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In October Italy attacked Greece, but the attack was repulsed with heavy Italian casualties; the campaign ended within months with minor territorial changes. The Greco-Italian War took place between Italy and Greece from 28 October 1940 to 23 April 1941. This local war began the Balkans Campaign of World War II between the Axis powers and the Allies. It turned into the Battle of Greece when British and German ground forces intervened early in 1941.
Italian defeats prompted Germany to deploy an expeditionary force to North Africa. Operation Sonnenblaume (6 February - 25 May) was the name given to the dispatch of German troops to North Africa in February 1941, The Italian 10th Army had been destroyed by the British and Allied Western Desert Force attacks during Operation Compass (9 December 1940 – 9 February 1941). Sonnenblume succeeded because the ability of the Germans to mount an offensive was underestimated by General Archbald Wavell, the Commander in Chief Middle East, the War Office and by Winston Churchill.
On 16 February 1940, Churchill personally ordered Captain Philip Vian of the destroyer HMS Cossack to board the German supply ship Altmark in Norwegian waters and liberate some 300 British prisoners who had been captured by the Admiral Graf Spee. These actions, supplemented by his speeches, considerably enhanced Churchill's reputation.
The church calendar avoids the observance of saints' feasts during certain solemnities, moving the saint's day to a time outside those periods. St Patrick's Day is occasionally affected by this requirement, when 17 March falls during Holy Week. This happened in 1940 when Saint Patrick's Day was observed on 3 April to avoid it coinciding with Palm Sunday, and again in 2008, where it was officially observed on 15 March. St Patrick's Day will not fall within Holy Week again until 2160. However, the popular festivities may still be held on 17 March or on a weekend near to the feast day.
Within weeks of arriving at Bletchley Park, Turing had specified an electromechanical machine called the bombe, which could break Enigma more effectively than the Polish bomba kryptologiczna, from which its name was derived. The first bombe was installed on 18 March 1940.
Churchill was concerned about German naval activity in the Baltic Sea and initially wanted to send a naval force there but this was soon changed to a plan, codenamed Operation Wilfred, to mine Norwegian waters and stop iron ore shipments from Narvik to Germany. There were disagreements about mining, both in the war cabinet and with the French government. As a result, Wilfred was delayed until 8 April 1940, the day before the German invasion of Norway was launched.
Operation Wilfred was a British naval operation during the Second World War that involved the mining of the channel between Norway and her offshore islands to prevent the transport of Swedish iron ore through neutral Norwegian waters to be used to sustain the German war effort. The Allies assumed that Wilfred would provoke a German response in Norway and prepared a separate operation known as Plan R 4 to occupy Narvik and other important locations. On 8 April 1940, the operation was partly carried out, but was overtaken by events as a result of the following day′s German invasion of Norway and Denmark (Operation Weserübung), which began the Norwegian Campaign.
The Norwegian campaign was an attempted Allied occupation of northern Norway, during the early stages of World War II. Resulted evacuation of the Norwegian government and the royal family, establishment of the Norwegian armed forces from the exile. The 62 days of fighting made Norway the nation that withstood a German land invasion for the second longest period of time, after the Soviet Union.
On 9 April, German forces invaded Denmark and Norway. On the same day Hitler proclaimed the birth of the Greater Germanic Reich, his vision of a united empire of Germanic nations of Europe in which the Dutch, Flemish, and Scandinavians were joined into a "racially pure" polity under German leadership.
In 1940 the entire royal family had to flee Oslo because of the German invasion. It was deemed safer for the family to split up. The King and Crown Prince Olav would remain in Norway and the Crown Princess was to make her way to Sweden with the three children. The latter party reached Sweden on the night of 10 April. but although Crown Princess Märtha was Swedish-born, they encountered problems at the border station.
The Norway Debate, sometimes called the Narvik Debate, was a momentous debate in the British House of Commons during the Second World War from 7 to 9 May 1940. It has been called the most far-reaching parliamentary debate of the twentieth century. At the end of the second day, the members held a vote of no confidence which was won by the government, but with a drastically reduced majority.
After the Allies failed to prevent the German occupation of Norway, the Commons held an open debate from 7 to 9 May on the government's conduct of the war. This has come to be known as the Norway Debate and is renowned as one of the most significant events in parliamentary history.
In May, Churchill was still generally unpopular with many Conservatives and probably most of the Labour Party. Chamberlain remained Conservative Party leader until October when ill health forced his resignation. By that time, Churchill had won the doubters over and his successor as party leader was a formality.
Germany launched an offensive against France. To circumvent the strong Maginot Line fortifications on the Franco-German border, Germany directed its attack at the neutral nations of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.
His first speech as Prime Minister delivered to the Commons on 13 May was the "blood, toil, tears and sweat" speech. It was little more than a short statement but, Jenkins says, "it included phrases which have reverberated down the decades". Churchill made it plain to the nation that a long, hard road lay ahead and that victory was the final goal: I would say to the House... that I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. You ask, what is our policy? I will say: it is to wage war, by sea, land, and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalog of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: it is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.
Charles attacked again on 19 May and his forces were once again devastated by German Stukas and artillery. He ignored orders from General Georges to withdraw, and in the early afternoon demanded two more divisions from Touchon, who refused his request.
On 2 June he sent a memo to Weygand vainly urging that the French armored divisions be consolidated from four weak divisions into three stronger ones and concentrated into an armored corps under his command. He made the same suggestion to Reynaud.
Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of 338,226 Allied servicemen from Dunkirk, ended on Tuesday, 4 June when the French rearguard surrendered. The total was far in excess of expectations and it gave rise to a popular view that Dunkirk had been a miracle, and even a victory. Churchill himself referred to "a miracle of deliverance" in his "we shall fight on the beaches" speech to the Commons that afternoon, though he shortly reminded everyone that: "We must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations". The speech ended on a note of defiance coupled with a clear appeal to the United States: We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. We shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.
On 8 June, de Gaulle visited Weygand, who believed it was "the end" and that after France was defeated Britain would also soon sue for peace. He hoped that after an armistice the Germans would allow him to retain enough of a French Army to "maintain order" in France. He gave a "despairing laugh" when de Gaulle suggested fighting on.
On 9 June, De Gaulle flew to London and met British Prime Minister Winston Churchill for the first time. It was thought that half a million men could be evacuated to French North Africa, provided the British and French navies and air forces coordinated their efforts.
In early June 1940 the Italian Royal Air Forces attacked and besieged Malta, a British possession. The siege lasted from June 1940 to November 1942, the fight for the control of the strategically important island of the British Crown Colony of Malta, which pitted the air forces and navies of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany against the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Royal Navy. By May 1943, the Allied forces had sunk 230 Axis ships in 164 days, the highest Allied sinking rate of the war. The Allied victory in Malta played a major role in the eventual Allied success in North Africa.
Later on, 11 June de Gaulle attended the meeting of the Anglo-French Supreme War Council at the Chateau du Muguet at Briare. The British were represented by Churchill, Anthony Eden, John Dill, General Ismay, and Edward Spears, and the French by Reynaud, Pétain, Weygand, and Georges.
Churchill was determined to fight back and ordered the commencement of the Western Desert campaign on 11 June, an immediate response to the Italian declaration of war. This went well at first while the Italian army was the sole opposition and Operation Compass was a noted success.
On 13 June de Gaulle attended another Anglo-French conference at Tours with Churchill, Lord Halifax, Lord Beaverbrook, Spears, Ismay, and Alexander Cadogan. This time few other major French figures were present apart from Reynaud and Baudoin.
On the afternoon of Sunday, 16 June de Gaulle was at 10 Downing Street for talks about Jean Monnet's mooted Anglo-French political union. He telephoned Reynaud – they were cut off during the conversation and had to resume later – with the news that the British had agreed.