Archive for the ‘WWII History’ Category

Feb 05

World War II Today: February 5

1940 British and French governments agree to land an expeditionary force in northern Norway without regard for Norway’s neutrality in order to aide Finland, although it was never carried out.

First sinking of a U-boat by a lone British destroyer: in convoy OA-84 off Land’s End, HMS Antelope sinks U-41.

1941 An advanced column of armoured cars from the 7th Armoured Division intercept the Italian retreat about 70 miles south of Benghazi.

Battle of Beda Fomm begins: British and Australian troops encircle bulk of Italian army in Libya.

US Navy designates new class of ship—the auxiliary aircraft vessel (AVG), later known as escort carriers—able to be constructed quickly on merchant ship hulls.

1942 First US C-47 cargo plane lost in combat, strafed by Zeros on Bathurst Island, Australia.

Japanese begin bombarding Singapore from Malaya.

US National Naval Medical Center is established in Bethesda, MD.

US Far East Air Force renamed Fifth Air Force; Caribbean AF renamed Sixth AF; Hawaiian AF renamed Seventh AF; Alaskan AF renamed Eleventh AF.

1943 Mussolini sacks his son-in-law, Count Ciano from Foreign Ministry and takes control himself.

1944 U.S. troops reach the outskirts of Cassino, but are repulsed.

The ‘Chindits’ begin moving towards Indaw, 100 miles behind the Japanese lines in Burma.

1945 Red Army troops approach Elbing and Marienburg in East Prussia.

RAF balloon command to be disbanded as the air raid threat lessens. 278 V1’s have been claimed by balloons.

US Seventh and French Armies link, splitting the Colmar pocket in France.

MacArthur orders a containment in the northern Philippines, as the main effort is directed to the capture of Manila. The Australians land on the Japanese stronghold of New Britain, East of New Guinea.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts:WWII Today: February 17 WWII Today: April 8 WWII Today: April 12

Feb 04

World War II Today: February 4

1941 The Battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau sail from the Baltic to the Atlantic, causing absolute havoc to shipping routes and timetables.

RAF reconnaissance planes report that the Italians are beginning to evacuate Benghazi in a withdrawal towards El Agheila. The 7th Armoured Division is given immediate instructions to advance from Mechili across the desert in order to cut off the Italians escape route.

1942 The Afrika Korps recaptures Derna.

In North Africa, British retreat from German drive ends at Gazala, Libya.

Hahas Pasha forms a new Egyptian Cabinet, becomes the Military Governor and dissolves Parliament the next day.

Japanese take Ambon, Netherlands East Indies from small Australian garrison.

British seize Egyptian palace in Cairo to force the abdication of pro-Axis King Farouk.

The British refuse to surrender at Singapore, heavy bombardment by the Japanese continues for 4 days.

1943 Red Army troops achieve a landing near the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk.

General Bernard Montgomery’s British Eighth Army crosses from Libya into Tunisia.

European Theater of Operations (ETO) branches into North African Theater of Operations (NATO) in North Africa and Mediterranean under General Dwight Eisenhower and ETO (UK, Iceland, continental Europe except Spain and Italy) under General Frank Andrews.

1944 The Germans start their offensive to relieve the Korsun pocket.

Chinese advances in Hukawng Valley, continue while the Japanese offensive on Arakan front gains strength in order to push the British back into India.

US forces take Kwajalein Island in Marshall’s, losing 486 killed and 1,495 wounded, but inflicting 8,386 casualties on the Japanese.

1945 Yalta Conference begins: A summit conference between Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt opens at Yalta in Crimea, to discuss plans for the treatment of postwar Germany, its division into zones of occupation, reparations and the future Polish western border.

The U.S. First Army takes the first of seven Ruhr dams. Belgium is now reported as completely free of German troops.

First Allied truck convoy over the reopened Burma Road arrives in Kunming, China.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts:WWII Today: February 19 Mamoru Shigemitsu Quote “Hell is on us. WWII Today: November 7

Feb 03

World War II Today: February 3

1941 33 Italian Fascist Party leaders are dispatched to bolster morale on the Albanian front.

Hitler reviews the plans for Operation ‘Barbarossa’, as German intelligence estimates that 155 Red Army divisions are deployed in western Russia against just 116 German and Axis divisions. The starting date is again confirmed as the 15th May 1941.

The British ‘Northern Force’ bumps into the Italian defenses at Keren, but fail to crack them open. General Platt decides he must build up his forces for a major assault.

1942 German forces of Army Group Centre launch a counterattack at Vyazma, cutting off and encircling several Red Army divisions.

Japanese air raids on Port Moresby.

President Quezon of the Philippines proposes to President Roosevelt that his country should be granted total independence from the USA so that it could declare itself neutral, but Roosevelt dismisses this idea. General MacArthur warns Roosevelt that the Bataan garrison has suffered over 50 per cent casualties and it was ‘near done’. MacArthur was given permission by Roosevelt to surrender Filipino, but not US troops who were to fight until the end.

Irish Prime Minister Eamon de Valera predicts the war will continue for at least 4 more years.

1944 An attempt to breakout of the Anzio Beachhead ends after an advance of just three miles in three days. The German begin their first counterattacks against Anzio.

The Japanese open their counter-offensive against the British in Arakan, Burma.

The United States shells the Japanese homeland for the first time at Kurile Islands.

The United States captures the Marshall Islands.

1945 The Russians capture Landsberg, 80 miles Northeast of Berlin.

The US 8th Air Force, with 937 bombers and 613 fighters, carries out the heaviest attack to date against Berlin which levels large areas of the city and kills more than 25,000 civilians.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts:Yank Magazine Pin Up: Frances Vorne WWII Today: September 3 WWII Today: September 23

Feb 02

World War II Today: February 2

1939 Hungary breaks relations with the Soviet Union.

1940 Big Russian offensive continues on the Karelia front.

Italian Jews banned from serving as engineers, professors, or journalists, and from serving Gentiles as doctors or lawyers.

1941 5th Indian Division captures Barentu, forcing the Italians to withdraw towards the mountain fortress at Keren.

Indian & British forces take Italian fortifications at Barentu, Eritrea, and take 8000 POWs.

In East Africa, aircraft from HMS Formidable attack the harbor installations at Mogadishu.

1942 Japanese invade Java in the Dutch East Indies.

The Japanese launched their 1st air raid on Port Moresby in New Guinea.

The commander of the British XIII Corps, Godwin-Austen, resigns as a result of Lieutenant General Ritchie bypassing him and dealing direct with his divisional commanders.

A supply convoy bound for Malta sets sail from Alexandria. It consisted of 3 fast freighters, 2 cruisers, 8 destroyers and an anti-aircraft ship. However, the Luftwaffe still managed to sink all three merchantmen before they reached Malta.

Congress appropriates $26.5 billion for the U.S. Navy, bringing total U.S. war costs since June of 1940 to more than $115 billion.

US 808th Engineer Aviation Battalion arrives in Melbourne to build airfields near Darwin, Australia.

Allied ships begin withdrawal from Singapore to East Indies.

1943 The remnants of 6th Army under General Strecker in the northern pocket cease fighting and surrender to the Red Army. In all, over 96,000 survivors of the once 300,000-strong Army are captured, of which, only about 5,000 will live to return to Germany after the war. At Moscow, the victory over the Germans is celebrated with a salute of several hundred guns.

1944 The Germans stop an Allied attack at Anzio, Italy.

The 1st Ukrainian Front captures Luzk and Rovno. Stalin agrees to USAAF using Russian bases.

U.S. Marines complete the capture of Roi and Namur in the Marshall Islands.

1945 Ecuador declares war on Germany.

The 1st Belorussian Front reaches the Oder River near Frankfurt-an-der-Oder.

French troops occupy Colmar.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts:WWII Today: February 13 WWII Today: April 9 WWII Today: August 11

Feb 01

Amazing B-17 Bomber Survival Story

Amazing B-17 Bomber Survival Story on February 1, 1943

A mid-air collision on February 1, 1943, between a B-17 and a German fighter over the Tunis dock area, became the subject of one of the most famous photographs of World War II. An enemy fighter attacking a 97th Bomb Group formation went out of control, probably with a wounded pilot then continued its crashing descent into the rear of the fuselage of a Fortress named All American, piloted by Lt. Kendrick R. Bragg, of the 414th Bomb Squadron. When it struck, the fighter broke apart, but left some pieces in the B-17. The left horizontal stabilizer of the Fortress and left elevator were completely torn away. The two right engines were out and one on the left had a serious oil pump leak. The vertical fin and the rudder had been damaged, the fuselage had been cut almost completely through connected only at two small parts of the frame and the radios, electrical and oxygen systems were damaged. There was also a hole in the top that was over 16 feet long and 4 feet wide at its widest and the split in the fuselage went all the way to the top gunners turret.

Although the tail actually bounced and swayed in the wind and twisted when the plane turned and all the control cables were severed, except one single elevator cable still worked, and the aircraft still flew – miraculously! The tail gunner was trapped because there was no floor connecting the tail to the rest of the plane. The waist and tail gunners used parts of the German fighter and their own parachute harnesses in an attempt to keep the tail from ripping off and the two sides of the fuselage from splitting apart. While the crew was trying to keep the bomber from coming apart, the pilot continued on his bomb run and released his bombs over the target.

When the bomb bay doors were opened, the wind turbulence was so great that it blew one of the waist gunners into the broken tail section. It took several minutes and four crew members to pass him ropes from parachutes and haul him back into the forward part of the plane. When they tried to do the same for the tail gunner, the tail began flapping so hard that it began to break off. The weight of the gunner was adding some stability to the tail section, so he went back to his position.

The turn back toward England had to be very slow to keep the tail from twisting off. They actually covered almost 70 miles to make the turn home. The bomber was so badly damaged that it was losing altitude and speed and was soon alone in the sky. For a brief time, two more Me-109 German fighters attacked the All American. Despite the extensive damage, all of the machine gunners were able to respond to these attacks and soon drove off the fighters. The two waist gunners stood up with their heads sticking out through the hole in the top of the fuselage to aim and fire their machine guns. The tail gunner had to shoot in short bursts because the recoil was actually causing the plane to turn.

Allied P-51 fighters intercepted the All American as it crossed over the Channel and took one of the pictures shown. They also radioed to the base describing that the empennage was waving like a fish tail and that the plane would not make it and to send out boats to rescue the crew when they bailed out. The fighters stayed with the Fortress taking hand signals from Lt. Bragg and relaying them to the base. Lt. Bragg signaled that 5 parachutes and the spare had been “used” so five of the crew could not bail out. He made the decision that if they could not bail out safely, then he would stay with the plane and land it.

Two and a half hours after being hit, the aircraft made its final turn to line up with the runway while it was still over 40 miles away. It descended into an emergency landing and a normal roll-out on its landing gear.

When the ambulance pulled alongside, it was waved off because not a single member of the crew had been injured. No one could believe that the aircraft could still fly in such a condition. The Fortress sat placidly until the crew all exited through the door in the fuselage and the tail gunner had climbed down a ladder, at which time the entire rear section of the aircraft collapsed onto the ground. The rugged old bird had done its job.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts:WWII Today: November 1 Words at War: Der Fuehrer WWII Today: October 30

Feb 01

World War II Today: February 1

1940 General Timoshenko launches his big offensive across the iced up straits of Viipuri Bay, although Finnish aircraft raids disrupt these attacks.

The battleship Alabama (BB-60) is laid down at the Norfolk, Virginia.

In Japan, expenditure on the military accounts for half of the national budget for 1940.

1941 The Admiral Hipper slips out of Brest for another sortie into the Atlantic.

Agordat in Eritrea falls to the 5th Indian Division after 2 days of fighting.

The US Navy is reorganized in to the Atlantic, Pacific and Asiatic fleets and ordered to gradually bring ship crews up to war establishment.

1942 The Red Army begins an offensive toward Vyazma. Zhukov is promoted to command the West Theatre, which includes the Kalinin, West and Bryansk Fronts.

Quisling forms a puppet government in Norway.

All U-boats adopt a new Enigma cipher known as ‘Triton’. The new cipher replaces the previous cipher, ‘Hydra’ and has an additional rotor in the Enigma machine. This meant that the British were unable to read U-boat coded communications traffic until much later in the year, seriously affecting there ability re-route their convoys around U-boat wolf packs.

First U.S. aircraft carrier offensive of the war as YORKTOWN and ENTERPRISE conduct air raids on Japanese bases in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands.

USS Enterprise is damaged in attacks on Japanese-held airfields in the Marshall and Gilbert Islands.

1943 German troops evacuate Demyansk.

Twenty Japanese destroyers begin the evacuation of 13,000 troops from Guadalcanal.

1944 The Polish underground executes Major Fritz Kurschera, the chief of the Gestapo in Poland.

1945 The U.S. First Army takes Remscheid, 20 miles to the East of Düsseldorf. The U.S. Seventh Army reaches Moder and Siegfried Line.

Troops of the 1st Belorussian Front surround the fortress town of Küstrin. Since the 20th January, the Kriegsmarine has evacuated 140,000 civilian refugees and 18,000 wounded soldiers by sea from East Prussia.

U.S. troops land unopposed to the Southwest of Manila.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts:WW2 Manuals WWII Today: October 3 WWII Today: September 24

Jan 31

World War II Today: January 31

1940 Sir John Simon announces food subsidies are running at £1,000,000 per week.

1941 The new recruits of the ‘Nordland’ Regiment give their oath to SS Reichsführer Himmler in Oslo.

The Italian garrison at Metemma in northern Abyssinia, having been under increasing pressure for the past 3 weeks, begins to withdraw towards Gondar, allowing the 9th Indian Brigade to occupy the town.

The Japanese intervene in the conflict between Vichy France and Thailand, imposing an armistice on the French, which they are powerless to refuse.

1942 SS Einsatzgruppe A reports a tally of 229,052 Jews killed.

British and Commonwealth forces complete their evacuation of Malaya and withdraw to Singapore Island across the causeway with the Japanese only 8 miles away. Singapore now has the equivalent of four divisions to defend it, but morale is low and there are serious shortages of weapons. An additional Indian Brigade is landed at Rangoon and sent to join the 17th Indian Division.

1943 RAF Bomber Command makes first operational use of H2S radar.

Vichy France creates the Milice (Militia), under the command of Joseph Darnand, an extreme right-wing World War 1 veteran, to combat the Resistance. The Milice effectively becomes an arm of the German Occupation and reaches a strength of more than 20,000 by mid-1944.

The exhausted troops of 6th Army’s southern pocket, having expended their last ammunition, surrender to the Red Army. The Russians capture Field Marshal Paulus and 16 generals.

Eighth Army takes Zuara, near the Tunisian frontier.

1944 The U.S. 34th Division crosses the Rapido.

US forces attack the Marshall Islands, landing on Kwajalein, Roi and Namur. Land fighting begins in the Dutch New Guinea.

1945 Private Eddie Slovik became the only U.S. soldier since the Civil War to be executed for desertion.

Pvt Eddie Slovik

Two of Zhukov’s armies establish a bridgehead on the Oder, to the North of Küstrin and less than 40 miles from Berlin.

U.S. planes sink the Japanese floating dock at Singapore.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts:WWII Today: January 4 WWII Today: February 20 WWII Today: January 25

Jan 30

World War II Today: January 30

1933 Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany

1939 Hitler threatens Jews during Reichstag speech.

1941 Australian troops capture Derna as the Italians begin to withdraw towards Benghazi. The 1st South African Division launches a feint attack against Mega in southern Abyssinia, in order to prevent the Italians from sending troops to reinforce their hard pressed forces in Somaliland.

Hitler, speaking at the Berlin Sports Palace, reaffirms his prewar prophecy concerning the Jews; once again telling an audience that “the result of this war will be the complete annihilation of the Jews.”

The 4th Indian Division continues to withdraw along the coast road towards Derna.

The Japanese capture Moulmein and its airfield in Burma as the British forces evacuate and withdraw across the river Salween.

The British withdraw to Singapore Island with the Japanese only 8 miles away.

Japanese forces capture the important naval base of Amboina between Celebes and New Guinea.

US Army awards contract to Northrop to develop a night fighter. Resulting in the Northrop P-61C Black Widow.

1943 With the German Sixth Army in its death throes at Stalingrad, Hitler does the seemingly unthinkable and allows the 10th anniversary of the Nazi seizure of power to pass without speaking to the nation. It is the first unmistakable evidence of Hitler’s retreat from public appearances as the tide of the war turns.

Ernst Kaltenbrunner succeeds Heydrich as head of RSHA.

1944 The Russians attack towards Nikopol on the southern Dnieper.

A U.S. Ranger battalion is wiped out at Anzio.

British attacks on the ‘Golden Fortress’ in the Arakan, Burma cease.

1945 In the Baltic Sea, 7000 refugees drown when the Soviet submarine S-13 sinks the German liner Wilhelm Gustloff. The incident the largest single naval disaster in history.

On the twelfth anniversary of his coming to power, Hitler, calls for fanatical resistance by soldiers and civilians and predicts that “…in this struggle for survival it will not be inner Asia that will conquer, but the people that has defended Europe for centuries against the onslaughts from the East, the German nation…”

Take a look at these other WWII Posts:WWII Today: April 21 WWII Today: February 6 WWII Today: March 2

Jan 29

World War II Today: January 29

1940 The Soviet Union reopens negotiations with Finland through Sweden and indicates that it may withdraw its support for Otto Kuusinen’s puppet government should the Finns come to terms. The Finnish 9th Division launches an attack with the aim of destroying the Russian 54th Division in Kuhmo.

Luftwaffe attacks British shipping in Channel, sinking four ships.

1941  US and Britain begin secret joint discussions in Washington which will lead to ABC-1 Plan in case of America entering war against Germany.

1942 RAF Bomber Command mounts an attack to sink the Tirpitz, while she is at anchor in Trondheim. The raid is unsuccessful as the Tirpitz survives unscathed

German forces capture Benghazi, along with a large quantity of supplies.

Iran signs treaty of alliance with Britain and USSR, which promise to depart Iran 6 months after Axis defeat.

German troops under Gen. Erwin Rommel retake Benghazi, Libya from British.

1943 Dr. Ernst Kaltenbrunner is appointed the successor to Heydrich.

The Nazi party’s 10th Anniversary celebrations are disrupted by the RAF’s first low-level daylight Mosquito air attack on Berlin.

Nazis order all Gypsies arrested and sent to extermination camps.

Admiral Donitz takes over from Admiral Raeder as C-in-C of the German Navy.

Advance units of the Eighth Army cross the Tunisian frontier from Libya.

Japanese aircraft attack Wau airfield.

1944 The Luftwaffe bombs London, while 800 USAAF bombers drop 1,800 tons of bombs on Frankfurt am Main and Ludwigshafen. The RAF hit Berlin for the 14th time.

USS Missouri launched at New York Navy Yard, the US Navy’s last battleship.

1945 The allied thrust into Rhineland continues with the capture of Oberhausen, 10 miles Northeast of Duisberg. Quisling meets Hitler in Berlin for the last time.

US Eighth Army lands in Subic Bay, Luzon; takes San Marcelino airfields.

Seaman Leon LeRoy, returning home to Antioch, California to comfort his recently widowed mother, is bumped off his flight by the dog of Col. Elliott Roosevelt, son of the president.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts:WWII Today: March 24 WWII Today: February 4 WWII Today: January 23

Jan 28

World War II Today: January 28

1932 The Japanese attack Shanghai, China, and declare martial law.

1940 King George of Britain announces court will not be held this year due to the war.

1941 French General Charles DeGaulle’s Free French forces sack south Libya oasis.

Thai bombers hit Sisophon, French Indochina, final combat in Franco-Thai war.

1942 Timoshenko’s offensive in the Ukraine slows down after a 60-mile thrust.

German forces recapture Benghazi.

US Navy pilot claims to sink U-boat, radios “Sighted sub—sank same,” but no U-boat was sunk, an honest error.

US Eighth Air Force activated in Savannah, Georgia under Brig. Gen. Asa Duncan; originally intended for North Africa but will serve in Britain.

US Naval Magazine at Port Chicago CA established as subcommand of Naval Ammunition Depot at Mare Island.

1943 The whole of the German workforce is mobilized for ‘total war’. All men aged 16-65 and women aged 17- 50 to be registered.

Japanese attempt final drive for Port Moresby, New Guinea.

US military begins accepting Nisei (Japanese-American) volunteers.

1944 To make clear their displeasure about ongoing assistance to the Nazi war effort by Francisco Franco’s Spain, the United States and Britain announce a total oil embargo of the country. With Spanish life grinding to a virtual standstill, Franco agrees finally to cease supplying the Germans with critical war materials and to withdraw the last Spanish troops fighting with the Germans in Russia. By May, the embargo is lifted.

The Red Army succeeds in encircling several German divisions in the area of Cherkassy.

Over Anzio, the US 99th Fighter Squadron (Tuskegee Airmen) in 16 P-40s shoots down 4 German Fw 190s—the previous day they shot down 8 Fw 190s.

1945 The Ardennes salient is finally eradicated.

The first convoy for three years reaches China through Burma.

Ledo-Burma Road reopens as first Allied convoy crosses into China; in the ceremony, Chiang Kai-shek renames it the Stilwell Road, in honor of General Joseph Stilwell.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts:WWII Today: January 17 WWII Today: February 1 Words at War: Battle Hymn of China