Archive for the ‘WWII History’ Category

Nov 19

World War II Today: November 19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The French 1st Armoured Division reaches the Rhine.

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

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

Nov 18

World War II Today: November 18

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

IRA detonate four small bombs in Piccadilly, London.

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

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

1942 Laval is given absolute power by Vichy in Africa.

1943 A German counter offensive recaptures Zhitomir.

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

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

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

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

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

Nov 17

World War II Today: November 17

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Nov 16

World War II Today: November 16

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

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


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

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

1943 Leros surrenders to the Germans.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

Nov 15

World War II Today: November 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Japanese special negotiator arrives in Washington.

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

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

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

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

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

Nov 14

World War II Today: November 14

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

Greek army repels Italians back into Albania.

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

1942 British and Americans launch offensive from Algeria toward Tunisia.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov 13

World War II Today: November 13

1939 HMS Blanche struck a mine and sank off the Thames Estuary. She was the first Royal Naval destroyer lost in the war. Two German supply ships are scuttled when cornered by the Royal Navy.

German bombers attacked British territory for the first time, with a bombing raid on the Shetland Islands. No serious damage was done.

1941 Temperature near Moscow drops to -80°F (-22.2°C).

President Roosevelt announces the arming of American merchant vessels carrying Lend-Lease cargo to Britain. The US Congress and Senate, vote by a small majority to repeal the 1939 Neutrality Act.

British aircraft carrier Ark Royal is torpedoed off Gibraltar by U-81 and later sinks.

1942 The Eighth Army captures Tobruk and Montgomery says: ‘We have completely smashed the German and Italian armies’.

First sea battle off Guadalcanal in the Pacific begins in confusion.

1944 German troops evacuate Skopje in Yugoslavia.

Free French forces under General Leclerc attack from Alsace towards the upper Rhine.

General de Gaulle is elected head  of the provisional French government.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts:WWII Today: October 23 WWII Today: October 19 Yank Pin Up: Esther Williams1939 – HMS Blanche struck a mine and sank off the Thames Estuary. She was the first Royal Naval destroyer lost in the war. Two German supply ships are scuttled when cornered by the Royal Navy.1939 – German bombers attacked British territory for the first time, with a bombing raid on the Shetland Islands. No serious damage was done.1941 – Temperature near Moscow drops to -80°F (-22.2°C).1941 – President Roosevelt announces the arming of American merchant vessels carrying Lend-Lease cargo to Britain. The US Congress and Senate, vote by a small majority to repeal the 1939 Neutrality Act.1941 – British aircraft carrier Ark Royal is torpedoed off Gibraltar by U-81 and later sinks.1942 – The Eighth Army captures Tobruk and Montgomery says: ‘We have completely smashed the German and Italian armies’.1942 – First sea battle off Guadalcanal in the Pacific begins in confusion.1944 – German troops evacuate Skopje in Yugoslavia.1944 – Free French forces under General Leclerc attack from Alsace towards the upper Rhine.1944 – General de Gaulle is elected headof the provisional French government.

Nov 12

World War II Today: November 12

1939 Negotiations between Russia and Finland over territorial dispute reach deadlock.

1940 Germany prepares to enter war in Greece.

Colonel Burns again proposes a Canadian parachute force to the Chief of General Staff. The idea is shelved, and no action is taken.

1942 The British 8th Army retakes Sollum and Bardia, while Panzer Army Afrika continues its withdrawal toward Tripoli.

U.S. Navy battles Tokyo Express off Guadalcanal.

US Ninth AF formed in Egypt under Lt. Gen. Lewis Brereton.

Morocco and Algeria are in Allied hands (770 Americans and 240 British were killed in Torch landings).

Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond, CA launches Liberty Ship Robert E. Peary four days after the keel is laid, a wartime record.

1943 US President Roosevelt embarks on USS Iowa to go to the Allied conferences at Teheran and Cairo.

German troops invade Leros by sea and drop 500 paratroops.

The Russians take Zhitomir in Ukraine. The Kiev bridgehead is now 95 miles deep and 150 miles wide.

Japanese bomb Parap, Adelaide River, and Batchelor Airfield in last air attack on Australia.

French proclaim martial law in Lebanon after Lebanese amend constitution to end French mandate (on Nov. 8).

1944 Heavy bombers of the RAF, after several previous attempts, succeed in sinking the battleship Tirpitz, the sister ship of the Bismarck, which is lying at anchor in a fjord near Tromso in Norway. Over 1,000 men of her crew trapped in her capsized hull are lost.

1945 The institute of France awards Churchill a gold medal.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts:Words at War: The Weeping Wood WWII Today: October 23 WWII Yank Pin Up: Frances Rafferty

Nov 11

Veteran’s Day – World War II Today: November 11

1885 General George S. Patton is born.

1918 At 11 a.m. World War I, the war to end all wars, ends.

1939 Queen Elizabeth broadcasts a message to the women of the Empire, calling them to join the war effort.

1940 On the anniversary of the end of World War I, several hundred Paris students stage a disorganized protest on the Champs Elysee over the arrest of a popular professor. Although Gaullists in London report several deaths, it appears no one was killed, but 123 students are arrested. Although it is the first sign of organized anti-German feeling since the armistice in June, German authorities report to Berlin that the small size and unorganized nature of the protest demonstrates that pro-Gaullist feeling is minimal.

Italian aircraft attack Thames Estuary with little success: first and last Italian air attack on Britain.

The British Fleet launches an air attack against the Italian fleet at Taranto. Swordfish aircraft from the Aircraft Carrier HMS Illustrious damage three battleships, two cruisers, two destroyers and two auxiliaries craft. This British victory, forces the Italians to temporary withdraw their big surface units to the safer ports on the west coast of Italy.

The RAF’s first offensive air operations in Greece are carried out by Blenheims in a low-level attack on Valaca airfield.

1942 In the United States the draft age is lowered to 18

The United States extends Lend-Lease aid to the Free French Forces under General de Gaulle.

German forces begin the occupation of those parts of France controlled by the Vichy government. In a letter to Marshal Petain, Hitler declares that the purpose of this move is “to protect France” against the allies.

French Admiral Jean Francios Darlan joins French General Alphonse Juin in calling an all-out cease fire for French forces throughout Africa.

6th Army launches its last major attack to capture Stalingrad and succeeds in reaching the Volga near the Red October factory on a frontage of 600 yards. The 13th Panzer-Division of III Panzer Corps begins to disengage its units halted before Ordshonikidse to avoid being cut off by the heavy Soviet attacks against its communications.

1943 Auschwitz Kommandant Hass is promoted to chief inspector of concentration camps. The new kommandant, Liebehenschel, then divides up the vast Auschwitz complex of over 30 sub-camps into three main sections.

FDR Secretly Leaves the U.S. on the USS Iowa

American air power continues to hit Rabaul.

1944 The German First Army HQ leaves Metz as the U.S. Third Army gains three bridgeheads over the Moselle.

Private Eddie Slovik is convicted of desertion and sentenced to death for refusing to join his unit in the European Theater of Operations.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts:WWII Today: December 23 President Roosevelt’s Pearl Harbor Speech WWII Today: September 18

Nov 10

World War II Today: November 10

1940 A torpedo bomber raid cripples the Italian fleet at Taranto, Italy.

1941 Churchill’s Mansion House Speech: Tells Japan that war on US means war on Britain. The Japanese Foreign Minister says their aim is to make the US and UK retreat from East Asia.

US Army updates uniform regulations: the Parsons field jacket and M1 steel helmet are added.

First US-escorted troop convoy, WS-12X, sails from Halifax, Nova Scotia, for India via Cape Town with 20,000 British troops.

1942 The Americans capture Oran. Petain takes command of all Vichy forces. British successes in Egypt continue with the capture of Sidi Barrani.

Admiral Jean Darlan orders French forces in North Africa to cease resistance to the Anglo-American forces.

In a daring raid in Morocco, destroyer USS Dallas steams up Wadi Sebou under the Kasbah, and takes Port Lyautey Airfield.

Victories in North Africa lead Churchill to proclaim, “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Movie premiere of Road to Morocco, starring Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Dorothy Lamour.

President Roosevelt announces the breaking-off of diplomatic relations with Vichy France.

1943 The Red Army achieves a breakthrough near Gomel in Byelorussia.

1944 V-2 rockets continue to hit Britain, at the rate of about eight a day.

Nazi occupation forces in the Netherlands began a two-day roundup of 50,000 men in Rotterdam to be sent to Germany for forced labour.

Allied forces launched Operation Clipper, an offensive to reduce the Geilenkirchen salient.

The Allies recognized the government of Albanian partisan leader Enver Hoxha.

The American ammunition ship Mount Hood exploded and sank at Seeadler Harbor, Manus, Admiralty Islands with the loss of all 350 crew.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts:WWII Today: August 19 Words at War: White Brigade WWII Today: August 25