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WWII Timeline – Fall 1940

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at October – December 1940 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Fall 1940

October 3, 1940

Vichy France passed its own version of the Nuremberg Laws against the Jews.

October 7, 1940

Nazis invaded Romania, with their Jewish population of 34,000, with the pretext of protecting its oil fields from the British.

October 12, 1940

After many previous postponements, the Germans again postponed Operation Sea Lion until Spring of 1941.

October 22, 1940

Twenty-nine thousand German Jews were deported from Baden, the Saar, and Alsace-Lorraine into Vichy France.

October 23, 1940

Spain’s Fascist leader, Francisco Franco, met with Adolf Hitler at the Hendaye Railway Station near the Spanish-French border in Hendaye, France. In the seven- to nine-hour meeting, Franco and Hitler could not come to an agreement for the conditions for Spain to join the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan. The only outcome of the meeting was the signing of a secret agreement in which Franco committed to entering the war at a future date he would choose and Hitler gave vague guarantees that Spain would receive “territories in Africa.”

October 28, 1940

Italy invaded Greece from Albania, which Mussolini justified by claiming that Greece had attacked Albania.

In Great Britain, 489,000 children were evacuated from the London area.

October 31, 1940

The Battle of Britain air war ended in defeat for Nazi Germany and proved Great Britain’s air superiority.

November 1940

The Krakow Ghetto was sealed off with 70,000 Jews inside.

November 5, 1940

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was re-elected to his third term as U.S. president.

November 11/12, 1940

The Battle of Taranto took place overnight between British naval forces and Italian naval forces. The British Royal Navy launched the first all-aircraft ship-to-ship naval attack in history using aerial torpedoes from the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious in the Mediterranean Sea against the battle fleet of the Italian Royal Navy anchored in the harbour of Taranto. The raid crippled the Italian fleet at Taranto. The Japanese noted the superiority of naval aviation over the big guns of the battleships as they planned their Pearl Harbor attack.

November 14/15, 1940

The city of Coventry, England was bombed many times during WWII, but the most devastating attacks occurred on the evening of November 14 and continued into the morning of November 15.

November 20, 1940

Hungary joined the Axis Powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan.

November 22, 1940

The Greeks defeated the Italian 9th Army.

November 23, 1940

Romania joined the Axis Powers of Germany, Italy, Japan, and Hungary.

November 24, 1940

Slovakia joined the Axis Powers of Germany, Italy, Japan, Hungary, and Romania.

December 9/10, 1940

The British began a western desert offensive in North Africa against the Italians.

December 29/30, 1940

President Roosevelt delivered his Arsenal of Democracy speech on December 29 in a radio broadcast to the United States, Europe, and Japan in which he pledged to supply Great Britain with war materials. He began his address at 9:30 p.m. Eastern time from Washington D.C.

Before his re-election, Roosevelt pledged during the campaign that America would not declare war on the Axis unless it were attacked. He held to that promise, but during his almost forty minute speech, made a case to provide military support to Great Britain and warned,

If Great Britain goes down, the Axis powers will control the continents of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and the high seas. … It is no exaggeration to say that all of us, in all the Americas, would be living at the point of a gun.

On the evening of that same day, the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) firebombed London. Keep in mind, London is five hours ahead of Washington, D.C. I don’t know what time the bombing started in London that evening, but it likely started before Roosevelt started his radio address.

It was London’s most devastating air raid of the Blitz at the hands of the Nazis and the resulting fire from approximately 100,000 bombs dropped from one hundred thirty-six German bombers became known as the Second Great Fire of London. The raid focused on a part of the city with churches, offices, warehouses, and other non-residential buildings.

Hundreds of fires burned in London, but firefighters saved much of the city from the destruction caused by the exploding bombs even as the bombs rained down all around them, and even while hindered by a water shortage. St. Paul’s Cathedral was in the midst of the smoke and flames and could not be seen well during the firefight, but in the end, when the flames died down and the smoke cleared, the cathedral still stood.

Ernie Pyle, the Pulitzer Prize–winning American journalist and war correspondent, witnessed the raid in London and wrote,

Into the dark shadowed spaces below us, while we watched, whole batches of incendiary bombs fell. We saw two dozen go off in two seconds. They flashed terrifically, then quickly simmered down to pin points of dazzling white, burning ferociously…

The greatest of all the fires was directly in front of us. Flames seemed to whip hundreds of feet into the air. Pinkish-white smoke ballooned upward in a great cloud, and out of this cloud there gradually took shape—so faintly at first that we weren’t sure we saw correctly—the gigantic dome of St Paul’s Cathedral. St Paul’s was surrounded by fire, but it came through. It stood there in its enormous proportions—growing slowly clearer and clearer, the way objects take shape at dawn. It was like a picture of some miraculous figure that appears before peace-hungry soldiers on a battlefield.

Ernie Pyle was killed by enemy fire on the island of Iejima, Japan (then called Ie Shima) during the Battle of Okinawa on April 18, 1945.

Sources:

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Battle of Taranto

Roosevelt’s Arsenal of Democracy Speech

Roosevelt’s Arsenal of Democracy Speech

Worst Air Raid on London

Second Great Fire of London

Most recent post from the series:

Summer 1940

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

WWII Timeline – Summer 1940

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at July – September 1940 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Summer 1940

July 1, 1940

German U-boats attacked merchant ships in the Atlantic. The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest continuous military campaign of WWII, lasting from 1939 to 1945.

The French government of Prime Minister Marshal Philippe Pétain moved to Vichy, France.

July 5, 1940

Great Britain and the French Vichy government broke off diplomatic relations.

July 10, 1940

The Battle of Britain began. After the fall of France, the German Luftwaffe (Air Force) conducted unremitting and highly destructive air raids over Britain from July through September 1940. The British Royal Air Force (RAF) successfully defended Great Britain in what has been described as the first major military campaign fought entirely by air forces.

July 14-15, 1940

The Soviet Union engineered a Communist coup d’états in the Baltic States after their June occupation.

July 17, 1940

The first French anti-Jewish laws were decreed by Vichy government Prime Minister Marshal Philippe Pétain. The laws were not mandated by Germany. They affected metropolitan France and its overseas territories. The measures designated Jews as a lower class and deprived them of citizenship and a right to hold public office. Many Jews were first confined to the Drancy Internment Camp before being deported for extermination in Nazi concentration camps.

July 23, 1940

Per the Soviet-German non-aggression agreement (also known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact) of August 23, 1939, the Soviet Union officially absorbed Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

August 3-6, 1940

The Soviet Union annexed the Baltic States as Soviet Republics after their June occupation.

August 3-19, 1940

The Italians occupied British Somaliland in East Africa.

August 8, 1940

Romania introduced anti-Jewish measures restricting education and employment, then later began “Romanianization” of Jewish businesses.

August 13, 1940

The German bombing of British airfields began. Eagle Day (Adlertag) was the first day of Operation Eagle Attack (Unternehmen Adlerangriff), the codename for the Nazi Luftwaffe operation to destroy the British Royal Air Force. It was an attempt to gain air superiority in preparation for the invasion of Britain by sea, code named Operation Sea Lion. The main target was RAF Fighter Command. The attack caused significant damage and casualties on the ground, but did not cause enough damage to the British Fighter Command’s ability to defend British air space.

August 15, 1940

Air battles and daylight raids over Britain continued.

Franz Rademacher, head of the Jewish Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ordered Adolf Eichmann to start the resettlement of a million Jews per year for four years to Madagascar as a police state under the SS. The “Madagascar Plan” project was later abandoned.

August 17, 1940

Hitler declared a blockade of the British Isles.

August 23/24, 1940

The first German air raids began on Central London.

August 25/26, 1940

In retaliation of the air raids on London, the first British RAF air raid on Berlin was carried out.

August 30, 1940

The Second Vienna Award was the second territorial dispute arbitrated by Germany and Italy. It assigned the territory of North Transylvania from Romania to Hungary. Losing North Transylvania forced Romanian King Carol to abdicate the throne to his son, Michael, and brought the dictatorship of Fascist General Ion Antonescu and his Iron Guards to power.

September 4, 1940

The America First Committee was established with the goal of keeping the United States out of WWII. Aviator Charles Lindberg was one of the most famous of it’s 800,000 members. The committee was disbanded four days after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

September 7, 1940

The German Blitz against Great Britain began when the Luftwaffe began targeting civilian rather than British military targets.

September 13, 1940

Italian forces invaded British-controlled Egypt from Italian-controlled Libya.

September 15, 1940

The Blitz continued with German air raids on London, Southampton, Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool and Manchester.

September 16, 1940

The United States military conscription bill passed and the first U.S. peacetime draft was enacted.

September 27, 1940

Germany, Italy, and Japan signed the Tripartite (Axis) Pact, an economic and military alliance. The “Axis powers” formally took the name after the Tripartite Pact was signed.

Sources:

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Madagascar Plan

Vichy anti-Jewish legislation

Adlertag

Most recent post from the series:

Spring 1940

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

WWII Timeline – Spring 1940

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at April – June 1940 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Spring 1940

April and May 1940

Soviet secret police committed a series of mass executions of Polish military and intelligence officers in April and May of 1940 in several areas. Because of the later discovery of the first mass graves in the Katyn Forest, the executions have come to be known as the Katyn Forest Massacre. The number of victims has been estimated to be about 22,000.

April 5, 1940

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain unwisely claimed,

Hitler has missed the bus, a German invasion of the West is now unlikely to succeed.

April 9, 1940

The Nazis invaded Denmark, with a Jewish population of 8,000, and Norway, with a Jewish population of 2,000.  Denmark surrendered the day of, or day after, the attack. Norwegian leader Vidkun Quisling moved to create a pro-Nazi government.

April 27, 1940

Heinrich Himmler ordered the construction of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

April 30, 1940

The gates were closed on the Lodz Ghetto in occupied Poland, sealing it off from the outside world with estimates ranging from 164,000 to 230,000 Jews locked inside. Lodz was reported to be one of the largest ghettos in all of German-occupied Europe, second only to the Warsaw Ghetto.

May 1, 1940

Rudolf Höss was selected as Kommandant of Auschwitz.

May 7, 1940

President Roosevelt directed the U. S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet to remain at the ready off the coast of Hawaii.

May 10, 1940

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain resigned and Winston Churchill became British Prime Minister.

The Nazis invaded France, with a Jewish population of 350,000, Belgium, with a Jewish population of 65,000, the Netherlands, with a Jewish population of 140,000, and Luxembourg, with a Jewish population of 3,500. Hitler feared that the Allies were planning to use the neutral nations as staging areas for attacks on Germany. With only light resistance, German troops quickly occupied Luxembourg.

The first RAF (British Royal Air Force) bombing raids over Germany targeted communication centers.

May 12, 1940

England and Scotland began detaining German and Austrian men, and eventually Italian men, ages sixteen to sixty, in interment camps.

May 13, 1940

New British Prime Minister Winston Churchill made his “blood, toil, tears, and sweat” speech in the House of Commons,

I would say to the House as I have said to those who have joined this Government: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.” You ask, what is our policy? I will say: it is to wage war, by sea, land, and air, with all our might and with all the strength God can give us. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: it is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.

The Nazis established bridgeheads (the strategically important area of ground around the end of a bridge which is sought to be defended) across the Meuse River in Belgium.

The Netherlands’ Queen Wilhelmina and the Dutch royal family arrived in London, establishing themselves in exile after fleeing the Hague.

May 15, 1940

The Dutch Army of the Netherlands surrendered to the Nazis.

May 20, 1940

The largest concentration camp of the Nazis, the Auschwitz Concentration Camp, was established.

May 26, 1940

Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of British, French, and Belgian troops surrounded by the Axis powers from Dunkirk, France began.

May 27, 1940

Germany captured the port city of Calais, France, which is twenty-six miles across the English Channel from Dover, England.

May 28, 1940

Belgium surrendered to the Nazis.

June 3, 1940

The Nazis bombed Paris, and two hundred fifty Parisian citizens died from the air assault of two hundred Luftwaffe planes.

The Dunkirk evacuation ended with the total rescue of 224,686 British troops, and 121,445 French and Belgian troops.

Franz Rademacher sent out the first of several memos on the “Madagascar Project.”

June 4, 1940

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill ended a speech before the House of Commons with,

We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

June 8, 1940

The British aircraft carrier, HMS Glorious, and its escort of two destroyers, the HMS Acasta and HMS Ardent, were sunk by German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. More than 1,500 sailors were lost on the three British ships.

June 9, 1940

Norway surrendered to the Nazis.

June 10, 1940

Italy declared war on Britain and France.

Canada declared war on Italy.

June 14, 1940

South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand joined Canada in declaring war on Italy.

The Nazis marched into Paris, beginning a four-year occupation. All remaining British troops in France were ordered to return to England.

The Soviet Union occupied the Baltic States June 14–18.

June 15, 1940

The U. S. Congress continued to refuse to intervene in the war in Europe despite pleas from France and Britain.

June 16, 1940

Marshal Philippe Pétain replaced Paul Reynaud as French Prime Minister.

Italy sank the British submarines Grampus and Orpheus.

June 17, 1940

Five Luftwaffe bombers attacked the Cunard luxury ocean liner Lancastria, which was being used to transport troops, of which 2,500 died.

The U. S. Navy requested $4 billion from Congress to build an Atlantic fleet equal in strength to its Pacific fleet.

June 18, 1940

Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini met in Munich. Hitler did not offer the large tracts of French land that Mussolini expected to be granted.

June 21, 1940

Italy invaded southern France.

June 22, 1940

France surrendered to and signed an armistice with Nazi Germany. In the agreement, Germany would occupy the northern half of France and the entire Atlantic coastline. A collaborationist regime with its capital in Vichy would be established in southern France,

June 23, 1940

Adolf Hitler toured Paris accompanied by architect Albert Speer.

June 28, 1940

Britain recognized General Charles de Gaulle, in exile in London, as the Free French leader.

The Soviet Union forced Romania to cede the eastern province of Bessarabia and the northern half of Bukovina to the Soviet Ukraine.

Sources:

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Winston Churchill Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat Speech

Winston Churchill Beaches Speech

The Katyn Forrest Massacre

Civilian Internment

The Sinking of the HMS Glorious

Franz Rademacher’s Madagascar Project

Most recent post from the series:

Winter 1940

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019

WWII Timeline – Winter 1940

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at January – March 1940 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Winter 1940

January 1940

The antisemitic newspaper, Der Stürmer, quoted its publisher and prominent member of the Nazi party, Julius Streicher,

The time is near when a machine will go into motion which is going to prepare a grave for the world’s criminal – Judah – from which there will be no resurrection.

January 8, 1940

Butter, sugar, and bacon rationing began in Britain.

January 9, 1940

SS chief of Danzig and West Prussia, Richard Hildebrandt, told Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler that he instructed his troops to execute more than four thousand mentally ill Polish citizens.

The British ocean liner MV Dunbar Castle, with a crew of one hundred fifty and forty-eight passengers, hit a German mine and foundered off the English coast. The captain and two of the crew were killed, and two storekeepers were missing, but no other lives were lost.

January 16, 1940

Adolf Hitler issued orders to postpone his attack in the west until Spring.

January 21, 1940

The British destroyer HMS Exmouth was torpedoed by a German U-boat in the Moray Firth. Capt. R. S. Benson, fifteen officers, and one hundred seventy-three crew were killed.

January 24, 1940

Chief of Nazi Gestapo Reinhard Heydrich was appointed to oversee the evacuation of all Jews from the Reich.

January 25, 1940

The Nazis selected the town of Oswiecim (Auschwitz) near Krakow, Poland for the site of a new concentration camp.

February 10, 1940

In Czechoslovakia, the Nazis prohibited Jewish-owned businesses from selling art, jewels, and precious metals, and forced the closure of Jewish-owned textile and leather shops.

February 12, 1940

The first German Jews were deported into occupied Poland.

Paper rationing began in Britain.

February 14, 1940

Britain declared it would outfit all merchant ships with guns.

February 15, 1940

Germany declared it would treat all British merchant ships as hostile combatants.

February 29, 1940

Food and gas rationing began in France.

March 7, 1940

The Cunard luxury ocean liner Queen Elizabeth safely reached New York after a harrowing crossing of the German U-boat infested Atlantic.

March 12, 1940

Finland signed a peace treaty with the Soviets and ceded the northern shores of Lake Lagoda and the small Finnish coastline on the Arctic Sea to the Soviet Union. The cost of the Russian aggression which resulted in the treaty was 25,000 Finnish lives and nearly 70,000 Soviet lives. After the end of hostilities, a half million Finns left the Soviet-occupied territory.

Seventy-two of one thousand German Jews deported to Poland died during an eighteen hour march in a blizzard in Lublin, Poland.

March 14, 1940

Hermann Göring ordered all German citizens to relinquish all metals that could be turned into war materials.

March 16, 1940

The Nazis bombed the Scapa Flow (a body of water in the Orkney Islands) naval base near Scotland.

March 18, 1940

Adolf Hitler and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini met to discuss Italy’s entry into the war. They determined that Mussolini’s troops would attack France.

March 30, 1940

Japan established a Chinese puppet government controlled by Wang Ching-wei, a defector from the Nationalist cause, in Nanking. The US refused to recognize it.

Sources:

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Loss of the MV Dunbar Castle

Loss of the HMS Exmouth

Most recent post from the series:

Fall 1939

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019