World War II
World War II known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries; the major participants threw their entire economic and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China, it included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, the only use of nuclear weapons in war. Japan, which aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific, was at war with China by 1937, though neither side had declared war on the other. World War II is said to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France and the United Kingdom.
From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, 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. Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, the fall of France in mid 1940, the war continued between the European Axis powers and the British Empire. War in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz, the long Battle of the Atlantic followed. On 22 June 1941, the European Axis powers launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the largest land theatre of war in history; this Eastern Front trapped most crucially the German Wehrmacht, into a war of attrition. In December 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States as well as European colonies in the Pacific. Following an immediate U. S. declaration of war against Japan, supported by one from Great Britain, the European Axis powers declared war on the U.
S. in solidarity with their Japanese ally. Rapid Japanese conquests over much of the Western Pacific ensued, perceived by many in Asia as liberation from Western dominance and resulting in the support of several armies from defeated territories; the Axis advance in the Pacific halted in 1942. Key setbacks in 1943, which included a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy, Allied victories in the Pacific, cost the Axis its initiative and forced it into strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained its territorial losses and turned toward Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in Central China, South China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key Western Pacific islands; the war in Europe concluded with an invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the capture of Berlin by Soviet troops, the suicide of Adolf Hitler and the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945.
Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender under its terms, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August respectively. With an invasion of the Japanese archipelago imminent, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, the Soviet entry into the war against Japan and its invasion of Manchuria, Japan announced its intention to surrender on 15 August 1945, cementing total victory in Asia for the Allies. Tribunals were set up by fiat by the Allies and war crimes trials were conducted in the wake of the war both against the Germans and the Japanese. World War II changed the political social structure of the globe; the United Nations was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts. The Soviet Union and United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the nearly half-century long Cold War. In the wake of European devastation, the influence of its great powers waned, triggering the decolonisation of Africa and Asia.
Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic expansion. Political integration in Europe, emerged as an effort to end pre-war enmities and create a common identity; the start of the war in Europe is held to be 1 September 1939, beginning with the German invasion of Poland. The dates for the beginning of war in the Pacific include the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War on 7 July 1937, or 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 and the two wars merged in 1941; 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 fo
Military tactics encompasses the art of organising and employing fighting forces on or near the battlefield. They involve the application of four battlefield functions which are related – kinetic or firepower, protection or security, shock action. Tactics are a separate function from control and logistics. In contemporary military science, tactics are the lowest of three levels of warfighting, the higher levels being the strategic and operational levels. Throughout history, there has been a shifting balance between the four tactical functions based on the application of military technology, which has led to one or more of the tactical functions being dominant for a period of time accompanied by the dominance of an associated fighting arm deployed on the battlefield, such as infantry, cavalry or tanks. Beginning with the use of melee and missile weapons such as clubs and spears, the kinetic or firepower function of tactics has developed along with technological advances so that the emphasis has shifted over time from the close-range melee and missile weapons to longer-range projectile weapons.
Kinetic effects were delivered by the sword, spear and bow until the introduction of artillery by the Romans. Until the mid 19th century, the value of infantry-delivered missile firepower was not high, meaning that the result of a given battle was decided by infantry firepower alone relying on artillery to deliver significant kinetic effects; the development of disciplined volley fire, delivered at close range, began to improve the hitting power of infantry, compensated in part for the limited range, poor accuracy and low rate of fire of early muskets. Advances in technology the introduction of the rifled musket, used in the Crimean War and American Civil War, meant flatter trajectories and improved accuracy at greater ranges, along with higher casualties; the resulting increase in defensive firepower meant infantry attacks without artillery support became difficult. Firepower became crucial to fixing an enemy in place to allow a decisive strike. Machine guns added to infantry firepower at the turn of the 20th century, the mobile firepower provided by tanks, self-propelled artillery and military aircraft rose in the century that followed.
Along with infantry weapons and other armoured vehicles, self-propelled artillery, guided weapons and aircraft provide the firepower of modern armies. Mobility, which determines how a fighting force can move, was for most of human history limited by the speed of a soldier on foot when supplies were carried by beasts of burden. With this restriction, most armies could not travel more than 32 kilometres per day, unless travelling on rivers. Only small elements of a force such as cavalry or specially trained light troops could exceed this limit; this restriction on tactical mobility remained until the latter years of World War I when the advent of the tank improved mobility sufficiently to allow decisive tactical manoeuvre. Despite this advance, full tactical mobility was not achieved until World War II when armoured and motorised formations achieved remarkable successes. However, large elements of the armies of World War II remained reliant on horse-drawn transport, which limited tactical mobility within the overall force.
Tactical mobility can be limited by the use of field obstacles created by military engineers. Personal armour has been worn since the classical period to provide a measure of individual protection, extended to include barding of the mount; the limitations of armour have always been weight and bulk, its consequent effects on mobility as well as human and animal endurance. By the 18th and 19th centuries, personal armour had been discarded, until the re-introduction of helmets during World War I in response to the firepower of artillery. Armoured fighting vehicles proliferated during World War II, after that war, body armour returned for the infantry in Western armies. Fortifications, which have been used since ancient times, provide collective protection, modern examples include entrenchments, barbed wire and minefields. Like obstacles, fortifications are created by military engineers. Shock action is as much a psychological function of tactics as a physical one, can be enhanced by the use of surprise.
It has been provided by charging infantry, well as by chariots, war elephants and armoured vehicles which provide momentum to an assault. It has been used in a defensive way, for example by the drenching flights of arrows from English longbowmen at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 which caused the horses of the French knights to panic. During early modern warfare, the use of the tactical formations of columns and lines had a greater effect than the firepower of the formations alone. During the early stages of World War II, the combined effects of German machine gun and tank gun firepower, enhanced by accurate indirect fire and air attack broke up Allied units before their assault commenced, or caused them to falter due to casualties among key unit leaders. In both the early modern and World War II examples, the cumulative psychological shock effect on the enemy was greater than the actual casualties incurred; the development of tactics has involved a shifting balance between the four tactical functions since ancient times, changes in firepower and mobility have been fundamental to these changes.
Various models have been proposed to explain the interaction between the tactical functions and the dominance of individual fighting arms during different periods. J. F. C. Fuller proposed three "tactical cycles" in each of the classical and Chri
A division is a large military unit or formation consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. Infantry divisions during the World Wars ranged between 30,000 in nominal strength. In most armies, a division is composed of several brigades; the division has been the default combined arms unit capable of independent operations. Smaller combined arms units, such as the American regimental combat team during World War II, were used when conditions favored them. In recent times, modern Western militaries have begun adopting the smaller brigade combat team as the default combined arms unit, with the division they belong to being less important. While the focus of this article is on army divisions, in naval usage division has a different meaning, referring to either an administrative/functional sub-unit of a department aboard naval and coast guard ships, shore commands, in naval aviation units, to a sub-unit of several ships within a flotilla or squadron, or to two or three sections of aircraft operating under a designated division leader.
Some languages, like Russian, Serbo-Croatian and Polish, use a similar word divizion/dywizjon for a battalion-size artillery or cavalry unit. In administrative/functional sub-unit usage, unit size varies though divisions number far fewer than 100 people and are equivalent in function and organizational hierarchy/command relationship to a platoon or flight. In the West, the first general to think of organising an army into smaller combined-arms units was Maurice de Saxe, Marshal General of France, in his book Mes Rêveries, he died without having implemented his idea. Victor-François de Broglie put the ideas into practice, he conducted successful practical experiments of the divisional system in the Seven Years' War. The first war in which the divisional system was used systematically was the French Revolutionary War. Lazare Carnot of the Committee of Public Safety, in charge of military affairs, came to the same conclusion about it as the previous royal government, the army was organised into divisions.
It made the armies more flexible and easy to maneuver, it made the large army of the revolution manageable. Under Napoleon, the divisions were grouped together because of their increasing size. Napoleon's military success spread the corps system all over Europe; the divisional system reached its numerical height during the Second World War. The Soviet Union's Red Army consisted of more than a thousand divisional-size units at any one time, the total number of rifle divisions raised during the Great Patriotic War is estimated at 2,000. Nazi Germany had hundreds of numbered and/or named divisions, while the United States employed 91 divisions, two of which were disbanded during the war. A notable change to divisional structures during the war was completion of the shift from square divisions to triangular divisions that many European nations started using in World War I; this was done to pare down chain of command overhead. The triangular division allowed the tactic of "two forward, one back", where two of the division's regiments would be engaging the enemy with one regiment in reserve.
All divisions in World War II were expected to have their own artillery formations the size of a regiment depending upon the nation. Divisional artillery was seconded by corps level command to increase firepower in larger engagements. Regimental combat teams were used by the US during the war as well, whereby attached and/or organic divisional units were parceled out to infantry regiments, creating smaller combined-arms units with their own armor and artillery and support units; these combat teams would still be under divisional command but have some level of autonomy on the battlefield. Organic units within divisions were units which operated directly under Divisional command and were not controlled by the Regiments; these units were support units in nature, include signal companies, medical battalions, supply trains and administration. Attached units were smaller units that were placed under Divisional command temporarily for the purpose of completing a particular mission; these units were combat units such as tank battalions, tank destroyer battalions and cavalry reconnaissance squadrons.
In modern times, most military forces have standardized their divisional structures. This does not mean that divisions are equal in size or structure from country to country, but divisions have, in most cases, come to be units of 10,000 to 20,000 troops with enough organic support to be capable of independent operations; the direct organization of the division consists of one to four brigades or battle groups of its primary combat arm, along with a brigade or regiment of combat support and a number of direct-reporting battalions for necessary specialized support tasks, such as intelligence, logistics and combat engineers. Most militaries standardize ideal organization strength for each type of division, encapsulated in a Table of Organization and Equipment which specifies exact assignments of units and equipment for a division; the modern division became the primary identifiable combat unit in many militaries during the second half of the 20th century, supplanting the brigade.
Battle of the Komandorski Islands
The Battle of the Komandorski Islands was a naval battle between American and Imperial Japanese forces which took place on 27 March 1943 in the North Pacific, south of the Soviet Komandorski Islands. The battle was a daylight surface engagement in which air support played no role and in which the inferior American force escaped complete destruction by luck; when the United States became aware of Japanese plans to send a supply convoy to their forces on the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, U. S. Navy ships commanded by Rear Admiral Charles McMorris were sent to prevent this; the fleet consisted of the heavy cruiser Salt Lake City, the light cruiser Richmond and the destroyers Coghlan, Bailey and Monaghan. American intelligence estimated that the Japanese escort consisted of one heavy cruiser, one light cruiser, four destroyers. However, the Japanese 5th Fleet had been reinforced by two more cruisers, so that the Japanese escort force consisted of the heavy cruisers Nachi and Maya, the light cruisers Tama and Abukuma, the destroyers Wakaba, Hatsushimo and Inazuma, commanded by Vice Admiral Boshiro Hosogaya.
On the early morning of 26 March, the Japanese convoy was intercepted by the American picket line some 100 miles south of the Komandorski islands and 180 miles west of Attu, just to the west of the International Date Line. Because of the remote location of the battle and chance encounter on open ocean, neither fleet had air or submarine assistance, making this one of the few engagements between surface ships in the Pacific Theater and one of the last pure gunnery duels between fleets of major surface combatants in naval history. Although the Japanese cruisers outgunned the American force, the engagement was tactically inconclusive. Both fleets suffered damage, with the U. S. Navy warships escaping by luck. With the Japanese fleet on the edge of victory, Admiral Hosogaya — not realizing the heavy damage his ships had inflicted and fearing American war planes would appear — retired without destroying his enemy; this amounted to a strategic defeat, as it ended Japanese attempts to resupply the Aleutian garrisons by surface ship, leaving only submarines to conduct supply runs.
Hosogaya was accordingly retired from active service after the battle and assigned to govern a group of South Pacific islands. 0600: The United States ships were formed in a scouting line at six-mile intervals zig-zagging at 15 knots on base course 020°. 0730: Lead ships Coghlan and Richmond made radar contact with the two trailing Japanese transports and a destroyer on course 080° at 13 kn. A navigating officer on one of the transports visually observed the American force minutes later. 0740: The Americans changed course to 080° and the rear ships increased speed to operate as a compact group. Five radar contacts were counted. 0755: The Japanese turned northward to course 340° and the Americans came to course 000° to follow. 0811: The Americans visually identified the radar contacts as two transports, two light cruisers, a destroyer. 0820: The Americans sighted the masts of four more Japanese ships on the horizon. 0835: The Americans identified the masts as two heavy cruisers and two destroyers and turned to course 240°.
0838: The Japanese transports swerved off to the northwest. 0839: The Americans increased speed to 25 kn. 0840: Nachi opened fire on Richmond at a range of 20,000 yd. The second and third salvos were straddles. 0841: Richmond opened fire on Nachi. The third salvo was a straddle. 0842: Salt Lake City opened fire on Nachi at a range of 21,000 yd. The second salvo was a straddle; as the range closed, Bailey opened fire on Nachi at a range of 14,000 yd and switched to a light cruiser. Coghlan opened fire on Nachi at a range of 18,000 yd. 0845: Nachi launched eight torpedoes. All missed. 0850: One of Richmond′s 6 in shells hit the starboard side of Nachi′s signal bridge, killing 11 and wounding 21. Another shell severed the flagship radio communication. 0852: One of Richmond ′ s 6-inch shells. Another of Richmond ′ s 6-inch shells hit Nachi ′ s control room, wounding five. Nachi dropped back after losing electrical power to ammunition hoists and gun mounts. 0903: Richmond ceased firing. Salt Lake City continued firing from stern turrets.
0910: Salt Lake City was hit by an 8 in projectile fired by Maya. The starboard observation plane was jettisoned. 0920: Salt Lake City was hit by an 8-inch projectile fired by Maya. Two men were killed. 1010: Salt Lake City was hit by an 8-inch projectile fired by Maya. 1059: Salt Lake City was hit by an 8-inch projectile fired by Maya. 1103: Salt Lake City was hit by an 8-inch projectile fired by Maya. Salt Lake City transferred water to correct a list caused by flooding. 1152: Salt Lake City was hit by an 8-inch projectile fired by Maya. 1153: Salt water entered a fuel tank in use and extinguished Salt Lake City′s boiler fires. 1154: Salt Lake City slowed to a stop. Bailey and Monaghan approached the Japanese cruisers for a torpedo attack while Richmond and Dale made smoke to shield Salt Lake City. 1203: Salt Lake City restarted boilers and increased speed to 15 knots. 1213: Salt Lake City increased speed to 22 kn. 1225: Bailey launched five torpedoes at 9,500 yd. All missed. Bailey came to a stop with five dead.
Coghlan was hit once. 1230: Japanese ships retired westward. Neither Coghlan nor Monaghan launched torpedoes. Salt Lake City fired 806 armor-piercing projectiles and 26 high-capacity shells after the supply of armor-piercing ammunition was exhausted. Powder and shells were manhandled aft from the forward magazines to keep the after guns fi
Landing at Amchitka
The Landing at Amchitka was the amphibious landing operation and occupation of Amchitka island by American forces during the Aleutian Islands Campaign. In June 1942, the Japanese occupied some of the western Aleutian islands, hoped to occupy Amchitka. A Japanese survey team rejected it for military purposes. During the Aleutian campaign an air force base was needed near the occupied islands of Attu and Kiska. Amchitcka was ruled out as a possible candidate due to its close proximity only 50 miles away from the island of Kiska. At the War Department's suggestion, an initial reconnaissance of Amchitka was carried out in September 1942, which found that it would be difficult to build an airstrip on the island. Planners decided on December 13 that the airfield "had to be built" to prevent the Japanese from doing the same. A further reconnaissance mission visited Amchitka from 17 to 19 December, reported that a fighter strip could be built in two to three weeks, a main airfield in three to four months.
In December 1942, plans were drawn out for the landings dubbed "Operation Longview". The operation would scrap together 2,000 immediate U. S military in the Aleutian Islands by the Alaska Defense Command, it was thought through reconnaissance that Amchitka was occupied by a small Japanese military presence. Eager to remove the Japanese, the Joint Chiefs of Staff agreed to move to regain the territory; the operation delayed due to the weather conditions. American forces made the unopposed landing on the island on January 1943, three days later. Nearly 2,100 troops disembarked in Constantine Harbor without opposition, their only enemies were the weather, the unpredictable current, the rock-studded waters through which the landing was made. The destroyer USS Worden was guarding the USS Arthur Middleton as that transport put the preliminary Army security unit on the shores of Constantine Harbor, Amchitka Island; the destroyer maneuvered into the rock-edged harbor and stayed there until the last men had landed and turned to the business of clearing the harbor.
A strong current, swept Worden onto a pinnacle that tore into a hull beneath the engine room and caused a complete loss of power. The destroyer broached and began breaking up in the surf. William G. Pogue, the destroyer's commanding officer, ordered abandon ship. Pogue was among the fortunate ones, because he was hauled, out of the sea. Fourteen of the crew drowned. Once on the ground the island was found to be empty of Japanese military. During the first night ashore a "willowaw" smashed many of the landing boats and swept a troop transport aground. On the second day a blizzard racked the island with snow and biting wind. Lasting for nearly two weeks, the blizzard subsided enough to reveal to a Japanese scout plane from Kiska the American beachhead on Amchitka. Harassed by bombing and strafing attacks from Kiska, engineers continued work on an airfield on Amchitka completing it in mid-February. Japanese attacks on the island sharply declined. By February 16, the fighter strip was ready for limited operation.
On that day eight P-40's arrived on Amchitka, within a week they were running patrols over Kiska. The stage was now set for the next phase of operations, amphibious attacks to eject the Japanese from their Aleutian footholds. Battle of Attu Military history of the Aleutian Islands Operation Cottage