- Timeline of World War II (1939)
This is a timeline of events that stretched over the period of
World War II. For events preceding September 1 1939, see the timeline of events preceding World War II.
Republic of Chinaand the Empire of Japanare involved in the early stages of the third year of armed conflict between them during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The war is in what will be known as the "Second Period." The "Second Period" starts in October 1938and ends in December 1941. During this period, the main objective of the Chinese forces is to prolong the war and wait for the Japanese to make the mistake of attacking the United States.:1: The Invasion of Polandby Nazi Germanybegins at 4:40 a.m. with the German Air Force (" Luftwaffe") attacking several targets in Poland. The "Luftwaffe" launches air attacks against Kraków, Łódź, and Warsaw. Within five minutes of the "Luftwaffe" attacks, the German Navy (" Kriegsmarine") orders the old Battleship"Schleswig-Holstein" to open fire on the Polish military transit depot at Westerplattein the Free City of Danzigon the Baltic Sea. By 08:00, troops of the German Army (" Wehrmacht Heer"), still without a formal declaration of war issued, launch an attack near the Polish town of Mokra.:1: Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norwayand Switzerlanddeclare their neutrality. :1: The British government declares general mobilisationof the British Armed Forcesand begins evacuation plans in preparation of German air attacks.:2: The United Kingdomand Franceissue a joint ultimatum to Germany, requiring German troops to evacuate Polish territory; Italian dictator Benito Mussolinideclares the neutrality of his nation; President Douglas Hydeof the Republic of Irelanddeclares the neutrality of his nation; the Swiss government orders a general mobilisation of its forces.:2: The National Service (Armed Forces) Act (1939), under which all men between 18 and 41 are made liable for conscription is speedily passed through British Parliament.:2: The Free City of Danzigis annexed by Germany.:3: At 11:15am British Summer Time(BST), British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlainannounces on BBC Radiothat the deadline of the final British ultimatum for the withdrawal of German troops from Polandexpired at 11:00am and that "consequently this nation is at war with Germany". At 12:30pm BST the French Government delivers a similar final ultimatum; which expires at 3:00pm BST. Australia, India, and New Zealandalso declare war on Germany.:3: Within hours of the British declaration of War, SS|Athenia, a British cruise ship en-route from Glasgowto Montrealis torpedoed by U-30 250 miles Northwest of Ireland. 112 passengers and crew are killed.:4: 8:00 a.m. NST Newfoundland declares war on Germany.:4: In the first British offensive action of the war the Royal Air Forcelaunch a raid on the German fleet in the Heligoland Bight. They target the "Admiral Scheer" anchored off Wilhelmshavenat the western end of the Kiel Canal. Several aircraft are lost in the attack and although the German vessel is hit three times all of the bombs fail to explode.:4: Japan announces its neutrality in the European situation. The United States makes a similar declaration the next day.:5: South African Prime Minister Barry Herzogfails to gain support for a declaration of South African neutrality and is deposed by Jan Smuts.:6: South Africadeclares war on Germany.:6: Battle of Barking Creek(a friendly fire incidentresulting in the first RAF fighter pilotfatalities of the War). [http://www.removablemedia.com/northweald/battleof1.htm] :6: One element of the German Army (" Wehrmacht Heer") captures Kraków in the south of Poland; Polish army is in general retreat.:7: France begins a token offensive, moving into German territory near Saarbrücken.:7: The National Registration Act (1939)passed in Britain, introducing identity cards and allowing the government to control labour.:8: The British Government announce the re-introduction of the convoy system for merchant ships and a full-scale blockade on German shipping.:9: The French Saar Offensivestalls at the heavily mined Warndt Forest having advanced approximately 8 miles into lightly defended German territory.:10: Canadadeclares war on Germany.:11: Viceroy of IndiaLord Linlithgow announces to the two houses of the Indian Legislature (the Council of Stateand the Legislative Assembly) that due to India's participation in the war, the plans for the Federation of India under the Government of India Act 1935will be indefinitely postponed.:12: General Gamelin orders a halt to the French advance into Germany.:16: The German Army complete the encirclement of Warsaw.:17: The Soviet Unioninvades Poland from the east, occupying the territory east of the Curzon lineas well as Białystokand Eastern Galicia.:18: Polish President Ignacy Mościckiand Commander-in-Chief Edward Rydz-Śmigłyleave Poland for Romania, where they are both interned; Russian forces reach Vilniusand Brest-Litovsk. Polish submarine escapes from Tallinn- Estonia's neutrality is questioned by the Soviet Union and Germany.:19: The German and Soviet armies link up near Brest Litovsk.:19: Soviet Union blockades the harbour of Tallinn, the capital of Estonia.:20: U-27 is sunk with depth charges from the British destroyers HMS|Fortune|H70|6 and HMS|Forester|H74|6.:21: Romanian Prime Minister Armand Călinescuis assassinated by the Iron Guard, an ultranationalistic group.:24: Soviet air force violating Estonian airspace. The Estonians negotiate with Molotov in Moscow. Molotov warns the Estonians that if the Soviet Union doesn’t get military bases in Estonia, it is forced to use "more radical actions". :25: German home front measures begin with food rationing.:25: Soviet air activity in Estonia. Soviet troops along the Estonian border include 600 tanks and 600 aircraft and 160 000 men.:26: Following a massive artillery bombardment, the Germans launch a major infantry assault on the centre of Warsaw.:26: Russian bombers seen in the Tallinn sky.:27: In the first offensive operations by the German Army in Western Europe, guns on the Siegfried Lineopen up on villages behind French Maginot line.:28: German-Soviet Boundary and Friendship Treatyis signed by Molotov and Ribbentrop. The secret protocol specifies the details of partition of Poland originally defined in Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact( August 23, 1939) and adds Lithuania to the Soviet Union sphere of interest.:28: The remaining army and militia in the centre of Warsawcapitulate to the Germans.:28: Soviet troops by the Latvian border. Latvian air space violated.:29: Estoniasigns a 10-year Mutual Assistance Pact with the Soviet Union, which allows the Soviets to have 30 000 men military bases in Estonia. As a gift in return Stalin promises to respect Estonian independence.:30: The German pocket-battleship "Admiral Graf Spee" sinks its first merchant ship, the British freighter "Clement" while off the coast of Pernambuco, Brazil.
::2: Latvian representatives negotiate with Stalin and Molotov. Soviets threat an occupation by force if they do not get military bases in Latvia. :2: Declaration of Panama is approved by American Republics. Belligerent activities should not take place within waters adjacent to the American continent. A neutrality zone of some 300 miles in breadth is to be patrolled by the U.S. navy.:3: British forces move to Belgian border, anticipating German invasion of the West.:3: Lithuanians meet Stalin and Molotov in Moscow. Stalin offers Lithuania the city of Vilnius (in Poland) in return for allowing Soviet military bases in Lithuania. The Lithuanians are reluctant.:5: Latvia signs a 10 year Mutual Assistance Pact with the Soviet Union, which allows the Soviets to have 25 000 men in military bases in Latvia. Stalin promises to respect Latvian independence.:6: Chinese army reportedly defeats the Japanese at the battle of
Changsha.:6: Polish resistance in the Polish September Campaign comes to an end. Hitlerspeaks before the Reichstag, declaring a desire for a conference with Britain and France to restore peace.:7: Lithuanians again in Moscow. The Soviets demand military bases.:9: Hitler issues orders (Plan Yellow) to prepare for the invasion of Belgium, France, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.:10: The last of Poland's military surrenders to the Germans.:10: The leaders of the German navy suggest to Hitler the need to occupy Norway.:10: British Prime Minister Chamberlain declines Hitler's offer of peace.:10: Lithuania signs a 15 year Mutual Assistance Pact with the Soviet Union, which allows the Soviets to have 20 000 men in military bases in Lithuania. In a secret protocol Vilnius is made Lithuanian territory.:11: An estimated 158,000 British troops are now in France. :12: Adolf Eichmann begins deporting Jews from Austria and Czechoslovakia into Poland.:12: French Premier Daladier declines Hitler's offer of peace.:12: Finland's representatives meet Stalin and Molotov in Moscow. Soviet Union demands Finland gives up a military base near Helsinkiand to exchange some Soviet and Finnish territories to protect Leningradagainst Great-Britain or the eventual future threat of Germany.:14: The British battleship HMS|Royal Oak|08|6 is sunk in Scapa Flowharbour by U-47, under the command of Gunther Prien.:14: Finns meet Stalin again. Stalin tells that "an accident" might happen between Finnish and Soviet troops, if the negotiations last too long. :16: First air attack on Great Britain, aimed at ships in the Firth of Forth, Scotland.:19: Portions of Poland are formally inducted into Germany; the first Jewish ghettois established at Lublin:20: The " Phoney War": French troops settle in the Maginot line's dormitories and tunnels; the British build new fortifications along the "gap" between the Maginot line and the Channel.:27: Pope Pius XII's encyclical condemns racism and dictatorships. :27: Belgium announces that it is neutral in the present conflict.:30: The British government releases a report on concentration camps being built in Europe for Jews and anti-Nazis.
:1: Parts of Poland, including the
Danzig Corridor, are annexed by Germany. Soviet Union annexes the eastern parts of occupied Poland to Ukraine and Belorussia. :3: Finland and Soviet Union negotiate again new borders. Finns mistrust Stalin's aims and refuse to give up territory breaking their defensive line.:4: The U.S. Neutrality Act is passed: the French and British may buy arms, but on a strictly cash basis. American isolationists find the act an "outrage.":4: The Warsaw Jews (numbering approximately 400,000) are ordered into a Jewish ghetto.:8: Hitler escapes a bomb blast in a Munich beerhall, where he was speaking on the anniversary of the beerhall putsch of 1923. British bombers coincidentally bomb Munich.:13: Negotiations between Finland and Soviet Union break down. Finns doubt that Germans and Russians have agreed to include Finland in the Soviet sphere of influence.:13: The first bombs are dropped on Britain – in the Shetland Islands – with little damage.:14: The Polish government-in-exile moves to London.:17: The IRA is blamed for bombs set off in London.:20: The Luftwaffe and German U-boats begin mining the Thames estuary.:23: Polish Jews are ordered to wear Star of Davidarmbands.:24: Japan announces the capture of Nanningin southern China.:26: The Soviets stages the shelling of Mainila, Soviet artillery shells a field near the Finnish border, accusing Finns of killing Soviet troops.:29: The USSR breaks off diplomatic relations with Finland.:30: The Soviet Unionattacks Finlandin what would become known as the Winter War.
:1: Russia continues its war against Finland; Helsinki is bombed. In the first two weeks of the month, the Finns retreat to the Mannerheim line, an outmoded defensive line just inside the southern border with Russia.:2: British conscription is increased to cover men from 19 to 41.:5: The Russian invaders start heavy attacks on the Mannerheim line.:7: Italy again declares its neutrality. Norway, Sweden, and Denmark also proclaim their neutrality in the Russo-Finnish quarrel.:11: Russians meet with several tactical defeats by the Finnish army. :13:
Battle of the River Plate, off Montevideo, Uruguay. A British naval squadron attacks the "Admiral Graf Spee":14: The Graf Spee retreats into Montevideo harbour, badly damaged.:14: The USSR is expelled from the League of Nations.:17: "Admiral Graf Spee" is forced by International Law to leave Montevideo harbour; it is scuttled just outside the harbour. Captain Hans Langsdorffis interned but on the 20th commits suicide. :18: The first Canadian troops arrive in Europe.:27: The first Indian troops arrive in France.:28: Meat rationing begins in Britain.:29: As the year ends, the Finns continue to have successes in fighting the invaders, along the way capturing many men and vehicles.
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