World War Two Timeline

Summary Outline of Key Events By Bruce Robinson

Timeline

1939

  • Hitler invades Poland on 1 September. Britain and France declare war on Germany two days later.

1940

  • Rationing starts in the UK.
  • German ‘Blitzkrieg’ overwhelms Belgium, Holland and France.
  • Churchill becomes Prime Minister of Britain.
  • British Expeditionary Force evacuated from Dunkirk.
  • British victory in Battle of Britain forces Hitler to postpone invasion plans.

1941

  • Hitler begins Operation Barbarossa – the invasion of Russia.
  • The Blitz continues against Britain’s major cities.
  • Allies take Tobruk in North Africa, and resist German attacks.
  • Japan attacks Pearl Harbor, and the US enters the war.

1942

  • Germany suffers setbacks at Stalingrad and El Alamein.
  • Singapore falls to the Japanese in February – around 25,000 prisoners taken.
  • American naval victory at Battle of Midway, in June, marks turning point in Pacific War.
  • Mass murder of Jewish people at Auschwitz begins.

1943

  • Surrender at Stalingrad marks Germany’s first major defeat.
  • Allied victory in North Africa enables invasion of Italy to be launched.
  • Italy surrenders, but Germany takes over the battle.
  • British and Indian forces fight Japanese in Burma.

1944

  • Allies land at Anzio and bomb monastery at Monte Cassino.
  • Soviet offensive gathers pace in Eastern Europe.
  • D Day: The Allied invasion of France. Paris is liberated in August.
  • Guam liberated by the US Okinawa, and Iwo Jima bombed.

1945

  • Auschwitz liberated by Soviet troops.
  • Russians reach Berlin: Hitler commits suicide and Germany surrenders on 7 May.
  • Truman becomes President of the US on Roosevelt’s death, and Attlee replaces Churchill.
  • After atomic bombs are dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan surrenders on 14 August.

BBC © 2014

And they said…

  • We no longer demand anything, we want war. – Germany’s foreign minister, August 1939.
  • We shall defend our island whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on beaches, landing grounds, in fields, in streets and on the hills. We shall never surrender. – Winston Churchill.
  • The world must know what happened, and never forget. – General Eisenhower, while visiting nazi death camps, 1945.
  • Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. – Winston Churchill, about R.A.F fighter pilots.

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