|1940 by topic|
|Lists of leaders|
|Birth and death categories|
|Establishments and disestablishments categories|
|Ab urbe condita||2693|
|Balinese saka calendar||1861–1862|
|British Regnal year||4 Geo. 6 – 5 Geo. 6|
|Chinese calendar||己卯年 (Earth Rabbit)|
4636 or 4576
— to —
庚辰年 (Metal Dragon)
4637 or 4577
|- Vikram Samvat||1996–1997|
|- Shaka Samvat||1861–1862|
|- Kali Yuga||5040–5041|
|Japanese calendar||Shōwa 15|
|Julian calendar||Gregorian minus 13 days|
|Minguo calendar||ROC 29|
|Thai solar calendar||2482–2483|
2066 or 1685 or 913
— to —
2067 or 1686 or 914
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to 1940.|
1940 (MCMXL) was a leap year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar, the 1940th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 940th year of the 2nd millennium, the 40th year of the 20th century, and the 1st year of the 1940s decade.
- 1 Events
- 2 Births
- 3 Deaths
- 4 Nobel Prizes
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Below, the events of World War II have the "WWII" prefix.
- January 4 – WWII: Axis powers: Luftwaffe Colonel Hermann Göring assumes control of most war industries in Germany.
- January 6 – WWII: Winter War: General Semyon Timoshenko takes command of all Soviet forces.
- January 8
- January 9 – WWII: British submarine HMS Starfish is sunk.
- January 10 – WWII: Mechelen incident: A German plane carrying secret plans for the invasion of Western Europe makes a forced landing in Belgium, leading to mobilization of defense forces in the Low Countries.
- January 19 – The Three Stooges short subject comedy film You Nazty Spy! is released, the first Hollywood parody of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, with Moe Howard portraying "Moe Hailstone" as the Hitler-parody lead.
- January 26 – Brisbane, Australia swelters through its hottest day ever, 43.2 degrees Celsius (109.76 Fahrenheit).
- January 27 – WWII: A peace resolution introduced in the Parliament of South Africa is defeated 81–59.
- January 29 – Three gasoline-powered trains carrying factory workers crash and explode while approaching Ajikawaguchi Station, Yumesaki Line (Nishinari Line), Osaka, Japan, killing at least 181 people and injuring at least 92.
- February 1 – WWII: Winter War – Soviet forces launch a major assault on Finnish troops occupying the Karelian Isthmus.
- February 2 – Vsevolod Meyerhold is executed in the Soviet Union on charges of treason and espionage. He is cleared of all charges 15 years later, in the first waves of de-Stalinization.
- February 7 – Disney's Pinocchio is released in theaters everywhere.
- February 9 – Mae West & W. C. Fields join comedic forces for My Little Chickadee with tremendous success. The film becomes one of the highest grossing of the year.
- February 10 – Tom and Jerry make their debut in Puss Gets the Boot. However it is not until 1941 that their current names are adopted.
- February 16 – WWII: Altmark Incident: British destroyer HMS Cossack pursues German tanker Altmark into the neutral waters of Jøssingfjord in southwestern Norway, and frees the 290 British seamen held aboard.
- February 22 – In Tibet, province of Ando, 4-year-old Tenzin Gyatso is proclaimed the tulku (rebirth) of the 13th Dalai Lama.
- February 27 – Martin Kamen and Sam Ruben discover carbon-14.
- February 29 – Hattie McDaniel becomes the first African-American to win an Academy Award.
- March 2 – Cartoon character Elmer Fudd makes his debut, in the animated short Elmer's Candid Camera.
- March 3 – In Luleå, Sweden, a time bomb destroys the office of Swedish communist newspaper Norrskensflamman.
- March 5 – Katyn massacre: Members of the Soviet Politburo (Joseph Stalin, Vyacheslav Molotov, Lazar Kaganovich, Mikhail Kalinin, Kliment Voroshilov and Lavrentiy Beria) sign an order, prepared by Beria, for the execution of 25,700 Polish intelligentsia, including 14,700 Polish POWs.
- March 11 – Ed Ricketts, John Steinbeck and six others leave Monterey, California for the Gulf of California, on a collecting expedition.
- March 12 – The Soviet Union and Finland sign a peace treaty in Moscow, ending the Winter War; Finns, along with the world at large, are shocked by the harsh terms.
- March 18 – WWII: Axis powers: Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini meet at Brenner Pass in the Alps. After being informed by Hitler that the Germans are ready to attack in the west, Mussolini agrees to bring Italy into the war in due course.
- March 21 – Édouard Daladier resigns as prime minister of France; Paul Reynaud succeeds him.
- March 23
- March 30 – WWII: Former Kuomintang member and Chinese foreign minister, Wang Jingwei, announces the creation of the Reorganized National Government of the Republic of China in Nanjing.
- March 31 – WWII: Commerce raiding German auxiliary cruiser Atlantis leaves the Wadden Sea, for what will become the longest warship cruise of the war. (622 days without in-port replenishment or repair).
- April – Robin the Boy Wonder, Batman's trusted sidekick, makes his debut in Detective Comics #38.
- April 3 – WWII: Operation Weserübung: German ships set out for the invasion of Norway.
- April 4 – Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, in what proves to be a tragic misjudgment, declares in a major public speech that Hitler has "missed the bus".
- April 7 – Booker T. Washington becomes the first African American to be depicted on a United States postage stamp.
- April 8 – WWII: Operation Wilfred: The British fleet lays naval mines off the coast of neutral Norway.
- April 9 – WWII: Germany invades the neutral countries of Denmark and Norway in Operation Weserübung, opening the Norwegian Campaign. The British Royal Navy attempts to attack elements of the German fleet off Norway. Vidkun Quisling proclaims a new collaborationist regime in Norway. The German invasion of Denmark lasts for about six hours, before that country capitulates.
- April 10 – WWII: First Naval Battle of Narvik: The British Royal Navy attacks the German fleet in the Ofotfjord. At Bergen, German cruiser Königsberg is sunk by British Fleet Air Arm Blackburn Skua dive bombers, flying from RNAS Hatston in Orkney.
- April 12
- The Faroe Islands are occupied by British troops, following the German invasion of Denmark. This action is taken to avert a possible German occupation of the islands, with serious consequences for the course of the Battle of the Atlantic.
- Opening day at Jamaica Race Course features the use of parimutuel betting equipment, a departure from bookmaking heretofore used exclusively throughout New York. Other tracks in the state follow suit later in 1940.
- April 13
- April 14 – Norwegian Campaign: The first British ground forces land in Norway, at Namsos and Harstad.
- April 16 – In American baseball, the Cleveland Indians, behind Bob Feller's Opening Day no-hitter, defeat the Chicago White Sox, 1-0.
- April 21 – Take It or Leave It makes its debut on CBS Radio in the United States, with Bob Hawk as host.
- April 23 – The Rhythm Club fire at a dance hall in Natchez, Mississippi, kills 198.
- May 10 – WWII:
- The Battle of France begins.
- German forces invade the Low Countries.
- The British invasion of Iceland begins.
- With the resignation of Neville Chamberlain, Winston Churchill becomes Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
- May 13 – WWII:
- May 13–14 – Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands and her government are evacuated to London, using the British destroyer HMS Hereward.
- May 14 – WWII:
- Rotterdam is subjected to savage terror bombing by the Luftwaffe; 980 are killed, and 20,000 buildings destroyed. General Henri Winkelman announces the surrender of the Dutch army (outside Zeeland) to German forces.
- Recruitment begins in Britain for a home defence force: the Local Defence Volunteers, later known as the Home Guard.
- May 15
- May 16 – President of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt, addressing a joint session of the U.S. Congress, asks for an extraordinary credit of approximately $900 million, to finance construction of at least 50,000 airplanes per year.
- May 17 – WWII:
- Brussels falls to German forces; the Belgian government flees to Ostend.
- Zeeland is overrun by German forces, ending the Battle of the Netherlands and beginning full German occupation of the Netherlands (Noord-Beveland surrenders on May 18, and the remaining Dutch troops are withdrawn from Zeelandic Flanders on May 19).
- May 18 – Marshal Philippe Pétain is named vice-premier of France.
- May 19 – General Maxime Weygand replaces Maurice Gamelin as commander-in-chief of all French forces.
- May 20
- WWII: German forces (2nd Panzer Division), under General Rudolf Veiel, reach Noyelles on the English Channel.
- Holocaust: The Nazi concentration camp and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest of the German concentration camps, opens in occupied Poland, near the town of Oświęcim. From now until January 1945, around 1.1 million people will be killed here.
- May 22 – WWII: The Parliament of the United Kingdom passes the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act 1939, giving the government full control over all persons and property.
- May 24 – WWII: The Anglo-French Supreme War Council decides to withdraw all forces under its control from Norway.
- May 25 - The Crypt of Civilization time capsule is sealed shut, with a protected opening date of 8113 CE.
- May 26
- May 27 – WWII: Le Paradis massacre: 97 retreating British soldiers of the Royal Norfolk Regiment are executed by German troops of 3rd SS Panzer Division Totenkopf, after surrendering in France.
- May 28 – WWII:
- King Leopold III of Belgium orders the Belgian forces to cease fighting, ending the 18-day Battle of Belgium. Leaders of the Belgian government on French territory declare Leopold deposed.
- Land Battle of Narvik: German forces retire, giving the Allies their first victory on land in the war; however, the British have already decided to evacuate Narvik.
- Winston Churchill warns the House of Commons of the United Kingdom to "prepare itself for hard and heavy tidings."
- May 29 – The Vought XF4U-1, prototype of the F4U Corsair U.S. fighter later used in WWII, makes its first flight.
- June 1 – WWII: Rear Admiral Sir W. Frederic Wake-Walker's flagship, the destroyer Keith, is sunk by Stukas at Dunkirk.
- June 3
- June 4 – WWII:
- The Dunkirk evacuation ends: The British and French navies, together with large numbers of civilian vessels from various nations, complete evacuating 300,000 troops from Dunkirk, France to England.
- Winston Churchill tells the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, "We shall not flag or fail. We shall fight on the beaches... on the landing grounds... in the fields and the streets.... We shall never surrender."
- June 7
- June 9 – WWII: The British Commandos are created.
- June 10
- Italy declares war on France and the United Kingdom.
- U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt denounces Italy's actions with his "Stab in the Back"[permanent dead link] speech during the graduation ceremonies of the University of Virginia.
- Canada declares war on Italy.
- The Norwegian Army surrenders to German forces.
- The French government flees to Tours.
- Jamaican political activist Marcus Garvey dies of a stroke in London.
- June 11 – WWII: The Western Desert Campaign opens, with British forces crossing the Frontier Wire into Italian Libya.
- June 12 – WWII: 13,000 British and French troops surrender to Major-General Erwin Rommel's 7th Panzer Division, at Saint-Valery-en-Caux.
- June 13 – WWII: Paris is declared an open city.
- June 14 – WWII:
- The French government flees to Bordeaux, and Paris falls under German occupation.
- U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Naval Expansion Act into law, which aims to increase the United States Navy's tonnage by 11%.
- A group of 728 Polish political prisoners from Tarnów become the first residents of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
- June 15 – WWII:
- June 16
- The Churchill war ministry in the United Kingdom offers a Franco-British Union to Paul Reynaud, Prime Minister of France, in the hope of preventing France from agreeing to an armistice with Germany, but Reynaud resigns when his own cabinet refuses to accept it.
- The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is held for the first time, in Sturgis, South Dakota.
- June 17 – WWII:
- Philippe Pétain becomes Prime Minister of France, and immediately asks Germany for peace terms.
- Occupation of the Baltic states: The Soviet Union occupies Estonia and Latvia.
- Operation Ariel begins: Allied troops start to evacuate France, following Germany's takeover of Paris and most of the nation.
- RMS Lancastria, serving as a troopship, is bombed and sunk by Luftwaffe Junkers Ju 88 aircraft, while evacuating British troops and nationals from Saint-Nazaire in France, with the loss of at least 4,000 lives, the largest single UK loss in any World War II event, immediate news of which is suppressed in the British press. Destroyer HMS Beagle (H30) rescues around 600.
- June 18 – WWII:
- Winston Churchill tells the House of Commons of the United Kingdom: "The Battle of France is over. The Battle of Britain is about to begin."
- Appeal of 18 June: General Charles de Gaulle, de facto leader of the Free French Forces, makes his first broadcast appeal over Radio Londres from London, rallying the French Resistance, calling on all French people to continue the fight against Nazi Germany: "France has lost a battle. But France has not lost the war".
- June 20 – WWII: Evacuation of civilians from the Channel Islands to England begins.
- June 22
- WWII: Second Armistice at Compiègne: The French Third Republic and Nazi Germany sign an armistice, ending the Battle of France in the Forest of Compiègne, in the same Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits railroad car used by Marshal Ferdinand Foch to conclude the Armistice with Germany in 1918. This divides France into a Zone occupée in the north and west, under the Military Administration in France (Nazi Germany), and a southern Zone libre, Vichy France.
- Albert Einstein gives a public address in the "I'm An American" series, on becoming an American citizen.
- June 23 – WWII: German leader Adolf Hitler surveys newly defeated Paris, in now-occupied France.
- June 24
- United States politics: The Republican Party begins its national convention in Philadelphia, and nominates Wendell Willkie as its candidate for president.
- June 25 – WWII: After the defeat of France, Hitler plans for an invasion of Switzerland, known as Operation Tannenbaum.
- June 26 – Soviet calendar: The Soviet Union reverts to a seven-day week for all purposes.
- June 28
- June 30
- WWII: German forces land in Guernsey, marking the start of the 5-year Occupation of the Channel Islands.
- Federal government of the United States reorganisation:
- July 1 – The first Tacoma Narrows Bridge opens for business, built with an 8-foot (2.4 m) girder and 190 feet (58 m) above the water, as the third longest suspension bridge in the world.
- July 2 – WWII: British-owned SS Arandora Star, carrying civilian internees and POWs of Italian and German origin from Liverpool to Canada, is torpedoed and sunk by German submarine German submarine U-47 off northwest Ireland, with the loss of around 865 lives.
- July 3 – WWII: Attack on Mers-el-Kébir: British naval units sink or seize ships of the French fleet anchored in the Algerian ports of Mers-el-Kebir and Oran, to prevent them from falling into German hands. The following day, Vichy France breaks off diplomatic relations with Britain.
- July 6
- July 10 – WWII: The Battle of Britain begins.
- July 11
- July 14 – WWII: Winston Churchill, in a worldwide broadcast, proclaims the intention of Great Britain to fight alone against Germany whatever the outcome: "We shall seek no terms. We shall tolerate no parley. We may show mercy. We shall ask none."
- July 15 – U.S. politics: The Democratic Party begins its national convention in Chicago, and nominates Franklin D. Roosevelt for an unprecedented third term as president.
- July 19
- July 21
- After rigged parliamentary elections in the three occupied countries on July 14–15, the parliaments proclaim the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republics.
- The Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter aircraft enters service, so named as 1940 roughly corresponds to the year 2600 on the Japanese Imperial calendar.
- July 23 – Welles Declaration: United States Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles announces that the U.S. will not accord diplomatic recognition to the Soviet Union's occupation of the Baltic states.
- July 25 – General Henri Guisan addresses the officer corps of the Swiss army at Rütli, resolving to resist any invasion of the country.
- July 27 – Bugs Bunny makes his debut in the Oscar-nominated cartoon short, A Wild Hare. However, it is not until 1941 that his name is adopted.
- August 1 – WWII: British submarine HMS Spearfish is sunk in the English Channel, by what is much later discovered to be a mine.
- August 3 – The Lithuanian SSR is annexed into the Soviet Union, followed by the Latvian SSR on August 5 and the Estonian SSR August 6, just seven weeks after their occupation.
- August 3–19 – WWII: The Italian conquest of British Somaliland is completed.
- August 4 – Gen. John J. Pershing, in a nationwide radio broadcast, urges all-out aid to Britain in order to defend the Americas, while Charles Lindbergh speaks to an isolationist rally at Soldier Field in Chicago.
- August 8 – WWII: German general Wilhelm Keitel signs the "Aufbau Ost" directive, which eventually leads to the invasion of the Soviet Union.
- August 10 – WWII: British armed merchant cruiser HMS Transylvania is torpedoed off Malin Head, Ireland, by German submarine U-56.
- August 13 – WWII: The Adlertag ("Eagle Day") strike on southern England occurs, starting the rapid escalation of the Battle of Britain air offensive of the Luftwaffe against RAF Fighter Command.
- August 15 – Italy, without having declared war on Greece, sinks the Greek boat Elli (Έλλη).
- August 18
- August 20
- August 21 – Leon Trotsky dies of the injuries he has sustained.
- August 24 – Howard Florey, and a team including Ernst Chain and Norman Heatley, at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, publish their laboratory results showing the in vivo bactericidal action of penicillin. They have also purified the drug.
- August 25 – WWII: The first Bombing of Berlin is carried out, by the British Royal Air Force.
- August 26 – WWII: Chad is the first French colony to proclaim its support for the Allies.
- August 30 – Second Vienna Award: Germany and Italy compel Romania to cede half of Transylvania to Hungary.
- September – The U.S. Army 45th Infantry Division (previously a National Guard Division in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Oklahoma), is activated and ordered into federal service for 1 year, to engage in a training program in Ft. Sill and Louisiana, prior to serving in WWII.
- September 2 – WWII: The Destroyers for Bases Agreement between the United States and Great Britain is announced, to the effect that 50 U.S. destroyers needed for escort work will be transferred to Great Britain. In return, the United States gains 99-year leases on British bases in the North Atlantic, West Indies and Bermuda.
- September 4 – WWII: In Berlin, Adolf Hitler declares in a speech that Nazi Germany will avenge all night air raids carried out by Great Britain.
- September 5 – WWII: Commerce raiding German auxiliary cruiser Komet enters the Pacific Ocean via the Bering Strait, after crossing the Arctic Ocean from the North Sea, with the help of Soviet icebreakers Lenin, Stalin, and Kaganovich.
- September 6 - King Carol II of Romania abdicates, and is succeeded by his son Michael.
- September 7
- September 9–16 – WWII: The Italian invasion of Egypt commences from Libya, progressing only as far as Sidi Barrani.
- September 9
- September 12
- September 14 – Ip massacre: The Hungarian Army, supported by local Hungarians, kill 158 Romanian civilians in Ip, Sălaj, a village in Northern Transylvania, as part of attempts at ethnic cleansing.
- September 16 – WWII: The Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 is signed into law by Franklin D. Roosevelt, creating the first peacetime draft in U.S. history.
- September 17–18 – WWII: SS City of Benares is torpedoed by German submarine U-48 in the Atlantic, with the loss of 248 of the 406 on board, including child evacuees bound for Canada. This results in cancellation of the British Children's Overseas Reception Board's plan to relocate children overseas.
- September 21 – 1940 Australian federal election: Robert Menzies' UAP/Country Coalition Government is re-elected as a minority government, narrowly defeating the Labor Party led by John Curtin. It is the last federal election to result in a minority government until 2010.
- September 22 – Japan enters French Indochina: An agreement is signed in which Japan promises to station no more than 6,000 troops there, and never have more than 25,000 transiting the colony. Rights are also given for 3 airfields.
- September 25 – Occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany: German Reichskommissar Josef Terboven appoints a provisional council of state from the pro-Nazi Nasjonal Samling party, under Vidkun Quisling, as a puppet government for Norway.
- September 26 – A group of Japanese officers, in violation of an agreement signed 4 days earlier with French Indochina, take Đồng Đăng and Lam Sơn, with 40 Franco-Vietnamese troops killed and around 1,000 deserting. The same day the United States imposes a total embargo on all scrap metal shipments to Japan.
- September 27 – WWII: Germany, Italy and Japan sign the Tripartite Pact.
- September 30 (night to 1 October) – Arsonists from the Hitler Youth destroy the Great Synagogue of Strasbourg.
- October 1 – The first section of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the United States' first long-distance controlled-access highway, is opened.
- October 11 – Portuguese-born performer Carmen Miranda makes her American film debut in Down Argentine Way, one of the first films produced to promote the Good Neighbor policy.
- October 14 – The Balham tube station disaster in London, England, occurs during the Nazi Luftwaffe air raids on Great Britain.
- October 15 – Charlie Chaplin releases his controversial wartime satire The Great Dictator, nine months after the Stooges' You Nazty Spy!.
- October 16
- October 18–19 – WWII: Thirty-two ships are sunk from Convoy SC 7 and Convoy HX 79 by the most effective "wolfpack" of the war, including U-boat aces Kretschmer, Prien and Schepke.
- October 26–28 – WWII: RMS Empress of Britain, serving as a troopship under the British flag, is bombed, torpedoed and sunk off the Donegal coast, with the loss of 45 lives. At 42,348 GRT, she is the war's largest merchant ship loss.
- October 28 – WWII: Italian troops invade Greece, meeting strong resistance from Greek troops and civilians. This action signals the beginning of the Balkan Campaign.
- October 29 – The Selective Service System lottery is held in Washington, D.C..
- November – In Cambodia, the Khmer Issarak is formed to overthrow the French Army within the nation.
- November 2–8 – WWII (Greco-Italian War): Battle of Elaia–Kalamas in Epirus: Outnumbered Greek forces repel the Italian Army.
- November 2 – German submarine U-69 is commissioned, the first Type VIIC U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine, which will become its most numerous class, with 568 commissioned during the War.
- November 5 – 1940 United States presidential election: Democrat incumbent Franklin D. Roosevelt defeats Republican challenger Wendell Willkie, and becomes the United States' first and only third-term president.
- November 6 – Agatha Christie's mystery novel And Then There Were None is published in book form, in the United States.
- November 7 – In Tacoma, Washington, the 600-foot (180 m)-long center span of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (known as Galloping Gertie) collapses.
- November 8 – WWII: MS City of Rayville is sunk by a naval mine off Cape Otway, Australia (the first United States Merchant Marine loss of the war).
- November 9 – Joaquín Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez premieres in Barcelona, Spain.
- November 10 – 1940 Vrancea earthquake: An earthquake in Romania kills 1,000.
- November 11
- WWII: The British Royal Navy launches the first aircraft carrier strike in history, on the Italian battleship fleet anchored at Taranto Naval Base.
- WWII: German auxiliary cruiser Atlantis captures top secret British mail intended for the British Far East Command from the SS Automedon, and sends it to Japan.
- Armistice Day Blizzard: An unexpected blizzard kills 144 in the Midwestern United States.
- November 13 – Walt Disney's Fantasia is released. It is the first box office failure for Disney, though it eventually recoups its cost years later, and becomes one of the most highly regarded of Disney's films.
- November 14 – WWII: Coventry Blitz: The city centre of Coventry, England is destroyed by 500 Luftwaffe bombers; 150,000 fire bombs, 503 tons of high explosives, and 130 parachute mines level 60,000 of the city's 75,000 buildings; 568 people are killed.
- November 15 – Abbott and Costello make their film debut, in One Night in the Tropics.
- November 16
- WWII: In response to Germany levelling Coventry 2 days before, the Royal Air Force begins to bomb Hamburg (by war's end, 50,000 Hamburg residents will have died from Allied attacks).
- An unexploded pipe bomb is found in the Consolidated Edison office building (only years later is the culprit, George Metesky, apprehended).
- The Jamaica Association of Local Government Officers is founded.
- November 18 – WWII: German leader Adolf Hitler and Italian Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano meet, to discuss Benito Mussolini's disastrous invasion of Greece.
- November 20 – WWII: Hungary, Romania and Slovakia join the Axis powers.
- November 25
- Patria disaster: As British authorities attempt to deport Jewish refugees (originating from German-occupied Europe) from Mandatory Palestine to Mauritius, aboard the requisitioned emigrant liner SS Patria at Haifa, the Jewish paramilitary organization Haganah sinks the ship with a bomb, killing around 250 refugees and crew.
- The de Havilland Mosquito and Martin B-26 Marauder military aircraft both make their first flights.
- Woody Woodpecker makes his debut in the animated short, Knock Knock. It is not until 1941 that his current name is adopted.
- November 26–27 – Jilava Massacre: In Romania, coup leader General Ion Antonescu's Iron Guard arrests and executes over 60 of exiled King Carol II of Romania's aides, starting at a penitentiary near Bucharest. Among the dead is former minister and acclaimed historian Nicolae Iorga.
- November 27 – WWII: Battle of Cape Spartivento: The British Royal Navy and Italian Regia Marina battle to a draw.
- December – Timely Comics' Captain America Comics #1 (cover dated March 1941), first appearance of Captain America and Bucky, hits newsstands in the United States.
- December 1 – Manuel Ávila Camacho takes office, as President of Mexico.
- December 6 – British submarine HMS Regulus is sunk near Taranto.
- December 8 – The Chicago Bears, in what will become the most one-sided victory in National Football League history, defeat the Washington Redskins 73–0 in the 1940 NFL Championship Game.
- December 9 – WWII: Operation Compass – British forces in North Africa begin their first major offensive, with an attack on Italian forces at Sidi Barrani, Egypt.
- December 12 and December 15 – WWII: Sheffield Blitz ("Operation Crucible"): The Yorkshire city of Sheffield is badly damaged by German air-raids.
- December 14
- December 16 – WWII: Operation Abigail Rachel: The RAF bombs Mannheim.
- December 17 – President Roosevelt, at his regular press conference, first sets forth the outline of his plan to send aid to Great Britain, that will become known as Lend-Lease.
- December 23 – WWII: Winston Churchill, in a broadcast address to the people of Italy, blames Benito Mussolini for leading his nation to war against the British, contrary to Italy's historic friendship with them: "One man has arrayed the trustees and inheritors of ancient Rome upon the side of the ferocious pagan barbarians."
- December 24 – Mahatma Gandhi, Indian spiritual non-violence leader, writes his second letter to Adolf Hitler, addressing him as "My friend", and requesting him to stop the war Germany had begun.
- December 29
- Franklin D. Roosevelt, in a fireside chat to the nation, declares that the United States must become "the great arsenal of democracy."
- WWII: Second Great Fire of London": The Luftwaffe carries out a massive incendiary bombing raid, starting 1,500 fires. Many famous buildings, including the Guildhall and Trinity House, are either damaged or destroyed.
- December 30
- 1940 Summer Olympics in Tokyo together with the Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan, suspended because due World War II.
- In Korea, the Hunminjeongeum (1446) is discovered, explaining the basis of the Hangul alphabet.
- American historian Arthur Marder publishes The Anatomy of British Sea Power: a history of British naval policy in the pre-Dreadnought era, 1880-1905.
- Walter Knott begins construction of a California ghost town replica, which will soon evolve into Knott's Berry Farm.
|January · February · March · April · May · June · July · August · September · October · November · December|
- January 2
- January 3 – Leo de Berardinis, Italian stage actor, theatre director (d. 2008)
- January 4
- January 6 – Penny Lernoux, American nun, author (d. 1989)
- January 9 – Miguel Ángel Rodríguez, Costa Rican politician, lawyer, economist, and businessman
- January 14 – Julian Bond, African-American civil rights activist (d. 2015)
- January 16 – Franz Müntefering, German politician
- January 17
- January 18 – Tony Holland, British actor, television screenwriter (d. 2007)
- January 19
- January 20
- January 21
- January 22 – John Hurt, English actor (d. 2017)
- January 23 – Jimmy Castor, African-American funk, R&B, and soul saxophonist (d. 2012)
- January 24 – Joachim Gauck, German president
- January 27 – James Cromwell, American actor
- January 28 – Carlos Slim, Mexican businessman
- February 1 – Ajmer Singh, Indian athlete, educator (d. 2010)
- February 2
- February 3 – Fran Tarkenton, American football player
- February 4 – George A. Romero, American film writer, director (d. 2017)
- February 5 – H. R. Giger, Swiss artist (d. 2014)
- February 6
- February 7 – Tony Tan, 7th President of Singapore
- February 8
- February 9
- February 12
- February 17
- February 18 – Fabrizio De André, Italian singer, songwriter (d. 1999)
- February 19 – Smokey Robinson, African-American musician
- February 20 – Jimmy Greaves, English footballer
- February 21
- February 22
- February 23 – Peter Fonda, American actor (Easy Rider)
- February 24
- February 25
- February 27 – Howard Hesseman, American actor (WKRP in Cincinnati)
- February 28
- March 1 – Nuala O'Faolain, Irish journalist, author (d. 2008)
- March 2 – Billy McNeill, Scottish football player and manager (d. 2019)
- March 3
- March 6 – Willie Stargell, American baseball player (d. 2001)
- March 7 – Rudi Dutschke, German radical student leader (d. 1979)
- March 9 – Raul Julia, Puerto Rican actor (d. 1994)
- March 10
- March 12 – Al Jarreau, African-American singer (d. 2017)
- March 13 – Candi Staton, American singer
- March 15 – Phil Lesh, American musician
- March 16
- March 17 – Mark White, Governor of Texas (d. 2017)
- March 21 – Solomon Burke, African-American singer, songwriter (d. 2010)
- March 20 – Paul Neville, Australian politician (d. 2019)
- March 22 – Haing S. Ngor, Cambodian actor (The Killing Fields) (d. 1996)
- March 25
- March 26
- March 29
- March 31 – Patrick Leahy, American politician
- April 1 – Wangari Maathai, Kenyan environmentalist, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (d. 2011)
- April 2
- April 8 – John Havlicek, American basketball player (d. 2019)
- April 12
- April 13 – Max Mosley, British motorsport boss
- April 14 – Julie Christie, English actress
- April 15
- April 16 – Queen Margrethe II of Denmark
- April 17 – Chuck Menville, American animator, writer (d. 1992)
- April 18
- April 22 – Ray Griff, Canadian country music singer, songwriter (d. 2016)
- April 24
- April 25
- April 26 – Giorgio Moroder, Italian film composer
- April 28 – P. J. Bradley, Northern Irish politician (d. 2017)
- May 1 – Elsa Peretti, Italian jewelry designer
- May 2
- May 3 – David Koch, American businessman
- May 5 – Lance Henriksen, American actor
- May 7
- May 8
- May 9 – James L. Brooks, American film producer, writer
- May 11 – Juan Downey, Chilean-born video artist (d. 1993)
- May 13
- May 14 – 'H'. Jones, British soldier (VC recipient) (d. 1982)
- May 15
- May 16 – Ole Ernst, Danish actor (d. 2013)
- May 17
- May 18 – Lenny Lipton, American inventor
- May 20
- May 22 – Bernard Shaw, African-American journalist and television news reporter
- May 24 – Joseph Brodsky, Russian-born poet, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1996)
- May 27 – Sotsha Dlamini, 5th Prime Minister of Swaziland (d. 2017)
- May 29 – Farooq Leghari, 8th President of Pakistan (d. 2010)
- June 1
- June 2 – Constantine II of Greece
- June 4 – Ludwig Schwarz, Austrian prelate
- June 7
- June 8 – Nancy Sinatra, American singer
- June 11 – Wayne Kemp, American country music singer (d. 2015)
- June 13 – Bobby Freeman, American singer, songwriter (d. 2017)
- June 16
- June 17
- June 19 – Paul Shane, English-born actor (d. 2013)
- June 20 – John Mahoney, English-born American actor (d. 2018)
- June 21 – Mariette Hartley, American actress
- June 22
- June 23
- June 24
- Hope Cooke, American socialite, Queen Consort of Sikkim
- Augusto Fantozzi, Italian lawyer, tax expert, academic, businessman and politician
- Murali Mohan, Indian film actor, producer, politician and business executive
- Walter Ofonagoro, Nigerian scholar, politician and businessman
- Ian Ross, Australian newsreader (d. 2014)
- June 25
- June 26
- June 27
- June 28
- June 29 – Vyacheslav Artyomov, Russian composer
- June 30 – Neelo, Indian actress
- July 1
- July 2
- July 3
- Fontella Bass, African-American soul singer ("Rescue Me") (d. 2012)
- Jose Alberto Laboy, Puerto Rican Major League Baseball player
- Lance Larson, American former competition swimmer, Olympic champion, and former world record-holder in four events
- Chuck Sieminski, American football player
- César Tovar, Venezuelan baseball player (d. 1994)
- Mario Zanin, Italian cyclist
- Lamar Alexander, American politician
- July 4
- July 5 – Reiko Kusamura, Japanese actress
- July 6 – Nursultan Abishuly Nazarbayev, President of Kazakhstan
- July 7
- July 9 – Herminia Roman, Filipino politician
- July 10
- Gene Alley, American baseball player
- Jim Cadile, American professional football offensive guard
- Helen Donath, American soprano
- Lofty Drews, Kenyan rally co-driver
- Sir Tom Farmer, Scottish entrepreneur
- Julie Payne, American actress
- Tommy Troelsen, Danish former football player, manager and television presenter
- July 11
- July 13
- July 15 – Johnny Seay, American country music singer (d. 2016)
- July 16
- July 17
- July 18
- July 19
- July 22
- July 24
- July 26
- July 27
- July 28 – Philip Proctor, American actor
- July 29 – Bernard Lafayette, African-American civil rights activist
- July 30 – Clive Sinclair, English inventor
- July 31 – Roy Walker, Northern Irish comedian
- August 1 – Ram Loevy, Israeli screenwriter, director
- August 3 – Martin Sheen, American actor, father of Charlie Sheen
- August 7
- August 8 – Dilip Sardesai, former Indian cricketer (d. 2007)
- August 10 – Bobby Hatfield, American singer (The Righteous Brothers) (d. 2003)
- August 13
- August 14
- August 18 – Stanley Johnson, British politician, author
- August 19 – Jill St. John, American actress
- August 20
- August 23
- August 25 – José van Dam, Belgian bass-baritone
- August 26 – Michel Micombero, 1st President of Burundi (d. 1983)
- August 27
- August 29
- August 31
- September 3
- September 5 – Raquel Welch, American actress
- September 6 – Jackie Trent, English singer-songwriter, actress (d. 2015)
- September 7
- September 10 – David Mann, American artist (d. 2004)
- September 11
- September 12
- September 13 – Óscar Arias, Costa Rican politician, twice President of Costa Rica, Nobel Peace Prize laureate
- September 14
- September 15
- September 18 – Frankie Avalon, American singer, actor
- September 20 – Tarō Asō, 59th Prime Minister of Japan
- September 23
- September 24 – Michiko Suganuma, Urushi Japanese lacquer artist
- September 25 – Roberto Del Giudice, Italian voice actor (d. 2007)
- October 1 – Jean-Luc Bideau, Swiss actor
- October 3 – Alan O'Day, American singer, songwriter (d. 2013)
- October 4 – Ian Kiernan, Australian yachtsman (d. 2018)
- October 5 – Milena Dravić, Serbian actress (d. 2018)
- October 8 – Paul Hogan, Australian film actor (Crocodile Dundee)
- October 9 – John Lennon, English musician, singer (The Beatles) (d. 1980)
- October 11 – David McFadden, Canadian poet, fiction writer, and travel writer (d. 2018)
- October 13 – Pharoah Sanders, American saxophonist
- October 14 – Cliff Richard, British pop musician
- October 15 – Peter C. Doherty, Australian immunologist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
- October 16
- October 17 – Peter Stringfellow, English businessman, nightclub owner (d. 2018)
- October 18 – Győző Kulcsár, Hungarian fencer (d. 2018)
- October 19 – Sir Michael Gambon, Irish actor
- October 20 – Robert Pinsky, American poet, essayist, literary critic, and translator United States Poet Laureate
- October 21
- October 23 – Pelé, Brazilian footballer
- October 24 – Yossi Sarid, Israeli politician (d. 2015)
- October 25
- October 27
- October 28 – Jack Shepherd, English actor
- October 30 – Hidetoshi Nagasawa, Japanese sculptor, architect (d. 2018)
- November 1
- November 2 – Carolin Reiber, German television presenter
- November 4 – Václav Halama, Czech footballer, coach (d. 2017)
- November 5 – Jaime Roldós Aguilera, 33rd President of Ecuador (1979-1981) (d. 1981)
- November 12 – Donald Wuerl, American archbishop
- November 15
- November 17 – Luke Kelly, Irish ballad singer (d. 1984)
- November 18 – Qaboos bin Said al Said, Sultan of Oman
- November 20 – Helma Sanders-Brahms, German film director (d. 2014)
- November 21
- November 22
- November 23 – Rockin' Robin Roberts, American rock and roll singer (d. 1967)
- November 25
- November 26 – Gianni De Michelis, Italian politician (d. 2019)
- November 27 – Bruce Lee, Chinese-American martial artist, actor (d. 1973)
- November 29 – Chuck Mangione, American flugelhorn player
- November 30 – José Pedro Pérez-Llorca, Spanish politician and diplomat (d. 2019)
- December 1
- December 4
- December 5 – Peter Pohl, Swedish writer
- December 7 – David Bamigboye, Nigerian military officer, politician (d. 2018)
- December 11
- December 12
- December 18 – Ilario Castagner, Italian football manager
- December 19 – Phil Ochs, American protest singer (d. 1976)
- December 20 – Pat Chapman, English author
- December 21 – Frank Zappa, American musician, composer, and satirist (d. 1993)
- December 22 – Noel Jones, British ambassador to Kazakhstan (d. 1995)
- December 23
- December 24 – Janet Carroll, American actress, singer (d. 2012)
- December 25 – Alija Behmen, Bosnian politician (d. 2018)
- December 26 – Edward C. Prescott, American economist, Nobel Prize laureate
- December 29 – Fred Hansen, American Olympic athlete
- January – Fusajiro Yamauchi, Japanese business executive (b. 1859)
- January 4 – Flora Finch, English-born actress, comedian (b. 1869)
- January 9 – Alex Bennett, Scottish footballer (b. 1881)
- January 18 – Kazimierz Przerwa-Tetmajer, Polish poet, writer (b. 1865)
- January 20 – Omar Bundy, U.S. Army General (b. 1861)
- January 27 – Isaac Babel, Ukrainian writer (executed) (b. 1894)
- February – Zheng Pingru, Chinese spy (executed) (b. 1918)
- February 1 – Philip Francis Nowlan, American science fiction writer, creator of Buck Rogers (b. 1888)
- February 2
- February 4
- February 9 – William Edward Dodd, American historian, diplomat (b. 1869)
- February 11
- February 26 – Michael Hainisch, 2nd President of Austria (b. 1858)
- February 27 – Peter Behrens, German architect, designer (b. 1868)
- February 29 – Edward Frederic Benson, English writer
- March 1 – Anton Hansen Tammsaare, Estonian writer (b. 1878)
- March 5
- March 10 – Mikhail Bulgakov, Russian writer (b. 1891)
- March 11 – John Monk Saunders, American writer (b. 1897)
- March 16 – Selma Lagerlöf, Swedish writer, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1858)
- March 18 – Sir Aylmer Hunter-Weston, British army general (b. 1864)
- March 20 – Alfred Ploetz, German physician, biologist, and eugenicist (b. 1860)
- March 21 – Violet Ann Bland, English Suffragette (b. 1863)
- March 23 – Dimitar Stanchov, 15th Prime Minister of Bulgaria (b. 1863)
- March 26 – Spyridon Louis, Greek Olympic athlete (b. 1873)
- March 27
- March 30 – Sir George Egerton, British admiral (b. 1852)
- March 31 – Tinsley Lindley, English footballer (b. 1865)
- April 1 – John A. Hobson, English economist (b. 1858)
- April 8 – Joaquin Mir Trinxet, Spanish artist (b. 1873)
- April 21 – George Barnes, British Labour politician (b. 1859)
- April 26 – Carl Bosch, German chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1874)
- April 28 – Luisa Tetrazzini, Italian opera singer (b. 1871)
- April 30 – Henryk Dobrzański, Polish soldier, sportsman, and resistance fighter (b. 1897)
- May 7 – George Lansbury, British Labour politician (b. 1859)
- May 11 – Chujiro Hayashi, Japanese Reiki Master (b. 1880)
- May 14 – Emma Goldman, Lithuanian-born anarchist (b. 1869)
- May 15 – Menno ter Braak, Dutch writer (b. 1902)
- May 19 – Diego Mazquiarán, Spanish matador (b. 1895)
- May 20 – Verner von Heidenstam, Swedish writer, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1859)
- May 24 – Louis Fles, Dutch businessman, activist and author (b. 1872)
- May 25 – Joe De Grasse, Canadian film director (b. 1873)
- May 26 – Prince Wilhelm of Prussia (b. 1906)
- May 28
- May 29 – Mary Anderson, American stage actress (b. 1859)
- June 1 – Jan F. E. Celliers, South African poet, writer and dramatist (b. 1865)
- June 7
- June 10
- June 11 – Alfred S. Alschuler, American architect (b. 1876)
- June 13 – George Fitzmaurice, American director (b. 1885)
- June 14 – Henry W. Antheil Jr., American diplomat (b. 1912)
- June 17 – Sir Arthur Harden, English chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1865)
- June 19 – Maurice Jaubert, French composer (b. 1900)
- June 20 – Charley Chase, American comedian (b. 1893)
- June 21
- June 22 – Walter Hasenclever, German poet, playwright (b. 1890)
- June 28 – Italo Balbo, Italian Fascist leader (b. 1896)
- June 29 – Paul Klee, Swiss artist (b. 1879)
- July 1 – Ben Turpin, American actor, comedian (b. 1869)
- July 9 – Józef Biniszkiewicz, Silesian politician (b. 1875)
- July 15 – Robert Wadlow, American citizen, tallest man ever (infection) (b. 1918)
- July 30 – Spencer S. Wood, United States Navy Rear Admiral (b. 1861)
- August 3 – Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV, Indian royal, Maharajah of Mysore (b. 1884)
- August 4 – Joaquina Maria Mercedes Barcelo Pages, Filipino Roman Catholic nun and venerable (b. 1857)
- August 5 – Frederick Albert Cook, American explorer (b. 1865)
- August 8 – Johnny Dodds, American jazz clarinetist (b. 1892)
- August 13
- August 18 – Walter Chrysler, American automobile pioneer (b. 1875)
- August 21
- August 22
- August 24 – Paul Nipkow, German technician, inventor (b. 1860)
- August 28 – William Bowie, American geodetic engineer (b. 1872)
- August 30
- August 31 – Ernest Lundeen, American lawyer, politician (b. 1878)
- September 4 – George William de Carteret, Jerseiaise author (b. 1869)
- September 5 – Charles de Broqueville, 20th Prime Minister of Belgium (b. 1860)
- September 10 – Nikola Ivanov, Bulgarian general (b. 1861)
- September 20 - E. Rosa Sawtell, New Zealand artist (b.1865)
- September 23 – Hale Holden, American president of Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad (1914–1918, 1920-1929) (b. 1869)
- September 25 – Marguerite Clark, American stage and silent film actress (b. 1883)
- September 26 – Walter Benjamin, German philosopher and cultural critic, suicide (b. 1892)
- September 27
- October 5
- October 9 – Sir Wilfred Grenfell, English medical missionary to Newfoundland and Labrador (b. 1865)
- October 10 – Berton Churchill, Canadian actor (b. 1876)
- October 11 – Adolf von Trotha, German admiral (b. 1868)
- October 12 – Tom Mix, American actor (b. 1880)
- October 15 – Lluís Companys, President of the Generalitat of Catalonia (executed) (b. 1882)
- October 17 – George Davis, American baseball player, MLB Hall of Famer (b. 1870)
- October 20 – Gunnar Asplund, Swedish architect (b. 1885)
- October 22 – Sir Charles Harington, British general (b. 1872)
- November 3 – Manuel Azaña, 55th Prime Minister of Spain, 2nd President of Spain (b. 1880)
- November 5 – Otto Plath, American father of poet Sylvia Plath, entomologist (b. 1885)
- November 9
- November 11 – Vladimir Vinnichevsky, Russian serial killer (b. 1923)
- November 17
- November 18 – Ion Inculeț, Moldavian politician, 1st President of Moldova (b. 1884)
- November 19 – Ralph W. Barnes, American journalist (b. 1899)
- November 26 – Gheorghe Argeșanu, Romanian general, politician, and 40th Prime Minister of Romania (b. 1883)
- November 27
- December 2 – Nikolai Koltsov, Russian biologist, genetist (b. 1872)
- December 5 – Jan Kubelík, Czech violinist (b. 1880)
- December 14 – Anton Korošec, Slovenian political leader (b. 1872)
- December 15 – Billy Hamilton, American baseball player, MLB Hall of Famer (b. 1866)
- December 16 – Eugène Dubois, Dutch paleoanthropologist, geologist (b. 1858)
- December 19 – Kyösti Kallio, Finnish farmerman, banker, 8th Prime Minister of Finland and 4th President of Finland (b. 1873)
- December 21 – F. Scott Fitzgerald, American writer (b. 1896)
- December 22 – Nathanael West, American writer (b. 1903)
- December 23 – Eddie August Schneider, American aviator (b. 1911)
- December 25 – Agnes Ayres, American actress (b. 1898)
- December 26 – Daniel Frohman, American theater producer (b. 1851)
- Physics – not awarded
- Chemistry – not awarded
- Physiology or Medicine – not awarded
- Literature – not awarded
- Peace – not awarded
- Muggenthaler, August Karl (1977). German Raiders of WWII. Prentice-Hall. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-13-354027-7.
- Trossarelli, L. (2010). "the history of nylon". Club Alpino Italiano, Centro Studi Materiali e Tecniche. Archived from the original on April 25, 2012. Retrieved 2012-02-28.
- Borgersrud, Lars (1995). "Nøytralitetsvakt". In Dahl, Hans Fredrik; Hjeltnes, Guri; Nøkleby, Berit; Ringdal, Nils Johan; Sørensen, Øystein (eds.). Norsk krigsleksikon 1940-1945 (in Norwegian). Oslo: Cappelen. p. 313. ISBN 978-82-02-14138-7. Retrieved June 29, 2012.
- "Lancastria's end told by survivors; Italian and Nazi Planes Said to Have Shot at Swimmers and Fired Oily Waters; Many Caught Below Deck; Rescue Craft Reported Set Ablaze; Victims Include Women and Children". The New York Times. July 26, 1940. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
- Hooton, E. R. (2007). Luftwaffe at War: Blitzkrieg in the West. London: Chevron/Ian Allan. p. 88. ISBN 978-1-85780-272-6.
- Mawson, Gillian (2012). Guernsey Evacuees: The Forgotten Evacuees of the Second World War. History Press. ISBN 9780752470191.
- "Hitler Picture: Hitler in Paris". 20th Century History. About.com. Retrieved March 25, 2013.
- Bloch, Michael (1982). The Duke of Windsor's War. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 978-0-297-77947-6.
- Drews, Jürgen (March 2000). "Drug Discovery: a Historical Perspective". Science. 287 (5460): 1960–4. doi:10.1126/science.287.5460.1960. PMID 10720314.
- Robertson, Patrick (1974). The Shell Book of Firsts. London: Ebury Press. p. 124.
- Muggenthaler, August Karl (1977). German Raiders of WWII. Prentice-Hall. p. 58. ISBN 978-0-13-354027-7.
- 1940 WWII Timeline
- The 1930s Timeline: 1940 – from American Studies Programs at The University of Virginia
- The 1940s | 1940-1949 | History Fashion Movies Music