An officer of three-star rank is a very senior commander in many of the armed services holding a rank described by the NATO code of OF-8. The term is used by some armed forces which are not NATO members. Typically, three-star officers hold the rank of admiral, lieutenant general, or in the case of those air forces with a separate rank structure. The RAN does incorporate stars into the rank insignia for flag-rank officers. Unofficial star rank insignia are worn when serving with or visiting other military organisations in order to facilitate equivalent rank recognition. Lieutenant general Vice admiral Air marshal General de Divisão Vice Almirante Major Brigadeiro The three-star rank in Brazil is the rank in a general career. The officers in this position are normally divisional commanders, Vice admiral/vice-amiral Lieutenant-general/lieutenant-général Three maple leaves appear with St. Edwards crown and crossed sabre and baton. Prince Charles holds the rank of vice-admiral in an honorary capacity, before unification, the rank of air marshal was the three-star equivalent for the RCAF.
An Army or Marine Corps lieutenant general commands a corps-sized unit. Additionally, lieutenant generals and vice admirals of all services serve as staff officers at various major command headquarters. In the Russian and Soviet armies, the rank is colonel-general. This is a title that emerged during the early Soviet period, most Warsaw Pact and Soviet-aligned countries adopted this rank. The rank is held by commanders of the ground forces, chiefs of military academies. Colonel general is considered a stone to the rank of general of the army. This title applies to three officers of the air force, MVD, police and militia, internal troops, FSB/KGB, border guards. In the navy, the three star rank is admiral, Corps general Ranks and insignia of NATO Four-star rank Two-star rank
Major is a military rank of commissioned officer status, with corresponding ranks existing in many military forces throughout the world. When used unhyphenated, in conjunction with no other indicators, major is one rank senior to that of an army captain and it is considered the most junior of the field officer ranks. Majors are typically assigned as specialised executive or operations officers for battalion-sized units of 300 to 1,200 soldiers, in some militaries, notably France and Ireland, the rank of major is referred to as commandant, while in others it is known as captain-major. The rank of major is used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures, such as the Pennsylvania State Police, New York State Police, New Jersey State Police. As a police rank, major roughly corresponds to the UK rank of superintendent, the term major can be used with a hyphen to denote the leader of a military band such as in pipe-major or drum-major. Historically, the rank designation develops in English in the 1640s, taken from French majeur, in turn a shortening of sergent-majeur, which at the time designated a higher rank than at present
World War I
World War I, known as the First World War, the Great War, or the War to End All Wars, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. More than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, were mobilised in one of the largest wars in history and it was one of the deadliest conflicts in history, and paved the way for major political changes, including revolutions in many of the nations involved. The war drew in all the worlds great powers, assembled in two opposing alliances, the Allies versus the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary. These alliances were reorganised and expanded as more nations entered the war, Japan, the trigger for the war was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, by Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. This set off a crisis when Austria-Hungary delivered an ultimatum to the Kingdom of Serbia. Within weeks, the powers were at war and the conflict soon spread around the world.
On 25 July Russia began mobilisation and on 28 July, the Austro-Hungarians declared war on Serbia, Germany presented an ultimatum to Russia to demobilise, and when this was refused, declared war on Russia on 1 August. Germany invaded neutral Belgium and Luxembourg before moving towards France, after the German march on Paris was halted, what became known as the Western Front settled into a battle of attrition, with a trench line that changed little until 1917. On the Eastern Front, the Russian army was successful against the Austro-Hungarians, in November 1914, the Ottoman Empire joined the Central Powers, opening fronts in the Caucasus and the Sinai. In 1915, Italy joined the Allies and Bulgaria joined the Central Powers, Romania joined the Allies in 1916, after a stunning German offensive along the Western Front in the spring of 1918, the Allies rallied and drove back the Germans in a series of successful offensives. By the end of the war or soon after, the German Empire, Russian Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire, national borders were redrawn, with several independent nations restored or created, and Germanys colonies were parceled out among the victors.
During the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, the Big Four imposed their terms in a series of treaties, the League of Nations was formed with the aim of preventing any repetition of such a conflict. This effort failed, and economic depression, renewed nationalism, weakened successor states, and feelings of humiliation eventually contributed to World War II. From the time of its start until the approach of World War II, at the time, it was sometimes called the war to end war or the war to end all wars due to its then-unparalleled scale and devastation. In Canada, Macleans magazine in October 1914 wrote, Some wars name themselves, during the interwar period, the war was most often called the World War and the Great War in English-speaking countries. Will become the first world war in the sense of the word. These began in 1815, with the Holy Alliance between Prussia and Austria, when Germany was united in 1871, Prussia became part of the new German nation. Soon after, in October 1873, German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck negotiated the League of the Three Emperors between the monarchs of Austria-Hungary and Germany
Squadron leader is a commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force and the air forces of many countries which have historical British influence. It is used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-English air force-specific rank structure. An air force squadron leader ranks above lieutenant and immediately below wing commander. The air force rank of squadron leader has a NATO ranking code of OF-3, the equivalent rank in the Womens Auxiliary Air Force, Womens Royal Air Force and Princess Marys Royal Air Force Nursing Service was squadron officer. Squadron leader has used as a cavalry command appointment. In Argentina it is used as an appointment by both the armys cavalry and by the air forces flying units. The cavalry rank of squadron leader in France is an OF-4 equivalent to a major, the rank originated in the British Royal Air Force and was adopted by several other air forces which use, or used, the RAF rank system. In response to the proposal that the RAF should use its own titles, it was suggested that the RAF might use the Royal Navys officer ranks.
For example, the rank that became squadron leader would have been air lieutenant commander, the Admiralty objected to this modification of their rank titles. The rank title squadron leader was chosen as squadrons were typically led by RAF majors, the rank of squadron leader has been used continuously since 1 August 1919. From 1 April 1918 to 31 July 1919, the RAF used major as the equivalent rank to squadron leader, Royal Naval Air Service lieutenant-commanders and Royal Flying Corps majors on 31 March 1918 became RAF majors on 1 April 1918. On 31 August 1919, the RAF rank of major was superseded by squadron leader which has remained in continuous usage ever since. Promotion to squadron leader is strictly on merit, and requires the individual to be appointed to a Career Commission, before the Second World War, a squadron leader commanded a squadron of aircraft. Today, however, a squadron is usually commanded by a wing commander. However, ground-operating squadrons which are sub-divisions of a wing are ordinarily commanded by a squadron leader and this includes squadrons of the RAF Regiment and University Air Squadrons.
The rank insignia consists of a blue band on a slightly wider black band between two narrow blue bands on slightly wider black bands. This is worn on both the sleeves of the tunic or on the shoulders of the flying suit or the casual uniform. Squadron leaders are the lowest ranking officers that may fly a command flag, the flag may be depicted on the officers aircraft or, should the squadron leader be in command, the flag may be flown from a flagpole or displayed on an official car as a car flag
Lieutenant commander is a commissioned officer rank in many navies. The rank is superior to a lieutenant and subordinate to a commander, the corresponding rank in most armies and air forces is major, and in the Royal Air Force and other Commonwealth air forces is squadron leader. The NATO rank code is mostly OF-3, a lieutenant commander is a senior department officer or the executive officer on many warships and smaller shore installation, or the commanding officer of a smaller ship/installation. They are senior department officers in naval aviation squadrons, most Commonwealth and other navies address lieutenant commanders by their full rank or the positions they occupy. The United States Navy, addresses officers by their rank or the higher grade of the rank. For example, oral communications in formal and informal situations, a Lieutenant is abbreviated as Lieutenant, Lieutenants were commonly put in command of smaller vessels not warranting a commander or captain. Such a lieutenant was called a lieutenant commanding or lieutenant commandant in the United States Navy, the USN settled on lieutenant commander in 1862 and made it a distinct rank.
The RN followed suit in March 1914, the insignia worn by a Royal Navy lieutenant commander is two medium gold braid stripes with one thin gold stripe running in between, placed upon a navy blue/black background. The top stripe has the ubiquitous loop used in all RN officer rank insignia, the RAF follows this pattern with its equivalent rank of squadron leader. This distinction was abolished when the rank of lieutenant commander was introduced, throughout much of its existence, the British Royal Observer Corps maintained a rank of observer lieutenant commander. The ROC wore a Royal Air Force uniform and their rank insignia appeared similar to that of an RAF squadron leader except that the stripes were shown entirely in black, prior to the renaming, the rank had been known as observer lieutenant. In the Royal Canadian Navy, the rank is the naval rank equal to Major in the army or air force and is the first senior officer rank, Lieutenant Commanders are senior to Lieutenants and to army and air force Captains, and are junior to Commanders and Lieutenant Colonels.
There are two insignia used by USN and USCG Lieutenant Commanders, in all dress uniforms, they wear sleeve braid or shoulder boards bearing a single gold quarter-inch stripe between two gold half-inch strips. Above or inboard of the stripes, they wear their speciality insignia and this rank is used on in Pakistan Navy. The rank of lieutenant commander is used in the Irish Naval Service. The majority of commanders in the Irish Naval Service hold the rank of lieutenant commander, with a commander being a senior. The corresponding rank in the German Navy, Italian Navy, Argentine Navy, Brazilian Navy, French Navy, Spanish Navy and most other French and Spanish-speaking countries is corvette captain. The insignia of kapteeniluutnantti, the rank immediately below the former, is one thin stripe between two wider ones, which could cause confusion among the naval personnel of other nations
Colonel (United Kingdom)
Colonel is a rank of the British Army and Royal Marines, ranking below brigadier, and above lieutenant colonel. British colonels are not usually field commanders, typically they serve as staff officers between field commands at battalion and brigade level, the insignia is two diamond-shaped pips below a crown. The crown has varied in the past with different monarchs, the current Queens reign has used St Edwards Crown, the rank is equivalent to captain in the Royal Navy and group captain in the Royal Air Force. The rank of colonel was popularized by the tercios that were employed in the Spanish Army during the 16th and 17th centuries, general Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba divided his troops in to coronelías ). These units were led by a coronel and this command structure and its titles were soon adopted as colonello in early modern Italian and in Middle French as coronel. The modern English pronunciation of the word is derived from the French variant, the British Army has historically been organized around the regiment, with each regiment being raised and equipped or either directly by the crown or by a nobleman.
By the end of 17th century in Great Britain, the colonel of a regiment was often a person who had been given Royal Assent to raise it for service. As such, he was required to cover all costs of the equipment, uniforms. Until the late 18th century most British regiments were known by the name of the colonelcy. It occasionally raised its own fighting units, such as battoemen, the reforms meant that the British government was now financially responsible for the pay and equipment of the troops in the service of the British Crown. Colonels were no longer permitted to directly from the sale of officer commissions in their regiments. A lieutenant-colonel commanded the regiment in battle, by the beginning of the Napoleonic Wars, the title colonel of the regiment had become a sinecure appointment for distinguished generals and members of the royal family or British nobility. Despite an individual only being permitted to hold one colonelcy, it was a position as they were in financial charge of their regiments allowance from the government.
This meant they could hope to make a profit on the allocated for equipment, supplies. As generals were mostly on half-pay, a colonelcy was a method of providing them with extra income, however it should be noted that many colonels spent large sums of their own money on their regiments. Some of the duties associated with the title Colonel of the Regiment continue to be used in the modern British Army. The ceremonial position is often conferred on retired general officers, brigadiers or colonels who have a link to a particular regiment. Non-military personnel, usually for positions within the Army Reserve may be appointed to the ceremonial position, when attending functions as Colonel of the Regiment, the titleholder wears the regimental uniform with rank insignia of colonel, regardless of their official rank
The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom. As of 2017 the British Army comprises just over 80,000 trained Regular, or full-time and just over 26,500 trained Reserve, or part-time personnel. Therefore, the UK Parliament approves the continued existence of the Army by passing an Armed Forces Act at least once every five years, day to day the Army comes under administration of the Ministry of Defence and is commanded by the Chief of the General Staff. Repeatedly emerging victorious from these decisive wars allowed Britain to influence world events with its policies and establish itself as one of the leading military. In 1660 the English and Irish monarchies were restored under Charles II, Charles favoured the foundation of a new army under royal control and began work towards its establishment by August 1660. The Royal Scots Army and the Irish Army were financed by the Parliament of Scotland, the order of seniority of the most senior line regiments in the British Army is based on the order of seniority in the English army.
At that time there was only one English regiment of dragoons, after William and Marys accession to the throne, England involved itself in the War of the Grand Alliance, primarily to prevent a French invasion restoring Marys father, James II. Spain, in the two centuries, had been the dominant global power, and the chief threat to Englands early transatlantic ambitions. The territorial ambitions of the French, led to the War of the Spanish Succession and the Napoleonic Wars. From the time of the end of the Seven Years War in 1763, Great Britain was the naval power. As had its predecessor, the English Army, the British Army fought the Kingdoms of Spain and the Netherlands for supremacy in North America and the West Indies. With native and provincial assistance, the Army conquered New France in the North American theatre of the Seven Years War, the British Army suffered defeat in the American War of Independence, losing the Thirteen Colonies but holding on to Canada. The British Army was heavily involved in the Napoleonic Wars and served in campaigns across Europe.
The war between the British and the First French Empire of Napoleon Bonaparte stretched around the world and at its peak, in 1813, the regular army contained over 250,000 men. A Coalition of Anglo-Dutch and Prussian Armies under the Duke of Wellington, the English had been involved, both politically and militarily, in Ireland since being given the Lordship of Ireland by the Pope in 1171. The campaign of the English republican Protector, Oliver Cromwell, involved uncompromising treatment of the Irish towns that had supported the Royalists during the English Civil War, the English Army stayed in Ireland primarily to suppress numerous Irish revolts and campaigns for independence. Having learnt from their experience in America, the British government sought a political solution, the British Army found itself fighting Irish rebels, both Protestant and Catholic, primarily in Ulster and Leinster in the 1798 rebellion. The Haldane Reforms of 1907 formally created the Territorial Force as the Armys volunteer reserve component by merging and reorganising the Volunteer Force, Great Britains dominance of the world had been challenged by numerous other powers, in the 20th century, most notably Germany
The Corps of Royal Marines is the United Kingdoms amphibious light infantry force, forming part of the Naval Service, along with the Royal Navy. The Royal Marines were formed in 1755 as the Royal Navys infantry troops, as a highly specialised and adaptable light infantry force, the Royal Marines are trained for rapid deployment worldwide and capable of dealing with a wide range of threats. The Royal Marines have close ties with allied marine forces, particularly the United States Marine Corps. Today, the Royal Marines are a fighting force within the British Armed forces. The Royal Marines can trace its origins back as far as 28 October 1664 when at the grounds of the Honourable Artillery Company the Duke of York and Albanys maritime regiment of foot was first formed. On 5 April 1755, His Majestys Marine Forces, fifty Companies in three Divisions, headquartered at Chatham and Plymouth, were formed by Order of Council under Admiralty control. Initially all field officers were Royal Navy officers as the Royal Navy felt that the ranks of Marine field officers were largely honorary and this meant that the furthest a Marine officer could advance was to lieutenant colonel.
It was not until 1771 that the first Marine was promoted to colonel and this attitude persisted well into the 1800s. During the rest of the 18th century, they served in numerous landings all over the world and they served in the American War of Independence, being particularly courageous in the Battle of Bunker Hill led by Major John Pitcairn. In 1788 a detachment of four companies of marines, under Major Robert Ross, due to an error the Fleet left Portsmouth without its main supply of ammunition, and were not resupplied until the Fleet docked in Rio de Janeiro midway through the voyage. In 1802, largely at the instigation of Admiral the Earl St. Vincent, the Royal Marines Artillery was formed as a separate unit in 1804 to man the artillery in bomb ketches. These had been manned by the Armys Royal Regiment of Artillery, during the Napoleonic Wars the Royal Marines participated in every notable naval battle on board the Royal Navys ships and took part in multiple amphibious actions. In the Caribbean theatre volunteers from freed French slaves on Marie-Galante were used to form Sir Alexander Cochranes first Corps of Colonial Marines and these men bolstered the ranks, helping the British to hold the island until reinforcements arrived.
This practice was repeated during the War of 1812, where escaped American slaves were formed into Cochranes second Corps of Colonial Marines and these men were commanded by Royal Marines officers and fought alongside their regular Royal Marines counterparts at the Battle of Bladensburg. Throughout the war Royal Marines units raided up and down the east coast of America including up the Penobscot River and they fought in the Battle of New Orleans and helped capture Fort Bowyer in Mobile Bay in what was the last action of the war. In 1855 the Infantry forces were renamed the Royal Marines Light Infantry, during the Crimean War in 1854 and 1855, three Royal Marines earned the Victoria Cross, two in the Crimea and one in the Baltic. In 1862 the name was altered to Royal Marine Light Infantry. The Royal Navy did not fight any other ships after 1850, in these Naval Brigades, the function of the Royal Marines was to land first and act as skimishers ahead of the sailor Infantry and Artillery
Sub-lieutenant is a junior military officer rank. In many navies, a sub-lieutenant is a commissioned or subordinate officer. In the Royal Navy the rank of sub-lieutenant is equivalent to the rank of lieutenant in the British Army, in some armies, sub-lieutenant is the lowest officer rank. However, in Brazil, it is the highest non-commissioned rank, the NATO rank code for the British Royal Navy rank is OF-1. In the British Royal Navy, a passed midshipman awaiting promotion often elected to become a masters mate, normally an experienced petty officer who assisted the sailing master. Though formally the rating did not lead to promotion to lieutenant, a midshipman who became a masters mate got an increase in pay from £1 13s 6d to £3 16s per month, but initially reduced his chances at a commission. Over time, service as a masters mate became a part of the path to a commission. By the first years of the 19th century, the masters was dropped for passed midshipmen. In 1824 two further grades were introduced, consisting of masters assistants and second-class volunteers.
These corresponded to midshipmen and first-class volunteers respectively in the executive line, from this point, passed midshipmen had the rating masters mate, abbreviated as mate, and prospective masters had the rating masters assistant. These changes helped eliminate the confusion caused by the mingling of midshipmen in the navigators branch, in 1838 a Royal Commission, presided over by the Duke of Wellington, recommended the institution of the rank of mate as an official step between midshipman and lieutenant. In 1861 mate was abolished in favour of sub-lieutenant, in 1955, the Royal Navy created the rank of acting sub-lieutenant. Unlike their substantive counterparts, acting sub-lieutenants are subordinate officers, as they hold their ranks by order, upon passing Fleet Board, acting sub-lieutenants were confirmed as sub-lieutenants and issued commissions backdated to the date when they were appointed acting sub-lieutenants. The rank of Acting Sub-lieutenant remains in the Royal Navy only within the University Royal Naval Unit where Training Officers enter at this rank.
Before its abolition, the rank of acting sub-lieutenant in the Royal Navy corresponded with, but was junior to and this can be seen in print versions of STANAG2116 edition 5. Indeed, when someone is addressed as Acting sub-lieutenant, it can be seen as a way of patronising an individual in a derogatory manner due to the emphasis of their acting rank, the Royal New Zealand Navy follows the US precedent in titling its lowest commissioned officer ensign. In the Royal Thai Army, Army Reserve Force Students who complete grade 5, in the modern Royal Navy, all officer cadets now commission as midshipmen, regardless of whether they are a graduate, upper yardsmen, or a school leaver. They are subsequently promoted to sub-lieutenant one year after entering Britannia Royal Naval College, in France, a sub-lieutenant is the junior commissioned officer in the army or the air force
A five-star rank is a very senior military rank, first established in the United States in 1944, with a five-star insignia, and corresponding ranks in other countries. The rank is that of the most senior military commanders. Not all armed forces have such a rank, and in those that do the actual insignia of the five-star ranks may not contain five stars. Typically, five-star officers hold the rank of general of the army, admiral of the fleet, field marshal, marshal of the air force, general of the air force, five-star ranks are extremely senior—usually the highest ranks. As an active rank, the position only in a minority of countries and is usually held by only a very few officers during wartime. In times of peace, it is held only as an honorary rank. Despite the rarity and seniority of officers, even more senior ranks have been adopted in the United States, admiral of the navy. Other names for highly senior ranks from the century include généralissime, generalisimo. Admiral of the fleet Field marshal Marshal of the Royal Australian Air Force Only one Australian born officer has held a substantive Australian five-star rank, five-star ranks in Brazil are only used in wartime.
Marshal Grand Admiral Marshal of the Air Stožerni general awarded to six men, the rank was called stožerni admiral until 1999, only Sveto Letica was awarded this rank – in March 1996, three months before his retirement. For marshals of the Indian Air Force, the patches display five stars, there are today no living marshals of Poland, since this rank is bestowed only on military commanders who have achieved victory in war. Captain general Captain general of the Spanish Navy Captain general of the Spanish Air Force These ranks have been reserved for the reigning monarch, since 1973 the three ranks have been reserved for members of the royal family. The worn insignia of British five-star commanders do not contain stars, promotion to the rank of field marshal was generally stopped in 1995 as a cost-cutting measure but is still made in some cases. In 2014 the former Chief of the Defence Staff Lord Stirrup was promoted to the rank of marshal of the RAF. In 1944 the Navy and Army specified that these officers were considered senior to any officers promoted to the ranks within their services.
US officers holding five-star rank never retire, they draw full active duty pay for life, the five-star ranks were retired in 1981 on the death of General of the Army Omar Bradley. Nine Americans have been promoted to rank, one of them, Henry H. Arnold. The appointment stated he was to have rank and precedence over all grades of the Army
The wars resulted from the unresolved disputes associated with the French Revolution and the Revolutionary Wars, which had raged on for years before concluding with the Treaty of Amiens in 1802. Napoleon became the First Consul of France in 1799, Emperor five years later, inheriting the political and military struggles of the Revolution, he created a state with stable finances, a strong central bureaucracy, and a well-trained army. The British frequently financed the European coalitions intended to thwart French ambitions, by 1805, they had managed to convince the Austrians and the Russians to wage another war against France. At sea, the Royal Navy destroyed a combined Franco-Spanish fleet at Trafalgar in October 1805, Prussian worries about increasing French power led to the formation of the Fourth Coalition in 1806. France forced the defeated nations of the Fourth Coalition to sign the Treaties of Tilsit in July, although Tilsit signified the high watermark of the French Empire, it did not bring a lasting peace for Europe.
Hoping to extend the Continental System and choke off British trade with the European mainland, Napoleon invaded Iberia, the Spanish and the Portuguese revolted with British support. The Peninsular War lasted six years, featured extensive guerrilla warfare, the Continental System caused recurring diplomatic conflicts between France and its client states, especially Russia. Unwilling to bear the consequences of reduced trade, the Russians routinely violated the Continental System. The French launched an invasion of Russia in the summer of 1812. The resulting campaign witnessed the collapse and retreat of the Grand Army along with the destruction of Russian lands. In 1813, Prussia and Austria joined Russian forces in a Sixth Coalition against France, a lengthy military campaign culminated in a large Allied army defeating Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig in October 1813. The Allies invaded France and captured Paris in the spring of 1814 and he was exiled to the island of Elba near Rome and the Bourbons were restored to power.
However, Napoleon escaped from Elba in February 1815 and took control of France once again, the Allies responded by forming a Seventh Coalition, which defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in June. The Congress of Vienna, which started in 1814 and concluded in 1815, established the new borders of Europe and laid out the terms, Napoleon seized power in 1799, creating a de facto military dictatorship. The Napoleonic Wars began with the War of the Third Coalition, Kagan argues that Britain was irritated in particular by Napoleons assertion of control over Switzerland. Furthermore, Britons felt insulted when Napoleon stated that their country deserved no voice in European affairs, for its part, Russia decided that the intervention in Switzerland indicated that Napoleon was not looking toward a peaceful resolution of his differences with the other European powers. The British quickly enforced a blockade of France to starve it of resources. Napoleon responded with economic embargoes against Britain, and sought to eliminate Britains Continental allies to break the coalitions arrayed against him, the so-called Continental System formed a league of armed neutrality to disrupt the blockade and enforce free trade with France
World War II
World War II, known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945, although related conflicts began earlier. It involved the vast majority of the worlds countries—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing alliances, the Allies and the Axis. It was the most widespread war in history, and directly involved more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. Marked by mass deaths of civilians, including the Holocaust and the bombing of industrial and population centres. These made World War II the deadliest conflict in human history, from late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, and formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours, Finland and the Baltic states. In December 1941, Japan attacked the United States and European colonies in the Pacific Ocean, and quickly conquered much of the Western Pacific.
The Axis advance halted in 1942 when Japan lost the critical Battle of Midway, near Hawaii, in 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained all of its territorial losses and invaded Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in South Central China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy, thus ended the war in Asia, cementing the total victory of the Allies. World War II altered the political alignment and social structure of the world, the United Nations was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts. The victorious great powers—the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and the United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the Cold War, which lasted for the next 46 years. Meanwhile, the influence of European great powers waned, while the decolonisation of Asia, most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic recovery.
Political integration, especially in Europe, emerged as an effort to end pre-war enmities, the start of the war in Europe is generally held to be 1 September 1939, beginning with the German invasion of Poland and France declared war on Germany two days later. The dates for the beginning of war in the Pacific include the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War on 7 July 1937, or even the Japanese invasion of Manchuria on 19 September 1931. Others follow the British historian A. J. P. Taylor, who held that the Sino-Japanese War and war in Europe and its colonies occurred simultaneously and this article uses the conventional dating. Other starting dates sometimes used for World War II include the Italian invasion of Abyssinia on 3 October 1935. The British historian Antony Beevor views the beginning of World War II as the Battles of Khalkhin Gol fought between Japan and the forces of Mongolia and the Soviet Union from May to September 1939, the exact date of the wars end is not universally agreed upon.
It was generally accepted at the time that the war ended with the armistice of 14 August 1945, rather than the formal surrender of Japan