Events from the year
1940 in the United Kingdom. This year is dominated by Britain's involvement in World War II, which had commenced in September the previous year, as well as the numerous enemy air raids on Britain and thousands of subsequent casualties. Although the war continued, Britain did triumph in the Battle of Britain and foiled the German invansion attempt.
Incumbents [ edit ]
1 January - World War II: Britain calls up two million 19- to 27-year-olds for military service.
3 January -
Unity Mitford, daughter of David Freeman-Mitford, 2nd Baron Redesdale, and fervent admirer of Adolf Hitler, having attempted suicide, returns to England from Germany (via Switzerland); she is carried down the gangplank of the cross-channel ferry at Folkestone on a stretcher. 5 January - Oliver Stanley replaces
Leslie Hore-Belisha as Secretary of State for War. 8 January -
Food rationing introduced. [1 ] 9 January - World War II: Liner
Dunbar Castle of the Union Castle Line hits a mine in the English Channel and sinks with the loss of 9 men (2 dead and 7 missing). 17 January - A wave of freezing weather afflicting most of Europe leads to the
River Thames freezing for the first time since 1888. 18 January - Explosion at
Waltham Abbey Royal Gunpowder Mills (five killed). [2 ] 26–30 January - Severe
ice storm across the UK [2 ] 3 February - A
Heinkel He 111 bomber is the first German plane shot down over England. 16 February -
Altmark Incident: Royal Navy destroyer HMS pursues Cossack (F03) German tanker into the Altmark neutral waters of Jøssingfjord in southwestern Norway and frees the 290 British seamen held aboard. 26 January - British battleship
HMS is torpedoed by a Barham (04) U-boat but suffers only minor damage. March -
Frisch–Peierls memorandum: Otto Frisch and Rudolf Peierls, at this time working at the University of Birmingham, calculate that an atomic bomb could be produced using very much less enriched uranium than has previously been supposed, making it a practical proposition. [3 ] 3–9 March -
RMS makes her maiden voyage on delivery from Queen Elizabeth Clydebank to New York. 11 March - Rationing of meat introduced.
16 March - First civilian casualty of bombing in the UK, on
Orkney. [4 ] 29 March - Metal
security threads added to £1 notes to prevent forgeries. [1 ] 31 March - 33
fascist sympathisers, including Oswald Mosley, are interned. [5 ] 5 April -
Neville Chamberlain declares in a public speech that Hitler has "missed the bus". 9 April - The
British campaign in Norway commences following Operation , the German invasion of neutral Weserübung Denmark and Norway. 12–13 April -
British occupation of the Faroe Islands, following the German invasion of Denmark, to avert a possible German occupation of the islands. 23 April - The War Budget sees the introduction of a purchase tax and an increase in tobacco duties.
2 May - Last British and French troops evacuated from Norway following failure in the
Norwegian Campaign. [6 ] 7–8 May -
Norway Debate in the House of Commons. Strong opposition to the Chamberlain government's conduct of the war make it impossible for him to continue as Prime Minister. 9 May -
Guy Lloyd wins the East Renfrewshire by-election for the Unionist Party (Scotland). 10 May
13 May -
Winston Churchill makes his famous "I have nothing to offer you but blood, toil, tears, and sweat" speech to the House of Commons. 13–14 May - Queen
Wilhelmina of the Netherlands and her government are evacuated to London using HMS following the German invasion of the Low Countries. Hereward 14 May - Recruitment begins for a home defence force - the
Local Defence Volunteers, renamed as the Home Guard from 23 July. [1 ] 16 May - Large-scale alien internment begins.
22 May - Parliament passes the
Emergency Powers (Defence) Act 1940 giving the government full control over all persons and property. 24 May -
Anglo-French Supreme War Council decides to withdraw all forces under its control from Norway. 26 May–4 June - The
Dunkirk evacuation of British Expeditionary Force takes place. 300,000 troops are evacuated from France to England.
28 May -
May 1940 War Cabinet Crisis: Churchill wins the War Cabinet round to his view that there should be no peace negotiations with Hitler, contrary to the view of his Foreign Secretary, Viscount Halifax. 4 June - Churchill makes his
speech to the House of Commons. We shall fight on the beaches [1 ] 5 June - Novelist
J. B. Priestley broadcasts his first Sunday evening radio Postscript, "An excursion to hell", on the BBC Home Service, marking the role of the pleasure steamers in the Dunkirk evacuation. 7 June - King
Haakon VII of Norway and his government are evacuated to London on HMS . Devonshire [6 ] 9 June - The
Commandos are created. 10 June -
Italy declares war on France and the United Kingdom. 11 June - The
Western Desert Campaign opens with British forces crossing the Frontier Wire into Italian Libya. 12 June - Over 10,000 soldiers of the
51st (Highland) Division under General Victor Fortune surrender to Rommel at Saint-Valery-en-Caux. [7 ] 16 June - The
Churchill war ministry offers a Franco-British Union to Paul Reynaud, Prime Minister of France, in the hope of preventing France from agreeing to an armistice with Nazi Germany. 17 June -
RMS , serving as a Lancastria troopship, is bombed and sunk by the Luftwaffe while evacuating British troops and nationals from Saint-Nazaire with the loss of at least 4,000 lives, the largest single UK loss in any World War II event, immediate news of which is suppressed in the British press. [8 ] 18 June
23 June -
BBC Forces Programme begins broadcasting . Music While You Work [9 ] 30 June - German forces land in
Guernsey marking the start of the 5-year Occupation of the Channel Islands. 2 July - British-owned
SS , carrying Arandora Star civilian internees and POWs of Italian and German origin from Liverpool to Canada, is torpedoed and sunk by German submarine off northwest U-47 Ireland with the loss of around 865 lives.
7 September -
The Blitz begins. This will be the first of 57 consecutive nights of strategic bombing on London. [1 ] 15 September - RAF command claims victory over the
Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain; this day is thereafter known as "Battle of Britain Day". [13 ] 17–18 September -
SS is City of Benares torpedoed by German submarine in the U-48 Atlantic with the loss of 248 of the 406 on board, including child evacuees bound for Canada. The sinking results in cancellation of the Children's Overseas Reception Board's plan to relocate British children abroad. [14 ] 23 September - King
George VI announces the creation of the George Cross decoration during a radio broadcast. [1 ] 27 September - The
Battle of Graveney Marsh in Kent, the last exchange of shots with a foreign force on mainland British soil, takes place when soldiers of the London Irish Rifles capture the crew of a downed new German Junkers Ju 88 bomber who initially resist arrest with gunfire; one of the enemy is shot in the foot. [15 ] [16 ] [17 ] 9 October -
Winston Churchill succeeds Neville Chamberlain as Leader of the Conservative Party. 14 October - At least 64 people are killed when a German bomb penetrates
Balham station on the London Underground which is in use as an air-raid shelter. 25 October - Air Chief Marshal Sir
Charles Portal is appointed Chief of the Air Staff, a post he will hold for the remainder of the War. 31 October - The
Battle of Britain ends. 6 November - 14 children are killed when a German bomb hits the Civic Centre in Southampton.
11 November -
Battle of Taranto - The Royal Navy launches the first aircraft carrier strike in history, on the Italian fleet at Taranto. 14/15 November -
Coventry Blitz: The centre of Coventry is destroyed by 500 German Luftwaffe bombers: 150,000 incendiary devices, 503 tons of high explosives and 130 parachute mines level 60,000 of the city's 75,000 buildings. At least 568 people are killed, while 863 more are injured. [1 ] 19 November - Less than a week after the blitz of Coventry, further heavy air raids take place in central England.
Birmingham, [18 ] West Bromwich [19 ] Dudley and Tipton are all bombed. Some 900 people are killed and 2,000 more injured - there are 53 deaths at the [20 ] Birmingham Small Arms Company factory in Small Heath alone. Most of the region's casualties are in Birmingham. 23 November -
Southampton Blitz: Southampton is bombed. [21 ] 24 November -
Bristol Blitz: beginning of the bombing of Bristol. 27 November–1 December - Oil storage depot fire at Turnchapel,
Plymouth, caused by bombing. 12–15 December -
Sheffield Blitz ("Operation Crucible"): The city of Sheffield is heavily bombed by the Luftwaffe. 660 people are killed, while another 1,500 are injured and 30,000 more left homeless. 20 December - The midlands suffers further civilian casualties when an anti-aircraft shell fired from
Dudley accidentally strikes a public house in neighbouring Tipton, resulting in dozens of casualties. 20–21 December -
Liverpool Blitz: Liverpool is heavily bombed, with well over 300 people killed and hundreds more injured. 22 December -
Manchester Blitz: Manchester is heavily bombed as the Luftwaffe air raids on Britain continue. 363 are killed and 1,183 wounded; and Manchester Cathedral is badly damaged. 29 December - Heavy bombing in
London causes the Second Great Fire of London. [1 ] Guildhall is among many buildings badly damaged or destroyed. There are hundreds more casualties.
Undated [ edit ]
Following the outbreak of World War II, housebuilding is halted, but some 1.1 million
council houses have been built in the last 20 years to replace slum property, although the need for further demolition and rehousing remains, including the issue of rehousing families left homeless by air raids. [22 ]
Publications [ edit ]
4 January - Professor
Brian Josephson, scientist 14 January -
Trevor Nunn, stage and film director 19 January -
Mike Reid, comedian, actor, and author (died 2007) 22 January -
John Hurt, actor 23 January
2 February -
David Jason, actor 6 February -
Jimmy Tarbuck, comedian 20 February -
Jimmy Greaves, footballer and television pundit 24 February
1 March -
David Broome, showjumping champion 15 March -
Frank Dobson, politician 1 April -
Annie Nightingale, radio music presenter 2 April -
Penelope Keith, actress 15 April -
Jeffrey Archer, politician, novelist and perjurer 17 April -
Billy Fury, singer songwriter (died 1983) 7 May -
Angela Carter, novelist and journalist (died 1992) 8 May -
James Blyth, Baron Blyth of Rowington, English businessman and academic 9 May -
Alan Ryan, English philosopher and academic 12 May -
Dominic Cadbury, English businessman and academic 13 May -
Bruce Chatwin, novelist and travel writer (died 1989) 16 May -
Gareth Roberts, physicist (died 2007) 7 June -
Tom Jones, Welsh singer 8 June -
Carole Ann Ford, actress 20 June -
John Mahoney, actor 23 June
29 June -
John Dawes, rugby player 4 July -
Dave Rowberry, pianist and songwriter ( The Animals) (d. 2003) 7 July -
Ringo Starr, drummer ( The Beatles) 13 July -
Patrick Stewart, actor 17 July -
Tim Brooke-Taylor, radio and television personality 19 September -
Zandra Rhodes, fashion designer 9 October -
John Lennon, musician and singer ( The Beatles) (murdered 1980) 14 October -
Cliff Richard, singer and actor 19 October -
Michael Gambon, actor 4 November -
Daniel Sperber, Welsh-born Israeli author, university professor and scholar 14 November -
Freddie Garrity, singer (died 2006) 10 December -
Anne Gibson, Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen, English union leader and author 22 December -
Noel Jones, British Ambassador to Kazakhstan (died 1995)
11 February -
John Buchan, Scottish novelist, Unionist politician and Governor General of Canada (born 1875) 18 April -
H. A. L. Fisher, historian and Liberal politician (born 1865; died as result of road accident) 7 May -
George Lansbury, politician and social reformer; leader of the Labour Party from 1932 to 1935 (born 1859) 17 June -
Arthur Harden, chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (born 1865) 24 June -
Alfred Fowler, astronomer (born 1868) 22 August -
Oliver Lodge, physicist (born 1851) 30 August -
J. J. Thomson, physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (born 1856) 26 September -
W. H. Davies, Welsh poet and author (born 1871) 9 October - Sir
Wilfred Grenfell, medical missionary to Newfoundland and Labrador (born 1865) 2 November - Squadron Leader
Archie McKellar, fighter ace (born 1912; killed in Battle of Britain) 9 November -
Neville Chamberlain, former Prime Minister (born 1869) 16 December -
William Wallace, Scottish composer (born 1860)
References [ edit ]
^ a b c d e f g h i j k Penguin Pocket On This Day. Penguin Reference Library. 2006. ISBN 0-14-102715-0.
^ a b Simons, Paul (2008). Since Records Began. London: Collins. pp. 205–7. ISBN 978-0-00-728463-4.
^ Gowing, Margaret (1964). Britain and Atomic Energy, 1935–1945. London: Macmillan Publishing. pp. 40–43. OCLC 3195209.
^ Doyle, Peter (2010). ARP and Civil Defence in the Second World War. Oxford: Shire Publications. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-7478-0765-0.
^ Palmer, Alan; Veronica (1992). The Chronology of British History. London: Century Ltd. pp. 386–387. ISBN 0-7126-5616-2.
^ a b Borgersrud, Lars (1995). "Nøytralitetsvakt". In Dahl, Hans Fredrik; Hjeltnes, Guri; Nøkleby, Berit; Ringdal, Nils Johan; Sørensen, Øystein (ed.). (in Norwegian). Oslo: Cappelen. p. 313. Norsk krigsleksikon 1940-45 ISBN 82-02-14138-9 . Retrieved . 2012-06-29
^ "Surrender at St. Valéry". 51st Highland Division . Retrieved . 2014-07-17
^ "Lancastria's end told by survivors; Italian and Nazi Planes Said to Have Shot at Swimmers and Fired Oily Waters; Many Caught Below Deck; Rescue Craft Reported Set Ablaze; Victims Include Women and Children". . 26 July 1940 New York Times . Retrieved . 22 May 2010
^ "Music While You Work". whirligig-tv . Retrieved . 2011-01-11
^ Bloch, Michael (1982). The Duke of Windsor's War. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 0-297-77947-8.
^ Drews, Jürgen (March 2000). "Drug Discovery: a Historical Perspective". Science 287 (5460): 1960–4. doi: 10.1126/science.287.5460.1960. PMID 10720314.
^ Robertson, Patrick (1974). The Shell Book of Firsts. London: Ebury Press. p. 124.
^ "Monument marks Battle of Britain". BBC News. 18 September 2005 . Retrieved . 2008-03-07
^ Brown, Mike (2009). Evacuees of the Second World War. Oxford: Shire Publications. ISBN 978-0-7478-0745-2.
^ Green, Ron; Harrison, Mark (30 September 2009). "Forgotten frontline exhibition tells how Luftwaffe fought with soldiers on Kent marshes". KentOnline.
^ "Kent battle between German bomber crew and British soldiers marked after 70 years". . 20 August 2010. The Daily Telegraph Archived from the original on 23 August 2010 . Retrieved . 20 August 2010
^ "The last battle on British soil? Little-known conflict at Graveney Marsh finally remembered after 70 years". . 20 August 2010. Daily Mail Archived from the original on 23 August 2010 . Retrieved . 5 August 2013
^ "53 killed at BSA works – 19th November 1940". The Birmingham Press . Retrieved . 2012-06-29
^ Day, J.M. (25 November 2005). "West Bromwich at War - Part 2". WW2 People's War. BBC . Retrieved . 2012-06-29
^ "Shrapnel from Dudley". . 21 August 2008 Black Country Bugle . Retrieved . 2012-06-29
^ "Southampton's Blitz" . Retrieved . 2007-10-03
^ "Council housing". www.parliament.uk . Retrieved . 2014-02-24
See also [ edit ]