World War II, or the Second World War, was a global military conflict. It began as the joining of what had initially been two separate conflicts, with the first beginning in Asia in 1937 (the Second Sino-Japanese War) and the other beginning in Europe in 1939 (the German and Soviet invasion of Poland).
The war split the majority of the world's nations into two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. It involved the mobilization of over 100 million military personnel, making it the most widespread war in history, and placed the participants in a state of "total war", which erased the distinction between civil and military resources and resulted in the complete activation of a nation's economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities for the purposes of the war effort. Over 70 million people, the majority of them civilians, were killed, making it the deadliest conflict in human history.
British anti-invasion preparations of World War II entailed a large-scale division of military and civilian mobilization in response to the threat of invasion by German armed forces in 1940 and 1941. The army needed to recover from the defeat of the British Expeditionary Force in France, and 1.5 million men were enrolled as part-time soldiers in the Home Guard. The rapid construction of field fortifications transformed much of Britain, especially southern England, into a prepared battlefield. Short of heavy weapons and equipment, the British had to make the best use of whatever was available.The German invasion plan, Operation Sea Lion, was never taken beyond the preliminary assembly of forces. Today, little remains of Britain's anti-invasion preparations. Only reinforced concrete structures such as pillboxes are common, and until recently, even these have been unappreciated as historical monuments.On 1 September 1939, Germany invaded Poland; two days later, Britain and France declared war on Germany, launching World War II. Within three weeks, the Red Army of the Soviet Union invaded the eastern regions of Poland in fulfillment of the secret Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact with Germany.
His Majesty's Ship Royal Oak (pennant number 08) was a Revenge-classbattleship of the British Royal Navy, torpedoed in Scapa Flow by the German submarineU-47 on 14 October 1939. Launched in 1914 and completed in 1916, Royal Oak first saw action at the Battle of Jutland. In peacetime, she served in the Atlantic, Home and Mediterranean fleets, coming under accidental attack on more than one occasion. The ship became the centre of worldwide attention in 1928 when her senior officers were controversially court-martialled. During a twenty-five year career, attempts to modernise Royal Oak could not address her fundamental lack of speed, and by the start of the Second World War, she was no longer suited to front-line duty.Royal Oak was anchored at Scapa Flow in Orkney, Scotland when she became the first of the five Royal Navy battleships and battlecruisers sunk in the Second World War. The loss of life was heavy: of Royal Oak complement of 1,234 men, 833 were killed that night or died later of their wounds.
The Battle of Tassafaronga, sometimes referred to as the Fourth Battle of Savo Island or, in Japanese sources, as the Battle of Lunga Point (ルンガ沖夜戦), was a nighttime naval battle that took place November 30, 1942 between United States (US) Navy and Imperial JapaneseNavy warships during the Guadalcanal campaign. The battle took place in Ironbottom Sound near the Tassafaronga area on Guadalcanal.In the battle, a US warship force of five cruisers and four destroyers under the command of Carleton H. Wright attempted to surprise and destroy a Japanese warship force of eight destroyers under the command of Raizo Tanaka. Tanaka's warships were attempting to deliver food supplies to Japanese forces on Guadalcanal.Using radar, the US warships opened fire and sank one of the Japanese destroyers. Tanaka and the rest of his ships, however, reacted quickly and launched numerous torpedoes at the US warships. The Japanese torpedoes hit and sank one US cruiser and heavily damaged three others, enabling the rest of Tanaka's force to escape without significant additional damage but also without completing the mission of delivering the food supplies.