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World War II Database

20 Aug 1940
  • German armed merchant cruiser Orion spotted British ship Turakina 350 miles east of New Plymouth, New Zealand, finally sinking her with gunfire and one torpedo after a prolonged chase; 38 crew members were killed. Despite knowing the New Zealand Navy might already be on the way, Orion's commanding officer nevertheless decided to remain in the area for 5 hours to rescue 21 of Turakina's survivors. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Hermann Göring sent peace proposals to Britain via Dutch and Turkish foreign ministries, but the proposals were ignored by the British. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Joseph Stalin's political enemy Leon Trotsky was attacked in his home in Mexico with an ice axe by undercover NKVD agent Ramón Mercader. Trotsky would die on the next day. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Theodor Osterkamp, the commanding officer of Jagdgeschwader 51, was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz). Forty-eight year old Osterkamp was one of only a handful of aviators to see combat in both World Wars. During the Great War he had been awarded both the Knight's Cross of the Royal Hohenzollern House Order with Swords and the Pour le Mérite, and finished the war with thirty kills to his name. In 1940 he added six more victories before his superiors insisted that his further career should be chairbound. ww2dbase [Main Article | AC]
Atlantic Ocean
  • British submarine HMS Cachalot torpedoed and sank German submarine U-51 in the Bay of Biscay 100 miles west of St. Nazaire, France, killing the entire crew of 43. ww2dbase [Main Article | Event | CPC]
China
  • Chinese communist forces launched the Hundred Regiments Offensive in Hebei and Shanxi Provinces in China. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Germany
  • Luftwaffe leadership ordered that no more Ju 87 Stuka aircraft were to be sent into action over Britain, after suffering unsustainable loss rates; almost 60 were shot down in the past 11 days. ww2dbase [Main Article | TH]
United Kingdom
  • At 1445 hours, 190 German aircraft flew over the Thames Estuary in search of British shipping, but failed to find any; British fighters arrived and shot down five German aircraft. Meanwhile, RAF Manston in northeastern Kent, England, United Kingdom was attacked; 1 Spitfire fighter was shot down while attempting to defend the airfield. In total, 7 Luftwaffe aircraft and 3 RAF aircraft were lost today. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • British Prime Minister Winston Churchill made the "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few" speech in the House of Commons in London, England, United Kingdom. ww2dbase [Main Article | Event | CPC]

20 Aug 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
"I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God, our forces stand again on Philippine soil."

General Douglas MacArthur at Leyte, 17 Oct 1944