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1940 ( MCMXL)
was a leap year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar, the 1940th year of the Common Era (CE) and (AD) designations, the 940th year of the Anno Domini 2nd millennium, the 40th year of the 20th century, and the 1st year of the 1940s decade.
Below, the events of
World War II have the "WWII" prefix.
March 2 – Cartoon character Elmer Fudd makes his debut in the animated short . Elmer's Candid Camera
March 3 – In Luleå, Sweden, a time bomb destroys the office of Swedish communist newspaper . Norrskensflamman
March 5 – Katyn massacre: Members of the Soviet Politburo ( Joseph Stalin, Vyacheslav Molotov, Lazar Kaganovich, Mikhail Kalinin, Kliment Voroshilov and Lavrentiy Beria) sign an order, prepared by Beria, for the execution of 25,700 Polish intelligentsia, including 14,700 Polish POWs.
March 11 – Ed Ricketts, John Steinbeck and six others leave Monterey, California for the Gulf of California on a collecting expedition.
March 12 – The Soviet Union and Finland sign a peace treaty in Moscow ending the Winter War; Finns, along with the world at large, are shocked by the harsh terms.
March 18 – WWII: Axis powers: Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini meet at Brenner Pass in the Alps. After being informed by Hitler that the Germans are ready to attack in the west, Mussolini agrees to bring Italy into the war in due course.
March 21 – Édouard Daladier resigns as prime minister of France; Paul Reynaud succeeds him.
March 30 – WWII: Former member of the Kuomintang (KMT) and Chinese foreign minister, Wang Jingwei, announces the creation of the Reorganized National Government of the Republic of China in Nanjing. March 31 – WWII: Commerce raiding German auxiliary cruiser leaves the Atlantis Wadden Sea for what will become the longest warship cruise of the war. (622 days without in-port replenishment or repair). 
Robin the Boy Wonder, Batman's trusted sidekick, makes his debut in #38. Detective Comics
April 3 – WWII: Operation : German ships set out for the Weserübung invasion of Norway.
April 4 – Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, in what proves to be a tragic misjudgment, declares in a major public speech that Hitler has "missed the bus".
April 7 – Booker T. Washington becomes the first African American to be depicted on a United States postage stamp.
April 8 – WWII: Operation Wilfred: The British fleet lays naval mines off the coast of neutral Norway.
April 9 – WWII: Germany invades the neutral countries of Denmark and Norway in Operation , opening the Weserübung Norwegian Campaign. The British Royal Navy attempts to attack elements of the German fleet off Norway. Vidkun Quisling proclaims a new collaborationist regime in Norway. The German invasion of Denmark lasts for about six hours before that country capitulates.
April 10 – WWII: First Naval Battle of Narvik: The British Royal Navy attacks the German fleet in the Ofotfjord. At Bergen, German cruiser is sunk by British Königsberg Fleet Air Arm Blackburn Skua dive bombers flying from RNAS Hatston in Orkney.
April 14 – Norwegian Campaign: First British ground forces land in Norway at Namsos and Harstad.
April 16 – In American baseball, the Cleveland Indians, behind Bob Feller's Opening Day no-hitter, defeat the Chicago White Sox, 1-0.
April 21 – makes its debut on Take It or Leave It CBS Radio in the United States, with Bob Hawk as host. April 23 – The Rhythm Club fire at a dance hall in Natchez, Mississippi, kills 198.
July 1 – The first Tacoma Narrows Bridge opens for business, built with an 8-foot (2.4 m) girder and 190 feet (58 m) above the water, as the third longest suspension bridge in the world.
July 2 – WWII: British-owned SS , carrying Arandora Star civilian internees and POWs of Italian and German origin from Liverpool to Canada, is torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine off northwest Ireland with the loss of around 865 lives. U-47
July 3 – WWII: Attack on Mers-el-Kébir: British naval units sink or seize ships of the French fleet anchored in the Algerian ports of Mers-el-Kebir and Oran to prevent them falling into German hands. The following day, Vichy France breaks off diplomatic relations with Britain.
July 10 – WWII: The Battle of Britain begins.
July 14 – WWII: Winston Churchill, in a worldwide broadcast, proclaims the intention of Great Britain to fight alone against Germany whatever the outcome: "We shall seek no terms. We shall tolerate no parley. We may show mercy. We shall ask none."
July 15 – U.S. politics: The Democratic Party begins its national convention in Chicago, and nominates Franklin D. Roosevelt for an unprecedented third term as president.
July 23 – Welles Declaration: United States Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles announces that the U.S. will not accord diplomatic recognition to the Soviet Union's occupation of the Baltic states.
July 25 – General Henri Guisan addresses the officer corps of the Swiss army at Rütli resolving to resist any invasion of the country. July 27 – Bugs Bunny makes his debut in the Oscar-nominated cartoon short, . However, it is not until 1941 that his name is adopted. A Wild Hare
August 1 – WWII: British submarine HMS is sunk in the English Channel by what is much later discovered to be a mine. Spearfish
August 3 – The Lithuanian SSR is annexed into the Soviet Union, followed by the Latvian SSR on August 5 and the Estonian SSR August 6, just seven weeks after their occupation.
August 3– 19 – WWII: Italian conquest of British Somaliland.
August 4 – Gen. John J. Pershing, in a nationwide radio broadcast, urges all-out aid to Britain in order to defend the Americas, while Charles Lindbergh speaks to an isolationist rally at Soldier Field in Chicago.
August 8 – WWII: Wilhelm Keitel signs the " Aufbau Ost" directive, which eventually leads to the invasion of the Soviet Union.
August 10 – WWII: British armed merchant cruiser HMS is torpedoed off Transylvania Malin Head, Ireland, by German submarine . U-56
August 13 – WWII: The ("Eagle Day") strike on southern England occurs, starting the rapid escalation of the Adlertag Battle of Britain air offensive of the against Luftwaffe RAF Fighter Command.
August 15 – Italy, without having declared war on Greece, sinks the Greek boat Elli (Έλλη).
August 21 – Leon Trotsky dies of injuries sustained.
August 24 – Howard Florey and a team including Ernst Chain and Norman Heatley at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, publish their laboratory results showing the bactericidal action of in vivo penicillin. They have also purified the drug.  
August 25 – WWII: The first Bombing of Berlin by the British Royal Air Force.
August 26 – WWII: Chad is the first French colony to proclaim its support for the Allies. August 30 – Second Vienna Award: Germany and Italy compel Romania to cede half of Transylvania to Hungary.
September – The
U.S. Army 45th Infantry Division (previously a National Guard Division in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Oklahoma), is activated and ordered into federal service for 1 year, to engage in a training program in Ft. Sill and Louisiana, prior to serving in WWII.
September 2 – WWII: Destroyers for Bases Agreement between United States and Great Britain is announced to the effect that 50 U.S. destroyers needed for escort work will be transferred to Great Britain. In return, United States gains 99-year leases on British bases in the North Atlantic, West Indies and Bermuda.
September 4 – WWII: In Berlin, Adolf Hitler declares in a speech that Nazi Germany will avenge all night air raids carried out by Great Britain.
September 5 – WWII: Commerce raiding German auxiliary cruiser enters the Pacific Ocean via the Komet Bering Strait after crossing the Arctic Ocean from the North Sea with the help of Soviet icebreakers Lenin, Stalin, and Kaganovich. 
September 6 - King Carol II of Romania abdicates and is succeeded by his son Michael.
September 9– 16 – WWII: Italian invasion of Egypt from Libya, progressing only as far as Sidi Barrani.
September 14 – Ip massacre: The Hungarian Army, supported by local Hungarians, kill 158 Romanian civilians in Ip, Sălaj, a village in Northern Transylvania, as part of attempts at ethnic cleansing.
September 16 – WWII: The Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 is signed into law by Franklin D. Roosevelt, creating the first peacetime draft in U.S. history.
September 17– 18 – WWII: SS is City of Benares torpedoed by German submarine in the Atlantic with the loss of 248 of the 406 on board, including child evacuees bound for Canada. This results in cancellation of the British U-48 Children's Overseas Reception Board's plan to relocate children overseas.
September 21 – Australian federal election, 1940: Robert Menzies' UAP/ Country Coalition Government is re-elected as a minority government, narrowly defeating the Labor Party led by John Curtin. It is the last federal election to result in a minority government until 2010.
September 22 – Japan enters French Indochina: an agreement is signed in which Japan promises to station no more than 6,000 troops there, and never have more than 25,000 transiting the colony. Rights were also given for three airfields.
September 25 – Occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany: German Reichskommissar Josef Terboven appoints a provisional council of state from the pro-Nazi Nasjonal Samling party under Vidkun Quisling as a puppet government for Norway.
September 26 – A group of Japanese officers in violation of an agreement signed four days earlier with French Indochina, take Đồng Đăng and Lam Sơn with 40 Franco-Vietnamese troops killed and around 1,000 deserting. The same day the United States imposes a total embargo on all scrap metal shipments to Japan.
September 27 – WWII: Germany, Italy and Japan sign the Tripartite Pact. September 30 (night to 1 October) – Arsonists from the Hitler Youth destroy the Great Synagogue of Strasbourg.
October 1 – The first section of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the United States' first long-distance controlled-access highway, is opened.
October 11 – Portuguese-born performer Carmen Miranda makes her American film debut in one of the first films produced to promote the Down Argentine Way Good Neighbor policy.
October 14 – The Balham tube station disaster in London, England, occurs during the Nazi Luftwaffe air raids on Great Britain.
October 15 – Charlie Chaplin releases his controversial wartime satire , nine months after the Stooges' The Great Dictator You Nazty Spy!.
The draft registration of approximately 16 million men begins in the United States.
Nazi Governor-General Hans Frank established the Warsaw Ghetto.
October 18– 19 – WWII: Thirty-two ships are sunk from Convoy SC 7 and Convoy HX 79 by the most effective " wolfpack" of the war including U-boat aces Kretschmer, Prien and Schepke.
October 26– 28 – WWII: RMS , serving as a Empress of Britain troopship under the British flag, is bombed, torpedoed and sunk off the Donegal coast with the loss of 45 lives. At 42,348 GRT she is the war's largest merchant ship loss.
October 28 – WWII: Italian troops invade Greece, meeting strong resistance from Greek troops and civilians. This action signals the beginning of the Balkan Campaign. October 29 – The Selective Service System lottery is held in Washington, D.C..
November – In
Cambodia the Khmer Issarak is formed to overthrow the French Army within the nation.
November 2– 8 – WWII ( Greco-Italian War): In the Battle of Elaia–Kalamas in Epirus outnumbered Greek forces repel the Italian Army.
November 2 – German submarine is commissioned, the first U-69 Type VIIC U-boat of Nazi Germany's which will become its most numerous class with 568 commissioned during the War. Kriegsmarine
November 5 – United States presidential election, 1940: Democrat incumbent Franklin D. Roosevelt defeats Republican challenger Wendell Willkie and becomes the United States' first and only third-term president.
November 6 – Agatha Christie's mystery novel is published in book form in the United States. And Then There Were None
November 7 – In Tacoma, Washington, the 600-foot (180 m)-long center span of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (known as Galloping Gertie) collapses.
November 8 – WWII: MS is sunk by a naval mine, the first City of Rayville United States Merchant Marine loss of the war, off Cape Otway, Australia.
November 9 – Joaquín Rodrigo's premieres in Concierto de Aranjuez Barcelona, Spain.
November 10 – 1940 Vrancea earthquake: An earthquake in Romania kills 1,000.
November 13 – Walt Disney's is released. It is the first box office failure for Disney, though it eventually recoups its cost years later, and becomes one of the most highly regarded of Disney's films. Fantasia
November 14 – WWII: The city centre of Coventry, England is destroyed by 500 Luftwaffe bombers: 150,000 fire bombs, 503 tons of high explosives, and 130 parachute mines level 60,000 of the city's 75,000 buildings; 568 people are killed, during the Coventry Blitz.
November 15 – Abbott and Costello make their film debut in . One Night in the Tropics
November 18 – WWII: German leader Adolf Hitler and Italian Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano meet to discuss Benito Mussolini's disastrous invasion of Greece.
November 20 – WWII: Hungary, Romania and Slovakia join the Axis powers.
November 26– 27 – Jilava Massacre: In Romania, coup leader General Ion Antonescu's Iron Guard arrests and executes over 60 of exiled king Carol II of Romania's aides, starting at a penitentiary near Bucharest. Among the dead is former minister and acclaimed historian Nicolae Iorga. November 27 – WWII: The British Royal Navy and Italian Regia Marina fight the Battle of Cape Spartivento.
Timely Comics' Captain America Comics #1 (cover dated March 1941), first appearance of Captain America and Bucky, hits newsstands in the United States.
December 1 – Manuel Ávila Camacho takes office as President of Mexico.
December 6 – British submarine HMS is sunk near Regulus Taranto.
December 8 – The Chicago Bears, in what will become the most one-sided victory in National Football League history, defeat the Washington Redskins 73–0 in the 1940 NFL Championship Game.
December 9 – WWII: Operation Compass – British forces in North Africa begin their first major offensive with an attack on Italian forces at Sidi Barrani, Egypt.
December 12 and December 15 – WWII: " Sheffield Blitz" ("Operation Crucible") – The Yorkshire city of Sheffield is badly damaged by German air-raids.
December 16 – WWII: Operation Abigail Rachel – RAF bombing of Mannheim.
December 17 – President Roosevelt, at his regular press conference, first sets forth the outline of his plan to send aid to Great Britain that will become known as Lend-Lease.
December 23 – WWII: Winston Churchill, in a broadcast address to the people of Italy, blames Benito Mussolini for leading his nation to war against the British, contrary to Italy's historic friendship with them: "One man has arrayed the trustees and inheritors of ancient Rome upon the side of the ferocious pagan barbarians."
December 24 – Mahatma Gandhi, Indian spiritual non-violence leader writes his second letter to Adolf Hitler addressing him "My friend", requesting him to stop the war Germany had begun.
January 3 – Leo de Berardinis, Italian stage actor and theatre director (d. 2008)
January 6 – Penny Lernoux, American nun and author (d. 1989)
January 9 – Miguel Ángel Rodríguez, Costa Rican politician, lawyer, economist, and businessman
January 14 – Julian Bond, American civil rights activist (d. 2015)
January 16 – Franz Müntefering, German politician
January 20 – Carol Heiss, American figure skater
January 22 – John Hurt, English actor (d. 2017)
January 24 – Joachim Gauck, German president
January 27 – James Cromwell, American actor January 28 – Carlos Slim, Mexican businessman
February 1 – Ajmer Singh, Indian athlete and educator (d. 2010)
February 2 – Sir David Jason, English actor
February 3 – Fran Tarkenton, American football player
February 4 – George A. Romero, American film writer and director (d. 2017)
February 5 – H. R. Giger, Swiss artist (d. 2014)
February 7 – Tony Tan, 7th President of Singapore
February 8 – Ted Koppel, American journalist
February 18 – Fabrizio De André, Italian singer-songwriter (d. 1999)
February 19 – Smokey Robinson, American musician
February 20 – Jimmy Greaves, English footballer
February 23 – Peter Fonda, American actor
February 27 – Howard Hesseman, American actor February 28
March 1 – Nuala O'Faolain, Irish journalist and author (d. 2008)
March 6 – Willie Stargell, American baseball player (d. 2001)
March 7 – Rudi Dutschke, German radical student leader (d. 1979)
March 8 – Susan Clark, Canadian actress ( Webster)
March 9 – Raúl Juliá, Puerto Rican actor (d. 1994)
March 12 – Al Jarreau, American singer (d. 2017)
March 13 – Candi Staton, American singer
March 15 – Phil Lesh, American musician
March 17 – Mark White, Governor of Texas (d. 2017)
March 21 – Solomon Burke, American singer and songwriter (d. 2010)
March 22 – Haing S. Ngor, Cambodian actor (d. 1996)
James Caan, American actor Nancy Pelosi, American politician; Speaker and Minority Leader (alternately) of the United States House of Representatives March 29
April 1 – Wangari Maathai, Kenyan environmentalist, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (d. 2011)
April 8 – John Havlicek, American basketball player
April 13 – Max Mosley, British motorsport boss
April 14 – Julie Christie, English actress
April 16 – Queen Margrethe II of Denmark
April 17 – Chuck Menville, American animator and writer (d. 1992)
April 18 – Joseph L. Goldstein, American scientist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
April 22 – Ray Griff, Canadian country music singer-songwriter (d. 2016)
April 24 – Sue Grafton, American detective novelist (d. 2017)
Al Pacino, American actor and film director Tristram Powell, English television director, film director, writer and producer
April 26 – Giorgio Moroder, Italian film composer April 28 – P. J. Bradley, Northern Irish politician (d. 2017)
May 1 – Elsa Peretti, Italian jewelry designer
May 3 – David Koch, American businessman and philanthropist
May 5 – Lance Henriksen, American actor and potter
May 9 – James L. Brooks, American film producer and writer
May 11 – Juan Downey, Chilean-born video artist (d. 1993)
May 14 – 'H'. Jones, British soldier (VC recipient) (d. 1982)
May 16 – Ole Ernst, Danish actor (d. 2013)
May 18 – Lenny Lipton, American inventor
May 22 – Bernard Shaw, American journalist and television news reporter
May 24 – Joseph Brodsky, Russian-born poet, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1996)
May 27 – Sotsha Dlamini, 5th Prime Minister of Swaziland (d. 2017) May 29 – Farooq Leghari, 8th President of Pakistan (d. 2010)
June 2 – Constantine II of Greece
June 4 – Ludwig Schwarz, Austrian prelate
June 8 – Nancy Sinatra, American singer
June 19 – Paul Shane, English-born actor (d. 2013)
June 20 – John Mahoney, English-born American actor (d. 2018)
June 21 – Mariette Hartley, American actress
Hope Cooke, American socialite; Queen Consort of Sikkim
Augusto Fantozzi, Italian lawyer, tax expert, academic, businessman and politician
Murali Mohan, Indian film actor, producer, politician and business executive
Walter Ofonagoro, Nigerian scholar, politician and businessman Ian Ross, Australian newsreader (d. 2014)
June 29 – Vyacheslav Artyomov, Russian composer June 30
Neelo, Indian actress Gil Gomes, Brazilian journalist, lawyer and broadcast police reporter
October 1 – Jean-Luc Bideau, Swiss actor
October 6 – Ellen Travolta, American actress
October 9 – John Lennon, English musician and singer ( The Beatles) (d. 1980)
October 11 – David McFadden, Canadian poet, fiction writer, and travel writer (d. 2018)
October 13 – Pharoah Sanders, American saxophonist
October 14 – Cliff Richard, British pop musician
October 15 – Peter C. Doherty, Australian immunologist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
October 16 – Ivan Della Mea, Italian singer-songwriter (d. 2009)
October 17 – Peter Stringfellow, English businessman and nightclub owner (d. 2018)
October 18 – Győző Kulcsár, Hungarian fencer (d. 2018)
October 19 – Sir Michael Gambon, Irish actor
October 20 – Robert Pinsky, United States Poet Laureate
October 23 – Pelé, Brazilian footballer
October 24 – Yossi Sarid, Israeli politician (d. 2015)
October 25 – Bobby Knight, American basketball coach
October 28 – Jack Shepherd, English actor October 30 – Hidetoshi Nagasawa, Japanese sculptor and architect (d. 2018)
December 5 – Peter Pohl, Swedish writer
December 7 – David Bamigboye, Nigerian military officer and politician (d. 2018)
December 18 – Ilario Castagner, Italian football manager
December 19 – Phil Ochs, American protest singer (d. 1976)
December 20 – Pat Chapman, English author
December 21 – Frank Zappa, American musician, composer, and satirist (d. 1993)
December 22 – Noel Jones, British ambassador to Kazakhstan (d. 1995)
December 24 – Janet Carroll, American actress and singer (d. 2012)
December 26 – Edward C. Prescott, American economist, Nobel Prize laureate December 29 – Fred Hansen, American Olympic athlete
March 1 – Anton Hansen Tammsaare, Estonian writer (b. 1878)
March 10 – Mikhail Bulgakov, Russian writer (b. 1891)
March 11 – John Monk Saunders, American writer (b. 1897)
March 16 – Selma Lagerlöf, Swedish writer, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1858)
March 20 – Alfred Ploetz, German physician, biologist, and eugenicist (b. 1860)
March 21 – Violet Ann Bland, English Suffragette (b. 1863)
March 23 – Dimitar Stanchov, 15th Prime Minister of Bulgaria (b. 1863)
March 26 – Spyridon Louis, Greek Olympic athlete (b. 1873)
March 30 – George Egerton, British admiral (b. 1852) March 31 – Tinsley Lindley, English footballer (b. 1865)
May 7 – George Lansbury, British Labour politician (b. 1859)
May 11 – Chujiro Hayashi, Japanese Reiki Master (b. 1880)
May 14 – Emma Goldman, Lithuanian-born anarchist (b. 1869)
May 15 – Menno ter Braak, Dutch writer (b. 1902)
May 19 – Diego Mazquiarán, Spanish matador (b. 1895)
May 20 – Verner von Heidenstam, Swedish writer, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1859)
May 24 – Louis Fles, Dutch businessman, activist and author (b. 1872)
May 25 – Joe De Grasse, Canadian film director (b. 1873)
May 26 – Wilhelm of Prussia, Prussian prince (b. 1906)
May 29 – Mary Anderson, American stage actress (b. 1859)
June 1 – Jan F. E. Celliers, South African poet, writer and dramatist. (b. 1865)
June 10 – Marcus Garvey, Jamaican-born publisher, entrepreneur, and black nationalist (b. 1887)
June 11 – Alfred S. Alschuler, American architect (b. 1876)
June 13 – George Fitzmaurice, American director (b. 1885)
June 14 – Henry W. Antheil Jr., American diplomat (b. 1912)
June 17 – Arthur Harden, English chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1865)
June 19 – Maurice Jaubert, French composer (b. 1900)
June 20 – Charley Chase, American comedian (b. 1893)
June 22 – Walter Hasenclever, German poet and playwright (b. 1890)
June 28 – Italo Balbo, Italian Fascist leader (b. 1896) June 29 – Paul Klee, Swiss artist (b. 1879)
August 3 – Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV, Indian royal, Maharajah of Mysore (b. 1884)
August 5 – Frederick Albert Cook, American explorer (b. 1865)
August 8 – Johnny Dodds, American jazz clarinetist (b. 1892)
August 18 – Walter Chrysler, American automobile pioneer (b. 1875)
August 24 – Paul Nipkow, German technician and inventor (b. 1860)
August 28 – William Bowie, American geodetic engineer (b. 1872)
August 30 – J. J. Thomson, English physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1856) August 31 – Ernest Lundeen, American lawyer and politician (b. 1878)
December 2 – Nikolai Koltsov, Russian biologist and genetist (b. 1872)
December 5 – Jan Kubelík, Czech violinist (b. 1880)
December 14 – Anton Korošec, Slovenian political leader (b. 1872)
December 15 – Billy Hamilton, American baseball player and MLB Hall of Famer (b. 1866)
December 16 – Eugène Dubois, Dutch paleoanthropologist and geologist (b. 1858)
December 19 – Kyösti Kallio, 4th President of Finland and 4-time Prime Minister of Finland (b. 1873)
December 21 – F. Scott Fitzgerald, American writer (b. 1896)
December 22 – Nathanael West, American writer (b. 1903)
December 23 – Eddie August Schneider, American aviator (b. 1911)
December 25 – Agnes Ayres, American actress (b. 1898) December 26 – Daniel Frohman, American theater producer (b. 1851)
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