Two major alliances formed the basis of polarization during World War II. The war ended in a clear victory of the Allied Powers. The chief nations that made up the Allies are Great Britain, the Soviet Union, the United States, and China. France was also a significant Allied Nation but remained under Axis occupation between 1940 and 1944. The major Axis nations – Germany, Italy, and Japan were bound by strategic alliances such as the Anti-Comintern Pact and the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact (Nazi-Soviet Pact). Several client states also supported the Axis powers.
By the start of World War II in 1939, the Allied nations included the United Kingdom and France (and their colonies) and Poland. Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa – the Dominions of the British Commonwealth soon joined hands with the Allies. The Soviet Union joined in June 1941. The US had been supporting the Allies with finances and arms but after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, joined the war in December 1941. China also joined the alliance that year. By this time, France and Poland had been defeated and occupied.
The Allied nations generally refer to all those who signed the Declaration of the United Nations during World War II. The first countries to sign the declaration on January 1, 1942, were –
• Costa Rica
• Dominican Republic
• El Salvador
• New Zealand
• South Africa
• Soviet Union
• United Kingdom
• United States
Other states that signed the declaration during the war were –
While we generally speak of the victory of the Allied nations over the Axis powers, we often fail to mention the tremendous contribution of the British colonies (of the time) towards the war efforts. We may even go so far as to say that without the participation of the colonies of the Crown and Dominions of the British Commonwealth, it would perhaps have not been possible for the Allies to secure a victory.
The Indian Army comprising of over 2.5 million troops, for example, was one of the largest contingents that fought for the Allied forces. Indian soldiers received 4,000 gallantry awards and 31 Victoria Crosses during World War II. The contribution of the British and French colonies in Africa, too, cannot be undermined. Military bases were set up in many African nations, and apart from supplying troops and labor, African countries provided enormous quantities of rations and minerals.
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