World War II Today: March 19

The Soviet Union signs a pact of assistance with Mongolia against Japan.

The RAF retaliates against the Luftwaffe’s bombing of Scapa Flow, by attacking the German seaplane base at Hornum on the island of Sylt with 50 bombers. Later photo reconnaissance reveals little damage to the target.

Helsinki releases figures showing that 26,662 Finns were killed in the 105 day war with the Soviet Union.

Churchill forms the ‘Battle of the Atlantic’ committee in order to afford the highest level of co-ordination against the U-boat menace.

German Naval staff complain to the Italians about their lack of effort to intercept British convoys to Greece.

An offensive by Army Group North cuts off the Soviet 2nd Shock Army, commanded by General Vlasov, in a salient between Novgorod and Gruzino. Operation ‘Munich’ is launched. Joined by a new air detachment, German troops attack partisan bases around Yelnya and Dorogobuzh.  Operation ‘Bamberg’ kicks off near Bobruisk, with SS Police troops attacking Russian villages. The German security forces burn many villages and
kill 3,500 people, which only infuriate the Russian civilians more, which encourages many of them join the partisans, making the whole exercise very counter-productive. The 3rd Panzer Army diaries says “There are indications that the partisan movement in the region of Velikiye Luki, Vitebsk, Rudnya, Velizh, is now being organised on a large scale. The fighting strength of the partisans hitherto active, is being bolstered by
individual units of regular red army troops.”

General Bill Slim is appointed as commander of the 1st Burma Corps, which covers all British, Indian and Burmese troops in Burma. This left  General Alexander to concentrate on co-ordination with the Chinese.

The British Eighth Army begins its offensive against German and Italian defenders of the Mareth line.

The RAF launch Operation Strangle, aimed at German communications in Italy.

The German 352nd Infantry Division deploys along the coast of France.

In order to ensure Hungary’s continued support as an axis partner, Hitler orders its occupation Operation Margaret. Eleven German divisions cross the border from Austria into Hungary, encountering minimal resistance.

Hungary’s 750,000 Jews, which have so far remained unmolested by the Germans are about to endure a nightmare of mass deportation to the concentration camps as Eichmann arrives in Hungary with his “Special Section Commandos”.

The US 8th Air Force carries out another heavy attack (200 bombers and 700 fighters) against Berlin.
World War II Today: March 19 - B17s Over Berlin

The U.S. Seventh Army take Worms, 60 miles to the Southeast of Koblenz. Hitler orders the demolition of all German industrial, utility and transport facilities in danger of falling into enemy hands; this order (Verbrannte Erde Scorched Earth) is sabotaged by armaments minister Speer and most local commanders.

The Japanese evacuate Mandalay.

The USN hit Kure naval base in the Inland Sea, Southwest of Tokyo.

About 800 people were killed as Kamikaze planes attacked the U.S. carrier Franklin off Japan; the ship, however, was saved.

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