The World War II Portal
World War II, or the Second World War, was a global military conflict. It began as the joining of what had initially been two separate conflicts, with the first beginning in Asia in 1937 (the Second Sino-Japanese War) and the other beginning in Europe in 1939 (the German and Soviet invasion of Poland).
The war split the majority of the world's nations into two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. It involved the mobilization of over 100 million military personnel, making it the most widespread war in history, and placed the participants in a state of "total war", which erased the distinction between civil and military resources and resulted in the complete activation of a nation's economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities for the purposes of the war effort. Over 70 million people, the majority of them civilians, were killed, making it the deadliest conflict in human history.
The Allies won the war, and as a result, the Soviet Union and the United States emerged as the world's leading superpowers. This set the stage for the Cold War, which lasted for the next 45 years. The United Nations was formed in the hope of preventing another such conflict. The self-determination spawned by the war accelerated decolonization movements in Asia and Africa, while Europe itself began moving toward integration.
In late May and early June 1942
, during World War II
belonging to the Imperial Japanese Navy
made a series of attacks on the cities of Sydney
in New South Wales
. On the night of 31 May
, three Ko-hyoteki class midget submarines
, each with a two-member crew, entered Sydney Harbour
to sink Allied
warships. After being detected and attacked, the crews of two of the midget submarines scuttled their boats and committed suicide without engaging Allied vessels. The third attempted to torpedo the heavy cruiser USS Chicago
but instead sank the converted ferry HMAS Kuttabul
, killing 21 sailors. This midget submarine then disappeared, its fate remaining a mystery until in 2006 amateur scuba divers discovered its wreck off Sydney's northern beaches
.Immediately following the raid the five Japanese fleet submarines that carried the midgets to Australia embarked on a campaign to disrupt merchant shipping in eastern Australian waters. Over the next month the submarines attacked at least seven merchant vessels, sinking three. As part of this campaign two of the submarines bombarded
the ports of Sydney and Newcastle, during the early morning of 8 June
His Majesty's Ship Royal Oak
08) was a Revenge-class battleship
of the British Royal Navy
, torpedoed in Scapa Flow
by the German submarine U-47
on 14 October 1939. Launched in 1914 and completed in 1916, Royal Oak
first saw action at the Battle of Jutland
. In peacetime, she served in the Atlantic
fleets, coming under accidental attack on more than one occasion. The ship became the centre of worldwide attention in 1928 when her senior officers were controversially court-martialled
. During a twenty-five year career, attempts to modernise Royal Oak
could not address her fundamental lack of speed, and by the start of the Second World War
, she was no longer suited to front-line duty.Royal Oak
was anchored at Scapa Flow
when she became the first of the five Royal Navy battleships and battlecruisers
sunk in the Second World War. The loss of life was heavy: of Royal Oak
complement of 1,234 men, 833 were killed that night or died later of their wounds.
The second Battle of Smolensk (7 August 1943 – 2 October 1943) was a Soviet strategic offensive operation conducted by the Red Army as part of the Summer-Autumn Campaign of 1943 in the Western USSR. Staged almost simultaneously with the Battle of the Dnieper (13 August – 22 September), the offensive lasted two months and was led by Generals Andrei Yeremenko commanding the Kalinin Front and Vasily Sokolovsky commanding the Western Front. Its goal was to clear the Nazi Germany presence from the Smolensk and Bryansk regions. Smolensk had been under German occupation since the first Battle of Smolensk in 1941.Despite an impressive German defense, the Red Army was able to stage several breakthroughs, liberating several major cities including Smolensk and Roslavl. As a result of this operation the Red Army was able to start planning for the liberation of Belorussia. However, the overall advance was quite modest and slow in the face of heavy German resistance, and the operation was therefore accomplished in three stages: August 7–20, August 21–September 6, and September 7–October 2.
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"Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan."
- — Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 8 December 1941
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