World War 2 Events of 1939

World War 2 Events of 1939

Despite having brewed for decades, 1939 served as the official starting year for World War 2 - marked by the German assault on Poland.





There are a total of (75) entries in the World War 2 Events of 1939. Entries are listed below by earliest date to latest date.


August 21st
1939
The German battleship Graf Spee leaves Wilhelmshaven for the North Atlantic. She is commanded by Captain Hans Langsdorff. Her supply ship is the Altmark, which also leaves Wilhelmshaven.
August 31st
1939
Adolf Hitler provides the final orders for the invasion of Poland.
September 1st
1939
German airborne elements begin bombardment of Polish defensive targets. At 6:00 AM, 50 German divisions making up Army Group North and Army Group South flood into Poland. Army Group South's mission is the capture of the Polish capital of Warsaw.
September 2nd
1939
The governments of Britain and France deliver their ultimatums to German officials in regards to the German invasion of Poland.
September 3rd
1939
Athenia, a British passenger liner originating from Glasgow and traveling to Montreal, is targeted and sunk by German U-boat U-30 resulting the loss of 112 people. Athenia becomes the first naval casualty of the U-boat scourge in the Atlantic.
September 3rd
1939
Britain declares war on Germany leading British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to arrange a war cabinet.
September 3rd
1939
The government of Australia declares war on Germany.
September 3rd
1939
New Zealand declares war on Germany.
September 3rd
1939
The British transatlantic passenger liner SS Athenia is sunk by German U-boat U-30, killing 128 aboard.
September 3rd
1939
France declares war on Germany.
September 4th
1939
The British Royal Air Force launches its first bombing missions against German targets - these being warships stationed off of the northwest coast of Germany.
September 5th
1939
The Bosnia becomes the first merchantman to be sunk by the German U-boats.
September 5th
1939
The government of South Africa declares war on Germany.
September 5th
1939
The United States government declares its neutrality in the European conflict.
September 6th
1939
German forces take Krakow.
September 6th
1939
Thirty-six Allied ships set out across the Atlantic in the first coordinated convoy crossing attempt.
September 6th
1939
German forces advance beyond Lodz.
September 6th
1939
The Polish government and military command flee Warsaw.
September 7th
1939
French forces begin light fighting against German elements near Saarbrucken.
September 7th
1939
Britain launches the first of many convoys across challenged Atlantic waters.
September 8th
1939
German ground forces arrive at the outskirts of the Polish capital of Warsaw, covering an astounding 200 miles in a single week.
September 8th
1939
The German Tenth Army reaches the Warsaw perimeter.
September 8th
1939
The German Fourteenth Army arrives near Przemysl.
September 8th
1939
General Guderian's tank force reaches the Bug River just east of the Polish capital.
September 9th
1939
Polish Poznan army units launch a counter-offensive against the German army at Kutno on the Bzura.
September 10th
1939
Canada declares war on Germany.
September 10th
1939
Polish forces at the Modline fortress some 20 miles north of Warsaw fall under siege to the German Army.
September 10th
1939
General Lord Gort and his British Expeditionary Force begin to arrive on French soil.
September 13th
1939
French Prime Minister Edouard Daladier begins setting up his war cabinet.
September 17th
1939
The British aricraft carrier HMS Courageous is sunk southwest of the Irish coast by German U-boat U-29.
September 17th
1939
Soviet army elements begin their invasion of Poland from the east. Attacks occur near Vilnius and Bialystok.
September 17th
1939
Polish resistance at the Bzura River north of Lodz finally surrender to the Germans. Some 170,000 Polish prisoners are taken captive.
September 18th
1939
The Polish city of Vilnius falls to the Soviet army.
September 18th
1939
The Polish government flees to Romania and is held. A government-in-exile is hastily arranged.
September 19th
1939
German and Soviet army elements finally meet one another in Poland at Brest-Litovsk.
September 21st
1939
Romanian Prime Minister Armand Calinescu is assassinated by elements of the fascist group "Iron Guard".
September 22nd
1939
The Polish city of Bialystok falls to the Soviet Army.
September 22nd
1939
The Polish City of Lwow falls to the Soviet Army.
September 27th
1939
The Polish capital of Warsaw officially falls.
September 27th
1939
The German battleships Deutschland and Graf Spee are let loose on Allied shipping convoys in the North Atlantic.
September 28th
1939
Polish forces fighting it out at the Modline fortress officially surrender.
September 29th
1939
The German-Soviet Boundary Friendship Treaty is signed between German representative von Ribbentrop and Soviet representative Molotov. Poland is divided into a western zone under German control and an eastern zone under Soviet control.
September 30th
1939
The Graf Spee claims her first merchant vessel, the British freighter Clement, in the waters of the South Atlantic.
October 1st
1939
The Graf Spee goes on to sink four more Allied merchant vessels during the month of October.
October 2nd
1939
The last valiant gap of Polish resistance - numbering some 4,500 soldiers under the command of Admiral Unruh - north of Danzig on the Polwysep Helski peninsula falls to the Germans.
October 14th
1939
The British Royal Navy battleship Royal Oak is sunk by U-47 with 833 lives lost.
November 4th
1939
The United States government revises its neutral stance and allows for sales of military goods to occur - the buyer responsible for payment and transport.
November 15th
1939
The Graf Spee sinks the oil tanker Africa Shell off the coast of Madagascar.
November 20th
1939
The Graf Spee begins her return to a pre-designated waiting area in the South Atlantic. British cruisers Ajax, Achilles, Exeter and Cumberland begin pursuit.
November 26th
1939
With worsening relations between Finland and the Soviet Union, the Soviets pull out of their non-aggression pact with Finland.
November 30th
1939
Five Soviet armies cross into Finland, beginning the Winter War.
December 1st
1939
The Soviet Union installs a Finnish-Soviet puppet government in Terijoki to be led by Otto Kuusinen.
December 2nd
1939
The Finnish government seeks assistance from the League of Nations.
December 5th
1939
After some initial advances, the Soviet Army if forced to stop by the Finnish defenses at the Mannerheim Line.
December 9th
1939
The Soviet 44th and 163rd Divisions take the Finnish town of Soumussalmi.
December 9th
1939
As the Finnish winter worsens, Soviet attacks on Helsinki stall.
December 13th
1939
At 6:14 AM, the Graf Spee opens fire on the British heavy cruisers Ajaz and Exeter.
December 13th
1939
By 7:40 AM, the British cruisers Ajax and Achilles break battle and trail out of range of the Graf Spee's guns, though still in pursuit.
December 13th
1939
At 8:00 AM, Captain Langsdorff orders his lightly damaged Graf Spee towards the port at Montevideo in Uruguay with British ships in close pursuit.
December 13th
1939
At approximately 12:00 PM, Graf Spee enters the harbor at Montevideo, Uruguay, with the intention on having her damaged repaired. With political pressure from Britain, the Uruguayan government offers the Graff Spee only 72 hours rest.
December 13th
1939
At 6:50 AM, the British cruiser Exeter is heavily damaged by the Graf Spee, leaving only one turret functional and in flames.
December 13th
1939
The Graf Spee adds three more vessels - the Doric Star, Tairoa, Streonshalh - to its list of sunken Allied targets. She begins her voyage towards River Plate near Uruguay for a final combat patrol.
December 13th
1939
At 6:40 AM, the British cruiser Achilles is damaged by shell splinters from the Graf Spee's guns.
December 13th
1939
At 7:25 AM, the British cruiser Ajax loses two of her turrets to the Graf Spee.
December 13th
1939
The Graf Spee is spotted in the early morning hours by Commodore H. H. Harwood's British cruiser squadron.
December 14th
1939
The Soviet Union is expelled from the League of Nations.
December 15th
1939
Finnish defenders keep the town of Nautsi from falling under Soviet control.
December 15th
1939
The Soviet 14th Army takes Petsamo.
December 15th
1939
Valliant Finnish forces repel the Soviet Army out of Soumussalmi, retaking the town.
December 15th
1939
The Mannerheim Line holds as Soviet Army elements are kept at bay.
December 15th
1939
The deteriorating conditions of a Finnish winter protect Helsinki from additional Soviet attacks.
December 17th - December 31st
1939
Finnish Army elements cross into Soviet Karelia, unleashing hell on the Russian 44th and 163rd Divisions. Some 27,000 Russian soldiers are killed.
December 17th
1939
Graf Spee Captain Hans Langsdorff mistakenly believes there to be a large Royal Navy contingent waiting for his exit out of Montevideo harbor. As such, he orders the Graff Spee scuttled. The German vessel is effectively eliminated from the war.
December 20th
1939
Choosing honor over justice, Captain Hans Langsdorff commits suicide, officially ending the reign of the Graf Spee.
December 23rd
1939
7,500 Canadian soldiers arrive in Britain.