- A complete World War 2 Timeline, detailing every event, day by day from 1939 through to 1945. - The most complete World War 2 Timeline available.
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  War in Europe  
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1939 - 1940 - 1941
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Western Europe! - The Most Complete World War 2 Timeline Available
10/01/1940 Hitler informs his commanders that the attack in the west will begin on the 17th January. On this same day a German light aircraft makes a forced landing at Malines in Belgium, near the German border. The planes occupants were carrying details of the German plans, which alerted the Belgium and Dutch governments to German intentions.
12/01/1940 At the height of the cold weather spell in Europe, 50° of frost is reported in some places.
16/01/1940 Hitler orders the postponement of his attack in the west until the Spring. Likely reasons for this are the compromise of 'Fall Gelb' and increasing criticism from some commanders that the plan was too predictable. Led by Gerd von Rundstedt, they proposed instead that the main blow should come through the wooded Ardennes region in southern Belgium as the allies would not expect this. - The Most Complete World War 2 Timeline Available - The Most Complete World War 2 Timeline Available
01/03/1940 The US Under Secretary of State, Sumner Welles arrives in Berlin at the start of a peace tour of the belligerent countries.
06/03/1940 Hitler changes his plans for the invasion of the west. At a military conference in Berlin, he decides to adopt the plan put forward by Gerd von Rundstedt and his former chief of staff, Erich von Manstein, for the Ardennes option. Code-named ‘Fall Sichelschnitt’, it called for the attack against the Low Countries to go ahead, but with slightly fewer forces, in order to draw the allies forward, while the decisive thrust would be mounted through the Ardennes. Holding attacks would be made against the Maginot line.
21/03/1940 Paul Reynaud becomes Prime Minister of France, with Edouard Daladier being made Minister of Defence and War. - The Most Complete World War 2 Timeline Available
19/04/1940 State of Siege is extended to the whole of Netherlands.
22/04/1940 Inter-Allied Supreme War Council meets in Paris at which both Poland and Norway are represented. - The Most Complete World War 2 Timeline Available
03/05/1940 Hitler postpones X-Day to the 6th May due to bad weather.
06/05/1940 Hitler again delays X-Day, this time till the 10th May.
07/05/1940 All Dutch Army leave suspended.
09/05/1940 Hitler orders 'Operation Yellow', the great offensive in the West, to begin at 5.35am the next day.
10/05/1940 At 5.35am, the Wehrmacht begins 'Operation Yellow', the invasion of Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg, employing Army Group A (von Rundstedt) and B (von Bock), with Army Group C (von Leeb) in reserve. The attacking forces comprise 10 Armoured, 5 Motorised, and 75 infantry divisions. The 19th Panzer Korps (Guderian), 20th Panzer Korps (Hoth) and the 41st Panzer Korps (Reinhardt) field between them 2,445 tanks, most of which are of the light Marks I, II, 35(t) and 38(t) type, against 3,373 French and British tanks. In his Order of the Day, Hitler declares, "Soldiers of the Western Front! The battle which is beginning today will decide the fate of the German nation for the next thousand years. Go forward now and do your duty!" Airborne troops seize airfields and strategic bridges near Amsterdam and Rotterdam in Holland. The Luftwaffe, using hundreds of level and dive bombers, attacks Allied airfields, troop assembly areas and rear communications.
11/05/1940 German troops occupy the Duchy of Luxembourg. A glider-borne parachute detachment of 1st Fallschirmjäger Regiment led by Hauptmann Koch and Leutnant Witzig captures the "impregnable" Belgian border fortress of Eben-Emael.
12/05/1940 French forces withdraw behind the Meuse river between Dinant and Sedan as advance German panzer columns push out from the Ardennes. Germans troops continue their advance through Holland, crossing the Yssel and Meuse rivers at several points. Massive German artillery bombardments are maintained on western front, the Luftwaffe continues to reek havoc across Northern France and Belgium, causing refugees to stream west, clogging the roads for allied forces.
13/05/1940 Supported by waves of Luftwaffe Stuka dive-bombers, the two German Panzer Korps of Heeresgruppe B establish bridgeheads across the Meuse river, tearing a 50-mile gap in the French defences between Dinant and Sedan. The 7th Panzer Division (Rommel) is the first division across. Dutch troops withdraw to their second and final line of defence on the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Utrecht line.
14/05/1940 Germans take Rotterdam as the Dutch government arrives in London.
15/05/1940 After the fall of Rotterdam, Holland surrenders. The German 20th Panzer Korps (Hoth) repels a counter-attack by French armoured forces, destroying 125 out of 175 tanks. An attack by 6th Army (von Reichenau) against the Dyle line in Belgium is repulsed. In Paris, panic breaks out over reports of a German breakthrough at Sedan with thousands of civilians fleeing the city for the west and south of the country, clogging the roads for Allied military traffic which is attacked by Luftwaffe bombers and fighter bombers.
16/05/1940 The Germans try to enlarge Sedan pocket. British troops withdraw from Louvain, west of Brussels as troops of the German 6th Army break through the Allied Dyle line in Belgium. Belgian government leaves Brussels for Ostend.
17/05/1940 Brussels, Louvain and Malines in central Belgium all occupied by troops of the 6th Army. Germans attack further into N-E France; General Gamelin, French Commander-in-Chief, gives allied troops ‘conquer or die’ order. French prime minister Pierre Laval is replaced by Paul Reynaud who forms a new government. Charles de Gaulle's newly raised 4th Armoured division launches a counter-attack near Laon, which is easily repulsed by the Germans.
18/05/1940 Germans take Antwerp, Belgium’s second city. Allied forces are seriously split as German tanks of 19th Panzer Korps (Guderian) reach Peronne and Rommels 7th Panzer Division reaches Cambrai during their rapid advance toward the Channel coast. Amiens is occupied. Regions ceded to Belgium in Treaty of Versailles (1919) re-incorporated into Germany.
19/05/1940 General Gamelin is replaced by Maxime Weygand as Chief of the French General Staff and C-in-C of all theatres of operations. Marshal Henri Petain, the hero of the First World War, is appointed as Deputy Prime Minister. German troops of 20th Panzer Korps (Reinhardt) capture St. Quentin.
20/05/1940 19th Panzer Korps (Guderian) completes its advance to the Channel coast by capturing Abbeville and Noyelles, thus separating the British Expeditionary Force, French 1st Army and the Belgian Army from the rest of the French forces to the south of the river Somme. German reinforcements pour into this split between the allied troops in northern France.
21/05/1940 A British counter attack is launched near Arras with armoured and infantry support against Rommel's 7th Panzer Division, throwing it off balance. A similar attack in the south by a French armoured brigade under General de Gaulle fails after initial success. The French Ninth Army is surrounded and destroyed, its commander, General Giraud, taken prisoner.
22/05/1940 The 19th Panzer Korps (Guderian) strikes from Abbeville toward Boulogne, Calais and Dunkirk along the Channel coast.
23/05/1940 Heavy fighting around Boulogne. Units of the German 6th Army cross the Scheldt river at Oudenarde in Belgium.
24/05/1940 Hitler halts Panzer drive on Dunkirk. Infantry units of 19th Panzer Korps storm the citadel of Boulogne and take 5,000 British and French prisoners. The French fortress of Maubeuge surrenders, while 6th Army captures Ghent and Tournai in Belgium and St Omer in North-eastern France.
25/05/1940 The British garrison of Calais rejects a German call for surrender. 15 French generals relieved of their commands.
26/05/1940 Operation 'Dynamo' the evacuation of British, French and Belgian troops from Dunkirk begins. Under the command of Admiral Bertram Ramsay, hundreds of naval, commercial and private vessels participate in this most desperate rescue attempt. Calais falls to the Germans as they advance towards Dunkirk  [View Battle Plan] after Hitler's stop order is rescinded.
27/05/1940 British position in Flander’s worsens as King Leopold of Belgium surrenders the remnants of his Army.
28/05/1940 Belgium formally surrenders to the Germans. The British and French reject capitulation and continue the evacuation and rearguard actions at Dunkirk.
29/05/1940 German 6th Army takes Lille, Ostend and Ypres in western Flander’s, Belgium. Luftwaffe activity increases as Hitler orders the Panzers to be switched south ready for main battle of France. 47,300 British and French troops are evacuated from Dunkirk today.
30/05/1940 53,823 British and French troops are evacuated from Dunkirk, bringing total landed in England since May 27th to 126,606.
31/05/1940 Defence of Dunkirk continues as 68,000 allied troops are evacuated. The French defence of Lille collapses. Churchill fly's to Paris for a meeting of the Supreme Allied War Council, the second time since the 10th May. - The Most Complete World War 2 Timeline Available
01/06/1940 German onslaught continues at Dunkirk as General Lord Gort, C-in-C BEF, returns from Flander’s with another 64,400 troops who were evacuated off the beaches this day. However, in future, the evacuation will only continue during the hours of darkness due to the high losses of warships to daylight air attacks.
02/06/1940 26,200 British and French troops are evacuated from the beaches today. Virtually all British soldiers have now been evacuated and so the remaining French troops have taken over the defence of the perimeter.
03/06/1940 The last night of the Dunkirk evacuation sees 26,700 French soldiers lifted from the beaches. This brings the total rescued to 224,686 British, 121,445 French and Belgian troops. Most of the French opt to return to France to continue the fight. During the evacuation, more than 200 ships and 177 aircraft were lost (Germans lost 140 aircraft).
04/06/1940 German troops enter Dunkirk, taking 40,000 French prisoners and huge quantities of abandoned equipment, including 84,000 vehicles, 2,500 guns and 650,000 tons of supplies and ammunition.
05/06/1940 The Germans begin 'Operation Red', the ‘Battle of France’ with 119 divisions, including 10 Panzer division's. Army Group B, with 50 divisions, opens the offensive against the French left wing which is anchored along the Somme for 120 miles, in fortified positions known as the Weygand Line, just 100 miles from Paris. Charles de Gaulle is appointed as French Under Secretary of State for War.
06/06/1940 German tanks in groups of 200-300, break through French line in two places on Somme front and Rommel's 7th Panzer Division advancing to the West of Amiens, penetrates 20 miles into French territory. During these breakthrough's the Germans suffer heavy losses at Amiens and Petonne.
07/06/1940 Allied troops fall back on Bresles front, 60 miles north of Paris.
09/06/1940 German forces advancing South from the Somme capture Rouen on the Seine. The British 51st Highland Division and part of the French 10th Army withdraw towards St-Valery-en-Caux, hoping to be evacuated to England.
11/06/1940 The French government of Premier Reynaud leaves Paris for Tours. German forces capture Rheims.
12/06/1940 On the orders from General Weygand, C-in-C of the French Army, the French forces opposing the advance of Army Group A withdraw to the South, offering little resistance. The Germans cross the River Marne, consolidate bridgehead South of the Seine and claim to have occupied Rheims. Four French divisions and most of the British 51st Highland Division is cut off and captured by Rommel at St. Valery-en-Caux.
13/06/1940 Germans troops advance on both sides of Paris. General Weygand declares the French capital an ‘open city’.
14/06/1940 Germans enter Paris as Rommel's 7th Panzer Division takes Le Havre. The French government leaves Tours for Bordeaux. Army Group C, with 24 divisions, prepares to cross the upper Rhine to attack the Maginot Line in Alsace. All remaining British troops in France are ordered to return to England.
15/06/1940 Germans take Verdun. German forces of the 7th Army cross Rhine and break into the Maginot Line above Strasbourg. Weygand refuses to surrender French Army on its own. 30,600 British and Canadian troops are evacuated from Cherbourg, Brest and St. Malo.
16/06/1940 French front cracking as the Germans break through in Champagne to Dijon, with units of 19th Panzer Korps reaching Besancon on the Swiss border. German forces, supported by heavy artillery and Stuka dive bombers, continue their assault against the Maginot Line on a broad front. The French government of Paul Reynaud resigns and is replaced by one led by Marshal Petain who immediately appoints Weygand as Minister of National Defence. 57,000 British troops are evacuated from Nantes and St. Nazaire.
17/06/1940 German troops cross the Loire near Orleans. Petain orders French to stop fighting and sues for ‘honourable’ peace terms.
18/06/1940 French Army in general retreat as German troops capture Le Mans. The garrisons of Belfort, Metz and Dijon surrender. Hitler and Mussolini meet in Munich to discuss French request for peace.
19/06/1940 The Germans invite the French to send a representative to discuss armistice terms as their troops reach River Loire, advance on Lyons, capture Strasbourg, Brest and Tours. Rommels 7th Panzer Division captures Cherbourg along with 30,000 prisoners.
20/06/1940 German troops capture Lyons and the vital port of Brest in Brittany. French envoys drive behind German lines to receive armistice terms. Italian forces begins an offensive along the Riviera coast into France.
21/06/1940 Franco-German armistice negotiations begin at Compiegne, during which Hitler informs the French representatives of his terms in the same railway carriage as the German surrender was signed in 1918. Hitler issues a proclamation announcing the end of the war in the West and orders flags to be flown throughout Germany for ten days.
22/06/1940 Germans troops cross the River Loire in strength as an armistice between France and Germany is signed at Compiegne. Its terms are read out loud to the French delegation by Generaloberst Keitel and provide for the occupation of the entire Channel and Atlantic coastlines, all major industrial areas, Alsace-Lorraine is to be returned to Germany. Most of southern France will remain unoccupied, with a French administrative centre at Vichy. The French Army and Navy is to be demobilised and disarmed and France is to bear the cost of the German occupation. All French prisoners of war are to remain in Germany until a peace treaty is signed.
23/06/1940 The German advance continues down west coast of France. Pierre Laval is appointed as Vice-Premier, while de Gaulle is cashiered by Weygand for announcing the formation of French National Committee in London. Hitler makes a brief sightseeing visit to Paris. Driving through nearly empty streets, he makes a special point of viewing Napoleon's tomb, ending his tour at the Eiffel tower.
24/06/1940 British commandos make their first raid against France is made at Le Touquet, although this is aborted without casualties.
25/06/1940 At 1:35am, all acts of war between the French and German armed forces officially cease. Churchill says France is not freed of her obligations.
26/06/1940 British blockade of war materials and food extended to whole of France.
27/06/1940 German troops reach Franco-Spanish border.
30/06/1940 Germans troops land on Guernsey in the Channel Islands. - The Most Complete World War 2 Timeline Available
01/07/1940 The French government of Marshal Petain moves from Bordeaux to Vichy. Germany asks the USA and other neutrals to withdraw diplomatic missions from Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg.
02/07/1940 Hitler orders preparation of 'Operation Sealion', the plan for the invasion of Britain. Germans issue casualty figures for French campaign as 17,000 killed, with the French losing 1,900,000 as prisoners.
04/07/1940 In direct response to the devastating British attack on the French fleet at Mers-el-Kebir, Algeria, the Vichy French government of Marshal Petain breaks off diplomatic relations with Britain.
06/07/1940 After spending 8 weeks in the west supervising the German offensive, a triumphant Hitler returns to Berlin and is cheered wildly by the population of Berlin.
11/07/1940 Marshal Petain replaces President Lebrun and proclaims himself ‘Chief of French State’ of the French Republic. Admiral Raeder, C-in-C of the German Navy expresses his reservations about any invasion of Britain.
13/07/1940 Hitler issues Directive No. 15 outlining the details of 'Operation Sea Lion', the German invasion of the British Isles. In advance of the landings, the Luftwaffe is to begin operations against British defensive positions, airfields and radar installations along the southern coast of England on the 15th August 15 with 2.600 aircraft having been earmarked for this purpose. Hitler declines an Italian offer to participate in the invasion of Britain.
14/07/1940 Bastille Day in France declared ‘day of meditation’.
16/07/1940 Hitler issues Directive No.16, orders for the planning of 'Operation Sealion', the invasion of Britain. Twenty divisions are earmarked for the invasion, but the Luftwaffe must gain air superiority first. All plans are to be ready by mid-August.
17/07/1940 The German Army presents its plan for the invasion of Britain. Six divisions are to land between Ramsgate and Bexhill in the southeast corner of England, four will land between Brighton and the Isle of Wight and three on the Dorset coast. Two Airborne division's will also be deployed, with follow up forces including six Panzer and three Motorised divisions.
19/07/1940 Hitler makes triumphant speech to Reichstag accusing the allies of war mongering and appeals to Britain ‘for the last time to reason’.
24/07/1940 Red Cross estimates 5.5 million refugees in Vichy France.
25/07/1940 Reich Minster of Economics Funk outlines ‘New Order’ for Europe, with forced labour from occupied countries. Compulsory evacuation of women and children ordered from Gibraltar. Swiss Gen. Henri Guisan, commander of all Swiss forces, reacts to an appeasement-oriented speech by Federal President Marcel Pilet-Golaz by assembling 650 Swiss military officers in the Field of Rutli - the birthplace of Swiss independence - to make it clear the Swiss Army would resist any German or Italian invasion. "As long as in Europe millions stand under arms, and as long as important forces are able to attack us at any time, this army has to remain at its post." Pilet-Golaz and Berlin react with outrage, but Switzerland remains independent.
26/07/1940 Secretary-General of League of Nations, Joseph Avenol, resigns.
28/07/1940 All road and rail links between occupied France and Vichy cut by Germans.
29/07/1940 A German memorandum issued by the OKM states that an invasion of Great Britain will not be possible until the second half of September 1940 and that the prospects for such an invasion seem doubtful.
31/07/1940 Hitler appraised the Army plan for the invasion of Britain at a conference of his top Military chiefs. The Navy criticize the plan for being on a too broad a front, requiring 2,500 barges in order to transport the invading forces, which cant be concentrated before the 15th of September at the earliest. The Army refute these arguments, saying that too narrow a front would allow the British to concentrate what forces they have. - The Most Complete World War 2 Timeline Available
01/08/1940 Hitler signs Directive No.17, requiring the Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine to increase their attacks against Britain and her shipping, in preparation for 'Operation Sealion'.
02/08/1940 French military court sentences de Gaulle to death in absentia.
05/08/1940 Anglo-Polish military agreement signed. Churchill and de Gaulle agree over organisation of free French forces. German government announces that in future all citizens will need an Ahnenpass (Certificate of Ancestry) proving their racial purity back to 1800.
10/08/1940 Germans ban speaking of French in Luxembourg and listening to BBC in Belgium.
17/08/1940 Germany announces the total blockade of Britain by sea and air. Axis financial meeting decides Berlin will replace London as European financial centre after victory.
31/08/1940 Weekly rations in Vichy France now 4oz of sugar, 6oz spaghetti, 1.5oz rice and 3oz margarine per person. - The Most Complete World War 2 Timeline Available
03/09/1940 German invasion of Britain, Operation Sealion, is set for the 21st September.
04/09/1940 Hitler opens Winter Relief Campaign with a speech claiming that ‘the last island in Europe will be broken’.
10/09/1940 Hitler decides to postpone operation 'Sea-lion until the 24th September.
14/09/1940 Hitler again postpones operations 'Sea-lion'. This time till the 27th September, the last day of the month with suitable tides.
17/09/1940 Hitler postpones Operation Sea-lion, the plan to invade Britain, until further notice.
23/09/1940 New rations announced in Vichy France as 350g of bread, 300g of sugar, 50g of cheese, 360g of meat per day and 100g of fat per week.
25/09/1940 Court martial body set up in Vichy France for crimes against the state; no appeal allowed executions within 24 hours of sentencing.
27/09/1940 Germany, Italy and Japan sign 10-year pact in Berlin recognising ‘New Order’ in Europe and Far East. - The Most Complete World War 2 Timeline Available
12/10/1940 Hitler postpones invasion of Britain until the spring 1941.
21/10/1940 Churchill broadcasts to France, ‘Frenchmen rearm your spirits before it is too late.’
23/10/1940 Hitler meets Franco, the Spanish head of state at Hendaye near the French-Spanish border. Franco declares ‘Spain will gladly fight at Germany’s side’, but remains non-committal regarding Spain's entry into the war.
24/10/1940 Hitler meets Petain at Montoire, which leads ‘to agreement in principle of collaboration’, but Petain rejects the idea of a Franco-German military alliance.
28/10/1940 Laval becomes Foreign Minister of Vichy government. - The Most Complete World War 2 Timeline Available
11/11/1940 On the anniversary of the end of World War I, several hundred Paris students stage a disorganized protest on the Champs Elysee over the arrest of a popular professor. Although Gaullists in London report several deaths, it appears no one was killed, but 123 students are arrested. Although it is the first sign of organized anti-German feeling since the armistice in June, German authorities report to Berlin that the small size and unorganized nature of the protest demonstrates that pro-Gaullist feeling is minimal. - The Most Complete World War 2 Timeline Available
06/12/1940 ‘War Guilt’ trial in Vichy France indicts MM Blum, Daladier, La Chambre and Gen. Gamelin.
08/12/1940 Franco says Spain is not prepared to enter war.
13/12/1940 Petain dismisses his Vice-Premier, Laval.
15/12/1940 On Hitler’s orders, the body of Napoleon’s son, “L’Aiglon” (the Eaglet), is transferred from Vienna to the tomb of his father at Les Invalides in Paris. Mussolini, laying claim to Napoleon’s home of Corsica, objects in vain. Marshal Petain, who was expected to be in Paris to formally “receive” the body of “Napoleon II,” decides to stay away.
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