Campaigns

The Second World War was the most widespread conflict in human history. Allied and Axis forces battled from frozen fjords of Norway to the sun baked deserts of East Africa, from the seaside towns of France and Flanders to the humid jungles of Burma and New Guinea. On the high seas warships fought for control of the oceans, while merchant vessels braved submarine-infested waters.

© IWM (E 3004E) Evacuation: King George of Greece, in Egypt, thanking the New Zealand Platoon which escorted him out of Crete where he had taken refuge after the German occupation of Greece.

War in the West

For British and Commonwealth forces the war against Nazi Germany was a battle for the very survival of freedom, liberty and democracy. The fighting in the west was some of the most ferocious of the war.

AWM (011601) 1942-02-17. CHINESE OF THE PASSIVE DEFENCE SERVICES DO GREAT WORK AFTER JAPANESE BOMBS FALL ON A VILLAGE IN SINGAPORE AREA. CHINESE OF THE AIR RAID PRECAUTIONS AND AUXILIARY FIRE SERVICE QUICKLY GET THE FLAMES UNDER CONTROL. (NEGATIVE BY B.M.I.).

War in the East

In December 1941, Imperial Japanese forces launched a devastating surprise attack on American, British, Commonwealth and Dutch colonies throughout South East Asia. Allied forces were quickly overwhelmed.

© IWM (A 27519) British Forces: A Liberty ship in heavy weather on a convoy. Liberty Ships were mass produced merchant ships built in as little as ten days.

War at Sea

When the war broke out in 1939, Britain was a maritime superpower with a vast overseas empire to which it was connected by the largest merchant fleet and most powerful navy in the world.

© IWM (CH 1430) Hawker Hurricane Mk Is of No. 242 Squadron during the Battle of Britain, 1940.

War in the Air

From the German use of aircraft in Blitzkrieg to conquer France, to the safeguarding of the British Isles in the Battle of Britain, for the first time in history the outcome of a conflict could be decided in the air.