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The Second World War and Great Britain - we were not alone

(180 Posts)
jura2 Sun 31-Mar-19 20:59:29

We never really stood fully alone, though 1940 may have seemed that way. We owe a huge debt to many countries, some of which lost hundreds of thousand - even millions - of lives. Countries like Russia, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Holland, Norway, Poland, India, Nepal, China and the old African colonies. Even Italy, which fought the Nazis after surrendering to the Allies.

PS - I served proudly as a British Army officer for over 20 years, and am patriotic, but, as an ardent Remainer, I am sick and tired of Leaver revisions of history and other Brexiter lies and misinformation. Britain fought bravely and had a dreadful time during WW2 - and afterwards - but others had it far worse, as official casualty figures (military and civilian) and war damage cost figures for the other participants attest (one only has to look at Soviet losses to get the idea ... Britain neither stood alone nor could she have won or survived alone.

PPS Rationing didn't fully end until the early 1950s. Have a look at what was like in May 1945 ...

PPPS Here is the list of foreign-manned squadrons of the RAF, men who stood with the UK while the UK supposedly "stood alone". And this list does not include the nations of the British Empire itself.

300 (Polish) Squadron
301 (Polish) Squadron
302 (Polish) Squadron
303 (Polish) Squadron
304 (Polish) Squadron
305 (Polish) Squadron
306 (Polish) Squadron
307 (Polish) Squadron
308 (Polish) Squadron
309 (Polish) Squadron
310 (Czechoslovak) Squadron
311 (Czechoslovak) Squadron
312 (Czechoslovak) Squadron
313 (Czechoslovak) Squadron
315 (Polish) Squadron
316 (Polish) Squadron
317 (Polish) Squadron
318 (Polish) Squadron
320 (Netherlands) Squadron
321 (Netherlands) Squadron
322 (Dutch) Squadron
326 (Free French) Squadron
327 (Free French) Squadron
328 (Free French) Squadron
329 (Free French) Squadron
330 (Norwegian) Squadron
331 (Norwegian) Squadron
332 (Norwegian) Squadron
333 (Norwegian) Squadron
334 (Norwegian) Squadron
335 (Greek) Squadron
336 (Greek) Squadron
340 (Free French) Squadron
341 (Free French) Squadron
342 (Free French) Squadron
343 (Free French) Squadron
344 (Free French) Squadron
345 (Free French) Squadron
346 (Free French) Squadron
347 (Free French) Squadron
348 (Belgian) Squadron
349 (Belgian) Squadron
350 (Jugoslav) Squadron
351 (Jugoslav) Squadron

71 (Eagle) Squadron - USA
121 (Eagle) Squadron - USA
133 (Eagle) Squadron - USA
164 (Argentine-British) Squadron

Eglantine21 Sun 31-Mar-19 23:20:09

I don’t do the political stuff so I may have got hold of the wrong end of the stick entirely,but is Jura Swiss?

The Swiss opted to stay neutral, to not oppose the Nazi regime, to allow atrocities to happen in a neighbouring country, to preserve their own lives and wealth.

I would be interested to know why Jura feels she has any right to comment on any aspect of the Second World War.

Jalima1108 Sun 31-Mar-19 23:21:16

Just as bad when people use it as anti-English propaganda too.


This thread has reached a new low in Gransnet.

Eloethan Mon 01-Apr-19 00:04:41

Oh for heaven's sake. If everyone knows about the role of other countries as well as the UK in WWII what is the problem? However, I'm not sure everyone does know what happened - particularly not younger people. I would think the impression they get from our media is that only Britain's contribution to defeating the Nazis was significant enough to be worth a mention.

I think anyone should be able to post what they wish, provided it is true and is not against the law. Do we have to go through some sort of vetting procedure to determine what subjects we are allowed to raise or comment on - with especial scrutiny of those not living in the UK?

Why is the OP considered to be anti-English? I don't agree with everything jura says in the EU debate and do not share her very strong feelings on the subject (though I do share her concern) but I think the nasty comments made about her nationality demonstrate the sort of attitude that leads to leavers being seen as xenophobic.

I wonder how many Gransnetters actually experienced WWII in terms of being old enough to really understand what was going on and to consequently represent themselves as experts on the subject.

maddyone Mon 01-Apr-19 00:06:45

Absolutely agree with everyone on here who has said that this information should not be used as anti Brexit propaganda.
In fact I think we’re all fully aware of just how much other nations fought alongside us in both world wars. My father fought, he was on the front line, in Belgium, Holland, and Germany in 1945. He was in The Black Watch, although he wasn’t Scottish. The Black Watch had suffered huge losses as it fought it’s way up through the continent, and so was replenished by English soldiers to fight alongside the Scots. My father was immensely proud of having served in The Black Watch, and he wore his badges proudly all his life, at certain functions. He was shot and seriously injured in Germany in the Reichswald, but luckily he survived, despite the severity of his wounds and huge loss of blood. He was 18 years old.
The British know about the last war because our parents/grandparents lived it and fought it.
The Swiss were neutral I believe in both the world wars. I don’t think we need any lectures about who fought, died, and was injured in the last war. Incidentally my father’s cousin was killed in the last war.

paddyann Mon 01-Apr-19 00:22:50

maddyoneI think an awful lot of younger people and I dont mean 20 somethings but older than that, think America won WW11 ,that they "saved" Britain ..its what they see in movies and have done now for decades.I know many people not much younger than I am who believe that too.It does no harm for the truth to be out there that people of all nations fought and died .Most on here will have lost family during that time I know we did

Eglantine21 Mon 01-Apr-19 00:27:28

But not the Swiss! They made sure they lost nothing and gained much in terms of wealth, which they are still enjoying today.

maddyone Mon 01-Apr-19 00:54:21

Yes Paddy, I think you’re right. I’ve heard that a lot of Americans think they single handedly won the last war, when in actual fact, many nations took part and liberated Europe. The Russians suffered colossal losses. The D-Day landings brought about massive losses of Americans and British. It’s worrying if younger people don’t know about the two wars in the last century isn’t it?
My three know, apart from studying history, which included the last war, my dear old Dad told them many stories about his time on the front line, one of those stories was actually related at his funeral by his grandson, my son.

icanhandthemback Mon 01-Apr-19 01:02:27

I think it is awful that nearly 75 years after peace was brokered we are still making snippy comments about the Swiss, the Germans or anybody involved in the war. Surely, the only thing we should be doing is educating people about the tragic loss of life so that it never happens again. When do we move on from the prejudice left over from the war?

maddyone Mon 01-Apr-19 01:13:33

Icanhandthemback, you raise a difficult point for some people. When we were on a cruise recently, we made friends with a lovely couple, we had much fun and many laughs with them. They were Jewish. They told us that they have no time for Germany and would absolutely never visit there. Obviously they both lost family in the Holocaust. All I am saying is that some people may be unable to move on for very particular reasons. I’ve been to Germany many times and I like the country and on another cruise we made very good friends with a German lady. The point is that some people, not me, have a very good reason to hold a grudge.

MaizieD Mon 01-Apr-19 01:24:51

Good post, Eloethan.

The xenophobia that's been displayed on this thread towards a long standing British citizen (as most of us are aware as jura has clarified this a number of times), based on her birth nationality, has been startling, to say least. If she had been, say, one of the Windrush children, would she have been told to butt out because she's not really British enough to comment? Or would that have been just a leetle bit racist?

For what it's worth I've seen plenty of Leaver stuff on social media implying that plucky little Britain won WW2 singlehanded. Which is annoying and disrespectful to our many allies. No harm in putting the record straight.

absent Mon 01-Apr-19 02:09:25

Just for the record, if the USA had decided not to enter the European theatre, but to concentrate on Japan after Pearl Harbor – a not unreasonable course of action – it is very likely that the outcome of World War II would have been rather different. However, arguing about the composition of the Allies and who did what has about as much relevance to Brexit as the Napoleonic Wars.

janeainsworth Mon 01-Apr-19 03:19:59

Indeed absent.
The reluctance of the USA to enter the war was in part at least because of the high proportion of US citizens of German heritage.
King George VI made a personal visit to Roosevelt to plead with him to assist Britain in its fight against Hitler.

rosecarmel Mon 01-Apr-19 04:13:48

Interesting thread!

Chewbacca Mon 01-Apr-19 04:47:13

Agree with your post, up to a point, Eloethan. Absolutely right that everyone should know of all the different nations who came to Britain's aid in WW11 and have the true version of their involvement, not the Hollywood version. I suspect that there are actually many people on GN who are old enough, or have been given historical details from family members, to be able to comment on what sacrifices were made by their loved ones. I'm one of them. And whilst I'm glad to see that their sacrifices, and those of our Allies, have not been forgotten, I don't want to see it trundled out to shore up a bloody Brexit thread. They were all worth so much more than that.

M0nica Mon 01-Apr-19 07:03:57

It needs to be remembered that in late 1940, in the aftermath of Dunkirk, in the period referred to by John Kennedy above, Britain did indeed stand alone. By 1944 and the allied invasion of Europe, it was an allied invasion and included all the units listed by jura and many others, but this coalition of allies took several years to build.

Eglantine21 Mon 01-Apr-19 09:10:43

Well like I said, I didn’t know if Jura was Swiss or not or what other comments have been made in the long standing political threads.

But if we want people to be educated surely that means knowing about the role that all countries played in supporting the conflict.

I still object to Jura posting that list when some of the people she listed were shot down and killed by the Swiss or died in their internment camps.

Or perhaps I should be grateful that they granted asylum to 252 Jews. Yes that’s right. Not 252,000. Some they interned. Others they turned away at the border saying ‘Our lifeboat is full.”

They have no regret. I think I feel a little more than “snippy” about it.

Kandinsky Mon 01-Apr-19 09:22:17

I really think some brexit discussions are getting completely out of control - the EU is a trading bloc, it hasn’t ‘kept the peace’ in Europe NATO has.

maddyone Mon 01-Apr-19 09:30:35

Well I second that Kandinsky.

Baggs Mon 01-Apr-19 09:34:06

I'll third it. I think there is a great deal of excessive alarmism with regard to Brexit. I feel sorry for the people who feel it; it must be awful. I'd hate to be that anxious about anything.

PamelaJ1 Mon 01-Apr-19 09:34:42

Of course Britain didn’t stand alone.
We won’t be standing alone when we leave the E.U.

EllanVannin Mon 01-Apr-19 09:34:58

This isn't propaganda-----it's fact. We don't want another war and neither do we wish to stand alone should there be conflict.
I like many in this country have Northern European ancestry so should remain united, even if we disagree with some of the rules and regulations of the EU. We don't have to agree but we must remain on friendly terms.

Fennel Mon 01-Apr-19 09:38:23

I also was puzzling as to how Jura 's 20 years as an army officer fitted in with her teaching career.
I was a young child during WW2 and have many memories of those dark days.
What's the relevance of this topic?

Joelsnan Mon 01-Apr-19 09:50:58

For what it's worth I've seen plenty of Leaver stuff on social media implying that plucky little Britain won WW2 singlehanded. Which is annoying and disrespectful to our many allies. No harm in putting the record straight


Witzend Mon 01-Apr-19 09:51:41

I must say I find Jura's post patronising in the extreme.

Although we did stand very largely alone at the beginning of WW2 , I think most of us are all too aware of - and grateful for - other nationalities' essential involvement later. That's why the term 'The Allies' is so very widely used.

Jalima1108 Mon 01-Apr-19 09:54:21

Why is the OP considered to be anti-English?
Eloethan to make it clear - I did not mean that the OP was being anti-English in anyway. However, some anti-English remarks did start to creep in, unnecessarily imo.

I really think some brexit discussions are getting completely out of control
I agree with that.

We owe a huge debt to many countries
What the OP fails to mention is that Britain and France stood together against Nazi Germany after the Nazis invaded Poland and refused to withdraw. Nazi Germany had already invaded other lands prior to this and continued to invade more.

They and we all owe a huge debt to all those who fought for freedom against the fascists.

I don't know how old this supposed Army Officer is and whether or not he exists, but his thinking is muddled.