The turning point in the war was probably on the battle at ‘El Alamein’ on 23rd. Oct 1942 , with Montgomery in charge of the British and Commonwealth soldiers, who after the greatest artillery bombardment of in history blasted the enemies positions, finally started to push the Axis Army back across the desert in Libya towards Tunisia and in November that year was Americas first experience of coming under fire with the invasion of French North Africa out and out war, although it was supposed to be an American operation at least half the soldiers taking part were British.
Although the troops were there to free the French they initially fought against the Americans before surrendering and then joining the Allies. With the Axis troops being attacked from both east and west it was not until May 1943 that North Africa was captured. Two months later in July 1943 the allies invaded Sicily and with the Russians also by then starting to advance in their own country, Germany was really on the back foot particularly as in Sept approx: eight weeks after that invasion Italy surrendered.
It was not until 1943 that the Japanese also started to loose their war as the Americans and Australians started to free islands that the Japs had captured. Fighting the Japs was no easy matter for they rarely surrendered and fought to the death, on top of that the terrain was more often than not thick jungle with plenty of nasty creepy crawlies, poisonous snakes and diseases. At that time it was stalemate in Burma where our troops and the Indians were also battling with the Japs under similar conditions.
Italy itself was the next to be invaded by the Allies but although Italy had surrendered , the Germans had no intention of giving the country up, having disarmed their recent ally, with the idea that it was better to defend Germany on Italian soil than to defend it on German soil resulting in some very hard fought battles and slow progress nevertheless by June 5th the Americans had captured Rome
D-Day had already happened by the time I went to Senior School in September 1944 and from that time onwards it was all down hill for Hitler’s Germany as they suffered defeat after defeat on all fronts with only one reversal in their fortunes where the threw what was their last grasp at victory in what was to became known as the ‘Battle of the Bulge’ where they attempted to drive the allies back to the sea, initially the had a great deal of success and captured thousands of Americans, a great deal of this success was due to weather conditions which kept the allied air forces on the ground but once the skies cleared it was Germans that were losing most of their tanks to rocket fire from aircraft such as the Typhoon and thousand of their troops were in danger of being encircled.
Once this battle was won there was no way back for the Germans although it would take some months before Hitler committed suicide and his country surrendered, unfortunately Japan was still fighting and it looked like it had no intention of giving up and was prepared to fight to the last man costing thousands and thousands of military and civilian deaths. It was not until America captured Iwo Jima and Okinawa in 1945 that the Yanks could reach, to bomb, Japans major cities but when they did they were highly successful in that Japans buildings were of relatively flimsy timber construction against the tougher buildings in Europe, the effect of a raid on Tokyo, using high explosive and incendiary bombs resulted in that one raid 250,000 buildings were destroyed, cost the lives of 83,000 people, 41,000 were injured and nearly 16 square miles of the city burnt to the ground, at the cost of 14 bombers.
With more and more raids destroying Japan industry still did not bring her to her knees, and it seemed the war could go on and on until the country was surrounded and starved into surrender, therefore, to try to end this quickly, the Americans had to find another way, that being the Atomic Bomb, it took the devastating use of two of theses devices to finally cause Japan to surrender.
Thus WW2 ended on 2nd. September 1946 [VJ Day] Alas and alack, that sadly was not the end of wars, the peace that did exist was fragile with a world-wide political change and the increasing of the meaning of freedom and human rights. It was this year that the ‘United Nations’ [UN] was formed in the hope that it would be better than the’ League of Nations’, both formed in the hope of making war ‘a thing of the past, in which the ‘League,’ which I believed was formed after WW1 proved to be completely useless in preventing WWII. The unity that existed during the war quickly began to unravel, the Soviet socialist Russia [Communism] very quickly swept up proud nations across Europe and Asia and substituted a new tyranny for that which had so recently been defeated.
At the end of the war, Germany was divided into Military controlled blocks, with America, Britain, France and Russia, with Berlin which was wholly in the Russian sector was also divided up in a similar manner. Russia blockaded Berlin so that food and fuel could not pass through by road or rail, The allies answer to that was to fly in everything that was needed including coal this became known as the Berlin Airlift which succeeded in beating the blockade. The Russians then built a high wall entirely around the Allies Sectors and shot any German who tried to flee to the West, many got shot but many more succeeded in their escape. Winston Churchill was totally frustrated by the Russians stance and he said than an ‘Iron Curtain’ had descended across Europe.
This all started an arms race and to further strengthen the Western Powers against military attack NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organisation] with Americas providing the muscle by keeping a very big army with their services present in considerable numbers in every NATO Country. Communism, apart from those countries of Eastern Europe which Russia had galloped up, was spreading throughout the world, there was fighting in China, Vietnam, and North Korea were the ‘Reds’ were winning and were trying to defeat them in Malaya. France and Italy could also have gone that way as both had large communist parties, there was also quite a large party in this Country
Britain had up to just after the war the largest Empire the World had seen but that was all to change as colony after colony demanded or fought for independence, India was promised independence, but before this could be achieved the country which had a mix of religions, Hindu, Buddhists, Sikhs and Muslims, the Hindus and Muslims decided that they did not like each other, started killing each other in their thousands. Finally the country gained its independence, resulting in the country being broken up with Pakistan and East Pakistan being both in the northeast and northwest at the north of the country becoming a muslin state with the rest of the land accommodating Hindu and the other religions.
It took several years for the Muslims to depart India and then the two countries started fighting over an area called Kashmir, to top it all East Pakistan did not like being the lesser part of the country with western part and became ‘Bangladesh’. We also had a big problem in Palestine which I believe was called a protectorate, thus we had troops which were being killed by ‘Zionists’ which were Jews trying to possess the country and make a Jewish State which they eventually managed. We opposed the idea and wish it to remain Palestinian, A lot of our men were murdered, some brutally. My friend Eric Dedman, did his National Service there. The Empire was breaking up, with almost all the freed Countries and Colonies, even those were the fighting was bitter and had fought for their independence and colonies joining what we now call ‘The Commonwealth’ which to me suggests that the British didn’t make a bad job of running them that almost all them wish to remain associated with Great Britain.