Archive for the ‘WWII History’ Category
1939 Germany and Russia agree on partition of Poland. 217,000 Polish troops who are fighting against the Red Army surrender at Lvov. The NKVD begins rounding up thousands of Polish officers and deporting them to Russia where they will be executed a year later in the forest of Katyn near Smolensk. A Polish regiment repels attacks by forty Soviet tanks and infantry units at the Battle of Kodziowce. Soviet losses amount to hundreds killed and twenty tanks destroyed.
1940 Moscow Radio reports that RAF bombing has largely destroyed the German invasion fleet along the Channel.
Vichy regime accepts Japanese ultimatum: Japanese troops enter French Indo-China.
1941 Italian one-man submarines, sometimes called suicide subs because they seldom survive their mission, sneak into the harbor at Gibraltar and sink three British Ships.
1942 The 6th Army and 4th Panzer Army split the Soviet 62nd Army in two and capture nearly the entire southern part of the city, including the huge grain elevator which was successfully defended by 40 Soviet marines for over a week.
1943 Six British midget submarines attack and damage the Tirpitz in Alten Fjord, northern Norway.
The British 78th Division begins landings at Bari on the South East coast of Italy.
Troops of the 9th Australian Division land near Finschhafen in New Guinea.
1944 The British Second Army is now five miles North of Nijmegen, but still six miles from Arnhem. The U.S. First Army halts its offensive West of Aachen. German troops holding out in the port city of Boulogne finally surrender to Canadian forces.
The Russians occupy Tallinn and Reval in Estonia.
1945 President Truman accepts U.S. Secretary of War Stimson’s recommendation to designate the war World War II.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: September 4 WWII Today: August 16 WWII Today: September 3
1939 60,000 Poles, all that remains of the Polish Southern Army surrender at Zamosz and Tomaszov.
Romanian premier Armand Calinescu assassinated by Fascist Iron Guard for supporting Poles.
Heydrich issues instructions to SS Einsatzgruppen (special action squads) in Poland regarding treatment of Jews, stating they are to be gathered into ghettos near railroads for the future “final goal.” He also orders a census and the establishment of Jewish administrative councils within the ghettos to implement Nazi policies and decrees.
1940 Over the past 17 days, British aircraft have sunk 12.5% of 1865 German transport vessels preparing for an invasion of England.
Wavell, orders planning to begin for a British counter-attack against the Italians, with the aim of driving them out of eastern Libya and capturing Tobruk.
1941 The German Army cuts off the Crimean Peninsula from the rest of the Soviet Union.
1942 RAF raids are conducted against Munich and the Saar valley.
The inter-allied information committee estimates that the Germans have so far, executed 207,373 people in occupied Europe.
British forces begin their first land counter-offensive against the Japanese in Arakan, Western Burma.
1943 The Red Army forces a crossing of the Dnieper at Dnepropetrovsk, thereby breaking into the German Panther line.
Molotov insists on the resumption of Arctic convoys.
1944 U.S. troops of the 7th Army, invading Southern France, cross the Meuse River.
In Operation Market Garden, Germans retake bridge in Arnhem from British paratroopers.
Polish paratrooper’s land between Arnhem and Nijmegen as the British force at Arnhem bridge is overwhelmed. Autumn rains impede the allied advance as the U.S. 85th Division takes Firenzwold.
The Eighth Army’s Greek Mountain Brigade take Rimini on the Adriatic coast. German forces of Army Group E evacuates the Peloponnes peninsula in Greece.
U.S. planes hit Manila in the Philippines, sinking 40 ships, damaging 35 destroying 357 aircraft.
1945 Ghandi, Nehru, and the all-India Congress Party demands that all Southeast Asia should be free of imperialist domination.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: August 17 WWII Today: August 25 WWII Today: October 22
1939 Prime Minister Chamberlain claims that at least 6 U-boats have been sunk in first fortnight of the war.
German troops in eastern Poland withdraw to the line agreed upon in the German-Soviet treaty.
The Red Army moves in behind them to occupy the formerly Russian territory.
Polish troops at Grodno manage to kill 800 Red Army soldiers and destroy ten tanks, whilst defending the city.
Germany announces Jews must surrender radios.
1940 The Canadian War Technical and Scientific Development Committee approves a request by Frederick Banting to begin bacterial warfare research.
1941 Martlet fighter plane from HMS Audacity in convoy OG-74 shoots down a German Fw 200 bomber, the first kill from an escort carrier.
Germans impose curfew in Paris from 9 pm to 5 am.
1942 Paulus declares that the 6th Army need substantial reinforcements if it is to continues its assault in Stalingrad. Paulus and von Weichs were also very concerned about their flank defense which consisted of Italian, Hungarian and Romanian troops. However, Hitler was determined to capture Stalingrad before reorganizing the flanks.
1943 The British 8th Army occupies Bari in southern Italy. The allies also bomb Venice.
Army Group South begins its withdrawal to the Melitopol-Zaporozhe line.
1944 In Operation Market Garden, British ground troops and US 82nd Airborne troops take Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
A British tank breakout attempt through the Gothic Line is defeated by the tenacious defense.
1945 British and US warships anchor at Shanghai, China.
German rocket engineers begin work in US rocket program.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: February 3 Words at War: War Tide WWII Today: December 16
1939 First British casualty list published.
The conclusion of the battle of the Vistula bend, with the Wehrmacht taking 170,000 prisoners. Germans suppress a Czech rebellion. Lavrenti Beria, chief of the Soviet NKVD, sets up a Directorate for Prisoners of War and establishes camps for the 240,000 Polish POWs in Soviet custody; about 37,000 will be used as forced-labour.
British traitor “Lord Haw-Haw” becomes radio host of Reichsrundfunk Berlin, broadcasting German propaganda to Allied troops.
1940 Heavy night raids continue on London; Brighton also suffers badly. RAF continues attacks on invasion fleet in French and Belgian Channel ports.
Minister of Labour Ernest Bevin announces that by the end of August 51,261 men had registered as conscientious objectors.
1941 Lord Woolton calls the black market in Britain ‘a thorn in our side’.
German forces take the ruins of Kiev, along with a massive haul of 600,000 prisoners, 2,500 tanks and 1,000 guns.
1943 British Air Ministry says that Hamburg now lies in absolute ruins and is ‘probably the most complete blotting out of a city that ever happened.’
Germans are reported to have been forced out of Sardinia by the Italian resistance.
1944 US Ninth Army clears Brittany region of France.
After several families who have returned to London are killed in V-1 rocket attacks, the British government orders women and children to remain in countryside evacuation centers.
The British advance from Belgium is now only two miles from the airborne forces at Nijmegen in Holland, but British paratroop forces dropped at Arnhem encounter unexpected heavy German resistance.
The Belgian Parliament meets formally in Parliament House, Brussels for first time since May 1940.
The Eighth Army occupies the Republic of San Marino, in Italy.
1945 William Joyce (Lord Haw Haw) is sentenced to be hanged for treason.
Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: July 28 WWII Today: July 23 WWII Today: May 10
1939 German and Soviet troops link at Brest-Litovsk, Poland.
Polish cryptographers flee to Paris with vital information on German Enigma codes.
1941 Russians conscript all men aged 16 – 50. Units of Army Group South capture Poltava in the Ukraine. The Russians evacuate Kiev, but the ‘fight to the death’ continues in the area for a week.
1942 The RAF’s Pathfinder Force flies its first mission, which is against Flensburg.
Reduction of food rations for Jews in Germany.
In spite of intense pressure from U-boats and the Luftwaffe, convoy PQ-18 reaches Murmansk. Its losses amounted to 1 destroyer, 1 minesweeper and 13 merchant ships. In return for this the Germans lost 3 U-boats sunk and 5 damaged, along with 41 aircraft destroyed.
The Russians launch an offensive on the Voronezh front, 250 miles North west of Stalingrad.
British forces land on the east coast of Madagascar and occupy Tamatave.
1944 The U.S. Ninth Army finally takes Brest after a long struggle.
In Operation Market Garden, British ground troops link with US 101st Airborne in Eindhoven, Holland. US Ninth Army takes crucial port of Brest, France.
The Germans launch heavy counter-attack in Arnhem sector.
Donato Carreta, Mussolini’s director of prisons, is hauled from a courtroom in Rome by an angry mob. The crowd beats Carreta and throws him into the Tiber river, chases him down the river in rowboats and beats him to death with oars.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: May 12 WWII Today: August 7 WWII Today: August 31
Today is the anniversary of the first day of Operation Market Garden (A Bridge Too Far), the ill-fated Allied attempt to cut through the Netherlands to Germany and finish the war by the end of 1944. The operation has always been a contentious topic. Some people say it was doomed from the start due to arrogance, poor planning and numerous mistakes. Others think it was a bold but reasonable gamble that did not happen to pay off. Either way, we would like to commemorate the men who fought in the operation by giving a brief overview of what happened.
After losing much of their strength in the Falaise Pocket, and the German army in the west in full retreat. One significant barrier remained to Allied progress remained: the Siegfried Line, the defensive works on the German border. The primary goal of Market Garden was to bypass the Siegfried line altogether. By heading north instead of east, the Allies could cross the southern half of the Netherlands. They could then move into Germany beyond the northern end of the Siegfried Line, landing straight in the Ruhr Valley, Germany’s industrial heartland.
Rivers and canals running east to west crisscross the southern part of the Netherlands, and bridges across these natural barriers would give the Germans strong defensive points. Therefore, the bridges along the planned route had to be captured in advance.
Market Garden was two operations. Operation Market was the airborne assault behind enemy lines. Paratroopers and gliders were to capture key bridges located in or near three cities, from south to north: Eindhoven, Nijmegen and Arnhem. Meanwhile, Operation Garden, a ground attack by the British XXX Corps, would depart from Belgium and drive north down a highway, crossing the bridges and the three cities. Arnhem lies on the Lower Rhine: once across the city’s bridge, the Allies would be on the river’s right-hand side, ready to turn east and roll into Germany.
At 2:15 pm on September 17, a rolling artillery barrage and RAF rocket strikes along the highway announced the advance of XXX Corps. The first stop, Eindhoven, was 14 miles away and the corps was expected to get there in two to three hours. Thanks to German resistance, however, they only covered half the distance in that time. The troops quickly learned that the route, nicknamed Hell’s Highway, was a death trap. It was a narrow strip of high ground, surrounded on both sides by floodplains and polder, ground recovered from the sea. The tanks could not get off the highway, so they made easy targets for Germans attacking the column from the flanks.
Meanwhile, the U.S. 101st Airborne Division landed around Eindhoven and captured four of the five local bridges easily. The last bridge was blown up by the Germans just as the first paratroopers got within a few yards of it. XXX Corps engineers spent 12 hours building a Bailey bridge across a stream halfway to Eindhoven, then 10 hours the next day replacing the bridge the 101st failed to capture. Lead elements of the corps reached Eindhoven by the second night but faced traffic jams and German aerial bombardment there.
On the third day, XXX Corps made up for the previous delays but ran into trouble again. The Nijmegen area was attacked by the 82nd Airborne. Like the 101st, they also captured all but one of their bridges. Unfortunately, the last bridge was the most important one: the one at Nijmegen itself, across the Waal river. It was large and impossible to replace with a Bailey bridge if blown up. It was also the only way across. Luckily for the Allies, the Germans did not demolish it, as they were planning to use it in a later counterattack. Unfortunately, they held the north end of the bridge. The 82nd were all on the south side; the only thing they could try was a frontal attack across the bridge, but the attempt failed.
The 82nd tried to cross the river on the fourth day of the operation, using canvas bridge engineers’ boats, to outflank the Germans and take the northern bridgehead. They had no boating experience, many men had to paddle with their rifle butts, and they came under machine gun and artillery fire on the water. The men suffered heavy casualties, and all they could do once on the north side was to take shelter in a nearby village. When the vanguard of XXX Corps arrived in the evening, the first few tanks had to cross an unsecured bridge under enemy fire. By this time, the tanks were low on fuel and ammo, and officers had no idea of what German defenses lay further ahead, so the force stopped for the night.
XXX Corps pressed on the next day, but by this time it was too late. The last bridge, the one at Arnhem, could not be captured. Arnhem was the objective of the British 1st Airborne Division and the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade, but they could only fly in half of their force on the first day due to bad weather and a lack of enough planes. Out of that force, only a single battalion made it into the city and the vicinity of the bridge. German forces stopped the rest of the division, pushing them back and away from the city, and surrounded them over several days of heavy fighting. The battalion at the bridge came under sustained, savage attack from German armor and artillery and was slowly ground down. Their last message, “Out of ammo, God save the King,” was broadcast on the 4th day when XXX Corps was still only arriving at Nijmegen.
The fighting continued for several more days in an attempt to rescue as many of the surrounded British and Polish troops as possible, but the original goal of securing a route through the Netherlands failed. The war would not be over by Christmas.
Take a look at these other WWII Posts: Operation Market Garden Begins: September 17 WWII Today: August 27 WWII Today: August 7
1939 American aviation hero Charles A. Lindbergh makes his first anti-intervention radio speech. The U.S. non-intervention movement is supported not just by Lindbergh, but by former president Herbert Hoover, Theodore Roosevelt Jr., Henry Ford and a number of senators and congressmen as well.
The Aircraft Carrier HMS Courageous is torpedoed by U29 (Kapitanleutnant Schuhart) south-west of Ireland, killing 515, but 687 sailors survive.
Kutno and Brest-Litovsk are captured by German troops.
The Red Army invades Poland from the East with a million troops on the pretext of “protecting Poland’s Byelorussian and Ukrainian population.” The Polish government seeks asylum in Romania, where it is interned.
The Polish Air Force scores its last kills during the battle for Poland, by shooting down a German Dornier bomber and a Soviet fighter.
1940 Churchill announces in the Commons that in first half of September 2,000 civilians have been killed and 8,000 seriously injured in air raids; the figure for service casualties, for the same period was 250.
Liner City of Benares, evacuating children to Canada, is sunk by U48; 77 out of 99 children lost, total killed 260.
Hitler postpones Operation Sealion, the plan to invade Britain, until further notice.
1941 The US allocates $100,000,000 to the Soviet Union for the purchase of war materials.
British and Russian troops occupy Teheran, after Iran failed to comply with their demand to expel all Axis nationals.
Beginning of general deportation of German Jews.
1942 British Prime Minister Winston Churchill meets with Soviet Premier Josef Stalin in Moscow as the German Army rams into Stalingrad.
Bitter street fighting in the north west suburbs of Stalingrad.
Peace talks in Madagascar break down.
1943 Stalin announces the capture of Bryansk.
The Germans begin a withdrawal from Salerno as the British 8th Army joins forces with British and U.S. troops in the Salerno bridgehead.
1944 Operation ‘Market Garden’ begins with First Allied Airborne Army drops at Eindhoven, Nijmegen and Arnhem to secure bridgeheads, as the British Second Army pushes north into Holland from Belgium, to link up. Canadians launch all-out assault on the Boulogne garrison.
Monte Altuzzo finally falls to the U.S. 85th Division.
Russian forces push towards Baltic through Estonia.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: The Road To a Bridge Too Far WWII Today: August 28 WWII Today: August 10
1939 Convoy OB-4, sailing from Liverpool to North America, is attacked by U-31 (Johannes Habekost), becoming the first “clear” convoy contact in British waters of the war. U-31 sinks 1 ship, the 4,060-ton British freighter Aviemore.
Germans take Brest-Litovsk and surround Warsaw.
1940 President Roosevelt signs the Selective Service Training and Service Act: men aged 20-36 are required to register for the draft.
First flight of Lockheed YP-38 Lightning fighter plane, in Burbank, CA.
Piccadilly, Park Lane, Bond St. hit in night raids.
Italian advance in Egypt continues with occupation of Sidi Barrani, 60 miles from frontier. At this pointÂ the Italians halt their offensive and begin to construct a number of fortified camps.
1941 The US announce that it will provide escort for ships carrying Lend-Lease material up to 26Â°W, whichÂ meant that clashes with U-boats would become more likely.
Guderian’s Panzer Group 2 and Kleist’s Panzer Group 1 meet east of Kiev, trapping five Red Armies.
The Shah of Iran abdicates and his son, Crown Prince ‘Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’ takes over.
1942 The Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASPS) are established in the U.S.. The armed forces will beÂ supplied with more than 1000 auxiliary pilots through this organization.
Stalingrad railway station changes hands several times.
The Governor General of Madagascar asks for an armistice.
The Japanese base at Kiska in the Aleutian Islands is raided by American bombers.
1943 The Dambuster squadron makes a disastrous first use of 12,000lb ‘Tall Boy’ bombs with a raid on theÂ Dortmund-Ems canal.
In a sign of the increasing confidence and audacity of the French Resistance, Julius Ritter, an aide toÂ Nazi Labour Minister Fritz Sauckel, is shot to death in broad daylight on the Etoile in Paris. FiftyÂ Frenchmen are taken hostage and executed by the Nazis in reprisal.
British occupy Leros in Aegean. German counterattacks against the U.S. bridgehead at Salerno are halted.
Tito’s partisans are reported to have captured Split on Yugoslavia coast.
The Black Sea port of Novorossiysk is captured by the Russians after a week of amphibious and landÂ operations.
1944 Conclusion of the Quebec meeting between Roosevelt and Churchill who sign off on the Morgenthau Plan for the treatment of post-war Germany.
Dr. Goebbels exhorts all Germans to resist with the utmost fanaticism.
Over objections from his top generals, Hitler decides to launch a counteroffensive through the Ardennes region of Belgium in an attempt to stop the Allied advance on the western front. The result will be the Battle of the Bulge.
The British make am unopposed landing on the Greek Island of Kythera off the Peloponnese. The Russians enter Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria.
1945 Japan surrenders Hong Kong to Britain.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: August 2 WWII Today: January 27 December 7: Pearl Harbor Day
1935 In Berlin, the Reich under Adolf Hitler adopts the swastika as the national flag.
1937 Prime Minister of England Neville Chamberlain flies to Germany to discuss the future of CzechoslovakiaÂ with Adolf Hitler.
1939 The Polish submarine Orzel arrives in Tallinn, Estonia, after escaping the German invasion of Poland.
Gdynia is captured by German forces. A Polish breakout attempt from the Kutno pocket fails.
The Australian Government announces the creation of a 20,000 strong defense force.
Aviator Charles Lindbergh makes his first radio broadcast opposing US involvement in the war.
1940 The climax of the Luftwaffe’s daylight raids against the London docks is reached with the Luftwaffe’sÂ biggest raid on London so far. The British originally claim 185 Germans aircraft shot down, but laterÂ revise this to 56 German and 26 RAF planes lost.
In the mid-Atlantic, south-east of Iceland, the Canadian merchant ship Kenordoc is sunk en route toÂ Bristol, England.
1941 The US Navy begins to take over the convoying of British ships as far as Iceland, which seen as anÂ un-neutral act by the German government.
German soldiers attacked in the Champs Elysees in Paris.
Siege of Leningrad begins.
1942 Fierce fighting between German and Soviet forces erupts for possession of Mamayev Kurgan, the strategic hill overlooking Stalingrad.
A Japanese submarine torpedo attack near the Solomon Islands results in the sinking of the Carrier WASP, and damage to the Destroyer O’BRIEN and Battleship NORTH CAROLINA.
1943 Mussolini proclaims his return to power and re-establishes fascism in northern Italy. The Axis is resumedÂ and the death penalty introduced for all Italians carrying arms in German occupied areas.
The Chinese government announces that the Japanese have offered to pull out of China, except for Manchuria and Formosa, but only if the Chinese will switch their support to the axis.
The Australian 7th and 9th Divisions capture Lae in New Guinea after very heavy fighting.
1944 Twenty-seven RAF Lancaster bombers from an airfield in Northern Russia pound the Battleship Tirpitz with 12,000lb Tall Boy’ bombs in Kaa Fjord, Norway, scoring a direct hit through the Tirpitz’s forecastle and burst deep in her hull.
The U.S. First Army reaches the Siegfried Line, to the East of Aachen and less than 40 miles west ofÂ Bonn. Maastricht and Eysden in southern Holland liberated. The US First Army occupies Nancy.
All the V bomb launch sites are neutralized is southern Holland.
The Germans start a new flying bomb campaign, launching them from aircraft over Holland.
The Red Army achieves a breakthrough at Narva.
US Marines land on Peleliu Island in the Pacific, but suffer 1,100 casualties trying to establish aÂ\ shallow beachhead.
Allied forces from Operation Dragoon (landings in southern France) transferred from Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO) to European Theater of Operations (ETO).
1945 The fifth anniversary of the Battle of Britain, sees 300 RAF aircraft fly over London.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: December 29 WWII Today: September 1 WWII Today: March 28
1939 U39 attacks a battle group led by the Aircraft Carrier, HMS Ark Royal. She fires torpedo’s at the carrier, but these miss. 3 Destroyer’s of the Ark Royal’s escort, launch an immediate counter-attack against U39 and sink her with depth charges. U39 gains the dubious honour of becoming the first U-boat to be sunk in the war.
Off the Hebrides, U-39 attacks carrier HMS Ark Royalbut misses and is sunk by British destroyers Faulknor, Foxhound, and Firedrake, the first U-boat sunk in WWII.
1940 Congress passed the Selective Training and Service Act, providing for the first peacetime draft in U.S. history.
Hitler again postpones operations ‘Sea-lion’. This time till the 27th September, the last day of the month with suitable tides.
1941 Army Group Centre completes the encirclement of two Soviet armies at Kiev.
Rommel launches a probing operation with the 21st Panzer Division towards Sidi Barrani in the belief thatÂ a British fuel dump was located there. The British forces begin to fall back.
1942 Counter-attacks by the Soviet 62nd Army in Stalingrad fails as the 6th Army renews its attack againstÂ Stalingrad. The Soviet 62nd Army is hemmed into a narrow strip of land no more than 10 miles at its widest and 4 miles as its narrowest. However, a shortage of troops meant that the 6th Army could only attack on very narrow frontages. Couple this to the fact that the 6th Army was fighting in built-up areas, meant that progress was slow and losses high. Even so, the 51st Corps advanced toward the inner city and the Central Station.
1943 Heavy fighting continues in the Salerno bridgehead, with another German counter-attack. A U.S. paratroop battalion is dropped behind German lines. French commandos land in Corsica to help patriots fighting the Germans. British Special Boat Squadron occupies Kos in Aegean.
The Germans begin to evacuate Bryansk, some 200 miles Southwest of Moscow.
1944 Russian troops reach the Vistula river in the Praga suburb of Warsaw, as planes drop supplies to the Polish Home Army which is trapped inside the city. Three Russian Baltic fronts launch an offensive with 900,000 men, 3,000 tanks and 2,600 aircraft against Army Group North which is forced to fall back to defensive positions around Riga.
The French battle fleet enters Toulon.
Operation Dragoon, the Allied “Champagne Campaign” in southern France, concludes: 131,000 German POWs have been taken, 40% of Army Group G.
Mutiny trial begins for 50 Port Chicago sailors at Treasure Island, CA.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: August 23 WWII Today: March 14 WWII Today: June 5