Political map of Sub-Saharan Africa 24 June 1940 (World War II and the Fall of France): In 1939 Germany invaded Poland, prompting Britain and France to declare war. Although this Second World War immediately drew in the British and French colonial empires, no fighting took place on the African continent until Germany defeated France in June 1940. In that month everything changed: an emboldened Italy entered the war and the French agreed to an armistice. Now two large and unfriendly empires faced the British and their allies in Africa.