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Chronology 1940

Date Event Historical Background
January 3, 1940 U.S. National Defense Proposal In his annual budget message, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt asked Congress to provide $1.8 billion for national defense, new appropriations of almost $1.2 billion, and the development of an annual production program of 50,000 aircraft.
January 14, 1940 New Japanese Government Admiral Mitsumasa Yonai formed a new cabinet for the Japanese government.
January 26, 1940 Expiration of U.S.-Japanese Trade Treaty of 1911 The Trade Treaty of 1911, between the U.S. and Japan, expired and Secretary of State Cordell Hull informed the Japanese government that trade would continue on a day-to-day basis.
February 9-March 28, 1940 Welles Mission to Europe President Franklin Roosevelt announced that Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles would travel to Europe to determine the war aims of the belligerent powers and to determine the possibility of negotiating a just and lasting peace. Under Secretary Welles issued his report to the president on March 28th.
February 17, 1940 British Seizure of German Ship in Norwegian Waters Royal Navy forces seized the German steamer "Altmark" in Norwegian waters, freeing 299 prisoners-of-war. The Norwegian government protested the British violation of their national sovereignty.
February 19-26, 1940 First Session of Judicial Year 1940/Permanent Court of International Justice The Permanent Court of International Justice held its first, and only, session of Judicial Year 1940 in the Hague. The German occupation of the Netherlands postponed Court sessions until October 1945.
March 12, 1940 End of the Soviet-Finnish Winter War After three months of intense fighting, Soviet forces finally breached the Mannerheim Line, causing the collapse of Finnish defenses. The Finnish government sued for peace and negotiated the Treaty of Moscow with the USSR. The Soviet Union gained the Karelian Isthmus, the city of Viipuri (Vyborg), the port of Hangoe on the Baltic Sea, and several islands. The Finnish territorial transfer totaled 16,173 square miles and a population of 450,000. Most of the Finns in the ceded territory were resettled in Finland.
March 20, 1940 Daladier Resignation in France Edouard Daladier resigned as the French premier. The next day, Paul Reynaud formed a new cabinet.
March 30, 1940 Pro-Japanese Government Established in China The Japanese set up a new Chinese government under Wang Ching-wei in Nanjing (Nanking) as a counterweight to the Nationalist Chinese government and to administer the regions of China under Japanese control.
April 8, 1940 Allied Mining of Norwegian Waters The British and French governments announced that their navies had mined Norwegian waters in an effort to prevent German warships from passing through these waters.
April 9, 1940 German Invasion of Denmark and Norway German forces occupied Denmark and began an offensive against Norway, landing German troops along the Norwegian coast. German sea and airborne forces occupied Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, Stavanger, and Narvik in rapid fashion. German forces occupied Denmark without formal resistance. The British and French responded by dispatching troops to Norway, but German air power forced the Western allies to eventually withdraw their forces.
April 11, 1940 Norwegian Resistance to German Invasion Recovering from the surprise German invasion, Norwegian troops rallied and offered the Germans some resistance. Norwegian forces succeeded in driving German troops out of Bergen and Trondheim. The Germans lost three cruisers and four troopships in the initial fighting.
April 13, 1940 British Occupation of Narvik The Royal Navy attacked the Germans in Narvik, sinking all the German warships in the harbor. British forces then occupied the city.
April 16-19, 1940 Allied Expedition to Southern Norway The British and French governments dispatched an expeditionary force to southern Norway, landing troops in Andalsnes and Namsos. German forces, however, regrouped and forced the Allies to withdraw from these cities within two weeks.
April 17, 1940 U.S. Warning on the Dutch East Indies Secretary of State Cordell Hull warned the Japanese government that the United States would oppose any change in the status quo of the Netherlands East Indies by other than peaceful means.
April 30, 1940 Collapse of Norwegian Resistance German forces seized Dumbas, a key railroad center, and Norwegian resistance collapsed. The Germans continued to send reinforcements to the Norwegian campaign, which permitted the Germans to go on the offensive.
May 3, 1940 Evacuation of Allied Forces from Southern Norway The Anglo-French expeditionary force withdrew from Andalsnes and Namsos, limiting the Allied intervention to northern Norway.
May 9, 1940 British Occupation of Iceland In response to the German invasion of Denmark, British forces occupied Iceland to prevent that island from falling under German control. The operation of German aircraft and submarines from Iceland would have severed Britain's North Atlantic sea routes to Canada and the United States.
May 10, 1940 German Invasion of the Low Countries In another Blitzkrieg campaign, the German air force and army launched an invasion of the Low Countries. German forces quickly overwhelmed Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, pressing towards the French frontier.
May 10, 1940 Chamberlain Resignation in Britain The German invasion of France and the Low Countries resulted in the resignation of British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain. Winston Churchill formed a new coalition cabinet, which included Conservative and Labour representatives to conduct the war.
May 11, 1940 Allied Expedition to Belgium The British and French governments sent expeditionary forces to bolster the Belgian army. The Germans, however, captured Fort Eben Emael, a key Belgian fortress.
May 12, 1940 Germans Cross the Meuse River By-passing the main French defenses in the Maginot Line, German forces drove deep into French territory by crossing the Meuse River near Sedan.
May 13, 1940 Fall of Rotterdam After a devastating air attack, the Dutch city of Rotterdam surrendered to the Germans. Queen Wilhelmina and the Dutch government escaped to Britain to set up a government-in-exile.
May 14, 1940 Surrender of the Netherlands The Dutch army surrendered to the Germans, four days after the German invasion. The remaining members Dutch government fled to Britain and joined the government-in-exile.
May 16, 1940 U.S. Expansion of the Army and Navy With the Allies on the defensive in France, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to appropriate $2.5 billion to expand the U.S. Army and Navy. The Defense Advisory Commission would supervise the military expansion program.
May 17-21, 1940 German Advance in Northern France German armored forces drove deep into northern France, dividing British and Belgian forces from the main French armies after the capture of Abbeville. General Maxime Weygand became the French commander-in-chief, but he was unable to prevent the unfolding disaster. With the fall of Brussels and Namur, the British Expeditionary Force fell back to Ostend and Dunkerque.
May 26, 1940 Fall of Boulogne The German army captured Boulogne and the Belgian army was isolated. The Belgians were exhausted, disorganized, and short of supplies after intense fighting against German forces.
May 28, 1940 Surrender of Belgium King Leopold III of Belgium ordered the Belgian army to cease fighting. Unlike his father, King Albert, who refused to surrender to the Germans in World War I, Leopold decided to end the fighting on Belgian soil. Members of the Belgian government, who had moved to France, declared that Leopold was deposed from the throne. King Leopold's decision to surrender also exposed the British Expeditionary Force to German attack and the British government decided to evacuate as many troops as possible.
May 28-June 4, 1940 British Evacuation from Dunkirk Abandoning their military supplies and equipment, the British Expeditionary Force conducted an evacuation from the beaches at Dunkerque. The Royal Navy, with the assistance of civilian boats, evacuated 215,000 British troops and 120,000 French troops. The Germans captured 30,000 British prisoners-of-war in France.
May 31, 1940 Accelerated U.S. Defense Plan President Franklin Roosevelt requested an additional $1.3 billion from Congress to accelerate and develop U.S. military and naval requirements.
June 3, 1940 U.S. Arms to Britain Prime Minister Winston Churchill appealed to the U.S. government for war materials, after the British disaster in northern France. The British army lost most of its supplies and equipment in northern France, leaving Britain open to a German invasion. The War Department immediately released outdated rifles, machine guns, field guns, and ammunition, shipping $43 million worth of munitions in June alone.
June 5-July 10, 1940 Battle of France With their right wing secure, the German army launched a massive offensive against the French, in an arc from Sedan to Abbeville. The Germans crossed the Somme and Aisne-Oise Canal and penetrated French defenses. The Germans broke through the French lines at Sedan and enveloped Paris.
June 8, 1940 Evacuation of Allied Forces from Northern Norway German reinforcements, supply problems, and the collapse of the Western Front in France forced the British and French governments to withdraw their remaining forces in northern Norway. Anglo-French forces evacuated Bodo (May 29th) and Narvik, leaving Norway to the Germans.
June 9, 1940 Russo-Japanese Accord on Manchukuo The Soviet and Japanese governments signed an agreement which ended the dispute regarding the borders of Manchukuo.
June 10, 1940 Italian War Declaration on France and Britain The Italian government ended its neutrality and declared war on France and Britain. Italian troops attacked southern France from Savoy as German troops overran northern France.
June 10, 1940 Norwegian Armistice The Norwegian army ended military operations against the Germans. King Haakon VII and his cabinet escaped to London to form a government-in-exile and to continue resistance against the German occupation.
June 13, 1940 German Occupation of Paris Wehrmacht forces marched into Paris, forcing the French government to flee to Tours, and then to Bordeaux. French defenses collapsed in response to the massive German offensive.
June 14, 1940 Spanish Occupation of Tangier Taking advantage of the German invasion of France, Spanish forces occupied the international zone at Tangier.
June 15, 1940 Fall of Verdun The French fortress at Verdun, which never surrendered in World War I, capitulated to the Germans.
June 15, 1940 National Defense Research Committee President Franklin Roosevelt established the National Defense Research Committee under the direction of Dr. Vannevar Bush to help plan and organize American defense preparations.
June 15-17, 1940 Soviet Occupation of Baltic States As the Germans advanced into France, the Red Army occupied Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
June 16, 1940 French Request for Release from Anglo-French Agreement With the collapse of French defenses, Premier Paul Reynaud requested that the British government release the French from their obligations under the Anglo-French Agreement and allow the French to negotiate a separate peace with the Germans.
June 16, 1940 Reynaud Resignation in France Paul Reynauld resigned as the head of administration in France. He was replaced by Marshal Henri-Philippe Petain, a French World War I hero. Marshal Petain sued for peace with the German government the next day.
June 16, 1940 U.S. Pittman Act The U.S. Congress authorized the sale of munitions to any American republic. The Roosevelt administration sought to bolster the defenses of the Western Hemisphere.
June 17, 1940 Non-Transfer Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine The U.S. Department of State notified European governments that the United States would not recognize the transfer of any geographic region of the Western Hemisphere from one non-American power to another non-American power. The United States sought to prevent German access to French and Dutch colonies in the Americas.
June 20, 1940 U.S. Cabinet Appointments President Franklin Roosevelt named Henry Stimson the new Secretary of War and Frank Knox the new Secretary of the Navy.
June 22, 1940 Franco-German Armistice The French and German governments concluded an armistice at Compiegne, ending the fighting in northern and central France. Under the terms of the agreement, the Germans occupied the French Atlantic coastline from the Belgian border to the Spanish border and controlled northern France. As a result, the Germans controlled three-fifths of the French republic. In addition, French armed forces were disarmed. A French government, under Marshal Henri-Philippe Petain, established its capital in Vichy.
June 22, 1940 U.S. National Defense Tax Act The U.S. Congress passed the National Defense Act, which was designed to produce $994 million annually for the American war effort and raised the national debt limit by $4 billion to $49 billion.
June 23, 1940 Establishment of Free French Government in London General Charles De Gaulle, the leader of the French National Committee in London, pledged that the French would continue to oppose the Germans, marking the beginning of the Free French movement. The British government recognized General De Gaulle and severed relations with the Petain government in Vichy.
June 24, 1940 Franco-Italian Armistice The Italian and Vichy French governments signed an armistice, ending the fighting in southern France.
June 25, 1940 Japanese Warships in French Indo-China Taking advantage of the French armistice, the Japanese government demanded the right to land military forces in French Indo-China. In support of this demand, the Japanese navy dispatched warships to ports in French Indo-China.
June 26, 1940 Soviet Seizure of Bessarabia and Bukovina With the Western powers focused on events in France, the Soviet government demanded that Romania cede Bessarabia and northern Bukovina. Two days later, the Red Army occupied these regions and Romania lost 19,300 square miles and 3.5 million people.
June 28, 1940 U.S. Alien Registration Act The U.S. Congress passed the Smith Act designed to strengthen existing laws regarding the admission and deportation of aliens in the United States. The law was designed to check subversive activities in the U.S. and made it unlawful for anyone to advocate or teach the overthrow or destruction of any U.S. government by force or violence or to be a member of a group that advocated such goals.
June 30, 1940 Germans Occupation of Channel Islands German forces seized control of Guernsey and Jersey, the only British territory the Germans would gain during the war. The British did not liberate the islands until May 1945.
July 1940 Romanian Withdrawal from the League The government of Romania informed the League of Nations of its intentions of withdrawing from the organization.
July 1, 1940 Romanian Renunciation of the Anglo-French Guarantee The Romanian government officially severed the Anglo-French guarantee of territorial integrity and sought to improve relations with the German government.
July 2, 1940 Establishment of Vichy French Government French Premier Marshal Henri-Philippe Petain established his government in Vichy.
July 3, 1940 New Romanian Government In response to the new pro-German policy, Ion Girgutu became the new Romanian premier and formed a new cabinet.
July 3, 1940 Battle of Oran and Mers el-Kabir Fearing that the Vichy French government would turn over the French fleet to the Germans (the French deployed most of their naval units to Oran in Algeria), the British government demanded that French naval officers surrender their ships to the Royal Navy. When the French refused to surrender, the British sank or captured most of the French fleet. The British sank three French battleships and an aircraft carrier, an action which severely undermined Anglo-French relations.
July 4, 1940 British Seizure of French Ships The Royal Navy seized French ships in ports under British control to prevent these ships from falling into German hands and to increase shipping tonnage available to the British.
July 4, 1940 Italian Invasion of the Sudan Italian forces launched an offensive against Anglo-Egyptian Sudan from Italian East Africa.
July 5, 1940 Vichy French Government Severance of Relations with Britain As a result of the British attack on the French fleet at Oran, the Vichy French government cut diplomatic relations with Britain. This resulted in the establishment of two French governments, a pro-Allied Free French government-in-exile in London and the pro-German Vichy French government.
July 10, 1940 Reorganization of Vichy French Government The French legislature in Vichy voted to establish a totalitarian form of government, on the Fascist model. The legislature extended authoritarian powers to Marshal Henri-Philippe Petain and Pierre Laval became the Vice Premier two days later.
July 16, 1940 Konoye Government in Japan The Japanese formed a new ministry under Prince Fumumaro Konoye on totalitarian lines. The new prime minister set up the new government to implement a policy of national consolidation and defense.
July 18, 1940 British Closure of the Burma Road The British government closed the Burma Road, the chief supply line for foreign military equipment for the Nationalist Chinese. In return, the Japanese government pledged to negotiate peace terms with General Chiang Kai-shek and end the war in China.
July 20, 1940 U.S. "Two-Ocean Navy" Act To meet the German challenge in the Atlantic and the Japanese threat in the Pacific, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill into law which called for the establishment of a "two-ocean navy," at a cost of over $5.2 billion. The U.S. planned to expand the size of the U.S. Navy by 70 percent to address threats around the world. American firms would build 201 new warships, including seven battleships of 55,000 tons each.
July 21, 1940 Baltic State Union with USSR The Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian governments requested admission into the Soviet Union as new Soviet Socialist Republics.
July 27-30, 1940 Pan American Conference in Havana Delegates at the Pan American Conference, meeting in Havana, decided to establish trusteeships over European colonies in the Western Hemisphere, whose mother countries had been overrun by the Germans. This policy applied to Dutch and French colonies in the Caribbean, in South America, and off the Canadian coast. The American states sought to prevent Fascist infiltration into the Western Hemisphere through these colonies.
July 30, 1940 Inter-American Commission on Territorial Administration Twenty-one members of the Pan-American Union approved a convention which established the Inter-American Commission on Territorial Administration to protect the sovereignty of American republics. The delegates also approved the Act of Havana, where American states, acting jointly or individually, should act in their own defense and in defense of the Western Hemisphere. This included taking over and administering any European colonies in the hemisphere which were endangered by aggression. The declaration was aimed at preventing the Germans from gaining control of Dutch and French colonies in the Western Hemisphere.
August 6-19, 1940 Italian Occupation of British Somaliland Italian forces from Italian East Africa invaded and occupied British Somaliland, consolidating Italian control of East Africa. The Royal Navy evacuated British forces from the colony on August 17th.
August 8-November 10, 1940 Opening of the Battle of Britain The failure of the German government to negotiate an armistice with the British government led the Germans to begin an aerial assault against the British Isles. The Luftwaffe began an ambitious air offensive designed to destroy the Royal Air Force by attacking RAF airfields and strategic industrial centers in preparation of an amphibious assault against Britain.
August 9, 1940 British Withdrawal of Military Forces from Northern China The British government withdrew their military garrisons from Shanghai and northern China in an effort to enhance their defensive positions in other parts of the British empire.
August 15, 1940 Thousand Plane German Raid on Britain Over 1,000 Luftwaffe bombers attacked British targets as far north as Scotland. The RAF retaliated by conducting air raids on Berlin, Duesseldorf, and Essen.
August 17, 1940 German Blockade Declaration around Britain The German government established a total naval blockade around the British Isles, warning neutral shipping to avoid the new war zone.
August 18, 1940 Canadian-American Joint Board of Defense President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King met and agreed to set up a Joint Board of Defense to coordinate U.S. and Canadian defense efforts.
August 25, 1940 Incorporation of Baltic States into the USSR The Supreme Soviet approved the Baltic States request to join the USSR and Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania officially became Soviet Socialist Republics, incorporated into the Soviet Union.
August 30, 1940 Vienna Conference The German and Italian governments placed considerable pressure on the Romanian government to cede Transylvania to Hungary. The Romanian government agreed to the Axis demands and Romania lost 16,642 square miles and 2.4 million people to Hungary.
September 2, 1940 Anglo-American Destroyers-Bases Deal The U.S. and British governments signed a major defense agreement in which the U.S. government transferred overage 50 destroyers to the Royal Navy in exchange for a 99-year lease of naval and air stations in Antigua, the Bahamas, Bermuda, British Guiana, Jamaica, Newfoundland, St. Lucia, and Trinidad. The Royal Navy desperately needed destroyers to protect convoys from the German U-boot menace and the U.S. gained access to strategic military bases in Canada and the Caribbean. Access to the British facilities were extended to Latin American republics in agreements reached at the Pan American conferences in Lima, Panama, and Havana.
September 4, 1940 U.S. Warning on French Indo-China Secretary of State Cordell Hull warned the Japanese government that aggressive moves against French Indo-China would have an adverse impact on American public opinion.
September 5, 1940 Iron Guard Coup in Romania Having lost Bessarabia and northern Bukovina to the Soviet Union and Transylvania to Hungary, the Romanian government collapsed. General Ion Antonescu assumed dictatorial powers in Romania in a coup and opened negotiations with the Fascist Iron Guard. King Carol fled the country the next day and his son, Michael V, became the new king.
September 8, 1940 Treaty of Craiova The Bulgarian government demanded that the Romanians cede Southern Dobruja and the Romanian government capitulated in the Treaty of Craiova. The Romanians lost another 4 million people and 40,000 square miles of territory to Bulgaria.
September 12, 1940 Japanese Warning to the U.S. U.S. Ambassador to Tokyo Joseph Grew warned Secretary of State Cordell Hull that Japan might interpret an American embargo on oil exports as sanctions and retaliate against the U.S.
September 13-15, 1940 Italian Invasion of Egypt Italian forces from Libya invaded Egypt in an attempt to gain control of North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean.
September 16, 1940 U.S. Selective Training and Service Act To prepare the country for war, Congress passed the U.S. Selective Training and Service Act, the first peacetime draft in American history. All men between the ages of 21 and 35 had to register for the military draft. The act provided for the training of 1.2 million troops and 800,000 reservists for a period of one year.
September 22, 1940 Japanese Occupation of French Indo-China Japanese forces began to move into French Indo-China after the Vichy French government negotiated an agreement with the Japanese government to turn over three airfields and other concessions to the Japanese. The Japanese army then crossed the border and advanced into China 120 miles from Hanoi.
September 22-25, 1940 Free French Expedition against Dakar The Royal Navy supported a Free French expedition, under General Charles De Gaulle, to seize control of Dakar in French West Africa. The French Vichy forces in Dakar resisted the invasion and the Free French forces withdrew.
September 25, 1940 Reorganization of the Norwegian Government The German Reich-Commissar for Norway reorganized the country's political administration, dissolved all political parties (with the exception of the Nasjonal Samling), and appointed 13 commissars to governor the country.
September 26, 1940 U.S. Embargo on Scrap Iron and Steel In an effort to undermine the Japanese war economy, the Roosevelt administration placed a ban on the exportation of scrap iron and steel from the United States to countries outside the Western Hemisphere (with the exception of exports to Britain), effective October 16th. The Japanese considered the policy as an act of economic warfare and declared the policy an "unfriendly act" on October 8th.
September 26, 1940 Extension of Pittman Act The Roosevelt administration expanded the Pittman Act by authorizing the Export-Import Bank to lend American republics up to $500 million and to permit these countries to acquire munitions up to a total value of $400 million for their defenses.
September 27, 1940 Three-Power Pact The German, Italian, and Japanese governments signed a Three-Power Pact in Berlin. The treaty called for total aid (military and economic) to the three members of the pact for ten years. The three states promised each other mutual assistance in the event that any of them became involved in a war with a power not then a belligerent (namely, the USSR or the United States). The goal of the agreement was to "promote the prosperity of their peoples." The Axis pact was eventually extended to include Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Yugoslavia.
October 4, 1940 Brenner Pass Conference Chancellor Adolf Hitler and Premier Benito Mussolini met at the Brenner Pass to discuss a new Axis strategy. The failure of the Germans to break the British and events in the Balkans and the Mediterranean led the Axis leaders to develop new plans for Eastern Europe.
October 8, 1940 German Occupation of Romania Large numbers of German troops arrived in Romania to train the Romanian army and to protect Romanian oil fields from British sabotage. The arrival of German troops effectively placed Romania under German control.
October 9, 1940 Free French Expedition against the Cameroon The Royal Navy supported a Free French expedition, under General Charles De Gaulle, to gain control of Duala in the Cameroon. The Free French forces succeeded in seizing control of the colony from the Vichy French authorities.
October 10, 1940 German Air Assaults on British Cities The Luftwaffe command shifted their tactics in the Battle of Britain, focusing air raids on British cities. The Germans concentrated their air attacks on London and other urban areas in an attempt to break British morale. Some Italian air units joined the Battle of Britain as well. The end of the summer, however, meant shorter days, stormier weather, and improved British air defenses.
October 16, 1940 American Military Registration The Roosevelt administration announced that 16.4 million American men had registered for the military draft as the first step towards expanding U.S. military forces.
October 18, 1940 British Reopening of the Burma Road Japanese advances in French Indo-China and the lack of serious negotiations with the Nationalist Chinese persuaded the British government to reopen the Burma Road. The Nationalist Chinese regained access to foreign military supplies and equipment to continue their war against the Japanese.
October 22-24, 1940 Franco-Spanish-German Conference Chancellor Adolf Hitler held a number of talks with French and Spanish leaders to discuss Axis war plans. Chancellor Hitler met with Vichy French Vice Premier Pierre Laval on October 22nd and Marshal Henri-Philippe Petain on October 24th. He also held a meeting with Generalissimo Francisco Franco of Spain on October 23rd to persuade the Spanish to enter the war in support of the Axis powers.
October 28, 1940 Florence Conference Chancellor Adolf Hitler and Premier Benito Mussolini met in Florence to discuss war plans. Italian troops had begun an invasion of Greece from Albania.
October 28, 1940 Italian Invasion of Greece Not to be outdone by the Germans in northern and western Europe, the Italian government demanded that Greece provide access to military bases to Italian forces. The Greek government flatly rejected the Italian demands and Premier Benito Mussolini ordered the invasion of Greece by Italian troops in Albania. The Italian forces ran into a stubborn resistance and a Greek counter-offensive resulted in the Greek invasion of southern Albania. To assist the Greeks, the British landed forces on Crete and other Greek islands.
October 29, 1940 First American Peacetime Draft The U.S. government conducted the first peacetime draft lottery in American history as the first troops were selected for U.S. military service.
October 30, 1940 British Expedition to Crete To support the Greek government, the British sent an expeditionary force to Crete and other Greek islands. In addition, the Soviet government sent 134 fighter aircraft to the Greeks to help stem the Italian invasion.
November 5, 1940 Roosevelt Reelected President President Franklin D. Roosevelt won a third term as President of the United States, defeating Republican candidate Wendell Wilke.
November 10, 1940 End of the Battle of Britain The onset of winter weather significantly reduced the threat of a German invasion of Britain. The Germans conducted a massive raid on Coventry, which destroyed the industrial city. But the British survived the worst of the Blitzkrieg as German air raids became increasingly sporadic. In the Battle of Britain, from August 8-October 31, 1940, the Luftwaffe lost 2,375 planes while the RAF lost 800 planes. Many British cities, however, were seriously damaged and burned. German air attacks would resume in the spring of 1941, but the Luftwaffe had to shift air resources to the east in preparation for the German invasion of Russia.
November 12, 1940 Soviet-German Conference in Berlin Soviet Foreign Commissar Vyacheslav Molotov traveled to Berlin to meet with German Chancellor Adolf Hitler. The Red Army was massing on the Romanian border and the Soviets wanted to know the German position on a Romanian invasion.
November 13, 1940 Battle of Taranto A British carrier plane attack on the Italian fleet anchored at Taranto resulted in the destruction of half of the Italian fleet and significantly reduced the Italian threat in the Mediterranean.
November 20, 1940 Stimson-Layton Agreement U.S. Secretary of War Henry Stimson and British Minister of Supply Sir Walter Layton agreed to a partial standardization of British and American military weapons and equipment. The agreement established a general policy of pooling British and American technical knowledge, patents, and formulas for weapons production.
November 20, 1940 Hungarian Accession to Three-Power Pact The Hungarian government endorsed the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo alliance and pledged to provide Hungarian resources to the Axis powers.
November 23, 1940 Romanian Accession to Three-Power Pact The Romanian government followed the Hungarians in joining the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis. The Romanians threw their lot in with the Germans as the Soviets threatened their borders.
November 27, 1940 Iron Guard Purges in Romania The Iron Guard executed 64 members of King Carol's government in an effort to consolidate power. Rioting soon spread across the kingdom.
December 3, 1940 Greek Offensive in Albania Greek forces broke through the Italian defenses in Albania and captured Porto Edda and Agyrokastron five days later. The Italians lost 28,000 soldiers as war prisoners and one-fourth of Albania's territory. In response to the Italian crisis, the Germans dispatched 50,000 troops to Albania to shore up the Italian defenses. Coupled with the Italian defeats in Africa, the debacle in Greece was a blow to Axis prestige.
December 6, 1940 Badoglio Resignation Due to military reverses in Greece, Italian Marshall Pietro Badoglio resigned as chief of staff of the Italian army.
December 8-12, 1940 British Offensive in Egypt The British army launched a surprise offensive against the Italians in Egypt. Imperial troops outflanked the Italian army at Mersa Matruh, capturing 1,000 Italian war prisoners. The British advanced so rapidly that they entered Libyan territory at Sidi Barrani and seriously undermined Italian morale.
December 14, 1940 Expulsion of Laval from Vichy French Government Marshall Henri-Philippe Petain expelled Pierre Laval from the French Council of Ministers.
December 20, 1940 New U.S. Defense Board To coordinate strategic defense planning, the Roosevelt administration announced the establishment of a four-man Office of Production Management, under the direction of William Knudsen. The goal of this board was to expand defense efforts and speed military aid to the British and other non-Axis powers. The next day, the German government denounced this policy the next day as a form of "moral aggression."
December 23, 1940 Eden Appointed British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden became the new British Foreign Secretary and Viscount Halifax became the new British Ambassador to the United States.
December 29, 1940 National Security Fireside Chat President Franklin Roosevelt underlined the Axis threat to American national security and called for an immense war production effort that would make the U.S. "the great arsenal of democracy."

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