World War II: Battle Summaries By Erika Samuelson

Axis: 850,000 casualties USSR: 1,150,000 casualties

Battle of Stalingrad

July 17th, 1942 - February 2nd, 1943

The Battle of Stalingrad is considered one of the bloodiest battles, with nearly 2 million casualties, and one of the most crucial turning points in WWII. The Nazi Army bombed the Soviet city, hurling the devastating battle into action. Germans planned to invade Stalingrad because they believed it was essential to their campaign furthering into southern Russia. But the importance and symbolic nature of this city was crucial to Joseph Stalin as well as the Russians, who were determined to build their defenses against the incoming Germans.

Under the rule of General Paulus, the German Sixth Army reached the outskirts of Stalingrad, prepared to take the city with no strenuous effort. But the Russians had built up their defenses and were well ready with reinforcements. General Chuikov took command and planned the counteroffensive, but the clash resulted in tremendous losses, leaving the city littered with decaying bodies.

In mid-November, the Germans were surrounded, but Hitler would not allow them to fight their way out, they had to stay and hold their ground. Winter had settled, and the Sixth Army had frozen and starved to death because they were forbade of trying to reach their rescuers.

Significance to Axis and Allied Powers

Hitler was humiliated at the Soviet victory, and he became more distrustful than ever towards his generals. Stalin on the other hand, felt great confidence in his military, which remained largely on the offensive at Stalingrad for the rest of the war.

Allies: 4,413 casualties German/Axis: 4,000 - 9,000 casualties

D-Day - Normandy Landings

June 6, 1944 - August 1944

On D-Day, over 160,000 Allied troops landed in France on the beach of Normandy. More than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the invasion to fight against Nazi Germany, which allowed American, British, and Canadian forces a strong foothold into Europe. This invasion was one of the largest military assaults in history, which required extensive planning.

The invasion of Normandy resulted in more than 4,000 Allied casualties, but the sacrificed lives paved way for over 326,000 troops to land and secure the beaches less than a week later.

Commander Rommel was away on leave which left the Germans in confusion of the ranks, and the deception campaign led by the Allies continued their disarray. Hitler believed the invasion was a distraction from a coming attack north of the Seine River, so he refused to release divisions to join the counterattack. Germans were thwarted by the attack and lack of support, and many key bridges were taken out by Allied air support, shortening their road to victory.

In the following weeks, Allies fought their way through German resistance in Normandy, which led to the seizing of Cherbourg. Approximately 850,000 men and 150,000 vehicles landed and were poised to continue their march across France.

By the end of August 1944, Germans had been removed from northwestern France, Paris was liberated, and the Allies had reached the Seine River. Once the destination was reached, Allied troops prepared to enter Germany where they would meet Soviet troops moving in from the east.

Significance to Axis and Allied Powers

The successful invasion of Normandy beach on D-Day was considered the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany. From then on, Allied troops fought their way through German force until Germany was stuck between their failures from facing Russia and other allied powers, until they finally surrendered.

Approx. 10,000 Casualties, american and filippino

Bataan Death March

April 9, 1942

The Japanese invasion of the Philippines began the day after the Pearl Habror attack. The capital city of Manila was captured, and eventually some 75,000 American and Filipino troops had to surrender. These 75,000 troops were forced to walk 65 miles across the Bataan peninsula to prison camps.

"The force on Bataan, numbering some 76,000 Filipino and American troops, is the largest army under American command ever to surrender."

Most died from the brutality brought upon by the Japanese captors, who severely mistreated, beat, and bayoneted those who could not walk. Others were shot or beheaded for trying to escape or to find water. The arduous journey became known as the Bataan Death March, where lives perished from starvation, disease, and pure brutality, and those who survived to see the death camps and ships did not live to see the voyage.

Significance to Axis and Allied Powers

At this point, the campaign against the Japanese did not look ambitious for Americans. The hostility and plotting between the nations only grew, until of course the a-bombs were dropped. Although the Americans and Filipinos surrendered, it was considered a propaganda victory, proving the Imperial Japanese Army were not an invicible force that had taken other colonial possessions in the Pacific.

Japanese navy : 3,057 American Pacific Fleet: 340 casualties

Battle of Midway

Jun 3, 1942 – Jun 7, 1942

At the Battle of Midway, the United States defeated Japan in one of the most conclusive naval battles of WWII. Six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, major advances in code-breaking allowed the U.S. to predetermine and prevent Japan's ambush on the few remaining aircraft carriers that survived the wreckage in Hawaii. The Japanese fleet met in the Pacific Ocean with the intention to destroy what was left of American Aircraft carriers.

Six months before the Battle of Midway, the islands were attacked on December 7, 1941, less than two hours after Pearl Harbor.

Japanese fleet commander Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku planned to target relativley near Pearl Harbor to draw out the American fleet, but to their surprise, U.S. carriers were already poised to which Admiral Chester W. Nimitz planned on using for air strikes on the island of Midway itself.

Significance to Axis and Allied Powers

Midway turned the tides in WWII in favor of the Allies. After sinking the entire strength of the task force, U.S. soilders were headed for Tokyo. Meanwhile, the Japanese had suffered from intercepted communications and debunked codes which led them to losing four fleet carriers, with 322 aircraft and 5,000 sailors in this battle.


Erika Samuelson

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