Allies of World War II

The Allies, formally referred to as the United Nations from 1942 were an international military coalition formed during the Second World War (1939–1945) to oppose the Axis powers, led by Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Fascist Italy. Its principal members by 1941 were the United Kingdom, United States, Soviet Union, and China.

Allies of World War II
1939–1945
  •   Allies and their colonies
  •   Allies entering after the attack on Pearl Harbor
  •   Axis powers, co-belligerents, and their colonies
  •   Neutral powers and their colonies



Other Allied combatant states:

StatusMilitary alliance
Historical eraWorld War II
Feb. 1921
Aug. 1939
Sep. 1939 – Jun. 1940
Jun. 1941
Jul. 1941
Aug. 1941
Jan. 1942
May 1942
Nov.–Dec. 1943
1–15 Jul. 1944
4–11 Feb. 1945
Apr.–Jun. 1945
Jul.–Aug. 1945
Footnotes
    1. Edvard Beneš, president of the First Czechoslovak Republic, fled the country after the 1938 Munich Agreement saw the Sudetenland-region annexed by Germany. In 1939 a German sponsored Slovak Republic seceded from the post-Munich Second Czechoslovak Republic, providing justification for the establishment of a German protectorate over the remaining Czech lands (the rump Carpathian Ruthenia-region being annexed by Hungary). Following the outbreak of war later the same year, Beneš, in his exile, formed a Czechoslovak National Liberation Committee which after some months of negotiations regarding its legitimacy became regarded as the Czechoslovak government-in-exile by the Allies.
    2. France declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939, two days after the German invasion of Poland. It was a member of the Allies until its defeat in the German invasion of France in June 1940. Unlike the other governments-in-exile in London, which were legitimate governments that had escaped their respective countries and continued the fight, France had surrendered to the Axis. The "Free French Forces" was a section of the French army who refused to recognize the armistice and continued to fight with the Allies. They worked towards France being seen and treated as a major allied power, as opposed to a defeated and then liberated nation. They struggled with legitimacy vis-a-vis the German client state "Vichy France", which was the internationally recognized government of France even among the Allies. A National Liberation Committee was formed by the Free French after the gradual liberation of Vichy colonial territory, which led to the full German occupation of Vichy France in 1942. This started a shift in allied policy from trying to improve relations with the Vichy Regime into full support to what was now the Provisional Government of the French Republic.
    3. The Ethiopian Empire was invaded by Italy on 3 October 1935. On 2 May 1936, Emperor Haile Selassie I fled into exile, just before the Italian occupation on 7 May. After the outbreak of World War II, the United Kingdom recognized Haile Selassie as the Emperor of Ethiopia in July 1940 and his Ethiopian exile government cooperated with the British during their invasion of Italian East Africa in 1941. Through the invasion Haile Selassie returned to Ethiopia on 18 January, with the liberation of the country being completed by November the same year.
    4. China had been at war with Japan since July 1937. It declared war on Japan, Germany and Italy and joined the Allies in December 1941 after the attacks on Pearl Harbor.
The Allied leaders of the European theatre (left to right): Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill meeting at the Tehran Conference in 1943
The Allied leaders of the Asian and Pacific Theater: Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill meeting at the Cairo Conference in 1943

Membership in the Allies varied during the course of the war. When the conflict broke out on 1 September 1939, the Allied coalition consisted of the United Kingdom, France, and Poland, as well as their respective dependencies, such as British India. They were soon joined by the independent dominions of the British Commonwealth: Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Consequently, the initial alliance resembled that of the First World War.

As Axis forces began invading northern Europe and the Balkans, the Allies added the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Greece, and Yugoslavia. The Soviet Union, which initially had a nonaggression pact with Germany and participated in its invasion of Poland, joined the Allies in June 1941 after Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union. The United States, while providing some materiel support to European Allies since September 1940, remained formally neutral until the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941, after which it declared war and officially joined the Allies. China had already been at war with Japan since 1937, and formally joined the Allies in December 1941.

The Allies were led by the so-called "Big Three"—the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and the United States—which were the principal contributors of manpower, resources, and strategy, each playing a key role in achieving victory.[1][2][3] A series of conferences between Allied leaders, diplomats, and military officials gradually shaped the makeup of the alliance, the direction of the war, and ultimately the postwar international order. Relations between the United Kingdom and the United States were especially close, with their bilateral Atlantic Charter forming the groundwork of their alliance.

The Allies became a formalized group upon the Declaration by United Nations on 1 January 1942, which was signed by 26 nations around the world; these ranged from governments in exile from the Axis occupation to small nations far removed from the war. The Declaration officially recognized the Big Three and China as the "Four Powers",[4] acknowledging their central role in prosecuting the war; they were also referred to as the "trusteeship of the powerful", and later as the "Four Policemen" of the United Nations.[5] Many more countries joined through to the final days of the war, including colonies and former Axis nations.

After the war ended, the Allies, and the Declaration that bound them, would become the basis of the modern United Nations;[6] one enduring legacy of the alliance is the permanent membership of the U.N. Security Council, which is made up exclusively of the principal Allied powers that won the war.


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