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.

May
26

World War II Today: May 26

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1940
General Sir John Dill is appointed Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Sir Edmund Ironside becomes C-in-C, Home defense. Empire Day in Britain is declared as a national day of prayer. Coastal towns from Great Yarmouth to Folkestone are declared evacuation areas.

Operation ‘Dynamo’ the evacuation of British, French and Belgian troops from Dunkirk begins. Under the command of Admiral Bertram Ramsay, hundreds of naval, commercial and private vessels participate in this most desperate rescue attempt. Calais falls to the Germans as they advance towards Dunkirk after Hitler’s stop order is rescinded.

Following the fall of Calais and Boulogne, Dunkirk remains the only port available for the evacuation of Allied troops from the Continent. No. 11 Group, under the command of Vice-Marshal Keith Park, assigns 16 squadrons to the protection of the port. During the evacuation, a total of 32 participate, although they are rotated to provide rest periods and preserve aircraft for the inevitable defense of Britain.

1941
British flying boat spots the Bismarck at 10:36am. Swordfish Torpedo-bombers from the Ark Royal score hits on the Bismarck, disabling her steering gear and rendering her maneuverable. This enables British destroyers to attack after dark.

The Aircraft carrier Formidable is severely damaged in the Mediterranean by Stukas.

1942
Britain and Russia sign a treaty in London. Each county pledges itself to fight Germany until final victory and not make a separate peace. The also agreed a 20-year alliance, not to join any coalition or treaty directed against one of them, and not to interfere with the other states internal affairs.

In the Barents Sea, Convoy QP-12 is on its way home to Britain with 15 ships, while Convoy PQ-16 is en-route to Murmansk with 35. Some 260 Luftwaffe aircraft, including He 111 torpedo bombers, swing in to attack, joined by U-boats, amid appalling weather. QP-12 emerges unscathed, but PQ-16 feels the teeth of a running five-day battle, losing an acceptable six ships.

The battle for the Gazala line begins (Operation Theseus), as the Afrika Korps thrusts towards Tobruk with 560 tanks sweeping round the southern end of the Eighth Army’s defensive positions, although the Free French forces at Bir Hacheim manage hold up this advance.

1943
The British Government informs churches throughout England that they may ring their bells freely. The ringing of church bells has been banned, except to warn of an invasion, since the start of the war.

The Red Army begins an offensive against the German forces isolated in the Kuban bridgehead between the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea.

1944
Charles De Gaulle proclaims his Free French movement to be the “Provisional Government of the French Republic.” Though the new government wins recognition from Czechoslovakia, Poland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Yugoslavia and Norway, Roosevelt and Churchill are furious and refuse recognition. They retaliate by excluding De Gaulle from the final planning for Operation Overlord.

U.S. troops from Anzio take Cori, 22 miles inland. Mark Clark makes a decision to direct four divisions on Rome, but only one to Valmontone on Highway 6 to cut German retreat.

The Japanese launch a two-pronged attack from Canton and Hankow.

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May
25

World War II Today: May 25

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1940
British Expeditionary Force surrounded on French coast.

The British garrison of Calais rejects a German call for surrender.

15 French generals relieved of their commands.

Trade Union executives accept Nye Bevan’s manpower mobilization plan, setting up Labour Supply Board and Production Council.

1941
Bismarck escapes the Royal Navy’s pursuit and separates from the Prinz Eugen and makes her way towards Brest.

German Navy Chief, Admiral Raeder warns that US convoying of British war supplies would be considered an act of war.

The Germans decide to go on the offensive having now received substantial reinforcement through Maleme airfield on Crete.

1942
RAF Coastal Command refuses permission for their aircraft to take part in operation ‘Millennium’, which means that a shortfall of 250 aircraft is expected. However, by scraping up all the resources within Bomber Command, he manages to find the required 1000 bombers.

Perth police arrest four Australians for planning to set up an ‘Australia First’ Nazi-style government.

1944
The U.S. Fifth Army make first contact with troops from the Anzio beachhead. German airborne troops attack Tito’s Partisan HQ at Drvar in Bosnia on Tito’s 52nd birthday.

German airborne troops attack Tito’s Partisan HQ at Drvar in Bosnia on Tito’s 52nd birthday. Tito and Churchill’s son Randolph, both manage to escape in to the mountains.

1945
The U.S. Joint Chiefs complete the plan for Operation ‘Olympic’, which sets the date to invade the Japanese mainland as no later that the 1st November 1945.

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May
24

World War II Today: May 24

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1940
The first British civilian bomb casualties are reported.

Hitler halts Panzer drive on Dunkirk. Infantry units of XIX.Panzerkorps storm the citadel of Boulogne and take 5,000 British and French prisoners. The French fortress of Maubeuge surrenders, while 6th Army captures Ghent and Tournai in Belgium and St Omer in North-eastern France.

Luftwaffe sink destroyer Wessex off Calais.

1941
War Weapon Week ends in towns and cities, with £124m collected.

The German battleship Bismarck, supported by the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, sinks the British battle cruiser Hood after firing only three salvoes. There are only 3 survivors out of a crew of 1,421. The Prince of Wales is also damaged and forced to break off the action.

Heavy German bombing of Crete. King of Greece leaves for Cairo.

King George VI makes South African Premier, General Smuts a Field Marshal, the first man born in an overseas dominion to attain that rank.

The Australian Prime Minister, R.G. Menzies arrives back in Australia after his trip to Britain.

1942
General Stilwell arrives in Delhi after a 20-day jungle trek out of Burma.

The Germans decide they’ve had quite enough of the partisan harassment in Russia and launch operation ‘Hanover’, to clear the Bryansk-Vyazma railway. For six days, 45,000 German troops, including panzer and SS-police units, search for an estimated 20,000 partisans, catching or killing many of them. In the Barvenkovo salient, General Ewald von Kleist’s Panzer’s start to chop up the Russian 6th and 9th Armies. Moscow admits the loss of 5,000 dead, 70,000 missing, and 300 tanks destroyed, but the Germans claim 24,000 POW’s and 1,200 tanks.

1943
‘Bomber Harris’ congratulates RAF Bomber Command for passing the 100,000 ton mark in raids against Germany.

The battle of the Atlantic is officially concluded as won by Allies, due to the withdrawal of virtually all U-boats from the Atlantic by Admiral Dönitz, C-in-C of the Kriegsmarine after the loss of 56 boats in April and May.

1944
Prime Minister Winston Churchill takes to the floor of the House of Commons to announce that Spain will not be a target in the forthcoming Allied invasion of mainland Europe and Spain’s internal affairs are no business of the Allies. He expresses the hope that a post-war Francoist Spain will be “a strong influence for the peace of the Mediterranean after the war.”

U.S. troops take Terracina in Italy. The retreating Germans are subjected to heavy air-attacks.

It is estimated that 100,000 have been gassed at Auschwitz. Between May 16 and May 31, the SS report collecting 88 pounds of gold and white metal from the teeth of those gassed. By the end of June, 381,661 persons, which is half of the Jews in Hungary have arrived at Auschwitz.

1945
The exchange of Russian POW’s for U.S. and British POW’s begins at pre-arranged points in Germany.

Japanese paratroops drop on the US airbases on both Okinawa and Ie.

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May
23

World War II Today: May 23

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1940
Heavy fighting around Boulogne. Units of the German 6th Army cross the Scheldt river at Oudenarde in Belgium.

Sir Oswald Mosley and other British fascists arrested. 76 IRA men arrested in Northern Ireland.

1941
During the evening, the cruiser HMS Suffolk sights the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen in the Denmark Straight. The Home Fleet makes ready to intercept at dawn on the 24th May.

Further German attempts to land troops by sea on Crete are repulsed as heavy fighting continues around Canea.

Luftwaffe sinks two more British destroyers off Crete, Kashmir and Kelly.

1942
The British C-in-C of the Home Forces orders an end to ‘blood-lust inculcation’ in battle training.

Air Marshal Harris issues his orders for operation ‘Millenium’. The target is to be Hamburg, with Cologne as an alternate. The raid was to take place on the night of the 28th/29th May, or the first suitable night thereafter.

The 6th Army and Kleist’s Panzer’s meets thereby pinching of the Russian salient Southeast of Kharkov.

1943
The heaviest RAF raid of war to date is made against Dortmund, during which 2,000 tons of explosives are dropped.

The British claim that 313 Axis ships have been sunk in the Mediterranean since the battle of El Alamein.

1944
General Hans Cramer, the last German commander of the Afrika Korps, who was captured in May 1943, arrives in Berlin. Imprisoned in a POW camp in Wales, his deteriorating health caused him to be repatriated to Germany through the Swedish Red Cross. He was brought first from Wales to London, the route taken brought him through the south and south-west of England. He was allowed to see the massive build up of tanks, planes and ships getting ready for the D-Day invasion. What he didn’t know was the exact area of England he was being driven through. He was told it was southern and eastern England and this is what he reported to his seniors in Berlin, adding emphasis to the Allied propaganda that the invasion would take place in the Calais area.

The U.S. Fifth Army begins an offensive from the Anzio bridgehead toward Rome. Canadian troops breach the Adolf Hitler Line to the South West of Monte Cassino.

Chinese forces counter-attack in central China, and also make ground along the Burma Road.

1945
British troops arrest the Donitz government and the remnants of the German High Command at Flensburg.

Himmler commits suicide at the British Second Army HQ on Lüneburg Heath.

The heaviest air raid so far on the Japanese homeland, see USAAF bombers drop 4,500 tons of incendiaries on Tokyo. 21% of the city is now burnt out, but the firebombing continues for next four days.

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May
22

World War II Today: May 22

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1939
Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini sign “Pact of Steel” forming the Axis powers.

1940
British cipher experts at Bletchley Park break the Luftwaffe Enigma code.

The XIX Panzerkorps (Guderian) strikes from Abbeville toward Boulogne, Calais and Dunkirk along the Channel coast.

1941
Himmler establishes Norwegian SS on German lines.

British blockade of Vichy France made complete.

Heavy German air attacks on Crete sink the cruisers Fiji, Gloucester and the destroyer Greyhound. The Battleships Warspite and Valiant are damaged, but the Royal Navy breaks up German supply convoy.

Fierce fighting continues as British troops begin to pull back from Maleme airfield towards Suda Bay in order to regroup and protect their main point of supply.

British forces capture the last Italian stronghold in southern Abyssinia.

1942
The 6th Army and Kleist’s Panzer’s meets thereby pinching of the Russian salient Southeast of Kharkov.

1945
Montgomery is appointed as C-in-C of the British force of occupation in Germany and a British member of the allied control commission.

‘Sugar Loaf Hill’ on Okinawa is finally taken by U.S. troops after changing hands 11 times in the last few days.

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