1940 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.
1941 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.
1942 German troops capture Sevastopol, Crimea, in the Soviet Union.
Rommel captures 2,000 prisoners from the El Alamein ‘box’ but loses 18 of his 55 remaining tanks.
1943 Hitler addresses the generals taking part in the imminent operation ‘Citadel’ at Kursk.
1944 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.
1945 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.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: December 24 WWII Today: October 16 WWII Today: July 18
*1934 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.
1940 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.
1941 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).
1942 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.
1943 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.
1944 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.
1945 The Chinese take Liuchow and capture towns on the Indo-Chinese border.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: March 13 WWII Today: December 2 WWII Today: February 24
Ann Miller was born Johnnie Lucille Ann Collier on April 12, 1923 in Chireno, Texas, the daughter of Clara Emma (Birdwell) and John Alfred Collier, a criminal lawyer who represented the Barrow Gang, Machine Gun Kelly, and Baby Face Nelson, among others. Miller’s maternal grandmother was Cherokee. Miller’s father insisted on the name Johnnie because he had wanted a boy, but she was often called Annie. She took up dancing to exercise her legs to help her rickets. She was considered a child dance prodigy.
At the age of 13 Ann had been hired as a dancer in the Black Cat Club in San Francisco (she had told them she was 18). It was there she was discovered by Lucille Ball and talent scoutcomic Benny Rubin. And in 1937, RKO asked her to sign on as a contract player, but only if she could prove she was 18. Though she was really barely 14, she managed to get hold of a fake birth certificate, and so was signed on, playing dancers and ingÃ©nues in such films as Stage Door (1937), You Can’t Take It with You (1938), Room Service (1938) and Too Many Girls (1940). In 1939 she appeared on Broadway in George White’s Scandals and was a smash, staying on for two years. Eventually RKO released her from her contract, but Columbia Pictures snapped her up to appear in such WW II morale boosters as True to the Army (1942) and Reveille with Beverly (1943). When she decided to get married, Columbia released her from her contract. The marriage was sadly unhappy and she was divorced in two years. This time MGM picked her up, showcasing her in such films as Easter Parade (1948), On the Town (1949), and Kiss Me Kate (1953). In the mid-’50s she asked to leave to marry again, and her request was granted. This marriage didn’t last long, either, nor did a third.
Ann Miller invented pantyhose in the 1940s as a solution to the problem of continual torn stockings during the filming of dance production numbers. The common practice had been to sew hosiery to briefs worn by Miller. If torn, the entire garment had to be removed and resewn with a new pair. At Ann’s request, hosiery was manufactured for her as a single pantyhose.
Ann was famed for her speed in tap dancing. Studio publicists concocted press releases claiming she could tap 500 times per minute, but in truth, the sound of ultra-fast 500 taps was looped in later. Because the stage floors were slick and slippery, she actually danced in shoes with rubber soles. Later she would loop the sound of the taps while watching the film and actually dancing on a tap board to match her steps in the film.
She was known, especially later in her career, for her distinctive appearance, which reflected a studio-era ideal of glamor massive black bouffant hair, heavy makeup with a slash of crimson lipstick, and fashions that emphasized her lithe figure and long dancer’s legs. Her film career effectively ended in 1956 as the studio system lost steam to television, but she remained active in the theater and on television. She starred on Broadway in the musical Mame in 1969, in which she wowed the audience in a tap number created just for her. In 1979 she astounded audiences in the Broadway show Sugar Babies with fellow MGM veteran Mickey Rooney, which toured the United States extensively after its Broadway run. In 1983 she won the Sarah Siddons Award for her work in Chicago theater.
She appeared in a special 1982 episode of The Love Boat, joined by fellow showbiz legends Ethel Merman, Carol Channing, Della Reese, Van Johnson, and Cab Calloway in a storyline that cast them as older relatives of the show’s regular characters. In 2001 she took her last role, playing Coco in auteur director David Lynch’s critically acclaimed Mulholland Drive. Her last stage performance was a 1998 production of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies, in which she played the hardboiled survivor Carlotta Campion and received rave reviews for her rendition of the anthemic I’m Still Here.
Ann Miller also performed a guest appearance on the TV series Home Improvement as a dance instructor to Tim and Jill. For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Ann Miller has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6914 Hollywood Blvd.
Ann was parodied on Saturday Night Live. She was played by Molly Shannon as a talk show host, with Debbie Reynolds (played by Cheri Oteri), on a show called Legs Up.
She died in Los Angeles, California on January 22, 2004 at the age of 80 from cancer, which had metastasized to her lungs, and was interred in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Pin Up: Joan Dixon WWII Pin Up: Claire Trevor WWII Pin Up: Diana Lewis
1940 Japan declares the South Seas to be in its sphere of influence.
President Roosevelt signs the Alien Registration Act; 5 million foreigners will register and be fingerprinted.
1941 Lord Beaverbrook becomes Minister of Supply in Cabinet reshuffle.
Goering is named Hitler’s 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.
1942 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.
1943 US Marines land on Nassau beach near Lae in New Guinea during Operation ‘Cartwheel‘.
The US Army Air Force insignia changed to “stars and bars,” with a red border around bar.
1944 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.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: November 6 WWII Today: June 23 WWII Quote: FDR
1940 The Alien Registration Act (the Smith Act) passed by the US Congress requires aliens to register and be fingerprinted. The Act makes it illegal to advocate the overthrow of the US government.
German aircraft bomb Jersey.
British government recognizes de Gaulle as leader of Ã«Free FrenchÃ. Channel Islands demilitarized and partially evacuated.
The Pope offers to mediate between Britain, Germany and Italy.
Following an ultimatum to the Romanian government, the Red Army occupies Bessarabia and the northern part of Bukovina.
Marshal Balbo, the Governor-General of Libya is killed when his plane is shot down by another Italian aircraft.
1941 In the Arctic, British light cruiser Nigeria and British destroyers Bedouin, Jupiter, and Tartar capture German weather ship Lauenburg; crew of Tartarcaptures Enigma code books and machine.
Vannevar Bush is named as director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD), which has just been created by President Roosevelt.
Army Group Centre’s Panzer Groups meet to the east of Minsk, capturing the city and trapping 27 Red Army divisions in a pocket to the west. Army Group South meets tougher than expected resistance in its drive through the southern Ukraine.
Albania declares war on the Soviet Union.
1942 FBI captures eight German agents that have landed by U-boat on Long Island.
Low clouds cover the skies over the Ukraine, providing a suitably ominous overture to Operation ‘Blau’, the German summer offensive. Field Marshal Fedor von Bock (“The Preacher of Death”) hurls three armies and 11 Panzer divisions East in a massive assault whose objective is nothing short of the Caucasus mountains and oilfields. In classic blitzkrieg style, the Germans fan out across open steppe and grassland, crushing the 40th Army, folding the 13th Army northward and disintegrating the reeling 21st and 28th Armies. Russian troop command crumbles under the drive. Russian logistics, exhausted by the Moscow counteroffensive, cannot keep up with the demand. A German sergeant tells Propaganda Kompanie men “It’s quite different from last year, it’s more like Poland. The Russians aren’t nearly so thick on the ground. They fire their guns like madmen, but they don’t hurt us!”. That evening, in Sevastopol, German troops cross North Bay under a smoke screen and seize the southern shore, capturing Inkerman in the process.
2 freighters and 1 tanker from convoy PQ-17 suffer accidental damage and are forced to abort.
German advance units capture Fuqa and report increasing confusion in the retreating British units.
1943 Cologne Cathedral is badly damaged in a raid.
1944 The British 2nd Army’s Ã«Operation EpsomÃ, designed to break through the German defenses near Caen is halted by the fierce resistance of the I and II SS Panzer Korps.
The Russians take Mogilev and cross the Berezina river surrounding most of German Ninth Army.
1945 The Japanese casualty figures on Luzon are 113,593 killed and U.S. loses are just 3,793.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: May 28 WWII Today: May 1 WWII Today: January 30
1940 All French ships in British ports are seized by the Royal Navy.
German troops reach Franco-Spanish border.
Romania agrees to cede Bessarabia to the USSR.
French C-in-C in Syria accepts armistice terms.
Japanese troops occupy part of the Hong Kong peninsula.
1941 German forces capture Bobruisk and Przemysl. Hungary declares war on the Soviet Union and agrees to send troops to help Army Group South.
Denmark severs diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union.
1942 The FBI announced the capture of eight Nazi saboteurs who had been put ashore from a submarine on New York’s Long Island.
Convoy PQ-17 sets sail from Iceland. It consists of 35 merchants, 3 rescue ships and 2 tankers for refueling and is heavily loaded with 297 aircraft, 594 tanks, 4246 lorries and gun carriers, plus an additional 156,000 tons of cargo. The convoy is to be guarded by 21 close escorts, 7 warships from a cruiser covering force and a further 19 warships in a distant covering force. All told 1 aircraft-carrier, 2 battleships, 6 heavy cruisers, 23 destroyers, 4 corvettes, 3 minesweepers, 2 AA ships, 4 ASW trawlers are to protect the convoy. Additionally, 15 submarines, six of them Russian are placed ahead of the the convoy.
Dr. Heinisch, the German administrator in the Przemysl area, issues a public instruction. “Every Ukrainian or Pole who attempts by any means whatsoever to impede the campaign for the deportation of Jews, will be shot. Every Ukrainian or Pole found in a Jewish quarter looting Jewish homes will be shot. Every Ukrainian or Pole attempting to conceal a Jew will be shot.” In the next month, 24,000 Jews from western Galicia, Heinisch’s district, pass through Przemysl. All are taken to Belzec and killed.
German troops begin to outflank the British positions at Mersa Matruh. As this happens the British start to withdraw towards the El Alamein line, confirming radio intercepts that had indicated they would.
1944 The British gain Hill 112 in Normandy.
The Red Army recaptures Orsha on the Dnieper and destroys the trapped German 53rd Korps near Vitebsk. Further gains are reported by the Russians at Mogilev to the South of Vitebsk.
The American Army captures the port city of Cherbourg, France.
1945 The U.S. Sixth Army reaches Aparri, effectively ending the campaign on Luzon.
In a sure sign the war is winding down, the Ford company lays off workers at its Willow Run airplane factory near Detroit. The employee force is reduced to 4,000, from a peak of 42,000 workers making B-24 bombers.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: March 7 Slapton Sands Disaster Combat America by Clark Gable
1940 British blockade of war materials and food extended to whole of France.
De Gaulle forms French Volunteer Legion in Britain.
Turkey announces that she will stay out of the war.
1941 German forces of Army Group North capture Donaburg in Latvia. The Luftwaffe carries out raids on Leningrad. Heavy fighting in the Bialystok area as the German Panzer’s units close the pocket.
Finland declares war on the Soviet Union.
Spanish volunteers organized to fight with Germany against USSR.
1942 German troops capture Kupyansk over the river Oskel, for use as a launch pad for their summer offensive.
At Rastenberg, Adolf Hitler decorates SS General Eicke, Commanding Officer of the SS Totenkopf Division, with the Oak Leaves for the Knight’s Cross, for his Divisions bravery in holding out in the Demyansk pocket the previous winter. Eleven of Eicke’s officers and men also receive the Knight’s Cross. After the ceremony, Hitler and Eicke chat and Eicke tells the Fuhrer that his Division is pretty well worn out, short of vehicles and wishes it to be transferred to France. Instead, Hitler gives Eicke home leave.
Italian aircraft strength is increased on Sicily by withdrawing aircraft from Libya. This allows the Italians to step up their air attacks against Malta.
Rommel is made a Field Marshal and launches attacks against Mersa Matruh. Meanwhile, Kesselring, Cavallero (Italian Chief of Staff in Rome) and Bastico (Italian C-in-C in Libya) arrive at Rommel’s HQ and give permission for him to continue his advance in to Egypt.
The Grumman F6F Hellcat fighter flies for the first time.
1944 US troops enter Cherbourg taking the German garrison commander prisoner. The British launch Operation ‘Epsom’ in the Odon Valley West of Caen.
The Russians take Vitebsk.
In response to recent communist sabotage, the Germans introduce a curfew in the Copenhagen area, making it illegal to be out in the streets between 8pm in the evening and 5am in the morning. As a result, the citizens of Copenhagen begin a massive general strike. Hundreds of thousands of Danes take part.
The Chindits take Mogaung, with Chinese help.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: April 3 WWII Today: July 22 WWII Today: December 17
1940 First early morning air-raid alarm is heard in London.
At 1:35am, all acts of war between the French and German armed forces officially cease. Churchill says France is not freed of her obligations. The German army has moved thru France even faster than expected. As Field Marshal Erwin Rommel puts it, “The war has become practically a lightning Tour de France.”
1941 Major Russian forces are close to being surrounded in the Bialystok area by Panzer units of Army Group Centre. Panzer Group 1 captures Lutsk and Dubno, in what was before September 1939 eastern Poland.
The Red Air force launches an a number of air attacks against Finland’s airfields, in the hope of destroying German aircraft which were believed to be stationed in Finland.
1942 The RAF launches its third 1,000-bomber raid, with 1,006 aircraft against Bremen. This time Coastal Command provided 102 Hudson bombers, after Churchill’s insistence that they take part. As with the previous 1,000 bomber raids, a full moon had been selected to aid in finding the target. The raid caused heavy damage to the Focke-Wulf plant and devastated 27 acres of the inner city. The RAF lost 49 aircraft, a high proportion of them being manned by trainee crews.
German troops drive a wedge into Sevastopol’s defenses. The Russians are running out of men, space and time. Surviving fighter aircraft are sent to the Caucasus, conceding the skies to the Luftwaffe. Soon the Russian AA guns are out of ammunition and the defenders face Stukas with rifles and machine guns. Artillery shells are running low too.
The Germans capture Sidi Barrani, Sollum and the Halfaya Pass in Libya as the Eighth Army retreats to Mersa Matruh in Egypt. General Auchinleck relieves Lieutenant General Ritchie and takes personal command of the Eighth Army, with plans to hold Rommel if he could at Mersa Matruh, but more definitely at the El Alamein line, or if that failed the Suez Canal.
General Sir Claude Auchinleck replaces Lt. Gen. Neil Ritchie over British Eighth Army in Egypt.
1943 Newly built gas chamber/crematory III opens at Auschwitz. With its completion, the four new crematories at Auschwitz have a daily capacity of 4,756 bodies.
1944 The British Second Army begins a major offensive in the area of Caen ‘Operation Epsom’. After a naval bombardment, street fighting is reported in Cherbourg. General Koenig is appointed C-in-C of the Free French forces.
1945 The allies announce the division of Austria into four administrative zones. British Second Army in Germany is to be disbanded and sent back to Britain.
The UN Charter is signed by representatives at San Francisco.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: September 15 WWII Today: March 31 WWII Today: June 29