Most wars begin raggedly. In the minds of Englishmen
4 August 1914 is unshakably fixed as the date when the first World war began; yet by then France and Germany had been at war
for twenty-four hours, Russia and Germany for three days, Serbia and Austria-Hungary for almost a week. The second World war
was vaguer still in its opening; the Russians date it from 22 June 1941, the Chinese from November 1937, the Abyssinians,
I suppose, from October 1935, and the Americans from 7 December 1941. The American date is the most sensible. The war became
truly world-widemuch more so than the first World waronly after Pearl Harbor. However, that is not how it seems
to English people. We date the second World war from 3 September 1939, the day when Great Britain and France declared war
on Germany (not, incidentally, from 1 September, the day when Germany attacked Poland); and
among non-Americans, only professional historians can remember the date of Pearl Harbor. The point is of no great
important as long as the reader knows exactly what he is in for and does not feel that he has been sold a book under false
pretences. This book seeks to explain the war which began on 3 September 1939. It. Does not attempt to answer the questions:
why did Hitler invade Soviet Russia? Why did Japan attack Pearl Harbor? Or why did Hitler and Mussolini then declare war on
the United States?
Even so, the United States could not
avoid playing a great, maybe a decisive, part in European affairs. The German problem, as it existed between the wars, was
largely the creation of American policy. The first World war would obviously have had a different end if it had not been for
American intervention: the Allies, to put it bluntly, would not have won. Equally, the victory over Germany would have had
a different character if the United States had been an Allied, not an Associated, Power. Everyone knows how the detachment
of the United States from the European Allies was asserted when the Senate refused to ratify the treaty of Versailles and,
with it, American membership in the League of Nations; but this detachment existed even in the days of closest co-operation,
and ratification of the treaty would not have made all that much difference. Woodrow Wilson regarded the Allies with almost
as much distrust as he regarded Germany, or perhaps with more; and American membership in the League, as he envisaged it,
would have been far from an asset to the Allied side.
did the action of the Senate imply a retreat into isolation. American policy was never more active and never more effective
in regard to Europe than in the nineteen-twenties. Reparations were settled; stable finances were restored; Europe was pacified:
all mainly due to the United States. This policy of recovery followed the doctrine of Keynes (and of other economists) that
Europe could be made prosperous only by making Germany prosperous. The recovery of Germany was Americas doing. It was
welcomed by most
people in Great Britain and even by a certain
number in France. It would have happened, to a lesser extent, in any case. Nevertheless, American policy was a powerful obstacle
against any attempt to retard the recovery of Germany and a considerable assistance to those who promoted it. What indeeda
thought which occurred to many Englishmen alsocan you do with Germany except make her the strongest Power in Europe?
Still, the process might have taken longer if Americans had not been so insistent that Germany was the
main pillar of European peace and civilisation. The treaty of Locarno and the admission of Germany to the League
won American approval; this was in fact a strong motive for them. The same applied to disarmament. Every step towards treating
Germany as an equal and towards dismantling the special securities which France obtained at the end of the first World war
received American backing, tempered only by impatience that the steps were slow and halting. Until 1931 or thereabouts, the
policy of the Western Powers, Great Britain and France, met broadly with American approval. Then things changed. This was
partly because of events in the Far East. When Japan acted in Manchuria, the United States wished to enlist the League of
Nations against her; while Great Britain and France thought that the League had enough to do in Europe without attempting
to extend its principles to the Far East. The divergence went deeper. Americans attached great value to non-recognition;
with a fine old-fashioned loyalty to nineteenth-century liberalism, they believed that moral disapproval would be effective
in itself. The belief had already been proved false. The United States had refused to recognize the Soviet Union ever since
1917 without the slightest effect on anyone. The British particularly thought that the same result, or lack of result, would
follow if they applied the principle of non-recognition to Japan. In their opinion, it was more important to restore peace
in the Far East than to preserve their moral virtue. They succeeded, but at the price of permanently offending liberal sentiment
in the United States. All this was dead stuff when Republican rule was brought to an end and Franklin D. Roosevelt became
In the autumn of 1937 American policy began to change.
This was mainly due to the outbreak of war between Japan and China in the Far East, where Americans would have liked to see
action by the European Powers, though they could promise none themselves. More than this, President Roosevelt set out to educate
American opinion. As always, he proceeded with great caution, anxious not to outrun his people. His famous quarantine
speech against aggressors hinted at something more than non-recognition. But how much more? Would the United States even now
have supported sanctions against Germany if any such had been imposed? In any case, the quarantine speech was
ill-received in the United States. Roosevelt retreated, explaining that he had meant nothing in particular. Soon afterwards
he renewed his attempt at education. His proposal for a world conference to consider the grievances of the dissatisfied Powers
was made in the hope of demonstrating to Americans the mounting dangers throughout the world; but it contained no prospect
that the United States would actively support the Powers who were trying to maintain some sort of peaceful order in the world.
Roosevelt seems to have hoped, so far as one can follow the devious workings of his mind, that events would educate Americans
where he had failed to do so.
George S. Patton, Jr. U.S. Army,
02605 1885 — 1945
been called a number of things, including military genius, a legend, and a son-of-a-bitch. But, almost 50 years after his
death, he’s still considered to be the one U.S. Army General epitomizing the fighting soldier of World War II. Patton
was a man of contradictory characteristics. He was a noted horseman and polo player, a well-known champion swordsman, and
a competent sailor and sportsman. He was an amateur poet. Sixteen of his analytical papers were published in military magazines,
the trade journals of the military profession. While he was a rough and tough soldier, he was also a thoughtful and sentimental
man. Unpredictable in his actions, he was always dependable. He was outgoing, yet introverted. History proves him to be
a complex and paradoxical figure. He’s mostly remembered for his unique brand of leadership. It was a role he cultivated
and fully exercised. He managed to obtain a supreme effort from his men. His charisma, symbolized by a flamboyant and well-publicized
image, stimulated his troops to an incredible level.
Throughout the war, Patton and his warriors had given
a magnificent performance. Third Army had gone farther, faster, conquered more territory, killed, wounded, and captured more
enemy soldiers than any other Army in the recorded history of war.
Patton died at the age of 60 in December, 1945 as
a result of an automobile accident near Mannheim, Germany. The term age of 60 is expressly used instead of 60 years old. Patton
was never old. Men half his age were hard pressed to keep up with him. He was always the most modern of warriors, always looking
for a new, better way to do his job. It has often been voiced by those who knew well him that perhaps it was a good thing
for him to die when he did. He died at the peak of his success, known for the many great things he had accomplished. He would
have been disgusted at the way the American politicians wasted and perverted the great victory American fighting men
had won. The United States had destroyed the German Nazis only toeplace them with what Patton called, “... the Mongolian
savages known as Russians.”
History of Anzac Day
Anzac day signifies the first
day of major military action which involved the Australian And New Zealand Corps (Anzac). The Anzacs were part of the allied
expedition set out to take control of Gallipoli (Turkey). The initial goal of the Anzacs was to eliminate Turkey from the
war, however this wasn't the case with fierce resistance from both sides with over 8000 Australian soldiers being killed.
The large number of Australian casualties had a profound effect on the Australian population with April 25th being remembered
as one of great sacrifice and created a legacy for all Australians which became know as the "Anzac legend" which
became an important part of Australia And New Zealands national identity.
The Anzac Legend is embedded deep within the Australia and New
Zealand culture. Its stands for: determination, mateship, being faithful whilst remaining steadfast, and never accepting
Anzac legacy is timeless with every Australian and New Zealander, and is a commemoration of the sacrifices which were made
to make both countries free. It's a time of reflection and appreciation of all the privileges we have today. Anzac day
ceremonies In Australia, veterans from all past Wars and current serving members of the defence force take part in nation
wide marches in recognition of the Anzacs. The ceremonies are then followed by social gatherings, in which traditional games
such as two up (a form of gambling involving two dice) are played. Gatherers will often partake in a drink of rum mixed with
milk, as well as "Anzac Cookies" at the event. Also on Anzac Day Sporting matches take place such as the traditional
Rugby League Anzac day test much between Australia and New Zealand.
The British Army
came into being with unification of the Kingdoms of England and Scotland into the United Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707.
The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England and Scotland. The British Army has traditionally
relied upon volunteer recruits, the only exceptions during the latter part of the First World War, the Second World War and
only once during peace time, when conscription was enacted.At the beginning of the 18th century the standing of the British
Army was reduced after the Treaty of Ryswick, and stood at 7,000 troops at home and 14,000 based overseas. In the early 18th
century the army was recruited from various sources, and many were mercenaries from continental Europe including Danes, Hessians
The rest of the army consisted of native people, mainly recruited from the poorest sections of society.
During this period the army was not a popular profession, with low pay, flogging and other barbarous disciplinary measures
in the Army. Recruits were aged from 17 to 50 years of age. The army was also kept small by the government, mainly due to
the fear that the army would be unduly influenced by the Crown or used to depose the Government. Only during war was this
policy abandoned for rapid recruitment.
To fill the ranks during wartime, as during the American Revolution,
a policy similar to the Navy`s Press Gangs were introduced. Two acts were passed, the Recruiting Act 1778 and the Recruiting
Act 1779 for the impressment of individuals, for some this simply would have been for being drunk and disorderly. The chief
advantages of these acts was in the number of volunteers brought in under the apprehension of impressment. To avoid impressment,
some recruits incapacitated themselves by cutting off the thumb and forefinger of the right hand. Both acts were repealed
in 1780. Others were enticed to take the King's shilling under false pretences and many men would find they had signed
to a lifetime in the army.
This global conflict
split a majority of the world's nations into two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. Spanning much of
the globe, World War II resulted in the deaths of over 60 million people, making it the deadliest conflict in human history.
World War II was the most widespread war in history, and countries involved mobilized more than 100 million military
personnel. Total war erased the distinction between civil and military resources and saw the complete activation of a nation's
economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities for the purposes of the war effort; nearly two-thirds of those killed in
the war were civilians. For example, nearly 11 million of the civilian casualties were victims of the Holocaust, which was
largely conducted in Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union.
mainland China and French Indochina in 1940, Japan had been subjected to increasing economic sanctions by the United States,
Great Britain and Netherlands, and was attempting to reduce these sanctions through diplomatic negotiations. In December 1941,
however, the war expanded again when Japan, already into its fifth year of war with China, launched near simultaneous attacks
against the United States and British assets in Southeast Asia; four days later, Germany declared war on the United States.
This brought the United States and Japan into the greater conflict and turned previously separate Asian and European wars
into a single global one.
In 1942, though Axis forces continued to make gains, the tide began to turn. Japan suffered
its first major defeat against American forces in the Battle of Midway, where four of Japan's aircraft carriers were destroyed.
German forces in Africa were being pushed back by Anglo-American forces, and Germany's renewed summer offensive in the
Soviet Union had ground to a halt.
World War II
(abbreviated WWII), or the Second World War, was a worldwide military conflict; the amalgamation of two separate conflicts,
one beginning in Asia, 1937, as the Second Sino-Japanese War and the other beginning in Europe, 1939, with the invasion of
Poland. It is regarded as the historical successor to World War I.
1939, Germany invaded Poland and war in Europe followed. The French and British did not declare war at first, hoping they
could persuade Hitler through appeasement, but Hitler did not respond. The United Kingdom and France declared war. During
the winter of 1939-1940 there was little indication of hostilities since neither side was willing to engage the other directly.
This period was called the Phoney War.
In 1940, Germany captured Denmark and Norway in the spring, and then in the early
summer France and the Low Countries. The United Kingdom was then targeted; the Germans attempted to cut the island off from
vitally needed supplies and obtain air superiority in order to make a seaborne invasion possible. This never came to pass,
but the Germans continued to attack the British mainland throughout the war, primarily from the air. Unable to engage German
forces on the continent, the United Kingdom concentrated on combating German and Italian forces in the Mediterranean Basin.
It had limited success however; it failed to prevent the Axis conquest of the Balkans and fought indecisively in the Western
Desert Campaign. It had greater success in the Mediterranean Sea, dealing severe damage to the Italian Navy, and dealt Germany's
first major defeat by winning the Battle of Britain.
In June 1941, the war expanded dramatically when Germany invaded
the Soviet Union, bringing the Soviet Union into alliance with the United Kingdom. The German attack started strong, overrunning
great tracts of Soviet territory, but began to stall by the winter.
Germany and France
had been struggling for dominance in Continental Europe for 80 years and had fought two previous wars, the Franco-Prussian
War and World War I. Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, Communist revolutionary movements began spreading across Europe,
briefly taking power in both Budapest and Bavaria; in response, fascist and nationalist groups were born.
In 1922, Italian
dictator Benito Mussolini and his fascist party took control of the Kingdom of Italy and set the model for German dictator
Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party, which, aided by the civil unrest caused by the Great Depression, took power in Germany and
eliminated its democratic government, the Weimar Republic. These two leaders began to re-militarize their countries and become
increasingly hostile. Mussolini first conquered the African nation of Abyssinia and then seized Albania, with both Italy and
Germany actively supporting Francisco Franco's fascist Falange party in the Spanish Civil War against the Second Spanish
Republic (which was supported by the Soviet Union). Hitler then broke the Treaty of Versailles by increasing the size of the
Germany's military, and re-militarized the Rhineland. He started his own expansion by annexing Austria and sought the
same against the German-speaking regions (Sudetenland) of Czechoslovakia.
end of the war, a rapid period of decolonization also took place within the holdings of the various European colonial powers.
These primarily occurred due to shifts in ideology, the economic exhaustion from the war and increased demand by indigenous
people for self-determination. For the most part, these transitions happened relatively peacefully, though notable exceptions
occurred in countries such as Indochina, Madagascar, Indonesia and Algeria. In many regions, divisions, usually for ethnic
or religious reasons, occurred following European withdrawal; this was seen prominently in the Mandate of Palestine, leading
to the creation of Israel and Palestine, and in India, resulting in the creation of the Dominion of India and the Dominion
independence and partition in 1947 and under the Tripartite Agreement, six Gurkha regiments joined the post-independence Indian
Army. Four Gurkha regiments, the 2nd, 6th, 7th, and 10th Gurkha Rifles, joined the British Army on January 1, 1948. They formed
the Brigade of Gurkhas and were stationed in Malaya.
During the Malayan Emergency, Gurkhas fought as jungle soldiers
as they had done in Burma. They also formed four new units Gurkha Engineers, Signals, Transport and Military Police. They
were also used for convoy escort duties, security of the new villages and ambushing guerrillas. In the year of Malayan independence,
Gurkha Signals units monitored communications during the first free elections. One Gurkha battalion 2nd Gurkha Rifles - was
stationed in Tidworth, Wiltshire in 1962. On December 7, the unit was deployed to Brunei on a days notice at the outbreak
of the Brunei Revolt. The forthcoming Indonesian Confrontation saw the formation of the Gurkha Independent Parachute Company
on April 1, 1963. The unit was disbanded in 1972. The 2/5th Royal Gurkha Rifles marching through Kure soon after their arrival
in Japan as part of the Allied forces of occupation The 2/5th Royal Gurkha Rifles marching through Kure soon after their arrival
in Japan as part of the Allied forces of occupation After that conflict ended, the Gurkhas were transferred to Hong Kong,
where they had security duties during the upheavals of the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
Lt. Gen. Lesley McNair,
Amazing Wartime Facts from WWII
1. The first German serviceman killed in the war was killed
by the Japanese (China, 1937)
2. The first
American serviceman killed was killed by the Russians (Finland 1940).
3. The highest ranking American killed was Lt. Gen. Lesley McNair, killed by the US Army Air Corps.
4. The youngest US serviceman was 12 year old Calvin Graham, USN.
He was wounded in combat and given a Dishonorable Discharge for lying about his age. (His benefits were later restored by
act of Congress).
5. At the time of Pearl
Harbor, the top US Navy command was called CINCUS (pronounced “sink us”), the shoulder patch of the US Army’s
45th Infantry division was the Swastika, and Hitler’s private train was named “Amerika”. All three were
soon changed for PR purposes.
6. More US
servicemen died in the Air Corps that the Marine Corps. While completing the required 30 missions, your chance of being killed
was 71%. Not that bombers were helpless. A B-17 carried 4 tons of bombs and 1.5 tons of machine gun ammo. The US 8th Air Force
shot down 6,098 fighter planes, 1 for every 12,700 shots fired.
7. Germany’s power grid was much more vulnerable than realized. One estimate is that if just 1% of the bombs
dropped on German industry had instead been dropped on power plants, German industry would have collapsed.
8. Generally speaking, there was no such thing as an average fighter
pilot. You were either an ace or a target. For instance, Japanese ace Hiroyoshi Nishizawa shot down over 80 planes. He died
while a passenger on a cargo plane.
9. It was a common practice on fighter planes to load every 5th found with a tracer round to aid in aiming. That was a mistake.
The tracers had different ballistics so (at long range) if your tracers were hitting the target, 80% of your rounds were missing.
Worse yet, the tracers instantly told your enemy he was under fire and from which direction. Worst of all was the practice
of loading a string of tracers at the end of the belt to tell you that you were out of ammo. That was definitely not something
you wanted to tell the enemy. Units that stopped using tracers saw their success rate nearly double and their loss rate go
10. When allied armies reached the
Rhine, the first thing men did was pee in it. This was pretty universal from the lowest private to Winston Churchill (who
made a big show of it) and Gen. Patton (who had himself photographed in the act). Don't believe me? Take a look at this.
11. German Me-264 bombers were capable of bombing New
York City but it wasn’t worth the effort.
12. A number of air crewmen died of farts. (ascending to 20,000 ft. in an un-pressurized aircraft causes intestinal
gas to expand 300%!)
13. The Russians destroyed
over 500 German aircraft by ramming them in midair (they also sometimes cleared minefields by marching over them). “It
takes a brave man not to be a hero in the Red Army”. Joseph Stalin
14. The US Army had more ships that the US Navy.
15. The German Air Force had 22 infantry divisions, 2 armor divisions, and 11 paratroop divisions. None of them were
capable of airborne operations. The German Army had paratroops who WERE capable of airborne operations.
16. When the US Army landed in North Africa, among the equipment
brought ashore were 3 complete Coca Cola bottling plants.
17. Among the first “Germans” captured at Normandy were several Koreans. They had been forced to fight
for the Japanese Army until they were captured by the Russians and forced to fight for the Russian Army until they were captured
by the Germans and forced to fight for the German Army until they were capture by the US Army.
18. The Graf Spee never sank, The scuttling attempt failed and the ship was bought
by the British. On board was Germany’s newest radar system.
19. One of Japan’s methods of destroying tanks was to bury a very large artillery shell with on ly the nose
exposed. When a tank came near the enough a soldier would whack the shell with a hammer. “Lack of weapons is no excuse
for defeat.” – Lt. Gen. Mataguchi
Following a massive naval bombardment, 35,000 US and Canadian troops stormed ashore at Kiska. 21 troops were killed in the
fire-fight. It would have been worse if there had been Japanese on the island.
21. The MISS ME was an unarmed Piper Cub. While spotting for US artillery her pilot saw a similar German plane
doing the same thing. He dove on the German plane and he and his co-pilot fired their pistols damaging the German plane enough
that it had to make a forced landing. Whereupon they landed and took the Germans prisoner. It is unknown where they put them
since the MISS ME only had two seats.
Most members of the Waffen SS were not German.
The only nation that Germany declared was on was the USA.
24. During the Japanese attack on Hong Kong, British officers objected to Canadian infantrymen taking up positions
in the officer’s mess. No enlisted men allowed!
25. Nuclear physicist Niels Bohr was rescued in the nick of time from German occupied Denmark. While Danish resistance
fighters provided covering fire he ran out the back door of his home stopping momentarily to grab a beer bottle full of precious
“heavy water”. He finally reached England still clutching the bottle, which contained beer. Perhaps some German
drank the heavy water…
by Ronald Padavan, LTC, CAP MIWG Chief of Staff MSGT, USAF (Ret.) Past President Lodge 143, Fraternal Order of Police.
In his prison cell at Nuremberg, Hitler's foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, wrote a brief
memoir in the course of which he explored the reasons for Germany's defeat. He picked out three factors that he thought
were critical: the unexpected 'power of resistance' of the Red Army; the vast supply of American armaments; and the
success of Allied air power. This last was Hitler's explanation too. When Ribbentrop spoke with him a week before the
suicide in the bunker, Hitler told him that, 'the real military cause of defeat' was the failure of the German Air
Force. For all his many failings Ribbentrop was closer to the truth than he might have realised. For the Allies in World War
Two, the defeat of Germany was their priority. Italy and Japan never posed the same kind of threat as the European superpower
they fought alongside. Their defeat, costly though it was, became irresistible. The key to ending the world crisis was the
defeat of Hitler's Germany. This outcome was not pre-ordained, as is so often suggested, once the British Empire was joined
by the USSR and the USA in 1941. The Allies had to mobilise and utilise their large resources effectively on the battlefield
and in the air. This outcome could not be taken for granted.
British forces were close to defeat everywhere in 1942. The American economy was a peacetime economy, apparently
unprepared for the colossal demands of total war. The Soviet system was all but shattered in 1941, two-thirds of its heavy
industrial capacity captured and its vast air and tank armies destroyed. This was a war, Ribbentrop ruefully concluded, that
'Germany could have won'. Soviet resistance was in some ways the most surprising outcome. The German attackers believed
that Soviet Communism was a corrupt and primitive system that would collapse, in Goebbels' words 'like a pack of cards'.
The evidence of how poorly the Red Army fought
in 1941 confirmed these expectations. More than five million Soviet soldiers were captured or killed in six months; they fought
with astonishing bravery, but at every level of combat were out-classed by troops that were better armed, better trained and
better led. This situation seemed beyond remedy. Yet within a year Soviet factories were out-producing their richly-endowed
German counterparts - the Red Army had embarked on a thorough transformation of the technical and organisational base of Soviet
forces, and a stiffening of morale, from Stalin downwards, produced the first serious reverse for the German armed forces
when Operation Uranus in November 1942 led to the encirclement of Stalingrad and the loss of the German Sixth Army.
As the war in Europe spread in the late '30s, the
U.S. Military wanted a new light-weight, four-wheel-drive, reconnaissance vehicle. They solicited bids for command/reconnaissance
car with an 80" wheelbase and weighing 1300 lbs in June of 1940. Three companies responded: Bantam, Ford and Willys.
The Bantam Car Company had the leading contender based on overall design, but Willys had the wonderful "Go Devil"
flat-head four cylinder engine. Ford had some good ideas too and there was a pooling of ideas that surely violated the spirit,
if not the letter, of intellectual property, trade-mark, and other laws, but served the governments needs. The final winner
after a few resubmittals was the GPW. "G" for government, "P" for pigmy (a Ford term) and "W"
One story has it that the lowly, uninformed GI's thought "GP" was for general purpose,
and pronounced it "jeep". Other people say that the word "jeep" was slang for any wonderfully multipurpose
thing. The Popeye cartoon had a character, named "Eugene the Jeep" in 1936, who had all kinds of amazing powers.
Anyway, the source of the name "Jeep" is now vailed by the passage of time...
The first working prototype was displayed before the
September deadline. By the end of the war in 1945, more than seven hundred thousand jeeps had been produced by the Willys-Overland
Company, owner of the design, and the Ford Motor Company. The film recounts the origin of the name "jeep" in the
quick pronunciation of "G.P."--although the initials initially came not from "General Purpose" but from
Ford's duller production abbreviation: "G" for government vehicle and "P" being the symbol for eighty-inch-wheelbase
cars. When The Autobiography of a Jeep was released midwar in 1943, the Allies could look to successes reflected in the shots
of President Roosevelt riding in a jeep to meet with Churchill at Casablanca after the victory in North Africa.
officers were mainly drawn from affluent backgrounds, most having attended public schools, it was said that the Battle of
Waterloo in 1815 was 'won on the playing fields of Eton'. This was largely in part to the sale of commissions, finally
abolished due to the Cardwell reforms, and the further Childers Reforms. In spite of its abolishment, the status of an officer
being from a privileged background and that of another rank being from a less privileged one has, for the most part, endured
into the 21st century.
The Royal Family traditionally had its members serve in the Armed Forces, usually with the Royal
Navy though many have served with the Army. This tradition has continued into the 21st century, with Prince Harry and Prince
William both joining the Army as officers.
Foreign Royals have
also served in the Army, such as Eugène Bonaparte the son of Napoléon III, was commissioned into the Royal Artillery,
but was killed in 1879 while serving in South Africa during the Anglo-Zulu War. Also later in the 20th Century King Abdullah
II of Jordan served as a Second Lieutenant with the 13th/18th Royal Hussars (Queen Mary's Own).
In Europe, the origins of the war are closely tied to
the rise of fascism, especially in Nazi Germany. A discussion of how the Nazis came to power is a requisite in this context.
The origins of the Second World War are generally viewed as being traced back to the First World War (1914-1918).
In that war Germany under the ultra-nationalistic Kaiser Wilhelm II along with its allies, had been defeated by a combination
of the United Kingdom, United States, France, Russia and others. The war was directly blamed by the victors on the miltant
nationalism of the Kaiser's Germany; it was Germany that effectively started the war with an attack on France through
Belgium. France, which had suffered a previous defeat at the hands of Prussia (a state that merged one year later with others
to form Germany) in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, demanded revenge for its financial devastation during the First World
War (and its humiliation in the earlier war) ensured that the various peace treaties, specifically the Treaty of Versailles
imposed tough financial reparations and restrictions on Germany.
A new democratic German republic, known as the
Weimar Republic, came into being. After some success it was hit by hyperinflation and other serious economic problems. Right
wing nationalist elements under a variety of movements, but most notably the Nazi Party of Adolf Hitler, sought to blame Germany's
"humiliating" status on the harshness of the post-war settlement, on the weakness of democratic government, and
on the Jews, whom it claimed possessed a financial stranglehold on Germany. Hitler was appointed Reichskanzler (Chancellor)
on January 30, 1933, by the aged President von Hindenburg. Hitler's government exercised much of its power through the
special emergency powers possessed by the President under the constitution.
These powers enabled a government with the
President's powers to effectively bypass the Reichstag (federal parliament). Under a further disastrous clause in the
Weimar constitution when the President died, his office was temporarily assumed by the Chancellor. As a result, when Hindenburg
died, the immense powers of the presidency fell into the hands of Adolf Hitler. Through the possession of those powers and
an Enabling Act that allowed the nazi government to bypass and ignore the constitution, Hitler ensured his possession of the
presidential powers became permanent and so gained dictatorial control over Germany.
The Italian economy also fell
into a deep slump following World War I. Anarchists were endemic, Communist and other Socialist agitators abounded among the
trade unions, and many were gravely worried that a Bolshevik-style Communist revolution was imminent.
After a number
of liberal governments failed to rein in these threats, Italy's King Victor Emmanuel III invited right-wing politician
Benito Mussolini and his Fascist Party to form a government in 1922, following their largely symbolic Marca su Roma (March
on Rome). The Fascists maintained an armed paramilitary wing, which they employed to fight Anarchists, Communists, and Socialists.
Within a few years, Mussolini had consolidated dictatorial power, and Italy became a police state. On January 7, 1935, he
and French Foreign Minister Pierre Laval signed the Italo-French agreements.
Meanwhile in Germany, once political consolidation
(Gleichschaltung) was in place, the Nazis turned their attention to foreign policy with several increasingly daring acts.
On March 16, 1935, the Versailles Treaty was violated as Hitler ordered Germany to re-arm. Germany also reintroduced military
conscription (the treaty stated that the German Army should not exceed 100,000 men).
These steps produced nothing
more than official protests from Britain and France, for they were more serious about enforcing the economic provisions of
the treaty than its military restrictions. Many Brits felt the restrictions placed on Germany in Versailles had been too harsh,
and they believed that Hitler's aim was simply to undo the extremes of the treaty, not to go beyond that. Faced with no
opposition, Hitler moved troops into the Rhineland on March 7, 1936. Under the Versailles treaty, the Rhineland should have
been demilitarized, for France wanted it for a buffer between herself and Germany. But, as before, Hitler's defiance was
met with inaction.
The first German conquest was Austria. After Italy had joined the Anti-Comintern Pact, thereby removing
the main obstacle of a Anschluss of Austria, Germany announced the annexation on March 12, 1938, making it a German province:
With Austria secured, Hitler turned his attention to Czechoslovakia. His first order of
business was to seize the Sudetenland, a mountainous area in northeast part of the country. With Austria in German hands,
the tiny state was nearly surrounded. Following lengthy negotiations, and blatant war threats from Hitler, British Prime Minister
Neville Chamberlain went out of his way with French leaders to appease Hitler, even though the United Kingdom had earlier
guaranteed the security of Czechoslovakia. However, the Munich Agreement of September 30, 1938, then allowed German troops
to occupy the Sudetenland.
Czech representatives were not allowed at the conference; their government strongly
opposed giving up the Sudetenland but they were powerless in the face of German military might and British and French unwillingness
to support them. A few months after that, in March 1939, the remaining Czech lands passed into German hands as well. March
14 Slovakia declared her independence, recognized by France, Britain and other important powers. The Slovak state tried to
avoid nazification, but was finally occupied by Nazi-Germany in September 1944.
Italy, facing opposition to its wars
in Abyssinia (Ethiopia) from the League of Nations, forged an alliance with Nazi Germany, which had withdrawn from the League
in 1933. In May of 1939, Italy and Germany thus formed the Pact of Steel, which deepened their alliance and established a
start of the war the British Army Strength stood at 897,000 men including reserves, the number was higher than the start of
the previous world war. One reason was the Military Training Act of 27 April 1939 which required all men aged 20 and 21 to
take six months military training. The act was further increased upon the declaration of the war to include all fit men between
the ages of 18 and 41. Conscription was gradually brought in starting in October 1939 and applying to all fit men between
20&23, the age group was increased as the war continued. By the end of 1939 the strength of the British Army stood at
1.1 million men, and further increased to 1.65 million men during June 1940 By the end of the war and the final demobilisations
in 1946, over 3.5 million men had been enlisted in the British Army.
The Local Defence Volunteers was formed early in 1940, very
large numbers of civilians too old or too young for the Army, or barred from serving if they were in reserved occupations,
volunteered for the new force. The organisation was eventually renamed the "Home Guard" and was to be part of the
defence of Britain in the advent of a German invasion of Britain.
1931, Japan invaded Manchuria under false pretexts and captured it from the Chinese. In 1933, Adolf Hitler of the Nazi Party
became leader of Germany. Under the Nazis, Germany began to rearm and to pursue a new nationalist foreign policy. By 1937,
Hitler also began demanding the cession of territories which had historically been part of Germany, like the Rhineland and
Gdansk. In July 1937, Japan launched a large scaled invasion of mainland China, beginning with the bombing of Shanghai and
Guangzhou and followed by the Nanking massacre in December. In Europe, Germany, and to a lesser extent Italy, asserted increasingly
hostile and aggressive foreign policies and demands, which the United Kingdom and France initially attempted to diffuse primarily
through diplomacy and appeasement.
In 1944, the
outcome of the war was becoming clearly unfavorable for the Axis. Germany became boxed in as the Soviet offensive became a
juggernaut in the east, pushing the Germans out of Russia and pressing into Poland and Romania; in the west, the Western Allies
invaded mainland Europe, liberating France and the Low Countries and reaching Germany's western borders. While Japan launched
a successful major offensive in China, in the Pacific, their navy suffered continued heavy losses as American forces captured
airfields within bombing range of Tokyo.
In 1945 the war ended. In Europe, a final German counter-attack in the west
failed, while Soviet forces captured Berlin in May, forcing Germany to surrender. In Asia, American forces captured the Japanese
islands of Iwo Jima and Okinawa while British forces in Southeast Asia managed to expel Japanese forces there. Initially unwilling
to surrender, Japan finally capitulated after the Soviet Union invaded Manchukuo and the United States dropped atomic bombs
on the mainland of Japan.
In an effort
to maintain international peace,the Allies formed the United Nations, which officially came into existence on 24 October,
1945. Regardless of this though, the alliance between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union had begun to deteriorate even
before the war was over, and the two powers each quickly established their own spheres of influence. In Europe, the continent
was essentially divided between Western and Soviet spheres by the so-called Iron Curtain which ran through and partitioned
Allied occupied Germany and occupied Austria. In Asia, the United States occupied Japan and administrated Japan's former
islands in the Western Pacific while the Soviets annexed Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands; the former Japanese governed Korea
was divided and occupied between the two powers. Mounting tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union soon evolved
into the formation of the American-led NATO and the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact military alliances and the start of the Cold War
following the war was varied in differing parts of the world, though in general it was quite positive. In Europe, West Germany
recovered quickly and doubled production from its pre-war levels by the 1950s.Italy came out of the war in poor economic condition,
but by 1950s, the Italian economy was marked by stability and high growth. The United Kindgom was in a state of ecomonic ruin
after the war,and continued to experience relative economic decline for decades to follow.France rebounded quite quickly,
and enjoyed rapid economic growth and modernization.The Soviet Union also experienced a rapid increase in production in the
immediate post-war era. In Asia, Japan experienced incredibly rapid economic growth, and led to Japan becoming one of the
most powerful economies in the world by the 1980s. China, following the conclusion of its civil war, was essentially a bankrupt
nation. By 1953, economic restoration seemed fairly successful as production had resumed pre-war levels.This growth rate mostly
persisted, though it was briefly interrupted by the disastrous Great Leap Forward economic experiment. At the end of the war,
the United States produced roughly half of the worlds industrial output; by the 1970s though, this dominance had lessened
The British and
French governments followed a policy of appeasement in order to avoid military confrontation after the high cost of the First
World War. This policy culminated in the Munich Agreement in 1938, which would give the Sudetenland to Germany in exchange
for Germany making no further territorial claims in Europe. In March 1939, Germany annexed the remainder of Czechoslovakia.
Mussolini, following suit, annexed Albania in April.
The failure of the Munich Agreement pushed the United Kingdom and
France to prepare for war with Germany. France and Poland pledged on May 19, 1939, to provide each other with military assistance
in the event either was attacked. The following August, the British guaranteed the same.
On August 23, 1939, Germany
and the Soviet Union signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact which provided for sales of oil and food from the Soviets to Germany,
thus reducing the danger of a British blockade such as the one that had nearly starved Germany in World War I. Also included
was a secret agreement that would divide Central Europe into German and Soviet areas of interest, including a provision to
partition Poland. Each country agreed to allow the other a free hand in its area of influence, including military occupation.
In early May,
Japan initiated operations to capture Port Moresby via amphibious assault and thus sever the line of communications between
the United States and Australia. The Allies, however, intercepted and turned back Japanese naval forces, preventing the invasion.
plan, motivated by the earlier bombing on Tokyo, was to seize the Midway Atoll as this would seal a gap in their perimeter
defences, provide a forward base for further operations, and lure American carriers into battle to be eliminated; as a diversion,
Japan would also send forces to occupy the Aleutian Islands. In early June, Japan put their operations into action but the
Americans, having broken Japanese naval codes in late May, were fully aware of the Japanese plans and force dispositions and
used this knowledge to achieve a decisive victory over the Imperial Japanese Navy. With their capacity for amphibious
assault greatly diminished as a result of the Midway battle, Japan chose to focus on an overland campaign on the Territory
of Papua in another attempt to capture Port Moresby. For the Americans, they planned their next move against Japanese positions
in the southern Solomon Islands, primarily against the island of Guadalcanal, as a first step towards capturing Rabaul, the
primary Japanese base in Southeast Asia. Both plans started in July, but by mid-September the battle for Guadalcanal took
priority for the Japanese, and troops in New Guinea were ordered to withdraw from the Port Moresby area to the northern part
of the island. Guadalcanal soon became a focal point for both sides with heavy commitments of troops and ships in a
battle of attrition. By the start of 1943, the Japanese were defeated on the island and withdrew their troops.
The Royal Gurkha
Rifles (RGR) is a regiment of the British Army, forming part of the Brigade of Gurkhas. The Royal Gurkha Rifles are now the
sole infantry regiment of the British Army Gurkhas. Like the other Gurkha regiments of the British and Indian armies, the
regiment is recruited from Gurkhas from Nepal, which is a nation independent of the United Kingdom and not a member of the
Commonwealth. The regiment was formed in 1994 from the amalgamation of the four separate Gurkha regiments in the British Army:The
Royal Gurkha Rifles are considered to be some of the finest soldiers in the world, as is evidenced by the high regard they
are held in for both their fighting skill, and their smartness of turnout on parade. Their standard of drill is considered
to be on a par with that of the Foot Guards and in July 1997 the regiment mounted the guard at Buckingham Palace.
The two battalions of the rgr are formed
as light role infantry; they are not equipped with either armoured or wheeled vehicles. One battalion is based at shorncliffe,
near folkestone in kent as part of 52 infantry brigade, and is available for deployment to most areas in europe and africa.
The other is based at the british garrison in brunei as part of britain's commitment to maintaining a military presence
in se asia. The two battalions rotate in each role, usually for three years at a time.
As part of the restructuring of
the infantry, the uk based battalion was transferred from 2 infantry brigade to 52 infantry brigade, to be given a more mainstream
role. Together with the royal irish regiment and the argyll and sutherland highlanders (5 scots), the uk based rgr battalion
will rotate as part of 16 air assault brigade—it will spend five years with this formation, followed by two years as
a light infantry battalion with 52 brigade. 2rgr will taken on this role for the first time in 2010.
The proximity to
afghanistan has meant that the brunei based battalion has been called upon to deploy as part of the british force. Twice during
its most recent brunei posting the 2nd battalion was deployed as the afghanistan roulement infantry battalion, while the 1st
battalion deployed as part of 52 infantry brigade in late 2007. During this tour, cornet hrh prince henry of wales was attached
for a period to the 1rgr battlegroup as a forward air controller.
“We shall not flag or fail, we shall go on to
the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight in the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing
strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we will fight on the beaches, we shall fight on
the landing grounds, we shall fight in the hills, we shall never surrender…” ~Winston Churchill His courage
and will spurred the people of the United Kingdom to fight back, to defend their land, to never surrender. As the Prime Minister
of England, he visited battle sites and fortresses, inspected defenses himself and visited the wounded. He would walk through
the streets of a city as bombs were falling from the open sky, and everywhere he went, he held up his two fingers: his ‘v’
for victory. To me, Winston Churchill was not only an important figure in British and World War history; he is a role model
for the world, someone our leaders should aspire to be. If you had known Winston Churchill as a child, you would have
never thought that he would turn out to be such an impacting leader. The boy did not do well in school, and often stuttered
when he spoke. Later, and with stunning perseverance, Churchill overcame his stuttering speech problem, and he is often quoted,
even so long after his death. Lord Randolph Churchill, his father, enrolled him in a military college thinking that it was
his only option. Churchill proved a good soldier, graduating 8th in his class of 150. In between stations at war during WWI,
and during his military schooling, he worked to educate himself. He studied boxes upon boxes of books that his mother sent
him. One day in the war, on the battlefield, he was captured by opposing soldiers. Finally after a torturous length of time
he escaped, and traveled miles and miles to get out of enemy territory. When he, at last, got back to England, he was declared
a war hero. His status helped him gain a seat in Parliament. He moved up quickly in politics, eventually rising to power as
1st Lord, who makes important decisions regarding war in British government, and lead England through the rest of WWI. After
said war was lost, he resigned, considering himself finished, a political failure.