World War II Timeline

As I have read various books on the World War II period, I have wondered how various events relate to one another chronologically. I decided to start this timeline to help visualize those events. I consider this for now at least a work in progress as I will be adding entries from time to time.

If you are interested in this page, you may also find my World War II Sources (Museums, websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds) of interest.

Last updated January 22, 2019

 Pacific Theater  Date  European Theater
January 18 The Paris Peace Conference begins to negotiate treaties after World War I
February The Polish-Soviet War begins with border clashes
July The then-unknown Corporal Adolf Hitler is given the mission of infiltrating the Nazi party for German Army Intelligence
January 21 The Paris Peace Conference ends
March 21 The Peace of Riga was signed ending the Polish-Soviet War
July 29 Hitler became the leader of the Nazi party
The Washington Naval Treaty is signed by the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, France, and Italy. February 6 They agree to limit the size of their naval forces.
October The Russian Civil War ends with the communists in power
October 29 Benito Mussolini is appointed the Prime Minister of Italy by the king
November 5 Treaty of Rapallo was formally signed in Berlin. Germany and Russia would renounce all territorial and monetary claims against each other as the result of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk at the end of WW1, and the two nations were to engage in friendly relations. Russia was to provide heavy weapons and facilities for German military training, which was prohibited by the Treaty of Versailles; meanwhile, Germany was to conduct training for the Russian military and to provide Russia with an annual payment.
January 11 France and Belgium occupy the Ruhr in an effort to compel Germany to step up its payments of World War I reparations
November 8 The Beer Hall Putsch takes place, in which Adolf Hitler unsuccessfully leads the Nazis in an attempt to overthrow the German government.
Japan invades Manchuria September 18
Japanese troops reach the Taling River in northeastern China December 31
Japanese troops capture the Shanhai Gate of the Great Wall of China September 18
January 30 Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany
August 19 The German public voted 90 percent in favor of Chancellor Adolf Hitler becoming Führer und Reichskanzler (“leader and chancellor”), a new title created after the death of President Paul von Hindenburg earlier in the month
Japan renounces the Naval Treaties of 1922 and 1930 December 29
October 3 Italy invades Ethiopia
Chiang Kaishek was made the Premier of Republic of China December 9
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident renewed hostilities between Japan and China July 7-9
Japanese troops reach outskirts of Nanjing and demand surrender of the city December 9
Japanese forces finally capture Wuchang and Hankou, China. The Battle of Wuhan had begun with air raids in February, though the ground offensive did not begin until June. October 26
Japanese bombers attack Chongqing, China January 7
August 23 The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact signed
September 1 Germany invades Poland
September 3 The UK and France declare war on Germany. The ‘Phoney War‘ begins.
October 6 Last of the Polish military surrenders to Germany
November 30 The Winter War begins when Russia invades Finland. The League of Nations expells Russia for the attack.
January 13 The Russian YA-26 prototype fighter, future Yak-1, took its first flight
January 14 The Enigma code is broken at Bletchley Park in Britain
March 13 The Winter War ends with the Moscow Peace Treaty
May 9 The last day of the ‘Phoney War
May 10 Germany declares war on Belgium and the Netherlands as they roll through them and into France.

Winston Churchill becomes Prime Minister of the UK.

May 26 – June 4 Evacuation of Dunkirk
June 10 Italy declares war on the UK and France
June 22 France Surrenders to Germany
June 25 The UK declares war on Vichy France
July Battle of Britain air war begins
August 25-26 First air raid on Berlin by RAF
September 7 Vichy French rations coffee
September 24-25 French bombers attack the British base at Gibraltar in retaliation for the British attack on the French Fleet at Mers-el-Kébir
The Tripartite Pact signed September 27 This is an alliance between Germany, Italy, and Japan
November 1 Battle of Britain air war ends
November 10 Occupying Nazi authorities in Belgium ban the observance of Armistice Day
November 11-12 The British attack the Italian fleet anchored at Taranto, Italy with aircraft. Half of the Italian Fleet’s capital ships were put out of action. This was the first all-aircraft ship-to-ship naval attack in history.
November 24 Winston Churchill sends a secret telegram to US President Roosevelt: “Spain is near starvation point”, advises the USA “dole out food” to keep Franco out of war & German hands off the Straits of Gibraltar
First flight of the Martin B-26 Marauder (B-26-MA 40-1361) at Middle River, Maryland

First flight of the de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito, (E0234/W4050)

The Japanese 11th Army launches an offensive in Hubei Province, China

November 25 The B-26 was an American twin-engine medium bomber

The Mosquito was a British multi-role twin-engine combat aircraft, originally conceived as an unarmed fast bomber

December 9 Allied forces launch Operation Compass in North Africa, the first large military operation of the Western Desert Campaign. The British took over 138,000 Italian and Libyan prisoners, hundreds of tanks, guns and aircraft.

British and Indian trops captured Nibeiwa, Egypt

January 4 Allied troops reach Bardia, Libya
January 6 Free French troops attack Murzuk airfield in southwestern Libya
January 7 Australian and British troops nearly surrounded at Tobruk, Libya
January 9 Australians and British troops encircle Tobruk, Libya
January 21 The Allies began attacking Tobruk, Libya
February 9 Operation Compass ends
June 22 Germany attacks Russian forces in Poland beginning the invasion of Russia and opening the Eastern Front.

Germany and Italy declare war on Russia.

September 19 German forces capture Kiev, Ukraine
November 25 Indian 7th Brgd. repulses an attack by German 5th Panzer Regiment at Sidi Omar, Libya
US Consulate Warns Americans to Get Out of Japan November 26
Washington issues a “war warning” to U.S. forces at Pearl Harbor. It advises commanders to prepare for a Japanese surprise attack *somewhere* in the Pacific. November 27 Siege of Tobruk ends
Japan attacks Perl Harbor.

Japan declares war on both the US and the UK

December 7
The US and the UK declare war on Japan December 8 The first group of Jews were deported & murdered in mobile gas chambers in  Kulmhof (Chełmno). The first German extermination camp began its operation.
Japanese and British troops clash at the airfield at Kota Bharu, British Malaya December 9
HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse, which had been sent to protect Singapore, were destroyed by overwhelming Japanese air power December 10
December 11 Germany and Italy declare war on the US.

The US declares war on both Germany and Italy.

Japanese 5th Division attacks Jitra, British Malaya December 12
All British troops withdraw from Kowloon onto Hong Kong island December 13
Hong Kong surrenders to Japan December 25
Japanese troops continue the assault on Kampar, British Malaya January 1
Japanese troops capture the open city of Manila, Philippines January 2
Japanese troops capture the bridges over Slim River in Malaya January 7
Japanese troops penetrate the outer lines of defense at Kuala Lumpur, Malaya January 8
Japanese troops execute Dutch POWs at Tarakan for their sabotage of oil wells January 12 The South African 1st Division captures Sollum, Egypt
Japanese forces advance into Burma January 14
British and Japanese troops engage in the first major clash in Burma January 16
January 17 5,000 Axis troops surrender to the South African 6th Infantry Brigade in Egypt
The Dutch begin to destroy oil facilities at Balikpapan, Dutch Borneo January 18
Japanese troops land on New Ireland and capture Kavieng January 22
The battle of Singapore begins February 8
Japanese attack the Australian mainland, Darwin, for the first time February 12
Singapore surrenders to Japan February 15
Second attack on Perl Harbor by the Japanese March 4
Doolittle leads US air raid on Japan April 18
The Battle of the Coral Sea May 4 – 8
May 27 SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich was shot in Prague by British SOE agents and died June 4. Nazi intelligence falsely linked the assassins to the villages of Lidice and Ležáky. Both villages were razed; all men and boys over the age of 16 were shot, and all but a handful of the women and children were deported and killed in Nazi concentration camps.
May 30-31 First ‘1000 bomber raid‘ by the RAF against Cologne
On his 18th birthday George H. W. Bush enlists in the US Navy June 12 He is later elected the 41st President of the United States and serves from 1989 to 1993
Japanese forces land at Gona in modern Papua New Guinea. This was the beginning of the Kokoda Track campaign. The invasion, intent on capturing Port Moresby and threatening Australia, was thwarted by forces led by the Australian Army. July 21-27
Battle of Guadalcanal begins August 8
Japanese floatplane drops incendiary bombs on an Oregon forest, the first and only air attack on the U.S. mainland during the war September 9
September 30 Danish Resistance begins smuggling over 7000 Jews to Sweden by fishing boats
October 3 First successful launch of a V2 from Peenemunde

82d Fighter Group squadrons begin arriving at Eglington, Co Derry, Ireland from the US with P-38s

November 4 German 170th Division captured Feodosiya, Ukraine
November 8 Allied forces invade North Africa confronting the Vichy French and Germans
November 11 Allies make a controversial deal with Vichy French Admiral Darlan in Algiers to achieve the surrender of French forces

German and Italian troops occupied Vichy France

British 36th Infantry Brigade lands at Bougie, Algeria unopposed.

November 12 The British 3rd Parachute Battalion captures the airfield at Bone, Algeria
The US Army and Marines attack Japanese positions near Kokumbona on Guadalcanal November 18
November 20 British troops capture Benghazi, Libya
November 21 German paratroopers attack British positions near Djebel Abjod, Tunisia
US Army-Marine attack at Matanikau River on Guadalcanal is stopped by Japanese November 22
November 25 Adolf Hitler orders that the French fleet at Toulon, France be seized
November 27 The French Navy scuttles warships to avoid German capture
November 29 Coffee rationed to one pound every 5 weeks in the US
December 1 German 10th Panzer Division launches a counterattack in Tunisia
US Army takes over the Guadalcanal campaign from the US Marine Corps December 9
American troops capture Buna, New Guinea December 13
US Marines capture Mt. Austen, Guadalcanal December 17
December 22 German troops in the Caucasus region began to fall back
December 24 French Admiral Darlan assassinated
Japanese 16th Division captured Luisiana, Philippines December 28
January 23 British forces capture Tripoli
February 3 Coffee rationing increased to one pound every six weeks in the US
Battle of Guadalcanal ends February 8
April 15 First P-47 in aerial combat. The 800-mile combat range extended Allied fighter coverage deep into mainland Europe from Britain.
May 13 Axis forces in North Africa surrender
May 27 Churchill meets with Allied leaders in Algeria to plan the invasion of Sicily and the Italian campaign
May 16-17 British RAF fly ‘Dam Buster‘ mission against dams in the Ruhr valley
July 9 Allied forces invade Sicily
July 28 Coffee removed from rationing in the US
September 3 Allied forces invade Italy
September 8 Gen. Dwight Eisenhower publicly announces the surrender of Italy to the Allies.
September 9 Allied forces invade Salerno, Italy with Operation Avalanche
September 10 Remaining Italian fleet sails into Malta and surrenders to the Allies
September 11 German forces occupy Rome and Northern Italy, taking most of the Italian army prisoner
September 21-28 After Italy surrenders, Italian troops on the island of Cephalonia, Greece refused to surrender their weapons to the Germans. The Massacre of the Acqui Division, also known as the Cephalonia Massacre, was the mass execution of the men of the Italian 33rd Infantry Division Acqui by German troops. About 5,000 soldiers were massacred and others drowned.
Operation Jaywick by 14 British and Australian commandos culminates in the attack on Japanese ships in Singapore harbor sinking or severely damaging 7 vessels September 26
September 27 US 8th Air Force P-47 fighters escort bombers into Germany for the first time
October 1 US 8th Fifth Army and British X Corps enters Naples, Italy
October 3 British Commandos land at  Termoli on the Adriatic coast of Italy as part of Operation Devon.
October 4 Aircraft from the USS Ranger attack German ships in Norway sinking two and damaging several others.
A force of three U.S. destroyers attacked nine Japanese destroyers in the central Solomons. This is known as the “Battle of Vella Lavella,” and was the last significant Japanese victory of WWII October 6-7
Japanese execute all 98 US civilian construction POWs on Wake Island in reprisal for US air raids October 7
The First Major Attack on Rabaul. Over 100 B-25s from the 345th and 38th Bomb Groups, three P-38 squadrons, 40 planes from the 3rd Bomb Group, and more than 80 B-24s from the 90th and 43rd Bomb Groups joined forces with RAAF P-40s, Beaufighters, and Beauforts. October 12
US Marines land on Shortland and Choiseul in the Solomons as a diversion from the upcoming Bougainville landings October 28
The Japanese execute 33 interned civilians in Hong Kong

Allied forces land on Mono and Stirling Islands, south of Bougainville, beginning the final phase of the campaign to smash Japan’s northern Solomons bases

October 29
US 3rd Marine Div lands on Bougainville in the Solomons at Empress Augusta Bay November 1
The USAAF attacks the Japanese base at New Britain in what was known as “Bloody Tuesday”. 45 airmen were lost with Eight B-25s and nine P-38s shot down during the attack. November 2
November 3 British 78th Inf Div reached San Salvo north of the Trigno River in Italy.

US Eighth Air Force sends 566 B-17’s and B-24’s along with 333 P-47’s and 45 P-38’s to hit Wilhelmshaven, its first mission of over 500 bombers.

Nazis massacre 18,000 Jewish slave laborers outside Majdanek concentration camp in largest single-day, single-location killing of the Holocaust

Soviet troops launch a massive breakout attack from their bridgehead north of Kiev

November 4 US Fifth Army captures Isernia, Italy

The 8th AF continues to grow with today’s arrival of the 446th Bomb Group at Flixton with B 24s. This is the 31st US bomb unit to arrive in the UK.

Aircraft from the USS Saratoga attack the Japanese ships in Rabaul, damaging nearly all and forcing them to leave for repairs. November 5 8th AF flies over heavily defended Gelsenkirchen and Munster in the Ruhr Valley. The mission includes 323 B 17s escorted by over 350 fighters.
November 6 Russian army retakes Kiev, Ukraine
SB2C Helldiver aircraft saw combat for the first time in the Solomon Islands

More than 300 aircraft consisting of US carrier and land-based Navy aircraft, bombers of the US Fifth & Thirteenth Air Force, and the Royal Australian Air Force raid the Japanese base at Rabaul

November 11
November 16 The power station at Rjukan, Norway where the Germans were producing ‘heavy water’ for their nuclear program is bombed by the 8th Air Force and damaged sufficiently to stop production
Australian 9th Division launches an offensive to take Sattelberg, New Guinea November 17
November 19 Nazis liquidate Janowska concentration camp in Lvov, prisoners make a mass escape attempt, a few succeed
US Marines land on Betio Island in Tarawa Atoll in the Gilbert Islands November 20 British Eighth Army launches the main offensive to cross Sangro River in Italy
Battle of Tarawa November 20-23
November 21 The RAF creates No. 1426 (Enemy Aircraft) Flight “the Rafwaffe” to evaluate captured enemy aircraft

German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel is placed in command of Atlantic Wall defenses in France to defend against an Allied invasion

November 22 The RAF launches the first 2000-ton night raid on Berlin—2000 Germans are killed and the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church is destroyed

Lebanon’s Independence Day: Free French provisionally recognize Lebanese independence

Sextant Conference begins in Cairo, Egypt with Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Chiang Kai-shek

US Marines secure Betio in Tarawa Atoll. Japanese resistance ends on Tarawa and Makin atolls in the Gilbert Islands. November 23
Australians take Sattelberg, New Guinea November 25 Colossus Computer is first tested in Birmingham, England, the world’s first all-electric computer. It was used at Bletchley Park to help decypher German codes.
November 28 Eureka Conference begins in Tehran, Iran: Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin agree to a spring 1944 invasion of western Europe and a Soviet declaration of war on Japan after Germany’s defeat.
November 29 British troops capture Mezzagrogna and Santa Maria in Italy
December 1 US Ninth Air Force P-51s fly a sweep over France as the first use of US P-51 Mustang fighter planes in Europe

Mussolini orders arrest of all Jews in Italy, but many are hidden by Italians

December 2 Luftwaffe bombs Bari, Italy, destroying 24 Allied ships. Bombs strike a US ship carrying secret chemical weapons. A cloud of deadly mustard gas spreads throughout the damaged ships killing service personnel and Italian civilians. About 1000 soldiers, sailors & civilians are killed in the attack.
December 8 In their first combat action for the Allies, Italian troops attack Monte Lungo, Italy. They are repelled with heavy casualties.

Colossus, the world’s first ever digital programmable electronic computer, built by British Telecoms research engineers Tommy Flowers and team, goes live for the first time ever at the GPO research station at Dollis Hill in London

US airfield opens at Torokina on Bougainville in the Solomon Islands, only 220 miles from major Japanese base at Rabaul. December 9 Canadian troops capture San Leonardo, Italy

British Eighth Army secures Moro River beachhead near Ortona, Italy

December 10 The British Eighth Army takes Vino Ridge in Italy in drive for Ortona
December 12 Field Marshal Erwin Rommel named commander of German Army Group B in France
Ration books in the US December 13 are awarded an extra two red ration points (used for meat, cheese & fats) are awarded for each pound of used cooking fats turned in
US Army Air Force decides to stop using camouflage paint on planes December 14 to increase speed & range
December 17 US Fifth Army takes San Pietro, Italy, after Germans retreat

Wings are first awarded to WASPs (Women’s Airforce Service Pilots)

December 22 Allies officially recognize and agree to support Marshal Tito’s partisans in Yugoslavia.
US Marines land at Cape Gloucester, New Britain in the Solomon Islands December 26 In the Battle of the North Cape off Norway, British ships sink German battlecruiser Scharnhorst while it’s attacking Allied Arctic convoys
British & Indian forces launch Second Arakan Campaign toward Akyab, Burma December 30
January 6 James Doolittle orders fighters of USAAF Eighth Air Force to go on the offensive
Indian 5th Division captures Maungdaw, Burma January 9
January 13 Allied troops capture the high ground north of Cervaro, Italy
January 14 Eligibility for the draft is restored for Japanese-American Nisei, causing mixed reactions in internment camps
Japanese on New Britain in the Solomons fail in their final counterattack attempt January 16
US Army and Marines secure Arawe area on New Britain in the Solomons January 17 British X Corps crosses lower Garigliano River in Italy, officially beginning the Battle of Cassino
January 21 The “Little Blitz” begins, a new German air offensive on England: 447 bombers attack London at night, the largest air raid since July 1942
January 22 The War Refugee Board is established to help resettle European Jews in the US

36,000 US and British troops land at Anzio, Italy, and establish a solid beachhead with little opposition; the towns of Anzio and Nettuno are secured
June 4 The 36th Infantry Division was the first Allied troops to enter Rome
June 4 US 5th Army captures Cervaro, Italy
June 6 D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy
June 10 Oradour-Sur-Glane – A French village utterly destroyed and over 600 men, women, and children massacred by SS troops
Battle of the Philippine Sea. The aerial part of the battle was nicknamed the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot. This battle resulted in eliminating the Imperial Japanese Navy’s ability to conduct large-scale carrier actions. June 19-20
September 17 Operation Market Garden begins in the Netherlands
September 25 Operation Market Garden ends unsuccessfully
October 2 The “Battle of the Scheldt” begins. Canadian, British and Polish forces attack into the Netherlands to open up the shipping route to Antwerp so that its port could be used to supply the Allies.
October 14 No.6 RCAF Group, Bomber Command, within a period of sixteen hours, flies a total of 501 Lancaster and Halifax bombers against targets in Duisburg, Germany
Douglas MacArthur lands at Leyte after being driven out of the Philippines two-and-a-half years earlier. “I have returned!” he declares. October 20
The Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest naval battle of WWII and perhaps the largest in history. The US Navy defeats the Japanese fleet giving the Allies virtual control of the Pacific October 23-26
November 1 Allied forces land at Uncle Beach at Vlissingen as part of Operation Infatuate. This was part of the “Battle of the Scheldt”.
November 5 British troops captured Ravenna, Italy, cutting the rail line to Bologna
November 8 The “Battle of the Scheldt”ends

Allied troops captured Veere and Koudekerke in the Netherlands

American and Chinese troops attack Bhamo, Burma November 14
Japan conducts the first successful test of a rocket-powered Ohka aircraft November 19
Chinese troops capture Mangshih, Yunnan Province, China November 20
The 15,000th P-40 is completed November 22 at Buffalo, New York, United States
November 23 The T-44 medium tanks officially enters Soviet Army service
US B-29 bombers based in the Marianas Islands attack Tokyo for the first time November 24
Anglo-Indian troops capture Kalewa, Burma November 28
November 29 Soviet and Yugoslavian troops cross the Danube River into Hungary

Brazilian troops attack Monte Castello 61 kilometers southwest of Bologna, Italy

December 1 Himmler orders the crematoriums and gas chambers of Auschwitz destroyed
Indian 20th Division crosses the Chindwin River into Burma December 3 Allied troops capture Blerick, the Netherlands
December 6 The German He 162 jet fighter made its first flight
Japanese troops capture Tushan, Jiangsu Province, China December 8
December 9 Russian troops reach the Danube River north of Budapest, Hungary
Allied troops attack the Arakan region of Burma December 12
US invades Okinawa April 1
April 30 Hitler commits suicide
May 2 German forces in Italy and Austria surrender
May 4 Montgomery accepts the unconditional surrender of the German forces in North-West Europe at Lüneburg Heath
First atom bomb tested July 16
This calls for the unconditional surrender of Japan July 26 The Potsdam Declaration is issued by Allied leaders
The US drops the Atomic bomb on Hiroshima August 6
Russia declares war on Japan August 8
The US drops the Atomic bomb on Nagasaki August 9
Japan announces surrender August 14
Japan signs surrender documents September 2
World War II ends in Singapore after the Japanese army surrenders to the Allies September 12
The trial against Japanese General Yamashita begins in Manila October 29
November 13 Charles de Gaulle becomes the first post-war head of the French government
November 21 All accused German war criminals at Nuremberg plead not guilty
US Secretary of War Robert Patterson orders all Japanese cyclotrons to be destroyed November 24
November 25 The beginning of Operation Deadlight – the RAF begins to scuttle Nazi U-Boats
The Japanese create the Ministry of Demobilization December 1
Tomoyuki Yamashita was found guilty of war crimes December 7
October 15 Herman Goering, head of the Luftwaffe and Gestapo, commits suicide by cyanide the night before his execution
October 16 10 high-ranking members of Nazi-Germany are executed by hanging
World War II monument opens in Washington, D.C. April 29 The memorial is located on 7.4 acres on the former site of the Rainbow Pool at the National Mall between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.
The Dutch national railway company is setting up a commission to investigate how it can pay individual reparations for its role in mass deportations of Jews by Nazi occupiers during World War II November 28
South Korea’s Supreme Court orders Japanese Mitsubishi to pay compensation for WWII slave labour November 29

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