31 Aug 1940
  • Battleship Bismarck fired 46 3.7cm shells against raiding British aircraft without any hits. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • By the end of Aug 1940, a little over 51,000 British citizens had registered as conscientous objectors. ww2dbase [TH]
  • Five British destroyers, ordered to intercept German ships, sailed into a new German airfield. HMS Express hit a mine and received serious damage; 56 were killed. HMS Esk moved closer to HMS Express to assist, but also ran into a mine, caused her sinking; 135 were killed and 25 survivors were captured on the beach. HMS Ivanhoe, also trying to help HMS Express, hit a mine and was damaged, killing 8 and wounding 3; she would be scuttled on the next day, and 23 of her survivors would be taken prisoner. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • 8,000 British and French troops departed from Britain for Freetown, Sierra Leone, escorted by British cruisers HMS Devonshire and HMS Fiji and five destroyers. Their destination would ultimately be Dakar in French West Africa, which was still under Vichy control. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Werner Mölders claimed two victories against British Hurricane fighters. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • US President Roosevelt called 60,000 men of the National Guard into federal service with the US Army. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Chen Cheng was relieved from his position as the head of the political bureau of the Nationalist military. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • Conrad Helfrich was promoted to the rank of vice admiral. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Atlantic Ocean
  • Allied convoy OB-205 was attacked by German submarines 100 miles north of Ireland; at 0000 hours, German submarine U-60 hit Dutch passenger ship Volendam, carrying 273 crew and 606 British passengers (many were children) for Canada, killing 1 though the death occurred during the evacuation rather than during the attack; at 0206 hours, German submarine U-59 sank British ship Bibury, killing the entire crew of 38 and 1 gunner; at 0615 hours, German submarine U-38 sank British ship Har Zion; 33 were killed and 1 survived (rescued by Polish destroyer Blyskawica on the next day). To the west, 100 miles northwest of Ireland, German submarine U-46 sank Belgian passenger ship Ville de Hasselt; the entire crew of 53 survived on 4 lifeboats. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • RAF bombers attacked targets in Berlin, Cologne, Hanover, and Emden, Germany. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • The Ca.331 OA prototype aircraft took its first flight at Ponte San Pietro, Italy with test pilot Ettore Wengi at the helm. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
Mediterranean Sea
  • While escorting the Operation Hats convoy toward Malta, Garland was lightly damaged by Italian aircraft in the Mediterranean Sea. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
United Kingdom
  • Overnight, the British complete enough repairs to bring RAF Biggin Hill back to operational status. At 0800 hours, radar installations in Kent in southern England, United Kingdom picked up German formations; it was soon discovered to be all fighters, thus fighters already dispatched to intercept were called back, and only 3 fighters (all Canadian) were lost. Before noon, the real German raids arrived. 200 bombers attacked Essex; No. 56 Squadron RAF shot down 1 bomber but lost 4 fighters to German escort fighters from III./ZG26 and III./JG26. Debden, North Weald, Eastchurch, Dietling (strafed by fighters), Croydon (bombed by Bf 109 fighter-bombers of Erprobungsgruppe 210), and Hornchurch were all attacked in the morning. In the afternoon, Hornchurch was attacked again, destroying 2 Spitfire fighters on the ground but at the cost of 5 Bf 109 fighters. At 1800 hours, Biggin Hill was bombed from low level, destroying 2 of the 3 remaining hangars, cutting telephone lines, and destroying the operations room. On this day, the RAF lost 41 fighters and 9 pilots, while the Luftwaffe lost 56 fighters and 29 bombers. After sundown, Liverpool was bombed for the fourth consecutive night; other cities received bombs, too. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
  • James Lacey shot down a German Bf 109 fighter over Britain. ww2dbase [Main Article | CPC]
United States
  • The Hollywood actors Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh married on a ranch in California, United States with only four wedding guests. The glamorous couple, who both divorced previous partners after a scandalous four year affair, had amassed six Oscar awards, five Emmy awards and three BAFTA awards between them. They would stay together for 20 years. ww2dbase [AC]

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

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Famous WW2 Quote
"The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next 500 years."

James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945