Archive for the ‘WWII History’ Category

Nov 23

World War II Today: November 23

1939 RAF shoots down seven German aircraft over France.

The Nazis in control of Poland issue a decree requiring all Polish Jews over the age of twelve to wear white armbands emblazoned with a blue Star of David.

The Scharnhorst and Gneisenau intercept a convoy, which is escorted by the merchant cruiser Rawalpindi. The Scharnhorst sinks the Rawalpindi (killing 265 crew), which sacrificed itself in order that the convoy could escape. The British Home Fleet puts to sea in an attempt to engage the two German ships. However, both the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau have already headed for home. The Royal Navy recovers its first intact German Magnetic mine. These types of mines have been causing an increasing number of casualties to shipping, in and around the UK.

Britain begins rationing bacon and butter.

US celebrates Thanksgiving after Roosevelt moved holiday from last to second-to-last Thursday to extend the Christmas shopping season.

Macy’s parade first features Superman balloon.

1940 The Romanian leader Antonescu agrees to joins the Tripartite pact.

Seven Italian Caproni BR20m bombers, flying from bases in Belgium, are shot down by Fighter Command during an air attack on the UK.

Southampton is hit badly by the Luftwaffe.

German submarine U-100 sinks seven Allied cargo ships in convoy SC-11 off the coast ofIreland

1941 German troops are now only 35 miles north-west of Moscow.

Axis forces destroy the 5th South African Brigade after days of tank battles round Tobruk.

U.S. troops move into Dutch Guiana to guard the bauxite mines.

1942 The Russians claim 24,000 prisoners have been taken since the start of their counter offensive.

Retreating before the British 8th Army (Montgomery), Panzer Army Afrika reaches El Agheila.

Japanese air raid on Darwin, Australia.

1943 The allies cross the Sangro in strength.

Berlin hit again by the RAF, making it the worst bombed city in Germany with 12,000 tons dropped on it this year alone.

United States forces seized control of the Tarawa and Makin atolls from the Japanese.

1944 The allies declare Macedonia on Greek Yugoslav border, free of Germans.

French First Army takes Strasbourg, France.

1945 Butter rationing comes to an end, leaving sugar as the only item that continues to be rationed in the USA.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: March 30 WWII Today: March 3 Yank Pin Up: Colleen Townsend 

Nov 22

World War II Today: November 22

1939 German aircraft parachute mines into the Thames Estuary.

1940 The Luftwaffe’s heaviest raid on Birmingham; 11-hr raid causes 600 fires.

1941 All operational U-boats ordered to proceed to the Mediterranean or its approach.

A confused battle continues around Sidi Rezegh, with XXX Corps being forced to stop it advance towards Tobruk after the loss of many tanks and for the Tobruk break-out to be halted. Better news for XIII Corps though as it captures Sidi Omar and Capuzzo.

German auxiliary cruiser Atlantis is sunk in the South Atlantic by heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire after having sunk 22 Allied merchant ships.

Luftwaffe ace Werner Mölders killed in landing accident while a passenger on a German He 111 bomber, the first pilot in the world to achieve over 100 victories.

1942 The Soviet 4th Mechanized Corps from the south and the 4th Tank Corps from the north, join hands at Kalach on the Don, thus establishing the complete encirclement of the 300,000 men of 6th and 4th Panzer Army’s. The Russians report gains of up to 50 mites south of Stalingrad.

1943 German troops complete the occupation of the islands of the Dodecanese in the eastern Mediterranean.

The RAF give Berlin the worst pounding so far, with more than 2,300 tons of bombs dropped in less than 30 minutes for the loss of just 26 planes.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek met in Cairo to discuss measures for defeating Japan.

1944 Fighting in Metz is over but seven forts still hold out.

The RAF makes a second breach in the Dortmund-Ems Canal

US Third Army takes crucial town of Metz, France

1945 Thanksgiving is celebrated in America; Macy’s parade resumes after being cancelled 1942-44.

The Hollywood Canteen closes after having entertained 4 million servicemen; 3000 volunteers included many movie stars.





Take a look at these other WWII posts:

WWII Today: June 13  WWII Today: August 13 WWII Today: June 14

Nov 21

World War II Today: November 21

1937 The first stretch of the German Autobahn is opened for use. The main purpose of the road is to deploy and supply its forces throughout the country. Eventually, 4,500 miles of four-lane highway will cover Germany.

1939 Prime Minister Chamberlain imposes an embargo on all German trade, with goods currently in Britain, but destined for shipment to Germany to be confiscated.

Prime Minister Chamberlain announces the seizure of German merchant shipping in retaliation for the sinking of neutral ships and indiscriminate mine warfare. The German Battlecruiser’s Scharnhorst and Gneisenau set off from Germany on a mission to harry British sea routes in the North Atlantic.

1940 Greeks capture Koritza, defeating Italian IX Army.

The United States government announces that Nazi agents are active in eight American cities for sabotage, propaganda, espionage, and fomenting strife.

1942 The situation for the 6th Army is deteriorating fast, not least owing to the fact that Army HQ is being relocated which leads to serious disruptions in communications with the troops in and outside the city.

1943 Field Marshal Kesselring is appointed commander-in-chief of all German forces in Italy, while Rommel leaves his command to organize the Atlantic wall.

1944 Albanian patriots free the capital, Tirana.

The US 8th Air Force launches heavy attacks against Hamburg and the synthetic fuel producing plants of Leuna at Merseburg.

1945 All the top ranking Nazis at Nuremberg plead innocent.

Manzanar Relocation Center closes.

Lt. Gen. Alexander Patch dies of pneumonia at Fort Sam Houston TX, age 55.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: August 25 WWII Today: March 11 WWII Today: September 9

Nov 20

World War II Today: November 20

1940 Hungarian Premier and Foreign Minister in Vienna agree to join Tripartite.

1941 The exiled Norwegian Government in London officially backs ‘Milorg’, the largest resistance organization in Norway.

The British garrison is ordered to break out and link up with XXX Corps. However, Rommel, now realizing the threat sent the Afrika Korps to attack at Sidi Rezegh.

Japanese issue attack orders, although no action is to be taken until the results of the latest diplomatic negotiations are known.

1942 Northeast and southwest of Stalingrad, the attacking Soviet armies are making rapid progress in the direction of Kalach on the Don, the chosen meeting point of the two pincers. The 6th and 4th Panzer Army’s hurriedly dispatch mobile units to bolster the unprepared and crumbling Romanian defenses west and south of the Don. Hitler relinquishes his command of Army Group A to Kleist.

The Eighth Army reaches Benghazi.

1943 The Eighth Army crosses the Sangro River for first time. 4,800 British prisoners are taken at Samos in the Aegean.

The Red Army achieves a breakthrough near Kremenchug in the Ukraine and advances toward Kirovograd. Hitler does not allow Army Group North to withdraw to Panther line. Russian POW losses for war now total over five million.

US Marines land on Makin and Tarawa atolls in Gilbert Islands, with fierce fighting reported.

1944 With artillery audible in the distance, Hitler departs for Berlin from the Wolfschanze (Wolf’s Lair), his headquarters near Rastenburg in East Prussia that he has occupied since the beginning of the war with the Soviet Union in June 1941. Although construction work continues on the headquarters, Hitler never returns.

1945 The Nuremberg trials begin, with Goring, Ribbentrop, Hess, Keitel, Jodl, Raeder, Doenitz, Streicher and other top Nazis on trial.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: September 27 WWII Today: October 12 WWII Today: September 3 WWII Today: November 21

Nov 19

World War II Today: November 19

1940 Greek successes continue in northern Greece and Albania. The Italians are driven back across the Kalamas River.

The Canadian government approves initiation of mass production of war bacteria.

The Luftwaffe launches a major raid against Birmingham, inflicting heavy damage in places.

1941 The Times newspaper’s report on Occupied Europe estimates that 82,000 Poles have been shot or hanged since Poland’s occupation by the Germans.

The cruiser HMAS Sydney and German raider Kormoran sink each other off Western Australia. There are no survivors from HMAS Sydney.

1942 The Red Army opens its winter offensive with a pincer movement round Stalingrad with the aim of encircling and destroying the German forces fighting in Stalingrad. The initial attacks by the Soviet 5th Tank Army from the north and the 51st Army from the south are directed against the exposed rear flanks of 6th Army and 4th Panzer Army held by the Romanian 3rd and 4th Army’s which are overrun and scattered. Russian gains in Caucasus are also announced.

Two RAF Horsa gliders carrying 34 British Royal Engineer Commandos, crashes in Norway en route to their mission of destroying the German ‘heavy water’ plant at Telemark. The survivors are captured by the Germans, questioned, tortured and shot, although they were all in uniform.

British troops engage a German tank column only 30 miles from Tunis.

1944 The U.S. 95th Division fights its way into the suburbs of Metz.

The French 1st Armoured Division reaches the Rhine.

The RAF’s destruction of Drina bridge at Visegrad causes an 85-mile German traffic jam in Yugoslavia.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: April 22 WWII Today: July 23 WWII Today: June 26

Nov 18

World War II Today: November 18

1939 The Dutch ship Simon Bolivar hits an ‘un-notified’ mine in the North Sea, killing 80. Several other neutral ships also sunk by mines.

IRA detonate four small bombs in Piccadilly, London.

1941 At 6am ‘Operation Crusader’, the British Eighth Army’s offensive to relieve Tobruk begins. Rommel, who arrives back from Rome that day, is caught by surprise, allowing the British XXX Corps to advance 50-miles and capture the axis airfield 10 miles south of Sidi Rezegh. The Germans, believing that the British are about to encircle Bardia, send the Afrika Korps on a wild goose chase in that direction.

Gen. Sir Alan Brooke replaces Field Marshal John Dill as British Chief of the Imperial General Staff.

1942 Laval is given absolute power by Vichy in Africa.

1943 A German counter offensive recaptures Zhitomir.

The RAF begins the ‘battle of Berlin’ with 700 tons dropped. Other areas also pounded in the biggest RAF operation so far.

1944 A German hospital ship, Tubingen is sunk accidentally by allied aircraft in the Adriatic, but luckily no wounded were onboard. The British express regret to the German authorities about the mistake.

Inmates of Janowska concentration camp near Lwów (at this time in German-occupied Poland), staged an uprising that ultimately failed. Leon Weliczker and several other prisoners had run errands for the camp guards, and were accustomed to bringing firewood into the guard houses. On the evening of the 19th, two groups of prisoners attacked guards in two different locations, stole their machines guns, and started a breakout.[59] The 6,000 remaining Jewish residents of Janowska camp were killed over the next four days and on November 23, Lwów (now Lviv in the Ukraine) was declared Judenrein (“clean of Jews”).

The U.S. Third Army crosses the German frontier. Metz is cut off and surrounded by the U.S. Third Army’s, XX Corps.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: July 13 WWII Today: September 22 WWII Today: September 8

Nov 17

World War II Today: November 17

1939 The Supreme Allied War Council agrees on the co-ordination of British and French war production. It is also decided that if the Germans should invade Belgium, then both British and French troops will move forward in to Belgium to defend the Albert Canal, River Meuse and the River Dyle, which were strong positions from which to meet any German attack. However, the Belgium government refuses to allow Allied reconnaissance parties in to country for fear of provoking the Germans.

The funeral of Czech Jan Opletal becomes the occasion for a large student demonstration. The Germans strike back ruthlessly, sentencing nine student leaders to death, closing the Czech universities, and sending 1200 students to concentration and labour camps.

1941 German Luftwaffe general and World War I fighter-ace Ernst Udet commits suicide. The Nazi government tells the public that he died in a flying accident.

The Germans establish the post of Reichskommissariat Ostland under Alfred Rosenberg, to administer the recently conquered territories in the east. Siberian troops are heavily engaged in front of Moscow.

A British night commando raid on what is thought to be Rommel’s HQ at Breda Littoria in the Jebel Akhdar in Libya, fails when it is found to be only a logistical HQ and that Rommel is away on a visit to Rome. Also, the SAS raid on axis airfields fails when the transport aircraft are blown off course by a sandstorm.

Chiang Kai-shek urges the western democracies to take urgent action against Japan.


British paratroops engage German troops in Tunisia, while the first clashes occur between the newly landed U.S. and German forces.

1943 A storm of protest erupts in Britain over the release of Sir Oswald Mosley, the British fascist, on health grounds.

The Battle of Sattelberg began during the Huon Peninsula campaign in New Guinea.

The Russian 60th Army takes Korosten, 100 miles West of Kiev.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Winchester Rifle Advertisement WWII Today: August 31 Words at War: George Washington Carver

Nov 16

World War II Today: November 16

1940 131 RAF Bomber Command aircraft make raids on four Hamburg targets.

1941 The German 11th Army takes Kerch in the eastern Crimea, although Sevastopol still holds out.


U.S. and Australian forces join up for the assault on the last Japanese stronghold in Northern Papua, the Buna-Gona bridgehead.

German submarine U-173 was depth charged and sunk off Casablanca by American warships.

1943 Leros surrenders to the Germans.

The RAF bomb the ‘heavy water’ plant at Telemark, which the Germans are attempting to repair.

Germany’s nuclear weapons program was dealt a blow when 306 American bombers flew over Norway and struck a heavy water plant at Rjukan and a molybdenum refinery at Knaben.

The Battle of Leros ended when Allied troops on the island surrendered. The Germans paid a heavy price, however. Having lost 160 planes and 4,800 personnel in the five days of fighting, they were even considering calling off the offensive before word of the surrender came through.

Residents of the English village of Tyneham in Dorset were all given notice that they were being evicted. Signs posted in the village that day put everyone on notice that they had to leave by December 19. None of them had the right to contest the action, because they were all tenants of the descendants of Nathaniel Bond, whose family owned the Tyneham House and the surrounding area. The British War Department had acquired the area as a training ground in preparation for D-Day.

The USS Corvina became the only American submarine to be sunk by an attack by an enemy submarine, after the Japanese submarine I-176 struck it with two torpedoes in the South Pacific.

The German submarine U-280 was depth charged and sunk in the North Atlantic by a B-24 of No. 86 Squadron RAF.


The U.S. First and Ninth Armies launch a new attack to the East of Aachen towards the Roer Dams (6 miles away) with four divisions on a 25-mile front. With Antwerp, Marseilles and other liberated ports now available for Allied use, the so-called “Red Ball Express,” a relay of U.S. Army supply trucks operating between the front and the Normandy beaches, is finally shut down.

5,689 tons of bombs, a record for one day are dropped by the RAF on the German frontline to the East of Aachen.


Eighty-eight German scientists, holding Nazi secrets, arrive in the United States.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: September 2 WWII Today: August 8 WWII Today: August 21

Nov 15

World War II Today: November 15

1939 The German pocket-battleship Admiral Graf Spee sinks the merchantman Africa Shell off Mozambique.

1940 67 RAF Wellington, Whitley, and Hampden bombers attack Hamburg, doing extensive damage to the city and shipyards, with no loss of aircraft.

The prototype de Havilland Mosquito takes off for the first time; designed as a bomber fast enough to dispense with defensive armament, it has a top speed of 400 mph (644 km/h).

RAF squadrons deploy from their bases in the Middle East to Greece under the command of Air Vice-Marshal J D’Albiac.

Blenheims and Wellingtons of the Western Desert Air Force attack targets deep inside enemy territory, and Lysanders and Blenheims provide complete reconnaissance of Italian defenses at Sidi Barrani.

The Warsaw Ghetto, containing over 400,000 Jews, is sealed off.

1941 In temperatures of -20°C, Army Group Centre resumes its offensive against Moscow, employing Panzer Groups 1, 2 and 3, as well as the 2nd, 4th and 9th Armies.

The de Havilland Mosquito light bomber enters service with No. 105 Sqn at RAF Swanton Morley, Norfolk. However, it was on 31 May 1942 that the Mosquito took part in its first operational raid (Cologne).

A Japanese special negotiator arrives in Washington.

1942 Another night action off Guadalcanal costs the US Navy three destroyers for Japanese battleship Kirishma.

1943 The allied expeditionary air force is formed in Britain for the invasion of Europe.

Mark Clark calls off the U.S. Fifth Army’s offensive. The British counter-attack on Leros fails as the Luftwaffe flies 600 sorties a day. A State of emergency is declared in Milan as unrest in northern Italy continues. The Germans take 1,750 hostages; machine guns are in the streets and 8pm curfew enforced.

The 2nd Tactical Air Force (2nd TAF) is formed; this in turn forms part of the Allied Expeditionary Air Force (AEAF), commanded by Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory, in preparation for the invasion of mainland Europe.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: September 27 WWII Today: June 1 WWII Today: September 7

Nov 14

World War II Today: November 14

1940 Coventry bombed.  The Luftwaffe launches 449 bombers in a heavy night attack against the major manufacturing city of Coventry, dropping around 400 tons of bombs causing severe damage to industrial and civilian installations. The city centre is badly damaged, with 21 factories being destroyed and the cathedral wrecked but for its spire. The raid kills or injures 1,419 people and makes thousands homeless. A new word is created in both the English and German languages, ‘Coventrate’ and ‘Coventrieren’, meaning the physical and psychological destruction of a city.

Greek army repels Italians back into Albania.

1941 US orders withdrawal of American gunboats and Marines from China to the Philippines.

1942 British and Americans launch offensive from Algeria toward Tunisia.

The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal ended in strategic American victory. On the battle’s final day the Japanese battlecruiser Kirishima and destroyer Ayanami were sunk by the American battleship USS Washington, while the Americans lost the destroyers Benham and Walke.

Church bells were rung throughout England in celebration of the Allied victory at El Alamein. It was the first time that church bells had sounded since 1940 when they were silenced during the threat of German invasion.

German submarine U-98 was depth charged and sunk southwest of Cape St. Vincent, Portugal by the British destroyer Wrestler.

German submarine U-259 was depth charged and sunk in the Mediterranean by a Lockheed Hudson of No. 500 Squadron RAF.

The American Liberty ship SS Robert E. Peary was commissioned just 4 days, 15 hours and 29 minutes after the keel was laid down.

1944 De Lattre launches an attack in the snow near the Swiss border, to take Belfort. The U.S. 95th infantry Division begins to capture the Metz forts. The British begins their attack on Maas in central Holland.

Premiere of documentary Combat America, produced by Clark Gable from footage he took on his five missions with the 351st Bomb Group.

Nine German vessels were destroyed by Great Britain. A tenth ship was driven to the shore. The ships destroyed were moving north along the coast.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: August 18 WWII Today: September 12 WWII Today: September 2