Military

This WWII Battle Had The Most Soldiers, By a Huge Margin

Operation Overlord (D-Day) | World War 2 reenactment (D-day). Creative decoration with toy soldiers, landing crafts and hedgehogs. Battle scene of Normandy landing on June 6, 1944.
Zeferli / iStock via Getty Images

World War II was the biggest war humanity has ever faced. Millions of people fought all across the world in all sorts of conditions and situations to decide a new world order. This wasn’t just a battle of soldiers. Guns, ships, aircraft, defensive walls, and armored tanks, like America’s most armored tanks during WWII, all help to play a role in which side would win the battle. But these weapons also lead to far more losses for both parties.

While this article does cover the casualties, the focus is on WWII battles with the most troops deployed and not the losses faced during these battles. If you want to learn about the battles in World War II with the most casualties, 24/7 Wall Street has an article for that as well.

These 27 battles below were influential. Many of them turned the tides of war in one direction or the other. To identify the major World War II battles with the most troops, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed WWII battles from World War 2 Facts, an online database of WWII battles.

Why Do These Numbers Matter?

Soldiers dressed in army camouflage in an army parade
Source: flysnowfly / Shutterstock.com
World War II was an important part of history, not only for Americans but for the entirety of the United States. It’s been about 80 years since the war, but it’s important to never forget the lives lost and the people who fought on both sides, as well as the common people who suffered just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

27. Battle of Wake Island

Source: arcticwarrior / Flickr
  • Number of troops on the battlefield: 3,022
  • Total troops lost during the battle: 7,200
  • Date: December 1941

Going into this battle, there were a total of 2,500 Axis troops and 522 Allied. However, there were also ships and aircraft involved, so although there were a total of 3,022 troops on the battlefield, the battle led to 7,200 casualties, with 6,000 of them being from the Axis side and 1,200 on the Allied side.

26. Operation Battleaxe

Source: United Kingdom Government/Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons
  • Number of troops on the battlefield: 33,200
  • Total troops lost during the battle: 1,647
  • Date: June 1941

Operation Battleax led to minimal casualties overall. There were 20,000 Allied troops sent out, and only 969 casualties. The Axis side had 13,200 troops, and 678 casualties when it was all over.

25. Battle of Tarawa

Source: Three Lions / Getty Images
  • Number of troops on the battlefield: 38,000
  • Total troops lost during the battle: 8,504
  • Date: November 1943

The Battle of Tarawa was a resounding defeat for the Axis side. While they only went in with 3,000 troops, they had 4,707 casualties. Meanwhile, the Allied troops took no chances, with a total of 35,000 troops. They had 3,797 casualties.

24. Battle of Peleliu

Source: usnavy / Flickr
  • Number of troops on the battlefield: 39,484
  • Total troops lost during the battle: 20,701
  • Date: September 1944

The Battle of Peleliu led to heavy casualties on both sides. There were a total of 11,000 Axis troops, and by the end of the battle, 10,897 casualties. Allied troop numbers were a lot higher at 28,484, but they still dealt with 9,804 casualties.

23. Battle of the Kasserine Pass

Source: MPI / Archive Photos via Getty Images
  • Number of troops on the battlefield: 52,000
  • Total troops lost during the battle: 12,000
  • Date: November 1943

The Battle of Kasserine Pass was a bad battle for the Allied side. They went in with 30,000 troops and left with 10,000 casualties. Meanwhile, the 22,000 Axis troops only experienced 2,000 casualties.

22. Battle of Crete

Source: Imperial War Museum London, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Number of troops on the battlefield: 71,700
  • Total troops lost during the battle: 30,528
  • Date: May 1941

In May of 1941, The Battle of Crete involved 40,000 Allied Troops and 31,700 Axis troops. There were 6,698 casualties for the Axis side and 23,830 for the Allied.

21. Warsaw Uprising

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Number of troops on the battlefield: 74,000
  • Total troops lost during the battle: 68,660
  • Date: August 1944

The Warsaw Uprising decimated both sides The Allied troops, 49,000 individuals, suffered 36,000 casualties. Meanwhile, the Axis troops, 25,000 individuals, suffered 32,660 casualties.

20. Siege of Bastogne

Sherman+Firefly+Medium+Tank+M4A4 | Sherman Firefly Vc ‘T232568’ “Little John”
Source: ajw1970 / Flickr

 

  • Number of troops on the battlefield: 76,800
  • Total troops lost during the battle: 3,000
  • Date: December 1944

The Seige of Bastogne was a messy battle. There were around 22,800 Allied troops, and they suffered at least 3,000 casualties. The Axis side was a bit more muddled, with about 54,000 troops. The total number of casualties is unknown, though.

19. Battle of Corregidor

Source: ajw1970 / Flickr
  • Number of troops on the battlefield: 88,000
  • Total troops lost during the battle: 14,900
  • Date: May 1942

The Battle of Corregidor involved 88,000 troops. 13,000 were Allied and the other 75,000 were Axis. 12,800 casualties occurred on the Allied side, with a much lower 2,100 casualties on the Axis side.

18. Battle of Iwo Jima

Source: Hulton Archive / Archive Photos via Getty Images
  • Number of troops on the battlefield: 92,060
  • Total troops lost during the battle: 48,091
  • Date: February 1945

Iwo Jima was a battle that lasted for 36 days. During that time, 26,031 of 70,000 Allied troops were injured, killed, or lost. However, all 22,060 Axis troops were dealt with, leading the United States to declare the island secure in late March.

17. Guadalcanal Campaign

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Number of troops on the battlefield: 96,200
  • Total troops lost during the battle: 39,100
  • Date: August 1942

The Guadalcanal Campaign lasted for about six months. Over that time, about a third of the total troops deployed to the fight faced casualties. 60,000 Allied troops went into the battle, and 7,100 were considered casualties by the end. Meanwhile, out of 36,200 Axis troops, 32,000 were casualties, leaving only 200 alive and uninjured.

16. Battle of Saipan

Source: usmcarchives / Flickr
  • Number of troops on the battlefield: 102,000
  • Total troops lost during the battle: 38,234
  • Date: June 1944

The Battle of Saipan was a significant one for the Allied side. Though they faced a high price for their victory, with 13,313 out of 71,000 troops injured or killed, they managed to win the fight and push back the Axis side. The Axis troops started with 31,000 and faced roughly 24,921 casualties.

15. Battle of Singapore

Source: EOSdude / iStock via Getty Images
  • Number of troops on the battlefield: 121,000
  • Total troops lost during the battle: 89,485
  • Date: February 1942

The Battle of Singapore only lasted a couple of days. 85,000 Allied troops fought against 36,000 Axis troops. While Axis troops only suffered 4,485 casualties, the Allied side was decimated and all 85,000 troops were lost or captured.

14. Operation Market Garden

Source: Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com
  • Number of troops on the battlefield: 151,628
  • Total troops lost during the battle: 30,500
  • Date: September 1944

Considering the sheer number of Axis troops compared to Allied troops, the losses were fairly minimal. 13,300 of 110,000 Axis troops died, were captured, or suffered injuries while 17,200 of 41,628 Allied troops faced the same fate.

13. Operation Torch

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Number of troops on the battlefield: 167,000
  • Total troops lost during the battle: 4,542
  • Date: November 1942

Operation Torch held minimal losses for both sides, though the Axis troops suffered the worst. Only 1,199 troops out of 107,000 were lost or injured on the Allied side. However, on the Axis side, 3,343 of 60,000 troops were injured or lost.

12. Battle of Anzio

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Number of troops on the battlefield: 285,000
  • Total troops lost during the battle: 83,000
  • Date: January 1944

The Battle of Anzio was a struggle for both sides. It lasted for about five months, with heavy losses on both sides. Out of 285,000 troops, 150,000 Allied and 135,000 Axis, there were 83,000 casualties. Allied casualties totaled 43,000 while Axis casualties were around 40,000.

11. Battle of Okinawa

Shadows of 6th Division Marines on a battle-wrecked tank on Okinawa. The soldiers are advancing to mop up operations in the southern tip of the island. Late May to early June 1945.
Source: Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com

  • Number of troops on the battlefield: 303,000
  • Total troops lost during the battle: 167,000
  • Date: April 1945

The Axis troops didn’t suffer a total loss, but it was close. Out of 120,000 troops, 117,000 faced casualties. Meanwhile, 50,000 of 183,000 Allied troops were injured, captured, or killed.

10. First Battle of El Alamein

Source: ksr8s / Flickr
  • Number of troops on the battlefield: 311,000
  • Total troops lost during the battle: 44,102
  • Date: July 1942
  • Total troops: 311,000
  • Allied troops: 195,000
  • Axis troops: 116,000
  • Total casualties: 44,102
  • Allied casualties: 13,560
  • Axis casualties: 30,542
  • Date: July 1942

195,000 Allied troops and 116,000 Axis troops went to battle at The First Battle of El Alamein. During the fight, there were 13,560 casualties on the Allied side and 30,542 on the Axis.

9. Battle of Sicily

Source: Hulton Archive / Archive Photos via Getty Images
  • Number of troops on the battlefield: 757,000
  • Total troops lost during the battle: 191,820
  • Date: July 1943

757,000 troops were at the Battle of Sicily. 467,000 of them were Allied and 290,000 of them were Axis. The Allied side suffered 24,820 casualties, while the Axis side faced closer to 167,000.

8. Battle of Dunkirk

Source: ajw1970 / Flickr
  • Number of troops on the battlefield: 1,138,226
  • Total troops lost during the battle: 81,774
  • Date: May 1940

This was the first, though not the last, battle involving over a million people. Most of them, a total of 800,000, were Axis troops, 61,774 of them injured or lost. 338,226 were Allied troops, and 81,774 were injured or lost.

7. Battle of the Bulge

Source: ajw1970 / Flickr
  • Number of troops on the battlefield: 1,340,000
  • Total troops lost during the battle: 158,100
  • Date: December 1944

During the Battle of the Bulge, 90,900 of 840,000 Allied troops suffered casualties of some sort. On the Axis side, 67,200 of 500,000 soldiers faced the same fate.

6. Siege of Leningrad

Source: wwhyte / Flickr
  • Number of troops on the battlefield: 1,655,000
  • Total troops lost during the battle: 3,936,066
  • Date: September 1941

This was a heavy loss for the Axis side. though only 930,000 troops went to battle, the total casualties were much higher, around, 3,936,066. This is because many of the city’s inhabitants, at least 800,000 were killed due to the prolonged fight, cold, hunger, and enemy fire. The Axis troops started the battle with 725,000 troops and ended with 500,000 casualties.

5. Battle of Normandy

Source: Keystone / Hulton Archive via Getty Images
  • Number of troops on the battlefield: 1,712,000
  • Total troops lost during the battle: 409,000
  • Date: June 1944

Despite the overwhelming 1,332,000 Allied troops to 380,000 Axis troops, the casualties were similar. The Axis side faced around 200,000 casualties, while the Allied side had 209,000.

4. Battle of Stalingrad

Source: Archive Photos / Archive Photos via Getty Images
  • Number of troops on the battlefield: 1,743,000
  • Total troops lost during the battle: 2,197,993
  • Date: August 1942

Despite the heavy losses, this was one of the battles considered a turning point in the war, pushing the tide of war in the Allies’ favor. There were only 600,000 Axis troops, but because of civilians, the total casualties were around 1,068,374. Meanwhile, there were 1,143,000 Allies with 1,129,619 casualties.

3. Battle of Greece

Source: Topical Press Agency / Archive Photos via Getty Images
  • Number of troops on the battlefield: 1,937,612
  • Total troops lost during the battle: 200,989
  • Date: April 1941

Though Italy had a hard time invading Greece, the Axis side eventually took over the country. They had 1,245,000 troops in total, and 107,600 casualties. The Allied side had 692,612 troops and 93,389 casualties.

2. Operation Overlord

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Number of troops on the battlefield: 2,692,299
  • Total troops lost during the battle: 676,386
  • Date: June 1944

Operation Overlord was a codename for the Battle of Normandy. This was an incredibly successful attack that helped liberate parts of Western Europe. 2,045,299 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy to face 640,000 Axis troops. There were 226,386 casualties for the Allied soldiers and 450,000 for the Axis side.

1. Battle of Berlin

Source: FPG / Archive Photos via Getty Images
  • Number of troops on the battlefield: 3,266,750
  • Total troops lost during the battle: 1,161,367
  • Date: April 1945

The Battle of Berlin was the battle that ended it all. Though there were only 766,750 Axis troops, the Allied side took no chances and sent 2,500,000 individuals to fight against them. The Allied side had 361,367 casualties, but the Axis side suffered far worse with 800,000.

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