Second World War

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Junkers Ju 88
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Westland Lysander

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 2,163 articles and 1,741,100 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.

Troops at Dieppe B-17 Albacore taking off

Updates from: Current20172016201520142013201220112010200920082007

25 May 2018

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.

24 May 2018

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

23 May 2018

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.

22 May 2018

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.

21 May 2018

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.

14 May 2018

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.

11 May 2018

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.

10 May 2018

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.

8 May 2018

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.

1 May 2018

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.

26 April 2018

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.

19 April 2018

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.

18 April 2018

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.

10 April 2018

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.

9 April 2018

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.

5 April 2018

USS Kalk (DD-170) was a Wickes class destroyer that served with the Royal Navy and Royal Canadian Navy as HMS Hamilton.

29 March 2018

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.

28 March 2018

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.

26 March 2018

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.

23 March 2018

USS Foote (DD-169) was a Wickes class destroyer that served on convoy escort duties with the Royal Navy as HMS Roxborough.

16 March 2018

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.

15 March 2018

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.

14 March 2018

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.

8 March 2018

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.

6 March 2018

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

27 February 2018

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.

23 February 2018

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.

22 February 2018

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.

16 February 2018

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.

15 February 2018

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.

13 February 2018

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

7 February 2018

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.

2 February 2018

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.

29 January 2018

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).

24 January 2018

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. 

18 January 2018

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.

15 January 2018

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.

9 January 2018

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.

5 January 2018

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.

4 January 2018

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.

Updates from: Current20172016201520142013201220112010200920082007


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