With the war going badly for the British, it was clear that Great Britain would require assistance from the United States. The British were running out of money to pay for the arms they were buying. President Roosevelt, therefore, went before the country in a Fireside Chat, in which he called for America to become an "arsenal of Democracy".
Roosevelt then introduced a bill to Congress on January 8, 1941, providing the president with the power to lend military equipment to countries that the president believed were in need.
The bill passed the House 260-165 and the Senate 60 to 31, with votes split primarily on party lines.
By the end of the war the United States had provided the following aid:
Great Britain.............$31 billion
Soviet Union.............$11 billion
France...................... ..$ 3 billion
Other European..........$ 500 million
South America.............$400 million
The amount totaled: $48,601,365,000.
The British fleet met the Italian fleet at the battle off of Cape Matapan. The Italian Force was led by Vice Admiral Angelo Iachino, the British force was led by Admiral Cunningham. The British force included the battleships Warspite, Valiant and Barham. It also included the carrier Formidable. Cunnigham cruisers engaged part of the Italian force on March 28th. In the meantime Cunninghams main force was closing. When the British aircraft attacked, the Italians changed course and began to withdraw.
Cunnighman then launched successive air attacks against the Italian fleet. The Vittorio Veneto was hit and forced to slow down, but was soon making 20 knots. The cruiser Polo was seriously damaged and two other cruisers and four destroyers were detached to escort the Pola. Cunnighams main force of battleships then struck the Italian cruiser in the middle of the night, Within three minutes the Italian cruisers Zara and Fiume were sunk. The destroyers Affeieri and Carducci soon followed. Finally, the partially disabled cruiser Pola was boarded and captured. It was the greatest British naval victory since Trafalgar.
The Germans invaded Yugoslavia, after a coup in Belgrade that overthrew the pro-German government and replaced it with one committed to neutrality. At the same time, the Germans invaded Greece. German troops reached Athens by April 27th. Britain was able to send 48,000 of the 60,000 members of its expeditionary force to Greece.
The German battleship, "Bismark," was sunk by the British Navy . In the first round of the fight, the British lost the battleship "Hood" and suffered the crippling of the battleship "Prince of Wales". A second British task force caught up with the "Bismark." On May 26th, a plane from the "Ark Royal" attacked the "Bismark." A torpedo hit its rudder and disabled the steering. That night, battleships "Rodney" and "King George" attacked the "Bismark" with their big guns. Together with torpedos from the "Doretshire," they sank the "Bismark".
German forces invaded Russia. The Germans advanced on a 2,000 mile-long front. Together with their allies, they were able to mass 3,000,000 troops. Initially, the Russians had 2,000,000 troops. German troops advanced along the hod front. By September, they began laying seige to Lenningrad, and then captured Kiev. By the end of October, the Germans had reached Crimea in the south and Moscow's suburbs in the north.
President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill spent three days meeting together on-board their ships at Argentina Bay, Newfoundland. The two leaders developed a close personal friendship, probably the closest between a President and any foreign leader up to that time.
While the President was meeting with Churchill, the American military staff, led by George Marshall, was meeting with the British military, discussing aid, as well as joint actions that could be taken.
The American decision to impose sanctions on Japan, in response to the Japanese invasion of Indo-China, convinced Japanese leaders that war with the United States was inevitable.
While the Japanese continued to negotiate in Washington, plans went ahead for military actions. The Japanese were convinced that they could not win a war of attrition with the United States, so they planned a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, hoping that a decisive victory would be achieved which would force the United States to negotiate. The Japanese attack was executed with precision and, despite having broken the Japanese code, the Americans at Pearl Harbor were caught unprepared, and the attack was successful.
Text from historycentral.com
WW2 IN BRIEF: 1939-40
WW2 IN BRIEF: 1942
WW2 IN BRIEF: 1943
WW2 IN BRIEF: 1944
WW2 In Brief: 1945