Index to the Articles
The Second War War was the biggest war in human history. Fighting took place in every corner of the world, from the frozen northern oceans to the jungles of New Guinea. Hardly any country escaped some form of involvement in the fighting, which devastated large areas of Europe and the Far East.
Perhaps because of that vast scope the Second World War has been a source of constant fascination ever since.
This page will bring together all of our coverage of the Second War War, including our subject indexes and our book shop pages. We will also announce new articles on the war on this page (at the moment we have 2,199 articles and 1,771,700 words on the war).
We now open a new section of the site, a day-by-day history of the Second World War covering the 2,214 days of the war from the German invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939 to the Japanese surrender in Hong Kong on 16 September 1945, and currently containing 5,325 individual facts.
The battle of the Biferno (1-7 October 1943) saw the British Eighth Army break through the eastern flank of the first German defensive line in Italy, the Volturno Line.
The battle of the Barbara Line (31 October-4 November 1943) saw the Allies break through the outlining defences of the ‘Winter Line’, a hastily constructed line of outposts between the Volturno and the more strongly defended Bernhardt and Gustav Lines.
The 28cm lange Bruno Kanone (Eisenbahn) was the second of four models of railway gun loosely based on a First World War original, and carried a L/45 gun.
The 28cm ‘Schwere Bruno’ (Heavy Bruno) was the third of four models of railway gun loosely modelled on the First World War 28cm ‘Bruno’ railway guns.
USS Clemson (DD-186/ AVP-17/ AVD-4/ APD-31) was the name ship of the Clemson class of destroyers. She entered service too late for the First World War, but had a varied career during the Second World War, serving as aircraft tender, a destroyer with an anti-submarine group and a fast transport.
USS Dalhgren (DD-187) was a Clemson class destroyer that was used on experimental and sonar training duties during the Second World War.
Operation Giant III, (14-15 September 1943) was an unsuccessful American airborne operation carried out to the north of the Salerno beachhead in an attempt to reduce the flow of German reinforcements from the north.
The battle of the Volturno Line (9-19 October 1943) saw the Germans under Kesselring delay the Allied advance north from Naples for over a week, winning crucial time for the construction of defences further to the north.
The Lockheed XP-49 was a design for a more powerful fighter to be based on the P-38 Lightning, but it never got beyond the prototype stage, and by the time the prototype was ready, it was outclassed by existing P-38s.
The Lockheed XP-58 Chain Lighting was a two-man version of the P-38 that suffered from repeated changes of purpose, and that never entered production.
The 28cm Kanone 5 (Eisenbahn) (schlanke Bertha or slim Bertha), was one of the most effective railway guns ever produced, and was large enough to have a major impact on the fighting, without being so large that it became too cumbersome to be used effectively.
The 28cm kurze Bruno Kanone (Eisenbahn) was the first of four models of railway artillery loosely based on a First World War original, and carried a L/40 gun.
The Clemson Class Destroyers were the second class of standardized flushdecker deck destroyers produced for the US Navy during the First World War, but none of them were completed in time to see service. Instead they formed the backbone of the inter-war destroyer force, were used for a large number of specialised modifications, and performed valuable service during the Second World War.
The 84th Fighter Group (USAAF) served as a training unit from 1942-1944.
The 407th Fighter Group (USAAF) was a home based training unit that also saw limited active service in Alaska.
The 408th Fighter Group (USAAF) was a home based training unit that was active from October 1943 to April 1944.
Operation Giant I (Revised), 13-14 September 1943, was the first of two successful attempts to reinforce the Salerno beachhead from the air.
Operation Giant IV, 14-15 September 1943 was the second of two successful attempts to reinforce the Salerno beachhead from the air.
The Lockheed XR2O was a single example of the Lockheed Electra that went to the US Navy in 1936.
The Detroit Lockheed YP-24 was a prototype for a two seat monoplane fighter that was purchased by the USAAC, but not placed into production. However it did lead to the later Lockheed P-30, which was produced in small numbers.
The Lockheed-Vega XB-38 was a prototype for an improved version of the Flying Fortress using inline liquid cooled engines to guard against any shortage of the standard R-1820s used on the B-17.
The Lockheed C-66 was the designation given to a single Twin Wasp powered Model 18 Lodestars that was impressed by the USAAF during the Second World War.
The 24cm Kanone 3 was a very heavy cannon designed as a long range counterbattery weapon, but that was only produced in very small numbers and used by a single unit in Normandy and on the Eastern Front.
The 35.5cm Haubitz M.1 was a massive siege howitzer that was used at the siege of Sevastopol.
The 20.3cm Kanone (Eisenbahn) was a German railway gun produced used spare barrels originally built for heavy cruisers.
The 21cm Kanone 12 (Eisenbahn) was a vanity project produced by the German Army, and consumed a vast amount of effort and resources without having any significant military value.
USS Thomas (DD-182) was a Wickes class destroyer that operated on convoy escort duties with the Norwegian Navy in exile as HMS St. Albans in 1942-43 and ended her career with the Soviet navy.
USS Haraden (DD-183) was a Wickes class destroyer that had a short career with the US Navy before become HMCS Columbia and serving on convoy escort duties in the Atlantic.
USS Abbot (DD-184) was a Wickes class destroyer that had a short career with the US Navy, then served as HMS Charleston with the Royal navy, mainly operating in British home waters.
USS Bagley (DD-185)/ USS Doran/ HMS St. Marys was a Wickes class destroyer that had a brief US career before being transferred to the Royal Navy, where she supported minelaying operations and carried out escort duties.
The 57th Fighter Group supported the British Eighth Army from El Alamein to Tunisia and onto Sicily and Italy, where it took part in the long campaign in Italy and the invasion of the south of France.
The 58th Fighter Group took part in the long New Guinea campaign, the invasion of the Philippines and attacked targets in Korea and on Kyushu.
The 59th Fighter Group went through two incarnations during the Second World War, first as an observation group and then as a training group.
The 78th Fighter Group served with the Eighth Air Force from 1943 until the end of the war, supporting the campaign in north-western Europe and the advance into Germany.
The 79th Fighter Group supported the British Eighth Army from 1942 until early in 1944, then fought at Anzio, in the south of France and in northern Italy, where it once again operated with the Eighth Army.
The 83rd Fighter Group was a training unit that served with the First Air Force.
Operation Speedwell (7 September 1943 onwards) was an SAS operation in the north-west of Italy that did significant damage to the rail links supplying the western end of the Gothic Line.
Operation Slapstick, 9 September 1943, was an amphibious operation that saw the British 1st Airborne Division capture Taranto without any resistance, giving the Eighth Army a second foothold in Italy and allowing them to gain control of the Adriatic coast around Bari and Brindisi.
Operation Avalanche, or the battle of Salerno (9-18 September 1943) was the main part of the Allied invasion of the Italian mainland, and saw a joint Anglo-American force land in the Gulf of Salerno, where it had to fight off a severe German counterattack before the position was fully secured.
The Lockheed C-56 was the designation given to a mix of Cyclone and Hornet powered Model 18 Lodestars that were impressed by the USAAF during the Second World War.
The Lockheed C-57 was the designation given to Twin Wasp powered Model 18 Lodestars that were used by the USAAF during the Second World War.
The Lockheed C-59 was the designation given to Hornet powered Model 18 Lodestars originally produced for Britain, some of which were impressed by the USAAF during the Second World War.
The Lockheed C-60 was the designation given to a mix of impressed Model 18 Lodestars and versions of the aircraft that were ordered specifically for the USAAF, and was by far the most numerous military version of the Lodestar.
USS Stansbury (DD-180/ DMS-8) was a Wickes class destroyer that performed convoy escort duties in the Atlantic and took part in Operation Torch and the invasion of the Marshalls and Marianas.
USS Hopewell (DD-181) was a Wickes class destroyer that was sunk by U-204 while serving in the Royal Norwegian Navy as HMS Bath.
Operation Baytown (3 September 1943) was the first stage in the Allied invasion of Italy, and saw Montgomery’s Eighth Army cross from Sicily to nearby Calabria.
Operation Hooker (8 September 1943) was an outflanking attack carried out by the Eighth Army in order to speed up their advance up Calabria.
The Italian Campaign (3 September 1943-2 May 1945) was one of the hardest fought and most controversial offensives carried out by the Western Allies during the Second World War, and saw the Germans fight a skilful delaying action that lasted from September 1943 until the end of the war in the spring of 1945.
The Lockheed C-85 was the designation given to a single Model 9 Orion that was impressed into the USAAF in 1942-44.
The Lockheed C-101 ‘Vega’ was the designation given to a single example of the Lockheed Vega that was impressed by the USAAF in 1942
The 15cm Kanone (Eisenbahn) was the smallest calibre railway gun produced by the German Army during the period of rearmament in the 1930s, but only a handful were produced because it wasn’t a powerful enough weapon to be worth the effort.
The 17cm Kanone (Eisenbahn) was a slightly larger version of the 15cm K (E), but wasn’t powerful enough to be worth the effort required to produce it, and only a handful were ever built.
USS Hogan (DD-178/ DMS-6) was a Wickes class destroyer that took part in Operation Torch, and the invasions of the Marshalls, Mariannas, Luzon and Iwo Jima.
USS Howard (DD-179/ DMS-7) was a Wickes class destroyer that served as a minesweeper during Operation Torch, on convoy escort duties in 1943 and in the campaigns in the Pacific in 1944-45.
The 52nd Fighter Group was one of the first units to join the Eighth Air Force in Britain, before moving to North Africa for Operation Torch. It then spent the rest of the war operating in the Mediterranean theatre.
The 53rd Fighter Group served in the Panama Canal Zone and as a training unit, before being disbanded in 1944.
The 54th Fighter Group was mainly used as a training unit in the US, but also took briefly took part in the campaign in the Aleutian Islands in 1942.
Operation Husky No.2 (11-12 July 1943) was an almost disastrous attempt to fly reinforcements to the US paratroops dropped on Sicily in Operation Husky No.1.
Operation Fustian (13-14 July 1943) was an airborne assault on the Primosole Bridge, a key point on the coastal road to Catania, that didn’t go entirely to plan, and triggered a three day long battle to secure a bridgehead across the river.
The Lockheed C-111 Super Electra was the designation given to four Lockheed Model 14-WF62s that were impressed by the USAAF after they reached Australia after escaping from the Dutch East Indies.
The Lockheed XR4O was the designation given to a single example of the Lockheed Super Electra that was used by the US Navy.
The 17cm Kanone 18 was one of two parallel Krupp designs to use the same double recoil system, and soon replaced the 21cm mortar variant as the main production version.
The 21cm Mörser 18 was one of two parallel Krupp designs using a double recoil system, and was phased out in 1942 in favour of the longer ranged 17cm Kanone 18.
The 48th Fighter Group served as a replacement training unit, before joining the Ninth Air Force in Britain in the spring of 1944 and taking part in the campaign to liberate Europe.
The 49th Fighter Group took part in the defence of Australia, the long campaign on New Guinea, the return to the Philippines and raids against Formosa and the China coast.
The 50th Fighter Group served with various training commands in the US, before moving to Britain to take part in the liberation of Europe in 1944-45.
Operation Narcissus (10 July 1943) was an SAS raid carried out to support the Eighth Army landings on Sicily.
Operation Chestnut (12-19 July 1943) was an unsuccessful attempt by the SAS to disrupt Axis communications in northern Sicily, to support the Allied invasion of Sicily.
USS Rizal (DD-174/ DM-14) was a Wickes class destroyer that was funded by the Philippine legislature and spent her active career in Philippine or Asiatic waters.
USS Mackenzie (DD-175) was a Wickes class destroyer that served with the Royal Canadian Navy as HMCS Annapolis.
The invasion of Sicily (10 July-17 August 1943) was the first successful Allied invasion of one of the Axis partners, and helped secure Allied control of the Mediterranean as well as helping to trigger the fall of Mussolini.
The Lockheed C-37 was a single example of the Lockheed 10-A Electra that served with the National Guard Bureau.
The Lockheed C-40 was the Army designation for the Lockheed 12 Electra Junior, and covered a mix of aircraft that had been purchased by the Air Corps and aircraft that were impressed during the Second World War.
Operation Husky No.1 (9 July 1943) was an American airborne operation designed to occupy key areas of high ground inland from the American beaches on Sicily.
Operation Ladbroke (9-10 July 1943) was a British airborne operation which captured the Ponte Grande bridge on the southern approach to Syracuse, despite a rather scattered landing.
The Lockheed C-36 was the military designation for the Lockheed 10 Electra, and covered three aircraft ordered by the Army Air Corps and more aircraft impressed by the USAAF during the Second World War.
USS Kalk (DD-170) was a Wickes class destroyer that served with the Royal Navy and Royal Canadian Navy as HMS Hamilton.
Operation Mincemeat was the most famous part of the deception plan to support the invasion of Sicily, and saw the British drop the body of a vagrant dressed in naval uniform into the sea off the coast of Spain, in the hope that the Spanish would pass on the ‘confidential’ documents in his possession to the Germans.
Operation Barclay was the deception plan to support the invasion of Sicily, and was intended to convince the Germans that the Allies might be about to attack Corsica, Sardinia or Greece rather than Sicily.
The Lockheed XB-30 was a bomber version of the C-69/ C-121/ Constellation, developed in response to the same specifications that produced the B-29 Superfortress.
The 15cm Kanone 18 was a long range but awkward artillery piece that was only produced in small numbers, and wasn’t popular with the German Army.
The 15cm Kanone 39 was originally produced for Turkey but entered German service in small numbers in 1939 and was mainly used as a coastal defence gun.
USS Foote (DD-169) was a Wickes class destroyer that served on convoy escort duties with the Royal Navy as HMS Roxborough.
Operation Beggar or Turkey Buzzard (3 June-7 July 1943) was a series of long distance flights to tow Horsa gliders from Britain to North Africa, where they were to take part in the invasion of Sicily.
Operation Corkscrew or the invasion of Pantelleria (11 June 1943) saw the British occupy this fortified Italian island without a shot being fired, after the garrison was subjected to a heavy aerial bombardment.
The 15cm schwere Feldhaubitz 18/40 or 15cm schwere Feldhaubitz 42 was a compromise design for a heavy howitzer, combining the barrel from the sFH 40 and the carriage from the sFH 18.
USS Cowell (DD-167) was a Wickes class destroyer that was transferred to the Royal Navy as part of the destroyers for bases deal where she served as HMS Brighton.
USS Maddox (DD-168) was a Wickes class destroyer that served with the Royal Navy as HMS Georgetown and then in the Soviet Navy.
The invasion of Tinian (24 July-1 August 1944) took place three days after the start of the invasion of Guam, and after a week the island had been secured by the Americans.
The 15cm schwere Feldhaubitz 36 L/23 was a lightweight howitzer designed to towed by a single team of horses.
The 15cm schwere Feldhaubitz 40 was designed to provide longer range than the standard sFH 18, but a lack of production capability meant that it never entered full production, although a compromise version, the sFH 18/40, was produced in small numbers
The battle of Saipan (15 June-9 July 1944) was the first invasion of the Marianas campaign, and it took nearly a month for US forces to secure the fairly small island.
The battle of Guam (21 July-9 August 1944) saw the Americans reconquer an island that had been in their hands before the war after three weeks of fighting, completing the conquest of the Mariana Islands.
The 15cm schwere Feldhaubitz 18 was the standard German heavy howitzer during the Second World War, and combined a Krupp carriage and a Rheinmetall barrel.
The 15cm schwere Feldhaubitz 37 (t) was a Czech designed heavy howitzer that entered production just in time to be taken over by the Germans after their occupation of Czechoslovakia.
USS Walker (DD-163/ YW-57/ DCH-1/ IX-44) was a Wickes class destroyer that had a very short career and was later considered for a variety of alternative roles, before being scrapped without performing any of them.
USS Crosby (DD-164/ APD-17) was a Wickes class destroyer that served with the Neutrality Patrol on the US west coast before becoming a fast transport and serving in the Pacific from 1943 until the summer of 1945.
The 1941 battle of Guam (10 December 1941) saw the Japanese overwhelm a small American garrison after three hours of fighting.
The Marianas Campaign (14 June-10 August 1944) was a key stage in the Pacific War, triggering the battle of the Philippine Sea at which the Japanese naval aviation forces were almost destroyed, and bringing Japan within range of B-29 bombers based on the islands.
The Lockheed C-69 Constellation was developed as a civil airline, but all early production was taken over by the USAAF after the US entry into the Second World War.
USS Palmer (DD-161/ DMS-5) was a Wickes class destroyer that served as a mine sweeper during the Second World War, taking part in Operation Torch then in the Pacific where she was sunk by a Japanese bomber.
USS Thatcher (DD-162) was a Wickes class destroyer that formed part of the 'destroyers for bases' deal and served on convoy escort duty as HMCS Niagara
The battle of Eniwetok (18-21 February 1944) was the second phase in the American conquest of Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands (Operation Catchpole).
The battle of Parry Island (22 February 1944) was the final stage of the American invasion of Eniwetok Atoll (Operation Catchpole), and despite the stronger Japanese garrison went more smoothly than the invasion of Eniwetok Island itself.
USS Schenck (DD-159/ AG-82) was a Wickes class destroyer that served on convoy escort duties in the Atlantic and in a hunter-killer group, taking part in the sinking of U-645.
USS Herbert (DD-160/ APD-22) was a Wickes class destroyer that served on convoy escort duties in the Atlantic, before becoming a fast transport, taking part in the last phase of the New Guinea campaign, the return to the Philippines and the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
Operation Catchpole (17-22 February 1944) saw the Americans conquer Eniwetok Atoll in the north-western corner of the Marshall Islands, giving them a good base for the advance into the Marianas Islands.
The battle of Engebi (17-18 February 1944) was the first stage in the American conquest of Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands (Operation Catchpole).
USS Dickerson (DD-157/ APD-21) was a Wickes class destroyer that served on convoy escort duties until 1943 when she was converted into a fast transport. In 1945 she was struck by two kamikazes and suffered such heavy damage that she was sunk by US gunfire two days later.
USS Leary (DD-158) was a Wickes class destroyer that served in the Atlantic and Caribbean, before being sunk by U-boats on 24 December 1943.
The battle of Roi (1 February 1944) saw the US marines captured the main Japanese airbase in Kwajalein Atoll in a single day, after the Japanese defences were almost destroyed by the pre-invasion bombardment.
The battle of Namur (1-2 February 1944) saw the US Marines capture the most strongly defended island in the northern part of Kwajalein Atoll, completing the conquest of the northern part of the Atoll.
USS Cole (DD-155) was a Wickes class destroyer that served in the Atlantic and Mediterranean theatres during the Second World War, supporting Operation Torch and the invasions of Sicily and mainland Italy.
USS J. Fred Talbott (DD-156/ AG-81) was a Wickes class destroyer that spent most of the Second World War on convoy escort duties in the Western Atlantic and Caribbean.
The occupation of Allen Island (Ennubirr), 31 January 1944, was one of two simultaneous landings that formed the second stage in the invasion of Roi and Namur in Kwajelein Atoll.
The occupation of Abraham (Ennugarret) Island, 31 January 1944, was the last of a series of preliminary operations that came before the invasions of Roi and Namur in Kwajalein Atoll.
The 10cm Kanone 17 was an improved version of the earlier 10cm Kanone 14, with a longer barrel to improve range.
The schwere 10cm Kanone 18 (heavy 10cm cannon 18) was the standard equipment of German medium artillery units in the late 1930s but wasn't a terribly successful design, and was eventually relegated to the coastal defence role.
USS Bernadou (DD-153) was a Wickes class destroyer that spent most of the Second World War performing various escort duties in the Atlantic theatre, as well as taking part in Operation Torch, the invasion of Sicily and the Salerno landing.
USS Ellis (DD-154) was a Wickes class destroyer that mainly performed escort duties in the Atlantic theatre during the Second World War.