Facts about the World War II

October 21, 2019
U.S. Marines of the 28th
Sunset on the Western Front in WW2 (Culture Club/Getty Images)

1) France had more tanks, guns and men than Germany in 1940

It is always assumed that during the Second World War the Germans bludgeoned their way to victory with a highly modern and mechanised army and Air Force that was superior to anything the Allies could muster in May 1940. The reality was very different.

On 10 May 1940, when the Germans attacked, only 16 of their 135 divisions were mechanised – that is, equipped with motorised transport. The rest depended on horses and cart or feet. France alone had 117 divisions.

France also had more guns: Germany had 7, 378 artillery pieces and France 10, 700. It didn't stop there: the Germans could muster 2, 439 tanks while the French had 3, 254, most of which were bigger, better armed and armoured than the German panzers.

2) The priority for manpower in the UK is surprising

Britain had decided before the war began that it would make air and naval power the focus of its fighting capability, and it was only after the fall of France that British powers realised that the Army would have to grow substantially too.

However, right up until the spring of 1944, the priority for manpower in the UK was not the navy, RAF, army, or even the merchant navy, but the Ministry of Aircraft Production. In the war, Britain alone built 132, 500 aircraft, a staggering achievement – especially when considering that Fighter Command in the battle of Britain never had more than 750 fighters.

3) Allied merchant shipping losses were just 1 per cent

Allied shipping losses in the Second World War in the North Atlantic, Arctic and Home Waters were just 1.48 per cent. Overall, there were 323, 090 individual sailings, of which 4, 786 were sunk. Of these, 2, 562 were British, but on average, there were around 2, 000 British ships sailing somewhere around the world on any given day.

Convoys, for the most part, were pretty safe, even though a few suffered terribly. Independent sailings and stragglers from convoys suffered the worst, but faster independent sailings were needed to cut down on unloading time and congestion, which was the drawback of the convoy system.

4) Britain had the least rationing in Europe

France and Britain began the war without rationing and, while it was modestly introduced in Britain in January 1940, France had still resisted by the time they were defeated in June 1940. Germany, on the other hand, introduced rationing before the war and struggled to feed its armed forces and the wider population from start to finish.

Source: www.historyextra.com
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