How much money did ww2 soldiers get paid?

World War 2 was a global military conflict that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the vast majority of the world’s nations, including all of the great powers, organized into two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis powers. Over 60 million military personnel were mobilized, making it the largest war in history.

The soldiers who fought in World War 2 came from countries all around the world. Their pay and compensation varied widely depending on factors like their nationality, rank, role, and when they served during the war. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive overview of how much the soldiers from the major combatant nations got paid during WW2.

United States

The United States had over 16 million men and women serve in the armed forces during WW2, with over 12 million serving overseas. The pay scales for US soldiers were as follows:

  • Enlisted soldiers started at $21 per month as a Private, eventually reaching $138 per month as a Master Sergeant.
  • The average combat soldier earned about $50 per month, or $600 per year.
  • Commissioned officers earned from $125 per month as a 2nd Lieutenant up to $233 per month as a Colonel.

In addition to their basic pay, soldiers could receive additional allowances for things like subsistence, housing, uniforms, and overseas service. Enlisted soldiers and lower ranking officers did not earn much by today’s standards. However, food, housing, healthcare, and uniforms were provided. With much less consumerism and few expenditures, military pay went farther in the 1940s than it would today.

Combat Pay

Starting in 1942, American soldiers serving in combat zones got an extra $10 per month in compensation, equal to about $150 per month today. This was known as “flight pay” for airmen and “flight deck pay” for sailors serving on aircraft carriers.

Officer Pay

Higher ranking officers and generals made decent wages for the time period:

  • Lieutenant Colonels and Colonels earned $300-$400 per month, or $5,000-$7,000 per year.
  • Brigadier Generals got $600 per month ($10,000 annually).
  • Major Generals earned $833 per month ($15,000 per year).
  • Lieutenant Generals made $1,800 per month ($30,000 per year).
  • General of the Army Douglas MacArthur earned $18,750 per year.

Officers also received additional allowances for housing and uniforms.


Britain had over 5 million serve in the British Army during World War 2. The average British soldier earned the equivalent of about $1 per day.

  • A Private earned about 1 shilling per day, or $12 per month.
  • A Corporal made around 1.5 shillings per day, or $18 per month.
  • Sergeants earned between 2 to 3 shillings per day, or $24 to $36 per month.

Officer Pay

Officer pay started at around 5 shillings per day for a 2nd Lieutenant, up to 17 shillings per day for a Brigadier.

  • 2nd Lieutenants made approximately $60 per month.
  • Majors earned around $150 per month.
  • Brigadiers made approximately $200 per month.

British soldiers also received extra benefits like food, housing, pensions, and disability compensation for injuries.


Nazi Germany had over 18 million serve in the Wehrmacht armed forces during World War 2. Standard pay scales were:

  • Privates started at 20 Reich marks per month ($7).
  • Lower ranked NCOs like Corporals earned 65 RM per month ($20).
  • Sergeants made 80-135 RM per month ($25-$40).

Officer Pay

  • 2nd Lieutenants earned 205 RM per month ($65).
  • Captains made 320 RM per month ($100).
  • Majors earned 450 RM per month ($140).
  • Colonels made 700 RM per month ($220).
  • Generals started at 1,500 RM per month ($470).

In 1944, adjustments were made to give combat soldiers a 20% bonus. By the end of the war, German pay lagged far behind inflation.


Imperial Japan had over 6 million serve in its armed forces during WW2. Enlisted soldiers earned a base pay of around 30 yen per month. Officer pay was:

  • 2nd Lieutenants earned 90 to 100 yen per month.
  • Captains made 110 to 140 yen per month.
  • Majors got 160 to 200 yen per month.
  • Lt Colonels earned 220 to 250 yen per month.
  • Colonels received 270 to 400 yen per month.
  • Generals made 500+ yen per month.

This amounted to $15-$25 per month for enlisted soldiers and $40-$100 per month for officers. Higher cost of living in Japan meant soldiers’ real wages were quite low.


The Soviet Union had over 34 million serve in the Red Army during World War 2. Most soldiers came from very poor backgrounds with limited education.

  • Privates started at just 300 rubles per year ($60).
  • Junior officers made about 2,000 rubles per year ($400).
  • Senior officers like Colonels earned around 9,000 rubles per year ($1,800).

Pay was kept intentionally low to prevent careerism in the army. However, the low wages reflected the low standards of living across the Soviet Union.


France had over 4 million serve in its armed forces during WW2. Enlisted soldiers earned about 2 francs per day:

  • Privates made around 600 francs per year ($120).
  • Corporals earned about 750 francs per year ($150).
  • Sergeants made approximately 1,000 francs per year ($200).

Officer pay rates were:

  • 2nd Lieutenants earned 4,200 francs per year ($840).
  • Captains made 7,200 francs per year ($1,440).
  • Majors earned 9,000 francs per year ($1,800).
  • Colonels made 21,600 francs per year ($4,320).

France also compensated soldiers with benefits including food, lodging, equipment, and pensions for long-serving career soldiers.


Canada contributed over 1 million troops during World War 2. Monthly pay rates were:

  • Privates started at $1.30 per day ($39 per month).
  • Corporals made $1.50 per day ($45 per month).
  • Sergeants earned $1.80 per day ($54 per month).

Officer monthly salaries were:

  • 2nd Lieutenants made $119.
  • Captains earned $186.
  • Majors made $264.
  • Lieutenant Colonels got $372.
  • Colonels earned $492.
  • Brigadier Generals made $750.


Australia deployed nearly 1 million personnel for WW2 military service. Monthly pay rates were:

  • Privates started at £2 ($8) per month.
  • Lance Corporals earned £2,2s ($9) per month.
  • Corporals made £2,5s ($10) per month.
  • Sergeants earned £3,5s ($14) per month.

Officer monthly pay was:

  • 2nd Lieutenants earned £10 ($40).
  • Captains made £14 ($56).
  • Majors got £18 ($72).
  • Lieutenant Colonels earned £23 ($92).
  • Colonels made £27 ($108).
  • Brigadiers got £30 ($120).

In general, Australian soldiers were paid less than American or British Commonwealth troops. But cost of living in Australia was also significantly lower at the time.


British India deployed over 2.5 million troops during World War II. Indian soldiers earned much less than British counterparts:

  • Sepoys (Privates) made just 12 rupees per month ($2.50).
  • Havaldars (Corporals) earned 30 rupees per month ($6.25).
  • Viceroys Commissioned Officers got 75 rupees per month ($15.50).

This reflected both the much lower costs of living in India and the racial discrimination built into the system.


Soldier pay during World War 2 ranged widely depending on the country, rank, role, and cost of living. On average:

  • Enlisted soldiers made $1-$3 per day ($30-$90 per month).
  • Lower ranked officers earned $40-$150 per month.
  • Mid-level officers made $150-$250 per month.
  • Senior officers got $200-$500 per month.
  • Generals earned $500-$1,500+ per month.

While soldier pay was low by modern standards, it reflected economic conditions at the time. Compensation included benefits like food, housing, pensions, and disability pay that augmented nominal wages. Overall, military service provided steady work at pay rates comparable or better than civilian jobs for many during the war era.

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