Portal:World War II
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Portal:World War II

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.

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A Japanese Ko-hyoteki class midget submarine, believed to be Midget No. 14, is raised from Sydney Harbour
In late May and early June 1942, during World War II, submarines belonging to the Imperial Japanese Navy made a series of attacks on the cities of Sydney and Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia. On the night of 31 May1 June, 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.


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USS Iowa (BB-61) fires her 16-inch/50-caliber guns during a fire power demonstration sometime after her 1980s modernization.
The Iowa-class battleships were a class of six fast battleships ordered by the United States Navy in 1939 and 1940 to escort the Fast Carrier Task Forces that would operate in the Pacific Theater of World War II. Four were completed in the early to mid-1940s; two more were laid down, but they were canceled prior to completion and eventually scrapped. The ships served in every major U.S. war of the mid and latter half of the 20th century. In World War II, they defended aircraft carriers and shelled Japanese positions before being placed in reserve at the end of the war. Recalled for action during the Korean War, the battleships provided artillery support for UN forces fighting against North Korea. In 1968, New Jersey was recalled for action in the Vietnam War and shelled Communist targets near the Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone. All four were reactivated and armed with missiles during the 1980s as part of the 600-ship Navy. In 1991, Missouri and Wisconsin fired missiles and 16-inch (406 mm) guns at Iraqi targets during the Gulf War. All four battleships were decommissioned in the early 1990s as the Cold War drew to a close, and were initially removed from the Naval Vessel Register; however, at the insistence of the United States Congress, two were reinstated to the Naval Vessel Register for maintenance in the mothball fleet in 1995. These last two battleships were removed from the Naval Vessel Register in 2006.


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U.S. Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bombers about to attack the burning cruiser Mikuma for the third time.
The Battle of Midway was a major naval battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II. It took place from June 4, 1942 to June 7, 1942, approximately one month after the Battle of the Coral Sea, five months after the Japanese capture of Wake Island, and exactly six months to the day after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor.During the battle, the United States Navy defeated a Japanese attack against Midway Atoll, losing one aircraft carrier and one destroyer, while sinking four Japanese carriers and a heavy cruiser.The battle was a decisive victory for the Americans, and is widely regarded as the most important naval engagement of the Pacific Campaign of World War II.The Midway operation, like the attack on Pearl Harbor, was not part of a campaign for the conquest of the United States, but was aimed at its elimination as a strategic Pacific power, thereby giving Japan a free hand in establishing its Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. It was also hoped another defeat would force the U.S. to negotiate an end to the Pacific War with conditions favorable for Japan.


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SS Thistlegorm
Credit: Woodym555
A winch and associated parts sitting on the deck of the SS Thistlegorm, a transport ship that was sunk by a German bomber during World War II, on 5 October 1941 near Ras Muhammad in the Red Sea. The wreck was originally located by Jacques-Yves Cousteau in 1956, yet only in the last two decades has it become a busy recreational dive site.

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Otto Moritz Walther Model was a German general and later field marshal during World War II. He is noted for his defensive battles in the latter half of the war, mostly on the Eastern Front but also in the west, and for his close association with Adolf Hitler and Nazism. He has been called the Wehrmacht's best defensive tactician. Although he was a hard-driving, aggressive panzer commander early in the war, Model became best known as a practitioner of attrition warfare--his associate, General Erhard Raus, called it "zone defence".It emphasised strong fortifications, a reluctance to give ground (although not an absolute refusal to withdraw), and the importance of not allowing major enemy breakthroughs. This approach brought him much success, but his death in 1945 meant he would later be overshadowed by his rivals who advocated manoeuvre warfare.Model first came to Hitler's attention before World War II, but their relationship did not become especially close until 1942.


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"This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final note, stating that, unless we heard from them by 11 o'clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received and that consequently this country is at war with Germany."
Neville Chamberlain, 3 September 1939

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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 ?uckBattle of RówneBattle of W?odzimierz Wo?y?skiBattle of LubartówBattle of MiednikiBattle of Jod?aFrancis BlanchainShinshou DraengerChrister Lyst HansenOve KampmanLeague for Combat PolicyJulien MelineOperation BigotOperation MittelmeerOperation RichardOtto ProgramMartin PoppelRoehm's AvengersDorothy TartierePoul BruunRaoul BoulangerSerge Asher-RavanelBattle of West Ukraine (1941)Battle of ZunyiLiberation 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 OinonenOperation Vesuvius (currently redirect) • Capture of Kassala (currently redirect) • Liberation of LilleBattle of PankowBrandenburg-Rathenow OffensiveJapanese internment of European civilians during World War IIMiranda de Ebro concentration campThe Holocaust in the Netherlands (current redirect) • German occupation of the Netherlands (current redirect) • Axis occupation of MonacoSoviet home front during World War IILabour Charter (Vichy France)Berles-Monchel and Aubigny-en-Artois massacresFebvin-Palfart massacre1941 Nord-Pas de Calais miners' strikeSpitfire fundsGood War (historiography)
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Princess Irene BrigadeBattle of Bay of ViipuriDemilitarisationFree Dutch ForcesMartha 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 OffensiveAmerican-British-Dutch-Australian CommandBattle of Viru HarborBattle of Wickham AnchorageWestern New Guinea campaign (and the individual battles of the campaign) • Operation BlockbusterOperation CooneyThe Holocaust in FranceKnowledge of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany and German-occupied EuropeFrancoist Spain and the HolocaustJapan campaignVolcano and Ryukyu Islands campaignmore
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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 FraserWestern Allied invasion of GermanyLXXXIII Army Corps (Wehrmacht)
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Battle of Borneo (1941-42)Battle of ImphalGarderegiment Fuseliers Prinses IreneJapanese invasion of French IndochinaJapanese invasion of ThailandLuxembourg in World War IINew Georgia CampaignOperation CartwheelOperation ChastiseRoyal Netherlands Motorized Infantry BrigadeSolomon Islands campaignBattle of RadomSeishin OperationMoravia-Ostrava OffensivePanzerjäger
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5th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment [ru]Novorossiysk-Taman Operation [ru]1943 Novorossiysk Operation [ru]1943 Air Battles over Kuban [ru]Battle of Rostov (1943) [ru]Battle of Olshansky [ru]Nalchik-Ordzhonikidzevskaya Operation [ru]Bukrinsky Landing [ru]Cape Tarhan Landing [ru]1942 Sudak Landing [ru]Mozdok-Malgobek Operation [ru]Alexander Sergeyevich Ksenofontov [ru]Henri de Vernejoul [fr]André Bergeret [fr]Battle of Nice [fr]Liberation de Saint-Malo [fr]Battle of Seuil Valley [fr]René-Jean-Paul Cassagne [fr]Cameroun's rallying to the Free French [fr]Battle of Bouno-Misaki [ja]

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