Britain declared war on Germany two days later, as did Australia and New Zealand (then both part of the British Empire).
Second World War recruitment poster.
Britain’s Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, whose members were known as WAAFs, was formed on the 28th of June, 1939, shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War. Conscription of women began in 1941.
Women in the organisation worked in many fields, from parachute packing to meteorology, aircraft maintenance, and work with codes, in addition to catering and nursing.
Two WAAF cooks at an Royal Air Force aerodrome, following recipes for a hundred pies and a hundred scones. September 1940. X
By 1943 over 2000 women were enlisting a week, bringing the force’s numbers to a peak of over 180 000.
At the end of the war numbers reduced significantly, and the WAAF was turned into the Women’s Royal Air Force in 1949.
15th December 1939: Australian women wave farewell to troop ship RMS Strathallan. World War Two.
Australia had joined the conflict over three months before the image was taken.
This image is taken from Soviet footage in the city of Lviv, made on the 28th of September, 1939. The communists parade through the streets following a successful invasion. Lviv, in Ukraine, changed from Polish to Russian governance at this time.
Control of western Ukraine changed hands a number of times during the Second World War. It was the site of the beginning of the Nazi Germany’s Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union.
1940 Soviet stamps celebrating the 1939 “liberation” of Ukrainian and Belarusian people from the Polish regime.
At the end of the war, world leaders including British Prime Minister Winston Churchill were responsible for the region falling behind the so-called Iron Curtain, trapping ethnic Ukrainians in the USSR.
Today, Lviv is one of Ukraine’s most patriotic cities.
Following the Nazi invasion of Poland on the 1st of September, 1939, German occupation of cities across the region was fast.
Bydgoszcz was occupied on the 9th of September, and roundups and public executions of civilians followed immediately.
These images show people – including a priest – soon to be killed, as well as random civilians the moment before they were executed.
Horsewoman in the Australian Women’s Emergency Legion. September 1939. X
The Women’s National Emergency Legion, an auxiliary organisation in Australia during the Second World War, was formed in September of 1938.
Based in Brisbane, Queensland, only women of British origin were allowed to join.
Article from The Morning Bulletin. Rockhampton. 18 November 1938.
Women considered eligible were provided with training in areas considered necessary to the war effort, such as first aid and truck driving.
Miss Tony Mitchell at Somerville House in Brisbane, 1942. Mitchell drove cars and trucks for the US Army. X
When war broke out in the Pacific at the end of 1941 women were attached to US military units to work as drivers and clerks. They also worked for British and Dutch units based in Australia.
The organisation ceased operations a couple of years after the end of the war.
The British monarch has celebrated an official birthday separate to their real birthday since George II began the tradition in 1748. The purpose of the different date was to ensure celebrations could be held in a warmer month, where there was a better chance of the weather being fine.
Ananda Mahidol, Thailand’s king Rama VIII, died on the 3rd of June, 1946. He was only twenty at the time.
A child when he was elected successor to the throne in 1935, he continued to be educated in Switzerland, not visiting Thailand as king until 1938 when he was thirteen.
The Japanese invaded Thailand the same day in 1941 they bombed America’s Pearl Harbor. The young king was not in the country at the time and did not return home until the end of 1945.
Only six months later a single gunshot was heard, and Ananda Mahidol was found dead.
King Ananda Mahidol and Louis Mountbatten. 19th January 1946.
More than one theory has been put forward as to how this happened.
He was the older brother of Bhumibol Adulyadej, who inherited the title and achieved cult status in Thailand; during his long reign both locals and foreigners were imprisoned for insulting him in any way. Even “liking” a Facebook post was enough for some people to be arrested.
The circumstances around Rama VIII’s death are still debated.
The Winter War, which began in November 1939 when the Soviet Union invaded Finland, ended on the 13th of March, 1940.
Despite being victorious, Finland was still required to hand over some of their land to Russia at the end of the war.
The invasion of Finland was deemed illegal by the League of Nations, and was the cause of Moscow’s expulsion from the League in December of 1939.
The style of hybrid warfare used by the Kremlin in Finland has been replicated a number of times since, most recently in Ukraine.