What Were the Major WW2 Battles?

Battle of the Atlantic

Start: 3rd of September 1939

End: 8th of May 1945

The Battle of the Atlantic was one of the longest conflicts in World War II. During the battle, the Allies struck a naval blockade against Germany to isolate their naval ports. It resulted in an ongoing struggle to gain control over the sea routes in the Atlantic Ocean. Over the five years that this conflict raged on, thousands of ships took part in more than a hundred smaller battles in the Atlantic Ocean, during which it is estimated that around 100,000 people lost their lives.

Battle of Dunkirk

Start: 26th of May 1940

End: 4th of June 1940

The Battle of Dunkirk is one of the most famous WW2 battles. The battle began with a German invasion around the French coastal town of Dunkirk, which split apart the French and British armies. It resulted in the Allied forces being completely isolated and vulnerable to attack. Stranded at Dunkirk, the Allies carried out an evacuation of their soldiers under the title Operation Dynamo. German forces still claimed a victory at the end of the Battle of Dunkirk, with the remaining Allied troops surrendering. However, the evacuation under Operation Dynamo was still viewed as a great success.

Battle of Britain

Start: 10th of July 1940

End: 31st of October 1940

The Battle of Britain is another of the most famous battles of WW2. This battle was fought in the skies between Britain’s Royal Air Force, Navy, and German forces. The battle was Britain’s response to Germany’s almost four-month-long air campaign, during which time Britain was subjected to heavy bombing from Germany’s Luftwaffe air force. This campaign was designed to destroy Britain’s Royal Air Force before German troops invaded. The Battle of Britain eventually resulted in a British victory, which was helped by Hitler’s decision to bomb London rather than military bases.

Battle of Crete

Start: 20th of May 1941

End: 1st of June 1941

The Battle of Crete was, as the name suggests, fought on the Greek island of Crete. Nazi paratroopers invaded Crete, which was the first largely airborne attack in history. The invasion was not overly successful for the Germans, but they eventually achieved victory. It is because the Allied forces feared a sea assault and so withdrew pretty soon. In the Battle of Crete, almost 4,000 Allies and over 3,000 Germans were killed.

The Siege of Leningrad

Start: 8th of September 1941

End: 27th of January 1944

During the Siege of Leningrad, German and Finnish soldiers embarked on an almost 900-day siege and blockade of Leningrad. Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, is the second-biggest Soviet city and a major center of industry. The town was cut off from supplies, water, electricity, and transportation, evacuating 1.3 million people. The siege ended with the soviet soldiers breaking through the blockade and freeing the city. This WW2 conflict is particularly tragic because so many civilians lost their lives. Around 800,000 civilians died during the Siege of Leningrad, mostly from hunger.

Battle of Moscow

Start: 2nd of October 1941

End: 7th of January 1942

In the wake of Operation Barbarossa, Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union, the Axis powers (a coalition headed by Germany, Italy, and Japan) launched a campaign to capture Moscow. They wanted to capture Moscow before the harsh Russian winter set in, as these conditions would make conflict extremely difficult. In preparation for this attack, the Soviet Union fortified the city of Moscow and brought reinforcements. The battle raged for months, and both sides suffered great victories and losses. However, the Germans were eventually defeated and forced to retreat.

Battle of Pearl Harbor

Start and End: 7th of December 1941

In a surprise wave of attacks on the U.S. naval base at Oahu Island, Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor, Japan, aligned with the Axis, takes out America’s Pacific fleet (the fleet’s three aircraft carriers were not present during the attack). With approximately 2,400 U.S. troops killed and another 1,000 wounded, President Franklin D. Roosevelt calls it “a date which will live in infamy,” The next day, the U.S. officially entered World War II, declaring war on Japan.

Battle of Midway

Start: 4th of June 1942

End: 7th of June 1942

The Battle of Midway was one of the most important naval wins for the United States during World War II. American intelligence broke codes, thus allowing them to foil a Japanese attack on the US at Midway Island in the Pacific Ocean. While Japan was focused on Midway Island, US forces used this time to attack and sink four of Japan’s aircraft carriers.

Battle of Stalingrad

Start: 23rd of August 1942

End: 2nd February 1943

The Battle of Stalingrad is another of the most famous WW2 battles. The conflict raged between the Allies and the Axis powers in the Russian city of Stalingrad. German forces attacked Stalingrad, but the Allies fought them off successfully, thus bringing an end to the Axis’s Eastern Europe advances. Stalingrad was one of World War II’s longest, biggest, and deadliest battles, with almost 2 million casualties, including civilians. The battle was fought throughout the harsh Russian winter, greatly contributing to the death toll.

Operation Torch

Start: 8th of November 1942

End: 16th of November 1942

In Operation Torch, the Allied forces invaded French North Africa. It was done to draw the Axis powers away from Soviet attacks on the Eastern Front and allow the Allies to gain control over the Mediterranean shipping lanes. The Allies launched attacks on Oran, Algiers, and Casablanca before advancing on Tunis. As a result of Operation Torch, the Vichy French, another name for the French State headed by Marshal Philippe Pétain during World War II, realigned with the Allies.

Battle of Kursk

Start: 5th of July 1943

End: 23rd of August 1943

The Battle of Kursk was the largest tank battle in military history, and it took place on the Eastern Front. It is estimated that 6,000 tanks, 4,000 aircraft, and 2 million soldiers were involved in this WW2 battle. The battle began with Germany attacking the Soviet army near the Russian city of Kursk. However, due to a series of delays, and the racking of the German Wehrmacht code, the Soviet military was prepared for the attack and, therefore, able to keep German forces from conquering Russia.

Battle of Anzio

Start: 22nd of January 1944

End: 5th of June 1944

The Battle of Anzio was fought in an Allied attempt to liberate Italy from German forces. The Allies landed in the Italian city of Anzio and, having the element of surprise, were able to secure a beachhead (a defended position on a beach from which an attack could be launched) during Operation Shingle. However, the Axis powers resisted and launched a series of counter-attacks, eventually resulting in a stalemate between the two sides. This stalemate only ended with the fall of Rome. Despite the early victory, the Battle of Anzio is largely viewed as a failure for the Allies. Although, it was successful in stopping German troops from moving to France in the days before the invasion of Normandy.

Battle of Normandy

Start: 6th of June 1944

End: 30th of August 1944

The Battle of Normandy began with American, British, and Canadian troops storming five beaches at Normandy on the 6th of June 1944. This day is known as ‘D-Day’ and was one of the largest water invasions in military history. The battle was extremely bloody, with more than 2,000 American casualties and 4,000 deaths on D-Day at Omaha Beach. Five days later, on the 11th of June, Allied forces were able to secure the beaches, and the Allied invasion of Normandy began.

Battle of Leyte Gulf

Start: 23rd of October 1944

End: 26th of October 1944

This three-day-long conflict was the largest naval battle in World War II. The struggle involved the Allies invading the Philippines to take back the commonwealth and create a Southeast Asian blockade. As a counter-attack, Japan deployed its very first suicide bombers. The Battle of Leyte Gulf was devastating for both sides, with more than 23,000 US soldiers and sailors being killed and almost 420,000 Japanese casualties. This loss was catastrophic for Japan, which lost most of its surface fleet, thus giving the Allies command of the Pacific Ocean.

Battle of Okinawa

Start: 1st of April 1945

End: 22nd of June 1945

The Battle of Okinawa was the final battle of World War II. it began on Easter Sunday with the US army and marine forces invading Okinawa, the fifth-largest island of Japan, located in the Japanese Ryukyus island chain. US forces had orders to take over the island and carry out airstrikes against Japan, creating a blockade. Japan retaliated with suicide bomber attacks and sank 26 Allies ships, damaging 170 more. The battle raged for three long months when more than 12,000 US soldiers lost their lives. In addition to this, Japan lost 100,000 soldiers were killed, as well as 150,000 Japanese civilians. Eventually, the battle ended with an American victory.

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