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History of World War 2 Battles
  - The Invasion of Poland, 1939
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  - The German Invasion of Western Europe
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  - The Invasion of the Balkans
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  - Dieppe Raid, 1942
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  - The North West Europe Campaign, 1944-1945
  - D-Day and the Normandy Campaign
  - The Liberation of the Netherlands
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World War 2 Battles and Military Operations

The German Invasion of Western Europe, 1940

After the German occupation of Poland, nothing much happened for month after month. War did not seem like war. A "phoney war," the British called it. But in the spring of 1940 Hitler's forces struck again, and by June he held Europe in his grasp.

Germany moved suddenly against Denmark and Norway on April 7. Tiny Denmark surrendered under the threat that its capital of Copenhagen would be bombed. The Norwegians, with the help of twelve thousand British and French troops, held out until early June.

On May 10, the German forces launched a devastating attack on France, the Netherlands and Belgium. German armoured divisions, closely supported by air forces, hit west through the forested, hilly Ardennes region of eastern Belgium, bypassing the fixed concrete, gun and minefield defences of the Maginot Line on France's eastern frontier. Reaching the English Channel on May 21, the Germans cut off British soldiers from most of the French armies. Between May 26 and June 4, the British Royal Navy and an armada of British boats operated by heroic citizens made possible the escape of more than a quarter million British and French soldiers (but not their equipment) from Dunkirk. Italy declared war and attacked France on June 12. Paris fell to the Germans two days later. With more than ninety thousand killed, the French surrendered on June 22.

Canada was part of the tragic story. No. 242 (Canadian) Squadron, partially made up of Canadian pilots in the RAF, flew its Hawker Hurricane fighters from French airfields. Men of 1st Canadian Division landed in France on June 13, but never saw action. They managed to get out with most of their equipment. Three Canadian destroyers helped evacuate soldiers from the French coast, and HMCS Fraser was lost along with 47 of her crew and at least 19 British soldiers when she was accidentally sliced in half during the night by a British cruiser.

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