Allies Defeat Axis Powers

In the meantime, military supplies had begun to flow to the European theater. In the spring and summer of 1942, British forces were able to break the German drive aimed at Egypt and push German General Erwin Rommel back into Tripoli, ending the threat to Suez.

On November 7, 1942, an American army landed in French North Africa, and after hard-fought battles, inflicted severe defeats on Italian and German armies; 349,000 prisoners were taken, and by midsummer of 1943 the south shore of the Mediterranean was cleared of Fascist forces. In September, the new Italian government under Marshal Badoglio signed an armistice, and in October, Italy declared war on Germany. While battles were still raging in Italy, Allied forces made devastating air raids on German railroads, factories, and weapon emplacements. Deep in the continent, German oil supplies were hit at Ploesti in Rumania.

Late in 1943 the Allies, after much debate over strategy, opened a western front to force the Germans to divert far larger forces from the Russian front than could be engaged in Italy. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was appointed Supreme Commander. After immense preparations, on June 6, while a Soviet counteroffensive was under way, the first contingents of an American and British invasion army, protected by a greatly superior air force, landed on the beaches of Normandy. The beachhead was held, more troops were poured in, and many contingents of German defenders were caught in pockets by pincer movements. Then the Allied armies began to move across France and into Germany, making their way against the most tenacious defense.

On August 25 Paris was retaken. At the gates of Germany the Allies were delayed by stubborn counteraction, but in February and March 1945, troops were advancing into Germany from the west, and German armies were reeling before the Russians in the east. On May 8 all that remained of the Third Reich surrendered its land, sea, and air forces.

In the meantime, great progress had been made by American forces in the Pacific. As American and Australian troops fought their way northward along the island ladder through the Solomons, New Britain, New Guinea, and Bougainvillea the growing naval forces gnawed away at Japanese supply lines.