June 1940

Jun

14

1940

The Germans enter Paris

This famous photograph from the United States National Archives is dated 14th June 1940 and often used to illustrate the fall of Paris - he is apparently watching the German troops march in.

It is argued that the woman next to the man is clapping, which would be consistent with support for those that the crowd is viewing, rather than welcoming the invaders. Others attribute it to when French troops left Marseille in 1941. Others maintain the film was taken on 14th June in Paris.
Remarkably, given the huge publicity that the image has received, no-one appears to have identified the man or those around him.

Jun

13

1940

New fronts opened as Italy joins the War

German propaganda in France sought to blame the British for the war.

Extracts from the Naval, Military and Air Resume for the week up to 13th June 1940 as reported to the War Cabinet: NAYAL SITUATION. General Review. ITALY entered the war against us at midnight 10th-11th June. The evacuation of Narvik has been completed and the bulk of the forces have now reached the United Kingdom. […]

Jun

12

1940

51st Division surrender at St Valery-en-Caux

Rommel and Fortune at St. Valery

As St Valery was a picking up point for the wounded, a lifeboat was stationed there. This was brought into action to ferry the wounded out of the harbour in spite of the fact that no hospital ship was stationed outside the harbour. A brisk fire fight was now taking place across the harbour and a German machine gunner made the lifeboat his target. A row of bullet holes appeared on the side of the boat and it drifted away – the rowers, being wounded, were no longer able to manoeuvre the boat.

Jun

11

1940

The Desert War begins

British troops camped in the Egyptian desert in 1940

General Sir Archibald Wavell, Commander-in-Chief, Middle East Command, led 82,775 men from the United Kingdom, India, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and Britain’s African colonies. They faced 415,000 Italian troops stationed in Libya and East Africa. Nevertheless, it was British forces that took the initiative on the night of 11-12 June 1940, when units of the newly arrived 7th Armoured Division crossed the Libyan border and took the first Italian prisoners.

Jun

10

1940

Italy declares war on Britain and France

Hitler and Mussolini at an earlier joint parade

he Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini had bided his time since meeting Hitler at the Brenner Pass in April. He was determined to enter the war only if assured of being on the side of the victorious. The collapse of France now seemed imminent and many people believed that Britain would follow soon afterwards. Mussolini wanted the spoils of war without too much risk.

Jun

9

1940

German forces reach the lower Seine

Erwin Rommel commanded 7th Panzer Division during the invasion of France. They were frequently far in advance of the rest of the German Army and earnt the nickname the "Ghost Division" because their exact location was often unknown.

The French Army put up a fierce resistance along the Seine and had some notable successes against the invading forces. Ultimately they had no answer to the German Blitzkrieg tactics which saw deep penetrating manoeuvres by the Panzers, which outflanked their defensive positions. Rommel was to lead his Division in a hundred kilometre drive forward in just two days.

Jun

8

1940

HM Ships Glorious, Acasta and Ardent sunk

world war 2 aircraft carrier at sea - hms glorious

The escorting destroyer [HMS Ardent] on the port side of the battleships continued her torpedo attacks and tried, extremely skilfully, to avoid the effective defensive fire of the battleships’ medium armament by means of constant alterations of course. Finally this destroyer also opened fire on the battleships. She fought with outstanding resolution in a situation that was hopeless for her. The destroyer received numerous hits and finally went down, her bow armament firing to the last and her engines apparently in order and driving her at high speed. The final range was about 5 miles.

Jun

7

1940

46 Squadron successful in skies over Narvik

RAF Hawker Hurricane aircraft from 1940, as flown by No. 46 Squadron in Norway

‘I fired a 4 second burst and there was a burst of black smoke and the undercarriage dropped. Heavy return fire was coming from all four rear upper gun positions and it appeared that the top gunners had twin guns. I had now closed to about 80 yards and broke away downwards to port. As I did so I noticed that my oil pressure had dropped tp zero. I turned towards the aerodrome, gradually losing height and landed.’

Jun

6

1940

The British count the cost of Dunkirk

Aerial view of beach at Dunkirk

Ships engaged in the operation were heavily attacked by German bombers during daylight hours, – and at night M.T.Bs. (apparently based on Ymuiden and Helder) were used to harass them. In addition, the work was increasingly hampered by shell fire from batteries erected to the westward of Dunkirk. Patrols by corvettes, trawlers and Fleet Air Arm aircraft were carried out throughout the period of the evacuation to protect the ships engaged in the operation.

Jun

5

1940

Refugees flee the German advance

Across France refugees started to clog the roads in fear of the German advance.

Many did not have a clear idea where they were going. Many people left in a panic, throwing a few possessions on a cart. Along the route food became scarce as the mass exodus gathered pace. Towns in the path of the refugees became overwhelmed, accommodation ran out and people were forced to sleep rough.