Second World War:
|The Loyal Service Badge
|Campaign Medals of the Second World War
|German Wound Badge
|Air Raid Precautions (ARP)
|This section is far from finished, but there is some interesting content regarding HMS Pheasant, the Home Guard and the Air Raid Precautions and it seemed only right to make it available now while the rest of the content is being worked on, as it seems it could take a long time!
Events Leading to the Outbreak of War::
Nazi Party, aided by the civil unrest caused by the
Great Depression, took power in Germany and eliminated its democratic
government and began to re-militarise and become increasingly hostile. Hitler broke the
Treaty of Versailles by increasing the size of Germany's military and
re-militarising the Rhineland. He
annexed Austria and sought the same against the
German-speaking regions (Sudetenland) of
The British and French governments followed a policy of appeasement in order to avoid military confrontation after the high cost of the First World War and who could really blame them. This policy culminated in the Munich Agreement in 1938, which would give the Sudetenland to Germany in exchange for Germany making no further territorial claims in Europe. In March 1939, Germany disregarded the agreement and annexed the remainder of Czechoslovakia.
The failure of the Munich Agreement showed that negotiations with Hitler could not be trusted, and that his aspirations for dominance in Europe went beyond anything that the United Kingdom and France would tolerate. France and Poland pledged on May 19th 1939, to provide each other with military assistance in the event either was attacked. In the August of 1939, the British government guaranteed the same. On August 23rd 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact which provided for sales of oil and food from the Soviets to Germany, thus reducing the danger of a British blockade such as the one that had nearly starved Germany in World War I.
Also included was a secret agreement that would divide Central Europe into German and Soviet areas of interest, including a provision to partition Poland. Each country agreed to allow the other a free hand in its area of influence, including military occupation. On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland, using the false pretext of a faked "Polish attack" on a German border post.
Britain Declares War::
September 3rd the United Kingdom issued an ultimatum to Germany to
remove their troops from Poland. No
reply was received and Britain, Australia and New Zealand declared war
on Germany, followed later that day by France. Soon afterwards, South
Africa, Canada and Nepal also declared war on Germany. Great Britain
began seizing German ships and implementing a blockade. Despite the
French and British treaty obligations and promises to the Polish
government, both France and Great Britain were unwilling to launch a
land invasion of Germany. The French mobilized slowly and then mounted
only a short token offensive in the Saar; nor did the British send land forces in time to support the Poles.
Meanwhile, on September 8th, the Germans reached Warsaw, having slashed through the Polish defences. On September 17th, the Soviet Union, pursuant to its prior agreement with Germany, invaded Poland from the east. Poland was soon overwhelmed and the last Polish units surrendered on October 6th. After Poland fell, Germany paused to regroup during the winter while the British and French stayed on the defensive. The period was referred to by journalists as "the Phoney War" because of the inaction on both sides. In Eastern Europe, the Soviets began occupying Baltic states leading to a confrontation with Finland, a conflict which ended with land concessions to the Soviets on March 12th, 1940.
1940 - Dunkirk::
April 1940, both German and Allied forces launched nearly simultaneous
access to Swedish iron ore. It was a short
campaign which resulted in German control of
Norway, though at a heavy cost to their surface navy. The fall of Norway led to
Norway Debate in London, which resulted in the resignation of
Neville Chamberlain, who was replaced by
Winston Churchill. On May 10th,
1940, the Germans
invaded France and the Low Countries. The
British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and the French
Army advanced into
and planned to fight a mobile war in the north, while maintaining a static
continuous front along the
Line further south. This was foiled by an unexpected German thrust through
splitting the Allies in two. The BEF and
French forces, encircled in the north, were evacuated from
Operation Dynamo. France, overwhelmed by the
was soon forced to sign an
with Germany on
June 22nd 1940,
leading to the direct German occupation of
two-thirds of France, and the establishment of a German
state headquartered in
south-eastern France known as
With only the United Kingdom remaining as an opposing force in Europe, Germany began to prepare Operation Sealion, the invasion of Britain. Most of the British Army's heavy weapons and supplies had been lost at Dunkirk, but the Royal Navy was still considerably more powerful then the Kriegsmarine and held tight control of the English Channel. The Germans therefore attempted to gain air superiority by destroying the Royal Air Force (RAF) using the Luftwaffe. The ensuing contest in the late summer of 1940 between the two air forces became known as the Battle of Britain. The Luftwaffe initially targeted RAF Fighter Command aerodromes and radar stations, but Hitler, angered by retaliatory bombing raids on Berlin, switched his attentions towards the bombing of London, in an operation known as The Blitz. This diversion of German resources allowed the RAF to remain active and rebuild their losses, eventually causing the invasion plans to be postponed indefinitely.