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World War II Index/Glossary of Terms

Fat Man

The nickname for the atomic bomb dropped over Nagasaki, Japan, on August 9, 1945.


This Northern European country won its independence from Russia in 1917. The USSR invaded it in November 1939 and touched off the brief Russo-Finnish War. Finland surrendered in March 1940, but would declare war on the USSR again after the Germans invaded Russia in June 1941. In November 1941, Britain gave Finland this ultimatum: halt all offensive operations against the USSR or face a war with the Allies. In March 1945, Finland declared war on Germany.


G-1 is a Personnel Office or officer; G-2 is an Intelligence Officer(r); G-3 is an Operations Office(r); G-4 is a Logistics Office(r)


Western European nation led by the Nazi Party and Adolph Hitler. Germany, Italy, and Japan are collectively known as the Axis. The Allies finally defeated Germany on May 8, 1945 -- "V-E Day."

Gilbert Islands

The Gilberts are an island group in the Central Pacific, including Tarawa and Makin. U.S. Army troops landed on Makin on November 20, 1943. The next day, U.S. Marines landed on Tarawa. Within four days, both islands were secured -- but at the cost of thousands of casualties.

Glider (Glidermen)

Gliders were engineless crafts that were towed behind transport planes and then released over a landing zone. Glidermen were elite U.S. Army troops trained to land in them, usually with a Jeep or artillery piece.


This Southern European nation was invaded by Italy in October 1940. The Italians were repelled. In December 1940, Greece invaded Italian-held Albania. In April 1941, Greece was invaded by Germany. Allied troops entered Greece in October 1944, and all remaining Axis forces in Greece surrendered on November 4, 1944.


This large island in the North Atlantic is held by Denmark, but it was occupied by the United States starting in April 1941.


An area of southeastern New Guinea, an island nation in the Southwest Pacific, just north of Australia. Australian and U.S. Army forces under MacArthur fought back the Japanese at Gona on December 9, 1942.


Part of the Solomon island group in the Pacific. Taken from the Japanese by the Allies in 1942 at a terrible cost. See "The Tide Turns" in the Brief History of WWII e-text.

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