On This Day

Events in History in 1939

Events 1 - 200 of 300

Historic Event

Jan 1 Hewlett-Packard is founded by Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard in a garage in Palo Alto, California "the birthplace of Silicon Valley"

  • Jan 1 Sydney, Australia, swelters in 45 ˚C (113 ˚F) heat, a record for the city.
  • Jan 3 Gene Cox becomes 1st girl page in US House of Representatives
  • Jan 4 Frieda Wunderlich elected 1st woman dean of a US graduate school
  • Jan 7 US worker's union leader Tom Mooney freed (jailed since 1916)

Historic Event

Jan 12 Timely Comics (later Marvel) founded by American publisher Martin Goodman in New York

Treaty of Interest

Jan 13 Belgian premier signs Burgos Treaty for trade relations with Franco's Spain

  • Jan 13 The Black Friday bush fires burn 20,000 square kilometres of land in Australia, claiming the lives of 71 people.
  • Jan 14 All commercial ferry services between San Francisco and East Bay end
  • Jan 14 Norway claims Queen Maud Land in Antarctica
  • Jan 15 Municipal Railway & Market St RR begin service to Transbay Terminal
  • Jan 16 Daily newspaper comic strip "Superman" debuts
  • Jan 16 The Irish Republican Army (IRA) begins a 14 month long bombing campaign in England
  • Jan 19 Ernest Hausen of Wisconsin sets chicken-plucking record of 4.4 sec

Historic Event

Jan 21 George Kaufman and Moss Hart's "American Way" premieres in NYC

  • Jan 21 US male Figure Skating championship won by Robin Lee
  • Jan 22 Aquatic Park, near Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco dedicated
  • Jan 24 30,000 killed by earthquake in Concepcion Chile
  • Jan 24 Spanish government moves to Figueras
  • Jan 25 Earthquake hits Chillan Chile, 10,000 killed

Historic Event

Jan 25 1st nuclear fission experiment (splitting of a uranium atom) in the US, in basement of Pupin Hall, Columbia University by a team including Enrico Fermi

  • Jan 26 Federal Hall National Monument established
  • Jan 26 Filming begins on film adaptation of "Gone With The Wind"
  • Jan 26 Francisco Franco's troops conquer Barcelona
  • Jan 27 First flight of the Lockheed P-38 Lightning

Historic Event

Jan 30 Adolf Hitler threatens Jews during his speech to the German Reichstag (Parliament)

  • Jan 30 Heavy aftershocks destroy some of Chile
  • Feb 4 Glenn Cunningham (top miler) says 4-min mile beyond human effort
  • Feb 6 Spanish government flees to France
  • Feb 9 Belgian Spaak government falls
  • Feb 15 German battleship Bismarck was launched
  • Feb 18 Golden Gate International Exposition opens on Treasure Island
  • Feb 20 The American pro-Nazi organization German American Bund hold a rally at Madison Square Garden and 20,000 attend
  • Feb 21 Belgian government of Pierlot forms
  • Feb 22 Netherlands recognizes Franco regime in Spain
  • Feb 25 1st Anderson bomb shelter in Britain erected in an Islington garden
  • Feb 27 Belgian government of Pierlot falls
  • Feb 27 Borley Rectory, "the most haunted house in England", destroyed in a fire
  • Feb 27 Britain and France recognize Francisco Franco's government in Spain
  • Feb 27 Supreme Court outlaws sit-down strikes
  • Feb 28 Great Britain recognizes Franco regime in Spain
  • Feb 28 The first issue of Serbian weekly magazine Politikin zabavnik is published.
  • Feb 28 The erroneous word "Dord" is discovered in the Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition, prompting an investigation.
  • Mar 1 Japanese Imperial Army ammunition dump exploded at Hirakata, Osaka, Japan, killing 94

Historic Event

Mar 2 Eugenio Pacelli chosen as Pope Pius XII

  • Mar 2 Massachusetts Legislature votes to ratify the US Bill of Rights - 147 years late

Historic Event

Mar 3 Mahatma Gandhi begins a fast in Mumbai (Bombay) to protest against autocratic rule in India

  • Mar 7 Glamour magazine begins publishing
  • Mar 7 Guy Lombardo & Royal Canadians 1st record "Auld Lang Syne"
  • Mar 8 Lenore Coffee & William Joyce Cowan's "Family Portrait" premieres
  • Mar 10 17 villages damaged by hailstones in Hyderabad, India
  • Mar 12 Pope Pius XII crowned in Vatican ceremonies
  • Mar 14 England draw with South Africa at Durban on the 10th day
  • Mar 14 Nazi Germany dissolves Republic of Czechoslovakia

Hitler Invades Czechoslovakia

Mar 15 Adolf Hitler summons Czech President Emil Hácha to a meeting in Berlin and informs him of the impending attack by Germany; Hácha suffers a heart attack and later capitulates

  • Mar 15 Reneging on his pledge in the Munich Agreement, Adolf Hitler and Germany occupy and annex Czechoslovakia
  • Mar 16 Hungary annexes republic of Karpato-Ukraine
  • Mar 17 Battle of Nanchang between the Kuomintang and the Japanese breaks out (Sino-Japanese War 1937-1945)
  • Mar 20 7,000 Jews flee German occupied Memel Lithuania
  • Mar 21 Nazi Germany demands the return of Danzig (Gdańsk) from Poland
  • Mar 22 Lithuania forced to give Memel territory to Germany
  • Mar 28 Dutch hunter shoots down British bombers
  • Mar 28 Philip Barry's comic play "Philadelphia Story" about a socialite's impending wedding premieres at the Shubert Theater in NYC; star Katherine Hepburn also led the 1940 film version
  • Mar 28 Spanish Civil War ends, Madrid falls to the Nationalists headed by Francisco Franco
  • Mar 30 Heinkel He 100 fighter sets a world airspeed record of 463 mph
  • Mar 30 First flight of the Australian C.A.C. CA-16 Wirraway military aircraft
  • Mar 31 Britain & France agree to support Poland if invaded by Germany
  • Apr 1 US recognizes Francisco Franco's government in Spain at end of Spanish civil war. Pope Pius XII congratulates Generalissimo Franco's victory in Spain
  • Apr 4 Faisal II ascends to throne of Iraq
  • Apr 5 Membership of Hitler Youth becomes obligatory
  • Apr 6 Great Britain & Poland sign military pact
  • Apr 6 US & UK agree on joint control of Canton & Enderbury Is (Pacific)
  • Apr 7 Italy invades Albania
  • Apr 8 King Zog I of Albania flees after Italy invades
  • Apr 10 Colijn's Dutch government opens camp Westerbork for German Jews
  • Apr 10 Grens mobilization due to Italian invasion in Albania
  • Apr 11 Hungary leaves League of Nations
  • Apr 13 W Saroyan's "My Heart's in the Highlands" premieres in NYC
  • Apr 13 The Hindustani Lal Sena (Indian Red Army) is formed and vows to engage in armed struggle against the British.

Historic Publication

Apr 14 John Steinbeck novel "The Grapes of Wrath" published

  • Apr 15 Albert Lebrun elected president of France

Agreement of Interest

Apr 16 The Soviet Union proposes an alliance with Britain and France to counter Nazi Germany; the Soviets would later sign a secret agreement with the Nazis

Historic Event

Apr 18 Franz von Papen becomes German ambassador in Turkey

  • Apr 18 Hubert Pierlot forms Belgian government
  • Apr 19 Connecticut finally approves Bill of Rights (148 years late)
  • Apr 28 Adolf Hitler claims German-Polish non-attack treaty still in effect
  • Apr 29 Whitestone Bridge connecting the New York boroughs of Bronx and Queens opens
  • Apr 30 New York World's Fair opens
  • Apr 30 Tropicana ballet of Havana, Cuba, forms
  • May 1 Pulitzer Prize awarded to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (Yearling)
  • May 3 The All India Forward Bloc is formed by Subhash Chandra Bose
  • May 7 Germany and Italy announce an alliance known as the Rome-Berlin Axis
  • May 13 SS St Louis departs Hamburg with 937 Jewish fugitives
  • May 14 Lina Medina of Peru becomes the world's youngest confirmed mother in medical history at the age of five
  • May 16 1st AL night game, Philadelphia Shribe Park (Indians 8, Athletics 3 in 10)
  • May 16 US food stamps are 1st issued in Rochester, New York
  • May 20 "3 Little Fishies" by Kay Kyser swam to #1
  • May 20 1st regular transatlantic airmail (Pan Am: NY to Marsseille France)
  • May 23 British parliament plans to make Palestine independent by 1949
  • May 23 Adolf Hitler proclaims he wants to move into Poland
  • May 23 Submarine USS Squalus sinks in the Gulf of Maine, drowning 26, 33 remaining crew rescued from a depth of 243 ft (74 m) by divers using newly developed heliox air systems (divers later awarded the Medal of Honor)
  • Jun 1 British submarine "Thetis" sinks in Liverpool Bay with all 99 aboard
  • Jun 1 Retired German Colonel-general Gerd von Runstedt returns to service
  • Jun 6 NY supreme court justice J F Crater legally declared dead
  • Jun 6 The ship MS St. Louis, carrying 907 Jewish refugees from Europe, begins sailing back to the continent after it was refused entry into America. Approximately a quarter of those on board would perish in the Holocaust.

Historic Event

Jun 7 George VI and Elizabeth become the 1st king and queen of Britain to visit USA

Historic Event

Jun 11 King and Queen of England taste 1st "hot dogs" at FDR's party

  • Jun 17 Last public guillotining in France. Eugen Weidmann, a convicted murderer, is guillotined in Versailles outside the prison Saint-Pierre
  • Jun 20 Test flight of 1st rocket plane using liquid propellants

Meeting of Interest

Jun 22 Princess and future Queen Elizabeth meets future husband Prince Philip of Greece (Midshipman Mountbatten, RN)

  • Jun 23 France turns over Sanjak of Alexandretta (Hatay) to Turkey
  • Jun 23 US Congress establishes US Coast Guard Reserve (renamed US Coast Guard Auxiliary 1941) as uniformed volunteer units supporting the Coast Guard
  • Jun 24 Pan Am's 1st US to England flight
  • Jun 27 1st night game at Cleveland Municipal Stadium (Indians 5, Tigers 0)
  • Jun 28 Pan Am opens southern route transatlantic air service (Dixie Clipper)
  • Jun 29 4th Dutch government of Colijn falls
  • Jun 29 Dixie Clipper completes 1st commercial plane flight to Europe
  • Jun 30 Heinkel He 176 rocket plane flies for 1st time, at Peenemunde
  • Jul 3 Ernst Heinkel demonstrates 800 kph (500 mph) rocket plane to Adolf Hitler
  • Jul 5 Flash floods kill 79 in Northeast Kentucky
  • Jul 6 German Nazis close last Jewish enterprises
  • Jul 15 Clara Adams (NYC) is 1st woman to complete round world flight
  • Jul 19 Dr Roy P Scholz is 1st surgeon to use fiberglass sutures
  • Jul 22 Jane Bolin becomes the 1st African American female judge in New York
  • Jul 25 5th and last Dutch government of Colijn, forms
  • Jul 28 5th Dutch government of Colijn falls
  • Aug 2 US Hatch Act prohibits political activity by federal workers

Historic Event

Aug 3 Jean Genet's "Ondine" premieres in Paris

Historic Event

Aug 7 Millionaire Howard Hughes is presented with a Congressional Gold Medal

  • Aug 10 2nd Dutch De Geer government forms (1st with Social Democrats)
  • Aug 11 Sergei Rachmaninov's last appearance in Europe
  • Aug 12 Sabotage suspected in 'City of San Francisco' train crash which derails near Harney, Nevada, killing 24
  • Aug 15 13 Stukas dive into the ground during a disastrous air-practice at Neuhammer. No survivors.
  • Aug 19 37.6 cm rainfall at Tuckerton, NJ (state record)
  • Aug 20 1st black bowling league formed (National Bowling Assoc)
  • Aug 20 Russian offensive under General Zjoekov against Japanese invasion in Mongolia
  • Aug 22 Dutch border guards take positions for German invasion
  • Aug 22 Premier De Geer recalls Dutch holidaymakers in Black Forest
  • Aug 23 John Cobb (Britain) drives 365.85 MPH (593.48 KPH) at Bonneville Flats

Treaty of Interest

Aug 23 Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union agree the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact and secretly divide Poland between themselves, setting the stage for World War II

  • Aug 24 Germany & USSR sign 10-year non-aggression pact
  • Aug 26 Belgium mobilizes
  • Aug 26 Croatia gets autonomous status
  • Aug 27 Erich Warsitz in a Heinkel He-178 makes the 1st manned jet-propelled flight
  • Aug 27 Nazi Germany demands Danzig & Polish corridor

Historic Event

Aug 27 Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands receives German ambassador Grave Zech

Historic Event

Aug 28 Gen Bernard Montgomery ("Monty") becomes commander of 3rd "Iron" Infantry division

  • Aug 28 Netherland mobilizes
  • Aug 28 Journalist Care Hollingworth observes the “large numbers of troops, literally hundreds of tanks, armored cars and field guns” Germany had aligned along the Polish border. Three days later, Hitler invades Poland and WWII begins.

Historic Event

Aug 29 Chaim Weizmann informs England that Palestine Jews will fight in WW II

  • Aug 30 General Reijnders appointed supreme commander of Dutch army

Appointment of Interest

Aug 30 Isoroku Yamamoto appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese fleet

  • Aug 30 Poland mobilizes
  • Aug 31 Japanese invasion army driven out of Mongolia
  • Aug 31 Staged "Polish" assault on radio station in Gleiwitz
  • Sep 1 Adolf Hitler orders extermination of mentally ill through the "T4 Euthanasia Program," arguing that wartime "was the best time for the elimination of the incurably ill"
  • Sep 1 Scientific journal "Physical Review" publishes 1st paper to deal with "black holes"
  • Sep 1 Switzerland proclaims neutrality at the outbreak of WWII
  • Sep 1 World War II starts when Germany invades Poland by attacking the Free City of Danzig

Historic Event

Sep 1 General George Marshall sworn in as the United States Army Chief of Staff

  • Sep 1 The Wound Badge for Wehrmacht, SS, Kriegsmarine, and Luftwaffe soldiers is instituted. The final version of the Iron Cross was also instituted on this date
  • Sep 1 Switzerland mobilizes its forces and the Swiss Parliament elects Henri Guisan to head the Swiss Army (an event that can happen only during war or mobilization)

Historic Event

Sep 1 In the "scoop of the century," Telegraph journalist Clare Hollingworth becomes the first to report the outbreak of World War II

  • Sep 3 German submarine U-30, commanded by Oberleutnant Fritz-Julius Lemp, sinks British passenger ship SS Athenia; 117 people die, among them 28 Americans
  • Sep 3 World War II: Britain declares war on Germany after invasion of Poland. France follows 6 hours later quickly joined by Australia, New Zealand, South Africa & Canada
  • Sep 3 Mitford sister and Nazi sympathizer Unity Mitford attempts suicide after Britain declares war on Germany, bullet lodged in her brain eventually kills her in 1948
  • Sep 4 Dutch Second Chamber affirms the Netherlands is in a State of War with Germany
  • Sep 4 German troops move into Danzig
  • Sep 4 Netherlands & Belgium declare neutrality
  • Sep 4 Mir, a Nazi ghetto in occupied Poland, is exterminated
  • Sep 4 RAF bombs Wilhelmshafen, Germany

Historic Event

Sep 4 Surgeon Archibald McIndoe sets up new Centre for Plastic and Jaw Surgery at Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead, England to treat injured airmen

  • Sep 5 FDR declares US neutrality at start of WW II in Europe

Historic Event

Sep 5 New Zealand Prime Minister, Michael Joseph Savage declares New Zealand's support for Britain in the war with Germany; Savage famously told the nation 'where she goes, we go. Where she stands, we stand'

Historic Event

Sep 5 J. B. M. Hertzog resigns as South African Prime Minister after losing a vote in parliament on neutrality in WWII

  • Sep 6 1st German air attack on Great Britain in WW II
  • Sep 6 South Africa declares war on Nazi-Germany
  • Sep 6 World War II: The Battle of Barking Creek.
  • Sep 7 Radio NY Worldwide-WRUL begins radio transmission
  • Sep 8 FDR declares "limited national emergency" due to war in Europe
  • Sep 8 General Von Reichenau's panzer division reaches suburbs of Warsaw
  • Sep 9 Nazi army reaches Warsaw

Declaration of War

Sep 10 Canada, under the leadership of Mackenzie King, declares war on Germany

  • Sep 11 Battle of Kutno-pocket: Germans advance to Warsaw
  • Sep 11 British submarine Triton torpedoes British submarine Oxley
  • Sep 11 Iraq and Saudi Arabia declare war on Nazi Germany

Historic Event

Sep 14 World’s 1st practical helicopter, the VS-300 designed by Igor Sikorsky takes (tethered) flight in Stratford, Connecticut

  • Sep 14 British fleet attacks German U-39 boat

Historic Event

Sep 14 First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill visits Scapa Flow, Orkney

  • Sep 17 German U-29 sinks British aircraft carrier Courageous, 519 die
  • Sep 17 Poland's President Ignacy Mościck and Prime Minister Felicjan Sławoj Składkowski flee to Romania
  • Sep 17 Soviet Union invades Eastern Poland allowing Germans to advance West, taking 217,000 Poles prisoner, without a formal declaration of war
  • Sep 17 Taisto Mäki of Finland becomes first man to run 10,000 metres in under 30 minutes, in a time of 29:52.6 in Helsinki
  • Sep 18 Polish government of Moscicki flees to Romania

Historic Event

Sep 18 William Joyce's first Nazi propaganda broadcast

  • Sep 19 British Expeditionary Force reaches France
  • Sep 19 Lord Haw-Haw (William Joyce) becomes radio host of Reichsrundfunk Berlin
  • Sep 19 Wehrmacht (German regular army) murders 100 Jews in Lukov Poland