Important events of 1941, including the start of the final phase of the German attack on Russia (pictured to the left).
|Italy launches a counter-offensive in Albania against the Greeks, the first of 46 Italian attacks – all repulsed by the Greeks.
|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
|South African forces cross the border from Kenya and enter Italian Somaliland. The main attack does not begin until 10 February.
|The British start a mechanised movement which encircles the Italians to the south of Benghazi.
|British and Australian forces enter Benghazi. Rommel is appointed commander of the German Afrika Corps
|Mussolini accepts Hitler’s offer of a German armoured division to support his Italian forces in North Africa.
|Rommel arrives in Tripoli, Libya.
|German and British forces clash for the first time in the Western Desert.
|In Europe Bulgaria joins the Axis bloc, German troops now have direct access from which to invade Yugoslavia and Greece.
|British forces invade Ethiopia.
The start of a three week blockage of the Suez Canal by the Germans.
|Italian and German forces capture Benghazi.
|Germany invades both Yugoslavia and Greece – Operation Marita.
British forces occupy Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.
|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.
|The Royal Yugoslavian Army surrenders, Axis forces annex and occupy the region.
|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.
|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.
|The first Allied convoy to Russia takes place.
|The final phase of the German attack on Russia starts.
|Churchill promises Stalin that a convoy would sail to Russia every 10 days.
|Italian forces surrender at Gondar and so ends Mussolini’s East African venture.
|With new reserves transferred from Siberia and the Far East, the Russian counter-attack in Moscow starts on the Kainin Front.
|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.
|Britain and America declare war on Japan.
|Germany declares war on America.
|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!