1938 1939 1940 - 1941 - 1942 1943 1944
| Decades: |
1910s 1920s 1930s - 1940s - 1950s 1960s 1970s
Events of 1941
- January 6
- January 8 - Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell the founder of Scouting, dies.
- January 10 - Lend-Lease is introduced into the U.S. Congress.
- January 15 - John Vincent Atanasoff and Clifford E. Berry describe the workings of the Atanasoff–Berry Computer in print.
- January 19 - British troops attack Italian-held Eritrea.
- January 20 - Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes swears in U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt for his third term.
- January 21 - World War II: Australian and British forces attack Tobruk, Libya.
- January 22 - World War II: British troops capture Tobruk from the Italians.
- January 23 - Aviator Charles Lindbergh testifies before the U.S. Congress and recommends that the United States negotiate a neutrality pact with Adolf Hitler.
- January 27 - World War II: Attack on Pearl Harbor - U.S. Ambassador to Japan Joseph C. Grew passes on to Washington a rumor overheard at a diplomatic reception about a planned surprise attack upon Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
- February 1 - World War II: Attack on Pearl Harbor - Admiral Husband E. Kimmel becomes Commander-in-Chief U.S. Pacific Fleet.
- February 3 - World War II: The Germans forcibly restore Pierre Laval to office in occupied Vichy, France.
- February 4 - World War II: The United Service Organization (USO) is created to entertain American troops.
- February 7 - World War II: Attack on Pearl Harbor - General Walter C. Short becomes Commanding General, Hawaiian Command.
- February 9 - Winston Churchill, in a worldwide broadcast, pleads with the U.S. to show its support by sending arms to the British: "Give us the tools, and we will finish the job."
- February 11 - World War II: Lieutenant-General Erwin Rommel arrives in Tripoli.
- February 14 - World War II: Attack on Pearl Harbor - Admiral Kichisaburo Nomura begins his duties as Japanese ambassador to the United States.
- February 19 - World War II: The start of the "Three Nights' Blitz" over Swansea, South Wales. Over these three nights of intensive bombing, which lasted a total of 13 hours and 48 minutes, Swansea town centre was almost completely obliterated by the 896 High Explosive bombs employed by the Luftwaffe. A total of 397 casualties and 230 deaths were reported. The Three nights Blitz ended in the early hours of February 22
- February 23: Glenn T. Seaborg isolates and discovers plutonium.
- March 1 - World War II: Bulgaria signs the Tripartite Pact thus joining the Axis powers.
- March 1
- March 4 - World War II: British Commandos carry out a successful raid on the Lofoten Islands off the north coast of Norway.
- March 11
- March 17
- March 22 - Washington's Grand Coulee Dam begins to generate electricity.
- March 25 - World War II: Kingdom of Yugoslavia in Vienna joins the Axis powers
- March 27 - World War II:
- March 29 - World War II: Battle of Cape Matapan - Off the Peloponnesus coast in the Mediterranean, British naval forces defeat those of Italy sinking five warships. Battle started on March 27.
- March 30 - All German, Italian, and Danish ships anchored in United States waters are taken into "protective custody".
- April 6 - World War II: Germany invades Yugoslavia and Greece.
- April 12 - World War II: German troops enter Belgrade.
- April 13 - Soviet Union and Japan sign a neutrality pact.
- April 15 - World War II: The U.S. begins shipping Lend-Lease aid to China.
- April 17 - World War II: Yugoslav Royal Army capitulates.
- April 18 - World War II: Prime Minister of Greece Alexandros Koryzis commits suicide as German troops approach Athens.
- April 21 - World War II: Greece capitulates. Commonwealth troops and some elements of the Greek Army withdraw to Crete.
- April 23 - America First Committee holds its first mass rally in New York City with Charles Lindbergh as keynote speaker.
- April 25 - Franklin D. Roosevelt, at his regular press conference, criticizes Charles Lindbergh by comparing him to the Copperheads of the Civil War period. In response, Lindbergh resigns his commission in the U.S. Army Air Corps Reserve on April 28.
- April 27 - World War II: German troops enter Athens.
- May 1 - The first Defense Bonds and Defense Savings Stamps go on sale in the United States to help fund the greatly increased production of military equipment.
- May 5 - Emperor Haile Selassie enters Addis Ababa, which had been liberated from Italian forces; this date has been since commemorated as Liberation Day in Ethiopia.
- May 6 - At California's March Field, Bob Hope performs his first USO Show.
- May 9 - World War II: The German submarine U-110 is captured by the British Royal Navy. On board is the latest Enigma cryptography machine which Allied cryptographers later use to break coded German messages.
- May 10 - World War II:
- May 12 - Konrad Zuse presented the Z3, the world's first working programmable, fully automatic computer in Berlin.
- May 15 - First British jet aircraft, the Gloster E.28/39, is flown.
- May 20 - World War II: Battle of Crete - Germany launches airborne invasion of Crete.
- May 21 - World War II: 950 miles off the coast of Brazil, the freighter SS Robin Moor becomes the first United States ship sunk by a German U-boat.
- May 24 - World War II: In the North Atlantic, the German battleship Bismarck sinks the HMS Hood killing all but three crewman on what was the pride of the Royal Navy.
- May 26 - World War II: In the North Atlantic, Fairey Swordfish aircraft from the carrier HMS Ark Royal fatally cripple the German battleship Bismarck in torpedo attack.
- May 27 - World War II:
- June 4 - The ex-kaiser of Germany, Wilhelm II, dies in exile at Doorn, Netherlands.
- June 5 - Four thousand Chongqing residents are asphyxiated in a bomb shelter during the Bombing of Chongqing.
- June 13 - TASS, the official Soviet news agency, denies reports of tension between Germany and the Soviet Union.
- June 14
- June 16 - All German and Italian consulates in the United States are ordered closed and their staffs to leave the country by July 10.
- June 22 - World War II:
- Germany attacks the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa
- Italy and Romania declare war on the Soviet Union.
- Winston Churchill promises all possible British assistance to the Soviet Union
- First Sisak Partisan Brigade, first anti-fascist armed unit in occupied Europe founded by partisans near Sisak, Croatia.
- June 23 - Hungary and Slovakia declare war on the Soviet Union.
- June 25 - World War II: Finland attacks the Soviet Union to seek the opportunity of revenge in the Continuation War.
- June 28 - Albania declares war on the Soviet Union.
- July 2 - World War II: Japan calls up one million men for military service.
- July 3 - World War II: Joseph Stalin, in his first address since the German invasion, calls upon the Soviet people to carry out a "scorched earth" policy of resistance to the bitter end.
- July 5 - World War II: German troops reach the Dnieper River.
- July 5-19 - War between Peru and Ecuador
- July 7 - World War II:
- July 13 - World War II: Montenegro stages political uprising against the Axis Powers.
- July 14 - World War II: Vichy France signs armistice terms ending all fighting in Syria and Lebanon.
- July 26 - World War II:
- In response to the Japanese occupation of French Indo-China, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt orders the seizure of all Japanese assets in the United States.
- General Douglas MacArthur is named commander of all U.S. forces in the Philippines; the Philippines Army ordered nationalized by President Roosevelt.
- July 30 - World War II: U.S. gunboat Tutuila attacked by Japanese aircraft while anchored in the Yangtze River at Chungking. Japan apologizes for the incident the following day.
- August - Formation of the Political Warfare Executive in the United Kingdom
- August 1 - The first jeep is produced
- August 9 - Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill meet at Argentia, Dominion of Newfoundland. The Atlantic Charter is created as a result.
- August 12 - By one vote (203-202), the U.S. House of Representatives passes legislation extending the draft period for selectees and the National Guard from one year to 30 months.
- August 24 - World War II: A Luftwaffe bombing hits an Estonian steamer with 3500 Soviet-mobilized Estonian men on board, killing 598 of them.
- August 25 - World War II: Operation Countenance - United Kingdom and Soviet forces invade Iran.
- August 27 - World War II: France - Pierre Laval is shot in an assassination attempt at Versailles.
- August 28 - World War II: Soviets announce the destruction of massive Dnieper River dam at Zaporozhye to prevent its capture by the Germans.
- September 4 - World War II: The USS Greer becomes the first United States ship fired upon by a German submarine in the war, even though the United States is a neutral power. Tension heightens between the two nations as a result.
- September 8 - World War II: Siege of Leningrad begins - German forces begin a siege against the Soviet Union's second-largest city, Leningrad. Stalin orders the Volga Deutsche deported to Siberia.
- September 11 - World War II:
- September 12 - World War II: First snowfall reported on Russian front.
- September 15 - Self-government of Estonia, headed by Hjalmar Mäe, is appointed by German military administration.
- September 16 - Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran is forced to resign in favor of his son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran under pressure from the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union.
- September 27 - The first Liberty Ship, the SS Patrick Henry, is launched at Baltimore, Maryland.
- October 2 - World War II: Operation Typhoon - Germany begins an all-out offensive against Moscow.
- October 7 - John Curtin becomes the 14th Prime Minister of Australia
- October 8 - World War II: In their invasion of the Soviet Union, Germany reaches the Sea of Azov with the capture of Mariupol.
- October 16 - World War II: Soviet Union government moves to Kuibyshev, but Stalin remains in Moscow.
- October 17 - World War II: The destroyer USS Kearny is torpedoed and damaged near Iceland, killing eleven sailors - the first American military casualties of the war.
- October 18 - General Hideki Tojo becomes the 40th Prime Minister of Japan.
- October 24 - Franz von Werra disappears during a flight over North Sea
- October 30 - World War II: Franklin Delano Roosevelt approves US$1 billion in Lend-Lease aid to the Soviet Union.
- October 31
- November 6 - World War II: Soviet leader Joseph Stalin addresses the Soviet Union for only the second time during his three-decade rule (the first time was earlier that year on July 2).
- November 7 - World War II: Soviet hospital ship Armenia sunk by German planes while evacuating refugees and wounded military and staff of several Crimea’s hospitals. It is estimated that over 5,000 people died in the sinking.
- November 12 - World War II: Battle of Moscow: Temperatures around Moscow drop to −12 °C and the Soviet Union launches ski troops for the first time against the freezing German forces near the city.
- November 13 - World War II: The aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal is hit by German U-boat U-81
- November 14 - World War II:
- November 17 - World War II: Attack on Pearl Harbor - Joseph Grew, the United States ambassador to Japan, cables to Washington a warning that Japan may strike suddenly and unexpectedly at any time.
- November 19 - World War II: The Australian war cruiser HMAS Sydney sinks off the coast of Western Australia, killing 645 sailors.
- November 24 - World War II: The United States grants Lend-Lease to the Free French.
- November 26
- US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signs a bill establishing the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day in the United States (this partly reversed a 1939 action by Roosevelt that changed the celebration of Thanksgiving to the third Thursday of November).
- The Hull note ultimatum is delivered to Japan by the United States.
- Attack on Pearl Harbor - A fleet of six aircraft carriers commanded by Japanese Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo leaves Hitokapu Bay for Pearl Harbor under strict radio silence.
- November 27 - Battle of Moscow - Germans reach their closest approach to Moscow. They are subsequently frozen by cold weather and attacks by the Soviets.
- Attack on Pearl Harbor - All U.S. military forces in Asia and the Pacific are placed on war alert.
- December 1 - World War II:
- December 2 - World War II: Attack on Pearl Harbor - The code message "Climb Mount Niitaka" is transmitted to the Japanese task force, indicating that negotiations have broken down and that the attack is to be carried out according to plan.
- December 7, December 8 (in Japan standard time) - Japanese Navy launches a surprise attack consisting of two full regiments on the United States fleet at Pearl Harbor, thus drawing the United States into World War II.
- December 8 - World War II:
- The United States officially declares war on Japan.
- China officially declares war on Japan
- The Netherlands declares war on Japan
- Japan launches invasions in Hong Kong, Malaya, Manila, and Singapore.
- Japan launches invasions in the Philippines we started beginning of the Japanese occupation of the Philippines from the Filipino, American and Allied forces in the Philippines.
- December 10 - World War II: The British battleships HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse are sunk by Japanese aircraft in the South China Sea north of Singapore.
- December 11 - World War II:
- December 12 - Hungary and Romania declare war on the United States. India declares war on Japan. United States seizes French ship Normandie.
- December 19 - World War II: Hitler becomes Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the German Army
- December 23 - World War II: A second Japanese landing attempt on Wake Island is successful, and the American garrison surrenders after a full night and morning of fighting.
- December 25 - World War II: British and Canadians are defeated by the Japanese at Hong Kong.
- December 26 - World War II: Winston Churchill becomes the first British Prime Minister to address a Joint session of the U.S. Congress
- December 27 - World War II: British Commandos raid the Norwegian port of Vaagso, causing Hitler to reinforce the garrison and defenses, drawing vital troops away from other areas.
- December 28 - World War II: starts the Operation Anthropoid (the assassination of Heydrich in Prague).
- January 31 - Eugène Terre'Blanche, leader of the South African Afrikaner Resistance Movement (d. 2010)
- February 16 - Kim Jong-il, North Korean leader (d. 2011)
- June 6 - Alexander Cockburn, Scottish-born American journalist