Chronography of World War Two in Europe � see maps, years 1940-45, below

For World War Two in the Pacific see China/Japan

Page last modified 279/2021

 

For chronography of France and Germany up to 1939 invasion of Poland, and from VE Day 1945 onwards, click here

 

Click Here for image of Dresden 1945

Click Here for Youtube 54 minute video, Blitz on Dresden

 

DIVISION. Usually commanded by a Major General, divisions are made up of three or four brigades and include 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers.

 

/5/1945. VE Day. The Second World War officially ended in Europe, at one minute past midnight. Field Marshall Keitel signed the final capitulation. The Channel Islands remained under Nazi occupation till the following day, 9/5/1945. Street parties were held all over Britain.

UK Bomber Command has calculated the following statistics relating to the Second World War. 55,573 aircrew were killed, of whom 47,130 died on operations, 138 died as PoWs, and 8,090 were killed in �mon-operational incidents� (mostly flying accidents). Of those killed, 38,462 were British, 9,980 were Canadian, 4,050 were Australian and 1,703 were New Zealanders. 530 RAF groundcrew were killed, and 759 injured, in incidents such as bombs detonating when being loaded onto aircraft or being jammed in the bomb bay. Total bombs dropped on Axis countries amounted to 955,044 tons, of which 657,674 tons was dropped on Germany itself. 336,037 bombing raids were carried out by the RAF. 8,655 aircraft were reported as missing (failed to return). By the end of 1944 Allied raids had reduced German oil production by 40%, so that many German tanks and aircraft became unuseable due to lack of fuel, even if they were serviceable.

German civilian casualties have been estimated at between 350,000 and 600,000.

Some 3.4 million German houses and flats had been destroyed out of a total of 17.1 million; a further 30% of homes had been severely damaged by bombing. The desperate housing shortage was exacerbated by an influx of some 10 million refugees from eastern Europe. Many Germans lived 5 or 6 to a room, or existed in makeshift shelters. Some, as at Dachau near Munich, lived in former concentration camps.

In Greater Manchester 684 people died in the bombing, and an additional 2,364 were injured.

 

For the World War Two period, 1 September 1939 to 9 May 1945, the timeline for France-Germany has been split into the following categories;

1) France-Germany �home� (non-war) events

2) Eastern Front (East Europe, Finland, Russia, Greece)

3) Western Front (France, Benelux, Britain, west Germany)

3)a)Scandinavia ex. Finland.

3)b) Italy, Malta

4) Africa

5) Middle East

6) America

7) Maritime

8) Air war.

 

Click Here for map of Europe under Nazi occupation in 1941.

See USA for World War Two events and United States

See China/Japan/Korea for World War Two in Pacific

For Jewish persecution in World War Two, see Israel, Judaism

See also Great Britain, London. Click here for newspaper reports of UK WW2 events

1) GeneralAllied events, and France-Germany �home� events

1/5/1945, Joseph Goebbels and his wife Magda committed suicide, having killed their six children with poison.

30/4/1945. Adolf Hitler poisoned his wife Eva Braun with cyanide, then shot himself, in his Berlin bunker. They had married two days earlier. Hitler ordered that his body be burned; he was determined to avoid its being displayed as Mussolini�s had (28/4/1945). He feared even more being captured alive and taken to Moscow. German radio announced that Grand Admiral Doenitz was now leader of the Reich. Doenitz stated that the main aim was �to defend Germany from Bolshevism�; Doenitz and his supporters wanted to fight on, whilst another faction led by Heinrich Himmler wanted to surrender to both the Western Allies and Russia. As Hitler died, Soviet tanks were entering the ruins of central Berlin. There was panic on the Berlin streets as SS men shot deserting Nazi soldiers, whilst low-flying Soviet biplanes machine-gunned bread queues. Bodies littered once elegant streets, looted of all valuables.

28/4/1945, Hitler married his mistress, Eva Braun, in his Berlin bunker, in the early hours of the morning. The act was a symbolic abandonment of Hitler�s plans for �national socialism�- he had insisted that, as Fuhrer, he would have no ties to another human being.

9/4/1945, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German theologian involved with anti-Hitler conspirators, was hanged in Flossenburg concentration camp.

31/3/1945, In the last days of war, Berlin maintained a surreal normality. The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra continued recitals until now. Telephones functioned, the underground railway ran, and post continued to be delivered right up to the last few days of the war. Berlin workers still picked their way through rubble filled streets to work, often in offices whose windows had all been blown out.

18/3/1945, Major air raid on Berlin.

11/2/1945, The Yalta Conference ended. See 4/2/1945.

4/2/1945. The Yalta Conference between the Allied leaders Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill opened in the Crimea. This conference concluded on 11/2/1945. Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin all had very different aims. Roosevelt wanted to disengage US troops from Europe to defeat Japan. Stalin wanted to extend Soviet influence as far west into Europe as possible. Stalin got to occupy eastern Poland, as agreed in Tehran on 28/11/1943. Churchill wanted to build a democracy from the ruins of Germany. The ailing Roosevelt trusted Stalin�s assurance that he would work to build a �peaceful and democratic world�. The West insisted that Greece be given a western-style democracy, but otherwise all of eastern Europe fell under the Soviet sphere. Stalin also gained Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands in return for a war effort against Japan that was never made. Yalta set the world order for the next 45 years.

30/1/1945, Adolf Hitler made his very last radio broadcast to Germany, marking 12 years of Nazi rule.

16/1/1945, Hitler left his office in the Reich Chancellery, Berlin, for the last time, and descended to his bunker, 15 metres underground. By now most of Berlin�s buildings had been destroyed by Allied bombing.

10/12/1944, De Gaulle and Stalin signed a treaty of alliance.

6/12/1944, 20 million Germans were homeless after Allied bombing.

26/11/1944, Heinrich Himmler ordered the destruction of the crematoria at Auschwitz concentration camp to eliminate evidence of the mass killings there.

19/10/1944, Churchill returned home after talks with Stalin.

14/10/1944, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, 53, Commander of the Afrika Corps 1941-43,took his own life by swallowing poison rather than be executed for an attempt on Hitler�s life. Hitler had promised him a hero�s funeral if he committed suicide. Otherwise Rommel would face the notorious Nazi judge, Roland Frreisler, who had already condemned the other conspirators against Hitler to slow hanging by piano wire. The official cause of Rommel�s death was given as heart failure.

9- 19/10/1944, Churchill travelled to Moscow for talks with Stalin.

5/10/1944, In Germany, Joseph Goebbels announced a reduction in food rations.

1/10/1944, The German war economy was hopelessly disorganised. In September 1944 German factories produced 3,000 fighter planes, but aviation fuel production was only 10,000 tons, as against Luftwaffe consumption of 165,000 tons in April 1944. These new planes sat on the runway with empty fuel tanks and vacant cockpits, as pilot training had virtually ceased.

25/9/1944, Hitler called up all remaining males aged between 16 and 60 for the Volksturm, a home defence force.

24/9/1944, The second Quebec Conference ended (began 13/9/1944), see 24/8/1943.It was concerned with shifting the war effort to the Pacific to finish off the Japanese, also how best to advance into Germany (the Morgenthau Plan), and operations in The Philippines.

19/8/1944. Differences emerged between the Americans and the British as to how to press on against Germany. The US wanted to go directly east into Germany via the Saar region; the British wanted to secure Belgium and Holland and then occupy the industrial Ruhr region. This latter option would both neutralise the V-weapon launching sites and capture the deepwater port of Antwerp. Politically, however, both options had to be pursued, or else public outrage would ensue if one Allied army was halted whilst the other pressed on.

8/8/1944, Officers convicted of an attempt on Hitler�s life were hanged with piano wire. See 20/7/1944.

4/8/1944, Purge of the German Army by Hitler.

20/7/1944, An attempt was made on Hitler�s life by a German Staff Officer, Count Claus Von Stauffenberg, at Hitler�s headquarters at Rastenburg, East Prussia. A bomb was left in a briefcase under a table in the conference room where Hitler was to speak. The plot failed because the heavy oak table top shielded Hitler from much of the blast, as did the thick table leg against which the briefcase was placed. The plotters were arrested, as were 1,000 other people implicated in the plot. See 8/8/1944.

17/7/1944, Field Marshal Rommel was badly injured when an Allied fighter plane shot up his car.

2/7/1944, Marshal von Kluge replaced General von Rundstedt.

28/6/1944, Hitler replaced Field Marshall Busch, of the Army Group Centre, with General Model.

21/6/1944, Berlin was heavily bombed.

16/6/1944, Marc Bloch, French historian, died aged 57.

28/5/1944, Second US bombing raid on 5 of Germany�s synthetic oil plants, already damaged by a raid on 12/5/1944..

12/5/1944, US planes launched a major attack on Germany�s synthetic oil plants, destroying 7 plants that had produced a third of Germany�s total output. Germany�s armed forces were now totally dependent on thbis synthetic oil to continue fighting.

20/4/1944, The RAF set a new bombing record. 4,500 tons of bombs were dropped in a single raid, on Hitler�s 55th birthday.

7/4/1944, Hitler suspended all laws in Berlin and made Goebbels dictator of the city.

4/1/1944. Hitler ordered the mobilisation of all children over the age of ten. On this day Soviet forces crossed the pre-war frontier from Russia into Poland at Rokitno. Hitler, anticipating an Allied attack on France, was keen to hold the northern French and Belgian coasts, so as to be able to launch the V weapons against Britain, even if this meant some territorial losses in the east.

23/11/1943. Berlin TV ceased broadcasting altogether after Allied bombers scored a direct hit on the transmitter. Unlike in the UK, German TV had continued throughout the War, but restricted to 2 or 3 hours in the afternoon and a further 2 hours in the evening from 8 � 10pm. As Allied bombing raids intensified, the evening 2-hour slot was gradually brought forward, to 6-8pm, so Berliners could be in their shelters after dinner.

15/11/1943, The Nazis extended their extermination policies from the Jews to the Romany. Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, ordered all Romany to be sent to the concentration camps.

28/11/1943, The main Allied leaders, Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin, all met in Tehran. Co-ordinating the Normandy landings with a Russian attack on the eastern front was discussed, also a Russian attack on Japan, and a post-war United Nations Organisation. All agreed that the USSR could have eastern Poland as far west as the Curzon line, and Poland would be compensated with lands in eastern Germany. This was confirmed at the Yalta Conference of 4 � 11 February 1945.

31/8/1943, Gustav Bachmann, German World War I Admiral, died aged 83.

24/8/1943, The Quebec Conference ended (began 10/8/1943).Code-named Quadrant, it was concerned with plans for the Normandy landings, also land operations in south east Asia (especially Burma), and with campaigns in Italy.

10/8/1943, The Quebec Conference opened. Churchill, Roosevelt and McKenzie were present.

4/8/1943, At the German V-2 rocket plant at Peenem�nde, the decision was made to employ concentration camp inmates as slave labour to build the missiles. For every non-Jewish German employee, there would be at least ten camp inmates supplied by the SS.

2/4/1943, In the face of intensifying Allied air raids on German cities, Goering made air raid patrol duty compulsory for every able-bodied German.

22/2/1943, Members of the White Rose (die Weisse Rose) anti-war group in Germany were publically guillotined, their execution intended to discourage others. They had been caught distributing leaflets at university; most members were students who once supported Hitler but who had become disillusioned after Nazi war atrocities. Their execution, and the whole group, was swiftly forgotten in Germany until the 1970s when they were rediscovered and became folk heroes.

28/1/1943. Hitler ordered the mobilisation of the entire population aged between 16 and 65.

24/1/1943, The Casablanca Conference ended, see 14/1/1943.President Wilson, with Churchill, then issued a statement demandingunconditional surrender of the Axis powers, rather than a negotiated settlement.This was intended to reassure Russia; the Nazis used the statement as propaganda to warn the German people of the greed of their enemies.

22/1/1943, Hitler ordered that shipbuilding take second place to tank production, to make good tank losses on the Eastern Front.

14/1/1943. Churchill, de Gaulle, and Roosevelt met at Casablanca. They demanded the unconditional surrender of the Axis powers.Plans were made for the invasion of Sicily increased US bombing of Germany, and the transfer of British forces to the far east once Germany was defeated.

16/12/1942, Himmler started the genocide of individuals of �mixed Gypsy blood� at Auschwitz, unless they agreed to be sterilised.

15/8/1942, Winston Churchill had his first summit meeting with Joseph Stalin.

19/12/1941, Hitler made himself Commander in Chief of the Army.

23/9/1941, In London, Charles de Gaulle formed a Free French Government in exile.

4/6/1941, Kaiser Wilhelm II, exiled German Emperor, died in exile in The Netherlands.

12/3/1941, The first issue of Die Zeitung, a Free German (anti-Hitler) newspaper appeared in London.

3/1/1941, Martin Bormann promulgated a Nazi decree banning gothic typefaces in all printing and proclaiming roman type as the new standard. The order sought to make Nazi communications more understandable in occupied France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Norway, where Roman type was used.

24/10/1940. Hitler failed to persuade Franco or Petain to help invade Britain.

20/10/1940, Andre Santini, French politician, was born.

10/10/1940, Hitler began an emergency program called the Sofortprogramm to build protective shelters for the civilian population and essential personnel. Aiming to build 6,000 bunkers across 92 cities, it was the largest public works program in history.

12/9/1940, A group of five boys discovered a cave at Lascaux, in the Dordogne, south west France, which was to become famous because it contained fine examples of prehistoric cave paintings.

21/8/1940, The �tree of liberty�, planted in Saverne after Alsace was restored to France at the end of World War I, was chopped down by members of the Hitler Youth.

28/3/1940, The Allied Supreme War Council issued a formal Declaration of United Action.

28/2/1940, Allied divers recovered three rotors from a scuttled German U-boat off the Shetlands. These were vital in decoding the German Enigma codes.

24/12/1939, Pope Pius XII issued a cautious call for peace, whilst striving to remain politically neutral.

30/12/1939, Hitler declared that the �Jewish-capitalistic world� would not survive the 20th century.

8/11/1939. Hitler narrowly avoided an assassination attempt at a Munich beer cellar. The Nazi leader was making a speech on the anniversary of the failed 1923 beer-hall putsch, in which he had tried to seize the city. Hitler left straight after his speech, which was much shorter than usual. Eight minutes later a bomb exploded behind the pillar where he was speaking, killing 7 people and injuring 60. It was planted by the anti-war activist and Communist Johann Georg Elser, who was sent to a concentration camp. He was shot on 9 April 1945, on Hitler�s orders, to prevent his release by the advancing Russians.

17/9/1939, De Valera said Ireland would remain neutral in the War. Australia and New Zealand took sides with Britain straightaway. The Canadian debated the issue for three days then voted to join the War with one vote against. In South Africa the Prime Minister General Hertzog wanted to stay out of the war; he was forced to resign and replaced by General Smuts who immediately took Britain�s side.

 

2) Eastern Front (East Europe, Russia, Greece, also Finland)

7/5/1945,Soviet forces took Wroclaw, south-west Poland.

3/5/1945, Rijeka (Fiume) was captured by the Yugoslavs; the Germans left, but blew up the port installations first.

2/5/1945, German soldiers in Austria surrendered. Berlin finally surrendered to the Russians at 3 pm. British and Russian troops linked up at Wismar on the Baltic.

 

Final Russian conquest of Berlin

1/5/1945, Berlin was totally in Russian hands.

Click here for contemporary newspaper maps of WW2, April-May 1945.

29/4/1945, At 1am on 30/4/1945 Hitler was informed that all Nazi forces he had been hoping would relieve Berlin were now encircled or on the defensive.

28/4/1945, The Wehrmacht withdrew from the town of Demmin, north-eastern Germany, blowing up bridges as they retreated and abandoning the town�s civilians to the oncoming Red Army.

27/4/1945, Berlin was now totally surrounded by Soviet forces.

25/4/1945, US and Soviet forces met on the Elbe near Torgau. Zhukov�s and Koniev�s armies met west of Berlin, surrounding it.

22/4/1945, Hitler was told that forces under SS General Felix Steiner were unable to rescue Berlin from Soviet occupation.

21/4/1945, Soviet forces under Zhukov (1st Belorussian Front) entered the suburbs of Berlin.

Final Russian conquest of Berlin

 

20/4/1945, Nuremberg, once the scene of huge Nazi rallies, fell to the Allies, on Hitler�s 56th birthday. There was also the last air raid on Berlin. Soviet forces were to enter Berlin tomorrow. Since the first raid on 29/8/1940, some 76,652 tons of explosives and incendiary bombs had been dropped on the German capital. 50,692 tons were British, and 25,962 American. Soviet artillery also rained down some 40,000 tons of shells during the final stages of the war.

18/4/1945, Russians fighting on the Seelow Heights broke through westwards towards Berlin.

16/4/1945, The Russians began a major assault on the Seelow Heights, crossing the Oder River.

15/4/1945, The Allies captured the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.Eva Braun descended to Hitler�s bunker; she had previously resided in a private apartment in the Chancellery, since March 1945.

13/4/1945, Vienna was capturedby Soviet troops from the Germans.

9/4/1945, Konigsberg, capital of east Prussia, taken by the Russians.

4/4/1945, Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, captured by Soviet forces. The last Wermacht forces evacuated Hungary.

2/4/1945, The Soviet Army began an offensive to take Vienna.

30/3/1945, The Russians took Danzig (Gdansk), Poland, also the town of Ratibor in Silesia.The Poles renamed the city Gdansk,from Danzig, expelled the Germans, and linked the city administratively with the neighbouring port of Gdynia, built on Polish territory in the 1920s.

29/3/1945, Soviet troops entered Austria.

28/3/1945, Gdynia captured by the Russians.

22/3/1945, Soviet forces broke the Danzig / Gdynia defence perimeter.

17/3/1945, Brandenburg, East Prussia, captured by the Russians.

15/3/1945, The Soviet Army launched the Upper Silesian offensive.

13/3/1945, The Battle of Kiauneliskis, Lithuania.

6/3/1945, German forces launched Operation Spring Awakening, their last offensive of the war. This was in Hungary, near Lake Balaton, and was aimed at securing some of the last oil supplies still available to the Germans, the Nagyakanisza oilfield. Troops from the failed Ardennes offensive were utilised. However by mid-March the operation had failed and the Germans were being pushed back by overwhelming Soviet strength. Also on this day the Soviets began arresting and executing any members of the Polish Home Army of Polish Government in Exile they could find.

4/3/1945, Finland declared war on Nazi Germany.

22/2/1945, Poznan, on the Berlin to Warsaw road, fell to the 1st Belorussian Front after a pocket of German soldiers there had been surrounded but held out.

14/2/1945, U.S. Army Air Forces bombed Prague. 701 people were killed and about 100 houses and historical sites were destroyed in what was attributed to a navigation mistake.

13/2/1945. Allied bombers devastated the German city of Dresden. Many civilians had moved to the cultural city of Dresden, and its population in 1945 was over 1,000,000. There were up to 400,000 casualties, including 130,000 civilian deaths. Dresden was famous for its 17th and 18th century architecture, but was also an industrial centre and was a key communications centre for the German armies on the Eastern Front. 1,400 RAF fighters and 450 US planes bombed Dresden over a 14 hour period. Soviet forces took Budapest. Soviet forces took Sommerfeld, just 80 miles from Berlin.

5/2/1945, Soviet forces crossed the River Oder, and pushed deeper into Germany.

2/2/1945,Under Soviet occupation, the Bulgarian authorities began to try and execute various �war criminals� including Prince Cyril, former government ministers, and businessmen.Further trials and executions continued till June 1945, when the legal process was declared complete.

31/1/1945, Soviet troops crossed the River Oder into the province of Brandenburg, north of Frankfurt, 40 miles from Berlin.

 

Russian troops entered pre-WW2 German territory (East Prussia), continued westwards towards Berlin

29/1/1945, The Soviet 3rd Belorussian Front advanced into the city of Konigsberg.

28/1/1945, Soviet forces invaded Pomerania.

27/1/1945, The Red Army now captured Silesia, and the loss of the mines and factories there was a severe blow to Nazi war production. Russian forces captured Memel, liberating all of Lithuania.

24/1/1945, Gleiwicz in Silesia taken by the Russians, as was the key fortress of Lotzen in East Prussia. The Russians were now close to Konigsberg, capital of East Prussia.

23/1/1945, Bromberg taken by the Russians.

22/1/1945, Allenstein taken by the Russians.

21/1/1945, Russia and Hungary signed an armistice.

20/1/1945, The German evacuation of East Prussia began. The 4th Ukrainian Front advancing through Slovakia took Presov.

19/1/1945, Russian troops took Tilsit. They were now on the pre-War frontier of Germany.

17/8/1944, The Russians reached the border of East Prussia.

Russian troops entered pre-WW2 German territory (East Prussia), continued westwards towards Berlin

 

18/1/1945, Soviet troops took Lodz.

17/1/1945, Soviet and Polish troops captured Warsaw. Only 162,000 citizens remained, compared to a pre-war population of 1,310,000.See 14/9/1945.

15/1/1945, Soviet forces captured Cracow from Germany.

14/1/1945, Radom in central Poland taken by the Russians.

13/1/1945, Budapest was completely in Soviet hands. Hungary, Nazi Germany�s last ally in the Balkans, was now siding openly with Russia.

12/1/1945, 5.am, Moscow time, Konev�s 1st Ukranian Front began an offensive against Nazi forces from the Sandomierz bridgehead, north east of Cracow.

9/1/1945, General Guderian warned Hitler that the eastern front was like a house of cards, ready to collapse at any time; Hitler dismissed reports of superior Russian military strength as �the greates bluff since Genghis Khan�. In fact, the Soviets possessed a 5:1 advantage in manpower, a 7:1 advantage in artillery, and a 17:1 advantage in aircraft.

28/12/1944, Hungary renounced all treaties with the Third Reich and declared war on Germany.

27/12/1944, The Soviet Army began to besiege Nazi forces in Budapest.See 13/1/1945.

21/12/1944, The Soviet Army, having entered Hungarianterritory in early September 1944, set up a provisional government in Debrecen.

9/12/1944, The Danube north of Budapest was reached by the Russians.

5/12/1944, The 3rd Ukrainian Front of the Soviet Army captured Szigetv�r and Vukovar.

29/11/1944, Russian troops crossed the Danube, in Hungary.

21/11/1944, The Moscow Conference ended.

17/11/1944, Tirana, capital of Albania, was recovered from German occupation.

9/11/1944, The Moscow Conference began.

6/11/1944, Monastir liberated by Yugoslav forces.

30/10/1944, Soviet forces attacked Budapest, but the Germans held it until February 1945.

24/10/1944, The Riga Offensive ended in Soviet victory.

22/10/1944, Russian troops in Finland reached the Norwegian border.

20/10/1944, Tito�s partisans and the Red Army took Belgrade. It had been taken by Germany on 13/4/1941.

18/10/1944. The Russian army entered East Prussia and Czechoslovakia.

13/10/1944, Athens was liberated from the Germans, who occupied it on 27/4/1941.

11/10/1944, Cluj, capital of Transylvania, recaptured by the Russians.

9/10/1944, Russian forces reached the Baltic coast near Libau.

6/10/1944, Soviet troops entered Hungary.

3/10/1944, The insurgents in the Warsaw Uprising surrendered to German forces.

28/9/1944, Soviet, Yugoslav Partisan and Bulgarian forces began the Belgrade Offensive.

27/9/1944, Soviet troops and Yugoslav Partisans crossed the border into Albania.

23/9/1944, Soviet forces entered Hungary,

22/9/1944,The Russians captured Tallinn, capital of Estonia. This blocked the final seaborne escape route for German Army Group North.

19/9/1944, Finland agreed to the peace terms demanded by Russia (see 20/6/1944), except that the indemnity was halved to US$300million.

16/9/1944, The Soviet 3rd Ukrainian Front occupied the Bulgarian capital of Sofia.

14/9/1944, Russian forces took Praga, on the right bank of the River Vistula, opposite Warsaw.An anti-Nazi uprising by Poles had begun in Warsaw on 1/8/1944.However the Russian forces did not immediately cross the Vistula to Warsaw, but held back whilst the Nazis put down the Polish rebellion and razed the city.Warsaw was only taken by the Russians on 17/1/1945.

9/9/1944, The Russians captured Sofia, capital of Bulgaria.

7/9/1944, Hungary declared war on Romania and crossed into southern Transylvania

6/9/1944, Bulgaria declared war on Germany.Bulgaria had wanted to become neutral but Russia fund this �insufficient� and threatened to declare war on Bulgaria.Bulgaria therefore declared war on Germany and Russian troops marched into Bulgaria unopposed�� On 28/10/1944 Bulgaria signed an armistice with the Allies and the Bulgarian Army, under Soviet command, attacked German forces in Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria.See 2/2/1945.

30/8/1944, Soviet forces took Bucharest.

31/8/1944. Russian and Romanian forces captured the Ploesti oilfields, which had supplied Germany with one third of its military oil.Meanwhile Hitler declared that the political differences between the Allies would result in the collapse of their efforts against Germany (see 19/8/1944).

29/8/1944, Constanza taken by Russia.

25/8/1944, Finland was forced to sue the USSR for peace (see 12/3/1940) under pressure from the Soviet Army.Finland gave up territory gained from the USSR since 1940, and also ceded the Petsamo region, with the Arctic port at Porkkala; this gave the USSR a common border with Norway.

For more events of USSR-Finland conflicts 1940s see Finland

23/8/1944. Following a coup d�etat in Bucharest, in which pro-Nazi dictator General Ion Antonescu was overthrown (born 1882, acceded 1940), Romania changed sides and declared war on Germany and Soviet troops entered Rumania as allies. Germans had entered Bucharest as allies in September 1940, after Antonescu seized power, forcing King Carol II into exile after Carol had surrendered Romanian territory to Hungary, Bulgaria and Russia. Romania then supported Germany when it invaded Russia in June 1941, and assisted in the Nazi capture of Odessa, which was then renamed �Antonescu�, with areas of south-west Ukraine annexed to Romania. However the Soviets began to force back the Romanians, and other Axis forces, in the winter in 1942/3. On this day, 23/8/1944, Carol II�s 23-year-old son, King Michael, had Antonescu arrested. Antonescu was subsequently charged with war crimes in May 1946 and on 1/6/1946, after a brief trial, was condemned to death and shot.

6/8/1944, The Soviets began the Osovets Offensive as part of the final phase of Operation Bagration.

5/8/1944, Germans bombed the Warsaw suburb of Wola, during the Warsaw Uprising.

1/8/1944, Anti-Nazi rising in Warsaw began.Russian forces were close to the city, see 14/9/1944.

30/7/1944, Soviet forces captured Simno, Poland, only 35 miles from the Prussian border and 330 miles as the crow flies from Berlin. They also took Gluda which cut the railway line west from Riga. German forces in Riga now had just one minor rail line west as an escape route, leading to Windau, a small Baltic port.

29/7/1944, Soviet forces crossed the River Vistula, capturing the town of Sandiomerz in central Poland

28/7/1944, Soviet forces took Brest Litovsk, Poland.

27/7/1944, Russian forces captured Lvov from Germany.

26/7/1944, Dvinsk retaken by Russia.Narva, Estonia, retaken by Russia.

24/7/1944, Lublin retaken by Russia. Russia. German losses in the past 5 weeks amounted to over 2,000 tanks, 340 aircraft and 113,000 men. Only 10,000 men replaced them.

23/7/1944, The Lvov Uprising, an armed insurrection of the Home Army in Poland against the Nazi German occupiers, began in the city of Lvov.

14/7/1944, Soviet forces entered Pinsk, less than 200 miles from east Prussia.

13/7/1944. The capital of Lithuania, Vilnius, was recaptured by the Russians.

12/7/1944, The Russians advanced 21 miles on the Baltic Front.

10/7/1944, New Soviet offensive against German Army Group North began.

3/7/1944, Minsk was recaptured by the Russians.

Click here for contemporary newspaper maps of WW2, Eastern Front, 1944.

29/6/1944, The Russians captured Petrozavodsk from Finland, see 20/6/1944.See 19/9/1944.

26/6/1944, Vitebsk retaken by Russia. The Nazi 3rd Pamzer Amy was surrounded.

23/6/1944, The German 4th Army, NE of Minsk, was surrounded.

22/6/1944, The Russians commenced Operation Bagration. Under the supreme command of Zhukov, some 1.2 million troops launched a 4-pronged assault towards Minsk. A simultaneous assault was launched towards Lithuania.

20/6/1944, The Russian attacked Finland, which had begun peace discussions with the USSR in February 1944. Russia had demanded restoration of the 1944 frontier, plus Petsamo, thus excluding Finland from the Arctic Ocean, and an indemnity of US$600million, Finland�s entire national income for 1939.Finland refused such humiliating terms, and Russia attacked, capturing Viipuri this day.See 29/6/1944.

See Finland for more details of war with Russia

10/6/1944, The USSR began an offensive against Finland.

25/5/1944. Tito escaped to the hills as German troops captured his Bosnian headquarters.

16/4/1944, Soviet forces cleared out the last pockets of German resistance at Yalta.

13/4/1944, The Russian army took Simferopol, capital of Crimea.

11/4/1944, The USSR regained Odessa.

8/4/1944, Russia began on offensive to evict the Germans from Crimea, the last part of pre-War Russia they still occupied.

4/4/1944, On the Eastern Front, a counterattack by the German 4th Panzer Army captured Kovel.

2/4/1944, USSR troops crossed the Romanian frontier.

1/4/1944, Many German troops were surrounded in the eastern Galician town of Skala. Over the next 9 days, 26,000 of them were killed.

31/3/1944, The Soviet 3rd Ukrainian Front took Ochakov.

30/3/1944, Soviet forces were now within 16 miles of the Hungarian fromtier.

29/3/1944, Soviet forces took Kolomyja, a town inside �Greater Germany�.

27/3/1944, Germany poured massive reinforcements into Hungary as the Russians approached.

25/3/1944, German army commander, Von Manstein, leader of Army Group South, successfully argued with Hitler that the 1st Panzer Army must be allowed to retreat to avoid a Soviet encirclement south-east of Tarnopol. Von Manstein was a much better strategist than Hitler, and was never afraid to argue persuasively and strongly with the Fuhrer when necessary. However Von Manstein was replaced by Field Marshal Model. Army Groups South and A were renamed, respectively, Army Groups Northern and Southern Ukraine; an ironic move given that by now very little of the Ukraine remained under German occupation.

20/3/1944, Soviet forces took Vinnitsa, on the Southern Bug,and crossed the Dneister north of Kishinev,

19/3/1944, Germany began a direct occupation of its ally, Hungary, as Soviet forces advanced towards the Danube Plain. Hungarian oil was vital for Germany, and Hitler was alarmed at reports that Admiral Horthy, Hungarian Regent, was intending to surrender to the Russians as soon as they crossed the border into Hungary.

18/3/1944, The Soviets took Zhmerynka, central Ukraine.

17/3/1944, Soviet forces entered the railway junction town of Dubno, 25 miles inside Poland and only 170 miles from Hungary.

13/3/1944, Kherson retaken by Russia.

22/2/1944, Krivoi Rog retaken by Russia.

2/2/1944, The Battle of Narva began on the Eastern Front.

27/1/1944, Russia announced the complete lifting of the 2-year blockade against Leningrad.The Leningrad to Moscow railway reopened.

20/1/1944, Russia recaptured Novogorod.

14/1/1944, German Army Group North was overwhelmed by a new Soviet offensive on the entire Leningrad, Volkhov and 2nd Baltic Fronts.

3/1/1944, Soviet forces reached Olevsk, just 11 miles from the pre-war Polish border, and 280 miles from East Prussia.

19/12/1943, At the first war crimes trial, in the USSR, three Germans were found guilty of atrocities and hanged at Kharkov.

9/11/1943, Soviet troops retook the western Ukrainain town of Zhitomir, just 75 miles from the pre-War Polish frontier

6/11/1943, Russian troops retook Kiev.

1/11/1943, Russians cut off the Germans who were attempting to retreat from the Crimea.

7/10/1943, Russian forces crossed the Dnieper River.

25/9/1943, The USSR retook Smolensk.

21/9/1943, The Soviet 43rd Army captured Demidov.

17/9/1943, Briansk retaken by Russia.

16/9/1943, Novorossisk retaken by Russia.

14/9/1943. Yugoslav partisans were advancing along the Dalmatian coast, and Allied officers had reached Tito.

7/9/1943, German troops began a retreat from the Ukraine.

6/9/1943, The railway junction of Konotop fell to the Soviet 60th Army.

30/8/1943, Taganrog retaken by Russia.

23/8/1943, Kharkov retaken by Russia.

5/8/1943, The USSR retook Orel.

3/8/1943, The Russian Voronezh, Steppe and South-West Fronts began a major offensive against German Army Group South below the Kursk Salient.

1/8/1943, Allied raid on the Ploesti oil refineries, Romania, which supplied much of Germany�s oil. However anti-aircraft fire was much heavier than anticipated. Some refining capacity was taken out but some remained intact.

13/7/1943, The Germans lost the greatest tank battle in history, in the cornfields around Kursk.

7/7/1943, The 4th Panzer Army under Hoth, in the south of the Kursk Salient, made good progress, advancing 20 miles into the Salient at Yakovlevo and Pokrovka.

6/7/1943, Marshall-General Rokossovsky�s counter attacked against the Germans at Kursk but could not prevent their advance. However stiff Soviet resistance prevented the Germans gaining more than six miles of ground.

5/7/1943, At 4.30 am, German forces in Russia began Operation Citadel, an assault into the Kursk Salient. However the main concentration of German troops did not reach the battle area until 5.00 am, due to Soviet shelling of the assembly areas. Soviet intelligence had picked up details of the offensive.

Click here for contemporary newspaper maps of WW2, Eastern Front, 1941-43.

16/5/1943, German forces began an offensive against Tito�s partisans in Yugoslavia.

21/3/1943, Russian forces retook Durovo, shrinking the German Kursk salient.

14/3/1943, The Germans re-occupied Kharkov in a counter offensive against the Russians.

12/3/1943, Russian forces recaptured Vyazma.

16/2/1943, Kharkov retaken by Russia.

14/2/1943, Rostov retaken by Russia.

12/2/1943, Krasnodar recaptured by the Russians.

8/2/1943. Russia recaptured Kursk. Kursk was a major rail junction, and this significant Russian victory followed their major success at Stalingrad. The Russians created a salient 160 km wide and 130 km deep into German lines around Kursk, and in the summer of 1943 Hitler ordered this salient eliminated under �Operation Citadel�.2,500 German tanks, supported by 1,000 aircraft, attempted to cut off the salient from Orel in the north and Belgorod in the south. Fighting was especially severe at Prokhorova, where Germany lost 300 tanks in one day, but made a deep penetration into the salient. However the Russians had filled the salient with an even greater number of tanks and aircraft, protected by deep minefields. The Battle of Kursk, 5 � 15 July 1943, was the greatest tank battle in history. Orel was liberated by the Russians on 4/8/1943 and Belgorod on 5/8/1943. German losses were so heavy as to rule out any furthermajor offensives by them on the Eastern Front.

7/2/1943, Russia recaptured Azov and Kramatorsk.

6/2/1943, Mannstein hurried back to Rastenburg to persuade Hitler of his plans for a counter offensive in the Russian South. Hitler agreed.

5/2/1943, Russian forces retook Stary Oksyol and Izyum. They also advanced to Yeisk, on the Sea of Azov, cutting off German forces around Novorossiisk.

4/2/1943, Soviet amphibious forces landed behind German lines near Novorossiisk, where they held a beachhead for 6 days until the main Russian force linked up with them.

3/2/1943, The Russians recaptured Kushchevskaya, south of Rostov.

 

The fight for Stalingrad � the turning point of the War

31/1/1943. The German 6th Army under Field Marshal Paulus surrendered at Stalingrad after five months of fighting. The last Germans fighting in Stalingrad surrendered on 2/2/1943.Hitler had refused to countenance an attempted German breakout from Stalingrad and insisted his troops hold on, despite, from December 1942, increasing shortages of food, ammunition, and medical supplies.The Luftwaffe tried to drop supplies by air to the besieged city but often failed in this task. The Stalingrad Campaign cost the lives of 479,000 men from November 1942; German deaths amounted to 147,000, with a further 91,000 troops captured (many to be worked to death as Stalinpferde, Stalin horses, in Soviet labour camps).

25/1/1943, The Russians retook Voronezh, see 7/7/1942.

24/1/1943, At Stalingrad, the Soviets overran the last airfield held by the Germans, at Gumrak.

21/1/1943, The Russians retook Stavropol.

19/1/1943, Soviet forces retook Sclusselberg, south of Leningrad, reopening a narrow land corridor to the city. However food supplies to Leningrad remained very precarious.

18/1/1943, The Russians broke the 890-day siege of Leningrad. Supplies had only reached the city intermittently over frozen Lake Ladoga.

13/1/1943, German forces in Russia retreated from Terek to the Nagutskoye-Alexandrovskoye line. Russia launched Operation Spark, reopening a narrow land corridor to Leningrad.

12/1/1943, The Second Hungarian Army was annihilated in fierce fighting against Russia at Voronezh, near Stalingrad.

9/1/1943, At Stalingrad, General Rokossovsky launched Operation Ring, to extinguish German resistance. The chances of airborne supplies reaching Stalingrad were diminishing, with 490 German supply planes shot down whilst attempting to reach the two airfields still under German control at Stalingrad. Within Stalingrad, 12,000 German wounded were without medical supplies.

8/1/1943, Russian General Rokossovsky sent Von Paulus an ultimatum for the surrender of German forces trapped in Stalingrad. Von Paulus, unwilling to disobey Hitler�s orders, refused to surrender.

5/1/1943, German forces lost Nalchik, Caucasus.

4/1/1943, German forces lost Mozdok, Caucasus.

1/1/1943, Velikye Luki re-occupied by the Russians.

31/12/1942, Battle of the Barents Sea. An Allied convoy bound for Murmansk was attacked by German destroyers. Allied destroyers succeeded in fighting off a superior German naval force.

29/12/1942, Soviet forces regained Kotelnikova, from where the Germans had earlier launched an attempt to relieve Stalingrad.

27/12/1942, At Rastenburg, General Zeitler told Hitler that Germany must withdraw from the Caucasus or face a �second Stalingrad�. Hitler accepted this advice.

23/12/1942, Operation Winter Storm ended with the German 6th Army still trapped in Stalingrad.

19/12/1942. German forces came within 40 miles of Stalingrad, attempting to relieve Von Paulus� Axis forces trapped in the city; however they were halted by a Russian counter attack. Hitler began to accept that Stalingrad could not be relieved, also Von Paulus� tanks now had fuel for just 15 miles so could not break out.

11/12/1942, German forces south of Stalingrad withdrew to the Elista-Mozdok defence line, unable to reach the Caspian Sea in the Terek Estuary area.

26/11/1942, 250,000 German troops under General von Paulus were surrounded at Stalingrad.

25/11/1942, Greek guerrillas fighting the Axis occupation destroyed the Gorgopotamos railway.

22/11/1942, During Operation Uranus the Red Army secured the vital bridge over the Don River at Kalach-na-Donu, west of Stalingrad.

19/11/1942, The Russians counterattacked at Stalingrad, across ground hardened by the winter frosts but not yet clogged by snow.The Russians had more of their superior T34 battle tanks, and created a giant pincer movement to encircle the 250,000 Germans at Stalingrad. German generals, knowing they were overstretched, wanted to shorten their lines and conserve men, equipment, and supplies.However Hitler initially refused to sanction giving up any occupied territory. Only in January 1943 did Hitler realise that the fall of Stalingrad could entail the cutting off of his forces in the Caucasus; he ordered Kleist to retreat from this region, whilst Paulus hung on inside Stalingrad., diverting Soviet forces. The Germans in Stalingrad surrendered on 2/2/1943, after 7 weeks under siege; had they surrendered 3 weeks earlier, Kleist would also have been cut off. Kleist retreated along the northern shores of the Black Sea, assisted by a sudden thaw that swelled Russian rivers and hindered the movements of the Soviet army.

16/11/1942, Russian forces took Kharkov.

11/11/1942, Russian forces took Lozovaya Junction.

8/11/1942, Russian forces took Kursk.

2/11/1942, Ordzhonikidse, Caucasus, captured by German forces.

20/10/1942, The Russians now held no more than 1,000 yards of the west bank of the Volga at Stalingrad. Tenacious close-combat fighting continued, building to building, in the ruins.

14/10/1942, German forces now held most of Stalingrad. The Russians retained just two small enclaves on the west bank of the Volga. However the Russian forces at Stalingrad were in fact bait for a trap set by Zhukov.

6/10/1942, German forces captured Malgobek, in the Terek Salient, Russia.

25/9/1942, Hitler suspended plans for further territorial advances in the Leningrad area as winter approached.

24/9/1942, German advance in Russia towards Tuapse.

23/9/1942, A Russian counter-attack north-west of Stalingrad began.

17/9/1942, Paulus, having captured most of southern Stalingrad, now turned his attention to the Russian-held industrial districts in the north of the city.

13/9/1942, The German attack on Stalingrad began. Fighting became so intense that each side at times fought the other from different stories of the same building.

6/9/1942, The Germans captured the major Black Sea naval base of Novorossiisk.

4/9/1942, Soviet planes bombed Budapest for the first time.

1/9/1942, German troops in Russia crossed the Kerch Straits and advanced into the Taman Peninsula.

31/8/1942, British Commandos began Operation Anglo, a raid on the island of Rhodes.

26/8/1942, German forces reached the outskirts of Stalingrad.

12/8/1942, The Germans captured Elista, Kalmukkensteppe, Russia.

9/8/1942, German forces in the Caucasus reached the oilfields at Maikop. However the retreating Soviets had blown up the oil installations, so the Germans could not utilise the oil.

6/8/1942, The Germans advanced on Stalingrad.

5/8/1942, German troops crossed the Kuban River, Russia.

3/8/1942, German forces reached Stavropol, Caucasus.

2/8/1942, The German 4th Panzer Army captured Kotelnikovo.

1/8/1942, German forces took Salsk in the Caucasus.

28/7/1942, Germans captured Rostov on Don, USSR.

25/7/1942, German army units were just 100 miles from Stalingrad.

7/7/1942, The Germans took the city of Voronezh, see 25/1/1943.

1/7/1942, The Germans captured Sevastopol after a 9 month siege.

29/6/1942, The Germans launched an offensive at Kursk, south of Moscow.

28/6/1942, The Germans launched Operation Blue, an offensive to capture the Russian Caucasus oilfields and secure the Volga River. The Soviets responded by concentrating resistance at Stalingrad, threatening the northern flank of this Operation. On 23/7/1942 Hitler ordered General Paulus to capture Stalingrad at all costs. Meanwhile Stalin could not let go the city that bore his name.

The fight for Stalingrad � the turning point of the War

 

German advances into Russia began to falter

9/6/1942, The Germans massacred the inhabitants of the Czech mining village of Lidice, as a reprisal for the assassination of Heydrich, Nazi governor of Bohemia and Moravia.The village of Lezaky was also obliterated.

4/6/1942, The �Protector of Bohemia-Moravia, the Nazi Heydrich, was assassinated by Czechs.See 9/6/1942.

24/1/1942, German forces relieved an encirclement of their garrison at Sukhinichi, Russia.

9/1/1942, The Battle of Dra�go�e began between the Slovene Partisans and Nazi occupying forces.

7/1/1942, The Soviet Army began a new offensive on the Kalinin and Western Fronts in order to encircle Army Group Centre.

29/12/1941, Russia re-occupied Kerch and Feodosia.

15/12/1941, The Germans abandoned attempts to take Moscow.

12/12/1941. (1) The USSR began to push back Nazi forces. Rostov in the south was retaken by the USSR, and the German advance towards Moscow was turned back at Solechnaya Gora, 40 miles north-west from the Russian capital. 30,000 German soldiers ware taken prisoner and 700 German tanks captured or destroyed.German supply lines had become over-stretched, and the varying gauges and fuel requirements of Russia�s railways meant that 70% of the Wermacht forces had to walk into Russia.German hopes that Russian civilians would see them as liberators failed to materialise.The German soldiers were ill-prepared for winter temperatures as low as -40 C. However Stalin now made some tactical errors. He anticipated the main German thrust for 1942 would be against Moscow whereas the Nazis now aimed for Stalingrad, so as to capture the Caucasus oilfields.

10/12/1941, Tikhvin, near Leningrad, was recaptured by the Russians, see 9/11/1941.

6/12/1941. Britain declared war on Finland, after it ignored warnings not to continue fighting on the German side. A Russian counterattack began to relieve the pressure on Moscow.

5/12/1941, Britain declared war on Hungary and Romania.

29/11/1941, German troops withdrew from Taganrog on the Sea of Azov.

28/11/1941, Russia re-occupied Rostov.

26/11/1941, A Russian counter attack saw them advance 70 miles in the Ukraine.

24/11/1941, Von Rundstedt defied a direct order from Hitler and withdrew from Rostov-on-Don due to Soviet counter-attacks in the rear.

German advances into Russia began to falter

 

Germans come close to capturing Moscow

23/11/1941, Rostov occupied by Germany.

22/11/1941, In the Battle of Moscow, the Germans captured Klin.

21/11/1941, The Battle of Rostov began on the Eastern Front.

12/11/1941, The temperature on the Moscow Front fell to -12 C, and many German soldiers succumbed to frostbite.

9/11/1941, Tikhvin, a railway junction town east of Leningrad, fell to the Germans. It was a staging point for supplies to Leningrad via Lake Ladoga. See 10/12/1941.

3/11/1941, The Germans captured Kursk, Russia � see 8/2/1943.

1/11/1941, Simferopol captured by Germany.

29/10/1941, Germans began to cross the Perikop isthmus into Crimea.

25/10/1941, Deep snow fell on the Moscow Front. The snow could then thaw, turning the ground into a quagmire; the Russian T34 tanks, with their wide tracks, could cope with this better than the German tanks could.

24/10/1941, Kharkov occupied by Germany.

20/10/1941, German forces reached close to Moscow.The city suffered heavy bombing raids as fighting raged in the countryside around.

19/10/1941, German forces captured Mozhaysk, Russia.

16/10/1941. The Germans advanced to within 60 miles of Moscow. Odessa evacuated by Russia.

10/10/1941, Stalin brought General Zhukov back from Leningrad, where the first deaths from starvation had begun, to oversee the creation of a Western Front to defend Moscow.

 

12/10/1941, Briansk evacuated by Russia.

8/10/1941. German forces in Russia took Mariupol; Hitler had now reached the Sea of Azov. However Russia was far from being conquered.

6/101941, German forces entered Berdyansk, taking over 100,00 Russian PoWs.

2/10/1941, As the first winter snows began, the Russian Army launched a counter-attack at Leningrad.

30/9/1941, Finland took Petrozavodsk from Russia.

27/9.1941, Germany captured Perekop, cutting off the Crimea from the rest of Russia.

25/9/1941, Germany attacked the Crimea.

24/9/1941, Russian Marshall Budenny launched a counter-attack against the Germans at Kherson, on the River Dnieper.

19/9/1941, The Germans captured Kiev, USSR.

12/9/1941, The first snow flurries on the German Soviet Front, but none settled. Hitler, keen to capture Moscow, decided that Leningrad would be besieged and starved intro surrender, rather than conquered.

10/9/1941, Heavy German bombing raids on Leningrad. The city�s main dairy was hit, destroying tons of butter, and the shipyards were badly damaged.

8/9/1941, Stalin began the deportation eastwards of all 600,000 ethnic Germans living in the Volga Basin region; he feared they would become a 5th column as Germany invaded Russia.

30/8/1941, The Germans began the siege of Leningrad.The siege ended in January 1943.

29/8/1941, The Germans captured Tallinn, capital of Estonia.

28/8/1941, The Russians destroyed the Dnieper Dam, near Dnipropetrovsk, as they retreated from the area under their scorched earth policy.

26/8/1941, The Germans captured the industrial city of Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine. However the industrial machinery had been moved away eastwards, leaving just empty factories.

19/8/1941, German units reached Gatchine, just 25 km from Leningrad; the following day they cut the Leningrad-Moscow rail line at Chudovo.

17/8/1941, The Germans took Narva, Estonia.

16/8/1941, In the Dnipropetrovsk area, the Russians retreated east of the Dnieper River.

14/8/1941, German forces near Stalingrad crossed the Kuban River.

12/8/1941, Hitler set out, in a supplemen5t to Directive No.34, his immediate military aims in Russia. Occupation of the Crimea, the industrial regions of Kharkov, and the Donets Basin coalfields. After the occupation of the Crimea, Germany could attack across the Kerch Strait towards Batumi.

9/8/1941, Hitler outlined to his government ministers his vision for Russia. �The German colonist will live on handsome spacious farms. The German services will be lodged in marvellous buildings, the governors in palaces. Beneath the shelter of the administrative services we shall gradually organise all that is indispensable to the maintenance of a certain standard of living. Around the city to a depth of thirty of forty kilometres we shall have a belt of handsome villages connected by the best roads. What exists beyond that will be another world in which we mean to let the Russians live as they like. It is merely necessary that we should rule them. In the event of a revolution we shall only have to drop a few bombs on their cities and the affair will be liquidated. Once a year we shall lead a troop of Kirghizes through the capital of the Reich in order to strike their imagination with the size of our monuments�.

27/7/1941, German forces entered the Ukraine.

20/7/1941, As Axis forces approached Leningrad, art treasures from The Hermitage were shipped out to the relative safety of Sverdlovsk in the Urals.

16/7/1941, German troops began the encirclement of Smolensk, a Soviet city halfway between Minsk and Moscow.

15/7/1941, The 7th Panzer Division captured Yartsevo, Russia.

13/7/1941, Britain and the USSR concluded an assistance pact.

8/7/1941, German forces entered Pskov, just 180 km from Leningrad.

5/7/1941, Ukrainians seized control in Buczacz, Poland. They were backed by the Nazis. The Ukrainians massacred any Poles, Jews, or Russians they caught, and proclaimed an �Independent Ukrainian State�. In September 1939 the Jews of Buczacz had been relieved to be included in the Soviet-occupied sector of Poland, and therefore not under Nazi rule in German occupied western Poland. At that time, Jews, backed by the Russians, took over the local administration and assisted the Russians in deporting many Poles.. However the German attack on Soviet Russia of June 1941 caught them by surprise.

1/7/1941. German forces entered Riga.

30/6/1941, German forces took Lvov from Russia.

28/6/1941, Germany captured Minsk.

27/6/1941, Finland joined with Germany in attacking Russia, to recover territory lost in 1939/40. Hungary declared war on Russia.

26/6/1941, The Kosice (Hungarian name, Kassa) incident. Kosice, the principal town of eastern Slovakia, became part of Hungary on 12/11/1938. On this day, four days after Hitler invaded Russia, and when Hungary was still a non-combatant in the war, three airplanes bombed Kasice. The official story was that these planes were Russian, and this incident helped bring in Hungary against Russia. However the planes were far more likely to have been German, to provoke aggression by Hungary against Russia.

 

22/6/1941. (1) Germany invaded Russia. Hitler expected the war in Russia to be over by Christmas 1941, saying �We only have to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down�. Hitler calculated that Stalin�s purges of the officer class had badly weakened the Red Army.

The invasion plan, called Operation Barbarossa had been announced by Hitler to his generals on 30/3/1941 in a speech to 200 senior army officers. At 3.am on 22 June the greatest offensive in history was launched. Three million men poured across a front nearly a thousand miles long. Hitler had said that the Communists must be not only beaten but annihilated, or �in 30 years we shall have to fight them again�. By the end of World War Two, four million Russians had died in battle and a further 3.5 million had been taken captive. 97% of these died in captivity; Hitler had decided that the Geneva Convention did not apply to them, or to millions more captured later. 17,000 Russian villages were wiped off the map by the Germans.

Stalin had not believed Germany would attack, despite troop movements on the frontier in the weeks before the invasion.

The German invasion was to have begun on 15/5/1941, but the need to intervene in the Balkans against Greece and Yugoslavia delayed the Russian invasion by seven (crucial) weeks.The original plan was for German forces to have reached a line from Archangel to the Volga by autumn 1941.Russian resistance was greater than Hitler anticipated, and Hitler�s orders to try and capture Moscow whilst Leningrad was already besieged, whilst simultaneously taking tanks from the Moscow front to the southern front gave a respite to the defence of Moscow.

The Germans correctly estimated Russian military strength in the west at 150 divisions but thought the Soviets had just 50 further divisions in reserve; in fact the Red Army summoned up over 200 reserve divisions. Unexpected July rains turned unsurfaced Russian roads into mud whilst the scorched earth policy meant roads, bridges, railways and factories were destroyed before the Germans advanced. The Russians also destroyed the railway rolling stock and because the Russian gauge was different from the German one, the Nazis could not use the Russian rail network.

(2) Romania joined in with Germany in attacking Russia. Rumania was led by Ion Antonescu (born 2/6/1882 in Transylvania). Antonescu was pro-Nazi, and during a period of serious internal disorder in Rumania, King Carol of Rumania was compelled to offer Antonescu the Premiership on 5/9/1940. Antonescu then demanded the abdication of Carol. In 1944 Russia counterattacked into Rumania and King Michael I, who had succeeded Carol, arrested Antonescu. Antonescu was convicted of war crimes on 17/5/1946 and executed near the Rumanian fort of Jilava on 1/6/1946.

 

German invasion of Greece, Crete

30/4/1941, Major General Bernard Freyberg took command of all Allied forces on Crete.

26/4/1941, Allied codebreakers decoded Nazi communications relating to an operation on Crete.

25/4/1941, Hitler issued Fuhrer Directive No.28, ordering the airborne invasion of Crete. The operation would be led by the commander of German airborne forces, General Kurt Student.

23/4/1941, Greece formally surrendered to Germany and Italy.

22/4/1941. British forces left Greece.

21/4/1941, The Greek destroyer Thyella was bombed and sunk by the Luftwaffe off Vouliagmeni.

19/4/1941, The Germans captured Larissa, Greece.

12/4/1941, Allied troops in Greece withdrew to the Olympus Line.

7/4/1941, German breakthrough, with Yugoslav forces, towards Salonika.

9/3/1941, The Italians launched an offensive to drive Greek-Allied forces out of Albania.

11/2/1941, Britain learned that Germany now had 23 divisions in Romania, with a further 12 soon to arrive there. This posed a severe threat to Greece.

3/11/1940, The Greeks recaptured Samarina from the Italians.

10/9/1940, Italy began a build-up of 200,000 troops in Albania, for the invasion of Greece.

 

German invasion of Yugoslavia

17/4/1941, Yugoslavia capitulated to Germany.

16/4/1941,The German Afrika Corps recaptured Bardia. Germany occupied Belgrade.

15/4/1941, Sarajevo surrendered to the Germans.

6/4/1941, Axis troops invaded Yugoslavia. Belgrade fell on 13/4/1941. Yugoslavia fell on 16/4/1941. The Croats, who had been irritated by Belgrade�s treatment of non-Serb minorities within Yugoslavia, often welcomed the German invaders. Belgrade was recaptured by the Soviets and Tito�s forces on 20/10/1944.

25/3/1941, Prince Paul, the Yugoslav Regent, signed a pact with the Nazis; in return for neutrality and the demilitarisation of the Adriatic coast, Germany would respect Yugoslav neutrality. However the Yugoslav Army, with popular backing, then deposed Prince Paul on 27/3/1941, and 17-year-old King Peter II took the throne. The move angered Hitler and he prepared Operation Strafgericht (Punishment), the invasion of Yugoslavia. See 6/4/1941.

 

Bulgaria joins the Axis

3/3/1941, Nazi troops entered Bulgaria, occupying its Black Sea ports.

1/3/1941, Bulgaria joined the Axis. Bulgaria then allowed German troops to mount operations against Yugoslavia and Greece from its territory.However on 4/3/1941 Turkey refused to join the Axis.

17/1/1941, Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov warned Germany against deploying troops in Bulgaria by stating that the Soviet Union considered Bulgaria a security zone.

13/1/1941. Hitler summoned King Boris of Bulgaria to Berlin and demanded that Bulgaria join the Axis and permit passage of troops across her territory to attack Greece. However, as with Franco of Spain, Bulgaria procrastinated and made no commitment. Meanwhile Stalin began to consider the possibility that Russia would have to fight a 2-front war, against both Germany and Japan. To this end, said Stalin, the Russian Army must be made more nimble and manoeuvrable, and supplies such as food must be guaranteed along affective supply lines.

 

German preparations for the invasion of Russia, 1940-41

13/6/1941, Churchill offered to send Stalin a British military mission should Germany attack the USSR. However Stalin was suspicious of Churchill�s offer, regarding it as an attempt to precipitate him into war with Germany.

2/5/1941, Germany�s Staatssekretare met to discuss the invasion of Russia.

14/4/1941, Stalin ordered a heightened state of combat-readiness against a possible German invasion.

30/3/1941. Hitler outlined, to his generals, plans for the invasion of Russia � see 22/6/1941.

17/3/1941. Britain learned, through its decoding of German enigma messages, that as part of preparations to invade Russia, the Nazis had moved armoured units of Army Group South to Cracow.

18/2/1941, Soviet Generals urged Stalin to allocate more resources to road building to improve the mobility of Russian forces.

2/2/1941, The German War council discussed a report by General Haider that 190 German and Axis units would face 211 Soviet formations and divisions; however the Axis forces would have better technology.

9/1/1941, At a conference with his Generals, Hitler stated that the territory of Russia contained vast riches which Germany should dominate economically and politically, but not incorporate into the Third Reich. German military leaders expected Russia to crumble quickly under a German invasion. In February 1941 German plans for the invasion of Afghanistan and India were being prepared.

18/12/1940, Hitler signed the directive for Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of Soviet Russia.

13/12/1940, Hitler issued Directive No. 20 on the German invasion of Greece, codenamed Operation Marita.

12/11/1940, Molotov was invited to Berlin for Nazi-Russian talks.

 

For more events of USSR-Finland conflicts 1940s see Finland, Winter War 1939-40

1/10/1940, Finland signed a military and economic treaty with Germany.

 

12/10/1940, Germany captured Bucharest.

8/10/1940, German and Italian troops invaded the Romanian oilfields. Bucharest was occupied on 12/10/1940.

26/10/1939, The Republic of Slovakia was established as a German protectorate with Tiso as President, see 14/3/1939 and 22/5/1945.

 

German invasion of Poland

16/11/1939, Mass burning of Jewish books in Lublin, Poland.

15/11/1939, The main synagogue in Lodz, Poland, was set on fire. The Nazis ordered the fire brigade to attend simply to prevent the fire spreading to neighbouring buildings.

9/11/1939, In Poland, the Nazis arrested and shot some one thousand Polish intellectuals, writers, journalists and artists.

5/11/1939, All 167 professors and lecturers at Cracow University were arrested by the Nazis and sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, north of Berlin.

3/11/1939, The Gestapo executed 96 Polish schoolteachers at Rypin.

8/10/1939. Hitler made western Poland part of the Third Reich.

5/10/1939, German troops held a victory parade in Warsaw in front of Hitler.

4/10/1939, Adolf Hitler issued a secret decree granting an amnesty to all crimes committed by German military and police personnel in Poland between September 1 and October 4. The decree justified the crimes as being natural responses to "atrocities committed by the Poles�.

2/10/1939, The last Polish resistance ceased. Troops under Admiral Unruh on the Pubwysep Hela Peninsula, north of Danzig, surrendered.

1/10/1939, Hitler entered Warsaw. The RAF dropped propaganda leaflets on Berlin.

30/9/1939. Germany and the USSR signed a pact agreeing on the partition of Poland.

28/9/1939, Polish troops holding out at the fortress of Modline fortress, 36 km from Warsaw, finally surrendered after an 18-day siege.

27/9/1939. German forces occupied Warsaw; the city capitulated from the siege (see 8/9/1939), having run out of food, water, and ammunition.

24/9/1939, All-day German air raids on Warsaw.

21/9/1939, Germany and Russia declared that Poland no longer existed.

18/9/1939, The city of Lublin fell to the Germans.

17/9/1939, Soviet troops invaded Poland. The German army reached Brest Litovsk in Poland.

14/9/1939, The Germans entered Gdynia.

13/9/1939, German troops crossed the Vistula at Annopol.

12/9/1939,German troops reached Lvov.

11/9/1939, The Battle of Jarosław ended with a successful Polish delaying action.

8/9/1939, The Germans began a siege of Warsaw (see 27/9/1939).

6/9/1939, Cracow fell to the Germans.

4/9/1939, Romania, alarmed by the German invasion of Poland and unable to help the Poles, declared its neutrality.

3/9/1939, The Polish town of Bydgoszcz (German, Bromberg), fell to the Nazis.

1/9/1939, Germany invaded Poland. Without a declaration of war, 1.25 million German troops invaded Poland under Operation Fall Weiss (White Plan) as the Luftwaffe destroyed the Polish rail system and its airforce. Some 60,000 Poles were killed, 200,000 wounded, and 700,000 taken prisoner. Germany here eschewed the static trench warfare of World War One, and the English language acquired a new word � blitzkrieg, meaning lightning war. Warsaw was bombed at 6.am. On 11.am. 3/9/1939 Britain declared war on Germany because of this invasion. For the first time in history the King went to Downing Street rather than the Prime Minister going to the Palace, because Neville Chamberlain needed to stay near his phone. On the same day, 3/9, New Zealand, Australia, and France, at 5.pm. also declared war on Germany. See 28/3/1939.

 

3) Western Front France, Benelux, Britain, western Germany.

7/5/1945. German Chief of Staff Jodl unconditionally surrendered to Allied forces at Reims, ending the fighting in Europe. The surrender was at 2.40 am in a small schoolhouse that served as General Eisenhower�s headquarters.

5/5/1945, German troops in Holland under General Johannes von Blaskowitz surrendered to the Canadian Commander Charles Foulkes.

4/5/1945, German troops in The Netherlands, Denmark, north-west Germany surrendered.

3/5/1945, Hamburg capturedby the British.

1/5/1945, US troops entered Bavaria.

29/4/1945, Munich entered by US forces. British troops crossed the Elbe near Hamburg. RAF bombers dropped their first load of food in German-occupied Holland.

27/4/1945, Hitler received reports that Heinrich Himmler, leader of the SS, had offered to surrender to the western Allies.

26/4/1945, Bremen captured by Allied forces.

25/4/1945, US and Soviet forces met on the Elbe near Torgau. Marshal Petain was arrested.

24/4/1945, Himmler offered to surrender the German Reich to the governments of Great Britain and the USA.

22/4/1945, Stuttgart taken by French forces.

21/4/1945, Dessau entered by US forces.

19/4/1945, US forces took Leipzig; the city was later handed to the Soviet sector, East Germany.

18/4/1945, The US took Magdeburg (later handed to the Soviet Zone).

18/4/1945, US troops under General Patton entered Czechoslovakia.

14/4/1945, Canadian forces in Holland reached the North Sea and captured Leeuwarden. French and US forces attacked Germans in the Bordeaux area. The Americans crossed the Elbe south of Dessau.

11/4/1945, Buchenwald concentration camp, near Weimar, was liberated by US forces. On the Western Front, the Allies reached the Elbe, 60 miles from Berlin.

10/4/1945, Hanover taken by US forces. The Nordhausen underground V2 assembly plant was overrun by US forces.

5/4/1945, British forces reached Minden.

4/4/1945, French forces entered Karlsruhe.

3/4/1945, Hamm and Cassel captured by US forces.

1/4/1945, German forces in the Ruhr area trapped, and 21 German divisions destroyed.

29/3/1945, Mannheim captured by US forces.

27/3/1945. The last German V-2 rocket fell on Britain, at Orpington. (see 8/9/1944).The Allies then overran the last V-2 launching site. In all, 1,050 rockets fell on England, each carrying a ton of explosive with a range of 200 miles. 518 of these V2s hit London, killing 2,754 people and seriously injuring a further 6,523.The V-2s were designed by Werner von Braun, who surrendered to the Americans in 1945.Von Braun was given US citizenship and helped design the rockets for the US space programme, including the Saturn rockets and the Apollo missions.

25/31945, The US Army broke out of the bridgehead at Remagen and advanced 6 miles east (see 7/3/1945). After their failure to destroy the bridge, Germany sent the Luftwaffe to bomb it; 5 out of 20 Luftwaffe aircraft were lost, the bridge was successfully destroyed, but the Americans, holding both river banks, had laid temporary bridges alongside.

24/3/1945, Darmstadt captured by US forces.

23/3/1945, The US 2nd Army crossed the Rhine at Oppenheim. By 20/4/1945 British troops had advanced 200 miles into Germany.

21/3/1945, Ludwigshaven entered by US forces.

19/3/1945, Worms and Saarbrucken captured by US forces. Hitler issued an order to destroy all German industrial infrastructure, so the invading Allies would find nothing of value, but this order was ignored.

17/3/1945, Coblenz captured by the Americans.

14/3/1945, First use of ten-ton bombs by the RAF. The �Grand Slam�, 22,000 lbs, was dropped on Bielefeld railway viaduct.

11/3/1945, The huge Krupps factory in Germany was destroyed when 1,000 allied bombers took part in the biggest ever daylight raid. Essen taken by US forces.

8/3/1945, Canadian forces took Xanten, Germany.

7/3/1945. Cologne fell to the Allies. Allied troops crossed the Rhine by the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen. The Germans had intended to destroy this bridge like all others on the Rhine, as German resistance west of the Rhine had been crushed; however the explosive charges failed to detonate and US forces found the bridge intact and defended only by a few engineers and teenagers from the Volkssturm Stalin became alarmed that the western Allies crossing of the Rhine so quickly meant the Americans would take Berlin, not the Russians. Stalin wanted the Nazi stores of uranium and above all their A-bomb expertise, located in a research facility in the south western Berlin suburb of Dahlem. However the US was concentrating on southern Germany.

15/2/1945,British troops reached the Rhine.

8/2/1945, British and Canadian troops broke through the northern, weaker, section of the Seigfried Line near Millingen.

7/2/1945, All gains made by Germany in the Ardennes Offensive have now been erased, with the loss of 82,000 German soldiers and 77,000 US casualties.

6/2/1945, The US 8th Air Force bombed Magdeburg and Chemnitz.

4/2/1945, Belgium liberated of German forces.

2/2/1945,The French took Colmar.

1/2/1945, US forces reached the Seigfried Line, see 8/2/1945.

 

Battle of the Bulge

26/1/1945, German troops from the Battle of the Bulge now forced back to the German frontier.

25/1/1945, The Battle of the Bulge ended in Allied victory.

6/1/1945, The Battle of the Bulge ended as German forces under Gerd von Rundstedt and Hasso von Manteuffel in the Ardennes were forced back by Allied forces under US General George Patton. See 16/12/1944. Hitler, to the despair of his Generals, started fantasising of a great offensive in the Alsace-Lorraine area, seemingly oblivious of the Russians advancing to the east.

2/1/1945, Allied air raid on Nuremberg.

31/12/1944, Rochefort retaken by the Allies.

2/3/1945, Trier and Krefeld captured by US forces.

26/12/1944, The US Army completed operations, begun 17/12/1944, to move 2.8 million gallons of motor fuel away from the Ardennes, so that German troops in this offensive would not capture the fuel supplies they needed to continue the Battle of the Bulge successfully and reach Antwerp. The German military was desperately short of fuel and needed to capture more in order to continue their initiative.

25/12/1944, The Germans reached their furthest point of advance in the Ardennes Offensive. They had reached Dinant, 97 km from the start point. This day alone the Germans lost over 3,500 men and 400 vehicles, including 81 tanks.

24/12/1944, In reprisal for an attack by the French Resistance, German SS units massacred all adult males in the village of Bande.

23/12/1944, The heavy overcast weather in the Ardennes area cleared, allowing Allied aircraft to attack the Germans.

22/12/1944, An American unit was surrounded at Bastogne by the German advance in the Battle of the Bulge.The unit held out until relieved on 26/12/1944. Inside Bastogne, General Anthony C McAuliffe received a message from the besieging Germans inviting him to surrender; his reply, scrawled on the surrender invite, was one word-�NUTS�.

17/12/1944, Soldiers of the 6th SS Panzer Army massacred 87 US PoWs at Malmedy, under the orders of Colonel Joachim Pieper. This had the effect of stiffening Allied resolve against the Ardennes Offensive.

16/12/1944, Germany began the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes. 15 German divisions, 250,000 men and 950 tanks, under General von Rundstedt confronted 83,000 Americans with 420 tanks, andadvanced 60 miles before they were halted. The German Army was desperately short of fuel, and were hoping to capture the fuel they needed from Allied dumps as they advanced. This was their last offensive of the war. Germany had conjured up a large fighting force from sources such as back administration offices and prisons. See 6/1/1945. The sleet and low cloud that protected them from Allied air attacks soon cleared.

 

4/12/1944, German bridgehead west of the Maas taken by the British.

1/12/1944, The U.S. Ninth Army captured Linnich.

28/11/1944, Antwerp reopened to port traffic.

24/11/1944, Strasbourg taken by Allied forces.

23/11/1944, U.S. troops liberated the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp in France.

22/11/1944, Mulhouse and Metz retaken by Allied forces.

20/11/1944, Belfort taken by the French.

7/11/1944, Middleburg, Holland, captured by the Allies.

4/11/1944, RAF Bomber Command sent 749 aircraft to conduct the last major raid on Bochum. Over 4,000 buildings were destroyed and nearly 1,000 people were killed.

3/11/1944, Flushing captured by the British. Canadian troops captured two bridges from South Beveland onto Walcheren.

2/11/1944, Belgium was clear of German troops. The Germans re-entered Belgium on 16/12/1944, and were finally expelled on 4/2/1945.

1/11/1944, British troops landed on Walcheren Island. Walcheren commended the approaches to Antwerp, which had been captured by the Allies on 1/9/1944; however until Walcheren was cleared of German forces, Antwerp Harbour was unusable. It took five weeks to capture the Walcheren fortifications, at a cost of 12,873 Allied lives. Before Walcheren fell, opening up Antwerp, Allied forces in Belgium had to be supplied from the Normandy beaches, because every Channel port from Cherbourg to Ostend had been wrecked by Allied bombing or by German demolition squads.

31/10/1944, British forces reached the River Maas.

28/10/1944, General De Gaulle ordered the French Resistance to disarm.

26/10/1944, British troops crossed the River Scheldt and occupied the Beveland peninsula.

23/10/1944, De Gaulle was officially recognised by the Allies as French leader.However De Gaulle was offended by the Allies refusal to treat France as a Great Power, or to invite him to the Yalta or Potsdam Conferences alongside the USA, UK and USSR.

21/10/1944. Aachen was captured by the Allies. The battle for the city, the first major German city to fall to the Allies, lasted a week, and over 10,000 prisoners were taken. Much of the city was destroyed.

16/10/1944, Aachen was surrounded by US forces.

9/10/1944, Canadian and British forces landed behind German lines south of the Scheldt Estuary.

30/9/1944, Canadian forces captured Calais.

29/9/1944, The Battle of Arracourt ended in American victory.

26/9/1944, The Canadian 2nd Army captured the German guns on Cap Gris Nez; the Allies now had total control of The Channel.

25/9/1944, The Allied forces who had been parachuted into Arnhem (17/9/1944) had succeeded in capturing key bridges over the Rhine, Maas and Waal rivers but had met fierce resistance from the 9th and 10th German Panzer Divisions. This resistance forced the withdrawal of Allied troops from Arnhem to south of the Rhine.

22/9/1944, Boulogne surrendered to Canadian forces.

20/9/1944, British forces reached The Rhine at Nijmegen.

19/9/1944, Brest taken by US forces.

18/9/1944, The Battle of Arracourt began near the French town of Arracourt.

17/9/1944. The British airborne invasion of Arnhem and Nijmegen, Holland, began as part of Operation Market Garden, to secure a bridge over the Rhine.However a hard winter for Holland began as German forces in the north of the country resisted Allied attacks under Field Marshal Model.Food became scarce and could only be bought by barter on the black market.Money had no value and the rations system collapsed. In Britain the blackout was replaced by the dimout, except for all areas within 5 miles of the coast where the blackout remained in force.

14/9/1944, Patton�s Third Army took Nancy in France.

13/9/1944, The Maastricht area was captured by Allied forces.

12/9/1944, Le Havre captured by the British.

11/9/1944, The Allies in the west under US First Army General Omar Bradley took their troops onto German soil, north of Trier. Large numbers of German troops were deserting. Civilian morale in Aachen collapsed as Nazi SS officials, troops and police hurriedly left the German city for Cologne, as US troops drew close.

8/9/1944, Liege taken by US forces.

5/9/1944, German and Dutch Nazis began to flee Holland, as Allied forces advanced through Belgium.

4/9/1944, The Allies crossed into Holland. Antwerp was liberated.

3/9/1944, The Allies entered Belgium, and liberated Brussels. The Belgian resistance was then well trained and armed, and German plans to destroy the docks at Antwerp as they retreated were thwarted. Thus the Allies could use this port to land ammunition and troops during the remaining eight months of fighting. Lyons also liberated by the Allies.

1/9/1944, Dieppe taken by the Canadians. British forces, helped by the Belgian Resistance, took Antwerp; see 1/11/1944.

8/1944, The dissolution of the French Right-wing group Action Francaise, as their eponymous newspaper ceased publication. Action Francaise, founded ca. 1900, advocated the overthrow of the Third Republic and the restoration of the French monarchy. Supoorted by many amongst the middle class and Catholics, Action Francaise had been discredited by its close association with the Vichy Government.

8/1944, As the Allies drew close to St Malo, the Germans burnt it before retreating.

30/8/1944, Rouen taken by the Canadians. German forces, putting up little resistance to the Allied advance in France, were retreating across the Seine; they were flooding the lower reaches of the Somme to delay the Allied advance there.

31/8/1944,Allied troops reached Amiens, northern France.

28/8/1944, Marseilles fell to the Allies.

26/8/1944, The Battle of Toulon ended in Allied victory.

25/8/1944, Germans in Paris surrendered. The Nazi commander, General von Cholitz, ignored Hitler�s instructions to destroy the city. The USA had held back to allow the French under General LeClerc to retake Paris, led by General De Gaulle.Paris had been under German occupation since 14/6/1940.

24/8/1944, Canadian forces captured Bernay and crossed the Risle River at Nassandres.

21/8/1944, US forces crossed the Seine.

20/8/1944, Toulouse taken by French forces.

19/8/1944, Paris rebelled against German occupation.

18/8/1944, The Allies closed the Falaise Gap, trapping German forces to the north and west.

17/8/1944, Falaise taken by the Canadians.

16/8/1944, Canadian troops surrounded Falaise, France.

15/8/1944. US and French forces landed in southern France, on a front from Nice to Marseilles, and joined up in eastern France with the forces landing in Normandy. This was Operation Anvil. From Marseilles Allied forces swung north up the Rhone Valley.

12/8/1944. PLUTO, or Pipeline Under The Ocean, began operating. It carried fuel from Shanklin, Isle of Wight, to Allied forces advancing against the Germans in France.

10/8/1944, US/French offensive at Alencon.

9/8/1944, St Malo and Le Mans taken by US forces.

7/8/1944, RAF attacked German lines south of Caen.

3/8/1944, Rennes taken by US forces.

31/7/1944, The Allies drove the Germans out of Normandy. Avranches was captured, opening the way into Brittany.

25/7/1944, Allied forces in Normandy forced through weakened German defences at St Lo.

16/7/1944, A large gun on the French coast that was almost ready to fire huge shells at British south coast towns was destroyed in a sustained air raid.

15/7/1944, The Second Battle of the Odon began as part of the Battle of Normandy.

11/7/1944, The new German Tiger II heavy tank saw frontline combat for the first time during the Normandy campaign.

9/7/1944, The Allies took Caen.

8/7/1944, British and Canadian troops approached the outskirts of Caen. The German defenders contested every street.

Click here for contemporary newspaper maps of WW2, Western Front, 1944-45.

30/6/1944, The last German resistance in the Contentin Peninsula, France, ceased with the Allied capture of Auderville.

27/6/1944. The Allies took Cherbourg. This was important as it gave the Normandy bridgehead its first deep water port.

19/6/1944, The French retook Elba.

25/6/1944, Allied tanks reached the suburbs of Cherbourg. The German Commander of Cherbourg, General Karl Wilhelm von Schleiben, asked Rommel to be allowed to surrender, as he had 2,000 wounded who could not be treated. Rommel refused and ordered him to fight to the end.

12/6/1944, Churchill visited the front in Normandy. The 101st American Airborne division captured the town of Carentan, which commended the Vire estuary; this closed the last gap in the Normandy beachheads, between Omaha and Utah beaches, into a single front 42 miles wide.

10/6/1944, Allied troops began a push towards Caen. This tied down large numbers of German troops and Hitler sent in his elite Panzer forces. Troops from the 2nd SS Panzer Division massacred 642 people in the French village of Oradour sur Glane in revenge for Resistance attacks. After the war, President De Gaulle ordered that the village be left as a ruin, as a memorial; a new village was built nearby.

9/6/1944, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery ordered massive air raids on German positions in northern France as the Allies advanced from Normandy. 450 Allied bombers hit towns including Lisieux and le Havre.

8/6/1944, Bayeux liberated.

6/6/1944. D � Day. Allied forces landed in Normandy. Operation Overlord was the biggest sea-borne invasion in history. It was delayed 24 hours due to bad weather.

In the early morning of Tuesday 6 June 1944 11,600 aircraft, 6,000 surface craft, and nearly 170,000 men assaulted the coast of France on a 50 mile front, and 9,000 had been killed. Men from boats joined with parachutists. By the sixth day, 326,000 Allied soldiers were in the French bridgehead.

The Luftwaffe mustered 183 planes, which faced 11,000 Allied planes. The Allies had also intercepted a Luftwaffe message indicating they were critically short of aviation fuel, and Allied bombing raids were concentrated on German oil installations. Crucially for the Germans, Hitler was asleep when the D-Day landings began, at 06.35 local time, and no-one dared waken him. Extra reinforcements could not be ordered without him, and vital hours were lost by the Axis forces battling to hold Normandy. By the end of the first day, the Allies had a beachhead 25 miles long and 5 miles deep. Further initial advance was delayed by the Normandy bocage, small fields with thick hedgerows, and steep valleys and hillsides. See 15/5/1944.

5/6/1944. The Caf� Gondree was the first place to be liberated from the Germans on the eve of the D-Day landings when paratroopers from the 6th Brigade dropped on the town of Benouville to seize a vital canal bridge.

4/6/1944. Eisenhower decided on a 24-hour delay to D-Day due to poor weather.

2/6/1944, Eisenhower settled on 5 June for D-Day.

1/6/1944, The BBC transmitted a coded alert to the French Resistancewarning od the D-Day landings; the message was the first verse of Paul Verlaine�s poem, Chanson D�Automne.

31/5/1944, Allied bombs cut the communications between the German HQ in Paris and German Air Force bases at Rennes and Caen, for three crucial days. Meanwhile the Luftwaffe no longer had the resources to both bomb Britain and fight off a cross-Channel Allied attack.

27/5/1944, Due to Allied decrypting of German messages, they learnt f a major axis troop concentration at La Haye-du Puits, on the Contentin Peninsula, where the US had planned to parachute in troops. This part of the D-Day plan was therefore amended, with the scheduled date for the capture of Cherbourg put back by 7 days.

26/5/1944, Allied daylight air raid on Lyon, to block German reinforcement routes from the south. 717 French civilians were killed.

21/5/1944, The Allies launched Operation Chattanooga Choo Choo, to destroy railway engines and rolling stock across northern Europe, including Germany. This Operation was so effective that even Jews from the concentration camps were being drafted in to repair the damage.

20/5/1944, The Germans still did not know where the Allies might land in western Europe.The German Navy did not mine the Seine estuary, as Rommel wanted, nor were German troops deployed that could have covered both Normandy and Brittany, because Germany feared an Allied airborne landing around Paris.

15/5/1944, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel attempted to cut off occupied France from neutral countries to stop information being passed out to the Allies.

13/5/1944, At Bagneres de Bigorre, near the Pyrenees, sabotage by British and French agents put a factory producing carriers for self-propelled guns out of action for 6 months.

8/5/1944, Eisenhower settled on 5, 6, or 7 June as date for the D-Day landings.

19/4/1944, The RAF bombed railways and river bridges in France.

10/4/1944, US aircraft attacked German shore batteries along the Normandy coast.

9/4/1944, General Charles De Gaulle became commander in chief of the Free French forces. This angered his rival for the post, World War One veteran General Henri Giraud. De Gaulle fled France for Britain in 1940.

18/2/1944, The RAF raided Amiens prison, where many French Resistance fighters were being held. They succeeded in bringing down the prison walls, and although 56 Resistance were shot by guards, 258 more escaped. They had faced execution the next day.

13/2/1944. The Allies dropped weapons for the French Resistance in Haut-Savoie.

24/12/1943, British bombing raid on Berlin.

22/10/1943, Heavy British air raid on the German city of Kassel, destroying German air craft and rocket manufacturing facilities.

14/10/1943, US bombers mounted a raid on tye German ball bearings factory at Schweinfurt. However little damage was done but US losses were heavy.

4/10/1943, Allied troops occupied Corsica, the first part of France to be liberated.

29/9/1943, In a decisive battle, which lasted until 4/10/1943, French forces, together with Italians, fought the Germans and forced them to evacuate Corsica.The Germans retreated to mainland France and the Italians moved to Sardinia.

13/9/1943, Free French forces attacked the German and Italians on Corsica, see 29/9/1943.

24/7/1943, Operation Gomorrah, the destruction of the German port of Hamburg began. British and Canadian airplanes bombed the city by night, and American planes followed during the day. By the end of the operation in November, 9,000 tons of explosives had killed more than 30,000 people and destroyed 280,000 buildings. For the first time, the British forces used "Window", aluminium strips dropped to distort radar images, against the German anti-aircraft defences.

8/7/1943, French Resistance leader, Jean Moulin, died after torture by the Gestapo.

20/6/1943, The RAF began Operation Bellicose; bombers left Britain to hit the steelworks at Friedrichshafen, then flew on t Algeria, then on the return flight they bombed the Italian naval base at La Spezia. The British did not know that the Friedrichshafen works also contained the assembly line for V2 rockets, and these raids caused the assembly line to be abandoned.

5/4/1943, Heavy British air raid on Kiel, 1,400 bombs were dropped. Meanwhile US planes bombed the Renault tank assembly lines near Paris.

3/4/1943, British bombers dropped 900 tons of bombs on the Krupp factory at Essen.

20/1/1943, Germany recommenced heavy air raids on Britain. In one week, 328 civilians were killed, including 39 schoolchildren this day when a school, in Lewisham was hit.

12/12/1942, British commandoes blew up six ships in Bordeaux harbour.

4/12/1942, The Belgian Resistance killed a Belgian Nazi in Brussels.

27/11/1942, The French fleet was scuttled in the harbour of Toulon, six hours after German troops arrived there.

11/11/1942, The Axis invaded Vichy France.

19/8/1942. Allied commando raid on Dieppe, by the Canadians and British. There were heavy Allied casualties.The aim of the raid was to try and seize a Channel port from the Germans; the raid failed, with 1,000 Allied troops killed and 2,000 taken prisoner out of a total of 6,100 men, and all their tanks and equipment abandonedthere was nine hours of fighting along 11 miles of coastline. However information from the raid was very useful in planning the D-Day landings of June 1944. The principal lesson was that any attempted Allied landing in France must be on a beach using artificial harbours, not at an existing port.

31/5/1942, Major 1,000 bomber Allied raid against Cologne.

19/5/1942, British bombing raid on Mannheim

26/12/1941, Second British raid on the Lofoten Islands. Winston Churchill discussed war strategy in America.

16/12/1941, Allied raids on Ostend, Bremen and Wilhelmshaven.

28/12/1940, British Bomber Command learned that despite 28 raids over 7 months on German oil installations, damage done had not been that extensive.

7/12/1940, British bombers raided the German industrial town of Dusseldorf.

5/10/1940, Hitler, faced with heavy losses of fighter aircraft, ordered an end to daytime bombing raids in Britain. From now, raids would only take place at night.

28/9/1940, In France, the writings of 842 authors, many Jewish or French patriots, were withderawn from sale.

25/9/1940, Heavy British air raids on Berlin.

 

Battle of Britain; land invasion of Britain averted

19/9/1940, Arthur Owens, whom Germany believed to be working for them as a spy, began transmitting messages recommending targets for German bombers. In fact he was a double agent, his messages being prepared by British Air Ministry Intelligence.

17/9/1940. Hitler ordered the indefinite postponing of the invasion of Britain, after the Luftwaffe had failed to establish command of the air over Britain.

15/9/1940,The Battle of Britain ended with victory to the Allies.1,733 German planes were destroyed as against 915 lost by the RAF. It began on 8/8/1940. The Nazis had given up hope of achieving air superiority and invading Britain. The RAF had also destroyed much of the shipping that was to carry German troops to England.

3/9/1940, 4 Nazi spies, 1 German and 3 Dutch, landed by boat on the south coast of Britain, to report on coastal defences. They were caught within hours, tried in November, and 3 executed. The 4th, Dutch, was imprisoned, and remained in custody in Holland after the war.

11/8/1940, Further German air raids on Weymouth and Portland radar stations.

8/8/1940. Battle of Britain began. See 31/10/1940. German aircraft had already made raids on Britain; on 10/7/1940 the Cornish port of Falmouth was attacked by 63 Junkers 88s. However it was on this day that mass attacks of over 1,000 German aircraft began. Hermann Goering was confident of victory. Until 30/8/1940 German air attacks were mainly on British shipping and coastal towns, and German air losses exceeded those sustained by the RAF. But between 30/8/1940 and 6/9/1940 the Luftwaffe switched its attacks to airfields in southern Britain. The RAF lost 20% of its fighter planes and at one stage only 2 airfields in southern Britain were operational. In one week 185 RAF fighter planes were destroyed. There was a real possibility that the Luftwaffe could destroy the RAF.

But on 24/8/1940 a German pilot accidentally dropped his bombs on London, and Churchill ordered revenge raids on Berlin. This angered Hitler and he ordered Goering to switch the Luftwaffe�s raids to London, which faced continual bombing until 2/11/1940. The Luftwaffe faced the problem that if their aircraft were shot down, the pilot was captured as a POW; however if a British plane was shot down, over Britain, the pilot could return to the fighting. Pilots were much harder to replace, with all their training, than an aircraft was to build. Prime Minister Winston Churchill said that �never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few�.

5/8/1940, A German air offensive against Britain planned to begin this day was postponed due to bad weather.

31/7/1940. Hitler gave orders for a massive air offence against Britain (see 8/8/1940).

19/7/1940. Hitler offered some prospect of peace in Europe, having occupied Paris (14/6/1940). He said he was willing to recognise the British Empire, so long as Germany could have Egypt and Iraq, and would negotiate with a British government containing Lloyd George and the Duke of Windsor. Both men had expressed some sympathy for Hitler, and the UK Cabinet would have none of it.

16/7/1940. Adolf Hitler issued Directive 16, to invade Britain, under Operation Sealion. He had delayed issuing this order because he had still hoped that Britain would jon with Germany in an �anti-Communist Alliance�. But Churchill had soundly rejected this idea.

 

The German conquest of France was now complete. Hitler now set his sights on Britain.

7/8/1940. Alsace-Lorraine and Luxembourg were made part of Germany.

5/7/1940. The Vichy government broke off relations with Britain.

3/7/1940. The British Royal Navy destroyed a large part of the French navy at Oran in Algeria to prevent it falling into German hands. The French navy at Alexandria was immobilised but those ships at Oran were a more serious threat. The French commander at Oran was offered 4 choices by the British. 1) to sail his forces to a British port and join forces with Britain. 2) To sail to a British port and have his men repatriated to France. 3) To sail to a West Indian port, and have his ships de-commissioned, or handed over to the USA. 4) To sink his own ships. The French admiral, on instructions from Vichy France, refused these alternatives. At 5.55pm on 3/7/1940 the British opened fire, destroying the French ships, wounding 351 and killing 1,279 French sailors. See 18/7/1940.

2/7/1940. The Vichy French government was officially formed after the collapse of France.Henri Petain was Head of State. Hitler wanted a part of France to remain �sovereign�, so as to continue to govern the French colonies in North Africa, and thereby prevent these colonies defecting to the Allied side.

Click here for contemporary newspaper maps of WW2, Western Front, 1940-44.

1/7/1940, Click Here for map of German invasion of France June 1940. Note isochrones of invasion front line and ineffectiveness of Maginot Line.

28/6/1940, Britain formally recognised De Gaulle as leader in exile of France.

27/6/1940, German troops in France reached the Spanish border.

25/6/1940, Official ceasefire in France on all fronts.

23/6/1940, Hitler flew in to Paris for a three-hour tour, his only ever visit to the city.

22/6/1940, (1) The French armistice with Germany (see 16/6/1940) cut the country in half.Although the French Government was nominally in control of all pre-1940 French territory, including its colonies, except for Alsace and Lorraine which were annexed to Germany, the Germans claimed �occupying rights� across northern and western France.Germany held some 2,500,000 French POWs and required the French Government to pay the costs of occupation.France was allowed to retain a small army (100,000 men), and all its navy, albeit disarmed.The arrangement was designed to keep France quite until Britain was conquered. The Germans had the armistice signed in Marshall Foch�s old railway carriage in the Forest of Compeigne, where in 1918 a defeated Germany had to accept French armistice terms.

(2) Britain evacuated 30,000 civilians from the Channel islands, about a third of the population. Germany invaded these islands a week later.

21/6/1940, Italian troops advanced into the French Alps, meeting little resistance.

20/6/1940, The first Australian and New Zealand troops arrived in Britain. In France, Lyons was occupied by the Germans, who also captured Brest this day.

19/6/1940, Nancy and Luneville fell to the Germans.

18/6/1940, Charles de Gaulle, leader of the French Resistance, broadcast an appeal for his countrymen to carry on fighting. It was in response to Marshall Petain�s announcement of an armistice with Germany, German forces reached Cherbourg and Rennes.

16/6/1940, Paul Reynaud resigned as French Prime Minister. Marshall Petain took over and asked the Germans for an armistice. See 22/6/1940.

15/6/1940, Verdun fell; the Maginot Line was pierced. The French Government moved to Bordeaux.

14/6/1940, German troops entered Paris, and the Swastika flew from the Eiffel Tower. The French government had fled to Bordeaux, and was seeking release from the British Alliance so it could negotiate separately with Germany. On 22/6/1940 an armistice between France and Germany was signed and the Vichy government was set up.Paris was liberated on 25/8/1944. With continental Europe largely occupied, Hitler now hoped the British would negotiate a settlement.

13/6/1940, German offensive south of Rouen; Montmedy fell. Paris was declared an open city. . British troops evacuated from le Havre.

12/6/1940, Rheims fell to the Germans.

11/6/1940, French forces retreated south of the River Marne.

10/6/1940, The Germans were within 35 miles of Paris; the French government moved to Tours. Italy declared war on Britain and France; French troops did repel Italian attacks across the frontier, but they could not hold the Germans back in the north. France declared Paris an �open city� on this day and French troops left. This was to spare the city, its people and buildings, from destruction by war.

9/6/1940, German forces reached the suburbs of Rouen; German offensive began in Champagne.

7/6/1940, German offensive north and east of Soissons; they crossed the Ailette Canal.

 

Dunkirk encircled by the Germans, Dunkirk Evacuation

At this point it was possible that Germany would now laumch an invasion of Britain. However the Enigma messages showed that Germany�s immediate priority was Paris and the final conquest of France. Hitler in fact believed Britain would now make peace, and be allowed to keep its colonies in return for accepting nazi domination of Europe

4/6/1940, Dunkirk evacuation completed by British forces (see 10/9/1939). Evacuation (Operation Dynamo) had begun on 29/5/1940, and 338,226 troops (114,000 French and Belgian, 228,000 British) had been rescued by an armada of destroyers, fishing boats, ferries, and assorted small craft. It was thought that only 45,000 could be rescued, under attack from the Luftwaffe who were dive-bombing the beaches. However the German army stopped its advance just outside Dunkirk, apparently unwilling to riskpressing forward through the coastal marshes. Churchill made his famous �we shall fight them on the beaches� speech in the Commons. However Britain now had just 504 serviceable Spitfires, and if Germany had mounted an air invasion that day, the Head of fighter Command, Sir Hugh Dowding, told the House of Commons that he could not guarantee air superiority for more than 48 hours.

3/6/1940, The Germans launched Operation Paula, an attempt to destroy the French Air Force. However, British intelligence had warned the French of the impending attack and the operation failed to achieve its strategic goals.

2/6/1940, A further 80,287 men were evacuated from Dunkirk.

1/6/1940, A further 64,229 men were evacuated from Dunkirk.

31/5/1940, A further 68,104 men were evacuated from Dunkirk.

30/5/1940, (1) Two divisions were shipped from Britain to France, to help defend Brittany. However on 22/6/1940 France signed an armistice with Germany. The 51st Highland Division was surrounded and forced to surrender at St Valery. A further 52,823 men were evacuated from Dunkirk.

(2) The Nazi Reichskommisar Arthur Seyss-Inquart took control of The Netherlands.German occupation became heavier-handed as Germany invaded Russia, and became very oppressive after Stalingrad and the Allied victories in North Africa.

29/5/1940, A further 47,310 men were evacuated from Dunkirk.

28/5/1940, A further 17,804 men were evacuated from Dunkirk.

27/5/1940, Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of British and French troops from the Dunkirk beaches, began � see 4/6/1940. 7,669 men were evacuated to England. The Luftwaffe attempted to thwart the evacuation but faced determined opposition by Allied fighters; 176 German aircraft were shot down compared to 106 British aircraft, and the skies were kept clear for the evacuation.

26/5/1940, The Germans took the port of Bolougne. Calais later surrendered after being held against two German divisions from 24 to 27 May, leaving Dunkirk the only French Channel port on Allied hands (see 4/6/1940). However the Germans believed that just 100,000 Allied troops were trapped in the Dunkirk pocket, a quarter of the true figure, and Goering assured Hitler that the Luftwaffe could prevent their evacuation by sea. German was therefore reluctantto expend resources on obliterating this pocket, and paused the attacks on it, giving the British Expeditionary Force and the French there valuable time to evacuate. However all the military heavy hardware, including large guns., was left behind for the Germans.

22/5/1940, German forces were now just 15 kilometres from Calais.

21/5/1940, The Germans took Amiens and Arras in France.

20/5/1940, German forces reached the French coast at Le Crotoy, splitting the Allied defences.

 

Fall of Belgium and The Netherlands

28/5/1940, Belgian troops under King Leopold III surrendered to Germany.

18/5/1940, The Germans took Antwerp and Brussels. Germany now occupied all of Holland. See 3/9/1944.

16/5/1940, The British Expeditionary Force withdrew from the River Dyle to the River Scheldt.

15/5/1940, Germany took The Hague. The Dutch army surrendered.

14/5/1940, The centre of Amsterdam was destroyed by German bombing.Rotterdam was also heavily bombed by the Germans, and the city centre and large parts of the east of the city destroyed.

13/5/1940, Queen Wilhelmina and the Dutch Cabinet fled Holland for England.

12/5/1940, The RAF bombed bridges near Maastricht, to slow the German advance into Holland.

11/5/1940, Maastricht was attacked by German forces.

10/5/1940, Germany attacked westward through Belgium towards France. Along a 150 mile front, German troops seized key positions before the defenders could react.Germany also occupied Luxembourg, and German forces entered Holland.

8/3/1940, Martial Law was declared throughout The Netherlands because of the Nazi threat. Dutch troops were put on full alert on 2/4/1940.

 

13/5/1940, The Battle of Sedan began the German invasion of France.

20/3/1940, Daladier resigned as leader of the French War Cabinet (see 13/9/1939); replaced by Reynaud.

31/12/1939, In France, the battle lines had been quiet up to the end of 1939; bored cold soldiers dug more trenches, and the odd shot was fired between the Maginot and Siegfried Lines. In contrast to the rapid invasion of Poland, German forces hesitated as Hitler and his generals argued over the best invasion plan, and the Allies remained under-prepared. This �phoney war� or �sitskrieg� as the French termed it, led to some evacuees in Britain returning to the cities. Only at sea was the War being fought. All this changed in 1940.

29/11/1939, Hitler issued Directive No. 9, Instructions for Warfare against the Economy of the Enemy. The directive focused on attacking British shipping and ports and blockading sea lanes using U-boats and naval mines.

22/11/1939, German attacks on The Shetlands began; lasted until 24/11/1939.

12/10/1939, Hitler made a peace proposal to Britain, which was rejected.

9/10/1939, Hitler issued Directive No. 6 ordering preparations for an offensive in the west with an initial date set for November 12. However protests from his service chiefs and very cold weather caused the date of the attack to be postponed repeatedly.

6/10/1939, Britain and France rejected Hitler's peace bid. Hitler claimed to be satisfied with his occupation of western Poland, as Russia took the eastern half, and maintained he had no wish to fight Britain.

25/9/1939, French artillery began bombarding German fortifications on the Rhine.

13/9/1939, French War cabinet formed under Daladier (see 20/3/1940).

10/9/1939, The British Expeditionary force arrived in Cherbourg, France. Four divisions, comprising 158,000 men and 25,000 vehicles crossed the Channel with no interference from U-boats or the Luftwaffe.

The Dunkirk evacuation was completed on 4/6/1940.

7/9/1939,Saar Offensive: the French Army began a ground operation in the Saarland against light German defences.

4/9/1939, French troops crossed the German border into Saarland.

 

3)a) Scandinavia (For Finland see Eastern Front)

6/5/1945, German forces in Norway surrendered.

5/5/1945, Denmark liberated from Nazi occupation � see 9/4/1940.

20/2/1944, Saboteurs blew up a ship on Lake Tinnsjo, Norway, which was carrying heavy water for use in a Nazi atomic research facility.

16/11/1943, US 8th Army Air Force bombers attacked the German heavy water plant at Vermork, Norway. This was a vital centre for Germany�s atomic weapons programme.

25/8/1941, Canadian and British and Norwegian forces raided Spitzebergen.

2/8/1941, All civilian radios in Norway were confiscated by the Germans.

7/7/1941, American troops joined the British force occupying Iceland. This released 20,000 British troops.

4/3/1941, British forces, assisted by Norwegian resistance fighters, raided the German-occupied Lofoten Islands; 11 German boats were destroyed.

10/2/1941, The Luftwaffe bombed Iceland.

1/2/1941, Vidkun Quisling was appointed puppet Prime Minister of Norway by the Germans.

28/5/1940, Narvik captured by Germany.

9/5/1940, Britain occupied the Danish territories of Iceland and the Faroe Islands. This was to forestall any Nazi occupation of these territories, which might have facilitated attacks on the UK and even the USA.

2/5/1940, The Allies withdrew their troops south of Trondheim.

30/4/1940, Germany claimed to have taken the Norwegian towns of Dombaas and Stoeren. British and French troops fought the Nazis in northern Norway.

17/4/1940, Allied troops landed at Aandalsnes; challenged by German forces at Stenkjer.

14/4/1940, Allied troops landed at Namsos, Norway.

11/4/1940, British troops landed in Norway.

9/4/1940, Germany began the invasion of Denmark and Norway. Hitler occupied Denmark because of its strategic importance and to pave the way for an invasion of Norway. The Norwegian Royal Guard offered only token resistance. The small Danish air force was destroyed on the ground at Vaerlose airfield. It took just two hours for the Danish government to surrender.

Germany wanted to invade Norway for several reasons.To safeguard the export of iron ore from neutral Sweden, to stop the British entering The Baltic, and to prevent UK aid reaching Finland through Norway; Finland was then at war with Russia, and Russia was still allied to Germany.

Germany installed Major Vidkun Quisling as head of their puppet government in Oslo. Making radio broadcasts calling for resistance to Germany to cease, Quisling became a synonym for traitor.

The Allies also chose this day to begin occupying Norway to deny the Nazis iron ore However the German occupation meant the Allies now faced not �friendly� territory but a formidable foe. The Allies planned to occupy Trondheim and Narvik. For Trondheim, Allied troops landed at Namsos to the south and Aandalsnes to the north, but had to be evacuated on 2/5/1940 without achieving anything. Narvik did fall to Allied forces on 28/5/1940 but it was impossible to sustain such an isolated force and Narvik was evacuated by the Allies on 8/6/1940.

However Denmark remained nominally a sovereign state until 29/8/1943. When Germany attacked the Soviet Union, the Danish Government was forced to allow the formation of a Danish Volunteer corps fighting with the Nazis; however the Danish people began active resistance against the Nazis. Railway lines and German military installations were bombed, delaying German supplies to both eastern and western fronts. In the summer of 1943 the Danish government refused to introduce the death penalty for sabotage, to allow the persecution of Jews, or to use force against strikers.

In September 1943 Danes became aware that the Nazis were about to round up all Danish Jews. The Danes then began a massive effort to save the Jews. Jewish names on doors were changed to common Danish ones such as Jensen or Hansen, and hundreds of these �Jensens� were suddenly admitted to hospital, or hidden by Danes in their flats and houses. Then some 7,200 Jews, along with 680 non Jews, many married to Jews, were secreted aboard fishing boats and smuggles across to neutral Sweden. Only 447 Danish Jews were captured by the Germans and overall less than 25 of Denmark�s Jews died in the Holocaust.

Germany then declared a state of emergency in Denmark. Danish resistance continued until Allied forces liberated Denmark on 5/5/1945.

3/4/1940, Vidkun Quisling revealed secrets of Norwegian defences to German agents in Copenhagen.

21/2/1940, Hitler authorized Operation Weser�bung, the invasion of Norway.

3)b) Italy, Malta

2/5/1945, Trieste captured by New Zealand forces.

30/4/1945, Turin entered by US forces.

29/4/1945, The Allies took Venice. German troops in Italy unconditionally surrendered at 12 noon on 29/4/1945.

28/4/1945, Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci were caught and shot in Azzano, near Milan, by Italian partisans, as they tried to flee Italy. Born in 1883, Mussolini allied with Nazi Germany in WW2. However as the Allies invaded Italy the Italian Communist partisans decided to execute him. He tried to cross the frontier disguised as a German soldier retreating towards Innsbruck, Austria, but was recognised. Democracy was restored to Italy after 20 years and a neo � Fascist party supporting Mussolini�s ideals won only 2% of the vote in the Italian elections of 1948. The body of Mussolini, his mistress, and other government officials, were hung upside down in Milan.

27/4/1945, Genoa captured by US forces.

25/4/1945, The Allies captured Verona. Italian partisans liberated Milan.

23/4/1945, River Po reached by the Allies.

21/4/1945, Bologna, Italy, was liberated by the Allies, cutting links between the German 10th and 14th Armies. It had been under German occupation from September 1943, when Italy switched sides in the War.

6/4/1945, Allied forces began Operation Grapeshot, a renewed Spring offensive in Italy.

10/11/1944, Allied troops took Forli, Italy.

22/9/1944,Rimini captured by Allied forces.

21/9/1944, San Marino declared war on Germany.

2/9/1944, Allied forces took Pisa.

19/8/1944, Allied forces in Italy took Florence.

11/8/1944, Florence evacuated by the Germans.

3/7/1944, Siena retaken by French troops.

20/6/1944, Perugia, Italy, taken by the Allies.

4/6/1944, Rome liberated by the Allies.

23/5/1944. The Battle of Anzio, Italy. Landings by the Allies had begun at Anzio on 22/1/1944, 40 miles behind German lines and just 30 miles south of Rome. German troops in the area were sparse but rather than break out straightaway, taking advantage of the element of surprise, the Allies waited until further reinforcements came, by whichtime the Germans had brought in more troops too.

18/5/1944. Allied troops captured Monte Casino in Italy.This opened the way to Rome.See 15/2/1944 and 4/6/1944.

11/5/1944, Heavy military barrage by Allies against Monte Cassino began, followed by an infantry attack.

15/3/1944, Heavy air raids against the ancient monastery at Casino by the Allies.

15/2/1944, Casino monastery bombed by the Allies.The monastery, founded in 529 AD by St Benedict, occupied a strategic position at the entrance to the Liri valley and the route to Rome.See 18/5/1944.

3/2/1944, Germans reopened an offensive against the Anzio beach head.

29/1/1944, Battle of Cisterna in central Italy.

22/1/1944. The Allies landed at Anzio, Italy.Anzio was over 60 miles behind German lines and only 35 miles from Rome. The Allies found the town deserted; the Italians had evacuated the place and the German army had moved elsewhere. 50,000 Allied troops and 3,000 vehicle swere put ashore with only 13 casualties, from mines. Initially the Germans were taken by surprise but rushed troops to the area to contain the bridgehead, which did not rejoin Allied forces until May 1944 with the general retreat of the Germans north of Rome.Anzio made it impossible for Kesselring to establish a German defensive line south of Rome.

17/1/1944, British troops crossed the Garigliano River, Italy.

12/1/1944, Allied troops in Italy launched an attack on Monte Cassino, but the determined German defence and bad winter weather made the town impossible to capture.

10/1/1944, Mussolini�s son in law was sentenced to death for treason.

Click here for contemporary newspaper maps of WW2, Italian Front, 1943-44.

28/12/1943, Allied troops landed at Ortona, east coast of Italy.

19/10/1943, Italian troops began to help Tito�s partisans in their fight against the Germans.

16/10/1943, Nazi German forces began to round up Jews from Rome for deportation to the death camps. 1,200 Jews were deported, of whom only 15 survived the War. However Giovanni Borromeo, head of the Fatebenefratelli Hospital in Rome, rapidly admitted many Jews and other anti-fascists with so-called K Syndrome. The Nazis took this to mean Koch Syndrome (tuberculosis) and feared to enter the hospital, on an island in the Tiber, saving many from the Nazi extermination camps.

13/10/1943, Italy changed sides and declared war on Germany. See 8/9/1943.

30/9/1943, Allied troops entered Naples.

27/9/1943, Citizens of Naples revolted against the Germans after German soldiers looted a shop in the city centre.

20/9/1943, Allies attacked Naples.

19/9/1943, Germany evacuated Sardinia.

15/9/1943, Three days after freed from imprisonment by Germany, and seven weeks after his overthrow in July, Benito Mussolini was restored to leadership of Italy by the Nazi occupiers; German paratroopers also landed in St. Peter's Square at Vatican City in Rome, despite the Vatican's neutrality in the warMussolini made his announcement of a return to power from Adolf Hitler's headquarters at Rastenburg.

12/9/1943. Mussolini was rescued from prison by the Germans.

11/9/1943, German Field Marshal Albert Kesselring declared that all Italian territory was under German military control, which former dictator Benito Mussolini would later describe as reducing Italy to the status of a German "colony". Adolf Hitler ordered that the occupied Italian territory be divided into three zones, with the area around Rome extending south toward the front lines against the Allies, the Alpine mountain region ("Alpenvorland") and the coast along the Adriatic Sea ("Adriatische Kusterland"). Hitler also issued orders to deal with any Italian military units that had gone over to fight for the Allies, with all officers to be executed, and soldiers and non-combatants to be deported to Germany as labourers.

10/9/1943. (1) German troops occupied Rome.

(2) Allied troops took Tarantino, Italy.

9//9/1943. Allied forces landed at Salerno, Italy. Allied forces landed at Salerno, Italy. King Umberto of Italy left Rome and fled to Brindisi in the south. This was seen as an abandonment by many Italians and contributed to the conversion of the country to a Republic in 1946.

8/9/1943 The Italian Prime Minister, Badoglio and King Victor Emmanuel agreed to Italy�s unconditional surrender to the Allies (see 25/7/1943, 15/9/1943 and 13/10/1943).

14/9/1943, Allied troops landed at Bari, SE Italy.

7/9/1943, Suspecting that Italy was about to make peace with the Allies, German troops quickly occupied Italy, especially its airfields, to forestall a complete Allied possession of the country. However the entire Italian navy escaped to Malta, thereby freeing up Allied ships for combat in the Pacific or Atlantic.

4/9/1943, British troops, under the command of Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, captured the Italian ports of Reggio Calabria and San Giovanni di Gerace.

3/9/1943. Allied troops landed on the Italian mainland, in the province of Calabria. See 25/7/1943.

 

Allied conquest of Sicily, 1943

17/8/1943, The Allies completely controlled Sicily.

16/8/1943, US troops took Messina, Sicily.

15/8/1943, The Allies attacked Messina.

13/8/1943, The Allies bombed Rome, Milan, and Turin.

11/8/1943, German troops began evacuating Sicily. The Allies knew this was to happen but lacked the resources to stop it, which meant they faced stiffer opposition when later invading the Italian mainland.

28/7/1943, The Italian Fascist Party was formally dissolved.

25/7/1943. Mussolini was ousted from power by the Fascist Grand Council. On 3/9/1943 the Italian Prime Minister, Badoglio, secretly signed an armistice with the Allies. See 8/9/1943.

23/7/1943, Allied troops took Palermo, Sicily. Only the north east of the island now remained under German occupation.

19/7/1943, First Allied air raid on Rome. The raid was a political warning that Mussolini�s regime must be overthrown.

11/7/1943, The German headquarters at Taormina, Sicily, was destroyed by Allied forces.

10/7/1943. Allied forces under US General Patton invaded Sicily (Operation Husky), landing on the south and south west of the island.3,000 Allied troopships were used. Palermo fell on 23/7/1943.

11/6/1943, The Allies captured the island of Pantelleria, between Tunisia and Sicily, after a heavy bombardment.

25/5/1943, The Allies bombed Sardinia.

10/5/1943, The Allies bombed Sicily.

4/4/1943, Allied air raid in the port at Naples; 221 Italians died.

 

Prolonged heavy Axis attacks on Malta 1941-42

10/10/1942, Germany began a 10-day bomber assault on Malta. However, alerted by the German�s own Enigma messages, British forces intercepted each wave of German aircraft from Sicily whilst still over the sea.

16/4/1942. The island of Malta was awarded the George Cross by George VI for its heroism during the German and Italian bombardment.

28/9/1941, The Operation Halberd convoy reached Malta with 50,000 tons of urgently needed supplies.

16/1/1941, The Germans heavily bombed Malta, killing 50 people, destroying 200 buildings and damaging the capital city of Valletta. The British aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious was hit and damaged again in Grand Harbour.

11/1/1941, Hitler issued Directive No. 22, German Support for Battles in the Mediterranean Area.

10/1/1941, British bases on Malta were bombed.

 

19/11/1940, Spanish Foreign Minister Serano Suner told Hitler that Spain would have to receive 400,000 tons of grain before it would consider joining the War against Britain. This was of course merely a delaying tactic to avoid making any real commitment to the axis cause. However after the Italian fiasco in invading Greece, which had gone badly for the Italians, and risked turning Greece into an Allied springboard from which the Romanian Ploesti oilfields could be threatened, Hitler was desperate to close the Mediterranean to Allied shipping, occupy Gibraltar, thereby isolating Malta and Egypt and forestalling a possible Allied attack on Italy itself.

24/6/1940, France signed an armistice with Italy in Rome; Italian troops occupied Mentone.

 

4) Africa

End of Axis resistance in north Africa, 1942-3

12/5/1943. All resistance by Axis forces in North Africa was over.

7/5/1943. Tunis, and Bizerta, 60 miles NNW of Tunis, were recaptured by the Allies. See 14/11/1942.

21/4/1943, Battle of Enfidaville. Montgomery attempted to break into the Axis bridgehead around Tunis. However he was not equipped for fighting in the mountainous terrain there and failed.

14/4/1943, Rommel evacuated his troops from Tunis. The Allies entered Tunis on 7/5/1943.

13/4/1943, Allied forces took Enfidaville, Tunisia.

12/4/1943, Allied forces took Sousse, Tunisia.

10/4/1943, The Allied 8th army took Sfax, Tunisia.

6/4/1943, In north Africa, Rommel�s forces retreated north from Gabes gap, Tunisia, enabling British and US forces to link up.

29/3/1943, Montgomery broke through the Axis Mareth Line in north Africa.

25/2/1943, US forces recaptured the Kasserine Pass, but the Allies have lost 10,000 casualties there.

20/2/1943, US forces in North Africa suffered a heavy defeat by Rommel at the Kasserine Pass, Tunisia.

10/2/1943, The Allied 8th Army reached the border of Tunisia.

23/1/1943, The British 8th army captured Tripoli from the Germans and Italians.

7/1/1943, Free French forces took Oul-el-Araneb, the main Axis base in southern Libya.

6/12/1942, German tanks broke through US positions at El Guettar, Tunisia.

20/11/1942, Benghazi re-occupied by the British.

14/11/1942, Bizerta, 60 miles NNW of Tunis, was captured by the Axis. See 7/5/1943.

13/11/1942, The Allies recaptured Tobruk, north Africa.Rommel�s army was in full retreat.

9/11/1942, The battle for Tunisia began. The Germans were determined to keep hold of it, as it denied the Allies the short Mediterranean sea route to Egypt and India, forcing them to take the much longer route around the Cape. This in turn tied up Allied shipping that could help defend the Atlantic route.

8/11/1942, Rommel retreated from Egypt into Libya.British and US forces took Algiers, a move which precipitated the German occupation of all of France.

7/11/1942, Allied troops landed in Vichy-French North Africa. 65,000 Allied troops and 650 warships under General Dwight Eisenhower landed in North Africa under Operation Torch to secure French North Africa and link up with Montgomery�s Eighth Army. Oran, Casablanca, and Algiers were the main landing points. Surprisingly little resistance was met and Bougie and Boune were soon occupied by paratroopers.

5/11/1942, The US landed large quantities of munitions on the Algerian coast for use by the Algerian Resistance.

4/11/1942, The second Battle of El Alamein ended after 12 days with Montgomery sending Rommel�s army into full retreat westwards. Axis losses were 2,000, but 30,000 Axis troops were taken PoW; Allied casualties were 13,500.

30/10/1942, Montgomery won a key victory at El Alamein. El Alamein was only 80 miles west of Alexandria. This began an Allied advance of 1,400 miles in six months, culminating in the clearance of Axis forces from North Africa.

 

23/10/1942, The Second Battle of El Alamein began, see 30/10/1942 and 30/6/1942. The British forces had been reinforced and now numbered 230,000 men, against the 80,000 Axis army.

30/9/1942, The Allies seized key positions near El Alamein in a dawn raid.

23/9/1942, British troops captured Antananarivo, capital of Madagascar.

18/9/1942, The battle of El Alamein began with a barrage of one thousand guns aimed at Italian and German troops.

7/9/1942, The Battle of Alam Halfa, north Africa, ended. Rommel attacked the southern sector of the El Alamein Line, in an attempt to break through to the Suez Canal. Montgomery strengthened the Alam Halfa Ridge, which Rommel would have to capture once he had crossed the British minefields. Rommel cleared the minefields on 30-31 August then as expected swung north to attack the Ridge. Here Rommel was successfully repulsed by Montgomery. Montgomery did not make the mistake of counter-pursuing the Italians into the desert, which could have cost many Allied lives, but pounded the retreating Axis forces with air and ground artillery.

30/8/1942, The Battle of Alam Halfa, north Africa, began, see 7/9/1942.

19/8/1942, Montgomery became commander of the British Eight Army in North Africa.

27/7/1942, The first Battle of El Alamein ended after 27 days; the British under Auchinlek held back the Germans and Italians, preventing their advance into Egypt.

30/6/1942, The First Battle of El Alamein began.It lasted till 25/7/1942, and prevented an Axis breakthrough to Cairo and the Suez Canal. See 23/10/1942.

28/6/1942, The Allied 8th Army retreated to El Alamein, north Africa.

21/6/1942, Tobruk fell to Rommel�s Afrika Corps (see 18/11/1941). 25,000 Allied troops were taken prisoner.

26/5/1942. (1) The Germans attacked Bir Hakeim, an Allied fortified position in eastern Libya, about 90 kilometres south of Tobruk.�� The fort of Bir Hakeim was blocking the Axis advance towards El Alamein. Over the next two weeks the Luftwaffe flew 1,400 sorties against the fort, whilst 4 German / Italian divisions attacked on the ground.Despite an explosion destroying the fort�s ammunition dump, Bir Hakeim refused to surrender, and the Allies dropped food and water as British armoured cars brought in fresh ammunition by night.On the night of 10-11/6/1942 the French defenders retreated, leaving the badly wounded to hold the lines.

Although Bir Hakeim fell to the Axis forces, it did give the Allies time to regroup and hold the Axis advance at El Alamein.Without this, the Germans might have succeeded in occupying Egypt and taking the Suez Canal.

28/1/1942, German and Italian forces recaptured Benghazi.

21/1/1942, German offensive began in the Western Desert, Egypt.

12/1/1942, In North Africa, the British took Sallum after a 56-day siege when the Germans ran out of ammunition.

6/1/1942, British forces advancing westwards through Libya reached Mersa Brega, near El Agheila.

24/12/1941, Benghazi recaptured by the British.

27/11/1941, Gondar, Abyssinia, captured by Allied forces.

20/11/1941, The German Afrika Korps gave battle over a broad area around Sidi Rezegh.

19/11/1941, Start of First Battle of Sidi Rezegh (ended 22/11/1941). Rommel captured the airfield from the Allies, who however managed to avoid encirclement and capture.

18/11/1941, Allies under General Auchinlek began Operation Crusader, ousting the Italians from North Africa. By 25/12/1941 the British gained territory and were back to where they were in February 1941. On 21/1/1942 Rommel hit back and Tobruk surrendered to him on 21/6 1942.

17/11/1941, British commando raids on German HQ at Tobruk, 300 kilometres behind enemy lines.

15/6/1941, British forces in Egypt launched Operation Battleaxe, to force the Italian army back through Libya and even relieve Tobruk.

20/4/1941, The German Afrika Corps attacked Tobruk, Libya.

8/4/1941, Germans retook Doiran (Libya),

6/4/1941, Allied forces, including British, Indian, and South African troops, recaptured the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, from the Italians.

5/4/1941, The British army took Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

3/4/1941, Allied troops evacuated Benghazi in the face of Rommel�s advance. There was a pro-Axis coup d�etat in Iraq.

 

1/4/1941, Allied troops took the Eritrean capital, Asmara, four days after storming Keren.

29/3/1941, The Abyssinian town of Dire Dawa was captured by South African forces from the Italians, This cut the Addis Ababa to Djibouti railway and opened the way to attack the Ethiopian capital.

27/3/1941, The British took Keren and Hasara in Ethiopia, defeating an Eritrean-Italian force. At the Battle of Kerem, nearly 4,000 British and Indian soldiers had died.

21/3/1941, The Allies captured Jarabub, Libya.

16/3/1941, The Allies recaptured Berbera.

7/3/1941, The British army entered Ethiopia.

6/3/1941, Haile Selassie�s troops recaptured Burye from Italy.

5/3/1941, Germany dropped acoustic mines in the Suez Canal, closing it for 3 weeks whilst it was cleared, and delaying British war supplies to Greece and North Africa.

25/2/1941, Mogadishu, the main port of British Somaliland, was recaptured by the British from the Italians.

16/2/1941, The last Italians were expelled from Sudan.

15/2/1941, Allied forces took Kismaya.

 

14/2/1941. The first of Rommel�s Afrika Corps arrived in Tripoli.

7/2/1941, End of the Battle of Beda Fomm, north Africa (began 5/2/1941). Allied forces launched a surprise attack on the withdrawing Italian Tenth Army, at a point 96 km south of Benghazi. The Allies cut the coast road along which the Italians were retreating, capturing some 25,000 Italians as PoWs.

6/2/1941, The British 8th Army captured Benghazi in Libya.

4/2/1941, British forces occupied Maus, Libya.

3/2/1941, Cyrene re-occupied by the British.

1/2/1941, The RAF raided Tripoli, Libya.

22/1/1941. Allied forces recaptured the Libyan port of Tobruk from Italy.

5/1/1941, The Italian garrison of Bardia in the Western Desert fell to the Allies, 5,000 Italians were taken as POWs. On 30/1/1941 the Italian garrison of Derna fell to General Wavell. Benghazi fell to the Allies on 6/2/1941.

15/12/1940. Italian troops were driven by the British back across the Libyan border from Egypt.

11/12/1940, British forces recaptured Sidi Barrani, western Egypt, from the Italians.

9/12/1940, British troops launched an attack on the Italians in the Western Desert.

29/9/1940, British warships bombarded the coastal road of Italian Libya.

 

Italian advance in Libya

16/9/1940, Italian forces reached Sidi Barani in the Western Desert, Egypt.Their aim was to capture the Suez Canal and open a route to the Persian oil fields

 

27/1/1941, The 4th Indian Division captured the town of Agordat in Eritrea.

19/1/1941, Kassala in Sudan re-occupied by the British.

27/11/1940, The last of the Italian forces occupying Abyssinia surrendered to the British.

26/8/1940, Mr Eboue, the Black Governor of the French colony of Chad, promised allegiance to General de Gaulle and Free France.

4/7/1940, Three weeks after Italy entered the War, Italian forces invaded Sudan, occupying Kassala, 300 kilometers east of Khartoum, They also occupied Gallabat, further south.

 

5) Middle East

25/8/1941, British and Soviet troops occupied Iran. This was a violation of Iran�s neutrality but was seen as a vital move to pre-empt German Fifth Columnists who might sabotage the oil installations.

9/7/1941, Allied forces invading the Levant against the Vichy French regime occupied Tyre.

3/7/1941, Allied forces took Palmyra (Syria) and Tabor (Abyssinia).

21/6/1941, British forces took Damascus, Syria.

9/6/1941, Allied forces occupied Tyre.

8/6/1941, A combined force of British and Free French invaded Syria.

 

Iraq liberated from pro-Nazi regime

16/1/1943, Iraq declared war on Germany, Italy, and Japan.

1/5/1942, Iraq was declared eligible for US Lend-Lease.

18/11/1941, Iraq broke off relations with Japan.

16/11/1941, Iraq broke off relations with Vichy France.

3/6/1941, Britain installed a pro-British regime in Baghdad.

1/6/1941, British forces occupied Baghdad.

30/5/1941, Anti-British politicians fled from Baghdad and Iraq asked for an armistice as British forces occupied the country.

20/5/1941, Italian East Africa forces surrendered to British Empire forces. British forces occupied Falluja, Iraq.

9/5/1941, British forces occupied Rutba, Iraq.

7/5/1941, The British Air Force forced the relief of the base at Habbaniya, see 29/4/1941.See 9/5/1941.

29/4/1941, The Iraqi Army laid siege to the British airbase at Habbaniya, se 7/5/1941.

 

6) America

22/8/1942, Brazil declared war on Germany and Italy. Besides participating in the defence of the South Atlantic against German U-boats, Brazil sent an expeditionary force to Italy in July 1944.

1/6/1942, Mexico declared war on the Axis.

11/12/1941. Hitler declared war on the USA, as did Italy, even though he had not yet conquered Russia or invaded Britain. The USA declared war on Germany and Italy.

19/6/1941, Germany and Italy expelled US consuls.

10/9/1939, Canada declared war on Germany.

7) Maritime

7/5/1945. The last ship sunk by German forces, the Avondale Park, was lost. See 4/9/1939.

11/1/1945, The British escort carrier HMS Thane was torpedoed in the Irish Sea and declared a total loss.

30/11/1944, HMS Vanguard, Britain�s largest and last battleship, was launched at Clydebank � see 20/10/1941.

12/11/1944, The last big German battleship, the Tirpitz, was sunk by the Lancaster bombers from the RAF, in Tromso Fjord, Norway. She had been lurking in Norwegian waters for several years, diverting Allied resources to protect Atlantic convoys. Three 5,500 kg bombs dropped on her decks resulted in the battleship turning turtle and sinking, trapping some 1,000 crewmen. A squadron of German fighter planes assigned to protect the Tirpitz did not even take off.

10/9/1944, RAF Bomber Command began Operation Paravane, another attack on the German battleship Tirpitz anchored in northern Norway.

22/8/1944, The Royal Navy began Operation Goodwood, a series of raids against the German battleship Tirpitz anchored in northern Norway.

3/4/1944, British aircraft bombed the German battleship Tirpitz, damaging her but failing to sink her.

26/12/1943, The German battleship Scharnhorst was sunk by the Royal Navy off the North Cape.

23/9/1943, The German battleship Tirpitz was severely damaged and disabled.

22/5/1943, After a month of disastrous losses, Grand Admiral Karl Donitz ordered his U-boats out of the \North Atlantic. On 19/5/1943 his son Peter died when U-954 was sunk by an RAF Liberator bomber from Iceland. Allied losses from U-boats had declined sharply from 1942 when 8 million tons of shipping was lost. Even in March 1943 600,000 tons were sunk. However the Allies developed new shortwave radar that could detect U-boats surfacing to recharge their batteries (see 26/10/1940), also more powerful depth charges. A week earlier, 5 U-boats out of 33 were lost in an unsuccessful attack on convoy SC-130. The Allies were better at breaking Germans communications codes; from 24 codebreakers at the beginning of the war the Royal Navy now had 1,000 codebreakers, including historians, mathematicians and linguists, many of them German refugees. Listening posts to intercept German communications were scattered across Britain and British territories overseas.

17/11/1942, British bombing raid against the German submarine base at St Nazaire.

28/3/1942, British commandos made a dawn raid on the French port of St Nazaire. In �Operation Chariot� they rammed an old destroyer, the Campbeltown, full of explosives, against the dock gate, putting the port out of action for the rest of the war.

25/11/1941, The Royal Navy battleship, HMS Barham, was sunk.

14/11/1941, The British aircraft carrier, HMS Ark Royal, was sunk. She was torpedoed by a U-boat near Gibraltar; she was under tow to Gibraltar for repair when fire broke out, her list increased and she was abandoned.

11/11/1941, The British attacked several Italian Navy ships at anchor in the Gulf of Taranto.

23/7/1941, The German battleship Scharnhorst was bombed at La Pallice (where she had been moved from Brest).

27/5/1941, The German battleship Bismarck was sunk by the battleships Prince of Wales, King George V, and Rodney, after torpedo attacks by Swordfish aircraft from the carrier Ark Royal.

24/5/1941, The German battleship Bismarck sank the 42,000 ton battle cruiser HMS Hood 13 miles off the coast of Greenland. Only 3 of her crew of 1,421 survived.

24/3/1941, The Battle of the Bismark began; Allied forces sunk the German battleship Bismark on 27/3/1941.

9/2/1941, Allied naval bombardment of Genoa.

13/11/1940, HMS Ark Royal was sunk by an Italian submarine, near Gibraltar.

5/11/1940, HMS Jervis Bay was lost defending an Atlantic convoy from the German battleship Admiral Scheer.

30/10/1940, Sabotage attempt by Italian divers on British ships in Gibraltar Harbour; no damage resulted.

26/10/1940, German U-boats used new tactics developed by Admiral Karl Donitz to sink much Allied supply shipping. The U-boats operated in �wolf packs�, forming long lines then gathering when one boat spotted a convoy. They then outnumbered the defence ships. Allied shipping losses in October 1940 rose to 88,000 tons a week, eight times the average weekly loss in January 1940. Worse for the Allies, the U-boats could only be detected when underwater, not on the surface, where their low profile made them almost invisible. However see 22/5/1943.

21/10/1940, The Empress of Britain, en route to Canada with child refugees, was sunk by a German submarine. British warships rescued most of the 634 crew and passengers.

8/7/1940, The British Navy put the French warship Richelieu, moored at Dakar, out of action.

6/7/1940, The first U-boat base in France became operational at Lorient.

17/6/1940, The British troop ship Lancastria was sunk by German bombs off St Nazaire; 2,300 troops and crew were killed.

4/5/1940, A Polish destroyer, the Grom, was subj by German bombers near Narvik, Norway. Despite Germans onshore machine gunning the survivors in the water, some were rescued by British ships.

8/4/1940, Britain mined the waters off Norway. HMS Glow-Worm was sunk.

31/3/1940, By now, 753,803 tons of Allied shipping had been sunk by German submarines, and a further 281,154 tons sunk by German mines, and 36,189 tons by German air attack, all for a loss of just 18 German submarines.

20/2/1940, Hitler ordered his submarines to open fire on all neutral shipping in the waters around Britain. Britain had been allowing neutral ships to pass through the Dover straits after checking they were not carrying cargo to Germany. However Hitler wished to control neutral shipping, and force neutral nations to divert exports from Britain and France. Norway said that 50 Norwegian merchant ships have been sunk, although Norway was not a participant in the war. No USA ships had so far been hit, perhaps because of memories of the Lusitania.

16/2/1940, HMS Cossack regained 299 British POWs from the German naval auxiliary ship Altmark, which had ran aground in Norwegian waters.

 

Graf Spee scuttled off Uruguay

17/12/1939, The Graf Spee was scuttled in the River Plate, see 13/12/1939.The Uruguayan Government had refused to give her sanctuary.Her captain, Hans Landsdorf, shot himself, in the mistaken belief that a large British naval force was waiting for her to put to sea. Hitler sent an ultimatum, scuttle or fight; Landsdorf chose not to send his crew out to their deaths.

13/12/1939, The Battle of the River Plate began with British warships, Exeter, Ajax, and Achilles, attacking the German battleship Graf Spee. On 17/12/1939 the Graf Spee was scuttled in the River Plate.

 

28/11/1939. In reprisal for the German mining of British waters, the UK began a naval blockade of German ports.

24/11/1939, The German battleship Scharnhorst sank the British armed cruiser Rawalpindi. 270 men were drowned, and there were just 38 survivors, 27 of whom were picked up by the Germans.

4/9/1939, The British liner Athenia sank the day after being torpedoed by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland. 93 lives were lost. She had sailed from Liverpool on 2/9/1939 on her way to Montreal, and was informed about the outbreak of war at 11.am on the 3rd. She sank with the loss of 19 crew and 93 passengers. This was the start of the Battle of the Atlantic. The last ship sunk was the British Avondale Park on 7/5/1945. The German fleet was attacked by the RAF.

8) Air/Rocket war

7/4/1945, Germany sent out 120 student pilots to face 1,000 American bomber planes with the objective of ramming their planes into the U.S. aircraft and then parachuting to safety. Only a few of the pilots managed to hit the bombers and three-quarters of the Luftwaffe pilots were shot down.

3/3/1945, Germany deployed 30 of its latest jet fighters against the Allies. The jets were individually superior to the Allied planes, but were too few in number, with too short an operational time, to significantly hamper allied operations.

8/11/1944, Joseph Goebbels announced the V-2 rocket campaign for the first time. Winston Churchill followed suit and finally announced that England had been under rocket attack, providing the people of London with an explanation for all the mysterious explosions of recent weeks.

8/9/1944, The first V-2 fell in on Chiswick in the London area, killing three people. By the end of the war, 1,100 V-2s fell in England an a further 1,675 on the continent, mainly on Antwerp.V-2 stood for Vergeltungswaffe, or �reprisal weapon�. The V-2 rocket weighed 12 tons and travelled at 3,600 mph, faster than sound, so there was no warning of its imminent arrival. It had a range of 200 miles and carried a one ton bomb. The Germans fired them from launchers in The Netherlands, but the explosions in London were attributed, by the authorities, to gas explosions to mislead the German intelligence. The earlier V-1 rocket was slower and had a shorter range; V-1 strikes on London ceased as the Allies captured the launch sites in France.

6/3/1944. US planes began daylight bombing raids on Berlin, flying from bases in Britain.

9/2/1945, 2,000 US Air Force bombers, escorted by 900 fighter aircraft, hit oil targets across Germany. By now the entire Western Luftwaffe�s fighter strength was only around 900 aircraft; this US offensive cost the Luftwaffe a further 80 aircraft.

20/1/1944, The RAF dropped 2,300 tons of bombs on Berlin.

22/11/1943, A major RAF raid on Berlin destroyed the armaments ministry, the Charlottenburg Palace, and the British Embassy.A church at the end of the Kurfurstendamm, the main shopping street in Berlin, was also destroyed, but its bell tower was rebuilt as a landmark in post-War Berlin.

24/9/1943, Repairs were finished on the M�hne river dam, which had been heavily damaged in a British bombing raid on May 16; the Edersee Dam, which had been bombed in the same raid, was restored to full operation six days later.

2/8/1943, Hamburg was seriously damaged by Allied aircraft, at a cost of 87 British aircraft. The RAF had considerably enlarged its bomber force; in January 1943 the RAF only had 260 heavy bombers, but now it regularly sent 700 bombers on a single raid, One million civilians had fled the city after three nights of bombing, and 40,000 were killed. 7,000 tons of bombs destroyed 10 square miles of Hamburg, creating a 1,000 C firestorm, and U-boat construction yards were severely damaged. The RAF used Pathfinder aircraft to drop marker bombs on the target city, then release masses of aluminium foil to confuse enemy radar, followed by the main bomber raid. The scale of these raids forced Hitler to withdraw Luftwaffe forces from the Russian front, where in August 1943 just 20% of Luftwaffe strength was then deployed. Albert Speer, Hitler�s Minister for War Production, feared that just six more raids on the scale of Hamburg could bring Germany to its knees.

16/5/1943 (1) The RAF launched its �Dambuster� raid on the Ruhr dams, which had provided power to Germany�s industrial heartland. The Mohne, Eder, and Sorpe dams were destroyed by special �bouncing bombs� designed by Dr Barnes Wallis; these bombs could skip over barriers placed in the dam lakes. The bombing squadron consisted of 19 Lancaster bombers from 617 squadron, from Scampton, led by Guy Gibson. The dams were destroyed, but less than half the bombers returned to the UK.

2/5/1943, The RAF bombed Berlin.

24/4/1943, Heavy bombing raid on Dortmund.

6/3/1943,The RAF pounded the Ruhr city of Essen.

30/1/1943, The RAF made its first daytime raid on Berlin.

27/1/1943, Air raids on Wilhelmshaven, Germany. The USA made its first bombing raid on Germany.

24/12/1942, At Peenemunde, Werner von Braun perfected the first flying bomb.

24/10/1942, RAF bombing raids on Genoa and Milan.

10/9/1942, The RAF dropped 100,000 bombs on Dusseldorf in a single raid.

23/8/1942, The Luftwaffe mounted a bombing raid on Stalingrad, with 600 aircraft.

17/8/1942, Daylight air raids by the Allies began, with a raid on the railway marshalling yards of Rouen. The first US bombing raids in Europe.

11/8/1942, Sir Barnes Wallis, born on 26/9/1887, patented the bouncing bomb, which was used against the German Mohne and Eder dams in 1943 by the RAF Dambusters Squadron.

16/7/1942, The RAF made its first daylight raid on the Ruhr.

25/6/1942, The RAF launched a 1,000 bomber raid on Bremen.

31/5/1942, An air raid of 1,000 planes was made against Cologne. 1,455 tons of bombs were dropped in 90 minutes. 2,300 separate fires started, destroying over 3,000 buildings. 45,000 people were made homeless.

28/4/1942, Bombing raid on Rostock, Germany. The target was the large Heinkel military aircraft factory there.

30/3/1942, The first 1,000 bomber raid took place on Cologne.

28/3/1942, The RAF began continuous bombing of German munitions factories. They also raided Lubeck and Rostock, Germany. These were coastal targets, easy to find and highly combustible.Lubeck, with its naval stores, oil tanks, submarine shipyards, and naval school, was 40% (200 acres) destroyed.

14/2/1942, A controversial �Area Bombing� directive by the RAF meant that German civilian areas were now targets for future bombing raids.

15/11/1941, RAF raids on Boulogne and Emden.

13/10/1941, RAF raid on Nuremberg.

1/10/1941, RAF raid on Stuttgart.

21/8/1941, The first of the Arctic Convoys left Scapa Flow, Scotland, taking military supplies to Russia, including Hurricane fighter planes.

8/8/1941, The Soviet air force raided Berlin for the first time, in revenge for the 22 July raid.

25/7/1941, RAF raid on Berlin.

22/7/1941, Germany made its first bombing raid on Moscow.

21/7/1941, First German air raid on Monaco.

7/6/1941, Allied air raid on German navy at Brest, France.

8/5/1941, Allied air raid on Bremen.

8/4/1941, Heavy air raid on Coventry.

23/3/1941, RAF raids on Berlin, Kiel and Hanover.

16/3/1941, Heavy air raid on Bristol.

14/3/1941, RAF raids on Dusseldorf and Lorient.

31/1/1941, Allied air raid on Emden.

1/1/1941, 141 aircraft of the Royal Air Force bombed the Focke-Wulf aircraft production plant south of Bremen.

16/12/1940, Bombing of Mannheim: The first area bombardment of a German city was conducted by the Royal Air Force when 134 bombers attacked Mannheim during the night, starting large fires on both banks of the Rhine.

26/11/1940, RAF raid on Cologne,

18/11/1940, RAF raid on Pilsen.

11/11/1940, The Italian Fleet at Tarantino was crippled in a raid by naval planes of the British Fleet Air Arm.

8/11/1940, British air raid on Munich.

1/11/1940, Allied air raid on Naples.

24/9/1940, Gibraltar was bombed by French aircraft.

14/9/1940, The RAF heavily bombed Antwerp.

9/9/1940, The RAF carried out a three-hour raid on Hamburg.

18/7/1940, In retaliation for the British bombing the French Navy in Algeria, French Air Force planes from Morocco half-heartedly bombed Gibraltar. Most of their bombs fell in the sea, though 3 were killed and 11 wounded on the Rock. French planes also bombed Gibraltar on 24/9/1940 dropping a total of 450 bombs; again most fell in the sea and damage was minimal.

9/7/1940, The RAF began night raids on Germany.

17/5/1940, The Dutch town of Middelburg was bombed by the German Luftwaffe, to force the surrender of the Dutch armies in Zeeland.

21/4/1940, The RAF raided Nazi forces at the Danish airbase of Aalborg.

19/3/1940, The RAF attempted to bomb the German submarine base at Hornum, in the North Sea. However a subsequent reconnaissance flight showed no damage had been done. In fact the British navigator had directed the bombers to the Danish island of Bornholm, in the Baltic.

3/12/1939, RAF raids on warships at Heligoland.

31/10/1939, First dogfight between British and German aircraft over France.

20/91939, The first German aircraft, a Messerschmitt, was shot down, by gunner Sergeant Letchford.

4/9/1939, The RAF dropped 6 million leaflets over Germany. It also bombed Wilhelmshaven.

For the World War Two period, 1 September 1939 to 9 May 1945, the timeline for France-Germany has been split into the following categories;

1) France-Germany �home� (non-war) events

2) Eastern Front (East Europe, Finland, Russia, Greece)

3) Western Front (France, Benelux, Britain, west Germany)

3)a)Scandinavia ex. Finland.

3)b) Italy, Malta

4) Africa

5) Middle East

6) America

7) Maritime

8) Air war.

Click here for map of Europe under Nazi occupation in 1941.

See USA for World War Two events and United States

See China/Japan/Korea for World War Two in Pacific

For Jewish persecution in World War Two, see Israel, Judaism

See also Great Britain, London.

The start of major fighting in World War Two. Hostilities began between Germany and Poland, and Germany and France.

 

Germany invaded Poland; start of World War Two, with Britain and France involved.

31/8/1939, In Gleiwitz, a small German town close to the border with Poland, a small force of Nazi agents, dressed in Polish Army uniforms, took over the local radio station and broadcast anti-German propaganda in Polish. They then took bodies from Dachau concentration camp, dressed these in Polish Army uniforms, and mutilated the corpses to make identification impossible. Within a few hours Adolf Hitler was denouncing the �Gleiwitz Incident� in the German Reichstag and using it as a pretext to invade Poland.

26/8/1939, Daladier and Chamberlain attempted to negotiate with Hitler, but nothing was achieved.

25/8/1939, Britain signed an assistance pact with Poland, the Anglo-Polish Alliance. Britain had seen Hitler seize Czechoslovakia, in breach of the Munich Agreement; Hitler was now demanding the return of Gdansk (Danzig) and the coastal strip of land linking Germany to East Prussia (depriving Poland of its Baltic coast).Britain therefore abandoned its policy of appeasement with Germany.

23/8/1939. Hitler and the USSR concluded a 20 year non-aggression pact, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. This left Hitler free to invade Poland.Hitler believed the German-Soviet pact would lead France and Britain to withdraw their guarantees of assistance to Poland.When instead Britain reaffirmed its support for Poland on 25/8/1939, Hitler postponed the attack on Poland, originally scheduled for the night of 25-26/8/1939.�� Diplomatic moves with Britain failed to dislodge UK support for Poland, and Hitler invaded on 1/9/1939.

22/8/1939, Hitler gave the Obersalzberg Speech to commanders of the Wehrmacht, detailing the pending invasion of Poland and plans for extermination of the Poles.

3/4/1939, Hitler ordered his generals to prepare plans for invading Poland.

31/3/1939. The British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, pledged to defend Poland, if attacked by Germany; so did France.

28/3/1939. Hitler�s deputy Von Ribbentrop signed an agreement with the USSR that they would both invade Poland. See 31/3/1939 and 1/9/1939.

27/3/1939, Nazi Germany began an anti-Polish propaganda campaign against �oppression of Germans in German lands now controlled by Poles�.

Germany invaded Poland; start of World War Two, with Britain and France involved.

 

Back to top