(CNN) -- The world is commemorating D-Day, a pivotal point in World War II that turned the tide in favor of Allied forces.

The World War I was meant to be the war to end all wars, but its crippling effect on the global economy, and the harsh restrictions imposed on the losing side meant that by the 1930s, trouble was brewing. Adolf Hitler swept to power in 1933 on a wave of German nationalism, japan had already invaded Manchuria, and had bigger ambitions for its global empire.

In the space of nine months starting in September 1939 Nazi forces rolled across Europe with the latest in mechanized war machines, taking Poland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium and France; that put the UK on the front line.

The battle of Britain raged in the skies with nightly bombings of the country's major cities. In London, 'The Blitz' saw the city attacked from the air for 57 consecutive nights. But the UK's resilience caused the Nazis to call off plans for a full ground assault. In 1940 Italian forces pushed into Africa, invading Egypt and bringing northern Africa into the war.

From there, World War II sped into overdrive, splitting most of the world into Axis and Allies. The Nazis invaded Russia, Japan continued its invasion of southeast Asia. And on December 7 1941, it launched an offensive that woke the war's 'sleeping giant'. Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii sent shockwaves through the United States. After two years on the fringes, an attack on its home ground pulled the U.S. out of the sidelines and into the battlefields. In 1942, the tables began to turn.

Japan's navy suffered a crippling defeat as it attacked the u-s outpost of midway. In North Africa, British troops drove Axis troops out of Egypt. The following year, the Nazi's drive eastward collapsed as a bitter soviet winter led to the surrender of German troops in Stalingrad.

In July that year the axis lost one of its original partners, as allied forces toppled Mussolini and restored Italy's king. But though the tide was turning, the war ground on. Then came June 6, 1944. D-Day, the biggest invasion in history. More than 5,000 ships, 11,000 thousand planes and more than 150,000 service men. Europe's major ports were heavily guarded, the beaches were not.

Under a full moon, the allies stormed them. British forces took sword beach and gold beach. The Canadians took Juno, the Americans: Utah and Omaha. With a foothold on the mainland, allied forces were unstoppable. Paris was liberated in two and half months and by April 25 1945, soviet troops from the eastern front had berlin surrounded. Days later Hitler and his wife took their own lives.

On May 8 the war in Europe was over. In the Pacific it continued for another three months before America's nuclear bombs forced Japan's surrender. Ending what remains to this day the deadliest conflict in human history.

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