On This Day

What Happened in May 1940

Historical Events

  • May 1 140 Palestinian Jews die as German planes bomb their ship
  • May 1 Summer Olympics (scheduled for Helsinki) are cancelled by the Finnish OC because of WWII
  • May 4 21 "not neutral" Nazis & communists arrested in Netherlands
  • May 4 66th Kentucky Derby: Carroll Bierman aboard Gallahadion wins in 2:05
  • May 5 Norwegian government-in-exile forms in London

Historic Event

May 6 Pulitzer prize awarded to John Steinbeck for "The Grapes of Wrath"

  • May 10 Dutch-Indies Governor Van Starkenborch proclaims end to state of siege
  • May 10 World War II: Nazi Germany invades the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France
  • May 10 World War II: The first German bombs of the war fall on England at Chilham and Petham, in Kent
  • May 11 65th Preakness: Fred A Smith aboard Bimelech wins in 1:58.6
  • May 11 NY World's Fair reopens
  • May 12 French marines occupy St Maarten
  • May 12 German tanks conquer Moerdijk bridges, Netherlands
  • May 12 Nazi blitzkrieg and conquest of France begins with the crossing of the Muese River
  • May 13 British bomb factory at Breda, Netherlands
  • May 13 Winston Churchill says "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat" in his first speech as Prime Minister to British House of Commons
  • May 13 German breakthrough at Grebbelinie
  • May 14 British Local Defence Volunteers forms, an armed citizen militia designed to support the British Army during the Second World War. It is later renamed the Home Guard.
  • May 14 Admiral Johannes Furstner, Royal Dutch Navy, departs to England

Sports History

May 14 Boston's Jimmie Foxx HR goes over Comiskey Park's left field roof

  • May 14 German breakthrough at Sedan
  • May 14 Lord Beaverbrook appointed British minister of aircraft production
  • May 14 Nazis bomb Rotterdam (600-900 dead), Netherlands surrenders to Germany
  • May 15 German armoured division moves into Northern France
  • May 15 German troops occupy Amsterdam, General Winkelman surrenders
  • May 15 Nazis capture General Dutch Persbureau (ANP)
  • May 15 USS Sailfish (SS-192) recommissioned, originally the Squalus
  • May 15 Richard and Maurice McDonald open the 1st McDonald's restaurant in San Bernardino, California
  • May 16 Nazis forbid non-professional auto workers
  • May 16 British Premier Winston Churchill returns to London from Paris
  • May 17 Germany occupies Brussels, Belgium and begins invasion of France
  • May 17 Nazis bombs Middelburg/B IJzerdrat begins illegal defiance
  • May 18 WWII: German troops conquer Antwerp, Belgium
  • May 19 Amsterdam time becomes MET (Middle European Time)

Historic Event

May 19 French counter attack at Pronne under General Charles de Gaulle

  • May 20 German General Guderian's tanks reach the English Channel (British expeditionary army)
  • May 20 Soccer team HZVV forms in Hoogeveen
  • May 20 Trailing 7-1 in 9th to Pitts, Phils win 8-7
  • May 21 AVRO-chairman Willem Vogt fires all Jewish employees
  • May 21 Allied counter attack at Atrecht, northern France
  • May 21 Paul Reynaud forms French government
  • May 22 Dutch Premier De Geer begins working with Nazis
  • May 22 UK Premier Winston Churchill flies to Paris to decide with General Maxime Weygand a strategy to save the city
  • May 23 1st great dogfight between Spitfires and Luftwaffe
  • May 24 1st night game at St Louis Sportsman Park (Indians 3, Browns 2)
  • May 24 Dutch Queen Wilhelmina speaks on BBC radio
  • May 24 Dutch army demobilizes
  • May 24 German tanks reach Atrecht, France

Historic Event

May 24 Adolf Hitler affirms General von Rundstedts "Stopbevel"

  • May 24 NY Giants swat Boston Bees, 8-1, in 1st night game at Polo Grounds, NYC
  • May 25 German troops conquer Boulogne
  • May 25 Golden Gate International Exposition reopens

Historic Event

May 26 1st successful helicopter flight in US: Vought-Sikorsky US-300 designed by Igor Sikorsky

Miracle of Dunkirk

May 27 British and Allied forces begin the evacuation of Dunkirk (Operation Dynamo) during WWII

  • May 27 World War II: In the Le Paradis massacre, 97 soldiers from a Royal Norfolk Regiment unit are shot after surrendering to German troops
  • May 28 Belgium surrenders to Germany, King Leopold III gives himself up
  • May 28 British-French troops capture Narvik, Norway

Music Premiere

May 28 Irving Berlin's musical "Louisiana Purchase", satirizing Huey Long's political power, opens at The Imperial Theatre, NYC; runs for 444 performances

  • May 29 Adolf Kiefer swims world record 100 yards backstroke (58.8 sec)
  • May 29 Arthur Seyss-Inquart installed as Reich commissar of The Hague, Netherlands
  • May 29 In WWII, Germans capture Ostend & Ypres in Belgium and Lille in France
  • May 30 Indianapolis 500: Wilbur Shaw drives same Maserati 8CTF he had driven to victory in 1939; first driver in the history to win at Indy in consecutive years

Historic Event

May 31 Major General Bernard Montgomery leaves Dunkirk

  • May 31 Winston Churchill flies to Paris to meet with French Marshal Philippe Pétain who announces he is willing to make a separate peace with Germany

Famous Birthdays

  • May 1 Elsa Peretti, Italian jewelry designer
  • May 2 Bryan Davis, West Indian cricketer (bro of Charlie WI batsman v Australia 1965), born in Belmont, Port of Spain, Trinidad
  • May 2 Sari van Heemskerck Pillis-Duvekot, Dutch governor and politician (VVD), born in Goes, Netherlands
  • May 3 Conny Plank, German record producer and musician, born in Hütschenhausen, Germany (d. 1987)
  • May 3 Clemens Westerhof, Dutch football manager, born in Beek, Netherlands
  • May 3 David Koch, American businessman and philanthropist (Koch Industries billionaire), born in Wichita, Kansas
  • May 4 Dick Curl, American offensive coordinator coach (Barcelona Dragons), born in Chester, Pennsylvania
  • May 4 Robin Cook, American physician and novelist, born in NYC, New York
  • May 5 Lance Henriksen, American actor (Aliens, Pumpkinhead, Knights, Hard Target), born in Manhattan, New York
  • May 6 Henry Habibe, Arubian poet (Kerensentenchi), born in Aruba
  • May 6 Murry Sidlin, American conductor (National Symphony, 1973-77; Long Beach Symphony, 1980-88), arranger (Defiant Requiem), and educator, born in Baltimore, Maryland
  • May 7 Armando Krieger, Argentine composer, born in Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • May 7 John Irvin, English actor (Moment in Time), born in Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland
  • May 7 Angela Carter, English novelist (Magic Toyshop) and journalist, born in Eastbourne, England (d. 1992)
  • May 7 Jim Connors, American Radio personality, born in Pawtucket, Rhode Island (d. 1987)
  • May 7 Mike Gillespie, American college baseball coach (College World Series 1998, Collegiate Coach of the Year 1998, USC), born in Los Angeles, California (d. 2020)
  • May 7 Jerry Harkness, American College Basketball HOF point guard (Loyola [Illinois]; New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers), born in Harlem, New York (d. 2021)
  • May 8 James Blyth, Baron Blyth of Rowington, British businessman (CEO of Boots)

Peter Benchley

May 8 Peter Benchley, American novelist (Jaws, The Deep), born in NYC, New York (d. 2006)

Ricky Nelson

May 8 (Eric) "Ricky" Nelson, American pop-Rock Star ("Hello Mary Lou"; "It's Late"; "Garden Party") and actor (The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet), born in Teaneck, New Jersey (d. 1985)

  • May 8 (Cathryn) "Toni" Tennille, American singer-songwriter, keyboardist (Captain & Tennille - "Love Will Keep Us Together") and female Beach Boy, born in Montgomery, Alabama
  • May 8 Irwin Cotler, Canadian politician (Attorney General of Canada 2003-6), born in Montreal, Quebec
  • May 9 Dick Morrissey, British jazz saxophonist, born in Horley, Surrey, England (d. 2000)
  • May 9 James L Brooks, American Emmy and Academy Award-winning television and film writer, director, and producer (The Mary Tyler Moore Show; Taxi; Terms of Endearment; Broadcast News; The Tracey Ullman Show), born in, New York City
  • May 10 Wayne Dyer, American psychologist and author (Your Erroneous Zones; Universe Within You), born in Detroit, Michigan (d. 2015)
  • May 10 Arthur Alexander, American singer-songwriter ("Lonely Just Like Me"), whose songs were covered by The Beatles ("Anna"), The Rolling Stones ("You Better Move On"), and Bob Dylan ("Sally Sue Brown"), born in Sheffield, Alabama (d. 1993) [1] [2]
  • May 10 Taurean Blacque [Herbert Middleton Jr], American stage and screen actor (Hill Street Blues - "Det. Neal Washington"), and adoption advocate, born in Newark, New Jersey (d. 2022)
  • May 10 Bill Cash, British politician (C), born in London
  • May 10 Wayne A. Downing, retired United States Army general
  • May 11 Ron Pellegrino, American electronic music composer, born in Kenosha, Wisconsin
  • May 11 Juan Downey, Chilean video artist (d. 1993)
  • May 12 Norman Whitfield, American songwriter and producer for Motown ("I Heard It Through the Grapevine"; "Just My Imagination"; "Papa Was A Rollin' Stone"), born in New York City (d. 2008)
  • May 13 Bruce Chatwin, English travel writer and novelist (In Patagonia, On the Black Hill), born in Sheffield, England (d. 1989)
  • May 13 Richard Brooks, American soul singer (Impressions, 1958-62 - "Gypsy Woman"), born in Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • May 14 Chay Blyth, English sailor (Alone in Order to the World)
  • May 14 'H'. Jones, British Soldier (VC recipient) (d. 1982)
  • May 14 Tommy Lawrence, Scottish football player and goalkeeper (Liverpool, Tranmere Rovers), born in Dailly, Scotland (d. 2018)
  • May 15 Paul Ryan Rudd, American stage and screen actor, born in Boston, Massachusetts (d. 2010)
  • May 15 Roger Ailes, American TV executive and CEO of Fox News (1996-2016), born in Warren, Ohio (d. 2017)
  • May 15 Álvaro Mejía, Colombian athlete (Boston Marathon 1971 2:18:45), born in Medellín, Colombia (d. 2021)
  • May 16 Gareth Roberts, chancellor (Sheffield University)

Alan Kay

May 17 Alan Kay, American computer scientist (GUI design and object-oriented programming), born in Springfield, Massachusetts

  • May 18 Marshall Stoneham, British physicist, born inn Barrow-in-Furness, England (d. 2011)
  • May 18 Pat Trimborn, South African cricket fast bowler (4 Tests, 11 wickets), born in Durban, Natal, South Africa
  • May 19 Carlos Diegues, actor (Xica)
  • May 19 Frank Lorenzo, airline executive (Continental, Texas Air, Eastern)
  • May 19 Joan Staley, American actress and Playboy playmate (Nov, 1958), born in Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • May 19 Mickey Newbury, rocker
  • May 19 Jan Janssen, Dutch cyclist
  • May 20 Sadaharu Oh, of Yomiuri Giants (Japan), hit 868 career HR
  • May 20 (Frederick) "Shorty" Long, American soul singer, and pianist ("Devil with the Blue Dress On"; "Here Comes The Judge"), born in Birmingham, Alabama (d. 1969)
  • May 20 Stan Mikita, Canadian Hockey Hall of Fame center (Stanley Cup 1961; Hart Memorial Trophy [MVP] 1967, 68; 6 x NHL First All-Star Team), born in Sokolče, Slovak Republic (d. 2018)

Tony Sheridan

May 21 Tony Sheridan, British singer-songwriter and guitarist who collaborated with The Beatles ("My Bonnie"), born in Norwich, England (d. 2013)

  • May 22 Bernard Shaw, American news correspondant (CBS, CNN), born in Chicago, Illinois
  • May 22 E. A. S. Prasanna, Indian cricketer (one of India's big four spinners), born in Bangalore, Kingdom of Mysore, British India
  • May 22 Michael Sarrazin, Canadian actor (Seduction, They Shoot Horses Don't They), born in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada (d. 2011)
  • May 22 Mick Tingelhoff, American Pro Football HOF center (6 × Pro Bowl; 5 × First-team All-Pro; Minnesota Vikings), born in Lexington, Nebraska (d. 2021)
  • May 24 Joseph Brodsky, Russian-American poet and writer (Less than One, Nobel 1987), born in Leningrad, RSFSR, Soviet Union (d. 1996)
  • May 26 Monique Gagnon-Tremblay, French Canadian politician
  • May 26 Levon Helm, American drummer and singer (The Band - "Up On Cripple Creek"; "The Weight"), and actor (Coal Miner's Daughter; The Right Stuff), born in Elaine, Arkansas (d. 2012)
  • May 27 René Koering, French composer, film producer. theater director, and music promoter (Festival de Radio France et Montpellier), born in Andlau, France

Betty Shabazz

May 28 Betty Shabazz, American educator and civil rights activist who was the widow of Malcolm X, born in Pinehurst, Georgia (d. 1997)

  • May 28 Hans Dulfer, Dutch funk and jazz-fusion tenor saxophonist, born in Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • May 28 Tom Petri, American politician (Rep-R-WI, 1979-2015), born in Marinette, Wisconsin
  • May 28 Maeve Binchy [Snell], Irish novelist (Light a Penny Candle), born in Dalkey, Ireland (d. 2012)
  • May 29 Farooq Leghari, 8th President of Pakistan (1993-97), born in Choti Zareen, British India (d. 2010)
  • May 30 David Ackroyd, actor (I Come in Peace, Memories of Me), born in Orange, New Jersey
  • May 31 August "Augie" Meyers, American rock and Tex-Mex keyboardist, accordion player, singer-songwriter, producer (Sir Douglas Quintet; Texas Tornados), and record label owner, born in San Antonio, Texas
  • May 31 Elfi Mikesch, Austrian cinematographer (Erotique, Out of America, Malina), born in Judenburg, Austria
  • May 31 Gilbert Shelton, American underground comics illustrator

Famous Weddings

Mary Martin

May 5 Actress Mary Martin (26) weds producer Richard Halliday (35)

Stan Musial

May 25 MLB outfielder Stan Musial (19) weds his high school sweetheart Lillian Labash in Daytona Beach


Famous Deaths

Henry Ossian Flipper

May 3 Henry Ossian Flipper, American soldier, former slave and first African American to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point, dies at 84

  • May 7 George Lansbury, British politician, Labour Party Leader and pacifist, dies at 81
  • May 10 Euphemia "Phemia" Molkenboer, Dutch author/poster artist, dies at 56
  • May 14 Eddy [Charles E] du Platform, writer/poet, dies
  • May 14 Emma Goldman, American anarchist and author (Living My Life), dies at 70
  • May 14 Jacob van Gelderen, economist/sociologist/SDAP-2nd-Chamber, dies at 49
  • May 14 Menno ter Braak, Dutch writer (Forum, New Elite), suicide at 38
  • May 14 Edgar du Perron, Dutch author and poet (Land of Origin), dies at 40
  • May 14 Willem Johannes Leyds, Dutch-South Africa lawyer and diplomat (State Secretary of the South African Republic), dies at 81
  • May 15 Joseph Limburg, Dutch lawyer and politician, dies at 73
  • May 15 Willem Adriaan Bonger, Dutch criminologist (Race & Crime), suicide at 63
  • May 20 Amar Singh, Indian cricket all-rounder (7 Tests, 28 wickets; India's first half-century in Test cricket), dies of pneumonia at 29
  • May 20 Joris van Severen, Flemish politician and founder of the Alliance of Dietsche National Solidarists, dies at 45
  • May 20 Verner von Heidenstam, Swedish poet and novelist (Charles Men, Nobel 1916), dies at 80
  • May 23 Paul Nizan, French journalist/writer (Ce Soir/Aden Arabia), dies at 35
  • May 25 Joe De Grasse, Canadian film director, dies at 67
  • May 28 Randle Ayrton, British actor (The Manxman, Nell Gwyn), dies at 70
  • May 28 Theodor Streicher, Austrian composer, dies at 65
  • May 28 Walter Connolly, American actor (It Happened One Night, Good Earth), dies from a stroke at 53
  • May 28 Friedrich Karl von Hessen (b. 1868)
  • May 30 Y de Smit-Rog, oldest citizen of Netherlands, dies at 104