World War II

Key Events of the Period
Date Event
4th August 1938 The RAF start using the Spitfire fighter aircraft.
26th September 1938 The first gas masks are given out to people in Britain.
February 1939 The first Anderson shelters are delivered to houses in London.
15th March 1939 Germans invade Czechoslavakia.
31st March 1939 Britain and France tell Poland that they will defend it if attacked.
April 1939 Britain installs a top secret radar system on the east coast.
August 1939 Code breakers arrive at Bletchley Park to start de-coding secret messages written by the Germans using the Enigma machine.
23rd August 1939 Germany and the Soviet Union agree not to fight each other.
1st September 1939 Germans invade Poland.
1st September 1939 The first schoolchildren are evacuated from towns in Britain to the countryside as a safety precaution.
1st September 1939 The night time blackout begins in Britain.
3rd September 1939 France, the UK and some of its Commonwealth declare war on Germany.
3rd September 1939 Parliament passes the National Services (Armed Forces) Act.
7th September 1939 The National Registration Act introduces identity cards into Britain.
October 1939 The ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign is launched in Britain.
28th October 1939 Stockport tunnels air-raid shelter opens.
8th January 1940 Rationing of basic food items begins in Britain.
17th January 1940 The movie Gone with the Wind is released in cinemas.
6th February 1940 The ‘Careless Talk Costs Lives’ campaign begins in Britain.
9th April 1940 Germany invades Denmark and Norway.
May 1940 3,000 foreign strangers in Britain are rounded up and interned.
10th May 1940 Winston Churchill becomes the Prime Minister of the UK.
10th May 1940 The Germans invade: Luxemburg, the Netherlands and Belgium.
12th May 1940 The German army enters France.
14th May 1940 The Local Defence Volunteers (Home Guard) is formed.
26th May 1940 The evacuation of Dunkirk begins.
4th June 1940 The evacuation of Dunkirk ends with 338,226 French and British soldiers being rescued.
13th June 1940 A second evacuation effort of schoolchildren takes place in Britain.
22nd June 1940 German troops conquer most of France and so France surrenders to them.
30th June 1940 German occupation of the Channel Islands begins.
13th August 1940 'Eagle Day' – The main attacks of the Battle of Britain begin.
15th August 1940 The German Luftwaffe bomb Croydon airfield near London by mistake.
23rd August 1940 The German Luftwaffe bomb Harrow near London by mistake.
25th August 1940 Berlin, the capital city of Germany, is bombed by the British RAF.
31st August 1940 Hitler gives orders for the invasion of Britain, but no date is agreed.
7th September 1940 First German ‘Blitz’ bombing raid on London.
15th September 1940 Battle of Britain Day
17th September 1940 Hitler postpones his invasion of Britain until further notice following the RAF’s resistance to German bombing.
21st September 1940 People are given permission to use the London Underground as an air-raid shelter.
27th September 1940 The Tripartite Pact allies: Germany, Italy and Japan together in the war.
31st October 1940 The daylight air attacks of the Battle of Britain end.
14th November 1940 German ‘Blitz’ bombing raid on Coventry.
22nd December 1940 The German ‘Christmas Blitz’ bombing raid on Manchester starts.
March 1941 The Morrison shelter is introduced.
13th March 1941 German ‘Blitz’ bombing raid on Clydebank in Scotland starts.
1st May 1941 A week of German ‘Blitz’ bombing raids on Liverpool starts.
10th May 1941 Hitler halts his Blitz campaign on Britain after a final air-raid attack on London.
1st June 1941 Rationing of clothing and furniture begins in Britain.
22nd June 1941 The Soviet Union joins the allies, after Germany attacked it.
July 1941 Coal rationing begins in Britain.
7th December 1941 The American naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii is attacked by the Japanese.
11th December 1941 The United States (US) joins the Allies by formally declaring war on Germany.
18th December 1941 The National Services Act is passed, calling all unmarried women aged between 20 and 30 up for war work.
February 1942 Soap rationing begins in Britain.
28th February 1942 Vera Lynn releases the song The White Cliffs of Dover.
July 1942 Driving your car in Britain is banned as petrol needs to be saved for the war effort.
12th September 1942 HMS Laconia is torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat.
8th May 1943 War work made compulsory for all British women aged 18 to 50.
2nd December 1943 Men start being called up to work in coal mines in Britain as 'Bevin Boys'.
28th April 1944 All foreign travel from Britain is banned, in preparation for the Allied invasion of Europe.
6th June 1944 D-Day landings start.
12th June 1944 First V-1 ‘doodlebug’ rockets land in Britain.
25th August 1944 Paris is liberated from Nazi control.
September 1944 The Spitfire Mk XVI goes into production.
8th September 1944 First V-2 rockets hit London.
17th September 1944 The blackout in Britain ends and is replaced with a 'din-out'.
28 January 1945 The Battle of Bulge ends with a German defeat.
13th February 1945 The Allies bomb the German city of Dresden, killing 50,000 people.
29th March 1945 The last V-1 rocket is fired at Britain and is shot down over Kent.
29th April 1945 German forces in Italy start surrendering to the Allies.
30th April 1945 Adolf Hitler and his wife, Eva Braun, commit suicide (kill themselves).
7th May 1945 Germany surrenders unconditionally.
8th May 1945 Victory in Europe (VE) Day is celebrated.
9th May 1945 The Channel Islands are liberated.
14th August 1945 Japan surrenders, ending World War II.
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