Archive for the ‘WWII History’ Category

Feb 17

World War II Today: February 17

1940 Norway protests to Britain over violation of neutrality.

1941 Off Ireland, U-101 sinks British freighter Gairsoppa (85 killed) carrying 2800 bars of silver to fund war (110 tons  of silver were recovered in 2011).

1942 German vessel disguised as a British merchantman is reported sunk by a U-boat off Azores.

First Seabees arrive in the Pacific, on Bora Bora in American Samoa to build an airfield.

In Singapore, Japanese send 3,000 British civilians to Changi prison and 50,000 British, Australian, and Indian POWs to Selarang Barracks.

Japanese invade Bali, despite allied naval interception and bomb Darwin on Northern Australia.

1943 The Eighth Army occupies Medenine in southern Tunisia. 5th Panzerarmee’s advance beyond the Kasserine Pass is temporarily suspended.

In Tunisia, US evacuates Fériana & Thélepte Airfields; Germans occupy the airfields and the towns of Sbeïtla and Kasserine.

Baseball player Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees enlists in the US Army.

Aircraft carrier USS Lexington (CV-16) is commissioned at Quincy, MA.

1944 German troops encircled in the Cherkassy pocket achieve a breakout, but at a heavy cost in men and equipment. The Russians claim the annihilation of the trapped German divisions at Korsun. They also begin to storm Krivoi Rog.

US Army & Marines land on Eniwetok Atoll in Marshalls.

Operation Hailstone begins as U.S. carrier-based planes bomb the Japanese naval base at Truk in the Caroline Islands.

1945 The U.S. Third Army launches a new offensive into Germany, having pierced the Siegfried Line on an 11-mile front.

U.S. troops capture the whole of the Bataan Peninsula, which commands Manila Bay in Philippines.

Gen. MacArthur’s troops land on Corregidor in the Philippines.

For the second day in a row, carriers of US Fifth Fleet hit Tokyo.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: August 26 WWII Today: March 30th WWII Today: June 13

Feb 16

World War II Today: February 16

1940 The British destroyer Cossack, enters a Norwegian fjord, captures the German freighter Altmark, former supply ship of the Graf Spee and frees 300 British merchant seamen who were captured from vessels sunk by the Graf Spee in the South Atlantic.

1942 Dönitz orders all available U-boats in the Atlantic to attack British and American shipping off the US eastern seaboard. German U-boats, with their deck guns, bombard oil storage facilities and refineries on the Dutch islands of Aruba and Curacao in the southern Caribbean.

The Australian Prime Minister Curtin calls the surrender of Singapore ‘Australia’s Dunkirk’.

Tojo outlines Japan’s war aims to the Diet, referring to “new order of coexistence” in East Asia.

1943 Dr. Mildred Harnack-Fish, a member of the German resistance sentenced to death by the German government, is beheaded at Berlin’s Plotzensee Prison

The Russians take Kharkov and Voroshilovo after nine days of heavy street fighting.

Norwegian SOE Commandos are parachuted into the mountains 40 miles north of the German ‘heavy water’ plant at Telemark. They met up with the reconnaissance party, which had arrived the previous October.

1944 The British Air Minister says that bomber losses for 1943 were 2,369 U.K. and 997 U.S. planes down.

The Japanese pressure in Arakan forces the British to retreat.

Kesselring launches seven divisions in a second major attack against the US 5th Army’s bridgehead at Anzio.

The U.S. Navy pounds the Japanese base at Truk in the Caroline’s.

1945 U.S. forces begin the intensive bombardment of Iwo Jima, 600 miles South of Japan.

A USN Task Force reports pounding targets around Tokyo.

The remaining Korps of the 11th SS Army launch their attacks in support of ‘Operation Sonnenwende’.

U.S. paratroops land on Corregidor Island, a Japanese stronghold in Manila Bay.

U.S. paratroops land on Corregidor Island

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: February 14 WWII Today: May 14 Francis Rafferty: Yank Magazine Pin Up

Feb 15

World War II Today: February 15

1940 Hitler orders that all British merchant ships will be considered warships.

1941 Great Britain breaks off diplomatic relations with Romania as it is now clear that the Romanians are firmly allied to the Germans.

Norwegian Lutheran bishops denounce Nazi brutality.

1942 Churchill broadcasts to the nation and says the Mediterranean will close to all allied shipping.

Singapore surrenders to the Japanese, a decision prompted as much as anything by the plight of the 1,000,000 civilian inhabitants of the island. 9,000 British, Australian and Empire troops are killed and 130,000 captured, many of which will find themselves working as slaves on the notorious Burma-Thai Railway. The Japanese casualties’ amount to around 9,000 killed or wounded.

“Enemy aliens” ordered to be removed from restricted military zones in California.

1943 British Eighth Army arrives at German Mareth Line in Tunisia.

Actress and pin-up girl Betty Grable leaves prints from hands & one leg at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood.

1944 Monte Cassino is devastated by 422 tons of bombs as the Indian and New Zealanders begin their offensive to capture the monastery which is now occupied and defended by paratroopers (the Green Devils) of 1st Fallschirmjäger Division.

Hitler permits Field Marshal Models troops to withdraw to Panther Line and also allows the Korsun pocket defenders to break out towards the relieving forces.

The heaviest raid ever on Berlin is conducted, during which 2,500 tons of bombs are dropped.

The USAAF decimate a Japanese convoy off New Ireland.

1945 Japanese forces are now trapped in the Manila rectangle, which is just 5,000 yards by 2,000 yards.

US Sixth Army lands at Mariveles on tip of Bataan peninsula on Luzon, takes Mariveles and its airfield.

As Japanese advance, US Fourteenth Air Force evacuates last of its eastern China airfields, can no longer raid South China Sea.

Russian troops are now covering the approaches to Danzig. The Red Army captures Sagan in Silesia. The German 11th SS Army begins a counterattack ‘Operation Sonnenwende’ with three Korps (39th Panzer, 3rd SS Panzer and the 10th SS Korps). However, only the 3rd SS Panzer Korps (11th SS Panzer Grenadier Division”Nordland” and the 27th SS Grenadier Division “Langemarck”) are ready and begin their attack South towards Arnswalde,about 30-35 kms southeast of Stargard.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: General MacArthur Quote WWII Today: December 13 WWII Today: January 5

Feb 14

World War II Today: February 14

1939 Germany launches the battleship Bismarck.

1940 Britain announces that all merchant ships will be armed.

1941 Hitler starts to apply pressure on Yugoslavia to join the Tripartite pact.

Kurmuk near the Ethiopian border in Sudan is recaptured by British forces. Leading elements of the German 5th Light Division arrive at Tripoli and are immediately moved up to Sirte to take up defensive positions.

Western Africa front: South African forces conquer Kismayu in the Italian Somalia.

1942 Bomber Command is issued with Directive No.22, which ends the recent period of aircraft conservation by the RAF, although attacks are still not to be pressed in the face of bad weather or ‘extreme hazard’. The reason for this change is that the new Lancaster bomber, was just entering service and that Bomber Command was now equipped with a new navigation device called GEE, which it was hoped would make locating targets easier. However, it only had a range of 400 miles and could be jammed.

The Russians introduce universal labour conscription.

The Japanese being their invasion of Sumatra with airborne landings at Palembang.

The Battle of Pasir Panjang ends in Japanese victory.

The Battle of Bilin River begins in Burma.

The British Air Ministry issues the Area bombing directive, ordering RAF bombers to attack the German industrial workforce and the morale of the German populace through bombing German cities and their civilian inhabitants.

British auxiliary patrol vessel Li Wo singlehandedly attacks a Japanese convoy north of the Bangka Strait, sinking the lead transport before being sunk by the squadron of escorting warships.

The British gunboat HMS Grasshopper is bombed and sunk by Japanese aircraft off Rusuk Island.

The American converted troopship SS President Taylor is grounded on the coral reef at Canton Island and can not be salvaged despite extensive efforts.

Sarawakian steamship Vyner Brooke iss bombed and sunk by Japanese aircraft while evacuating nurses and wounded servicemen out of Singapore.

The German submarines U-178 and U-336 are commissioned.

1943 The 5th Panzerarmee under von Arnim, forces the retreat of the US 2nd Corps, inflicting very heavy losses in the battle of the Kasserine Pass.

Dakotas of No. 31 Sqn and Hudsons of No. 194 Sqn begin air supply missions to Chindit forces working behind enemy lines in Burma. Chindits were small pockets of highly trained British troops, usually with local guides, who operated behind enemy lines, cutting enemy lines of communication. The name was taken from that of a mythical Burmese God.

The VMF-124 Corsairs joing other fighters escorting Liberators on a raid to Kahili, Bougainville. They meet 50 enemy aircraft and only 3 Zeros are shot down while 10 US aircraft are lost; 4 P-38s, 2 P-40s, 2 Liberators and 2 of the Corsairs. This engagement becomes known as the “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre”, an inauspicious debut for the Corsair.

1944 Eisenhower sets up the SHAEF HQ in Britain.

The Americans announce that the Japanese remaining in Solomon’s are now trapped.

1945 Uruguay declares war against Germany.

Canadian and British troops reach the Rhine, 40 miles Northwest of Duisberg.

The 1st Ukrainian Front encircles Breslau which has been declared a fortress under the command of Gauleiter Hanke.

The siege of Budapest ends as the Soviets take the city. Only 785 German and Hungarian soldiers managed to escape.

The British Indian 4th Corps begins to cross Irrawaddy and strike into the Japanese rear. The first use of napalm is made in Burma.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: March 3 WWII Today: March 13 WWII Ad: Goodyear The Greatest Name In Rubber

Feb 13

World War II Today: February 13

1940 Soviets break through Finnish defenses on the Karelian Isthmus.

Britain cracks down on unauthorized slaughterhouses (“steakeasies”) trying to circumvent rationing.

1941 German authorities order all gentiles to leave Amsterdam’s Jewish Quarter.

The British minister to Sofia says in a statement that “If the Germans occupy Bulgaria and make it a base against our ally, obviously we shall have to break off relations with Bulgaria and take whatever measures the situation requires.”

German submarine U-557 was commissioned.

1942 In the early hours of the morning, the Scharnhorst puts into Wilhelmshaven, while the Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen reach Kiel a short while later.

The Russians advance in to White Russia, but meet strong German resistance.

Vidkun Quisling visits Berlin.

US, Dutch, and British ships fail to stop Japanese ships bound for Palembang, Sumatra.

The final ships, including small craft, leave Singapore; Japanese aircraft sink several ships carrying refugees.

The Battle of Palembang begins near Palembang on Sumatra.

The Battle of Pasir Panjang begins in the battle for Singapore.

The Germans complete the Channel Dash successfully.

The British submarine Tempest is depth charged and sunk in the Gulf of Taranto by the Italian torpedo boat Circe.

1943 Tunisian Jews ordered to pay 10 million francs to Germans.

US Marine Corps Women’s Reserve officially established.

1944 The allies halt the German attack around Cassino. The Italians in Cassino Monastery are warned that it will be bombed.

Allied Combined Chiefs of Staff issue Combined Bomber Offensive directive: 1) aircraft production and ball bearings, 2) “Crossbow” (V-weapon) targets, 3) Berlin and industrial targets when weather bad.

Another British counter-offensive begins in Arakan, Burma.

1945 Soviets take Budapest, Hungary, opening the Danube Valley for the drive to Vienna; 110,000 POWs taken.

In Manila, US troops capture Nichols Field and Cavite naval base. US ships enter Manila Bay for first time since 1942.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: October 20 WWII Today: June 27 WWII Today: October 21

Feb 12

World War II Today: February 12

1938 Japan refuses to reveal naval data requested by the U.S. and Britain.

1940 First deportation of German Jews into occupied Poland.

Germany and Russia agree new trade pact, that provides for the delivery of vital war materials (grains, oil, strategic minerals) by the Russians, in return for German manufactured goods.

Anthony Eden greets the first Australian and New Zealand troops arriving in Suez.

1941 The British foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden and General Sir John Dill, Chief of the Imperial General Staff leave London for a tour of the Balkan capitals in order to try and establish an anti-axis pact. However, Yugoslavia refuses to see them and Turkey refuses their proposals. Only Greece shows and interest.

Again, the Italians make further breakout attempts, which all fail. Later in the day the Italians surrender 20,000 men, 200 guns and 120 tanks to just 3,000 British troops.

Anthony Eden makes a speech parodying Winston Churchills famous ‘Battle of Britain’ speech. He says “Never has so much been surrendered, by so many, to so few”.

General Gariboldi is the new Italian Army Commander in North Africa.

Erwin Rommel arrives in Tripoli, Libya with a Panzer and Motorized Infantry Division. He assumes command of the Deutsches Africa Korps.

Rommel receives assistance from the Fliegerkorps X and long range aircraft from Sicily.

Churchill congratulates Wavell for his success, and orders him to prepare to help the Greeks.

German planes attack Benghazi, the first action by the Luftwaffe in Africa.

1942 At 11.00 hours, British aircraft spot the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen as they enter the straits of Dover. At 12.00 hours the British launch MTB attacks against Admiral Ciliax’s squadron, but were forced to fire at extreme range and so missed. An hour later at 13.00 hours the British again launch torpedo attacks, this time using six Swordfish aircraft, but five were shot down and all torpedo’s missed. At 14.30 hours the battleship Scharnhorst hits a mine off the Dutch coast. The mine inflicts only minor damage and the Scharnhorst is able to continue towards Germany. A short time later the British again launch attacks against the three German ships, this time using destroyers from the port of Harwich and aircraft from both Bomber and Coastal commands, but without success. At 20.35 hours the battleship Gneisenau hits a mine, while at 20.55 hours the Scharnhorst hits its second mine of the day, although both ships are able to continue towards Kiel.

1943 Rostov is captured by Russians. German troops evacuate Krasnodar and reach the defensive positions in the Kuban bridgehead.

German bombers attacked port of Bari on Adriatic, sinking 16 freighters including an American ship carrying poison mustard gas shells, causing heavy casualties in the port.

Rommel and Von Arnim’s forces launch a counter attack against the American 2nd Corps in central Tunisia, forcing them back in some disarray.

Wingate’s first Chindit guerrilla campaign begins behind the Japanese lines in Burma.

VMF-124 lands on Guadalcanal, becoming the first Corsair squadron deployed for combat.

1944 The Red Army recaptures Luga.

1945 British and Canadians troops advancing from Southeast Holland take Cleve in western Germany.

Simultaneous announcements in Moscow, London and Washington about the Yalta agreement. Agreement is reached about the allied occupation of Germany, the founding of the United Nations, the “resettlement” of the inhabitants of the eastern German territories to be ceded to Poland and the entry of the Soviet Union into the war against Japan.

Thus far, the Kriegsmarine has evacuated 374,00 German refugees by sea from East and West Prussia.

The British 20th Indian Division crosses the river Irrawaddy Southwest of Mandalay.

Peru declares war against Germany.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: December 4 WWII Today: April 13 WWII Today: June 12

Feb 11

World War II Today: February 11

1940 Soviet troops finally breach the Mannerheim line, forcing the Finns to withdraw to a secondary defense line.

The Soviet Union and Germany sign a treaty to exchange Soviet raw materials for German manufactured goods.

1941 Former GOP presidential candidate Wendell Willkie testifies in favor of Roosevelt’s Lend-Lease Bill in Congressional hearings.

Hanover is bombed by the RAF.

British forces advance into Italian Somaliland in East Africa.

Three Stirlings of No. 7 Sqn carry out the first RAF four-engined bomber attack against oil depots in Rotterdam.

1942 The Channel Dash (Operation Cerberus). At 23.00 hours, Admiral Ciliax orders his squadron, which includes the battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the cruiser Prinz Eugen, to leave Brest and dash through the English Channel for the safety of Kiel in Germany.

Japanese troops cross the river Salween in Burma. This caused concern for the commander on the 17th Indian Division, Lieutenant General John Smyth, who felt that his troops might be cut off. He urged Burma Army commander, Lieutenant General Hutton to allow him to withdraw across the river Sittang. However, he was ordered to hold firm on the river Bilin.

The US Army occupies Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao in Dutch West Indies with permission from Free Dutch.

US Army begins construction on Camp Stoneman in Pittsburg, California.

US War Production Board takes DuPont’s supply of nylon.

In Montréal, French-Canadians riot against conscription plans.

1944 German relief forces are now just 10 mile from the Korsun pocket.

Americans troops at Cassino are relieved by Indian and New Zealand forces. The allies are pushed back to final defence line at Anzio.

The Australians take Rooke Island between Huon and New Britain.

1945 The Red Army the encirclement of the fortress city of Kastrin on the Oder.

The meeting of the President Franklin Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Marshal Joseph Stalin in Yalta, adjourns.

On way home from Yalta, Roosevelt meets with kings Farouk of Egypt, Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, and Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia, but is unable to convince them to allow Jewish settlement in Palestine.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: November 6 WWII Today: September 7 WWII Today: December 20

Feb 10

World War II Today: February 10

1939 Japanese occupy island of Hainan in French Indochina.

1940 Over 4000 members of American Youth Congress march in Washington to protest US being drawn into imperialistic war; President Roosevelt angrily confronts them.

1941 London severs diplomatic relations with Romania.

The RAF attacks the oil storage tanks at Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The raid sees the operational debut of the RAF’s first 4-engine heavy bomber, the Short Stirling.

Iceland is attacked by German planes.

The RAF makes its first operational drop of airborne forces (Operation Colossus). Six Whitleys of No. 58 Sqn drop 38 men to attack two aqueducts at Treviso in southern Italy.

1942 The war halts civilian car production at Ford.

The former French liner Normandie capsized in New York Harbor a day after it caught fire while being refitted for the U.S.Navy.

Wavell makes his last visit to Singapore, but by now there was nothing he could do to alter the outcome.

First meeting of Pacific War Council in London with Dutch, New Zealand, Australian and UK representatives.

1944 The Russians begin to lay down a tremendous artillery barrage against the Korsun pocket, in an attempt to force its surrender.

The allies announce that southern Italy is to be handed over to Italian government jurisdiction.

The Japanese combined fleet leaves Truk for Palau.

Australian and Americans troops link at Saidor in New Guinea.

1945 The U.S. First Army captures the seventh and most important Ruhr dam.

Soviet sub S-13 sinks German transport General Steuben, killing 4500 military personnel fleeing East Prussia.

The 2nd Belorussian Fronts attack towards Neustett is halted by desperate German counter-attacks. The 1st Ukrainian front reaches the Neisse encircling Glogau. Liegnitz is captured by the 1st Ukrainian Front. The remaining defenders of Budapest, some 16,000 men, try to break out from Budapest, although most are killed or captured.

B-29s hit the Tokyo area.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: January 7 Words At War: Fair Stood for France WWII Today: December 22

Feb 09

World War II Today: February 9

1941 Admiral Darlan becomes Vichy Vice-Premier.

In a radio broadcast, Churchill warns Bulgaria against joining the Tripartite pact.

U-boats and Fw 200 Condor bombers sink 5 of 16 ships in Allied Convoy HG-53 off the Azores (3 more will be lost in the coming days).

British take El Agheila, Libya, but the advance halts.

1942 By dawn the Japanese 5th and 18th Divisions have firmly established themselves and begin to advance south-east towards Singapore city.

French liner Normandie, which had been seized by the US and renamed the troopship USS Lafayette, burns at pier in New York, capsizes next day.

US institutes War Savings Time: year-round daylight savings time.

US Department of Justice requires German, Italian, and Japanese nationals to register for Certificates of Identification by Feb. 28.

Britain begins to ration soap (4 oz/month).

1943 The Red Army captures Belgorod.

US secures Guadalcanal; in the campaign, 1700 Americans killed and 40,000 Japanese.

President Roosevelt orders a 48-hr work week in war plants.

1944 The Germans capture Aprilia in the Anzio beachhead.

1945 British and Canadians troops smash the first of the main Siegfried Line defence zones. The last Rhine bridge is blown in the Colmar Pocket. Half the German Nineteenth Army were evacuated, but General De Lattre’s forces have taken 22,000 German prisoners since the 20th January.

US Seventh & French Armies clear Colmar Pocket and Alsatian Plain and drive Germans over Rhine south of Strasbourg, France.

The Red Army encircles Elbing and Posen.

In rare sub vs. sub combat and the only documented case in naval history where both were submerged, British submarine Venturer sinks U-864 off Norway.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: March 14 WWII Today: March 5 WWII Today: May 1

Feb 08

World War II Today: February 8

1941 Laval declines Petain’s offer of Cabinet seat in the Vichy Government.

The first convoy of the newly formed Afrika Korps under the command of Lieutenant General Rommel leaves Naples for Tripoli in Libya.

Force H from Malta bombards Genoa, without hindrance from the Italian Navy or Air force.

The House of Representatives passes H.R. 1776 by a vote of 260 to 165.

1942 The Soviet North West Front finally cut all land communication for 90,000 troops of the German 2nd and 10th Corps at Demyansk, as the 11th and 1st Shock Armies link up on the river Lovat, about 25 miles to the west of Demyansk.

The Japanese land on the western side of Singapore Island, encountering only minimal resistance.

1943 The Russians take Kursk and continue their advance.

Japanese complete their evacuation of Guadalcanal.

1944 The Australians complete the occupation of the Huon Peninsula in New Guinea.

Plans for invasion of France, Operation ‘Overlord’ are confirmed.

The Russians capture of Nikopol. The surrounded German forces in the Korsun pocket are invited to surrender by the Russians.

The RAF uses a massive 12,000b bomb ‘Tall-Boy’, in a raid on the Gnôme-et-Rhône works in Limoges.

The Australians complete the occupation of the Huon Peninsula in New Guinea.

1945 50,000 British and Canadians troops with 500 tanks and 1,034 guns launch a new offensive into the Reichswald, to the Southeast of Nijmegen.

Koniev breaks out of his Oder bridgehead north of Breslau, with six armies.

Generalmajor Karl Marthinsen, the head of the State Police is assassinated in his car at Blindernveien, Oslo by the resistance movement, Milorg. The Germans execute 29 Norwegians in retaliation.

UK civilian war casualties up to September 1944 are reported as 57,468 killed and 89,178 injured.

Paraguay declares war on Germany.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: January 15 WWII Today: December 25 Words At War: Captain Retread