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"What Was The Turning Point Year In WWII??" Topic

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World War Two on the Land

736 hits since 11 Mar 2019
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Lee49411 Mar 2019 9:32 p.m. PST

I've always found 1942 fascinating with the battles of Coral Sea, Midway, Guadalcanal, El Alamein, The Torch Landings and Stalingrad. True some like Guadalcanal and Stalingrad dragged into 1943, but they were decided in 1942.


Personal logo Doctor X Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2019 10:04 p.m. PST

Game over by the end of 42.

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2019 11:06 p.m. PST


Old Contemptibles Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2019 11:37 p.m. PST


Midway, June 1942
El Alamein, August 1942
Stalingrad, 23 August 1942 2 February 1943

Richard Baber12 Mar 2019 1:24 a.m. PST

Stalingrad ended in Feb `43 and the whole North African Campaign ended in Tunisia in April `43.

Those two things combined into one hell of a bad few months for the Axis

Fitzovich12 Mar 2019 3:23 a.m. PST

I would agree with the 1942 argument, however I would also consider the German attack on the Soviet Union in 1941 and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in the same year to be turning points as each was conducted despite being unprepared and without full consideration of the consequences. I believe those actions were irretrievable turning points.

Keith Talent12 Mar 2019 3:59 a.m. PST

With hindsight the war is won in December 41.
USA in the war and the failure of Typhoon.
Doubt it felt like that at the time.

Musketballs12 Mar 2019 4:43 a.m. PST

To borrow a bit from Churchill:

1942 was the end of the beginning; 1943 was the beginning of the end.

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2019 6:29 a.m. PST

1942. Germany's last real hope of winning in the East. Back of Japanese carrier force broken and with Guadalcanal the road to Tokyo begins.

Legion 412 Mar 2019 7:07 a.m. PST

As in many cases Churchill was right …

22ndFoot12 Mar 2019 7:18 a.m. PST

"Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein we never had a defeat." WSC

The October battle, not the earlier one. So, yes, 1942, late.

Garryowen Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2019 8:29 a.m. PST

Actually, the turning point was December 7, 1941. That decided the war. The Germans and Japanese were just no smart enough to realize it.

donlowry12 Mar 2019 8:42 a.m. PST

What Garryowen said.

Oppiedog12 Mar 2019 10:29 a.m. PST

1940 when Germany didn't make peace/defeat England.

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2019 3:32 p.m. PST

June 22nd 1941.

Hitler invades the Soviet union.(especially with the UK still undefeated)

Talk about biting off more than one can chew…!

Wargamer Blue12 Mar 2019 4:48 p.m. PST

Early 43

Mark 112 Mar 2019 5:35 p.m. PST

Agree with the Churchill quote stated above by Musketballs:

"1942 was the end of the beginning; 1943 was the beginning of the end."

To put is more in my own terminology, in 1942 the Axis advances were stopped. In 1943 the Allied advances were started.

Or if you prefer, in 1942 the Axis stopped winning. In 1943 they started losing.

I think the critical turning points came mostly in the mid-year in 1942. This was the last point at which Germany and Japan were within grasp of dealing such heavy blows that it would take several years for the Allies to recover. How much success that brings them in the longer run would then depend on their, and the Allies', approach to any settlement of the conflict.

1) The war in Russia if Germany had cut off, or even captured, 85% of the Soviet Union's petroleum production.
2) The war in the Pacific if Japan had won a decisive victory in the battle of the Coral Sea, and established bases on the southern coast of Papua/New Guinea.
3) The war in the Pacific if Japan had won a marginal victory in the sea battle at Midway, much less won a decisive victory including landing and capturing Midway Island.

I would also consider the German attack on the Soviet Union in 1941 and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in the same year to be turning points as … I believe those actions were irretrievable turning points.

While I agree that both of those events were enormous mis-calculations, I can't see them as turning points. For many months after those events the Axis was on the advance. I may look at that time and say that they had bitten off more than they could chew, but in truth there was no assurance that the Allies wouldn't be the ones to choke first.

The Soviet Union was a very large country with enormous resources, but both it and the UK were pretty d@mned close to the end of their ropes by mid-1942. US support helped, but it was slow in ramping up compared to the immediate needs. And American "might" was by no means a foregone conclusion -- the US could well have turned out to be a stumbling colossus rather than the arsenal of democracy (and other interested parties).

But once the Axis was stopped, once the losses of critical territories and resources were stabilized, the growing resources and military might of the Allies became (was not originally, but became) unstoppable.

And I see that process, stopping the Axis advances, and then starting the Allied advances, as playing out from mid-1942 to mid-1943.

(aka: Mk 1)

Skarper12 Mar 2019 9:09 p.m. PST

With hindsight 1943 seems like the answer and thereafter, assuming resolute and sound application of superior forces the Axis goose was cooked.

However, for the people living through it I would say mid 1944 as the point at which significant territory started to be recaptured and subjugated peoples liberated.

Prior to that it was all talk and could [theoretically] have been rolled back. Churchill was not 100% behind Overlord and if Stalin and Roosevelt had been less insistent it might even have been delayed. The chances are very slim I admit.

We now know how it played out and that the Allies weathered storms and followed through on their promises to each other and to the occupied countries.

This also seems to be the point that most German generals in the know started to lose hope in any victory.

d88mm1940 Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2019 9:15 p.m. PST

Excellent arguments throughout! The thread started out slow, then contributors started supporting their arguments. Well done!
I think the the 2 main theaters are separate. The Pacific Theater was actually a slow grind. After Pearl Harbor, anything could have happened. We could have lost Guadelcanal a couple of times. We could have easily ignored the Pacific with the Europe First strategy. The great naval battles of '42 did not end Japanese naval capability. It was the slow grind of submarine attrition, ship production, training that took a couple of years to turn the tide.
I think that Europe's end was D-Day. North Africa was always called a side show and training ground. Nothing of value, except maybe the oil fields, but they were farther east.
Italy was a grind where success was measured in inches. D-Day actually started freeing up of France and the drive into Germany herself.
All of the previous arguments are perfectly valid. These are mine.

Winston Smith13 Mar 2019 9:16 a.m. PST

1941. Hitler invaded Russia with Britain undefeated. Then the Japanese invited the Yanks to the party and Hitler declared war.

catavar13 Mar 2019 11:52 a.m. PST

I have to agree with Winston and those likewise above; it's 1941.

I believe Germany's failure to knock out Russia in a blitz (like France/ Poland) left her in a two-front war (which she wasn't economically prepared to face at that time).

The Japanese declaration of war on the US (in which she wasn't economically prepared to face) and Hitler's likewise declaration sealed the deal in my opinion.

mildbill13 Mar 2019 12:13 p.m. PST

Sweden stopped teaching German and started teaching English in their schools post Kursk. Japan never had a chance and Kursk was Germanys last chance.

Dynaman878913 Mar 2019 4:08 p.m. PST

Kursk was like the school bully saying "punch me" to the scrawniest kid in school – Germany might not have figured it out yet but they had already lost the war.

Phil Hall13 Mar 2019 4:15 p.m. PST

Dec. 7 1941

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP14 Mar 2019 6:11 a.m. PST

Giving this a bit more thought. Problem is we know how it all turns out. And with that knowledge almost any year was a turning point. Though not preordained the path is pretty clear. With that how about:

1940 France becomes the only major world power to be defeated by Germany but the job is not finished. UK and Commonwealth survive. England would eventually become the "unsinkable carrier" and in 44 the reconquest of western Europe begun.

1939 The usually agreed upon start of WW II in Europe. France and Commonwealth mobilize. And we know how that ends.

1938 The Anschlus and "return" of the Sudentenland. When not militarily opposed it will embolden Hitler to see the West as willing to do most anything to prevent another war.

1937 Japan invades China. One of the final steps which will bring Japan and US, Commonwealth, France and Netherlands into war. Others have already mentioned the impact of US participation

1936 Re militarization of the Rhineland. With no real push back or consequences Germany begins it rearmament program

1933 Hitler appointed Chancellor. Certainly a turning point

1931 Japan invades Manchuria. Japan's desire to expand its empire and force western forces out of Asia will escalate

I am sure you can think of more.

I guess all are "turning points" since they all lead to, or are part, of WW II. With hindsight few analysts see a realistic scenario where the Axis does triumph. So the start of the war, or any significant events which substantially move towards the war are by definition a turning point.

Musketballs14 Mar 2019 6:48 a.m. PST

Another key moment in 1943 was the turning point in the Battle of the Atlantic, in April through to early June.

After that U-Boats became more of a nuisance than a menace, and the essential build-up for a cross-channel invasion was never seriously threatened.

Daniel S14 Mar 2019 7:13 a.m. PST


Sweden stopped teaching German and started teaching English in their schools post Kursk.

Sorry to ruin a good yarn but Sweden continued to teach German as the first foreign language in schools until 1946 (English was made the first language in August 1946), the only exception were the schools who had begun teaching English as the first language in 1939 as part of a test program introduced by the goverment of a limited number of schools.

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