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World War II
On this day, the Lexington, one of the two largest aircraft carriers employed by the United States during World War II, makes its way across the Pacific…
Conventional wisdom traces blitzkrieg, "lightning war," to the development in Germany between 1918 and 1939 of a body of doctrine using mobility to prevent repetition of the attritional deadlock of World War I.
German World War II Field Marshal Erwin Rommel gained immortality in the North African campaign of 1941-1943.
The Tuskegee Airmen were black servicemen of the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II and constituted the first African-American flying unit in U.S. history.
In December 1944, in an all-out gamble to compel the Allies to sue for peace, Adolf Hitler ordered the only major German counteroffensive of the war in northwest Europe.
May 10-16, 1940
The Second Battle of Sedan began on May 10, 1940, when German forces advanced into Luxembourg and Belgium. By making their main attack through the Forest of the Ardennes, the Germans sought to avoid the Allies' main strength and penetrate the light defenses along the Meuse River. Elements of the Nineteenth Panzer Corps, commanded by General Heinz Guderian, reached the Meuse River near Sedan on the afternoon of May 12, and on the following day, after extensive aerial bombardment, they attacked. Including the action at Sedan, the Germans crossed the Meuse at three locations, and on the morning of May 16, they broke through the last of the rapidly assembling French forces.
Numerous myths have long surrounded the 1940 campaign. When the battle began, the Germans did not have a concept for what came to be known as the blitzkrieg. Only after the successful campaign did the real potential of modern mechanized warfare become apparent to most German leaders. Much of the key fighting in the battle was waged by the infantry, whose skillful actions enabled German tanks to cross the Meuse River and continue moving despite spirited resistance at several locations south of Sedan. German aircraft made their most important contribution by weakening the will to fight of the French defenders along the Meuse: they actually destroyed few targets and failed to hold up French reinforcements.
The German victory at Sedan provided the opportunity for exploitation to the west and the swift defeat of France. Few battles have provided such unexpected or decisive results.
ROBERT A. DOUGHTY
The Reader's Companion to Military History. Edited by Robert Cowley and Geoffrey Parker. Copyright © 1996 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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Classroom Study Guides
Classroom companion for the new HISTORY series Vietnam in HD.
Teacher's guide to Operation Market-Garden, in which the Easy Company head into German-occupied Holland. The strategy calls for the company to enter Germany through the Netherlands, but fierce German resistance demonstrates that the plan will not work.
Teacher's guide to the difficulty between the veterans of the Battle of the Bulge and the other soldiers who haven't suffered what they have gone through.