Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Nazi Germany Conquers France: April 1940-December 1940


World War II Timeline: July 21, 1940-August 17, 1940

Late July and early August of 1940 found Adolf Hitler preparing to invade Britain and Benito Mussolini sending Italian forces into north Africa. These and other World War II events are detailed in the World War II timeline below.

World War II Timeline: July 21-August 17

July 21: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania join the Soviet Union under duress.

July 22: Adolf Hitler's strings-attached "peace offer" is rejected by London.

The Special Operations Executive is created by Britain's War Cabinet to carry out acts of sabotage against Nazi Germany in occupied countries.

July 24: Nearly 50 civilians are killed in an Italian air raid of Jerusalem.

August 1: Adolf Hitler orders increased bombing of strategic British targets in preparation for Operation Sealion, which he intends to launch on September 15, 1940

August 3: East Africa's British Somaliland is overrun by a large contingent of Italian troops.

August 5: Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini confer in Rome, with Mussolini assuring Hitler he will soon open the North African front with an assault into Egypt toward the Suez Canal.

August 8: In an effort to persuade India to take a more active role in promoting British interests in Southeast Asia, Britain promises its colony a new postwar constitution.

August 9: Due to greater needs on other fronts, British troops abandon Shanghai.

August 11: The U.S. Army announces plans to send 4,000 tanks to Britain.

August 15: Germany is dealt a major blow during the Battle of Britain. Intending to knock out Britain's Royal Air Force, the Luftwaffe actually loses more than twice as many aircraft -- 75 compared to Britain's 32.

August 17: Germany blockades Britain, heavily mining its waters and vowing to attack all approaching ships, whether belligerent or neutral.

World War II Headlines

Below are more images and headlines detailing important events of World War II and the German and Italian invasions of 1940.

Germans train for Operation Sealion: In this faked photo, a German armored vehicle is supposedly on the beach of Dover, England. In 1940 Operation Sealion was a high-risk undertaking; no invasion of Britain had succeeded since 1066. Nevertheless, German plans advanced throughout that summer. Thousands of troops of the Ninth and 16th Armies assembled and trained in the coastal region, horses were conditioned to travel on barges, and hundreds of troop-carrying vessels were collected in French and Belgian ports. However, all ultimately depended upon the Luftwaffe achieving overall air supremacy beforehand, and so the victory won by the RAF during September's Battle of Britain effectively made Sealion no longer viable.

British submarines successful in Mediterranean: The HMS Taku was one of the oceangoing T-class boats that formed the mainstay of the British submarine fleet. Royal Navy submarines operated in shallow waters that were heavily mined and well defended by antisubmarine forces. Of more than 50 deployed, nearly one out of three was destroyed, usually going down with all hands. Nevertheless, Royal Navy subs took a heavy toll on German ships in Norwegian waters. In the dangerously shallow and clear Mediterranean, British subs successfully interrupted German and Italian supply routes to Africa. British submarines also landed and picked up clandestine agents in various areas, and supported Allied efforts in the Malacca Straits and seas near Indonesia.

The Blitz continued throughout September 1940. On the following page is a World War II timeline detailing this and other events.

To follow more major events of World War II, see:


More to Explore