World War II, which lasted from 1939 to 1945, was the largest and deadliest military conflict in history. The majority of the world’s nations formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. The Allies originally were France, Poland, and the United Kingdom, and later included the independent Dominions of the British Commonwealth, the Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, and others. The United States joined the Allies in December 1941. The Axis Powers consisted of Germany, Italy, and Japan and grew out of these three nation’s own expansionist interests in the mid-1930s.
It is believed that casualties from the war ranged anywhere between 70 million and 85 million people, 50-55 million of which were civilians and 21-25 million of which were military deaths. Germany is estimated to have the highest number of casualties from the war between 6.6 million and 8.8 million, which is possibly over 10% of total casualties.
About 16 million U.S. servicemembers served in World War II, about 11% of the total United States population in 1940. 350,000 women served in the U.S. Armed Forces at home and abroad. About 38.8% (6,332,000) of U.S. servicemen and servicewomen in WWII were volunteers and 61.2% were draftees (11,535,000). About 73% of servicemen and servicewomen served overseas for an average duration of 16 months. Combat survivability rates were as follow:
- Killed in action: 8.6 per 1,000
- Non-fatal combat wounds: 17.7 per 1,000
- Died from other causes: 3 per 1,000
Of those that served, there were about 416,800 casualties. This includes those killed in action, died of wounds, died of injuries, died in non-battle, finding of death, missing, and in prison camps.