Inter-war years diplomacy
Major Events of World War II

Year
Events
1939
  • Hitler invades Poland on 1 September. Britain and France declare war on Germany two days later.
1940
  • Rationing starts in the UK.
  • German 'Blitzkrieg' overwhelms Belgium, Holland and France.
  • Churchill becomes Prime Minister of Britain.
  • British Expeditionary Force evacuated from Dunkirk.
  • British victory in Battle of Britain forces Hitler to postpone invasion plans.
1941
  • Hitler begins Operation Barbarossa - the invasion of Russia.
  • The Blitz continues against Britain's major cities.
  • Allies take Tobruk in North Africa, and resist German attacks.
  • Japan attacks Pearl Harbor, and the US enters the war.
1942
  • Germany suffers setbacks at Stalingrad and El Alamein.
  • Singapore falls to the Japanese in February - around 25,000 prisoners taken.
  • American naval victory at Battle of Midway, in June, marks turning point in Pacific War.
  • Mass murder of Jewish people at Auschwitz begins.
1943
  • Surrender at Stalingrad marks Germany's first major defeat.
  • Allied victory in North Africa enables invasion of Italy to be launched.
  • Italy surrenders, but Germany takes over the battle.
  • British and Indian forces fight Japanese in Burma.
1944
  • Allies land at Anzio and bomb monastery at Monte Cassino.
  • Soviet offensive gathers pace in Eastern Europe.
  • D Day: The Allied invasion of France. Paris is liberated in August.
  • Guam liberated by the US Okinawa, and Iwo Jima bombed
1945
  • Auschwitz liberated by Soviet troops.
  • Russians reach Berlin: Hitler commits suicide and Germany surrenders on 7 May.
  • Truman becomes President of the US on Roosevelt's death, and Attlee replaces Churchill.
  • After atomic bombs are dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan surrenders on 14 August.
BBC Summary of Key Events
Some Important Topics (Linked to other pages)
The Blitz
The Fall of France
Miracle at Dunkirk
Total War
Blitzkrieg
The Battle of Britain
The V- Weapons