Portal:World War II/Selected biography

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Portal:World War II/Selected biography/1 Aleksandr Mikhaylovich Vasilevsky , September 30, 1895 – December 5, 1977) was a Soviet military commander, promoted to Marshal of the Soviet Union in 1943. He was the Soviet Chief of the General Staff and Deputy Minister of Defense during World War II, as well as Minister of Defense from 1949 to 1953. As the Chief of the General Staff, Vasilevsky was responsible for the planning and coordination of almost all decisive Soviet offensives, from the Stalingrad counteroffensive to the assault on East Prussia and Königsberg.Vasilevsky started his military career during the First World War, earning the rank of captain by 1917. At the beginning of the October Revolution and the Civil War he was conscripted into the Red Army, taking part in the Polish–Soviet War. After the war, he quickly rose through the ranks, becoming a regimental commander by 1930. In this position, he showed great skill in the organization and training of his troops. Vasilevsky's talent did not go unnoticed, and in 1931 he was appointed a member of the Directorate of Military Training. In 1937, following Stalin's Great Purge, he was promoted to General Staff officer.



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GOC Malaya in December 1941
Lieutenant-General Arthur Ernest Percival, CB, DSO and Bar, OBE, MC, OStJ, DL, (26 December 1887 – 31 January 1966) was a British Army officer and World War I veteran. He built a successful military career during the interwar period but is most noted for his involvement in World War II, when he commanded the forces of the British Commonwealth during the Battle of Malaya and the subsequent Battle of Singapore.Percival's surrender to the invading Imperial Japanese Army force was and remains the largest capitulation in British military history, and it permanently undermined Britain's prestige as an imperial power in the Far East.However, current knowledge about the years of under-funding of Malaya's defences and the inexperienced, under-equipped nature of the Commonwealth army makes it possible to hold a more sympathetic view of his command.Arthur Ernest Percival was born on 26 December 1887 in Aspenden Lodge, Aspenden near Buntingford in Hertfordshire, England, the second son of Alfred Reginald and Edith Percival (née Miller).



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Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt often referred to by his initials FDR, was the thirty-second President of the United States. Elected to four terms in office, he served from 1933 to 1945 and is the only U.S. president to have served more than two terms. He was a central figure of the 20th century during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Roosevelt created the New Deal to provide relief for the unemployed, recovery of the economy, and reform of the economic and banking systems. Although recovery of the economy was incomplete until almost 1940, the programs he initiated such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), and the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) continue to have instrumental roles in the nation's commerce. One of his most important legacies is the Social Security system. As Britain warred with Nazi Germany, Roosevelt provided Lend-Lease aid to Winston Churchill and the British war effort before America's entry into World War II in December, 1941.



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George Jones
Air Marshal Sir George Jones KBE, CB, DFC (18 October 1896 – 24 August 1992) was a senior commander in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). He rose from being a private soldier in World War I to Air Marshal in 1948. He served as Chief of the Air Staff from 1942 to 1952, the longest continuous tenure of any RAAF chief. Jones was a surprise appointee to the Air Force’s top role, and his achievements in the position were coloured by a divisive relationship during World War II with his head of operations and nominal subordinate, Air Vice Marshal William Bostock.Jones first saw action as an infantryman in the Gallipoli campaign of 1915, before transferring to the Australian Flying Corps the following year. Initially an air mechanic, he undertook flying training in 1917 and was posted to a fighter squadron in France, achieving seven victories to become an ace. After a short spell in civilian life following World War I, he joined the newly-formed RAAF in 1921, rising steadily through training and personnel commands prior to World War II.



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Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the thirty-third President of the United States (1945–1953). As vice president, he succeeded Franklin D. Roosevelt, who died less than three months after he began his fourth term.During World War I Truman served as an artillery officer. After the war he became part of the political machine of Tom Pendergast and was elected a county judge in Missouri and eventually a United States Senator. After he gained national prominence as head of the wartime Truman Committee, Truman replaced vice president Henry A. Wallace as Roosevelt's running mate in 1944.As president, Truman faced challenge after challenge in domestic affairs. The disorderly reconversion of the economy of the United States was marked by severe shortages, numerous strikes, and the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act over his veto. He confounded all predictions to win re-election in 1948, largely due to his famous Whistle Stop Tour of rural America. After his re-election he was able to pass only one of the proposals in his Fair Deal program.



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Hovhannes Bagramyan
Hovhannes Khachatury Bagramyan was a Soviet Armenian military commander and Marshal of the Soviet Union. During World War II, Bagramyan was the first non-Slavic military officer to become a commander of a Front. He was among several Armenians in the Soviet Army who held the highest proportion of high ranking officers in the Soviet military during the war,and one of fifty Armenians who attained the rank of General in the same period.Bagramyan's experience in military planning as a chief of staff allowed him to distinguish himself as a capable commander in the early stages of the Soviet counter-offensives against Nazi Germany. He was given his first command of a unit in 1942, and in November 1943 received his most prestigious command as the commanding officer (CO) of the 1st Baltic Front. As the CO of the Baltic Front, he participated in the offensives which moved westward and pushed German forces out of the Baltic republics.



Portal:World War II/Selected biography/7 Sir Michael Francis Addison Woodruff was an English surgeon and scientist principally remembered for his research into organ transplantation. Though born in London, Woodruff spent his youth in Australia, where he earned degrees in electrical engineering and medicine. Having completed his studies shortly after the outbreak of World War II, he joined the Australian Army Medical Corps, but was soon captured by Japanese forces and imprisoned in the Changi Prison Camp. While there, he devised an ingenious method of extracting nutrients from agricultural wastes to prevent malnutrition among his fellow POWs.At the conclusion of the war, Woodruff returned to England and began a long career as an academic surgeon, mixing clinical work and research. Woodruff principally studied transplant rejection and immunosuppression. His work in these areas of transplantation biology, led Woodruff to perform the first kidney transplant in the United Kingdom, on 30 October 1960.



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Tatsuguchi soon after his induction into the Imperial Japanese Army in 1941 and his initial assignment to the First Imperial Guard Regiment in Tokyo.
Paul Nobuo Tatsuguchi (辰口 信夫, Tatsuguchi Nobuo), sometimes mistakenly referred to as Nebu Tatsuguchi (August 31, 1911 – May 30, 1943), was a surgeon in the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) during World War II. He was killed during the Battle of Attu on Attu Island, Alaska on May 30, 1943. A devout Seventh-day Adventist, Tatsuguchi studied medicine and was licensed as a physician in the United States (US). He returned to his native Japan to practice medicine at the Tokyo Adventist Sanitarium, where he received further medical training. In 1941, he was ordered to cease his medical practice and conscripted into the IJA as an acting medical officer. In late 1942 or early 1943, Tatsuguchi was sent to Attu, which had been occupied by Japanese forces in October 1942. The United States Army landed on the island on May 11, 1943 intending to retake the island from the Japanese. Throughout the resulting battle, Tatsuguchi kept a diary in which he recorded the events of the battle and his struggle to care for the wounded in his field hospital.



Portal:World War II/Selected biography/9 Otto Moritz Walther Model was a German general and later field marshal during World War II. He is noted for his defensive battles in the latter half of the war, mostly on the Eastern Front but also in the west, and for his close association with Adolf Hitler and Nazism. He has been called the Wehrmacht's best defensive tactician. Although he was a hard-driving, aggressive panzer commander early in the war, Model became best known as a practitioner of attrition warfare—his associate, General Erhard Raus, called it "zone defence".It emphasised strong fortifications, a reluctance to give ground (although not an absolute refusal to withdraw), and the importance of not allowing major enemy breakthroughs. This approach brought him much success, but his death in 1945 meant he would later be overshadowed by his rivals who advocated manoeuvre warfare.Model first came to Hitler's attention before World War II, but their relationship did not become especially close until 1942.



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Witold Pilecki
Witold Pilecki was a soldier of the Second Polish Republic, the founder of the Secret Polish Army (Tajna Armia Polska) Polish resistance group and a member of the Home Army (Armia Krajowa). During World War II, he became the only known person to volunteer to be imprisoned at Auschwitz concentration camp. While there, he organized the resistance movement in the camp, and as early as 1940, informed the Western Allies of Nazi Germany's Auschwitz atrocities. He escaped from the camp in 1943 and took part in the Warsaw Uprising. Pilecki was executed in 1948 by the communists. Until 1989, information on his exploits and fate was suppressed by the Polish communist regime.Witold Pilecki was born May 13, 1901, in Olonets on the shores of Lake Ladoga in Karelia, Russia, where his family had been forcibly resettled by Tsarist Russian authorities after the suppression of Poland's January Uprising of 1863–1864.



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Admiral of the Fleet Lord Andrew Cunningham
Admiral of the Fleet Andrew Browne Cunningham, 1st Viscount Cunningham of Hyndhope, KT, GCB, OM, DSO (7 January 1883 – 12 June 1963), older brother of General Sir Alan Cunningham, was a British admiral of the Second World War. Cunningham was born in Rathmines in the southside of Dublin on 7 January 1883. After starting his schooling in Dublin and Edinburgh, he enrolled at a naval academy, at the age of ten, beginning his association with the Royal Navy. After passing out of Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, in 1898, he progressed rapidly in rank. He commanded a destroyer during the First World War and through most of the interwar period. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and two Bars, for his performance during this time, specifically for his actions in the Dardanelles and in the Baltics. In the Second World War, as Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet, Cunningham led British naval forces to victory in several critical Mediterranean naval battles. These included the attack on Taranto in 1940, the first completely all-aircraft naval attack in history, and the Battle of Cape Matapan in 1941.



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Lieutenant-General Horrocks, March 1945
Lieutenant-General Sir Brian Gwynne Horrocks KCB, KBE, DSO, MC (September 7, 1895 – January 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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Otto Becher DUKJ3812.JPG
Rear Admiral Otto Humphrey Becher CBE, DSO, DSC & Bar (13 September 1908 – 15 June 1977) was a senior officer in the Royal Australian Navy. Born in Harvey, Western Australia, Becher entered the Royal Australian Naval College in 1922. After graduating in 1926, he was posted to a series of staff and training positions prior to specialising in gunnery. A lieutenant commander at the outbreak of the Second World War, Becher assisted in the extraction of Allied troops from the Namsos region of Norway while aboard the heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire, and was decorated with the Distinguished Service Cross. Following service in the Mediterranean theatre, he returned to Australia in 1942 as officer-in-charge of the gunnery school at HMAS Cerberus. He spent two years at Cerberus before being given command of the Q class destroyer HMAS Quickmatch in March 1944. While commanding the Quickmatch in operations against Japanese forces in the Pacific, Becher earned a Bar to his Distinguished Service Cross.



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Werner Mölders in October 1940
Werner Mölders (18 March 1913 – 22 November 1941) became the first pilot in aviation history to claim 100 aerial victories—that is, 100 aerial combat encounters resulting in the destruction of the enemy aircraft, and was decorated with the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds for his achievements. He was instrumental in the development of new fighter tactics which led to the finger-four formation. Prevented from flying further combat missions for propaganda reasons, at the age of 28 Mölders was promoted to Oberst, and appointed Inspector General of Fighters. He died in an air crash in which he was a passenger.



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Ernst Lindemann as commander of battleship Bismarck on 24 August 1940
Otto Ernst Lindemann (28 March 1894 – 27 May 1941) was a German naval captain and the only commander of the battleship Bismarck during its eight months of service in World War II. In May 1941, Lindemann commanded Bismarck during Operation Rheinübung. Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, under the command of Admiral Günther Lütjens, were to break out of their base in German occupied Norway and attack British merchant shipping lanes in the Atlantic Ocean. The task force's first major engagement was the Battle of the Denmark Strait which resulted in the sinking of HMS Hood. Less than a week later, on 27 May, Lindemann and most of his crew lost their lives during Bismarck's last battle. He was posthumously awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernes Kreuzes), an honour that recognised extreme bravery on the battlefield or outstanding military leadership.



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Helmut Lent in 1943
Helmut Lent (13 June 1918 – 7 October 1944) was a German night fighter ace in World War II who shot down 110 aircraft, 103 of them at night. Lent claimed his first aerial victories at the outset of World War II in the invasion of Poland and over the German Bight. During the invasion of Norway he flew ground support missions before he was transferred to the newly established Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 (NJG 1), a night fighter wing. Lent claimed his first nocturnal aerial victory on 12 May 1941 and on 30 August 1941 was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. His steady accumulation of aerial victories resulted in regular promotions and awards. On the night of 15 June 1944, Major Lent was the first night fighter pilot to claim 100 nocturnal aerial victories, a feat which earned him the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds on 31 July 1944. On 5 October 1944, Lent flew a Junkers Ju 88 on a routine transit flight from Stade to Nordborchen, 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) south of Paderborn. On the landing approach one of the engines cut out, stalling the aircraft. All four members of the crew were mortally injured. Three men died shortly after the crash and Lent succumbed to his injuries two days later on 7 October 1944.


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