World War II Day by Day: November 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 November

Politics, United States

President Franklin D. Roosevelt is elected for an unprecedented third term.

Sea War, Atlantic

The German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer attacks a British convoy of 37 ships escorted by the armed merchant cruiser Jervis Bay, which fights to save the convoy. The battleship rams and sinks Jervis Bay, but only five other vessels are lost. Eastbound convoys are suspended until the 17th while the Allies search for the Admiral Scheer.

10 November

Politics, Italy

General Ubaldo Soddu replaces General Sabasiano Visconti-Prasca as the Italian commander-in-chief in Albania.

11-12 November

Sea War, Mediterranean

At the Battle of Taranto British torpedo aircraft from the carrier Illustrious destroy three Italian battleships and damage two vessels during the raid on the Italian base. Illustrious loses only two aircraft. When the fleet leaves for Naples and Genoa, three British cruisers sink four vessels in the Strait of Otranto. This air attack on a fleet in harbor is closely studied by other navies, especially the Japanese.

14-22 November

Balkans, Greece

Greece launches a major counter-attack and 3400 British troops, plus air support, arrive from Alexandria, Egypt. When Greek forces finally enter Koritza they capture 2000 Italians and drive almost all the invaders back into Albania by December.

14 November

Air War, Britain

A German reconnaissance photograph of Coventry, the English city devastated by an air attack in November 1940
A German reconnaissance photograph of Coventry, the English city devastated by an air attack in November 1940

Germany sends 449 bombers to bomb the city of Coventry. The raid kills 500 civilians, leaves thousands homeless, and shocks the British public.

18 November

Technology, Britain

British ‘Air-to-Surface-Vessel’ radar fitted to a Sunderland flying boat locates its first U-boat during a patrol in the Atlantic.

20 November

Politics, Hungary

Hungary joins the Axis powers. Since the Italian invasion of Greece, the Germans have been attempting to secure their food and oil supplies from the Balkans by pressing the countries of the region to join the Tripartite Pact.

23 November

Politics, Romania

Prime Minister General Ion Antonescu leads Romania into the Axis alliance.

26 November

Final Solution, Poland

The Nazis begin creating a ghetto in Warsaw for the Jews, who will eventually be kept there in intolerable conditions.

30 November

Politics, Japan

Japan officially recognizes the puppet government of President Wang Ching-wei in China.