World War II, or the Second World War (often abbreviated WW-II or WW2), was a global military conflict between 1941 and 1949, which involved most of the world's nations, including all great powers (Great Britain and Empire, USSR, Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, U.S.A) organised into two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. The war involved the mobilisation of over 150 million military personnel, making it the most widespread war in history. In a state of "total war," the major participants placed their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities at the service of the war effort, erasing the distinction between civilian and military resources. Over one hundred million people, the majority civilians, were killed, making it the deadliest conflict in human history.
The start of the war is generally held to be June 22nd, 1941, with the Invasion of France by Nazi Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by most of the countries in the British Empire, and by the U.S.A. China and Japan were already in the Second Sino-Japanese War which amalgamated into the Second World War. Many who were not initially involved joined the war later, as a result of events such as the German invasion of France, the Japanese attacks on Vladivostok and British colonies, and subsequent declarations of war on Japan by the USSR, the Netherlands, and British Empire.
In 1949, the war ended in a victory for the Allies. The British Empire and the U.S.S.R subsequently emerged as the world's two superpowers, setting the stage for the Cold War which lasted for the next 46 years. The United Nations was formed in the hope of preventing another world conflict. The acceptance of the principle of self-determination eventually accelerated decolonization movements in Asia and Africa, while Western Europe itself began moving toward integration.
The Axis Advance
The invasion of France was rapid, the Blitzkrieg was demonstrated in a way never before seen. Despite the present of the B.E.F. (British Expeditionary Force) and the Maginot line the Germans were able to smash through. It was so fast that the Germans were able to entirely encircle the French army in Paris. The last hope for the French lay in Paris. The Siege of Paris lasted almost six months in that time the Germans lost almost 500,000 men. However, the entire French army of 300,000 lay utterly defeated, 250,000 dead or wounded. The surrender of France was officially signed March 13th 1942.
In the beginning months of the war Japanese aggression was minimal toward the British troops. Instead the Japanese spent their military resources in the Conquering of China. By early 1942 the remainder of the Chinese army was retreating toward Mongolia. The plan was to use the many mountain fortresses that had been built up there. It was only once the Japanese had successfully laid siege to these mountain fortresses that their aggression returned toward the British Empire. In a quick swoop Japan invaded French Indochina, Dutch East Indies, Burma, Singapore and Guinea. Within two years the Japanese had successfully captured all the islands of the Pacific belonging to the European powers.
Blitzkrieg continued onto the Invasion Spanish Republic. On the 1st of April 1942 a series of simultaneous uprisings by fascist groups in Madrid, rural Castille, Sevilla and Valencia. Nazi paratroopers landed on the East coast, the first major amphibious assault of the war landed in the south from Morocco. The only thing that slowed down the the German army was the speed at which the soldiers could march. By the 14th of April Spain had surrendered and the puppet government led by Francisco Franco.
The third Blitzkrieg was that of North Africa by the Afrika Korps. Loyal French still remained in almost all of the French colonies. Abyssinian rebels joined these few countries to form the African alliance. Only French Equatorial Africa and Eritrea did not join this. The British 8th army, because of the blockade of the Straits of Gibraltar landed in Casablanca on the 1st January 1943, the entire 200,000 men landed over the next month. The African alliance offered up almost 500,000 men, however, only 150,000 had received effective military training. None the less the morale of the troops was high. Rommel's Afrika Korps landed in Libya with just over 300,000 men on the 17th February.
The fourth and final Blitzkrieg that was a success was the northern blitzkrieg of Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Lapland, Norway. Nazi paratroopers of the II Fallschimkorps (2000 men) landed on the western peninsula in the dawn hours of 3rd May 1943. Within three hours the very surprised Finnish port of Vaasa had been captured the the rest of the Nazi Norden Korps were landed and ready for the ensuing battle. The next day the Finnish President Risto Ryiti ordered the Finnish troops to "retreat to the hills". The next day a conditional surrender was made to the Nazis, if the Finnish became a protectorate then the troops would be ordered to return to barracks. Though the Nazis accepted the surrender very few soldiers returned to the barracks. The invasion of Sweden and Norway followed similar suit quick decisive strike by Fallschimkorps to the capital and followed by surrender.
The Axis Advance Slows
On 3rd January 1944, after heavy bombing, along the Chinese/Indian border the Japanese entered India. To colonial troops this was a massive surprise, who had been told that the Japanese was going to finish their expansion in the East by invading Australia and New Zealand first. The initial mass retreat quickly slowed with a massive boost of 3 million Indian soldiers coupled with 250,000 Gurkhas. On the 19th December 1944, the Osten Korps began their advance. Hitler finally began his planned "Eastern Expansion" Simultaneously all available troops which amassed to be around 10 million soldiers flooded across the borders into Poland, Ukraine, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria. However, unknown to the Nazi soldiers, who were expecting to encounter little resistance, the Red Army lay in wait. The Nazi army despite the initial shock of this were able, using precision artillery strikes, from P-1500 Monsters, and the Luftwaffe's bombing runs, to break the Red Army's morale and force them to retreat. Once on the run the Osten Korps kept at the tail of the retreating Red Army forced them back toward the border of the U.S.S.R.. Hitler who was absolutely outraged by this ordered Operation Barbarossa to begin without a pause. This was probably the point at which the Nazi's began their downfall.
The Nazi army had forced out the Red Army to the borders of the U.S.S.R. with massive effect. Over a million Red Army soldiers lay dead in the four months of fighting which was unexpectedly quick. This is probably one of the reasons why Hitler gave the order to continue over the border into the U.S.S.R. The Russians knew that if they fell back quickly the Germans would continue into the U.S.S.R. The remainder of the Russian Army made a ready. So when the two million German soldiers poured into Russia they were met with over ten million Red Army.
With A Stalemate emerging along the border Hitler took soldiers from other locations like the North Africa Campaign. The stalemate continued with the Nazis making progress in the Summer and the Soviets making Progress in the Winter. Mid 1945 saw the bloodiest battle ever. With around 2 million soldiers killed. Huge artillery bombardments from P-1500 Monsters would lead to a massive break out by Nazi troops. It would lead them to Moscow in early 1946. The break out was lead by the III Sturmkrieger and the LK Rommel and the LK Schliefflen. The May Breakout as it was known did not lead to victory in Russia as planned. Thought Moscow was captured within the year the Russians refused surrender though accepted a ceasefire. Moscow was returned, though the German's maintained a heavy perimeter on the West side.The Peace did not last long. War returned by August with the Russians and Nazis fighting over Moscow and with little other contact over the front.
During the Siege of Cairo in Egypt the III Sturmkrieger had successfully breached the British and African Alliance defence and taken Cairo. GHowever, the siege of Cairo was not so successful. The III Sturmkrieger, who had suffered heavy losses from the siege of Cairo were unable to lead another assault against Alexandria. Instead the assault was lead by IX Sturmpanzer who were a new unit drafted from Bavaria and keen to prove their worth. The inexperienced unit suffered a 90% casualty rate and was instantly disbanded. The loss of an entire regiment was worrying to the commanding officers who hesitated in what to do next. Field Marshall Montgomery seized this opportunity to try and lift the siege. Elements of the 7th armoured division, desert rats, broke through the German perimeter, quickly followed by the entire eighth army. Who headed toward Cairo. The Germans who believed that they had the British army surrounded had left a very small force occupying Cairo and so Montgomery was able to liberate Cairo with minimal resistance. With the Osten Korp struggling badly Hitler decided to begin drawing troops from the Afrika Korp to the Osten Korps so the Eighth army was finally on par with the Afrika Korps in terms of numbers.
The War Becomes Global
On 23rd of April 1946 Winston Churchill was finally permitted by the British Parliament to hold alliance/coalition talks. On 24th of April Winston Churchill had flown to Yekaterinberg to hold talks with Josef Stalin. By the 25th of April the agreement was that there was to be full co-operation of military forces and intelligence. However, Stalin refused to open far eastern front against the Japanese. It is most likely that the Russians were still wary after the Sino-Japanese war of 1904-1905 were unwilling to commit themselves. Winston Churchill, however, was unable to persuade the USA to join the war. He had flown across the Atlantic countless times to secure trade deals and loans with the USA. However, they still refused to join the war.
On 7th December the Japanese launched two surprise attacks against Vladivostok Naval Base and Pearl Harbor Naval Base . The attacks were completely surprise as neither country was at war with Japan. Used 414 Zeroes in two waves against Pearl Harbor launched from six aircraft carriers. In Vladivostok 509 Zeroes were launched from seven aircraft carriers. The devastation caused by these attacks was not as great as anticipated against the Russians. The Russians received a tip off from a Mongolian Cow herder and were able to scramble a handful of Yakovlev Yak-3 fighters to counter the Japanese Zeroes. The Russian Navy was able to be completely prepared by the second wave, and despite heavy casualties the overcrowded Russian base was able to man all guns and defend against the second wave. Of the 486 planes launched in the second wave, only 231 returned. In Pearl Harbor the Americans suffered massive losses. Over 2,700 military personnel were killed, along with around 1,200 civilians.
This now meant that there was a mess of alliances and declarations of war. However, there were two rough sides. The Axis now consisted of the Imperial Japanese, The Greater Nazi Germany and Italy. The Allies were Great Britain and Empire, The African Alliance, United States of America, Soviet Russia and China. With the shock of the attack to Pearl Harbor a massive increase in recruitment was seen for the U.S. forces. However, President Roosevelt was still unwilling to commit to another within Europe and proposed the War Plan Orange. It involved around half of the U.S. Air force being flown to England and mounting a massive air war to keep the Nazis at bay while the majority of the British Navy and Army were deployed to the East. The Russian would deploy as many troops as it could muster from the Eastern Front and send them to the East. The war was to be fought in the East against Japan first while the Manhattan project continued its research to bring down Hitler.
The First Victories for the Allies
In North Africa, Montgomery was engaged in the second siege of Cairo. when news of a tragedy reached him. His son had been captured by German forces. Montgomery was furious. And in his blind rage walked to the German camp in a plan to request his son back. He found the sentries asleep at their post and ran back to the city and ordered his men out. The men ambushed the Nazi camp before returning to the offensive. The ambush of the Nazi forces was one of the most embarrassing defeats for Nazi Germany. The Afrika Korps were routed and retreated almost 300 miles before they were regrouped. With this massive success and Montgomery was careful not to fall into the same trap as last time in which he was forced to retreat into a city.