World War II Day by Day: February 1940

The German Army conquered much of Western Europe in 1940 in a series of spectacular Blitzkrieg victories. German armor and aircraft attacked and defeated a succession of Allied armies in Scandinavia, France, and the Low Countries. Germany’s defeat in an aerial battle over Britain, however, saved that nation from any invasion. Britain’s survival now depended on North American aid. Meanwhile, the war widened, with Italian offensives in Africa and the Balkans.

5 February

Politics, Allies

The Allied Supreme War Council decides to intervene in Norway and Finland. This vague and indecisive policy relies on the cooperation of neutral Norway and Sweden. The main motivation is the Allied desire to deny Germany access to Swedish iron ore supplies, which pass through the ice-free port of Narvik in Norway.

16 February

Sea War, North Sea

The British destroyer Cossack violates Norway’s neutrality to rescue 299 British merchant seamen aboard the German transport Altmark. Germany accelerates its invasion preparations, believing that Britain is planning more military actions in Norway.

24 February

Politics, Germany

Plans for the invasion of Western Europe are revised. The main focus of the offensive is changed to the Ardennes region after a suggestion by General Erich von Manstein. The bulk of the German Army’s armored units are allocated to this radical plan.