World War II Today: December 17

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

World War II Today: December 17 - Malmedy Massacre - Battle of the Bulge

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.

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

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