10 Most Significant Battles of the Second World War

It was not named World War without a reason. It was the second of its kind to be fought on a very large scale that involved many countries and continents. While they combined to make the Second World War, some of them were more significant than others.

  1. France, May 1940

This was the most significant battle of the Second World War as the Germans dominated France with a quick and unsuspected attack that took four weeks. France defeat gave Hitler control over Western Europe. But Britain remained a threat to the Germans as British the Expeditionary Force was able to escape through Dunkirk. Russia was also threatened by Hitler’s victory at the time.

  1. Battle of Britain, August – September 1940

Known as the Luftwaffe in German, this war was entirely fought on air with Air Forces. The German plans for carrying out this massive air strike was to invade Britain and make it negotiate seize fire or surrender. But the Germans did not succeed and decided it was time to invade the USSR.

  1. Operation ‘Barbarossa’, June–July 1941

This was the most devastating battle of the Second World War as Nazi Germany succeeded in quickly crushing the western Russian Red Army with a surprise attack. However, Wehrmacht’s did not achieve its primary goal of overthrowing the Soviet Union and subsequently subjugating all European Russia. It was in 1944 that the Red Army succeeded in driving the Germans out of USSR.

  1. The Battle of Moscow, December 1941

This was one of the most significant battle of the Second World War with the Red Army unexpectedand successful counter-offensive in front of Moscow. It started on 5 December and showed that Hitler’s strategy of Blitzkrieg was no longer working and the Third Reich could not win the war.

  1. Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941

While the battle only lasted 90 minutes, it was also a one-sided battle as the Imperial Japanese Navy carried a surprise military attack against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor. It was after the attack that a cautious America decided to enter the Second World War and fight Japan and Germany.

  1. The Battle of Midway, June 1942

This was one of the most significant naval battles of the Second World War. The Japanese plan was to lure America to destruction and then occupy Midway. But they ended up being surrounded and losing about 4 of their top fleets – while America gained victory.

  1. Operation ‘Torch’, November 1942

This was a battle in which Britain and America decided to invade French North Africa by landing in Morocco and Algeria. In this battle, Vichy French troops were the original enemy but they hurriedly switched sides. The ‘Torch’ strategy led to victory in Tunisia, the invasion of Sicily as well as Italy’s surrender.

  1. Battle of Stalingrad, November 1942 to January 1943

Seen as one of the bloodiest battles in warfare history and the Second World War, it was a battle in which Nazi Germany and its allies fought with the Soviet Union in orderto take over Stalingrad. The battle lasted three months and was a turning point for the USSR as its rebuilt Red Army defeated the 6th Army and led to the first major German surrender, the History Extra reports.

  1. Briansk-Orel/Belgorod-Kharkov, July-August 1943

Considered one of the three great victories the Soviet armed forceshad, the Battle of Kursk was a Second World War combat between Germany and the Soviet Army. This was the first battle in which Germany’s planned attack was terminated before it could penetrate enemy defences.

   10. The Invasion of Normandy, June–July 1944

The D-Day invasion of Normandywas the most significant part of this battle as it was the day Normandy in France was invaded in a war to free Europe from German occupation. The D-Day invasion took place on 6 June 1944.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE