Appendix 2: Timeline


1 September

Germany invades Poland.

3 September

Great Britain and France declare war on Germany.


10 May

Germany invades Western Europe.

26 May

Start of the Allied evacuation from France at Dunkirk.

14 June

German forces occupy Paris.

18 June

Charles de Gaulle broadcasts his ‘Appeal of 18 June’ from London urging the French to continue the fight against the Nazi invaders.

22 June

France surrenders.

11 July

Philippe Pétain, already prime minister, becomes president of the French Vichy government.


22 June

Hitler launches Operation Barbarossa, Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union.

7 December

Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

11 December

War declared on the USA by Germany (and Italy).


23 March

Hitler issues his Führer Directive No. 40, ordering the construction of what became known as the ‘Atlantic Wall’.

19 August

The Allies’ ill-fated Dieppe Raid.


14–24 January

Casablanca Conference at which Churchill and Roosevelt agree that a cross-Channel invasion is a necessity.


Frederick Morgan, given the title Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander (COSSAC), is charged with the initial planning stages of a cross-Channel invasion, codenamed Overlord.


The Allies launch Operation Pointblank, the strategic bombing of Germany by the USAAF and the RAF.

10 July

Allied forces land in Sicily.


The Quadrant Conference held in Quebec accepts Morgan’s plans, prioritizes the defeat of Germany over that of Japan, and sets 1 May 1944 as D-Day.


General Dwight D. Eisenhower is appointed the Supreme Commander for the planned invasion of France, and his team, the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) is assembled.



Hitler appoints Erwin Rommel to oversee the defence of France.


The Allies launch Operation Transportation, the strategic bombing of German facilities in occupied France.

27–8 April

US troops training at Slapton Sands in Devon for the landing at Utah beach are fired upon by friendly fire and a German patrol. Nine hundred and forty-six American servicemen are killed.


D-Day is postponed to 5 June.

2 June

The first warships set sail for Normandy from their ports within Britain.

3 June

Rommel, believing poor weather would rule out an invasion, returns home to Germany.

3–4 June

Lancaster bombers destroy the radar station at Urville-Hague near Cherbourg, the Germans’ primary listening station in Normandy.

4 June

Eisenhower postpones D-Day by twenty-four hours. Ships already out at sea are recalled.

At 9.45 p.m., Eisenhower issues his three-word order launching the invasion of Normandy, ‘OK, we’ll go.’

5 June

Eisenhower visits US troops about to embark for the invasion.

US general, Mark Clark, leads the Allied liberation of Rome.

D-Day, 6 June

00:16 hours

British and American gliders and paratroopers drop behind enemy lines into Normandy.


Pegasus and Horsa bridges secured by British airborne troops.


First wave of bombers are launched, attacking German targets in France.


Assault troops begin boarding landing craft.


British troops capture Merville Battery.


Allies begin bombardment of the beaches.


H-Hour on Omaha and Utah beaches.


The first landing wave on Omaha beach becomes pinned down under heavy enemy fire.


H-Hour on Sword and Gold beaches.


H-Hour on Juno beach. On Utah beach, American troops begin advancing inland.


Rommel is informed of the Allied invasion and hastens back to France.


On Omaha beach, American troops advance inland.


The German 21st Panzer Division assaults the Allies at the Sword beachhead.


British advance towards Caen held back.


All five Allied beachheads have been secured.

Post D-Day

7 June

British troops capture Bayeux.

10 June

SS soldiers murder inhabitants of Oradour-sur-Glane.

12 June

Allied troops link up their positions over the five beaches.

13 June

Germany launches the first V-1 attack against London.

19 June

Severe gales destroy the American Mulberry Harbour and damage the British one.

22 June

Stalin launches Operation Bagration, the Soviet Union’s counteroffensive against Germany.

27 June

US troops capture Cherbourg.

2 July

Hitler replaces Karl Gerd von Rundstedt with Günther von Kluge.

9 July

British troops capture Caen.

17 July

Rommel is injured by a British fighter plane and is invalided back to Germany.

20 July

Hitler survives the ‘July Bomb Plot’ assassination attempt at his Wolf’s Lair.

25 July

US Operation Cobra launched.

30 July

American troops capture Avranches.

7 August

German counterattack launched.

12 August

First PLUTO pipeline, running from the Isle of Wight to Cherbourg, becomes operational.

15 August

Secondary Allied attack, Operation Dragoon, lands in the south of France.

17 August

Kluge commits suicide.

20 August

Falaise Pocket closed.

25 August

Paris liberated.

26 August

De Gaulle returns to Paris.

3 September

Brussels liberated.

8 September

Germany launches the first V-2 against London.

17 September

Start of Operation Market Garden.

14 October

Rommel forced into committing suicide.

21 October

US troops capture Aachen, the first German city to fall into Allied hands.

23 October

The Allies recognize General de Gaulle as the head of France’s provisional government.

2 November

Canadian troops capture Zeebrugge; Belgium is now entirely liberated.

16 December

Hitler launches his Ardennes offensive, the Battle of the Bulge.


7 March

US troops cross the Rhine.

23 April

Soviet troops enter Berlin.

25 April

Soviet and US forces meet at the River Elbe.

30 April

Hitler commits suicide.

4 May

German forces in the Netherlands, Denmark and north-west Germany surrender.

7 May

German unconditional surrender to the West.

8 May

German unconditional surrender to the East.

6 August

Atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

8 August

Soviet Union declares war on Japan.

9 August

Atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki.

14 August

Japan agrees to surrender.

2 September

Formal Japanese surrender.

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