United Kingdom

Full Name United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Alliance Allies - Major Member Nation
Entry into WW2 3 Sep 1939
Population in 1939 47,760,000
Military Deaths in WW2 382,600
Civilian Deaths in WW2 67,800

Contributor: C. Peter Chen

The horrors of World War I remained in the minds of the British, thus in the 1930s, the leaders of the United Kingdom did all they could to avoid another war. In 1937, appeaser Neville Chamberlain was appointed Prime Minister, who worked along that philosophy. With the backing of many of his peers, as well as contemporaries in other European nations, Chamberlain gave in to Adolf Hitler's increasingly aggressive demands. Some of them even viewed Nazi Germany as a potential future ally to fight the expansionist communist philosophy. Appeasement was not unopposed, however. Some Members of Parliament, notably Winston Churchill, preached that Hitler must be dealt with before Germany threatened peace, but he was not able to sway public opinion enough to change the United Kingdom's diplomatic philosophy. After the fall of Poland and at the same time of the German invasion of France, Chamberlain realized his appeasement attempts truly had failed, and resigned from his post. Churchill was appointed his successor and led the United Kingdom for the remainder of the war.

With the support the Commonwealth allies such as Canada, Australia, India, and others, Churchill aimed to maintain presence in North Africa so that the United Kingdom could search out for an opportunity to strike Italy and the Balkans, the weak underbelly of Europe, into the heart of Axis. Meanwhile, the existence of Britain itself was threatened as the Battle of the Atlantic slowly cut away the imports Britain needed to survive. Franklin Roosevelt, the President of the United States, helped by means of the Lend-Lease program, but that could only go so far.

The war situation began to change after the United States entered the war after the Pearl Harbor attack. Although the loss of Malaya and Singapore was disheartening and Australia now became in danger of being attacked by Japan, the United States was now an ally in war. It took the United States some time to begin churning her industrial capability, but when she did, the tides of war began to change in favor of the United Kingdom. The American involvement in North Africa helped expelling German and Italian forces from the region, and from there the invasion of Sicily toppled Benito Mussolini's regime. As the Italian Campaign very slowly pushed the German forces back, the Americans persuaded the British to commence a cross-Channel invasion on France, which Churchill, advocate of going through Southern Europe, at first opposed but eventually had to give in. The campaign in France marked the beginning of the end of Germany.

In the east, after losing Malaya and Singapore, the United Kingdom also lost Burma to the Japanese. The Japanese Navy posed a threat, too, after its successful excursion into the Indian Ocean. But the Commonwealth of India supported by the United Kingdom held fast, preventing Japan from entering India.

When WW2 ended, the United Kingdom emerged victorious but she was financially damaged. She began losing influence over her overseas possessions one by one, while the United States seemed to have picked up the role of the world leader that the United Kingdom had once held.

Source: Wikipedia.

People

Aitken, MaxwellDowding, HughO'Connor, Richard
Alexander, HaroldEden, AnthonyPark, Keith
Amerasekera, RohanFrantisek, JosefPercival, Arthur
Attlee, ClementFreyberg, BernardPhillips, Thomas
Auchinleck, ClaudeGeddes, AndrewPortal, Charles
Bader, DouglasGeorge VIPound, Dudley
Bennett, DonaldGiffard, GeorgePownall, Henry
Bevin, ErnestGuinness, AlecRamsay, Bertram
Brand, QuintinHarris, ArthurRutland, F. J.
Brooke, AlanHenderson, NevileSaul, Richard
Browning, FrederickHobart, PercySaundby, Robert
Byck, MurielHollis, StanleySlim, William
Caldwell, CliveInayat Khan, NoorSmuts, Jan
Carr, RoderickIsmay, HastingsSomerville, James
Chamberlain, NevilleJohnson, JamesTedder, Arthur
Churchill, WinstonKerr, PhilipTravers, Susan
Cochrane, ArchibaldLacey, JamesTuring, Alan
Coningham, ArthurLeese, OliverVan Lierde, Remy
Crutchley, VictorLeigh-Mallory, TraffordVereker, John
Cunningham, AndrewLonsdale, RupertVian, Philip
Cunningham, JohnMontgomery, BernardWavell, Archibald
Dempsey, MilesMorrison, HerbertWingate, Orde
Dill, JohnMosley, OswaldWinton, Nicholas
Douglas, SholtoMountbatten, LouisWood, Edward

Events Taken Place in United Kingdom

Second London Naval Conference21 Jan 1930 - 22 Apr 1930
Anglo-German Naval Agreement18 Jun 1935
Third London Naval Conference9 Dec 1935 - 25 Mar 1936
Polish-British Common Defense Pact25 Aug 1939
Anti-Italian Riots10 Jun 1940
British Attacks on the French Fleet3 Jul 1940 - 25 Sep 1940
Battle of Britain10 Jul 1940 - 31 Oct 1940
Arctic Convoys21 Aug 1941 - 30 May 1945
Operation Mincemeat30 Apr 1943

Aircraft

A.W.38 WhitleyBeaufortHalifaxMosquitoStirling
A.W.41 AlbemarleBlenheimHampdenP.82 DefiantSwordfish
AS.10 OxfordBombayHorsaProctorTempest
AlbacoreDH.89 DominieHurricaneRocTyphoon
AnsonFireflyLancasterS.25 SunderlandWalrus
BarracudaFulmarLysanderSea OtterWellington
BattleG.A.L. 49 HamilcarManchesterSkuaWhirlwind
BeaufighterGladiatorMeteorSpitfire

Ships

AcavusCenturionEffinghamKing George VRepulse
ActivityColossusExpressKing George V-class (1911)Rodney
Admiral-classColossus-classFairmile D-classKing George V-class (1939)Royal Sovereign
AdulaCornwallFlower-classLondonSunfish (S-class)
AlbatrossCossackFormidableMalayaThunderbolt
AmeerCumberlandFuriousMauritiusTribal-class
AncylusDanaeGloryMilfoilTribune
AnsonDelhiGraphNewcastleValiant
ArbiterDevonshireGullandOberonVictorious
ArcherDianthusHermesPrince of WalesWarspite
ArgusDorsetshireHoodQueen ElizabethWestcott
Ark RoyalDragonHoweQueen ElizabethWhitehall
BarhamDuke of YorkIllustriousQueen Mary
BelfastEagleIndomitableRawalpindi
BirminghamEdinburghIsles-classRenown

Vehicles

16HCruiser Mk IDaimler Armored CarInfantry Mk IV ChurchillValentine Bishop
6-TonCruiser Mk IIDaimler Scout Car 'Dingo'Light Mk VII TetrarchW/NG 350
AECCruiser Mk IIIHobart's FunniesM20Welbike
Carden LoydCruiser Mk IVHumber Armored CarMWD
CoventryCruiser Mk VI CrusaderHumber Light Reconnaissance CarMedium Mark A Whippet
CrossleyCruiser Mk VII CavalierInfantry Mk II MatildaT17 Staghound
Cruiser Comet ICruiser Mk VIII Centaur/CromwellInfantry Mk III ValentineValentine Archer

Weapons

3 in 20 cwt Anti-Aircraft GunBoys Anti-Tank RifleNo. 80 Grenade
3.45 in RCL Mk 1 Recoilless GunBren Machine GunNo. 82 'Gammon Bomb' Grenade
3.7 in Mk 1 Anti-Aircraft GunDe Lisle Carbine RifleOrdnance ML 3-inch Mortar Launcher
3.7 in Mk 1 Recoilless GunEnfield No. 2 HandgunOrdnance QF 2 pounder Anti-Tank Gun
3.7 in Mk 6 Anti-Aircraft GunFairbairn-Sykes BladeOrdnance QF 25 pounder Field Gun
4.5 in Mk 2 Anti-Aircraft GunLanchester Submachine GunOrdnance QF 3.7 inch Mountain Howitzer Field Gun
5.5 in Gun Field GunLee-Enfield No. 4 RifleOrdnance QF 4.5 inch Howitzer Field Gun
6 in Mk 24 Coastal Defense GunLee-Enfield No. 5 RifleOrdnance QF 6-pounder 7 cwt Field Gun
6 pdr Twin Coastal Defense GunLewis Machine GunOrdnance SBML 2-inch Mortar Launcher
7.2 in How Mk 6 Anti-Aircraft GunNo. 5 'Mills bomb' GrenadePIAT Launcher
7.2 in How Mk 6 Field GunNo. 68 GrenadeSten Submachine Gun
95 mm Mk 1 Recoilless GunNo. 69 GrenadeVickers Gun Machine Gun
BC-41 BladeNo. 70 GrenadeVickers K Machine Gun
BL 15 in Mk I Coastal Defense GunNo. 74 'Sticky Bomb' GrenadeVickers-Berthier Machine Gun
BL 4.5 inch Medium Field GunNo. 75 'Hawkins Grenade' GrenadeWebley Mk 4 Handgun
BL 9.2 inch Mk X Coastal Defense GunNo. 76 Grenade

Territories, Possessions, and Nations Under the Influence of United Kingdom

AdenCeylonMalaya and Singapore
AustraliaChristmas IslandMalta
BermudaFijiNauru
British CameroonsGibraltarNew Hebrides
British PalestineGilbert and Ellice IslandsNew Zealand
British SomalilandGuernseyNewfoundland
British Western Pacific TerritoriesHong KongNorth Borneo
BruneiIndiaSarawak
BurmaJerseySouth Africa
CanadaKenyaTrinidad

Facilities

RAF Woodhall SpaAirfield
Scapa FlowNaval Port

Photographs

US Marines parading in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom in celebration of the first anniversary of USMC arrival, 1943Consuelo Vanderbilt and Winston Churchill at Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, England, United Kingdom, 1902Barham at Scapa Flow, 1917, with other ships of the Grand FleetKing George VI of the United Kingdom with Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King at the Buckingham Palace, London, England, United Kingdom, 11 May 1937
See all 160 photographs of United Kingdom in World War II


United Kingdom in World War II Interactive Map




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Visitor Submitted Comments

  1. Alan Chanter says:
    30 Sep 2007 12:53:25 AM

    The number of British Civilian deaths (varies from different sources) were in the region of c.60,500 from enemy bombing plus 30,248 merchant mariners. These figures do not include the large number of fatalities indirectly due to the war (Industrial and Mining accidents, Traffic accidents caused by the Black out etc).
  2. stannous Flouride says:
    7 Dec 2007 02:22:54 AM

    Though members of the Commonwealth, nations such as Australia, New Zealand, and Canada were independent countries and to just toss them into the UK basket does disservice to 1,000s of those who served and died for their countries.

  3. Matt says:
    14 Mar 2008 03:33:39 AM

    Like Stannous Flouride, its disappointing to see you not recognising properly the large sacrifice that the commonwealth (Britsh Empire) made to the War Effort both militarily and economically. Militarily the countries of the empire/commonwealth served in Battle of Britain, Greece and then North African Campaign and then later and Northern Europe, South East Asia and the Pacific. The Pacific Theatre had little British involvement after the loss of Singapore. To discount the Military losses of Canada (45,300), Australia (39,400),New Zealand and South Africa (11900 a piece), is disappointing. Why can't this be fixed?
  4. C. Peter Chen says:
    14 Mar 2008 05:32:00 AM

    Hey there Stannous Flouride and Matt, just want to let you guys know that I've read your comments regarding the Commonwealth nations. I've recently added Canada to the countries list, and a fellow contributor, Morgan, is working on the profile for Australia. More will be forth coming!

    This particular page will always stay UK itself only. Please go to the country listing page for the Commonwealth nations.
  5. Vishal Bhatia says:
    4 Dec 2008 02:47:57 AM

    Sir,

    No offence but I believe India ought to be included, if not as a seperate entity, then perhaps as British India. But I doubt, if my countrymen would be okay with that.
  6. BILL says:
    25 May 2009 04:18:40 PM

    Did you know,that England still had shortages and rationing until 1950.
  7. BILL says:
    15 Jun 2009 10:33:46 AM

    In Britian,the Yanks were said to be:
    "Overpaid, Oversexed, Overfed and Overhere."

    The Americans countered this, by saying:
    The Brits were "Undepaid, Undesexed, Underfed
    and Under Eisenhower."
  8. BILL says:
    15 Jun 2009 03:27:39 PM

    For #7 I was in error in spelling.

    In Britian, the Yanks were said to be:
    "Overpaid, Oversexed, Overfed and Overhere."

    The Americans countered this by saying:
    The Brits were "Underpaid, Undersexed, Underfed and Under Eisenhower".
  9. BILL says:
    20 Jun 2009 08:30:04 PM

    Correction #6 May 25,2009
    Rationing: Food and fuel shortages continued
    after the end of World War II, rationing did
    not end until 1954, by which time even bread
    was rationed.
    However, the postwar years saw the start of
    the Welfare State, with such benefits as free
    health care and family allowances.

    Did you know: By the time the wae ended the number of women workers had grown to two
    million, and they made up 43% of the total
    work force. Returning back to regular post-
    war life was difficult and hard, and the
    divorce rate soared.
    During the war, about 200,00 men were kept in
    reserve,such as farming and many women worked
    war production. At first the Government relied on women to volunteer but by 1941 the
    Government introduced conscription! they were
    drafted!! All women age 18 through 60 had to
    register married or single, for war work and
    could be assigned to work in factories or in
    agriculture, or auxillary services
    Despite their valuable contributions, women
    were not given equal pay with men.
    A total of 22,000,000 men and women served in
    the armed forces, war production and civil
    defence in 1943.
    Everyone had to carry an ID card supplies of
    food, fuel and water were restricted, and
    food rationing started in January,1940 every
    household was issued a ration card and by
    law was regestered with local shops.
    Most people felt the rationing was fair and
    some people ate better than they had during the drpression, However shortages were felt
    everywhere clothes, stockings, cosmetics and
    other consumer goods disappeared.
    When I went to England in 1967, World War II
    had ended twenty two years ago, and at that
    time you could travel around London and still see damaged and bombed out buildings.
    It has taken decades for Western Europe to rebuild itself.
    Berlin is known today, as the city of seven
    hills. The hills were from the debris of the
    thousands of buildings destroyed, creating the seven hills.
  10. Bill says:
    30 Mar 2010 06:43:25 PM

    Wartime Life in England

    July 1939 petrol was rationed to 200 miles
    per-week.
    1940 building of automobiles stopped.
    1942 pertol for private use was stopped.

    Average wage:
    Men in 1939 was three pounds, nine shillings.
    Women wages in 1939 one pound, twelve shillings.
    Enlisted servicemen were paid two shillings a
    day.
    Bottle of whiskey 13 shillings and sixpence.
    Price of Gold, 8 pounds, or(sixteen dollars an ounce in 1940 dollars).
    Eggs were rationed two eggs per-person per week.
    All food stuff fresh ,canned, dry foods and just about all consumer goods. But there was always a black market for anything if one had the money.
  11. Anonymous says:
    30 Sep 2011 02:11:16 AM

    I can recall that during the early 50s in Ulster I had to have a coupon to purchase a bar of confectionary.
  12. Vikki says:
    8 Oct 2011 05:33:22 PM

    For thorough stats on civilian deaths, rationing, home front issues, volunteer organization, survivors of the Blitz, and depth of topics similiar to above I refer everyone to the book 'Wartime Britain 1939-1945' by Juliet Gardiner.
  13. MacCoinnich says:
    14 Mar 2013 03:39:46 AM

    No6: Bill, England is not Britain, not sure why people continue to refer to our island as England, it never has been an island called England & as sure as the sun comes up in the morning, it never will!

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US Marines parading in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom in celebration of the first anniversary of USMC arrival, 1943
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945