Major Wars of the 20th Century
The 20th century was the blood stained, costliest century of warfare in human history. Two world wars, a large number of major revolutions, along with noteworthy political, social, and economic upheavals made the period from 1901 to 2000 of great importance in a historical and military sense. Given below is a brief summary of the major wars of the 20th century.
Russo-Japanese War (1904-05)
Russia vs. Japan
The brief war took place over control for Manchuria and Korea. Japan's swift victory over Russia marked its debut as a world power.
Russian Civil War (1918-1922)
Bolshevik Red Army vs. White Army
The Red Army, directed by the commissar of war, Leon Trotsky, was victorious against the foreign-backed non-Bolshevik White Army. The Bolsheviks gained formerly held Russian territories. By 1922, the Union of Soviet Socialists Republics (U.S.S.R.) was established.
Spanish Civil War (1936-39)
Nationalists vs. Republicans
The Spanish Civil War was fought between the Republicans, who were reliable to the established Spanish Republic and the Nationa1ists, a rebel sect led by General Francisco Franco. The war began with a revolt by General Franco against the Republic which had succeeded the Monarchy in 1931. Germany and Italy aided the rebels who besieged Madrid for over 2 years. An International Brigade was formed to help the Republic, but the Spanish Government was faced by the greater part of the Army, and very effective assistance from Italy and Germany. After a total loss of a million men the Nationalists overpowered the Republic, and Franco reigned spain for the following thirty six years, from l939 until his demise in l975.
Sino-Japanese War (1937-45)
China vs. Japan
In July 1937 the Japanese seized upon the pretext of fighting between Chinese and Japanese troops at the Marco Polo Bridge in Beijing to launch an all-out invasion of China, which the Japanese dubbed the China incident. The Japanese seized Shanghai after fierce fighting and took Nanjing and Guangzhou (Canton). The Chinese government was forced to abandon most of the Chinese coast and set up its capital in Chongqing (Chungking). Japanese forces were unable to conquer the whole of China, being resisted both by Nationalist Chinese troops under Chiang Kai-shek and increasingly by the Communist forces under Mao Tse-tung.
Over half of all Japanese forces were still involved in China when war with the USA and Britain broke out in 1941. The USA gave assistance to the Chinese forces by airlifts from India. Communist forces waged a mainly guerilla war in north China, while the Nationalists stood on the defensive in the southwest. Conflict among the Nationalist and Communist forces in the run-up to Japanese surrender in August 1945 prefigured the struggle for control of China which brought civil war and eventual Communist triumph.
Chinese Civil War (1945-49)
Nationalist Chinese vs. Communist Chinese
Although the power struggle for China had been ongoing since 1927, the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) complicated matters. The end of World War II only increased the hostilities. In 1948, the Communist Red Army under Mao Zedong gained Manchuria and later that year, Beijing. The Communists established the People's Republic of China in 1949 with Mao as leader. Nationalists established their own government in Taiwan that same year.
Arab-Israeli War (1948-49)
Israeli vs. allied Arab forces
Israel was invaded by the armies of its Arab neighbours on the day the British Mandate ended, 15 May 1948. After initial Arab gains, Israel counter-attacked successfully, enlarging its national territory. Only the British-trained Arab Legion of Jordan offered effective opposition. Separate armistices were agreed with Egypt (23 February 1949), Jordan (3 April 1949) and Syria (20 July 1949).
Korean War (1950-53)
North Korea vs. South Korea
The war was fought between Communist and non Communist forces in Korea, which had been divided along the thirty eight parallel in 1945 after Japan's loss. The Communist North invaded the South on 25 June 1950. The UN decided to intervene following an emergency session of the Security Council, which was boycotted by the Soviet Union. The first US troops landed at Pusan airport on 1 July 1950. General MacArthur mounted an amphibious landing at Inch on on 15 September 1950, and Seoul was recaptured on 26 September 1950. The advance of UN forces into North Korea on 1 October 1950 led to the entry of China into the war on 25 November 1950. Seoul fell to the Chinese on 4 January 1951, but was retaken by UN forces on 14 March 1951. General MacArthur was relieved of his command on 11 April 1951 after expressing his desire to expand the war into China. Truce talks began on 10 July 1951, and an armistice was finally signed at Panmunjon on 27 July 1953.
Vietnam War (1961-75)
North Vietnam VS. South Vietnam, US
Vietnam War was the culmination of the hostilites between the Communist North Vietnam and the non-Communist South Vietnam. The Communists in South Vietnam (the Viet Cong) built up their strength and launched their first attack on the South Vietnamese armed forces on 8 July 1959 near Bien Hoa, killing two advisers. A state of emergency was proclaimed in the south on 19 October 1961. After attacks on the USS Maddox and Turner Joy, the US Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution on 7 August 1964, giving President Johnson wide military powers in South Vietnam. The sustained bombing of North Vietnam by US aircraft (Operation Rolling Thunder) began on 7 February 1965. The first US combat troops landed at Da Nang on 8 March 1965 and engaged the Viet Cong on 15 June. On 30 January 1968, Communist forces launched their Tet Offensive with heavy attacks on Saigon, Hue and 30 provincial capitals. On 31 March 1968 President Johnson announced the end of the bombing of the north, and on 13 May 1968 peace discussions began in Paris. On 25 January 1969 these discussions were transformed into a formal conference. US and South Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia in 1970, and the South Vietnamese made an incursion into Laos in 1971. A new Communist offensive against the south began on 30 March 1972, and this led to a resumption of US bombing of the north on 6 April. The last US ground combat units were withdrawn on 11 August 1972. US bombing was halted on 15 January 1973, and a peace agreement was signed in Paris on 27 January. Two years later, a North Vietnamese offensive, which began on 6 January, overran the South and Saigon was occupied on 30 April 1975.
Major Wars of 20th Century Part 2
Major Wars of 20th Century Part 2