About World War II Today
If you have not yet done so please look at Introducing World War II Today. This page provides more background information about the writing of this ongoing project.
I originally wrote World War II Today as a blog, written day by day on the seventieth anniversary of the war. It attracted a strong following.
“A wonderful descriptive and well-researched website – one of the best on the net. Please continue with your fine work. An important part of all of our history – no matter which country you are from.”
Now published as a newsletter, the original stories are being continually revised and refreshed.
Every day World War II Today examines some aspect of the war, based on an individual event, precisely eighty years later.
I aim to include as many different perspectives as possible - combatants from all sides, and all theatres appear. Represented here are men and women on the front line, key decision-makers, workers on the home front, holocaust perpetrators and holocaust survivors … and many, many more.
Stories are regularly collected in the Explore the War section, where subscribers can look at an aspect of the war in more detail.
And most weeks in the Sunday Feature I take a more extended look at some aspect of the war, not necessarily linked chronologically. These are often short book reviews, but I include picture stories like Princess Elizabeth at War.
Paid subscribers get every post, every day plus full access to all the previously published stories. Or sign up for free access and get at least one timely and interesting story from the war every week.
Researching and writing this unique approach to understanding the war is no small undertaking. The support of paying subscribers enables me to keep building, updating and expanding World War II Today. Your support is much appreciated.
Curator and Editor
Some Frequently Asked Questions
What is World War II Today?
World War II Today is an exploration of daily events in the War.
World War II Today presents an event that happened on a particular day, eighty years ago. It focuses on individual incidents and experiences, rather than attempting a complete narrative history. So the history of the Second World War emerges with the progress of time. Links are always provided to the source material. I have not provided individual links to topics on the most obvious sites such as Wikipedia, or the BBC, where you can find a fuller historical context.
Why this approach to history?
Newsletters provide an excellent opportunity to present history in a new way, providing for the inclusion of a much greater volume of original or primary source material than would be possible in a conventional book, including many more photographic records than could be economically included in a book.
What happens when the war ends?
World War II Today operates around a central five-year cycle.
The war in Europe began in earnest on 10th May 1940 and ended on 8th May 1945.
I realise that the Poles, Danes and Norwegians might not wholly agree with this approach. However, stories from the first months of the war September 1939 - May 1940 will be accessible to paying subscribers. Similarly, coverage of the war with Japan from May to September 1945 continues for paying subscribers in parallel with the 1940 stories.
It is a bit awkward to have a cross-over period of a few months covering both 1940 and 1945. Nevertheless, it does seem to be the most natural point to make a break.
What about Copyright?
I have sought only to make 'fair use' of illustrative quotations from copyright material, never using more than a small part of the whole work and always linking to where the whole work may be obtained. My purpose is to bring the whole work to a wider audience. More extensive extracts have been used with prior permission.
If you are a copyright holder who believes I have erred in any way please contact me and I will swiftly rectify the situation.
Can I use the photographs that appear on this site?
You are very welcome to use any of the images from my site - I do not personally claim copyright to any of the historic images. However, I have taken them from various sources and the full provenance and copyright of them is sometimes unknown.
All images used are believed to be in the public domain or freely licensed for re-use, unless otherwise stated.
Most British images are Crown Copyright expired, being created for the Crown before 1st June 1957.
Most American images are from the United States National Archive, taken by Federal agencies or employees.
Other images are believed to be copyright-free because they were captured from the enemy and became Crown or Federal copyright which has now expired.
The judgement of Wikimedia Commons, a respected international body, that an image is in the public domain, can generally be relied on. However, I make no personal guarantee or warranty as to the copyright status of any image.
Any copyright holder who believes I have erred with respect to any particular image should contact me and I will swiftly rectify the situation.
Does every episode correspond to an actual event on a particular day in World War II?
As far as possible, yes. My primary interest is in finding a personal memory of a particular event on a particular day. Failing that I look for an official account, or some other relevant material like a photograph, that can form the basis for the story.
Sometimes I find interesting material that does not correspond to a particular day but says something about that particular time. Or it may be that it is unclear exactly which date is being written about.
Not surprisingly men who were writing journals whilst on operations or in combat would not necessarily have carefully recorded every date. This becomes more likely in the cases of memoirs written some time after the event. It would be disappointing to exclude some of these.
So where someone is writing about a particular period but not a specific day I may include it and make it clear that this is the case. Also a series of photographs may be undated but represent a particular episode or aspect of life, such as the home front or military training and worthy of inclusion.
What I have not done is include material for one date that definitely relates to something that happened on another date.
Is all of your original material authentic?
So far as I am aware, yes.
The work that I use has always been presented by the publisher as a factual record taken from a diary or memoir and not a work of fiction. Similarly with official records.
I have come across works that are presented as memoirs that are definitely complete works of fiction, and I have even seen these included in otherwise authoritative anthologies. I have avoided these when this has been clear to me.
More problematic is a memoir that has been based on notes taken at the time and developed some years after the event. I think it is reasonable to include these but readers may be skeptical about some aspects of them.
Perhaps needless to say, if you are relying on material appearing on World War II Today for research purposes then I recommend looking at the original source material.
Do you cover every important aspect of the war?
It depends what you mean by 'important'. Most of the events covered would have been considered important by the people personally involved in them.
In the immediate post-war period in Britain the main elements of the war seemed to be the Battle of Britain, El Alamein and D-Day. Little was known of the Eastern Front. The Bomber Command campaign was neglected, seemingly deliberately at an official level. The contribution of Enigma was completely unknown. And that was in a democracy.
Our perspectives on the war, and what is ‘important’, will shift over time.
So I try to include some stories reflecting as many theatres of war as possible. I do not attempt to include everything that even I might regard as ‘important’.
Are you too Anglo-centric?
Definitely. I am based in Britain and most of my research comes from what material is relatively readily available to me, usually in English.
There are some strange biases here. Just one example: in Britain, it seems easier to obtain German memoirs of the war than it does Australian memoirs, particularly relating to campaigns in the Pacific.
But I do actively seek out as wide a range of material as possible and I am always open to suggestions.
Do you benefit from Affiliate links to Amazon from books cited on World War II Today?
Yes I do when links are followed from the website - but not from links contained in emails.
I use Amazon because this is most convenient to most readers - and I have discovered that Amazon is the source that is most likely to remain an accurate record of the details of any book over time. It also provides the full details of any particular book, many of which are available in a variety of formats.
What is ‘TNA’?
‘TNA’ stands for ‘The National Archives’, and appears in many of my footnotes as a standard academic reference.
This means the National Archives in Great Britain. For many years this was known worldwide as the Public Record Office - PRO - and thousands of old publications use this reference.
Then a government decided to engage in an expensive ‘rebranding exercise’ and the National Archives was born. Until someone remembered that ‘National Archives’ often meant the National Archives in the USA. So to make sure that everyone knew that it referred to the National Archives of Great Britain they called it ‘The National Archives’ - TNA.
The National Archives, based at Kew in west London, is a fascinating place for anyone interested in history. The staff are exceptionally helpful and very geared up to assist amateur historians and interested members of the public. If you plan a visit make sure you take the right personal documentation so that you can get a pass to get direct access to real historical documents. See