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.
In late May and early June 1942
, during World War II
belonging to the Imperial Japanese Navy
made a series of attacks on the cities of Sydney
in New South Wales
. On the night of 31 May
, three Ko-hyoteki class midget submarines
, each with a two-member crew, entered Sydney Harbour
to sink Allied
warships. After being detected and attacked, the crews of two of the midget submarines scuttled their boats and committed suicide without engaging Allied vessels. The third attempted to torpedo the heavy cruiser USS Chicago
but instead sank the converted ferry HMAS Kuttabul
, killing 21 sailors. This midget submarine then disappeared, its fate remaining a mystery until in 2006 amateur scuba divers discovered its wreck off Sydney's northern beaches
.Immediately following the raid the five Japanese fleet submarines that carried the midgets to Australia embarked on a campaign to disrupt merchant shipping in eastern Australian waters. Over the next month the submarines attacked at least seven merchant vessels, sinking three. As part of this campaign two of the submarines bombarded
the ports of Sydney and Newcastle, during the early morning of 8 June
The Montana-class battleships
of the United States Navy
were planned as successors to the Iowa class
, being slower but larger, better armored, and having superior firepower. Five were approved for construction during World War II
but changes in wartime building priorities resulted in their cancellation in favor of the Essex-class aircraft carriers
before any Montana
were laid.With an intended armament of twelve 16-inch (410 mm) guns and a greater anti-aircraft capability than the preceding Iowa
class, the Montana
s would have been the largest and the most heavily-armed battleships put to sea by the United States. They would have been the only US Navy battleship class to have come close to rivaling the Empire of Japan
's Yamato-class battleships
in terms of armor
, weaponry, and displacement
.Preliminary design work for the Montana
s began before the US entry into World War II. The first two vessels were approved by Congress
in 1939 following the passage of the Second Vinson Act
. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor
delayed construction of the Montana
The second Battle of Smolensk (7 August 1943 – 2 October 1943) was a Soviet strategic offensive operation conducted by the Red Army as part of the Summer-Autumn Campaign of 1943 in the Western USSR. Staged almost simultaneously with the Battle of the Dnieper (13 August – 22 September), the offensive lasted two months and was led by Generals Andrei Yeremenko commanding the Kalinin Front and Vasily Sokolovsky commanding the Western Front. Its goal was to clear the Nazi Germany presence from the Smolensk and Bryansk regions. Smolensk had been under German occupation since the first Battle of Smolensk in 1941.Despite an impressive German defense, the Red Army was able to stage several breakthroughs, liberating several major cities including Smolensk and Roslavl. As a result of this operation the Red Army was able to start planning for the liberation of Belorussia. However, the overall advance was quite modest and slow in the face of heavy German resistance, and the operation was therefore accomplished in three stages: August 7–20, August 21–September 6, and September 7–October 2.
This Chinese child soldier, an army division returning to China following the capture of Myitkyina airfield, Burma, under the allied command of US Major General Frank Merrill in May 1944. Chinese and allied troops had earlier crossed through the treacherous jungle of the Kumon Bum Mountains before attacking Japanese troops to the south. A number of international conventions have since come into effect that try to limit the participation of children in armed conflicts. However, according to Human Rights Watch, as many as 300,000 children remain direct participants in war in over twenty countries around the world today.
"This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final note, stating that, unless we heard from them by 11 o'clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received and that consequently this country is at war with Germany."
- — Neville Chamberlain, 3 September 1939