The World War II Portal

Clockwise from top left: Commonwealth troops in the desert; Chinese civilians being buried alive by Japanese soldiers; Soviet forces during a winter offensive; Carrier-borne Japanese planes readying for take off; Soviet troops fighting in Berlin; A German submarine under attack.

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.

Featured article

Detail from a pillbox embrasure.
British anti-invasion preparations of World War II entailed a large-scale division of military and civilian mobilization in response to the threat of invasion by German armed forces in 1940 and 1941. The army needed to recover from the defeat of the British Expeditionary Force in France, and 1.5 million men were enrolled as part-time soldiers in the Home Guard. The rapid construction of field fortifications transformed much of Britain, especially southern England, into a prepared battlefield. Short of heavy weapons and equipment, the British had to make the best use of whatever was available.The German invasion plan, Operation Sea Lion, was never taken beyond the preliminary assembly of forces. Today, little remains of Britain's anti-invasion preparations. Only reinforced concrete structures such as pillboxes are common, and until recently, even these have been unappreciated as historical monuments.On 1 September 1939, Germany invaded Poland; two days later, Britain and France declared war on Germany, launching World War II. Within three weeks, the Red Army of the Soviet Union invaded the eastern regions of Poland in fulfillment of the secret Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact with Germany.


Selected equipment

Finnish T-26 at the Parola Tank Museum
The T-26 was a light tank used by the Soviet Union from the 1930s until World War II. It was based on the British Vickers 6-Ton tank and widely considered one of the most successful designs of the 1930s.The T-26 made-up the majority of the Red Army's armour force until late 1941, and saw a long history in the armed forces of various different nations around the world. For almost a decade the T-26 proved to be one of the best tanks in production, with a total of around 12,000 units produced.Success and failure in the Spanish Civil War, where it served as the most widely used tank, ultimately played a major role in influencing the Soviet doctrine of tank warfare in the late 1930s. The T-26 participated in German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 as one of the most numerous tanks inservice,contributing to the defense of the Soviet Union.Although the T-26's reputation was marred by its abysmal performance during World War II, it was nevertheless the most important tank of the Spanish Civil War and played major roles during the Winter War and the Battle of Khalkhin Gol in 1939. Between its introduction and its retirement, the T-26 saw a great deal of modernization efforts between 1932 and 1941.


Selected battle

USS Enterprise (center left), maneuvering radically under aerial attack and afire on August 24, 1942. Anti-aircraft shell bursts directed at the attacking Japanese dive bombers are visible above the carrier.
The naval Battle of the Eastern Solomons (also known as the Battle of the Stewart Islands and, in Japanese sources, as the Second Battle of the Solomon Sea (第二次ソロモン海戦), took place on August 24–August 25, 1942, and was the third carrier battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II and the second major engagement fought between the United States Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy during the Guadalcanal Campaign. As at Coral Sea and Midway, the ships of the two adversaries were never in direct visual range of each other. Instead, all of the attacks by either side were carried out by either carrier or land-based aircraft.After several damaging air attacks, the naval surface combatants from both the United States of America (U.S.) and Japan withdrew from the battle area without either side securing a clear victory. However, the U.S. and its allies apparently gained a greater tactical and strategic advantage from the battle than Japan because the Allied forces suffered fewer losses than the Japanese, who lost a significant number of aircraft and experienced aircrews.


Selected picture

Battle of Normandy
Credit: United States Coast Guard
Landing ships putting ashore on Omaha Beach at low tide during the first days of the Battle of Normandy, mid-June, 1944. Barrage balloons fly overhead and U.S. Army "half-tracks" form a convoy on the beach. The Normandy landing was the largest seaborne invasion in history, with almost three million troops crossing the English Channel.

Selected biography

Werner Mölders in October 1940
Werner Mölders (18 March 1913 – 22 November 1941) became the first pilot in aviation history to claim 100 aerial victories—that is, 100 aerial combat encounters resulting in the destruction of the enemy aircraft, and was decorated with the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds for his achievements. He was instrumental in the development of new fighter tactics which led to the finger-four formation. Prevented from flying further combat missions for propaganda reasons, at the age of 28 Mölders was promoted to Oberst, and appointed Inspector General of Fighters. He died in an air crash in which he was a passenger.


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Categories

Selected quote

"The moment the first American soldier sets foot on the Japanese mainland, all prisoners of war will be shot."
Hideki Tojo, June, 1945

Topics

World War II
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Prelude
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in Europe
in Asia

Main theatres
Europe
Eastern Europe
China
Mediterranean, Middle East and Africa
Asia and the Pacific
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General timeline
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1939
Invasion of Poland
Winter War

1940
Invasion of Denmark/Norway
Battle of France
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1941
Invasion of the Soviet Union
Battle of Moscow
Attack on Pearl Harbor

1942
Battle of Midway
Battle of Stalingrad
Second Battle of El Alamein

1943
Battle of Kursk
Guadalcanal campaign
Invasion of Italy

1944
Battle of Normandy
Operation Bagration
Battle of Leyte Gulf
Operation Market Garden
Battle of the Bulge

1945
Battle of Iwo Jima
Battle of Okinawa
Battle of Berlin
End in Europe
Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Surrender of Japan

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Blitzkrieg
Cryptography
Equipment
Home Front
Military engagements
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Technology

Civilian impact and atrocities
Nanking Massacre
The Holocaust
Siege of Leningrad
Bataan Death March
Dutch famine of 1944
Bengal famine of 1943
Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Unit 731
Strategic bombings
Comfort women
Allied war crimes
German war crimes
Japanese war crimes

Aftermath
Effects
Casualties
Expulsion of Germans
Denazification
Cold War
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Decline of the British Empire

The Allies
Australia Australia
Belgium Belgium
Brazil Brazil
British Raj British India
Canada Canada
Czechoslovakia Czechoslovakia
Kingdom of Egypt Egypt
El Salvador El Salvador
French Third Republic France (after June 16, 1940: Free France Free France)
Kingdom of Greece Greece
Netherlands Netherlands
Dominion of New Zealand New Zealand
Norway Norway
Commonwealth of the Philippines Philippines
Poland Poland
Republic of China (1912–1949) Republic of China
Union of South Africa South Africa
Soviet Union Soviet Union
United Kingdom United Kingdom
United States United States
Kingdom of Yugoslavia Yugoslavia

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The Axis
Kingdom of Bulgaria Bulgaria
 Independent State of Croatia
Empire of Japan Japan
Finland Finland
 Vichy France
Kingdom of Hungary (1920–1946) Hungary
Kingdom of Italy Italy
Nazi Germany Germany
Kingdom of Romania Romania
Thailand Thailand
 Slovakia

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From the World War II task force of the Military history WikiProject:

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Battle of Kiev (1943)Battle of Ko ChangColditz CastleSpiritual national defenceTuskegee Airmen
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Battle of Uhtua-KiestinkiBattles of Repola-RukajärviBattle of SiiranmäkiBattle of ŁuckBattle of RówneBattle of Włodzimierz WołyńskiBattle of LubartówBattle of MiednikiBattle of JodłaFrancis BlanchainShinshou DraengerChrister Lyst HansenHolocaust slave labor litigation (draft) • Ove KampmanLeague for Combat PolicyFrederick Charles LoughJulien MelineOperation BigotOperation MittelmeerOperation RichardOtto ProgramMartin PoppelRoehm's AvengersDorothy TartierePoul BruunRaoul BoulangerSerge Asher-RavanelBattle of West Ukraine (1941)Battle of ZunyiFree Dutch Forces (draft, please assist) • Liberation of Denmark (currently redirect) • Operation Vado (currently redirect) • Finnish 19th Division (Continuation War)Finnish 11th Division (Continuation War)Finnish VII Corps (Continuation War)Finnish VI Corps (Continuation War)Finnish IV Corps (Continuation War)Finnish Cavalry Brigade1st Jaeger Brigade2nd Jaeger BrigadeFinnish 1st Division (Continuation War)168th Rifle Division (Soviet Union)71st Rifle Division (Soviet Union)Group OinonenA.S. KsenofontovSiege of Tobruk (June 1942)5th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment (ru) • Novorossiysk-Taman operation (ru) • 1943 Novorossiysk operation (ru) • 1943 Aerial Battles over Kuban (ru) • Battle of Rostov (1943) (ru) • Olshansky amphibious landing (ru) • Nalchik-Ordzhonikidzevskaya operation (ru) • Bukrinsky landing (ru) • Cape Tarhan Landing (ru) • 1942 Sudak Landing (ru)
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Princess Irene BrigadeBattle of Bay of ViipuriDemilitarisation; Martha DesrumeauxMochitsura HashimotoOperation CascadeOperation Tan No. 2Burma Area ArmyBattle of CourlandBattle of Munda PointBattle of Voronezh (1943)Drive on Munda PointFirst Battle of KharkovRace to BerlinMarie FourcadeVictor Strydonck de BurkelDonald BlakesleeOperation NordwindBattle of Skerki BankMichael Sinclair (soldier)Battle of MaastrichtBattle of ZeelandLandings on RendovaNew Georgia counterattackOperation WaterfallPetsamo–Kirkenes OffensiveRaid on ChoiseulAmerican-British-Dutch-Australian CommandBattle of Viru HarborBattle of Wickham AnchorageWestern New Guinea campaign (and the individual battles of the campaign) • Operation Blockbustermore
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Twelfth Army (United Kingdom)4th Airborne Division (United Kingdom)5th Airborne Division (United Kingdom)XVI Corps (United Kingdom)Battle of DakarBattle of the Lys (1940)Battle of ZeelandBattle of the GrebbebergFranco-Thai WarBattle of Ko ChangSwitzerland during the World WarsBerthe FraserDietrich von Saucken
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Battle of Borneo (1941–42)Garderegiment Fuseliers Prinses IreneJapanese invasion of French IndochinaJapanese invasion of ThailandLuxembourg in World War IINew Georgia CampaignOperation CartwheelOperation ChastiseRoyal Netherlands Motorized Infantry BrigadeSolomon Islands campaign
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pt:Tobrouk (militar)

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