World War II Chronology

The following chronology of some of the important events from 1941-1946 will help you with your Life magazine assignment. 

 (1941)

  • (Feb.6): General Rommel crosses from Italy to northern Africa to command German troops
  • (Mar.1) Bulgaria joins the Axis powers
  • (Apr.17) Yugoslavia surrenders to the Axis powers; (Apr.27) Germany occupies Greece
  • (May 10-11) Nazi bombers damage London's House of Commons, Westminster Abbey, and Big Ben
  • (May 27) The Bismarck is sunk off the French coast by the British Navy
  • (June 22) Germany and Italy formally declare war on the Soviet Union; Turkey declares neutrality
  • (June 27) Hungary declares war on the Soviet Union
  • (July 3) Stalin announces his "scorched earth defense" plan; (July 5) German troops now only 300 miles from Moscow -- nine million soldiers involved in the German and Russian conflict
  • (July 24) German troops now encamped outside Leningrad and Smolensk
  • (Aug. 11) Churchill and FDR sign the Atlantic Charter
  • (Sept.3) Germany's full blockade of Stalingrad now in effect; (Sept. 18) Stalin orders full conscription of all Soviet workers between ages of 18-50 for after-hours military training
  • (Sept.28) German authorities arrest Czech premier Alois Elias on charges of high treason; Mayor of Prague also arrested. Two days later, 159 executions announced.
  • (Oct.16) Axis powers capture Odessa; (Oct.19) Germany lays siege to Moscow
  • (Nov.6) U.S. announces $1 billion in lend-lease aid to the Soviet Union
  • (Nov.18) Britain begins invasion of Libya, pushing Rommel's forces back to the African coastline
  • (Dec.7) Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor -- 2 battleships and 4 other major vessels destroyed. Japanese air forces also attack U.S. bases in Guam, the Philippines, and Wake Island. Japan formally declares war on the U.S. after the attack.
  • (Dec.8) U.S., Great Britain, Vichy French government, and Canada declare war on Germany.

(1942)

  • (Jan.1) Allied nations sign pact, agreeing not to make separate peace with Germany.
  • (Jan.14-15) RAF begins heavy bombing of Hamburg and Rotterdam
  • (Jan.20) Nazi officials meet in Wannsee to plan the "final solution" to the European Jewish nation
  • (Jan.26) First American troops arrive in Britain
  • (Apr.18) U.S. Army Air Corps conducts successful raids of Tokyo and other Japanese cities
  • (May 6) U.S. surrenders Philippines to the Japanese
  • (May 30) Cologne decimated by Allied bombers
  • (June 4-5) The Battle of Midway -- U.S. cripples the Japanese fleet
  • (June 25) Eisenhower appointed commander in chief of Allied military forces
  • (Aug.7) U.S. troops land on Guadalcanal; fighting will continue with Japanese until Feb., 1943
  • (Sept. 14) Germany begins siege of Stalingrad
  • (Oct. 23-26) General Montgomery leads British Eighth Army in defeat of Rommel's forces at El Alamein
  • (Nov.8) Eisenhower leads Allied troops into North Africa to support British

(1943)

  • (Jan.14) Roosevelt and Churchill confer at Casablanca on overall schemes for war and demand unconditional surrender by Axis powers
  • (Jan.31) German army surrenders Stalingrad; Stalin announces capture of 45,000 POWs
  • (Feb.6) Last Japanese forces leave Guadalcanal
  • (Mar. 2-4) Japanese defeated in Battle of the Bismarck Sea, losing 22 ships and 50 aircraft to the Americans
  • (Apr.20) The Warsaw ghetto massacre occurs
  • (May 7-9) Allied forces take Tunisia and Bizerte
  • (Jul. 19) Allied forces bomb Rome for the first time
  • (Jul. 25) Mussolini resigns
  • (Sept.8) Eisenhower announces the unconditional surrender of Italy to the Allies.
  • (Sept. 10) Germany announces its occupation of Rome and northern Italy; (Sept.12) Germans rescue Mussolini from his home and take him to northern Italy, where new Fascist government forms
  • (Oct.19-30) Allies meet in Moscow and agree that Germany will be stripped of all territory gained since 1938.
  • (Nov.6) Russians retake Kiev
  • (Nov.28-Dec.1) Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill meet in Teheran to discuss war strategy and postwar world structure

(1944)

  • (Jan.22) Allied troops land in Anzio, Italy in attempt to penetrate German forces in central Italy -- fighting is slow and costly
  • (Jan.27) German siege of Leningrad ends
  • (Mar.4) American forces bomb Berlin; (Mar.6) 2,000 tons of Allied bombs dropped on city
  • (June 4) Allied forces enter Rome
  • (June 6) D-Day: Allied forces establish positions on beaches of Normandy, France and begin formal liberation of western Europe. Known as "Operation Overlord," the mission involves 4,000 ships, 3,000 planes, and 4 million troops.
  • (June 13) Germany begins massive air raids on Britain -- 7,000 bombs rain on Britain by August 24
  • (Jul.20) Assassination attempt against Hitler fails; staffers executed that night for treason
  • (Aug. 21-29) Allied powers meet in Washington, D.C. (Dumbarton Oaks conference) to begin discussions on formation of United Nations
  • (Aug.25) Allied troops liberate Paris; (Sept. 24) Allies liberate Brussels
  • (Sept.17-28) Allied attempts to secure Rhine fail
  • (Sept.29) Soviet army invades Yugoslavia
  • (Oct.20) MacArthur and American forces land in Philippines
  • (Oct.23-26) Battle of Letye Gulf : largest naval battle of war; Americans destroy remainders of Japanese naval fleet
  • (Dec.16) Battle of the Bulge: German General Karl von Rundstedt attempts offensive in Ardennes. The conflict is the last major German offensive of the war.

(1945)

  • (Jan.18) Soviets announce the liberation of Warsaw; (Jan.20) Hungary surrenders to the Allies
  • (Jan.27) Soviet army liberates Auschwitz
  • (Jan.29) Soviet troops cross the border of Poland and Germany; control East Prussia by Feb.2
  • (Feb.4-11) TheYalta Conference : Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, and other Allied leaders confer about postwar organization. Germany will be divided into separate zones, each occupied by Allied forces.
  • (Feb.14) Allies firebomb Dresden
  • (Feb.17) Allied troops land on Iwo Jima; island finally taken on March 17, costing 4,000 American lives
  • (Feb.24) Americans drive the last Japanese troops from Manila. Egypt declares war on Japan and Germany -- premier is immediately assassinated in Cairo
  • (Mar.7) First U.S. troops cross the Rhine at Remagen
  • (Mar.9) Allied bombers drop 2,300 tons of incendiary bombs on Tokyo
  • (Apr.1) Allies enter Okinawa; (Apr.9-13) Allies enter Vienna
  • (Apr.12) Roosevelt dies at Warm Springs, GA. Succeeded by Harry Truman.
  • (Apr.12) Americans liberate Buchenwald concentration camp
  • (Apr.21) Soviet troops reach Berlin; (Apr.25) U.N. conference opens in San Francisco
  • (Apr.28) Mussolini executed in Como, Italy
  • (Apr.29) U.S. Seventh Army reached Munich and liberates Dachau concentration camp.
  • (Apr.29) German troops in Italy surrender to Allies
  • (Apr.30) Hitler commits suicide in his Berlin bunker
  • (May 2) Germans surrender Berlin to the Soviets
  • (May 8) V-E Day : Germany formally surrenders to the Allies, ending the European war front
  • (May 22) Japanese surrender Okinawa to Allies
  • (July 5) U.S. completes reoccupation of Philippines -- at a cost of 12,000 men
  • (July 16) U.S. detonates first atomic bomb at Alamagordo Air Force Base, NM
  • (July 17-26) (Potsdam Conference) Truman, Stalin, Churchill, and other Allied leaders meet and issue the Potsdam Declaration, demanding unconditional surrender from Japan
  • (Aug.6) The Enola Gay drops an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, killing more than 50,000 and leveling four square city miles
  • (Aug.8) Soviet Union declares war on Japan
  • (Aug.9) U.S. drops atomic bomb on Nagasaki, killing 40,000 and destroying a third of the city
  • (Aug.10) Japan agrees to conditions of Potsdam Declaration
  • (Aug.15) V-J Day: Allies accept Japan's unconditional surrender.
  • (Sept.2) Aboard U.S.S. Missouri , Japan formally surrenders to Allies, ending World War II. Ho Chi Minh declares Vietnamese independence in Hanoi
  • (Oct.11-12) Col. Juan Peron seizes control of Argentina
  • (Nov.13) Charles de Galle elected head of French government
  • (Nov.20) The trials at Nuremberg begin -- prosecution of top Nazi officials for crimes against humanity
  • (Dec.27) Allied ministers, meeting in Moscow, call for provisional, democratic government in Korea. Soviet forces will control northern section (above 38th parallel) and U.S. troops will control southern section.

(1946)

  • (Feb.24) Juan Peron elected president of Argentina
  • (Mar 5) In speech at Westminster College, MO, Churchill warns that an "iron curtain…has descended across the continent."
  • (Apr.18) League of Nations conducts its final meeting, turning over its assets to the United Nations
  • (June 3) Italians vote for monarchy to be replaced with republic
  • (July 4) U.S. grants independence to Philippines
  • (Oct.13) French voters approve new constitution, establishing the Fourth Republic
  • (Oct.16) At Nuremberg, ten leading Nazis are executed for war crimes. Hermann Goring, commits suicide two hours before his execution.
  • (Nov.22) French forces bomb Hanoi and Haiphong, killing 6,000, attempting to gain a surrender from Vietnamese nationalists
  • (Dec.16) Leon Blum forms new French socialist government.