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HMS Stanley (CyberHeritage, click to enlarge), ex-US flushdeck destroyer, one of 50 transferred to Britain from September 1940 in the "Ships-for-Bases" deal. These helped filled a gap in Britain's U-boat defences at a crucial time. Politically dangerous for President Roosevelt, the deal was a major move in America from isolationism towards war. Many such exchanges took place between the two nations - ships, aircraft, guns, radar, aero-engines, intelligence, code-breaking, atom bomb developments ......


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Each Summary is complete in its own right. The same information may therefore be found in a number of related summaries

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German Codes - The British Code & Cipher School moved to Bletchley Park, England, the site of its magnificent successes breaking the German Enigma codes through the 'Ultra' programme . The school built on the work of Polish and later French code-breakers. By April 1940 the first low level Luftwaffe codes were being deciphered. Many months followed before comparable progress was made with Naval codes.


Americas - The Pan-American Conference established a 300-mile plus security zone off the coasts of the Americas within which all hostile action by the belligerent powers was forbidden.


United States - The Neutrality Act was amended to allow the supply of arms to belligerents on a 'cash and carry' basis. At the same time American shipping was banned from the war zones.



MARCH 1940

Canadian Politics - William MacKenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada was reelected by a massive majority in support of the government's war policies.

APRIL 1940

Atomic Bomb - Just as the “phoney war” ended in Europe (it never existed at sea) the end of the war was foreshadowed when the British government established the Maud Committee to oversee nuclear research. Similar steps had already been taken in the United States, all of which eventually led to an operational atomic bomb.

German Codes - The Bletchley Park Ultra programme was now decoding some Luftwaffe low-level Enigma codes, partly because of poor German security procedures. There was little evidence the hard-won information influenced the war over the next two violent months.

MAY 1940

British Politics - Following a 10th May House of Commons debate on the Norwegian campaign, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain resigned and Winston Churchill assumed leadership.

JUNE 1940

German Codes - 'Ultra' was now breaking the Luftwaffe Enigma codes with some regularity, and early in the month had its first major breakthrough when supporting evidence for the Knickebein navigation aid for bombers was obtained. Army codes were more secure because of the greater use of land lines for communications, and the Naval ones were not penetrated until mid-1941.


Royal Navy Codes - These were changed and for the first time RN operational signals were secure from German interception and decoding. It was another three years before the convoy codes were made safe from the German


United States - After months of negotiations, a "Ships-for-Bases" agreement was announced on the 5th for the transfer of 50 old but valuable US destroyers to the Royal Navy in exchange for British bases in Newfoundland, Bermuda, the West lndies and British Guiana. The first of the "flushdeckers" arrived in Britain towards the end of the month.

Battle of the Atlantic - The German decoding B-Service was instrumental in directing U-boats to convoys.

Axis Powers - Germany, Italy and Japan signed the Tripartite Pact in Berlin on the 27th. They agreed to jointly oppose any country joining the Allies at war - by which they meant the United States.


United States - Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected to an unprecedented third term of office as President of the United States.



MARCH 1941

United States - The Lend-Lease Bill was passed into law. Britain and her Allies would be able to receive American arms and supplies without immediate payment.

Battle of Cape Matapan - As ships of the Mediterranean Fleet covered troop movements to Greece, 'Ultra' intelligence was received reporting the sailing of an Italian battlefleet with one battleship, six heavy and two light cruisers plus destroyers to attack the convoy routes. In the battle that followed, one Italian battleship was damaged and three heavy cruisers and two destroyers sunk for the loss of one Royal Navy aircraft.

Eastern Europe and Balkans - Bulgaria joined the Tripartite Pact on the 1st March and German troops marched in. As of now, only Yugoslavia in the Balkans retained national independence for a few days more. On the 25th Yugoslavia joined the Tripartite Pact, but two days later an anti-Nazi coup toppled the Government.

MAY 1941

Capture of "U.110" and the German Enigma - South of Iceland, "U.110" attacked Liverpool-out convoy OB318. Blown to the surface by depth charges from corvette "Aubretia" on the 9th, "U-110's" crew abandoned ship, but she failed to go down. A boarding party from destroyer "Bulldog", led by Sub-Lt Balme, managed to get aboard. In a matter of hours they transferred to safety "U-110's" entire Enigma package - coding machine, code books, rotor settings and charts. The priceless Enigma material represented one of the greatest intelligence coup ever and a major naval victory in its own right. "U-110's" capture was far and away the most successful of the attempts to capture Enigma codes. In the March 1941 raid on the Norwegian Lofoten Islands, spare coding rotors were found. Then two days before the "U-110" triumph, a cruiser force tried to capture the weather trawler "Munchen" off Iceland. At the end of the coming June a similar operation was mounted against the "Lauenberg". In both cases useful papers were taken but the real breakthrough only came with "U-110".

Germany - Rudolf Hess, Hitler's deputy, flew to Britain on his self-appointed peace mission. He was imprisoned in Britain and disowned by Germany

JUNE 1941

Atomic Bomb - The report on nuclear research by the Maud Committee led to the setting up of a development programme by Imperial Chemical Industries. Code named 'Tube Alloys', it oversaw both atomic bomb and reactor work.


Anglo-US Talks - Winston Churchill crossed the Atlantic in battleship "Prince of Wales" to meet President Roosevelt off Argentia, Newfoundland between the 9th and 12th. Together they drafted the Atlantic Charter setting out their aims for war and peace. This was signed by Britain, the United States and 13 Allied governments in September.


Japan - War Minister Gen Tojo became Japanese Prime Minister.

Australia - The Country Party of former Prime Minister Robert Menzies who resigned earlier in August fell from power. John Curtin and the Labour Party took over.




Arcadia Conference - In late December and early January, Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt with their Chiefs of Staff met in Washington DC. They agreed to the setting up of a Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee and to the defeat of Germany as the first priority. On 1st January the United Nations Pact embodying the principles of the Atlantic Charter was signed in Washington by 26 countries.

War Crimes - The 'Final Solution' for the extermination of all European Jews was presented to Hitler. As large-scale transportation got underway, a number of main camps, including Auschwitz, were prepared for this foul work. By war's end, 6,000,000 men, women and children had been killed.

Allied Command, SE Asia - Early in the month, Gen Wavell was appointed to command ABDA (American, British, Dutch, Australian) forces responsible for holding Malaya and the Dutch East Indies.


Battle of the Atlantic - The Royal Navy suffered a major setback when U-boats in the Atlantic changed from the Enigma 'Hydra' code to 'Triton'. This was not broken until December 1942 - a ten month delay.

JUNE 1942

Anglo-US Talks - Winston Churchill flew to Washington DC for another series of meetings with President Roosevelt. They agreed to share nuclear research and concentrate the work in the United States. The resulting 'Manhattan Project' was put under military control in September 1942. Agreement did not come so easily on the question of where to open a Second Front in 1942. The Americans wanted to land in France to take pressure off the Russians, but the British considered this impossible at present and proposed the invasion of French North Africa. The President did not come to accept this until July. Planning then started on what became Operation 'Torch'.

Czechoslovakia - Reinhard Heydrich, German 'Protector' of Czechoslovakia died from wounds sustained in an assassination attempt in May. In part reprisal, the village of Lidice was wiped out and its people murdered.

Battle of Midway - On the 4th/5th in a close run battle, four Japanese carriers - "AKAGI", "HIRYU", "KAGA" and "SORYU" went down. The US "YORKTOWN" was badly damaged and finished off by a Japanese submarine on the 7th. The Japanese forces retreated, Midway was spared, and the Allies had their first major strategic victory of World War 2. The American Navy's successful dispositions were helped by the breaking of the Japanese naval codes


Atomic Bomb - The world's first atomic reactor went critical at Chicago University. By now problems had arisen over the sharing of the US work with Britain.




Air War - RAF Bomber Command by night and increasingly the USAAF by day mounted a growing attack on Germany and occupied Europe. As agreed at the Casablanca Conference, U-boat bases and their production centres would be major targets in 1943.

Casablanca Conference - Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt with their Chiefs of Staff met for this important conference. Major areas for discussion included the European invasion in 1944, landings in Sicily and Italy after the Tunisian campaign, the bombing of Germany and the continuation of the war in Burma and the Pacific. Losses due to U-boats and the shortage of shipping proved to be significant constraints on Allied plans. At this time the two Allied leaders announced a policy of unconditional surrender of the Axis powers.

APRIL 1943

War Crimes - The site of the massacre of Polish officers was found at Katyn near Smolensk: the Russians and Germans accused each other of the atrocity. In Poland itself the surviving Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto rose up against the Germans. SS troops were called in and by May the struggle was over. Those Jews not killed in the fighting were sent to extermination camps.

'The Man Who Never Was'- Submarine "Seraph" released the body of a supposed Royal Marine officer into the sea off Spain. His false identity and papers helped to persuade the Germans that the next Allied blows would fall on Sardinia and Greece as well as Sicily.

Japanese Navy - Adm Yamamoto, Commander of the Japanese Combined Fleet was killed when his aircraft was ambushed and shot down over Bougainville in the northern Solomons. His travel plans were known in advance through decoded intercepts. Since 1940 the American code-breakers had been able to read the Japanese 'Purple' diplomatic and command ciphers.

MAY 1943

Anglo-US Talks - Winston Churchill travelled in the troopship "Queen Mary together with 5,000 German POWs for the Trident Conference, the third major meeting in Washington DC. The invasion of Sicily had now been agreed and he pressed for follow-up landings in Italy. The cross-Channel invasion of Europe continued to be a major topic of discussion and D-day was set for May 1944.

The Dambusters' Raid - On the night of the 16th/17th, Wg Cdr Guy Gibson leds No 617 Squadron in the famous raid on the Ruhr dams. Two dams were breached by Barnes Wallis' bouncing bombs, but the damage to German industry was not great.

JUNE 1943

Battle of the Atlantic - The Royal Navy finally changed the British convoy codes and made them secure against the work of the German B-Service. In contrast, the British 'Ultra' work was fully integrated into the Admiralty U-boat Tracking Room, and an almost complete picture of German Navy and U-boat operations was available.


Canada - Prime Minister MacKenzie King of Canada hosted the Quebec Conference "Quadrant' series of meetings in the middle of the month to discuss Allied strategy. Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt agreed the outline plans for 'Overlord' - the main invasion of Europe - including the use of 'Mulberry' harbours, and to an American being the supreme commander. In the Far East, a South East Asia Command was to be set up with Adm Mountbatten as supreme commander and a second Chindit operation mounted in Burma. Agreement was also reached on the sharing of nuclear research.

Aerospace War - On the night of the 17th the RAF inflicted damage on the German rocket research establishment at Peenemunde on the Baltic coast.

Australia - John Curtin was re-elected Prime Minister and the Labour Party returned to power.


Cairo and Teheran Conferences - On their way to Teheran to meet Marshal Stalin, Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt first stopped over at Cairo to discuss operations in Burma and China with Chinese Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek. Arriving at Teheran on the 28th, the agenda included the Allied invasion of Normandy and southern France, and Russia's agreement to declare war on Japan once the Germans were defeated.

Burma - Under Adm Mountbatten, Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia, Gen Slim's 14th Army prepared for a major offensive into northern Burma from the area of Kohima and lmphal in India. Throughout the rest of the war, Adm Mountbatten's plans to prosecute the campaign even more vigorously in South East Asia were continually frustrated by his lack of amphibious capability.




Norway - Norwegian resistance fighters sank a cargo of heavy water bound for Germany for nuclear research.

MAY 1944

Aerospace War - A V-2 rocket crashed near Warsaw and resistance groups managed to arrange for the parts to be successfully airlifted to Britain.

JUNE 1944

Normandy Invasion - Partly because of elaborate deception plans, partly because of poor weather, both strategic and tactical surprise was achieved.

Aerospace War - On the 13th the first V-1 flying bomb landed on London at the start of a three-month campaign against southeast England. Amongst the weapons shortly used against them was Britain's first jet fighter, the Gloster Meteor. By then Germany's Me262 jet fighter-bomber had been in action against Allied bombers.

JULY 1944

International Conferences - Two major conferences were held in the United States, starting in July with monetary and financial affairs at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, leading to the setting up of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction & Development. In August, talks started at Dumbarton Oaks just outside Washington DC, on the establishment of the United Nations Organisation (UNO).

Germany - In the 20th July Bomb Plot, a device left by Col von Stauffenberg in Hitler’s East Prussia headquarters only injured him slightly. In revenge many died and Field Marshal Rommel, implicated in the attempt on Hitler's life was forced to commit suicide in October 1944.

Japan - The fall of Guam and Tinian in the Marianas to US forces had political consequences. Gen Tojo's government resigned, but a cabinet apparently just as committed to continuing the war came to power.


Canada - At the second Quebec Conference, Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt reviewed the progress of the war. They agreed the British Pacific Fleet will serve under American Command.

Atomic Bomb - Far across North America in the southwest, the massive atomic bomb programme approached its climax at Los Alamos, New Mexico. Although intelligence reports suggested Germany had made little progress with nuclear research, the by-now mainly American work continued and a B-29 Flying Superfortress bomber unit was formed to train for the dropping of this awesome and untried weapon.

Aerospace War - It was only when Canadian First Army overran the V-1 buzz-bomb sites that London and the southeast of England saw the last one land. By then nearly 10,000 launchings of the sub-sonic pilotless "cruise missile" had inflicted 25,000 dead and wounded civilian casualties. Then on the 8th the first supersonic V-2 rocket hit London in a deadly campaign that lasted for over six months, and against which there was no defence.


United States - Franklin D. Roosevelt was re-elected President for an unprecedented fourth time. Harry S Truman joins him as Vice President.


Greece - Disagreements with the Greek communist movement EAM/ELAS over the future government of the country led to fighting and the declaration of martial law. By month's end the fighting startED to die down as proposals for the setting-up of a regency were announced. The troubles were not over until February 1945, and trouble flareD again with the outbreak of civil war in 1946.




Yalta Conference - For a week early in the month, Prime Minister Churchill, President Roosevelt and Generalissimo Stalin met at Yalta in the Crimea. With the Russians advancing through Eastern Europe and agreement on the future frontiers of Poland and the division of Germany into four occupation zones, the shape of much of post-war Europe was determined. Stalin agreeD to declare war on Japan once the war in the west was over.

MARCH 1945

Aerospace War - As the V-weapon attack on Antwerp continued, the last V-2 landed on London on the 27th, by which time 1,000 rockets had killed and wounded nearly 10,000 people in southeast England.

APRIL 1945

United States - Franklin Roosevelt died in America on the 12th and Vice President Truman was sworn in as President of the United States. Britain and especially Winston Churchill lost a great friend who did so much to bolster the country at a time when the British Empire stood alone and many Americans were staunchly isolationist. Harry Truman was soon faced with the decision whether or not to use the A-bomb.

International Conference - Starting towards the end of the month, San Francisco hosted an international conference to draw up the constitution of the United Nations Organisation. 50 countries signed the UN Charter on 26 June.

Western Front - In their advance, the Allies over-ran Belsen, Buchenwald and Dachau revealing to the world the full horror of the Nazi regime. The Russians had also captured concentration camps in the east.

End of the German Surface Fleet - When Germany surrendered, only three cruisers survived. Of these "Prinz Eugen" was used in A-bomb trials in the Pacific and "Leipzig" scuttled in the North Sea in 1946 loaded with poison gas munitions.

Italy - Throughout the campaign Italian partisans had waged a bloody war behind German lines. Near Lake Como on the 28th, Benito Mussolini and his mistress were captured and executed.

Germany - As the month drew to a close, Heinrich Himmler tried to surrender to Britain and the United States through Swedish intermediaries, but anything short of unconditional surrender was refused. On the 29th in his Berlin bunker, Adolf Hitler married Eva Braun and nominated Grand-Adm Karl Doenitz as his successor. Next day Hitler and his wife committed suicide and Doenitz became Fuehrer on 1st May.

JULY 1945

Atomic Bomb - The world's first A-bomb was successfully exploded at Alamogordo, New Mexico on the 16th July in Operation 'Trinity'.

Potsdam Conference - In the second half of the month, the heads of the three great powers met at Potsdam outside Berlin to continue discussing the future of Europe and final defeat of Japan. By the end of the conference only Stalin remained of the original three major Allied leaders who had met in the past. Accompanied by President Truman of the United States for the first time, Winston Churchill was only there at the start. On the 26th the Potsdam Declaration was broadcast, demanding the unconditional surrender of Japan.

British Politics - Winston Churchill's Conservative Party was swept from power and the Labour Party under Clement Attlee took over the reins of the wartime Coalition Government. The new Prime Minister travelled to Potsdam for the rest of the conference.

Australia - Prime Minister John Curtin failed to see the end of the war, dying on the 5th after an illness. Acting PM, Joseph Chiffley, succeeded him.


6th - B-29 Superfortress "Enola Gay", flying from Tinian dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The equivalent of 20,000 tons of TNT killed 80,000 people.

9th - The second A-bomb was detonated over Nagasaki and over 40,000 people died.


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