BH - World War II

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Overview

- 39-40 -> Germans defeated Poland, after 5 months pause 'phoney war -> Denmark + Norway invaded -> Chamberlain replaced as PM by Churchill

- Germany attacks and quickly defeats Holland, Belgium + France

- Invasion plans of Britain halted by Battle of Britain in 1940

- Hitler launched Eastern front in 1941, after Pearl Harbor - Japan joins axis and captures British territories i.e. Hong Kong -> Hitler declares war on USA

- German advance in Egypt halted by British at El Alamein and driven out, Germans advance to Stalingrad but defeated after Scorched Earth policy

- Anglo-American Normandy liberated France, Belgium and Holland in 44... Allied troops cross Rhine and capture Cologne

- Russia advance on Berlin via Poland, and Germany eventually surrender in May 1945

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Setbacks

- were aware saving Poland was near impossible, and Britain wanted to resist domination of Europe from an aggressive hostile power

- government reduced defence spending post-WW1, and began gradually increasing it after failiure of the Disarmament Conference

- Poles defeated by German Blitzkrieg, it destroyed Polish Air Force and railways -> Britain bloackaded German Ports and sent troops to France

- no large scale military actions in 39-40 so its known as the 'phoney war'

- Hitler troops occupied Denmark + Norweigan ports (exellent naval bases to attack Britains supply lines)

- Britain lacked German Air Force effieciency, Allied troops were withdrawn from Oslo due to growing threat to France

- Norweigan campaign lost 3 cruisers + 10 destroyers, the navy was less effective at Dunkirk

- larger number of Cons turned against Chamberlain after Norway situation, he resigned 

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Churchill as war leader

- aged 65 in 40', considered a failiure pre WW2 -> mistaked reavluation of the £, aggresivenes during General Strike, opposition to India Act, support for Edward VIII

- consistently wanted rearmament and fought against appeasements, his aggressiveness suited a war leader

- set up a war cabinet, consisting of a truly national government i.e. Beaverbrook, Bevin, Atlee

- organized nation for demands of total war, The Emergency Power Act of 1940 gave the government unrestricted power

- stood up to Hitler, refused to open a Second Front by invading France pre 44, created a truly National Government

- loss of Singapore down to underestimation of Japan, and slow to appreaciate importance of air support in naval operations...

- larger than life personality, providing a psychological boost, and provided decisive action...brilliant command of words, speeches over radio... He simply wanted victory

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Dunkirk

- Blitzkreig methods brought swift victories, Dutch surrendered after 4 days, Belgian surrender left British troops trapped, only Dunkirk remained w/ allies

- evactuation of 338,000 troops from Dunkirk, though Hitler halted advancement to Dunkirk 3 days prior

- used rescue for propaganda purposes by Churchill, in reality troops had lost their arms + equipment -> French troops suffered

- government blamed Belgium for surrendering, France for its cowardice.... offered Act of Union (turn Anglo-France into one nation)

- Paris eventually captured, France surrendered... Germans occupied North France and Atlantic coast providing them w/ submarine bases

- Unoccupied France allowed its own government, collaborated w/ Germany mostly

- Cabinet discussed possbility of peace negotiation w/ Germany, Halifax suggested using Mussolini as a mediator but Chamberlain thought it wouldn't bring decent terms

-Halifax dropped and sent as an ambassador to USA, with Churchill pressing on w/ war

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Battle of Britain

- Hitler assemled an invasion fleet w/ 260,000 troops which would land between Brighton and Folkstone

- neglected German navy, Hitler didnt expect a full scale war

- Hitler relied on Luftwaffe to clear the British navy and destroy RAF, Germans lost x2 aircrafts as RAF lost fighters

- Luftwaffe started bombing RAF aerodromes and communication system, RAF shot down 31 Luftwaffe planes and lost 20 themselves

- RAF were losing heavily, though German planes were shot down in greater numbers... fighters bombed on the ground, aircraft factories couldnt match these demands... Many experienced pilots were killed, 6/7 major airfields in SE England damaged

- Goering switched to bombing LDN, in retaliation for raids on Berlin (they were extremely close to airfield victory)

- civilian morale was low, industrial production reduced, thousand civilians killed... German bombers suffered heavy casualties so switched to night bombing

- Blitz killed 1000+ in 3days, morale was still high... Germans lost 60 aircrafts to Britains 20, and failed air superiority -> Hitler called off invasion of Britain though bombing raids continued

- 51 radar stations warned of German attacks, Germans failed to disrupt this system... German Messerschmitt planes carried enough fuel for 90 mins limiting them

- switch to bombing London relieved pressure on British airfields, its aircraft production was eddicient (325-500 per month) -> Germans couldnt match this

- Battle of Britain first major turning pont, Hitler would be poised w/ war on two fronts

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Axis offence

- Mussolini captured Albania, and Greece but was driven back... 60,000 Commonwealth troops in Greece but driven out by large Nazi troops

- Allies withdrew to Greek island Crete, it was captured by Nazis... lacked air protection and lost 36000 men, the British government was critcised for intervening in Greece -> 220 German aircrafts shut down and lost 1/3 troops

- Mussolini invaded Egypt from Italian colony of Libya 40', Commonwealth + French troops pushed Italians outta Egypt, they captured 130,000 prisoners and 400 tanks.

- British captured Benghazi but advance halted by Churchill, he opted using these troops/planes in Greece... German army led by Rommel drove Britain outta Libya

- Britains naval base in Malta was subject to intense German/Italian raids, Hitler withdrew Luftwaffe due to Eastern front... in 42' German troops captured Tobruk and advanced 70 miles away from Alexandria

- Rommels German troops driven back by Montgomery Eigth Army, Tripoli was captured in 43'... Allies had massive reinforcements and outnumbered Germany/Italy -> Axis supply ships sunk, troops they suffered from shortages of food, fuel oil and ammunition

- El Alamein victory against Rommel was a major turning point, Egypt didnt fall into German hands//// Axis forces were expelled from N. Africa -> British + American troops landed in French Morocco & Algeria, the Eigth Army closed in on Libya -> 27500 troops trapped in Tunisia, and forced to surrender... Desert war drained German resources

- Japan captured British territories in Far East e.g. Hong Kong, and sank two capital ships (Prince of Wales + Repulse) -> Singapore remained in British hands, Aussies were panicking so extra troops mobilised in Singapore... Supply of fresh water cut off, and British commander surrendered 60,000 troops! 

- Japanese conquest was Britains first setback b asn Asian power, it encouraged opposition to British rule in India, Japan conquested Burma -> wernt in their plans, as Japan merely wanted conquest of the Pacific

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War in air

- RAF bombed Rommels supply ships and his army on land

- Introduction of radar devices meant more U boats were being destroyed by air crafts

- RAF beat off Luftwaffe, forcing Hitler to abandon his invasion plans

- Luftwaffe raids on LDN diverted by Eastern front, British + American bombed German cities to hamper industries and German war effort/morale

- Raid in Dresden killed 50000 people, raid in Tokyo killed 80000 people (1945)

- heavy losses suffered by air crews, and critics believe civilian raids were morally wrong

- nonetheless it played an important role, it distorted German stratergy and hurt its war effort -> it was necessary, and Nazis implemented this policy first

- civilian bombings were the price for peace, and Germans were equally morally wrong by exterminating races

- RAF attack on Ruhr 43' impacted its production, synthetic oil productions fell, fuel shortages, detroyed railway

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Fall of Italy + Invasion of France

- Troops landed in sicily from sea and air in 43', and captured it -> led to Mussolini's downfall

- Allied troops captured Naples, Mussolini successor signed an armistice siding Italy to Allies -> Hitler rushed troops to occupy Rome as he wanted to hold on to Italy

- Allies landed 30 miles from Rome, and it was captured -> Americans insisted on keeping divisions back for France invasion 

- Italy provided air bases for bombings of the Germans

- Second Front bagan on D-Day, after Italys elimination air superiority had been achieved... by first week 326,000 men landed safely w/ tanks though there was strong German resistance

- landings took place from sea and air ona 60 mile stretch Normandy beaches, eventually 3 mil troops landed

- within a few weeks northern France was liberated, halting German V1/V2 rocket missiles which were launched on SE Britain... Belgium liberated shortly after

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German and Japan losses

- Brits wanted a rapid thrust to reach Berlin before the Russians, whilst the Yanks wanted a cautious advance along a broad front

- Failiure at Arnhem meant Eisenhower got it his war, a cautious 600 mile front let Hitler launch a final offensives -> Germans broke through American lines and advanced 60 miles

- Allied troops were able to push the Germans back, importantly Hitler lost 25,000 men and 400 tanks

- Berlin was being pursured by both fronts

- Pacific islands were recovered, and Brits recovered Burma in 45 -> 53000/85000 Japanese troops lost

- Americans dropped two A bombs on Japan, leading to their surrender

- Japanese sent envoys to Russia, hinting at peace feelers... Truman justified it by claiming he saved American lives as it could have prolonged the war for another year

- Russians were prepared to enter the war against Japan, gaining Japanese territories would have entitled them to a share

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Loss of war

- Germany attacked Russia before eliminating Britain, then fatally declaring war on USA

- Italian incompetance drained German resources, Germany was short of rubber, cotton, nickel and post 44 OIL

- combined resources of USA, USSR, UK was overwhelming, Russians moved industry to Ural Mountains so continued w/ production

- Yalta Conference in 45 -> attended by Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin... United Nations set up, Germany divided into zones, free elections would be allowed in Eastern European states, Stalin promised to join war on Japan if he recieved Sakhalin Island, Russia given eastern strip of Poland it occupied in 1939 in return of the communist government established in Lublin including members of Polish government-in-exile members joining this Lublin government

- Potsdam Conference in 45 - Stalin, Truman, Churchill attended... consensus was Germany should be disarmed, and Nazi party disbanded, its leaders tried as war criminals, East Germany was occupied by Russian troops and run by pro-community Polish government which angered Churchill + Truman (not agreed at Yalta), Truman never made Stalin aware that the A bombs were going to be used against Japan, USSR declared war on Japan though a week later A bombs were dropped, USSR annexed south Sakhalin 

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Comments

NZLHistory

A really useful set of revision cards that cover the major aspects of WW2 from the British point of view. Includes analysis of Churchill and the impact of war as well as the major military offensives.

AdolfHitler69

Interesting stuff but rather fake.

/Lucas/Austin/

Nice resource, thank you.

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