World War II Timeline

Reading the paper on VJ Day, 2 September 1945, the end of World War II.  Robert Olen Collection, U.S. Library of Congress.
Reading the paper on VJ Day, 2 September 1945, the end of World War II. Robert Olen Collection, U.S. Library of Congress.

Today in WW II: 10 Oct 1939 Soviet Union forces Lithuania to sign a treaty permitting USSR to establish military bases on Lithuanian soil.  More 
10 Oct 1943 Double Tenth Incident: Singapore's Japanese Military Police (Kempeitai) arrest and torture 57 civilians, suspecting them in the Operation Jaywick Australian commando raid on Singapore Harbor.
Visit the World War II Timeline for day-by-day events 1939-1945! See also WW2 Books.

World War II Timeline

World War II had no exact beginning in the 1930s, but clearly was in progress with the Japanese aggression in Asia. The German invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939 brought the war to Europe and is generally cited as the start of WW II. Expansion to a world conflict came with the bombing of the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor by Japan, 7 December 1941, the event that brought the United States into the war.

The end of the war was quite definite: the collapse of Germany in May 1945 followed by the surrender of Japan on 2 September 1945. From the late 1930s to 1945, there were daily events, large and small, in eastern and western Europe, Asia, Africa, across the oceans, and in many other places as the war ground on. Death and destruction were the common experience and everyone lost something, directly or indirectly.

This timeline gives the broad overview of events to help understand the unfolding of the vastness of the World War II action. Two World War II overview sections are available on, one for the Pacific Theater of Operations and the other for the European Theater of Operations. Many of the campaigns, operations and battles of WW II have individual pages available at the link.

Links are provided in the timeline with additional information from pages or relevant books on the event or subject. For additional compilations of the events of World War II, go to one of the recommended time line web sites listed at the page bottom. If you have other events to suggest, or spot any errors, please contact

Use these links to reach each yearly time period or the Prelude period of World War II:

Recommended Books about Events During World War II

Find More Information on the Internet

There are many fine websites that have additional information on this topic, too many to list here and too many to keep up with as they come and go. Use this Google web search form to get an up to date report of what's out there.

For good results, try entering this: timeline world war ii or wwii or ww ii. Then click the Search button.

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