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20 Mar 1941

Atlantic Ocean
  • German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were detected by aircraft of the British Coastal Command. ww2dbase [Scharnhorst | Gneisenau | Operation Berlin | CPC]
  • German submarine U-106 damaged Dutch ship Meerkerk of Allied convoy SL-68 and escorting battleship HMS Malaya 550 miles west of Nouakchott, Mauritania, French West Africa at 2323 hours. HMS Malaya received temporary repairs at Trinidad and then was sent to New York Naval Yard in the US for permanent repairs which would last for four months. ww2dbase [Malaya | CPC]
  • Tankers Bianca and San Casimiro, which had been captured by German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau five days prior, were spotted by British aircraft from carrier HMS Ark Royal. Battleship HMS Renown would advance in an attempt to recapture. The German prize crews scuttled both tankers before surrendering themselves along with the 46 prisoners of war aboard the two ships. ww2dbase [CPC]
British Somaliland Germany
  • Heinrich Himmler, Rudolf Heß, Fritz Todt, Reinhard Heydrich, and other top Nazi German official met in Berlin, Germany to discuss plans for resettling Eastern Europe with Germans. ww2dbase [Heinrich Himmler | Fritz Todt | Berlin | CPC]
  • Adolf Hitler appointed Alfred Rosenberg the Delegate for Central Planning for Questions of the Eastern European Area. ww2dbase [Alfred Rosenberg | CPC]
  • Erwin Rommel received Oak Leaves to his Knight's Cross. ww2dbase [Erwin Rommel | CPC]
  • Joseph Stalin was assured by this staff that Germany would not attack the Soviet Union until United Kingdom was defeated. Meanwhile, the United States shared the intelligence of a possible German invasion of the Soviet Union with Soviet Ambassador Konstantin Umansky. ww2dbase [Operation Barbarossa | CPC]
United Kingdom
  • King George and Queen Elizabeth visited Plymouth, England, United Kingdom where they took tea with Lady Nancy Astor, the first woman to take a seat in the commons. The local people took the Royal visit as a "gala day" with bands and dancing on the Hoe, but no sooner had the Royal party departed 125 German bombers appeared overhead causing great damage to the docks (sinking British tug HMS Sir Bevois (9 killed), tug HMS Elan, and transport Mari II) and city centre. ww2dbase [Battle of Britain | Plymouth, England | AC]
  • A flight of three Manchester bombers from RAF Waddington in England, United Kingdom set out to bomb German submarines at Lorient, France. Less than thirty minutes into the mission one aircraft developed an engine fire which forced its captain to order the crew to abandon the stricken aircraft. Four crewmen jumped but only two survived and two others were killed. The pilot (with one other crewman still aboard) then attempted to bring the aircraft home but in attempting to land struck a tree and crashed, killing both airmen. Aircraftsman Charles Leonard Wheatley, seeing that the fire threatened to explode the high-explosive bombs still aboard, bravely fought the fire, from only two yards away, and successfully prevented any further damage to the base. For this gallant action Wheatley would be awarded the George Medal from the King on 4 Nov 1941. ww2dbase [AC]
  • The 174-ton steam fishing trawler Bianca sank in the Irish Sea following an explosion after trawling up a mine or bomb whilst fishing approx 14 miles off Holyhead, Wales, United Kingdom. Five crewmen were lost, and four were rescued. ww2dbase [Holyhead, Wales | HM]
  • The 1,386-ton Polish cargo ship Cieszyn was attacked by five German aircraft whilst on her way from Falmouth, Cornwall, England, United Kingdom to the Clyde in Scotland, United Kingdom and sank in Coverack Cove on the southern edge of The Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall. All aboard made to lifeboats and survived. The lifeboats were machine gunned briefly by one of the Dornier aircraft, but some of the survivors believed that the German pilots were shooting to scare rather than to kill. The nearby lifeboat house on land was also strafed as the aircraft departed. ww2dbase [Helston, England | HM]
United States
  • Tatsuta Maru arrived at San Francisco, California, United States; among the disembarked passengers was Colonel Hideo Iwakuru, who was dispatched by Prime Minister Hideki Tojo to Washington DC to help the Japanese Embassy in reconciling relations with the United States. ww2dbase [Tatsuta Maru | San Francisco, California | CPC]
  • Rather than accepting dictated German terms, four Yugoslavian ministers resigned their posts. ww2dbase [TH]
Photo(s) dated 20 Mar 1941
Rudolf Heß, Heinrich Himmler, Philipp Bouhler, Fritz Todt, Reinhard Heydrich and Erich Ehrlinger meeting in Berlin, Germany to discuss plans to settle Eastern Europe, 20 Mar 1941Heinrich Himmler, Konrad Meyer, Fritz Todt, Rudolf Heß, and other German leaders during a planning session for the German resettling of Eastern Europe, Berlin, Germany, 20 Mar 1941Heinrich Himmler, Philipp Bouhler, Rudolf Heß, Kurt Daluege, Fritz Todt, and Konrad Meyer during a meeting on the German resettling of Eastern Europe, Berlin, Germany, 20 Mar 1941C8 prime mover with limber and 25-pdr field gun, Scotland, United Kingdom, 20 Mar 1941

Timeline Section Founder: Thomas Houlihan
Contributors: Alan Chanter, C. Peter Chen, Thomas Houlihan, Hugh Martyr, David Stubblebine
Special Thanks: Rory Curtis

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Famous WW2 Quote
"All that silly talk about the advance of science and such leaves me cold. Give me peace and a retarded science."

Thomas Dodd, late 1945

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