British World War 2 Events

British World War 2 Events

It fell to the British to hold the lines during the early-going of World War 2 - which they did, earning a very costly victory over the Axis powers in the process.





There are a total of (482) entries in the British World War 2 Events. Entries are listed below by earliest date to latest date.


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 British transatlantic passenger liner SS Athenia is sunk by German U-boat U-30, killing 128 aboard.
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 6th
1939
Thirty-six Allied ships set out across the Atlantic in the first coordinated convoy crossing attempt.
September 7th
1939
Britain launches the first of many convoys across challenged Atlantic waters.
September 10th
1939
General Lord Gort and his British Expeditionary Force begin to arrive on French soil.
September 17th
1939
The British aricraft carrier HMS Courageous is sunk southwest of the Irish coast by German U-boat U-29.
September 27th
1939
The German battleships Deutschland and Graf Spee are let loose on Allied shipping convoys in the North Atlantic.
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 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.
December 2nd
1939
The Finnish government seeks assistance from the League of Nations.
December 13th
1939
At 7:25 AM, the British cruiser Ajax loses two of her turrets to the Graf Spee.
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 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
The Graf Spee is spotted in the early morning hours by Commodore H. H. Harwood's British cruiser squadron.
December 13th
1939
At 6:14 AM, the Graf Spee opens fire on the British heavy cruisers Ajaz and Exeter.
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 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 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 14th
1939
The Soviet Union is expelled from the League of Nations.
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.
February 5th
1940
The Allied Supreme War Council agrees to come to the aid of Finland and Norway - if only to protect valuable Swedish ore from falling to the Germans.
February 16th
1940
HMS Cossack, a Royal Navy destroyer, moves into neutral Norwegian waters to claim its merchant men from the German ship Altmark. Germany and Norway both protest the action.
March 28th
1940
The governments of France and Britain agree to not make any secret peace treaties with the Germans and remain a unified front.
April 8th
1940
HMS Glowworm intercepts a portion of the German invasion fleet headed to Norway.
April 9th
1940
HMS Rodney, a British battlecruiser, engages the German warships KMS Gneisenau and KMS Scharnhorst.
April 10th
1940
Five British destroyers surprise a German force of ten destroyers near Narvik. Nine German cargo ships are lost as well as two destroyers. The British also lose a pair of destroyers in the action.
April 10th
1940
KMS Konigsberg, a German light cruiser, becomes the first warship sunk by dive bombing at Bergen.
April 12th
1940
British aerial bombing of KMS Admiral Hipper, KMS Gneisenau, and KMS Scharnhorst fail to net the needed results.
April 13th
1940
The Second Battle of Narvik nets the British eight German destroyers and a submarine.
April 14th
1940
An Allied rescue force made up of British, Polish, and French begin arriving at Namsos, Alesund, and Narvik.
April 20th - April 30th
1940
The German defense at Trondheim holds and prepares for reinforcements.
April 24th
1940
Allied naval guns open up on German positions at Narvik in preparation for a ground assault.
May 1st - May 2nd
1940
Allied forces abandon their missions at Namsos and Andalsnes.
May 3rd
1940
Duringan evacuation operation, the French destroyer Bison and the British destroyer Afridi are sunk by air attack.
May 10th
1940
British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain resigns.
May 11th
1940
British and French army forces begin defensive preparations in Belgium in an effort to stave off the German advance. A long line of strategic defenses is contructed.
May 14th
1940
Panzer Corps XV and XIX break through the Allied defenses at Sedan, allowing German forces to completely bypass the formidable defenses at the French Maginot Line.
May 15th
1940
The RAF sends up its first night-time bombing raid against Germany. Of the 99 aircraft sent, only one fails to return home.
May 17th
1940
The British lose HMS Effingham when it runs aground near Narvik.
May 17th - May 18th
1940
Allied forces are in full retreat of the Germans, making their way towards the French coastline.
May 20th
1940
Sensing a catastrophic loss in the making, Winston Churchill orders preparation of vessels to evacuate the British Expeditionary Forces from northern France.
May 20th
1940
Compounding battlefield losses across France and the Low Countries force a change at the helm - General Maxime Weygand replaces General Maurice-Gustave Gamelin as supreme Allied commander.
May 21st
1940
The Allies are able to make some gains near Narvik.
May 21st
1940
An Allied counterattack against the German Army near Arras ends in failure as the attack is itself countered by another advancing German land force.
May 24th
1940
German Luftwaffe bombers hammer Allied defensive positions in and around the French port city of Dunkirk.
May 24th
1940
In a stunning move, Hitler orders his forces not to cross the Lens-Bethune-St Omer-Gravelines line, allowing the retreating Allied forces more time to reach the French coast.
May 25th
1940
More and more retreating Allied units arrive at the French port city of Dunkirk.
May 26th
1940
Hitler orders his army forces towards Dunkirk for the final blow to the Allied cause.
May 26th
1940
The British lose HMS Curlew in an attack from the air.
May 26th
1940
Operation Dynamo - the all-out evacuation of Allied forces from Dunkirk - officially begins at 6:57 PM.
May 26th
1940
Over 850 British civilian vessels take part in assisting military forces off of French soil to awaiting transports in what would become the largest military evacuation in history.
May 27th
1940
German warplanes destroyer the city of Bodo.
May 27th
1940
The Allies enter Narvik.
May 28th
1940
By the end of this day, some 25,473 British soldiers have been evacuated from France.
May 28th
1940
With Belgium out of the way, German Army elements begin making their way towards the French coastline in an attempt to completely eliminate Allied forces for good.
May 28th
1940
With the fight gone out of them, the Belgian Army surrenders to the German 6th and 18th armies. Their actions, however, supply the evacuating Allies with much-needed time.
May 29th
1940
Another 47,000 British troops are evacuated from Dunkirk.
May 30th
1940
6,000 French soldiers join some 120,000 total Allied soldiers evacuated from Dunkirk on this day.
May 31st
1940
Over 150,000 Allied soldiers (including some 15,000 French) arrive in Britain.
May 31st
1940
British forces at Bodo evacuate.
June 1st - August 12th
1940
German Luftwaffe forces concentrate efforts on maintaining control over the vital shipping lanes of the North Sea. At least 30,000 merchant ships are destroyed during this period.
June 1st
1940
Defense of the outlying region near Dunkirk now passes to French XVI Corps.
June 1st
1940
The British and French governments notify the Norwegian government of their plans to evacuate.
June 4th
1940
German Luftwaffe bombers cease bombardment of Dunkirk.
June 4th
1940
Operation Dynamo - the evacuation of Allied forces at Dunkirk - officially ends. 338,326 total soldiers are saved including 113,000 French troops.
June 4th
1940
Allied forces at Harstad begin their evacuation of the area.
June 7th
1940
The Norwegian government joins several other powers as a government-in-exile. Its officials board HMS Devonshire for their escape.
June 8th
1940
HMS Glorious is sunk by KMS Scharnhorst and KMS Gneisenau.
June 13th
1940
War goods begin leaving U.S. shores bound for Britain.
July 16th
1940
Hitler delivers Fuhrer Directive 17 as Operation Sea Lion - the land invasion of the British mainland to occur between September 19th and September 26th.
July 18th
1940
The British close down the Burma Road supply route to China in an effort to avoid war with Japan.
August 1st
1940
Hitler reveals Directive Number 17 which calls for finalization of the invasion of Great Britain for September 15th.
August 3rd
1940
Italian Army elements attack a small British force stationed in British Somaliland from positions in Ethiopia.
August 12th
1940
The first attacks on RAF airfields and radar stations are conducted by German fighters and bombers. Germany intends on destroying RAF air supremacy before attempting its land invasion.
August 13th
1940
At least 40 total Luftwaffe aircraft are destroyed by the RAF and ground-based flak teams.
August 13th
1940
Southampton is heavily bombed by the German Luftwaffe.
August 13th
1940
Andover is heavily bombed by the German Luftwaffe.
August 13th
1940
Portland is heavily bombed by the German Luftwaffe.
August 13th
1940
"Eagle Day" is enacted - a four day bombardment of key RAF airfields and radar installations. Poor weather initially delays the assault and any bombing thereafter produces mixed results.
August 15th
1940
74 Luftwaffe aircraft launched from bases in Denmark and Norway are lost on what will be remembered as "Black Thursday".
August 17th
1940
The German government declares a naval blockade of the British Isles freeing its forces to attack any and all targets in the region.
August 17th
1940
German U-boats are given the green light to attack any and all merchant vessels - whether armed or not - in an attempt to stranglehold the British mainland into submission.
August 17th
1940
The RAF is forced to poach the ranks of Bomber Command in an effort to fill its dwindling supply of capable fighter pilots.
August 19th - August 24th
1940
Poor weather and overcast skies limit any major German bombing efforts over Britain.
August 19th
1940
Underestimating overall RAF fighter strength, Luftwaffe commander Hermann Goering changes offensive tactics and orders his fighters to tempt RAF fighters to duke it out in the skies as opposed to bombing them while still on the ground.
August 24th - August 31st
1940
Luftwaffe bombing resumes. During this period, RAF airfields are hammered with the loss of 200 fighters. However, losses for the Luftwaffe number some 330 aircraft.
August 26th
1940
The first RAF attack on the German capital of Berlin takes place. Some 81 aircraft are part of the airborne raid.
September 1st - September 30th
1940
Italian forces, led by Marshal Graziani invade Egypt. During the month, the Italian army sets up a series of six defensive positions south of occupied Sidi Barrani known simply as Nibeiwa, Tummar East, Tummar West, North Sofafi, East Sofafi and West Sofafi.
September 2nd
1940
The British and American governments agree to a deal for the British to receive some 50 old USN destroyers.
September 3rd
1940
Due to consistent Luftwaffe losses and inconclusive results across the entire campaign, Hitler postpones Operation Sea Lion to September 21st.
September 7th
1940
348 bombers and 617 fighters of the German Luftwaffe descend on the British capital city of London in a massive bombing raid.
September 7th
1940
In an effort to break the resolve of the British people, Hitler orders the bombing of London over the bombing of strategic RAF airfields and installations.
September 15th
1940
Two massive bombing raids are conducted against Britain. The German Luftwaffe sees some 300 total RAF fighters airborne, showcasing Goering's gross estimate of total RAF air power. 80 German aircraft are lost in total. This day would go on to become "Battle of Britain Day".
September 16th
1940
The German Luftwaffe redirects it sbombing campaign to now cover night-bombing of British cities.
September 17th
1940
The British government announces conscription of males between the ages of 21 and 35.
September 17th
1940
With the unexpected results of his campaign against Britain, Hitler officially postpones Operation Sea Lion indefinitely.
September 20th
1940
Massive convoys breed equal massive measures - German U-boats begin operating in 20-strong "Wolf Packs" with coordinated attacks.
September 24th
1940
Vichy French air elements launch unsuccessful attacks on British positions at Gibraltar.
September 23rd
1940
A combined force of Free French and British personnel attempt to take Dakar of French West Africa but the invasion falters after several days.
October 1st - October 30th
1940
German BF 110 twin-engine nightfighters take advantage of the new Lichtenstein radar systems to track, target and engage RAF bombers.
October 9th
1940
Winston Churchill succeeds beleagured Neville Chamberlain as Prime Minister.
October 12th
1940
Hitler is forced to postpone the British mainland invasion until the Spring of 1941.
October 18th - October 19th
1940
An attack on two Allied convoys yields 36 sunken ships by the attacking German U-boats.
October 21st
1940
Operation Judgement - the Allied attack on the Italian naval base at Taranto - is postponed due to mechanical issues aboard the carrier HMS Eagle and a fire aboard the carrier HMS Illustrious.
October 30th - October 31st
1940
British forces begin to occupy positions on the island of Crete.
November 9th
1940
A Swordfish biplane torpedo bomber is lost to engine failure.
November 9th
1940
The HMS Illustrious moves on Taranto.
November 10th
1940
The Italian invasion force is in full retreat, repelled by a combined Greek resistance and RAF effort after just two weeks.
November 10th
1940
An Italian bomber is downed in the fighting near Malta.
November 10th
1940
Another Swordfish torpedo bomber is lost to mechnical failure.
November 10th
1940
The British naval force moving against Taranto comes under attack from Italian aircraft near Malta.
November 11th
1940
The Italian battleship Caio Duilio is struck at her bow by a Royal Navy torpedo.
November 11th
1940
Two signal aircraft attack the oil depot at Taranto but fail to produce much damage.
November 11th
1940
Once again, the bombing wave is led by signal aircraft marking targets with flares.
November 11th
1940
At 11:35 PM, the second wave of Royal Navy torpedo-laden aircraft moves into position.
November 11th
1940
The Libeccio is hit by a Royal Navy torpedo but the munition fails to explode.
November 11th
1940
A Swordfish torpedo meant for the Vittorio Veneto fails to reach its mark, exploding harmlessly on the sea floor.
November 11th
1940
At 11:15 PM, the Italian vessel Doria is struck twice by torpedoes in her forward section.
November 11th
1940
At 10:00 PM, the first wave of Swordfish bombers is launched from HMS Illustrious, now stationed off of Cephalonia.
November 11th
1940
The Italian ship Littorio is struck by a torpedo along her starboard side. Swordfish L4M follows with another strike to the same side.
November 11th
1940
A third Royal Navy Swordfish aircraft is lost to engine malfunction. A bad batch of gasoline is centered on as the source of the Swordfish issues.
November 11th
1940
At 10:58 PM, signal aircraft lead the first wave over Taranto, marking torpedo targets as they pass.
November 11th
1940
At 11:14 PM, the Italian battleship Cavour is struck by a Royal Navy torpedo delivered via Swordfish L4A. L4A is later downed by anti-aircraft fire, though both crewmembers survive.
November 12th
1940
At 1:01 AM, The sinking Littorio is struck by another torpedo.
November 12th
1940
By 3:30 AM, all but two Swordfish aircraft are accounted for.
November 12th
1940
By 1:22 AM, the attack on Taranto harbor is officially over.
November 12th
1940
Swordfish L5F scored a direct hit via bomb on the Trento.
November 12th
1940
Swordfish E4H is downed by enemy anti-aircraft fire, killing her co-pilot.
November 12th
1940
Swordfish E5H misses her mark against the Vittorio Veneto.
November 14th - November 22nd
1940
A combined British-Greek force begins an offensive against the Italians in Greece, forcing the invaders into retreat.
November 18th
1940
A Sunderland flying boat aircraft - fitted with new radar - locates its first German U-boat submarine.
December 6th - December 8th
1940
The Western Desert Force in Egypt, under the command of Major-General Richard O'Connor, set up pre-assault positions. The force includes 36,000 total men from the 7th Armored Division, 4th Indian Division and the New Zealand Division. They set up their initial position southeast of the Italian fort at Nibeiwa.
December 8th - December 9th
1940
Aircraft of the Royal Navy are put into action against Italian forces dug in at Maktila and Barrani. Bombers are sent in to soften targets for the initial ground assault.
December 9th
1940
The British 7th Armored Division launches attacks on the Italian camps positioned near Sofafi and Rabia and makes its way toward the critical ocean-side road near Buqbug.
December 9th
1940
The British 7th Tank Regiment, along with the 4th Indian Division, attack Italian positions at Tummar West and Nibeiwa.
December 9th
1940
Operation Compass is officially launched.
December 10th
1940
Some 38,000 Italian soldiers are taken prisoner by the Allies.
December 10th
1940
The Italian camps at Tummar East fall to the Allies.
December 10th
1940
Italian forces stationed at Sidi Barrani are all but surrounded by the Allies.
December 10th
1940
Selby Force has removed the Italian 1st Libyan Division out of Maktila.
December 10th
1940
Selby Force sets its eyes on Sidi Barrani.
December 10th
1940
The Italian XXI Corps is in full retreat.
December 11th
1940
The Italian Catanzaro Division is captured, delivering another 30,000 Italian prisoners of war.
December 11th
1940
Royal Navy bombers begin attacks on Italian-held Sollum.
December 16th
1940
RAF bombers strike on Mannheim as revenge for the German air raids over Coventry.
December 29th
1940
Roosevelt's Fireside Chat radio program attempts to strengthen American support for the war against the Axis through supporting the British effort.
January 2nd
1941
The U.S. government commits to construction of some 200 merchant ships to support the Allied cause in the Atlantic.
January 22nd
1941
Operation Compass is effectively over, netting some 130,000 total Italian prisoners.
January 22nd
1941
The Allies take Tobruk, a key port city vital to North Africa operations.
January 29th
1941
High level talks between the British and the Americans results in strengthening ties for the nations in the event of an American declaration of war with Germany.
January 29th
1941
British forces take on Italian positions in Kenya.
February 19th - February 23rd
1941
Allied authorities meet in Cairo, Egypt to review the situation in Greece. It is agree upon to commit some 100,000 British soldiers to the fighting.
March 5th
1941
The first elements of British reinforcements departs Egyptian shores en route to the Balkan Front.
March 11th
1941
President Roosevelt signs the Lend-Lease Act into law allowing the United States government to militarily support - with delayed payments - any and all allies when U.S. interests are threatened.
March 11th
1941
The Lend-Lease Bill is signed into law by American President Franklin Roosevelt allowing the United States the unrestricted ability to help supply the Allies in their fight against the Axis.
March 24th
1941
Rommel begins his attack near El Agheila.
March 24th
1941
German forces drive the British from El Agheila in Libya.
March 27th
1941
The Italians are forced by the British to retreat in the Battle of Keren, Eritrea.
April 1st
1941
Italian-held Asmara falls to the British.
April 1st
1941
The German port of Emden is bombed by six Wellington bomber aircraft.
April 1st - April 18th
1941
Internal unrest in Iraq leads to an overthrow of the pro-British government. The new government aligns itself with the Axis.
April 2nd
1941
Under the direction of German Navy Grand-Admiral Raeder, Operation Rheinubung is fleshed out. The operation calls for direct hit-and-run engagements with British merchant shipping across the Atlantic.
April 2nd
1941
Rommel's forces reach Agedabia.
April 5th
1941
The number of British troops having arrived in Greece numbers 58,000.
April 6th
1941
Rommel reaches Mechili.
April 7th
1941
Rommel reaches Derna.
April 8th
1941
229 RAF bomber aircraft rain 40,000 incendiary ordnance on the German naval base at Kiel.
April 10th - April 16th
1941
Three divisions of British, Australian and New Zealand troops at the Aliakmon Line in the Vermion Mountains are defeated.
April 12th
1941
Vermion Line Allied troops are now redeployed to defensive positions around Mount Olympus.
April 16th
1941
Allied forces in Greece are in full retreat at the request of Greek General Alexander Papagos who sees value is less fighting to save his country from total destruction. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill accepts the request.
April 18th
1941
In an effort to safeguard its vital oil supply chain, British forces arrive in Iraq.
April 26th
1941
Allied codebreakers intercept word of the impending German invasion of Crete.
April 26th
1941
German airborne elements attempt to capture the bridge over the Corinth Canal in an attempt to encircle the retreating allies. The bridge is lost in the attack while the Allies have already moved on.
April 27th - April 30th
1941
Operation Demon is activated, covering the evacuation of some 51,000 Allied troops from southern Greece via the Royal Navy.
April 30th
1941
Allied forces based on Crete receive a new leader in the form of Major-General Bernard Freyberg.
May 9th
1941
HMS Bulldog acquires the first Enigma code machine during the capture of the U-110. British codebreakers set to work on deciphering the device.
May 15th
1941
The British launch Operation Brevity against Rommel's dug-in forces, making little progress against the prepared defenders.
May 19th
1941
Allied codebreakers intercept word that Operation Mercury will commence the very next day. The Allies begin preparations.
May 19th
1941
In advance of the Crete invasion, RAF fighters are relocated to Egypt for safe-keeping.
May 20th
1941
The German heavy cruiser KMS Prinz Eugen and the battleship KMS Bismarck leave port for the North Sea.
May 20th
1941
In-air losses for the second wave of German paratroopers is nearly equal to the first thanks to the stellar Allied flak defenses on Crete.
May 20th
1941
Allied flak teams destroy as many as 50% of the invading German transport planes in the first few hours of the operation.
May 21st
1941
In an effort to beef up Royal Navy presence in the North Sea, the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious and the battlecruiser HMS Repulse are called to action in support of existing forces under the command of Admiral Sir John Tovey.
May 21st
1941
German Army troops making their way to Crete via the sea are intercepted and pummeled by elements of the Royal Navy. Just 60 of these German soldiers live to see another day.
May 21st
1941
A German offensive against Heraklion is pushed away by at least 8,000 dug-in Allied soldiers.
May 21st
1941
The British Navy is notified of the increase in German warship activity in the North Sea.
May 22nd
1941
A hunter-killer group of 14 Royal Navy ships, including the battleships HMS King George V, HMS Hood and the HMS Prince of Wales, leave Scapa Flow.
May 22nd
1941
The HMS Greyhound, a British destroyer, is downed by German bombers.
May 23rd
1941
At 7:22 PM, the Royal Navy cruiser HMS Suffolk and the HMS Norfolk spot and shadow the mighty German battleship Bismarck. Its location is radioed in to Vice-Admiral L. E. Holland.
May 23rd
1941
German dive bombers destroy the HMS Gloucester and the HMS Fiji, two Royal Navy cruisers.
May 23rd
1941
German dive bombers destroy the HMS Kelly and HMS Kashmir, two Royal Navy destroyers.
May 24th
1941
The HMS Suffolk loses track of the KMS Bismarck.
May 24th
1941
At 6:00 AM, the Bismarck fires a salvo at the battleship HMS Hood, striker her ammunition magazine, with the resulting explosion destroying the British ship leaving only three sailors alive.
May 24th
1941
At 6:13 AM, the battleship Prince of Wales is damaged enough to pull out of the battle.
May 24th
1941
At 5:52 AM, the Bismarck and the Prinz Eugen fall under attack from Royal Navy ships.
May 25th
1941
German Admiral Lutjens orders that the Prinz Eugen break from the Bismarck.
May 26th
1941
A British Coastal Command PBY Catalina flying boat spots the KMS Bismarck 700 miles from Brest.
May 26th
1941
Between 8:47 and 9:25 PM, the Bismarck registers two direct torpedo hits. In a stroke of luck for the British, the second torpedo hits the stern section of the Bismarck, jamming her rudder to one side, forcing the vessel to go into an uncontrolled turn.
May 26th
1941
The Royal Navy hunter-killer group receives some help with the arrival of the HMS Renown, HMS Sheffield and the HMS Ark Royal arriving from Gibraltar.
May 26th
1941
Royal Navy ships open fire with their long range guns and close in on their prey.
May 26th
1941
At 2:50 PM, an attack group from the HMS Ark Royal consisting of Fairey Swordfish biplane torpedo bombers begins their attack on the Bismarck.
May 27th
1941
The first escorted convoy - HX129 - crosses the Atlantic.
May 27th
1941
Allied forces retreat to defensive positions at Galatas.
May 27th
1941
At 10:36 AM, the mighty German battleship Bismarck sinks into blue depths, leaving only 115 German sailors to recount her story.
May 27th
1941
At 10:00 AM, the Bismarck's guns fall silent s she takes on water and burns.
May 27th
1941
At 8:47 AM, the Bismarck is now being raked from front to rear by the guns of the Royal Navy warships. The battleship HMS King George V and the HMS Rodney unleash their short range armament on the hapless German ship.
May 28th
1941
The evacuation order is given by Major-General Freyberg for the gradual withdrawel of Allied troops from the island of Crete.
May 28th
1941
Heraklion in the north and Sphakia in the south of Crete will serve as major evacuation junctions for the Allies.
August 21st
1941
The first Royal Navy convoy on its way to deliver supplies through Arctic waters into the Soviet Union leaves Scapa Flow comprised of 7 ships.
August 31st
1941
A report stuns the RAF by showcasing how only one-in-every-three RAF bombers actually it their targets.
August 31st
1941
The first seven-ship Royal Navy convoy arrives in Russia without incident, bringing with her supplies and Hawker Hurricane fighters.
December 8th
1941
The United States, along with Britain, formally declare war on the Empire of Japan.
January 11th
1942
Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaya, falls to the invading Japanese 5th Division.
January 15th
1942
Japanese forces invade Burma beginning their assault at Victoria Point.
January 19th
1942
The Japanese Army makes short work of the light British defenses, covering some 230 miles in reaching Tavoy.
February 14th
1942
RAF Bomber Command issues its "Area Bombing Directive", allowing the legitimate bombing of civilian areas.
February 15th
1942
Singapore eventually falls to the might of the Japanese assault resulting in the capture of some 60,000 Allied prisoners against the cost of 2,000 Japanese soldiers.
March 1st
1942
The Avro Lancaster heavy bomber is inducted into RAF service.
March 8th
1942
Rangoon, Burma falls to the Japanese.
March 8th
1942
The British Burma Army escapes anhilation in Burma.
March 20th
1942
British Convoy PQ13 sets sail for Russia but comes under fire from German U-Boats. Five of the 19 ships are lost.
March 28th
1942
The British utilize the "Gee" electronic navigation system for the first time.
March 28th
1942
234 RAF bombers drop incendiaries on Lubeck. 12 aircraft are lost.
April 1st
1942
The Japanese aircraft carrier Ryujo enters the Bay of Bengal.
April 3rd
1942
No fewer than five Japanese Navy aircraft carriers reach the Indian Ocean.
April 4th
1942
A small contingent of British Royal Navy vessels operating in the Indian Ocean are warned of the arriving Japanese Navy force.
April 4th
1942
Admiral Sir James Somerville detaches a force to intercept the arriving Japanese fleet.
April 6th
1942
The Imperial Japanese Navy unleashes a surprise attack, with some 120 aircraft, on British forces at Columbo Harbor, Ceylon.
April 6th
1942
Twenty-six Allied aircraft are destroyed.
April 6th
1942
The British Royal Navy cruisers HMS Cornwall and HMS Dorsetshire are sunk by the Japanese air strike.
April 6th
1942
The British Royal Navy destroyer HMS Tenedos is sunk by the Japanese air strike.
April 9th
1942
The HMS Hermes is one of four Royal Navy ships sunk by Japanese Navy aircraft.
April 9th
1942
An 85-strong Japanese Navy aircraft contingent attacks airfields and targets of opportunity at Trincomalee, Ceylon.
May 7th
1942
Allied Task Force 44, headed by Royal Navy Rear-Admiral Crace, moves in to intercept the Japanese invasion force. However, the force is prematurely spotted by Japanese reconnaissance aircraft resulting in a counter-assault of the Task Force by Japanese Navy warplanes. Crace and his force never make the intercept.
May 8th
1942
Some 27 Japanese aircraft are launched under the cover of darkness in the hopes of locating the Allied Task Force. They come up empty and only six aircraft return safely home.
May 15th
1942
Burma falls to the Japanese.
May 20th
1942
The 2nd Canadian Infantry Division begins training for Operation Rutter on the Isle of Wight.
May 26th
1942
Group Cruewell, made up of the Italian X and XI Corps, launches an assault on the northern portion of the Gazala Line in an attempt to divert Allied forces from the real attack coming from the south.
May 26th
1942
Rommel begins his offense against the Gazala Line, made up of some 50 miles of British defenses.
May 26th
1942
Beginning at 7:00PM, the German 90th Infantry Division, the 15th and 21st Panzer Divisions and the Italian XX Corps under Rommel launch their offensive along the southern portion of the Gazala Line.
May 27th
1942
German forces south of Bir Hacheim make progress and begin to move northwards.
May 28th
1942
While trying to take Sidra Ridge, German Panzer force casaulties begin to mount significantly.
May 30th
1942
RAF Bomber Command attack Cologne with 1,046 aircraft in the first of their "1,000 Bomber" raids.
May 31st
1942
Rommel orders his forces to begin defensive preparations across a 10 mile stretch.
May 31st
1942
As the Allied defense along the Gazala line holds, Rommel is forced to change tactics, now concentrating his forces against the British 150th Brigade near Sidi Muftah.
June 1st - June 30th
1942
June of 1942 marks the single worst month of Allied shipping losses, totaling some 834,000 tons of goods at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
June 1st - June 3rd
1942
A German pocket develops near Sidi Muftah.
June 1st
1942
Nearly 30% of German tanks have been lost in Rommel's offensive.
June 5th
1942
The Allies attempt an offensive to drive the German pocket back from Sidi Muftah and fail. 230 Allied tanks are lost in the attack.
June 6th
1942
The British 150th Brigade is utterly destroyed under the German assault, resulting in 4,000 British prisoners of war.
June 11th
1942
The German Army breaks out of their pocket near Sidi Muftah.
June 11th
1942
German forces breaking out near Sidi Muftah target the British 7th Armored Division near El Adem.
June 11th
1942
The Allies go into full retreat as the Germans advance.
June 27th
1942
British convoy PQ17 sets sail from Reykjavik, Iceland.
June 27th - July 28th
1942
Convoy PQ17 loses 34 of its 36 ships to Geman U-Boats and surface ships.
July 1st
1942
German General Erwin Rommel attempts to break through the Allied defensive perimeter at El Alamein.
July 1st - July 22nd
1942
The First Battle of El Alamein takes place with Erwin Rommel hoping to put a dent in the Allied defense near El Alamain. Rommel's forces consist of his Afrika Corps and three Italian troop corps.
July 3rd
1942
The Allies put up a stubborn defense, repelling Rommel's offensive.
July 7th
1942
This date is set aside for Operation Rutter - the amphibious landing at the port city of Dieppe in occupied France.
July 7th
1942
Bad weather cancels this original date for Operation Rutter. Discussions begin on whether or not to nix the entire endeavor. It returns to the planning stages under a new name - Operation Jubilee.
August 1st - August 31st
1942
Any further convoys passing to the Arctic to Russia are suspended for the time being as resources are pressed for service in the Allied landings occurring in North Africa.
August 1st
1942
De Havilland DH 98 Mosquito twin-engine fighters are assigned as "Pathfinder" units charged with lighting up ground targets via flares and incendiary ordnance for ensuing RAF heavy bombers.
August 1st - August 30th
1942
Churchill replaces 8th Army leader Major-General Neil Ritchie with General Bernard Montgomery.
August 1st - August 30th
1942
British Prime Minister relieves General Auchinleck with General Harold Alexander as Commander-in-Chief, Middle East.
August 19th
1942
At 3:48 AM, several Allied invasion vessels run into a German convoy, which actively engages the ships, ruining any chance the Allies held in the element of surprise. This event is a fore-telling of the day to follow.
August 19th
1942
By 2:00 PM, all survivors of the Dieppe invasion have been rescued. Left behind are 3,367 casualties, wounded, prisoners of war or missing.
August 19th
1942
At 5:35 AM, Allied armor makes it to the beach. Over half of the tanks are lost in the action.
August 19th
1942
This date is targeted for Operation Jubilee.
August 19th
1942
Operation Jubilee is officially put into action.
August 19th
1942
By 11:00 AM, disaster has completely befallen the invaders. Many are trapped, forced back or dead to a prepared German defense.
August 19th
1942
4,962 Canadian soldiers, along with 1,000 British troops and a 50-man contingent of American US Army Rangers set sail on no fewer than 237 boats towards Dieppe.
August 21st
1942
Nazi-allied French leader Marshal Petain celebrates the German victory over the Allied invasion at Dieppe.
August 30th
1942
Rommel begins a new offensive starting from Bab el Qattara that becomes the Battle of Alam Halfa near El Alamein. The objective is the high ridge at Alam Halfa some 13 miles through the Allied defensive perimeter in the south.
September 1st - September 30th
1942
The month is spent ironing out plans for the Allied invasion of German-occupied North Africa.
September 2
1942
Rommel's assault is thwarted, his tank forces suffering high losses in the attack - and his army is pushed back to Bab el Qattara.
Setember 2nd - September 26th
1942
Convoy PQ18 reaches Russia despite losing 13 of her ships.
September 2nd
1942
Convoy PQ18 sets sail for Russia, comprised of some 40 ships and beefed up protection through 17 destroyers. The escort carrier HMS Avenger provides air cover.
September 3rd - October 23rd
1942
General Montgomery decides to make El Alamein a war of numbers and stockpiles his supplies to eventually try to overwhelm the Germans.
September 10th
1942
100,000 incendiary bombs are dropped on Dusseldorf by no fewer than 476 RAF bombers.
October 23rd
1942
At 10:00PM, British XIII Corps hits the German 21st Panzer Division and Italian Brescia and Folgore Divisions in the south of the German defensive wall as a diversion to its north-bound actions.
October 23rd
1942
XXX and X Corps begin their assault on Axis nothern positions.
October 23rd
1942
The Allied counter-offensive begins through Operation Lightfoot, a massive artillery bombardment of dug-in German forces.
October 25th
1942
Allied mine-clearing operations begin while combat continues
October 25th
1942
Montgomery enacts Operation Supercharge and pulls some diversionary forces from his southern attacks to reinforce the north where losses continue to mount.
October 25th
1942
Four Allied brigades have managed to break through the German defensive lines.
November 2nd
1942
As more and more Allied armor crosses through the German perimeter, Rommel orders his battle-weary forces on an eastward retreat, keeping his forces within easy access to the North African coast.
November 4th
1942
British X Corps makes a substantial gain in capturing Tel el Aqqaqir, running straight through the beleagured Axis lines, effectively ending the Battle of El Alamain in favor of the Allies. The victory is a major one for the Germans are in full retreat throughout North Africa. The action officially ends all Axis presence on the continent.
November 7th
1942
Three Allied task forces - the US Western, Central and the British Eastern - approach the coast of North Africa.
November 8th
1942
French General Mast surrenders to the British Eastern Task Force.
November 8th
1942
The Allied invasion forces reach North African shores.
November 9th
1942
The first French cease-fires begin to ring out across Algeria and Morocco.
November 11th
1942
The British Eastern Task force capture the strategic airfield at Djidjelli via Bougie from Algiers.
November 12th
1942
British paratroopers land near Bone and take the nearby airfield.
November 12th
1942
German paratrooper forces attack the British paratroopers near Bone but are repelled.
November 12th
1942
German paratroopers move into the area near the airfield at Bone.
November 16th
1942
Allied forces begin their move into German-held Tunisia.
November 16th
1942
British paratroopers land and capture the airfield at Soul el Arba.
November 17th
1942
The Allies capture Beja.
November 18th
1942
The Allies take Sidi Nsir.
November 20th
1942
The Allied assault on the strategic city of Medjez el Bab begins.
November 26th
1942
Medjez el Bab falls to the Allies.
November 30th
1942
Despite the consistent progression throughout North Africa, the Allied invasion offensive grounds to a halt in the face of growing German resistance at key junctions. The total liberation of North Africa will have to wait.
December 31st
1942
The Battle of Barents Sea takes place. Convoy JW51B comes under attack from German surface ships comrpised of the battleships KMS Admiral Hipper and KMS Lutzow along with 6 destroyers. Six British destroyers are up to the task as they repel the much larger force at the cost of two Royal Navy destroyers. No merchant vessels are lost to enemy fire. The loss in battle forces the resignation of German Navy Admiral Raeder and leaves Adolph Hitler hungry for blood.
January 1st
1943
The H2S navigation system is delivered to the RAF for installation into bombers.
January 14th
1943
U-boat bases at Cherbourg and Lorient are targeted by the Royal Air Force.
March 1st - July 31st
1943
Any further British convoy runs to Russia are postponed as supplies are funneled to other areas of the Atlantic.
March 4th
1943
RAF Bomber Command numbers total some 950 bombers of various types. Most important are the Avro Lancasters.
March 5th
1943
For the first time, RAF bombers make use of the "Oboe" navigational aid in a large-scale operation.
May 1st
1943
Allied aircraft are fitted with U-boat detecting radar systems.
May 1st - May 31st
1943
By the end of May, 43 U-boats are sunk to just 34 merchant vessels.
May 16th
1943
RAF bombers make their most famous raid of the war to date - this through Operation Chastise - as 19 Lancasters attack the dams at Mohne, Eder, Sorpe and Schwelme supplying power to the Ruhr industrial sector. 9,000lb bouncing mines are used in the successful attack.
May 19th
1943
Some 33 U-boats assail an Allied convoy. However, the streamlined Allied response nets zero ship losses and fatalities. The U-boats come up empty.
June 1st - June 30th
1943
British and American authorities work together to formulate the Pointblank Directive - a combined air bombing campaign against the air production facilities of the German Luftwaffe.
June 1st
1943
The German U-boats are unleashed once more, this time operating in substantially smaller groups.
June 6th
1943
The Allied D-Day landings in the North of France eventually render the French-German U-boat bases inoperable.
July 1st
1943
No fewer than eight German U-Boats shadow convoy PQ17.
July 9th
1943
The Allied invasion fleets sail out to Sicily.
July 10th
1943
The British 5th Division takes Cassibile.
July 10th
1943
Operation Husky begins. Target - German-held Sicily. Some 2,590 naval vessels take part in the invasion which encompasses two army groups of American and British forces invading at two different coasts of the island.
July 10th
1943
US 82nd Airborne Division and British 1st Airborne Division paratroopers land at strategic locations across Sicily prior to the invasion force's arrival.
July 10th
1943
15th Army Group begins their initial assault to the south.
July 11th
1943
The Hermann Goring Panzer Division engages the US 1st Infantry Division at Gela. US forces are assited by offshore bombardment from Royal Navy ships and repel the German attack.
July 13th
1943
Allied airborne elements parachute into Sicily and capture key bridges. However, a German counter-attack drives back any gains of the day.
July 13th
1943
By this date, some 478,000 Allied troops have landed on Sicily.
July 14th
1943
German Paratroopers repel Allied forces from the Primasole bridge.
July 14th
1943
The Allies control key airfields across the island, allowing air support more resources from which to work with.
July 14th
1943
British and American forces finally meet at Comiso and Ragusa.
July 17th
1943
The Primsole bridge is recaptured from the Germans.
July 25th
1943
With Mussolini deposed back in Rome, Hitler has few options but to plan a retreat for his overwhelmed forces in Sicily. As such, he orders an official withdrawel.
July 27th
1943
RAF bombers make use of "Window" foil strips to disrupt enemy tracking radars.
July 27th
1943
44,600 Hamburg civilians are killed by RAF bomber attacks.
August 5th
1943
After some time, the British finally capture the port at Catania. Though a vital and strategic victory, their advance delays the operation some.
August 17th
1943
The US 3rd Division gives the official "all clear" from their position in Messina. Operation Husky is a success and Sicily is firmly in Allied hands.
September 22nd
1943
Royal Navy midget submarines attack the German battleship KMS Tirpitz. Though not sunk to action, she takes on enough damage to sideline her for six months.
November 1st - November 30th
1943
In this month, Allies convoys in the Artic resume their activities.
November 18th
1943
444 RAF bombs drop ordnance on the German capital of Berlin with only 9 loss to enemy fire.
November 30th
1943
The British and Americans devise Operation Argument to counter the Luftwaffe threat through a round-the-clock bombing offensive; bad weather postpones any action.
December 26th
1943
The German battleship KMS Scharnhorst and 5 destroyers engage convoy JW55B.
December 26th
1943
At 7:30 PM, the KMS Scharnhorst is lost to action by Royal Navy surface warships, leaving just 36 of her crew alive.
January 11th
1944
The first major Allied offensive to take Cassino is launched.
January 21st
1944
In the afternoon hours, an Allied convoy of 243 ships sets sail from the Bay of Naples for the beaches at Anzio and nearby Nettuno.
January 22nd
1944
British forces hold the line at River Moletta.
January 22nd
1944
American forces hold the line at Mussolini Canal.
January 22nd
1944
By 12AM midnight, some 45,000 Allied troops and 3,000 vehicles are on the beaches.
January 22nd
1944
Operation Shingle, the amphibious landings at Anzio, is enacted by the Allied. In lead is the US VI Corps under Major-General John Lucas.
January 23rd
1944
The German Luftwaffe begins heavy strafing attacks and bombardment of Allied forces.
January 23rd
1944
The Anzio beachhead is consolidated into a concentrated pocket on the orders of Lucas.
January 23rd
1944
German Colonel-General von Mackensen takes control of the new 14th Army headquartered 30 miles west of Rome.
January 25th
1944
The Anzio beachhead continues to grow with Allied troops and equipment, making it a prime target for the regrouping Germans.
January 28th
1944
The US 1st Armored Division captures the town of Aprilia.
January 28th
1944
The Germans are driven back at Cisterna.
January 28th
1944
By this date, some 70,000 men, 27,000 tons of goods, 508 artillery guns and 237 tanks are ashore on the beachhead.
January 28th
1944
Von Mackensen moves six divisions to Anzio, some ten miles of the Allied beachhead.
January 28th
1944
Hitler delivers an ultimatum to supreme commander-in-chief over Italy operations, Field Marshall Kesselring, to fight to the death and drive the invading Allied forces into the sea.
January 30th
1944
The Allies suffer some 5,000 casualties in the Anzio action by this date.
January 31st
1944
Von Mackensen's forces now number some eight divisions in strength.
February 11th
1944
A blanket retreat is enacted by the Allies in an attempt to regroup and plan a new strategy to take Cassino.
February 12th
1944
Winston Churchill pens a critical letter to supreme commander-in-chief of Allied operations in Italy. In his writings he claims he expected to see "a wild cat roaring" and has seen nothing but a "whale wallowing on the beaches".
February 14th
1944
The offensive is detailed further, taking the latest developments into account.
February 15th
1944
In an effort to destroy the believed German defensive positions atop Monte Cassino, Allied bombers numbering 229 strong, lay waste to the monestary.
February 15th
1944
Following the Allied aerial bombardment, the second major Allied offensive to take Cassino is launched.
February 16th
1944
Kesselring launches a large counterattack against the invading Allied forces.
February 17th
1944
The Allies lose some four miles of territory but stand fast outside of Anzio.
February 19th - March 13th
1944
The Italian winter makes its arrival and postpones any further Allied offensives for the next month.
February 19th
1944
Better weather finally arrives allowing the RAF to send up its first 823-strong heavy bomber force. The target is Leipzig and 78 bombers are lost to the German defense.
February 20th
1944
Some 598 RAF bombers are sent airborne.
February 20th
1944
The German attack is more or less repelled, at the cost of 5,500 German casualties.
February 22nd
1944
The Allies replace the ineffective Major-General Lucas with Major-General Lucius Truscott.
February 23rd
1944
Bad weather postpones any further bombing actions for the time being. The Allies take this time to recoup and repair.
February 24th
1944
A British bomber force made up of Handley Page Halifaxes and Avro Lancasters take part in a night-bombing raid on Schweinfurt, dropping some 2,000 tons of ordnance on the area.
February 24th
1944
733 RAF bombers strike at Schweinfurt in a night time raid. 33 aircraft are lost.
February 24th
1944
With weather clearing, operations of Big Week continue. 266 American bombers strike Schweinfurt.
February 25th
1944
RAF bombers hit Augsburg with 594 aircraft in a night time raid.
February 25th
1944
By the end of it all, 3,300 Allied sorties are launched in the offensive and 226 bombers are lost. 290 German fighters are destroyed and another further 90 are damaged.
February 29th
1944
Von Mackensen cancels the German offensive amidst mounting casualties and little gain.
March 1st - May 22nd
1944
The Anzio engagement is limited to minor activity for the time being, with the Allies dug in and the Germans trying to dislodge the invaders by limited means.
March 15th - March 21st
1944
The 78th British Division makes headway thanks to the support of Allied armor.
March 15th - March 21st
1944
The 2nd New Zealand Division captures German-held position with the help of Allied armor support.
March 15th
1944
A third major Allied offensive is put into action.
March 15th - March 21st
1944
Positions on Monte Cassino are officially in Allied hands.
March 15th - March 21st
1944
Against mounting casualties but with tank support, the 4th Indian Division gains ground.
March 15th
1944
Artillery guns open up on Cassino while 600-plus Allied bombers attempt to shake the German defenders.
March 22nd
1944
With mounting losses in both manpower and tanks, further Allied thrusts are called off.
March 23rd - May 10th
1944
A lengthy six-week period allows the Allies to rebuild their forces - though this period allows the Germans to increase their defensive foothold.
March 30th - March 31st
1944
Some 100 Avro Lancaster and Handley Page Halifax bombers mistakenly drop 400-tons of ordnance on Schweinfurt, thinking that it is their target of Nuremburg.
March 30th
1944
795 RAF bombers attack Nuremburg with 95 aircraft lost to action. This mission marks the biggest RAF loss to date.
April 1st - June 5th
1944
Allied bombers increase their sorties across Northern and Western France in preparations of the D-Day landings. Targets include the vital railways, railyards, bridges and roads dotting the French landscape. These facilities will prove crucial to the German response to the invasion.
April 3rd
1944
The KMS Tirpitz is targeted once more and attack, this time by air elements of the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm. The battleship lives through the attack but suffers three more months of repairs as a result.
May 1st - July 31st
1944
The upcoming invasion at Normany puts a temporary halt on further convoy runs into Russia.
May 11th
1944
A combined British, Polish and American assault converge on Cassino involving the British 13th Corps, the Polish II Corps and the US 5th Army.
May 11th
1944
The fourth offensive to take Cassino is put into action.
May 11th
1944
Approximately 2,000 Allied artillery guns open up on Cassino.
May 17th
1944
June 5th is selected as the next official launch date for D-Day.
May 17th
1944
Weather on May 17th cancels the D-Day operation. Leaving the next best weather window of opportunity to be June 5th.
May 17th
1944
This date became one of the two best weather options for the Allied invasion of France.
May 18th
1944
Monte Cassino falls to the Allies, costing some 50,000 casualties along both sides of the battlefield.
May 18th
1944
The British take the town of Cassino.
May 23rd
1944
The US VI Corps breaks out of the Anzio perimeter and takes ground well into the Alban Hills.
May 25th
1944
The US VI Corps continues its gains and eventually combines with the arriving UU Corps. The road to Rome is now in the hands of the US Army and steps are taken for the final assault on the capital.
June 4th
1944
Official word comes down that the June 5th landings will be postponed due to inclement weather across the North Sea.
June 5th
1944
Some 6,000 naval vessels depart from the south of England towards France.
June 6th
1944
The British 50th Division pushed some 6 miles inland.
June 6th
1944
At approximately 7:25AM, forces of the British and Canadian armies wade ashore at beaches codenamed Gold and Juno.
June 6th
1944
Allied naval warships open up with their guns on German defensive positions along the French coast.
June 6th
1944
Despite the confusion on the part of the misdropped Allied paratroopers, the defending Germans are thrown into an equal level of confusion, noting Allied airdrops all around them.
June 6th
1944
No less than five key bridges over the Dives River are blown up by British paratroopers.
June 6th
1944
British paratroopers destroy the coastal fortifications at Merville.
June 6th
1944
British paratroopers of the 6th British Airborne Brigade land near Benouville.
June 6th
1944
In preparation for the arrival of the regular armies by way of amphibious landing, British and American airborne paratroopers arrive in France just after midnight.
June 6th
1944
The British paratroopers take the bridges over the Caen Canal and the Orne River.
June 6th
1944
By 8:00AM, most of the German defenders at or near Gold and Sword beaches have been cleared or are on the run.
June 6th
1944
The Canadian 3rd Infantry Division makes its way towards Juno beach. The German defenses, heavy seas and underwater obstacles cause a loss of 30 percent of the landing craft. The onshore result is equally grim as the Canadians are assaulted by the prepared Germans.
June 6th
1944
At approximately 10:00AM, British forces out of Gold beach take La Riviere.
June 6th
1944
British and French special forces elements out of Sword beach connect with the British paratroopers holding the key bridges over the Orne River.
June 6th
1944
At 4:00PM, the mobilized German 21st Panzer Division launches a counter-attack.
June 6th
1944
The German counter-attack reaches the beachhead at Sword.
June 6th
1944
The German 21st Panzer Division is repelled by a combined Allied armor and air assault, saving further actions at Sword.
June 6th
1944
By 8:00PM, the Canadian 3rd Infantry Division out of Juno beach connects with the British 50th Division out of Gold beach. This union becomes the largest Allied-held pocket in the north of France to this point.
June 6th
1944
The combined British and Canadian forces at Gold face little opposition and claim their objectives with little incident.
June 6th
1944
By midnight, D-Day is more or less over. Not all objectives are captured but progress is made nonetheless.
June 6th
1944
The British and Canadian forces out of Gold and Juno beaches enjoy the largest footholds in France, encompassing land holdings some 9 miles wide and 6.2 miles inland.
June 6th
1944
The Allied elements at Sword beach hold onto a 6-by-6 mile piece of land though they are still cut off from the Allies at Juno.
June 6th
1944
The British 3rd Division arriving at Sword beach face a stouter German defense but are able to overwhelm the enemy and establish a foothold.
July 7th
1944
After heavy bombing by British Royal Air Force elements, British and Canadian army forces regroup and begin their offensive to take Caen from the Germans.
July 13th
1944
A combined British and Canadian force is stopped outside of Caen by a determined German defense.
July 18th
1944
The British and Canadian launch Operation Goodwood against Caen. British armored elements are brought to bear against the dug-in and prepared Germans. The goal is to take all of Caen before focusing on Falaise.
July 20th
1944
While the British 2nd Army and 2nd Canadian Division can now lay claim to Caen, they fall short of advancement against Falaise. As such, Operation Goodwood is stopped.
July 26th
1944
The Polish government, in exile since the fall of their country to the invading Germans, communicates with the British government for help in staging the uprising.
July 27th
1944
The British government promises what it can and this emerges in the form of scattered air drops of weapons and supplies.
August 4th
1944
Realizing their chances of victory are slim against well-trained and well-armed Germans, Polish Authorities once again ask the Allies - including the Soviets - for assistance in maintaining the uprising.
August 7th
1944
A determined German counter-attack takes Mortain and heads towards Avranches before being stopped. Allied airstrikes and artillery stall the German advance.
August 8th
1944
US General Omar Bradley talks with British General Benard Law Montgomery about a plan to encircle some 21 divsions of Germans in the Falaise-Argentan pocket. Montgomery likes what he hears and give the plan the green light.
August 11th
1944
Sensing complete destruction of Warsaw and its people, the Pope himself appeals to the Allies for help.
August 15th - August 29th
1944
During another running battle, convoy JW59 and her surface warships inflict damage on the KMS Tirpitz.
August 22nd
1944
After some additional fighting that results in a further 10,000 German soldiers killed, the trapped elements of the German Army at Normandy surrender to the Allies. In all, some 50,000 soldiers of the German Army are taken prisoner.
August 25th
1944
The Allies reach the French capital of Paris.
August 25th
1944
Paris is liberated by the arriving Allies.
August 26th
1944
Brigadier-General Charles de Gaulle, leader of the Free French forces, leads a contingent of Allied troops on a march down the Champs Elysees to a thunderous reception by liberated French citizens.
September 17th
1944
General Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe, approves General Montgomery's Operation Market Garden.
September 17th
1944
Operation Market Garden is activated. Parachute landings take place at Eindhoven, Veghel, Grave and Oosterbeek.
September 17th
1944
British paratroopers landing at Arnhem run straight into the 9th and 10th SS Panzer Divisions who are in the area ungoing refitting. The bridge at Arnhem is captured by British forces but the group is quickly cut off from help by the Germans.
September 18th
1944
Josef Stalin refuses further Allied use of his forward airfields to resupply the Polish insurgents.
September 18th
1944
The British XXX Corps fights its way through a dedicated German resistance up the main artery road leading to Eindhoven. They finally unite with the 101st Airborne forces having landed at Eindhoven and Veghel.
September 19th
1944
The British XXX Corps officially unites with the US 82nd Airborne Division forces having landed at Grave.
September 20th
1944
British XXX Corps is delayed a full day from reaching beleagured paratrooper forces at Arnhem.
September 20th
1944
The US 82nd Airborne, backed by the British XXX Corps, take the bridge over the Waal River at Nijmegen.
September 21st
1944
British XXX Corps is slowed down once more, this time by German anti-tank forces and artillery emplacements north of Nijmegen and along the route to Arnhem.
September 21st
1944
British paratroopers at Arnhem give up control of their bridge against a stronger German foe and instead concentrate on surviving by utilizing the town of Arnhem itself as a defense.
September 22nd
1944
Elements of the Polish Parachute Brigade, delayed multiple times from earlier participation in the operation, finally land south of Arnhem. Their mission is to reinforce the battered British 1st Airborne Division.
September 23rd
1944
141 RAF bombers take on the Dortmund-Ems Canal. Some of these bombers make use of the massive "Tallboy" 12,000lb bomb.
September 25th
1944
Remaining elements of the British 1st Airborne Division out of Arnhem make their way across the Neder Rijn River in retreat. They intend on meeting up with XXX Corps still making their way to the area.
September 25th
1944
At Arnhem, some 6,000 Allied soldiers are taken prison by the Germans. A further 1,000 lay dead from the fighting.
September 27th
1944
South of Arnhem, Allied forces continue to hold their gains. Over the next few months, some 3,500 casualties will be counted.
November 1st - November 30th
1944
As the German defensive circle shrinks througout Europe, the Artic Convoys enjoy their best month, seeing not one vessel lost to enemy action.
November 12th
1944
The KMS Tirpitz is finally destroyed at Troms by forces of the RAF.
December 19th
1944
Allied generals agree to commit elements of the Saar Front against the southern flanks of the German advance, this in the area between Bastogne and Echternach.
December 20th
1944
British General Montgomery is charged with heading up the progress along the north line of defense while American General Bradley is given command of the south.
December 23rd
1944
Allied ground attack fighters target and destroy German ground vehicles and troop concentrations. Without air support of their own, there is little that the Germans can do in response.
December 23rd
1944
2,000 Allied air sorties are launched in improving skies against the Germans on the ground.
December 23rd
1944
Supplies are dropped from Allied transport planes to the beleagured forces held up at Bastogne.
December 25th
1944
After achieving 60 miles of territory - the farthest march of the German Ardennes Offensive - the 2nd Panzer Division under Lieutenant-General von Lauchert is stopped by a combined force of British and American armor made up of the British 29th Armored Brigade and the American 2nd Armored Division.
December 28th
1944
Hitler orders a halt to the advance - but no retreat - leaving his exposed and tired units at the mercy of the replenished Allied forces across the Ardennes Front.
January 1st
1945
Weeks of fighting see German forces destroyed, taken prisoner or sent packing as the Allies regroup and respond.
January 6th
1945
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the west coordinates via telegram with Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in the east on launching a combined January offensive. Churchill plans on the 20th as the target date.
February 7th
1945
By this date, all of the German gains of the Ardennes Offensive have been erased.
February 13th
1945
805 RAF bombers level the German city of Dresden, killing up to 130,000 of its inhabitants. The attack is notable for Dresden held little to no military or strategic value for Germany.
April 24th
1945
The British Royal Air Force slow down the 12th Army offensive through intense bombing.
May 1st
1945
By May of 1945, the U-boat scourge in the Atlantic is over, completing one of the more important battles in all of World War 2.
May 1st
1945
Berlin formally and unconditionally surrenders to the Soviet legions and Western Allies. General Jodl signs for the defeated Germans and Generals Bedell Smith and Suslaparov for the Allies.
May 1st - May 31st
1945
The last Artic Convoy voyage - with the designation of JW67 - between Britian and Russia is completed.
May 8th
1945
This day is formally announced as "VE Day" and celebrations break out across the world, though fighting in the Pacific against the Japanese Empire is ongoing.