World War II and the Fall of France

Southern Dominions

Australasia 1940.071

World War II and the Fall of France

From the Federation of Australia and World War I in the South Pacific to the outbreak of World War II (10 July 1940)

Historical Map of Australia, New Zealand & the Southwest Pacific

In September 1939 a resurgent Germany invaded Poland, triggering war with Britain and France. Australia and New Zealand immediately joined in support of Britain. However this Second World War was to prove to be even more daunting than the first, with Germany conquering France and most of Western Europe in the first ten months.

Main Events

Japanese invasion of China

On the night of July 7, Chinese and Japanese troops exchange fire in the vicinity of the Marco Polo bridge, an important access route to Beiping (Beijing). The confused skirmish escalates into a full-scale battle in which Beiping and Tianjin fall to Japanese forces, and marks the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Canton and Enderbury Islands Condominium

The United States of America and the United Kingdom agree to administer Canton and Enderbury Islands, in the disputed but uninhabited Phoenix Islands, as an Anglo-American condominium for fifty years. The remaining Phoenix Islands, although still claimed by the US under the Guano Islands Act, are either abandoned or remain under British control.

Australian and New Zealand entry into World War II

Upon receiving word of the British declaration of war on Germany, Prime Minister Robert Menzies of the Commonwealth of Australia also declares war. Prime Minister Joseph Savage of the Dominion of New Zealand follows suit a few hours later, having consulted his Cabinet.

Australian and NZ troop departure

The First Echelon of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force leaves New Zealand for Egypt, via Australia where it links up with a group from the Second Australian Imperial Force. The parties arrive in Egypt on 7 January 1940.

Battle of the River Plate

Three Royal Navy cruisers - the British HMS Exeter and HMS Ajax, and the New Zealand HMS Achilles - find and engage the German merchant raider and pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee off the River Plate near the coast of Uruguay. The ensuing battle sees all four ships damaged, and forces the Graf Spee to seek refuge in Montevideo, capital of neutral Uruguay. Considering himself trapped and told he could only stay in Montevideo for 72 hours, the Graf Spee's captain Hans Langsdorff scuttles his ship.

Second Armistice at Compiègne

Adolf Hitler and top military officials of Nazi Germany sign an armistice with representatives of the French Third Republic at 18:36 near Compiègne, France - the exact location of the 1918 armistice ending World War I. This new armistice ends French involvement in World War II on the side of the Allies and establishes a German zone of occupation in northern and western France, leaving the remainder ("Vichy France") to be governed by the French.

About this map