Archive for the ‘WWII History’ Category

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.


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

Mar 23

World War II Today: March 23

1940 Germany requires car owners to donate batteries and requires church bells to be melted down.

1941 Heavy Luftwaffe attack on Malta leads RAF to withdraw bombers and flying boats.

1942 During World War II, the U.S. government began moving Japanese-Americans from their West Coast homes to detention centers.

The British convoy, have escaped serious damage are approaching Malta. However, it is here that they come under concentrated air attack which sinks 1 freighter and damages another, although the other two freighters make it safely in to the port of Valleta. However, air attacks  against the docks at Valletta made it very difficult to unload.

The Japanese occupy the Anadaman Islands in the Indian Ocean.

Port Moresby is again attacked by Japanese aircraft.

1943 In the heaviest air raid to date, RAF drops 2000 tons of bombs on Dortmund, Germany.

In the Battle of  El Guettar in Tunisia, US infantry manages to defeat German armor.

1944 Italian partisan bombing decimates a German SS police unit in Rome, 33 Germans & 10 Italian civilians are killed. 

1945 The RAF launches a devastating raid (300 bombers) against Hildesheim near Hannover, a small city of little military and industrial importance.

General Montgomery’s British Second Army crosses Rhine at Wesel, Germany.

French General Charles de Gaulle grants limited self-government to French Indochina.

The U.S. Third Army crosses the Rhine North of Worms, as the British Second and Canadian First Armies begin their assault across the Rhine above the Ruhr.

The Russian reach the outskirts of Danzig and Gotenhafen.

Colonel Benjamin O. Davis prepares to fly cover with the 332nd Fighter Group on a bombing mission over Berlin. Davis will later become the first African-American to be promoted to the rank of Major General

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: October 8 WWII Today: May 6 WWII Today: November 16

Mar 22

World War II Today: March 22

1940 U-boats sink seven neutral ships.

1941 US 99th Pursuit Squadron activated, the first black unit in the Army Air Corps.

Grand Coulee Dam opens in Washington state, the world’s largest source of electric power.

1942 Late in the afternoon after an unsuccessful Italian torpedo-aircraft attack, Admiral Iachino’s squadron engages the British convoy. The convoy protected itself with a smokescreen, but the cruiser HMS Cleopatra was damaged. Admiral Philip Vian, commanding the British escorts,  sent his destroyers to torpedo attack the Italian battleship Littorio. Getting dark and so Admiral Iachino turned away from the British convoy and sailed for home.

Japanese aircraft attack Darwin.

A Polish newspaper editor is beheaded for listening to the BBC, as German terror continues in Poland.

Britain agrees to allow US to deliver emergency flour supply to Vichy France.

British statesman Sir Stanford Cripps tries to persuade Gandhi to encourage India to help war effort.

1943 German troops recapture Belgorod.

Newly built gas chamber/crematory IV opens at Auschwitz.

Nazis extend work week in Netherlands to 54 hours.

Patton’s forces occupy Maknassy, Tunisia.

1944 British tanks rout a Japanese tank force at Tamu in India.

New Zealanders make final failed assault on Monte Cassino, Italy.

In US, “A” gas rationing cards cut from 3 gallons/wk to 2 gal/wk.

1945 The U.S. First Army’s bridgehead at Remagen is now 30 miles long.

General George Patton’s US Third Army crosses Rhine at Nierstein & Oppenheim at night, surprising the Germans.

US Eighth Army secures Panay in the Philippines.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: December 12 General Patton Quote WWII Today: September 16

Mar 21

World War II Today: March 21

1940 Paul Reynaud becomes Prime Minister of France, with Edouard Daladier being made Minister of Defense and War.

First German merchant ship sunk by British sub: British submarine Ursula sinks German freighter Heddernheim.

1941 The last Italian post in East Libya, North Africa, falls to the British.

1942 In a repeat of Force H’s mission on the 7th March 1942. Sixteen more Spitfires are delivered to Malta. The Axis, now aware of the large British supply convoy sailing towards Malta, dispatches Admiral Iachino from Taranto with the Battleship Littorio and 4 destroyers. Admiral Parona also sets sail from Messina with 3 cruisers and 4 destroyers.

President Roosevelt signs bill making violation of Executive Order 9066 (removal of Japanese-Americans from the west coast) a federal offense.

1943 Hitler breaks his four-month silence with a Hero’s Day speech.

Another failed assassination attempt on Hitler’s life, at Heroes Day celebration.

In Tunisia, US Rangers ambush Italians near Gafsa and take 1000 POWs.

Cornelia Fort becomes first WAFS (Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron, precursor of WASPs) member killed in action, ferrying BT-13 in Texas.

1944 Eruption of Mount Vesuvius buries villages of San Sebastiano and Massa; 6-km-high lava fountains are seen.

1945 Units of the U.S. First Army advances from the Remagen bridgehead toward Siegburg.

The Russians capture Stuhlweissenburg in Hungary.

The US 8th Air Force launches a major attack (650 bombers) against Hamburg.

Allied bombs for Copenhagen Gestapo HQ hit school; kill 86 students and 17 teachers.

Japanese use rocket-powered Ohka kamikaze plane for first time, but cause little damage to US fleet.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: November 14 WWII Today: November 10 WWII Today: May 10

Mar 20

World War II Today: March 20

1940 The British Royal Air Force conducts an all-night air raid on the Nazi airbase at Sylt, Germany.

French Prime Minister Edouard Daladier resigns after vote of no confidence from Parliament.

1941 Four Yugoslav ministers resign rather than accept German terms.

The Berbera force and elements of the 11th African Division meet at Hargeisa inside British Somaliland.

Luftwaffe bombs Plymouth right after a visit by King George & Queen Elizabeth.

1942 Kesselring launches an intensified air offensive against Malta, which by the end of March had racked up 4,927 sorties for the Luftwaffe, as opposed to 2.497 during February.

The Red Army offensive at Kerch in the Crimea is defeated with heavy losses to the Russians.

About 1,000 schoolteachers are arrested in Norway.

In what was to become known as the 2nd Battle of Sirte, 4 freighters, escorted by 3 cruisers, 1 anti-aircraft cruiser and 17 destroyers leave Alexandria bound for Malta. This force would later be strengthened by the cruiser Penelope and a destroyer from Force K.

Japanese troops, reinforced by the 18th and 56th Division which had arrived by sea at Rangoon a few days earlier, attack the 6th Chinese Army near Toungoo in Burma.

1943 The Eighth Army continues its attacks against the Mareth line in southern Tunisia.

1944 The Russians recapture Vinnitsa in the Ukraine, the site of Hitler’s Headquarters during in 1943.

Destroyer escort USS Mason commissioned at the Boston Navy Yard, the first US Navy ship with a predominately African-American enlisted crew.

1945 German troops of Army Group Weichsel evacuate their bridgehead across the Oder at Stettin. The Russians capture Braunsberg, 40 miles South of Konigsberg.

The U.S. Seventh Army takes Saarbrucken.

Onn Luzon, a force of Filipinos takes San Fernando, led by US Col. Russell Volckmann, who refused to surrender to the Japanese in 1942

The British 19th Indian Division completes the capture of Mandalay.


Take a look at these other WWII Posts:

WWII Today: January 17 WWII Today: November 26 WWII Pin Up: Francis Rafferty