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Dec 31

World War II Today: December 31

1939
Allied merchant shipping sunk by U-boats, world-wide from the out break of war to year’s end 1939 is 165 ships, equaling 693,557 gross tons. 9 U-boats were lost worldwide in the same period.

Finnish troops destroy yet another Russian division.

New Year’s Eve observances in Britain, France and Germany are very subdued due to blackout and noise restrictions. Most celebrations are held in private homes with the windows shuttered.

German Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels makes a radio address reviewing the official Nazi version of the events of 1939. No predictions are made for 1940 other than saying that the next year “will be a hard year, and we must be ready for it.”

Generalissimo Francisco Franco makes a radio broadcast asking “all Spaniards in this period of depression which follows any war to close the mouths of grumblers and not permit the enemies of the state to take advantage of the situation.”

Japan and the Soviet Union sign an accord on fishing rights in adjacent territorial waters.

1940
British civilian casualties figures for the month: 3,793 killed, 5,244 injured.

Allied merchant shipping sunk by U-boats, world-wide from January to year’s end 1940 is 567 ships, equaling 2,771,483 gross tons. 24 U-boats were lost worldwide in the same period.

RAF bombers attack Vlorë on the Greco-Italian front, Rotterdam and IJmuiden in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands, and the German cities of Emmerich am Rhein and Cologne.

Hitler issues a New Year’s Order of the Day to Germany’s armed forces, declaring “the year 1941 will bring us, on the Western Front, the completion of the greatest victory of our history

1941
All further German attacks against the Crimean fortress of Sevastopol are halted for the winter.

Allied merchant shipping sunk by U-boats, world-wide from January to year’s end 1941 is 503 ships, equaling 2,530,011 gross tons. 35 U-boats were lost worldwide in the same period.

Lieutenant General George H. Brett takes command of US forces in Australia.

Admiral Chester W. Nimitz is appointed to command the US Asiatic Fleet.

World War II Today: December 31 - Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

Venezuela breaks off diplomatic relations with Germany, Italy and Japan.

Panamanian cargo ship Ruth Alexander is bombed and damaged by a Japanese flying boat in Makassar Strait. A Dutch Dornier 24 rescues the 48 survivors and the ship was abandoned, finally sinking two days later.

1942
In what is to become known as the ‘Battle of the Barents Sea’, the German pocket battleship Lützow, cruiser Admiral Hipper and 6 escorting destroyers are intercepted at 9.30am by the British cruisers HMS Jamaica, HMS Sheffield and five destroyers before they can reach convoy JW-51B.

During the naval exchanges that follow, the British lose 1 destroyer and a minesweeper, which had been searching for stragglers from the convoy,

whilst the Germans lose a destroyer. By Midday the Germans have decided to withdraw and the battle is over.

Allied merchant shipping sunk by U-boats, world-wide from January to year’s end 1942 is 1,323 ships, equaling 7,047,744 gross tons. 87 U-boats were lost worldwide in the same period.

The Red Cross are now spending £375,000 per month on food parcels for allied POWs.

After five months of battle, Emperor Hirohito allows the Japanese commanders at Guadalcanal to retreat.

1943
Allied merchant shipping sunk by U-boats, world-wide from January to year’s end 1943 is 588 ships, equaling 3,042,371 gross tons. 242 U-boats were lost worldwide in the same period.

Russians retake Zhitomir, 80 miles East of Kiev.

The Battle for Razabil in the Arakan begins between British and Japanese forces.

1944
Allied merchant shipping sunk by U-boats, world-wide from January to year’s end 1944 is 251 ships, equaling 978,892 gross tons. 252 U-boats were lost worldwide in the same period.

Rochefort is back in U.S. hands. Third Army launch new counter-offensive near Bastogne. At about 11pm the Germans launch their ‘Nordwind’ offensive towards Strasbourg.

Hungary declares war on Germany.

1946
President Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II.

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