Archive for the ‘WWII History’ Category

1940 British claim 25 German planes downed in a day, the highest total so far.

Reich Minster of Economics Funk outlines ‘New Order’ for Europe, with forced labor from occupied countries.

Compulsory evacuation of women and children ordered from Gibraltar.

Swiss Gen. Henri Guisan, commander of all Swiss forces, reacts to an appeasement-oriented speech by Federal President Marcel Pilet-Golaz by assembling 650 Swiss military officers in the Field of Rutli – the birthplace of Swiss independence – to make it clear the Swiss Army would resist any German or Italian invasion. “As long as in Europe millions stand under arms, and as long as important forces are able to attack us at any time, this army has to remain at its post.” Pilet-Golaz and Berlin react with outrage, but Switzerland remains independent.

Italy bombs the British naval base at Alexandria and the base at Haifa.

1941 Italian motorboats with 33 Italian naval assault troops attempt to enter Valletta harbor on the island of Malta to attack British ships, but are discovered. All eight boats are sunk with 15 men being killed and 18 taken prisoner.

Finnish forces stop at the Tuulos River in Soviet Carelia because their flank is exposed.

Japan announces Indochina protectorate. It begins military occupation of bases July 28 to prepare for attack on Malay.

United States, UK and Dominions freeze all Japanese assets.

1942 Army Group A breaks out of its bridgeheads on the lower Don, along with the 4th Panzer Army which holds the eastern most of these. Army Group A drives south, whilst 4th Panzer Army attacks east and then north-east to link up with the rest of Army Group B as its advances towards Stalingrad. The South Front under General Malinovsky is being quickly shattered and the remnants are absorbed in to the North Caucasus Front, which is commanded by Marshal Budenny. Despite the lack of supplies are intense heat, the Germans make rapid progress. Further north, the 6th Army attempts to bounce its way across the river Don, but is initially repulsed and so waits for the 4th Panzer Army to arrive.

1943 German radio says that Hamburg is still burning (8am), leaving 100,000 homeless. The USAAF bomb the city again in daylight. The allies blitz Essen with 2,000 tons of bombs being dropped.

Benito Mussolini is arrested by order of the Italian King. Marshal Badoglio, a First World War hero becomes Prime Minister, introduces martial law and incorporates the Fascist militia into the ordinary armed forces, thus ending the Fascist regime in Italy. Hitler orders German divisions rushed South in to Italy to disarm their former allies. Allied forces begin to face stiff resistance as they approach Messina.

1944 2,500 USAAF aircraft drop 4,150 tons of bombs on German and American positions near St. Lo, which kill 601 Americans.

The US VII Corps launches ‘Operation Cobra’ in an attempt to breakout from the southern end of the Cherbourg peninsula, near St. Lo. The Canadians attack South of Caen. Goebbels becomes the ‘Reich Plenipotentiary for Total War’.

Narva is evacuated by the Germans, who take up position along the Tannenberg position to the West. Soviet forces cut the road between Dvinsk and Riga in Latvia. The Second Tank Army reaches the Vistula, 40 miles West of Lublin.

Lvov is surrounded and Soviet forces converge on Brest-Litovsk.

1,246 Japanese are killed in a Banzai charge on Tinian, another 3,000 die on Guam.

The British Eastern Fleet pounds the Japanese airfields and port at Sabang on Sumatra.

1945 A Proclamation to the Japanese people is issued by UK, U.S and China from Potsdam, which warns of devastation from the ‘final blows’ and calls for Japans unconditional surrender.

1940 Reports of Lancastria disaster released in London after Churchill’s ban on the news lifted.

Neutral French liner Meknes, taking 1,100 French sailors back to France, sunk by German E-boat 572: 400 killed.

Red Cross estimates 5.5 million refugees in Vichy France.

1941 The U.S. government denounces Japanese actions in Indochina. US imposes a crude oil embargo on Japan.

1942 Roosevelt agrees with Churchill that operation ‘Gymnast’ should proceed, whilst operation ‘Sledgehammer’ should be canceled.

Rostov-on-Don is captured by the 1st Panzer Army, thus clearing the way for the advance of Army Group A toward the Caucasus and Kuban region. Large numbers of Russian troops are liquidated in and around Rostov after German troops have secured the city.

Finland approaches the United States, seeking its protection from the Soviets should Finland switch sides and join the allies.

1943 Operation ‘Gomorrah’ takes place when 746 RAF bombers drop 2,300 tons of bombs on Hamburg in 48 minutes, during which only 12 aircraft are lost. This tonnage is as much as Germans dropped in the five heaviest raids on London.

Fires are visible for 200 miles. This is the first operational use of ‘Window’, (radar-jamming foil strips dropped by aircraft).

A battle-damaged USAAF B-17 Flying Fortress crash-lands in Sweden. Its ten-man crew becomes the first of nearly

1,000 American and other Allied airmen to be granted refuge in neutral Sweden during World War 2.

A 10-hour meeting of fascist grand council passes a motion, 19 votes to 7, asking that the King of Italy takes over command of all Italian forces from Mussolini.

The U.S. submarine Tinosa fires 15 torpedoes at a lone Japanese merchant ship, none detonate.

1944 The River San is crossed by the Soviets to the northwest of Lvov. The Germans start evacuating Lvov.

1944 The Russians liberate Maidanek Concentration Camp near Lublin, where 360,000 people perished.

The U.S. 4th Marine Division (15,000 men) lands on Tinian.

1940 Chancellor of the Exchequer Sir Kingsley Wood announces third War Budget: income lax up 1d to 8s 6d in the £, beer up 1d a pint, purchase tax introduced for first time at 33°/o on luxuries, war expenditure for the next year estimated at £3,470,000,000. Secretary of War announces that Local Defense Volunteers to be called the Home Guard, more than 1,300,000 now enrolled.

The Soviets officially absorbs Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia into the Soviet union, as per the Soviet-German non-aggression pact.

1941 Vital convoy reaches Malta after two-day battle; HMS Fearless is sunk.

Brest-Litovsk is taken by German troops after a month-long siege.

The Japanese extend their occupation across the whole of Indochina, as agreed with Vichy France.

1942 Fierce fighting continues along the El Alamein front.

Hitler, dissatisfied by what he viewed as von Bocks tardiness since the beginning of the summer offensive, dismisses him from command of Army Group B, dissolves his command HQ and gives command of Army Group B to von Weichs. Hitler also issues Directive No. 45 for Operation ‘Brunswick’, the capture of the Caucasus. Army Group A, once having destroyed the enemy in the Rostov area, was to secure the entire eastern coastline of the Black Sea, simultaneously capturing Maikop and Grozny and the advance to Baku. Army Group B would continue east to seize Stalingrad and the advance down the Volga to Astrakhan. This meant that the two would advance on diverging axes and a large gap would develop between them. This was aggravated by the return of Hoth’s 4th Panzer Army to Army Group B. Marshal Timoshenko is removed from command of the Stalingrad Front and replaced by General Gordov.

Treblinka extermination camp opened in occupied Poland, east of Warsaw. The camp is fitted with two buildings containing 10 gas chambers, each holding 200 persons. Carbon monoxide gas is piped in from engines placed outside the chamber, but Zyklon-B will later be substituted. Bodies are burned in open pits.

1943 Soviet forces continue their advance into the Orel salient.

1944 “Deutsche Gruss”, the Nazi form of salute, is introduced in to the Wehrmacht in the wake of the July 20th bomb plot against Adolf Hitler.

The U.S. 34th Division takes Pisa.

The Russians take Pskov, 150 miles to the South West of Leningrad on Estonian border. Heavy street fighting is reported from Lublin in Poland.

1945 The Allies launch a massive 36-hour air and sea bombardment of Kure naval base and other ports on the Japanese coast from Osaka to Nagoya, sinking and escort carrier and 12 other warships, as well as 84 cargo vessels sunk or damaged and over 200 planes destroyed or damaged.

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.

1940 Czech government-in-exile established in London under Dr. Benes.

Hitler orders preliminary planning for invasion of Russia.

1941 FDR asks Congress to extend the draft.

France accepts Japan’s demand for military control of Indochina.

In occupied Poland near Lublin, Majdanek concentration camp becomes operational.

1942 US losses since the war began are reported at 44,143 killed, wounded and missing.

Japanese land at Buna.

1944 Some of the German defenders of the Brody Pocket reach German lines.

U.S. Marines land on Guam, establishing beach-heads up to a mile inland. The island is back under US control by August 10, but snipers continue to attack long after the war ends. The last Japanese soldier on the island does not surrender until the 1970s.

1940 President Roosevelt signs the ‘Two Ocean Navy Expansion Act’. This was the first step in preparing America for war against either Germany or Japan, or both.

British claim 40 Luftwaffe planes down in a week; British civilian casualty figures for last month announced: 336 killed, 476 seriously injured.

German aircraft sink destroyer Brazen off Dover.

1941 Stalin appoints himself Defense Commissar. USSR resumes diplomatic relations with German occupied countries.

1942 The U.S. Army Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) begins its first training class at Fort Des Moines, Iowa.

Mussolini temporarily abandons his ‘Victory March on Cairo’ and returns to Rome.

The Russians recapture the bridgehead at Voronezh on the Don.

The Headquarters of MacArthur’s southwest Pacific theatre moves from Melbourne to Brisbane.

1943 The Italians surrender to U.S. forces en masse in western Sicily. The Canadians start to push around Mt. Etna as Catania drive falters.

HMAS Hobart is put out of action by a torpedo attack from a Japanese submarine west of New Hebrides.

1944 Adolf Hitler suffers only minor cuts when a bomb explodes in the office of his Wolf’s Lair fortress. The bomb has  been planted by Lieutenant Colonel Count Claus von Stauffenberg, who is caught and executed in under twenty four hours.

Heavy rain for next two days ends operation ‘Goodwood’ after 413 British tanks are lost.

French troops begin their withdrawal from the Italian front, ready for the invasion of Southern France.

1940 General Sir Alan Brooke takes over from Ironside as C-in-C, Home Forces. Ironside becomes a Field Marshal.

Hitler makes triumphant speech to Reichstag: accuses Allies of war mongering and appeals ‘for the last time to reason’.

The Italian Cruiser, Bartolomeo Colleoni is sunk off Cape Spada, near Crete by HMAS Sydney.

1941 BBC announces the ‘V Army’, the resistance movement in Occupied Europe.

George Armstrong executed at Wandsworth prison for spying.

Hitler issues Directive No.33. This states that Moscow is no longer the priority, but that once the Smolensk pocket has been reduced, then Army Group Centre is to hand over Panzer Group 3 to Army Group North and Panzer Group 2 to Army Group South. This will enable the flanks to be secured by capturing Leningrad in the North and overrunning the Ukraine in the South.

1942 German U-boats are withdrawn from positions off the U.S. Atlantic coast due to effective American anti-submarine countermeasures.

Himmler orders Operation Reinhard, mass deportations of Jews in Poland to extermination camps.

Japanese invasion fleet leaves Rabaul for Buna, New Guinea.

1943 USAAF planes bomb Rome for the first time, using carefully drawn maps in an attempt to avoid hitting the city’s numerous historic churches. The effort is deemed nearly perfect; only one church is damaged, Basilica at San Lorenzo.

1944 The British 3rd Division is repulsed from Emiville four times as the Canadians clear the southern suburbs of Caen. The British 11th Armoured Division takes Bras and Hubert-Follie.

The U.S. 34th Division captures Livorno on the Italian coast.

The Russians claim to have crossed into Latvia.

U.S. Marines invade Guam in the Marianas.

1940 Prince Konoye forms new Japanese Cabinet with Army and Navy nominees.

1941 The Japanese foreign minister, Yosuke Matsuoka is replaced by a moderate. New Japanese Cabinet has four generals and three admirals.

1942 The German Me-262, the first jet-propelled aircraft to fly in combat, makes its first flight.

Hitler changes his mind and orders Army Group B to resume its offensive towards Stalingrad. However, as almost all the German Army had be transferred to Army Group A, the advance was left to Paulus’s 6th Army which had been reinforced by a panzer and an infantry Corps. The remaining panzers with Army Group A were ordered to thrust south over the lower Don on a broad front.

1943 The U.S. Navy airship K-74 is shot down by anti-aircraft fire from a German U-boat.

The Germans say Cologne is in a state of chaos after allied raids.

1944 4,500 Allied aircraft pound the German positions with 7,000 tons of bombs.

The U.S. XIX Corps capture St. Lo, but has suffered 6,000 casualties since the 11th July. Montgomery launches Operation ‘Goodwood’ 40 miles east of Caen. However, VIII Corps is stopped with loss of 200 tanks and 1,500 men after the ‘death ride of the armored divisions’, which also destroys 109 Panzer’s.

The Polish II Corps takes Antona in Italy.

U.S. troops capture Saint-Lo, France, ending the battle of the hedgerows.

The First Belorussian front attacks, with six armies and 1,600 aircraft from Kovel across the Bug towards Lublin.

Buffeted by more than two years of military and naval defeats, Gen. Hideki Tojo is forced to resign his offices of prime minister, war minister and chief of the Imperial General Staff. While Tojo’s removal strengthens somewhat the elements of the Japanese government inclined to seek peace, Tokyo’s official policy of fighting to the end remains unchanged.

1945 Honda’s attempt to break out in Burma begins in earnest.

Allied carrier planes hit Japanese naval forces in Tokyo Bay, sinking 12 ships and damaging nine, including the battleship Nagato.

1940 The German Army presents its plan for the invasion of Britain. Six divisions are to land between Ramsgate and Bexhill in the southeast corner of England, four will land between Brighton and the Isle of Wight and three on the Dorset coast. Two Airborne division’s will also be deployed, with follow up forces including six Panzer and three Motorised divisions.

The first anti-Jewish measures are taken in Vichy France.

Under extreme diplomatic pressure, Britain agrees to close the Burma Road, a vital supply route for the Chinese army.

1941 FDR wants to double the 7 night baseball games to keep war workers on the job.

In Finland the old 1939 border is crossed by Finnish forces at Käsnäselkä.

1942 Himmler visits Auschwitz-Birkenau for two days, inspecting all ongoing construction and expansion, then observes the extermination process from start to finish as two trainloads of Jews arrive from Holland. Kommandant Höss is then promoted. Construction includes four large gas chamber/crematories.

1943 An allied military government (Amgot) is set up in Sicily.

1944 Two ammunition-laden transport ships explode whilst docked at Port Chicago, California. 320 sailors and other military personnel are killed in what is the worst stateside disaster of the war. Most of the sailors were African-Americans, who had received no training in ammunition handling. Many of the survivors refused to load any more ships until proper safety procedures were put in place. The so-called “Port Chicago Mutiny” resulted in numerous court martials and imprisonments, but the publicity surrounding the event led directly to the end of racially segregated assignments in the Navy two years later.

Rommel is severely wounded by a Spitfire attack after his inspection of defenses Southeast of Caen.

The Germans say they will hold Baltic States ‘at all costs’, as the Russian advance approaches the Latvian border.

Admiral Shimada, the Japanese Navy Minister is sacked, Nomura takes over.

1945 President Harry S. Truman, Soviet leader Josef Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill began meeting at Potsdam in the final Allied summit of World War II.

1940 Hitler issues Directive No.16, orders for the planning of ‘Operation Sealion’, the invasion of Britain. Twenty divisions are earmarked for the invasion, but the Luftwaffe must gain air superiority first. All plans are to be ready by mid-August.

Destroyer Imogen sinks in Pentland Firth after collision in fog by the British light cruiser HMS Glasgow.

Japanese Cabinet resigns under army pressure.

1941 Army Group South traps 20 Russians divisions in a pocket at Uman.

1942 2,887 Jews of Paris are rounded up and sent to Drancy Internment Camp located outside the city.

1943 Canadians forces take Caltagirone, 40 miles inland from Syracuse. The Americans take Agringento, before beginning their drive for Palermo. The British finally secure Primosole bridge and Montgomery advances on Catania.

1944 The Brody pocket begins to form in the northern Ukraine, trapping 40,000 German troops.

The Eighth Army captures Arezzo and reaches the Arno river.

1945 At 5.30 am, the first atomic bomb is exploded at a test site in Los Alamos, USA.