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Introduction to World War II

WW2 Intro Photo (Normandy Landing) This introduction to World War II is a series of relatively short articles aimed at introducing WW2 to those who might not be familiar with it. It is broken down into five sections:

The goal of this section is to lay out a general overview of WW2 so that the articles on the World War II Database website could be read in better context.

Start: What Was WW2?

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. tom says:
21 Apr 2008 12:47:42 PM

i am doing research for a fiction piece ( novel ) i am working on. do anybody know a source of information on warships that were homebased in Norfolk / Hampton Roads during WW II.

thank you ... tom honea
2. Allan says:
27 Apr 2008 05:33:02 PM

hi and thanks

does anybody know at wars end what was the approx. effective size of the german army division strength wise.
3. Silvio Comenho says:
20 Sep 2008 05:26:53 AM

Very good website, but I found no reference to the Brazilian Army (FEB) and Air Force (FAB). Brazil declared war to the Reich on August 22 1942 and was the only Latin American country to fight against the germans, sending troops to Italy and fighting alongside with the American Army and the USAAF (350th fighter group). References
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazilian_Expeditionary_Force and http://www.sentapua.com.br/ (portugese and English). Silvio Comenho
4. Anonymous says:
20 Oct 2008 07:25:03 AM

wow this is ver interesting to know whta they had to go through thats crzy
5. Anonymous says:
15 Jan 2009 09:47:04 PM

My dad was in the 81st Inf. in WW2, he is now 101 years old and can still remember the islands he fought on. I am sending him some photos from this site,I have some of his photos he took on different islands in the Pacific, if you are intresterd I could send them to you.
6. allan says says:
10 Feb 2009 08:08:28 AM

No. And I doubt anyone could supply that information. A decimated army doesn't comprise of 'divisions' but more 'scattered collections' of men and arms. The only divisions remaining intact at the wars end where in Norway, Channel Islands etc and they comprised of the unfit, the unwell, the recalcitrant and others. You need to be more specific with the question - i.e. on which 'front' in which 'country etc etc etc. Alas.
7. Anonymous says:
13 Mar 2009 05:52:14 AM


September 1st
Germany invaded Poland. First use of Blitzkrieg. Britain and France gave Germany an ultimatum to get out. Blackout and evacuation plans were put in place in Britain.

September 2nd Chamberlain sent Hitler an ultimatum: withdraw German troops from Poland or war will be declared.
The Luftwaffe gained air superiority over the Polish air force.

September 3rd
Germany ignored the ultimatum and Britain and France declared war on Germany. British troops (the BEF) were sent to France.

The passenger liner "Athenia" was sunk by U-30 off of Ireland. 112 of the passengers were killed.

September 4th The RAF raided German warships based in the Heligoland Bight.
September 6th South Africa declared war on Germany Egypt broke off relations with Germany,
September 9th The IV Panzer Division reached Warsaw.
September 17th Russia's Red Army attacked Poland from the east
September 24th 1,150 German aircraft bombed Warsaw
September 26th The Luftwaffe attacked the Royal Navy at Scapa Flow.
September 27th
Poland surrendered to Germany.

October 6th Last Polish troops ceased fighting. Hitler launched his "Peace Offensive" but this was rejected by Neville Chamberlain
October 14th 'HMS Royal Oak' is torpedoed at Scapa Flow by U-47
November 30th Russia's Red Army invaded Finland
December 13th The Battle of the River Plate was fought
December 14th Russia expelled from the League of Nations
8. Anonymous says:
13 Mar 2009 01:16:58 PM

I thought an Admiral and the Founder of the Naval War College Foundation and should be included in the WW II database.

Admiral Richard W. Bates

Biographical Sketch

Rear Admiral Richard W. Bates was born in San Francisco, California, on January 16, 1892, to Henry Lester and Helen Rixon Bates. He was appointed to the United States Naval Academy from the Third District, California, in 1911 and graduated in the Class of 1915. His first duty assignment was on board the USS YORKTOWN (GBT-1) stationed in Central American waters. From YORKTOWN he went to the USS CINCINNATI (C-7), operating on the east coast of South America, where he served as Executive Officer until 1918. He was Executive Officer in the USS SPROSTON (DD-173), 1919-1920.

In 1920 Bates attended the Naval Post Graduate School in Annapolis, Maryland. The following year found him at Columbia University, studying electrical propulsion of ships. Awarded a Master of Science degree in June 1922, he continued instruction in electrical engineering at General Electric, Schenectady, New York, and Westinghouse Electric, East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This was followed by duty as the Electrical Officer in the USS MARYLAND (BB-46), 1922-1925 assistant in engineering at the Post Graduate School, 1925-1927, and Engineering Officer in the USS RICHMOND (CL-9), 1927-1930.

In the decade before America’s entry into the Second World War, Rear Admiral Bates saw duty with the Hydrographic Office, Honolulu and as Commander of the Naval Station, Honolulu Commanding Officer of the destroyer, USS BUCHANAN (DD-131), the oil tanker, RAMAPO (AO-12), the destroyers USS LONG (DD-209), and USS CLARK (DD-361), flagship of Destroyer Squadron Three, Battle Force.

When the war broke out, Bates was a student at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. He continued at the College as a member of the staff until 1943 when he took command of the cruiser USS MINNEAPOLIS (CA-36). Under his command the ship engaged in the bombardment of Wake Island, participated in the invasion of the Gilbert Islands and sank the Japanese light cruiser KATORI off Truk in April 1944.

During May-August 1944, Bates was on the staff of the Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet. In September he served with the Commander Cruiser Division Four as Chief of Staff of the Bombardment, Fire Support and associated groups of the Seventh Fleet during the Philippine Islands campaign. December found him Chief of Staff and Aide to Commander Battleship Division Two and involved in the Lingayen-Luzon and Okinawa operations. This was followed in May 1945 by his appointment as Commander of the Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron, Pacific Fleet and in December of the same year with appointment as Chief of Staff to Commander, Philippine Sea Frontier.

Bates returned to the Naval War College in 1946 as Head of the Department of Research and Analysis which was tasked with studying Second World War naval battles. Retired in 1949, he remained with the College, continuing his battle analyses in charge of what now had become the World War II Battle Evaluation Group. Although the work was not completed, the project was terminated in 1958.

In 1969 Bates was appointed Vice President of the newly formed Naval War College Foundation, Inc., a private, non-profit association founded to support College programs not covered by appropriated funding. He was elected president in 1972, serving in that capacity until his death on December 27, 1973.

Chronology of Naval Service

1911 Appointed to U.S. Naval Academy from Third District, California.

1915 Graduated from USNA and commissioned Ensign, USN.


1919 USS CINCINNATI, (C-7), Executive Officer.
CUBA (Cuban gunboat), Gunnery Instructor.

1919-1920 USS SPROSTON (DD-173), Executive Officer.

1920 Promoted to Lieutenant.

1920-1921 Post Graduate School, Annapolis, MD, student.

1922 Columbia University, student.
General Electric Co., Schenectady, NY.
Westinghouse Electric, East Pittsburgh, PA.

1922-1925 USS MARYLAND (BB-46), Electrical Officer.

1925-1927 Post Graduate School, Annapolis, MD, staff.

1927 USS RICHMOND (CL-9), Engineer Officer.

1930-1932 Naval Station, Honolulu, Hawaii, Officer in Charge, Hydrographic Office Aide to Commandant Fourteenth Naval District Permanent Senior Patrol Officer.

1932-1933 USS BUCHANAN (DD-131), Commanding Officer.

1933-1934 USS RAMAPO (ATO-12), Commanding Officer and Executive Officer.

1934-1935 USS LONG (DD-201), Commanding Officer.

1935-1938 Bureau of Engineering, Washington, DC.

1938-1940 USS CLARK (DD-361), Commanding Officer.

1940-1941 Naval War College, Senior Class.

1941 Promoted to Captain.
Naval War College, Head, Department of Strategy.

1943 USS MINNEAPOLIS, Commanding Officer.
Promoted to Commodore.

1944 Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, staff.
Bombardment, Fire Support & Associated Groups, Seventh Fleet, Chief of Staff.

1944-1945 Commander, Battle Division Two, Chief of Staff and Aide.

1945 Motor Torpedo Boat Squadrons, Pacific Fleet, Commander.

1945-1946 Commander Philippine Sea Frontier, Chief of Staff.

1946-1949 Naval War College, staff.

1947 Reverted to rank of Captain.

1949 Retired. Promoted to Rear Admiral on retired list.

1949-1958 World War II Battle Evaluation Group, Naval War College, Newport, RI.

1969-1973 Naval War College Foundation, Inc., Vice President and President.

1973 Died, Newport, RI, December 27.

9. ronnie kelly says:
6 Nov 2009 04:00:10 PM

My late father was on the uss portunus agp-4. Where can I find info on this ship and maybe a ships roster?
17 Dec 2009 03:35:00 AM

can ibe put on your mailing list please
11. Marichal Claude says:
18 Dec 2009 05:08:10 AM

Cherche photos des Cantons de l'Est,Malmedy,St.Vith,Faymonville,Elsenborn.....
12. Jim Dolbow says:
4 Apr 2010 06:10:56 AM


here's a brief history of the USS Portunus:


13. Ra2 Ilaitia Balenaivalu says:
10 May 2010 10:10:10 PM

I'am working on an assignment and i find this website very interesting.And also needing help.Describe the steps taken by some pacific islands as soldiers to support the allied powers and the problems faced by them as pacific soldiers? if anyone cud help me plis email me on hillsclamon@yahoo.com
and overoll thank's for keeping history alive.
14. Janice says:
3 Aug 2010 10:22:55 AM

Please advise where to start, I know my dad was in WW2 in the navy. My brother, and I would like to know which ship. Thanks
15. Ayschel says:
15 Sep 2010 02:11:35 AM

I had visit your website just a couple of weeks ago, and everytime I use the computer, i visit it and read every available article above.
I was fascinated by the world's most destructive war on the history of mankin-World War II.
And I had gain information from books, films, and the internet.
This website help me alot in studying World War II.
16. Zack Kowatch says:
29 Oct 2010 05:55:46 AM

My grandpa was in the WW2. He was on an air craft carer.
17. VEWenneker says:
11 Nov 2010 05:56:16 PM

For all of you looking to find the ships your fathers and grandfathers were aboard during World War II, you must first contact the NATIONAL MILITARY PERSONNEL RECORDS CENTER on Paige Avenue in St. Louis, Missouri. Please do a GOOGLE and/or another large search engine for their complete address and downloadable facts and forms.
18. matang says:
9 Jan 2011 05:31:59 AM

a useful site for me to complete my research..thanks a lot..
19. prutha says:
16 Jan 2011 03:48:51 AM

there is no proper introduction to world war II
20. W.Groeneveld says:
24 Jan 2011 05:11:44 AM

The Japanese in WWII brought in about three months an area under their control more than twice the area in Europe that the Wehrmacht took ten months!
This difference is too big to explain away with things like bad luck or the wheater.On top of all this S.E.Asia was far more difficult terrain far bigger distances often long distances over sea and a lack of good infrastructure
21. Anonymous says:
21 Feb 2011 01:18:49 PM

Looking for all and any info on the USS Tide AM-125 sunk off the coast of Normandy during D-Day.
22. Anonymous says:
24 May 2011 03:36:32 AM

i want a small intro on WW2 fr my project
23. dr. gebauer says:
27 Jun 2011 06:40:23 PM

Anyone desiring to find out or research a ship's history can use the Naval Historical Center website or "The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships",( Naval Heritage Command) an on line resource as well.

More interesting is the fact that virtually every American warship and auxilary in WWII had a nickname ( usually awarded by the crew ). Can anyone tell me what American warship had the nickname "USS Tapioka"?? I have a 96 year old veteran in an assisted living facility who can remember the nickname, but not the true name, due to the number of times Tapioka pudding was served in the galley.
24. Fred Leander says:
18 Jul 2011 03:29:42 PM

Hi, there - your overview of Axis and Allies is rather lacking. You should add Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria as Axis partners. All these countries contributed with forces at the Eastern Front.

You should also add Norway as an Allied country. Norway contributed by manning 70 naval vessels fighting under the command of the Royal Navy. Also several squadrons in the RAF. Last, but not the least, a thousand Norwegian merchant ships, manned by 40.000 Norwegian sailors helped supplying the Allied war effort.


25. Liz Maresca says:
24 Jul 2011 05:15:12 PM

can anyone tell me how do I check on any responses to a comment I made about my dad Arnold Maresca on the bunker hill. I do not know how to see if anyone remembers him and has any stories for me about him. thank you bowliz1@aol.com
26. Phonse Griffiths says:
18 Nov 2011 04:01:45 PM

In 1941 United States President and the Prime Minister of Great Britain met in utmost secret of the coast of Newfoundland and hammered out an eight point declaration called the Atlantic Charter,I am with the Atlantic Charter Foundation,www.atlanticcharter.ca,I am seeking photos and other info I do not have,if you have some things around your home,would greatly appreciate you share them with us to help give this historic meeting the recognition it deserves.
27. Claudia says:
21 Nov 2011 10:05:14 AM

Tapioca is the name of a Brazilian dish. They probably babtized the ship when the US was stationed in Brazil.
28. AFDoc says:
8 Jan 2012 01:57:04 PM

I am looking for information regarding a database of CBI Blood chits.. My father-in-law was a pilot Flying Tigers his blood chit number was 7763 how can I varify this and look up any information about him using the blood chit number?
29. yogscast is awesome says:
2 Feb 2012 09:52:33 AM

i think World War 2 is vry enterestig...
The origins of the Second World War are generally viewed as being traced back to the First World War (1914-1918). In that war Germany under the ultra-nationalistic Kaiser Wilhelm II along with its allies, had been defeated by a combination of the United Kingdom, United States, France, Russia and others.

The war was directly blamed by the victors on the miltant nationalism of the Kaiser's Germany; it was Germany that effectively started the war with an attack on France through Belgium.

France, which had suffered a previous defeat at the hands of Prussia (a state that merged one year later with others to form Germany) in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, demanded revenge for its financial devastation during the First World War (and its humiliation in the earlier war) ensured that the various peace treaties, specifically the Treaty of Versailles imposed tough financial reparations and restrictions on Germany.

A New Republic
A new democratic German republic, known as the Weimar Republic, came into being. After some success it was hit by hyperinflation and other serious economic problems.

Right wing nationalist elements under a variety of movements, but most notably the Nazi Party of Adolf Hitler, sought to blame Germany's "humiliating" status on the harshness of the post-war settlement, on the weakness of democratic government, and on the Jews, whom it claimed possessed a financial stranglehold on Germany.

Hitler was appointed Reichskanzler (Chancellor) on January 30, 1933, by the aged President von Hindenburg.

Hitler's government exercised much of its power through the special emergency powers possessed by the President under the constitution. thanks, and hey go to youtube and yogscast minecraft.
30. Anonymous says:
21 Mar 2012 10:43:19 AM

Does anyone have info on the Yugoslavian Youth who were brutal SS.... My Grandfather, a Holocaust survivor called them the "Horvatian Youth"
31. David MacFarlane says:
27 Feb 2013 02:51:41 AM

My late father served in Madagascar in 1942(Op IRONCLAD. Why was no Campaign Medal ever awarded for this action?
32. Anonymous says:
22 Jul 2013 11:23:48 AM

I jst found out Pappy Boyington was flyin from the aistrip my dad was a airplane metalsmith "AM2" for. I have a lot to share and alot of pictures that might be someone you're just looking for . I have a flag I sure would like the names translated {Japanese}. It is not the common luck flag the enemy troops carried.It is something else. I need aome help. Will help anyone in return. Thank you - "pround son of south pacific WW2 Veteran"
33. Anonymous says:
19 Oct 2013 09:37:19 PM

Not a comment but need help. My father was taken POW in the Philippians and he always told us that he was one of the POW's that built the infamous "Bridge on the River Kwai".
I was wondering if anyone has any information regarding the POW Camp that was responsible for building that bridge?
34. Anonymous says:
20 Apr 2014 04:52:35 PM

I would like to know the name or number of the Japanese POW camp where they built the Bridge on the River Kwai was built. My father was a British Serviceman who helped built that bridge.
35. Jack Johnson says:
24 Apr 2014 09:25:16 AM

My father, Theodore Johnson served on the USS Centaurus - AKA-17 with the Coast Guard during WWII. I do not see this ship listed in your database.
36. Anonymous says:
25 Apr 2014 04:44:42 PM

Trying to do a research essay on woman in the workforce during WWII. Anybody know of any good databases to get info? Having a hard time
37. Mike says:
17 Aug 2014 01:11:50 PM

Great web site. I have been "flipping" articles into a magazine on Flipboard called WW II. Great information and you have done a wonderful job of laying out the facts
38. Anonymous says:
3 Jan 2015 12:34:49 PM

Who knows wat type of car this was during WW2
This the registration nr

III/1 W G 5, A.T.U. 3.5, WL

Many thanks!
39. Adaqk47 says:
25 Mar 2015 08:22:11 AM

I have a few P-38 pics of my Dad on Attu in 1944. Can I contribute them to your database, along with information? BTW, this is a great website, thanks!
40. Aki Solomos says:
5 Apr 2015 01:05:34 PM

I'm using your site among many others for research about 1940.
Just want to point out a slight error I came across for March 30, 1940 -you listed Churchil as the Prime Minister. He didnt obtain that title until after Chamberlain stepped down on May 10.

Other than that, great website -thanks for all the news & info!
41. Sue Brooks says:
14 May 2015 10:21:53 AM

My husband wrote about his time in WWII and he was in the 32d Red Arrow Division on Luzon PI 127th inf. he was a staff sarg. He was awarded the combat infantry badge, the DSC, Bronze Star edal w/ oak leaf cluster with V device, Purple Heart w/ oak leaf cluster. It wasn't a pleasant war for him. He made sure his sons new that it wasn't something to do. "Don't let them get you" and if you have to go go as an Officer. 90% of the military is book keeping and supplies but if your unlucky enough to get into the fighting part it is a real mess. Most were Killed or wounded in their 1st minutes of combat and never really saw much to see or even remember." He talked about it (the War) every day )
42. arandila jonathan says:
6 Jan 2016 07:09:57 PM

i want to see a yamashita treasure map in south cotabato philippine's plssss help me becose i'm por
43. Anonymous says:
1 Sep 2016 01:44:19 AM

there are many aeroplane crashed during WW2 in Papua New Guinea, can you kindly show me maps of all crash site between tufi to morobe
44. Mike says:
18 Sep 2016 11:40:49 AM

Please correct the statement that in 1841 the United Kingdom leased Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Peninsula, and surrounding land from China.
This statement is incorrect, Great Britain had Hong Kong island and Kawloon handed to them in perpetuity
There was no legal reason to hand them back to China, apart from Thatcher selling the Hong Kong people out to China
45. George says:
24 Jan 2017 07:52:15 PM

I am researching any photos and information about Campo 98 on Sicily during WWII. My father and uncle were captured at Longstop Hill with the 18th Inf. Reg. A Co and transported first to this Italian POW camp. Looking for any and all information.
46. Anonymous says:
15 Mar 2017 09:51:13 AM

it was very interesting.
47. Ignacio says:
28 Mar 2017 10:32:04 AM

From Spain, I love this web, fantastic job.
48. Gordon Norris says:
15 Apr 2017 10:38:07 PM

If anyone has a list of the crew members of HMS Victorious for the late WW2 period I should be grateful to receive any and all information concerning my father Ernest Gordon Norris. His rank was petty officer and his role was radar/ASDIC.
Gordon Norris
49. Anonymous says:
24 Oct 2017 03:15:29 AM

Good sources about the costliest
war,in human history.
50. Anonymous says:
31 Oct 2017 12:45:26 PM

ensign raymond maynard uss Lexington mia feb 1945 any info
51. Anonymous says:
27 Apr 2018 04:54:44 AM

If anybody has any information about how German people's normal and political life please send it to my E-mail 892971548@qq.com Thanks!!
52. Anonymous says:
26 Sep 2018 08:22:42 AM

I have been given a collection of about 2000 ww2 4x5 photos and rolls of negatives, also in 4x5. My grandfather was in the war and his best freind was in the photo corps. He made dupes of many of the rolls they developed and gave them to my Grandpa after the war. Is there a reputable place to have them scanned and placed in an archive. I enjoy having them but they are a part of history.
53. hal johnson says:
25 Jan 2019 04:14:59 PM

looking for info on a uncle who went down over Italy in 1943 mia last name possibility watson
54. Tom Lee says:
16 Apr 2019 07:51:29 AM

Hello again.
Your page for 16 April 1944 has the following link, regarding the Croix de Guerre citation for the American (later actor) Audie Murphy. The citation was dated in 1945, and posted here in 1944 in error.
Continued many thanks for your fine work.
55. Commenter identity confirmed C. Peter Chen says:
19 Apr 2019 07:36:25 AM

Tom Lee: Thank you, the correction has been made.
56. Sharinda Thomas says:
2 Nov 2019 08:52:08 AM

I am looking for anyone that served on USS SEAL 183. My grammpa was on this submarine in WWII. His name was Gilliam Archer or he might of went by Curly? Or Gil? I would appreciate any help I can get! If you are a family member of someone that served with my grampa I would love to hear from you!!
57. Lee W. says:
21 Dec 2019 08:50:06 AM

My uncle, Monzie “Red” Poirot, was a Gunner’s Mate on the USS Iowa during WW2.
In some old family photos I found the menu for the 1944 Christmas dinner that was served to the crew. One side is the menu and the other side is a track chart showing the Iowa’s location in the South Pacific on certain dates. I can make a copy if you would to use it in the Iowa’s history.
I enjoy your website very much.
Thank you, Lee W.
58. Vickey Palzor Lepcha says:
31 Dec 2019 03:23:57 AM

This website is a wonderful project - will be useful for ages
59. P. Lynck says:
21 Feb 2020 01:28:06 PM

I am writing a historical novel about the Queen Mary and its history as a troop transport ship. I would be grateful for diary information from any service personnel who were on the Queen Mary. Thank you, P, Lynck
60. EKB says:
17 Apr 2020 12:07:13 PM

How do I find out how much home leave enlisted submariners got during a 60 or 70 day scheduled refit at Mare Island, in early 1945? Needed for a project I am working on. I know that officers got a month's leave, and could bring their families to base housing. But what about enlisted sailors? Thanks. I tried posting this question earlier, and I don't see it, so I am trying again.
61. Marilyn HG says:
28 May 2020 07:58:33 AM

I'm researching two family members who served in the US Navy in WWII. In both cases, looking at the muster rolls for the ships on which they served, it appears that an initial change in rating has (T) after it, e.g., QM3c(T). I assume this means "temporary", in other words an interim step to see if the sailor was capable of his new duties?
62. Anonymous says:
31 Jul 2020 11:11:26 PM

63. chris winchester says:
20 Mar 2021 09:12:53 PM

Which super liner, Queen Mary or Queen Elizabeth sailed to Vancouver BC during WW II
64. Dan Steemann Christiansen says:
28 Mar 2022 06:30:30 AM

Concerning the women that made a difference, one might think that Commander in the United States Naval Reserve and a oceanographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Mary Sears should be included.
65. Somdev says:
26 Sep 2022 11:50:49 AM

Can you help me with detail information on what happened to the Indian National Army after the WW II?

What's about the Nilganj massacre?

How I.N.A. Prisoners of War, were treated by the British in India and abroad?
66. Somdev says:
26 Sep 2022 11:51:11 AM

Can you help me with detail information on what happened to the Indian National Army after the WW II?

What's about the Nilganj massacre?

How I.N.A. Prisoners of War, were treated by the British in India and abroad?

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