Archive for the ‘WWII History’ Category

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 16

World War II Today: December 16

1939 Finnish ski troops fight Soviets with first use of homemade “Molotov Cocktails.”

1940 134 RAF bombers attack Mannheim in revenge for German attacks against British cities. This is the RAF’s largest attack on a single target thus far in the war. 115 German civilian’s were killed or injured and 1,266 made homeless. It is also the first reprisal raid, approved by the War Cabinet, for German attacks on British towns.

British troops carry out an air raid on Italian Somalia.The British begin winning battle after battle, Italian tanks were no match to the British Matilda’s and British naval bombardments. Within 2 weeks of combat, The Italians are forced back 200 miles to Tobruk and lose 139,000 Italian and African colonials who had surrendered or been captured.

1941 During a cabinet meeting, Hans Frank, Gauleiter of Poland, states – “Gentlemen, I must ask you to rid yourselves of all feeling of pity. We must annihilate the Jews wherever we find them and wherever it is possible in order to maintain the structure of the Reich as a whole…”

Japanese troops land on Penang Island off the eastern coast of of Malaya.

Japanese forces land in Sarawak and Brunei in Borneo.

1942 The Red Army begins another offensive in the direction of Rostov-on-Don to cut off the German forces in the Caucasus. The Italian 8th Army’s precarious position on the Don threatens Stalingrad relief attempt.

1943 A Further blitz of Berlin brings the allied total to 18,500 tons of explosive dropped on the city.

The chief surgeon at Auschwitz reports that 106 castration operations have been performed.

1944 The German Army in the West begins ‘Operation Wacht am Rhein’ (The Battle of the Bulge), with the objective of splitting the allied forces and capturing the strategic port of Antwerp. Under the control of Heeresgruppe B, the attacking forces pouring forth from the Ardennes forest comprise of the 6th SS Panzer Armee, 5th Panzer Armee and the 7th Armee providing flank support to the south of the line of advance. The German offensive manages to breakthrough the American front on a 70-mile front.As the center of the Allied line falls back, it creates a bulge, leading to the name–the Battle of the Bulge.

Betsie ten Boom, sister of Corrie ten Boom (author of The Hiding Place) dies at Ravensbrück concentration camp, age 59.

German V-2 rocket hits Rex Cinema in Antwerp, killing 567, including 296 Allied servicemen, the largest death toll ever from a V-weapon.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts:WWII Today: February 16 WWII Today: August 16 Words at War: Silence of the Sea Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade WWII

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.

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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

World War II Today: December 12

1937 The Japanese fire on British and U.S. ships on the Yangtze River in China, sinking the American ship Panay. The Japanese apologize to the United States and pay reparations; the British refuse to accept any Japanese apology.

1939 Finnish have some success against Russian troops at Tolvajrvi, inflicting heavy casualties.

Two German cruisers which are accompanied by 5 destroyers are damaged by torpedoes from the British submarine HMS Salmon as they are return from a mine laying operation of the northeast coast of England. Later in the day, HMS Salmon also gives warning under the ‘rules of war’ to a German liner, although it reaches the port of Bremen safely.

1940 Sheffield is heavily bombed by the Luftwaffe.

Philip Kerr, Lord Lothian, British ambassador to the US, dies in Washington DC

1941 The ship “Struma” leaves Romania for Palestine carrying 769 Jews but is later denied permission by British authorities to allow the passengers to disembark. In Feb. 1942, it sails back into the Black Sea where it is intercepted by a Soviet submarine and sunk as an “enemy target.”

Britain declares war on Bulgaria.

Bulgaria declares war on both Britain and the United States.

Hungary  and Romania declare war on the United States.

The United States. declares war on Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria after receiving those country’s declarations of war.

1942 Manstein launches his counter attack with a hastily assembled force of 13 divisions, including three Panzer divisions with about 230 tanks to try and relieve Sixth Army at Stalingrad.

The 1,500 ton destroyer HMS Partridge is sunk off the coast of Algeria by U-565, commanded by Wilhelm Franken.

1943 Rommel becomes C in C of Army Group B, which covers the coastal defenses from Holland to Bay of Biscay.

A Czech-Soviet treaty of friendship is signed in Moscow.

1944 The underground V-weapon factory at Wittring is captured by the U.S. Third Army.

British launch Third Arakan Campaign toward Akyab, Burma

Take a look at these other WWII Posts:WWII Today: May 11 WWII Today: December 5 WWII Bell Telephone Ad, December 1942

Dec 11

World War II Today: December 11

1939 Finnish ski troops attack Soviet supply line on Raate Road.

1940 Sidi Barrani is captured along with over 20,000 Italians, bringing the total captured to nearly 38,000 in 2 days, along with 237 guns and 73 tanks. At this time, Wavell decides to withdraw the 4th Indian Division and send it to the Sudan. It will be replaced by the 6th Australian Division, although it will take some days for it to be ready.

Battleship HMS King George V is commissioned.

1941 The British garrison in Hong Kong begins to withdraw from the mainland to Hong Kong Island itself. As a result of command and control problems, rumors and many desertions, the 11th Indian Division withdraws from Jitra towards Alor Star in northern Malaya, even though the Japanese troops facing them were inferior in numbers. The US garrison in Peking is forced to surrender to the Japanese.

Japanese troops attempt to land on Wake Island, but US Marine gunners and airmen repulse the first landing attempt and sink two Japanese destroyers in the process. Further Japanese landings take place in the Philippines.

In a speech before the Reichstag, Hitler, after denouncing the un-neutral and warlike anti-German policies of President Roosevelt and citing Germany’s obligations under the Tri-Partite Pact with Japan and Italy, declares war on the United States. Italy follows suit some hours later.

In response to Germany and Italy’s declaration of war, the US reciprocates and declares war on both Germany and Italy.  Costa  Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua also declare war on  Germany and Italy.

In the last week the Royal Navy has lost the destroyers Pentlan, Porcupine and Blean, off Algeria.

1943 A heavy USAAF raid on Emden kills 1,000 and makes 12,000 homeless.

Moroccan troops successful in first combat against Germans in Italy.

Field Marshal Kesselring permits German troops to occupy Monte Cassino in Italy, excluding the abbey itself.

1944 US Eighth Air Force launches largest mission to date—1586 bombers hit rail targets in western Germany.

First Japanese balloon bomb found in US, in Montana.

1945 William Halsey promoted to fleet admiral.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts:WWII Today: July 16 WWII Today: February 23 WWII Today: April 9

Dec 10

World War II Today: December 10

1939 France bans sale of meat on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays.

1940 Sidi Barrani is surrounded. Italian troops from the camps at Sofafi and Rabia flee west as the 7th Armoured divisions thrust threaten to encircle them.

1941 Karel Richter, a German spy who parachuted into Hertfordshire is executed at Wandsworth Prison.

British forces that had pushed into southern Thailand begin to fall back along with those from northern Malaya after the Japanese capture Kota Bharu airfield.

Due to the RAF’s heavy losses, the British Battleships Prince of Wales and Repulse are attacked and sunk of the north eastern coast of Malaya by Japanese aircraft flying from occupied French Indo-China.

Japanese troops land on and capture Guam. Japanese troops make landings on the northern tip of Luzon and the island of Camiguin in the Philippines.

British enter Tobruk, Libya, relieving 242-day German siege.

First US bombing mission of the war, as B-17s of the 19th Bomb Group attack Japanese ships off Luzon in the Philippines.

1942 The first transport of Jews from Germany arrives at Auschwitz.

Australian troops capture Gona and now control the whole of the Gona area in New Guinea.

1943 Allied forces bomb Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria.

Franklin D. Roosevelt signs a bill that postpones a draft of pre-Pearl Harbor fathers.

In Italy, British Eighth Army takes Vino Ridge in drive for Ortona.

1944 The US Third Army captures Hagenau and Saargemand.

Norwegian paratroopers cut rails to prevent German retreat from northern Norway.

On Leyte in the Philippines,U.S. 77th Infantry Division captures Ormoc, the main supply base, and clears Buri Airfield.

Japanese make their last seaborne reinforcement of Leyte.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts:WWII Today: April 22 WWII Today: November 14 WWII Today: May 27

Dec 09

World War II Today: December 9

1939 In friendly fire incident near Metz, France, Cpl. Thomas Priday becomes the first British soldier killed in WWII.

1940 The Western Desert Force which is 30,000 strong and under the command of Wavell takes to the offensive ‘Operation Compass’. The 4th Indian division captures the Italian camps at Nibeiwa, Tumar East and West, while the 7th Armoured drives south of the camps at Sofafi and Rabia and turns north towards Buq Buq on the coast road. As column also advances along the coast road from Mersa Matruh towards Maktila as British warships bombard both Maktila and Sidi Barrani. Italian troops eating breakfast at Nibeiwa in are interrupted by British and Indian tanks crashing through their camp. The Italian commander ignored a report of approaching tanks given earlier by a scout plane.

1941 Franklin D. Roosevelt tells Americans to plan for a long war.

The Red Army recaptures Tikhivin. Zhukov issues an order forbidding frontal attacks, in favor of envelopment and outflanking maneuvers, as he says frontal attacks merely allow the Germans to withdraw in good order.

China declares war on Japan, Germany and Italy.

Bangkok is occupied by Japanese troops as they to push through Thailand towards the Burmese border. The Japanese also continue to land troops along the Kra Isthmus in southern Thailand and at Kota Bharu in north eastern Malaya.

Japanese aircraft attack Alor Star airfield, Malaya. From the two squadron of Blenheims based there, only one aircraft survives; its pilot, Flt Lt A S K Scarf single-handedly overcame strong enemy defences to attack Singora airfield in the North. After recovering to Alor Star, Flt Lt Scarf died from his wounds, and was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross five years later when the full facts of his heroism were established.

Japanese troops land on Tarawa and Makin in the Gilbert islands.

 

New England and New York City have first air raid alert; schools and defense plants are evacuated.

1942 Fresh US troops relieve the besieged 1st Marine Division on Guadalcanal.

1943 The Establishment of the Council of Freedom in Denmark is announced in Britain.

The Chinese retake Changteh in Hunan.

1944 The Russians reach the Danube north of Budapest.

In Formosa Strait, US subs Redfish and Sea Devil damage Japanese carrier Junyo beyond repair.

Bulgar and Yugoslav armies drive last German forces from Serbia and Macedonia.

1945 General Patton is seriously injured in car crash in Germany.

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