This timeline depicts some of the major events in World War II
Created by SBerger870 on Feb 5, 2011
Last updated: 02/12/11 at 06:49 PM
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Iwo Jima is a Japenese island that is close enough to the Japenese Mainland to be of very high tactical importance to the Americans. Under Japenese control the island could use their two military airfields to launch Japenese fighter planes, but it could also be used as a pistop for damaged american planes if Iwo Jima shifted hands to the Americans. Americans had been getting ready for their assault by constantly bombing the island for two full months before actually launching their attack on February, 19 1945. This tiny island took over a month to take moving only several hundred meters a day, and Marine deaths were very high. This battle was very critical in the decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki because it showed America how far Japan would go to defend themselves.
200,000 German soldiers and almost 1,000 tanks were sent by Hitler in order to try and divide up the Allied forces in the Ardennes forest. He almost succeeded too. The Germans had already broken through the American ranks,and Belgium townspeople thought that the war was lost, and put away their Allied flags for Swastikas. However, Dwight Eisenhower, President of the US brought reinforcements to the battle, and Lt. General Patton's 3rd Army turned the tide of the battle. It didn't take long before Bastogne had been rid of German soldiers and the "bulge" of Germans had dissapeared. Never again would Germany mount an attack on the Allies of this scale The Prime Minister of Britain, Winston Churchill said, "This is undoubtedly the greatest American battle of the war and will, I believe, be regarded as an ever-famous American victory."
The Battle of Kursk was the largest tank battle of WWII with over 1500 tanks involved. Germany had hoped to take Kursk so that its enemies would not think it was a retreating army wide open to attack after Stalingrad. Also they were afraid that Kursk might attack the Germans if the troops gathered around it were allowed to stay. Before the battle started, Russians were topped off by German prisoners that the attack would be on July 5th so Russia met them with a bombing in the middle of the night on July 5th. One week later the Russians launched a major offensive that forced the Germans into a retreat, and the city of Kharkov was retaken, marking the end of the Battle of Kursk. This was the last major offense to be launched in Russia, and it left Germany with 500,000 men dead.
The Battle of Midway was one of the most important battles fought during WWII because it completely destroyed Japan's chances of succeeding with their Pacific campaign. This is because the Allies destroyed four of Japan's aircraft carriers that were almost irreplaceable, along with many of the Japenese crewmen with the experience to run them. Yamaoto, the commander of the Japenese Fleet had a nearly perfect plan to destroy the American fleet except that it had one fatal flaw. The US had tapped Japan's radios and knew about the diversionary plan, and so they made sure that it would not go according to plan. Once the battle started the US Navy obliterated the four carriers, and thus prevented any chance that the Japanese had of claiming Midway Island, and extending their control of the Pacific.
The Battle of Coral Sea was actually an entirely airborn battle where opposing ships never even saw each other. Japan was planning on taking over New Guinea and Port Moresby, because they wanted to further expansion in the East and if Port Moresby was taken New Guinea could be used as a stepping stone to get to and isolate Austrailia from Allied assistance. By Mid-May the battle ended when the US destroyed the Shoho. It was then that the Japanese realized that getting to Austrailia was fuitile and retreated. Although in the end the US loss of the Lexington carrier far outweighed Japanese losses, it was considered a victory for the Allies because they had kept Japan away from Austrailia .
Early morning December 7th, Japan achieved completed surprise in bombing Pearl Harbor. Initially, the first wave of 181 planes went unnoticed, and finally disregarded as American planes until it was too late to mount any defensive force. By the end of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, 21 ships of the U.S. Pacific Fleet were destroyed or damaged. This marked the first time any country had attacked on American soil, and it made the U.S. so furious at Japan that it took less than one day after that for them to declare war on Japan.
Many people believe that the battle of Stalingrad was the turning point of the war. This is because the Soviets halted German advance into their country, and they forced the German army into a full retreat. Stalingrad was an important target for the Germans because of the oil fields they hoped to secure after the battle, and because the city was the center of communications for the Soviet Union. However, the city was not a very easy target even without the opposing Red Army The German army faced sub-zero temperatures, and low food and ammunition supply. The battle of Stalingrad was nothing short of a massive success for the Allies, and over 91,000 Germans were taken prisoner.
Before Germany could attack England directly they had to obtain air superiority,and so the Luftwaffe worked to rid the skies of British fighter planes while bombing all of England. For the entire first month of the battle the Luftwaffe was attacking coastal ship merchant ships in an effort to spread thin the planes of Fighter Command, Britain's air force. The attacks weren't very succesful, and all they really served to accomplish by the time the rest of the battle started was that now Fighter Command knew how to deal with the Luftwaffe more quickly and efficently. On August 15, a systematic bombing of radar towers and airfields happened from all three of the Luftwaffe's fleets. This was the bloodiest day of the battle. This airfield stratefy was really paying off but then then the Germans made their fatal mistake and headed for the capital of England. This farther inland target gave Fighter Command enough time to regroup and put up such a fight that Germany was convinced they could not win in Britain.
After arriving at to defend the French lowlands against the Germans, French and British forces were overwhelmed and forced to retreat and evacuate northern France through a port of Dunkirk. The operation was a stunning success. After evacuating over 7,000 people from France on the first day, they continued with the evacuations. Meanwhile the Royal Air Force kept the Germans at bay to create time. In all, over 322,000 men were rescued from Dunkirk by the end of Operation Dynamo on June 4, 1940. This rescue of soldiers from France was one of the most succesful rescue missions ever completed, and it provided additional soldier to the Allies that would have otherwhise probably been slaughtered.
Poland was attacked by Germany on September 1st 1939 as the begining of Germany open warfare. Code named Operation White, Poland had fallen by the end of the month. Germany won because Poland was completely outmatched and outnumbered by Germany's new tanks and Luftwaffe planes. Roosevelt saw this attack as just the begining and so this event led to Roosevelt preparing his troops for the war that he saw to be inevitable.