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20 Jun 1940
  • Although the French had already reached out to Rome for peace, the Italians were determined to capture French territory in order to bargain for colonial holdings in North Africa; 32 divisions organized in 2 armies stood ready on the Italian-French border. Meanwhile, German troops captured Brest and Lyons. 9,000 Polish soldiers fighting in France were evacuated from Bayonne aboard the Polish ships Batory and Sobieksi. Also on this date, British RAF bombers attacked the German-controlled airfield at Rouen, France. ww2dbase [Invasion of France and the Low Countries | TH]
  • The British Parliament met in a secret joint session to discuss the defense against a potential German invasion. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Five weeks after the German conquest of the Netherlands, Dutch civilians began to be conscripted as forced laborers. During the war, 431,500 Dutch civilians would meet this fate. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • German battlecruiser Gneisenau and heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper departed Trondheim, Norway for operations near Iceland as a diversion for battleship Scharnhorst's cruise to Kiel, Germany for repairs. British submarine HMS Clyde detected Gneisenau and hit her with a torpedo 80 miles northwest of Trondheim and forced her to return for repairs. ww2dbase [Gneisenau | CPC]
  • German battlecruiser Gneisenau and heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper departed Trondheim, Norway for operations near Iceland as a diversion for battleship Scharnhorst's cruise to Kiel, Germany for repairs. ww2dbase [Admiral Hipper | CPC]
  • Bureau of Ships was established in the United States with Rear Admiral Samuel M. Robinson as its chief; this new bureau replaced the former Bureau of Construction and Repair and the former Bureau of Engineering. Also, Office of Undersecretary of the Navy was created in the United States for duration of national emergency. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Destroyer USS O'Brien reached Buenos Aires, Argentina. ww2dbase [O'Brien | CPC]
  • Vichy France opened northern Indochina to Japanese military mission and supporting troops. ww2dbase [Indochina Campaign | CPC]
  • Light cruiser Voroshilov was commissioned into service. ww2dbase [Voroshilov | CPC]
  • French fighter pilot James Denis commandeered a F.222 bomber, took on 19 passengers, and flew from France to Britain, where the group would later join the Free French Air Force. ww2dbase [F.220 | CPC]
Atlantic Ocean
  • At 1730 hours, 7,493-ton Dutch motor tanker Moordrecht was hit in the engine room by a torpedo from German submarine U-48, commanded by Korvettenkapitän Hans Rudolf Rösing. Moordrecht exploded and sank by the stern within two minutes. The master and 24 crew members were lost. The ship had been in convoy HX-49 until 18 Jun 1940 when it was then ordered to proceed alone to her destination port. Four survivors eventually made it to a lifeboat. ww2dbase [Start of the Battle of the Atlantic | U-48 | CPC, HM]
  • At 0336 hours, German submarine U-38, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Liebe, missed the 1,776-ton unescorted Swedish and neutral steam merchant Tilia Gorthon with a G7a torpedo and then stopped the vessel by gunfire about 45 miles west of the Isles of Scilly in the southwestern tip of England, United Kingdom. At 0412 hours, the Tilia Gorthon was hit in the engine room by another G7e torpedo after the crew had abandoned ship in two lifeboats and sank. The survivors were picked up by the British sloop HMS Leith (U 36). The Tilia Gorthon had previously been on voyage from Bahia, Brazil to Gothenburg, Sweden but was stopped by a British warship and sent to Liverpool, England, United Kingdom and then to Nantes, France, however, near the Loire a new order sent her to Quiberon Bay, France and finally ordered the ship back to Liverpool. ww2dbase [U-38 | Start of the Battle of the Atlantic | HM]
  • At 1533 hours, German submarine U-51 (Kapitänleutnant Dietrich Knorr) attacked the 4,876-ton British merchant steamer Otterpool of convoy HG-34F, carrying 8,180 tons of iron ore; the attack missed the target. ww2dbase [Start of the Battle of the Atlantic | U-51 | HM]
  • German submarine U-30 (Kapitänleutnant Fritz-Julius Lemp) attacked Allied convoy HG-34F, but all torpedoes missed. At 2142 hours, a second attack by U-30 succeeded, hitting the 4,876-ton British merchant steamer Otterpool with one stern torpedo. Otterpool sank about 130 miles west of the French island of Ushant. The master, 21 crew members and one gunner were lost. 16 crew members were picked up by British sloop HMS Scarborough (L 25) and landed at Liverpool, England, United Kingdom. ww2dbase [Start of the Battle of the Atlantic | U-30 | HM]
  • At 1315 hours, German submarine U-61 (Oberleutnant zur See JĂĽrgen Oesten) observed how the unescorted and zigzagging 5,911-ton steam merchant Empire Conveyor was hit on the port side forward by a torpedo about 50 miles south of Barra Head, Hebrides, Scotland, United Kingdom. The attacker must have been German submarine U-122 (Korvettenkapitän Hans-GĂĽnther Looff), which was lost shortly afterwards but reported sinking a large freighter in a radio message at 0030 hours on 21 Jun 1940. The Empire Conveyor did not sink immediately, but because the aerials had been damaged the radio operator was unable to call for help. Luckily a flying boat on patrol in the area arrived, dropped bombs to keep the submarine submerged and alerted the British Admiralty. The tug HMS Amsterdam was sent out, escorted by the rescue tug HMS Atherstone (L 05) and the destroyer HMS Campbell (D 60), but at 1600 hours she suddenly sank before the ships arrived. The crew had abandoned ship in three lifeboats and several rafts, but one boat swamped during launch. The master, the second engineer and the cook were lost. 38 crew members were picked up by HMS Campbell (D 60) after six hours. ww2dbase [Start of the Battle of the Atlantic | U-122 | HM]
  • The 7,638-ton French tanker Brumarire was torpedoed and damaged by a single torpedo from German submarine U-25 (Korvettenkapitän Viktor SchĂĽtze) in the Atlantic Ocean at 0128 hours. ww2dbase [U-25 | Start of the Battle of the Atlantic | HM]
Belgium France
  • The 1,177-ton Dutch steamer Berenice departed Bordeaux, France at 1330 hours with 22 passengers on board, mostly Dutch and Belgians refugees, among them the poet H. Marsman and his wife and the Dutch painter T. Bottema. The ship sailed together with the Dutch steamer Orpheus, the coasters Nettie and Ary Scheffer and the tug Seine, but they got dispersed in the following night and only the Nettie was in visual range. ww2dbase [Bordeaux, Aquitaine | HM]
  • Robert von Greim was mentioned in the Wehrmachtbericht radio report. ww2dbase [Robert von Greim | CPC]
  • Light cruiser USS Phoenix departed Lahaina, Maui, US Territory of Hawaii for the Panama Canal Zone. ww2dbase [Phoenix | Lahaina, Maui | CPC]
Italy Libya
  • After sundown and into the next date, Lorraine bombarded Italian positions at Bardia, Libya. ww2dbase [Lorraine | Bardia | CPC]
Mediterranean Sea
  • The British submarine HMS Parthian sank Italian submarine Diamante off Tobruk, Libya. ww2dbase [HM]
  • Destroyer USS Herbert departed Lisbon, Portugal for French Morocco. ww2dbase [Lisbon | CPC]
  • Lavrentiy Beria sent Joseph Stalin a list containing names of 232 Soviet prisoners of war returned by Finland and recommended everyone on the list to be executed; in fact, 158 of them had already been killed. ww2dbase [Lavrentiy Beria | Moscow | CPC]
United Kingdom
  • The 9,552-ton Panamanian steam tanker James McGee hit a mine in the Bristol Channel off southwestern Britain, broke in two and sank. ww2dbase [Start of the Battle of the Atlantic | HM]
United States
  • American cruiser USS Vincennes and destroyers USS Truxton and USS Simpson arrived at New York, New York, United States with 200 tons of gold from the French reserves. ww2dbase [Vincennes | New York | CPC]
  • US President Franklin Roosevelt nominated two well-known Republicans with pronounced pro-Ally sympathies, Henry Stimson and Frank Knox, to be Secretaries for War and the Navy respectively. ww2dbase [Franklin Roosevelt | AC]
Uruguay Photo(s) dated 20 Jun 1940
The Gantry Crane over the Pearl Harbor drydocks under construction, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 20 Jun 1940.

20 Jun 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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Famous WW2 Quote
"With Germany arming at breakneck speed, England lost in a pacifist dream, France corrupt and torn by dissension, America remote and indifferent... do you not tremble for your children?"

Winston Churchill, 1935

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