31 May 1913

United States
  • Joseph Stilwell ended a period of leave in the United States. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
31 May 1915

United Kingdom
  • The first airship raid was made on London, England, United Kingdom by German Army Zeppelin LZ 38. Bombs fell on the East End of the capital, killing seven civilians and injuring at least fourteen more. ww2dbase [AC]
31 May 1918
  • Quintin Brand was awarded the Distinguished Service Order award. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • In Siberia, Russia, the Czech Legion captured Petropavlovsk and Tomsk. ww2dbase [AC]
31 May 1919
31 May 1920

  • Masafumi Arima enrolled in gunnery school in Japan. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
31 May 1922

United States
  • Joseph Rochefort was assigned to tanker Cuyama. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
31 May 1923
  • Rudolf Höss and a group of Nazi Party members killed suspected communist Walther Kadow in Mecklenburg, Germany to avenge the death of fellow party member Albert Leo Schlageter. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
31 May 1925

United States
  • Joseph Stilwell began a period of leave in the United States. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
31 May 1929

United States
  • Joseph Stilwell arrived at New York, New York, United States. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
31 May 1931
  • Cruiser Köln conducted training operation in the Baltic Sea. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
31 May 1932
31 May 1933
  • The Tanggu Truce was signed between China and Japan to end the undeclared war between China and Japan, with terms extremely favorable to Japan. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Uyghur guerilla fighters attacked Muslim Chinese troops at the oases of Aksu, Xinjiang, China; each side suffered several hundred casualties. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Saburo Sakai joined the Japanese Navy. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
31 May 1934

Photo(s) dated 31 May 1934
Indianapolis in New York Harbor with President Roosevelt onboard, 31 May 1934Coast Guard Cutter Mojave saluted President Franklin Roosevelt aboard cruiser Indianapolis, New York Harbor, 31 May 1934Aircraft flew over Indianapolis during fleet review off New York City, 31 May 1934Indianapolis hosted Franklin Roosevelt during the 31 May 1934 fleet review off New York City
See all photos dated 31 May 1934
31 May 1937
  • The Spanish Republicans began an offensive to capture Segovia, Spain. Three Republican Divisions, under the command of General Domingo Moriones, broke through the Spanish Nationalist front-line at San Ildefonso and captured La Granja. Nationalist troops, led by General José Varela, were detached from the Madrid front and used to mount a counter-attack which stopped any further Republican advance. ww2dbase [Main Article | AC]
31 May 1938

  • Luo Yingde, flying an I-16 fighter, claimed a Japanese A5M fighter over Lake Hou near Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. His victim might had been Petty Officer 3rd Class Yoshimi Minami, which was forced down by heavy damage during that battle. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Liu Zhesheng, flying an I-16 fighter, shared the credit for the downing of a Japanese A5M fighter over Hankou, Hubei Province, China. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Arthur Chin, flying a Gladiator fighter, shot down a Japanese E8N floatplane from seaplane carrier Kamikawa Maru north of Hukou, Jiangxi Province, China. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
United Kingdom
  • Garland entered drydocks at Sheerness, England, United Kingdom for a scheduled overhaul and repairs on her low-pressure turbines. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
31 May 1939
  • Vyacheslav Molotov gave his first speech as the Soviet foreign minister before the Supreme Council of the Soviet Union. He called for the Soviet Union to guarantee the borders of neighboring countries in Eastern Europe as means to contain German aggression, but at the same time, friendly relations should be maintained with Germany and Italy as commercial agreements with them were still of interest to the Soviet Union. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
31 May 1940
  • US Ambassador to Argentina Norman Armour and US Minister in Uruguay Edwin C. Wilson met in Montevideo, Uruguay regarding the deteriorating political situation in Uruguay. They jointly requested Secretary of State Cordell Hull to ask President Roosevelt to sent 40 to 50 warships to the eastern coast of South America as a show of force to prevent Uruguay from partnering with Germany. Later in the day, Hull would inform them that heavy cruiser USS Quincy was dispatched for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil per their suggestion, and she would visit Montevideo on the journey. State Department official Laurence Duggan would suggest Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles to publicize USS Quincy's South American tour. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • British sloop HMS Weston sank German submarine U-13 with depth charges 14 miles southeast of Lowestoft, England. The entire crew of 26 were taken prisoner. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • German submarine U-101 attacked Allied convoy HG-31F and sank British ship Orangemoor with 8,150 tons of iron on board west of Guernsey, killing 18. The convoy's escorts attacked U-101 with 41 depth charges over the course of 8 hours; the submarine survived the attack. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • No. 829 Squadron FAA took their newly issued Fairey Albacore aircraft into action for the first time with attacks on German E-boats off Zeebrugge, Belgium and road and rail targets at Westende, Belgium. ww2dbase [AC]
  • Poor weather clouded over Dunkerque, France, giving the British a chance to bring in modern destroyers into the area to assist the evacuation with less fear of German air attacks; 68,014 (45,072 from harbor and 22,942 from beaches) were rescued on this date, including British Expeditionary Force commanding general Lord Gort. French destroyer Leopart and British destroyers HMS Express, HMS Icarus, HMS Keith, and HMS Winchelsea were damaged by German aerial bombing. German torpedo boats damaged French destroyers Sirocco and Cyclone; Sirocco was finished off by German aircraft, killing 59 crew and 600 troops. ww2dbase [Main Article | TH]
  • UK Prime Minister Churchill traveled to Paris, France for a Supreme Allied War Council meeting. ww2dbase [Main Article | TH]
  • US-built DB-7 medium bombers of the French Air Force saw combat for the first time against German columns near Saint-Quentin in the Picardy Region of northeastern France. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Oliver Leese was evacuated from a beach near Dunkerque, France. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
US Pacific Islands
  • The US Marine Corps 14th Naval District dispatched Captain Samuel G. Taxis to survey Midway Atoll with a small reconnaissance party for the planning of building a US Marine Corps presence there. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Photo(s) dated 31 May 1940
Aerial view of the destruction at Rotterdam, circa late May 1940Troops of the Japanese 18th Infantry Regiment at the west bank of the Han River, Battle of Zaoyang-Yichang, China, 31 May 1940; note Type 11 light machine gunsOil tanks on fire in the port of Calais, France, set aflame by retreating Allied troops, at 1530 hours on 31 May 1940Sand dunes on the beaches near Calais, France, 31 May 1940; note grave of a soldier to the right
See all photos dated 31 May 1940
31 May 1941
  • At 0200 hours, Dublin, Ireland was accidentally bombed by German bombers intending to hit Liverpool, England, United Kingdom; 28 were killed and 87 were wounded, while about 25 homes were destroyed and about 300 homes were seriously damaged. Germany would later offer compensation. ww2dbase [TH]
  • British destroyers HMS Napier and HMS Nizam embarked 1,510 troops at Sphakia, Crete, Greece and departed before dawn for Egypt; they were attacked by Axis aircraft en route, causing minor damage. At 0600 hours, British cruiser HMS Phoebe, minelayer HMS Abdiel, and destroyers HMS Jackal, HMS Kimberley, and HMS Hotspur departed Alexandria, Egypt for Sphakia to evacuate more troops. On the same day, 54 senior level Allied officers, including General Freyberg, were evacuated from Crete by aircraft. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • The mayor of Baghdad, Iraq surrendered to British Ambassador Sir Kinahan Cornwallis at the Washash Bridge. As a sign of good faith, the British allowed the Iraqi Army to return to their barracks, and all captured equipment were returned. Both sides released captured prisoners of war with the exception of German and Italian troops captured by the British. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • German submarine U-69 sank British ship Sangara at Accra harbor, Gold Coast at 0025 hours. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • German submarine U-38 sank Norwegian ship Rinda off Liberia at 0024 hours; 13 were killed, 18 survived and were rescued by British anti-submarine trawler HMS Pict. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • German submarine U-106 sank British ship Clan MacDougall near Cape Verde Islands at 0334 hours; 2 were killed, 85 survived. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • German submarine U-107 sank British ship Sire off Sierra Leone, British West Africa at 0739 hours; 3 were killed, 46 survived and were rescued by British corvette HMS Marguerite. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • German submarine U-147 sank British ship Gravelines 100 miles northwest of Ireland; 11 were killed, 25 survived and were rescued by British sloop HMS Deptford. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • German submarine U-204 sank small Icelandic fishing boat Holmsteinn northwest of Iceland at 0515 hours, killing the entire crew of 4. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Before dawn, German bombers attacked Merseyside, England, United Kingdom in the early hours of the day. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • After successfully escaping the Oflag IV-C prisoner of war camp at Colditz Castle, Germany earlier in the month, British Lieutenant Anthony "Peter" Allan failed to secure assistance from the US Consulate at Vienna in occupied Austria. Giving up, he turned himself in at a local police station and was eventually returned to Colditz. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • A Soviet decree stated that children of traitors could be criminally charged after they reached the age of 15. ww2dbase [CPC]
US Virgin Islands
  • US 22nd and 23rd Fighter Squadrons, both operating P-40 Warhawk fighters, was assigned to St. Croix Airfield, US Virgin Islands. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Photo(s) dated 31 May 1941
Wounded British troops disembarking at an Egyptian port after being evacuated from Crete, Greece, 31 May 1941Map depicting the German assault on Crete, Greece, 20-31 May 1941
31 May 1942
  • Unyo was commissioned into service. ww2dbase [Main Article | Tabular Record of Movement | CPC]
  • USS Colorado patrolled 650 miles west of San Francisco, California, United States. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • USS Pollack damaged a small boat with her deck gun off Kyushu, Japan. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • British airfield RAF Bassingbourn's station log noted that from this date, when there were missions, "all personnel, officers, NCOs, and airmen to be served in the future in the airmen's mess." ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Lord Gort stepped down as the Governor of Gibraltar. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • British submarine HMS Proteus sank Italian merchant ship Gino Allegri 90 miles west of Benghazi, Libya. ww2dbase [CPC]
Atlantic Ocean
  • German submarine U-432 sank Canadian ship Liverpool Packet off Nova Scotia, Canada at 0140 hours; 2 were killed, 19 survived. At 0252 hours, U-506 sank British ship Fred W. Green with gunfire 200 miles southeast of Bermuda; 5 were killed, 36 survived. In the South Atlantic, Italian submarine Comandante Cappellini sank British Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker Dinsdale, hitting her with 4 of 6 torpedoes fired; 5 were killed. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Japanese submarines I-22, I-24, and I-27 launched three midget submarines 7 miles off of Sydney, Australia. At 2235 hours, one was caught in torpedo nets and was scuttled by her own crew of two (both were killed in the process). The two others continued into Sydney Harbor. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Black Sea
  • Soviet submarine ShCh-214 sank Turkish ship Mahbubdihan in the Black Sea; Mahbubdihan was suspected of carrying supplies for German troops. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • USS Finback departed Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii for the anticipated Japanese attack on Midway Atoll. ww2dbase [Main Article | Facility | CPC]
  • Joseph Rochefort's cryptanalytic team in Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii intercepted a radio message noting that carrier Zuikaku's air group was being transferred out of the carrier, which provided a strong hint that Zuikaku was not going to participate in the upcoming offensive. Later on the same day, Chester Nimitz informed his carrier task forces commanders that the Japanese attack would likely take place on 3 Jun 1942, and the Japanese would be operating four fleet carriers. ww2dbase [Main Article | Facility | CPC]
  • 50 trucks reached Bir Hakeim in Libya, bringing badly-needed fresh water and evacuating Indian troops and Italian prisoners of war. After sundown, Axis tanks attacked westward from within the Cauldron on the southern end of the Gazala Line, assaulting positions held by British 150th Brigade. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Hans-Joachim Marseille shot down the P-40 fighter piloted by Major Andre Duncan at 0726 hours near Fort Acroma, Libya. Two minutes later, he shot down his first victim's wingman. At 0734 hours, he scored his third kill of the day. His score stood at 68 by the end of this date. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Japanese submarine I-10 launched her floatplane for a reconnaissance mission over Diego-Suárez harbor, Madagascar to evaluate damage caused by the midget submarine attack that had taken place during the previous night. ww2dbase [Main Article | Event | CPC]
Pacific Ocean Poland
  • Monowitz labor camp, later to become Auschwitz III, opened on this date, housing forced laborers charged with building the Buna-Works for the German chemical firm I. G. Farben. ww2dbase [Main Article | Facility | CPC]
United Kingdom
  • German bombers attacked Canterbury, England, United Kingdom. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
United States
  • USS Maryland patrolled 650 miles west of San Francisco, California, United States. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Photo(s) dated 31 May 1942
Cruiser USS Chicago underway in Sydney Harbor, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, before the Japanese midget submarine attack that took place later that night, May 31, 1942US Navy sailors honoring fellow sailors killed during the Pearl Harbor attack, Naval Air Station Kaneohe, Oahu, US Territory of Hawaii, possibly 31 May 1942
31 May 1943
  • USS Tunny was attacked by a Japanese aircraft, incurring minor damage that was repaired at sea later in the day. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • US troops completed their occupation of Attu in the Aleutian Islands. ww2dbase [Main Article | TH]
  • Adolf Hitler expressed extreme dismay at the withdrawal of German submarines from the American coast. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Egmont Prinz zur Lippe-Weißenfeld was named the commanding officer of the 3rd Group of the Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 wing. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Lydia Litvyak shot down a German observation balloon. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Australian Papua
  • George Kenney arrived at Port Moresby, Australian Papua to temporarily relieve Ennis Whitehead, who was sent to Australia for treatment for a badly infected toe. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
British Western Pacific Territories
  • Japanese Army Major General Noboru Sasaki arrived at Kolombangara, New Georgia, Solomon Islands as the new commanding officer of the joint Army-Navy Southwest Detachment. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Japanese forward positions in the Hubei-Hunan border region in China fell back in multiple places as the result of a large scale Chinese counterattack launched on the previous day. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Zang Xilan, flying a P-40E fighter, shot down a Ki-44 aircraft that was pursuing the P-40E fighter flown by Lieutenant Colonel John R. Alison of 75th Fighter Squadron of USAAF 23rd Fighter Group. They were both escorting a group of B-24 bombers attacking Jingmen, Hubei Province, China. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Berthe Albrecht was executed by hanging at the Fresnes Prison in Fresnes, France. ww2dbase [Main Article | Event | Facility | CPC]
  • US 15th Air Force bombed Foggia airfield in Italy, destroying a number of German and Italian planes on the ground. ww2dbase [Main Article | TH]
Japan United States
  • USS S-35 completed post-repair trials off Bremerton, Washington, United States. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Photo(s) dated 31 May 1943
Inspecting North African bases, Winston Churchill attends a USAAF 414th Bombardment Squadron briefing at Chateau-dun-du-Rhumel Airfield, Tunsia, 31 May 1943. Alan Brooke, Chief of the Imperial Staff, is seated to Churchill’s right.Lieutenant General Joseph Stilwell and Lieutenant General Jacob Devers, 31 May 1943Light Carrier USS Princeton with a deck full of aircraft on her shakedown cruise, 31 May 1943 off Antigua. Photo 1 of 4Light Carrier USS Princeton with a deck full of aircraft on her shakedown cruise, 31 May 1943 off Antigua. Photo 2 of 4
See all photos dated 31 May 1943
31 May 1944
  • USS Pintado began tracking a Japanese convoy in the Philippine Sea. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Stalin approved the plan for Operation Bagration, aimed at the destruction of German Armeegruppe Mitte. ww2dbase [Main Article | TH]
  • A German counterattack near Iasi, Romania was repulsed. ww2dbase [Main Article | TH]
Photo(s) dated 31 May 1944
Rommel observing the Atlantic Wall near Ouistreham, Normandy, France, late May 1944
31 May 1945
  • USS Cassin Young arrived at Okinawa, Japan. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • USS Segundo sank a four-masted sail ship with two torpedoes. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • 12 M26 Pershing heavy tanks departed the United States board a cargo ship for Okinawa, Japan. They would arrive too late to see combat. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Chiang Kaishek stepped down as the Premier of the Republic of China. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Soviet SMERSH captured German intelligence officer Erwin Stolze in Berlin, Germany in civilian clothing. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • 117 B-24 bombers of US 15th Air Force attacked Taihoku (now Taipei), Taiwan between 1000 and 1300 hours nearly without stop, dropping about 3,800 bombs. US air crews reported minimal Japanese fighter defense. Taihoku General Government Building suffered a direct hit, rendering it unusable until after the war. The anti-aircraft position in present day Sanzhong District of New Taipei City, Taihoku General Government building, residence of the Assistant Governor-General, Taihoku Raiway Hotel, Army Headquarters building, Taihoku Imperial University, Taihoku Train Station, Bank of Taiwan, Taihoku High Court, Taihoku Park, Taihoku First Girls' High School, Longshan Temple (main building and left corridor were damaged, destroying many precious artifacts), Penglai Catholic Church (used by civilians as an air raid shelter; it was completely destroyed), Huashan Catholic Church, and many other military, government, and civilian structures were damaged or destroyed. About 3,000 were killed, tens of thousands were made homeless. This was the largest US raid on the city during WW2. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Photo(s) dated 31 May 1945
Lieutenant General Guy Simonds inspecting II Canadian Corps in Meppen, Germany, 31 May 1945American analysis of bombing damage upon Yokohama, Japan, 31 May 1945Japanese anti-aircraft position in Taihoku (now Sanzhong District, New Taipei City), Taiwan under B-24 attack, 31 May 1945Taihoku General Government Building (near bottom of photograph) under aerial attack, Taihoku (now Taipei), Taiwan, 31 May 1945
31 May 1946
  • Piranha was decommissioned from service. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Irwin was decommissioned from service. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Chen Cheng was relieved from his position as the head of the political bureau of the Nationalist military, and was named the Commander-in-Chief of the Chinese Navy and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Pacific Ocean
  • I-401 was scuttled by two torpedoes from submarine USS Cabezon off Oahu, US Territory of Hawaii; the torpedoes hit her at 1051 hours and she sank at 1058 hours. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • USS ABSD-1 was decommissioned from service at Leyte Gulf, Philippine Islands. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
United States
  • USS Menhaden was decommissioned from service at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Vallejo, California, United States. She was placed in the US Navy Pacific Reserve Fleet. ww2dbase [Main Article | Facility | CPC]
31 May 1948

  • He Yingqin was transferred from the Office of the President of the Republic of China to the Executive Yuan of the Republic of China. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
31 May 1950
  • Heinrich Hoffmann was released from imprisonment. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
31 May 1951
  • Joseph Rochefort was detached from the US Navy evaluation group on the Korean War and was ordered to travel to the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, United States to join a committee to study the Battle of Leyte Gulf. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
31 May 1955

Photo(s) dated 31 May 1955
Rear Admiral Burke touring nuclear submarine USS Nautilus, New London Submarine Base, Groton, Connecticut, United States, 31 May 1955
31 May 1957

  • Greek legislator Stefanos Sarafis was killed in Athens, Greece when, as a pedestrian, he was struck by an automobile driven by George Allen, a member of the US Air Force. Allen would later admit to being under the influence of alcohol and to driving too fast. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
31 May 2008

Photo(s) dated 31 May 2008
T-18 light tank on display at Khabarovsk, eastern Russia, 31 May 2008
31 May 2011
  • The Pacific Battleship Center submitted the final application to the US Navy to acquire battleship Iowa. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]

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

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Xu Yongchang signing the surrender document on behalf of China aboard USS Missouri, Tokyo Bay, Japan, 2 Sep 1945, photo 4 of 5

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

Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister, Aug 1939