To commemorate the 80th year anniversary of the subject matter – as well as to observe and recognize Veterans Day – the Reagan Library Education Blog is pleased to announce its newest educational series on three major battles of World War II fought in the year 1942.
World War II was the largest and most destructive conflict at the time it was fought. From 1939 to 1945, over thirty countries and over 100 million people were directly and indirectly involved in a conflict that stretched across the planet. The most powerful military alliances of the era were the Allies – composed of the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, the United States, and several other nations – and the Axis powers – led primarily by the German Reich, the Kingdom of Italy, and the Empire of Japan. The Axis powers fought largely on the offensive in the first three years of the war, as Germany and Italy seized almost all of Western Europe and the Mediterranean, as well as a substantial portion of North Africa. Having been engaged in its own imperial pursuits before the war began, the Empire of Japan had amassed a vast sphere of control over much of Eastern Asia and the Pacific Ocean. The United Kingdom managed to defend itself against invasion in 1941, and the Soviet Union would prove to be a formidable opponent against the invading Axis armies throughout 1942 in Eastern Europe. Japan’s attack against the United States in Pearl Harbor in December 1941 pulled the nation into the global war, as its industrial and military power shifted from arms trade alliances with the Allies into direct military action. The year 1942 saw both the United States commence its first major military interventions against the Axis powers, and the tide of the war turning in the Allies favor in Europe. In the Mediterranean, the Allies landed their armies on the coasts of Morocco and Algeria in Operation Torch. This marked the first major involvement of American military forces against the Axis powers in the Mediterranean. Over in the Pacific, the Allies commenced their first major land and naval offensive against the Empire of Japan in Operation Watchtower, a campaign fought on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. In Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union countered the invading Axis powers in Russia at the Battle of Stalingrad, the largest land battle of the war and one of the deadliest in the history of warfare. All three military actions culminated in hard-fought victories for the Allies, as they forced the Axis powers to begin fighting on the defensive for the remainder of the war. This new blog series will revisit these three major battles and campaigns, and will analyze and interpret how they all marked the shift of the war’s outcome to the Allies’ favor in 1942.
As always, please remember to frequently check the Reagan Library Education Blog to stay up to date with the latest posts in this series.
Written by Nicholas J. Dilley, Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum