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The Imperial Japanese Army continues its expansionist ambitions by hurling itself into a series of offensives across Asia. Japan's next target is Singapore. With the British defensive guns pointed south towards the sea, Japan mounts an audacious assault battling through the jungles of Thailand and Malaya to attack from the north.

After a week of fighting, the Allied forces are running low on supplies. Around 16, British and 48, Australian and Indian troops surrender and become prisoners of war. The fall of Singapore is seen as a great humiliation for the British government. I broke down and cried as I have never done in my life before.

Jonathan Dimbleby describes how the Nazis advanced in a pincer movement on Allied Egypt. Germany and Italy are forced to retreat back through Libya. It is the first major allied victory in the war and a huge morale booster on the home front. In May German forces are finally driven out of North Africa, ending the threat to the Suez Canal, a major trading route, and paving the way for the invasion of Italy.

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. It is one of the bloodiest battles in history with nearly two million military and civilian casualties. House-to-house fighting drags on until 2 February With food and ammunition exhausted, the German commander Friedrich Paulus surrenders.

This is a turning point in the war, and Hitler pays the price for underestimating the sheer size and determination of the Soviet forces, which begin the long push west towards Berlin. Legend has it the Allies are assisted by several Mafia figures, like Lucky Luciano, who help them to win over the Italian population. The Allies slowly advance up through Italy but are held up by dogged German resistance. At the Battle of Monte Cassino in southern Italy the Allies suffer 55, casualties and destroy an ancient monastery in order to breakthrough to Rome. Sophie Raworth explains how D-Day was planned.

Clip from iWonder: How was the biggest ever seaborne invasion launched? The Soviet Union has been pressing for two years for a second front to be opened in the west. British, Canadian and US troops train in southern England for a year before they are given the green light to invade. The German defences stretch over 1, miles from Biarritz in southern France to Denmark. They have no idea where the allies might strike. Although they sustain heavy casualties they gain a crucial beachhead — the liberation of France begins.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely. Natasha Kaplinsky explains why people became killers in the Holocaust. Clip from iWonder: Why did ordinary people commit atrocities in the Holocaust? More than one million people die at Auschwitz — the majority are Jews.

The full horrors of the Holocaust, in which the Nazis killed six million Jewish people, as well as their murderous attacks on other ethnic minorities and groups, are only properly comprehended by the British and Americans when they begin to liberate concentration camps such as Buchenwald and Bergen-Belsen in Germany in April. Horrified soldiers find thousands of dead as well as many sick and starving prisoners. Japan's early success in the Pacific is brought to an end by the naval Battle of Midway in June This is a vital turning point in the war.

The Japanese go on the defensive and their empire is gradually pushed back. The Battle of Okinawa lasts for 82 days. Kamikaze pilots bombard the US ships off the coast, while on shore thousands of Okinawan civilians kill themselves, under pressure from Japanese army officers. The Japanese fought to win - it was a savage, brutal, inhumane, exhausting and dirty business. The myth of German invincibility is smashed, and the resurgent Red Army gradually roll back the Third Reich into Germany. Stalin is determined his troops will get to Berlin before the British and Americans, who are advancing from the west.

As the Red Army reach Berlin, brutal fighting continues street by street and Hitler takes his life in his bunker with his newly wed wife Eva Braun. Nazi Germany is defeated. The atomic bomb is dropped on Hiroshima. With her allies Germany and Italy both defeated, Japan fights on without any hope of staving off a similar fate.

American planes bomb Japanese cities with impunity. It is feared tens of thousands of US troops — and millions of Japanese — will be killed in the event of an invasion. When the Japanese refuse, the Americans drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and three days later, on Nagasaki. This terrifying new weapon causes unprecedented death and destruction. Emperor Hirohito surrenders and the most destructive war in history comes to an end. The enemy has… employed a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives.

This page is no longer being updated. BBC Iwonder. The world goes to war World War Two was the most destructive global conflict in history. Germany invades Poland. I have to tell you now that French soldiers inspect the Maginot Line. Germany invades France. We shall fight on the beaches…We shall never surrender. Retrieved 9 February Diane Publishing. United Nations Pubns. Wigston, Leics: Silverdale Books.


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World War II Fast Facts

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BBC - iWonder - World War Two: History's most savage and devastating war

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What was World War II?

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The world goes to war

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Bloody Combat Footage In The Battle of Normandy – Rare Color Footage You've Never Seen Before [HD]

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