23 May 1940
  • The German 6th Army crossed the Scheldt River in Belgium. In France, British General Lord Gort withdrew his troops from Arras despite being able to halt Rommel's momentum. Elsewhere, German 2nd Panzer Division attacked Boulogne while the German 1st Panzer Division's forward elements reached Calais. ww2dbase [Invasion of France and the Low Countries | CPC]
  • Submarine Marlin was laid down at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery in Maine, United States. ww2dbase [Marlin | CPC]
  • Latvian steam cargo ship Sigurd Faulbaums, now under Belgian control, was being towed by Belgian tugs Baron de Maere and Graaf Visart when she was hit by two torpedoes from German submarine U-9 15 miles northeast of Zeebrugge, Belgium at 1254 hours. The ship broke in half, with the aft portion sinking quickly. Survivors on the fore portion were rescued by Graaf Visart. ww2dbase [Start of the Battle of the Atlantic | CPC, HM]
  • French Bourrasque-class destroyer Orage, commanded by Lieutenant Commander R. V. M. Viennot de Vanblanc, was sunk on off Boulogne, France by German aircraft. ww2dbase [Start of the Battle of the Atlantic | HM]
United Kingdom
  • Arrests began for British fascists across the United Kingdom as well as known IRA operatives in Northern Ireland. ww2dbase [TH]
  • Oswald Mosley and 747 other British Union members were arrested (including ninety-six women including Lady Diana) and interned without charge. ww2dbase [Oswald Mosley | AC]
Photo(s) dated 23 May 1940
British prisoners of war in Calais, France, May 1940; note Panzer I light tank in foreground

23 May 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
"All right, they're on our left, they're on our right, they're in front of us, they're behind us... they can't get away this time."

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