Second Battle of El Alamein

The Second Battle of El Alamein (23 October – 11 November 1942) was a battle of the Second World War that took place near the Egyptian railway halt of El Alamein. 

The First Battle of El Alamein and the Battle of Alam el Halfa had prevented the Axis from advancing further into Egypt.

In August 1942, General Claude Auchinleck had been relieved as Commander-in-Chief Middle East Command and his successor, Lieutenant-General William Gott was killed on his way to replace him as commander of the Eighth Army. Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery was appointed and led the Eighth Army offensive.

The Allied victory was the beginning of the end of the Western Desert Campaign, eliminating the Axis threat to Egypt, the Suez Canal and the Middle Eastern and Persian oil fields. 

The battle revived the morale of the Allies, being the first big success against the Axis since Operation Crusader in late 1941. 

The battle coincided with the Allied invasion of French North Africa in Operation Torch on 8 November, the Battle of Stalingrad and the Guadalcanal Campaign

Operation Weserübung

Operation Weserübung (German: Unternehmen Weserübung [ˈveːsɐˌʔyːbʊŋ], transl. Operation Weser Exercise) was the code name for Germany’s assault on Denmark and Norway during the Second World War and the opening operation of the Norwegian Campaign.

In the early morning of 9 April 1940 (Wesertag, “Weser Day”), Germany occupied Denmark and invaded Norway, ostensibly as a preventive manoeuvre against a planned, and openly discussed, Franco-British occupation of Norway known as Plan R 4 (actually developed as a response to any German aggression against Norway). 

After the occupation of Denmark (the Danish military was ordered to stand down as Denmark did not declare war with Germany), envoys of the Germans informed the governments of Denmark and Norway that the Wehrmacht had come to protect the countries’ neutrality against Franco-British aggression. Significant differences in geography, location and climate between the two nations made the actual military operations very dissimilar.

The invasion fleet’s nominal landing time, Weserzeit (transl. Weser Time), was set to 05:15.


Guadalcanal campaign

The Guadalcanal campaign, also known as the Battle of Guadalcanal and codenamed Operation Watchtower by American forces, was a military campaign fought between 7 August 1942 and 9 February 1943 on and around the island of Guadalcanal in the Pacific theater of World War II. 

It was the first major land offensive by Allied forces against the Empire of Japan.

On 7 August 1942, Allied forces, predominantly United States Marines, landed on Guadalcanal, Tulagi, and Florida in the southern Solomon Islands, with the objective of using Guadalcanal and Tulagi as bases in supporting a campaign to eventually capture or neutralize the major Japanese base at Rabaul on New Britain. 

The Japanese defenders, who had occupied those islands since May 1942, were outnumbered and overwhelmed by the Allies, who captured Tulagi and Florida, as well as the airfield – later named Henderson Field – that was under construction on Guadalcanal.

Surprised by the Allied offensive, the Japanese made several attempts between August and November to retake Henderson Field. 

Three major land battles, seven large naval battles (five nighttime surface actions and two carrier battles), and almost daily aerial battles culminated in the decisive Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in early November, with the defeat of the last Japanese attempt to bombard Henderson Field from the sea and to land enough troops to retake it. 

In December, the Japanese abandoned their efforts to retake Guadalcanal, and evacuated their remaining forces by 7 February 1943, in the face of an offensive by the U.S. Army’s XIV Corps, with the Battle of Rennell Island, the last major naval engagement, serving to secure protection for the Japanese troops to evacuate safely.

The campaign followed the successful Allied defensive actions at the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Battle of Midway in May and June, 1942. 

Along with the battles at Milne Bay and Buna–Gona, the Guadalcanal campaign marked the Allies’ transition from defensive operations to offensive ones and effectively seized the strategic initiative in the Pacific theater from the Japanese. 

The campaign was followed by other Allied offensives in the Pacific, most notably: the Solomon Islands campaign, New Guinea campaign, the Gilbert and Marshall Islands campaign, the Mariana and Palau Islands campaign, the Philippines campaign (1944–1945), and the Volcano and Ryukyu Islands campaign prior to the surrender of Japan in August, 1945.

Battle of Iwo Jima

The Battle of Iwo Jima (19 February – 26 March 1945) was a major battle in which the United States Marine Corps and Navy landed on and eventually captured the island of Iwo Jima from the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) during World War II. 

Lying roughly halfway between American Army Airforce bases in the Mariana Islands and the Japanese islands, the military base on Iwo Jima gave the Japanese an ability to send early air raid warnings to the Japanese mainland and launch fighters from its airfields to intercept raids. 

The American invasion, designated Operation Detachment, had the purpose of capturing the island with its two airfields: South Field and Central Field. 

The strategic objectives were twofold: the first was to provide an emergency landing strip for battle-damaged B-29s unable to make it back to US air bases in the Marianas Tinian, Saipan, Guam. The second was to provide air fields for fighter escorts, long-range P-51s, to provide fighter coverage to the bombers. 

The five-week battle saw some of the fiercest and bloodiest fighting of the Pacific War.

The IJA positions on the island were heavily fortified, with a dense network of bunkers, hidden artillery positions, and 18 km (11 mi) of tunnels. 

The American ground forces were supported by extensive naval artillery, and had complete air supremacy provided by U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aviators throughout the battle.

Japanese combat deaths numbered three times the number of American deaths although, uniquely among Pacific War Marine battles, American total casualties (dead and wounded) exceeded those of the Japanese. 

Of the 21,000 Japanese soldiers on Iwo Jima at the beginning of the battle, only 216 were taken prisoner, some of whom were captured because they had been knocked unconscious or otherwise disabled. 

The majority of the remainder were killed in action, although it has been estimated that as many as 3,000 continued to resist within the various cave systems for many days afterwards, eventually succumbing to their injuries or surrendering weeks later.

Joe Rosenthal’s Associated Press photograph of the raising of the U.S. 

flag on top of the 169 m (554 ft) Mount Suribachi by six U.S. Marines became an iconic image of the battle and the American war effort in the Pacific

Battle for Berlin

The Battle of Berlin, designated the Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation by the Soviet Union, and also known as the Fall of Berlin, was one of the last major offensives of the European theatre of World War II.

Following the Vistula–Oder Offensive of January–February 1945, the Red Army had temporarily halted on a line 60 km (37 mi) east of Berlin. 

On 9 March, Germany established its defence plan for the city with Operation Clausewitz. The first defensive preparations at the outskirts of Berlin were made on 20 March, under the newly appointed commander of Army Group Vistula, General Gotthard Heinrici.

When the Soviet offensive resumed on 16 April, two Soviet fronts (army groups) attacked Berlin from the east and south, while a third overran German forces positioned north of Berlin. Before the main battle in Berlin commenced, the Red Army encircled the city after successful battles of the Seelow Heights and Halbe. 

On 20 April 1945, Hitler’s birthday, the 1st Belorussian Front led by Marshal Georgy Zhukov, advancing from the east and north, started shelling Berlin’s city centre, while Marshal Ivan Konev’s 1st Ukrainian Front broke through Army Group Centre and advanced towards the southern suburbs of Berlin. 

On 23 April General Helmuth Weidling assumed command of the forces within Berlin. The garrison consisted of several depleted and disorganised Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS divisions, along with poorly trained Volkssturm and Hitler Youth members. 

Over the course of the next week, the Red Army gradually took the entire city.

On 30 April, Hitler committed suicide (with several of his officials also committing suicide shortly afterwards). 

The city’s garrison surrendered on 2 May but fighting continued to the north-west, west, and south-west of the city until the end of the war in Europe on 8 May (9 May in the Soviet Union) as some German units fought westward so that they could surrender to the Western Allies rather than to the Soviets

Battle of Kursk

The Battle of Kursk was a Second World War engagement between German and Soviet forces on the Eastern Front near Kursk (450 kilometres or 280 miles south-west of Moscow) in the Soviet Union, during July and August 1943. 

The battle began with the launch of the German offensive Operation Citadel (German: Unternehmen Zitadelle), on 5 July, which had the objective of pinching off the Kursk salient with attacks on the base of the salient from north and south simultaneously. 

After the German offensive stalled on the northern side of the salient, on 12 July the Soviets commenced their Kursk Strategic Offensive Operation with the launch of Operation Kutuzov (Russian: Кутузов) against the rear of the German forces on the same side. 

On the southern side, the Soviets also launched powerful counterattacks the same day, one of which led to a large armoured clash, the Battle of Prokhorovka. 

On 3 August, the Soviets began the second phase of the Kursk Strategic Offensive Operation with the launch of Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev (Russian: Полководец Румянцев) against the German forces on the southern side of the salient.

The Germans hoped to weaken the Soviet offensive potential for the summer of 1943 by cutting off and enveloping the forces that they anticipated would be in the Kursk salient. 

Hitler believed that a victory here would reassert German strength and improve his prestige with his allies, who he thought were considering withdrawing from the war. 

It was also hoped that large numbers of Soviet prisoners would be captured to be used as slave labour in the German armaments industry. 

The Soviet government had foreknowledge of the German intentions, provided in part by British intelligence’s Tunny intercepts. 

Aware months in advance that the attack would fall on the neck of the Kursk salient, the Soviets built a defence in depth designed to wear down the German armoured spearhead. 

The Germans delayed the offensive while they tried to build up their forces and waited for new weapons, giving the Red Army time to construct a series of deep defensive belts and establish a large reserve force for counter-offensives.

The battle was the final strategic offensive that the Germans were able to launch on the Eastern Front. 

Because the Allied invasion of Sicily began during the battle, Adolf Hitler was forced to have troops training in France diverted to meet the Allied threat in the Mediterranean, rather than use them as a strategic reserve for the Eastern Front. 

Hitler cancelled the offensive at Kursk after only a week, in part to divert forces to Italy. 

Germany’s extensive losses of men and tanks ensured that the victorious Soviet Red Army enjoyed the strategic initiative for the remainder of the war. 

The Battle of Kursk was the first time in the Second World War that a German strategic offensive was halted before it could break through enemy defences and penetrate to its strategic depths. 

Though the Red Army had succeeded in winter offensives previously, their counter-offensives after the German attack at Kursk were their first successful summer offensives of the war.

Battle of France

The Battle of France, also known as the Fall of France, was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries during the Second World War. 

On 3 September 1939 France had declared war on Germany, following the German invasion of Poland. 

In early September 1939, France began the limited Saar Offensive. 

By mid-October, the French had withdrawn to their start lines. In six weeks from 10 May 1940, German forces defeated Allied forces by mobile operations, conquering France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, ending land operations on the Western Front until the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944. 

Italy entered the war on 10 June 1940.

In Fall Gelb (Case Yellow), German armoured units made a surprise push through the Ardennes, and then along the Somme valley, cutting off and surrounding the Allied units that had advanced into Belgium to meet the expected German invasion. 

British, Belgian and French forces were pushed back to the sea by the German armies and the British evacuated the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), French and Belgian troops from Dunkirk in Operation Dynamo.

German forces began Fall Rot (Case Red) on 5 June. 

The sixty remaining French divisions and the two British divisions in France made a determined stand on the Somme and Aisne but were defeated by the German combination of air superiority and armoured mobility. 

German tanks outflanked the Maginot Line and pushed deep into France, occupying Paris unopposed on 14 June. 

After the flight of the French government and the collapse of the French Army, German commanders met with French officials on 18 June to negotiate an end to hostilities.

On 22 June, the Second Armistice at Compiègne was signed by France and Germany. The neutral Vichy government led by Marshal Philippe Pétain superseded the Third Republic and Germany occupied the North Sea and Atlantic coasts of France and their hinterlands. 

The Italian invasion of France over the Alps took a small amount of ground and after the armistice Italy occupied a small occupation zone in the south-east. 

The Vichy regime retained the unoccupied territory in the south (zone libre). 

In November 1942, the Germans and Italians occupied the zone under Case Anton (Fall Anton), until the Allied liberation in 1944.

Battle of Stalingrad

n the Battle of Stalingrad (23 August 1942 – 2 February 1943),

Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad (now Volgograd) in Southern Russia. 

Marked by fierce close-quarters combat and direct assaults on civilians in air raids, it is one of the bloodiest battles in the history of warfare, with an estimated 2 million total casualties.

After their defeat at Stalingrad, the German High Command had to withdraw considerable military forces from the Western Front to replace their losses.

The German offensive to capture Stalingrad began in August 1942, using the 6th Army and elements of the 4th Panzer Army.

The attack was supported by intense Luftwaffe bombing that reduced much of the city to rubble. The battle degenerated into house-to-house fighting, as both sides poured reinforcements into the city.

By mid-November, the Germans had pushed the Soviet defenders back at great cost into narrow zones along the west bank of the Volga River.

On 19 November, the Red Army launched Operation Uranus, a two-pronged attack targeting the weaker Romanian and Hungarian armies protecting the 6th Army’s flanks.

The Axis flanks were overrun and the 6th Army was cut off and surrounded in the Stalingrad area.

Adolf Hitler was determined to hold the city at all costs and forbade the 6th Army from attempting a breakout; instead, attempts were made to supply it by air and to break the encirclement from the outside. 

Heavy fighting continued for another two months.

At the beginning of February 1943, the Axis forces in Stalingrad, having exhausted their ammunition and food, surrendere:932 after five months, one week and three days of fighting.

Operation Overlord

Operation Overlord was the codename for the Battle of Normandy, the Allied operation that launched the successful invasion of German-occupied Western Europe during World War II. 

The operation was launched on 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings. 

A 1,200-plane airborne assault preceded an amphibious assault involving more than 5,000 vessels. Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel on 6 June, and more than two million Allied troops were in France by the end of August.

The decision to undertake a cross-channel invasion in 1944 was taken at the Trident Conference in Washington in May 1943. 

General Dwight D. Eisenhower was appointed commander of Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force, and General Bernard Montgomery was named as commander of the 21st Army Group, which comprised all the land forces involved in the invasion. 

The coast of Normandy of northwestern France was chosen as the site of the invasion, with the Americans assigned to land at sectors codenamed Utah and Omaha, the British at Sword and Gold, and the Canadians at Juno. 

To meet the conditions expected on the Normandy beachhead, special technology was developed, including two artificial ports called Mulberry harbours and an array of specialised tanks nicknamed Hobart’s Funnies.

 In the months leading up to the invasion, the Allies conducted Operation Bodyguard, a substantial military deception that used electronic and visual misinformation to mislead the Germans as to the date and location of the main Allied landings. 

Führer Adolf Hitler placed German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in charge of developing fortifications all along Hitler’s proclaimed Atlantic Wall in anticipation of an invasion.

The Allies failed to accomplish their objectives for the first day, but gained a tenuous foothold that they gradually expanded when they captured the port at Cherbourg on 26 June and the city of Caen on 21 July. 

A failed counterattack by German forces on 8 August left 50,000 soldiers of the 7th Army trapped in the Falaise pocket. 

The Allies launched a second invasion from the Mediterranean Sea of southern France (code-named Operation Dragoon) on 15 August, and the Liberation of Paris followed on 25 August. German forces retreated east across the Seine on 30 August 1944, marking the close of Operation Overlord.

North Africa Campaign

The North African campaign of the Second World War took place in North Africa from 10 June 1940 to 13 May 1943. 

It included campaigns fought in the Libyan and Egyptian deserts (Western Desert Campaign, also known as the Desert War) and in Morocco and Algeria (Operation Torch), as well as Tunisia (Tunisia Campaign).

The campaign was fought between the Allies, many of whom had colonial interests in Africa dating from the late 19th century, and the Axis Powers. 

The Allied war effort was dominated by the British Commonwealth and exiles from German-occupied Europe. 

The United States officially entered the war in December 1941 and began direct military assistance in North Africa on 11 May 1942. Canada provided a small contingent of 348 officers and enlisted men.

Fighting in North Africa started with the Italian declaration of war on 10 June 1940. On 14 June, the British Army’s 11th Hussars (assisted by elements of the 1st Royal Tank Regiment, 1st RTR) crossed the border from Egypt into Libya and captured the Italian Fort Capuzzo. 

This was followed by an Italian counter-offensive into Egypt and the capture of Sidi Barrani in September and its recapture by the British in December following a British Commonwealth counteroffensive, Operation Compass. During Operation Compass, the Italian 10th Army was destroyed and the German Afrika Korps—commanded by Erwin Rommel, who later became known as “The Desert Fox”—was dispatched to North Africa in February 1941 during Operation Sonnenblume to reinforce Italian forces in order to prevent a complete Axis defeat.

A fluctuating series of battles for control of Libya and regions of Egypt followed, reaching a climax in the Second Battle of El Alamein in October 1942 when British Commonwealth forces under the command of Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery inflicted a decisive defeat on Rommel’s Afrika Korps and forced its remnants into Tunisia. 

After the Anglo-American landings (Operation Torch) in North-West Africa in November 1942, and subsequent battles against Vichy France forces (who then changed sides), the Allies encircled several hundred thousand German and Italian personnel in northern Tunisia and finally forced their surrender in May 1943.

Operation Torch in November 1942 was a compromise operation that met the British objective of securing victory in North Africa while allowing American armed forces the opportunity to engage in the fight against Nazi Germany on a limited scale. 

In addition, as Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union, had long been pleading for a second front to be opened to engage the Wehrmacht and relieve pressure on the Red Army, it provided some degree of relief for the Red Army on the Eastern Front by diverting Axis forces to the North African theatre. 

Over half the German Ju 52 transport planes that were needed to supply the encircled Axis forces at Stalingrad were tied up supplying Axis forces in North Africa.

Information gleaned via British Ultra code-breaking intelligence proved critical to Allied success in North Africa. 

Victory for the Allies in this campaign immediately led to the Italian Campaign, which culminated in the downfall of the fascist government in Italy and the elimination of Germany’s main European ally.

The North Africa campaign was often labeled a “war without hate,” a pure military clash in the desert without the partisan roundups and ethnic cleansing happening in Europe. 

This view has been challenged by recent historians, given that there were indeed many civilians who lived in the region, and the campaign was marked by numerous atrocities and abuses  towards prisoners of war and local Jewish, Berber and Arab populations. They were often motivated by racism and anti-semitism.