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15 May 1940
  • The Netherlands surrendered to Germany at 1015 hours; Dutch General Winkelman signed the surrender document. The Battle of Gembloux in Belgium ended with the Germans losing about 250 tanks, which was the equivalent of an entire armored division; the weakened French forces, however, were unable to hold the line despite their effective 75mm artillery and 25mm anti-tank guns; they fell back toward the Belgian-French border. ww2dbase [Invasion of France and the Low Countries | TH]
  • The British War Cabinet decided to attack the German oil industry, communications centers, and forests and crops; attacks on industrial areas were to focus on the Ruhr region. Also, due to the costly daylight bombings, attacks were to be launched at nights. On the same day these directives were issued, the RAF began attacking industrial targets in the Ruhr, with 99 bombers flying the first mission. The decision to begin bombing civilian property outside of combat zones was the direct result of the German bombing of Rotterdam on the previous day. ww2dbase [Bombing of Hamburg, Dresden, and Other Cities | TH]
  • British butter ration was reduced from 8 ounces to 4 ounces per person per week. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Winston Churchill sent a message to Franklin Roosevelt, asking for 40 to 50 destroyers, hundreds of fighters, anti-aircraft guns, steel, among other war-related materials. He also asked the US President to order a visit by US Navy warships to Ireland as a show of force. In regards to the situation in the Pacific Ocean, he requests Roosevelt to intimidate the Japanese, offering the Americans the use of Singapore if deemed necessary. ww2dbase [Winston Churchill | CPC]
  • The Communist Party of the Netherlands held a meeting to organize underground resistance during German occupation. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • US Minister in Uruguay Edwin C. Wilson reported to US Secretary of State Cordell Hull that there had been an increase in German activities in Uruguay. Although Uruguayan police had been moving against the Germans to a certain degree, the general indifference by the government was beginning to worry him. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Paul von Kleist was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross medal. ww2dbase [Paul von Kleist | CPC]
  • At 0730 hours, French Prime Minister Reynaud called his British counterpart Churchill on the telephone, saying "[w]e are beaten. We have lost the battle." Later on the same day in Paris, France, a reported German breakthrough at Sedan caused panic, with fleeing civilians jamming roads and blocking military traffic south and west of the city. ww2dbase [Paris | TH]
  • Luigi Torelli was completed and commissioned into service with Capitano di Fregata Aldo Cocchia in command. ww2dbase [Luigi Torelli | CPC]
United Kingdom
  • In London, England, United Kingdom, at a British cabinet meeting attended by Winston Churchill, Archibald Sinclair, Lord Beaverbrook, and Cyril Newall, Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding argued the case for expanding the strength of RAF Fighter Command to 52 squadrons for the immediate air defence of Britain. Despite his insistence that no more squadrons should be sent to France orders were still given to send four more squadrons to France. ww2dbase [Hugh Dowding | London, England | AC]
  • HMS Acasta completed escorting the badly damaged light cruiser HMS Penelope to the Clyde in Scotland, United Kingdom. ww2dbase [Acasta | Clyde, Scotland | CPC]
United States
  • The fast food chain McDonalds opened its first restaurant at San Bernardino, California, United States. ww2dbase [San Bernardino, California | AC]
US Pacific Islands
  • A 12-foot clamshell dredge arrived at Johnston Atoll to dredge the lagoon to widen and deepen the entrance channel. ww2dbase [Johnston | CPC]
Photo(s) dated 15 May 1940
German General Heinz Guderian (in SdKfz. 251/3 halftrack vehicle) speaking with General Adolf Kuntzen of 8th Panzer Division, France, May 1940German General Heinz Guderian in a SdKfz. 251/3 halftrack vehicle, France, May 1940, photo 1 of 6; note early 3-rotor Enigma machineGerman General Heinz Guderian in a SdKfz. 251/3 halftrack vehicle, France, May 1940, photo 2 of 6; note early 3-rotor Enigma machineGerman General Heinz Guderian in a SdKfz. 251/3 halftrack vehicle, France, May 1940, photo 3 of 6; note early 3-rotor Enigma machine
See all photos dated 15 May 1940

15 May 1940 Interactive Map

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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Winston Churchill

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