South America 1941: Ecuadorian-Peruvian War
In July 1941, while the eyes of the world were focused on Hitler's invasion of Russia, the long-standing border dispute between Ecuador and Peru erupted into war. The result was a swift Peruvian victory, although peace terms would not be agreed until January 1942.
13–17 Dec 1939 Battle of the River Plate▲
On 13 December, three Royal Navy cruisers—the British HMS Exeter and HMS Ajax, and the New Zealand HMS Achilles—found and engaged the German merchant raider and pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee off the River Plate near the coast of Uruguay. The ensuing battle saw all four ships damaged and forced the Graf Spee to seek refuge in Montevideo, capital of neutral Uruguay, that night. Considering himself trapped and told he could only stay in Montevideo for 72 hours, the Graf Spee‘s captain Hans Langsdorff scuttled his ship on 17 December.
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).
6 Nov 1940 Chilean Antarctic Claim▲
The Chilean government enacted Decree No. 1747, declaring its claim to the Chilean Antarctic Territory—all lands and territorial waters lying between the meridians 53° longitude west of Greenwich and 90° longitude west of Greenwich. The claim conflicted with the interests of Argentina—leading that country to mount a formal protest five days later—and the United Kingdom—which objected in February.
11 Apr 1941 Pan-American Security Zone extension▲
The United States extended the Pan-American Security Zone to 26 degrees West, as far as the Azores. The extension brought the zone to within 93 km of Iceland, a major convoy staging area.
22 Jun 1941 Operation Barbarossa▲
At 3:15 am the Axis Powers led by Nazi Germany launched the invasion of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, bombing cities in a broad arc from Kronstadt to Sevastopol as some three million troops advanced across the border. Within hours the momentum of the Axis attacks had completely destroyed the Soviet organizational command and control, paralyzing every level of command, and it was only at 7:15 am that Soviet leader Josef Stalin announced the invasion to the Soviet Armed Forces and called upon them to act.
5 Jul 1941–29 Jan 1942 Ecuadorian-Peruvian War▲
In early July, Ecuadorian forces attacked a Peruvian border post in the vicinity of Zarumilla, leading to a general confrontation between the two nations. On 24 July, Peru mounted a large scale offensive in southwestern Ecuador, rapidly overrunning El Oro province and landing paratroopers to capture the crucial Ecuadorian supply base of Puerto Bolívar. Despite a ceasefire on 31 July, sporadic fighting continued for some months—particularly in the eastern jungle—before Ecuador accepted defeat.