Archive for the ‘WWII History’ Category
1939 The first squadron of Australian airmen arrives in Britain.
1941 Japanese troops cross the river Perak. The Japanese commander General Yamashita senses that British resistance is weakening in Malaya and is determined to push home his advantage and not allow the British any time to reorganize themselves. This he does by forcing the British troops back down the coast roads until he reaches a defensive position and then outflanks it through the jungle.
The Philippine capital of Manila is declared an open city by General Douglas MacArthur
Winston Churchill addresses Joint Session of Congress and receives a rousing ovation, but says allied offensive must wait until 1943.
The Russians land on the Kerch Peninsula in an attempt to relieve the siege of Sevastopol.
1942 The Russians continue their advance on the southern front and claim 56,000 prisoners taken in middle Don region
The French authorities execute Admiral Darlan’s assassin.
1943 Ordered to sail to the Barents Sea and destroy the allied convoy JW-55B bound for the Soviet port of Murmansk, the German battle-cruiser Scharnhorst encounters a protective force of the British Home Fleet consisting of the cruisers HMS Belfast, Duke of York, Jamaica and Norfolk. After a fierce action, Scharnhorst is sunk, with only 36 of her crew of 1,839 surviving.
US Marines land at Cape Gloucester, New Britain in the Solomons; they encounter little opposition due to heavy bombing.
British ships sink German battlecruiser Scharnhorst in the Battle of North Cape off Norway; only 36 of 1963 men survive.
1944 Eight French Gestapo leaders are executed in Paris.
Bastogne is relieved by the U.S. 4th Armored Division.
US Third Army’s 4th Armored Division under Patton open a corridor to Bastogne, relieving the defenders. German Ardennes Offensive grinds to a halt due to supply problems caused by Allied bombing.
In Italy, Germans launch counterattack against US Fifth Army in Serchio Valley, retaking territory.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: Winston Churchill Quote WWII Today: December 28 WWII Today: July 8
1939 A fresh Russian division is thrown into the attacks at Taipale. The Russian air force bombs 11 towns and villages.
Soviets attempt to break out at Suomussalmi, Finland, but fail.
The admiralty announces the completion of a minefield, 500 miles long and 35 wide, down the East coast.
1940 The Admiral Hipper intercepts a convoy bound for the middle east, but is forced to withdraw by three escorting cruisers and has to put in to Brest for repairs.
Pope Pius XII celebrates Christmas Midnight Mass in afternoon due to blackout.
1941 The British retake Benghazi.
Hong Kong surrenders after a 7 day siege, with more than 2,000 killed or missing and 2,300 wounded.
The RAF and American Volunteer Group shoot down 51 Japanese aircraft over Rangoon for loss of just 12 of their own number.
Japanese secure Jolo Island in Philippines.
Over 3,000 starve to death in Leningrad. Hitler removes Guderian from command of Panzer Group 2.
1942 Heavy fighting continues all around the perimeter of Stalingrad, while the decimated and starving troops of 6th Army receive their last rations of horse meat, the 12,000 horses in the pocket having now all been slaughtered.
Convoy JW-51A arrives at Murmansk without loss.
In Tunisia, Germans retake Longstop Hill; Americans lost 500 men in 4-day battle.
1944 The 2nd Panzer Division is just four miles from the river Meuse, Southwest of Liege, but is stopped by the U.S. 2nd Armored Division with British help.
The last Japanese port on Leyte is captured and MacArthur proclaims that Leyte is secure.
US lands at Palompon on Leyte in the Philippines, cutting off the last Japanese port on the island, and ending the assault phase of the campaign.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: January 8 WWII Today: March 26 WWII Today: August: 3
1939 Pope Pius XII makes a Christmas appeal for peace.
1940 US refuses to admit Jewish refugees, believing it will lead to expulsion of all Jews from Europe.
Bonus Christmas ration is distributed in Germany—26 oz rice & vegetables, 1 lb sugar, coffee, and jam.
1941 Japanese troops make further landings on Luzon to the southeast of Manila in Lamon Bay. The Japanese 16th Division starts its drive north towards Manila in an attempt to link up with the North Luzon Force. General MacArthur announces his decision to withdraw his forces to Bataan. A supply base is to be setup on Corregidor with sufficient stock to carry on the fight for 6 months.
British Eighth Army takes Benghazi, Libya.
White House tree-lighting ceremony moved to south end of grounds to be easily seen, the last tree-lighting until 1945.
1942 US bomb Wake Island.
Following the suspension of ‘Operation Winter Tempest’, the relief of Stalingrad, the Red Army begins an offensive against Army Group Don toward Kotelnikovo, breaking through the lines of 4th Romanian Army.
Soviets take 1 of 2 airfields used in Luftwaffe supply of Stalingrad.
In Algiers, Admiral Jean-François Darlan, French commander in North Africa, is assassinated by Ferdinand Bonnier de la Chapelle, a French royalist.
1943 Commanders of the ‘Second Front’ are announced as Eisenhower, Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force; Montgomery to be C in C of 21st Army Group.
Sir Henry Maitland Wilson is made Supreme Commander in the Mediterranean and Alexander is C in C Allied Armies, Italy.
The Russians commence a third winter offensive, with Vatutin’s 63 divisions in the Ukraine and capture Berdichev.
Roosevelt broadcasts about the Cairo and Teheran conferences and says plans have been laid for the invasion of Europe and its post-war reconstruction.
1944 In the English Channel, U-486 (Oblt.z.S. Gerhard Meyer) sinks the allied troop carrier SS Leopoldville with the loss of 763 men of the US 66th Infantry Division. All news and information on this incident is suppressed by orders of SHAEF headquarters.
In the largest mission to date, 2034 bombers of the US Eighth Air Force bomb German targets in the Ardennes.
Brigadier General Frederick Castle, commander of 4th Combat Bombardment Wing and former commander of US 94th Bomb Group, dies in crash after giving his crew time to bail out from his damaged B-17, receives Medal of HonorTake a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: December 25 – Christmas Day WWII Today: July 2 WWII Today: February 7
1939 British form military intelligence section MI9 to aid resistance fighters, downed airmen, and POWs in Nazi-occupied countries.
First Canadian troops arrive in Britain.
1940 Anthony Eden becomes Foreign Secretary.
Churchill broadcasts to Italy: ‘All because of one man’.
Lord Halifax appointed British ambassador to Washington.
Italian torpedo boat Fratelli Cairoli sinks after hitting a mine off the coast of Tripoli.
Chiang Kai-shek dissolves all Communist associations in China.
1941 Concerned about the safety of the founding documents of the United States in wartime Washington, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are removed from their display space at the National Archives and are transported in a special sealed container to temporary storage at the U.S. Gold Depository at Ft. Knox, Kentucky. On Oct. 1, 1944, with the danger to the mainland United States passed, the documents are returned to public display in Washington.
Under continuous pressure, Rommel and his Afrika Korps start to evacuate Benghazi.
The Japanese launch their first bomber attack on Rangoon. They suffer heavy losses to RAF fighters, but press home their attack, inflicting substantial damage to docks at Rangoon.
The Japanese launch another attack against Wake Island, overwhelming the small US garrison. Immediately after its capture, the Japanese rename the Island as Bird Island. Rear-Admiral Frank J. Fletcher’s task force is still more that 400 miles away and so is diverted to Midway. American and Filipino troops of the North Luzon Force, begin to fall back towards the River Agno under heavy pressure from the Japanese.
British evacuate Malaya above Perak River as Japanese advance.
Off Cambria CA, Japanese sub I-21 sinks US tanker Montebello in sight of the coast; survivors machine-gunned in lifeboats but no one is injured.
1942 Having advanced as far as the Myshkova river 30 miles southwest of Stalingrad, the three Panzer divisions of the relief force have exhausted their power and begin to withdraw towards their starting line at Kotelnikovo.
Bob Hope entertains troops in Alaska, the first of his Christmas shows. First War Loan Drive ends, raised $13 billion (quota was $9 billion).
1944 A breakthrough to the South West of Budapest is now 60-mile wide.
A German E-boat force is routed off the Scheldt Estuary.
1945 General Dwight D. Eisenhower confirms the death sentence of Private Eddie Slovik, the only American shot for desertion since the Civil War.
Germans reach maximum range of Ardennes offensive, within 3 miles of Meuse River.
In US, all horse and dog racing banned to save labor, effective January 3, 1945.
At Papago Park camp in Arizona, 25 German POWs escape, ecstatic about successes in the Battle of the Bulge.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: November 19 WWII Today: July 28 Words at War: Wild River
1939 Finns overrun Soviets at Ägläjärvi, Finland.
1940 David Margesson appointed to replace Anthony Eden as British Secretary of State for War.
The Battle of Himara ended in Greek victory.
The heaviest raids of the Manchester Blitz began. Over the next two days a total of 654 people were killed and over 2,000 injured.
1941 Prime Minister Churchill arrives at the White House as the guest of President Roosevelt for the Washington Conference.
The Arcadia Conference begins in Washington: Britain and US agree to “Germany First” plan.
The Japanese begin their invasion of the Philippines by landing 43,000 troops of General Homma’s 14th Army in Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, 150 miles north of Manila. Filipino troops here failed to prevent the beachhead from being established and their scouts, which had been sent forward in order to secure the defiles barring the way south were also unsuccessful.
First American troops arrive in Australia.
US expands draft: all men 18-65 must register, all men 20-44 liable for conscription.
Allied troops reached Beda Fomm but were halted by 30 German tanks. Axis forces began evacuating Benghazi by sea.
The Battle of Sjenica was fought in the Italian governorate of Montenegro. The Yugoslav Partisans were defeated.
German submarine U-380 was commissioned.
1942 Convoy JW-51B (14 merchants) leaves Loch Ewe escorted by 6 destroyers and a minesweeper.
The Soviets drive German troops back 15 miles at the Don River.
The Soviets retake Morozovsk.
German submarine U-200 was commissioned.
Chifley is appointed as Minister of Post-War Reconstruction in Australia.
1943 The allies announce that Tito is to be the allied commander in Yugoslavia as his partisans now estimated at 250,000 men.
Hitler issued a “Führer Order” (Führerbefehl) creating the “National Socialist Leading Officers”, charged with disseminating propaganda for “getting soldiers to believe in final victory” in the war “even if they did not know how it was going to be achieved”.
The German government ordered that all boys aged 16 and older would be required to register for military duty in January.
The Second Battle of Kiev ends in Soviet victory.
The German light cruiser Niobe was sunk by British motor torpedo boats three days after running aground off Silba, Yugoslavia.
The Germans demand surrender of surrounded Bastogne, Belgium—The artillery commander of the 101st ABN, US Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe replies, “Nuts!”
Rundstedt’s suggestion of a withdrawal is refused by Hitler.
The U.S. 3rd Army begins an offensive to relieve Bastogne.
The British announce a call-up of 250,000 troops ‘to sustain and nourish our armies in the line’.
Patton begins to turn his army 90 degrees to the north to relieve Bastogne as he had promised Ike Dec. 19 – 250,000 troops 75 mi.
The US 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne, Belgium, is surrounded.
The U.S. First Army withdraws from St. Vith
1945 Britain and the U.S.A formally recognize Tito’s Yugoslavia.
President Truman issues “Truman Directive,” authorizing immigration of increased numbers of displaced persons.
1948 Former Japanese prime minister Hideki Tojo is executed for war crimes. Tojo tried to commit suicide before his trial but survived to face the executioner.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: July 18 WWII Today: June 3 WWII Today: July 17
1939 During their brief period of comradeship, Hitler sends Joseph Stalin a telegram wishing him a happy sixtieth birthday.
1940 The RAF attacks Berlin, inflicting only minor damage.
The Admiralty decides to transfer another Battleship, HMS Malaya to Force H from the Mediterranean fleet. Again this was to be accomplished by escorting a convoy to Malta and linking up with units of Force H for the journey to Gibraltar. No losses were suffered to enemy action although a Destroyer was sunk when it hit a mine.
Bardia is surrounded by the 6th Australian Division, although the Italians are determined to fight it out.
1941 Typhus reported to be sweeping through the German forces along the Russian front.
The Axis launch a renewed air offensive against the Island of Malta.
In convoy HG-76, U-751 sinks British escort carrier Audacity, which had kept away 12 U-boats for a loss of only 4 ships in the convoy, leading the Germans to change tactics when carriers were present.
1942 Hitler refuses to let Paulus break out from their encirclement at Stalingrad.
British troops cross the Burmese border from India and head Southeast towards Akyab.
1943 Under pressure from the Allies to curtail German espionage operations in the Irish Free State, Prime Minister Eamon de Valera confiscates the German embassy’s radio transmitter.
The Eighth Army’s 1st Canadian Division battles to capture Ortona in central Italy.
Russian forces smash the German bridgehead over Dnieper River at Kherson.
1944 The U.S. First Army retakes Stavelot but to the south, the Germans surround and besiege Bastogne. Units of 5th Panzer Army capture St. Vith.
1945 General George S. Patton dies at the age of 60 after being injured in a car accident on Dec.9th.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: June 17 WWII Today: March 20 WWII Today: May 10
1939 The Russians cease their attacks at Summa, leaving Finnish forces in control of the wholeÂ Mannerheim defensive line, except the Oinala Bulge.
Captain Langsdorff of Admiral Graf Spee commits suicide.
“Let’s Help Finland” event held at Madison Square Garden, New York City.
1940 The Luftwaffe continues its attacks against British cities, this time hitting Liverpool.
No Italian troops are now left on Egyptian soil, except as prisoners.
1941 Propaganda Minister, Josef Goebbels broadcasts an appeal for winter clothing for the German troops on the eastern front.
German forces of Army Group Centre retreating from before Moscow reach a new defensive line more than 100km to the west, where, following strict orders by Hitler, they are to stand and fight off any further Soviet advances.
Admiral Royal E. Ingersoll takes over command of the Atlantic Fleet, from Admiral Ernest J. King who is appointed as Commander, US Navy
1942 The navigation and bombing radar aid ‘Oboe’ is used operationally for the first time by Bomber Command.
The Japanese bomb Calcutta for the first time.
1943 Franco disbands Falangist (Fascist) Militia in Spain.
US counter intelligence reports the smashing of a Nazi spy ring in Sicily. A 19-year-old ringleader ‘Grammatico’ and 27 others are arrested.
The heaviest raid of war on Frankfurt with more than 2,000 tons dropped by RAF. Mosquito raiders follow half an hour later to hamper the fire fighters efforts.
De Lattre de Tassigny meets de Gaulle in Algiers before taking command of ‘Army B’, for liberation of France.
The British reach the Maungdaw plain in Arakan, Burma.
1944 In their torturous advance toward the Meuse river, armored units of 6th SS Panzer Army capture Stavelot, searching for allied fuel dumps to replenish their nearly exhausted supplies of gasoline.
US terminates WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) program—returning combat airmen will perform their ferrying services; 1037 women served, with 38 fatalities.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: June 3 WWII Today: June 29 WWII Today: May 4
1939 The Russians lose 20 tanks out of 100 as they continue to attack at Summa.
Inside US territorial waters off Florida, British light cruiser Orion fires at German freighter Arauca, violating Pan-American Neutrality Zone; Arauca puts in to port at Port Everglades, FL.
1940 Mussolini requests German assistance for his hard-pressed troops in Cyrenaica, asking for a Panzer Division, Luftwaffe units and various logistical support.
10,000 civilians evacuated from Malta arrive in Britain.
German submarine U-37 mistakenly torpedoed and sank the Vichy French submarine Sfax and support ship Rhône off the coast of Morocco. The U-boat captain chose not to record this incident on the ship’s logs.
German submarine U-111 was commissioned.
1941 The United States forms Office of Censorship.
Department of Agriculture holds National Defense Garden Conference to encourage home and community gardens.
Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch resigns as Commander in Chief of German army; Hitler takes his place.
Hitler orders that there should be ‘No withdrawal’ by the German Army and that it should stand and fight where it is.
The Indian 4th Division retake Derna from axis forces.
British troops evacuate Penang in Malaya.
Colombia severs diplomatic relations with Germany and Italy.
Frogmen of the Italian Navy penetrate the port of Alexandria in Egypt and cripple the British battleships HMS Valiant and Queen Elizabeth, along with a destroyer and aÂ tanker. This means that Cunningham had lost all his battleships and could noÂ longer muster a force strong enough to take on the Italian fleet.
The Japanese invasion of Davao began.
The British light cruiser HMS Neptune was sunk by naval mines off Tripoli.
Nicaragua declared war in Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania.[
1942 Manstein’s tanks are only 30 miles South of Stalingrad.
French take Pichon, Tunisia from Germans.
Japanese planes attacked Calcutta overnight in the city’s first raid of the war.
1943 50,000 people turn out to watch the hanging of the four Germans in Kharkov city square
A pitched battle is reported between the resistance and Germans troops in Bernex, eastern France.
American forces at Arawe, New Guinea captured the Japanese airstrip and held it against counterattacks.
On the Philippine Island of Panay, ten American Baptist missionaries, three other Americans and two children were captured by the Japanese Army after having hidden for two years. The next day they became the Hopevale Martyrs after volunteering to be executed in return for the Japanese allowing their Filipino captives to go free. After being granted an hour to pray, the adults were beheaded by sword, and the two children, including a nine-year-old boy, were bayoneted.
1944 In the Battle of the Bulge, US 101st Airborne arrives in Bastogne, Belgium to protect the crucial crossroads. Germans capture two regiments (7000 POWs) of US 106th Division on Schnee Eifel, including writer Kurt Vonnegut, the greatest US mass surrender of war except Bataan.
German forces captured 9,000 surrounded U.S. troops in the Schnee Eifel region on the Belgian-German border and pushed the Americans back off German soil.
Japanese aircraft carrier Unryū was torpedoed and sunk in the East China Sea by the American submarine Redfish.
German submarine U-737 sank in a collision with depot ship MRS 25 in Vestfjorden, Norway.
Chester Nimitz was made a five-star admiral in the U.S. Navy.
1945 Eleanor Roosevelt, the widow of the late President is appointed as one of first U.S. delegates to the UN.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: December 10 WWII Today: August 30 WWII Today: January 4
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
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 inÂ 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 harborÂ of Montevideo and orders his crew to scuttle her, thus denying the British fleet that’s converging on the River Plate the opportunity ofÂ 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 increasedÂ 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 defensiveÂ 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 theÂ 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 thatÂ 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 asÂ difficult terrain and weather conditions in the Ardennes, not reaching any assigned first day objectives. The allies rush reinforcements to theÂ 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,Â 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 willÂ 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