- January 19 - British troops attack Italian-held Eritrea.
- January 21 - WWII: Australian and British forces attack Tobruk, Libya.
- January 22 - WWII: British troops capture Tobruk from the Italians.
- January 23 - Aviator Charles Lindbergh testifies before the U.S. Congress and recommends that the United States negotiate a neutrality pact with Adolf Hitler.
- February 3 - WWII: The Nazis forcibly restore Pierre Laval to office in occupied Vichy, France.
- February 4 - WWII: The United Service Organization (USO) is created to entertain American troops.
- February 11 - WWII: Lieutenant-General Erwin Rommel arrives in Tripoli.
- February 19 - WWII: The start of the Three Nights' Blitz over Swansea, South Wales. Over these three nights of intensive bombing, which lasted a total of 13 hours and 48 minutes, Swansea town centre was almost completely obliterated by the 896 High Explosive bombs employed by the Luftwaffe. A total of 397 casualties and 230 deaths were reported. The Three nights Blitz ended in the early hours of February 22.
- March 1 - WWII: Bulgaria signs the Tripartite Pact thus joining the Axis powers.
- March 11 - WWII: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signs the Lend-Lease Act into law, allowing American-built war supplies to be shipped to the Allies on loan.
- March 17 - British Minister of Labour, Ernest Bevin, calls for women to fill vital jobs
- March 25 - WWII: Kingdom of Yugoslavia in Vienna joins the Axis powers
- March 27 - WWII: Anti-Axis coup d'état in Yugoslavia - Prince Paul exiled; 17-year-old King Peter II assumes power.
- March 27 - WWII: Attack on Pearl Harbor - Japanese spy Takeo Yoshikawa arrives in Honolulu, Hawaii and begins to study the United States fleet at Pearl Harbor.
- March 29 - WWII: Battle of Cape Matapan - Off the Peloponnesus coast in the Mediterranean, British naval forces defeat those of Italy sinking five warships. Battle started on March 27.
- April 6 - WWII: Germany invades Yugoslavia and Greece.
- April 12 - WWII: German troops enter Belgrade.
- April 13 - Soviet Union and Japan sign a neutrality pact.
- April 17 - WWII: Yugoslav Royal Army capitulates.
- April 18 - WWII: Prime Minister of Greece Alexandros Koryzis commits suicide as German troops approach Athens.
- April 21 - WWII: Greece capitulates. Commonwealth troops and some elements of the Greek Army withdraw to Crete.
- April 27 - WWII: German troops enter Athens.
- May 1 - The first Defense Bonds and Defense Savings Stamps go on sale in the United States to help fund the greatly increased production of military equipment.
- May 5 - Emperor Haile Selassie enters Addis Ababa, which had been liberated from Italian forces; this date has been since commemorated as Liberation Day in Ethiopia.
- May 6 - At California's March Field, Bob Hope performs his first USO Show.
- May 9 - WWII: The German submarine U-110 is captured by the British Royal Navy. On board is the latest Enigma cryptography machine which Allied cryptographers later use to break coded German messages.
- May 10 - WWII: The United Kingdom's House of Commons is damaged by the Luftwaffe in an air raid.
- May 10 - WWII: Rudolf Hess parachutes into Scotland claiming to be on a peace mission.
- May 15 - WWII: First British jet aircraft, the Gloster E.28/39, is flown.
- May 20 - WWII: Battle of Crete - Germany launches airborne invasion of Crete.
- May 21 - WWII: 950 miles off the coast of Brazil, the freighter SS Robin Moor becomes the first United States ship sunk by a German U-boat.
- May 24 - WWII: In the North Atlantic, the German battleship Bismarck sinks the HMS Hood killing all but three crewman on what was the pride of the Royal Navy.
- May 26 - WWII: In the North Atlantic, Fairey Swordfish aircraft from the carrier HMS Ark Royal fatally cripple the German battleship Bismarck in torpedo attack.
- May 27 - WWII: President Roosevelt proclaims an "unlimited national emergency."
- May 27 - WWII: German battleship Bismarck is sunk in North Atlantic killing 2,300.
- June 1 - WWII: Allies evacuate Crete.
- June 4 - Britain invades Iraq, the pro-Axis government there is overthrown.
- June 4 - The ex-kaiser of Germany, Wilhelm II, dies in exile at Doorn, Netherlands.
- June 7 - The USS South Dakota (BB-57) is launched for the first time.
- June 8 - WWII: Allies invade Syria and Lebanon.
- June 9 - WWII: Finland initiate mobilization and put some units under German command.
- June 14 - Mass deportations by Soviet Union authorities take place in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
- June 14 - All German and Italian assets in the United States are frozen.
- June 16 - All German and Italian consulates in the United States are ordered closed and their staffs to leave the country by July 10.
- June 22 - WWII: Germany attacks the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa.
- June 22 - Italy and Romania declare war on the Soviet Union.
- June 23 - Hungary and Slovakia declare war on the Soviet Union.
- June 25 - WWII: Finland attack the Soviet Union to seek the opportunity of revenge in the Continuation War.
- June 28 - Albania declares war on the Soviet Union.
- July 4 - Mass murder of Polish scientists and writers, committed by German troops in captured Polish city of Lwów.
- July 5 - WWII: German troops reach the Dnieper River.
- July 5-19 - War between Peru and Ecuador
- July 7 - WWII: American forces take over the defense of Iceland from the British
- July 7 - WWII: Serbia starts the first popular uprising in Europe against the Axis Powers.
- July 13 - World War II - Montenegro starts the second popular uprising in Europe against the Axis Powers.
- July 19 - WWII: A BBC broadcast by "Colonel Britton" calls on the people of Occupied Europe to resist the Nazis under the slogan "V for Victory".
- July 26 - WWII: In response to the Japanese occupation of French Indo-China, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt orders the seizure of all Japanese assets in the United States.
- July 31 - Holocaust: Under instructions from Adolf Hitler, Nazi official Hermann Göring, orders SS general Reinhard Heydrich to "submit to me as soon as possible a general plan of the administrative material and financial measures necessary for carrying out the desired final solution of the Jewish question."
- August - Formation of the Political Warfare Executive in the United Kingdom
- August 1 - The first jeep is produced
- August 9 - Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill meet at Argentia, Newfoundland. The Atlantic Charter is created as a result.
- August 18 - Adolf Hitler orders a temporary halt to Nazi Germany's systematic euthanasia of mentally ill and handicapped due to protests. However, graduates of the T-4 Euthanasia Program were then transferred to concentration camps, where they continued in their trade.
- August 22 - WWII: France - German Occupation Authority announces that anyone found either working for or aiding the Free French will be sentenced to death.
- August 25 - WWII: Operation Countenance - United Kingdom and Soviet forces invade Iran.
- August 27 - WWII: France - Pierre Laval is shot in an assassination attempt at Versailles.
- August 28 - WWII: Soviets announce the destruction of massive Dnieper River dam at Zaporozhye to prevent its capture by the Germans.
- September 4 - WWII: The USS Greer becomes the first United States ship fired upon by a German submarine in the war, even though the United States is a neutral power. Tension heightens between the two nations as a result.
- September 6 - Holocaust: The requirement to wear the Star of David with the word "Jew" inscribed, is extended to all Jews over the age of 6 in German-occupied areas.
- September 8 - WWII: Siege of Leningrad begins - German forces begin a siege against the Soviet Union's second-largest city, Leningrad. Stalin orders the Volga Deutsche deported to Siberia.
- September 11 - WWII: Franklin D. Roosevelt orders the United States Navy to shoot on sight if any ship or convoy is threatened.
- September 11 - Charles Lindbergh, at an America First Committee rally in Des Moines, Iowa, accuses "the British, the Jewish, and the Roosevelt administration" of leading the United States toward war. Widespread condemnation of Lindbergh follows.
- September 12 - WWII: First snowfall reported on Russian front.
- September 15 - self-government of Estonia, headed by Hjalmar Mäe, is appointed by German military administration.
- September 16 - Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran is forced to resign in favor of his son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran under pressure from the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union.
- September 27 - The first Liberty Ship, the SS Patrick Henry, is launched at Baltimore, Maryland.
- October 2 - WWII: Operation Typhoon - Germany begins an all-out offensive against Moscow.
- October 8 - WWII: In their invasion of the Soviet Union, Germany reaches the Sea of Azov with the capture of Mariupol.
- October 16 - WWII: Soviet Union government moves to Kuibyshev, but Stalin remains in Moscow.
- October 17 - WWII: The destroyer USS Kearney is torpedoed and damaged near Iceland, killing eleven sailors - the first American military casualties of the war.
- October 18 - General Hideki Tojo becomes the 40th Prime Minister of Japan.
- October 21 - WWII: Germans rampage in Yugoslavia, killing thousands of civilians
- October 30 - WWII: Franklin Delano Roosevelt approves US$1 billion in Lend-Lease aid to the Soviet Union.
- October 31 - WWII: The destroyer USS Reuben James is torpedoed by a German U-boat near Iceland, killing more than 100 United States Navy sailors.
- November 6 - WWII: Soviet leader Joseph Stalin addresses the Soviet Union for only the second time during his three-decade rule (the first time was earlier that year on July 2). He states that even though 350,000 troops were killed in German attacks so far, that the Germans have lost 4.5 million soldiers (a gross exaggeration) and that Soviet victory was near.
- November 7 - WWII: Soviet hospital ship Armenia sunk by German planes while evacuating refugees and wounded military and staff of several Crimea’s hospitals. It is estimated that over 5,000 people died in the sinking.
- November 10 - In a speech at the Mansion House in London, Winston Churchill promises, "...should the United States become involved in war with Japan, the British declaration will follow within the hour."
- November 12 - WWII: Battle of Moscow: Temperatures around Moscow drop to −12 °C and the Soviet Union launches ski troops for the first time against the freezing German forces near the city.
- November 13 - WWII: The aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal is hit by German wikipedia:U-boat U-81
- November 14 - WWII: HMS Ark Royal capsizes and sinks, having been torpedoed by U 81.
- November 14 - WWII: Attack on Pearl Harbor - Japanese diplomat Saburo Kurusu arrives in the United States to assist Ambassador Kichisaburo Nomura in peace negotiations.
- November 17 - WWII: Attack on Pearl Harbor - Joseph Grew, the United States ambassador to Japan, cables the State Department that Japan had plans to launch an attack against Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (his cable was ignored).
- November 19 - WWII: The Australian war cruiser HMAS Sydney sinks off the coast of Western Australia, killing 645 sailors.
- November 24 - WWII: The United States grants Lend-Lease to the Free French.
- November 26 - US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signs a bill establishing the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day in the United States (this partly reversed a 1939 action by Roosevelt that changed the celebration of Thanksgiving to the third Thursday of November).
- November 26 - WWII: The Hull note ultimatum is delivered to Japan by the United States.
- November 26 - WWII: Attack on Pearl Harbor - A fleet of six aircraft carriers commanded by Japanese Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo leaves Hitokapu Bay for Pearl Harbor under strict radio silence.
- November 27 - WWII: Battle of Moscow - Germans reach their closest approach to Moscow. They are subsequently frozen by cold weather and attacks by the Soviets.
- November 27 - WWII: Attack on Pearl Harbor - All U.S. military forces in Asia and the Pacific are placed on war alert.
- December 1 - WWII: Former mayor of New York City, Fiorello LaGuardia, and the director of the Office of Civilian Defense, sign an order creating the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) as the civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force (in April 1943 the CAP was placed under the jurisdiction of the United States Army Air Forces).
- December 1 - WWII: State of emergency declared in Malaya and the Straits Settlements.
- December 2 - WWII: Attack on Pearl Harbor - The code message "Climb Mount Niitaka" is transmitted to the Japanese task force, indicating that negotiations have broken down and that the attack is to be carried out according to plan.
- December 6 - WWII: Attack on Pearl Harbor - Franklin D. Roosevelt makes a personal peace appeal to Emperor Hirohito of Japan.
- December 7, December 8 (in Japan standard time) - Japanese Navy launches a surprise attack consisting of two full regiments on the United States fleet at Pearl Harbor, thus drawing the United States into World War II.
- December 8 - WWII: The United States officially declares war on Japan.
- December 8 - WWII: China officially declares war on Japan
- December 8 - WWII: The Netherlands declares war on Japan
- December 8 - WWII: Japan launches invasions in Hong Kong, Malaya, Manila, and Singapore.
- December 10 - WWII: The British battleships HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse are sunk by Japanese aircraft in the South China Sea north of Singapore.
- December 11 - WWII: Germany declares war on the United States.
- December 11 - WWII: American forces repel a Japanese landing attempt at Wake Island.
- December 12 - Hungary and Romania declare war on the United States. India declares war on Japan. United States seizes French ship Normandie.
- December 19 - WWII: Hitler becomes Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the German Army
- December 23 - WWII: A second Japanese landing attempt on Wake Island is successful, and the American garrison surrenders after hours of fighting.
- December 25 - WWII: British and Canadians are defeated by the Japanese at Hong Kong.
- December 26 - WWII: Winston Churchill becomes the first British Prime Minister to address a Joint session of the U.S. Congress
- December 27 - WWII: British Commandos raid the Norwegian port of Vaagso, causing Hitler to reinforce the garrison and defenses, drawing vital troops away from other areas.
- December 28 - WWII: starts the Operation Anthropoid (the assassination of Heydrich in Prague).
- May 16 - Minnie Vautrin, American missionary and heroine of the Nanjing Massacre (b. 1887)
- June 4 - Wilhelm II, Last Emperor of Germany (b. 1859)
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