Timeline of World War II (1940)

Timeline of World War II (1940)

This is a timeline of events that stretched over the period of World War II.

January 1940

:2: The Russian offensive in Finland is halted by several Finnish victories; numerous Russian tanks are destroyed, and the Russian offensive stalls.:7: Rationing of basic foodstuffs is established in the UK.:7: A major Finnish victory at Suomussalmi is reported; one whole Russian division is eliminated, and again numbers of military vehicles are captured.:16: Captured documents reveal Hitler's plans for the invasion of Scandinavia and a postponement of the invasion of France and the Low Countries until the Spring, when the weather is more compatible to invasion.:17: The Russians are driven back in Finland and retaliate with heavy air attacks.:21: A U-boat sinks British destroyer HMS Exmouth a crew of 135 are all lost.:24: Reinhard Heydrich is appointed by Goering for the solution to "The Jewish question.":27: Germany makes final plans for the invasion of Denmark and Norway.

February 1940

:1: Japanese Diet announces record high budget with over half its expenditures being military.:5: Britain and France decide to intervene in Norway to cut off the iron ore trade in anticipation of an expected German occupation and ostensibly to open a route to assist Finland. The operation is scheduled to start about March 20.:9: Erich von Manstein is placed in command of German XXXIII Armour Corps, removing him from planning the French invasion.:10: USSR agrees to supply grain and raw materials to Germany in a new trade treaty.:14: British government calls for volunteers to fight in Finland.:15: Soviet army captures Summa, an important defence point in Finland, thereby breaking through the Mannerheim Line.:15: Hitler orders unrestricted submarine warfare.:16: British destroyer HMS "Cossack" forcibly removes 303 British POWs from the German transport "Altmark" in neutral Norwegian territorial waters.:17: The Finns continue retreat from the Mannerheim line. :17: Manstein presents to Hitler his plans for invading France via the Ardennes forest.:21: General Nikolaus von Falkenhorst is placed in command of the upcoming German invasion of Norway.

March 1940

:1: Hitler directs his generals in planning the invasion of Denmark and Norway.:3: Soviets begin attacks on Viipuri, Finland's second largest city.:5: Finland tells the Soviets they will agree to their terms for ending the war. The next day they send emissaries to Moscow to negotiate a peace treaty.:12: In Moscow, Finland signs a peace treaty with the Soviet Union after 105 days of conflict. The Finns are forced to give up significant territory in exchange for independence:16: German air raid on Scapa Flow causes first British civilian casualties.:18: Hitler and Mussolini meet at the Brenner pass on the Austrian border; Mussolini agrees with Hitler that Italy will enter the war "at an opportune moment".:21: Paul Reynaud becomes Prime Minister of France following Daladier's resignation the previous day.:28: Britain and France make a formal agreement that neither country will seek a separate peace with Germany.:29: The Russians want new territories. Molotov speaks to the Supreme Soviet, about “an unsettled dispute”, the question of Romanian Bessarabia.:30: Japan establishes a puppet regime at Nanking, China, under Wang Jingwei.

April 1940

:1: Sometime between now and early May, Polish officers are massacred by the USSR at Katyn.:3: The Ministerial Defence Committee, with the First Lord of the Admiralty (Winston Churchill) as its chair, replaces Normandy after Hitler's invasion of Poland; Denmark surrenders. :9: Germans land in several Norwegian ports and take Oslo; The Norwegian Campaign lasts 3 months. The British begin their Norwegian Campaign.:10: Germans set up a Norwegian government under Vidkun Quisling, former war minister.:11: First Battle of Narvik, British destroyers and aircraft successfully make a surprise attack against a larger German naval force. A second attack on April 13 will also be a British success. :12: British troops occupy the Danish Faroe Islands.:13: British and French troops begin landing at Namsos and Harstad in Norway.:14: The Enigma code is broken by the intelligence group at Bletchley Park in England.:15: British troops land at Narvik, Norway.:16: More British landings in Norway, notably at Trondheim; the struggle for Trondheim continues until the 22nd.:27: British troops begin pull-out from Norway.

May 1940

:1: Allies begin evacuating Norwegian ports; the efforts will continue until June.:5: Norwegian government in exile established in London.:8: Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain barely survives Norway Debate vote in the House of Commons.:9: Conscription in Britain extended to age 36.:10: Germany invades Belgium, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands; Winston Churchill becomes Prime Minister of the United Kingdom upon the resignation of Neville Chamberlain. The United Kingdom invades Iceland.:10: Belgium declares a state of emergency. Churchill is called on to form a wartime coalition government.:10: The massive German offensive against the Western front: The invasion of Belgium, the Netherlands, and France begins. In a bold stroke, German paratroops capture the Belgian fort Eben Emael.:11: Luxembourg is occupied.:11: Churchill offers the former Kaiser Wilhelm II, who is now living in the Netherlands, asylum in the United Kingdom; he declines.:12: The Belgians blow up all the bridges over the Meuse River to halt the German advance.:13: Dutch government in exile established in London.:13: General Heinz Guderian's Panzer corps breaks through at Sedan, France.:13: Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands flees to asylum in the United Kingdom.:13: Churchill's "blood, toil, tears, and sweat" speech in Commons.:14: The creation of the Local Defence Volunteers; (the "Home Guard") is announced by the new Secretary of State for War Anthony Eden. It is mostly composed of the elderly and retired.:14: Rotterdam is carpet-bombed by the Luftwaffe, causing many civilian deaths and tremendous damage. The Netherlands decide to surrender with the exception of Zealand.:14: Churchill asks President Roosevelt and Canada for aid in these dark days. Outlines of the new British coalition, which includes Labour, Liberal, and Conservative members, is made public.:15: The capitulation of the Dutch army is signed.:16: Churchill visits Paris and hears that the French war is as good as over; The United Kingdom stands alone in Europe.:17: Germans enter Brussels and also take Antwerp.:17: Paul Reynaud forms new French government, including 84-year old Marshal Pétain, the French hero of World War I.:18: Maxime Weygand replaces Maurice Gamelin as commander of the French armed forces:19: Amiens, France is besieged by German troops; Rommel's forces surround Arras; other German forces reach Noyelles on the Channel.:20: General Guderian's Panzer groups take Abbéville, threatening Allied forces in the area.:23: Oswald Mosley, leader of the pre-war British fascists, is jailed; he and his wife will spend the duration in prison.:24: The British make a final decision to cease operations in Norway.:25: The Allied forces, British and French alike, retreat to Dunkirk. Hitler orders a halt to the advance of Germans toward the Allied beachhead and allows Goering to use the Luftwaffe to attack. British R.A.F. defends the beachhead.:25: Sporadic Luftwaffe bombings in England.:25: Boulogne-sur-Mer surrenders to the Germans:25: Soviet Union is preparing a total takeover in the Baltic States organizing and staging conflicts between the Balts and USSR. Soviet government accuses Lithuania of kidnaping Soviet soldiers.:26: Calais surrenders to the Germans:26: Operation Dynamo, the Allied evacuation of 340,000 troops from Dunkirk, begins. The move will last until June 3 under ferocious bombardment by the Luftwaffe.:28: Belgium surrenders to the Germans; King Leopold III surrenders and is interned.:30: Crucial British Cabinet meeting: Churchill wins a vote on continuing the war, in spite of vigorous arguments by Lord Halifax and Chamberlain.:31: The Japanese heavily bomb Nationalist capital Chungking, on the upper Yangtse.

June 1940

:2: Last of British troops in Norway leave; losses have been heavy on both sides.:3: Last day of Operation Dynamo. 224,686 British and 121,445 French and Belgian troops have been evacuated.:3: Germans bomb Paris.:7: German cruisers "Gneisenau" and "Scharnhorst" sink the aircraft carrier HMS "Glorious" and two destroyers off Norway; the British ships have had no air cover.:9: Red Army provokes conflicts in the Latvian border.:10: Italy declares war on France and the United Kingdom; Norway surrenders. King Haakon flees to the mountains and is eventually evacuated to Britain.:11: French government decamps to Tours.:13: Paris occupied by German troops; French government moves again, this time to Bordeaux.:14: A total military blockade on the Baltic States by the Soviet Baltic Fleet. Soviet troops along the Baltic borders are ready to organise communist coups in the Baltic States. Soviet bombers shoot down a Finnish passenger airplane "Kaleva" flying from Tallinn to Helsinki and carrying three diplomatic pouches from the U.S. legations in Tallinn, Riga and Helsinki.:15: Eight hour ultimatum to surrender is given to Lithuania by the Soviets. President Smetona escapes from the country so the takeover is not possible to do in a formally legal way. Soviet troops enter Lithuania and attack Latvian border guards. :16: Philippe Pétain becomes premier of France upon the resignation of Reynaud's government.:16: Soviet Union gives eight hour ultimatum to Latvia and Estonia to surrender.:17: Sinking of liner RMS "Lancastria" off St Nazaire while being used as a British troopship—Britain's worst maritime disaster since the Anglo-Dutch wars.:17: Soviet troops enter Latvia and Estonia. :18: General De Gaulle forms the "Comité Français de la Libération Nationale", a French government in exile; Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are occupied by the Soviet Union. :21: Franco-German armistice negotiations begin at Compiegne.:21: Soviet-led coups in the Baltic States. In the only military resistance in Tallinn, 2 die on Estonian side and about 10 on the Soviet side. :22: Franco-German armistice signed.:24: Franco-Italian armistice signed.:25: France officially surrenders to Germany at 0:35.:26: The Soviet Union send an ultimatum demanding Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina from Romania.:27: Romanians propose negotiations. Molotov puts it straight: Land concessions or war. New ultimatum from the Soviets to the Romanians.:28: General De Gaulle recognised by British as leader of Free French.:28: Marshal Italo Balbo, Commander-in-Chief of Italian North Africa, is accidentally killed in a "friendly fire incident" by Italian anti-aircraft fire at Tobruk, Libya.:28: The Red Army occupies Romanian Bessarabia and the northern part of Bukovina.:30: Germany invades the Channel Islands.

July 1940

:1: Channel Islands occupation is completed by German forces; French government moves to Vichy.:1: Marshal Rodolfo Graziani is now the head of Italian forces in North Africa.:2: Hitler orders preparation of plans for invasion of Britain, code-named Operation Sealion.:3: Cardiff is bombed by the Luftwaffe for the first time.:4: The destruction of the French Fleet at Mers-el-Kébir, Algeria by the Royal Navy; Vichy French government breaks off diplomatic relations with Britain in protest. At Alexandria the French agree to demilitarise the battleship Lorraine and several smaller ships.:4: The Duke of Windsor (tainted by suspicion of pro-Nazism) is named governor of the Bahamas, putting him some distance from controversy.:10: The Battle of Britain begins with Luftwaffe raids on channel shipping.:10: President Roosevelt asks Congress for huge increases in military preparations.:11: RAF raids on enemy emplacements in the Netherlands and on German munitions factories.:12: Luftwaffe attacks on Wales and Scotland.:14: Soviets organize rigged elections in the Baltic States. The parliaments will be in the control of the Soviets.:16: Hitler submits to his military the directive for the invasion of the United Kingdom, Operation Sealion.:21: Czechoslovakian government in exile arrives in London.:21: In the Baltic States Soviet controlled parliaments request membership of USSR.:22: The Havana Conference meets; the nations of the Western hemisphere meet to discuss neutrality and economic cooperation.:22: Fumimaro Konoye is named the Prime Minister of Japan.:23: The British "Home Guard" is officially established, drawing on elderly men and those considered unable to serve in the regular armed forces.:25: All women and children are ordered to evacuate Gibraltar.:30: The president of Estonia, Konstantin Päts, is arrested and deported to Russia by the Soviets.

August 1940

:1: Hitler sets 15 September as the date for Operation Sealion, the invasion of Britain.:1: Russian Foreign Minister Molotov reaffirms Molotov-Ribbentrop pact in the Soviet Supreme while verbally attacking both Britain and the USA. He also asserts that the boundaries of Soviet Union are moved to the shores of the Baltic Sea.:2: General De Gaulle sentenced to death in absentia by a French military court.:2: The USSR annexes Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina. :3: The USSR formally annexes Lithuania.:4: Italian forces under General Guglielmo Nasi invade and occupy British Somaliland during the East African Campaign.:5: Failure to achieve air superiority, and bad weather in the Channel results in a postponement of the invasion of Great Britain.:5: The USSR formally annexes Latvia.:6: The USSR formally annexes Estonia.:11-15: Battle of Tug Argan fought in British Somaliland during the Italian invasion. To avoid encirclement, the British withdraw.:13: This is "Adler Tag" or "Eagle Day". Goering starts a two-week assault on British airfields in preparation for invasion. (For some German historians, this is the beginning of the "Battle of Britain.") :14: British scientist, Sir Henry Tizard, leaves for the United States on the Tizard Mission, giving over to the Americans a number of top secret British technologies including the magnetron, the secret device at the heart of radar. Radar is already proving itself in the defence of Britain.:14: The destroyer/base exchange between the US and Britain goes forward.:15: RAF victories over the Luftwaffe continue, in a wide-ranging fight along the East coast. British fighter aircraft production begins to accelerate.:15: Sinking of the Greek cruiser Elli by an Italian submarine on 15 August 1940 at the harbour of Tinos.:16: The Battle of Britain continues; Germans are hampered by poor aircraft range and British extensive use of RADAR.:16: A first draft of the destroyer/base trade by the US and Britain is made public.:17: Hitler declares a blockade of the British Isles.:18: Heavy fighting in the Battle of Britain; Germans suffering severe losses on bomber formations. Goering declares cowardice among his fighter pilots and orders them to closely guard the bombers, further restricting their capabilities.:19: Italian forces take Berbera, the capital of British Somaliland and the British defenders flee to Aden. The fall of Berbera completes the invasion of the British colony. By the end of the month, the Italiians control British Somaliland and several towns and forts along the border with the Sudan and Kenya including Kassala, Gallabat, and Moyale.:20: Italy announces a blockade of British ports in the Mediterranean area.:20: Churchill's speech in Commons: "never was so much owed by so many to so few".:22: Germans are now shelling Dover and the nearby coastal area with long-range artillery.:24: German aircraft mistakenly bomb Coventry, accidentally dictating the future shape of the Battle of Britain.:25: Churchill orders the bombing of Berlin in retaliation for last night's bombing of Coventry.:26: Both London and Berlin are bombed, Berlin for the first time.:30: The bombing of England continues; London is now bombed in retaliation for the bombing of Berlin; thus, the beginning of "the London Blitz.":31: Luftwaffe attacks on British airfields continue, as well as on London. Attacks on Radar installations prove ineffective.

eptember 1940

:1: Germany's Jews are ordered to wear yellow stars for identification.:2: The Destroyers for Bases Agreement is completed. Britain obtains 50 destroyers in exchange for giving the United States land grants in various British possessions for the establishment of US naval and air bases, on ninety-nine-year rent-free leases.:3: Hitler postpones the invasion of Britain, as the Luftwaffe fails to break the British defenses. Fears of the forthcoming invasion continue, however, to haunt Britain.:6: King Carol abdicates the Romanian throne in favour of his son Michael while control of the government is taken by Marshal Antonescu.:7: In one of the major misjudgements of the war, the Luftwaffe shifts its focus to London, away from the RAF airfields. Success may be measured only in the estimated 2,000 civilian dead. Other British cities are hit :9: Tel Aviv in the British Mandate of Palestine is bombed by Italian aircraft causing 137 deaths.:10: Operation Sealion is now set for 24 September.:13: During Italian invasion of Egypt, Italian colonial forces in Libya under General Mario Berti cross the border into Egypt (from Fort Capuzzo, just inside the Libyan border) and initiate the Western Desert Campaign. Their aim is to gain control of the Suez canal. Five Italian divisions advance about 95 km to Sidi Barrani and set up defensively in a series of armed camps..:14: Operation Sealion is postponed until 27 September, the last day of the month with suitable tides for the invasion.:15: Massive German bombing flights on English cities; most are driven off. The RAF begins to claim victory in the Battle of Britain.:16: Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 introduces the first peacetime conscription (this time for men between 21 and 35) in United States history.:16: Italians have victories on the Libya/Egypt border, first at Sollum, then Sidi Barrani. They are sixty miles inside Egypt. The British, according to plan, have retreated 80 miles inside to a small village, Mersa Matruh. Both sides dig in for a few months.:17: Decoded messages now reveal that Hitler has postponed Operation Sealion until further notice.:20: Chinese Communists launch major offensive against the Japanese.:22: Heavy convoy losses to U-boats in the Atlantic.:22: The Japanese occupy Vietnam and establish several bases in French Indochina; local French administrators become only figurehead authorities.:23: French and British forces attempt landing at Dakar, West Africa; Vichy French naval forces open fire sporadically for two days, and the expedition is called back.:24: Berlin suffers a large bombing raid by the RAF.:24: Vichy French aircraft bomb Gibraltar:27: The Tripartite Pact is signed in Berlin by Germany, Italy, and Japan, promising mutual aid. An informal name,"Axis", emerges.:28: Vidkun Quisling becomes head of state in Norway.

October 1940

:1:Chinese Nationalist and Chinese Communists fight each other in southern China. Meanwhile Japanese forces have a setback at Changsha.:2: The bombing of London continues throughout the month.:3: Warsaw's Jews are directed to move into the Warsaw ghetto.:4: Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini meet at the Brenner Pass to discuss the prospects in the war.:7: Germany invades Romania to block the Soviet Army and get access to valuable oil fields.:9: Neville Chamberlain resigns from the House of Commons for health reasons; Winston Churchill is elected head of the Conservative Party.:12: Any German invasion of Britain is postponed until Spring 1941 at the earliest.:13: British civilians are still being killed by German bombs though the attacks have dropped off significantly.:15: Clarence Addison Dykstra becomes Director of Selective Service in the United States.:15: Mussolini and his closest advisers decided to invade Greece:16: Draft registration begins in the United States.:20: Italian aircraft bomb Cairo, Egypt and American-operated oil refineries in the British Protectorate of Bahrain.:21: Liverpool is bombed for the 200th time.:23: Adolf Hitler meets with Franco at a Spanish border town; little is accomplished, and least of all Hitler's hope to convince Franco to enter the war on the Axis side.:25: Berlin and Hamburg are bombed heavily.:28: Italy issues ultimatum to Greece and Greek Prime Minister Metaxas replies: "So it is war". The Italian Army launches attacks into Greece from Italian-held Albania and begins the Greco-Italian War. Hitler is angered at the initiative of his ally.:29: Very heavy convoy losses during this period as numbers of U-boats increase.:29: The first number drawings for US Selective Service Act draftees.:30: President Roosevelt, in the middle of an election campaign, promises not to send "our boys" to war. :31: The Warsaw District government moves all Jews living in Warsaw to the ghettos.

November 1940

:2: Italian planes bomb Salonika, Greece as their advance continues.:4: President Roosevelt wins a third term. The British see the event as promising of more help from the US.:4: The Greeks start a major counter-attack against the Italians on the Albanian border.:5: The HMS "Jervis Bay", a merchant cruiser, is sunk on convoy duty, but much of the convoy escapes. The loss becomes a media event.:7: It becomes clear that Ireland will refuse to allow the United Kingdom to use its ports as naval bases.:9: The Italian invading armies in Greece have been halted and, in some places, they begin to retreat.:11: British naval forces launch attack against Italian navy at Taranto. Swordfish bombers from HMS "Illustrious" damage three battleships, two cruisers and multiple auxiliary craft. The event secures British supply lines in the Mediterranean. The British success will be studied by Japanese military already preparing for an attack on Pearl Harbor.:12: Molotov meets Hitler and Ribbentrop in Berlin. New World order is under discussion. Molotov express Soviet interest in Finland, Bulgaria, Romania, Dardanelles and Bosbor, but Hitler talks along broad lines worldwide spheres of influence between Russia, Germany, Italy and Japan.:13: Molotov meets Hitler again asking acceptance to liquidate Finland, but Hitler resists now every attempt to grow soviet influence in Europe. He sees Britain defeated and offers India to Soviet Union.:13: The Battle of Pindus ends in a Greek victory.:14: A heavy night raid on Coventry. Coventry Cathedral is destroyed and the medieval centre of the city is levelled.:14: The Greek counter-offensive begins on the Albanian front.:15: Soviet Union is invited to join Tripartite Pact and share in the spoils of British Empire. Warsaw's Jewish ghetto is cordoned off from the rest of the city.:16: Churchill orders some British troops in North Africa to be sent to Greece, despite concerns by his military leaders that they are needed in the current campaign against the Italians in North Africa.:19: The Greeks continue to advance, and evict Italian troops from Greek soil.:20: Hungary signs the Tripartite Pact.:21: The Belgian government, in exile in Britain, declares war on Italy.:22: Fall of Korytsa to the Greeks.:23: Romania signs the Tripartite Pact.:24: The Slovak Republic signs the Tripartite Pact.:26: Soviet Union gives her terms to join Tripartite pact including substantial new territorial gains to the Russians.:29: A massive overnight bombing raid on Liverpool.:30: A large bombing raid on Southampton in southern England; the city is hit again the next night, then Bristol on the 2nd, and Birmingham on the 3rd.

December 1940

:1: Bombing raids are exchanged throughout the month between Germany and Britain. First Germany bombs, then Britain.:1: Joseph P. Kennedy, the US Ambassador to the United Kingdom is asked to resign by President Roosevelt after he gives a newspaper interview expressing that "Democracy is finished in England".:5: The RAF bombs Düsseldorf and Turin.:8: Franco rules out Spanish entry into the war; the immediate result is that Hitler is forced to cancel an attack on Gibraltar.:1-8: Greek forces continue to drive the Italian armies back, capturing the cities of Pogradec, Sarandë, and Gjirokastër.:6-9: Operation Compass: The British Western Desert Force begins its North African offensive against Italian forces in Egypt. Initial attacks are launched against the five Italian camps south of Sidi Barrani. The camps are overrun, Italian General Pietro Maletti is killed, and the remaining Italian units are forced to withdraw towards Libya. :11: Having cleared Greek soil of Italian invading forces, Greek forces invade Italian-held Albania during the Greco-Italian War.:12: In North Africa, over 39,000 Italians have been lost or captured. The British move into Libya.:16: The first RAF night raid--on Mannheim, Germany.:16: In North Africa, the British are in command at Sollum in Egypt and now take Fort Capuzzo in Libya.:18: Hitler submits plans for Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union:22-24: Manchester Blitz:28: The Greco-Italian War continues to go badly for the Italians and, with the Greeks holding roughly one-quarter of Albania, Italy requests military assistance from Germany against the Greeks.:29: Large German air-raids on London; St Paul's Cathedral is damaged.:29: British are moving on Bardia, Libya.

External links

* [http://www.timelineforworldwar2.com Timeline For World War 2]
* [http://www.worldwar-2.net/timelines/timelines-index.htm Timeline of WWII]
* [http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/ww2.htm Documents of World War II]
* [http://wwiiarchives.net/servlet/timeline.html World War II Timeline]

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