Early Years (1939 to 1942) – The Allies in Retreat
In contrast to the popular enthusiasm that had characterised the commencement of WW1, Allied nations entered WW2 with extreme reluctance. Political leaders and their peoples were burdened by the prospect of what was to come: death and destruction.
Allied Propaganda during this period was characterised by a weary reluctance to enter the war, but a steely determination to see the war through to the very end.
- Robert Menzies, Prime Minister of Australia, stated that it was his ‘melancholy duty’ to tell the Australian people that they were now at war.
- Winston Churchill, on becoming the British Prime Minister, he announced that ‘I have nothing to offer [the British people] but blood, toil, tears and sweat’.
- Charles de Gaulle, French General and commander of the Free French Forces, called upon his compatriots to have hope whilst living under German occupation : ‘Whatever happens, the flame of the French resistance must not be extinguished and will not be extinguished’.
Despite the political and military preparations of the Axis Powers in the years leading up to WW2, the Allied Powers were relatively unprepared for the commencement of the war – the European theatre saw the advance of the Axis Powers across Europe in 1939 to 1940, whilst the Asian/Pacific Theatres saw the extension of Japanese wars in Asia to encompass the Western Allies from December 1941. During this period, Allied forces fought with great courage against an enemy that was generally better led and better equipped.
 Robert Menzies, Radio Broadcast announcing the Declaration of War, 3 September 1939. Transcript and sound file. http://www.menziesvirtualmuseum.org.au/1930s/1939.html
 Charles De Gaulle, ‘Appeal of 18 June’, radio broadcast of 18 June 1940. Transcript (English translation). http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2007/apr/29/greatspeeches1