When people think of World War II, they think of many things. They think of the Holocaust, they think of Germany, they think of Japan and America, and they think of D-Day or Pearl Harbor. But most people, when asked who won World War II for the allies, would likely say America, Great Britain and the Soviet Union. If they know a little more, they might throw China in there as well. Now, they would not be technically wrong, as historians agree that America, Great Britain, the Soviet Union (U.S.S.R) and China are the big four, main players for the allies. Maybe a lot of people reading this know that other countries were involved in the war on the allied side, but do you know the other countries that played a big part in the allied victory in WWII? Well, that’s what I’m here to explain.
There is a saying about World War II. People say it was won by British intelligence, American steel, and Soviet blood. But what most people don’t throw in there is French determination, Greek heroism, Polish endurance and Canadian bravery. In my opinion, these four countries should be called the little four: France, Greece, Poland and Canada. Now the reason that most people aren’t usually aware that these countries contributed as much as they did is because most of them were overrun by the Nazis early in the war (Poland 1939, France 1940, and Greece 1941). Only, Canada was not conquered or even invaded during the war; however most people still don’t think of Canada when they think of World War II; most people don’t even know they were involved! Just because a country had been conquered doesn’t mean they did not play a big role in defeating the Axis. In fact, some of these countries did better after they were conquered then when they weren’t conquered. No matter what failures these countries may have faced on one point or another, they all fought on multiple fronts and in the end, their troops were on their own soil again, and I think that earns them some recognition.
Let’s begin with the French. Many people who are interested in World War II mock the French and call them cowards or say that all they do is surrender. They say this only because of the surrender of France in June 1940 by French head of state Petain. However I, and many other people believe, this was not a French surrender. This was a Petain surrender. Many Frenchmen refused to believe their country fell to the Germans so under the leadership of Charles De Gaulle (known as the greatest Frenchmen to live) formed the Free French. The Free French forces served all over the world in World War II. The Free French were one of the toughest forces in World War II and they fought hard to take back their country, which they did in 1944. They even went on to occupy a part of Germany along with the other big players (Britain, America and the Soviet Union). While Free French navy wreaked havoc on German ships and U-boats in the sea, Free French pilots were flying alongside the RAF (Royal Air Force) decimating the Luftwaffe (German Air Force). The greatest achievement of the Free French, however, was their contribution to land battles in Africa, the Middle East and Italy. The Free French held off the Germans and Italians in North Africa, invaded their own territory in Syria, fought firefly in the Italian peninsula and even headed Operation Dragoon, an Allied landing in southern France. The Free French definitely showed their courage and strength in World War Two.
Next are the Greeks. Where do I begin? Many people aren’t even aware Greece fought in the war. However, the Greeks were one of the most successful and capable forces fighting for the Allies. When Italy invaded from Albania in 1941, the Greeks were amazingly able to not only hold off the both numerically and technologically superior forces, but drove them right back to where they began their attack. The Greek’s bravery and skill played a big role in crippling both the Italians and later the German forces who would be sent to assist the Italians. Although Greece was eventually conquered, their fierce resistance and amazing performance at the battle of Crete with help from their British and Australian friends, the Greeks were able to reduce the Italians to a German satellite (puppet) rather than a capable fighting force and disable the Germans enough that they wouldn’t be able to attack the Soviet Union effectively (which would’ve allowed them to win the war). Free Greek forces also fought alongside the British in Africa several times. The Greeks truly contributed their fair share to the allied victory in World War II.
Let’s not forget the Polish. Most people know how the invasion of Poland began World War II and how the poor Poles were forced to give their land to the German and Soviet invaders. What most people don’t know is that the Poles actually put up a pretty good fight before they were conquered. The Poles, shortly after being conquered, started to resist occupation and contributed forces to the eastern front. The Polish went as far as to fight alongside the soldiers that had once invaded them from the east- Polish soldiers were now in Soviet ranks. The Poles may have had a long bumpy road ahead of them in the war, but they truly showed their endurance and determination.
Last but not least, we have the Canadians. The land of maple syrup and ice hockey may seem like a peaceful place with peaceful people, but the Canadians can be tough soldiers when they want to. The Canadians didn’t necessarily have to help Britain in the war. Unlike during World War I, the Canadians were independent while this war was happening. The Canadians could’ve left their former mother country to fight the Germans and Italians by themselves, but the Canadians decided otherwise. Their compassion compelled them to assist in the fight against the Tyrannical Nazi war machine rampaging around Europe. The Canadians had fought in France, Africa and Italy by the time D-Day rolled around. When Normandy began, the Canadians were the first troops to hit the beaches. They even got their own beach to secure, of the five beaches the allies hoped to capture at Normandy, Canada was tasked with capturing Juno. The Canadian troops fought well and after a bloody struggle, they were one of the first forces to capture their beach. The Canadians proceeded to rapidly push into German territory alongside the American, British and French forces. The Canadians were one of the bravest and toughest forces to fight in World War Two, not to mention one of the first. The Canadian contribution to allied victory should not be underestimated
During World War II, many countries joined the allies to fight the Axis. They all had their own reason and contributed in their own way. Some provided supplies, some provided ships, some provided troops, some provided everything. What’s the same about the French, Greeks, Poles and Canadians is that not many people recognize their success and contribution to the allies in World War II. Whether it be the French halting the Germans and Italians in North Africa, the Poles fighting alongside the Soviets and pushing into Germany, or the Greeks stopping a much larger Italian invasion force, all these nations and soldiers truly displayed their bravery and endurance to the world, something not every country can do.