Leopold III of Belgium reigned as King of the Belgians from 1934 until 1951. Prior to the war Leopold had made extensive preparations against such an invasion of his country. After Belgium's surrender Leopold stayed to face the invaders, while his entire government had fled to Great Britain. King Leopold rejected cooperation with the Nazis and refused to administer Belgium in accordance with their dictates. Despite his defiance of the Germans, the Belgian government-in-exile in London refused to recognize his right to rule. The Germans held him under house arrest at the royal castle in Brussels until the end of the war.
Auguste-Éduard Gilliaert was the commander of the Belgian Expeditionary Forces during the East African Campaign. The Belgian Expeditionary Forces was a unit composed of troops from Belgium and the Belgian Congo. In 1941, Gilliaert cut off the retreat of Italian General Pietro Gazzera in Ethiopia and accepted the surrender of Gazzera's 7,000 troops.
Getúlio Vargas was the president of Brazil from 1930 until 1945. Despite Brazil's quasi-fascist government of Estado Novo and strong economic ties with Nazi Germany, Vargas eventually sided with the Allies after the sinking of five Brazilian ships by German U-Boats and declared war on the Axis in 1942. Vargas gave economic and military support to the Allies.
King George VI was the reigning monarch of the British Commonwealth during the war. Despite only having the role of a figurehead, George VI was a symbol of national and Commonwealth unity during the war. He and his family would visit bomb sites and munitions factories.. Several members of the royal family, including the future Queen Elizabeth II, served in the forces.
Arthur Fadden replaced Menzies as Prime Minister but was forced from office when his government collapsed on 7 October 1941. He had previously served as acting Prime Minister for long periods while Menzies was out of the country.
John Curtin was Prime Minister from 7 October 1941 until his death on 5 July 1945. In January 1942, facing Japanese attacks, he wrote in a historic New Year message that Australia looked to the US for its security, rather than the UK. Curtin also formed a close working relationship with General MacArthur and directed the Australian military to follow MacArthur's orders as if they were his own. Curtin had several disagreements over defense policy with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
Frank Forde was appointed Prime Minister after Curtin's death, but lost the position on 12 July to a leadership challenge. He had served as acting Prime Minister during periods when Curtin was out of the country or unwell during 1944 and 1945.
Ben Chifley replaced Forde and served as Prime Minister until 1949.
Guy Simonds was an army officer who commanded the II Canadian Corps. He served as acting commander of the First Canadian Army, leading the Allied forces to victory in the Battle of the Scheldt. After the war he was appointed Chief of the General Staff. He was the youngest officer in the Canadian army to be promoted to the rank of General.
Sir Humphrey Walwyn was governor of Newfoundland and chairman of the Commission of Government from 1936 to 1946. A former Royal Navy Admiral, during World War II he was active in encouraging Newfoundlanders to join the war effort.
Peter Fraser was Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1940 till 1949. He came into office after the death of Michael Joseph Savage. During the war, Fraser had a concern with ensuring that New Zealand retained control over its own forces. After serious losses in the Balkans Campaign in 1941, Fraser determined to retain a say as to where to deploy New Zealand troops.
Clement Attlee was the Labour Party leader during the war, and was generally responsible for domestic politics throughout the war as a member of Churchill's War Cabinet. After the end of the war in Europe, he was elected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the new general election and served from 1945 to 1951. He attended the second half of the Potsdam Conference and announced the Defeat of Japan.
Dudley Pound was First Sea Lord and as such the professional head of the Royal Navy from June 1939 to September 1943. He chaired the Chiefs of Staff Committee, which was responsible to Winston Churchill for the British military's conduct of the war, until March 1942.
Viscount Gort relinquished the role of Chief of the Imperial General Staff on the outbreak of war to command the British Expeditionary Force in France from 1939 to 1940. He later served in a variety of less prominent posts, including Governor of Gibraltar and of Malta.
Hugh Dowding was an Air Chief Marshal who commanded RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. He ended the sacrifice of aircraft and pilots in the attempt to aid troops during the Battle of France, which was weakening the home defence. He developed the "Dowding System" – an integrated air defence system of radar, raid plotting and radio control of aircraft. He introduced modern aircraft into service such as the Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane. During the battle he led resources behind the scenes and maintained a significant fighter reserve, while leaving his subordinate commanders' hands free to run the battle.
Mahatma Gandhi was a major political and spiritual leader of the Indian National Congress. An opponent of Nazism and Fascism, prior to the war Gandhi sent an open letter to Hitler, touting tolerance. When the war broke out Gandhi had favored offering "non-violent moral support" to the British effort. Gandhi declared that India couldn't be party to a war ostensibly being fought for democratic freedom, while that freedom was denied in India herself. As the war progressed, Gandhi increased his demands for independence.
Claude Auchinleck nicknamed "The Auk" was appointed Commander-in-Chief, India in January 1941 after commanding the Allied forces during the fall of Norway. He had previously in 1938, when a Major-General, chaired a committee the recommendations of which formed the basis of the 1939 Chatfield Report on the modernisation, re-equipment and expansion of the British Indian Army (which by the end of the war had grown to 2,250,000 men from 183,000 in 1939). In 1941 he replaced Archibald Wavell as Commander-in-Chief Middle East Command but returned as C-in-C India in 1943 when Wavell became Viceroy.
Chiang Kai-shek was the leader of the Nationalist Government of the Republic of China and the supreme commander of the China Theatre, which also included Burma. He was the chairman of the National Military Council, the highest political organ of the wartime Chinese government. There is controversy over the fact that he had refused to send troops against the Japanese, instead, intending to attack the Nationalist government during the ceasefire and replenish their battered forces - "Our determined policy is 70% self-development, 20% compromise, and 10% fight the Japanese". He wished to defeat communism first before taking on Japan, but after the Xi'an Incident Chiang made a temporary truce with the communists to form a united front against Japan. After that war the truce ended and hostilities continued until his government retreated to Taiwan.
Mao Zedong was leader of the Communist Party of China. He formed an alliance with the Nationalist Government after the Xi'an Incident. After the war, the truce ended and hostilities continued until the communists gained control of the mainland.
Zhang Xueliang was warlord of Manchuria after the death of his father. Nicknamed the "Young Marshal"; he was a strong opponent of the Japanese occupation. He was responsible for the Xi'an incident which established a truce between the Nationalist and Communists. He fled the mainland with Nationalist government to Taiwan after the communists seize the mainland.
Albert Lebrun was the last President of the Third Republic. In 1940, he was forced to accept the German terms of surrender of France and was replaced by Philippe Pétain as head the French state (see Vichy France). In 1944, Lebrun acknowledged de Gaulle's leadership of the restored French, provisional, government. In 1945, since he had not resigned from his presidential office, and that Pétain was not president, Lebrun thought he could be able to return to power after the liberation.
Édouard Daladier was Prime Minister from 1938 to 1940. He led his country during the opening stages of the war. Daladier resigned on 9 May, 1940, the day before the German invasion of France, because of his failure to aid Finland's defence in the Winter War.
Paul Reynaud succeeded Daladier as Prime Minister in 1940 and led France during the Battle of France. After Germany had occupied large parts of France, Reynaud was advised by his newly appointed Minister of State Philippe Pétain to come to separate peace with Germany. Reynaud refused to do so, and resigned.
Maurice Gamelin commanded the French military during the critical days of May 1940, before being removed from his position after failing to defend France from the Germans.
Maxime Weygand replaced Gamelin as commander of the French army in May 1940. He eventually favoured an armistice with Germany.
Free French Forces (and later Fighting France and Provisional government of the French Republic) Edit
Henri Giraud was de Gaulle's rival and the Western Allies' favourite. He escaped from Germany where he was a prisoner of war and co-founded the Free French movement with de Gaulle, though soon found himself relegated to second in command of the Free French Forces after the Casablanca Conference of 1943. He was the chief of staff of the French Army of Liberation from 1943 to July 1944.
Alphonse Juin became chief of staff of the French Army in July 1944 after being the commander of the French Expeditionary Corps (100,000 men) in Italy.
Jean de Lattre de Tassigny was the commander of the First French Army which invaded southern France with 260,000 men. His army numbered more than 320,000 men when he entered in Germany with the integration of the FFI.
Georges Catroux was the main French military leader in Syria and Lebanon before entering De Gaulle's government.
André Lemonnier was a French Admiral who served as the French Navy chief of staff in 1943 and led the French Navy's participation in Operation Dragoon (34 warships including one battleship and eight cruisers).
Alexander Papagos was a Greek General who led the Greek Army in the Greco-Italian War and the Battle of Greece. As head of the Army from 1935, he played an active role in the attempts at its reorganization and modernization. When war was declared he was named Commander-in-Chief and led Greek forces against Italy along the Albanian border and later against the invading German army. When the Greek government fled to Crete, Papagos remained behind and with other generals, was arrested and sent to concentration camps in Germany. In 1945 he was repatriated and rejoined the Army.
Manuel Ávila Camacho was Brigade General and President of Mexico from 1940 till 1946. Ávila declared war against the Axis powers in 1942 after two of Mexico's ships were destroyed by German submarines. Ávila Camacho cooperated in the war effort, providing United States with 15,000 soldiers and 300,000 workers under the Bracero Program.
Antonio Cárdenas Rodríguez was Colonel and Commander of the Mexican Expeditionary Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Expedicionaria Mexicana (FAEM)) since January 1, 1945. He and 300 elements from de FAEM arrived on May 1 to Manila, in Luzon, principal island of Philippines, and established in the Clark Field under the 5th Air Force of the USAAF, commanded by General Douglas MacArthur. He represents Mexico when Japan's withdraw on the USS Missouri on September 1.
Radamés Gaxiola Andrade was Captain and Commander of the 201th Squadron (Escuadrón 201) of the FAEM, under de 58th Group of the 5th Air Force of the USAAF. He commands the Mexican fight air operations on Luzon and recognition flies on Formosa from June 7 to August 26, 1945. In total, the FAEM made 59 missions in combat zones.
Enver Hoxha was born in Gjirokastër, a city in southern Albania that has been home to many prominent families. He was the son of a Bektashi Tosk cloth merchant who traveled widely across Europe and the United States of America. On 8 November 1941, the Communist Party of Albania (later renamed the Albanian Party of Labor in 1948) was founded. Hoxha, was chosen as one of 7 members of the provisional Central Committee. After the September 1942 Conference at Pezë, the National Liberation Army was founded. Its purpose was to unite the anti-Fascist Albanians regardless of ideology or class. Later Hoxha became the Commandant in Chief of the National Liberation Army of Albania and led the war.
Henryk Sucharski was a major in the Polish Army. At the outbreak of World War II, he was the commander of the Westerplatte position. Troops under his command defended Westerplatte for seven days against overwhelming odds. Sucharski survived the war and was posthumously promoted to the rank of General. Despite his efforts to improve the defences, he later tried to persuade his fellow officers to surrender and suffered a nervous breakdown which required his deputy to assume command.
Vyacheslav Molotov was Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union from 1939-1949. He was responsible for the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact which governed Soviet-German relations until June 1941 when Hitler attacked the Soviet Union. Molotov conducted urgent negotiations with Britain and, later, the United States for wartime alliances. He secured Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill's agreement to create a "second front" in Europe.
Georgy Zhukov was a Soviet Field Marshal who led the Red Army to liberate the Soviet Union from Nazi occupation. He would lead the Soviets to overrun much of Eastern Europe, and to the capture of Berlin. After the war Zhukov was the supreme Military Commander of the Soviet Occupation Zone in Germany.
Ibn Saud was the King of Saudi Arabia from 1932 until 1953. Ibn Saud positioned Saudi Arabia as neutral during the war until 1945. However he was generally in favor of the Allies and supplied the Allied forces with oil.
Cordell Hull was Secretary of State from 1933 till 1944. Hull was responsible for foreign relations before the attack on Pearl Harbor. He sent the Hull note to Japan prior to the attack, which was part of the United States attempt to open Chinese markets to U.S. goods against Japanese interests there. After the war he was the key architect for establishing the United Nations and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Sergio Osmeña was the second Filipino president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. As Vice President, he ascended to the presidency after Quezon's death in 1944. He returned to the Philippines the same year with General Douglas MacArthur and the liberation forces.
Vicente Lim commanded the Philippine Army during the early days of the war. Lim was given the rank of Brigadier General and became the top ranking Filipino under General MacArthur. He was placed in command of the 41st Philippine Division, tasked with the defense of Bataan. After the fall of the Philippines, he led resistance against Japanese occupation.
Mihiel Gilormini was a Brigadier General in the Air Force. Prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, Gilormini served in the Royal Air Force from 1941 till 1942. He joined the United States Army Air Force with the rank of second lieutenant. After the war he continued to serve in the Army Air Force until he was named base commander to the 198th Tactical Fighter Squadron in Puerto Rico.
Pedro Augusto del Valle, was a highly decorated Marine Lieutenant General who played a key role in the Guadalcanal Campaign and the Battle of Guam and became the Commanding General of the First Marine Division. Del Valle played an instrumental role in the defeat of the Japanese forces in Okinawa and was in charge of the reorganization of Okinawa.
Josip Broz Tito was a leader of Yugoslavian partisan's resistance movement, which was largest in Europe. Communist by political orientation, Tito was nevertheless able to gather nation-wide support for anti-fascist cause, and to persuade Allies' governments that only his forces were mounting credible resistance to Axes and their leaders in Yugoslavia. By the end of war, occupied Yugoslavia draw attention of no less than 20 German divisions alone, prompting several major operations 1942-1944, which were futile. Finally, with help from advancing Soviet forces, partizans liberated Yugoslavia, reaching at the final days of operations a respectable size of 800,000 soldiers.
Draža Mihajlović was the leader of the Chetnik guerilla that initially was designated by an exiled government to fought against the Germans, but subsequently cooperated with Germans, Italians and other occupying forces against communist movement in Yugoslavia. Chetnicks were later held accountable over a large number of atrocities committed over civilians in Yugoslavia, but nevertheless Mihailović was decorated with highest war medals by France and the USA (Legion of Merit). After the war, he was executed by the newly formed communist government of Josip Broz Tito in 1945 for high treason, war crimes and crimes against humanity. In 2004, Chetniks were rehabilitated by democratic National Assembly of Serbia.
Haakon VII of Norway was King of Norway and the formal head of state from 1905 to his death in 1957. Following the German invasion of Norway in 1940, Haakon refused to meet the demands of the attackers, and went into exile in London, where he stayed for the rest of the war.
Johan Nygaardsvold was Prime Minister during the war. His government agreed with the King not to meet the German demands, and went into exile in London. Nygaardsvold resigned shortly after the war.
Pieter Sjoerds Gerbrandy was Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 1940 until 1945. After the Fall of France and Dirk Jan de Geer's resignation, Gerbrandy was appointed the office of Prime Minister by Queen Wilhelmina in London. After the liberation, he returned to form a new cabinet but ended up resigning.