan and attempted to unify China.

Marco Polo Bridge Incident

7 July 1937 - 9 July 1937


WHERE: China. The bridge was known as the Battle of Lugou Bridge
WHO: Japanese Kwantung army
WHAT: Fighting began with the Battle of Lugou Bridge, often referred to as the Marco Polo Bridge Incident (July 7, 1937). The incident occurred during provocative Japanese military manoeuvres.
WHY: Precisely what occurred at the bridge is not known with any real certainty.
SIGNIFICANCE: After the incident. An armistice was negotiated, but lasted only a short period. Chinese resistance was stiffer than the Japanese had anticipated. The Japanese government yielded to pressure from the military and dispatched more troops to China expanding their presence. It was enough for the Militarists to cast the invasion of China in terms necessary to avenge the Emperor's honour. The Japanese Kwantung Army turned this relatively small incident into a full-scale war between Japan and China. The Japanese Government, however, did not formally declare war.

Rape of Nanking

13 December 1937 - 24 January 1938


WHERE: City of Nanking
WHO: Japanese forces destroy Nanking
WHAT: The actual military invasion of Nanking was preceded by a tough battle at Shanghai that began in the summer of 1937. Chinese forces there put up surprisingly stiff resistance against the Japanese Army which had expected an easy victory in China. The Japanese had even bragged they would conquer all of China in just three months. The stubborn resistance by the Chinese troops upset that timetable, with the battle dragging on through the summer into late fall. This infuriated the Japanese and whetted their appetite for the revenge that was to follow at Nanking.
After finally defeating the Chinese at Shanghai in November, 50,000 Japanese soldiers then marched on toward Nanking. Unlike the troops at Shanghai, Chinese soldiers at Nanking were poorly led and loosely organized. Although they greatly outnumbered the Japanese and had plenty of ammunition, they withered under the ferocity of the Japanese attack, then engaged in a chaotic retreat. After just four days of fighting, Japanese troops smashed into the city on December 13, 1937, with orders issued to "kill all captives." After the destruction of the POWs, the soldiers turned their attention to the women of Nanking and an outright animalistic hunt ensued. Old women over the age of 70 as well as little girls under the age of 8 were dragged off to be sexually abused. More than 20,000 females (with some estimates as high as 80,000) were gang-raped by Japanese soldiers, then stabbed to death with bayonets or shot so they could never bear witness.
WHY: The Japanese were furious that the Chinese troops did not back down. Since the Japanese boasted that they will conquer china at a certain time period but the determination of the Chinese ruined their time schedule.
SIGNIFICANCE: The rape of Nanking was one of the most terrible atrocities of World War II.