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World War II Timeline

Current Events in the Timeline: 2054

Filters: Full List, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945


WWII Events for 1939

Jan 07, 1939 Commissioning of German battlecruiser Scharnhorst (...)
Jan 16, 1939 Physicists Lise Meitner and Otto R. Frisch describe the process by which a neutron causes the disintegration of the uranium nucleus into "two nuclei of roughly equal size." They call this process "nuclear fission." (...)
Jan 26, 1939 Atomic research approved by FDR (...)
Jan 27, 1939 US President Franklin Roosevelt approved the sale of military aircraft to France. (...)
Feb 02, 1939 submarine Orzel was commissioned into service with the Polish Navy. (...)
Feb 19, 1939 A trade agreement was signed between the Soviet Union and Poland in an attempt to strengthen Poland as a buffer against Germany. (...)
Feb 22, 1939 The British government authorized the creation of a British Expeditionary Army (BEF) that would be sent to France in the event of war with Nazi Germany. (...)
Mar 14, 1939 After annexing the Sudetenland, Germany invades the rest of Czechoslovakia, while Italy launches an invasion of Albania (see map). (...)
Mar 15, 1939 Hitler annexes the rest of Czechoslovakia - Bohemia and Moravia (...)
Mar 18, 1939 France Britain and Russia protest that the German annexation of Bohemia and Moracia is illegal. (...)
Mar 18, 1939 Spain and Portugal entered into a non-aggression pact. (...)
Mar 22, 1939 Hitler protects Slovakia, annexes Memel. (...)
Mar 28, 1939 The Spanish Civil War ends, as Madrid falls to the forces of Francisco Franco. (...)
Apr 04, 1939 End of Spanish Civil War with Franco as head of state. (...)
Apr 06, 1939 The United Kingdom and Poland entered into a military pact. (...)
Apr 07, 1939 Mussolini invades Albania. (...)
Apr 15, 1939 FDR writes Hitler seeking peaceful solutions.. (...)
Apr 16, 1939 Joseph Stalin requested an anti-Nazi pact between the United Kingdom, France, and Russia. (...)
Apr 28, 1939 Hitler renounces British Naval Agreement and Polish No-Agression pact (...)
Apr 29, 1939 German warship Admiral Hipper was commissioned. (...)
May 11, 1939 Battle of Khalkhyn Gol. Japanese thrust into Outer Mongolia repelled by USSR. (...)
May 15, 1939 A contract was issued to Curtiss-Wright for the XSB2C-1 dive bomber, thereby completing action on a 1938 design competition. The preceding month, Brewster had received a contract for the XSB2A-1. As part of the mobilization in ensuing years, large production orders were issued for both aircraft, but serious managerial and developmental problems were encountered which eventually contributed to discarding the SB2A and prolonged pre-operational development of SB2C. Despite this, the SB2C Helldiver would become the principal operational carrier dive bomber. Retired from the active Navy in 1947, SB2Cs continued to serve in the reserves until 1950. (...)
May 22, 1939 Germany and Italy sign the Pact of Steel. (...)
May 23, 1939 USS Squalus (SS-192) suffered a catastrophic main induction valve failure during a test dive off the New Hampshire coast and partially flooded. The submarine sank to the bottom and came to rest keel down in over 200 feet of water. 26 lives were lost. (...)
May 24, 1939 - May 25, 1939 Vice Admiral Allan McCann's Rescue Chamber was first used to rescue the 33 men from the sunken USS Squalus (SS-192). Four Navy divers received the Medal of Honor for their heroic actions on 24-25 May to rescue the trapped men. Squalus was decommissioned, repaired and renamed Sailfish, then recommissioned in May 1940. Sailfish successfully served in the Pacific during World War II and was sold for scrapping in 1948. (...)
Jun 14, 1939 Tientsin Incident: The Japanese blockade the British concession in Tianjin, China. (...)
Jul 05, 1939 IJN carrier Hiryu commissions -- Pearl Harbor, Wake, Moluccas, Darwin, Java Sea, Indian Ocean - Midway. (...)
Jul 27, 1939 First flight of the Douglas B-23 Dragon. (...)
Jul 30, 1939 Reacting to German anti-Jewish policies and reflecting the attitude of many other officials in Great Britain and Western Europe, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain writes: "No doubt Jews aren't a lovable people; I don't care about them myself. But that is not sufficient to explain the pogrom." (...)
Aug 10, 1939 SS Officer Alfred Naujocks gave this sworn affidavit on the incident which triggered the war: "On or about August 10, 1939, [Reinhard] Heydrich personally ordered me to simulate an attack on the radio station near Gleiwitz, near the Polish border, and to make it appear as if the attacking forces consisted of Poles. Heydrich said, 'Practical proof is needed for these attacks of the Poles for the foreign press as well as German propaganda.' I was ordered to go to Gleiwitz with five or six Security Service men wand wait until I would receive the code words (CANNED GOODS) for the attack from Heydrich. My instructions were to seize the radio station and to hold it long enough to permit a Polish-speaking German, who would be put at my disposal, to broadcast a speech in Polish." The orders were carried out in every detail. (...)
Aug 17, 1939 The Wehrmacht was ordered to supply the SS with 150 Polish army uniforms, which were to be used as "evidence" of Polish "aggression" in a faked border incident. (...)
Aug 20, 1939 Russian armored forces defeat Japanese in border war over Inner Mongolia. (...)
Aug 21, 1939 Admiral Graf Spee departs for South Atlantic and refuels at sea. (...)
Aug 23, 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact: Hitler and Stalin agree to divide Europe between themselves. Finland, Estonia, Latvia and eastern Poland to the USSR; Lithuania and western Poland to Germany. (...)
Aug 23, 1939 Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia sign a mutual non-aggression pact. The agreement is signed by German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Josef Stalin's commissar of foreign affairs, V. M. Molotov. (...)
Aug 24, 1939 Deutschland is deployed to raid commerce in the North Atlantic.(later renamed Lützow). (...)
Aug 25, 1939 Britain and Poland signed a Mutual Assistance Treaty. (...)
Aug 25, 1939 Britain-Poland alliance (...)
Aug 26, 1939 Kriegsmarine orders German-flagged merchant ships to German ports immediately. (...)
Aug 27, 1939 Heinkel He-178 made its first flight becoming the first jet-powered airplane to fly. It remained airborne for 7 minutes. (...)
Aug 27, 1939 Nazi Germany demanded the Polish corridor and Danzig. (...)
Aug 29, 1939 Poland executes "Peking Plan" sneaking its destroyers past Nazi navy and into British hands. (...)
Aug 31, 1939 In London, civilian evacuations began. Edward R. Murrow describes the evacuation of school kids from London. (...)
Aug 31, 1939 The British fleet was mobilized. (...)
Sep 01, 1939 German troops and aircraft attack Poland. (...)
Sep 01, 1939 Germany invaded Poland and touched off WWII. The Germans had arranged a series of elaborate pretexts for launching the attack. Berlin claimed Polish army regulars started firing on Germans along the frontier and that the fire was returned beginning at 4:45am. Hitler addressed the Reichstag, declaring "I am determined to eliminate from the German frontiers the element of insecurity, the atmosphere which permanently resembles that of civil war." German forces slammed into Poland from Silesia, East Prussia, and Slovakia, 1,500,000 men (52 divisions) against a Polish army a third that size. Germany unveiled the blitzkrieg--highly mobile armor and tactical aircraft leading the ground forces through and around the Polish defenses. Large scale pincers movements were executed to perfection. Britain and France notified Germany that unless military action ceased, they would have to come to Poland's aid. Britain and France ordered total mobilization. Danzig was proclaimed to be a part of Germany by Gauleiter Forster. Italy proclaimed its nonbelligerent status. Norway, Switzerland, and Finland declares their neutrality. Russia mobilized and lowered its draft age from 21 to 19. (...)
Sep 01, 1939 Germany invades Poland (...)
Sep 03, 1939 After Hitler ignores their demand for German withdrawal from Poland, and as the British ship Athenia is sunk by German U-boats off the coast of Ireland, Great Britain and France formally declare war on Germany. (...)
Sep 03, 1939 Australia enters WWII. (...)
Sep 03, 1939 BBC announces Britain is at war with Nazi Germany (...)
Sep 03, 1939 Britain delivers Germany ultimatum to leave Poland. (...)
Sep 03, 1939 Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand declared war on Germany. (...)
Sep 03, 1939 Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand declared war on Germany. (...)
Sep 03, 1939 Margaret Hayworth, 10, killed in Nazi torpedoing of the S.S. Athenia, Canada's 1st WWII death (...)
Sep 03, 1939 New Zealand declares war on Germany (...)
Sep 03, 1939 War declared in Europe. (...)
Sep 04, 1939 RAF attacks Wilhelmshaven and Kiel Canal. (...)
Sep 04, 1939 USN to form Neutrality Patrol to extend about 300 miles off the eastern coastline of the United States and Caribbean to report foreign men-of-war and render prompt assistance. (...)
Sep 05, 1939 Polish government moves from Warsaw to Lublin. (...)
Sep 06, 1939 Most commonwealth nations declare war on Germany (...)
Sep 08, 1939 Battle of Brura, west of Warsaw. (...)
Sep 08, 1939 FDR proclaims limited state of emergency in US. (...)
Sep 08, 1939 Germans reach the suburbs of Warsaw. (...)
Sep 09, 1939 British expeditionary force begins to land in France. (...)
Sep 09, 1939 FDR increases strength of Navy and Marine Corps and recalls to active duty officers, men, and nurses on retired lists. (...)
Sep 09, 1939 Goring boasts Berlin will never endure an air attack. (...)
Sep 10, 1939 Canada declared war on Germany. (...)
Sep 13, 1939 Forty US reserve DDs ordered recommissioned to support a Neutrality Patrol. (...)
Sep 16, 1939 Ceasefire ends undeclared Border War between Soviet Union and Mongolian allies and Japan. (...)
Sep 16, 1939 The man with the moustache bombs Europe. Glenn Miller's "Man with the Mandolin" is #1 in a still peaceful USA (...)
Sep 17, 1939 American aviation hero Charles A. Lindbergh makes his first anti-intervention radio speech. The U.S. non-intervention movement is supported not just by Lindbergh, but by former president Herbert Hoover, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., Henry Ford, Lindbergh and a number of senators and congressmen as well. (...)
Sep 17, 1939 German submarine U-29 sinks British carrier Courageous. (...)
Sep 17, 1939 Russia invades Poland. (...)
Sep 17, 1939 Soviet troops invade Poland from the east. (...)
Sep 17, 1939 The British fleet carrier Courageous was sunk in the Western Approaches, off southwestern Ireland, by German U-Boat U-29 while on antisubmarine duty, the first Royal Navy ship lost in the war. More than 500 men were killed. The immediate effect was the British pulling all their fleet carriers out of antisubmarine operations. (...)
Sep 19, 1939 Polish Army collapses. (...)
Sep 25, 1939 Lwow and Bialystok in Poland were taken by the Russians. Hitler visited the front, observing the shelling of Warsaw's suburb of Praga. (...)
Sep 27, 1939 Poland surrenders to the Germans. (...)
Sep 27, 1939 Warsaw surrenders. (...)
Sep 28, 1939 Estonia and Russia signed a 10-year mutual assistance pact, with the Soviets acquiring military rights and access to raw materials. (Moscow was to sign similar pacts with Latvia on Oct 5 and Lithuania on the 10th, completing Soviet hegemony over the Baltic states.) (...)
Sep 28, 1939 Poland is partitioned between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. (...)
Sep 29, 1939 Germany and the Soviet Union agreed to divide control of occupied Poland. The Germans took the west side of the Bug River and the Soviets took the everything to the east. (...)
Oct 01, 1939 The U.S. Navy consists of 396 commissioned ships. ( 283 today.) [Battle fleet alone in 1946 = 1,060.] (...)
Oct 05, 1939 Enterprise (CV-6) (flagship), two heavy cruiser divisions, two destroyer squadrons with a light cruiser flagship, a destroyer tender and a proportionate number of small auxiliaries make up the Hawaiian Detachment - Pearl Harbor. (...)
Oct 05, 1939 Hawaiian Detachment is formed and sent to its new operating base, Pearl Harbor. (...)
Oct 06, 1939 Adolf Hitler denied any intention to wage war against Britain and France in an address to Reichstag. (...)
Oct 10, 1939 British removes mail from ships, opening and censoring sealed letters sent from the United States -- thru March 1940. (...)
Oct 11, 1939 Fearing war between Russia and Finland, Roosevelt appealed to Soviet President Mikhail I. Kalinin for restraint on Moscow's part and to "make no demands on Finland which are inconsistent with the maintenance and development of amicable and peaceful relations between the two countries, and the independence of each." (...)
Oct 11, 1939 U.S. President Roosevelt was presented with a letter (dated 2 Aug 1939) from Albert Einstein that urged him to develop the U.S. atomic program rapidly. (...)
Oct 11, 1939 U.S. sets up Uranium Advisory Committee. (...)
Oct 14, 1939 German submarine U-47 penetrates British fleet base at Scapa Flow and torpedoes battleship HMS Royal Oak. Oct 20. Commander Atlantic Squadron informs his ships to use plain language radio reporting of contacts. (...)
Oct 17, 1939 German planes bombed the British naval base at Scapa Flow. The training ship "Iron Duke" was damaged. (...)
Oct 18, 1939 The president of Finland met with the kings of the Scandinavian nations to consider the threat resulting from the Soviet military demands on the Finns. Hitler had assured the Swedes that Germany would remain neutral on a Russian-Finnish war and strongly advised the Swedes do the same. (...)
Oct 19, 1939 Blackouts take their toll. Auto deaths in Britain for Sept: 1130 (compared with 617 in Aug.). (...)
Oct 24, 1939 HMS Orion (CL), HMS Caradoc (CL), and HMCS Saguenay (DD) locate German tanker Emmy Friedrich.whose crew scuttles her to avoid capture. (...)
Oct 26, 1939 Josef Tiso became the President of Slovakia, a nation influenced by Nazi Germany (...)
Nov 02, 1939 Adolf Hitler's Minister of Propaganda, Josef Goebbels, visited Lodz, Poland. (...)
Nov 04, 1939 Although President Roosevelt has declared American neutrality in the war in Europe, a Neutrality Act is signed that allows the US to send arms and other aid to Britain and France. (...)
Nov 04, 1939 US modifies Neutrality Act to allow arms trade on a cash and carry basis, ending arms embargo. (...)
Nov 23, 1939 British armed merchant vessel Rawalpindi challenged two German battle cruisers and was sunk. (...)
Nov 23, 1939 In conquered Poland, Jews ordered to wear Star of David. (...)
Nov 30, 1939 Soviet troops invade Finland. Start of the Winter War (...)
Nov 30, 1939 Soviets invade Finland - lose Winter War, but win in spring. (...)
Dec 01, 1939 Fight between Finnish coastal guns at Russaro and Soviet cruiser Kirov & destroyer screen http://bit.ly/ynpfE (...)
Dec 04, 1939 German submarine U-36 was sunk by torpedo from HMS Salmon; all hands were lost. (...)
Dec 13, 1939 British cruisers engage Admiral Graf Spee in the Battle of the River Plate. (...)
Dec 14, 1939 German freighter Arauca departs Vera Cruz, Mexico, followed subsequently by passenger liner Columbus, the third largest ship in Germany's merchant marine. Two US destroyers trail Columbus and Arauca. A succession of U.S. ships over ensuing days send out plain-language position reports. (...)
Dec 14, 1939 The League of Nations drops the Soviet Union from its membership. (...)
Dec 17, 1939 Graf Spee scuttled off Montevideo . (...)
Dec 18, 1939 The first Canadian troops arrive in Europe and in Britain. (...)
Dec 19, 1939 HMS Hyperion intercepts German passenger liner Columbus 450 miles east of Cape May, NJ; the liner is scuttled to prevent capture (...)
Dec 19, 1939 HMS Orion intercepts German freighter Arauca off Miami, Florida; the latter puts in to Port Everglades to avoid capture. The U.S. Navy eventually commissions Arauca as refrigerated storeship Saturn (AF-40). (...)
Dec 20, 1939 Finnish Army Colonel Hjalmar Siilasvuo receiving a briefing in the field during the Winter War. (...)
Dec 21, 1939 Russia celebrated Joseph Stalin's 60th official birthday. His actual birthday is 18 Dec 1878, but was changed to 21 Dec 1879 after he cameto power in 1922. (...)
Dec 22, 1939 Finnish 9th division chips away at Soviet 163rd division entrenched at Suomussalmi. (...)
Dec 27, 1939 Indian troops began arriving in France to join the British Expeditionary Force. (...)
Dec 27, 1939 Two German army NCO's were killed by Poles in a Warsaw suburb bar. The bar owner was immediately hanged and 120 Poled selected at random were shot and killed. (...)
Dec 28, 1939 Winter War, Russia had attacked Finland : Russians loss 27,500 men, Finns losses are 2,700. (...)