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World War Two:
Interactive graphical chronology


World War II map

Interactive maps:
European / Pacific theatre of operations

Europe 1939 Europe 1940 Europe 1941 Europe 1942 Europe 1943 Europe 1944 Europe 1945
Pacific 1937 Pacific 1939 Pacific 1941 Pacific 1942 Pacific 1943 Pacific 1944 Pacific 1945

INTRODUCTION: World War II was years in the making, as Adolf Hitler used lies, threats, and diplomacy to grab more and more territory, while the democratically elected leaders of Europe hoped to prevent war by appeasing him. In 1936, Germany occupied the Rhineland (which had been demilitarized), Italy conquered Ethiopia, and they both intervened in the Spanish Civil War on the side of the Fascists. In March 1938 Germany annexed Austria (the "Anschluss"), and at Munich in September, Britain and France agreed to have Czechoslovakia transfer land to Germany. In March 1939 Germany annexed the rest of Czechoslovakia, and hopes for peace faded fast. In East Asia, meanwhile, Japan had occupied Manchuria in 1931, and in 1937 it embarked on a war of aggression against China.

Introduction

Monthly chronology

Month, Year Western Europe Eastern Europe Mediterranean
(incl. Africa and Middle East)
Pacific
(and Southeast Asia)
Sept. 1939 Britain & France declare war on Germany. Germany conquers Poland, Soviets take east.
Oct. 1939 Britain sends forces to France. Soviets occupy Lithuania, Latvia, & Estonia.
Nov. 1939 "Phony War": Allies do little, morale falls.
Dec. 1939 Soviets invade Finland, but are repulsed.
Jan. 1940 Finns successfully counterattack Soviets. South African parliament rejects peace resol.
Feb. 1940 Soviet offensive breaches Finnish defenses.
Mar. 1940 Finland agrees to give land to USSR; peace.
Apr. 1940 Germany conquers Denmark & Norway.
May 1940 Germany invades Neth., Belg. & France.
June 1940 Brits evacuate Dunkirk; France surrenders. Soviets occupy Moldavia (east Romania). Italians in Libya & British in Egypt skirmish.
July 1940 Germans occupy British Channel Islands. New govt. in Romania joins Axis. Brit. ships attack French fleet in N. Africa. U.S. bans export of oil, etc., punishing Japan.
Aug. 1940 Battle of Britain begins: Luftwaffe vs. RAF Ger. forces Romania to cede land to Hungary. Italy conquers Brit. Somaliland from Ethiopia.
Sept. 1940 Germans bomb London, don't invade England. Protests in Romania, fascists take over. Italy invades Egypt; Free French fail at Dakar. Jap. troops enter Indochina; Ger.-It.-Jap. pact.
Oct. 1940 Germans focus on bombing cities: "Blitz." Italy invades Greece; Germans enter Romania. Italian forces in Egypt Dutch East Indies agrees to sell oil to Japan.
Nov. 1940 "Blitz" continues; Coventry devastated. Greeks counterattack; Hungary joins Axis. Brit. planes attack Italian fleet in Taranto.
Dec. 1940 "Blitz" continues. Greeks push further into Albania. Brit. offensive pushes Italians out of Egypt.
Jan. 1941 "Blitz" continues. Bulgaria joins Axis. Britain takes much of east Libya (Cyrenica), invades Italian-held Eritrea from Sudan.
Feb. 1941 "Blitz" continues, British raid in Norway. Most Italians surrender in Libya, Rommel arrives to help; Britain invades Italian Somaliland.
Mar. 1941 "Blitz" continues; U.S. Lend Lease Bill! Coup in Yugoslavia voids pro-Axis pact. Britain sends troops to Greece, sinks Italian ships at Cape Matapan.
Apr. 1941 "Blitz" continues. Germany conquers Yugoslavia & Greece. Germans take east Libya; British move into Iraq (pro-Axis) & liberate Ethiopia.
May 1941 Britain sinks German battleship Bismarck. Germans take Crete by air from Greece; Britain takes full control of Iraq.
June 1941 Churchill pledges help to USSR after Ger. inv. Germany invades USSR; rapid advance. Britain takes Syria from Vichy French.
July 1941 Germans encircle Minsk & Smolensk. New British commander in Egypt: Auchinleck
Aug. 1941 German offensive toward Leningrad British & Soviet forces move into Iran.
Sept. 1941 Germans encircle and then take Kiev. Britain and U.S.S.R. jointly occupy Teheran.
Oct. 1941 German offensive toward Moscow
Nov. 1941 German advance slows due to mud, snow. British offensive relieves Tobruk garrison.
Dec. 1941 Soviets counterattack from Moscow. Germans exit east Libya; Malta besieged. Japan bombs Hawaii, invades Philippines
Jan. 1942 Soviets punch big holes in German lines. German offensive in east Libya Japan takes Manila, invades Borneo, etc.
Feb. 1942 Soviets encircle 100,000 Germans in north. Japan takes Singapore, invades Sumatra.
Mar. 1942 British raid on French port of St. Nazaire. Germans manage to stop Soviet advance. Japan invades Java and Burma.
Apr. 1942 Hungarian, Romanian, Italian troops to Russia. Philippines surrender; Doolittle raid on Tokyo.
May 1942 German counterattack near Kharkov. Germans attack at Gazala, Libya. Battle of Coral Sea: threat to Australia fades.
June 1942 German summer offensive in south begins. Germany takes Tobruk & invades Egypt. Battle of Midway: 4 Jap. carriers are sunk.
July 1942 German subs sink many Allied cargo ships. Germans take Rostov, cross Don River. German attack at El Alamein fails. Japs land in New Guinea, clash with Australia.
Aug. 1942 Brit.-Canadian raid on French port of Dieppe. German forces near Stalingrad & Caucasus. New British commander in Egypt: Montgomery U.S. lands on Guadalcanal, naval battle.
Sept. 1942 Fierce street fighting in Stalingrad. 2nd German attack at El Alamein fails. Jap. attack at Guadal., sinks AC carrier.
Oct. 1942 More street fighting in Stalingrad British offensive at El Alamein Jap. attack at Guadal.; U.S. lands in N.G.
Nov. 1942 Soviets trap 250K Germans in Stalingrad. U.S. & Britain invade Morocco & Algeria. U.S. attack in Guadal.; 4 naval battles.
Dec. 1942 Germans fail to rescue 6th Army in Stalingrad. Germans rush forces into Tunisia. Australians take Jap. bases in New Guinea.
Jan. 1943 6th Army surrenders; siege of Leningrad end. Libya: British take Tripoli from Germans. Japan begins retreat in Guadalcanal.
Feb. 1943 Soviets advance, take Kharkov. Tunisia: German attack at Kasserine Pass. Japs exit Guadal.; "Chindits" attack in Burma.
Mar. 1943 Ger. subs sink 108 ships; British bomb Ruhr. German counteroffensive retakes Kharkov. Tunisia (south): British attack Mareth Line. Jap. ships sunk in Battle of Bismarck Sea.
Apr. 1943 British continue to bomb Ruhr. Uprising by Jews in Warsaw ghetto. Germans & Italians retreat toward Tunis. Jap. air attacks in Solomons & New Guinea.
May 1943 41 German subs are sunk, reducing threat. German anti-guerrilla offensive in Yugoslavia. Germans & Italians in Tunisia surrender. U.S. forces retake Attu Island. (Alaska)
June 1943 Italians surrender islands near Sicily. Jap. bombs Solomon Is., lose many planes.
July 1943 British bomb Hamburg, Cologne; 1,000 planes! German offensive at Kursk fails. U.S.-British-Canadian invasion of Sicily. U.S. landings on New Georgia. (Solomon Is.)
Aug. 1943 U.S. bombs Ploesti & Schweinfurt, big losses. Soviet counteroffensive from Kursk Germans withdraw intact from Sicily. U.S. lands at Kiska Is. (Alaska); Japs gone.
Sept. 1943 Yugoslav forces exploit Italian surrender. Italy surrenders; Allied invasion at Salerno Australians take Lae in New Guinea.
Oct. 1943 German anti-guerrilla offensive in Yugoslavia. Allies take Naples, Italy's main port. Jap. sends 173 planes to Rabaul; U.S. bombs.
Nov. 1943 British heavy bombing of Berlin, until March. Soviets recapture Kiev. Germans in Italy form strong defensive line. U.S. landings on Tarawa, Bougainville.
Dec. 1943 Soviets push further west from Kiev. Germans block U.S. offensive at Cassino. U.S. landings on New Britain. (Solomon Is.)
Jan. 1944 Soviet offensive in north. U.S.-British landing at Anzio, near Rome. U.S. air attacks cripple Jap. base in Rabaul.
Feb. 1944 U.S. & British bombing of aircraft factories. Breakout by Germans trapped in Ukraine. Italy: German counterattack at Anzio. U.S. landings on Kwajalein. (Marshall Is.)
Mar. 1944 Sov. offensive in Ukraine traps 1st Pz. Army. Italy: another attack on Cassino fails. Jap. offensive from Burma into India.
Apr. 1944 Soviets take Odessa, attack into Crimea. Japs lose battles of Imphal & Kohima, India.
May 1944 Soviets take Sevastapol, in Crimea. Italy: Poles take Cassino, Allies break through. Jap. resistance on Bougainville ends.
June 1944 Allies invade France at Normandy; V-1s! Massive Soviet offensive in Byelorussia Allied liberation of Rome U.S. landings at Saipan (Marianas); naval battle
July 1944 Allies break out from Normandy beachead. Sov. take Lvov & Minsk, approach Warsaw. Allies slowly advance north of Rome. U.S. landings at Guam & Tinian (Mariana Is.)
Aug. 1944 Allies land in south France; Paris liberated. Sov. trap Germans in Romania; Poles rise up. U.S., French troops in Italy go to south France. U.S. forces secure Guam. (Mariana Is.)
Sept. 1944 Brussels liberated, airborne drop fails; V-2s! Soviets take Bucharest; Bulgaria joins them. Other U.S. forces in Italy take Florence.
Oct. 1944 Canadians clear Scheldt estuary. (Neth.) Sov. enter Hungary, trap Germans in Latvia. German reinf., mud stops allies in Italy. Battle of Leyte Gulf; U.S. lands in Phil.
Nov. 1944 Patton's 3rd U.S. Army liberates Lorraine. U.S. B-29s from Saipan bomb Japan.
Dec. 1944 German offensive: "Battle of the Bulge" Soviets encircle Budapest. British begin final offensive in Burma.
Jan. 1945 Heavy battles along Germany's west border. Soviet offensive in Poland approaches Berlin. U.S. landings in Luzon, Philippines.
Feb. 1945 Allies invade Rhineland, fire-bomb Dresden. Soviets take Silesia and Budapest. U.S. landings on Iwo Jima; Manila liberated.
Mar. 1945 Allies cross Rhine River, encircle Ruhr. Soviets take Pomerania; battles in Hungary. U.S. B-29 bombers cause fire storm in Tokyo.
Apr. 1945 Allies advance to Elbe River and Austria. Suicide by Hitler, Soviets conquer Berlin. Belated Allied offensive in Northern Italy. U.S. invades Okinawa, lands on Mindanao.
May 1945 Germany surrenders, and is occupied by U.S., Britain, France, & USSR in separate zones. Burma: Rangoon is liberated.
June 1945 Okinawa is secured.
July 1945
Aug. 1945 U.S. atomic bombs on Japan; Soviet attack.
Sept. 1945 Japan surrenders, and is occupied by U.S. forces. Korea is partitioned between U.S. & USSR

Sources:

Winston S. Churchill, Memoirs of the Second World War: an abridgement of the six volumes (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1959)

John Keegan, The Second World War (New York: Viking Penguin, 1989)

Donald Summerville, World War II Day By Day (Greenwich, CT: Dorset Press / Brompton Books Corp.,1989)

Charles Messenger, The Chronological Atlas of World War II (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1989)

James F. Dunnigan & Albert A. Nofi, Dirty Little Secrets of World War II (New York: William Morrow & Co., 1994)

James F. Dunnigan & Albert A. Nofi, Victory At Sea: World War II In the Pacific (New York: William Morrow & Co., 1995)

Brigadier General Vincent J. Esposito, Chief Editor, The West Point Atlas of War: World War II: European Theater (New York: Tess Press / Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc., 1995)

Dr. John Pimlott, The Atlas of World War II (Philadelphia: Courage Books / Running Press Book Publishers, 2006)