The War in Europe: World War II Timeline

  • The Invasion of Poland

    The Invasion of Poland
    Germany – aided by its client state, Slovakia – invaded Poland. The Germans broke through the Polish border using blitzkrieg - lightning war - tactics and targeted Warsaw, which surrendered soon after heavy bombing. The Poles were easily defeated within weeks of the invasion, and were occupied by the German troops.
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    World War II

  • Britain and France Declare War on Germany

    Britain and France Declare War on Germany
    As Britain and France had guaranteed to protect Poland’s border, they mobilized their troops and declared war on Germany. A naval blockade was also stationed to hurt the German’s economy and slow the war effort.
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    Battle of the Atlantic

    The Longest Military Campaign in the second world war. The German Navy and Airforce as well as other countries were pitted against Allied merchant shipping. The Allies eventually were victorious after the German blockade failed.
  • Canada Declares War on Germany

    Canada Declares War on Germany
    As a commonwealth nation of Great Britain, Canada joined the Allies in the war effort. They refrained from joining Britain right away, as Canada wished to make a point about their growing independence.
  • The Soviet Union Invades Poland

    The Soviet Union Invades Poland
    The Soviet Union invades Poland from the East. The division of the occupied land between the Germans and Soviets was along the Bug River in Poland.
  • A Cease-fire with Japan

    The Soviet Union signs a Cease-fire with Japan.
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    The Phoney War

    Also nicknamed, "Sitzkrieg", the Phoney war was a period after the German invasion of Poland in which nothing happened. The Axis and the Allies built up their military and waited for either side to attack. The French took up positions on the Maginot Line on their eastern border, and the Germans manned the Seigfried Line in the west.
  • The USSR is Expelled from the League of Nations

    The USSR is Expelled from the League of Nations
    Following the Soviet Union's invasion of Finland after Finland rejected their orders to let the Soviets station their soliders in Baltic territory, the USSR was expelled from the League of Nations.
  • Germany Invades Denmark and Norway

    Germany Invades Denmark and Norway
    German warships slipped past British lines and entered Norway and Denmark almost unopposed. These were strategic locations for the German forces, and when the Norwegian government refused Germany's orders to surrender, a puppet government was put into place.
  • Germany Invades the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France

    The Germans quickly and easily attacked the low countries and occupied them. with a path opened, this led to the invasion of France.
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    A "Miracle" at Dunkirk

    On May 24th, the German army marched into Dunkirk and ceased fire for several days until Hitler directed them to capture the port. The Allies were trapped at Dunkirk, with no hope of escape, until hundreds of small boats and any water-traversing vehicle the English could provide came and ferried the allies across the sea. Nearly 340 000 allied soldiers were rescued, and lived to fight again on D-Day.
  • France Surrenders

    France Surrenders
    After the Battle of France and Germany breaking the Maginot Line, France surrendered to Germany. The ill-prepared French were no match for the German Army.
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    The Battle of Britain

    The German Luftwaffe bombed air fields and took out RADAR facilities. They bombed London every night for 5 nights (later bombing them every night for 9 months), attempting to extinguish their morale. The people though, were not to be weak, and with the help of Winston Churchill, they managed to hold out. The Germans then did daylight raids, which gave the allies the advantage and caused the Germans to suffer great losses, and eventually lose the Battle of Britain.
  • Operation Barbarossa

    Operation Barbarossa
    Hitler mistakenly wished to establish a German empire, which could not be done without first conquering the Soviet Union. The Germans were at first able to push back the Soviets as far as Moscow and Leningrad, but perished in the harsh Russian winter.
  • The Japanese Attack Pearl Harbour

    The Japanese Attack Pearl Harbour
    Japan unleashed a great attack on Pearl Harbor to shatter the American's morale and destroy American naval ships and bases. It was a bloody day in American history: 2 400 soldiers were killed and almost 1 300 were wounded.
  • America Declares War on Japan

    America Declares War on Japan
    The day following the attack on Pearl Harbour, the Americans declared war on the island nation of Japan.
  • Japan Invades Hong Kong

    Japan Invades Hong Kong
    The Japanese army attacks Japan at night, leaving Canadian soldiers unprepared for battle. 50 000 Japanese soldiers broke through the lines and destroyed villages, murdered, pillaged, raped, and took those who survived prisoner. The prisoners were tortured and used as slave labour, and were in this situation for 3 and a half years.
  • Japanese Canadians are put into Internment Camps

    Japanese Canadians are put into Internment Camps
    After the events of Pearl Harbout, Mackenzie King ordered all Japanese Canadians to live in internment camps, as they were speculated to be working for the Japanese army as spies or espionage. Japanese Canadians became a threat to public safety.
  • The Battle at Dieppe

    The Battle at Dieppe
    The Allies were ready to attack the German army stationed at Dieppe. On the morning of the raid, four attacks were planned before dawn, preceeding a massive main attack. However, a Canadian ship met with a German ship, alerting the army in town. When the Canadians reached the shore, they were mowed down by Germans hiding in cliffs. The Allies were trapped, and the battle was a disaster.
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    The Battle at Stalingrad

    The German Army was surrounded inside Stalingrad after Soviet forces launched an attack on German defenses. The weakened German army suffered starvation from cut off supplies, and those who did not starve to death were either killed by the soviets or froze to death in the Russian winter.
  • The Invasion of Sicily and Mainland Italy

    The Invasion of Sicily and Mainland Italy
    Also codenamed, "Operation Husky", the British, American and Canadian armies planned to take Sicily and drive out the Axis air, naval and land forces from the island. Another objective was to topple Benito Mussolini from power. The Allies achieved every goal they set in six weeks of land, air and sea combat.
    The terrible conditions entering mainland Italy reminded many of the Candian soldiers of the scars of World War I.
  • The Battle of Ortona, Italy

    The Battle of Ortona, Italy
    The Canadians fought their bloodiest battle to date against the Germans in Ortona. The terrain was rough, making for difficult travelling, and Canadians had to fight "house to house" and close-combat. They even created a new tactic, "mouse-holing" to take out the enemy in homes. On December 28th, the Candians won, and captured Ortona.
  • D-Day: the Invasion of Normandy

    D-Day: the Invasion of Normandy
    After the disaster at Dieppe, "Operation Overlord" was rehearsed down to the very detail. The 80 kilometre stretch of beaches were codenamed "Gold", "Juno", "Omaha", "Sword" and "Utah". The Canadians landed at Juno beach on June 6th, making their way past German barriers and barbed wire. They were successful, however, as their attack was kept secret and they had numbers on their side. After capturing Normandy, the Allies advanced through France, on their way to Germany.
  • Failed Assassination of Hitler

    Failed Assassination of Hitler
    The German resistance plotted to assassinate Adolf Hitler and overthrow the Nazi Government in Eastern Prussia. The operation failed, resulting in the arrest of 7 000 suspected plotters and almost 5 000 executions.
  • Canada Liberates the Netherlands

    Canada Liberates the Netherlands
    The Canadian army was tasked with liberating Holland from German control, and did so through terrible conditions. The Canadians fought slowly, house-by-house, and made their way south after capturing northern cities. They began air-dropping foord and delivering it by truck, eventually tonnes of supplies per day, to the citizens. The Canadians were hailed as heroes.
  • The Death of Adolf Hitler

    The Death of Adolf Hitler
    On the 30th of April, 1945, the body of Hitler was found with a hole in the right temple, and his wife was found to have ingested Cyanide poison. The bodies were removed and burned. Adolf Hitler did not wish to die a humiliating death, like Mussolini, and he knew that the Soviet army was closing in on Berlin. The only solution was to kill himself and his wife, whom he had married only 40 hours prior to their deaths.
  • Germany surrenders in Holland

    Germany surrenders in Holland
    After a defeat by the Canadians in the Netherlands, the German army surrendered. The Allies began closing in all around Germany.
  • America Drops the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima, Japan

    America Drops the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima, Japan
    The Americans created the first nuclear weapon used in warfare and dropped in on Hiroshima, Japan. The bomb was nicknamed, "Little Boy", and carried 60 kilograms of Uranium-235. 70 000 people were killed, the majority of them being instantly vaporized. Many more died later as a result of radiation burns and sickness.
  • America Drops the Atomic Bomb on Nagasaki

    America Drops the Atomic Bomb on Nagasaki
    Nicknamed, "Fat Man", the second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki 3 days after the bombing of Hiroshima. Plutonium-239 was used in the implosion-type bomb, the second nuclear weapon ever used in warfare. 40 000 were killed by the bomb, and Japan knew that they could not hold out after two bombings of such magnitude.
  • Japan Surrenders; the War is Over.

    Japan Surrenders; the War is Over.
    After the atomic bombings, Japan realized that it could not hold out against a weapon so powerful. The nation formerly surrendered on August 15th, and soon the occupation of Japan by the allies had begun. On September 2nd, a ceremony was held to commemorate the surrender of Japan and the end of World War II.