Turning Points

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Turning Points

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Sherman M4A4
Used in World War II


The turning points in World War II were outlined in this exhibit. All of the objects were connected and had a story. The second world war changed the world and these are the objects that changed history.

Background or Origin of Article

War on the Way

During the 1930's Britain watched as political violence and aggression spread across Asia and Europe. People were anxious that the hard fought peace attained from the first world war would not last. Britains safety and basic values felt threatened as dictators and extreme nationalists emerged to change the political landscape. In Asia, countries worried as Japan expanded and became more powerful. In Europe, Germany looked particularly dangerous as it was rebuilding its armed forces and intimidating its neighbors. As Hitler became more powerful Germans began to flee the country. Most of the British hoped that war could be avoided but they still prepared for the worst. New weapons were developed and produced. When Britain went to war with Germany in September 1939, the struggle was a clear fight against dictatorship.


September 1939 found Britain preparing for war. At first most of the fighting took place over seas. In May 1940, Germany defeated France. The British troops were evacuated from Dunkirk and France now faced a threat of Invasion. In July, the war moved to the skies above Britain. The Battle of Britain was followed by the intensive German bombing of London and other major cities. Air raids proved to be less devastating than had been feared before the war. The dramatic arrival of war shook the British moral. Both adults and children were forced into unfamiliar places and situations. They faced new burdens and responsibilities. This made them all the more determined that Britain would win and survive.


As an island, Britain relied on a vast global shipping network. The flowing of goods and supplies provided the lifeblood of the nation. Britain could not survive if it could not trade. The demands of war forced Britain to import more material goods than ever. Britain looked to its friends across the empire and the USA for oil, food, ships and armaments. Some American goods were given as aid but most had to be bought. This caused Britain to acquire massive debts.


Before 1939 Britain invested heavily in new bomber aircraft. The Royal Air Force persuaded the government that bombing strategic and industrial targets would be vital to winning the war. From 1940 to 1944 strategic bombing was the only way Britain could strike directly at Germany and support its Soviet ally on the eastern front. initially the RAF bombing raids lacked accuracy. Unable to hit specific targets, aerial attacks on Germany were forced to cover wide areas. Later raids were much more powerful causing mass civilian causalities. Some questioned


  1. Imperial War Museum