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First flight of a prototype Junkers JU52


  Death of Erich von Ludendorff, German General of First World War


1 September

Germany invades Poland, first act of Second World War (to 1945)

3 September

Britain and France declare war on Germany, start of Second World War (to 1945)

5 October

End of resistance in Poland (Second World War)

13 December

The battle of the River Plate is one of the most famous naval battles of the Second World War, despite only involving four ships. Part of its fame came because it took place in the “phoney war” period and part because of the unjustifiably high reputation of the Admiral Graf Spee, the German pocket-battleship involved in the battle.


16 February

The Altmark incident saw a British destroyer rescue 299 British prisoners from the German supply ship Altmark in Norwegian water.

8 April

Operation Wilfred was a British attempt to stop Swedish iron ore from reaching Germany from Narvik by laying a minefield in Norwegian waters

HMS Glowworm sunk in engagement with German Heavy Cruiser Hipper


9 April

The German invasion of Denmark was part of a wider campaign in Scandinavia designed partly to provide bases for the German navy and partly to secure the German supply of iron ore from Sweden.

The attack on Oslo was a key component of the German invasion of Norway, and saw the only real setback suffered by the Germans on that day.


10 April

The first battle of Narvik was a drawn naval battle fought between British and German destroyers during the German invasion of Norway.

13 April

The second battle of Narvik was a British naval victory during the German invasion of Norway of 1940.

10 May

German attack on Belgium and Holland (Second World War)

Churchill become P.M. (Britain)

Operation Royal Marine was a British plan developed in 1939-1940 to disrupt the German economy by floating mines down the Rhine.


22-25 May

The battle of Boulogne saw a British and French garrison hold off a determined German attack, before the British were evacuated by sea.

23-26 May

The siege of Calais saw some of the most desperate fighting during the German campaign in the west in 1940. A combined French and British force was able to hold off heavy German attacks for three critical days, allowing the Allies to consolidate their hold on Dunkirk, but at the cost of the virtual destruction of the garrison.

26 May-4 June

Operation Dynamo, the evacuation from Dunkirk takes place. 338,266 British and Allied soldiers are evacuated to Britain.

8 June

British and French troops evacuate Narvik.

8-10 June

Operation Cycle was the code name for the evacuation of British and Allied troops from Havre

10 June

Italy joins Second World War

14 June

Paris falls to the Germans (Second World War)
First British attacks into Italian Libya (Operation Compass)

15-25 June

Operation Aerial was the code name given to the evacuation of British and Allied troops from the ports of north west France

16 June

Battle of Nezuet Ghirba (Libya)

21 June

Capitulation of France (Second World War)

10 July

The Battle of Britain (10 July-31 October 1940) was one of the decisive battles of the Second World War, and saw the RAF defeat a German attempt to gain air superiority over southern England in preparation for Operation Sealion, the planned invasion of Britain. The battle was also the first major defeat to be suffered by the Germans during the Second World War, and by keeping Britain in the war denied Hitler the quick victory that he had expected.

1-4 August

Operation Hurry was a Royal Navy operation whose main purpose was to ferry twelve Hawker Hurricane aircraft to Malta, where they were desperately needed to reinforce the beleaguered garrison

30 August-5 September

Operation Hats was one of a series of complex operations carried out by the Royal Navy after the entry of Italy into the Second World War effectively split the British Mediterranean fleet in two.

31 August-1 September

Operation Squawk was a deception operation carried out as part of Operation Hats, a major fleet movement in the Mediterranean, and was designed to convince the Italians that Admiral Somerville’s Force H from Gibraltar was heading for Genoa

9 September

Start of tentative Italian offensive into Egypt. (Operation Compass)

31 October

Official end of the Battle of Britain

15-20 November

Operation Coat was the second attempt to ferry Hurricane fighters to the beleaguered island of Malta by aircraft carrier, but unlike the first attempt the operation ended in failure

27 November

The action off Cape Spartiavento (Sardinia) was an inconclusive clash between elements of the British and Italian fleets which came about because of Italian efforts to interfere with Operation Collar.

8 December

Start of (Operation Compass, first major British offensive of the Desert War

11 December

First phase of Operation Compass ends in British victory.


22 January

British capture Tobruk, important Italian base in Libya.

20 May

Start of German invasion of Crete (Operation Mercury)

1 June

Final fall of Crete (Operation Mercury) to Germans

22 June

German invasion of Russia (Second World War)

7 December

Pearl Harbor: The Day of Infamy, Japan enteres WWII

8-23 December

Battle of Wake Island Repeated Japanese attacks on U.S. Base in central Pacific. Second assault on 23 December captures the island.

17 December

The first battle of Sirte was the result of an accidental clash between British and Italian naval forces each escorting a convoy through the Mediterranean


22 March

The second battle of Sirte saw a British force of light cruisers and destroyers prevent a powerful Italian fleet led by the battleship Littorio from attacking a convoy heading for Malta with vitally important supplies

28 March

Raid on St. Nazaire denies Germans use of major French drydock

3-8 May

The battle of the Coral Sea ended with the first major Japanese setback of the Second World War, and marked the end of the period of rapid Japanese expansion across the Pacific that began after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

7 June

Battle of Midway (Pacific Ocean)

28 June

Germans launch offensive that ends in Battle of Stalingrad

23 July-13 November

The battle of the Kokoda Trail saw the Japanese army reach further south than at any other time during the Second World War, in an attempt to capture Port Moresby, but also marked the point at which Japan’s resources became too stretched to support further offensive operations, and ended as a clear Australian victory.


Start of Battle for Guadalcanal (to February 1943)

9 August

The battle of Savo Island (9 August 1942) was a crushing Japanese victory in the waters just off Guadalcanal that saw them sink four Allied cruisers and helped to isolate the US Marines fighting on Guadalcanal.

19 August

Allied raid on Dieppe Part One - preparation; Dieppe Raid, 19 August 1942 (part two)

24-25 August

The battle of the Eastern Solomons (24-25 August 1942) was the second battle in the series of six naval actions linked to the fighting on Guadalcanal and was a carrier battle that ended as a minor American victory.

25 August-7 September

The battle of Milne Bay was the first defeat suffered by Japanese land forces during the war in the Pacific, and prevented them from establishing a base at the eastern tip of New Guinea.

11-12 October

The battle of Cape Esperance (11-12 October 1942) was a clash between American and Japanese forces both covering supply convoys heading towards Guadalcanal.

22-24 October

The battle of Goodenough Island was a minor Allied victory during the build-up for the major offensive against the Japanese position at Buna, on the northern coast of Papua.

26 October

The battle of the Santa Cruz Islands (26 October 1942) was an indecisive carrier battle during the Guadalcanal campaign that ended with one American carrier sunk and two Japanese carriers damaged, but that had little impact on the fighting on the island.

13-15 November

The naval battle of Guadalcanal (13-15 November 1942) was a series of connected engagements that saw the defeat of the last major Japanese attempt to bring reinforcements to Guadalcanal and was the most important of the six naval battles that were fought around Guadalcanal.

19 November

Russian counter attack around Stalingrad

The battle of Gona (to 9 December 1942), was one of three related battles that cleared the Japanese out of their beachheads at Gona, Sanananda and Buna on the northern coast of Papua.

The battle of Buna (to 2 January 1943), was one part of the Allied attack on the Japanese beach-head on the northern coast of Papua (along with the battles of Gona and Sanananda).

The battle of Sanananda (to 22 January 1943), was the longest of the three intertwined battles that saw the Allies eliminate the Japanese beachhead on the northern coast of Papua.


23 November

Russian counter attack succeeds in trapping Germans in Stalingrad

30 November

The battle of Tassafaronga (30 November 1942) was the last of six naval battles to be fought around Guadalcanal, but although it ended as a notable Japanese victory it came during a minor supply mission and had little impact on the long-term course of the fighting.


29-30 January

The battle of Rennell Island was a clash between Japanese aircraft and a US Navy task force escorting reinforcements to Guadalcanal that ended as a clear Japanese victory after they sank the heavy cruiser USS Chicago (CA-29)


End of Battle for Guadalcanal (from August 1942)

Start of Manstein's counterattack around Kharkov


2 February

Surviving German troops surrender, ending Battle of Stalingrad

21 February

Operation Cleanslate - the unopposed occupation of the Russell Islands on 21 February 1943 - was one of the first steps in the Allied advance along the Solomon Islands and the long campaign to isolate the major Japanese base at Rabaul.

2-4 March

The battle of the Bismarck Sea (2-4 March 1943) saw repeated Allied air attacks almost totally destroy a Japanese convoy attempting to get reinforcements from Rabaul to the bases at Lae and Salamaua on the north-east coast of New Guinea.

6 March

The action of Kula Gulf (6 March 1943) was a minor American naval victory that was triggered by a change encounter between two Japanese destroyers attempting to bring supplies to their base at Vila on Kolombangara and an American task force that was bombarding the same base.

7-16 April

Operation 'I' or 'I-Go' (7-16 April 1943) was the Japanese Navy's attempt to compensate for the loss of Guadalcanal by launching a series of massive aerial assaults on the American's new advanced bases.

28 April-6 May

The battle of Convoy ONS5 was a major defeat for the U-boats, and was part of a dramatic shift in fortune in the battle of the Atlantic.

7-14 May

The U-boat attack on convoy HX237 was the second of a series of defeats inflicted on Dönitz’s U-boats that forced the wolf-packs to withdraw from the North Atlantic

12-14 May

The U-boat attack on Convoy SC129 was one of a series of defeats that forced Admiral Dönitz to pull his wolf packs out of the North Atlantic.


18-25 May

Convoy SC130 was the last trans-Atlantic convoy to be seriously threatened by U-boat attack in 1943, and its safe arrival at Londonderry could be said to mark the Allied victory in the battle of the Atlantic

22-25 May

The U-boat attack on Convoy HX239 was the last big convoy battle of May 1943, and marked the effective defeat of the U-boats in the North Atlantic


30 June

Operation Cartwheel (30 June 1943- January 1944) was the name given to a series of interlocked invasions in New Guinea, New Britain and the Solomn islands originally designed as preparation for the conquest of the Japanese base at Rabaul, but that eventually led to the isolation of that base.

The Salamaua-Lae Campaign (30 June-16 September 1943) was the first part of Operation Postern, a wider offensive aimed at eliminating the Japanese presence on the New Guinea side of the Vitiaz Strait.

Operation Toenails - the invasion of New Georgia (30 June-5 August 1943) - was the first major Allied offensive in the Solomon Islands after Guadalcanal was declared to be secure.

The invasion of Rendova Island (30 June 1943) was the first major step in the US invasion of the New Georgia group and was carried out in order to establish a base for the attack on the Japanese base at Munda on the main island.

The invasion of Rendova Island (30 June 1943) was the first major step in the US invasion of the New Georgia group and was carried out in order to establish a base for the attack on the Japanese base at Munda on the main island.

The battle of Nassau Bay (30 June 1943) was an early step in the wider Allied offensive in the Huon Gulf area of New Guinea (Operation Postern), and was carried out in order to capture a staging post for later steps in the campaign and to improve the supply situation for the main Australian force attacking Salamaua from inland bases.

The battle of Salamaua (30 June-11 September 1943) was the first stage in the Allied campaign in north-eastern New Guinea, and saw Australian troops slowly push forwards across difficult terrain, pulling the Japanese away from their major base at Lae, further up the coast.


30 June-1 July

The battle of Viru (30 June-1 July 1943) was an early success for the US troops invading New Georgia, the first major US offensive in the Solomon Islands after the end of the fighting on Guadalcanal.


30 June-3 July

The battle for Wickham Anchorage (30 June-3 July 1943) was a short but hard-fought battle that saw American troops defeat a smaller Japanese force on Vangunu Island, and that allowed the Americans to use Wickham Anchorage.

2-3 July

First US troops land at Zanana Beach, east of Munda (New Georgia).

5-11 July

The battle for Enogai Inlet (5-11 July 1943) was the first and most successful operation carried out by the Northern Landing Group on New Georgia and saw them capture a Japanese coastal gun battery as well as block the important trail from Bairoko to Munda.

6 July

The battle of Kula Gulf (6 July 1943) was an inconclusive naval clash between American and Japanese forces transporting troops to the New Georgia theatre in which both sides lost ships and the Japanese achieved their main aim of landing reinforcements on Kolombangara.

9 July

Start of the first major American attack towards Munda, New Georgia. The attack soon runs out of steam.

13 July

The battle of Kolombangara (13 July 1943) was fought in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the Japanese getting more reinforcements from their main base at Rabaul to Vila, on the south-eastern shore of Kolombangara Island.

17-18 July

Short-lived Japanese counterattack on Munda. Japanese troops get behind the American front lines but the attack is defeated by the morning of 18 July.

20 July

The battle of Bairoko (20 July 1943) was the second major operation carried out by the Northern Landing Group on New Georgia, and ended in a rare Japanese victory after the poorly coordinated American attack was repulsed.

25 July

Start of the 'Corps Offensive' on Munda

5 August

American troops finally secure Munda Airfield.

6 August

The battle of Vella Gulf (6 August 1943) was a clear American victory that crushed one of the last attempts by the 'Tokyo Express' to get reinforcements to the remaining Japanese garrisons in the New Georgia Islands.

12-22 August

The battle of Baanga Island (12-22 August 1943) saw the Americans occupy a small island near Munda after unexpectedly fierce Japanese resistance.

15 August-7 October

The land battle of Vella Lavella (15 August-7 October 1943) was one of the first examples of the leapfrogging strategy that carried the Americans across the vast distances of the Pacific.

18 August

The action off Horaniu (18 August 1943) was an unsuccessful American attempt to prevent the Japanese from establishing a barge base at Horaniu, on the northern coast of Vella Lavella.

11 September

The battle of Salamaua (30 June-11 September 1943) was the first stage in the Allied campaign in north-eastern New Guinea, and saw Australian troops slowly push forwards across difficult terrain, pulling the Japanese away from their major base at Lae, further up the coast.

16 September

The Salamaua-Lae Campaign (30 June-16 September 1943) was the first part of Operation Postern, a wider offensive aimed at eliminating the Japanese presence on the New Guinea side of the Vitiaz Strait.

27 August-20 September

The battle of Arundel Island (27 August-20 September 1943) was both part of the mopping up operations after the fall of Munda on New Georgia, and of the operations to isolate the remaining Japanese base on Kolombangara.

4 September

Operation Postern - The Markham Valley/ Huon Peninsula Campaign of 4 September 1943-24 April 1944 saw a largely Australian force clear the Japanese from the Huon Gulf and the Huon Peninsula and ended with the fall of the major Japanese base at Madang, to the north-west of the Huon Peninsula.

6 October

The battle of Vella Lavella (6 October 1943) was a Japanese naval victory that allowed them to evacuate nearly 600 men from the north-western coast of Vella Lavella.

27 October-12 November

Operation Goodtime - the invasion of the Treasury Islands (27 October 12 November 1943) - was a preliminary operation before the main invasion of Bougainville Island in the Solomon Islands.

27 October-4 November

Operation Blissful, the Choiseul Raid of 27 October-4 November 1943, was a diversionary attack designed to distract Japanese attentions away from Bougainville, the next American target in the Solomon Islands.

1 November

Operation Cherryblossom, the invasion of Bougainville (1 November 1943-March 1944) was the last major operation during the Solomon Islands campaign and saw the Americans occupy a secure bridgehead on an Island that the Japanese had decided to make a bastion of their defensive line.

1-2 November

The invasion of Puruata Island (1-2 November) took place on the same day as the main Allied invasion of nearby Bougainville and saw a force of Marine raiders capture this small island close to the main American beachhead.

2 November

The battle of Empress Augusta Bay was a night-time victory for the US Navy that defeated an attempt by the Japanese navy to interfere with the landings on Bougainville.

25 November

The battle of Cape Saint George (25 November 1943) was the last significant naval battle during the Solomon Islands campaign and saw an American destroyer squadron defeat a similar Japanese force that was attempting to carry reinforcements to Buka on Bougainville.

29 November

The Koiari Raid (29 November 1943) was an unsuccessful attempt by the US Marines on Bougainville to interrupt a possible Japanese supply line to the south of the American beachhead on Empress Augusta Bay..


  End of production of Thompson Sub Machine Gun (from 1918)


Defeat of major Japanese counterattack on Bougainville ends the main fighting of the American phase of the battle

24 April

Fall of Madang marks the end of the Operation Postern - The Markham Valley/ Huon Peninsula Campaign of 4 September 1943-24 April 1944

6 June

The D-Day landings of 6 June 1944 were one of the most significant moments of the Second World War, and marked the point when the combined military force of the Western allies were finally brought to bear fully against Germany.

The landings on Utah Beach (6 June 1944) were the most westerly and perhaps the easiest of the D-Day landings, due in part to the actions of the American airborne divisions operating inland from the beach and partly to a strong tide which swept the landing craft a kilometre to the south of their intended landing point

The landing on Omaha Beach was the hardest fought and most costly of the D-Day landings, and the one that came closest to failure. A combination of a strong defensive position, rough seas, the loss of most of the supporting tanks and artillery, a too-short naval bombardment and an ineffective aerial bombardment saw the first wave of American troops pinned down on the water's edge, and although by the end of the day the landing was secure the Omaha beachhead was still less than a mile deep.

The landing on Gold Beach was one of the more successful of the D-Day landings, and by the end of 6 June the British had penetrated the German's coastal defences and were on the verge of liberating Bayeux, which on 7 June became the first French town to be liberated

The landing on Juno Beach was the main Canadian contribution on D-Day, and saw the Canadian 3rd Infantry Division and 2nd Armoured Brigade overcome some of the strongest German defences and a late arrival to achieve the deepest penetration into France of any Allied troops on 6 June

The troops landing on Sword Beach on 6 June had the most important task on D-Day – to protect the eastern flank of the entire landing area against the possibility of a major German armoured counterattack from the east, while at the same time taking part in the attack on Caen


8-13 June

The small town of Carentan occupied a pivotal position between Omaha and Utah Beaches, and its capture was one of the most important American priorities in the days immediately after D-Day

22-29 June

The capture of the port of Cherbourg was one of the most important early objectives for the Allies after the D-Day landings

26-30 June

Operation Epsom (26-30 June 1944) , or the battle of the Odon,was the first major British offensive to be launched after the D-Day landings, and was a successful attempt to force the Germans to concentrate their armoured units against the British and Canadians, at the eastern end of the Normandy beachhead

15 September

US Marines land on Peleliu

17 September

Start of Operation Market Garden, aimed at ending the war quickly by crossing the Rhine.
US Marines land on Angaur

20 September

Death of Lance Sergeant John D. Baskeyfield, V.C 1944, during battle of Arnhem
Angaur declared secure

22 September

US Marines land on Ulithi Atoll meeting no resistance

23 September

Japanese troops on Peleliu reinforced

27 September

End of Operation Market Garden, Germany victory

12-16 October

The battle off Formosa (12-16 October 1944) was an air battle between Japanese naval aircraft based on Formosa and the aircraft of the US 3rd Fleet that ended with an overwhelming American victory that crippled Japanese naval air power just days before the battle of Leyte Gulf (23-26 October 1944).

22 October

Last Japanese resistance on Angaur ends.

22-26 October

The battle of Leyte Gulf (22-26 October 1944) was one of the largest and most complex naval battles in history and ended as a massive American victory that effectively destroying the fighting capability of the Japanese navy.

23-24 October

The battle of the Sibuyan Sea (23-24 October 1944) was the opening phase of the battle of Leyte Gulf and saw American submarines and carrier aircraft attack Admiral Kurita's I Striking Force, sinking the massive battleship Musashi.

25 October

The battle of Cape Engano (25 October 1944) was a one-sided American victory that saw Admiral Halsey's 3rd Fleet sink four Japanese aircraft carriers, but at the same time exposing the invasion shipping in Leyte Gulf to a possible Japanese attack.

The battle of the Surigao Straits (25 October 1944) was the last clash between battleships and saw a force of older American battleships crush a Japanese squadron attempting to break into Leyte Gulf.

The battle of Samar (25 October 1944) was the nearest the Japanese came to success during the battle of Leyte Gulf and saw a powerful Japanese battleship force come close to destroying a force of American escort carriers.



The Australian Campaign on Bougainville lasted from November 1944 until the Japanese surrender on the island in August 1945 and saw fighting renewed on the island as the Australians attempted to clear the last Japanese strongholds.

27 November

Last organised Japanese resistance on Peleliu ends.


19 February

American attack starts battle of Iwo Jima (to March)

26 March

Final Japanese attack marks American victory in battle of Iwo Jima (from 19 February)

1 April

Start of Battle of Okinawa (to June)

16 April

Russians launch final assault on Berlin

25 April

Berlin surrounded by Russians

30 April

Red Flag flies on Reichstag. Hitler commits suicide in ruins of Berlin

2 May

Berlin surrenders to the Russians

8 May

Second World War in Europe ends (Midnight)

22 June

End of serious fighting during battle of Okinawa (from 8 May)

10 August

Japan offers to surrender (Second World War)

15 August

Ceasefire with Japan comes into effect(Second World War)

2 September

Official Japanese surrender(Second World War)


  Outbreak of the Malayan Emergency (to 1960)

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