World War 2 Events by Country - France

Listing of all day-by-day events of the Second World War related to the nation of France.

World War 2 spanned across language barriers, cultures, and borders as it wreaked havoc around the globe. The conflict was made up of several major theaters - spanning nearly all oceans and continents - which contained many individual campaigns and, within these, key battles and events on both the military and political spectrums. The war was fought with equal fervor and verocity across the land, on the sea (and under it), and in the air as millions of men and women answered the call of their respective flags - or happened to find themselves in the war's path with no option but to fight. In the end, the fractured world opened its eyes to a new order - one that would usher in a whole new trial in the Cold War and lead to the establishment of dozens of independent countries heading towards the end of the century.

There are a total of (133) World War 2 Events by Country - France events in the database. Entries are listed below by date-of-occurrence ascending (first-to-last). Other leading and trailing events may also be included for perspective.
Day-by-Day Timeline of Events

Saturday, September 2nd, 1939

The governments of Britain and France deliver their ultimatums to German officials in regards to the German invasion of Poland.

Sunday, September 3rd, 1939

France declares war on Germany.

Thursday, September 7th, 1939

French forces begin light fighting against German elements near Saarbrucken.

Monday, September 10th, 1939

General Lord Gort and his British Expeditionary Force begin to arrive on French soil.

Wednesday, September 13th, 1939

French Prime Minister Edouard Daladier begins setting up his war cabinet.

Saturday, December 2nd, 1939

The Finnish government seeks assistance from the League of Nations.

Thursday, December 14th, 1939

The Soviet Union is expelled from the League of Nations.

Monday, 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.

Saturday, February 24th, 1940

Following General von Manstein's recommendation, the German invasion plans of Western Europe are revised to send armored forces through the "impassable" Ardennes Forest.

Wednesday, March 20th, 1940

French PM Daladier resigns his post after the failure to save Finland.

Thursday, 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.

Sunday, April 14th, 1940

An Allied rescue force made up of British, Polish, and French begin arriving at Namsos, Alesund, and Narvik.

Saturday, April 20th - April 30th, 1940

The German defense at Trondheim holds and prepares for reinforcements.

Wednesday, May 1st - May 2nd, 1940

Allied forces abandon their missions at Namsos and Andalsnes.

Wednesday, April 24th, 1940

Allied naval guns open up on German positions at Narvik in preparation for a ground assault.

Friday, May 3rd, 1940

Duringan evacuation operation, the French destroyer Bison and the British destroyer Afridi are sunk by air attack.

Sunday, May 5th, 1940

French and Polish forces land at Tromso and Harstad.

Monday, May 13th, 1940

French forces land at Bjerkvik.

Tuesday, May 21st, 1940

The Allies are able to make some gains near Narvik.

Sunday, May 26th, 1940

The British lose HMS Curlew in an attack from the air.

Monday, May 27th, 1940

The Allies enter Narvik.

Saturday, June 1st, 1940

The British and French governments notify the Norwegian government of their plans to evacuate.

Tuesday, June 4th, 1940

Allied forces at Harstad begin their evacuation of the area.

Monday, June 17th, 1940

French Marshal Henri-Philippe Petain, having replaced outsted Prime Minister Paul Reynaud, ask Germany for armistice terms.

Monday, June 24th, 1940

The formal signing of the French surrender takes place at Compiegne - site of the original German surrender of World War 1.

Sunday, September 22nd, 1940

Japanese forces enter French Indochina now being governed by French Vichy.

Monday, 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.

Monday, September 24th, 1940

Vichy French air elements launch unsuccessful attacks on British positions at Gibraltar.

Friday, October 18th, 1940

The Vichy French government imposes anti-semitic laws upon the local Jewish population.

Thursday, March 21st, 1940

Paul Reynaud succeeds Edouard Daladier as France's Prime Minister.

Saturday, 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.

Tuesday, 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.

Wednesday, May 15th, 1940

German Panzer Corps cross into the north of France.

Friday, May 17th - May 18th, 1940

Allied forces are in full retreat of the Germans, making their way towards the French coastline.

Monday, 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.

Monday, 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.

Tuesday, 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.

Friday, 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.

Friday, May 24th, 1940

German Luftwaffe bombers hammer Allied defensive positions in and around the French port city of Dunkirk.

Saturday, May 25th, 1940

The German Army takes Boulogne.

Saturday, May 25th, 1940

More and more retreating Allied units arrive at the French port city of Dunkirk.

Sunday, May 26th, 1940

Hitler orders his army forces towards Dunkirk for the final blow to the Allied cause.

Sunday, May 26th, 1940

Operation Dynamo - the all-out evacuation of Allied forces from Dunkirk - officially begins at 6:57 PM.

Sunday, 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.

Tuesday, May 28th, 1940

King Leopold of Belgium orders his army to surrender to the Germans. By this time, his government has already relocated to Paris, France.

Tuesday, 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.

Tuesday, 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.

Tuesday, May 28th, 1940

By the end of this day, some 25,473 British soldiers have been evacuated from France.

Wednesday, May 29th, 1940

Another 47,000 British troops are evacuated from Dunkirk.

Thursday, May 30th, 1940

6,000 French soldiers join some 120,000 total Allied soldiers evacuated from Dunkirk on this day.

Friday, May 31st, 1940

Over 150,000 Allied soldiers (including some 15,000 French) arrive in Britain.

Saturday, June 1st, 1940

Defense of the outlying region near Dunkirk now passes to French XVI Corps.

Tuesday, June 4th, 1940

German Luftwaffe bombers cease bombardment of Dunkirk.

Tuesday, 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.

Tuesday, June 4th, 1940

Some 40,000 French soldiers are taken prisoner by Germany at the fall of Dunkirk.

Saturday, July 6th, 1940

German ships begin operating out of captured bases along the French coast.

Wednesday, May 20th, 1942

The 2nd Canadian Infantry Division begins training for Operation Rutter on the Isle of Wight.

Wednesday, May 27th, 1942

The 1st Free French Brigade at Bir Hacheim holds off the German progress.

Wednesday, June 10th, 1942

The 1st Free French Brigade at Bir Hacheim can hold no more and retreat under the mounting German pressure.

Tuesday, July 7th, 1942

This date is set aside for Operation Rutter - the amphibious landing at the port city of Dieppe in occupied France.

Tuesday, 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.

Wednesday, August 19th, 1942

This date is targeted for Operation Jubilee.

Wednesday, August 19th, 1942

Operation Jubilee is officially put into action.

Wednesday, 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.

Wednesday, 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.

Wednesday, August 19th, 1942

At 4:30 AM, Canadian soldiers wade ashore and take on the German coastal batteries at Berneval, Puys, Pourville and Varengville.

Wednesday, August 19th, 1942

At 5:20 AM, the main invasion force - made up of the 14th Army Tank Regiment, the Essex Scottish Regiment, and the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry - come ashore.

Wednesday, August 19th, 1942

At 5:35 AM, Allied armor makes it to the beach. Over half of the tanks are lost in the action.

Wednesday, 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.

Wednesday, 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.

Friday, August 21st, 1942

Nazi-allied French leader Marshal Petain celebrates the German victory over the Allied invasion at Dieppe.

Sunday, November 8th, 1942

The US Western and Central task forces tangle with Vichy French opposition.

Sunday, November 8th, 1942

At Oran, French coastal guns destroya US transport with 200 soldiers aboard.

Sunday, November 8th, 1942

French General Mast surrenders to the British Eastern Task Force.

Monday, November 9th, 1942

The first French cease-fires begin to ring out across Algeria and Morocco.

Monday, November 9th, 1942

US forces tangle with a suprisingly stout French defense. It was believed that the two country's histories would have brought France to surrender rather than fight a former ally.

Wednesday, November 11th, 1942

French Admiral Jean Francios Darlan joins French General Alphonse Juin in calling an all-out cease fire for French forces throughout Africa.

Wednesday, November 11th, 1942

The British Eastern Task force capture the strategic airfield at Djidjelli via Bougie from Algiers.

Sunday, November 15th, 1942

American paratroopers land at the airfield near Youks les Bains

Sunday, June 6th, 1943

The Allied D-Day landings in the North of France eventually render the French-German U-boat bases inoperable.

Saturday, 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.

Tuesday, January 11th, 1944

French Expeditionary Corps assail the outer defences at Cassino, achieving modest gains.

Tuesday, January 11th, 1944

The first major Allied offensive to take Cassino is launched.

Sunday, January 16th, 1944

The US IC Corps and the French Expeditionary Corps arrive at Rapido River.

Friday, February 11th, 1944

A blanket retreat is enacted by the Allies in an attempt to regroup and plan a new strategy to take Cassino.

Tuesday, February 15th, 1944

Following the Allied aerial bombardment, the second major Allied offensive to take Cassino is launched.

Saturday, February 19th - March 13th, 1944

The Italian winter makes its arrival and postpones any further Allied offensives for the next month.

Wednesday, March 15th, 1944

A third major Allied offensive is put into action.

Wednesday, March 15th, 1944

Artillery guns open up on Cassino while 600-plus Allied bombers attempt to shake the German defenders.

Wednesday, March 15th - March 21st, 1944

Positions on Monte Cassino are officially in Allied hands.

Wednesday, March 22nd, 1944

With mounting losses in both manpower and tanks, further Allied thrusts are called off.

Thursday, 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.

Saturday, 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.

Thursday, May 11th, 1944

The fourth offensive to take Cassino is put into action.

Wednesday, May 17th, 1944

This date became one of the two best weather options for the Allied invasion of France.

Wednesday, May 17th, 1944

Weather on May 17th cancels the D-Day operation. Leaving the next best weather window of opportunity to be June 5th.

Wednesday, May 17th, 1944

June 5th is selected as the next official launch date for D-Day.

Thursday, May 18th, 1944

Monte Cassino falls to the Allies, costing some 50,000 casualties along both sides of the battlefield.

Sunday, June 4th, 1944

Official word comes down that the June 5th landings will be postponed due to inclement weather across the North Sea.

Monday, June 5th, 1944

Some 6,000 naval vessels depart from the south of England towards France.

Tuesday, 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.

Tuesday, June 6th, 1944

Elements of the US 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions land across the Cotentin Peninsula. Despite all of the planning, their dropzones are widely scattered.

Tuesday, June 6th, 1944

British paratroopers of the 6th British Airborne Brigade land near Benouville.

Tuesday, June 6th, 1944

The British paratroopers take the bridges over the Caen Canal and the Orne River.

Tuesday, June 6th, 1944

British paratroopers destroy the coastal fortifications at Merville.

Tuesday, June 6th, 1944

No less than five key bridges over the Dives River are blown up by British paratroopers.

Tuesday, 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.

Tuesday, June 6th, 1944

Allied naval warships open up with their guns on German defensive positions along the French coast.

Tuesday, June 6th, 1944

At approximately 6:30AM, American Army forces begin landing at two key beaches, codenamed Utah and Omaha.

Tuesday, June 6th, 1944

US Army forces arriving at Utah beach find themselves some 2,000 yards away from where they should be. The result is the force finds little German opposition at Utah. Their original landing zone was to be centered around Les-Dunes-de-Varreville. Total casualties from the landing are 300 personnel.

Tuesday, June 6th, 1944

The US Army forces arriving at Omaha beach face a prepared, stout and veteran defense made possible by the German 352nd Division. After 2,400 casualties, the 1st US Infantry Division holds a beachhead.

Tuesday, June 6th, 1944

At approximately 7:25AM, forces of the British and Canadian armies wade ashore at beaches codenamed Gold and Juno.

Tuesday, June 6th, 1944

The combined British and Canadian forces at Gold face little opposition and claim their objectives with little incident.

Tuesday, June 6th, 1944

The British 50th Division pushed some 6 miles inland.

Tuesday, 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.

Tuesday, 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.

Tuesday, 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.

Tuesday, June 6th, 1944

At approximately 10:00AM, British forces out of Gold beach take La Riviere.

Tuesday, June 6th, 1944

The Canadians out of Juno beach take Bernieres at about 11:00AM.

Tuesday, June 6th, 1944

Near the town of Pouppeville, the US 4th Infantry Division at Utah beach connects with the 101st Airborne Division paratroopers.

Tuesday, 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.

Tuesday, June 6th, 1944

At 4:00PM, the mobilized German 21st Panzer Division launches a counter-attack.

Tuesday, June 6th, 1944

The German counter-attack reaches the beachhead at Sword.

Tuesday, June 6th, 1944

The German 21st Panzer Division is repelled by a combined Allied armor and air assault, saving further actions at Sword.

Tuesday, 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.

Tuesday, June 6th, 1944

By midnight, D-Day is more or less over. Not all objectives are captured but progress is made nonetheless.

Tuesday, 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.

Tuesday, 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.

Tuesday, June 6th, 1944

Omaha statistics are grim and the group holds the least amount of real estate at just 4.3 miles across and 1.2 miles inland. However, they do hold positions in Vierville sur Mer, Colleville and St-Laurent sur Mer.

Tuesday, June 6th, 1944

The first town in France - Ste Mere Eglise - is liberated by the Allies, this honor falling to the American forces from Utah beach and paratroopers from the previous day's drops.

Tuesday, June 6th, 1944

American forces at Utah beach hold pockets of land totaling just over 6 miles.

Saturday, January 20th, 1945

Hitler orders his 6th SS Panzer Army out of the Ardennes forrest on the West Front towards Budapest, Hungary in the east.

Wednesday, May 2nd, 1945

The war in Europe officially comes to a close.

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