I picked up a copy of the Osprey’s Battles of World War II Poland 1939 last week. It is the first in a series of 52 publications covering the major battles of World War 2, battles such as Okinawa, Leyte Gulf, Caen, Kursk and Crete amongst others. Interestingly, this series of titles starts with the invasion of Poland and notes next to a picture of the German battleship, the Schleswig-Holstein,
it is usually credited with firing the opening shot of the war when it began bombarding the Polish garrison on Westerplatte in the early hours of 1 September 1939
I wondered why we credited the start of World War 2 with the invasion of Poland. Or was it that we accept that the first shot of the Second World War was the one that was fired then with the actual war starting earlier, maybe with the annexation of the Sudetenland.
I wondered why we didn’t credit the opening shot with the battle between Japan and Russia at Khalkhin-gol (Nomonhan) which was over the period 11 May – 16 September 1939 or perhaps, even the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War which started on 7 July 1937. A pity too that Osprey Publishing didn’t start their series with Khalkhin-gol at least – early tanks, two slightly different tactical doctrines and two antagonists that had locked horns before.