OF WORLD WAR II
|We learnt that back
in Europe, the ambitious Hitler was busy
strengthening the German military forces. His
intense desire to make Germany strong and
powerful led him to attack and conquer his
||When he attacked
Poland in 1939, Britain intervened and demanded
Hitler to withdraw his troops. Failing to achieve
an agreement, Britain declared war on Germany.
The war eventually grew to become the Second
WAR IN EUROPE
||In 1938, Hitler
started his territorial expansion plan. He
conquered Austria and then Czechoslovakia in
|Britain and France
did not take any action against Germany for they
remembered the horrors of World War I. They hoped
that Hitler would be satisfied with his conquest
and stop invading other lands. However, this was
not the case. Hitler planned to invade Poland
||The German troops
invaded Poland on 1 September 1939. The British
demanded Germany to withdraw its troops from
Poland. Being refused of the demand, Britain
declared war on Germany. As the war continued,
more European countries were drawn into it. One
by one, Denmark, Norway, Holland and Belgium fell
into the Germans clutches. France was
conquered in June 1940.
Winston Churchill was Britains wartime
Prime Minister. He was one of the great leaders
of the Allies. A determined man, he made several
encouraging speeches to encourage the British to
fight on during the war.
Winston Churchill (centre)
For almost a year, Britain fought alone against
Germany and Italy. Russia only joined Britain when
Germany invaded it in June 1941. Later on, the United
States joined them too when Japan attacked the American
naval base at Pearl Harbour in Hawaii.
WAR IN ASIA AND
Japanese landing on British North
Borneo (Sabah, West Malaysia)
Just like the ambitious Germany, Japan aimed to be the
masters of Asia and the Pacific. We read about how Japan
started to invade China in 1937. Its main reasons for the
invasion were to obtain raw materials like coal and iron
from China and also gain control of Chinas vast
|When the war with
China dragged too long, Japan began to change its
target. Spotting a precious opportunity in the
Europe war, Japan decided to become a member of
the Axis Powers. In September 1940, Japan signed
a treaty with Germany and Italy, marking its
participation in the war against the Allies.
||The United States
had wanted Japan to stop invading China and
Indo-China. However, Japan refused to comply. As
a result, the Americans, British and Dutch
refused to sell oil, iron, rubber, tin and other
war materials to Japan. Determined to persevere,
Japan decided to conquer Southeast Asia, where
war materials were plentiful.
Japan knew that it could conquer Southeast Asia
very easily as the European rulers have exhausted
their powers in the Europe war. France and
Holland were conquered by Germany. Hence, they
could not defend French Indo-China and the Dutch
East Indies. Britain was too preoccupied with
fighting in Europe to protect her territories in
The Philippines was however, under American rule.
The powerful Americans could prevent Japan from
invading Southeast Asia. Hence, the Japanese
government felt that it had to weaken the
American powers first. It then decided to attack
the American air force in the Philippines and
also destroy the American fleet of warships at
Pearl Harbor in the Hawaiian Islands.
THE ATTACK ON
On 7 December 1941, Japan carried out a surprise
attack on the American Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbour.
Armed with more than 350 planes and some submarines,
the Japanese successfully sank or destroyed most of the
American warships at Pearl Harbour.
It also destroyed many American planes in a nearby
airbase. Many Americans were killed in the surprise
|A few hours after
this attack, Japanese planes flew to the
Philippines and destroyed the American air force
there too. These two surprise Japanese attacks
angered the Americans so much that America
decided to join the Allies in the war.
||However, by then,
the military forces of America were already
significantly weakened. Japan thus invaded
Southeast Asia without much difficulty.
CONQUEST OF SOUTHEAST ASIA -- A GLANCE...
fighting to stop the oil supply to China
Burma was conquered by Japan in December 1941. By
conquering Burma, Japan could then stop war supplies from
being sent to China from Burma via the Burma Road.
|In December 1941,
Japanese troops invaded the Philippines. Although
the American and Filipino troops fought bravely,
they eventually surrendered to the Japanese on 6
May 1942 due to a lack of armed forces.
||On the same day it
attacked Pearl Harbour, Japan landed in Southern
Thailand and northern Malaya. It dropped its
first bombs on Singapore. Within ten weeks,
Malaya and Singapore fell into Japanese clutches.
In December 1941, Japan began to invade the East
Indies. In January 1942, they conquered Borneo
and gained control of the Dutch and British oil
In the Battle of the Java Sea, the powerful
Japanese defeated a combined fleet of British,
Dutch, Australian and American warships. After
that, it successfully conquered Java, Sumatra and
other islands in the East Indies.
Thus within a short period of six months, Japan
conquered almost the whole of Southeast Asia. Only
Thailand remained unconquered because the Thais signed a
treaty of friendship with Japan, allowing Japan to set up
military bases in Thailand.