WORLD WAR II ( Part - 1 )

Build-up to World War II ( Part - 1 )

1. Nazi Germany engaged in a rapid process of rearmament through the 1930s, forged alliances and psychologically prepared the nation for war

2. Britain and France remained committed to appeasement, although with some internal dissent, in the face of increasingly inflammatory Nazi actions

 3. The Sino-Japanese war began in July 1937 with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. This was carried out against a backdrop of international appeasement and is regarded by some as the start of World War Two.


4. The Nazi-Soviet Pact was signed on 23 August 1939. The Pact saw Germany and the USSR carve up central-eastern Europe between themselves and pave the way for German invasion of Poland.

5. The Nazi invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939 was the final straw for the British, who declared war on 3 September. Britain had guaranteed Polish sovereignty after Hitler flouted the Munich Agreement by annexing Czechoslovakia.


6. Neville Chamberlain declared war on Germany at 11:15 on 3 September 1939. Two days after their invasion of Poland, his speech was followed by what would become the familiar sound of air raid sirens.

7. Poland’s losses included 70,000 men killed, 133,000 wounded and 700,000 taken prisoner in the defence of the nation during the German invasion of September and October 1939. In the other direction, 50,000 Poles died fighting the Soviets, of whom only 996 perished, following their invasion on 16 September. 45,000 ordinary Polish citizens were shot in cold blood during the initial German invasion.

8. British non-aggression at the start of the war, during a period known as the Phoney War, was derided at home and abroad. 

The RAF dropped propaganda literature over Germany, which was humorously referred to as ‘Mein Pamph’.

9. Britain gained a morale-boosting victory in a naval engagement that saw the German battleship Admiral Graf Spee scuttled in the River Plate estuary in Argentina on 17 December 1940. 

This was the only action of the war to reach South America.




10. The attempted Soviet invasion of Finland in November-December 1939 initially ended in comprehensive defeat and resulted in Soviet expulsion from the League of Nations. 
Eventually the Finns were beaten into signing the Moscow Peace Treaty on 12 March 1940.

The Fall of France :



11. The French Army was one of the largest in the world, but the experience of World War One left it with a defensive mentality that paralysed its potential effectiveness and engendered a reliance on the Maginot Line.



12. Germany ignored the Maginot Line, however, with the main thrust of their advance into France moving through the Ardennes in northern Luxembourg and southern Belgium as part of the Sichelschnitt plan.


13. The Germans employed Blitzkrieg tactics, using armoured vehicles and aircraft to make rapid territorial gains.


14. The Battle of Sedan, 12-15 May, provided a momentous breakthrough for the Germans, who streamed into France thereafter.

15. The miraculous evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk using 200 Royal Navy ships and 600 volunteer vessels saved 193,000 British and 145,000 French troops.

16. Mussolini declared war on the Allies on 10 June. His first offensive was launched through the Alps without German knowledge and ended with 6,000 casualties, with over a third being attributed to frostbite. French casualties reached only 200.

17. A further 191,000 Allied troops were evacuated from France in mid-June, although the heaviest ever losses in a single incident at sea were sustained by the British when the Lancastria was sunk by German bombers on 17 June.

18. The Germans had reached Paris by 14 June and the French surrender was ratified in the armistice agreement signed at Compiègne on 22 June.

19. Around 8,000,000 French, Dutch and Belgian refugees were created during the summer of 1940 as masses of people fled their homes as the Germans advanced.

20. Axis troops deployed in the Battle of France amounted to about 3,350,000 and were matched in number by Allied opponents.

By the signing of armistice on 22 June, however, 360,000 Allied casualties had been inflicted and 1,900,000 prisoners taken at the expense of 160,000 Germans and Italians.


The Battle of Britain


21. Winston Churchill succeeded Neville Chamberlain on 10 May 1940. 
His ‘finest hour’ speech was delivered on 17 June as France sought to surrender and signalled the intention that Britain would fight to the bitter end.

22. The Local Defence Volunteer Corps, which became the Home Guard, was born on 14 May. 250,000 men signed up within seven days.


23. Operation Sealion was Germany’s plan for the invasion of Britain, based on the premise of winning superiority in the skies and at sea. It was postponed on 2 October and never returned to.


24. The British killed 1,297 French sailors at Mer-el-Kébir on 3 July as part of Operation Catapult, which was enacted to prevent the French Navy from falling into German hands.




25. Britain could produce 470 fighters a month in June 1940, twice as many as German capacity allowed.


26. Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain included 2,334 British aircrew. 



These men were augmented with 145 Poles, 126 New Zealanders, 98 Canadians, 88 Czechs, 33 Australians, 29 Belgians, 25 South Africans, 13 Frenchmen, 11 Americans, 10 Irishmen and representatives from a host of other nations.




27. The RAF had around 900 fighter aircraft in July 1940, 560 bombers and 500 coastal aeroplanes.


28. At the same time, the Luftwaffe’s could deploy 1029 fighter aircraft, 998 bombers, 261 dive-bombers, 151 reconnaissance planes and 80 coastal aircraft.


29. 1,000 Luftwaffe aircraft were launched in an attack on 7 September.



30. The Allies lost 1,547 aircraft and 966 casualties (including 522 deaths). The Axis losses (predominantly German) included 1,887 aircraft and 4,303 aircrew (of whom 3,336 died).

The End of Part 1. Thank You for Watching.

WORLD WAR PART II ( Part - 2 ) waiting.....
  • The Blitz and the Bombing of Germany

  • The War in Africa and the Middle East

  • Ethnic Cleansing, Race War and the Holocaust

  • Naval War

  • Pearl Harbor and the Pacific War then...

THE WORLD WAR II ( Part - 3 )

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