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Dec 21

World War II Today: December 21

1939 During their brief period of comradeship, Hitler sends Joseph Stalin a telegram wishing him a happy sixtieth birthday.

1940 The RAF attacks Berlin, inflicting only minor damage.

The Admiralty decides to transfer another Battleship, HMS Malaya to Force H from the Mediterranean fleet. Again this was to be accomplished by escorting a convoy to Malta and linking up with units of Force H for the journey to Gibraltar. No losses were suffered to enemy action although a Destroyer was sunk when it hit a mine.

Bardia is surrounded by the 6th Australian Division, although the Italians are determined to fight it out.

1941 Typhus reported to be sweeping through the German forces along the Russian front.

The Axis launch a renewed air offensive against the Island of Malta.

In convoy HG-76, U-751 sinks British escort carrier Audacity, which had kept away 12 U-boats for a loss of only 4 ships in the convoy, leading the Germans to change tactics when carriers were present.

1942 Hitler refuses to let Paulus break out from their encirclement at Stalingrad.

British troops cross the Burmese border from India and head Southeast towards Akyab.

1943 Under pressure from the Allies to curtail German espionage operations in the Irish Free State, Prime Minister Eamon de Valera confiscates the German embassy’s radio transmitter.

The Eighth Army’s 1st Canadian Division battles to capture Ortona in central Italy.

Russian forces smash the German bridgehead over Dnieper River at Kherson.

1944 The U.S. First Army retakes Stavelot but to the south, the Germans surround and besiege Bastogne. Units of 5th Panzer Army capture St. Vith.

1945 General George S. Patton dies at the age of 60 after being injured in a car accident on Dec.9th.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: June 17 WWII Today: March 20 WWII Today: May 10

Dec 20

World War II Today: December 20

1939 The Russians cease their attacks at Summa, leaving Finnish forces in control of the whole Mannerheim defensive line, except the Oinala Bulge.

Captain Langsdorff of Admiral Graf Spee commits suicide.

“Let’s Help Finland” event held at Madison Square Garden, New York City.

1940 The Luftwaffe continues its attacks against British cities, this time hitting Liverpool.

No Italian troops are now left on Egyptian soil, except as prisoners.

1941 Propaganda Minister, Josef Goebbels broadcasts an appeal for winter clothing for the German troops on the eastern front.

German forces of Army Group Centre retreating from before Moscow reach a new defensive line more than 100km to the west, where, following strict orders by Hitler, they are to stand and fight off any further Soviet advances.

Admiral Royal E. Ingersoll takes over command of the Atlantic Fleet, from Admiral Ernest J. King who is appointed as Commander, US Navy

1942 The navigation and bombing radar aid ‘Oboe’ is used operationally for the first time by Bomber Command.

The Japanese bomb Calcutta for the first time.

1943 Franco disbands Falangist (Fascist) Militia in Spain.

US counter intelligence reports the smashing of a Nazi spy ring in Sicily. A 19-year-old ringleader ‘Grammatico’ and 27 others are arrested.

The heaviest raid of war on Frankfurt with more than 2,000 tons dropped by RAF. Mosquito raiders follow half an hour later to hamper the fire fighters efforts.

De Lattre de Tassigny meets de Gaulle in Algiers before taking command of ‘Army B’, for liberation of France.

The British reach the Maungdaw plain in Arakan, Burma.

1944 In their torturous advance toward the Meuse river, armored units of 6th SS Panzer Army capture Stavelot, searching for allied fuel dumps to replenish their nearly exhausted supplies of gasoline.

US terminates WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) program—returning combat airmen will perform their ferrying services; 1037 women served, with 38 fatalities.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: June 3 WWII Today: June 29 WWII Today: May 4

Dec 19

NBC Words At War Episode 50 “Lend Lease: Weapon For Victory“

Words At War Episode 50 “Lend Lease: Weapon For Victory“ Released May 24, 1944.

Words At War, the series that brings you radio versions of the leading war book another adaptation of an important war book, “Lend Lease: Weapon For Victory”.

Words At War presents a thrilling and dramatic story, the story of Lend Lease. President Roosevelt sent a message to congress telling what Lend Lease has accomplished to date, explaining its cost and showing how it is helping us win the war. NBC in cooperation with the council on books in wartime brings you that same report by Edward Reilly Stettinius, Jr. Take a look at these other WWII Posts: Words at War: A Book of War Letters Words at War: Lifeline WWII Patton Quote

Dec 19

World War II Today: December 19

1939 The Russians lose 20 tanks out of 100 as they continue to attack at Summa.

Inside US territorial waters off Florida, British light cruiser Orion fires at German freighter Arauca, violating Pan-American Neutrality Zone; Arauca puts in to port at Port Everglades, FL.

1940 Mussolini requests German assistance for his hard-pressed troops in Cyrenaica, asking for a Panzer Division, Luftwaffe units and various logistical support.

10,000 civilians evacuated from Malta arrive in Britain.

German submarine U-37 mistakenly torpedoed and sank the Vichy French submarine Sfax and support ship Rhône off the coast of Morocco. The U-boat captain chose not to record this incident on the ship’s logs.

German submarine U-111 was commissioned.

1941 The United States forms Office of Censorship.

Department of Agriculture holds National Defense Garden Conference to encourage home and community gardens.

Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch resigns as Commander in Chief of German army; Hitler takes his place.

Hitler orders that there should be ‘No withdrawal’ by the German Army and that it should stand and fight where it is.

The Indian 4th Division retake Derna from axis forces.

British troops evacuate Penang in Malaya.

Colombia severs diplomatic relations with Germany and Italy.

Frogmen of the Italian Navy penetrate the port of Alexandria in Egypt and cripple the British battleships HMS Valiant and Queen Elizabeth, along with a destroyer and a tanker. This means that Cunningham had lost all his battleships and could no longer muster a force strong enough to take on the Italian fleet.

The Japanese invasion of Davao began.

The British light cruiser HMS Neptune was sunk by naval mines off Tripoli.

Nicaragua declared war in Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania.[

1942 Manstein’s tanks are only 30 miles South of Stalingrad.

French take Pichon, Tunisia from Germans.

Japanese planes attacked Calcutta overnight in the city’s first raid of the war.

1943 50,000 people turn out to watch the hanging of the four Germans in Kharkov city square

A pitched battle is reported between the resistance and Germans troops in Bernex, eastern France.

American forces at Arawe, New Guinea captured the Japanese airstrip and held it against counterattacks.

On the Philippine Island of Panay, ten American Baptist missionaries, three other Americans and two children were captured by the Japanese Army after having hidden for two years. The next day they became the Hopevale Martyrs after volunteering to be executed in return for the Japanese allowing their Filipino captives to go free. After being granted an hour to pray, the adults were beheaded by sword, and the two children, including a nine-year-old boy, were bayoneted.

1944 In the Battle of the Bulge, US 101st Airborne arrives in Bastogne, Belgium to protect the crucial crossroads. Germans capture two regiments (7000 POWs) of US 106th Division on Schnee Eifel, including writer Kurt Vonnegut, the greatest US mass surrender of war except Bataan.

German forces captured 9,000 surrounded U.S. troops in the Schnee Eifel region on the Belgian-German border and pushed the Americans back off German soil.

Japanese aircraft carrier Unryū was torpedoed and sunk in the East China Sea by the American submarine Redfish.

German submarine U-737 sank in a collision with depot ship MRS 25 in Vestfjorden, Norway.

Chester Nimitz was made a five-star admiral in the U.S. Navy.

1945 Eleanor Roosevelt, the widow of the late President is appointed as one of first U.S. delegates to the UN.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: December 10 WWII Today: August 30 WWII Today: January 4

Dec 18

World War II Today: December 18

1939 First Canadian troop convoy, TC-1, arrives at Liverpool.

Lavrenti Beria, head of the NKVD, orders the start of large-scale deportation of Poles to the USSR.

The Finnish 40th Infantry Regiment of the Lapland Group, forces the Russian 273rd Infantry Regiment of the 9th Army to retreat at Pelkosenniemi.

The RAF launch another daylight raid against German shipping in the Schillig Roads, but lose 12 out of 24 bombers. This was the culmination of a series of RAF daylight raids which had cost an increasing number of aircraft. This eventually caused the RAF to switch to night raids to reduce casualties.

1940 Hitler issues Directive No. 18, confirming plans for Operation ‘Barbarossa’, previously Operation ‘Otto’, the attack against the Soviet Union. The aim of this new plan was to destroy the Red Army in western Russia, before moving against Moscow. All preparations were to be completed by the 15th May 1941.

1941 Field Marshal von Brauchitsch’s resignation as head of OKH is accepted by Hitler, who now assumes personal command of the Army and its operations on the Eastern front. Hitler sacks Army Group Centre’s commander, Field Marshal von Bock and replaces him with Field Marshal von Kluge. Stalin creates the Bryansk Front, which is to operate between the West and South West Fronts and lend added weight to the southern prong of the double envelopment of Army Group Centre.

Japanese troops force landings on Hong Kong island.

In Britain, all unmarried women ages 20-31 are called up and required to choose between ATS, WRNS, WAAF, Civil Defense, Land Army, or war industry work, the first military conscription of women in any country.

Congress passes First War Powers Act, giving president power to reorganize governmental agencies, and authorizing censorship of mail and communications.

1942 US submarine Albacore sinks Japanese light cruiser Tenryu off New Guinea.

US lands on Musita Island off Buna, New Guinea.

1943 The Kharkov four are sentenced to death.

1944 ‘Operation Wacht am Rhein’ begins to bog down in the face of stiffening U.S. resistance and the lack of adequate logistical support, notably fuel for the armored Kampfgruppen of the 6th SS and 5th Panzer Army’s.

In its first mass incendiary raid, 84 US 20th Bomber Command B-29s destroy Japanese-held Hankow, China.

In typhoon off Samar, US Third Fleet loses destroyers Hull (202 killed), Monaghan (257 killed), and Spence (315 killed)—only 91 survive on all three ships.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: February 25 WWII Today: January 24 WWII Today: January 23

Dec 17

World War II Today: December 17

1938 Italy declares the 1935 pact with France invalid, because ratifications had not been exchanged. France denies the argument.

1939 Unable to complete the repairs to the Admiral Graf Spee within 24 hours, the time limit stipulated by international law for foreign warships in neutral ports to leave and under strict orders by OKM not to go in to internment in Uruguay, Captain Langsdorff takes his ship outside the harbor of Montevideo and orders his crew to scuttle her, thus denying the British fleet that’s converging on the River Plate the opportunity of destroying her in an unequal battle.

Russian forces launch heavy attacks at Summa, Finland.

1940 Home Office announces third German spy hanged at Pentonville Prison. Winchester housewife sentenced to death for spying. Rations increased temporarily in Britain for Christmas week.

Fifty British Bomber Command Whitley and Hampden bombers attack German seaplane bases on the island of Sylt, part of the Frisian Islands.

While pursuing the retreating Italians, the British forces in North Africa take Sollum, Fort Capuzzo and several other crucial Italian defensive positions. They also capture another 38,000 Italians along the way.

Destroyer Acheron sunk by mine off Isle of Wight.

1941 After strong resistance, Rommel’s forces retreat from the Gazala defensive area.

Japanese troops make gains in northern Malaya and are now only 10 miles from Penang, as British and Commonwealth forces begin to fall back to the river Perak.

Japanese forces make landings in northern Borneo.

1942 The British Parliament vows to avenge Nazi crimes against Jews, as Eden announces that the Germans ‘are now carrying into effect Hitler’s often

repeated intention to exterminate the Jewish people in Europe’. U.S. declares those crimes will be avenged.

The Final US-Australian assault on Buna begins.

1943 The U.S. Fifth Army captures the village of San Pietro in central Italy after 10 days of heavy fighting.

Roosevelt reveals a plot to assassinate him at Teheran.

U.S. forces invade Japanese-held New Britain Island in New Guinea.

Wings are first awarded to WASPs (Women’s Airforce Service Pilots).

1944 U.S. approves end to internment of Japanese Americans. U.S. Major General Henry C. Pratt issues Public Proclamation No. 21, declaring that Japanese American “evacuees” from the West Coast could return to their homes effective January 2, 1945.

After some deep penetrations into the lines of the unprepared American forces, the Germans make only slow progress due to limited roads as well as difficult terrain and weather conditions in the Ardennes, not reaching any assigned first day objectives. The allies rush reinforcements to the Ardennes.

The German Army renews the attack on the Belgian town of Losheimergraben against the defending Americans during the Battle of the Bulge.

The bodies of 81 American soldiers from Battery B of the 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion, killed by Waffen SS troops, Dec. 17, 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge near the Belgian town of Malmedy.

U.S. troops capture San Jose airbase on Mindoro.

The U.S. Army Air Force begins preparations for dropping the Atomic Bomb by establishing the 509th Composite Group to operate the B-29s that will deliver the bomb.

1945 The Senate votes for U.S. help in establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: December 19 WWII Pin Up: Ida Lupino WWII Today: January 7

Dec 15

World War II Today: December 15

1938 Washington sends its fourth note to Berlin demanding amnesty for Jews.

1939 A fifth British division arrives in France.

The Uruguayan government gives the Admiral of the Graf Spee 36 hours to leave harbour.

The Russians launch heavy attacks against Finnish forces at Taipale.

1940 The coffin of Napoleon II is moved from Vienna to Les Invalides in Paris.

1941 The American Federation of Labor adopts no-strike policy in war industries.

Many US universities agree to cut undergraduate programs to three years by going year-round.

British retreat in Malaya and Burma’s southern most tip. Artillery battle rages at Hong Kong.

US Secretary of the Navy tells Congress that 2,729 were killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

First Japanese merchant ship sunk by a U.S. submarine.

Stalin orders all functions of the Soviet state to relocate back to Moscow now that he is sure that the threat to the capital has been removed. Stalin also orders that the counter offensive should be extended along the whole of the eastern front. Klin is recaptured by the Red Army. Stalin orders that Army Group Centre should be destroyed by a double envelopment from the north and south.

The Eighth Army attacks the German and Italian positions at Gazala. Rommel, fearful that the British will outflank him, orders the retreat.

Japanese troops move into southern Burmese territory on the Kra Isthmus and seize Victoria Point, which had been vacated by the British two days earlier. Japanese artillery and aircraft pound Hong Kong in an attempt to soften it up.

1942 Convoy JW-51A sets sail from Lock Ewe in Scotland with 16 merchants bound for the Kola Inlet.

1943 Great Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union all break off diplomatic relations with the Yugoslav government in exile and recognize Tito’s Communist Popular Liberation Committee as the Yugoslav government to be.

The war crimes trial at Kharkov of the four captured Germans opens with all plead the defendants pleading guilty. One of the defendants says that more than 30,000 Russians were exterminated at Kiev.

TheUS Army lands on Arawe, New Britain near Cape Gloucester, to the South West of Rabaul.

US Navy approves commissioning first African American officers (22 men); 36 commissioned African American officers by end of war.

1944 Army Air Force Band leader and trombonist Glenn Miller boarded a single-engine C-64 Norseman in England for a flight to France, where he was to make arrangements for a Christmas broadcast. The plane never reached France and no trace of it or its occupants was ever found. Iowa-born Glenn Miller became a professional musician after graduating from high school. By the time he volunteered for military service in 1942, the Glenn Miller Orchestra was world famous and had appeared in two motion pictures. Miller persuaded the U.S. Army to accept his service to “put a little more spring into the feet of our marching men and a little more joy into their hearts.” For the next 18 months, Miller’s 50-member band stayed busy with morale-building concerts and radio broadcasts. No cause has ever been established for the loss of Miller’s aircraft, but the Norseman did not have de-icing equipment on board and it is likely that icy weather forced the plane down in the English Channel. Another theory is that his plane was lost due to RAF bombers dumping unused bombs from higher altitude returning aborted mission over Germany.

The Chinese finally take Bhamo itself in northern Burma after the Japanese evacuate at night.

The 19th Indian Division meets the British 36th Infantry Division at Indaw, making the first connected front in Burma.

The US 24th Army Division lands on Mindoro Island in the western Philippines without loss.

A third Japanese prison ship is mistakenly sunk by US planes off the Philippines, with less than half of POWs surviving, to be recaptured.

1945 The Permanent Headquarters for UN are to be established in the USA.

General Douglas MacArthur orders end of Shinto as Japanese state religion. .

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: September 22 WWII Today: June 21 WWII Today: November 8

Dec 14

World War II Today: December 14

1937 The Japanese change the name of Peiping to Peking. They also begin what will be known as the Rape of Nanking, during which they massacre an estimated quarter of a million Chinese.

1939 Because of its brutal aggression against Finland, the Soviet Union is expelled from the League of Nations.

1940 Australian troops relieve Indian troops in Egypt; Indian troops are sent to the Sudan

1941 German Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel orders the construction of defensive positions along the European coastline.

As German forces evacuate Kalinin, 100 miles to the Northwest of Moscow, Hitler furious at what he sees as weakness by his Generals, countermands Field Marshal von Brauchitsch’s plans for withdrawal.

Convoy HG76 (32 ships), sets sails from Gibraltar with heavy escort.

Royal Navy destroyers sink two Italian Light Cruisers off Cape Bon. Both Cruisers were carrying much needed fuel for Panzer Armee Afrika. U-557 sinks the British Cruiser Galatea outside of Alexandria harbor.

Thailand formally allies herself with Japan.

Japanese troops continue to land throughout the Philippines.

1942 A three day tank battle begins South of Stalingrad.

1943 German strength on Eastern Front is now only 2,086,000, with 188,000 allied and satellite troops. German casualties for 1943 were 900,000.

1944 Congress passes and President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs into law an act authorizing the creation of the ranks of General of the Army and Fleet Admiral, so that the highest American officers can attain a rank equivalent to that of Field Marshal. Over the next week, George C. Marshall, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Henry “Hap” Arnold are promoted to the rank in the Army, while William D. Leahy, Ernest J. King and Chester Nimitz are made Fleet Admirals. Subsequent to the war, William F. “Bull” Halsey will be promoted Fleet Admiral and Omar N. Bradley will become the last General of the Army.

U.S. troops capture an important Japanese supply post on Leyte, at the southern tip of the “˜Yamashita defense line”.

1945 SS personnel convicted of atrocities at Belsen and other concentration camps, are hanged.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: May 4 WWII Today: November 18 Yank Magazine Pin Up: Ingrid Bergman

Dec 13

World War II Today: December 13

1937 The Japanese army occupies Nanking, China.

1939 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.

1940 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.

1941 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 to 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.

1942 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.

1943 Captain. James Stewart of the US 445th BG flies his first mission in a B-24 Liberator bomber for the US Eighth Air Force in England.

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 40 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.

1944 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.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: December 18 WWII Today: July 2 WWII Today: Jun 9

Dec 12

NBC Words At War Episode 49 “Lifeline“

Words At War Episode 49 “Lifeline“ Released May 17, 1944.

Words At War, the series that brings you radio versions of the leading war book another adaptation of an important war book, “Lifeline”.

The story of “Screwy Louie” and other merchant sailors who keep the “lifline” open for the fighting men. Well done, exciting stories of the sea. Lifeline is a story of the United States merchant marine, about the bravery of the crews who risk their lives for the love of their country in return for a pittance. Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: November 10 WWII Pin Up: Ginger Rogers WWII Today: November 17