World War II (1939-1945)
The British defend their Empire in Asia from the Japanese and simultaneously defend England, Europe, Egypt and the Middle East against Hitler's Germany who was determined to conquer the whole of Continental Europe from the Atlantic to Moscow.
England+British Empire+USA+Russia+ China
The worst loss of life in any war before and after with 50 million deaths, some 30 in Europe and 20 in the Far East.
This includes the 6 million Jews murdered by Hitler in his Gas Chambers like Auschwitz, Poland but does not include all the 40 million, mainly Russian people, murdered by Stalin in his life time.
WWII 1939, Pre-war build up
On 3rd September1939 England declared war on warmongering Germany because they invaded Poland, having already annexed the Rhineland, Austria and Czechoslovakia.
Actually for the commencement of the war we must go as far back as 1931 and to the other side of the world, when Japan embarked on their first move in their expansionist bid to seize land in South East Asia to secure more territory for their bulging population together with supplies of oil and rubber. Their first stepping stone was the invasion of Manchuria. (An area in North East China which has a long history of changing hands between Russia, China and Japan.) However the Japanese were also particularly interested in the British oil and rubber territories of Malay and Burma.
Italy invades Africa Italy, under their Fascist dictator Mussolini, who had seized power in a coup in 1922 was in fact, the first aggressor in Europe, after the First World War, as he marched into the Horn of Africa in 1935. Abyssinia quickly fell to the much more powerful Italian army.
The world was outraged by all these aggressors, but did nothing.
The cause of this global war was The world wide recession, indeed “the slump”, in the 1920’s which caused a number of leaders to look for growth abroad to take the pressure off the disasters at home. This applied to the Germans, Italians and the Japanese. The result of World War One (1914-18), when Germany lost so much land created a determination to get it back when the time was right. The observation by the Japanese that they were the only country of significance without an Empire and as opposed to the British who had the largest world empire, had no cheap and secure source of oil, rubber (for car tyres), and food. (Rice in their case)
At this time The forum for keeping world peace was the League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations. England still had the largest navy in the world built to defend the huge British Empire The English, after World War One, were not in the mood for war. Indeed a debate at Oxford University had come down on the side of those who if asked, would not take up arms for “King and Country”. Germany was ruled by another fascist dictator, Hitler, who was determined to not only get the lands back Germany had lost in the First World War but to rule the whole of Europe (Napoleon Style) based on an ideology of race.
The Germans had for some time preached that as fair skin Arians they were superior to all other races, particularly Jews and Gypsies. Germany was friendly with Russia and although forbidden to build up an army after the First World War, not only did so, but undertook military exercises secretly in Russia where they perfected the use of new military technology particularly, tanks+ planes+ battlefield radio+ fast moving vehicle carried infantry. The technique they developed was called Blitzkrieg or lightning strikes. The French who with the English were on the winning side in the 1914-18 war had a larger army than the Germans, supported by tanks and planes but poor radio. Military commanders thought only in World War One terms so to defend France, they had dug a huge World War One type trench between France and Germany called the Magino Line which they were confidently sitting behind. No modern Blitzkrieg techniques were developed, indeed their cavalry still used horses.
The French like the British had a substantial navy but conducted few naval exercises to hone new battle techniques. The Germans were forbidden to build up a Navy, but did. They also saw the submarine as a much better solution for sinking ships than slugging it out with bigger and better battle ships. The Germans also developed excellent army Blitzkrieg support fighter planes and light bombers. Notably the Messerschmitt 109 and the Junkers 87 dive bomber (Stukas). The only weakness in the Luftwaffe was perhaps with heavy bombers their best bombers were the lightweight Junkers 88 and Heinkel 111. The English were fortunate to have developed two top fighters, the Spitfire and the Hurricane which now everybody knows helped to win the Battle of Britain. As with Germany, England had no large four engined heavy bombers at the start of the war but were quick to develop them.
At sea the English had the biggest Navy but it was stretched to support the Empire world wide. This put both the German, Italian and Japanese Navy’s at an advantage in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Eastern Oceans respectively. All these countries had Aircraft Carriers, Battleships, Cruisers, Destroyers, Frigates, Mine Sweepers and submarines. The Americans like Britain were initially reluctant fighters and took a lot of persuading to join the war. See later. When they joined, their fighting capabilities and equipment in all three services was only similar to the British and certainly not up to German standards. But as the Japanese had predicted The Americans were quick to learn.
Pre-war build up
- 1935-1939 After Mussolini marches into Abyssinia and the world does nothing, Hitler is encouraged to take back the Rhineland which had been occupied by Britain and France since the end of the First World War. The Rhineland is the land between the Rhine River and present day France.
- 1936 March. Hitler sends German troops into the Rhineland and claims it once again as German soil. Britain and France do nothing.
- 1938 Hitler sends troops into Austria. Pacifists Britain and France do nothing.
- 1938 Hitler sends his tanks into Czechoslovakia to claim back land lost in 1914-18. Britain and France do nothing and the world looks on. The Czecks are no match for Hitler’s honed Blitzkrieg war machine.
- 1938 October to 1939 September. Encouraged by an easy victory, Hitler now publicly states he intends to take the land back in Poland he lost in 1918. The original heart of Germany was Prussia which included all of northern Poland. Britain and France say if you, Hitler invade Poland we will invade you. Hitler took no notice, invaded Poland on 1st September 1939 and as promised Britain and France declared war on Germany on 3rd September 1939.
The British had landed their first troops on friendly French soil by 9th September. What the English did not know was that Hitler had previously agreed with Stalin, the Russian dictator, to attack Poland simultaneously, one from the West and the other from the East and share the spoils.
The Russians invade on the 17th of September. The Poles resist manfully but are no match for the German Blitzkrieg techniques and by the 6th October this battle is over while the British army is still in France.
In the mean time; Sept 5th. USA declares its neutrality.
Sept 6th. The loyal South Africans declare war on Germany.
Sept 10th. The even more loyal Canadians declare war on Germany. Sept 30th General Sikorski forms The Polish Govt. in Exile in Paris
Also Sept 3rd. British cruse liner Athenia sunk by a German submarine (U boat). 28 Americans including tourists killed. The British commence their defensive “convoy” strategy (ships inline protected by naval vessels like Destroyers or Crusers on either side) for all future transatlantic shipping.
Sept 17th. British aircraft carrier Courageous sunk by a German U boat.
Oct 14th. A U boat sails into one of Britain’s most secure harbours, Scapa Flow, and sinks the British battleship Royal Oak with the loss of 800 crew. Scapa Flow is a stretch of water north of Scotland in the Orkney Islands.
Oct 16th. German air force planes (Luftwaffe) bomb two British Cruisers in the Firth of Forth. (Edinburgh Scotland)
During this period Sept/Oct 1939 the English are expecting the Germans to bomb London as a precursor to a main land invasion and there is a mass exodus of children from London, without their parents, into the country where the London kids are welcomed by country folk. The bombing does not happen and after a few months many children go back to their London homes.
1940 May 10th 1940 Eight months after the commencement of war, Winston Churchill at 66 years old becomes Prime Minister of Britain and assumes responsibility for the armed forces.
May 26th-June 4th. Dunkirk. The British and French armies who have been fighting against the well prepared German forces for some nine months are finally surrounded by the Germans in north eastern France. But the majority of the English and many French successfully escape in the operation known as Dunkirk when half a million troops are successfully shipped from Dunkirk, France to Kent, England by a flotilla of naval vessels supported by all the small fishing boats that can be found in time.
June 1940. Commencement of nation wide speeches by Churchill to the British people saying no way will the British ever surrender to the Germans and will fight to the last man and woman. (“We will fight them on the beaches” etc and “I can only offer you blood tears toil and sweat.”)
June 10th The Italians join the war as they see the Germans are winning and attack France on June 20th.
June 12th The Germans take Paris.
June 22nd 1940 France surrenders to the Germans. Actually it is an armistice not a surrender which enables the formation of a new French government to rule southern France and all Frances colonies in for example North Africa and South East Asia. This puppet government under General Petain is headquartered at Vichy and cowtows to all things required by Nazi Germany. Many French see Petain as a traitor notably General de Gaulle who flees to England and the many brave French men and women who stay and form the French underground “Resistance”.
June 24th France surrenders to Italy, again actually an Armistice to save face.
August 17th 1940. “Eagle Day” for the Germans as they commence the “Battle of Britain”.
End of Phase One
England now “stands alone” as the only nation in Europe or indeed the world who is willing to stand up and face Hitler’s obviously excellent military machine. England have had a year, September 1939- August 1940 to:
- Change the Prime Minister from the pacifist Neville Chamberlain to Winston Churchill
- Understand modern warfare demonstrated by the Germans, Blitzkrieg and submarines.
- Build squadrons of Spitfire and Hurricane fighter planes to defend English skies and support Blitzkrieg type land warfare and even more importantly find suitable men to train as pilots.
- Commence the building of an Army which understands modern warfare with tanks, anti tank guns, anti aircraft guns and troop carriers as already engineered by the Germans.
- Introduce Radio, Radar and code breaking technologies sadly lacking but already developed in England.
- Reluctantly accept the Free French into England as Churchill cannot stand de Gaulle.
- Willingly accept fleeing Poles into England to become pilots and help develop military radio.
Phase 2, 3rd July 1940
- The French have a huge navy and Churchill has to test if Petain’s Vichy government will keep his ships for the Germans or order them to sail to England to join the British. On the 3rd July it is clear that Frenchman Petain is solidly on Germany’s side and the French ships fleet is destined for Hitler’s use. Churchill’s immediate response is to seize all French ships in British ports and sink as many as possible in French anchorage.
- 4th August the Italians invade British East Africa, Somaliland.
- The Battle of Britain commences on 13th August 1940 with Germany intent to destroy the British Royal Air Force (RAF) prior to landing forces in England.
- 7 Sept Britain prepares for a German land invasion within 2 weeks.
- 13 Sept 1940 the Italians invade British Egypt from Italian controlled Libya.
- 27 Sept. The so called “Axis” is formed. Germany, Italy and Japan agree to come to each others help if invaded by England, its empire or allies.
Perhaps better described as the Battle for Britain with the intended elimination of the RAF as the first stage of the planned German invasion of England. It is interesting to note that Hitler initially had no plans for invading England, indeed he would have preferred to strike a deal with Britain before he’d invaded Poland; that if Britain would not interfere with his plans to dominate Europe he would not strike at either England or the British Empire. Further he thought that after Dunkirk the war was over and he had won, so why should he invade England and the English who he had always admired. After all the Kings and Queens of England had been of German origin for 250 years.
- Firstly Stalin of Russia told Hitler that Churchill had written to him saying; don’t trust Hitler not to invade Russia”. Stalin did not believe it but Hitler thought he could not trust Churchill.
- Roosevelt, the US President said in a re-election speech that; you could not trust the Nazis which made Hitler very concerned that the Capitalist duo of Britain and USA could attack him, so best to attack England first.
- The English had developed and rapidly deployed Radar ahead of the Germans and could give advance warning to the RAF (and the civilian population) when an air attack was crossing the English Channel.
- The English Air Chief Marshall Dowding had refused to allow his beloved Spitfires and Hurricanes to support the British “Expeditionary Forces” in France in the September1939 to May 1940 when their numbers were small, to preserve them to defend any German invasion of England.
- England was blessed with these two magnificent fighter planes developed in the 1930s, the Spitfire and the Hurricane which were at least the equal of the German Messerschmitt 109.
- The British fighter pilots, many who had had limited and hurried training were at least the equal of the German aces. Bader of England and Galland of Germany typified the flying aces of each side. Douglas Bader had had his legs amputated in 1931 after a flying accident but fitted with two artificial legs became a flying ace in the Second World War. Adolf Galland became a General at the age of 29 largely due to his many hits on British aircraft in the Battle of Britain. He developed many air battle techniques to be generally adopted by German fighter pilots.
- On 7th Sept 1940 Hitler ordered a change of strategy for the Luftwaffe from bombing airfields to wreck the RAF, to bombing London. This was a drastic mistake as it allowed the RAF which was almost finished to regroup, repair planes and re-enter the battle.
- First of all a seemingly almost continuous high level noise. Mainly from anti-aircraft guns trying vainly to shoot down German bombers.
- Secondly the German Bombers themselves which seemed to be so numerous that the sky went black as they droned overhead.
- Thirdly fires. The Germans were dropping fire bombs(incendiaries) which when they fell on the chemical factories in the East End of London, caused fires which could be seen for 15 miles. (eg Silvertown in east London to Biggin Hill in Kent.)
- Sleeping or trying to in a fortified part of your house, like under the stairs or in central London on the platforms of the underground rail system. (The Tube)
- The darkness of the nights because of the “Black Outs”
- People dying next door or down the road when their houses were hit. If you were under 10 and it was not your parents you took it in your stride.
- Dog fights or aerial battles between British and German aircraft. In those days they were quite visible from the ground being between only 1000 to 5000 feet above your head.
- The wailing sirens firstly to warn of enemy aircraft and then “at last” to give the “All Clear” when the nation thankfully emerged from their underground shelters.
In North Africa;
- Egypt is ruled by the British. The Suez Canal flows right through the middle of Egypt which is the shortest for British shipping, trading with and defending their Empire in Southern Asia and Australasia.
- Libya on the west of Egypt and much of the Horn of Africa in the east is ruled by Italy, hence now aligned with Hitler against England.
- Going west along Mediterranean North Africa, most of the other countries were then ruled by France and are thus effectively in the hands of the Germans.
England is a densely populated island hence needs to import food by sea to feed its then population of about 52 million. Virtually all this merchant shipping needs to sail via the Atlantic Ocean. The Germans used both surface ships and submarines (U boats) to sink as many food and military supply ships as possible with devastating effect. The English adopted the convoy system (merchant ships sailing in line) with Battle Ships, Cruisers or Destroyers sailing along side to defend the convoy from U boat torpedoes. What saved the day for England was the development of Radar small enough to be carried both on ships and more particularly aircraft which solved the problem of detecting and locating the German attacking U boats at night. Notwithstanding this, all in England were very short of food, rationing was introduced which enabled food imports to be reduced by some 50%, and civilians were encouraged to cultivate any square inch of land they had to grow key crops like potatoes and carrots and breed chickens to produce eggs. The average English person however saw no eggs, bananas or fish from 1940 to the end of the war. The meat ration was 4 ounces per week but could sometimes be supplemented by rabbits or whale meat! Some say the population then was much healthier than today, certainly vastly slimmer.
Phase 3, December 1941
The Japanese commence their major territorial offensive.
- The Japanese bomb Pearl Harbour in the American Hawaiian Islands and destroy much of the US Pacific Fleet in one audacious pre-emptive airborne strike.
- December 7th. The Japanese 25th army lands in Malay (Malaysia) which is part of The British Empire, and produces all the rubber for vehicle tyres.
- December 8th. Japanese attack the only US colony, the Philippine Islands and destroy the US Far East Air Force.
- December 8th. Germany and Italy declare war on USA, December 11th.
- British Hong Kong falls to the Japanese, December 25th.
In January 1942 the Japanese invade and occupy:
- Singapore which is the Eastern defence centre for the British Empire. British Singapore surrenders on 5th February.
- The American Philippines.
- The Dutch controlled East Indies including Borneo and Sarawak
The Axis alliance mainly, Germany and Japan, is firmly in control.
February 1942 The Japanese are now largely in control of an Empire they have craved for 25 years or more which will provide them with the extra space for their people and the essential raw materials like oil, rubber and rice they dearly need. The Germans likewise are poised to take Moscow but are thwarted by the onset of a particularly harsh Russian winter and further south are heading rapidly towards their objective of the Caucasian oil fields. The British and their Empire supporters are keeping the Germans under Rommel out of Egypt and the Suez Canal and the vital English controlled oil fields in Iran and Iraq. With the help of American convoys and British Radar and valiant navy are keeping themselves from starving in England even as the Germans continuously bomb English cities and torpedo their shipping. Indeed now the English are beginning to fight back with their newly deployed superior 4 engined heavy bombers as they commence on a plan to destroy German arms factories. (Halifax and soon the Lancaster)
The USA is now firmly in the Second World War but their novice forces are under extreme pressure and are retreating from the Japanese aggressor in South East Asia. Churchill has finally persuaded Roosevelt to become an active military ally in all theatres of war but American troops which were unprepared and not trained for active service are still unable to support England against Germany.
1942 A Summary
All through 1942 Britain and their allies are on fighting for their lives and retreating on nearly all fronts.
- Britain looses Burma to the Japanese and evacuates Rangoon on 7th March. The Japanese now have Malay rubber and Burmese oil and already occupying China only need Australia for much needed coal, steel and uranium and lots of empty space for their expanding population. The Australians who are already supporting their colonial master, England in the Middle and Far East realise that England is not strong enough to come to their aid if Japan attacks their mainland.
- The Americans have lost both their Pacific fleet and their Far East Air Force to the Japanese and have evacuated the Philippines. But Churchill, Prime Minister of England and Hideki Tojo, the prime minister of Japan, know that the Japanese flea had only just tickled the American elephant and it is only time before the huge American car factories would be converted to making military armaments.
- The Russians were also fighting for their land and lives. By mid 1942 the Germans have effectively got the three major Russian cities in their sights, Leningrad (St Petersburg), Moscow and even further east Stalingrad (Volgograd).
The tide turns
However from the middle of 1942 the tide began to turn on all fronts.
- Battle of Midway 2nd June 1942. The Pacific Islands of Midway are a few hundred miles further west than Hawaii and Pearl Harbour. This was a naval battle between a regrouped US Pacific Fleet and a battle savvy Japanese Fleet, both having aircraft carriers and battleships at their disposal. America wins, loosing one aircraft carrier to 4 Japanese carriers sunk. This is the first major defeat for the Japanese in the Second World War.
- Montgomery (Monty) takes control of the British 8th Army in North Africa (The Desert Rats) on the 15 August 1942. Since Rommel arrived in North Africa in February 1941 the Germans had made steady progress in their quest to take Egypt and the Suez Canal but had not reached either of the Egyptian key cities of Alexandria and Cairo but had taken El Alamein only 100 miles west of Alexandria
- Montgomery defeats the Germans at El Alamein, Egypt, October 1942 and commences pushing them out of Egypt into Libya. This is the first major defeat for Rommel in the Second World War.
- Torch landings in Morocco and Algeria 8th November 1942. This was the name given to the first front line action of the American troops in support of the English against Hitler. It is interesting to note that President Roosevelt had wanted to land straight away in German occupied France (and so did Stalin) but Churchill persuaded the Americans that their army was without combat experience and should attack a softer target. Churchill was right, the American losses in their first “European” campaign were huge even though the main opposition was the Vichy French.
Another harsh Russian winter freezes almost to death the German armies destined to attack Leningrad, Moscow and Stalingrad. Being 1000 miles east of Berlin the Luftwaffe cannot help them and they are out of petrol and out of food.
Throughout the whole of 1942, the English and later the US, flying from England, commenced to use their superior heavy bombers to smash German factories as follows;
- March (‘42) commencement of bombing Germany by the new four engined English designed and built Lancaster bomber.
- April, the English use the Lancaster to carry a huge 8000lb bomb to destroy the factories in Essen Germany.
- May, Cologne in bombed.
- August first raid into Germany by English based American heavy bombers. Boeing B17 Flying Fortress.
Phase 4, 1943 to 6th June 1944
This long 18 month period up to the D Day (European landings) saw the Allies (Britain and their Empire, US and Russia) slowly gain the initiative against the Axis forces (Germany, Italy, Vichy France and Japan) in every theatre of war.
- At home in England. The landscape had totally changed, still no food or perhaps just enough, still Germans bombing the cities particularly London but a new breed of humans were now living in England the American G I. (These were the American Military personnel who had finally arrived in England to help in North African and then the European theatre).American G I’s had money, looked well fed and walked around as though they owned the place. You either loved them or hated them depending on your age. The young loved them, the young boys admired their confidence and continuous wise cracking (joking), the slightly older girls liked their money, their supply of nylon stockings and their time available for dancing, love and sex. Older people disliked them for all the same reasons as Americans after all were of a lower brash class!
- In Hitler’s Germany one of the most terrible atrocities the world had ever seen was gathering momentum under the guidance of Heinrich Himmler and personal implementation of Adolf Eichmann. This so called Final Solution was the rounding up of all the Jews in Europe, murdering them by first gassing them and then burning their corpses. Some 6 million Jews disappeared in this manner but the total exterminated was more than 12 million including gypsies and homosexuals. Himmler managed this ethnic cleansing through his position as head of the Waffen SS, an elite squad of military/police thugs who on the battle field took no prisoners. All who surrendered were lined up and shot. The Nazi policy of murdering Jews contributed to Hitler loosing the war as it was the Jewish scientists who were working on such world beating products as radar, rockets and nuclear bombs. Some escaped to England and America but the majority were murdered.
- In the Atlantic the British Navy was slowly getting the upper hand over the German U boats. In May ’43 German losses were so bad that Grand Admiral Donitz the U Boat overall commander temporally withdrew all his submarines from the Atlantic. (Military historians feel that if Donitz had had enough U Boats at the beginning of the war he could have caused England to surrender through starvation. Indeed in August ’42 he was freely attacking US shipping along the east coast of America.)
- North Africa. Also in May ’43 the Germans surrendered to the Allies in North Africa when they became surrounded by the English on their eastern flank and the Americans on their west. The British and American armies immediately turned their attention north to liberate Italy. Mussolini had already fallen so Hitler diverts some crack German divisions into Italy under Rommel to keep Italy in German hands even though the Italian people are very much on the side of the British and Americans.
- Russia. In July ’43 the Germans and Russian tanks come head to head at Kursk in the largest tank battle in the war. Kursk is a town almost due south of Moscow and half way between Moscow and the Odessa on the Black Sea.
- Far East and Pacific. In January ’43 the Japanese were occupying virtually all countries east of India right through to the Pacific Ocean and including much of China but notably excluding British Australia and New Zealand. Many Allied military and civilian personal had been taken into Japanese concentration camps and treated with contempt or worse. Certainly all prisoners were starved and forced to work for the Japanese until they either died of malnutrition or disease for which there were no medicines supplied. However the territory above was as far as the Japanese got and they were now up against the Americans, British, Australians, Indians (under British rule) and the Chinese under American military command. All these allied forces worked closely together and received much logistical support from the American production colossus. This vast area can conveniently be divided into two, the Pacific plus South East Asia, which the Americans and the Australians were attacking the now well established Japanese and further west the British colonial territories of Burma and Malay which the English with support from British India were responsible for removing the occupying Japanese. At the end of 1943 all these territories were still dominated by Japanese.
Phase 5, June 1944
Finally the Allies (English, Canadians and Americans) were ready to attempt a landing, with sufficient number of troops and tanks, on heavily fortified French soil to liberate France, Belgium and Holland and cross the river Rhine into Germany.
- Europe. England had now been at war for nearly 4 years and with American help had; Cleared the Germans and the Italians out of North Africa.
- Had invaded German occupied Italy from the south and had pushed the crack German troops north as far as Rome. This was an extremely tough theatre with most Italian rivers flowing East-West and thus easily defended against a south to north allied advance. This was very similar to a World War One battle field.
- Were prepared for the “D Day landings” designed to put eventually, some 3 million Allied troops onto German occupied French soil for the onward march to Berlin. On the 6th June some 155,000 Allied troops crossed the English Channel and fought their way up the open Normandy beaches against stiff German resistance from dug in positions. There were huge Allied losses but not as many as Churchill had predicted. The main casualties were amongst the Americans who had refused to adopt many of the British anti mine devices because they looked too amateurish.
- Simultaneously on the Eastern Front the Russians commenced their summer offensive on June 9th and by July 20th had reached the eastern borders of Poland.
- Back in Normandy- France on the 6th June, the Americans had landed 57,500 troops with losses of 6000 and the British together with Canadians landed 75,200 with losses of 4,300. The Americans landed on the west end of the beaches in areas code named Utah and Omaha and in spite of heavy losses had taken the port of Cherbourg by June 27th. The English landed on beaches named Gold and Juno and the Canadians furthest east on Sword both being tasked to take the town of Caen by the 14th. They failed finally taking the town on July 18th but only after the RAF had flattened the old French city with 7,000 tons of bombs to rid it of German defences. The Free French headed by de Gaulle were allowed to “liberate” Paris a few hours ahead of the Americans who had done all the work, on August 25th 1944. Meanwhile the British who are fighting further north liberate Belgium on 3rd September and the vital port of Le Havre surrenders to the Canadians on September 12th.
By the end of 1944
- The British, Canadians and Americans have retaken all of German occupied Western Europe up to the river Rhine.
- On the Eastern Front the Russians are as far west as Warsaw, the capital of Poland and Hungary’s Budapest. However they had shown their true colours in Warsaw during August when the city inhabitants rose up against the Germans on the understanding that the Russians, only a few miles away, would support them. The Russians preferred to watch as the Poles were massacred by the Germans which would make it easier for the Russians to suppress rather than liberate the Poles a few months later.
- In Italy the British and Americans were still experiencing stiff German resistance and were fighting northwards from Florence towards Milan.
In the Far East
- The Japanese have in desperation commenced their Kamikaze suicide flights against American shipping while the Americans helped by the Australians are slowly ridding the Indonesian and Philippine islands of the Japanese occupier.
- In the British theatre, the English and their Indian supporters are still in hand to hand combat with the Japanese in Burma and Malay.
The end in Europe
Germany surrenders in May 1945.
Crossing the Rhine for the final run through Germany was no easy task and the necessary bridges were not taken until the end of March ’45 by which time the Russians had already taken some towns in the east of Germany and were only some 50 miles from Berlin which is in the East of Germany. Churchill had wanted to beat the Soviets (Russians) to the German capital because he feared (quite rightly as it turned out) that the Russians would stay there as occupiers not liberators. However he was over ruled by the American President and his team who in spite of all the Russian atrocities still trusted them. The British, Canadian and American armies were instructed to ensure crucial areas like the industrial Ruhr in Germany was firmly in Allied hands. When the Germans guessed this plan some 2 million German civilians and army deserters fled the east of Germany (mainly by foot) to give themselves up to the English or Americans whom they realised they could trust to treat them humanely.
The Germans surrendered to
- Americans in the Ruhr April 18th.
- Hitler commits suicide April 30th.
- Russians in Berlin May 2nd.
- Allies in Italy May 2nd.
- British, to Montgomery in North West Germany, Holland and Denmark May 4th.
- Americans in Riems France May 7th.
- May 8th Berlin surrender-ceremony to British, Russian, American and French.
- Roosevelt had died 12th April 1945 at 63 years old to be replaced by Harry Truman.
Meanwhile back in the east against the Japanese both the English out of India and the American Pacific forces have made huge strides. The Japanese are down and in retreat but certainly not out.
Recapping for the Asian theatre of war
- 1941 December. Japanese invade Pearl Harbour. Americans now in the War. Japanese simultaneously invade British Malay (Now Malaysia) and British Hong Kong. England now has a war against both the Germans and the Japanese simultaneously.
- 1942 5th February. Singapore, defence headquarters for the British Empires Far Eastern lands falls to the Japanese.
- 1942 May. Japanese now control American Philippines with England’s Australia now in reach also England’s Malay and Burma. (Burma borders on England’s pride of the Empire, India.)
- 1942 June. Americans fight their first significant battles against the Japanese at Midway, just west of Pearl Harbour and then in the Coral Sea just north of British dependent Australia. Both are victories to the Americans.
- 1943 May. The British are driven back by the Japanese 1000 miles on foot from Rangoon in the south of Burma, to the comparative safety of India.
- 1944 March. Chinese military, under the control of American General Stillwell attack and defeat the Japanese in the north of Burma.
- 1944 July British forces in India now regrouped and revitalised by British General Slim re-enter the war and by August ‘45 the Japanese in Burma have surrendered.
- 1944 October. The battle commences to re-take the Philippines. In the Battle of “Leyte Gulf” virtually the whole of the Japanese Navy is destroyed by the Americans.
- 1945 March the Americans re-take Manila in the toughest of battles when the whole city is flattened. Nearly Half a Million Japanese are killed in the battle for the Philippines to the American numbers killed of 14,000 but the Japanese there refuse to surrender even after the end of the war.
- 1945 February- June. First battle for a Japanese Island, Okinawa. Japanese troops surrender on 22 June and their commanding officer commits suicide.
- 1945 May Germans surrender in Europe.
- 1945 July. Churchill agrees to American request to drop atomic bombs on Japan.
- 1945 August. America drops first Atomic bomb on 6th August 1945, 80,000 Japanese civilians killed. 8th August Russian declare war on Japan and invade Manchuria. 9th Aug atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki. Aug 10th Emperor of Japan Hirohito orders surrender, hardliners in Japan try to kill him.
- 1945 September 2nd. Japanese formally surrender.
- 1945 September 8th. British land in Malay, still occupied by the Japanese who refused to surrender.
By 1943 the American were making more armaments than all other countries in the war added together.
The official figure is some 50 million people killed. A breakdown is as follows:
- Russia and rest of USSR 20 million
- China 10 million
- Poland 5.8 million
- Germany 5.5 million
- Japan 2.3 million
- Yugoslavia 1.5 million
- France 600,000
- USA 400,000
- Britain 360,000
- Italy 300,000
This was the German solution for ridding Europe of people they considered to be of a “lower life form” and would contaminate the pure fair skinned super race the German leaders considered themselves to be. In all some 12 million people were rounded up and murdered. Killing on such a massive scale needed a well thought out master plan (The Final Solution) which involved forcing Jews and others on trains (mainly cattle trucks) with the help of collaborators, notably the French Vichy Government, and trucking them without food and water to various “Death Camps” in Germany and German occupied Poland where they were first killed by lethal gas (the Gas Chambers) and then incinerated in specially designed furnaces. The British and Americans were not aware that this was going on but if they had they might not have been in a position to stop it. It is alleged that the Catholic Church in Rome was aware of it but turned a blind eye on the basis that they hated the Jews as much as the Nazis but this has never been proven. The Vatican has so far refused to confirm or deny the truth. When the death camps were finally liberated by British and American troops they could not believe what they found. There were considerable numbers of near dead Jews who were walking skeletons. The nearest thing seen today are the near dead starving African people seen on television in Nigeria and the Sudan.
Jewish Holocaust victims by nationality, approximate.
- Poland 3million
- Russia 1 million
- Romania 500,000
- Czechoslovakia 250,000
- Hungary 200,000
- Germany 150,000
- Lithuania 150,000
- Holland 100,000
- France 100,000
POST WAR NOTES
The next 60 years
- After the war England and the rest of Europe (except for Ireland) were in ruins particularly Germany and England who had been bombing each other for 5 years. The factories which were still standing had been converted to making war materials and somebody had to fund the re-conversion back to consumer goods. Once again the Americans acted as the bank. Under the Marshall Plan (named after American Senator Marshall) cash grants and technical know-how were provided to those who needed it most. The main beneficiary was Germany which nobody minded as the idea was to avoid the long term devastation and depression which Germany endured after the First World War which was the prime cause of the Second.
- England had suffered food rationing through the war years and after the war even though they were victors they could not afford to import food at pre-war levels. Food became even scarcer and was still rationed 7 years after the end of the war.
- In 1948 England hosted the Olympics. Athletes were housed in military quarters and any sensible team brought their own food. Wembley Stadium was still standing as was converted for Athletics from dog racing with a few weeks to spare. Only the French complained of the food. The American competitors looked like a breed from Mars compared with the Europeans as they were well fed while the European athletes were skin and bone. English Athletes were not given any extra food rations other than donated by sacrificing relations. Astonishingly the star of the Games was a European woman, Fanny Blancers Kohen, who as 30 year old mother of two from German occupied Holland, won 4 Gold Medals and could have one six if her coach had allowed her to compete. Two skinny English girls got silvers behind her.
The Cold War
- Whereas the English and their American Allies had liberated Western Europe from German occupation, the Russians having got rid of the Germans in Eastern Europe remained as conquerors. Hence Europe became divided into two. In the East, including Poland and Romania and Eastern Germany, the Russians ruled an enlarged Russian communist empire. Here the state under Stalin and his secret police ruled. The economy was centrally planned under Marxist rules (equality for all, education for all and jobs for life) but where religion was banned along with freedom of speech and the press. In the west which included France, Spain, Italy, Holland and Scandinavia, the liberators were capitalists and returned each country to self governance of free societies, were governments were elected by the people who had freedom of speech, action and religion. In general people like to be free and many in the East would have moved to the free west if the Russians had not closed all the borders creating what Churchill described as an Iron Curtain.
- Both the free west and the communist east had the Nuclear Atom Bomb and rockets (all of German design) to deliver them to any parts of the world. (The inter-continental ballistic missile.) There commenced a 40 year military stand off between Russia, which had annexed half of Europe and Islamic Asia and the “West” headed and indeed now dominated not by England and its Empire but USA. The two sides each had the capability to annihilate the other.
Communism v. Capitalism
- In the 40 year stand off both sides tried to preach their ideology to the rest of the emerging world. Notably Africa and India which had just won their freedom from the fading British Empire and the other European Colonialist only to be courted by Russia and then a defensive and horrified America. Further in S.E. Asia following the fall of Japan the Russians were not slow to act and there followed first the Korean War where the British fought along side the Americans and the Vietnam War. Both were the Capitalist and free Americans against the Communist ideology backed by Russia. In Africa exactly the same thing happened with Russia backed by Cuban troops trying to set up communist states and the Americans and British resisting them.
The fall of Communism and the immediate rise of Fundamentalist Islam.
- After some 70 years of the Communist experiment in Russia and its satellites their economies were bankrupt. The ideology of a centrally planned system were individual initiatives were not rewarded as everybody must remain equal had not worked. Mikhail Gorbachov came to power in Russia, made peace overtures to the West, the Poles revolted and the East Germans knocked down the Berlin Wall and the Cold War was over.
- However the world seemed to immediately fall victim of another battle of ideologies, this time fundamentalist Totalitarian Islam against the Free West.