Second Sino-Japanese War
Part of World War II
Japanese Occupation - Map
Map showing the extent of Japanese control in 1940.
Date 7 July 19379 September 1945 (minor fighting since 1931)
Location China
Result Japanese unconditional surrender
Casus belli Marco Polo Bridge Incident.
Retrocession to China of Manchuria, Taiwan and Pescadores
Flag of the Republic of China China
US flag 48 stars United States1
Flag of Japan - variant
Collaborationist Chinese Army3
Flag of the Republic of China Chiang Kai-shek,
Flag of the Republic of China Chen Cheng,
Flag of the Republic of China Yan Xishan,
Flag of the Republic of China Feng Yuxiang,
Flag of the Republic of China Li Zongren,
Flag of the Republic of China Xue Yue,
Flag of the Republic of ChinaBai Chongxi,
Flag of the Republic of China Peng Dehuai,
US flag 48 stars Joseph Stilwell,
US flag 48 stars Claire Chennault,
Flag of Japan - variant Hirohito,
Flag of Japan - variant Fumimaro Konoe,
Flag of Japan - variant Hideki Tojo,
Flag of Japan - variant Kotohito Kan'in,
Flag of Japan - variant Matsui Iwane,
Flag of Japan - variant Hajime Sugiyama,
Flag of Japan - variant Shunroku Hata,
Flag of Japan - variant Toshizo Nishio,
Flag of Japan - variant Yasuji Okamura,
Flag of Japan - variant Umezu Yoshijiro,
5,600,000 Chinese
700+ US aircraft
3,200,000 Japanese,
900,000 Chinese[1]
3,220,000 military,
17,530,000 civilians
1,900,000 military (including 480,000 KIA)
1 On July 1942, the Flying Tigers became an official United States Army Air Force unit.
3 Various Japanese puppet regimes provided significant manpower to support the Japanese occupation.

Template:Campaignbox Second Sino-Japanese War Template:Campaignbox Pacific War The Second Sino-Japanese War (July 7, 1937 to September 9, 1945) was a major war fought between China and Japan, both before and during World War II. It was the largest Asian war in the twentieth century.[2]

Although the two countries had fought intermittently since 1931, full-scale war started in earnest in 1937 and only ended with the surrender of Japan in 1945. The war was the result of a decades-long Japanese imperialist policy aiming to dominate China politically and militarily to secure its vast raw material reserves and other resources. At the same time, the rising tide of Chinese nationalism and notions of self determination made the war inevitable. Before 1937, China and Japan fought in small, localized engagements in so-called "incidents." Yet the two sides, for a variety of reasons, refrained from fighting a total war. The 1931 invasion of Manchuria by Japan is known as the "Mukden Incident". The last of these incidents was the Marco Polo Bridge Incident of 1937, marking the official beginning of full scale war between the two countries.

From 1937 to 1941, China fought alone. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Second Sino-Japanese War merged into the greater conflict of World War II.


In Chinese, the war is most commonly known as the War of Resistance Against Japan (traditional Chinese:抗日戰爭; simplified Chinese: 抗日战争; pinyin:Kàng Rì Zhànzhēng), but also known as the Eight Years' War of Resistance (八年抗戰), or simply War of Resistance (抗戰).

In Japan, the name Japan-China War (日中戦争 Nicchū Sensō"?) is most commonly used due to its neutrality. When the war began in July 1937 near Beijing, the government of Japan used North China Incident (北支事変, Hokushi Jihen), and with the outbreak of war in Central China next month, it was changed to China Incident (支那事変, Shina Jihen).

The word incident (事変, jihen) was used by Japan as neither country had declared war on each other. Japan wanted to avoid intervention by other countries such as the United Kingdom and particularly the United States, which had been the biggest steel exporter to Japan. American President Roosevelt would have had to impose an embargo due to the Neutrality Acts had the fighting been named a war.

In Imperial Japanese propaganda however, the invasion of China became a "holy war" (seisen), the first step of the Hakko ichiu (eight corners of the world under one roof). In 1940, prime minister Konoe thus launched the League of Diet Members Believing the Objectives of the Holy War. When both sides formally declared war in December 1941, the name was replaced by Greater East Asia War (大東亜戦争, Daitōa Sensō).

Although the Japanese government still uses "Shina Incident" in formal documents, because the word Shina is considered a derogatory word by China, media in Japan often paraphrase with other expressions like The Japan-China Incident (日華事変 [Nikka Jihen], 日支事変 [Nisshi Jihen], which were used by media even in the 1930s.

Also, the name Second Sino-Japanese War is not usually used in Japan, as the First Sino-Japanese War (日清戦争, Nisshin-Sensō), between Japan and the Qing Dynasty in 1894 is not regarded to have obvious direct linkage with the second, between Japan and the Republic of China.



The origin of the Second Sino-Japanese War can be traced to the First Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95, in which China, then under the Qing Dynasty, was defeated by Japan and was forced to cede Taiwan and recognize the independence of Korea in the Treaty of Shimonoseki. The Qing Dynasty was on the brink of collapse from internal revolts and foreign imperialism, while Japan had emerged as a great power through its effective measures of modernization. The Republic of China was founded in 1912, following the Xinhai Revolution which overthrew the Qing Dynasty. However, the nascent Republic was even weaker than before due to the dominance of warlords. The prospect of unifying the nation and repelling imperialism seemed a very remote possibility. Some warlords even aligned themselves with various foreign powers in an effort to wipe each other out. For example, warlord Zhang Zuolin of Manchuria openly cooperated with the Japanese for military and economic assistance. It was during the early period of the Republic that Japan became the greatest foreign threat to China.

In 1915, Japan issued the Twenty-One Demands to further its political and commercial interests in China. Following World War I, Japan acquired the German sphere of influence in Shandong. China under the Beiyang government remained fragmented and unable to resist foreign incursions until the Northern Expedition of 1926-28, launched by the Kuomintang (KMT, or Chinese Nationalist Party) rival government based in Guangzhou. The Northern Expedition swept through China until it was checked in Shandong, where Beiyang warlord Zhang Zongchang, backed by the Japanese, attempted to stop the Kuomintang Army from unifying China. This situation culminated in the Jinan Incident of 1928 in which the Kuomintang army and the Japanese were engaged in a short conflict. In the same year, Manchurian warlord Zhang Zuolin was also assassinated when he became less willing to cooperate with Japan. Following these incidents, the Kuomintang government under Chiang Kai-shek finally succeeded in unifying China in 1928.

File:Mukden 1931 japan shenyang.jpg

Still, numerous conflicts between China and Japan persisted as Chinese nationalism had been on the rise and one of the ultimate goals of the Three People's Principles was to rid China of foreign imperialism. However, the Northern Expedition had only nominally unified China, and civil wars broke out between former warlords and rival Kuomintang factions. In addition, the Chinese Communists revolted against the central government following a purge of its members. Because of these situations, the Chinese central government diverted much attention into fighting these civil wars and followed a policy of first internal pacification before external resistance. This situation provided an easy opportunity for Japan to further its goals. In 1931, the Japanese invaded Manchuria right after the Mukden Incident. After five months of fighting, in 1932, the puppet state Manchukuo was established with the last emperor of China, Puyi, installed as its head of state. Unable to challenge Japan directly, China appealed to the League of Nations for help. The League's investigation was published as the Lytton Report, which condemned Japan for its incursion of Manchuria, and led Japan to withdraw from the League of Nations. From the late 1920s and throughout the 1930s, appeasement was the policy of the international community and no country was willing to take an active stance other than a weak censure. Japan saw Manchuria as a limitless supply of raw materials and also as a buffer state against the Soviet Union.

Incessant conflicts followed the Mukden Incident. In 1932, Chinese and Japanese soldiers fought a short war in the January 28 Incident. The war resulted in the demilitarization of Shanghai, which forbade the Chinese from deploying troops in their own city. In Manchukuo there was an ongoing campaign to defeat the volunteer armies that arose from the popular frustration at the policy of nonresistance to the Japanese. In 1933, the Japanese attacked the Great Wall region, and in its wake the Tanggu Truce was signed, which gave Japan the control of Rehe province and a demilitarized zone between the Great Wall and Beiping-Tianjin region. The Japanese aim was to create another buffer region, this time between Manchukuo and the Chinese Nationalist government whose capital was Nanjing.

In addition, Japan increasingly utilized the internal conflicts among the Chinese factions to reduce their strength one by one. This was precipitated by the fact that even some years after the Northern Expedition, the political power of the Nationalist government only extended around the Yangtze River Delta region, and other regions of China were essentially held in the hands of regional powers. Thus, Japan often bought off or created special links with these regional powers to undermine the efforts of the central Nationalist government in bringing unity to China. To do this, Japan sought various Chinese traitors for cooperation and helped these men lead some "autonomous" governments that were friendly to Japan. This policy was called the Specialization of North China (Chinese: 華北特殊化; pinyin: húaběitèshūhùa), or more commonly known as the North China Autonomous Movement. The northern provinces affected by this policy were Chahar, Suiyuan, Hebei, Shanxi, and Shandong.

In 1935, under Japanese pressure, China signed the He-Umezu Agreement, which forbade the KMT from conducting party operation in Hebei and effectively ended Chinese control of North China. In the same year, the Ching-Doihara Agreement was signed and vacated the KMT from Chahar. Thus, by the end of 1935, the Chinese central government had virtually vacated from North China. In its place, the Japanese-backed East Hebei Autonomous Council and the Hebei-Chahar Political Council were established. There in the vacated area of Chahar the Mongol Military Government (蒙古軍政府), was formed on May 12, 1936 with Japan providing military and economic aid. This government tried to take control of Suiyuan in late 1936 and early 1937 but was defeated.


In order to understand the complexity of the involvement of China and Japan, and the later involvement of the Soviet Union, the UK, the US and France in the Sino-Japanese War, it is important to appreciate the underlying reasons and motives of the different parties that they brought to the war.

Flag of Japan Japan: Imperial Japan launched the war in an effort to destroy the Chinese central government under the Kuomintang, and to create puppet governments that followed Japanese interests. From these actions Japan would obtain a secured supply of raw materials and a market to ensure the prosperity of the Japanese home islands. However, Japan's inability to bring the war in China to an acceptable conclusion, coupled with increasingly unfavorable trading restrictions from the West in response to Japan's continued actions in China, meant that Japan also needed to control sizable natural resources, such as those in Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, which were at the time controlled by Britain, the Netherlands, and the USA, respectively. Japan's strategy to seize these embargoed resources led to the attack on Pearl Harbor, opening the Pacific Theater of World War II.

Flag of the Republic of China China (Nationalist (Kuomintang)): Before the onset of full scale war, Nationalist China focused its energies on modernizing the army and building a viable defense industry to increase its combat power vis-à-vis Japan. Because China under the Kuomintang was unified only nominally, it was also constantly preoccupied with fighting internal wars against the communists, resurgent warlords, and other militarist factions. However, once the war against Japan broke out, backing down was impossible, even though China was far from prepared for fighting a war on such a massive scale against a vastly superior enemy. In sum, Nationalist China had several goals: to resist Japanese aggression, to unite China under one central government, to rid China of foreign imperialism, to defeat communism, and to re-emerge as a strong country. In essence, the war of resistance was seen by many as a war of national revival.

22px China (Communist): Chinese Communists generally avoided large-scale frontal fighting against the Japanese, while conducting guerrilla warfare and political activities in occupied territories to expand their base areas. As one of its main goals was expansion, the CCP sought to avoid direct conflicts with the Japanese Army in order to emerge from the war stronger than the Nationalist forces, so in the inevitable struggle for dominance, the CCP would be the victor.

Flag of the Soviet Union 1923 Soviet Union: To allow Japan to overextend itself in China such that the USSR could fight Germany in the West without having to garrison strong forces in the East against possible Japanese aggression. Also, a weakened China would allow Chinese Communists to develop and eventually take over the country, providing a potential ally and a buffer zone against Western and Japanese expansionism.

Flag of the United Kingdom United Kingdom: Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, British attitude was conciliatory toward Japan, as the two had already formed the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. Many in the British community in China also supported Japanese actions to weaken the Chinese Nationalist government. This was because British economic interests suffered substantially when the Chinese Nationalist government successfully revoked much foreign concessions, and regained the right to set its own tariff without British influence. Once World War II began, the UK had to fight Germany in Europe while at the same time hoping China and Japan fight to a stalemate, in order to buy time to regain its Pacific colonies in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Burma, and Singapore. The majority of British forces were committed to fighting in Europe, and could spare little for the war in the Pacific.

US flag 48 stars United States: The United States was generally isolationist prior to the attack of Pearl Harbor and did not wish to directly provoke Japan, while it aided China with its volunteer airmen and oil/steel embargoes. Following the American entrance to WWII, the US had to defeat Japan in the Pacific while also fighting Germany in the European Theater, with the emphasis on defeating Germany first. The US began a campaign of island hopping in order to secure bases close enough to Japan to support bombing raids and an eventual invasion. When Germany capitulated, the war in the East was to be finished as fast as possible with minimal US casualties. President Franklin Roosevelt also wished to aid China so that it would emerge as a democratic nation friendly to the US and a source of stability in post-war East Asia.

Flag of France Vichy France: With massive U.S. supply coming to Yunnan through French Indochina's northern state of Tonkin (northern Vietnam), the Japanese wanted to blockade the Chinese-Indochinese border. In 1940, following the establishment of the Vichy France puppet state, Japan staged an invasion of French Indochina. In March 1945, the Japanese staged a coup d'état in French Indochina and created their own colonies as the Empire of Vietnam.

Flag of Free France 1940-1944 Free France: In December 1941, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Free France leader Charles de Gaulle declared war on Japan. In 1943 de Gaulle created the Light Corps of Intervention (CLI) Special Forces within the FEFEO to support the French Resistance in Indochina. From 1944 to 1945 the CLI operated against the Japanese in Vietnam, using the southern Chinese border as a sanctuary. In September French general Leclerc heading the CEFEO signed the armistice with Japan and landed in Vietnam and Java with the Franco-British task force to regain control of the colony in October. A partition was established with the Communist Chinese controlling north Vietnam and the British-French controlling southern Vietnam until 1946 when the First Indochina War broke out.

It is then clear that Nationalist China had an intensely difficult task in hand, with its Allies all having interests not necessarily in congruence with China's. With these in mind some decisions of the other Allies are much easier to understand.

Invasion of ChinaEdit

File:Casualties of a mass panic - Chungking, China.jpg

Most historians place the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War on July 7, 1937 at the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, when a crucial access point to Beijing was assaulted by the Japanese. Some Chinese historians, however place the starting point at the Mukden Incident of September 18, 1931. Following the Mukden Incident, the Japanese Kwantung Army occupied Manchuria and established the puppet state of Manchukuo on February 18 1932. Japan tried forcing the Chinese government to recognize the independence of Manchukuo. However, when the League of Nations determined that Manchukuo was a product of Japanese aggression, Japan withdrew from the League.

Following the Marco Polo Bridge Incident in 1937, the Japanese occupied Shanghai, Nanjing and Southern Shanxi in campaigns involving approximately 350,000 Japanese soldiers, and considerably more Chinese soldiers. Historians estimate up to 300,000 people perished in the Nanking Massacre, after the fall of Nanjing on December 13, 1937, while some Japanese historians denied the existence of a massacre at all. Throughout the next few years, the Imperial air force of the Navy and the Army launched massive air bombing raids on nearly every city in China, leaving millions homeless.

The Marco Polo Bridge Incident not only marked the beginning of an open, undeclared, war between China and Japan, but also hastened the formation of the Second United Front between the Kuomintang (KMT)and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The cooperation took place with salutary effects for the beleaguered CCP. The high point of the cooperation came in 1938 during the Battle of Wuhan. However, the distrust between the two antagonists was scarcely veiled. The uneasy alliance began to break down by late 1938, despite Japan's steady territorial gains in northern China, the coastal regions, and the rich Yangtze River Valley in central China. After 1940, open conflict between the Nationalists and Communists became more frequent in the areas outside Japanese control, culminating in the New Fourth Army Incident. The Communists expanded their influence wherever opportunities were presented, through mass organizations, administrative reforms, land and tax reform measures favoring peasants, while the Nationalists attempted to neutralize the spread of Communist influence and fight the Japanese at the same time.

File:Wuhan 1938 IJA.jpg

The Japanese had neither the intention nor the capability to directly administer China. Their goal was to create friendly puppet governments favorable to Japanese interests. However, the atrocities committed by the Japanese army made the governments that were set up very unpopular. In addition, the Japanese refused to negotiate with the Kuomintang or the Communist Party of China, which fueled further anti-Japanese sentiments. The Japanese also forced the Chinese people living under their control to change their money into military banknotes, which the current Japanese government still refuses to exchange even today.

Chinese strategyEdit

File:Chinese soldiers 1939.jpg

Unlike Japan, China was unprepared for total war and had little military-industrial strength, no mechanized divisions, and few armored forces. Up until the mid-1930s China had hoped that the League of Nations would provide countermeasures to Japan's aggression. In addition, the Kuomintang government was mired in a civil war against the Communists. Chiang famously was quoted: "the Japanese are a disease of skin, the Communists are a disease of the heart". Though the communists formed the New Fourth Army and the 8th Route Army which were nominally under the command of the National Revolutionary Army, the United Front was never truly unified, as each side was preparing for a showdown with the other once the Japanese were driven out. All these disadvantages forced China to adopt a strategy whose first goal was to preserve its military strength, whereas a full frontal assault on the enemy would often prove to be suicidal. Also, pockets of resistance were to be continued in occupied areas to pester the enemy and make their administration over the vast lands of China difficult. As a result the Japanese really only controlled the cities and railroads, while the countrysides were almost always hotbeds of partisan activity.

However, Chiang realized that in order to win the support from the United States or other foreign nations, China must prove that it was indeed capable of fighting. A fast retreat would discourage foreign aid so Chiang decided to make a stand in the Battle of Shanghai. Chiang sent his German-trained divisions, the best of his troops, to defend China's largest and most industrialized city from the Japanese. The battle saw heavy casualties on both sides and ended with a Chinese retreat towards Nanjing. While the battle was a military defeat for the Chinese, it proved that China would not be defeated easily and showed China's determination to the world. The battle lasted over three months and proved to be an enormous morale booster for the Chinese people as it ended the Japanese taunt of conquering Shanghai in three days and China in three months.


While this direct army-to-army fighting lasted during the early phases of the war, large numbers of Chinese defeats compared to few victories eventually led to the strategy of stalling the war. Large areas of China were conquered during the early stages of the war, but the Japanese advancements began to stall in mid-1938. The Chinese strategy at this point was to prolong the war until it had sufficient strength to defeat the Japanese. Chinese troops often engaged in a practice of scorched earth in an attempt to slow down the Japanese. Dams and levees were sabotaged which led to the 1938 Huang He flood. In addition, industry was transported from coastal industrialized areas to inland cities such as Chongqing. By 1940, the war had reached a stalemate with both sides making minimal gains. The Chinese had successfully defended their land from oncoming Japanese on several occasions, while strong resistance in areas occupied by the Japanese made a victory seem impossible to the Japanese. This frustrated the Japanese and led them to employ the "Three Alls Policy" (kill all, loot all, burn all) (Template:Lang, Hanyu Pinyin: Sānguāng Zhèngcè, Japanese On: Sankō Seisaku). It was during this time period that the bulk of Japanese atrocities were committed. Also in 1940, Japan invaded Vietnam. Control of Vichy-controlled Vietnam would make the blockade of China more effective and made continuation of the drawn out Battle of South Guangxi province unnecessary.

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, which brought the United States into the war. China officially declared war on Japan on 8 December 1941. It refused to declare war earlier because receiving military aid while officially at war would break the neutrality of the donor nation. At this point, the priority changed from survival to victory. Enriched with foreign aid, China's army, now better trained and equipped, began taking the fight to the enemy. Chinese forces took part in the Burma Campaign to liberate Burma from the Japanese. By 1945 China was making significant progress, liberating large areas conquered by Japan during Operation Ichigo. Operations BETA and CARBONADO, were joint Chinese-American plans to liberate the entire Chinese mainland, starting with a push into Guangdong and then north to Shanghai. But the dropping of the atomic bombs and the Soviet entry into the war, Operation August Storm, ended the war faster than anyone had expected.

The basis of Chinese strategy during the war, which can be divided into three periods:

  1. First Period: 7 July 1937 (Battle of Lugou Bridge) – 25 October 1938 (Fall of Hankou). In this period, one key concept is the trading of "space for time" (Chinese: 以空間換取時間). The Chinese army would put up fights to delay Japanese advance to northeastern cities, to allow the home front, along with its professionals and key industries, to retreat west into Chongqing to build up military strength.
  2. Second Period: 25 October 1938 (Fall of Hankou) - July, 1944. During the second period, the Chinese army adopted the concept of "magnetic warfare" to attract advancing Japanese troops to definite points where they were subjected to ambush, flanking attacks, and encirclements in major engagements. The most prominent example of this tactic is the successful defense of Changsha numerous times.
  3. Third Period: July 1944 - 15 August 1945. This period employs general full frontal counter-offensives.


By 1940, the fighting had reached a stalemate. While Japan held most of the eastern coastal areas of China and Vietnam, guerrilla fighting continued in the conquered areas. The Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek struggled on from a provisional capital at the city of Chongqing. China, with its low industrial capacities and limited experience in modern warfare, could not launch any decisive counter-offensive against Japan. Chiang could not risk an all-out campaign given the poorly-trained, under-equipped, and disorganized state of his armies and opposition to his leadership both within Kuomintang and in China at large. He had lost a substantial portion of his best trained and equipped army defending Shanghai and was at times at the mercy of his generals, who maintained independence from the central government. On the other hand, Japan had suffered tremendous casualties from unexpectedly stubborn resistance from China and already developed problems in administering and garrisoning seized territories. Neither side could make any swift progress in a manner resembling the fall of France and Western Europe to Nazi Germany.

Most military analysts predicted that the Kuomintang could not continue fighting with most of the war factories located in the prosperous areas under or near Japanese control. Other global powers were reluctant to provide any support — unless supporting an ulterior motive — because in their opinion the Chinese would eventually lose the war, and did not wish to antagonize the Japanese who might, in turn, eye their colonial possessions in the region. They expected any support given to Kuomintang might worsen their own relationship with the Japanese, who taunted the Kuomintang with the prospect of conquest within 3 months.

However, Germany and the Soviet Union did provide support to the Chinese before the war escalated to the Asian theatre of World War II. Prior to the outbreak of the war, Germany and China had close economic and military cooperation, with Germany helping China modernize its industry and military in exchange for raw materials. More than half of the German arms exports during its rearmament period were to China. Nevertheless the proposed 30 new divisions equipped and trained with Germany assistance did not materialize when Germany withdrew its support in 1938. The Soviet Union wished to keep China in the war to hinder the Japanese from invading Siberia, thus saving itself from a two front war. In September 1937 the Soviet leadership signed Sino-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, began aiding China and approved Operation Zet, a Soviet volunteer air force. As part of the secret operation Soviet technicians upgraded and handled some of the Chinese war-supply transport. Bombers, fighters, military supplies and advisors arrived, including future Soviet war hero Georgy Zhukov, who won the Battle of Halhin Gol. Prior to the entrance of Western allies, the Soviet Union provided the largest amount of foreign aid to China, totalling some $250 million of credits in munitions and supplies. In 1941 Soviet aid ended as a result of the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact, signed after Operation Barbarossa. This pact avoided the Soviet Union from fighting against Germany and Japan at the same time.

Other prominent powers, including the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and France, only officially assisted in war supply contracts up to the attack on Pearl Harbor in late 1941, when a significant influx of trained military personnel and supplies boosted the Kuomintang chance of maintaining the fight.

Public opinion in the west was becoming favorable to the Kuomintang. At the start of the 1930s, public opinion had tended to support the Japanese. However, from December 1937, events such as the Japanese attack on the USS Panay and the Nanking Massacre, swung public opinion sharply against Japan, and increased fear of Japanese expansionism. In 1938, Australia prevented a Japanese Government-owned company from taking over an iron mine in Australia, and banned iron ore exports.[4] In the 1940 invasion of Vietnam, Japan successfully blockade China and prevent it from importing arms, fuel and 10,000 tons/month materials supplied by the Allies through the Haiphong-Yunnan Fou railway line.

By mid-1941, the United States organized the American Volunteer Group, or Flying Tigers. Their early combat success of 300 kills against a loss of 12 of their shark painted P-40 fighters earned them wide recognition while Allies were suffering heavy losses. Entering soon after the U.S. and Japan were at war, their dogfighting tactics would be adopted by US forces. They would also transmit the appreciative Chinese thumbs-up gesture for number one into military culture.

In addition, the United States, Britain and the Netherlands East Indies began oil and/or steel embargos. The loss of oil imports made it impossible for Japan to continue operations in China. This set the stage for Japan to launch a series of military attacks on the western Allies on December 8 1941 (December 7 in U.S. time zones), such as the raid on Pearl Harbor.

Entrance of Western AlliesEdit

File:Cairo conference.jpg

Within a few days of the attack on Pearl Harbor, both the United States and China officially declared war against Japan. Chiang Kai-shek continued to receive supplies from the United States, as the Chinese conflict was merged into the Asian theatre of World War II. However, in contrast to the Arctic supply route to the Soviet Union that stayed open most of the war, sea routes to China had long been closed, so between the closing of the Burma Road in 1942 and its re-opening as the Ledo Road in 1945, foreign aid was largely limited to what could be flown in over The Hump. Most of China's own industry had already been captured or destroyed by Japan, and the Soviet Union could spare little from the Eastern Front. Because of these reasons, the Chinese government never had the supplies and equipment needed to mount a major offensive.

Chiang was appointed Allied Commander-in-Chief in the China theater in 1942. General Joseph Stilwell served for a time as Chiang's Chief of Staff, while commanding US forces in the China Burma India Theater. However, relations between Stilwell and Chiang soon broke down, due to a number of factors. Some historians suggested it is largely due to the corruption and inefficiency of the Chinese government. However, some historians believed it was a more complicated situation. Stilwell had a strong desire to assume control of Chinese troops, which Chiang vehemently opposed. Stilwell did not appreciate the complexity of the situation, including the buildup of the Chinese Communist during the war (essentially Chiang had to fight a multi-front war - the Japanese on one side, the Communists on the other) Stilwell criticized the Chinese government's conduct of the war in the American media, and to President Franklin Roosevelt. Chiang was hesitant to deploy more Chinese troops away from the main front because China already suffered tens of millions of war casualties, and believed that Japan would eventually capitulate to America's overwhelming industrial output and manpower. The Allies began to lose confidence in the Chinese ability to conduct offensive operations from the Asian mainland, and instead concentrated their efforts against the Japanese in the Pacific Ocean Areas and South West Pacific Area, employing an island hopping strategy. Three months after the cessation of hostilities in the western front, as per the agreement made in the Yalta Conference, the USSR launched an overwhelming attack in Manchuria against the Japanese. Following the surrender of the Japanese to the Allied powers, the USSR proceeded to dismantle nearly all of the industrial equipment in Manchuria for transport back to the USSR. During this time, the CCP took refuge in the area, and looted what the Soviets had left, including most of the arms retreating Japanese forces left behind.

Conflicts among China, the United States, and the United Kingdom also emerged in the Pacific war. Winston Churchill was reluctant to devote British troops, the majority of whom were defeated by the Japanese in earlier campaigns, to reopen the Burma Road. On the other hand, Stilwell believed that the reopening of the Burma Road was vital to China as all the ports on mainland China were under Japanese control. Churchill's "Europe First" policy obviously did not sit well with Chiang. Furthermore, the later British insistence that China send in more and more troops into Indochina in the Burma Campaign, was regarded as an attempt by Great Britain to use Chinese manpower to secure Britain's colonial holdings in Southeast Asia and prevent the gate to India from falling to Japan. Chiang also believed that China should divert its troops to eastern China to defend the airbases of the American bombers, a strategy that Claire Chennault supported. In addition, Chiang voiced his support of Indian Independence in a meeting with Mahatma Gandhi in 1942, which further soured the relationship between China and the United Kingdom.

The United States saw the Chinese theater as a means to tie up a large number of Japanese troops, as well as being a location for American airbases from which to strike the Japanese home islands. In 1944, as the Japanese position in the Pacific was deteriorating fast, the IJA launched Operation Ichigo to attack the airbases which had begun to operate. This brought the Hunan, Henan, and Guangxi provinces under Japanese administration. The failure of the Chinese forces to defend these areas led to the replacement of Stilwell by Major General Albert Wedemeyer. However, Chinese troops under the command of Sun Li-jen drove out the Japanese in North Burma to secure the Ledo Road, a supply route to China. In Spring 1945 the Chinese launched offensives and retook Guangxi and other southwestern regions. With the Chinese army well in the progress training and equipping, Albert Wedemeyer planned to launch Operation Carbonado in summer 1945 to retake Guandong, obtaining a coastal port, and from there drive northwards toward Shanghai. However, the dropping of the atomic bombs hastened Japanese surrender and these plans were not put into action.

Casualties assessmentEdit


The conflict lasted for 97 months and 3 days (measured from 1937 to 1945).

Chinese casualtiesEdit

See also: Japanese war crimes
  • The Kuomintang fought in 22 major engagements, most of which involved more than 100,000 troops on both sides, 1,171 minor engagements most of which involved more than 50,000 troops on both sides, and 38,931 skirmishes.
  • The Chinese lost approximately 3.22 million soldiers. 9.13 million civilians died in the crossfire, and another 8.4 million as non-military casualties. According to historian Mitsuyoshi Himeta, at least 2.7 million civilians died during the "kill all, loot all, burn all" operation (sanko sakusen) implemented in May 1942 in North China by general Yasuji Okamura and authorized on 3 December 1941 by Imperial Headquarter Order number 575.[5]

Chinese sources list the total military and non-military casualties, dead and wounded, of the Chinese were 35 million.[6] Most Western historians believed that the casualties were at least 20 million.[7] Property loss of the Chinese valued up to 383 billion US dollars according to the currency exchange rate in July 1937, roughly 50 times of the GDP of Japan at that time (7.7 billion US dollars).

  • In addition, the war created 95 million refugees.

Japanese casualtiesEdit

The Japanese recorded around 1.1 to 1.9 million military casualties, killed, wounded and missing, although this number is disputed. The official death-toll according to the Japan defense ministry was only about 200,000, but this is believed to be extremely low when considering the length of the conflict. The combined Chinese forces claimed to have killed at most 1.77 million Japanese soldiers during the 8-year-war.


As of mid 1945, all sides expected the war to continue for at least another year. On August 6, an American B-29 bomber dropped the first atomic bomb used in combat on Hiroshima, in an attempt to force Japan to surrender, which it did not. Two days later, on August 9 the Soviets launched Operation August Storm. The Soviet Union, having renounced its non-aggression pact with Japan, attacked the Japanese in Manchuria, fulfilling its Yalta pledge to attack the Japanese within three months after the end of the war in Europe. The attack was made by three Soviet army groups. In less than two weeks the Kwantung Army in Manchuria, consisting of over a million men but lacking in adequate armor, artillery, or air support, and depleted of many of its best soldiers by the demands of the Allies' Pacific drive, had been destroyed by the Soviets. Later in the day on August 9, a second atomic bomb was dropped by the United States on Nagasaki. Emperor Hirohito officially capitulated to the Allies on August 15, 1945, and the official surrender was signed aboard the battleship USS Missouri on September 2. The Japanese troops in China formally surrendered on September 9, 1945 and by the provisions of the Cairo Conference of 1943 the lands of Manchuria, Taiwan and the Pescadores Islands reverted to China. However, the Ryukyu Islands were maintained as Japanese territory.

File:Liuchow 1945.jpg

In 1945 China emerged from the war nominally a great military power but was actually a nation economically prostrate and on the verge of all-out civil war. The economy deteriorated, sapped by the military demands of a long, costly war and internal strife, by spiraling inflation, and by Nationalist profiteering, speculation, and hoarding. Starvation came in the wake of the war, as large swathes of the prime farming areas were ravaged by the fighting. Millions were rendered homeless by floods and the destruction of towns and cities in many parts of the country. The situation was further complicated by an Allied agreement at the Yalta Conference in February 1945 that brought Soviet troops into Manchuria to hasten the termination of war against Japan. Although the Chinese had not been present at Yalta, they had been consulted; they had agreed to have the Soviets enter the war in the belief that the Soviet Union would deal only with the Nationalist government. After the war, the Soviet Union, as part of the Yalta agreement's allowing a Soviet sphere of influence in Manchuria, dismantled and removed more than half the industrial equipment left there by the Japanese. The Soviet presence in northeast China enabled the Communists to move in long enough to arm themselves with the equipment surrendered by the withdrawing Japanese army. The problems of rehabilitating the formerly Japanese-occupied areas and of reconstructing the nation from the ravages of a protracted war were staggering.


The war left the Nationalists severely weakened and their policies left them unpopular. Meanwhile the war strengthened the Communists, both in popularity and as a viable fighting force. At Yan'an and elsewhere in the "liberated areas," Mao was able to adapt Marxism-Leninism to Chinese conditions. He taught party cadres to lead the masses by living and working with them, eating their food, and thinking their thoughts. When this failed, however, more repressive forms of coercion, indoctrination and ostracization were also employed. The Red Army fostered an image of conducting guerrilla warfare in defense of the people. In addition, the CCP was effectively split into "Red" (cadres working in the "liberated" areas) and "White" (cadres working underground in enemy-occupied territory) spheres, a split that would later sow future factionalism within the CCP. Communist troops adapted to changing wartime conditions and became a seasoned fighting force. Mao also began preparing for the establishment of a new China, well away from the front at his base in Yan'an. In 1940 he outlined the program of the Chinese Communists for an eventual seizure of power and began his final push for consolidation of CCP power under his authority. His teachings became the central tenets of the CCP doctrine that came to be formalized as "Mao Zedong Thought". With skillful organizational and propaganda work, the Communists increased party membership from 100,000 in 1937 to 1.2 million by 1945. Soon, all out war broke out between the KMT and CCP, a war that would leave the Nationalists banished to Taiwan and the Communists victorious on the mainland.



To this day the war is a major point of contention between China and Japan. The war remains a major roadblock for Sino-Japanese relations today, and many people, particularly in China, harbour grudges over the war and related issues. A small but vocal group of Japanese nationalists and/or right-wingers deny a variety of crimes attributed to Japan. The Japanese invasion of its neighbours is often glorified or whitewashed, and wartime atrocities, most notably the Nanjing Massacre, comfort women, and Unit 731, are frequently denied by such individuals. The Japanese government has also been accused of historical revisionism by allowing the approval of school textbooks omitting or glossing over Japan's militant past. In response to criticism of Japanese textbook revisionism, the PRC government has been accused of using the war to stir up already growing anti-Japanese feelings in order to whip up nationalistic sentiments and divert its citizens' minds from internal matters.

The PRC government has also been accused of greatly exaggerating the CCP's role in fighting the Japanese. The PRC has traditionally emphasized the role of communist guerrilla warfare behind enemy lines and claimed that the KMT refused to fight the Japanese. Such viewpoint is often challenged by contemporary generals and historians. One such notable critic is General Hau Pei-tsun, who refused to attend a joint celebration in China marking the sixtieth anniversary of the end of war in 2005, claiming that the PRC continues to distort history. In reality, the KMT army, including Chiang Kai-shek's central army and other non-Whampoa provincial armies, carried the brunt of combat during the war. The KMT army suffered some 3.2 million casualties while the CCP increased its military strength from practically nothing to 1.7 million men. In addition, many surviving KMT officers and soldiers, who were not able to evacuate to Taiwan following the Chinese Civil War, were also persecuted by the communist government and sent to labor camps for having served under Chiang Kai-shek's command. Their descendants and relatives also faced hardships as they were categorized as "counter-revolutionaries" during the Cultural Revolution.

The legacy of the war is more complicated in the Republic of China on Taiwan. Traditionally, the government has held celebrations marking the Victory Day on September 9 (now known as Armed Forces Day), and Taiwan's Retrocession Day on October 25. However, with the power transfer from KMT to the more pro-Taiwan independence pan-green coalition and the rise of desinicization, events commemorating the war have become less commonplace. Many supporters of Taiwan independence see no relevance in preserving the memory of the war of resistance that happened primarily on mainland China (and even sympathize with Japanese actions). Still, commemorations are held in regions where politics is dominated by the pan-blue coalition. Many pan-blue supporters, particularly veterans who retreated with the government in 1949, still have an emotional interest in the war. For example, in celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of the end of war in 2005, the cultural bureau of pan-blue stronghold Taipei held a series of talks in the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall regarding the war and post-war developments, while the KMT held its own exhibit in the KMT headquarters.

Number of troops involvedEdit

National Revolutionary ArmyEdit

Main article: National Revolutionary Army

File:Republic of China Army Flag.svg

The National Revolutionary Army (NRA) throughout its lifespan employed approximately 4,300,000 regulars, in 370 Standard Divisions (正式師), 46 New Divisions (新編師), 12 Cavalry Divisions (Template:Lang), 8 New Cavalry Divisions (新編騎兵師), 66 Temporary Divisions (暫編師), and 13 Reserve Divisions (預備師), for a grand total of 515 divisions. However, many divisions were formed from 2 or more other divisions, and many were not active at the same time. The number of active divisions, at the start of the war in 1937, was about 170 NRA divisions. The average NRA division had 4,000–5,000 troops. A Chinese army was roughly the equivalent to a Japanese division in terms of manpower but the Chinese forces were largely lacked artillery, heavy weapons, and motorized transport. The shortage of military hardware meant that three to four Chinese armies had the firepower of only one Japanese division. Because of these material constraints, available artillery and heavy weapons were usually assigned to specialist brigades rather than to the general division, which caused more problems as the Chinese command structure lacked precise coordination. The relative fighting strength of a Chinese division was even weaker when relative capacity in aspects of warfare, such as intelligence, logistics, communications, and medical services, are taken into account.

The National Revolutionary Army can be divided roughly into two groups. The first one is the so-called dixi (嫡系, "direct descent") group, which comprised divisions trained by the Whampoa Military Academy and loyal to Chiang Kai-shek, and can be considered the Central Army (中央軍) of the NRA. The second group is known as the zapai (雜牌, "miscellaneous units"), and comprised all divisions led by non-Whampoa commanders, and is more often known as the Regional Army or the Provincial Army (省軍). Even though both military groups were part of the National Revolutionary Army, their distinction lies much in their allegiance to the central government of Chiang Kai-shek. Many former warlords and regional militarists were incorporated into the NRA under the flag of the Kuomintang, but in reality they retained much independence from the central government. They also controlled much of the military strength of China, the most notable of them being the Guangxi, Shanxi, Yunnan and Ma Cliques.

Main article: Chinese Red Army

Although during the war the Chinese Communist forces fought as a nominal part of the NRA, the number of those on the CCP side, due to their guerrilla status, is difficult to determine, though estimates place the total number of the Eighth Route Army, New Fourth Army, and irregulars in the Communist armies at 1,300,000.

For more information of combat effectiveness of communist armies and other units of Chinese forces see Chinese armies in the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Imperial Japanese ArmyEdit

Flag of Japan - variant

Flag of the Imperial Japanese Army.

  • The IJA had approximately 2,000,000 regulars. More Japanese troops were quartered in China than deployed elsewhere in the Pacific Theater during the war. Japanese divisions ranged from 20,000 men in its divisions numbered less than 100, to 10,000 men in divisions numbered greater than 100. At the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, the IJA had 51 divisions of which 35 were in China, and 39 independent brigades of which all but one were in China. This represented roughly 80% of the IJA's manpower.
  • The Collaborationist Chinese Army in 1938 had 78,000 people, and grew to 145,000 in 1940. Their growth was explosive around 1942-43, and according to KMT estimates 1,186,000 people were involved in the collaborationist army by the war's end. However, 2 million is also a figure often-quoted, which would make China the only country in World War II with a collaborationist army which outnumbered the invading army. At their height they fielded a maximum of 900,000 troops. Almost all of them belonged to the regional puppet governments such as Manchukuo, Provisional Government of the Republic of China (Beijing), Reformed Government of the Republic of China (Nanjing) and the later collaborationist Nanjing Nationalist Government or Wang Jingwei regime. The puppet and collaborationist troops were mainly assigned to garrison and logistics duties in areas held by the puppet governments and in occupied territories. They were rarely fielded in combat because of low morale and distrust by the Japanese, and fared poorly in skirmishes against real Chinese forces, whether the KMT or the CCP.

Chinese and Japanese equipmentEdit

The National Revolutionary ArmyEdit

The Central Army possessed 80 Army infantry divisions with approximately 8,000 men each, nine independent brigades, nine cavalry divisions, two artillery brigades, 16 artillery regiments and three armored battalions. The Chinese Navy displaced only 59,000 tonnes and the Chinese Air Force comprised only 600 aircraft.

Chinese weapons were mainly produced in the Hanyang and Guangdong arsenals. However, for most of the German-trained divisions, the standard firearms were German-made 7.92 mm Gewehr 98 and Karabiner 98k. A local variant of the 98k style rifles were often called the "Chiang Kai-shek rifle" a Chinese copy from the Mauser Standard Modell another rifle they used was Hanyang 88. The standard light machine gun was a local copy of the Czech 7.92 mm Brno ZB26. There were also Belgian and French LMGs. Surprisingly, the NRA did not purchase any of the famous Maschinengewehr 34s from Germany, but did produce their own copies of them. On average in these divisions, there was one machine gun set for each platoon. Heavy machine guns were mainly locally-made 1924 water-cooled Maxim guns, from German blueprints. On average every battalion would get one HMG. The standard sidearm was the 7.63 mm Mauser M1932 semi-automatic pistol.

Some divisions were equipped with 37mm PaK 35/36 anti-tank guns, and/or mortars from Oerlikon, Madsen, and Solothurn. Each infantry division had 6 French Brandt 81 mm mortars and 6 Solothurn 20mm autocannons. Some independent brigades and artillery regiments were equipped with Bofors 72mm L/14, or Krupp 72mm L/29 mountain guns. They were 24 Rheinmetall 150mm L/32 sFH 18 howitzers (bought in 1934) and 24 Krupp 150mm L/30 sFH 18 howitzers (bought in 1936).

Infantry uniforms were basically redesigned Zhongshan suits. Leg wrappings are standard for soldiers and officers alike since the primary mode of movement for NRA troops was by foot. The helmets were the most distinguishing characteristic of these divisions. From the moment German M35 helmets (standard issue for the Wehrmacht until late in the European theatre) rolled off the production lines in 1935, and until 1936, the NRA imported 315,000 of these helmets, each with the 12-ray sun emblem of the ROC on the sides. Other equipment included cloth shoes for soldiers, leather shoes for officers and leather boots for high-ranking officers. Every soldier was issued ammunition, ammunition pouch/harness, a water flask, combat knives, food bag, and a gas mask.

On the other hand, warlord forces varied greatly in terms of equipment and training. Some warlord troops were notoriously under-equipped, such as Shanxi's Dadao Teams and the Yunnanese army. Some however were highly professional forces with their own air force and navies. The quality of Guangxi's army was almost on par with the Central Army's, as the Guangzhou region was wealthy and the local army could afford foreign instructors and arms. The Muslim Ma Clique to the Northwest was famed for its well-trained cavalry divisions.

The Imperial Japanese ArmyEdit

Although Imperial Japan possessed significant mobile operational capacity, it did not possess capability for maintaining a long sustained war. At the beginning of the Sino-Japanese War the Japanese Army comprised 17 divisions, each composed of approximately 22,000 men, 5,800 horses, 9,500 rifles and submachine guns, 600 heavy machine guns of assorted types, 108 artillery pieces, and 24 tanks. Special forces were also available. The Japanese Navy displaced a total of 1,900,000 tonnes, ranking third in the world, and possessed 2,700 aircraft at the time. Each Japanese division was the equivalent in fighting strength of four Chinese regular divisions (at the beginning of Battle of Shanghai (1937)).

See also:

Who fought the War of Resistance?Edit

The question as to which political group directed the Chinese war effort and exerted most of the effort to resist the Japanese still remains a controversial issue.

In the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japan Memorial near the Marco Polo Bridge and in mainland Chinese textbooks, the People's Republic of China claims that it was the Communist Party that directed Chinese efforts in the war and did everything to resist the Japanese invasion. Recently, however, with a change in the political climate, the CCP has admitted that certain Nationalist generals made important contributions in resisting the Japanese. The official history in mainland China is that the KMT fought a bloody, yet indecisive, frontal war against Japan, while it was the CCP that engaged the Japanese forces in far greater numbers behind enemy lines. This emphasis on the CCP's central role is partially reflected by the PRC's labeling of the war as the Chinese People's Anti-Japanese War of Resistance rather than merely the War of Resistance. According to the PRC official point of view, the Nationalists mostly avoided fighting the Japanese in order to preserve its strength for a final showdown with the Communists. However, for the sake of Chinese reunification and appeasing the ROC on Taiwan, the PRC has now "acknowledged" that the Nationalists and the Communists were "equal" contributors because the victory over Japan belonged to the Chinese people, rather than to any political party.

Leaving aside Nationalists sources, scholars researching third party Japanese and Soviet sources have documented quite a different view. Such studies claim that the Communists actually played a minuscule involvement in the war against the Japanese compared to the Nationalists and used guerrilla warfare as well as opium sales to preserve its strength for a final showdown with the Kuomintang.[8] This is congruent with the Nationalist viewpoint, as demonstrated by history textbooks published in Taiwan, which gives the KMT credit for the brunt of the fighting. According to these third-party scholars, the Communists were not the main participants in any of the 22 major battles, most involving more than 100,000 troops on both sides, between China and Japan. Soviet liaison to the Chinese Communists Peter Vladimirov documented that he never once found the Chinese Communists and Japanese engaged in battle during the period from 1942 to 1945. He also expressed frustration at not being allowed by the Chinese Communists to visit the frontline,[9] although as a foreign diplomat Vladimirov may have been overly optimistic to expect to be allowed to join Chinese guerrilla sorties. The Communists usually avoided open warfare (the Hundred Regiments Campaign and the Battle of Pingxingguan are notable exceptions), preferring to fight in small squads to harass the Japanese supply lines. In comparison, right from the beginning of the war the Nationalists committed their best troops (including the 36th, 87th, 88th divisions, the crack divisions of Chiang's Central Army) to defend Shanghai from the Japanese. The Japanese considered the Kuomintang rather than the Communists as their main enemy[10] and bombed the Nationalist wartime capital of Chongqing to the point that it was the most heavily bombed city in the world to date.[11] Also, the main bulk of Japanese forces were fighting mainly in Central and Southern China, away from major Communist strongholds such as those in Shaanxi.

Major figuresEdit

China: NationalistEdit

China: CommunistEdit

Japan: Imperial Japanese ArmyEdit

Puppet governmentsEdit



East Hebei Autonomous Council

Provisional Government of the Republic of China

Nanjing Nationalist Government

Foreign personnel on Chinese sideEdit

Military engagements of the Second Sino-Japanese WarEdit



Battles with articles. Flag shows victorious side in each engagement. Date shows beginning date except for the 1942 battle of Changsha, which began in Dec. 1941.

Aerial EngagementsEdit

Japanese invasion and planned operationsEdit

List of Japanese political and military incidentsEdit

Attacks on civiliansEdit

See alsoEdit

This article contains Chinese text.
Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Chinese characters.


  1. Jowett, Phillip, Rays of the Rising Sun, pg.72.
  2. Bix, Herbert P. "The Showa Emperor's 'Monologue' and the Problem of War Responsibility", Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol. 18, No. 2. (Summer, 1992), pp. 295–363.
  3. Herbert Bix, Hirohito and the making of modern Japan, 2001, p.364
  4. "Memorandum by Mr J. McEwen, Minister for External Affairs 10 May 1940"
  5. Himeta, Sankô sakusen towa nan dataka-Chûgokujin no mita Nihon no sensô, Iwanami Bukuretto 1996, p.43.
  6. Remember role in ending fascist war
  7. Nuclear Power: The End of the War Against Japan
  8. Chang and Ming, July 12 2005, pg. 8; and Chang and Halliday, pg. 233, 246, 286–287
  9. Chang and Ming, July 12 2005
  10. Chang and Halliday, pg. 231
  11. Chang and Halliday, pg. 232


External linksEdit

Topographic Maps of Manchuria during the Second World War.

  • Joint Study of the Sino-Japanese War, Harvard University. Multi-year project seeks to expand research by promoting cooperation among scholars and institutions in China, Japan, the United States, and other nations. Includes extensive bibliographies [2]

Campaigns and theatres of World War II
European Theatre
Poland | Phony War | Denmark & Norway | France & Benelux countries | Britain
Eastern Front 1941-45 | Continuation War | Western Front 1944-45
Asian and Pacific Theatres
China | Pacific Ocean | South-East Asia | South West Pacific | Manchuria 1945
The Mediterranean, Africa and Middle East
Mediterranean Sea | East Africa | North Africa | West Africa | Balkans
Middle East | Madagascar | Italy
Atlantic Ocean | Strategic bombing | Attacks on North America | Arctic | Antarctica | Caribbean Sea | Attacks on Australia
Contemporary wars
Chinese Civil War | Soviet-Japanese Border War | Winter War
French-Thai War | Anglo-Iraqi War | Greek Civil War | Sino-Japanese War | Lapland War | Ecuadorian-Peruvian War

Template:WWII history by nation

World War II
Participants Theatres Main events Specific articles

The Allies
Flag of the United Kingdom United Kingdom
Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union
US flag 48 stars United States
Flag of the Republic of China Republic of China
Flag of Poland Poland
Flag of Free France 1940-1944 Free France
Flag of the Netherlands Netherlands
Flag of Belgium Belgium
Canadian Red Ensign 1921 Canada
Flag of Norway Norway
Flag of Greece (1828-1978) Greece
Flag of SFR Yugoslavia Yugoslavia
Flag of the Czech Republic Czechoslovakia
Imperial-India-Blue-Ensign India
Flag of Australia Australia
Flag of El Salvador El Salvador
Flag of New Zealand New Zealand
Flag of South Africa 1928-1994 South Africa
Flag of Egypt 1922 Egypt
Flag of the Philippines Philippines
Flag of Brazil Brazil


The Axis
Flag of Germany 1933 Germany
Flag of Japan - variant Japan
Flag of Italy (1861-1946) crowned Italy
Flag of Vichy France Vichy France
Flag of Hungary 1940 Hungary
Flag of Bulgaria (1878-1944) Bulgaria
Rumania Romania
Flag of Finland Finland
Flag of Croatia Ustasa Croatia
Slovakia WW2 flag Slovakia
Flag of Thailand Thailand


in Europe
in Asia

Main theatres
Eastern Europe
Middle East
Asia and the Pacific

General timeline

Invasion of Poland
Winter War

Invasion of Denmark/Norway
Battle of France
Battle of Britain

Invasion of the Soviet Union
Battle of Moscow
Attack on Pearl Harbor

Battle of Midway
Battle of Stalingrad
Second Battle of El Alamein

Battle of Kursk
Guadalcanal campaign
Invasion of Italy

Battle of Normandy
Operation Bagration
Battle of Leyte Gulf

Battle of Okinawa
Battle of Berlin
End in Europe
Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Surrender of Japan


Home Front
Military engagements

Civilian impact and atrocities
Nanking Massacre
Siege of Leningrad
Dutch famine of 1944
Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Strategic bombings
Comfort women
Allied war crimes
German war crimes
Japanese war crimes

Expulsion of Germans
Cold War

See also

Category:World War II
Total war
WWII in contemporary culture
Military awards of World War II
Attacks on North America
Comparative military ranks of World War II

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.