WWII Timeline

  • Invasion of Manchuria

    The invasion of Manchuria began when Japanese forces invaded the northeastern territory of China. Many people will argue that this will mark the beginning of WWII. The Japanese planned to take control over as much of Asia and the Pacific as they could. If the Japanese were able to take control of Manchuria, they would be able to have access to many of that regions natural resources. China was not at all prepared for this invasion and after a few months of fighting, Manchuria had fallen.
  • China Falls to Japan

    After a few months of fighting in China, Japan had finally taken over the State of Manchuria. The Japanese then set up a puppet state here that was called Manchukuo. This event is extremely important, because this was Japan's first successful step in enlarging their empire which will continue to grow from here on until the end of the war in 1945. Although China was being invaded, the rest of the world paid little attention due to their own issues.
  • Blitzkrieg into Poland

    The Blitzkrieg into Germany marks the beginning of WWII in Europe. Although Germany had been building up their military and expanding their territory over the last few years, it wasn't until now that the German's put their military might to the test. The Polish military was a weak match for Germany and Poland fell very shortly after the invasion. Germany and Russia had agreed to work together to take Poland and the two nations agreed to split up the territory between each other.
  • Battle of the Atlantic

    The Battle of the Atlantic was the single longest running campaign during WWII. This campaign began in 1939 and didn't end until Germany was defeated in 1945. This campaign was very important, because Germany planned to occupy the Atlantic with their navy. However, our ally Great Britain, depended largely on important goods and would require the Atlantic Ocean to be safe in order to get goods transported in. Therefore we had to combat the German navy in order to get our convoys across the ocean.
  • German Invasion of France

    After conquering Poland, Germany was now focusing its attention on capturing France and the neighboring countries surrounding the western front. After France fell to Germany, the British and their allies were forced to retreat back to Britain. This allowed Germany to completely occupy France up until D-Day. The Germans used their air superiority, ground forces and armored tanks to sweep through France. The Germans bypassed the Maginot Line just as they had done during WWII (took about 6 weeks).
  • Dunkirk

    The Battle of Dunkirk was a final attempt by the allies to defend the western front from the Nazi invasion before evacuation. After the British had evacuated France, the French were forced to face the German's head on in their home territory without any help. The majority of the fighting took place in Dunkirk, France. The battle lasted until May 6th, when the allied forces retreated back to Great Britain. About 330,000 allied troops were rescued from the Battle of Dunkirk.
  • Battle of Britain/The Blitz

    Although it is called the Battle of Britain, there was actually no fighting that occurred in Britain. This battle was between the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and the German Luftwaffe over the English Channel. The Germans were trying to defeat Britain by continuously bombing them whenever they could. However, the British people maintained a high morale and continued to fight back in whatever way that they could. This is important, because Germany was never able to successfully defeat Britain.
  • Germany takes Greece

    The Battle of Greece was part of Nazi Germany's campaign through the Balkan region. Italy had been attacking Greece since 1940, but once Germany had entered Greece through Bulgaria, Greece had a war on two fronts with Italy and Germany. By April 27th the German army had reached Athens and Greece was now under axis control. Being that Hitler needed to support Mussolini in Greece, a lot of his focus was taken off of the campaign in Africa and this is considered one of the biggest mistakes he made.
  • Operation Barbarossa

    This was the code name for the German invasion of the Soviet Union. When Germany began a war on the eastern front it surprised the entire world. At the beginning of the war the two countries signed an armistice that stated they would not attack each other and now Germany was going back on the terms of the armistice. The invasion consisted of over 4 million axis troops, this was the largest land invasion ever recorded in the history of war. Fortunately for the allies, the German invasion failed.
  • Pearl Harbor

    Pearl Harbor
    The attack on Pearl Harbor is "a date which will forever live in infamy, because it was a surprise attack on our naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. At this point in time the U.S. did not have the means to enter WWII, but when the Japanese launched a surprise attack on us, the whole nation cried for war. The Japanese had planned to cripple our navy with this attack, but we recovered from our losses shortly after. This invasion was later declared a war crime during the Tokyo Trials
  • Philippines Campaign

    Philippines Campaign
    The Battle of the Philippines began very shortly after the Attack on Pearl Harbor. Japan began the attack in order to try and take control over most of the Islands in the Pacific to add to their growing empire. The defending forces in the Philippines outnumbered the invading Japanese, but the majority of the defending units were inexperienced and were unable to keep them out. Therefore, there were many American casualties and the allies had lost control over the Philippines for now.
  • New Guinea

    The New Guinea Campaign lasted from 1942, until the Japaneses surrender in August of 1945. At the time that Japan had invaded New Guinea, it was part of the Dutch East Indies. It was one of the most difficult campaigns of the war for American forces who had to fight very hard throughout. Effective naval blockades and superior military capability, caused Japan to take heavy losses. The majority of the casualties were caused by disease and starvation. Nonetheless, they fought until the bitter end.
  • Bataan Battle and March

    Bataan Battle and March
    After allied troops had failed to defend the Bataan Peninsula from Japanese invaders, approximately 75,000 allied troops were forced to surrender. The battle of the Bataan resulted in a Japanese victory and to punish the American troops that were captured, they were forced to walk 65 miles to prison camps. This was known as the Bataan Death March, because so many people died along this trip from exhaustion, dehydration, starvation and/or from being brutally beaten by their Japanese captors.
  • Doolittle Raid

    Doolittle Raid
    The Doolittle Raid was an air raid conducted by the U.S. military. Their goal was to bomb the city of Tokyo and other important locations on the Honshu Island. The raid got its name from Lieutenant Colonel James "Jimmy" Doolittle, who had devised the plan. This move was extremely important, because the success of the raid boosted American morale greatly and showed that Japan was able to be defeated. The Doolittle raid had involved 16, B-25 Bombers and about 30 crew members.
  • Coral Sea

    Coral Sea
    The Battle of the Coral Sea was the first air/sea battle in the history of war. The battle lasted 4 days and was fought between the Japanese and allied forces. The Japanese were trying to take control of Southeast New Guinea, but were stopped by allied fighter pilots from the U.S. aircraft carriers nearby. The battle concluded in an allied victory and resulted in the Japaneses planes being depleted to a point where they would no longer be able to attack Port Moresby in South east New Guinea.
  • Midway

    The Battle of Midway was a naval battle fought about 6 months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Japanese were attempting to eliminate all American forces in the Pacific, because we were the biggest threat to their conquests at the time. However, this was a decisive battle in the war, because Japan had failed to destroy our fleet that was protecting midway. American cryptographers were able to figure out when and where the Japanese would be attacking and suffered many losses.
  • Guadalcanal

    The Battle of Guadalcanal was the first major allied offensive against the Japanese Empire. The battle was fought around the island of Guadalcanal in the Pacific Theater. This battle was important, because along with Midway, it would mark one of the turning points in the war. Before the victory in Guadalcanal, the Japanese Empire was at its peak. However, the surprise of the invasion caught the Japanese off guard and they were not able to keep control of the island.
  • Stalingrad

    The battle that took place in Stalingrad was fought between the Soviet Union and the axis powers on the Eastern Front. Germany's goal was to take the city of Stalingrad from the Soviet Union. Although the city had no strategic significance, the Russian army fought hard to defend it and were able to hold the city, despite Germany's effort to take it. This was one of the bloodiest and most hard-fought battles of the war. The majority of the fighting was close-quarters and extremely brutal.
  • 2nd Battle of El Alamein

    This battle was part of the North African Campaign and was a very important victory for the allied powers. The battle was fought near the Egyptian railway halt of El Alamein and it prevented the axis powers from moving further into Egypt. This victory over the axis powers improved the allied morale, because many soldiers previously feared fighting the mighty axis. This battle set the tone for what it would be like fighting Germany for the rest of the war.
  • Operation Torch

    Operation torch was the code name for the British/American invasion of French North Africa. This operation was pushed by the Soviet Union who wanted the other allies to open up a second front with Nazi Germany. They hoped that this invasion would take Germany's focus off the war with Russia. The operation was a success and eventually the majority of the axis powers were pushed out of North Africa. The allies believed that a campaign in Africa would be better than starting another in Europe.
  • Sicily

    The Allied Invasion of Sicily was code named Operation Husky and was yet another campaign of WWII. During this campaign, the allied powers took the island of Sicily from the axis powers. By defeating the axis powers in Sicily, it opened up trade routes through the Mediterranean Sea that allied ships were now able to sail through. The success of the campaign also drove back the axis naval and our powers, giving us a significant foothold in southern Europe. This caused Hitler to send forces East.
  • Kursk

    The Battle of Kursk was again fought between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. This battle was one of the largest armored battles of the war, because it was fought mostly with tanks. The Germans planned to take many Soviet prisoners by attacking Kursk, but the allied counter-offensive had anticipated a German invasion. This gave the Soviets plenty of time to build a deep defensive line. Germany hoped to reassure it's strength by getting a victory in Kursk, but the attempt had failed.
  • Salerno

    The amphibious landing in Salerno, Italy was part of Operation Avalanche. This landing was one of the many parts that included the Allied Invasion of Italy. After the axis powers were defeated in North Africa, the allies decided that the next best move was to enter Europe through Italy. Although an invasion of mainland Europe was becoming an inevitable scenario, the allies were not yet prepared for what the possible consequences would be. The result of this operation was an allied victory.
  • Gilbert and Marshall Islands

    The Gilbert and Marshall Islands Campaign consisted of a series of battles between American forces and Imperial Japan. The goal of the campaign was to be able to set up airfields and naval bases on these islands, that would allow U.S. forces to continue island hopping through the Pacific. This campaign was part of the larger Pacific Theater and mostly involved the United States Pacific Fleet and the Marines.
  • Anzio

    The Battle of Anzio was also another part of the Campaign in Italy. Although the initial landing was met with very little resistance, the allied commander at the time chose to delay any further movement of allied troops deeper into Italy. This gave the German defenses here time to mobilize their troops to where they were most needed. The goal of the the operation was to take Rome from the axis powers. After many months of hard fighting, the allies eventually came out victorious.
  • D-Day

    The Normandy Landings on D-Day would be one of the toughest feats of the entire war. This would end up being the largest seaborne invasion in all of history. Although the Germans anticipated an invasion, they were not 100% were the allies would be invading from. The allies had landed of on 5 beaches however, the invaders landing on Omaha and Utah Beach would be met with the most resistance. The allies suffered heavy casualties, but by the end of the day all the beach heads were secured.
  • Guam

    The Second Battle of Guam was a battle fought in order to re-capture the Japanese controlled island of Guam. Guam was a U.S. territory in the Mariana Islands and was captured by the Japanese during the First Battle of Guam in 1941. The battle resulted in American victory and Japanese forces suffered almost 15 times as many casualties as the Americans did. Although the Japanese Empire was on the decline, they were showing very few signs of giving up.
  • Operation Dragoon

    Operation Dragoon was meant to be conducted simultaneously with Operation Overlord (Normandy Landings) in an attempt to overwhelm the German forces in Southern France. However a lack of resources delayed Operation Dragoon, but did not delay D-Day. The entire goal of the operation was to secure the major ports in Southern France. In combination with the revived French Resistance, the allies were able to defeat the Germans in Southern France and eventually push them out completely.
  • Philippines (1944-1945)

    The Liberation of the Philippines was fought between 1944 and 1945. The point of the operation was for allied forces to take back the Philippines which was captured by the Japanese in 1942. The recapture of the Philippines was important, because it was a huge morale booster for American troops who were fighting in the Pacific. The fighting begin with an amphibious landing on the Leyte Island. Here the iconic photo of General MacArthur wading through the water was also taken.
  • Battle of Leyte Gulf

    The Battle of Leyte Gulf was fought in the Philippines between American and Japanese forces. This battle was one of the largest naval battles of the war. This battle is significant, because the Imperial Japanese Navy suffered such heavy losses that they were unable to mobilize any significant naval force for the rest of the war. Their navy was crippled to a point where they were only able to defend the territories that they already had control of (Any offensive moves were no longer possible).
  • Battle of The Bulge

    The Battle of the Bulge was the final German counter-offensive of WWII. The "bulge" was an area in Belgium controlled by American forces right in the middle of German controlled territory. The Germans believed if they could break through the bulge they would be able to push back American forces. However, against almost impossible odds, hardened American troops were able to fight through a brutal winter against a last ditch German offensive. The Germans suffered crippling losses after the battle.
  • Bastogne

    The Siege of Bastogne was a military engagement between American forces and German forces in Bastogne, Belgium. This was part of the Larger "Battle of the Bulge". Although outnumbered by the German "Volksgrenadier" and the Second Panzer Division, a single American Company was able to hold back the German offensive before George Patton's 3rd army was able to arrive and relieve the battered American troops. It was considered a battle that we should have never won, but still did in the end.
  • Yalta Conference

    The Yalta Conference was one of the meetings held between Joseph Stalin, FDR and Winston Churchill (The Big 3). They all met to discuss the reconstruction and reorganization of Europe after Germany's defeat. Although Nazi Germany had not surrendered yet, it was obvious that with some time they would lose the war. The conference was held near Yalta in Crimea, USSR. In historical context, although the Yalta Conference signified the end of WWII in Europe, it marked the beginning of the Cold War.
  • Iwo Jima

    The Battle of Iwo Jima resulted in allied forces taking control of the island of Iwo Jima. The Japanese had multiple airfields set up on the island that could be used to launch air raids on mainland Japan. Being that this location had such strategic value, the island was heavily fortified and not easily taken. Even after their defeat, many Japanese soldiers went into hiding, refusing to surrender. This made it pretty clear that no matter what, Japan would not go down without a fight.
  • Okinawa

    The Battle of Okinawa was a series of battles fought on the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. However the majority of the fighting took place in Okinawa. Similarly to Iwo Jima, Okinawa was extremely close to mainland Japan and would be used to set up airfields to later conduct air raids. Victory along the Ryukyu Islands was a very important, strategic victory. This was one of the bloodiest battles of the entire Pacific Theater, because the Japanese fought hard and utilized many Kamikaze Attacks.
  • Hitlers Suicide

    Although there is much controversy around the way Hitler died, it is most commonly suspected that he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He committed suicide alongside his wife who had taken a cyanide pill. Hitlers death marks the end of the war in Europe. Many German officers and other leaders of the Nazi party went into hiding thereafter, because they knew they would be tried for war crimes. However, enlisted soldiers began surrendering in the 1,000's after hearing the news.
  • German Surrender

    Shortly after receiving the news of Hitlers death, the German high-command decided to surrender against Adolf's final wishes. In Europe this day is celebrated as VE day (Victory in Europe). The surrender of Germany was extremely important, because it meant that the fighting in Europe was over and now the allies could focus solely on Japan. Now thousands of troops could return home or continue fighting in the Pacific. After the Germans had surrendered many Nazis were tried for war crimes.
  • Potsdam

    The Potsdam Conference was held between Harry S. Truman, Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill to discuss Germany's future after they had surrendered. The conference was also held to discuss what would be done with a war torn Europe that obviously needed to be rebuilt. This conference also lead to Japans ultimatum, either surrender now or face "prompt and utter destruction". However, even though the end was near for them too, Japan had refused to surrender and were willing to fight it out.
  • Hiroshima and Nagasaki

    The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are what ultimately convinced a stubborn Japan to finally surrender. The U.S. had been developing a devastating atomic weapon that they were finally ready to use. Although not fully aware of its capabilities, we decided to use it anyways. "Little Boy" and "Fat Man" arguably lead to over 100,000 civilian casualties. A decision that has been highly controversial hit Japan so unexpectedly, they had no other choice than to surrender.
  • Japanese Surrender

    The Surrender of Japan finally marked the end of WWII. The war in Europe had ended a few months prior and now the war in the Pacific was finished also. Although Japan made it clear they would not surrender, many Japanese leaders new that surrender would have to happen no matter what. Once the United States decided to use its atomic weapons, Japan was finally convinced that they may actually face "prompt and utter destruction". August 14, 1945 marked the end of the largest war the world ever saw.