Sketch by Jack Chalker

World War II

World War II

World War Two (WWII or WW2), the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945, although some conflicts in Asia that are commonly viewed as becoming part of the world war had been going on earlier than that. It involved the vast majority of the world's nations, eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. It was the most widespread war in history, with more than 100 million people, from more than 30 different countries, serving in military units. The major countries threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, erasing the distinction between civilian and military resources. Marked by mass deaths of civilians, including the Holocaust and the only use of nuclear weapons in warfare, it resulted in an estimated 50 to 85 million fatalities. These made World War II the deadliest conflict in human history.

The powers that be knew it was inevitable with Adolf Hitler re-arming and moving troops towards
neighbouring countries, here was the first hint of World War II. Poland being the first hence this was the draw into war after the UK had promised to help Poland in an emergency. War was declared, by Britain, against Germany in September, 1939.

During the spring of 1939 the deteriorating international situation forced the British government under Neville Chamberlain to consider preparations for a possible war against Nazi Germany. Plans for limited conscription applying to single men aged between 20 and 22 were given parliamentary approval in the Military Training Act in May 1939. This required men to undertake six months’ military training, and some 240,000 registered for service.

On the day Britain declared war on Germany, 3rd September 1939, Parliament immediately passed a more wide-reaching measure. The National Service (Armed Forces) Act imposed conscription on all males aged between 18 and 41 who had to register for service. Those medically unfit were exempted, as were others in key industries and jobs such as baking, farming, medicine, and engineering.

Conscientious objectors had to appear before a tribunal to argue their reasons for refusing to join-up. If their cases were not dismissed, they were granted one of several categories of exemption, and were given non-combatant jobs. Conscription helped greatly to increase the number of men in active service during the first year of the war.

At 11.15am on 3rd September 1939 British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, broadcast to the UK a statement announcing that a state of war now existed between Britain and Germany:

 "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.”

 

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