Foreign Ministers Aleksandar Cincar-Marković of Yugoslavia and László Bárdossy of Hungary signing the Treaty of Eternal Friendship between Yugoslavia and Hungary; Hungarian Prime Minister Pál Teleki (with glasses) is on the left, Budapest, 14 March 1941 (public domain via Wikipedia)
80 Years Ago—Apr. 3, 1941: Hungarian Prime Minister Pál Teleki commits suicide because of his government’s decision to allow German troops to cross Hungarian territory and invade Yugoslavia, violating their treaty of friendship.
In Iraq, former prime minister Rashid Ali al-Gaylani overthrows Regent Abdul Illah and forms a pro-Axis government.
Recruiting poster for RAF Bomber Command, WWII
80 Years Ago—Apr. 2, 1941: RAF drops 75,000 tea bags to increase Dutch morale, printed with “Holland will arise. Keep your courage up.”
Clash between union and non-union miners in Harlan, Kentucky, leaves four dead.
Regent Abdul Illah of Iraq (British government photo: photographer Cecil Beaton)
80 Years Ago—Apr. 1, 1941: In Iraq, military officers under pro-Axis former prime minister Rashid Ali al-Gaylani begin a coup to overthrow pro-British Regent Abdul Illah.
Italians declare Asmara, capital of Eritrea and last Italian stronghold, an open city; British & Indian troops occupy Asmara.
Bomb bay of an Avro Lancaster of No.57 Squadron RAF at Scampton, Lincolnshire, loaded with a 4000-lb impact-fused HC bomb (‘cookie’) and 12 Small Bomb Containers (SBCs) loaded with incendiaries, WWII (Imperial War Museum: CH 18371)
80 Years Ago—Mar. 31, 1941: RAF first uses 4000-lb “Cookie” bomb in raid on Emden, Germany.
In North Africa, German troops under Gen. Erwin Rommel attack British and take Mersa Brega, Libya.
80 Years Ago—Mar. 30, 1941: After hearing reports that German and Italian sailors have been ordered to sabotage their own ships in US ports, the US Coast Guard seizes 63 German, Italian, and Danish ships; 913 Italian and German seamen are arrested.
Italian battleship Vittorio Veneto firing during Battle of Cape Matapan near Gavdos, Greece, 28 Mar 1941 (public domain, Ministero Della Difesa-Marina)
80 Years Ago—Mar. 29, 1941: Battle of Cape Matapan concludes: British ships sink Italian heavy cruisers Pola and Zara; in 2-day battle, 2303 Italians killed and 3 British; Italian navy rarely ventures from port after this.
British & South African troops take Dire Dawa in Ethiopia.
Vichy France establishes office for Jewish affairs (Commissariat Général aux Questions Juives) under antisemitic Xavier Vallat.
B-24E Liberator bombers on the assembly line at Ford’s Willow Run plant, MI, between July 1942 and February 1943 (Library of Congress: LC-USE6-D-008798)
80 Years Ago—Mar. 28, 1941: In Battle of Cape Matapan south of Crete, British ships sink Italian heavy cruiser Fiume and Italian destroyers Vittorio Alfieri and Giosué Carducci.
Author Virginia Woolf commits suicide in Lewes, England.
Ford Motor Company begins construction of factory at Willow Run, MI, for production of B-24 Liberator bombers.
King Peter II of Yugoslavia, 1942 (Library of Congress: LC-USW33-019090-D)
80 Years Ago—Mar. 27, 1941: Military coup in Yugoslavia replaces Axis regent Prince Paul with 17-year-old King Peter II and repudiates the Tripartite Pact.
Under the Lend-Lease Act, the US signs a 99-year lease on British bases in the Western Hemisphere and approves $7 billion in aid to Britain.
US & UK sign ABC-1 Staff Agreement to prepare for potential US entry into the war and committing the US Atlantic Fleet to protecting British convoys.
A boarding party from the Italian torpedo boat Sirio inspects the wreckage of HMS York at Suda Bay, Crete, June 1942 (public domain, Italian government photo)
80 Years Ago—Mar. 26, 1941: Italians attack British ships at Suda Bay, Crete with the first use of manned torpedoes with a detachable warhead in history, damaging heavy cruiser HMS York.
British Military Intelligence launches program to send maps to POWs in board games.
Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg’s Institute for Research on the Jewish Question opens in Frankfurt, Germany; by 1943, the library will have half a million looted books.
People of Belgrade demonstrate their support for break-up with the Tripartite Pact, 27 March 1941 (public domain via Digital Library of Slovenia: FZXOQL6Q)
80 Years Ago—Mar. 25, 1941: Yugoslavia’s Regent, Prince Paul, signs the Tripartite Pact, joining the Axis powers, over opposition of underage King Peter II.
Anti-Axis protests break out in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.