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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 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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Featured article

Japanese officers and petty officers of the 3rd Kure Special Naval Landing Force that seized Tulagi in May, 1942.
The invasion of Tulagi, on May 3 and May 4, 1942, was part of Operation Mo, the Empire of Japan's strategy in the South Pacific and South West Pacific Area in 1942. The plan called for Imperial Japanese Navy troops to capture Tulagi and nearby islands in the Solomon Islands Protectorate. The occupation of Tulagi by the Japanese was intended to cover the flank of Japanese forces that were advancing on Port Moresby in New Guinea as well as to provide a base for Japanese forces to threaten and interdict the supply and communication routes between the United States and Australia and New Zealand.Without the means to capably resist the Japanese offensive in the Solomons, the British Resident Commissioner of the Solomon Islands protectorate and the few Australian troops assigned to defend Tulagi evacuated the island just before the Japanese forces arrived on May 3. The next day, however, a U.S. aircraft carrier task force enroute to resist the Japanese forces advancing on Port Moresby (that resulted in the Battle of the Coral Sea) struck the Japanese Tulagi landing force in an air attack, destroying or damaging several of the Japanese ships and aircraft involved in the landing operation.

Selected equipment

Char T-34.jpg
The T-34 was a Soviet medium tank produced from 1941 to 1958. It is widely regarded to have been the world's best tank when the Soviet Union entered World War II, and although its armor and armament were surpassed by later tanks of the era, it is credited as the war's most effective, efficient and influential design.First produced at the KhPZ factory in Kharkov (Kharkiv, Ukraine), it was the mainstay of Soviet armoured forces throughout World War II, and widely exported afterwards. It was the most-produced tank of the war, and the second most-produced tank of all time, after its successor, the T-54/55 series.A 1996 publication showed that the T-34 was still in service with twenty-seven countries.The T-34 was developed from the BT series of fast tanks, and was intended to replace both the BT-5 and BT-7 tanks and the T-26 infantry tank in service (Zaloga & Grandsen 1984:66, 111).At its introduction, it was the tank with the best balanced attributes of firepower, mobility, and protection in existence, although initially its battlefield effectiveness suffered from the unsatisfactory ergonomic layout of its crew compartment, lack of radios and poor tactical employment.

Selected battle

USS Chicago low in the water on the morning of January 30, 1943, from torpedo damage inflicted the night before
The Battle of Rennell Island (Japanese: レンネル島沖海戦) took place on January 29January 30, 1943, and was the last major naval engagement between the United States Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy during the lengthy Guadalcanal campaign in the Solomon Islands campaign during World War II. The battle took place in the South Pacific between Rennell Island and Guadalcanal in the southern Solomon Islands.In the battle, Japanese naval land-based torpedo bombers, seeking to provide protection for the impending evacuation of Japanese forces from Guadalcanal, made several attacks over two days on United States' warships operating as a task force south of Guadalcanal. In addition to approaching Guadalcanal with the objective of engaging any Japanese ships that might come into range, the U.S. task force was protecting an Allied transport ship convoy that was carrying replacement troops to Guadalcanal.As a result of the Japanese air attacks on the task force, one U.S. heavy cruiser was sunk, a destroyer was heavily damaged, and the rest of the U.S. task force was forced to retreat from the southern Solomons area.

Selected picture

Supermarine Spitfire Mk XVI
Credit: Chowells

A Supermarine Spitfire Mark XVI. The Spitfire was an iconic British single-seat fighter used by the RAF and many Allied countries in the Second World War. The Spitfire saw service during the whole of WWII in all theatres of war, and in many different variants. It is often credited with winning the Battle of Britain.

Selected biography

Lieutenant-General Horrocks, March 1945
Lieutenant-General Sir Brian Gwynne Horrocks KCB, KBE, DSO, MC (September 7, 1895January 4, 1985) was a British army officer. He is chiefly remembered as the commander of XXX Corps in Operation Market Garden and other operations during the Second World War. He also served in the First World War and the Russian Civil War, was a prisoner of war twice, and competed in the 1924 Paris Olympics. Later he was a television presenter, authored books on military history, and was Black Rod in the House of Lords for 14 years. In 1940 Horrocks commanded a battalion during the Battle of France, the first time he served under Bernard Montgomery, the most prominent British commander of the war. Montgomery later identified Horrocks as one of his most able officers, appointing him to corps commands in both North Africa and Europe. In 1943, Horrocks was seriously wounded and took more than a year to recover before returning to command a corps in Europe. It is likely that this period out of action meant he missed out on promotion; his contemporary corps commanders in North Africa, Leese and Dempsey, went on to command at army level and above.

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Selected quote

"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


World War II
Theatres Main events Specific articles Participants

in Europe
in Asia

Main theatres
Eastern Europe
Mediterranean, Middle East and Africa
Asia and the Pacific

General timeline

Invasion of Poland
Winter War

Invasion of Denmark/Norway
Battle of France
Battle of Britain

Invasion of the Soviet Union
Battle of Moscow
Attack on Pearl Harbor

Battle of Midway
Battle of Stalingrad
Second Battle of El Alamein

Battle of Kursk
Guadalcanal campaign
Invasion of Italy

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

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


Home Front
Military engagements

Civilian impact and atrocities
Nanking Massacre
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

Expulsion of Germans
Cold War

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


The Axis
Bulgaria Bulgaria
Croatia Croatia
Empire of Japan Japan
Finland Finland
France Vichy France
Hungary Hungary
Italy Italy
Nazi Germany Germany
Romania Romania
Thailand Thailand
Slovakia Slovakia


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Attention needed referencing and citation coverage and accuracy structure grammar supporting materials
Popular pages 
Full list
Cleanup needed 
Battle of Kiev (1943)Raid on DrvarColditz Castle
Requested articles 
A Force • Atlantic Black Gap • Battle of Elaia-Kalamas • Battle_of_Uhtua-Kiestinki • Battles_of_Repola-Rukajärvi • Battle_of_Porlammi • Battle_of_Siiranmäki • Battle_of_Tuulos • Battle_of_Łuck • Battle_of_Równe • Battle_of_Włodzimierz_Wołyński • Battle_of_Lubartów • Battle_of_Kock_(1944) • Battle_of_Miedniki • Battle_of_Rudniki_Forest • Battle_of_Jodła • Battle_of_Ceber • Francis Blanchain •Prosper Desitter • Shinshou Draenger • Christer Lyst Hansen • Holocaust slave labor litigation • Horten Ho IIIHorten Ho VI • Garibaldi Brigades • Italian Spring Offensive • Ove Kampman • League for Combat Policy • Julien Meline • Operation Rayon • Operation Bigot • Operation FischreiherOperation HardboiledOperation Ilona • Operation Mittelmeer • Operation Otto • Operation Richard • Operation Schamil • Operation Scherhorn • Operation Waterfall • Otto Program • Aladar Paasonen • Martin Poppel • Roehm's Avengers • Dorothy Tartiere • Poul Bruun • Raoul Boulanger • Serge Asher-Ravanel • Battle of West Ukraine (1941) • Battle of Xinfeng • Battle of Zunyi • Battle of Sittang River Bridge • Jack G. "Tex" Wheelis
Expansion needed 
Battle_of_Bay_of_ViipuriBattle of BruneiBattle of LabuanBattle of North BorneoDemilitarisation; Martha DesrumeauxMochitsura HashimotoOperation CascadeOperation Tan No. 2Burma Area ArmyBattle of CourlandBattle of Voronezh (1943)First Battle of KharkovRace to BerlinMarie FourcadeVictor Strydonck de BurkelDonald BlakesleeOperation NorthwindBattle of Skerki BankMichael Sinclair (soldier)Battle of MaastrichtBattle of The AfsluitdijkBattle of ZeelandLanding at Saidor
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