On March 11-13, 1938, Germany absorbs Austria as part of the Anschluss.
On September 29, 1938, France, Germany, Great Britain and Italy sign the Munich Agreement. Part of the agreement forces Czechoslovakia to cede the Sudetenland to Germany.
On March 31, 1939, France and Great Britain sign an agreement to guarantee Poland’s border.
On September 1, 1939, Germany invades Poland which, per most historians, was the official start of World War II.
On September 2, 1939, France and Great Britain issue an ultimatum calling Germany to instantly withdraw from Poland.
On September 3, 1939, France and Great Britain declare war on Germany after Germany refuses to withdraw their troops from Poland.
On September 7th, 1939, French and German forces begin fighting near Saarbrucken, Germany along the border with France.
On September 10th, 1939, British forces begin arriving in France.
On September 13, 1939, Edouard Daladier, Premier of France begins establishing war cabinet in preparation for war with Germany.
On September 17, 1939, Soviet Union forces invade eastern border of Poland, joining Germany in quest to conquer Poland.
On September 27-19, 1939, The Polish government surrenders and escapes in exile to Romania. Germany and the Soviet Union divide Poland between therm.
On November 30, 1939, Soviet forces invade Finland.
On December 2, 1939, Finland asks League of Nations for help due to the Soviet invasion.
On February 5, 1940, Finland and Norway receives military aide from the Allied Supreme War Council. The move is made to help prevent Sweden, with all of their valuable resources, from falling into the hands of Germany.
On April 9, 1940, Germany begins invasions of Denmark and Norway. Denmark surrenders instantly.
On May 10, 1940, Germany begins invasion of France, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg. Luxembourg surrenders same day of invasion.
On May 14, 1940, the Netherlands surrenders to Germany.
On May 28, 1940, Belgium surrenders to Germany.
On June 9, 1940, Norway surrenders to Germany.
On June 21, 1940, Italy invades southern France.
On June 22, 1940, France signs an armistice with Germany, surrendering the northern half of the county to Germany. France is divided into three regions: the ‘forbidden or Occupied Zone’ in the northeast part; the Occupied zone in northwest along the Atlantic coast and the Unoccupied Zone in the south. The Unoccupied Zone in Southern France establishes Vichy as the new capital and sets up the Vichy government. French General Philippe Pétain, also known as Marshall Pétain, became the Premier or Chief of State of the new Vichy government, which remained loyal to the Allied forces.
Part of the Franco-German Armistice forbid France, including the new Vichy government, from moving their naval forces away from their harbors, nor were they allowed to be turned over to any Allied nation. FranÃ§ois Darlan, Admiral of the French Fleet swore to Britain’s Winston Churchill that not one French ship would fall into the hands of the Germans. He would sink his own fleet first.
On July 3, 1940, British naval forces surrounded most of the French fleet at Mers-el-Kebir right outside Oran, Algeria. The French fleet was ordered to sail to Great Britain or the USA or be scuttled. The French fleet was given 6 hours to make their decision. Eventually, the French provided copies of an order from Admiral Darlan instructing them to sail their ships to the USA IF Germany broke their terms of the armistice and demanded to take possession of the ships. In the meantime, the British government had intercepted a message from the new Vichy government that ordered French reinforcements to move as fast as possible to Oran. Figuring the French had no intention of sailing their fleet to the USA or scuttling their own ships, so Churchill ordered the British naval forces to take care of the matter themselves by sundown or they would be facing the French fleet and reinforcements. Acting upon orders, the British navy opened fire on the French fleet, sinking three battleships, damaging one other battleship and five destroyers. In the process, 1,297 French military personnel were killed. The incident placed a strain on the relationship between Vichy France and Great Britain that remained for the rest of the war.
On July 10, 1940, Germany launched an air war over Great Britain.
On October 31, 1940, German air war over Great Britain ends.
On this day, November 27, 1942, French Admiral Jean de Laborde scuttles the French fleet harbored at Toulon, on the southern coast of France. His actions were prompted by the Germans violating the armistice and moving into Vichy. de Laborde got word of Germany’s Operation Lila, which called for the commandeering of the entire French fleet. To stop the Germans from getting their hands on the fleet, the French elected to scuttle their ships at the harbor and some just off shore. In all, the French sunk 3 battleships, 4 cruisers, 15 destroyers, 13 torpedo boats, 6 sloops, 12 submarines, 9 patrol boats, 19 auxiliary ships, 1 school ship, 28 tugs and 4 floating cranes. Those ships not sunk were so severely damaged that it made them unusable and unsalvageable. In the process of scuttling their own ships, 12 French military were killed and 29 others were wounded. Five submarines managed to escape. Three reached Allied forces at Algiers, one made it to Spain and one was forced to scuttle at the mouth of the harbor. The Germans did manage to commandeer 3 destroyers, 39 small ships and 4 submarines.
Ironically, after World War II ended, Admiral de Laborde was arrested, tried and convicted of treason for not trying to save the French fleet. He was sentenced to death, but that sentence was commuted to life in prison. In 1947, de Laborde was granted clemency.
Sources for the above includes: Timeline of France in World War 2; Second World War in France; World War II: Timeline; Vichy France; Vichy France, Collaboration and Resistance by Chris Millington; Churchill’s Sinking of the French Fleet (July 3, 1940); French Scuttle Their Fleet; The French Navy scuttle their Fleet at Toulon; World War II: Operation Lila & the Scuttling of the French Fleet; Scuttling of the French Fleet; Heroic End Of French Fleet (1942)