The Course of the War * World War II a war on two fronts: Europe and the Pacific * War in the Pacific – Goal was to contain the Japanese; mainly a naval war * Until 1942, the Japanese had the upper hand * Battle of the Coral Sea (May 1942) – Allies able to force the previously unstoppable Japanese navy to retreat * Battle of the Midway (June 1942) – Four-day naval battle. Great victory for the U.S. – despite heavy losses, the American navy was able to gain control of the central Pacific. Considered a major turning point in the war. * After the Battle of Midway, the Americans assumed much more offensive positions. * The Western Front (Europe) – The U.S. worked alongside the other Allies in defeat the Nazis * U.S., British, and Free French forces fought Germany from the west while the Soviet Union fought Germany from the east. * U.S. troops were not initially sent to Europe, but to North Africa (Egypt, Algeria, and Morocco). * July 1943 – Invasion of Italy – Long, difficult campaign. The Allies were eventually victorious, but the campaign occupied their time and resources for close to a year.
The End of the War * The Defeat of the Axis Powers * By the middle of 1943, American and its allies had succeeded in stopping the Axis advance in both Europe and the Pacific. * During the next two years (1944 – 1945), the Allies launched a series of powerful offensive campaigns against the Axis powers. * The Western Front * By early 1944, American and British bombers were carrying out massive bombing campaigns. Targeted German industrial sites – which drastically cut German military production. * June 1944 – Invasion of France (D-Day Invasion) – Surprise attack at Normandy. Airplanes and battleships bombarded Nazi defenses, while American, British, and Canadian troops stormed the beaches. Fighting was intense, but the Allies forced the Nazis to flee the Normandy coast within a week. * August 1944 – Free French forces liberated Paris * September 1944 – German forces driven almost entirely out of France and Belgium * December 1944 – Battle of the Bulge – Last major battle on the Western Front. American forces drove Germans back 55 miles. * January 1945 – Soviet forces begin an invasion of eastern Germany; soon after, the Allied powers in the west (including the U.S.) began to invade western and northern Germany. Nazis now surrounded on all sides. * April 30th, 1945 – Adolf Hitler committed suicide after learning that Soviet forces were about to invade Berlin * May 8th, 1945 – the remaining German forces surrendered * The Pacific Offensive * By February 1944, the Allies were making great progress in the Pacific – the U.S. Navy had destroyed many vital Japanese holdings; American submarines were decimating Japanese shipping and crippling Japan’s domestic economy. * By the summer of 1944, the U.S. had captured the Mariana Islands, Guam, Tinian, and Saipan, * October 1944 – the U.S. began efforts to take the Philippines. These battles would be some of the largest in naval history * Battle of Leyte Gulf – Largest naval battle in history. The Japanese employed nearly their entire fleet against the Allies. American forces were able to hold off the Japanese onslaught. Sank 4 Japanese carriers, all but destroying Japan’s ability to carry out a serious naval war. * February 1945 – Americans seized Iwo Jima, after engaging in the costliest battle in the history of the Marine Corps. * Battle of the Okinawa – Extremely fierce fight. By this point, the Japanese are getting desperate. Send kamikaze (suicide) planes against American and British ships. The Allies suffered nearly 50,000 casualties before finally capturing Okinawa in June 1945. * By the summer of 1945, the