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World War II (often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, also known as the Second World War or, on the Eastern Front, the Great Patriotic War) was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations including all of the great powers, eventually forming two opposing military alliances, the Allies and the Axis.

It was the most widespread war in history, with more than 100 million military personnel mobilized. In a state of "total war," the major participants placed their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities at the service of the war effort, erasing the distinction between civilian and military resources. Marked by significant events involving the mass death of civilians, including the Holocaust and the only use of nuclear weapons in warfare, it was the deadliest conflict in human history, resulting in 50 million to over 70 million fatalities.

Contents

Background

After World War I and the failure of the Weimar RepublicGermany was left in ruins. Within the early 1930s, Adolf Hitler became the Chancellor (later Führer) of the country. For Italy in the 1920s, Benito Mussolini rose to power. In 1931, Japan used its army to invade northern China and by 1937, the whole of the eastern Asian mainland. By 1938, the Germans peacefully annexed the Sudetenland and Austria after Italian forces took Ethiopia in 1935. Ignoring a peace-time conference in Munich, Hitler gradually took all of Czechoslovakia a year after. With new weapons tested in the Spanish Civil War in 1936-1939, Hitler's next target was Poland.

In order to take half of the country, he persuaded Joseph Stalin, the Premier of the Soviet Union, to secure a treaty under which the Red Army would take the other half of Poland. On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland with a tactic that became known as the Blitzkrieg. Two days later, the British and French governments declared war on the Germans.

European Theater

Western Front

The Western Front of World War II was generally restricted to the same geographic regions as during World War I. During the war, the front moved much further, as far west as the English Channel and deep in to the Soviet Union to the east. Although fighting took place in Norway, Greece and Italy, these are not usually included as part of the Western Front but as separate campaigns.

Battle of Rotterdam

May 10 – 14, 1940

Skyline of Rotterdam. Key landmarks such as the Witte Huis and Willemsbridge are visible.

Allied preparations for the defense of the Netherlands provided a convenient casus belli for the launching of Fall Gelb, the German invasion of France and the Low Countries. On May 10th, German paratroopers attacked the city of Rotterdam to secure bridges over the Nieuwe Maas for their advancing ground forces, but meet staunch British resistance.

Battle of Hannut

May 12 – 14, 1940

Part of the British defensive line northwest of the city of Hannut.

Simultaneously in Belgium, the capture of Fort Eben-Emael has awarded German panzer forces complete control over the country's road and river networks. While Belgian army is annihilated in a matter of hours, the advancing British dig in around the city of Hannut, hoping to repel the German onslaught. Although the battle is undecided, German advances through the Ardennes and the Netherlands place the Hannut garrison in a gigantic pincer. They subsequently begin their retreat southeast into France.

German bombing of Rotterdam

May 14, 1940

Rotterdam after the bombing. St. Lawrence's Cathedral is the one of the only buildings to survive mostly intact.

Seeking to make an example of the defiant city, Rotterdam is flattened by German bombers on May 14th, 1940, despite ongoing peace negotiations. Resistance on the ground ends the next day when the Dutch announce their surrender, its Royal family being evacuated to England.

Battle along the Escaut river

May 18 - 21, 1940

A destroyed road bridge over the Escaut river.

A destroyed bridge crossing over the Escaut becomes the site of pitched battle as a combined air-ground assault launched from out of the Ardennes forest crashes against British defensive positions on the far riverbank. As the road to Paris lies open, the decision is made to withdraw from the Norwegian campaign.

Battle of Arras

May 21, 1940

German tanks destroyed in the British counterattack at Arras.

With the majority of its fighting personnel retreating towards the coast, an Allied armored counterstroke in the vicinity of the town of Arras manages to hold up the German's southern pincer for several hours. Its gains are soon reversed however, and the British Expeditionary Force begins its evacuation from France.

Battle of Britain

July 10 – October 31, 1940

German Ju-88A bombers in formation over southeast England.

The Battle of Britain was an air campaign waged by the Luftwaffe against the United Kingdom during the Summer and Autumn of 1940. The objective of the campaign was to gain air superiority over the Royal Air Force, especially Fighter Command. The name derives from a famous speech delivered by Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the House of Commons: "...the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin."

Bombing of Hamburg

1943

Squadron of RAF Blenheims over Hamburg.

The city of Hamburg and its factories, oil refineries and port facilities were a frequent target for Allied bombers throughout the war. The constant campaign had stretched the Luftwaffe thin - in a daylight raid by Blenheims from RAF 114 squadron in 1943, only four Bf 109s could be scrambled to intercept, with at least one loss.

Bombing of Essen

March 26 - 27, 1944

As with Hamburg, the city of Essen was subject to repeated air attack throughout the war due the numerous high capacity weapon factories located within its limits. In March 1944, a combined RAF and British Commando raid obliterated the town in its entirety.

Raid on Fortress of Mimoyecques

Spring, 1944

In 1943, Mimoyecques in the Pas-de-Calais of France was selected to house a massive underground facility codenamed Wiese containing a battery of V-3 cannons intended to bombard London. Acting on intelligence information, US troops stationed in England launch a cross-channel assault aimed at destroying the battery before it is completed.

Omaha Beach

June 6, 1944

A Fletcher-class destroyer supporting the landings on Omaha Beach.

Omaha Beach is the code name for one of the five sectors of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings. The beach is located on the coast of Normandy, France, facing the English Channel, and is 5 miles (8 km) long, from east of Sainte-Honorine-des-Pertes to west of Vierville-sur-Mer on the right bank of the Douve River estuary. Landings here were necessary in order to link up the British landings to the east at Gold Beach with the American landing to the west at Utah Beach, thus providing a continuous lodgement on the Normandy coast of the Bay of the Seine. Taking Omaha was to be the responsibility of United States Army troops, with sea transport provided by the United States Navy and elements of the Royal Navy.

The Battle for Carentan

June 10 - 14, 1944

The Battle for Carentan was a joint airborne and land battle, airborne forces were dropped behind enemy lines and were tasked of taking the crossroad town of Carentan, the United States Army coming from Omaha Beach were tasked of linking up with them to secure the town. To reach the town, US forces had to fight through the Bocage, an interlinked network of hedgerows, which were ideal defending locations for German forces.

Liberation of Caen

June 6 – August 6, 1944

A Canadian Sherman tank crosses Pegasus Bridge during the Battle for Caen.

The Battle for Caen took place from June to August of 1944 and was a battle between Allied forces primarily consisting of British and Canadian troops and German forces during the Invasion of Normandy.

Operation Dragoon

August 15 – September 14, 1944

Senegalese Tirailleur celebrating their capture of Stützpunkt Geist in southern France.

Originally intended to be carried out simultaneously with Operation Overlord, the invasion of Provence in southern France was postponed due to lack of resources, eventually occurring in mid August 1944. The revised operation included a large number of Free French Forces.

Breakthrough at Provence

August 15 – September 14, 1944

The German occupied Provence.

The Americans began an attack on Provence at the dawn of the morning against German defenders in a hope to breach the Fortress Europe.

Operation Market Garden

September 17 - 25, 1944

US paratroopers dropping on the north side of the Rhine river in Arnhem.

Operation Market Garden was an Allied military operation, fought in the Netherlands and Germany. It was the largest airborne operation up to that time. It consisted of three Airborne divisions dropping on Dutch towns and bridges and securing them for the armored corps that would drive over said bridges and into Germany. The operation had a terrific start; however, increasing presence of German armor eventually forced the operation to slowly grind to a halt.

Battle of Nijmegen

September 17 - 20, 1944

Allied casualties from a V-1 rocket strike south of Nijmegen bridge.

Part of Operation Market Garden, the Battle of Nijmegen saw US airborne forces secure Nijmegen bridge in support of advancing British armor.

Battle of the Bulge

December 16, 1944 – January 25, 1945

Wehrmacht infantry during the Battle of the Bulge.

The Battle of the Bulge was a major German offensive, launched toward the end of the war through the densely forested Ardennes mountain region of Wallonia in Belgium, hence its French name, Bataille des Ardennes, and France and Luxembourg on the Western Front. The Wehrmacht's code name for the offensive was Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein ("Operation Watch on the Rhine"), after the German patriotic hymn Die Wacht am Rhein. This German offensive was officially named the Ardennes-Alsace campaign by the United States Army, but it is known to the English-speaking general public simply as the Battle of the Bulge, the "bulge" being the initial incursion the Germans put into the Allies' line of advance, as seen in maps presented in contemporary newspapers.

Battle of Remagen

March 7 - March 25, 1945

Tiger 237 'Stefan' defending a cathedral in the Rhine-Ruhr.

With the capture of Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen in early March, Bradley's Twelfth Army Group could finally reach the east bank of the Rhine river, precipitating the capture of Cologne and expansion into the Rhine-Ruhr region. Severely depleted from their Ardennes Offensive, German forces could muster few men and machines in their efforts to deny the US further bridgeheads.

Raid on Hellendoorn

March, 1945

Even as Germany itself was being invaded on two fronts, V-1 and V-2 Rockets continued to exact retribution on the civilian populations of London. A British Commando raid on the launching site in the Netherlands in early 1945 was mounted to end the campaign of terror for good, with the V-2's final use coming on March 27th.

US race to Peenemünde

Spring, 1945

Peenemünde Research Center, located on the Baltic coast in northeastern Germany, was the proving ground for many experimental guided missiles such as the V-2 Rockets. By 1945 however the Peenemünde facility was in danger of being overrun by US Army troops advancing rapidly throughout the region, aiming to capture the valuable technology and scientists based there.

Operation Underground

Spring 1945

Crater caused by a V-1 detonation, exposing the underground Metro tunnels.

As the unrelenting Allied drive through Germany nears completion, the final target of British forces invading Germany is the port of Hamburg. As the streets above are devastated by bombing and V-1 Rockets, the battle descends into the underground tunnels of the U-bahn below the Town Hall district, the command center for the defense of the city.

Fight for the Eagle's Nest

April 25 - May 4, 1945

The end of the war in Europe is only days away as US troops reach Berchtesgaden high in the Bavarian Alps. This symbolic stronghold of the crumbling regime is defended by fanatical Elite Forces, who intend to fight a bitter and bloody last stand. Advancing through the narrow mountain passes, many American soldiers lose their lives, but the war is all but won.


Norwegian Campaign

April 9 - June 10, 1940

The Norwegian campaign was an Allied attempt to counter the German invasion of Norway as part of Operation Weserübung. Several amphibious landings involving British, French and Free Polish forces were made to relieve the beleaguered Norwegian army, however the deteriorating situation in France would compel the Allies to withdraw from the campaign in late May. Although the target of many commando raids and resistance operations in the following years, the Axis occupiers would remain in control of Norway until the end of the war in Europe. The Norwegian theatre features prominently in Battlefield V.

Battle of Narvik

May 28 - June 8, 1940

Iron ore awaiting transport on the docks at Narvik.

To deny German export of Swedish iron ore back to the fatherland, the port of Narvik was captured by Allied amphibious forces in late May 1940, with the German defenders being driven eastwards into the mountains. Although their victory appeared inevitable, the Allied evacuation from Norway in June would ultimately decide the campaign in favor of the Axis.

Operation Claymore

March 4, 1941

Fish oil factory and storage tanks on Lofoten Islands.

Operation Claymore was a British commando raid on Norway's Lofoten Islands, made to disrupt German production of the glycerine, an ingredient of explosives, from fish oil. The mission achieved complete surprise and was carried out with minimal casualties.

Norwegian heavy water sabotage

1943

A Norwegian resistance operative being apprehended on the bridge to the Rjukan hydroelectric plant.

With Norwegian hydroelectric plants under German control, an Allied-led campaign of sabotage was conducted to limit Germany's access to Heavy Water (deuterium oxide), thus inhibiting their ability to develop nuclear weapons.

Assault on Telemark

February 16, 1943

The Telemark Hydro Plant near Rjukan was the target for numerous raids by Norwegian and SOE Operatives. Acting on intelligence passed to them by Norwegian resistance operatives, in February 1943 a force of British Commandos successfully destroyed the facility in a combined airborne-amphibious raid.

Sulis Experiments

Date Unknown

Firestorm engulfing Nanahavn, the largest town in the Halvøy region.

Sometime during the German occupation, the secretive paramilitary and research organization of Sulis took control of the Norwegian peninsula of Halvøy. The area would see significant development including major construction and excavation projects, as well as a mysterious phenomenon involving massive rings of fire, all to support a series of standardized combat encounters involving both German and British personnel. The motives behind these activities remain unknown.


Balkans Campaign

October 28, 1940 - June 1, 1941

Part of the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern theatres of World War II, the Balkans Campaign included the Italian invasions of Albania and Greece, the German invasions of Yugoslavia and Greece, and the British Commonwealth's ultimately unsuccessful efforts to oppose such aggression.

German invasion of Greece

April 6 - May 30, 1941

A destroyed fortress overlooking the Kalamas river valley in the Pindus mountains.

With the bulk of the Greek army preoccupied with the Italian invasion of their country, and with British concerns lying primarily with the escalating North African campaign, there was little chance of repelling Operation Marita, the German codename for their own attack on Greece, which commenced in Spring 1941. The British Commonwealth forces were driven from the peninsula in just over a month, with the majority evacuating to Crete.

Battle of Crete

May 20 - June 1, 1941

A Ju-52 ditched off the southern coast of Crete.

Soon after the Allied withdrawal from continental Greece, the final British stronghold in the Aegean sea - the island of Crete - was captured by the Germans during Operation Mercury. Dropped en-masse, the Fallschirmjäger troops managed to secure airfields for a large scale offensive airlift, but at high cost.


Italian Campaign

July 9, 1943 - April 29, 1945

The Italian Campaign appears in Battlefield 1942: The Road to Rome. Northern Italy was a battleground in World War I, but by the Second World War, Italy had to defend its homeland after Hitler's Afrika Korps were destroyed in Tunisia on May 13, 1943. On July 9, Operation Husky commenced in which the Allies took on the Royal Italian Army for thirty-nine days.

Operation Husky

July 9 – August 17, 1943

Sturmgeschütz III during Operation Husky.

Operation Husky was a major conflict in the Italian campaign, in which the Allies took Sicily from the Axis Powers. It was a large scale amphibious and airborne operation. followed by six weeks of land combat. During the first hours of the operation, the British Army launched their airborne forces near the coastal town of Syracuse to seize landing zones from the Royal Italian Army. Hours later, the infantry came ashore in landing craft to assist the paratroopers.

Operation Baytown

September 3 - 9, 1943

Operation Baytown was the amphibious assault across the Messina strait, between Sicily and Calabria. The British Army was tasked to seize bridges across the strait and push into Italy; however, the Royal Italian Army, on the brink of surrender, had one final objective - to destroy the bridges. Following the defeat, Italy surrendered and the Allies launched Operation Avalanche.

Battle for Salerno

September 9 - 16, 1943

The Battle for Salerno was part of Operation Avalanche. The Invasion of Italy, the battle was a cooperative attack from both Allied forces; the British Army would seize the port of Salerno itself, while the United States Army secured the mountains of Paestum. Victory assured the Allied forces of a secured western flank in the offensive in South Italy.

Battle for Monte Cassino

January 17 – May 18, 1944

The Battle for Monte Cassino was a series of bloody battles carried out by the United States ArmyBritish Army, and the Free French Forces, the US and British forces were pushed off the hill previously and the Free French Forces secured the hill after four consecutive battles on Monte Cassino.

Battle for Anzio

January 22 – June 5, 1944

Tank traps blocking the bridge to the Anzio harbour.

The Battle for Anzio was part of Operation Shingle, the United States Army tasked of bypassing the Gustav Line in hopes of outflanking the Wehrmacht forces from the rear, Anzio was the landing section where the US would land. As the assault began, Italian troops, now formed as the Italian Social Republic, began engaging American forces.

Assault on the Gothic Line

August 25, 1944 - Early March, 1945

With the Gustav Line overcome, the Germans fell back to yet another defensive line in the Ligurian Appennines. The Italian Campaign slows to a crawl in the face of the coast-to-coast Gothic Line. Despite repeated breakthrough attempts, the Germans continually fall back and reform, holding the Allied advance in place throughout the winter. The line is only decisively breached in the Operation Grapeshot in April 1945. With the surrender of Germany imminent, it is the final battle in the Italian theatre.

The Battle of Monte Santa Croce

August 25 - December 17, 1944

German Pak 40 position above a river in Liguria.

The Battle for Monte Santa Croce was part of Operation Olive, the initial attack on the Gothic Line. Aiming to storm the Gothic Line in its center, Free French Forces attempt to secure the High Mountains of Monte Santa Croce. Despite heavy losses both sides abandoned the mountains and fought for them another day. Operation Olive ended after the capture of Bologna in December 1944.


Eastern Front

On the first day of October, Germany forces were encountered by the Soviets at Kharkov trying to get hold of three major outposts in the ruined city. As the battle continued, Stalingrad and Kursk became heavily bombarded by German artillery. On August 23, 1943, the Soviets had won the two battles against the Germans.

Battle of Kharkov

October 20 - 24, 1941

The First Battle of Kharkov only lasted four days, as it was a great surprise to the Red Army and their unprepared defenses. German tanks rolled over the defenses and battled in close quarters fighting on the western edge of the city. By the fourth day, the Soviets were overwhelmed and evacuated the city.

May 12 - 28, 1942

The Second Battle of Kharkov lasted 16 days as an attempt to ambush the Germans on their way to Rostov-on-Don. Soviet losses were high, but Kharkov was nearly captured. In the final days of the offensive the Luftwaffe arrived and halted the Soviets' progress. Soon afterwards, German armor rolled back into the city and beat back the Soviets.

February 19 - March 15, 1943

The Third Battle of Kharkov was a German counter-offensive to restore order in the Stalingrad area. In early February, Soviet troops stormed Kharkov only to realize the city was undefended. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Soviet troops barricaded Kharkov in hopes of stopping the German troops for a third time. However, their efforts proved unsuccessful and heavy German armor and Waffen SS troops stormed the city walls once again and beat back the Soviet defenders.

August 3 - 23, 1943

The Fourth Battle of Kharkov was a part of Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev, the Soviet counter-offensive in the Kursk region. With Germany's offensive power crippled in Russia, the Soviets were successfully able to storm Kharkov without concern of another German counter-offensive. After the capture of the Dzerzhinksy Square in the center of Kharkov, German troops surrendered and Kharkov was finally liberated.

Battle of Stalingrad

August 23, 1942 - February 2, 1943

The Battle of Stalingrad was a major battle in the war in which Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad (now renamed Volgograd) in southwestern Russia. The battle took place between August 23, 1942 and February 2, 1943. It was among the largest battle on the Eastern Front and was marked by its brutality and disregard for military and civilian casualties. It was amongst the bloodiest battles in the history of warfare, with the higher estimates of combined casualties amounting to nearly two millions. In its defeat, the crippling losses suffered by Germany's military proved to be insurmountable for the war. The battle was a turning point in the war, after which German forces attained no further strategic victories in the East.

Battle of Kursk

July 5 - August 23, 1943

The Battle of Kursk took place when German and Soviet forces confronted each other in the vicinity of the city of Kursk, in the Soviet Union in July and August 1943. It remains both the largest series of armored clashes, including the Battle of Prokhorovka, and the costliest single day of aerial warfare in history. It was the final strategic offensive the Germans were able to mount in the east. The resulting decisive Soviet victory gave the Red Army the strategic initiative for the rest of the war.

The Battle of Berlin

April 16 – May 2, 1945

Soviet T-34s during the Battle of Berlin.

The Battle of Berlin, designated the Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation by the Soviet Union, was the final major offensive of the European Theater of World War II, resulting in the decimation of the German forces and the surrender of Germany. It was one of the bloodiest battles in history.

"Berlin has fallen to the Russians. The war is over."

— German defeat at Berlin, signalling the end of the War in Europe


Kbely Airfield

Date Unknown

British Commandos at Kbely Airfield.

Kbely airbase in German-occupied Czechoslovakia was used as a testing ground for some of the Luftwaffe's most advanced and secretive aircraft. Of these, the inconspicuously named "Focke Wulf Prototypes 1 and 2", ostensibly the infamous Foo fighters menacing Allied aircraft from 1944 onwards, were considered valuable enough targets to mount a classified British Commando raid deep behind enemy lines. By successfully storming the base and destroying the U.F.O. prototypes, the Germans are prevented from reclaiming air superiority in the skies over occupied Europe.


African Theater

Western Desert Campaign

June 11, 1940 - February 4, 1943

When Italy declared war on Britain and France in June 1940, Italy began its drive towards Cairo and resume its control over the Mediterranean. However, the Royal Italian Army was untrained and lacked the necessary resources to fight the British Army. On December 9, 1940, the British launched Operation Compass and drove the Italians back into Libya. Italy asked Germany for assistance in their campaign and the Afrika Korps arrived in March 1941 under the command of Erwin Rommel. From then on, Britain was pushed back to Egypt.

Siege of Tobruk

April 10 - November 27, 1941

After the arrival of the Afrika Korps in El Agheila, the British Army was back on the retreat towards Egypt. Along the way, they barricaded themselves inside the fortress town of Tobruk. This is when the Siege of Tobruk began. The siege finally ended in November 1941 in British surrender.

Operation Battleaxe

June 15 - 17, 1941

British soldiers on the march through Halfaya Pass.

In a desperate attempt to break the Siege of Tobruk, the British Army launched Operation Battleaxe: a long drive along the coastal road from Sidi Barrani and clearing German positions on the Libyan/Egyptian border in areas such as Fort Capuzzo, Musaid, and the Halfaya Pass. British forces would then push through the gap into Tobruk. Unknown to the British Army, the Afrika Korps had sent an armored spearhead to ignore the fort of Tobruk and push onward to Cairo. The British met the Germans head on in an armored clash near the Libyan/Egyptian border. Due to an overwhelming number of resources, tanks, and infantry, the British were forced to retreat, leaving Tobruk in Axis hands.

Special Boat Section raid on Luftwaffe

Spring 1942

A member of the Special Boat Section surveying a German airfield.

Under the decree of Winston Churchill's desire for "hunter troops" to wage a "butcher-and-bolt reign of terror", the newly formed Special Boat Section unit infiltrates 500 miles behind enemy lines, to raid Luftwaffe airfields near the coast of North Africa in a baptism of fire. Such an unconventional outfit demands unconventional skills, and a notable portion of the force's members are drawn directly from civilian or even criminal backgrounds.

Battle of Al Sundan

1942

The German air base at Al Sundan.

The United States launches a combined arms attack on a German air base in the region of Al Sundan. Aptly named as the "the Anvil", the location is an inhospitable mixture of mountains, floodplains and burning sun, found somewhere southeast of Tobruk and northwest of Sidi Barrani on the coast of North Africa.

Battle of Gazala

May 26 - June 21, 1942

After launching Operation Crusader in November 1941, the Afrika Korps was pushed back to El Agheila and needed more resources sent from Germany. As a result, the Afrika Korps recieved new tanks and more equipment including dummy tanks assembled from wool and cloth. Erwin Rommel used these dummy tanks to lure the British Army out into the open, where they would then be engaged by the actual German tanks, thus destroying the British troops. Subsequently, the British were once again pushed back to Egypt. British Intelligence confirmed that due to fast retreat, Germany's supply lines were stretched too far, forcing them to halt the advance. Using this window of opportunity, they prepared defenses along the Gazala Line, and thus the Battle of Gazala ensued. After the Afrika Korps flanked the Gazala Line, the British were forced to retreat back to El Alamein.

Operation Aberdeen

May 29 - June 11, 1942

Operation Aberdeen was the British attempt to stop the Afrika Korps in the open plains near Bir El Harmat, after the initial flank near Bir Hakeim the British Army needed to stop the German drive to Tobruk. Afterwards the British could not take on the sheer number of German tanks and was forced to fallback to defend Sidi Muftah. In the end, Tobruk was captured again in June 1942.

Second Battle of El Alamein

October 23 - November 11, 1942

Abandoned hangar near Tobruk.

After the first battle of El Alamein, the battle ended in a stalemate. It did, however, halt the Afrika Korps advance to Cairo, but upon received further supplies, Rommel continued the assault. This was the Second Battle of El Alamein. Rommel struck further into the El Alamein line and taking Kidney Ridge. By this time, a new British commander stepped into play, Bernard Montgomery. Taking command of the British Army in El Alamein, he coordinated defenses and counter-attacked at the right moment, catching the Afrika Korps off guard. From this point on, the Afrika Korps were on the retreat. Rommel, having exhausted his supplies, abandoned Tobruk and fell back to El Agheila. In December 1942, El Agheila was captured by the British and the Axis forces were forced to retreat into Tunisia.

Raid on El Agheila

December 11 - 12, 1942

Conducting a fighting retreat from El Alamein, Erwin Rommel repeatedly targeted the overstretched Allied logistics to stall their pursuit across Libya. A defensive battle around his regional headquarters at El Agheila briefly brought the Allied advance to a halt. On December 11th the British countered this defensive line by using Commando forces to overcome the German positions at El Agheila.

Kasserine Pass

February 19 – 24, 1943

A Free French sniper team killed in a strafing attack while behind enemy lines in 1942.

After Operation Torch, the United States Army joined the fight against the Afrika Korps, nearly losing their foothold at the Battle for Kasserine Pass. However, they struck back and assisted in driving the Afrika Korps out of Africa. The Germans surrendered in May 1943 and Africa was securely in Allied hands.


Pacific Theater

With Japan having entered the war in late 1940, their goal was to dominate the Pacific Ocean, which garnered the attention of US and Australian forces. Before beginning their expansion into the South Pacific Sea, they coordinated a series of simultaneous attacks on US-held island territories, such as GuamWake Island, and the Philippines. It was crucial to the Japanese that the islands were secured by rendering the United States Navy useless. On December 7, 1941, the US naval base of Pearl Harbor in Oahu, Hawaii was bombarded by aerial and naval strikes by the Imperial Japanese Navy. The following day, December 8, the United States of America declared war on Japan.

Battle of Wake Island

December 8 - 23, 1941

The constructing hotel on Wake Island.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Imperial Japanese Navy proceeded to invade the US territory of Wake Island. The island possessed an airfield, which would be vital for the Japanese campaign for Pacific dominance.

Philippines Campaign

December 8, 1941 - May 8, 1942

Several hours after the invasion of Wake Island, the Imperial Japanese Army invaded Luzon, commencing the Invasion of the Philippines. Using PT Boats to defend the islands from US destroyers and landing craft, the Japanese broke through American defenses and moved inland. By May 1942, General Douglas MacArthur made a bold promise to return to the island.

October 20, 1944 - September 2, 1945

Two years later, General MacArthur fulfilled his promise with the American assault of the Philippines, expelling the Japanese invaders and securing the islands in its island hopping campaign.

Battle of the Coral Sea

May 4 - 8, 1942

On May 3, 1942, the Imperial Japanese Navy captured the island of Tulagi, surprising the USS Yorktown  and USS Lexington in the Coral Sea, which were assault by Imperial Japanese aircraft. The next day, American fighters and bombers took off from the Lexington and Yorktown to hunt down the Japanese carriers Shōkaku and Zuikaku, starting the Battle of the Coral Sea. The Shōkaku and Zuikaku were heavily damaged, as was the USS Yorktown was critically damaged, although the Lexington would be lost. Tulagi remained firmly in Japanese hands. US and Japanese aircraft carriers would continue the battle at Midway Island.

Battle of Midway

June 4 - 7, 1942

The airfield of Midway Atoll.

After the Battle of the Coral Sea, Japanese officers saw the small island of Midway, a tiny island with an airfield, which posed a significant threat to the Imperial Japanese Navy. The Japanese brought overwhelming numbers to deal with the small American armed forces stationed on the island, but just as the attack was underway, Japanese scout planes spotted two US aircraft carriers a few miles from Midway, the USS Enterprise and the USS Hornet, along with several destroyers and cruisers. Japanese aircraft carriers launched their bombers and sunk the Hornet and damaged the Enterprise; hours later, the Enterprise launched their own wave of bombers and sunk four Japanese cruisers and aircraft carriers: The Akagi, Kaga, Hiryū, and Sōryū. Later, the USS Yorktown was reunited with the Enterprise, despite being repaired in battle. Both US carriers attacked the Japanese one last time and wiped out any remaining enemy forces.

Solomon Islands Campaign

January 1942 - August 21st, 1945

Two small huts overlooking the river.

After Midway, the United States Navy headed south to Australia to prevent a possible Japanese invasion of Australia, with the Solomon Islands acting as potential bridge across southeast Asia for the Imperial Japanese Navy. The fight for the islands would last over three years.

Battle of Guadalcanal

August 7, 1942 - February 9, 1943

The ridge on Guadacanal.

One island in the Solomon Islands chain, Guadalcanal, was of primary interest to both opposing powers. For sixth months, the IJN and USMC fought over Guadalcanal and its key strategic positions like Henderson Airfield, Bloody Ridge, and the Lunga River. Eventually, Japanese forces withdrew from the island.

Marshall Islands campaign

January 31 - February 23, 1944

Fishing Village on Adawo Island.

The islands of Majuro, Kwajalein, and Eniwetok within the Marshall Islands campaign were captured by the Allies in early 1944. Even after lessons learned from the bloody battle over Tarawa the previous November, the US still incurred significant casualties in the fighting.

Operation Aurora

October 6, 1944

An unknown Japanese island.

Operation Aurora was a top secret operation conducted by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in conjunction with the United States Marine Corps. The operation's purpose was to seek and gather intelligence on any potential Japanese secret weaponry. Two squads of US Marines were sent in to infiltrate an unknown Japanese home island, although Able squad was immediately spotted and killed. After moving inland, the remaining squad met up with a Japanese defector, who warned them of a high-tech scalar weapon known by the Japanese as "The Black Weapon." Upon retrieving the intel and the defector, the Marines pushed toward a Japanese subpen in order to escape the island. Just as the squad prepared to leave via a captured submarine, the Japanese fired the weapon, which created a massive tidal wave, drowning the Marines and the defector.

Battle of Iwo Jima

February 19 - March 26, 1945

An outpost with The Last Stop near Mount Suribachi.

The Battle of Iwo Jima was one of the last and bloodiest battle in the Pacific War. The Marines landed on the beach under intense fire and suffered heavy losses. After hours of intense fire from the Japanese-controlled high ground, the Marines managed to move off the beach and secure the airfield on the island. Hours later, they set out to capture Mount Suribachi. After small skirmishes on the northern section of the island past the airfield, the island was eventually secured by US forces.

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