Archive for the ‘WWII History’ Category

Apr 02

World War II Today: April 2

1940 Hitler gives orders that the invasion of Denmark and Norway is to begin on the 9th April 1940.

Germans again attack Scapa Flow and North Sea convoys.

1941 The 5th Light Division recaptures Agedabia from the British and fans out into three columns, two of which race across the desert in an attempt to cut off the retreating British, while the third pushes up the coast road towards Benghazi. Rear Admiral Bonnetti, the commander of the Italian Red Sea Flotilla orders his seven destroyers out on ‘do or die’ missions. All the destroyers are sunk or captured without achieving any worthwhile results.

1942 The aircraft carrier USS Hornet,with 16 B-25 Mitchells of the Doolittle attack group, departs Alameda, CA en route to launch a bombing raid on  Tokyo

British retreat from Prome, upper Burma.

Axis air forces begin a bombing campaign against La Valetta, the British naval base on Malta.

In Burma, Japanese take Prome and Akyab, securing Arakan Peninsula.

In the United States, tin tubes for toothpaste & shaving cream must be turned in to buy new tube; restrictions placed on use of tin in consumer packaging.

1944 The Russians announce their entry into Romania and threaten to shoot one third of all German POWs if the 18 divisions of the trapped 1st Panzer Army do not surrender. The Russian army crosses the river Prut, East of Cernovcy and liberates the little city Gerca.

1945 The 3rd Ukrainian Front and Bulgarian forces take Nagykanizsa, thereby gaining control of the main Hungarian oil production region. 2nd Ukrainian front under Malinovsky conquers the industrial area of Mosonmagyarovar and reaches the Austrian border between Dounau and the Neusiedler lake.

The British 7th Armoured Division enters Rhine on Dortmund-Ems canal, 60 miles Northeast of Essen.

The US Tenth Army crosses Okinawa, dividing the island.

On Okinawa,  United States opens Yontan and Kadena airfields for emergency and reconnaissance use.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: September 23 WWII Today: February 11 WWII Pin Up: Larna Darnell

Apr 01

World War II Today: April 1

1940 The United States 1940 Census taken: population 131,669,000, a 7.2% increase since 1930.

The British Minister of Food announces Dig for Victory campaign to encourage growing food at home.

1941 General Platt and his ‘Northern Force’ capture Asmara, the capital of Eritrea. A pro-axis coup, led by Raschid Ali seizes power in Iraq.

The Japanese force the Chinese out of Toungoo, north of Rangoon.

Japanese begin landing in Dutch New Guinea.

1942 As a result of the immense loss in shipping along the US eastern seaboard, since January 1942, the US authorities instituted a partial convoying system, known as the ‘Bucket Brigade’. This meant that ships would sail in convoy as close to the coast as possible during daylight hours and anchor in protected harbours at night. Due to the shortage of escort vessels, continuous convoying was not possible and the ‘Bucket Brigade’ system did not apply to the Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico.

1943 Attempting to stem inflation in the USA, President Roosevelt freezes wages, salaries, and prices.

Meat, fats, canned goods, and cheese are now rationed in the US.

1944

The USAAF accidentally bombs Schaffhausen in Switzerland. The Swiss protest strongly. The Americans offer reparations.

1945 The U.S. First and Ninth Armies link up at Lippstadt cutting off a third of a million German troops in the Ruhr area. The U.S. First Army enters Hamm, 40 miles Northeast of Essen.

The 3rd Ukrainian Front capture Sopron in Hungary, a vital road junction between Budapest and Vienna and also reaches Wiener Neustadt as it continues its advance toward Vienna. The fighting in Breslau continues.

The U.S. Tenth Army, with 1,457 ships in support, invades Okinawa which is 325 miles from Japan. 60,000 troops land unopposed and establish an 8-mile bridgehead.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Pin Up: Diana Mumby WWII Today: February 1 Words at War: Veterans Comes Back

Mar 31

World War II Today: March 31

1939 Britain and France agree to support Poland if Germany threatens to invade.

1940 German armed merchant cruiser Atlantis sets sail, will sink 22 ships before being sunk November 22, 1941.

1941 British civilian casualties for March are 4,259 killed and 5,557 injured.

Italian naval forces sink the British Cruiser, HMS Bonaventure off Crete.

The 5th Light Division engages the British 2nd Armoured Division near Mersa Brega, as it attempts to capture the town. The battle rages all day and results in the British withdrawing towards Agedabia.

A US scientific/military team arrives in the Danish colony of Greenland, to consider the establishment of military bases there.

The RAF first uses 4000-lb “Cookie” bomb in raid on Emden, Germany.

109 RAF bombers attack the German warships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau in Brest, France, but were unable to score any hits.

Erwin Rommel’s forces attack Ajdabiya and expelled the 2nd Armoured Division.

Crown Prince and Regent of Iraq ‘Abd al-Ilah flees to Jordan after learning of a plot to assassinate him.

Germany and Yugoslavia severs diplomatic relations.

1943 Newly built gas chamber/crematory II opens at Auschwitz.

The Australian 9th Division marches through Melbourne watched by more than half a million people.

In North Africa, Axis forces withdrew from Cap Serrat while 5th Corps of the 1st British Army captured El Aouana.

1944 RAF losses after 35 major attacks on German cities since the 18th November 1943 are 1,047 aircraft destroyed and 1,682 damaged.

Vice Admiral Mineichi Koga, Commander-in-Chief of Japanese Combined Fleet, is killed in a plane crash on Mindanao in the Philippines.

1945 The Germans start pulling out of Holland. The French First Army crosses the Rhine for first time since Napoleon. The US Third Army reaches Siegen 20 miles East of the Rhine.

The Russians enters German territory near Sopron in Hungary. The Russian capture Ratibor in Upper Silesia.

British 26th Division reaches the Burma Road, which ends eight months of fighting.

Free French Army crosses Rhine near Speyer, Germany, the first French troops to cross the Rhine since Napoleon.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: Words at War: Since You Went Away WWII Today: April 28 WWII Today: November 20

Mar 30

World War II Today: March 30

1940 The Japanese set up a puppet government called Manchuko in Nanking, China.

1941 Claiming their crews are engaged in sabotage, President Roosevelt orders the government to seize sixty ships belonging to Axis countries that are currently docked in American ports.

1942 First trainloads of Jews from Paris arrive at Auschwitz.

The RAF makes a second unsuccessful attempt to sink the Tirpitz while in port at Trondheim.

The 6th Chinese Army abandons Toungoo, and fails to destroy the bridge over the river Sittang as well. This leaves the way to the Chinese border wide open for the Japanese Army. The abandonment of Toungoo also exposed 1st Burma Corps left flank, whose attacks in the Prome area had been turned back by the Japanese. and forced to withdraw towards the Yenangyuang oilfields.

The Allies formally divide the Pacific theatre into two commands. General MacArthur takes control of the South-West Pacific Command based in Australia and covering the Philippines, new Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago and the Dutch East Indies. The second command covered the remainder of the Pacific and came under the control of Admiral Nimitz, who was based at Pearl Harbor. His Pacific Ocean Command was then sub divided in to three, which were the North, Central and South Pacific Areas.

The Pacific War Council is set up in Washington, with representatives from Britain, Australia, Canada, China, New Zealand, Netherlands, Philippines and the US.

1943 Elements of the Eighth Army break through at the Gabes Pass, over 100 miles into Tunisia and heads North.

1944 Kleist and Manstein are sacked by Hitler and replaced by Schorner and Model.

In a raid on Nuremberg the RAF suffers its heaviest losses in single raid, losing 96 (600 aircrew) out of 795 bombers.

The siege of Imphal begins, as the Japanese cut the road to the North.

1945 The U.S. First Army begins a 3 day battle for Paderborn.

Russians troops finally capture Danzig, along with 45 U-boats and 10,000 prisoners. Breslau and Glogau are surrounded, 180 miles South East of Berlin. Russian troops cross the Austrian border to the North of Koszeg. German troops of Army Group Weichsel evacuate their last remaining bridgehead at Wollin to the North of Stettin.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: September 30 WWII Today: July 27 Yank Magazine Pin Up: Lizabeth Scott

Mar 29

World War II Today: March 29

1936 Italy firebombs the Ethiopian city of Harar.

1940 In German-occupied territories, only Jewish doctors are now allowed to treat Jews.

1941 A ‘Commissariat’ for Jewish Affairs is set up in Vichy France.

The Italians spot a British convoy escorted by 4 Cruisers and 4 Destroyers and close in. The British ships lure the Italians towards the main body of the Mediterranean Fleet which includes 3 battleships and the Aircraft Carrier HMS Formidable. HMS Formidable launches aircraft which attack and hit the Italian Battleship Vittorio Veneto with a torpedo, although it manages to limp back to Taranto. Later, they also hit the Cruiser Pola which is seriously damaged. The Italians decide to withdraw and detach 2 cruisers and 4 Destroyers to assist the damaged Cruiser Pola. However, the British intercept them and sink the Cruiser Pola and its 2 escort Cruisers Zara and Fiume as well as 2 of the escorting Destroyers. British losses total just 2 aircraft.

After 2 months and 14 separate meetings, the US and British staff conference ends with a basic framework for US-British co-operation should the USA be drawn in to the war. Most importantly an agreement was made that Germany should be defeated first.

1942 Escorts of the Arctic convoy PQ13, beat off a German destroyer attack, sinking Z26.

Another sixteen Spitfires are delivered to Malta by Force H.

The Australian War Cabinet implements a ‘Total Denial’ policy in northern Australia should the Japanese invade. This would involve the conduct of a fighting withdrawal, with the evacuation or destruction of anything left behind. Already underway was a vast migration of sheep and cattle southwards, with those taking part are nicknamed ‘Overlanders’.

1943 British and Indian troops begin to withdraw from Arakan in western Burma, under heavy Japanese pressure.

Meat rationing begins in the USA and is set at 28oz per week.

1944 The U.S. Navy bombards the Palau Islands to the East of the Philippines, destroying 150 planes, six naval vessels and 100,000 tons of shipping.

1945 In Germany, US Seventh Army takes Mannheim and Heidelberg. In retreat from Heidelberg, Germans destroy historic Alte Brücke over Neckar River.

Troops of the 1st Belorussian Front finally capture the fortress town of Kastrin against desperate German resistance. The Russians seize the oilfields South of Komorn in Hungary, the last source of petroleum for the German war effort.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: November 11 WWII Today: February 10 WWII Today: January 6

Mar 28

World War II Today: March 28

1933 Nazis order a ban on all Jews in businesses, professions and schools.

1940 Dutch fighters shoot down a British bomber near Rotterdam by mistake, killing one flier.

The British and French decide to start mining neutral Norwegian waters from the 8th April 1940.

1941 In an attempt to intercept British convoys sailing to Greece, the Italian navy puts a force of 1 Battleship, 8 Cruisers and 9 Destroyers out to sea. However, they are spotted by an RAF flying boat which alerts Admiral Cunningham who orders the Mediterranean fleet to slip anchor and intercept the Italians the next day.

Anti-Axis demonstrations in Yugoslavia.

1942 Naval and Commando raid against St. Nazaire. A British ship, the HMS Campbeltown, a Lend-Lease American destroyer, which was specifically rammed into a German occupied dry-dock in France, explodes, knocking the area out of action for the German battleship Tirpitz.

Under the new tactical doctrine of area saturation bombing, introduced by Air Vice Marshal Harris, the RAF launches a heavy incendiary attack (234 bombers) against Lübeck on the Baltic that devastates 265 acres of the old city. The RAF lost 13 aircraft and from one of these the Germans were able to obtain their first specimen of the GEE equipment. In retaliation for the raid on Lübeck, Hitler orders the Luftwaffe to bomb historic British towns and cities.

Fritz Sauckel named Chief of Manpower to expedite recruitment of slave labour.

In response to General Stilwell’s request for a British counter-attack to relieve the pressure on Chinese forces around Toungoo, Alexander orders the 1st Burma Corps to attack at Paungde and Prome in the Irrawaddy valley.

1943

The British First Army goes onto the offensive in northern Tunisia.

1944 The Russians recapture Nikolaev on the Black Sea and enter Romanian territory.

Merrill’s ‘Marauders’ begin a 10-day defensive action against 1,300 Japanese at Nhpum Ga Ridge.

1945 Argentina declares war against Germany.

The British Second Army begins its drive towards the Elbe as the U.S. First Army captures Marburg, 60 miles Northeast of Koblenz. The US Third Army captures Limburg on the Lahn.

The Russians capture Gdynia, along with 9,000 prisoners, after a long struggle. The 1st Belorussian Front captures Gotenhafen north of Danzig. Hitler replaces General Guderian with General Krebs as chief of OKH.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: December 7 – Pearl Harbor WWII Today: December 6 WWII Today: March 10

Mar 27

World War II Today: March 27

1941 A coup in Yugoslavia by General Simonic and other army officers overthrows the pro-German government. King Peter takes control and a new cabinet is formed. This upsets Hitler, who decides to delay his surprise attack on the Soviet Union in order to launch “Operation Union”, whose intent is the destruction of Yugoslavia.

British troops finally take Keren, although they suffer nearly 4,000 casualties in the process, while the Italians lose some 3,000 men. The  Italians are forced to withdraw towards Asmara. The 11th African Division captures Harar in Abyssinia after the Italians have declared it an  ‘open town’.

Tokeo Yoshikawa arrives in Oahu, Hawaii, to begin spying for Japan on the U.S. Fleet at Pearl Harbor.

Under the Lend-Lease Act, US signs 99-year lease on British bases in the western hemisphere and approves $7 billion in aid to Britain.

1942 The British raid the Nazi submarine base at St. Nazaire, France

Filippino President and Government arrive in Australia.

The start of deportation of French Jews to Auschwitz.

One thousand Jews leave Drancy, France for the Auschwitz concentration camp.

1943 Germans delay British/New Zealanders at Tebaga Gap and retreat to Wadi Akarit, Tunisia.

The United Stages Navy defeats the Japanese in thebattle of Komondorski Islands in Aleutians, the longest continuous gun battle in history of US Navy.

1944 Thousands of Jews are murdered in Kaunas, Lithuania. The Gestapo shoots forty Jewish policemen in the Riga, Latvia ghetto.

1945 General Dwight Eisenhower declares that the German defenses on the Western Front have been broken.

The allied bridgehead north of Ruhr is now 700 square miles. 16,257 POW’s are taken for 6,781 allied casualties in four days. The U.S. Third Army captures Aschaffenburg.

The 1,115th and last V2 to reach England lands in Kynaston Rd., Orpington, Kent, England.

Bitter street fighting in Danzig as the Russians force their way into the City defences. A German counterattack from the Frankfurt bridgehead toward Kastrin bogs down after only a few miles.

B-29s lay mines in Japan’s Shimonoseki Strait to interrupt shipping.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: December 2 WWII Today: January 12 WWII Today: April 7

Mar 26

World War II Today: March 26

1938 Herman Goering warns all Jews to leave Austria.

1940 Canadian election returns Mackenzie King as prime minister.

First flight of Curtiss C-46 Commando cargo plane in St. Louis MO.

Curtiss C-46D

1941 The German Army High Command gives approval to RSHA and Heydrich on the tasks of SS murder squads (Einsatzgruppen) in occupied Poland.

The British Cruiser York is severely damaged and then beached at Suda Bay in Crete, when it is hit by an Italian motor boat loaded with explosives.

1942 Two of the freighters from the recent relief convoy are sunk in port by the Luftwaffe. These two ships were still almost fully loaded as damage to the docks at Valletta has prevented their swift unloading. Of the 26,000 tons of supply that had been sent from Egypt on this latest convoy, only 5,000 tons were eventually unloaded.

General Blamey becomes the Commander-in-Chief of Australian Military Forces.

Churchill tells the conservatives, ‘It now seems very likely that we and our allies cannot lose this war, except through our own fault’.

1943 The Eighth Army wins the battle of the Mareth line, forcing the axis troops to retreat to the North.

1944 Koniev’s armies reach the River Pruth on a 50-miles front. The Russians recapture Kamenets-Podolsk. in the Ukraine.

1945 The U.S. Third Army reaches Main and establishes contact with U.S. Seventh Army on the East side of Rhine, near Worms. The US Third Army captures Darmstadt.

The Russians take Papa and Devecser, both German strong points covering the approaches to the Austrian border. The Reichsführer-SS is replaced by General Heinrici as Commander in Chief of Army Group Weichsel.

The last organized Japanese troops on Iwo Jima make a suicide attack. Total U.S. killed on Iwo Jima is 6,891, with more than 20,000 Japanese being killed and only 216 captured.

US Eighth Army lands on Cebu in Philippines.

US Tenth Army lands on Kerama Islands 15 miles west of Okinawa to build artillery base; seizes 350 kamikaze torpedo boats.

David Lloyd George, British prime minister during WWI, dies at age 83

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: December 3 WWII Today: December 4 WWII Today: November 4

Mar 25

World War II Today: March 25

1940 US allows sale of military aircraft to the Allies.

Britain doubles butter ration to ½ pound per week.

1941 Under heavy pressure Yugoslavia signs Tripartite Pact, joining the Axis powers.

Anti-Axis protests break out in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.

1942 US troops occupy the Society Islands.

Standard Oil president William Stamps Farish II pleads no contest for conspiring with Nazis and hiding patents for synthetic rubber from US government.

US Naval Task Force 39 leaves Maine for Britain to protect convoys to Russia, relieving the Royal Navy to protect the Mediterranean and to invade Madagascar.

First Martin B-26 Marauder medium bombers arrive in a combat theater, at Brisbane/Archerfield AF, Australia.

Credit: Life Magazine

1943 Greek partisans temporarily take over Samos Island from the Italian garrison.

Neutral Spain closes its border with Nazi-occupied France.

Battle for convoy HX-231 begins; first time convoy beats off U-boats without loss.

1944 Manstein persuades Hitler to allow the First Panzer Army to break out to the west of Lvov, not south.

In New Guinea, heavy US Fifth Air Force bombing on Wewak causes Japanese to move air headquarters to Hollandia.

1945 The U.S. First Army breaks out of the Remagen bridgehead. The British Second Army captures Wesel which has been nearly 100% destroyed by Allied bombing.

The U.S. Navy begins the pre-invasion bombardment of Okinawa firing more than half a million shells and rockets in a week.

US Fifteenth Air Force based in Italy flies its last strategic mission of war: 650 bombers hit Prague and Cheb, Czechoslovakia.

German SS troops behind US lines assassinate Allied-backed mayor of Aachen, Germany.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: November 19 WWII Today: September 21 WWII Today: October 8

Mar 24

World War II Today: March 24

1941 Berlin suffers its first raid of the year by the RAF.

German troops on parade in the city of Cherbourg have their show spoiled when British bombers hit the parade ground in the middle of the event.

Rommel conducts a limited offensive to recapture El Agheila from the British, which succeeds with startling ease. This encourages Rommel to push forward towards Mersa Brega. British Somaliland is now clear of Italians.

1942 The British Government refuses to hold an inquiry into the loss of Singapore during a Lords debate.

The start of deportation of Slovak Jews to Auschwitz.

The Japanese begin an intensive bombing campaign of Bataan and Corregidor. General Homma’s 14th Army receives reinforcement ready for its final offensive against the Bataan and Corregidor. This takes the form of the Japanese 4th Division, which has been shipped from Shanghai.

1943 In the Yellow Sea near Port Arthur, US sub Wahoo sinks 3 Japanese cargo ships.

The first Chindit Raid ends (British/Indian raids in Japanese-occupied Burma); although one-third of men were lost, raid raised morale.

1944 The US Fifth Army’s bridgehead at Anzio is bombarded by German heavy long-range guns and Luftwaffe aircraft using guided bombs, causing severe casualties in men, ships and equipment. Persistent US and British attacks against the Gustav Line at Cassino are repulsed by the German defenders. In response to the killing of 35 German soldiers in Rome by the Italian resistance, SS Colonel Herbert Kappler orders the execution of 335 Italians, at least 255 of whom are civilians in reprisal. All are shot by German troops in the Fosse Ardeantine caves outside of Rome.

A Russian tank army crosses the Dnieper near Czech border. Malinovsky makes crossings of the Bug near the Black Sea.

The Luftwaffe attacks London with 90 medium bombers (He-111s and Ju-88s), while the RAF bombs Berlin with 810 heavy Lancaster bombers. The RAF loses 72 bombers in this, the 16th and heaviest raid of war on Berlin. The ‘Battle of Berlin’ is now over.

Wingate, leader of the Chindits is killed in plane crash.

The Japanese counter-attack on Bougainville is decisively beaten.

President Roosevelt issues a statement condemning German and Japanese ongoing “crimes against humanity.”

In response to the killing of 35 German soldiers in Rome by the Italian resistance, SS Colonel Herbert Kappler orders the execution of 335 Italians, at least 255 of whom are civilians in reprisal. All are shot by German troops in the Fosse Ardeantine caves outside of Rome.

1945 Montgomery’s 21st Army Group attacks across the Rhine, 15 miles North of Duisberg in the Wesel area, after 3,500-gun barrage. 16,870 paratroops land across the river Rhine in Operation ‘Plunder’ and succeed in linking up with advancing British troops and establishing four bridgeheads. The US Third Army captures Speyer and Ludwigshafen on the upper Rhine.

US Fifteenth Air Force based in Italy sends 660 bombers to Berlin for first time as a diversion for Rhine crossings. The escorting 332nd Fighter Group (the African-American Tuskegee Airmen), shoots down 3 German Me 262 jets and earns Distinguished Unit Citation.

The 1st Ukrainian Front captures Neisse in Upper Silesia.

U.S. Marines seize islands off coast of Okinawa in Pacific.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: May 22 WWII Today: March 9 WWII Today: April 18