North America 1941: Lend-Lease
When the Second World War broke out in Europe, the United States' improved relations with its neighbors allowed it to push for a Pan-American Security Zone to protect American shipping, a policy which favored the Allies, who depended on open sea lanes. When Germany conquered France soon into the War, the still-neutral US moved to support Britain, but at a price: in return for 50 aging destroyers, the British agreed to lease the US bases from Guiana to Newfoundland. However, this Destroyers for Bases deal opened the way for the far more generous Lend-Lease policy, in which the US supplied the Allies with materiel for the duration of the War.
26 Jan 1935 Clipperton restored to France▲
After a 1931 arbitration by King Victor Emanuel of Italy ruled in French favor, Mexico restored Clipperton Island—uninhabited since the collapse of the Mexican colony in 1916—to France. The French arrived in 1935, rebuilding the lighthouse and establishing a military post on the island.
7 Jul 1937 Marco Polo Bridge Incident▲
On the night of 7 July 1937 Japanese forces based at Fengtai crossed into Chinese territory to conduct military exercises, but ended up exchanging fire with Chinese troops at Wanping. Further clashes occurred later that night and over the next day, most notably at Marco Polo Bridge on the outskirts of Beiping (Beijing). By the 11th these confused skirmishes had escalated into a full-scale battle in which Beiping and Tianjin fell to Japanese forces, making them the first shots of the Second Sino-Japanese War.
1 Sep 1939 Germany invasion of Poland▲
Using several German-staged incidents as casus belli, Nazi Germany struck Wieluń, Poland, with the Luftwaffe at 04:40 on 1 September 1939—the first blow of World War II. Five minutes later, the German battleship Schleswig-Holstein opened fire on a Polish military transit depot in the Free City of Danzig, with Germany launching an all out attack on Poland’s northern, western, and southern borders later that day.
3 Oct 1939 Declaration of Panama▲
The United States and the other neutral nations of North and South America signed the Declaration of Panama, setting up the Pan-American Security Zone. The signatories agreed not to tolerate belligerent acts within the zone, which extended from the US-Canada border to encompass the Americas to the south up to 1,000 nautical miles from the shore. The act mostly benefited the Allies as it restricted German U-boat activity in much of the western Atlantic.
22 Jun 1940 Second Armistice at Compiègne▲
Adolf Hitler and top military officials of Nazi Germany signed 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 ended French involvement in World War II on the side of the Allies and established a German zone of occupation in northern and western France, leaving the remainder (“Vichy France”) to be governed by the French.
2 Sep 1940 Destroyers for Bases Agreement▲
The United States and the United Kingdom signed the Destroyers for Bases Agreement, agreeing to the immediate transfer of fifty mothballed Caldwell, Clemson, and Wickes-class US Navy destroyers from the US Navy to the Royal Navy. In exchange, the British gave the US land rights for air and naval bases in the British possessions of Newfoundland, the Bahamas, Jamaica, British Guiana, and the Leeward and Windward Islands. The US also gained air and naval base rights in the Great Sound and Castle Harbour, Bermuda, and the south and eastern coasts of Newfoundland.
27 Sep 1940 Tripartite Pact▲
Joachim von Ribbentrop of Nazi Germany, Galeazzo Ciano of the Kingdom of Italy, and Saburō Kurusu of the Empire of Japan signed the Tripartite Pact in Berlin, capital of Germany. The 10 year Pact recognized the right of Germany and Italy to establish a new order in Europe while Japan did so in Greater East Asia; it also compelled the contracting Powers to come to the aid of any one of them should they be attacked by a Power not presently involved in either World War II in Europe or the Sino-Japanese War (implicitly making it a defensive pact against the United States and the Soviet Union).
8 Mar 1941 Lend-Lease▲
An Act to Promote the Defense of the United States (known as the Lend-Lease Bill) was passed by the US Senate, allowing the US to provide the United Kingdom with food, oil, and materiel either as a gift or with minimal payment. The Bill was signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt on 11 March. In April, it was extended to include China, and, in October, the Soviet Union.