31 Mar 1941
  • British Army Dental Corps Private Coe arrived in Switzerland after escaping from a German prisoner of war camp. He was the first to successfully do so. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Before dawn, 109 RAF bombers attacked German warships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau in Brest, France, scoring no hits. ww2dbase [Scharnhorst | CPC]
  • German 5th Light Division attacked British 2nd Armoured Division at Mersa Brega, Libya starting at 0745 hours, supported by dive bombers. After holding off the offensive for most of the day, German tanks broke through at 1730 hours, capturing the town by 1900 hours. As the sun slowly set, British commanders decided not to counterattack with their tanks, but instead withdraw 30 miles northeast toward Agedabia. The day's engagement cost the British 60 men killed, 8 armored carriers destroyed, and 1 anti-aircraft gun destroyed. ww2dbase [Siege of Tobruk | CPC]
  • German submarine U-46 sank Swedish tanker Castor 300 miles east of the southern tip of Greenland at 1033 hours, killing the entire crew of 15. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • British submarine HMS Rorqual sank Italian submarine Pier Capponi by torpedo 28 miles northwest of Messina, Sicily, Italy, killing the entire crew of 49. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Prince of Wales was commissioned into service. ww2dbase [Prince of Wales | CPC]
  • Leonardo da Vinci departed Bordeaux, France at 1010 hours and sailed northward down the Gironde estuary, reaching Le Verdon-sur-Mer, France at 1322 hours. ww2dbase [Leonardo da Vinci | Bordeaux, Aquitaine | CPC]
French Morocco
  • Four French merchant ships departed Africa for Europe, escorted by a French destroyer. British warships tried to intercept them in order to search them for possible war goods for Germany. The French ships left international waters and entered Moroccan waters, and the British followed, leading to the French coastal batteries firing on the British. The British returned fire against the batteries. The French merchant ships escaped the British pursuit and docked at Nemours (now Ghazaouet), Algeria. ww2dbase [Ghazaouet | CPC]
Hawaii Italian Eritrea
  • British and Indian troops broke through the roadblocks on the road between Keren and Asmara in Eritrea, Italian East Africa, capturing 560 Italian troops; continuing the push south, Indian 5th Infantry Division engaged Italian troops near Adi Tekelezan, which was less than 50 kilometers from Asmara and was the last town before Asmara. To the east, Italian destroyers Leone, Pantera, and Tigre departed Massawa, Eritrea to attack British port facilities at Port Sudan, British Sudan; Leone struck underwater rocks en route, and Pantera and Tigre were forced to sink Leone by gunfire, and the attack was called off with two surviving ships heading back to Massawa. ww2dbase [Invasion of Italian East Africa | CPC]
Mediterranean Sea
  • Italian submarine Ambra sank British cruiser HMS Bonaventure 125 miles south of Crete, Greece at 0244 hours. Bonaventure was escorting Allied convoy GA8 from Greece to Alexandria, Egypt at the time. 138 were killed, 310 survived. ww2dbase [Ambra | CPC]
  • US troops at Chaguramas, Trinidad held a ceremony. ww2dbase [Chaguramas | CPC]
United Kingdom
  • HMS Howe was completed. ww2dbase [Howe | CPC]
United States
  • The keel of submarine Haddock was laid down at Portsmouth Navy Yard, Kittery, Maine, United States. ww2dbase [Haddock | Kittery, Maine | CPC]

31 Mar 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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Lt. Gen. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, at Guadalcanal

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