What Happened in 1940

Significant Events

  • Feb 27 Martin Kamen and Sam Ruben discover carbon-14 (radiocarbon dating) at the University of California Radiation Laboratory in Berkeley, California
  • Mar 18 Benito Mussolini and Italy join Hitler in Germany's war against France & Britain
  • May 10 Winston Churchill succeeds Neville Chamberlain as British Prime Minister
  • May 12 Nazi blitzkrieg conquest of France began by crossing Muese River
  • May 13 Winston Churchill says "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears & sweat" in his first speech as Prime Minister to British House of Commons
  • May 15 McDonald's opens its first restaurant in San Bernardino, California
  • May 27 British and Allied forces begin the evacuation of Dunkirk (Operation Dynamo) during WWII
  • Jun 4 British complete the "Miracle of Dunkirk" by evacuating 338,226 allied troops from France via a flotilla of over 800 vessels including Royal Navy destroyers, merchant marine boats, fishing boats, pleasure craft and even lifeboats
  • Jun 14 Auschwitz concentration camp opens in Nazi controlled Poland with Polish POWs (approx. 3 million would die within its walls)
  • Jun 15 World War II: France surrenders to NAZI Germany, German troops occupy Paris
More Historical Events

1940 in Film & TV

  • Jan 24 "The Grapes of Wrath", directed by John Ford and based on John Steinbeck's novel of the same name, starring Henry Fonda and Jane Darwell, is released
  • Feb 29 Hattie McDaniel becomes 1st African American woman to win an Oscar for "Gone with the Wind"
  • Jul 27 Bugs Bunny, Warner Bros. cartoon character created by Tex Avery, Bob Givens (Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series), first debuts in "Wild Hare"
  • Nov 13 "Fantasia" animated film by Walt Disney, starring Leopold Stokowski and Deems Taylor, is released
  • Dec 26 "The Philadelphia Story" film directed by George Cukor, based on the Broadway play of the same name and starring Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, is released (Academy Awards Best Actor 1941)

Did You Know?

British PM Churchill says of Royal Air Force, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few"

On August 20, 1940


World Leaders in 1940

Famous People in 1940

Would You Believe?

Walt Disney begins serving as an informer for the Los Angeles office of the FBI; his job is to report back information on Hollywood subversives.

On November 10, 1940

Famous Weddings

  • Jan 1 68th Prime Minister of UK Harold Wilson (23) weds poet Mary Baldwin (23) in the chapel of Mansfield College, Oxford
  • Jan 2 Archibald Campbell Mzoliza Jordan, Xhosa writer, linguist and academic and outspoken critic of the South African National Party government's Bantu Education policy, marries Priscilla Phyllis Ntantla.
  • Jan 26 Actor Ronald Raegan (28) weds Academy Award-winning actress Jane Wyman (23) at the Wee Kirk o' the Heather church in Glendale, California
  • Feb 13 Actress Lana Turner (29) marries bandleader Artie Shaw (29)
  • Feb 18 Molecular biologist Francis Crick (23) weds Ruth Doreen Dodd

Famous Divorces

More Weddings & Divorces