In the Mediterranean. Italy entered the war on June 10, 1940, with an army of 1,500,000, a modern navy, and a highly rated air force. The first naval action in the Mediterranean came on July 20. It resulted in the sinking of the Italian cruiser Bartolomeo Colleone by the Australian cruiser Sydney. Italy attacked Greece on October 28, and the British, in an effort to secure the eastern Mediterranean, sent troops to the Greek island of Crete. The British struck at the Italian fleet at Taranto on November 11-12. In this action, planes from the carrier Illustrious damaged three battleships and a cruiser, crippling the Italian fleet.
This World War II timeline highlights important dates during January 1931 to August 1939. This time period saw Japan and Italy break away from the League of Nations and the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany. Follow the events of World War II.
In 1939, a group of scientists, many having recently arrived in the United States after fleeing Nazi persecution in Germany, informed government officials that recent experiments conducted in Germany had demonstrated the feasibility of building an atomic weapon.