World War II the Battle of Britain What was it?

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World War II

The Battle of Britain

What was it? 
The Battle of Britain was an important battle in World War II. After Germany and Hitler had conquered most of Europe, including France, the only major country left to fight them was Great Britain. Germany wanted to invade Great Britain, but first they needed to destroy Great Britain's Royal Air Force. The Battle of Britain was when Germany bombed Great Britain in order to try and destroy their air force and prepare for invasion. 

german planes battle of britain 
German planes attacking Britain

When was it? 
The Battle of Britain started on July 10th, 1940. It lasted many months as the Germans continued to bomb Britain. 

How did it get its name? 
The name comes from a speech by the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill. After Germany had overrun France, he said that "the Battle of France is over. The Battle of Britain is about to begin." 

The Battle 
Germany needed to prepare for the invasion of Britain, so they first attacked towns and army defences on the southern coast. However, they soon found that Britain's Royal Air Force was a formidable opponent. The Germans decided to focus their efforts on defeating the Royal Air Force. This meant they bombed airport runways and British radar. 
Although the German bombings continued, the British did not stop fighting back. Hitler began to get frustrated at how long it was taking to defeat Great Britain. He soon switched tactics and started bombing large cities including London. 


Battle of Britain Day 

On September 15, 1940 Germany launched a large bombing attack on the city of London. They felt that they were closing in on victory. The British Royal Air force took to the sky and scattered the German bombers. They shot down a number of German planes. It was clear from this battle that Britain was not defeated and that Germany was not being successful. Although Germany would continue bombing London and other targets in Great Britain for a long time, the raids began to slow as they realized they could not defeat the Royal Air Force. 

Who won the Battle of Britain? 
Although the Germans had more planes and pilots, the British were able to fight them off and win the battle. This was because they had the advantage of fighting over their own territory, they were defending their homeland, and they had radar. Radar allowed the British to know when and where German planes were coming to attack. This gave them time to get their own planes in the air to help defend. 

london bombed during battle of britain 
A London street after a bombing

Interesting Facts

  • Great Britain's air force was called the RAF or the Royal Air Force. Germany's air force was called the Luftwaffe.

  • The code name for Hitler's invasion plans was Operation Sea Lion.

  • It is estimated that around 1,000 British planes were shot down during the battle, while over 1,800 German planes were destroyed.

  • The main types of fighter planes used in the battle were the Messerschmitt Bf109 and the Bf110 by the German Luftwaffe and Hurricane Mk and Spitfire Mk by the Royal Air Force.

  • The leader of the German Luftwaffe was Herman Goering. The leader of the Royal Air Force was Sir Hugh Dowding.

  • Germany continued to bomb London at night until May of 1941. This series of bombings was called the Blitz. At one point London was bombed for 57 nights in a row.

  • Hitler finally stopped bombing London because he needed his bombers to invade Russia.

World War II
Battle of the Atlantic

During World War II both the Allies and the Axis Powers fought for control of the Atlantic Ocean. The Allies wanted to use the Atlantic to resupply Great Britain and the Soviet Union in their fight against Germany and Italy. The Axis Powers wanted to stop them. This fight for control of the Atlantic Ocean is called the Battle of the Atlantic.

Where did it take place? 
The Battle of the Atlantic took place throughout the northern region of the Atlantic Ocean. Once the United States entered the war the battle spread all the way to the coast the United States and the Caribbean Sea. 

How long did it last? 
The battle lasted over 5 years and 8 months from September 3, 1939 to May 8, 1945. 

Early Battles 
The early battles in the Atlantic heavily favored the Germans. They used their submarines to sneak up on British ships and sink them with torpedoes. The Allies didn't know what to do and lost a lot of ships over the first few years of the war. 

German submarines were called U-boats. This was short for "Unterseeboot", which meant "undersea boat." The Germans quickly ramped up manufacture of their U-boats and had hundreds of submarines patrolling the Atlantic Ocean by 1943. 

Allied Convoys 
The Allies tried to counter the U-boat attacks by travelling in large groups called convoys. They often had destroyer warships that would help to escort them and defend them from attacks. For a period of time in 1941 this method was fairly effective in helping get many ships through safely to Britain. However, as the Germans built more and more submarines the convoys became less successful. 
A Convoy Crossing the Atlantic

Secret Codes and Innovations 

In 1943 the battle reached its peak. The Germans had a large number of submarines in the Atlantic, but the Allies had broken the German secret codes and had developed new technologies for fighting submarines. The Allies used radar to tell where the ships were and special new underwater bombs called Hedgehogs that helped to destroy the submarines. 

The Battle Turns in Favor of the Allies 

By the middle of 1943, the battle had turned in favor of the Allies. From this point on in the war, the United States was able to more freely ship supplies to Great Britain including the large supply of soldiers and weapons needed for the Normandy Invasion. 


The control of the Atlantic had a major impact on the outcome of the war. Keeping Britain supplied helped to keep the Germans from taking over all of Western Europe. 

The losses in the battle were staggering. Over 30,000 sailors were killed on each side. The Allies lost around 3,500 supply ships and 175 warships. The Germans lost 783 submarines. 

Interesting Facts about the Battle of the Atlantic

  • Winston Churchill first called it the "Battle of the Atlantic" in 1941.

  • It was estimated that at least 20 supply ships needed to arrive each day in Britain in order for them to continue to fight the war.

  • The Allies lost 1,664 supply ships in 1942.

  • The Germans sometimes used a "wolf pack" tactic where a number of submarines would surround and attack a supply convoy at once.

  • Allied planes used a large spotlight called the Leigh Light to spot submarines that had surfaced at night.

World War II

Attack on Pearl Harbor

The Attack on Pearl Harbor happened on December 7th, 1941. Japanese airplanes made a surprise attack on the US Navy in Pearl Harbor. They destroyed many ships and killed many soldiers. It was this attack that forced the United States to enter World War II. 

pearl harbor japanese fighter plane 
Japanese fighter plane attacking

Where is Pearl Harbor? 
Pearl Harbor is located in Hawaii on the island of O'ahu. Hawaii is located in the Pacific Ocean between California and Japan. During the time of World War II, Hawaii was not a state, but a US territory. 

Before the Attack 
World War II had been raging in Europe and Asia for two years, but the United States had not entered the war. The Empire of Japan was trying to take over much of Asia and was worried about the US Navy in Hawaii. They decided to strike in order to prevent the United States from attacking them. 

The Japanese thought that if they took out the war ships in Pearl Harbor, then the United States Navy would be crippled and would never attack. However, they were mistaken and the attack on Pearl Harbor had just the opposite result. The US declared war the next day. 

The Attack 
The attack on Pearl Harbor came as a complete surprise. Hundreds of Japanese fighter planes and bombers flew to Pearl Harbor and attacked. The bombers dropped bombs and torpedoes on the war ships, while the fighter planes attacked the US fighter planes on the ground so they could not take off and fight back. There were two waves of attacks and by the end of the second wave a number of US ships were destroyed. 

uss arizona sinking 
The USS Arizona sinking

The Numbers 
Here are the casualties from both sides during the attack. Although the Japanese inflicted considerable damage to the US Navy, they did not cripple it. They damaged many ships including warships, destroyers, and cruisers. They also destroyed a lot of the fighter planes and aircraft at the base. However, all of the US ships but three (the Arizona, the Utah, and the Oklahoma) were able to be recovered and were used later during the war. 
The biggest US loss was the sinking of the USS Arizona. Over 1,100 US military personnel died when the Arizona sunk. 

After the Attack 
The citizens of the United States were in shock. They had tried to avoid the war, but they could not ignore this attack. The Japanese had hoped to break the Americans by attacking Pearl Harbor, instead they united them. The next day, December 8th, 1941, the US declared war on Japan. Three days later Japan's allies, Germany and Italy, declared war on the United States. The United States was now a major part of World War II. 
The US Navy was able to recover from the attack on Pearl Harbor fairly quickly. The Japanese had not damaged a number of important facilities on the Hawaiian Islands, including oil storage depots and repair yards. Also, no aircraft carriers were in Pearl Harbor at the time of the attack. Aircraft carriers would soon become the most important type of navy vessels in the war. 

Today there is a memorial to the US soldiers who lost their lives during the attack on Pearl Harbor. It is called the USS Arizona memorial and is built on the water above the wreckage of the USS Arizona. The wreckage is considered a US National Historic Landmark. 

Interesting Facts

  • The Japanese reportedly had intended to declare war prior to the attack. However, the message never got to the President.

  • President Roosevelt gave a famous speech after the attack in which he said December 7th would be a "day which would live in infamy".

  • Every president since Franklin D. Roosevelt has visited the USS Arizona Memorial site.

  • The Japanese also used submarines, including smaller ones called midget submarines, in the attack.

  • The entire attack lasted around 110 minutes, just under two hours.

  • The Japanese attacked on a Sunday morning because they thought the US soldiers would be less alert at that time.

World War II

Battle of Stalingrad

The Battle of Stalingrad was one of the largest and deadliest battles in World War II. It was a turning point in the war. After losing the battle, the German army lost so many soldiers and took such a defeat that they never quite recovered. 

soviet tanks in ww2 
Soviet Union tanks defend Stalingrad

About Stalingrad the City 
Stalingrad was located in Southwest Russia on the Volga River. It was a major industrial and communications center for the Soviet Union in the south. Also, it was named after the Soviet leader Josef Stalin. This made the city important to Stalin and also important to Hitler, who hated Stalin. 
Stalingrad was called Tsaritsyn until 1925 when it was renamed Stalingrad in honour of Josef Stalin. In 1961 the city's name was changed to Volgograd, meaning Volga City. 

When was the Battle? 
The battle took place during the last part of 1942 and early 1943. After months of fighting and finally nearly starving to death, the Germans surrendered on February 2, 1943. 

The Battle 
The battle began with the German air force, the Luftwaffe, bombing the Volga River and the then the city of Stalingrad. They reduced much of the city to rubble. Soon the German army moved in and was able to take a large portion of the city. 
However, the Soviet troops were not ready to give up. Fighting in the city of Stalingrad was fierce. Soviets hid all over the city, in buildings and even the sewers, attacking the German soldiers. This brutal battle began to take its toll on the Germans. 

ww2 battle of stalingrad soldiers 
Soviet Soldiers fight in the streets of the city

In November, the Soviets gathered and made a counter attack. They trapped the German army inside of Stalingrad. Soon the Germans began to run out of food. Finally, weak from lack of food and freezing from the cold winter, the majority of the German army surrendered. Hitler was angry with General Paulus for surrendering. He expected Paulus to fight to the death or commit suicide, rather than surrender. Paulus, however, surrendered and later spoke out against the Nazi's while in Soviet captivity. 

How many soldiers fought at the Battle of Stalingrad? 
Both sides had large armies of over 1 million soldiers. They also each had hundreds of tanks and over 1,000 planes. It is estimated that around 750,000 soldiers from the German army died and nearly 500,000 Russians. 

Who were the leaders? 
The German army was led by General Friedrich Paulus. He was promoted to Field Marshall right before he surrendered to the Russians. Hitler was hoping that promoting Paulus would boost his moral and cause him not to surrender. 
The Soviet Union army was led by General Georgy Zhukov. 

Interesting Facts

  • Adolf Hitler was very angry at General Paulus for losing the battle. He stripped Paulus of his rank and held a national day of mourning for the shame Paulus had brought on Germany by losing.

  • German tanks had trouble fighting in the streets of Stalingrad. Much of the city was turned into rubble which the tanks could not go around or over.

  • General Zhukov would lead the Soviet Union to many more victories by the end of World War II. He was one of the most decorated generals in the history of the Soviet Union.

  • Around 91,000 German soldiers were captured at the end of the battle.

World War II

D-Day: The Invasion of Normandy

On June 6, 1944 the Allied Forces of Britain, America, Canada, and France attacked German forces on the coast of Normandy, France. With a huge force of over 150,000 soldiers, the Allies attacked and gained a victory that became the turning point for World War II in Europe. This famous battle is sometimes called D-Day or the Invasion of Normandy. 

invasion of normandy landing 
US troops landing during the Invasion of Normandy

Leading up to the Battle 
Germany had invaded France and was trying to take over all of Europe including Britain. However, Britain and the United States had managed to slow down the expanding German forces. They were now able to turn on the offensive. 
To prepare for the invasion, the Allies amassed troops and equipment in Britain. They also increased the number of air strikes and bombings in German territory. Right before the invasion, over 1000 bombers a day were hitting German targets. They bombed railroads, bridges, airfields, and other strategic places in order to slow down and hinder the German army. 

The Germans knew that an invasion was coming. They could tell by all the forces that were gathering in Britain as well as by the additional air strikes. What they didn't know was where the Allies would strike. In order to confuse the Germans, the Allies tried to make it look like they were going to attack north of Normandy at Pas de Calais. 

The Weather 
Although the D-Day invasion had been planned for months, it was almost cancelled due to bad weather. General Eisenhower finally agreed to attack despite the overcast skies. Although the weather did have some affect and on the Allies ability to attack, it also caused the Germans to think that no attack was coming. They were less prepared as a result. 

The Invasion 
The first wave of the attack began with the paratroopers. These were men who jumped out of planes using parachutes. They jumped at night in the pitch dark and landed behind enemy lines. Their job was to destroy key targets and capture bridges in order for the main invasion force to land on the beach. Thousands of dummies were also dropped in order to draw fire and confuse the enemy. 
In the next stage of the battle thousands of planes dropped bombs on German defenses. Soon after, warships began to bomb the beaches from the water. While the bombing was going on, underground members of the French Resistance sabotaged the Germans by cutting telephone lines and destroying railroads. 
Soon the main invasion force of over 6,000 ships carrying troops, weapons, tanks, and equipment approached the beaches of Normandy. 

Omaha and Utah Beaches 
American troops landed at Omaha and Utah beaches. The Utah landing was successful, but the fighting at Omaha beach was fierce. Many US soldiers lost their lives at Omaha, but they were finally able to take the beach. 

forces coming to shore at normandy 
Troops and supplies coming to shore at Normandy

After the Battle 
By the end of D-Day over 150,000 troops had landed in Normandy. They pushed their way inland allowing more troops to land over the next several days. By June 17th over half a million Allied troops had arrived and they began to push the Germans out of France. 

The Generals 
The Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces was Dwight D. Eisenhower of the United States. Other Allied generals included Omar Bradley from the United States as well as Bernard Montgomery and Trafford Leigh-Mallory from Britain. The Germans were led by Erwin Rommel and Gerd von Rundstedt. 

Interesting Facts about D-Day

  • The troops needed the light of a full moon to see to attack. For this reason there were only a few days during a month when the Allies could attack. This led Eisenhower to go ahead with the invasion despite the bad weather.

  • The Allies wanted to attack during high tide as this helped the ships to avoid obstacles put in the water by the Germans.

  • Although June 6 is often called D-Day, D-Day is also a generic military term that stands for the day, D, of any major attack.

  • The overall military operation was called "Operation Overlord". The actual landings at Normandy were called "Operation Neptune".

World War II

Battle of the Bulge

The Battle of the Bulge was a major battle in Europe during World War II. It was Germany's final attempt to drive the Allies off of mainland Europe. Most of the troops involved on the Allied side were American troops. It is considered one of the greatest battles ever fought by the United States military. 

 When was it fought? 

After the Allies had freed France and defeated Germany at Normandy, many thought that World War II in Europe was coming to an end. However, Adolf Hitler of Germany had different ideas. Early in the morning on December 16, 1944 Germany launched a major attack. The battle lasted for around one month as American forces fought back and kept Germany's army from overrunning Europe. 

What's with the funny name? 
The Battle of the Bulge actually took place in the Ardennes Forest of Belgium. When the Germans attacked, they pushed back the center of the Allied forces' line. If you were to look at a map of the Allied army front, there would have been a bulge where the Germans attacked. 

What happened? 
When Germany attacked they used over 200,000 troops and nearly 1,000 tanks to break through the US lines. It was winter and the weather was snowy and cold. The Americans were not ready for the attack. The Germans broke through the line and killed thousands of American troops. They tried to advance quickly.

ww2 soldiers in the snow 
Soldiers had to deal with snow and bad weather

The Germans had a good plan. They also had English speaking German spies drop in behind the Allied lines. These Germans were dressed in American uniforms and told lies to try and confuse the Americans so they wouldn't know what was going on. 

American Heroes 
Despite the quick advance and the overwhelming forces of the Germans, many American soldiers held their ground. They did not want Hitler to take over again. The Battle of the Bulge is famous for all the small pockets of American soldiers who attacked and harassed the Germans as they tried to advance. 
One of the famous small fights that occurred was at Bastogne, Belgium. This city was at a key crossroads. The US troops of the 101st Airborne Division and the 10th Armored division were surrounded by Germans. They were ordered to surrender or die. US General Anthony McAuliffe didn't want to give up, so he replied to the Germans "Nuts!" Then his soldiers managed to hold out until more US troops could arrive. 

battle of the bulge soldiers in white 
Soldiers in white for camouflage

It was small groups of American troops throughout the front who dug in and held out until reinforcements could come that won the battle for the Allies. Their courage and fierce fighting won the battle and sealed the fate of Hitler and the Nazi's in World War II. 

Interesting Facts about the Battle of the Bulge

  • The Prime Minister of Britain, Winston Churchill, said "This is undoubtedly the greatest American battle of the war…."

  • One of the main reasons the Germans lost the battle was they did not have enough fuel for their tanks. American troops and bombers destroyed all the fuel depots they could and eventually the German tanks ran out of fuel.

  • Over 600,000 American troops fought in the Battle of the Bulge. There were 89,000 US casualties including 19,000 who died.

  • General George Patton's 3rd Army was able to reinforce the lines within a few days of the initial attack.

World War II

Battle of Berlin

The Battle of Berlin was the last major battle in Europe during World War II. It resulted in the surrender of the German army and an end to Adolf Hitler's rule. 

When did the Battle of Berlin take place? 

The battle began on April 16, 1945 and lasted until May 2, 1945. 

Who fought in the Battle of Berlin? 

The battle was primarily fought between the German Army and the Soviet Army. The Soviet army vastly outnumbered the Germans. The Soviets had over 2,500,000 soldiers, 7,500 aircraft, and 6,250 tanks. The Germans had around 1,000,000 soldiers, 2,200 aircraft, and 1,500 tanks. 

What was left of the German army was ill-equipped for the battle. Many of the German soldiers were sick, wounded, or starving. Desperate for soldiers, the German army included young boys and old men. 

Who were the commanders? 

The supreme commander of the Soviet army was Georgy Zhukov. Commanders under him included Vasily Chuikov and Ivan Konev. On the German side was Adolf Hitler, who remained in Berlin to help command and lead the defense of the city, as well as military commanders Gotthard Heinrici and Helmuth Reymann.

The Soviets Attack 

The battle began on April 16 when the Soviets attacked along the Oder River near Berlin. They quickly defeated the German forces outside Berlin and advanced on the city. 

The Battle 

By April 20th the Soviets began bombing Berlin. They worked their way around the city and had it completely surrounded in a few days. At this point, Hitler began to realize that he was going to lose the battle. He desperately tried to move a German army from western Germany to Berlin in order to save the city. 

Once the Soviets entered the city, the fighting became fierce. With the city in ruins and the streets full of rubble, tanks were of little use and much of the fighting was hand-to-hand and building-to-building. By April 30, the Soviets were approaching the center of the city and the Germans were running out of ammunition. At this point, Hitler admitted defeat and committed suicide along with his new wife, Eva Braun. 

The Germans Surrender 

On the night of May 1st, most of the remaining German soldiers attempted to break out of the city and escape to the western front. Few of them made it out. The next day, May 2nd, the German generals inside Berlin surrendered to the Soviet army. Only a few days later, on May 7, 1945 the remaining leaders of Nazi Germany signed an unconditional surrender to the Allies and the war in Europe was over. 
Ruined buildings in Berlin


The Battle of Berlin resulted in the surrender of the German army and the death of Adolf Hitler (by suicide). It was a resounding victory for the Soviet Union and the Allies. The battle took its toll on both sides, however. Around 81,000 Soviet Union soldiers were killed and another 280,000 were wounded. Around 92,000 German soldiers were killed with another 220,000 wounded. The city of Berlin was reduced to rubble and around 22,000 German civilians were killed. 

Interesting Facts about the Battle of Berlin

  • Around 150,000 Polish soldiers fought alongside the Soviet Union.

  • Some historians believe that Soviet leader Joseph Stalin was in a hurry to capture Berlin before the rest of the Allies so he could keep German nuclear research secrets for himself.

  • Poland celebrates its Flag Day on May 2 to commemorate the day it raised the Polish flag over Berlin in victory.

  • The battle left over a million Germans without homes, clean water, or food.

World War II

Battle of Midway

The Battle of Midway was one of the most important battles of World War II. It was the turning point of the war in the Pacific between the United States and Japan. The battle took place over four days between June 4th and June 7th in 1942.

Where is Midway? 
Midway is an island located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean about half way between Asia and North America (hence the name "Midway"). It lies around 2,500 miles from Japan. Because of its location, Midway was considered an important strategic island for Japan in the war. 

The Doolittle Raid 
On April 18, 1942, the United States launched its first attack on the Japanese home islands. This raid caused the Japanese to want to push back the American presence in the Pacific Ocean. They decided to attack the American base at Midway Island. 

How did the battle begin? 
The Japanese formulated a plan to sneak up on the U.S. forces. They hoped to trap a number of the U.S. aircraft carriers in a bad situation where they could destroy them. However, American code breakers had intercepted a number of Japanese transmissions. The Americans knew the Japanese plans and prepared their own trap for the Japanese. 

Who were the commanders in the battle? 
The Japanese were led by Admiral Yamamoto. He was the same leader who planned the attack on Pearl Harbor. The United States was led by Admiral Nimitz and Commander Fletcher. 

The Japanese Attack 
On July 4, 1942, the Japanese launched a number of fighter planes and bombers from their aircraft carriers to attack the island of Midway. Meanwhile, three United States aircraft carriers (Enterprise, Hornet, and Yorktown) were closing in on the Japanese force. 
A Japanese Battleship Sinking

A Surprise Response 
While the Japanese were focused on attacking Midway, the U.S. carriers launched an attack. The first wave of fighters were torpedo bombers. These planes would fly in low and try to drop torpedoes that would strike the side of the ships to sink them. The Japanese were able to fend off the torpedo attacks. Most of the U.S. torpedo attack planes were shot down and none of the torpedoes hit their target. 
However, while the Japanese guns were aimed low at the torpedo bombers, American dive bombers dove in and attacked from high up in the sky. These bombs hit their target and three of the four Japanese aircraft carriers were sunk. 

The Yorktown Sinks 
The Yorktown then engaged in battle with the final Japanese carrier, the Hiryu. Both carriers were able to launch a number of bombers against the other. In the end, both the Yorktown and the Hiryu were sunk. 
The Yorktown Sinking

Results of the Battle 
The loss of four aircraft carriers was devastating to the Japanese. They also lost a number of other ships, 248 aircraft, and over 3,000 soldiers. This battle was the turning point in the war and the first major victory for the Allies in the Pacific. 

Interesting Facts about the Battle of Midway

  • Today Midway Island is considered a territory of the United States.

  • The Japanese thought the U.S. only had two carriers. They were not counting on the Yorktown also being in the area.

  • For much of the rest of World War II, the United States used Midway Island as seaplane base and fuelling station for submarines.

World War II

Battle of Guadalcanal

The Battle of Guadalcanal was a major battle between the United States and Japan in World War II. The battle marked the first time since entering the war that the United States had gone on the offensive and attacked the Japanese. The battle lasted six months from August 7, 1942 to February 9, 1943. 
U.S. Marines Landing on the Beach

Where is Guadalcanal? 

Guadalcanal is an island in the South Pacific Ocean. It is part of the Solomon Islands located to the northeast of Australia. 

Who were the commanders? 

On the ground, the U.S. forces were led first by General Alexander Vandegrift and later by General Alexander Patch. The naval forces were led by Admiral Richmond Turner. The Japanese were led by Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto and General Hitoshi Imamura. 

Leading up to the Battle 

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese swept through much of Southeast Asia. As of August of 1942 they had control of much of the South Pacific including the Philippines. They were starting to threaten the U.S. ally of Australia. 

The United States had finally gathered enough forces in the Pacific to begin to attack Japan back after Pearl Harbor. They chose the island of Guadalcanal as a place to begin their attack. The Japanese had recently built an air base on the island which they planned to used to invade New Guinea. 

How did the battle begin? 

The battle began on August 7, 1942 when marines invaded the island. They first took the smaller islands of Florida and Tulagi just to the north of Guadalcanal. Then they landed on Guadalcanal. The marines had taken the Japanese forces by surprise and soon had control of the air base. 

Back and Forth

U.S. Marines in the Jungle

The Japanese did not give up easily, however. They won a naval battle off of Savo Island sinking four Allied cruisers and isolating the U.S. marines on Guadalcanal. Then they landed reinforcements on the island to take it back. 

Over the next six months the battle waged. The U.S. was able to protect the island during the day by sending out planes to bomb incoming Japanese ships. However, the Japanese would land at night using small fast ships, sending in more soldiers. 

The Final Attack 

in the middle of November, the Japanese launched a major attack involving over 10,000 soldiers. The fighting was fierce, but the Japanese were unable to advance. They were forced to retreat. From that point the battle turned in favor of the United States and they claimed total control of the island on February 9, 1943. 

Results of the Battle 

This was the first time that the Japanese had lost ground in the war and had a major impact on the morale of both sides. The Japanese lost 31,000 soldiers and 38 ships. The Allies lost 7,100 soldiers and 29 ships. 

Interesting Facts about the Battle of Guadalcanal

  • The code name for the initial invasion of the island by the U.S. was Operation Watchtower.

  • The nighttime convoys of Japanese reinforcements to the island were nicknamed the Tokyo Express by the U.S. soldiers.

  • The Americans named the airfield on the island Henderson Field after an American pilot that died during the Battle of Midway.

  • It is estimated that around 9,000 Japanese soldiers died from disease and starvation during the battle.

  • Several movies and books have been written about the battle including Guadalcanal Diary and The Thin Red Line (both were books that were later made into movies).

World War II

Battle of Iwo Jima

The Battle of Iwo Jima took place during World War II between the United States and Japan. It was the first major battle of World War II to take place on Japanese homeland. The island of Iwo Jima was a strategic location because the US needed a place for fighter planes and bombers to land and take off when attacking Japan. 

marines storm the beach of iwo jima 
US Marines storm the beach of Iwo Jima

Where is Iwo Jima? 

Iwo Jima is a small island located 750 miles south of Tokyo, Japan. The island is only 8 square miles in size. It is mostly flat except for a mountain, called Mount Suribachi, located on the southern end of the island. 

When was the battle? 

The Battle of Iwo Jima took place near the end of World War II. US Marines first landed on the island on February 19, 1945. The generals who planned the attack had thought that it would take around a week to take the island. They were wrong. The Japanese had many surprises for the US soldiers and it took over a month (36 days) of furious fighting for the US to finally capture the island. 

The Battle 

On the first day of the battle 30,000 US marines landed on the shores of Iwo Jima. The first soldiers that landed weren't attacked by the Japanese. They thought that the bombings from US planes and battleships may have killed the Japanese. They were wrong. 

iwo jima soldier with flame thrower 
Soldier using flame thrower

The Japanese had dug all sorts of tunnels and hiding places all over the island. They were waiting quietly for more marines to get on shore. Once a number of marines were on shore they attacked. Many US soldiers were killed. 

The battle went on for days. The Japanese would move from area to area in their secret tunnels. Sometimes the US soldiers would kill the Japanese in a bunker. They would move on thinking it was safe. However, more Japanese would sneak into the bunker through a tunnel and then attack from behind. 

first flag on iwo jima 
The first flag that was raised on Iwo Jima

Raising the Flag of the United States 

After 36 days of brutal fighting, the US had finally secured the island of Iwo Jima. They placed a flag on top of Mount Suribachi. When they raised the flag a picture was taken by photographer Joe Rosenthal. This picture became famous in the United States. Later a statue was made of the picture. It became the US Marine Corps Memorial located just outside Washington, DC. 

iwo jima memorial 
Marine Corps Memorial

Interesting Facts

  • The famous picture of the US Flag being raised on Iwo Jima was actually not the first flag raised by the US. Another smaller flag pole had been put there earlier.

  • Although the US had more soldiers wounded on Iwo Jima than the Japanese, the Japanese had many more deaths. This was because the Japanese had decided to fight to the death. Out of 18,000 Japanese soldiers only 216 were taken prisoner. The rest died in the battle.

  • Around 6,800 American soldiers died in the battle.

  • The US government awarded 27 soldiers with the Medal of Honor for their bravery during the battle.

  • There were six men in the famous picture showing the US flag being raised. Three were killed later in the battle. The other three became famous celebrities in the US.

  • The Japanese dug 11 miles of tunnels within the island of Iwo Jima.

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