War in the Pacific

Page 6 – Pacific War Timeline

Timeline of events in the Pacific War

1939

  • 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
  • 12 September: Enlistment for 2 New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2 NZEF) begins
  • 3 October: First Echelon, 2 NZEF training begins at Burnham, Trentham, Hopuhopu and Papakura
  • 23 November: Major-General Bernard Freyberg is appointed to command 2 NZEF
  • 13 December: Battle of the River Plate - New Zealand cruiser HMS Achilles involved in battle with German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee

1940

  • 5 January: First Echelon embarks for the Middle East
  • 5 June: New Zealand begins raising an infantry brigade group for Fiji
  • 10 June: Italy declares war on Great Britain and France
  • 11 June: Australia, New Zealand and South Africa declare war on Italy
  • 20 August: German raider Orion sinks the steamer Turakina off Cape Egmont
  • 10 September: Advance party of 8 Infantry Battalion leave for Fiji
  • 27 September: Tripartite (Axis) Pact signed by Germany, Italy and Japan
  • 3 November: HQ 8 Infantry Brigade established in Fiji
  • 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

1941

  • 3 March: Bulk of 2 NZEF now in the Middle East
  • 25-27 July: Britain, Australia, New Zealand and United States freeze Japanese assets
  • 28 July: Japanese troops move into southern Indo-China
  • 18 October: General Tojo Hideki forms Cabinet in Japan
  • 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
  • 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
  • 25 December: Hong Kong falls to Japanese troops
  • 31 December: Martial law declared in Singapore

1942

  • 2 January: Japanese occupy Manila
  • 3 January: 488 Sqn RNZAF in action at Singapore
  • 10 January: More New Zealand reinforcements to Fiji
  • 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 Indonesia; Darwin, Australia, raided for the first time
  • 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
  • 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
  • 7 – 8 May: Battle of Coral Sea; Japanese forces heading for Port Moresby turn back
  • 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
  • 12 July: New Zealand freighter Hauraki captured by a Japanese raider
  • 24 July: US assume control in Fiji; 2 NZEF troops in Fiji return to New Zealand
  • July: 9 Sqn RNZAF deployed to New Caledonia
  • 7 August: First US land offensive against Japan at Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands
  • September: HMNZS Leander involved in Solomons campaign
  • 5 – 13 October: US forces continue attacks against Japanese at Guadalcanal
  • 15 October: Seventeen New Zealand coastwatchers and five civilians captured in the Gilbert Islands (now Kiribati) beheaded at Betio, Tarawa
  • October: 3 Sqn RNZAF deploys in South Pacific theatre
  • 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 NZ troops sent to New Caledonia

1943

  • 5 January: HMNZS Achilles badly damaged by bomb off Guadalcanal
  • 22 January: Australian and US forces defeat Japan in the Papua campaign
  • 29 January: Japan withdrawing land forces from Guadalcanal
  • 29 – 30 January: RNZN corvettes Kiwi and Moa sink Japanese submarine I-1 off Guadalcanal
  • 18 May: Japan 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; 3 Division in the Pacific to be reduced
  • 12 – 13 July: HMNZS Leander suffers heavy damage when torpedoed off New Georgia
  • 15 August: US troops land at Vella Lavella in the Solomon Islands
  • 16 August: Heavy Allied air attacks on Japanese at Wewak, Papua New Guinea
  • 3 October: 3 NZ Division secures Vella Lavella
  • 5 October: US force attacks Wake Island
  • 27 October: 3 NZ Division lands on Mono in the Treasury Islands
  • 1 November: US invades Bougainville

1944

  • January: US invades Marshall Islands
  • 15 – 18 February: 3 NZ Division lands on Nissan Island; organised Japanese resistance ceases by 20 February
  • 29 February: US General Douglas MacArthur's force invades Admiralty Island
  • 7 March: 20 New Zealand aircraft take part in attack on Rabaul
  • 8 May: Japanese launch offensive against British troops in Burma
  • 15 June: Main body of 3 NZ Division HQ returns to New Caledonia
  • 16 June: China-based B-29s bomb southern Japan
  • 21 July: US troops land in Guam
  • 10 August: Japanese resistance in Guam ends
  • 20 October: Philippines campaign begins
  • 5 November: Allied planes bomb Singapore
  • 24 November: B-29s bomb Tokyo
  • 24 December: Last Japanese attack on Calcutta

1945

  • 22 January: Burma Road is reopened
  • 19 February: US troops land on Iwo Jima, Japan
  • 21 March: British forces take Mandalay, Burma
  • 1 April: US troops invade Okinawa
  • 3 May: Rangoon recaptured
  • 13 May: Australian troops occupy Wewak
  • 26 May: 700,000 incendiary bombs fall on Tokyo
  • 8 May: VE Day (Victory in Europe)
  • 1 June: First landing of US troops on Okinawa
  • 20 June: Australian troops land in Sarawak
  • 21 June: US forces capture Okinawa
  • 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 Day (Victory in Japan)
  • 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
How to cite this page

'Pacific War Timeline', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/war/second-world-war/war-in-the-pacific/timeline, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 30-Jun-2017