WW2: Key Events

A comprehensive collection selected by British Pathé of the key events that took place.
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1939: Hitler invades Poland
Hitler’s invasion of Poland on 1st September 1939 marked the beginning of WW2 in Europe.
1940 (1): Rationing
January 1940 saw the start of rationing in Britain. The following films show rationing throughout the war and the effect it had on peoples lives.
1940 (2): Blitzkrieg
1940 saw France, Holland and Belgium become overwhelmed by German “Blitzkrieg”.
1940 (3): Churchill Becomes Prime Minister
Following Neville Chamberlain’s resignation on 10th May 1940, Churchill became Prime Minister.
1940 (4): Evacuation of Dunkirk
May 1940 saw the evacuation of British Expeditionary Forces from Dunkirk. The operation was put in place after British, French and Belgian troops found themselves surrounded and cut off by the Germans, during the Battle of France.
1940 (5): Battle of Britain
Films related to the air battle for Britain from July to October 1940.
1941 (1): Operation Barbarossa
Hitler began Operation Barbarossa in June 1941, the codename for the invasion of the Soviet Union. These films outline the event.
1941 (2): The Blitz
German Blitzkrieg on the United Kingdom lasted 8 months, from September 1940 to May 1941. Here is a selection of footage showing the destruction caused and what life during the Blitz was like.
1941 (3): Allies Take Tobruk
Operation Crusader saw the relief of by the Allies on 27th November 1941. Take a look at footage of Tobruk here.
1941 (4): Pearl Harbour
The Japanese military strike on the US naval base Pearl Harbour, was a turning point in WW2 as it led to America’s entry into the war.
1942 (1): Battle of Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad which began on 23 August 1942, was a turning point in WW2. It was the German army’s first major setback, which they never fully managed to recover from. Here is a selection of films outlining the event.
1942 (2): El Alamein
The Allied victory at El Alamein on 11th November 1942, was a turning point in the Western Desert Campaign. Below is footage of the events that took place in El Alamein.
1942 (3): Singapore Falls to Japanese
The Japanese invaded Singapore in the February of 1942. As Singapore was a British stronghold, Churchill referred to the event as the “worst disaster” in military history.
1942 (4): Battle of Midway
The Battle of Midway took place in the Pacific in the June of 1942, it was a crucial and decisive naval battle, which eventually saw the Americans as victorious.
1943 (1): Surrender at Stalingrad
German defeat at Stalingrad was a turning point in WW2 and is regarded as one of the bloodiest battles in modern history.
1943 (2): North African Surrender
Allied Operation Torch landings and battles against Vichy France led to the surrender of Axis powers in North Africa. The Allied victory in North Africa laid the pathway for the Italian Campaign.
1943 (3): Invasion of Italy
The Allied invasion of Italy took place on 3rd September 1943, following the successful invasion of Sicily.
1943 (4): Burma
British and Indian forces fight the Japanese in Burma.
1944 (1): Battle of Anzio
The Allies landed at Anzio on 22nd January 1944, as part of the Italian campaign against the German forces.
1944 (2): Monte Cassino
Continuing the Italian campaign, with the intention of a breakthrough to Rome, the series of four assaults by the Allies on Monte Cassino were extremely costly for the Allies, however they eventually managed to drive the German forces back.
1944 (3): Soviet Offensive
1944 saw the Soviet offensive gather pace in Eastern Europe.
1944 (4): D-Day
The Allied invasion of France began on 6th June 1944. It led to the eventual liberation of France from the Nazis and contributed to the Allies victory in the war. See below footage of the event.
1944 (5): Paris Liberated
Paris was liberated from the Nazis on 25th August 1944. See below celebration scenes follow the capital’s liberation.
1944 (6): Guam Liberated
On 10th August 1944 the Americans regained Guam from the Japanese during the Pacific campaign.
1944 (7): Iwo Jima Bombed
During the Pacific campaign.
1945 (1): Liberation of Concentration Camps
The extent of Nazi brutality was revealed when the Soviet army liberated Auschwitz in early 1945.
1945 (2): Russians take Berlin
Soviet forces had surrounded the city of Berlin by 24th April 1945, they began to make their way into the city centre, resulting in the eventual fall of Berlin on 2nd May. Below is footage of the Russians taking Berlin.
1945 (3): German Surrender
Following the fall of Berlin, German forces began to surrender.
1945 (4): Truman Becomes President
Following President Roosevelt’s death on 12th April 1945, Vice President Harry S. Truman assumed the role of President.
1945 (5): Hiroshima and Nagasaki
The final stage of WW2 saw American forces drop atomic bombs on the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagaski in August 1945, killing at least 129,000 people.
1945 (6): Japan Surrenders
The surrender of Japan on 15th August 1945 saw the hostilities of WW2 finally brought to a close.