World War II was fought between two major groups of nations. They became known as the Axis and Allied Powers. The major Allied Powers were Britain, France, Russia, and the United States.
The Allies formed mostly as a defense against the attacks of the Axis Powers. The original members of the Allies included Great Britain, France and Poland. When Germany invaded Poland, Great Britain and France declared war on Germany.
Russia becomes and Ally
At the start of World War II, Russia and Germany were friends. However, on 22 June 1941 Hitler, the leader of Germany, ordered a surprise attack on Russia. Russia then became an enemy of the Axis Powers and joined the Allies.
The US Joins the Allied Powers
The United States had hoped to remain neutral during World War II. However, the US was attacked by surprise at Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. This attack united the country against the Axis Powers and turned the tide of World War II in the favor of the Allies.
Allied Leaders (from left to right) Winston Churchill, President Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin Photo by Unknown
Leaders of the Allied Powers:
Great Britain: Winston Churchill - Prime Minister of Great Britain during most of World War II, Winston Churchill was a great leader. His country was the last country fighting against the Germans in Europe. He is known for his famous speeches to his people when the Germans were bombing them during the Battle of Britain.
United States: Franklin D. Roosevelt - One of the greatest presidents in the history of the United States, President Roosevelt led the country out of the Great Depression and through World War II.
Russia: Joseph Stalin - Stalin's title was General Secretary of the Communist Party. He led Russia through terrible and devastating battles with Germany. Millions and millions of people died. After winning the war, he set up the Eastern Bloc of Soviet led communist states.
France: Charles de Gaulle - Leader of the Free French, de Gaulle led the French resistance movement against Germany.
Other Allied leaders and generals in the war:
Bernard Montgomery - General of the British Army, "Monty" also led the ground troops during the invasion of Normandy.
Neville Chamberlain - Was the Prime Minister prior to Winston Churchill. He wanted peace with Germany.
Harry S. Truman - Truman became president after Roosevelt died. He had to make the call to use the atomic bomb against Japan.
George Marshall - General of the US Army during World War II, Marshall earned the Nobel Peace Prize for the Marshall Plan after the war.
Dwight D Eisenhower - Nicknamed "Ike", Eisenhower led the US Army in Europe. He planned and led the Invasion of the Normandy.
Douglas MacArthur - MacArthur was General of the Army in the Pacific fighting the Japanese.
George S. Patton, Jr. - Patton was an important general in North Africa and Europe.
General Douglas MacArthur
Source: National Archives
Georgy Zhukov - Zhukov was leader of the Russian Red Army. He led the army that pushed the Germans back to Berlin.
Vasily Chuikov - Chuikov was the general who led the Russian Army in defending Stalingrad against the fierce German attack.
Chiang Kai-shek - Leader of the Republic of China, he allied with the Chinese Communist Party to fight the Japanese. After the war he fled from the communists to Taiwan.
Mao Zedong - Leader of the Communist Party of China, he allied with Kai-shek in order to fight the Japanese. He gained control of mainland China after the war.
Other countries that were part of the Allies:
Poland - It was the invasion of Poland by Germany in 1939 that started World War II.
China - China was invaded by Japan in 1937. They became a member of the Allies after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
Other countries that were part of the Allied Nations included Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Netherlands, Yugoslavia, Belgium, and Greece.
Note: There were even more countries that were on the same side as the Allies mostly because they had been taken over or attacked by Axis countries.
Great Britain, Russia, and the United States were sometimes called the Big Three. When China was included they were called the Four Policemen. It was the Four Policemen who founded the United Nations.
General Patton's nickname was "Old blood and guts". General MacArthur had the nickname "Dugout Doug".
There were 26 countries who signed the original Declaration by United Nations on January 1, 1942. After the war, on 24 October 1945, 51 countries signed the Charter of the United Nations.
Winston Churchill once said "a joke is a very serious thing". He also said "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on".