1940 Soviets break through Finnish defenses on the Karelian Isthmus.
Britain cracks down on unauthorized slaughterhouses (“steakeasies”) trying to circumvent rationing.
1941 German authorities order all gentiles to leave Amsterdam’s Jewish Quarter.
The British minister to Sofia says in a statement that “If the Germans occupy Bulgaria and make it a base against our ally, obviously we shall have to break off relations with Bulgaria and take whatever measures the situation requires.”
German submarine U-557 was commissioned.
1942 In the early hours of the morning, the Scharnhorst puts into Wilhelmshaven, while the Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen reach Kiel a short while later.
The Russians advance in to White Russia, but meet strong German resistance.
Vidkun Quisling visits Berlin.
US, Dutch, and British ships fail to stop Japanese ships bound for Palembang, Sumatra.
The final ships, including small craft, leave Singapore; Japanese aircraft sink several ships carrying refugees.
The Battle of Palembang begins near Palembang on Sumatra.
The Battle of Pasir Panjang begins in the battle for Singapore.
The Germans complete the Channel Dash successfully.
The British submarine Tempest is depth charged and sunk in the Gulf of Taranto by the Italian torpedo boat Circe.
1943 Tunisian Jews ordered to pay 10 million francs to Germans.
US Marine Corps Women’s Reserve officially established.
1944 The allies halt the German attack around Cassino. The Italians in Cassino Monastery are warned that it will be bombed.
Allied Combined Chiefs of Staff issue Combined Bomber Offensive directive: 1) aircraft production and ball bearings, 2) “Crossbow” (V-weapon) targets, 3) Berlin and industrial targets when weather bad.
Another British counter-offensive begins in Arakan, Burma.
1945 Soviets take Budapest, Hungary, opening the Danube Valley for the drive to Vienna; 110,000 POWs taken.
In Manila, US troops capture Nichols Field and Cavite naval base. US ships enter Manila Bay for first time since 1942.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: October 20 WWII Today: June 27 WWII Today: October 21
1938 Japan refuses to reveal naval data requested by the U.S. and Britain.
1940 First deportation of German Jews into occupied Poland.
Germany and Russia agree new trade pact, that provides for the delivery of vital war materials (grains, oil, strategic minerals) by the Russians, in return for German manufactured goods.
Anthony Eden greets the first Australian and New Zealand troops arriving in Suez.
1941 The British foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden and General Sir John Dill, Chief of the Imperial General Staff leave London for a tour of the Balkan capitals in order to try and establish an anti-axis pact. However, Yugoslavia refuses to see them and Turkey refuses their proposals. Only Greece shows and interest.
Again, the Italians make further breakout attempts, which all fail. Later in the day the Italians surrender 20,000 men, 200 guns and 120 tanks to just 3,000 British troops.
Anthony Eden makes a speech parodying Winston Churchills famous ‘Battle of Britain’ speech. He says “Never has so much been surrendered, by so many, to so few”.
General Gariboldi is the new Italian Army Commander in North Africa.
Erwin Rommel arrives in Tripoli, Libya with a Panzer and Motorized Infantry Division. He assumes command of the Deutsches Africa Korps.
Rommel receives assistance from the Fliegerkorps X and long range aircraft from Sicily.
Churchill congratulates Wavell for his success, and orders him to prepare to help the Greeks.
German planes attack Benghazi, the first action by the Luftwaffe in Africa.
1942 At 11.00 hours, British aircraft spot the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen as they enter the straits of Dover. At 12.00 hours the British launch MTB attacks against Admiral Ciliax’s squadron, but were forced to fire at extreme range and so missed. An hour later at 13.00 hours the British again launch torpedo attacks, this time using six Swordfish aircraft, but five were shot down and all torpedo’s missed. At 14.30 hours the battleship Scharnhorst hits a mine off the Dutch coast. The mine inflicts only minor damage and the Scharnhorst is able to continue towards Germany. A short time later the British again launch attacks against the three German ships, this time using destroyers from the port of Harwich and aircraft from both Bomber and Coastal commands, but without success. At 20.35 hours the battleship Gneisenau hits a mine, while at 20.55 hours the Scharnhorst hits its second mine of the day, although both ships are able to continue towards Kiel.
1943 Rostov is captured by Russians. German troops evacuate Krasnodar and reach the defensive positions in the Kuban bridgehead.
German bombers attacked port of Bari on Adriatic, sinking 16 freighters including an American ship carrying poison mustard gas shells, causing heavy casualties in the port.
Rommel and Von Arnim’s forces launch a counter attack against the American 2nd Corps in central Tunisia, forcing them back in some disarray.
Wingate’s first Chindit guerrilla campaign begins behind the Japanese lines in Burma.
VMF-124 lands on Guadalcanal, becoming the first Corsair squadron deployed for combat.
1944 The Red Army recaptures Luga.
1945 British and Canadians troops advancing from Southeast Holland take Cleve in western Germany.
Simultaneous announcements in Moscow, London and Washington about the Yalta agreement. Agreement is reached about the allied occupation of Germany, the founding of the United Nations, the “resettlement” of the inhabitants of the eastern German territories to be ceded to Poland and the entry of the Soviet Union into the war against Japan.
Thus far, the Kriegsmarine has evacuated 374,00 German refugees by sea from East and West Prussia.
The British 20th Indian Division crosses the river Irrawaddy Southwest of Mandalay.
Peru declares war against Germany.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: December 4 WWII Today: April 13 WWII Today: June 12
1940 Soviet troops finally breach the Mannerheim line, forcing the Finns to withdraw to a secondary defense line.
The Soviet Union and Germany sign a treaty to exchange Soviet raw materials for German manufactured goods.
1941 Former GOP presidential candidate Wendell Willkie testifies in favor of Roosevelt’s Lend-Lease Bill in Congressional hearings.
Hanover is bombed by the RAF.
British forces advance into Italian Somaliland in East Africa.
Three Stirlings of No. 7 Sqn carry out the first RAF four-engined bomber attack against oil depots in Rotterdam.
1942 The Channel Dash (Operation Cerberus). At 23.00 hours, Admiral Ciliax orders his squadron, which includes the battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the cruiser Prinz Eugen, to leave Brest and dash through the English Channel for the safety of Kiel in Germany.
Japanese troops cross the river Salween in Burma. This caused concern for the commander on the 17th Indian Division, Lieutenant General John Smyth, who felt that his troops might be cut off. He urged Burma Army commander, Lieutenant General Hutton to allow him to withdraw across the river Sittang. However, he was ordered to hold firm on the river Bilin.
The US Army occupies Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao in Dutch West Indies with permission from Free Dutch.
US Army begins construction on Camp Stoneman in Pittsburg, California.
US War Production Board takes DuPont’s supply of nylon.
In Montréal, French-Canadians riot against conscription plans.
1944 German relief forces are now just 10 mile from the Korsun pocket.
Americans troops at Cassino are relieved by Indian and New Zealand forces. The allies are pushed back to final defence line at Anzio.
The Australians take Rooke Island between Huon and New Britain.
1945 The Red Army the encirclement of the fortress city of Kastrin on the Oder.
The meeting of the President Franklin Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Marshal Joseph Stalin in Yalta, adjourns.
On way home from Yalta, Roosevelt meets with kings Farouk of Egypt, Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, and Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia, but is unable to convince them to allow Jewish settlement in Palestine.
Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: November 6 WWII Today: September 7 WWII Today: December 20
1939 Japanese occupy island of Hainan in French Indochina.
1940 Over 4000 members of American Youth Congress march in Washington to protest US being drawn into imperialistic war; President Roosevelt angrily confronts them.
1941 London severs diplomatic relations with Romania.
The RAF attacks the oil storage tanks at Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The raid sees the operational debut of the RAF’s first 4-engine heavy bomber, the Short Stirling.
Iceland is attacked by German planes.
The RAF makes its first operational drop of airborne forces (Operation Colossus). Six Whitleys of No. 58 Sqn drop 38 men to attack two aqueducts at Treviso in southern Italy.
1942 The war halts civilian car production at Ford.
The former French liner Normandie capsized in New York Harbor a day after it caught fire while being refitted for the U.S.Navy.
Wavell makes his last visit to Singapore, but by now there was nothing he could do to alter the outcome.
First meeting of Pacific War Council in London with Dutch, New Zealand, Australian and UK representatives.
1944 The Russians begin to lay down a tremendous artillery barrage against the Korsun pocket, in an attempt to force its surrender.
The allies announce that southern Italy is to be handed over to Italian government jurisdiction.
The Japanese combined fleet leaves Truk for Palau.
Australian and Americans troops link at Saidor in New Guinea.
1945 The U.S. First Army captures the seventh and most important Ruhr dam.
Soviet sub S-13 sinks German transport General Steuben, killing 4500 military personnel fleeing East Prussia.
The 2nd Belorussian Fronts attack towards Neustett is halted by desperate German counter-attacks. The 1st Ukrainian front reaches the Neisse encircling Glogau. Liegnitz is captured by the 1st Ukrainian Front. The remaining defenders of Budapest, some 16,000 men, try to break out from Budapest, although most are killed or captured.
B-29s hit the Tokyo area.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: January 7 Words At War: Fair Stood for France WWII Today: December 22
1941 Admiral Darlan becomes Vichy Vice-Premier.
In a radio broadcast, Churchill warns Bulgaria against joining the Tripartite pact.
U-boats and Fw 200 Condor bombers sink 5 of 16 ships in Allied Convoy HG-53 off the Azores (3 more will be lost in the coming days).
British take El Agheila, Libya, but the advance halts.
1942 By dawn the Japanese 5th and 18th Divisions have firmly established themselves and begin to advance south-east towards Singapore city.
French liner Normandie, which had been seized by the US and renamed the troopship USS Lafayette, burns at pier in New York, capsizes next day.
US institutes War Savings Time: year-round daylight savings time.
US Department of Justice requires German, Italian, and Japanese nationals to register for Certificates of Identification by Feb. 28.
Britain begins to ration soap (4 oz/month).
1943 The Red Army captures Belgorod.
US secures Guadalcanal; in the campaign, 1700 Americans killed and 40,000 Japanese.
President Roosevelt orders a 48-hr work week in war plants.
1944 The Germans capture Aprilia in the Anzio beachhead.
1945 British and Canadians troops smash the first of the main Siegfried Line defence zones. The last Rhine bridge is blown in the Colmar Pocket. Half the German Nineteenth Army were evacuated, but General De Lattre’s forces have taken 22,000 German prisoners since the 20th January.
US Seventh & French Armies clear Colmar Pocket and Alsatian Plain and drive Germans over Rhine south of Strasbourg, France.
The Red Army encircles Elbing and Posen.
In rare sub vs. sub combat and the only documented case in naval history where both were submerged, British submarine Venturer sinks U-864 off Norway.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: March 14 WWII Today: March 5 WWII Today: May 1
1941 Laval declines Petain’s offer of Cabinet seat in the Vichy Government.
The first convoy of the newly formed Afrika Korps under the command of Lieutenant General Rommel leaves Naples for Tripoli in Libya.
Force H from Malta bombards Genoa, without hindrance from the Italian Navy or Air force.
The House of Representatives passes H.R. 1776 by a vote of 260 to 165.
1942 The Soviet North West Front finally cut all land communication for 90,000 troops of the German 2nd and 10th Corps at Demyansk, as the 11th and 1st Shock Armies link up on the river Lovat, about 25 miles to the west of Demyansk.
The Japanese land on the western side of Singapore Island, encountering only minimal resistance.
1943 The Russians take Kursk and continue their advance.
Japanese complete their evacuation of Guadalcanal.
1944 The Australians complete the occupation of the Huon Peninsula in New Guinea.
Plans for invasion of France, Operation ‘Overlord’ are confirmed.
The Russians capture of Nikopol. The surrounded German forces in the Korsun pocket are invited to surrender by the Russians.
The RAF uses a massive 12,000b bomb ‘Tall-Boy’, in a raid on the GnÃ´me-et-RhÃ´ne works in Limoges.
The Australians complete the occupation of the Huon Peninsula in New Guinea.
1945 50,000 British and Canadians troops with 500 tanks and 1,034 guns launch a new offensive into the Reichswald, to the Southeast of Nijmegen.
Koniev breaks out of his Oder bridgehead north of Breslau, with six armies.
Generalmajor Karl Marthinsen, the head of the State Police is assassinated in his car at Blindernveien, Oslo by the resistance movement, Milorg. The Germans execute 29 Norwegians in retaliation.
UK civilian war casualties up to September 1944 are reported as 57,468 killed and 89,178 injured.
Paraguay declares war on Germany.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: January 15 WWII Today: December 25 Words At War: Captain Retread
Celebrated British actor David Niven (1910-1983), who played in about a hundred movies including A Matter of Life and Death, Around the World in 80 Days and Separate Tables,was born into a military family. His father served in World War I and died at Gallipoli when David was 5 years old. His maternal grandfather was an officer killed by the Zulus in the Battle of Isandlwana in 1879.
Niven attended a strict private school as a child. Being an incorrigible prankster, he faced frequent corporal punishment and was eventually expelled. He eventually enrolled at the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, where he did well and cultivated the air of an “officer and gentleman” that later became his trademark as an actor. Being of Scottish descent, he had his heart set on joining the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, with the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) as his second choice. When filling in his form, he jokingly wrote “anything but the Highland Light Infantry” as his third, since they wore tartan trews rather than kilts. To his chagrin, he was assigned there.
He was made a lieutenant in 1933 but considered his career to be a dead end in the peacetime army. The last straw for him was mandatory attendance at a lecture on machine guns, which interfered with his plans for dinner with a young lady. When the general holding the lecture asked if there were any questions, Niven asked “Could you tell me the time, sir? I have to catch a train.” The insubordination earned him an immediate arrest, which led to him and the officer guarding him downing a bottle of whisky. This, in turn, allowed him to escape with help from the same guard and Niven boarded a ship headed for America, resigning his commission by telegraph.
After a few false starts as a whisky salesman, a rodeo promoter and cleaning and shining rifles for American hunters in Mexico, he started acting and slowly but surely became a well-known star. When World War II broke out, he returned home to serve. He was the only British actor in Hollywood to do so and ignored the Embassy’s advice to stay.
Once back in Britain, Niven received commando training and became the commander of ‘A’ Squadron in the misleadingly named GHQ Liaison Regiment, better known as Phantom, where he reached the rank of lieutenant-colonel by the war’s end. Before the Invasion of Normandy, he also acted in two films: a war drama and a biopic about the designer of the Supermarine Spitfire fighter. He was also involved in organizing Operation Copperhead, a deception operation in which an actor pretended to be General Montgomery to confuse German intelligence.
Phantom was a unit born as No 3 British Air Mission during the Battle of France. Its job was to stay in forward positions and send back information about the movements of “bomb lines,” areas devoid of Allied troops and thus safe to bomb. The task was later expanded: patrols of up to 11 men stayed at the front (and sometimes behind enemy lines) monitoring troop movements and listening in on Allied tank radio communications. They then used small, specially-made radios to report back to Corps HQ, giving them clear and up-to-date information on the battle faster than the information could filter through any other line of command.
Over the course of the war, Phantom patrols served in Africa, Italy, Southeast Europe and, of course, France. In Normandy, some jumped with the other paratroopers the night before, while the rest landed on D+1 to move around and report back on the location of all British, Canadian and American troops after the chaos of the night jumps and the first day.
Phantom was also present in other significant battles. During Operation Market Garden, Phantom officers were the only line of communication between the trapped British airborne at Arnhem and the XXX Corps unsuccessfully trying to relieve them. It was these same officers who brought Major General Urquhart’s famous, desperate message from the besieged forces: “… unless physical contact is made with us early 25 Sept…consider it unlikely we can hold out long enough …”
Phantom patrols were responsible for giving first news on many other events during the war. They were the first to report on the closing of the Falaise Gap, they provided some of the first information on concentration camps and they tracked the movement of German armor during the Battle of the Bulge. In fact, when American and Soviet troops linked up for the first time at the Elbe River on April 25, 1945, a Phantom patrol attached to the U.S. 1st Army was sent to the planned location in advance, witnessing and reporting on the historic moment.
David Niven’s exploits in Phantom are little-known, as the actor remained tight-lipped about his wartime experience for the rest of his life. He shunned the limelight given to celebrities who served and scorned journalists who covered the war with florid prose. He once said “Anyone who says a bullet sings past, hums past, flies, pings, or whines past, has never heard one – they go crack!” He once explained the reason behind his silence and humility: “I will, however, tell you just one thing about the war, my first story and my last. I was asked by some American friends to search out the grave of their son near Bastogne. I found it where they told me I would, but it was among 27,000 others, and I told myself that here, Niven, were 27,000 reasons why you should keep your mouth shut after the war.”
A few details arose about Niven from other witnesses. It is sometimes said he was “unofficially” present at the disastrous Dieppe Raid, but there is no solid evidence to this claim. What is more certain is that on one occasion, just before a fight that was likely to result in heavy casualties, he cheered up his men with a quip: “Look, you chaps only have to do this once. But I’ll have to do it all over again in Hollywood with Errol Flynn!” Later, during the Battle of the Bulge, he was stopped by an American sentry. Knowing that Otto Skorzeny’s men were in the area masquerading as Allied troops, the guards asked everyone they met questions to which only “a true American” would know the answer – and Niven, of course, wasn’t American. When asked who won the World Series in 1943, he replied “Haven’t the foggiest idea, but I did co-star with Ginger Rogers in Bachelor Mother!” at which moment the American recognized him and let him pass.Take a look at these other WW2 Posts: Words at War: WW2 Radio Program WW2 Slang WW2 Pin Up: Irene Manning
1940 British railroads are nationalized.
1941 The Italian troops stay between Agedabia and El-Agheila.
In Libya, the British are victorious at Beda Fomm; 20,000 troops of the Italian Tenth Army surrender.
General Graziani ask Mussolini for substitution as a commander of the Italian forces at North Africa, and as Libyan Governor.
1942 After just over 2 weeks of frenetic action, Rommel’s counter-offensive comes to a halt in front of the Gazala line, a series of self supporting fortified boxes running south from Gazala for 100 miles to Bir Hacheim. Although not complete, it presents too much of an obstacle for the Afrika Korps who by this time are running low on fuel and reserves.
Lt. General Percival, the commander at Singapore, says city will be held to the last man. The Japanese launch a feint landing on Pulua Ubin Island to the east of Singapore.
“Double V” campaign proposed by Pittsburgh Courier, the leading black newspaper, to fight for victory at home and abroad.
US Navy Atlantic Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Unit established at Boston, MA, under Capt. Wilder Baker.
1943 Shoe rationing begins in the USA, limiting civilians to three pairs of leather shoes per year.
802nd Medical Air Evacuation Transport Squadron embarks from New York for Algeria on USS Lyon.
1944 The first operational ‘Schnorkel’ U-boat arrives in the Atlantic.
The Germans begin a full-scale counter-attack against the Anzio Beachhead.
1945 Russian attacks north of Konigsberg are blocked with the help of naval gunfire by the cruisers Scheer and Lutzow.
The Germans blow up the floodgates in the Ruhr, flooding the area West of Cologne and preventing the use of assault floating bridges by Allies.
Paraguay declared war on Germany and Japan.
The 2nd Ukrainian Front captured the southern rail station at Buda, Hungary.
Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: January 5 WWII Today: November 10 WWII Today: November 2
The Finnish 9th Division finally manages to encircle the Russian 54th Division in Kuhmo.
Finnish pilot Lt. Sarvanto, flying a Fokker, shoots down six out of seven Russian SB-2 bombers in just 5 minutes. The Russian 44th Division’s commander General Vinogradov, authorizes the remainder of his troops to try escape back to Russian lines.
1941 House of Commons vote for war credits of Â£1,600,000,000.
Hitler makes one last appeal to the Spanish leader, General Franco, to enter the war.
The Bishops of Norway start the Church’s struggle against the occupying German forces.
Australian forces capture Benghazi along with six senior Italian Generals. Italian forces make repeated attempts to break through the weak British blocking forces at Beda Fomm, but cannot.
Adolf Hitler sends Field Marshal Erwin Rommel to North Africa to help the Italian forces.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt asks Congress to support the Lend-lease Bill to help supply the Allies.
In his annual message to Congress, President Roosevelt announces the “Five Freedoms”.
Churchill demands that troops be released from Wavell’s offensive and sent to Greece.
The Luftwaffe launches its first attacks against British convoys bound for Malta in the Mediterranean.
1942 Roosevelt announces that US forces are to be based in UK.
In Moscow, the Russian Foreign Minister denounces German atrocities in occupied Russia, where in Kiev alone 52,000 people have been massacred. ‘The Soviet Union will never forget or forgive’.
Rommel’s battered forces reach the Tripolitanian frontier having evaded all British attempts to cut them off.
The British are pushed back to Gazala. The British Commonwealth forces lose 40 tanks, 40 field guns and 1,400 troops. This was a disaster for the Allies in more ways than one. Now the Allied convoys to Malta must pass between Axis occupied Crete and Axis airfields in Benghazi.
1943 Russians cut off Army Group A by reaching Yeysk on the Sea of Rostov.
The Americans outflank the retreating Japanese on Guadalcanal.
1944 The allies announce that jet-propelled aircraft will soon to be in production.
The Air Ministry says that Bomber Command dropped 157,000 tons of bombs on Germany in 1943, while the Luftwaffe dropped only 2,400 tons on Britain.
The Red Army crosses the 1939 Polish frontier after a 170-mile advance in just two weeks.
The Japanese pressure in Arakan forces the British to retreat.
Kwajalein Island in the Central Pacific falls to U.S. Army troops.
1945 The 1st Belorussian Front makes further advances to reach the Oder between KÃ¼strin and Frankfurt.
General MacArthur announced the imminent recapture of Manila while his staff planned a victory parade. But the battle for Manila had barely begun.
The ban on dancing is lifted in Finland, where it had been illegal to dance during wartime.
Boeing B-29 bombers in the Pacific strike new blows on Tokyo and Nanking.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: August 1 WWII Today: December 14 WWII Today: September 9
1940 British and French governments agree to land an expeditionary force in northern Norway without regard for Norway’s neutrality in order to aide Finland, although it was never carried out.
First sinking of a U-boat by a lone British destroyer: in convoy OA-84 off Land’s End, HMS Antelope sinks U-41.
1941 An advanced column of armoured cars from the 7th Armoured Division intercept the Italian retreat about 70 miles south of Benghazi.
Battle of Beda Fomm begins: British and Australian troops encircle bulk of Italian army in Libya.
US Navy designates new class of ship—the auxiliary aircraft vessel (AVG), later known as escort carriers—able to be constructed quickly on merchant ship hulls.
1942 First US C-47 cargo plane lost in combat, strafed by Zeros on Bathurst Island, Australia.
Japanese begin bombarding Singapore from Malaya.
US National Naval Medical Center is established in Bethesda, MD.
US Far East Air Force renamed Fifth Air Force; Caribbean AF renamed Sixth AF; Hawaiian AF renamed Seventh AF; Alaskan AF renamed Eleventh AF.
1943 Mussolini sacks his son-in-law, Count Ciano from Foreign Ministry and takes control himself.
1944 U.S. troops reach the outskirts of Cassino, but are repulsed.
The ‘Chindits’ begin moving towards Indaw, 100 miles behind the Japanese lines in Burma.
1945 Red Army troops approach Elbing and Marienburg in East Prussia.
RAF balloon command to be disbanded as the air raid threat lessens. 278 V1’s have been claimed by balloons.
US Seventh and French Armies link, splitting the Colmar pocket in France.
MacArthur orders a containment in the northern Philippines, as the main effort is directed to the capture of Manila. The Australians land on the Japanese stronghold of New Britain, East of New Guinea.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: February 17 WWII Today: April 8 WWII Today: April 12