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20 May 1941
  • German invasion of Crete, Greece began with an airborne assault at 0800 hours, capturing Maleme airfield on the northern coast. At 1615 hours and 1730 hours, the second airborne assault was conducted at Rethimnon and Heraklion, respectively; 1,856 German airborne troopers were killed during the second attack wave. At Suda Bay, Crete, German bombers sank British minesweeper HMS Widnes. After sundown, destroyers HMS Jervis, HMAS Nizam, and HMS Ilex bombarded the German-controlled airfield on the Greek island of Karpathos. ww2dbase [Balkans Campaign | TH]
  • Prime Minister Churchill noted that he was not prepared to make a statement on the arrival of Rudolf HeƟ in Britain. ww2dbase [Rudolf HeƟ | CPC]
  • Swedish cruiser Gotland detected German battleship Bismarck in the Kattegat at 1300 hours. ww2dbase [Bismarck | CPC]
  • Swedish cruiser Gotland detected German heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen in the Kattegat at 1300 hours. ww2dbase [Prinz Eugen | CPC]
  • Thomas Adlerson of British Air Raid Precautions was presented the George Cross award by King George VI. ww2dbase [George VI | CPC]
  • Swedish seaplane-cruiser Gotland spotted German warships Bismark and Prinz Eugen in the Kattegat between Denmark and Sweden. This information was passed on to the British naval attachĆ© in Stockhlom, Sweden Henry Denham, who in turn passed it to the British Admiralty. ww2dbase [Battle of Denmark Strait | CPC]
  • German submarines U-94, U-98, U-109, and U-556 attacked Allied convoy HX-126 250 miles southeast of Cape Farewell, Greenland, sinking 7 ships. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • German submarine U-138 sank British ship Javanese Prince 155 miles northwest of Outer Hebrides, Scotland, United Kingdom. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Italian submarine Otaria sank British ship Starcross 430 miles west of Ireland; the entire crew survived. ww2dbase [Otaria | CPC]
  • Polish Lieutenant J. Just, a prisoner of war of Oflag IV-C at Colditz Castle in Germany, escaped from the hospital at Villingen, Germany but was captured near Basel on the Swiss-German border. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Viceroy of Italian East Africa Prince Amedeo, the Duke of Aosta, surrendered himself into British captivity. ww2dbase [Invasion of Italian East Africa | CPC]
France Greece
  • Hellmuth Felmy was made the commanding officer of Sonderstab F, the cover for the secret German mission in Iraq. ww2dbase [Hellmuth Felmy | CPC]
  • USS New Mexico departed Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. ww2dbase [New Mexico | Honolulu, Oahu | CPC]
Photo(s) dated 20 May 1941
A Ju 52 aircraft flying low over Crete, Greece, 20 May 1941German paratroops jumping from Ju 52 transports over Crete, Greece, 20 May 1941German paratroopers landing in Crete, Greece, 20 May 1941OS2U-2 Kingfisher of Scouting Squadron 2 on the seaplane ramp at NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island, United States, Mar 20 1941. Photo 1 of 2
See all photos dated 20 May 1941

20 May 1941 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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Famous WW2 Quote
"We no longer demand anything, we want war."

Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister, Aug 1939

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