When German leader Adolf Hitler signed a nonaggression pact with Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, Great Britain and France became uneasy. On September 1, 1939, Hitler invaded Poland, and unrest turned into a declaration of war. America joined this war just two years later after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
World War II was one of the most shattering wars our earth has seen. Over a six-year period, it devastated millions and changed the course of entire countries.
This period was a time when America took a stand in the world. Comrades faced fear and death together, and war made another powerful and brutal stamp in the history books.
During World War II, numerous battles erupted worldwide, each with its own significance. Let’s take a look at three WWII battles that were particularly influential for the U.S.
The Battle of Midway (June 4-7, 1942)
Six months after the Pearl Harbor attack, the U.S. entered a four-day naval battle with Japan.
The Imperial Japanese Navy had already damaged the U.S. Navy during Pearl Harbor and the Battle of the Coral Sea. They planned an attack on Midway to conquer more land, stop the U.S. Navy, and assert Japanese dominance in the Pacific. The U.S. had other plans, however.
American intelligence broke the code used by the Japanese navy, and they found out when and where the Japanese were planning to attack. The Americans assembled three aircraft carriers (the Enterprise, the Hornet, and the repaired Yorktown) to meet Japanese ships.
While U.S. torpedo bombers held Japan’s attention, dive-bombers finally arrived and attacked the Japanese carriers. The Japanese withdrew, marking a victory for the U.S.
While lives were lost, the U.S. triumphed overall. This battle reduced the sweeping invasion the Japanese planned. In addition, it raised U.S. morale after receiving such a great wound at Pearl Harbor.
The Battle of Guadalcanal (August 7, 1942-February 9, 1943)
In June of 1942, the Japanese chose the Solomon Islands’ Guadalcanal as a site for an air base. That August, U.S. Marines sprung a surprise attack on the Japanese.
Forces clashed on land and in the sea in an intense battle that lasted six months. The U.S. Marines, Infantry, and Navy fought to remove the Japanese from the island and prevent potential threats to Australia nearby.
At one point, the U.S. Navy planned to withdraw their forces when the Japanese Navy attacked them by surprise. With one Australian cruiser and three American cruisers sunk, the U.S. Navy decided they needed to leave quickly. The U.S. Marines were left alone to protect the island.
Month after month, Japanese forces attacked the marines to secure the island, but the marines fought with determination. In February, the Japanese finally withdrew from Guadalcanal.
This battle was a major turning point for the Allied Forces, particularly for the U.S. This fierce yet fruitful clash also brought with it a psychological turning point for the Allies. Japan’s advantage was diminished. The U.S. and her allies had switched from defense to offense, and were succeeding.
Operation Overlord, the Battle of Normandy (June 6Â -July 24, 1944)
On June 6, 1944 (D-Day), approximately 156,000 Allied Forces stormed five beaches along Normandy, France. In a gruesome battle, the American, British, and Canadian troops were able to secure the beaches in a week.
Paratroopers and glider troopers took over bridges and exit routes, so thousands more troops, vehicles, and tons of equipment could enter Normandy.
By August, over three million Allied troops were in France. The German Army had to retreat and pull needed reinforcements from the Eastern and Italian fronts. This brought weak points and delays in their defense. With Paris liberated from German control, the Allies soon pushed the Germans out of northwestern France.
Operation Overlord succeeded.
D-Day and the following weeks carried apprehension for both soldiers and citizens. Its acts of courage brought hope for the end of a prolonged and horrific war. Because of this great victory, the Allies could enter Germany from the west while Soviets entered from the east. And WWII would eventually come to an end.
Each of WWII’s many battles were important. Throughout its involvement, the United States saw heartbreak, terror, determination, and massive growth.
These three battles were noteworthy for the U.S. because they signify key traits America demonstrated-resilience, sacrifice, and immense courage. With these qualities and many human lives, WWII finally ceased.
Whether you or a loved one fought during WWII, or whether you’re too young to remember its events, it’s important to remember this war and honor those who fought so bravely.