Battles of World War II

Geuel Simiyu

Pacific Front

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Bataan Death march

  • April 9th 1942
  • 75,000 American and Filipino troops surrender the Bataan peninsula to the Japanese on the main Philippine island of Luzon
  • The troops were to march 65 miles from mariveles to San Fernando where they would take the train to a prison camp in Capas
  • The troops were separated into groups of about 100 men.
  • During this five day march, the Japanese didn't provide food, water or rest.
  • 2 out of 7 didn't survive and those who were too weak or couldn't keep going were executed on the spot by beheading or bayoneted
  • Once they arrived in San Fernando, they were taken to prison camps where thousands more died of disease, mistreatment and starvation

Battle of Midway

  • June 1942
  • The battle of Midway was Japan's attempt to attack the US through a land invasion
  • The japanese planned to take control of the Island of Midway and later attack Hawaii
  • Japanese Admiral Isoruko Yamamoto wanted to make an advance toward the US before their industrial power was fully mobilize against Japan
  • Admiral Yamamoto chose the Midway Atholl because of its proximity to Hawaii, and if the Americans were to lose the battle, it would be easy to invade Hawaii
  • Yamamoto's fleet was almost three times the size of the US fleet during this battle but the Japanese were at a disadvantage for several reasons
  • First, the Japanese had underestimated US naval power and second, American code breakers were able to determine the exact date and location of the attack
  • With the element of surprise, the US was able to defeat the Japanese at a naval war for the first time in 300 years.

The "Two-Pronged Attack" Strategy

  • June 1942
  • Developed by General MacArthur and Admiral Chester W. Nimitz after the Battle of Midway to keep the Japanese from gaining control of the Pacific ocean and allowing the US to gain control of the Pacific
  • The strategy can also be seen as "Island hopping"
  • If the strategy worked, the US army would have Japan surrounded and cut off from resources or assistance from places like Thailand and Vietnam
  • The strategy would also allow the US to place bombers facing Japan on the surrounding islands

"Island Hopping"

  • The "Island Hopping" idea was the physical definition of the two-pronged strategy
  • General MacArthur was to take his troops and push Northwest through the New Guinea coast and into the Bismarck Archipelago to eventually take control of the Philippines from the Japanese
  • Admiral Nimitz was to take his troops across the Pacific, "hopping" through the Gilbert, Marshall, Caroline and Marianas islands.
  • This plan would have Japan surrounded and allow the US to lounge a mainland attack

Battle of Iwo Jima

  • February 1945
  • Following the "Island hopping" strategy the US had gotten to the Marianas Islands and the next step from there, was to take the Island of Iwo Jima
  • Knowing that the US would eventually want to invade Iwo Jima and create an air base, the Japanese created numerous dugouts, caves, tunnels and underground installations that were fully stocked with weapons and their best men in preparation
  • The Japanese heavily defended this island because it was only 575 miles away from the Japanese coast
  • The US marines expected to take the island in about five days but because Japanese preparations and their insistence to fight to the death, the war lasted for nearly a month.
  • The Japanese soldiers were commanded to fight to their dying breath and because of this, of the 23,000 Japanese soldiers that were stationed as Iwo Jima, only about 1,000 left the island alive
  • The Americans lost 5,900 men and had 17,400 wounded
  • The American victory allowed the construction of an air base in Iwo Jima that allowed the bombers to land there instead of going all the way back to the Marianas Islands

Battle of Okinawa

  • April 1 -June22, 1945 (82 days)
  • Longest, largest, bloodiest and last war of the Pacific war
  • The battle was fought on the Island of Okinawa and like the battle of Iwo Jima, the Japanese fought to the death because the island was very close (less that 300 miles) from mainland Japan
  • Again the Americans invaded this Island because they wanted to build an airbase for the coming last battle on mainland Japan
  • This battle was especially long due to the fact that the Japanese didn't setup any defences along the edge of the island or the beaches but further inland
  • This meant that the troops would have hike through the rough terrain before reaching the battle ground
  • Since this was Japan's last attempt at redeeming itself, they used desperate tactics such as "one way" suicide missions by both the Army and the Navy and kamikaze tactics, making this battle the bloodiest of the Pacific battles
  • This battle unlike the rest had heavy civilian casualties (100,000 people) because the Japanese made the natives believe that if they fell to the Americans they would live a life of torture therefore, many civilians committed suicide and others were simply caught in the crossfire
  • The US had 7,374 killed, 31,807 wounded and 239 missing because of the heavy rainfall and mud
  • After this battle, the Atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The troops could hardly believe that the Japanese had finally surrendered because of how hard they fought during the Pacific war

The Flying tigers

  • The flying tigers were comprised of highly skilled American volunteer pilots
  • In late 1930s, the Japanese decided to expand their control of China and China was not well equipped to counter their attacks
  • Madame Chiang Kai-shek leader of the chinese Aeronautical Commission, hired recently retired American captain Claire L. Chennault to evaluate the Chinese Air force
  • Chennault created a new Air force to protect the chinese in this war known as the American Volunteer Group (AVG) flying the American made P40 planes that bore the chinese symbols
  • These pilots were able to fight with the Chinese in early 1942 under the chinese and not americans because the US was not at war with the Japanese until late 1942 at Pearl Harbor
  • Although less agile and more massive than the Japanese planes, the flying tigers (P40) had more firepower and more shielding around the engine and the cockpit to protect the pilot
  • Because of AVG's large success, the chinese people give them the name "the flying tigers" because they fought like "flying tiger sharks".

European/African Front

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Strategy: Closing in on Hitler on three sides

When the US joined the effort to fight against the Nazi regime, the Germans started to fall slowly. Eventually, US efforts would lead to an attack from three sides to ultimately destroy the Nazis. From the south, US General Dwight Eisenhower and British General Bernard Montgomery led operation Torch in North Africa in November 1942 in an effort to liberate the the North African countries and Italy from Nazi rule which would put their armies on the border of Germany. From the West, British, Canadian and US soldiers would attack the Germans along the French coast on beaches codenamed Gold, Juno, Sword, Utah and Omaha. Later, Russia would close in on Germany from the east after realising that they couldn't fight anymore.

The Battle of Normandy

  • June 1944-August 1944
  • The battle began on June 6th also known as D-Day
  • Allied attack by Britain, Canada and the US by land on the coast of france
  • This attack was aimed to liberate Western Europe from German control
  • The three armies strategically attacked five codenamed beaches; Gold, Juno, Sword, Utah and Omaha
  • Combined, the entire allied army was more than a million men, 5,000 ships , 50,000 vehicles and 100,000 tons of equipment was used in this battle
  • Among others, General Dwight Eisenhower led this large operation, calling it "the great crusade"
  • Although this war was bloody and gruesome, the allied forces were able to liberate France by August which led many to refer to this battle as beginning of the end of the war in Europe

The battle of bulge

  • December 1944
  • Germany's final attempt to fight back the advances made by the allied forces in Belgium
  • The Germans attack during the harsh winter that many soldiers weren't prepared for, the soldiers were not equipped with enough gear to protect themselves from the cold and many soldiers froze to death because of this
  • The Germans attacked aggressively and the American soldiers were forced to attack just as aggressive if not more because if they lost this war, then the Germans would have the opportunity to regain the territory lost during the battle of Normandy
  • The germans would eventually fall because of a shortage in fuel but the war was declared a draw
  • General George S. Patton is credited for navigating the defencive troops and playing a key role in the victory of this battle
  • This battle had the largest american casualties of all the battles; 100,000 casualties, because of the harsh weather and the surprise attack from Germany

Omar N. Bradley

Omar Bradley was first appointed to assist Dwight Eisenhower after the American defeat in Kasserine pass. Later he was selected by Eisenhower to command the American troops in operation Overlord (battle of Normandy). In this Battle, Omar developed operation Cobra which allowed the Americans to get off the beach and to actual battle ground, this plan also eventually made the collapse of Germany possible.

George c. Marshall

George Marshall was a highly decorated and well respected military leader. Marshall was a newly assigned Chief of staff when WWII broke out in Europe. Seeing the inevitable end to this war, Marshall is credited for increasing the US army tenfold from 1940 to 1942. Marshall also played a crucial role in strategizing the attacks at the battle of Normandy.

Navajo Code Talkers

Secrecy during war is very important and to ensure the utmost security for encrypted messages during WWII, the US marine corps enlisted men from the Navajo tribes. These men were responsible for sending secure messages during the war. Other methods of encrypting and decrypting messages were too complicated, took too long and were vulnerable of decrypting by the enemy. Phillip Johnston initiated this recruitment of Navajo men and trained them to send such messages.

Tuskegee Airmen

During WWII, African Americans were still not allowed to have leadership positions in the army or become pilots in the Air Force. The Tuskegee Airmen were a experiment held by the government to see if African Americans were suitable to become Airmen in the war. This was an experiment because there wasn't much hope that it would work. Despite all the discrimination, the Tuskegee Airmen fought with the utmost discipline and set records for the least casualties after more that 200 missions that was not beat by any others.

The fall of Berlin

The last battle that finally took down Hitler was done by the Soviet Union. Stalin bombarded the German forces with so much force but the Germans held out until April 24. The other allied forces stopped their advances and let the Russians finish the war according to their agreement. Once Berlin had fallen, Hitler decided to take his own life along with his new wife rather than risk getting captured.