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 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.

The Battle of Midway

The Battle of Midway was a major naval battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II that took place on 4–7 June 1942, six months after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and one month after the Battle of the Coral Sea. 

The U.S. Navy under Admirals Chester W. Nimitz, Frank J. Fletcher, and Raymond A. Spruance defeated an attacking fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy under Admirals Isoroku Yamamoto, Chūichi Nagumo, and Nobutake Kondō near Midway Atoll, inflicting devastating damage on the Japanese fleet that rendered their aircraft carriers irreparable. Military historian John Keegan called it “the most stunning and decisive blow in the history of naval warfare”, while naval historian Craig Symonds called it “one of the most consequential naval engagements in world history, ranking alongside Salamis, Trafalgar, and Tsushima Strait, as both tactically decisive and strategically influential”.

The Japanese operation, like the earlier attack on Pearl Harbor, sought to eliminate the United States as a strategic power in the Pacific, thereby giving Japan a free hand in establishing its Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. 

The Japanese hoped another demoralizing defeat would force the U.S. to capitulate in the Pacific War and thus ensure Japanese dominance in the Pacific. 

Luring the American aircraft carriers into a trap and occupying Midway was part of an overall “barrier” strategy to extend Japan’s defensive perimeter, in response to the Doolittle air raid on Tokyo. 

This operation was also considered preparatory for further attacks against Fiji, Samoa, and Hawaii itself.

The plan was handicapped by faulty Japanese assumptions of the American reaction and poor initial dispositions. 

Most significantly, American cryptographers were able to determine the date and location of the planned attack, enabling the forewarned U.S. Navy to prepare its own ambush. Four Japanese and three American aircraft carriers participated in the battle. 

The four Japanese fleet carriers—Akagi, Kaga, Sōryū and Hiryū, part of the six-carrier force that had attacked Pearl Harbor six months earlier—were sunk, as was the heavy cruiser Mikuma. The U.S. lost the carrier Yorktown and the destroyer Hammann.

After Midway and the exhausting attrition of the Solomon Islands campaign, Japan’s capacity to replace its losses in materiel (particularly aircraft carriers) and men (especially well-trained pilots and maintenance crewmen) rapidly became insufficient to cope with mounting casualties, while the United States’ massive industrial and training capabilities made losses far easier to replace. 

The Battle of Midway, along with the Guadalcanal campaign, is widely considered a turning point in the Pacific War

Battle of the Buldge

The Battle of the Bulge, also known as the Ardennes Counteroffensive, was a major German offensive campaign on the Western Front during World War II, and took place from 16 December 1944 to 25 January 1945.

It was launched through the densely forested Ardennes region in Belgium and Luxembourg towards the end of the war in Europe.

The offensive was intended to stop Allied use of the Belgian port of Antwerp and to split the Allied lines, allowing the Germans to encircle and destroy four Allied armies and force the Western Allies to negotiate a peace treaty in the Axis powers’ favor.

The Germans achieved a total surprise attack on the morning of 16 December 1944, due to a combination of Allied overconfidence, preoccupation with Allied offensive plans, and poor aerial reconnaissance due to bad weather.

American forces bore the brunt of the attack and incurred their highest casualties of any operation during the war.

The battle also severely depleted Germany’s armored forces, and they were largely unable to replace them. German personnel and, later, Luftwaffe aircraft (in the concluding stages of the engagement) also sustained heavy losses.

The Germans had attacked a weakly defended section of the Allied line, taking advantage of heavily overcast weather conditions that grounded the Allies’ overwhelmingly superior air forces. Fierce resistance on the northern shoulder of the offensive, around Elsenborn Ridge, and in the south, around Bastogne, blocked German access to key roads to the northwest and west that they counted on for success.

Columns of armor and infantry that were supposed to advance along parallel routes found themselves on the same roads.

This, and terrain that favored the defenders, threw the German advance behind schedule and allowed the Allies to reinforce the thinly placed troops.

The farthest west the offensive reached was the village of Foy-Nôtre-Dame, south east of Dinant, being stopped by the U.S. 2nd Armored Division on 24 December 1944.

Improved weather conditions from around 24 December permitted air attacks on German forces and supply lines, which sealed the failure of the offensive. On 26 December the lead element of Patton’s U.S. Third Army reached Bastogne from the south, ending the siege. 

Although the offensive was effectively broken by 27 December, when the trapped units of 2nd Panzer Division made two break-out attempts with only partial success, the battle continued for another month before the front line was effectively restored to its position prior to the attack. 

In the wake of the defeat, many experienced German units were left severely depleted of men and equipment, as survivors retreated to the defenses of the Siegfried Line.

The Germans’ initial attack involved 410,000 men; just over 1,400 tanks, tank destroyers, and assault guns; 2,600 artillery pieces; 1,600 anti-tank guns; and over 1,000 combat aircraft, as well as large numbers of other armored fighting vehicles (AFVs). 

These were reinforced a couple of weeks later, bringing the offensive’s total strength to around 450,000 troops, and 1,500 tanks and assault guns. 

Between 63,222 and 98,000 of these men were killed, missing, wounded in action, or captured. 

For the Americans, out of a peak of 610,000 troops, 89,000 became casualties out of which some 19,000 were killed. 

The “Bulge” was the largest and bloodiest single battle fought by the United States in World War II and the third-deadliest campaign in American history.

Normandy Landings

 

The Normandy landings were the landing operations and associated airborne operations on Tuesday, 6 June 1944 of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War II

Codenamed Operation Neptune and often referred to as D-Day, it was the largest seaborne invasion in history. 

The operation began the liberation of German-occupied France (and later western Europe) and laid the foundations of the Allied victory on the Western Front.

Planning for the operation began in 1943. 

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

The weather on D-Day was far from ideal, and the operation had to be delayed 24 hours; a further postponement would have meant a delay of at least two weeks, as the invasion planners had requirements for the phase of the moon, the tides, and the time of day that meant only a few days each month were deemed suitable. 

Adolf Hitler placed Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in command of German forces and of developing fortifications along the Atlantic Wall in anticipation of an Allied invasion.

The amphibious landings were preceded by extensive aerial and naval bombardment and an airborne assault—the landing of 24,000 AmericanBritish, and Canadian airborne troops shortly after midnight

Allied infantry and armoured divisions began landing on the coast of France at 06:30. The target 50-mile (80 km) stretch of the Normandy coast was divided into five sectors: UtahOmahaGoldJuno, and Sword. Strong winds blew the landing craft east of their intended positions, particularly at Utah and Omaha. 

The men landed under heavy fire from gun emplacements overlooking the beaches, and the shore was mined and covered with obstacles such as wooden stakes, metal tripods, and barbed wire, making the work of the beach-clearing teams difficult and dangerous. Casualties were heaviest at Omaha, with its high cliffs. 

At Gold, Juno, and Sword, several fortified towns were cleared in house-to-house fighting, and two major gun emplacements at Gold were disabled using specialised tanks.

The Allies failed to achieve any of their goals on the first day. 

CarentanSt. Lô, and Bayeux remained in German hands, and Caen, a major objective, was not captured until 21 July. Only two of the beaches (Juno and Gold) were linked on the first day, and all five beachheads were not connected until 12 June; however, the operation gained a foothold that the Allies gradually expanded over the coming months. 

German casualties on D-Day have been estimated at 4,000 to 9,000 men. Allied casualties were documented for at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead. Museums, memorials, and war cemeteries in the area now host many visitors each year.