Archive for WWII History
Today in World War II History. On these pages you will find of some of the most important events that shaped World War 2.
59 French warships that had sought refuge at Plymouth and Portsmouth are seized by the Royal Navy, but only after overcoming armed French resistance in some cases. The British Auxiliary AA ship Foyle Bank is sunk in German air attacks on the docks at Portland, Dorset. Due to heavy losses at the hands of the Luftwaffe the British suspend all future convoy from passing through the English Channel.
Heavy units of the British Navy, code named Force H (Somerville), launch an attack (Operation Catapult) on the French fleet stationed at Mers-el-Kebir near Oran in Algeria, sinking the battleship Bretagne and heavily damaging the battleship Provence and the battlecruiser Dunkerque. 1,300 French sailors are killed and hundreds wounded.
For the first time since the beginning of the German attack on the Soviet Union, Stalin speaks to the Russian people over the radio. Demanding utmost resistance ‘in our patriotic war against German Fascism’ and says ‘A grave threat hangs over our country.’ He calls for a policy of scorched earth if the Red Army is forced to yield ground and the formation of ‘people’s partisan’ groups behind enemy lines, as well as the summary execution of all cowards and shirkers. Army Group Centre eradicates the Bialystok pocket capturing 290,000 prisoners, 2,500 tanks, 1,500 guns in the process.
Sevastopol, the Crimean capital, finally falls to Germans, along with 97,000 Soviet prisoners. The German and Romanian forces lost 24,000 men.
11 U-boats in the area begin to close in on convoy PQ-17 or place themselves along the route of the convoy. 6 U-boats make attack runs throughout the day, but have no success and either lose contact or fall behind the convoy.
Due to exhaustion and lack of supplies, especially fuel for the armored divisions, Rommel orders his German and Italian forces to suspend all offensive operations before El Alamein and begin constructing defensive positions.
The RAF carries out a heavy night raid on Cologne, causing considerable damage and killing hundreds of civilians.
The opening of operation ‘Citadel’, the massive German offensive to encircle and destroy the Soviet forces in the Orel-Belgorod salient near Kursk, is delayed by one day because of heavy Soviet air attacks against the German deployment areas.
US troops from Nassau Beach link up with the Australians who are under heavy attack at Mubo in New Guinea. Operation ‘Cartwheel’ continues with further advances in the Solomon’s.
The U.S. First Army opens a general offensive to break out of the hedgerow area of Normandy, France.
The U.S. VIII Corps drives southwards to Coutances.
French troops take Siena, only 30 miles South of Florence.
Minsk, the capital of Byelorussia is captured by the Russians, trapping 100,000 Germans in a pocket to the East.
Prime Minister Curtin returns to Australia after the Commonwealth conference in Britain.
U.S. troops land at Balikpapan and take Sepinggan airfield on Borneo in the Pacific.
The British liner Arandora Star, carrying 1,500 German and Italian prisoners of war to Canada, is sunk by U-47 off the west coast of Ireland, with many casualties.
Hitler orders preparation of ‘Operation Sealion’ the plan for the invasion of Britain. Germans issue casualty figures for French campaign: 17,000 killed and 1,900,000 French prisoners claimed. August Bank holiday canceled in Britain.
The RAF carries out night raids on Bremen and Cologne.
Troops of the German 11th, Romanian 3rd and 4th Armies begin an offensive from Moldavia toward Vinnitsa and the Black Sea port of Odessa.
China breaks off diplomatic relations with Germany and Italy.
Allied convoys QP-13 and PQ-17 pass each other while the German battleships Tirpitz and Hipper prepare to attack PQ-17 in the North Atlantic.
The British hold El Alamein despite heavy attacks, Rommel is now down to 26 tanks.
JCS approves Pacific strategy-a dual Army-Navy attack.
Greek guerrillas to come under the direct control of the supreme allied command in the Middle East. U.S. Fifteenth Air Force, raids three airfields in southern Italy.
US troops land on New Georgia in the Solomons.
The end of the battle of the ‘Scottish Corridor’ in Normandy result in the German counter-attacks failing to eliminate it. Field Marshal von Rundstedt, C-in-C West, is replaced by Field Marshal von Kluge.
German troops evacuate Siena.
The Russians cut the railways to the West of Minsk.
The U.S. submarine Trenchant sinks a Hagura Class Japanese cruiser in the Southwest Pacific. The British capture secret documents concerning a planned breakout of Honda’s 33rd Army in Burma.
In the first 6 months of the year, German U-boats have sunk 900,000 tons of Allied shipping.
German troops occupy Jersey and complete the capture of the Channel Islands, the only British territory ever captured by Germany during World War 2. The French government of Marshal Petain moves from Bordeaux to Vichy. Germany asks the USA and other neutrals to withdraw diplomatic missions from Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg and Norway. British milk price maximum is raised to 4d a pint.
Marshal Balbo is replaced by Marshal Graziani as C-in-C of the Italian forces in Libya.
Icelandic-American exchange of letter respecting defense of Iceland.
Coal deliveries to all establishments in Britain limited to one ton per month.
RAF starts daylight air offensive over Northern France, English Channel and Occupied Europe.
German armoured forces of Panzergruppe 4 of Heeresgruppe Nord cross the Dvina and capture Riga, while units of Panzergruppe 2 of Heeresgruppe Mitte reach the Berezina near Borisov.
Auchinleck becomes C-in-C of the Middle East.
Wavell becomes C-in-C, India. The Axis recognises the Japanese backed government of China.
German troops capture Sevestpol, Crimea, in the Soviet Union.
Rommel captures 2,000 prisoners from the El Alamein ‘box’ but loses 18 of his 55 remaining tanks.
Hitler addresses the generals taking part in the imminent operation ‘Citadel’ at Kursk.
The invasion of southern France is fixed for the 15th August. Since D-Day, the Allies have landed 920,000 troops, 177,000 vehicles and 600,000 tons of supplies and equipment. In the 24 days of fighting, they have lost 62,000 men killed, wounded and missing. Beginning of the Bretton Woods Conference convened to deal with postwar financial and economic problems. The establishment of the International Monetary Fund for Reconstruction and Development is announced.
The Fifth Guards Tank Army of the 3rd Belorussian Front takes Borisov, less that 50 miles North East of Minsk.
The Japanese Imphal-Kohima survivors are encircled at Ukrul.
The U.S. 2nd Armoured Division from Halle enter Berlin in accordance with the four-power agreement over the division of Germany into zones.
The Australian 7th Division lands at Balikpapan on South East coast of Borneo after a 15-day bombardment.
Adolf Hitler began his ”blood purge” of political and military leaders in Germany. Among those killed was one-time Hitler ally Ernst Roehm, leader of the Nazi stormtroopers.
Germans troops land on Guernsey in the Channel Islands.
The last French defenders of the Maginot Line surrender.
Governor General of Hong Kong orders evacuation of women and children to the Philippines as Japanese blockade colony.
Vichy France breaks off diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union.
Army Group Centre continues to constrict the Bialystok pocket to the west of Minsk. Pilots of Luftwaffe fighter wing JG-51 down 100 Soviet bombers attacking German panzer forces east of Minsk, with its CO, Oberst MË†lders, accounting for 5 of them. German forces of Army Group South capture Lemberg (Lvov).
The costliest fiscal year in U.S. history comes to a close. More that $32 billion has been spent, $26 billion on war expenditures alone. The total exceeds the amount on WWI in its entirety.
Returning from a successful patrol in the Gulf of Mexico (12 ships sunk), U-158 (Kptlt. Rostin) is destroyed by a US Mariner flying boat off Bermuda.
As the Panzer’s roll eastward in Russia, they haul in hordes of Russian POW’s. With five German armies (two panzer), two Romanian, one Italian (including a number of mountain divisions) and one Hungarian Army in the van, all tolled 89 divisions on the offensive. While the Panzer’s are fully motorized, the bulk of the remaining forces depend on horses for transport and supply. As the advance lengthens, so do the supply lines, and shortages soon begin to appear at the sharp end. The Russian garrison at Sevastopol begins to evacuate itself by night. Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, chief of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, telegraphs his troops, “In line with the prestige and dignity of the German Army, every German soldier must maintain distance and such an attitude with regard to Russian POW’s as takes account of the bitterness and inhuman brutality of the Russians in battle.” Prestige and dignity will be maintained, Keitel continues, as follows “Fleeing prisoners of war are to be shot without preliminary warning to stop. All resistance of POW’s, even passive, must be entirely eliminated immediately by the use of arms.” Russian POW’s are placed into camps where the dead lie undisturbed for weeks on end. German guards periodically enter the camps to get rid of bodies with flame-throwers.
At Auschwitz, a second gas chamber, Bunker II (the white farmhouse), is made operational at Birkenau due to the number of Jews arriving.
U-372 sinks the British submarine depot ship Medway. The loss of the torpedo’s she was carrying put a severe brake on British submarine operations in the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean Fleet evacuates Alexandria for Haifa, Port Said and Beirut. The port facilities are also prepared for demolition incase axis forces reach the city.
Rommel spearheads reaches El Alamein. The port facilities at Alexandria are prepared for demolition, should the axis forces not be stopped at El Alamein. In what became known as ‘Ash Wednesday’, British HQ is Cairo begins to destroy classified papers and prepares for evacuation to Palestine. A brave but disorganized Eighth Army is addressed by General Auchinleck, who tells them, that ‘He (Rommel) hopes to take Egypt by bluff. Lets show him where to get off.’ This comes as ‘Ultra’ interceptions told them that Rommel would attack their positions at El Alamein the following day.
The British publish aircraft losses incurred to date, with Axis losses of 18,031 aircraft and RAF losses of 9,906 aircraft.
Operation ‘Cartwheel’ continues with the occupation of Rendova, north west of Guadalcanal. The Trobriand and Woodlark islands between Solomon’s and New Guinea are also occupied.
The United States breaks off diplomatic relations with Finland.
The remaining 6,000 Germans in the Cherbourg peninsula surrender. The Germans forces retake Hill 112 from the British 2nd Army.
The Chinese take Liuchow and capture towns on the Indo-Chinese border.
Lord Beaverbrook becomes Minister of Supply in Cabinet reshuffle.
Goering is named HitlerÃs successor.
Russian defense Committee is formed with Stalin, Molotov, Voroshilov, Malenkov and Beria.
The German 20th Mountain Army launches Operation ‘Silver Fox’, an offensive to capture the Soviet port of Murmansk, while the Finnish Karelian Army activates its offensive towards Leningrad.
Local Finnish forces attack along the border in southern Finland.
Romanian troops conduct a pogrom against Jews in the town of Jassy, killing 10,000.
Germany demands that Japan launches an attack against Russia. The Japanese consider this, but in the end only agree to strengthen their forces in this area.
The drive on the Caucasus roars on as German columns kick up dust clouds that can be seen 40 miles away and leave behind burning villages and town. “It is the formation of the Roman Legions, now brought up to date in the 20th century to tame the Mongol-Slav horde,” exults German propaganda. In Sevastopol, German troops attack from their bridgehead, while more forces blast in across the Fedyukhin Heights, forcing the Russians back.
Rommel takes Mersa Matruh after heavy fighting and captures 6,000 prisoners along with large quantities of supplies. British disarray increases as German advance units mix with British rear units which are reatreating as fast as possible for the relative safety of the El Alamein defensive position. Mussolini arrives at Derna in Libya to prepare for the triumphal entry into Cairo. Alexandria is bombed.
Two ships leave the port of Shanghai carrying more than four hundred North and South American Diplomats and their dependents. The passengers are to exchanged for and equal number of Japanese nationals being held in the Western Hemisphere.
US Marines land on Nassau beach near Lae in New Guinea during Operation ‘Cartwheel’.
The RAF carries out a saturation raid (250 Lancasters) against the 2nd and 9th SS Panzer Divisions at Villers-Bocage near Caen.
The US VII Corps captures the last harbor fort at Cherbourg, but the port rendered completely useless for three weeks.
70,000 troops of Army Group Centre that are encircled near Bobruisk surrender to the Red Army. The Russians report that 16,000 Germans have been killed and 18,000 captured near Minsk.