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.
The Japanese army occupies Nanking, China.
In the south Atlantic, the pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee, fights an action against three British cruisers, HMS Achilles, HMS Ajax and HMS Exeter, which results in serious damage to both sides. HMS Exeter is rendered a blazing hulk and the Graf Spee withdraws to the neutral Uruguayan port of Montevideo for repairs.
Petain dismisses his Vice-Premier, Laval.
British General Richard O’Conner decides his tank raid against Italian troops is going so well he will make it a full-fledged offensive. One of O’Conners officers reports having captured “five acres of officers, 200 acres of other ranks,” as the Italians surrender en masse.
Hitler issues Directive No. 20, the order for the preparation of Operation ‘Marita’, the plan for sending German forces to revive the bogged-down
Italian offensive in Albania.
Twenty four German divisions begin their redeployment to Romania, through Hungary as part of Directive No. 20, Hitler’s order for the preparation of Operation ‘Marita’, the attack on Greece.
The Soviet press issues a triumphant statement on the repulse of the German Armies before Moscow. The Red Army launches a new counter-offensive using Timoshenko’s South West Front in an attack northwest against the juncture of Panzer Group 2 and the German 2nd Army between Yelets and Livny. This results in Panzer Group 2’s right flank being left open as the 2nd Army is forced to withdraw in order to save itself. Field Marshal von Brauchitsch meets Field Marshal von Bock, C-in-C of Army Group Centre and decide that Army Group Centre must withdraw some 90 miles west to take up a ‘winter line’. Secret orders are passed to this effect.
The British manage to turn back an Italian convoy, which is taking supplies to Libya, by making it believe that its under threat from the Mediterranean Fleet.
The British Governor of Hong Kong rejects a Japanese demand for his garrisons surrender. British troops in the southern tip of Burma begin toÂ withdraw north towards Rangoon.
A US naval task force under Rear-Admiral Frank J. Fletcher sets sail from Pearl Harbor with orders to relieve Wake Island.
Rommel begins to retreat from his positions El Agheila, as the Eighth Army continues advance in to Libya.
The Japanese make successful new landings North of Buna.
54 Mustangs escorted B-17s 490 miles on a raid over Kiel, Germany, and for the first time in the war successfully defended the bombers for 40Â minutes over the targets, shooting down enemy fighter planes.
A war criminals trial at Kharkov accuses four Germans of murdering thousands of Russians in specially equipped carbon-monoxide murder vans. Army Group Centre becomes engaged in a series of heavy defensive battles in the area of Vitebsk.
The USAAF make the first damaging raid on Japanese industrial targets.
German forces of 7th Armee withdraw in to the fortified positions of the Westwall.
The U.S. cruiser Nashville was badly damaged in a Japanese kamikaze suicide attack that claimed 138 lives.
The Japanese fire on British and U.S. ships on the Yangtze River in China, sinking the American ship Panay. The Japanese apologize to the United States and pay reparations; the British refuse to accept any Japanese apology.
Finnish have some success against Russian troops at Tolvajrvi, inflicting heavy casualties.
Two German cruisers which are accompanied by 5 destroyers are damaged by torpedoes from the British submarine HMS Salmon as they are return from a mine laying operation of the northeast coast of England. Later in the day, HMS Salmon also gives warning under the ‘rules of war’ to a German liner, although it reaches the port of Bremen safely.
Sheffield is heavily bombed by the Luftwaffe.
The ship “Struma” leaves Romania for Palestine carrying 769 Jews but is later denied permission by British authorities to allow the passengers to disembark. In Feb. 1942, it sails back into the Black Sea where it is intercepted by a Soviet submarine and sunk as an “enemy target.”
Britain declares war on Bulgaria.
Bulgaria declares war on both Britain and the USA.
Hungary declares war on the USA.
US declares war on Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria after receiving those country’s declarations of war against the US.
The 1,500 ton destroyer HMS Partridge is sunk off the coast of Algeria by U-565, commanded by Wilhelm Franken.
A Czech-Soviet treaty of friendship is signed in Moscow.
Sidi Barrani is captured along with over 20,000 Italians, bringing the total captured to nearly 38,000 in 2 days, along with 237 guns and 73 tanks. At this time, Wavell decides to withdraw the 4th Indian Division and send it to the Sudan. It will be replaced by the 6th Australian Division, although it will take some days for it to be ready.
The British garrison in Hong Kong begins to withdraw from the mainland to Hong Kong Island itself. As a result of command and control problems, rumors and many desertions, the 11th Indian Division withdraws from Jitra towards Alor Star in northern Malaya, even though the Japanese troops facing them were inferior in numbers. The US garrison in Peking is forced to surrender to the Japanese.
Japanese troops attempt to land on Wake Island, but US Marine gunners and airmen repulse the first landing attempt and sink two Japanese destroyers in the process. Further Japanese landings take place in the Philippines.
In a speech before the Reichstag, Hitler, after denouncing the un-neutral and warlike anti-German policies of President Roosevelt and citing Germany’s obligations under the Tri-Partite Pact with Japan and Italy, declares war on the United States. Italy follows suit some hours later.
In response to Germany and Italy’s declaration of war, the US reciprocates and declares war on both Germany and Italy. Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua also declare war onÂ Germany and Italy.
In the last week the Royal Navy has lost the destroyers Pentlan, Porcupine and Blean, off Algeria.
A heavy USAAF raid on Emden kills 1,000 and makes 12,000 homeless.
Sidi Barrani is surrounded. Italian troops from the camps at Sofafi and Rabia flee west as the 7th Armoured divisions thrust threaten to encircle them.
Karel Richter, a German spy who parachuted into Hertfordshire is executed at Wandsworth Prison.
British forces that had pushed into southern Thailand begin to fall back along with those from northern Malaya after the Japanese capture Kota Bharu airfield.
Due to the RAF’s heavy losses, the British Battleships Prince of Wales and Repulse are attacked and sunk of the north eastern coast of Malaya by Japanese aircraft flying from occupied French Indo-China.
Japanese troops land on and capture Guam. Japanese troops make landings on the northern tip of Luzon and the island of Camiguin in the Philippines.
The first transport of Jews from Germany arrives at Auschwitz.
Australian troops capture Gona and now control the whole of the Gona area in New Guinea.
Allied forces bomb Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria.
Franklin D. Roosevelt signs a bill that postpones a draft of pre-Pearl Harbor fathers.
The US Third Army captures Hagenau and Saargemand.
The U.S. 77th Infantry Division captures Ormoc on Leyte. Japanese make their last seaborne reinforcement of Leyte.
The Western Desert Force which is 30,000 strong and under the command of Wavell takes to the offensive ‘Operation Compass’. The 4th Indian division captures the Italian camps at Nibeiwa, Tumar East and West, while the 7th Armoured drives south of the camps at Sofafi and Rabia and turns north towards Buq Buq on the coast road. As column also advances along the coast road from Mersa Matruh towards Maktila as British warshipsÂ bombard both Maktila and Sidi Barrani. Italian troops eating breakfast at Nibeiwa in are interrupted by British and Indian tanks crashing through their camp. The Italian commander ignored a report of approaching tanks given earlier by a scout plane.
Franklin D. Roosevelt tells Americans to plan for a long war.
The Red Army recaptures Tikhivin. Zhukov issues an order forbidding frontal attacks, in favor of envelopment and outflanking maneuvers, as heÂ says frontal attacks merely allow the Germans to withdraw in good order.
China declares war on Japan, Germany and Italy.
Bangkok is occupied by Japanese troops as they to push through Thailand towards the Burmese border. The Japanese also continue to land troops along the Kra Isthmus in southern Thailand and at Kota Bharu in north eastern Malaya.
Japanese aircraft attack Alor Star airfield, Malaya. From the two squadron of Blenheims based there, only one aircraft survives; its pilot, Flt Lt A S K Scarf single-handedly overcame strong enemy defences to attack Singora airfield in the North. After recovering to Alor Star, Flt Lt Scarf died from his wounds, and was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross five years later when the full facts of his heroism were established.
Japanese troops land on Tarawa and Makin in the Gilbert islands.
Fresh US troops relieve the besieged 1st Marine Division on Guadalcanal.
The Establishment of the Council of Freedom in Denmark is announced in Britain.
The Chinese retake Changteh in Hunan.
The Russians reach the Danube north of Budapest.
General Patton is seriously injured in car crash in Germany.