Timeline of the first premiership of Winston Churchill

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The following is a timeline of the first premiership of Winston Churchill, who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. Churchill served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the bulk of World War II. His speeches and radio broadcasts helped inspire British resistance, especially during the difficult days of 1940–41 when the British Commonwealth and Empire stood almost alone in its active opposition to Nazi Germany. He led Britain as Prime Minister until victory over Nazi Germany had been secured. for the general history see Timeline of the United Kingdom home front during World War II.[1]

After the Conservative Party lost the 1945 election, Churchill became Leader of the Opposition to the Labour Government. He would go on to be re-elected as Prime Minister in 1951.

1940[edit]

Churchill (1940)

April[edit]

  • 3 April 1940 (1940-04-03): The Ministerial Defence Committee, with the First Lord of the Admiralty (Winston Churchill) as its chair, replaces Lord Chatfield's ministerial position of Minister for Coordination of Defence.

May[edit]

June[edit]

August[edit]

  • 20 August 1940 (1940-08-20): Italy announces a blockade of British ports in the Mediterranean area.
Churchill's speech "Never was so much owed by so many to so few" speech delivered to the House of Commons.
  • 25 August 1940 (1940-08-25): Churchill orders the bombing of Berlin in retaliation for the previous night's bombing of Cripplegate.

October[edit]

  • 9 October 1940 (1940-10-09): Neville Chamberlain resigns from the House of Commons for health reasons; Winston Churchill is elected head of the Conservative Party.

November[edit]

  • 16 November 1940 (1940-11-16): Churchill orders some British troops in North Africa to be sent to Greece, despite concerns by his military.

1941[edit]

Churchill (1941)

February[edit]

  • 9 February 1941 (1941-02-09): British forces reach El Agheila, Cyrenaica. British battleships shell Genoa and British aircraft attack Livorno. Churchill again pleads with the US: "give us the tools."

April[edit]

  • 23 April 1941 (1941-04-23): Greek government is evacuated to Crete, which Churchill is determined to defend.

June[edit]

  • 1 June 1941 (1941-06-01): The evacuation of Allied forces from Crete ends; over 17,000 are captured by German forces.
  • 22 June 1941 (1941-06-22): Germany invasion of Russia begins, as Operation Barbarossa.

July[edit]

  • 19 July 1941 (1941-07-19): The "V-sign", displayed most notably by Churchill, is unofficially adopted as the Allied signal, along with the motif of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.

August[edit]

December[edit]

  • 7 December 1941 (1941-12-07): Japan attacks the US Navy base of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Churchill was with the President's special envoy, Averell Harriman, and the US Ambassador to Britain, John Gilbert Winant, when he received the news over the telephone from President Roosevelt.[3]
  • 8 December 1941 (1941-12-08): Japan attacks Hong Kong, Malaya and the Philippines in a simultaneous attack with Pearl Harbor but is counted a day later due to the international date line.[4]
  • 10 December 1941 (1941-12-10): Japanese air forces sink the Prince of Wales and Repulse.
  • 26 December 1941 (1941-12-26): Churchill makes his first address to a joint session of the United States Congress.[3]
  • 26 December 1941 (1941-12-26): The evening after speaking to Congress, Churchill suffers a mild heart attack.[3]

1942[edit]

Churchill (1942)

February[edit]

  • 15 February 1942 (1942-02-15): The Commonwealth forces at Singapore surrender to the Japanese.

April[edit]

  • 14 April 1942 (1942-04-14): Churchill, concerned that the situation in Malta will cause the Axis forces in North Africa to be better supplied than British forces, sends a telegram to Sir Stafford Cripps in Cairo, asking him to pressure General Auchinleck to take offensive action before this can occur.
  • 20 April 1942 (1942-04-20): General Dobbie, Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of Malta, sends a message to the PM saying "it is obvious that the very worst may happen if we cannot replenish our vital needs, especially flour and ammunition, and that very soon...." Churchill concludes from this and other "disturbing news" that Dobbie is not capable enough for such an important job, and decides to replace him with Lord Gort.

May[edit]

  • 9 May 1942 (1942-05-09): On the night of 8-9 May 1942, gunners of the Ceylon Garrison Artillery on Horsburgh Island in the Cocos Islands rebelled. Their mutiny was crushed and three of them were executed, the only British Commonwealth soldiers to be executed for mutiny during the Second World War.
    USS Wasp and HMS Eagle deliver a second contingent of Spitfires to Malta in Operation Bowery. A few days later, a grateful Churchill will signal Wasp "Who says a Wasp can't sting twice?" These aircraft, employed more aggressively than those previously delivered, turn the tide in the skies over Malta during the next few days, and the Axis is forced to abandon daylight bombing. This is a major turning point in the Siege, and thus in the North African Campaign, although the approaches to the island remain subject to deadly and accurate Axis air attack, preventing efficient re-supply of the island.
  • 10 May 1942 (1942-05-10): 10: Churchill, growing ever more frustrated with General Auchinleck's inactivity, finally sends him a telegram with a clear order; attack in time to cover for the Harpoon/Vigorous convoys to Malta during the dark of the moon in early June. This places Auchinleck in the position of complying or resigning. Auchinleck does not immediately reply, leaving Churchill, CIGS, and the War Cabinet in a state of suspense.
  • 17 May 1942 (1942-05-17): It has been a week since Churchill sent his ultimatum to General Auchinleck, and he has not yet received a reply. He sends a terse follow-up: "It is necessary for me to have some account of your general intentions in light of our recent telegrams." Again there is no immediate reply.
  • 19 May 1942 (1942-05-19): General Auchinleck at last replies to Churchill's somewhat urgent telegram of the 10th, saying he will have an attack ready by the sailing of the Harpoon/Vigorous convoys for Malta.
  • 21 May 1942 (1942-05-21): In discussions with Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden, Molotov continues to press Soviet demands for territorial acquisitions made during the run-up to war, including the Baltic states, Eastern Poland, and Bessarabia. Churchill cannot or will not agree to these demands, and the talks become deadlocked.

June[edit]

  • 14 June 1942 (1942-06-14): At the Gazala Line, the British position has become untenable, and General Auchinleck authorizes General Ritchie to make a concerted withdrawal from forward positions along the line.
    1st South African Division is able to withdraw along the coastal road, but the road cannot accommodate all the troops at once, and this route in any event is under threat of being cut by Rommel's forces; so troops including 50th Division must first breakout to the southwest, through the area occupied by Italian X Corps, and then turn east to rejoin 8th Army. This somewhat daring operation is concluded successfully. The RAF forces available, although outnumbered, make a valiant effort to cover the retreat. Churchill sends Auchinleck a telegram beginning, 'To what position does Ritchie want to withdraw the Gazala troops? Presume there is no question in any case of giving up Tobruk.'
    The convoy 'Vigorous', en route to Malta, sights a large Italian naval squadron headed toward it. 'Harpoon' comes under attack for the first time; 'Vigorous' has been under air attack almost since leaving port.
  • 15 June 1942 (1942-06-15): General Auchinleck sends Churchill a reply to the latter's telegram of the 14th, saying in part, "...I have no intention whatever of giving up Tobruk."
  • 16 June 1942 (1942-06-16): Churchill, about to leave for America, takes the unusual step of sending a letter to HRM George VI, advising him to make Anthony Eden Prime Minister should Churchill not survive the journey.
  • 18 June 1942 (1942-06-18): Winston Churchill arrives in Washington for meetings with Roosevelt.

July[edit]

  • 2 July 1942 (1942-07-02): Churchill survives a censure motion in the House of Commons.

August[edit]

  • 12 August 1942 (1942-08-12): At a conference in Moscow, Churchill informs Stalin that there will not be a "second front" in 1942.
  • 13 August 1942 (1942-08-13): General Bernard Montgomery appointed commander of British Eighth Army in North Africa; Churchill is anxious to see more offensive action on the part of the British.

November[edit]

  • 10 November 1942 (1942-11-10): Montgomery begins a major British offensive beginning at Sollum on the Libya/Egypt border. The British reach Bardia on the 11th, Tobruk on the 12th, and Benghazi on the 18th.
    Lieutenant General Montgomery is knighted and made a full General. Churchill speaks: "This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

December[edit]

  • 17 December 1942 (1942-12-17): From the floor of the House of Commons, Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden reads what is known as the Joint Declaration by Members of the United Nations, in which the Allies denounce the German extermination of Jews. A copy of the declaration appears on the front pages of newspapers around the world.[5]

1943[edit]

Churchill (1943)

January[edit]

May[edit]

July[edit]

  • 25 July 1943 (1943-07-25): Benito Mussolini is removed from office; it leads to the formation of a new government in Italy.

August[edit]

October[edit]

November[edit]

1944[edit]

Churchill (1944)

February[edit]

June[edit]

  • 6 June 1944 (1944-06-06): British and US troops land at Normandy in France, initiating a Second Front against Germany. Codenamed Operation Overlord, the day is also known as D-Day.

August[edit]

  • 20 August 1944 (1944-08-20): Allied troops reach Paris.

September[edit]

  • 12 September 1944 (1944-09-12): The Second Quebec Conference (codenamed "Octagon") begins: Roosevelt and Churchill discuss military cooperation in the Pacific and the future of Germany.[10]

October[edit]

December[edit]

  • 3 December 1944 (1944-12-03): The British army and the police shot unarmed protesters in Athens. The crowd carried Greek, American, British and Soviet flags, and chanted: "Viva Churchill, Viva Roosevelt, Viva Stalin."
  • 16 December 1944 (1944-12-16): Battle of the Bulge begins.
  • 28 December 1944 (1944-12-28): :28: Churchill and his Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden are in Athens in an attempt to reconcile the warring factions.

1945[edit]

Churchill waves to crowds in Whitehall on the day he broadcast to the nation that the war with Germany had been won, 8 May 1945

February[edit]

April[edit]

  • 12 April 1945 (1945-04-12): US President Franklin D. Roosevelt dies, and is succeeded by Vice President Harry S Truman.
  • 16 April 1945 (1945-04-16): The Soviets overtake Berlin.
  • 30 April 1945 (1945-04-30): Hitler commits suicide, is succeeded by Karl Doenitz.

May[edit]

  • 7 May 1945 (1945-05-07): Germany surrenders to the western Allies.
  • 23 May 1945: Wartime coalition ends. Start of brief caretaker government.

June[edit]

  • 5 June 1945: The longest parliament of the 20th century is dissolved.

July[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The main sources here are Facts on file yearbook (compilation of weekly reports) and Keesing's Contemporary Archives (monthly reports), both online.
  2. ^ Keegan, John (1994). The Times Atlas of the Second World War. London: The Times. pp. 16–17. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  3. ^ a b c "Churchill and the Great Republic". Library of Congress. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  4. ^ Robinson, Bruce. "World War Two: Summary Outline of Key Events". BBC History. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  5. ^ "BBC On This Day: 17 December 1942". Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  6. ^ "1943 Timeline". WW2DB. Retrieved 2013-01-07.
  7. ^ a b c "Chronology of World War Two". andrew.etherington. Archived from the original on 2012-10-26. Retrieved 2013-01-07.
  8. ^ "Avalon Project - The Quebec Conference - Agreement Relating to Atomic Energy". yale.edu. Retrieved 2013-07-18.
  9. ^ "1944 Timeline". WW2DB. Retrieved 2014-02-19.
  10. ^ "BBC - WW2 People's War - Timeline". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-09-11.
  11. ^ "1945 Timeline". WW2DB. Retrieved 2011-02-09.

Further reading[edit]

  • Addison, Paul. The road to 1945: British politics and the Second World War (1975; 2nd ed. 2011), a standard scholarly history of wartime politics.
  • Addison, Paul. Churchill on the Home Front, 1900–1955 (1992) ch 10–11.
  • Crowcroft, Robert. "‘Making a Reality of Collective Responsibility’: The Lord President's Committee, Coalition and the British State at War, 1941–42." Contemporary British History 29.4 (2015): 539–562. online
  • Pelling, Henry. "The 1945 general election reconsidered." Historical Journal (1980) 23(2) pp: 399–414. online
  • Smart, Nick. British strategy and politics during the phony war: before the balloon went up (Greenwood, 2003).
  • Todman, David. Britain's War: 1937–1941 (vol 1, Oxford UP, 2016); 828pp; comprehensive coverage of home front, military, and diplomatic developments; Excerpt