Second World War - overview

Page 6 – Second World War timeline

New Zealand military involvement in the Second World War

A brief outline of the key events of the Second World War, particularly focusing on the involvement of New Zealand.

Jump to: 1939 | 1940 | 1941 | 1942 | 1943 | 1944 | 1945

By 1938 developments internationally over the previous 20 years, specifically the rise of Nazi Germany, had made the possibility of war very real.

1939

  • 14 March: German troops occupy Prague
  • 31 March: Britain and France extend guarantee to Poland
  • 7 April: Italy invades Albania
  • 14 June: Japanese blockade British concession at Tientsin, China
  • 22 August: Soviet Union and Germany sign non-aggression pact
  • 1 September: Germany invades Poland
  • 3 September: Britain, France, New Zealand and Australia declare war on Germany
  • 5 September:
    • First New Zealander, a flying officer with RAF, taken prisoner of war.
    • South Africa declares war on Germany
  • 10 September: Canada declares war on Germany
  • 12 September: Enlistment for 2 New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2 NZEF) begins
  • 17 September: Soviets invade Poland
  • 27 September Germans take Warsaw
  • 29 September: Germany and Russia partition Poland
  • 3 October: First Echelon, 2 NZEF training begins at Burnham, Trentham, Hopuhopu and Papakura
  • 4 October: New Zealand Government announces the formation of a Maori battalion for 2 NZEF
  • 16 October: First German air raid on Britain
  • 8 November: Assassination attempt on Hitler fails
  • 23 November: Major-General Bernard Freyberg is appointed to command 2 NZEF
  • 11 December: First Echelon advance party sails from Wellington
  • 13 December: Battle of the River Plate-New Zealand cruiser HMS Achilles involved in battle with German pocket battleship the Admiral Graf Spee
  • 17 December: Empire Air Training Scheme agreement commits New Zealand to produce 3000 trainees per annum

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1940

  • 5 January: First Echelon embarks for the Middle East
  • 7 January: First Echelon advance party arrives Port Said, Egypt
  • 8 January: Rationing begins in Britain
  • 12 January: Second Echelon, 2 NZEF, begins training
  • 28 January: 28 (Maori) Battalion assembles in Palmerston North
  • 12 February: First Echelon, 2 NZEF, main body arrives at Maadi Camp, Egypt
  • 19 March: First British air attacks on a land target - the island of Sylt in the Frisian Islands
  • 27 March:
    • New Zealand airmen take part in first leaflet raid on Hamburg as members of the RAF (Royal Air Force)
    • Michael Savage, Prime Minister of New Zealand, dies
  • 1 April:
    • Formation of No. 75 (NZ) Squadron in Britain by the British Air Ministry
    • Peter Fraser becomes Prime Minister of New Zealand
  • 9 April:
    • Germany invades Denmark and Norway
    • RAF and Royal Navy involved in campaign in Norway, including New Zealanders
  • 15-18 April: British troops land in Norway
  • 29 April: Empire Air Training Scheme commences in Canada, Australia and New Zealand
  • 30 April: Evacuation of British forces from Andalsnes, Norway
  • 2 May: Second Echelon, 2 NZEF, sails from Wellington
  • 10 May:
    • Germany invades Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg.
    • Winston Churchill becomes Prime Minister of Britain.
    • RAF begins bombing raids on Germany.
  • 12-14 May: Germans break through on the French front
  • 15 May: Holland surrenders to Germany
  • 17 May: Third Echelon, 2 NZEF, begins training
  • 20 May: Germans reach the Somme battlefield
  • 25 May: Germans surrounded the Belgian Army, French forces and most of British Expeditionary Force
  • 26 May: Evacuation at Dunkirk begins
  • 28 May: Belgium surrenders to Germany
  • 3 June: Germans bomb Paris. Evacuation of Dunkirk ends
  • 5 June: New Zealand begins raising an infantry brigade group for Fiji
  • 7 June: Fighter ace, Flying Officer E.J. ('Cobber') Kain (Wellington), serving with RAF, is killed in a flying accident in France (see his biography at www.dnzb.govt.nz)
  • 10 June:
    • Italy declares war on Great Britain and France.
    • Canada declares war on Italy.
  • 11 June: Australia, New Zealand and South Africa declare war on Italy
  • 11-12 June:
    • First air raids on Italy.
    • East Africa campaign begins.
  • 14 June: Germans enter Paris
  • 16 June: 2 Echelon, 2 NZEF, arrives at Greenoch, Scotland
  • 22 June: France accepts German armistice terms
  • 25 June: Hostilities in France end
  • 28 June: Britain recognises General Charles de Gaulle as the Free French leader
  • 2 July: Adolf Hitler orders preparations for the invasion of Britain
  • 5 July: French Vichy government breaks off relations with Britain
  • 10 July: Battle of Britain begins with German attacks on Channel convoys
  • 15 July: RAF attacks enemy shipping in North Sea and Channel ports
  • 23-24 July: First British aircraft over Berlin
  • 2 August: New Zealand Home Guard established
  • 4 August: Italians invade British Somaliland
  • 8 - 18 August: Battle of Britain. Intense air raids on British shipping and daylight raids. Airfields main objectives of attack.
  • 20 August: German raider Orion sinks the steamer Turakina off Cape Egmont
  • 23 - 24 August: German air raids on London begin
  • 25 - 26 August: First British air raids on Berlin
  • 27 August: Third Echelon, 2 NZEF, embarks for the Middle East
  • 10 September: Advance party of 8 Infantry Battalion leave for Fiji
  • 13 September:
    • Italians invade Egypt
    • Pte, G. R. Osbourne, 4 Reserve (MT) Company is killed by explosion of thermos bomb. First New Zealander in 2 NZEF killed as the result of enemy action.
    • Headquarters New Zealand Division (HQ NZ Division) moves to Baggush in the Western Desert
  • 15 September: Germans suffer heavy losses to RAF with whom about 100 New Zealanders serve as fighter pilots
  • 27 September: Tripartite (Axis) Pact signed by Germany, Italy and Japan
  • 28 September: First United States destroyers reach Britain under the destroyers for bases deal
  • 29 September:
    • HQ NZ Division returns to Maadi Camp
    • Third Echelon 2 NZEF arrives in Egypt
  • 28 October: Italy invades Greece
  • 3 November: HQ 8 Infantry Brigade established in Fiji
  • British troops land in Crete, Greece
  • 14 November: German raid on Coventry. Coventry Cathedral destroyed.
  • 25 November: Steamer Holmwood sunk by German raiders off Chatham Islands
  • 27 November: Rangitane sunk by German raiders 480km from East Cape
  • 8 December: New Zealand steamer Komata sunk by German raiders off Nauru Island
  • 9 December: The first Western Desert offensive begins including some New Zealand support troops
  • 16 December: British offensive opens in Italian East Africa
  • Egypt cleared of Italian forces

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1941

  • 16 January: Establishment of Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF)
  • 22 January: Tobruk in Libya falls to British and Australian troops
  • 3 February: First blackout restrictions gazetted
  • 7 February: Benghazi, Libya captured by British
  • 12 February: German forces under General Erwin Rommel arrive in Tripoli, Libya
  • 17 February: Instructions issued to Allied military commanders for a Greek expedition
  • 3 March:
    • Bulk of 2 NZEF now in the Middle East
    • Kiwi Concert Party formed
  • 6-7 March: British troops including most of 2 NZ Division begin to enter Greece. (Freyberg wrongly assumes New Zealand government has agreed to this while the government, also wrongly, assumes Freyberg believes it is a militarily feasible operation.)
  • 24 March: Rommel strikes and captures El Agheila, Libya with little resistance
  • 30 March: Enemy counter offensive in the Western Desert. German armour and Italian infantry advance.
  • 31 March: New Zealand Division in position on Aliakmon line north of Mt Olympus, Greece
  • April: Bombing raids continue over Britain and Germany
  • 2 April: Rommel attacks, meeting little resistance
  • 3 April: British evacuate Benghazi
  • 6 April: Germany invades both Yugoslavia and Greece. NZ Division withdraws along eastern seaboard.
  • 10 April: Australians forced to withdraw to Tobruk
  • 11 April: First New Zealand prisoners of war (fighting as members of a New Zealand unit) taken at Klidhi Pass (11 men of 27 (Machine Gun) Battalion).
  • 12 April: Germans breakthrough at Klidhi Pass. Allied forces begin to abandon Mt Olympus-Aliakmon line.
  • 12-13 April: Rommel encircles Tobruk. Siege begins.
  • 14 April: German attack on Tobruk repulsed
  • 22-29 April: Evacuation of troops from Greece, some to Crete, others to Egypt
  • 27 April: Germans enter Athens. Greece surrenders to Germany.
  • 17 May: Italian forces in East Africa surrender
  • 20 May: German airborne invasion of Crete begins. Capture of Maleme airfield.
  • 24 May: Bismarck sinks the British battlecruiser HMS Hood
  • 27 May: Bismarck sunk
  • 28-31 May: British and Dominion (Australian and New Zealand) troops evacuated from Crete
  • 1 June: Second Lt. Charles Upham and Sgt. V.C. Hulme awarded Victoria Cross for gallantry during Crete campaign. New Zealand troops regroup and complete training exercises in Egypt.
  • 14 June: United States freezes German and Italian assets
  • 15-18 June: British Operation Battleaxe fails to relieve Tobruk
  • 22 June: Germany invades USSR
  • 28 June: Germans capture Minsk
  • 10 July: Germans cross the River Dnieper in the Ukraine
  • 14 July: British occupy Syria
  • 25-27 July: Britain, Australia, New Zealand and United States freeze Japanese assets
  • 28 July: Japanese troops move into southern Indo-China
  • 31 July: All married men in unreserved occupations have been called up for military service
  • 3-4 August: German air raids over Moscow
  • 5 August: Sgt. Pilot J.A. Ward (75 Squadron) awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry during attack on Munster. First New Zealand airman to receive this award. (Later killed in action September 1941.)
  • 7 - 8 August: Soviet Air Force raids Berlin
  • 14 August: Britain and America announce Atlantic Charter
  • 20 August: Siege of Leningrad begins
  • 1 September: Nazis order Jews to wear yellow stars as identification
  • 12 September: 2 NZ Division moves to Baggush in the Western Desert
  • 19 September: Germans take Kiev
  • 2 October: Operation Typhoon begins (German advance on Moscow)
  • 4 - 6 October: Raids on Benghazi and Tripoli by RAF; continued during October
  • 16 October: Germans take Odessa
  • 18 October: General Tojo Hideki forms Cabinet in Japan
  • 24 October: Germans take Kharkov
  • 11 November: 2 NZ Division moves from Baggush to assembly point near Matruh - Siwa. This is the first time the entire New Zealand force has been together (20,000 all ranks).
  • 18 November: British Crusader offensive begins in the Western Desert. 2 NZ Division crosses the Libyan frontier into Cyrenaica.
  • 21 November: Tank battle between 8 Army and Axis begins south and south-east of Tobruk
  • 26 November: 2 NZ Division links up with garrison at Tobruk. NZ troops (4 Brigade) capture Belhamed, and (6 Brigade) Sidi Rezegh.
  • 27 – 30 November: Axis army returns to Tobruk front. Overruns several NZ held points, taking many prisoners of war.
  • 2 December:
    • 2 NZ Division withdraws from Libya
    • Heavy RAF raids on Axis supply bases in Tripoli and Benghazi
    • Royal Navy Force Z arrives in Singapore
  • 5 December: German attack on Moscow is abandoned as Soviets launch counter-offensive
  • 7 December: Japanese attack Pearl Harbor
  • 7 - 8 December: Japanese troops land in Thailand and north-eastern Malaya
  • 8 December: Britain, USA, and New Zealand declare war on Japan
  • 10 December: Siege of Tobruk lifted
  • 11 December:
    • Germany declares war on United States
    • 5 Brigade, 2 NZEF advance westward from Ascroma and captures large force of Italians
  • 16 December: Rommel begins retreat to El Agheila
  • 18 December: Japanese land in Hong Kong
  • 22 December: Japanese land in the Philippines
  • 23 December: New Zealanders serving with 67 Squadron RAF have first encounter with enemy during Japanese air raid on Rangoon, Burma
  • 24 December: British take Benghazi
  • 25 December: Hong Kong falls to Japanese troops
  • 31 December: Martial law declared in Singapore

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1942

  • 1 January: Declaration of the United Nations signed by 26 Allied Nations
  • New Zealand casualties in the Libyan campaign: 671 killed in action, 209 died of wounds, 1699 wounded, 2042 prisoners of war
  • 2 January:
    • Bardia taken by 8 Army – 1000 British prisoners of war set free
    • Japanese occupy Manila
  • 3 January: 488 Sqn RNZAF in action at Singapore
  • 6 January: Rommel commences offensive at El Agedabia
  • 8 January: Rommel repulsed and withdraws during sandstorms
  • 10 January: More New Zealand reinforcements to Fiji
  • 21 January: Rommel commences second offensive
  • 23 January: Axis troops take El Agedabia
  • 26 January: First American forces arrive in Britain
  • 29 January: Rommel's forces retake Benghazi
  • 30 January: Japanese within 25 km of Singapore
  • 8 February: Japanese invade Burma
  • 10 February: US naval vanguard arrives in Wellington
  • 15 February: Fall of Singapore
  • 19 February: Japanese attack Dutch East Indies [now Indonesia]. Darwin, Australia, raided for the first time.
  • 20 February: Western Desert frontline stabilised at Gazala
  • February: 2 NZ Division deploys to Lebanon-Syria
  • 3 March: No 486 (New Zealand) fighter squadron formed in RAF in Britain
  • March: Japanese air raids over Australia
  • 8 March: Japanese submarine I-25 sends reconnaissance plane over Wellington
  • 13 March: Reconnaissance flight from I-25 over Auckland
  • 7 - 8 April: Peak of air attacks on Malta
  • 18 April: US General Douglas MacArthur assumes command of the South West Pacific Area. New Zealand in South Pacific Area a US Navy responsibility under Admiral Chester Nimitz
  • Doolittle raid on Tokyo
  • 30 April: New Zealand prepares for possible invasion. Evacuation plans for some cities prepared.
  • 1 May: Rationing now includes sugar, clothing, boots, hosiery, and knitting yarns. (Petrol has been rationed since September 1939.)
  • 7 7#8211; 8 May: Battle of Coral Sea. Japanese forces heading for Port Moresby turn back.
  • 8 May: German summer offensive begins in Crimea
  • 27 May: Rommel launches new offensive in Libya
  • 31 May: Japanese midget submarine raid on Sydney Harbour
  • 3-6 June: US victory at Battle of Midway effectively ends the danger of invasion of New Zealand
  • 11 - 12 June: First US Air Force attack in the Middle East/Mediterranean
  • 14 June: With defeat of 8 Army in Libya, 2 NZ Division recalled from Lebanon-Syria
  • 21 June: Rommel captures Tobruk
  • 28 June: 2 NZ Division narrowly escapes destruction with breakout at Minqar Qaim (1,000 casualties)
  • 30 June: Rommel reaches El Alamein near Cairo
  • 1 July: First Battle of El Alamein
  • 5 July: Soviet resistance in the Crimea ends with the fall of Sevastopol
  • 9 July: Germans begin drive toward Stalingrad
  • 12 July: New Zealand motor-ship Hauraki captured by Japanese raiders in Indian Ocean
  • 14 – 15 July: 2 NZ Division advances to Ruweisat Ridge but are overrun by German tanks (1400 casualties or POWs). Keith Elliott earns Victoria Cross and Charles Upham earns bar to Victoria Cross.
  • 22 July: Two New Zealand battalions destroyed at El Mreir (900 casualties including 500 POWs)
  • 23 July: Germans cross the River Don in Russia
  • 24 July: Due to US assuming control in Fiji, 2 NZEF troops from Fiji return to New Zealand
  • July: 9 Sqn RNZAF deployed to New Caledonia. First RNZAF involvement in area.
  • 1 August: Air raid drills being held regularly in New Zealand schools
  • 7 August:
    • First America land offensive against Japan at Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands
    • General Bernard Montgomery takes command of 8 Army in North Africa
  • 17 August: Enemy transport ship Nino Bixio torpedoed carrying prisoners of war. 118 New Zealanders are killed.
  • First all American air attack in Europe
  • 23 August: Massive German air raid on Stalingrad
  • 25 August: Two companies of the 28 (Maori) Battalion inflict heavy casualties on Italians on the El Alamein Line
  • 2 September: Rommel driven back by Montgomery in the Battle of Alam Halfa
  • 13 September: Battle of Stalingrad begins
  • 21 September: Rommel hands over command of Italian-German Panzer Army to General Georg Stumme and proceeds to Germany
  • September: HMNZS Leander involved in Solomons campaign
  • 5 – 13 October: US forces continue attacks against Japanese at Guadalcanal
  • 18 October: Hitler orders the execution of all captured British commandos
  • 23 October: Operation Lightfoot – the second battle of El Alamein – begins with massive air support of the 8 Army
  • 2 NZ Division captures Miteiriya Ridge
  • 25 October: General Stumme dies and Rommel returns to Africa
  • 28 October: RAF breaks up German armour reforming for possible counter attack in the Western Desert
  • October: 3 Sqn RNZAF deploys in South Pacific theatre
  • 2 November: Operation Supercharge – Allies forces break Axis forces at El Alamein. 2 NZ Division opens way for British armour.
  • 8 November: Operation Torch begins – US invasion of North Africa. Lt. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower in command.
  • 11 November:
    • Germans and Italians invade unoccupied Vichy France.
    • Axis forces now driven out of Egypt.
  • 13 November: Tobruk falls to the 8 Army
  • 19 November: Soviet counter-offensive at Stalingrad begins
  • 20 November: Benghazi recaptured by British forces
  • 2 December: Professor Enrico Fermi sets up an atomic reactor in Chicago
  • 3 December: 3 NZ Div. HQ temporarily established in New Zealand. Throughout December troops are sent to New Caledonia from New Zealand.
  • 13 December: Rommel withdraws from El Agheila
  • 16 December: Soviets defeat German attempt to relieve Stalingrad
  • 31 December: German forces retreat from Caucasus

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1943

  • 5 January: HMNZS Achilles badly damaged by bomb off Guadalcanal
  • 22 January: Australian and US forces defeat Japan in the Papua campaign
  • 23 January: Eighth Army under General Montgomery takes Tripoli
  • 29 January:
    • Eighth Army advance parties enter Tunisia
    • Japan withdrawing land forces from Guadalcanal
  • 29 – 30 January: RNZN corvettes Kiwi and Moa sink Japanese submarine I-1 off Guadalcanal
  • 2 February: Germans surrender at Stalingrad — the biggest defeat of Hitler's army to date
  • 16 February: Soviets take back Kursk
  • 27 February: Eighth Army takes up position on the Mareth Line
  • 6 March: Rommel attacks Eighth Army in Tunisia and is repulsed
  • 9 March: Rommel leaves Africa
  • 16 – 20 March: Battle of Atlantic climaxes with 27 merchant ships sunk by German U-boats
  • 20 – 28 March: Eighth Army breaks through the Mareth Line
  • 27 March: 2 NZ Division executes 'left hook' at Tebaga Gap. Axis troops retire from Mareth Line.
  • 6 April: Axis forces in Tunisia withdraw as British and American forces link up
  • 26 April: First Army offensive against Tunis begins
  • 7 May: Allies take Tunis
  • 13 May: German and Italian troops surrender in North Africa
  • 15 May: 2 NZ Division begins to return from Tunisia to Maadi Camp
  • 18 May: Japanese begins an offensive along Yangtze River
  • 20 May: New Zealand government agrees to keep 2 NZEF in the Middle East to be available for operations in Europe. A furlough scheme for those with long service in the Middle East is decided upon. The division in the Pacific to be reduced.
  • 3 June:
    • Committee formed by General de Gaulle and General Henri Giraud for liberation of France
    • Chinese win victory in Yangtze fight
  • 5 July: Germans begin major offensive at Kursk, but progress is limited. Soviets eventually win greatest tank battle in history. This effectively decides outcome on eastern front.
  • 9 – 10 July: Allies land in Sicily
  • 12 – 13 July: HMNZS Leander suffers heavy damage when torpedoed off New Georgia
  • 14 July: Axis counter attack in Sicily
  • 19 July: Allies bomb Rome
  • 22 July: Americans capture Palermo, Sicily
  • 24 July: British bombing raid on Hamburg
  • 25 July: Benito Mussolini arrested and Italian fascist government falls. Marshal Pietro Badoglio takes over and negotiates with Allies.
  • 1 August: Germans disarm Italian troops in Crete and other Greek islands
  • 12 – 17 August: Germans evacuate Sicily
  • 15 August: US troops land at Vella Lavella in the Solomon Islands
  • 16 August: American daylight air raids on Regensberg and Schweinfurt in Germany.
  • Heavy Allied air attacks on Japanese at Wewak, Papua New Guinea
  • 23 August: Soviet troops recapture Kharkov
  • 8 September: Italian armistice is announced
  • 9 September: Allied landings at Salerno and Taranto, Italy
  • 11 September: Germans occupy Rome
  • 12 September: Germans rescue Mussolini
  • 14 September:
    • Allied landings in Sardinia
    • Heavy fighting at Salerno
  • 22 September: New Zealand troops land on Leros in the Dodecanese Islands off eastern Greece. (Germans invade and recapture these islands by mid November.)
  • 23 September: Mussolini re-establishes Fascist government in northern Italy
  • 1 October: Allies enter Naples
  • 3 October: 3 NZ Division secures Vella Lavella. First troops of 2 NZ Division arrive at Taranto, Italy.
  • 5 October: US force attacks Wake Island
  • 13 October: Italy declares war on Germany
  • 16 – 17 October: 4 and 5 NZ Brigades leave Port Tewfik for Italy
  • 27 October:
    • Soviets break through between Dnieper River and the Sea of Azov
    • 3 NZ Division lands on Mono in the Treasury Islands
  • 28 October: Butter rationing is introduced in New Zealand
  • 1 November: US invades Bougainville
  • 6 November: Soviets recapture Kiev in the Ukraine
  • 9 November: Eighth Army takes Castiglione, Italy
  • 22 November: Offensive on the Sangro River by 8 Army begins
  • 1 December: German line on the Sangro River broken
  • 3 – 24 December: 2 NZ Division battles for Orsogna north of Sangro River
  • 20 December: Japanese air raid on Calcutta
  • 31 December: Soviets take Zhitomir

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1944

  • 13 January: Decision made to move NZ troops from Orsogna across the Italian peninsula to Cassino
  • 17 January:
    • US 5 Army offensive along the Gustav line begins. 2 NZ Division assembling in army's rear.
    • First attack towards Cassino.
  • 22 January: Allied landing at Anzio, behind the German lines at Cassino
  • 27 January:
    • Siege of Leningrad is raised after nearly 900 days
    • January: US invades Marshall Islands
  • 3 February: First counter attack by Germans at Anzio
  • 15 – 18 February:
    • Allies bomb the monastery at Monte Cassino
    • 3 NZ Division lands on Nissan Island in the Solomons. Organised Japanese resistance ceases by 20 February.
  • 16 February: Second German attack at Anzio
  • 17 February: 28 Maori Battalion crosses the Rapido River south of Cassino and captures railway station. Forced to withdraw the following day as Germans counter attack.
  • 29 February: US General Douglas MacArthur's force invades Admiralty Island
  • 4 March: Soviets begin an offensive on the Byelorussian front
  • 6 March: Meat rationing introduced in New Zealand
  • 7 March: 20 New Zealand warplanes take part in attack on Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, their first attack on this Japanese base
  • Japan invades India near Imphal
  • 15 March: NZ Corps begins the assault on Cassino town after further Allied bombing. Assault continues until 23 March when they withdraw.
  • 2 April: Russian forces enter Romania
  • 8 April: Soviets begin offensive to liberate Crimea
  • 10 April: Soviets recapture the port of Odessa on the Black Sea
  • 16 April: Imphal plains (India) now in British hands
  • 8 May: Japanese launch offensive against British troops in Burma
  • 9 May: Soviets recapture Sevastopol
  • 11 – 12 May: Allied forces open new offensive against Gustav line in Italy
  • 15 May: Germans in Italy withdraw to the Adolf Hitler Line
  • 18 May: Polish troops capture Cassino
  • 5 June: Allies enter Rome
  • 6 June: D-Day: Allied landing in Normandy, France
  • 9 June: Soviet offensive against the Finnish front begins
  • 13 June: First German V-1 rocket attack on Britain
  • 15 June: Main body of 3 NZ Division HQ sails for New Caledonia
  • 16 June: China-based B-29s bomb southern Japan
  • 18 June: Eighth Army captures Assisi in central Italy
  • 27 June:
    • US troops liberate Cherbourg
    • German forces overwhelmed by Soviets beyond Vitebsk
  • 3 July: Soviets recapture Minsk
  • 9 July: British and Canadian forces enter Caen
  • 17 July: Allies cross the Arno river in Italy
  • 20 July: Attempted assassination of Hitler
  • 21 July: US troops land in Guam
  • 27 July: Allied breakthrough west of Saint Lo, France
  • 31 July: Completion of Normandy breakthroughs with the capture of Avranches
  • 1 August: Polish Home Army uprising against Nazis in Warsaw, Poland
  • 4 August:
    • Allied forces advance into Florence
    • Soviets at the gates of Warsaw
  • 7 August: Germans begin counter offensive towards Avranches
  • 10 August: Japanese resistance in Guam ends
  • 12 August: Germans begin to evacuate Normandy
  • 15 August: Allied forces land in southern France
  • 22 August: Germans retreat to the Gothic Line in Italy
  • 23 August:
    • French troops take Marseilles
    • Romania surrenders to Soviets
  • 24 August: Liberation of Paris
  • 31 August:
    • Eighth Army attacks the Gothic Line
    • Soviets enter Bucharest
  • 2 September:
    • Eighth Army breaks the Gothic Line. US troops capture Pisa
    • Allied 1 Army enters Belgium
  • 3 September: US and French troops capture Lyon
  • 4 September:
    • Finland signs armistice with Russia
    • Allies take Antwerp
  • 8 September: Soviet troops enter Bulgaria
  • 13 September: US troops reach the Siegfried Line
  • 17 September:
    • Operation Market Garden — Allied airborne attack on Holland — begins
    • Germans contain landing at Arnhem
  • 26 September: Allied forces at Arnhem surrender
  • 30 September: Allies capture Calais
  • 2 October: Warsaw uprising ends as Polish Home Army surrenders to Germans
  • 5 October: British forces land in Greece
  • 10 October: Soviets reach Baltic coast
  • 11 October: British troops occupy Corinth, Greece
  • 14 October: Athens is liberated. Rommel commits suicide.
  • 20 October: Philippines campaign begins
  • 21 October: German surrender at Aachen, Germany (close to the Belgium/Germany border)
  • 22 October: Soviets reach Norwegian frontier
  • 23 October: Soviets enter East Prussia
  • 30 October: Last use of gas chambers at Auschwitz
  • 2 November: Greek mainland cleared of German forces
  • 5 November: Allied planes bomb Singapore
  • 18 November: US troops cross German border
  • 24 November: B-29s bomb Tokyo
  • 4 December:
    • Civil war begins in Greece
    • Eighth Army enters Ravenna, Italy
  • 16 – 27 December: Battle of the Bulge in Ardennes
  • 24 December: Last Japanese attack on Calcutta
  • 27 December: Soviet troops besiege Budapest, Hungary

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1945

  • 1 in which New Zealanders were involved 17 January: Germans withdraw from Ardennes
  • 12 January: Soviets launch offensive in southern Poland
  • 16 January: Soviet troops liberate Auschwitz
  • 17 January: Soviet troops enter Warsaw
  • 20 January: Hungary signs an armistice
  • 22 January: Burma Road is reopened
  • 13 February: Budapest is occupied
  • 13/14 February: Firebombing of Dresden, Germany
  • 19 February: US troops land on Iwo Jima, Japan
  • 6 March: Last German offensive of the war begins to defend oil fields in Hungary
  • 7 March: US troops take Cologne and cross the Rhine River
  • 17 March: Soviet troops take Brandenburg, west of Berlin
  • 21 March: British forces take Mandalay, Burma (Myanmar)
  • 1 April:
    • US troops encircle Germans in the Ruhr Valley
    • Allied forces begin offensive in northern Italy
    • US troops invade Okinawa
  • 8 April: Soviets capture Vienna
  • 12 April: US troops cross the Elbe River
  • 16 April: US troops enter Nuremberg
  • 18 April: Germans in the Ruhr surrender
  • 21 April: Soviets enter Berlin
  • 25 April: US and Soviet troops join forces at Torgau, central Germany.
  • 28 April:
    • Mussolini executed by partisans
    • Allies take Venice
  • 29 April: Germans in southern Austria surrender
  • 30 April: Hitler commits suicide
  • 2 May:
    • 2 NZ Division enters Trieste
    • Germans in Italy surrender
    • Surrender of Berlin to Soviets
    • Surrender of German troops in Yugoslavia
  • 3 May: Rangoon recaptured
  • 5 May: German forces in the Netherlands, northwest Germany and Denmark surrender
  • 7 May: German High Command surrenders unconditionally to Allied forces
  • 8 May: Victory in Europe (VE) Day
  • 13 May: Australian troops occupy Wewak, Papua New Guinea
  • 26 May: 700,000 incendiary bombs fall on Tokyo
  • 1 June: First landing of US troops on Okinawa
  • 20 June: Australian troops land in Sarawak
  • 21 June: US forces capture Okinawa
  • 26 June: United Nations Charter is signed in San Francisco
  • 5 July: Liberation of the Philippines completed
  • 14 July: US Navy bombards Honshu and Hokkaido
  • 16 July: First atomic bomb test in New Mexico
  • 3 August: Japanese home islands blockaded
  • 6 August: Atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan
  • 8 August: Russia declares war on Japan
  • 9 August:
    • Atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan
    • Soviet troops enter Manchuria
  • 12 August: Soviet troops enter Korea
  • 14 August: Japan accepts Allied surrender terms
  • 15 August: VJ (Victory in Japan) Day. (Some prefer 2 September as VJ Day as this date on which Japan signed the surrender agreement.)
  • 28 August: US troops enter Japanese main islands
  • 30 August: British troops re-occupy Hong Kong
  • 2 September: Formal Japanese surrender on deck of USS Missouri
  • 24 October: United Nations officially born
  • 20 November: Nuremberg War crimes trials begin
How to cite this page

'Second World War timeline', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/war/second-world-war/timeline, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 20-Dec-2012