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Timeline of the Second World War
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Timeline of the Second World War

Table of contents
1 1939
2 1940
3 1941
4 1942
5 1943
6 1944
7 1945

1939

September

1: Invasion of Poland by Germany begins at 4:45 am; Norway, Switzerland and Finland declare their neutrality; the British government declares general mobilisation. The Luftwaffe launchs air attacks against Krakow, Lodz, and Warsaw.
2: The United Kingdom and France issue a joint ultimatum to Germany, requiring German troops to evacuate Polish territory within 12 hours; Mussolini declares Italian neutrality; Ireland also declares neutrality; the Swiss government orders a general mobilization of its forces; the National Service (Armed Forces) Act is passed in Britain.
3: Hitler rejects Allied ultimatum; the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and France declare war on Germany; Belgium declares its neutrality as King Leopold III assumes personal command of the Belgian armed forces. British passenger liner SS Athenia en-route from Glasgow to Montreal is sunk by U-30.
4:The Royal Air Force attacks the German fleet at Wilhelmshaven and bombs the Kiel Canal.
5: The United States declares neutrality; General Jan Smuts replaces James Herzog as Prime Minister of South Africa; French troops begin minor offensive towards Saarbrücken.
6: South Africa declares war on Germany; Spain declares its neutrality, but Franco makes a secret pledge to Hitler to aid the Axis cause; The Germans capture Kraków.
7: National Registration Act passed in Britain, introducing identity cards and allowing the government to control labour; Britain begins operating a convoy system in the Atlantic.
8: The first German troops enter Warsaw.
10: Canada declares war on Germany. The British Expeditionary Force begins arriving in France.
11: The Anglo-French Supreme War Council holds its first meeting.
13: French Prime Minister Edouard Daladier forms a War Cabinet.
14: U-39 attacks the British ship HMS Ark Royal, but fail to cause any damage. The aircraft carrier's escorts to force U-39 to the surface with depth charges and the crew are taken prisoner.
15: The first British trans-Atlantic convoy sets sail from Halifax, Nova Scotia.
16: The German army surrounds Warsaw.
17: Invasion of Eastern Poland by the Soviet Union; the British aircraft carrier HMS Courageous is sunk by U-29; the French troops near Saarbrücken are withdrawn from German territory.
18: Polish President Moscicki and Commander-in-Chief Rydz-Smigly leave Poland for Romania, where they are both interned; Russian forces reach Vilna and Brest-Litovsk.
19: The German and Soviet armies link up near Brest Litovsk.
20: U-27 is sunk with depth charges from the British destroyers HMS Fortune and HMS Forester.
21: Romanian Prime Minister Calinescu is assassinated by the Iron Guard, a pro-Nazi fascist group.
25: The Luftwaffe begins a general bombing campaign against Warsaw; Germany begins a program of food rationing.
27: The British cabinet announces its first war budget, which includes a 50% increase in income tax.
28: Warsaw surrenders; Polish government in exile set up in Paris with Raczkiewicz as President and Sikorski as Commander-in-Chief.
29: Estonia signs a Mutual Assistance Pact with the Soviet Union, which allows Soviet troops to enter Estonia.
30: The German pocket-battleship Admiral Graf Spee sinks its first merchant ship.

October

1: Conscription of British men aged between 20 and 22 begins.
2: The Hel peninsula Polish defence forces surrender to German forces.
5: The Kock battle, the last battle of the Polish defence, between Polesie group under the command of General Kleeberg and German forces; the British and French navies organize several squadrons to pursue the Graf Spee; Latvia signs a Mutual Assistance Pact with the Soviet Union, which allows Soviet troops to enter Latvia; the Soviet Union begins talks with Finland to adjust the border between the two countries.
6: Finland begins mobilizing its army; Hitler speaks before the Reichstag, declaring a desire for a conference with Britain and France to restore peace.
9: Hitler issues orders for preparation of invasion of Belgium, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
10: Lithuania signs a Mutual Assistance Pact with the Soviet Union, which allows Soviet troops to enter Lithuania; the German navy suggests occupying Norway to Hitler.
14: The British battleship HMS Royal Oak is sunk in Scapa Flow harbour by U-47.
19: Portions of Poland are formally inducted into Germany; the first Jewish ghetto is established at Lublin.

November

4: The Neutrality Acts are enacted in the United States, the "cash and carry" provisions for selling military supplies favor Britain and France.
8: An attempt to assassinate Hitler by a bomb while he makes a speech fails; in the Venlo Incident, two British intelligence agents are captured; Germans appoint Hans Frank Governor General of Poland and begins accelerating anti-Jewish programs there.
17: The Czechoslovak National Committee is organized in Paris.
30: The Soviet Union attacks Finland and causes Winter War

December

7: Italy again declares its neutrality.
13: Battle of the River Plate, British naval squadron attacks the Admiral Graf Spee
17: Admiral Graf Spee scuttled in Montevideo harbour.
14: The USSR expelled from the League of Nations.
18: The first Canadian troops arrive in Europe.
27: The first Indian troops arrive in France.
28: Meat rationing program begins in Britain.

1940

January

1: Conscription extended in Britain: all men between 20 and 27 now liable.
4: Hermann Göring placed in charge of German war industries.
5: British cabinet is revised, Oliver Stanley takes over War Office, Lord John Reith becomes Minister of Information, and Sir Andrew Duncan takes over Board of Trade.
7: General Semyon Timoshenko placed in command of Soviet troops against Finland.
8: Bacon, butter, and sugar rationing begins in Britain.
10: The Mechelon Incident; two German officers crashland in Mechelon, Belgium carrying copies of the planned invasion of France. This incident leads to a postponement and revision of the invasion.
11: Meat rationing begins in France.
14: Japanese Prime Minister Abe Nobuyuki and his cabinet resign and Admiral Mitsumasa Yonai is named as Prime Minister.

February

1: Japanese Diet announces record high budget with over half its expenditures being military.
5: Britain and France decide to intervene in Norway in anticipation of an expected German occupation and to open a route to assist Finland. The operation is scheduled to start on or about March 20.
9: Field Marshall Erich von Manstein is placed in command on German XXXIII Armor Corps, removing him from planning the French invasion.
14: British government calls for volunteers to fight in Finland.
15: Soviet army captures Summa in Finland thereby breaking through the Mannerheim Line.
16: British destroyer Cossack forcibly removes 299 British POWs from the German transport Altmark in neutral Norwegian territorial waters.
17: Manstein presents his plans for invading France via the Ardennes forest to Hitler.
21: General Nickolaus von Falkenhorst is placed in command of the upcoming German invasion of Norway; Work begins on the construction of Auschwitz.
24: The Ardennes plan for invading the west is adopted.

March

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.
12: Finland signs a peace treaty with the Soviet Union.
16: German air raid on Scapa Flow causes first British civilian casualties.
18: 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 on March 20.
28: Britain and France make a formal agreement that neither country will seek a separate peace with Germany.
30: Japan establishs a puppet regime at Nanking under Wang Jingwei.

April

1: Hitler gives the go ahead for the invasion of Norway and Denmark.
3: Churchill is appointed chairman of the Ministerial Defense Committee following the resignation of Lord Chatfield.
5: Chamberlain makes an ill-timed remark that Hitler has "missed the bus".
9: Denmark and Norway invaded by Germany; Denmark surrenders.
10: 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.
14: British and French troops begin landing in Norway.
30: British and French troops begin evacuating from Norway.

May

5: Norwegian government in exile established in London.
9: Conscription in Britain extended to age 36.
10: Belgium, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands are invaded by Germany; Winston Churchill becomes Prime Minister of the United Kingdom upon the resignation of Neville Chamberlain.
11: Luxembourg occupied.
13: Dutch government in exile established in London.
14: The creation of the Local Defence Volunteers (the Home Guard) is announced by Anthony Eden.
15: The Netherlands surrender.
26: Operation Dynamo, the Allied evacuation from Dunkirk, begins.
28: Belgium surrenders; Germans evacuate Narvik

June

3: Last day of Operation Dynamo. 224,686 British and 121,445 French and Belgian troops have been evacuated.
10: Italy declares war on France and the United Kingdom; Norway surrenders.
11: French government decamps to Tours.
14: Paris occupied by German troops; French government moves again, this time to Bordeaux.
16: Philippe Pétain becomes premier of France upon the resignation of Reynaud's government.
17: Sinking of liner HMT Lancastria off St Nazaire while being used as a British troopship - Britain's worst maritime disaster.
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.
22: Franco-German armistice signed.
24: France officially surrenders to Germany; Franco-Italian armistice signed.
28: General De Gaulle recognised by British as leader of Free French.
30: Germany invades the Channel Islands.

July

1: Channel Islands completely occupied; French government moves to Vichy.
2: Hitler orders preparation of plans for invasion of Britain, code-named Operation Sealion.
4: Destruction of the French Fleet at Mers-el-Kebir by the Royal Navy; Vichy French government breaks off diplomatic relations with Britain in protest.
21: Czech government in exile arrives in London.
22: The Special Operations Executive is created.
25: All women and children are ordered to evacuate Gibraltar.

August

2: General De Gaulle sentenced to death in absentia by a French military court.
4: Italian forces invade British Somaliland.
19: Italians take Berbera, capital of British Somaliland.

September

3: Operation Sealion set for 21st September.
10: Operation Sealion postponed until 24th September.
13: Italy invades Egypt.
14: Operation Sealion postponed until 27th September, the last day of the month with suitable tides for the invasion.
17: Operation Sealion postponed by Hitler until further notice.
24: Vichy French aircraft bomb Gibraltar.

October

7: Germany invades Romania.
12: Any German invasion of Britain postponed until Spring 1941 at the earliest.
28: Italy issues ultimatum to Greece - Prime Minister Metaxas replies "So it is war" (celebrated as "Okhi!" ("No!") Day in Greece); Italian forces invade Greece.

November

11: British naval forces launch attack against Italian navy at Taranto. Swordfish bombers from HMS Illustrious damage three battleships, two cruisers and multiple auxillary craft.
20: Hungary and Romania sign the Tripartite Pact.

December

11: Greece invades Italian-held Albania.

1941

January

12: British and Australian troops capture Tobruk.

February

25: Mogadishu, Italian Somaliland captured by British forces.

March

11: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signs the Lend Lease Act allowing Britain, China and other allied nations to purchase military equipment and to defer payment until after the war.
25: Yugoslavia signs the Tripartite Pact.
27: Crown Prince Peter becomes Peter II of Yugoslavia and takes control of Yugoslavia after an army coup overthrows the pro-German government of the Prince Regent.
30: The Afrika Korps begins the German offensive in North Africa.

April

6: German, Hungarian and Italian forces invade Yugoslavia and Greece.
10: Greenland occupied by the United States.
12: Belgrade surrenders.
13: Japan and the Soviet Union sign a neutrality pact.
Siege of Tobruk begins.
17: Yugoslavia surrenders. Government in exile formed in London.
23: Greek government evacuated to Crete.
27: Athens occupied by German troops.

May

10: Rudolf Hess captured in Scotland after bailing out of his plane.
20: German paratroopers attack Crete.
24: British battlecruiser HMS Hood sunk by German battleship Bismarck; Greek government leaves Crete for Cairo.
27: The Bismarck is sunk by torpedoes from HMS Dorsetshire.
28: British and Commonwealth forces begin to evacuate Crete.

June

1: Allies complete the withdrawal from Crete.
4: Iraq invaded by Britain - the pro-Axis government there is overthrown.
8: Vichy French-controlled Syria invaded by Australian, British, Free French and Indian forces.
22: Germany invades the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa.
23: Hungary and Slovakia declare war on the Soviet Union.
26: Finland declares war on the Soviet Union.
28: Albania declares war on the Soviet Union.

July

5: Possibility of negotiated peace ruled-out by British government.
7: Iceland occupied by the United States.
8: Yugoslavia dissolved by the Axis.
12: Britain and Soviet Union sign mutual defence agreement, promising not to sign any form of separate peace agreement with Germany.
25: Iran occupied by Britain and the Soviet Union.

September

5: Germany occupies Estonia.
15: Siege of Leningrad begins.

October

16: Soviet government evacuated to Kuibyshev.

November

19: Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney and the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran sink each other off the coast of Western Australia.
22: Britain issues an ultimatum to Finland to end war with Russia or face war with the Allies.

December

5: Britain declares war on Finland, Hungary and Romania.
7: Japanese aerial attack on Pearl Harbor brings United States and Japan into the war. Air attacks also on Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaya, Thailand, the Philippines, and Shanghai.
8: Japan invades Malaya
10: British battleships HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales sunk by Japanese air attack.
11: Germany and Italy declare war on the United States.
12: Britain declares war on Bulgaria after it had declared war on both Britain and the United States.
16: Japan invades Borneo
17: Siege of Sevastpol begins.
18: Japanese troops land on Hong Kong Island.

25: Hong Kong surrenders.

1942

January

2: Japanese troops occupy Manila.
25: Japanese troops invade the Solomon Islands.

February

15: Singapore surrenders to Japanese forces.
19: Darwin, Australia bombed by Japanese air force.
27: Battle of the Java Sea begins.
28: Japanese land forces invade Java.

March

10: Fall of Rangoon.
17: US General Douglas MacArthur arrives in Australia, after abandoning his headquarters in the Philippines.

April

15: Malta is awarded the George Cross by King George VI for "heroism and devotion".
18: Doolittle Raid on Nagoya, Tokyo and Yokohama.
30: Hitler and Mussolini propose to invade Malta on 10th July.

May

4: Battle of the Coral Sea.
21: Invasion of Malta postponed indefintely.

June

4: American victory at Battle of Midway.
18: Manhattan Project started.
21: Afrika Korps recaptures Tobruk.
28: Operation Blue, the German plan to capture Stalingrad and the Russian oil fields in the Causascus, begins.

July

1: First Battle of El Alamein begins.
3: Guadalcanal falls to the Japanese.
21: Japanese establish beachhead on the north coast of New Guinea, in the Buna-Gona area; small Australian force begins rearguard action on the Kokoda Track.
27: First Battle of El Alamein ends.

August

7: Operation Watchtower begins the Battle of Guadalcanal as American forces invade Gavutu, Guadalcanal, Tulagi and Tanambogo in the Solomon Islands.
13: General Bernard Montgomery appointed commander of British Eighth Army in North Africa.
19: Operation Jubilee, a raid by British and Canadian forces on Dieppe in France, ends in disaster.
22: Brazil declares war on the Axis countries.
26: Battle of Milne Bay begins: Japanese forces launch full scale assault on Australian base near the eastern tip of New Guinea.
30: Luxembourg is formally annexed to the German Reich.

September

1: Stalingrad is now completely encircled by German forces.
3: Australian and US forces defeat Japanese forces at Milne Bay, the first outright land victory for Alled forces in the Pacific War.

October

4: British Commandos raid Sark, capturing one German soldier.
18: Hitler issues Commando Order, ordering all captured commandos to be executed immediately.
22: Conscription age in Britain reduced to 18.
23: Second Battle of El Alamein begins with massive Allied bombardment of German opositions.

November

1: Operation Supercharge, the Allied breakout at El Alamein, begins.
8: Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of Vichy-controlled Morocco and Algeria, begins.
11: German forces occupy Vichy France.
13: Tobruk recaptured by the British Commonwealth Eighth Army.
19: Operation Uranus, Soviet counterattack against German forces in Stalingrad, beings.

December

7: Commando raid on Bordeaux harbour by British troops.
24: French Admiral Darlan, the former Vichy leader who had switched over to the Allies following the Torch landings, assassinated in Algiers.

1943

January

14: Casablanca Conference of Allied leaders begins.
31: Large parts of the German 6th Army at Stalingrad, including Field Marshal Paulus, surrender.

February

2: The remainder of the 6th Army surrenders.
8: Liberation of Guadalcanal completed.

May

7: Tunis captured by British First Army.
24: Admiral Karl Dönitz orders the majority of U-Boats to withdraw from the Atlantic.

July

4: General Wladyslaw Sikorski and several other members of the Polish government in exile are killed in what is ostensibly an air accident in Gibraltar - some suspect that the 'accident' was actually caused on Stalin's orders.
5: The Battle of Kursk begins.
10: Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily begins.
25: Mussolini is sacked as Prime Minister of Italy by the King, replaced with Pietro Badoglio.

August

17: Americans take Messina, completing the invasion of Sicily.
22: The Battle of Kursk ends with a heavy defeat for the German forces.

September

3: Allied invasion of Italy begins.
8: Italy surrenders to the Allies;
9: Iran declares war on Germany, under pressure of Allied forces who have occupied the country; Salerno landings in Italy.
23: Italian Social Republic founded in German-occupied parts of Northern Italy.

October

13: Italy declares war on Germany.

November

1: US Marines being landings on Bougainville in the Solomon Islands.
15: Allied Expeditionary Force for the invasion of Europe is officially formed.
22 Cairo Conference between Churchill, Roosevelt and Chiang Kai-shek begins.
28 Tehran Conference between Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin begins.

December

4: Bolivia declares war on the Axis countries.
26: German battle cruiser Scharnhorst sunk.

1944

January

4: Battle of Monte Cassino begins.
15: 27th Polish Home Army Infantry Division recreated, marking the start of Operation Tempest by the Polish Home Army.
18: Siege of Leningrad ends.
22: Allied landings at Anzio, Italy.

February

8: The plan for the invasion of France, Operation Overlord, is confirmed.
14: SHAEF headquarters established in Britain by General Eisenhower.
22: Stockholm bombed by the Soviet Union.

March

19: Hungary occupied by German forces.
24: Orde Wingate killed in plane crash.

April

14: Odessa is liberated by Soviet forces

May

8: D-Day for Operation Overlord set for 5th June.
18: Battle of Monte Cassino ends with Polish victory

June

4: Operation Overlord postponed 24 hours due to high seas.
5: Allied troops enter Rome.
6: D-Day: Operation Overlord is launched by the Allies, to invade Normandy.
7: Bayeux liberated by British troops.
17: Free French troops land on Elba.
18: Elba declared liberated.
20: Siege of Imphal lifted.
22: Operation Bagration
26: Cherbourg liberated by American troops.

July

3: Minsk is liberated by Soviet forces.
9: Caen is liberated by the Allies.
18: Infamous ‘death ride of the armoured divisions’ as British XIII Corps repulsed by heavy German counter-attack.
24: Maidanek Concentration Camp is liberated by Soviet forces.

August

1: Warsaw Uprising by the Polish Home Army commences.
4: Florence liberated by the Allies.
10: Guam liberated by American troops.
15: Operation Dragoon began with the amphibious Allied landings in southern France.
19: French Resistance begins uprising in Paris.
23: Romania surrenders.
25: Paris is liberated; De Gaulle and Free French parade triumphantly down the Champs-Élysées.

September

2: Allied troops enter Belgium.
3: Brussels liberated by British Second Army while Lyon is liberated by French and American troops.
4: Antwerp liberated by British 11th Armoured Division.
6: Ghent and Liege liberated by British troops.
8: Ostend liberated by Canadian troops; Russians invade Bulgaria.
9: Provisional government formed in France by De Gaulle.
10: Luxembourg liberated by US First Army.
11: First Allied troops enter Germany.
17: Operation Market Garden, the attempted liberation of Arnhem, begins.
19: Nancy liberated by US First Army; Armistice is signed between the Soviet Union and Finland
25: British troops pulled out of Arnhem with failure of Operation Market Garden. Over 6,000 paratroopers are captured.
30: German garrison in Calais surrenders to Canadian troops.

October

1: Soviet troops enter Yugoslavia.
2: Germans finally succeed in putting down Warsaw Uprising by Polish Home Army in Warsaw.
4: German troops withdrawn from Greece; Allied troops enter Greece.
5: Canadian troops cross the border into the Netherlands.
14: Athens liberated by Allies.
20 Allies invade Philippines
21: Aachen occupied by US First Army - it is the first German city to be captured.
23 Battle of Leyte Gulf begins. Largest sea battle in history.

November

2: Canadian troops take Zeebrugge in Belgium; Belgium now entirely liberated.
4: Remaining Axis forces in Greece surrender.
24: Strasbourg liberated by French troops.
29: Albania liberated by Allies.

December

3: The Home Guard is stood down.
16: The Battle of the Bulge begins as German forces attempt a breakthrough in the Ardennes region.

1945

January

17: Warsaw captured by Red Army troops.
27: The Battle of the Bulge officially ends; Auschwitz concentration camp is liberated by Soviet troops.

February

4: Yalta Conference of Allied leaders begins.
13/14: Dresden firebombed by Allied air forces. Large parts of city destroyed.
19: US Marines invade Iwo Jima
23: US forces raise the American flag at Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima.
25: Turkey declares war against Germany.

March

20: Mandalay liberated by British 19th Indian Division.

April

1: US troops invade Okinawa.
4: Ohrdruf concentration camp is liberated by the Allies.
10: Buchenwald concentration camp is liberated.
12: President Roosevelt dies suddenly. Harry Truman becomes president of the United States.
13: Vienna liberated by Russian troops.
15: Bergen-Belsen concentration camp is liberated; Arnhem is liberated.
28: Mussolini captured and executed by Italian partisans.
29: Dachau concentration camp is liberated by the US 7th Army.
30: Hitler commits suicide in his bunker in Berlin; the Eastern and Western Fronts linkup as American forces meet up with Russians at Ellenburg.

May

2: Berlin captured by Russian and Polish troops.
3: Rangoon liberated.
5: Mauthausen concentration camp is liberated.
5: German troops in the Netherlands officially surrender - symbolically, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands takes the surrender.
7: Germany surrenders unconditionally to the Allies.
8: Ceasefire takes effect at one minute past midnight; V-E Day in Britain.
9: German garrison in Channel Islands agrees to surrender.
16: British troops complete liberation of Channel Islands.

July

6: Norway declares war on Japan.

August

6: The first nuclear weapon ever used in war, Little Boy, is dropped on Hiroshima.
8: Soviet Union declares war on Japan.
9: Second atomic bomb Fat Man is dropped on Nagasaki; Russian troops enter China and Korea.
15: Emperor Hirohito issues a radio broadcast announcing Japan's unconditional surrender; V-J Day declared in Britain.
16: Emperor Hirohito issues an Imperial Rescript ordering Japanese forces to cease fire.
30: Royal Navy force under Rear-Admiral Cecil Harcourt liberates Hong Kong.

September

2: Japan signs the articles of surrender on the deck of the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.
3: Japanese troops in the Philippines and Singapore agree to surrender to American and British forces respectively.
5: Singapore officially liberated by British and Indian troops.
16: Japanese garrison in Hong Kong officially signs the instrument of surrender.

See also: