Hut 29 – 1945
In April 1945, the Italian Front suddenly burst into life after six months of near stalemate. Morale was dangerously low among the Allied troops because of the extremely harsh winter conditions following a year of hard fighting in 1944. There was also an all pervading feeling that Italy was merely a sideshow compared with greater events in other areas.
The Battle of the Rhine
By January 1945, the Allies were planning a campaign rivaling the plans for D-Day. This was the assault across the Rhine, the last great natural barrier protecting Hitler’s Reich.
The Red Army Advances
In December 1944, Major-General Gehlen, in charge of German Military Intelligence on the Eastern Front, had warned Hitler of increasing Russian strength, particularly on the Vistula, threatening East Prussia and ultimately Prussia and Berlin.
The Battle for Berlin 1945
Much has been said and written about the fall of Berlin at the end of the war. Many have argued that the Anglo-American forces should have made the taking of Berlin a primary objective, rather than leaving it to the Soviet forces to take the German capital. However, the Allied agreement at the Yalta conference in February 1945, promised that the Anglo-American forces would halt at the Elbe. The Americans became obsessed with the idea that the Nazis would set up a final position of resistance in Bavaria.
Americans in Britain
The ‘G.I.’ (initials standing for Government Issue in reference to their uniforms) became the generic term applied to all American servicemen who arrived in Britain with a force of over 1 million men in 1942. These were the early days of the American build-up in the UK. The American servicemen brought with them a glut of candy and nylons, all of which led to somewhat derogatory phrase about the Americans; ‘Over paid, over sexed, and over here.’
The Yalta Conference
On 4th February 1945, the big three Allied leaders, Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt, met in Yalta in the Crimea, to settle the future of Europe as soon as Germany was defeated. Roosevelt, becoming increasingly unwell, met Churchill two days earlier at Malta before flying on to Yalta.
The Potsdam Conference
The last Allied conference to be held was at Potsdam, outside Berlin, between 17th July and 2nd August 1945. Harry Truman, who had succeeded the American Presidency after the death of Roosevelt on 12th April, announced on the 24th July that he had a new and powerful weapon to be used against Japan; the Atomic Bomb. On 28th July, Clement Attlee joined the conference, after Churchill suffered an overwhelming defeat in the British General Election. With the absence of Roosevelt and Churchill at the conference, Stalin was the only major war leader left.
VE Day (Victory in Europe Day) Tuesday 8th May 1945
After five years and eight months of war in Europe, Nazi Germany had been beaten into total surrender. Winston Churchill made a broadcast to the British nation and the empire, “The evil doers are now prostrate before us. Our gratitude to our splendid allies goes forth from all our hearts in this island and throughout the British Empire.” Once the news had been broadcast that the war was over, Tuesday 8th May 1945 was declared a public holiday.
During the Allied sweep across Germany in 1945, the full horrors of the concentration and death camps were being discovered. Groups persecuted and targeted by the Nazis, which included Jews, Romani, further ethnic minorities, the disabled, homosexuals and political opponents, had been sent by the millions to concentration camps created specifically for their extermination. The horrific treatment and mass-murder of millions of prisoners was revealed to the world, and deeply shocked the hardened Allied soldiers and pressmen sent to the camps to assist with the liberation.
Victory in Japan
On 6th August 1945, the first Atomic Bomb was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The devastating event killed between 60,000 and 80,000 people, either immediately or in the weeks directly after the explosion. Another 70,000 suffered horrendous injuries. The long term genetic effects on the surviving population are still not fully understood. On 9th August, a second attack wrought havoc on the city of Nagasaki. Russia entered the Japanese war on 8th August, and its vast war machine moved into Manchuria. By 14th August, the Japanese Emperor had accepted unconditional surrender, in the face of the potential destruction of his country. On 30th August a contingent of American and British troops landed at Yokusuka. Many Japanese officers could not accept what was happening and took the honourable route of committing Hari Kari.
War in Peace Time
Despite peace being declared in 1945, the fighting continued in many areas, often in confrontations between the communist forces and the west.
United Nations Organisation (U.N.O)
The United Nations Organisation was an idea devised by Roosevelt and Churchill in 1944, to avoid unnecessary conflict in the world, and was already in existence by the end of the war. So far the U.N.O can be seen as more successful than the League of Nations, which was formed after the First World War.