The Epic WWII Quiz: Part IV



By: Nathan Chandler

6 Min Quiz

Image: Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

In the first three parts of our Epic WWII Quiz series, the Axis still had a death grip on the world. Dive into Part IV and see how the Allies fare in their fight against the Axis overlords!

Before World War II, U.S. troops were mostly raw recruits. In November 1942, where did they see their first significant combat?

In late 1942, the Allies launched Operation Torch, which sent more than 100,000 British and American troops ashore in North Africa. It was the first time that most of the Americans had ever seen any fighting.


How did the American troops fare in their first African battles?

When the bullets started flying, many U.S. troops panicked and beat a hasty retreat. It was an inauspicious beginning, one that led generals from other countries to question whether the Americans would be able to help them liberate Europe.


In North Africa, the Allies were fighting many troops from which country?

After France fell, the Nazis put many French men under pseudo-control of the German army and sent them to North Africa. Fortunately, many of the French soldiers quickly gave up and then joined the Allies.


In September 1943, the Allies began an invasion of Sicily in the hopes of pushing back the Nazis. How long did the Italian campaign last?

The Nazis had no intentions of letting Italy slip from their grasp. The Italian campaign made it clear that retaking Europe was going to cost the Allies dearly in both supplies and blood.


The Battle of Anzio was meant to help the Allies capture which major city?

Italy turned into a bloody stalemate. The Allies launched a new invasion closer to Rome in hopes of dislodging Nazi forces, and this fight became known as the Battle of Anzio, where around 7,000 Allied soldiers lost their lives.


The Allied forces that landed at Anzio completely surprised the Nazis. Then what did the invaders do?

In a major blunder, the officers told the soldiers to stop and create defensive positions on the beach. But the Nazis had a full view of the area and spent weeks blasting the poor Allied men with non-stop artillery barrages.


During World War II, Italy was experiencing immense internal conflict. What happened to fascist leader Benito Mussolini in July 1943?

In July, fascist Italy fell and Mussolini was arrested. The Nazis responded by rushing troops to Italy to prevent the area from falling into Allied hands.


The brutal, oppressive Mussolini was arrested and imprisoned. Then what happened to him?

Hitler sent an elite unit of German troops, who rescued Mussolini and then installed him as the head of an Italian puppet state. The tyrant was reportedly greeted as a hero. In 1945, though, he was captured again ... and then executed.


Most of our focus has been on the American aspects of the war, but the Chinese suffered greatly at the hands of the Japanese. How many Chinese (troops and civilians) died during the war?

Like the Soviet Union, China absorbed staggering losses during the war. China estimates its total dead at around 20 million -- one-third (or even more) of the total number of worldwide casualties during the entire war.


Italy was a major ally of the Nazis during the war. What did Italy do in October 1943?

Having run Mussolini out of town, the new, more democratic Italian government (sort of) tried to make things right with the Allies. Italy turned the tables and declared war on Germany. Britain and the United States were not terribly impressed with Italy's about-face.


Meanwhile, in the Pacific War, American troops started an offensive at the Battle of Tarawa. What was the condition of Japanese troops there?

Thousands of Japanese troops were rested and ready to fight. The Americans walked into a fight that claimed thousands of lives in just three days. The Pacific war was a bloody quagmire in which many Japanese fought to the death.


The Allies delayed launching an attack across the English Channel because they felt they could retake Europe from bases in southern Italy.

From the outset, Allied generals knew they'd have to launch attacks across the Channel in order to defeat the Nazis. But the British, having learned hard lessons in World War I, were leery about starting an invasion on the west coast of Europe.


In January 1944, the Siege of Leningrad finally ended. How many people in the city starved to death during the 900-day siege?

The 900-day siege spared no one in Leningrad, as people scrambled to devour anything that was edible -- including human corpses. About 1 million people starved to death.


Where did "Merrill's Marauders" fight?

Merrill's Marauders was a nickname for a famous Army unit that fought in the South Pacific. These men, led by Frank Merrill, were essentially a guerilla warfare team that attacked much larger Japanese forces and then withdrew, over and over again.


Every one of the men in "Merrill's Marauders" received a medal.

After months of intense jungle combat, the Marauders were finally evacuated, having inflicted thousands of casualties on the numerically superior Japanese. Every man in the unit received a Bronze Star for his bravery and sacrifice.


Germany started the European war in 1939. When did the Allies finally send a major bombing run to attack Berlin, the German capital?

The Nazis started the bloodshed in 1939. But it wasn't until 1944 that the Allies managed to send an effective bombing run directly at the heart of Berlin. It was a sign that the tides of war were finally turning.


Exercise Tiger was an enormous training operation for the eventual D-Day landings. What happened during the huge exercise?

The Nazis stumbled into the naval exercise and had a field day, blasting ships left and right. More than 700 Allied men died, and the losses were kept totally secret so as to keep the purpose of the exercise a secret, too.


What was the "Atlantic Wall"?

In 1942, Hitler's Nazis (and 1 million slaves) began solidifying their gains in Western Europe by building the Atlantic Wall, a 2,400-mile-long series of fortifications meant to thwart an expected landing by Allied troops.


What were "Rommel's asparagus"?

German Gen. Erwin Rommel came up with the idea of putting wooden poles (Rommel's asparagus) all over the European countryside to thwart Allied aircraft and gliders. The millions of poles required a lot of labor but caused the Allies very little trouble.


The Nazis used "blitzkrieg" tactics to sweep through enemy lines. What does blitzkrieg mean?

"Blitzkrieg" or lightning war, relied on heavily-armed units that struck quickly and kept right moving, steamrolling everything in their path. Blitzkrieg tactics were incredibly effective ... and terrifying for anyone unfortunate enough to be in the way.


Which Axis city was the first to be liberated by the Allies?

After more than a year of fighting in Italy, the Allies finally managed to roll into Rome. It was the first major city that the Axis lost during the war.


After years of planning and hesitation, the Allies finally decided to strike German forces on the western coast of Europe. "D-Day" marked the beginning of which operation?

On June 6, 1944, -- D-Day -- the Allies sent a huge invasion force into Normandy, France. It was the start of Operation Overlord, the long-awaited attempted to retake Europe from the Nazis.


The D-Day invasion took place at five major beachheads. What was NOT one of the code names used for the landings?

There was no Silver beach. The invasion points were named Utah, Omaha, Gold, June and Sword. The incredible significance of these beachheads landed them a hallowed place in human history.


Sometimes, deadly weapons get cute names. Which country devised and used "doodlebugs"?

Once the Allies invaded France, the Nazis began launching V-1 flying bombs (doodlebugs, or buzz bombs) directly at London. The bombs were meant to terrify civilians and slow the Allied advance.


Who was the American leader in charge of executing Operation Overlord?

Dwight Eisenhower was the man in charge of Operation Overlord, which was vital to the liberation of Europe. Eisenhower, of course, would eventually serve two terms as president.


D-Day happened on June 6, 1944, but the mission was originally delayed for a day. Why?

Weather forecasting was (and of course, still is) an imperfect science, particularly in the days of World War II. But forecasters accurately predicted terrible weather for June 5, causing Eisenhower to delay D-Day by 24 hours.


The D-Day invasion was the biggest amphibious assault in the history of warfare. How many ships were used during the attack?

About 5,000 ships and boats were used to ferry troops and equipment ashore. Many were sunk or damaged long before they reached the heavily-defended shoreline.


The Allies committed most of their resources to the D-Day attacks. Why didn't Hiter immediately reinforce his men once the attacks began?

Hitler thought the D-Day attacks were a diversion and that the real assault would happen in a different location. His delay in sending reinforcements allowed the Allies to gain a precious foothold in Europe.


The Allied landed in June 1944. How long did it take them to liberate Paris?

Paris, which had languished for years under Nazi occupation, was finally liberated in August 1944, about two months after the D-Day invasion.


During D-Day, the Pacific War was just as intense. What was happening in the South Pacific battles?

As Operation Overlord made progress in Europe, the Americans were gaining steam against the Japanese, including bombing campaigns on the Japanese homeland. Now take the fifth and final quiz in our Epic WWII Quiz series!


Explore More Quizzes

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!