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From Empire to Nationhood

The Allies

Churchill and RooseveltChurchill and RooseveltFrance surrendered to Germany in June 1940. Britain's wartime isolation ended when the USSR and US entered the war following Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

Ministry of Information bookletMinistry of Information bookletUntil the closing stages of the war, British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, US President Franklin D Roosevelt and Josef Stalin represented the so- called 'Big Three' in a series of conferences notably at Tehran and Yalta.

Their relationship was crucial in determining the conduct of the campaign while the subsequent breakdown of trust between the USSR and its allies heralded a new 'Cold War' that was to last more than forty years.

Alanbrooke diary, 6 June 1944Alanbrooke diary, 6 June 1944Throughout the war, the allies overcame serious differences over strategy. In his private diary, General Alan Brooke, later Viscount Alanbrooke, Chief of the Imperial General Staff from December 1941 and head of the Army, complained:

'A desperate day! We are further from obtaining agreement than we ever were … there was disagreement between the Joint Planners on the question of Burma … the main difficulty rested with the fact that the USA Joint Planners did not agree with Germany being the primary enemy and were wishing to defeat Japan first!!!'

(Casablanca Conference, January 1943) Operation OverlordOperation Overlord

Another key area of debate concerned the location and timing of the opening of the main second front in Europe - between advocates of landing in northern France or the Mediterranean.

The issue was resolved when Operation Overlord commenced with the Normandy amphibious assaults in June 1944. These began the task of defeating Germany in northwestern Europe.

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