World War 2 Timeline – 1941
by Ben Johnson
Important events of 1941, including the start of the final phase of the German attack on Russia (pictured to the left).
|3 Jan||Italy launches a counter-offensive in Albania against the Greeks, the first of 46 Italian attacks – all repulsed by the Greeks.|
|22 Jan||British and Australian forces capture Tobruk in North Africa. The Italian defenders lost 25,000 either killed, wounded or captured.|
British troops in North Africa
|29 Jan||South African forces cross the border from Kenya and enter Italian Somaliland. The main attack does not begin until 10 February.|
|4 Feb||The British start a mechanised movement which encircles the Italians to the south of Benghazi.|
|6 Feb||British and Australian forces enter Benghazi. Rommel is appointed commander of the German Afrika Corps|
|10 Feb||Mussolini accepts Hitler’s offer of a German armoured division to support his Italian forces in North Africa.|
|12 Feb||Rommel arrives in Tripoli, Libya.|
|24 Feb||German and British forces clash for the first time in the Western Desert.|
|2 March||In Europe Bulgaria joins the Axis bloc, German troops now have direct access from which to invade Yugoslavia and Greece.|
|6 March||British forces invade Ethiopia.
The start of a three week blockage of the Suez Canal by the Germans.
|4 April||Italian and German forces capture Benghazi.|
|6 April||Germany invades both Yugoslavia and Greece – Operation Marita.
British forces occupy Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.
|10 April||Start of the siege of Tobruk after the Germans fail to capture it, the first time advancing German Panzers had been brought to a halt! The Rats of Tobruk would continue to defend the Libyan port until they are relieved towards the end November, some 240 days later.
The Germans capture Zagreb.
|17 April||The Royal Yugoslavian Army surrenders, Axis forces annex and occupy the region.|
|10 May||Last of the heavy air raids on Britain and the end of the Blitz (German – “lightning”). During the eight months of bombing by the Luftwaffe, London has seen more than a million houses damaged or destroyed and 40,000 civilians killed. Hitler’s attention had thankfully transferred to Eastern Front and Operation Barbarossa.|
|22 June||The German invasion of Russia – Operation Barbarossa begins. More than 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invade the USSR along a front stretching almost 3,000 km – the largest military operation in history would also result in the largest casualty rate.|
|28 Sept||The first Allied convoy to Russia takes place.|
|2 Oct||The final phase of the German attack on Russia starts.|
|6 Oct||Churchill promises Stalin that a convoy would sail to Russia every 10 days.|
|28 Nov||Italian forces surrender at Gondar and so ends Mussolini’s East African venture.|
|5 Dec||With new reserves transferred from Siberia and the Far East, the Russian counter-attack in Moscow starts on the Kainin Front.|
|7 Dec||The Japanese attack the American Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbour. In the two hour raid that followed, 18 warships, 188 aircraft and 2,402 servicemen were lost. Luckily, the 3 aircraft carriers of the fleet were all at sea at the time of the attack.|
|8 Dec||Britain and America declare war on Japan.|
|11 Dec||Germany declares war on America.|
|31 Dec||By year end, a total of 53 merchant ships had reached Russia, delivering 750 tanks, 800 fighter planes, 1,400 vehicles and 100,000 tons of general stores.|
Presenting the major events for each year of World War II – now with Audio!