Historic Unedited Photos They Don't Want You To See
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Historic Unedited Photos They Don't Want You To See
These British troops look excited as they take off for the western front of the second World War. Those who survived the ordeal probably wore much different expressions when they made their return.
“Older men declare war. But it is youth that must fight and die. And it is the youth who must inherit the tribulation, the sorrow and the triumphs that are the aftermath of war.” These were the words of former United States President Herbert Hoover during the final days of World War II. This turned out ot be very true as the average age of those that fought for the United States alone in World War II was just 26 years old. It’s presumed that the age was even lower in the United Kingdom, where the war had been taking place on the homefront.
World War II was the deadliest war in human history, with a lower estimate of 50 million people passing away, upwards of nearly 90 million. When the war started, nobody knew just how large the scale was going to be, and that included those that were entered into battle during the early stages. Here, you see young men from the United Kingdom making their way into war, which officially started on the first day of September in 1939. The photo was taken on the 20th of that month, with the morale being at its highest.
The soldiers here are getting on the train toward the Western Front to really kick off the war, and it seemed that they were excited for the trip. Perhaps that they thought the war would be a short one, with a decisive and easy victory in their favor. Unfortunately, these men didn’t know the horrors that would await them in the war. After the first World War had been rather romanticized by the previous generation, a lot of these young men couldn’t wait to serve their country when the opportunity presented itself a second time around.
The Western Front of World War II was a military theatre that included the United Kingdom, as well as nearby countries such as France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. England, along with France, had declared war on Germany at the beginning of the month, quickly leading to this theatre developing. At first, the battles were rather minor as the early days of World War II were known as the Phoney War, as several countries balked at potential attacks, mainly playing on the defensive side of things.
It took several months for the truly large battles to breakout, with Scandinavia being the key part of the Western Front’s initial conflict. The Germans had seized Norway and then invaded France, where the British were on the ropes. Not many had escaped from the battle, and the British were almost forced to sign a treaty to end their conflict with Germany, but they instead chose to fight on. The Axis had won the initial battle on the Western Front, with the territory going into a bit of a lull for several years. The Germans, who had wanted to invade Britain initially, were more occupied in heading East into the Soviet Union. This ended up being their greatest mistake as they suffered large losses, opening up the door for the Allies to recapture the Western Front.
It’s hard to say if the men in this photo lived throughout the war to tell their story, as they remained anonymous by the photographer who quickly snapped photos of the British getting into the war for the first time. If they did make it through the initial fighting on the Western Front, there’s a good chance that they were involved in the second conflict. This time around, the Allies quickly gained an upper hand thanks to the invasion of Normandy, which was known as D-Day.
Following that invasion, the Allies were able to surround the Axis forces in France in 1944, liberating the country, with many of the British troops teaming up with Canadian forces to head to Belgium. There were also British soldiers that stuck around in France to see the liberation through, assisting the French and United States Armies. With Paris now back in control of the Allied countries, it made for a strong starting point for these countries to make their way to Germany.
Though there were some setbacks along the way, especially in Belgium, the Allies fought on through the Battle of the Bulge and into Germany at the beginning of 1945. The major countries included in the Allied forces split their focus for an all-out assault to invade Germany, with the British heading across the Rhineland and beginning to capture multiple cities throughout the northern part of the country. By the spring of 1945, it seemed that the Germans were finally toward the end of their involvement in World War II as the Allies made their way to Berlin. On April 25, 1945, Italian leader Benito Mussolini was captured and killed by the Allies, with German leader Adolf Hitler taking his own life five days later to mark the end of the Nazi regime, officially ending on May 2, 1945.
Many have said that the result of World War II was that the British military influence on the world had not been as strong as it once was, with the United States and several other countries having militaries that surpassed them. However, the United Kingdom was still put in charge of overseeing the rebuilding of governments in several territories, keeping them in a massively important place on a global scale.
Still, a lot of the resources that the British had were depleted during World War II and new leadership was put into place as Winston Churchill was replaced by the Labour Party, led by Clement Attlee, when the country was severely in debt to the United States. Eventually, the economy would recover for the United Kingdom, as they currently have the fifth largest one in the world behind the United States, China, Japan and Germany.
Now, World War II serves as a reminder of how truly devastating a war on that scale can be. These fresh faced young men sacrificed their lives, not knowing what could possibly have been coming. All in all, it’s estimated that nearly 385,000 British soldiers lost their lives in military action, as well as 67,000 civilians. When people like William Tecumseh Sherman say that “War is hell,” they truly mean that.