World War II Today: December 18

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.

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.

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.

World War II Today: December 18 - Japanese Land in Hong Kong

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.

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

US lands on Musita Island off Buna, New Guinea.

The Kharkov four are sentenced to death.

‘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.

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