Archive for the ‘April’ Category
1940 The United States 1940 Census taken: population 131,669,000, a 7.2% increase since 1930.
The British Minister of Food announces Dig for Victory campaign to encourage growing food at home.
1941 General Platt and his ‘Northern Force’ capture Asmara, the capital of Eritrea. A pro-axis coup, led by Raschid Ali seizes power in Iraq.
The Japanese force the Chinese out of Toungoo, north of Rangoon.
Japanese begin landing in Dutch New Guinea.
1942 As a result of the immense loss in shipping along the US eastern seaboard, since January 1942, the US authorities instituted a partial convoying system, known as the ‘Bucket Brigade’. This meant that ships would sail in convoy as close to the coast as possible during daylight hours and anchor in protected harbours at night. Due to the shortage of escort vessels, continuous convoying was not possible and the ‘Bucket Brigade’ system did not apply to the Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico.
1943 Attempting to stem inflation in the USA, President Roosevelt freezes wages, salaries, and prices.
Meat, fats, canned goods, and cheese are now rationed in the US.
The USAAF accidentally bombs Schaffhausen in Switzerland. The Swiss protest strongly. The Americans offer reparations.
1945 The U.S. First and Ninth Armies link up at Lippstadt cutting off a third of a million German troops in the Ruhr area. The U.S. First Army enters Hamm, 40 miles Northeast of Essen.
The 3rd Ukrainian Front capture Sopron in Hungary, a vital road junction between Budapest and Vienna and also reaches Wiener Neustadt as it continues its advance toward Vienna. The fighting in Breslau continues.
The U.S. Tenth Army, with 1,457 ships in support, invades Okinawa which is 325 miles from Japan. 60,000 troops land unopposed and establish an 8-mile bridgehead.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Pin Up: Diana Mumby WWII Today: February 1 Words at War: Veterans Comes Back
1940 Germans announce they have established communication between Trondheim and Oslo. RAF attack Oslo airfield.
The Lodz Ghetto in occupied Poland is sealed off from the outside world with 230,000 Jews locked inside.
1941 British air raid casualty figures in April: 6,065 killed, 6,926 injured. Bristol, Coventry, Birmingham, Belfast, London and Portsmouth all badly hit. In retaliation the RAF attacks Emden, Kiel, Berlin, Bremen and Mannheim.
All of Greece is under German and Italian occupation. During the campaign, the Greeks lose 15,700 killed and 300,000 prisoners. The British lose 2,000 killed and 10,000 made prisoner, while the Germans only suffer about 2,000 killed and missing.
The Afrika Korps second attempt to capture Tobruk is again repulsed by the Australians.
1942 Hitler and Mussolini meet at Berchtesgaden to discuss future axis strategy in North Africa and the Mediterranean, the main objectives being the reduction of Malta and the seizure of the Suez Canal.
Hitler and Mussolini agree that the capture of Malta (Operation Herakles) should take place on the 10th July 1942.
The British 1st Burma Corps completes its withdrawal over the Irrawaddy at Mandalay in Burma.
The US aircraft carriers, Hornet and Enterprise set sail from Pearl Harbor for the Corel Sea under the command of Admiral William ‘Bull’ Halsey.
1943 The British submarine HMS Seraph drops ‘the man who never was,’ a dead man the British planted with false invasion plans, into the Mediterranean off the coast of Spain. The ‘man who never was’ pulled off one of the greatest deceptions in military history–after his death.
1945 As Soviets advance in Berlin, Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun commit suicide.
The U.S. Third Army liberates 110,000 POW’s in the Moosburg area, Northeast of Munich. The U.S. Seventh Army clears Munich and the French takes Friedrichshafen and cross into Austria. The U.S. First Army meet the Russians at Ellenburg, South of Berlin. The British Second Army liberates 20,000 prisoners (two third POW’s and one third political prisoners) from Sandbostel camp in northern Germany.
Allied Norwegian forces capture Finnmark.
With the Red Army only a few hundred yards away, Hitler commits suicide with Eva Braun in the Reich Chancellery bunker at 1530hrs and their bodies immediately incinerated with gasoline by SS bodyguards
A Sergeant of the Russian Army plant the Red Flag on top of the Reichstag building at 2.30 pm. As the final Russian assault on Tiergarten begins, Goebbels and Bormann send General Krebs, Chief of the General Staff to the headquarters of Marshal Zhukov with a permit to make an armistice, but Zhukov refuses and demands an unconditional surrender. Troops of the 4th Ukrainian front capture Moravska Ostrava. Fighting continues in Breslau, as the German garrison refuses to surrender.
The U.S. Fifth Army in Northwest Italy, links up with French troops on the French/Italian border.
The Mexican Air Force’s 201 Squadron arrives at Manila. In operations from 4 June, 1945 to the end of the war, the 201 flies 96 combat missions, mostly in support of ground troops. The 201 will be the only Mexican unit to see overseas combat in the country’s history.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: January 16 WWII Today: November 18 WWII Today: May 16
1940 King Haakon VII and his government are evacuated from Molde and taken to Tromso in northern Norway, from where they can continue the fight.
1941 British intelligence ‘Ultra’, intercept numerous messages giving a positive indication that the Germans plan to attack Crete.
Another Brigade from the British 10th Indian Division lands at Basra, ignoring Iraqi’s protests. The Iraqi Army lays siege to The RAF base at Habbaniyh, although RAF planes fly numerous air strikes against them.
1942 The Belgian resistance destroys Tenderloo chemical works, killing more that 250. Executions by the Germans reported to be running at 25-30 a month in Belgium.
Japanese troops capture Lashio, thereby cutting the vital ‘Burma Road’ supply route into China.
The Japanese continue to land reinforcements on Mindanao Island as the step up attacks against the Filipino garrison. The shelling of Corregidor increases as the Japanese prepare to invade the Island.
1943 A series of minor attacks in near Novorossiysk drive the Germans back slowly.
U-boats begin a six-day attack on Convoy ONS5, during which 13 allied ships are finally sunk for the loss of six U-boats.
1944 Curtin, the Australian Prime Minister arrives in London.
The US Navy pounds the Japanese base at Truk, destroying 120 planes.
1945 The RAF begin Operation ‘Manna’, supply drops into Holland.
Convoy RA-66 sailing from the Kola Peninsula to Loch Ewe is attacked by at least 2 U-boats north of Kola. The British destroyer HMS Goodall, which was lend-leased by the US in 1943 is sunk by U-286 (Oblt.z.S. Willi Dietrich), for 1,150 tons, marking this as the last convoy to come under attack in the war.
The British Second Army crosses the Elbe near Hamburg, less than 100 miles west of the Russian forces in Mecklenburg. The U.S. Seventh Army reaches Munich. The French First Army captures Friedrichshafen on Lake Constance.
The 2nd Belorussian front advances fast in the Stralsund direction and seizes Anklam. In Berlin furious fighting takes place around the Reichstag, Chancellery and along Potsdamer Strasse. In Kottbus South of Berlin, German troops are still holding the Russians back.
The Germans armies in Italy sign surrender terms at The Royal Palace, Caserta, but German officers do not guarantee acceptance, the ceremony takes only 17 minutes. The British Eighth Army secures Venice and advances towards Trieste. The U.S. Fifth Army enters Milan and makes contact with the Eighth Army at Padua.
The bodies of Mussolini and Clara Petacci are brought to Milan and hung upside down from lamp-posts in the square where 15 Partisans were executed a year ago. The bodies are shot and spat upon.
U.S. 7th Army liberates Dachau Concentration Camp.
Take a look at these other WWII Posts:Clark Gable’s Combat America WWII Today: March 1 Words at War
1940 Allied reinforcements arrive in Andalsnes, Norway.
1941 The British evacuation of Greece is completed
A clampdown is made in Norway against degenerate literature, with large-scale book burnings being held.
1942 Coastal “dimouts” go into effect along a fifteen-mile strip on the Eastern Seaboard, in response to German U-boat activity of the U.S. Atlantic coast.
At what turns out to be its last meeting, the puppet Nazi Reichstag passes legislation proclaiming Hitler “Supreme Judge of the German People,” formalising the Fuhrer’s position as being above the reach of the law.
1943 British forces repulse a last, desperate Panzer counter blow in Tunisia.
1944 The South African and Rhodesian Prime Ministers arrive for the imperial Conference.
Chinese forces retreat in central China.
1945 German U-boats sink 8 Allied ships, 3 destroyers and 2 corvettes in the English channel.
The Canadian First Army captures Emden and Wilhelmshaven, while the U.S. Seventh Army takes Augsburg and reaches the Austrian border to the South. Hitler marries his mistress, Eva Braun, and dictates his political testament in which he justifies the political and military actions of his 12-year-rule, blaming the war on international Jewry and exhorting the German people even after defeat to adhere to the principles of National Socialism, especially its racial laws. Grossadmiral D0nitz is appointed as his successor.
The U.S. Fifth Army take Brescia, 30 miles East of Milan. The British Eighth Army reaches Venice.
Italian Partisans capture Mussolini, his mistress Clara Petacci and 12 of his cabinet members in a German convoy trying to reach Switzerland. All are shot in nearby village.
Russian forces are fighting in the Wilhelmstrasse and reach the Anhalt Station which is just half a mile of the Fuhrerbunker.
1946 The Allies indict Tojo with 55 counts of war crimes.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: May 3 WWII Today: November 30 WWII Today: June 7
1940 Himmler signs the order that initiates construction of Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.
1941 German troops cross the Egyptian border and capture the Halfaya Pass, forcing the British to pull back to defensive a line running from Buq Buq on the coast to Sofafi, some 50km in to the desert. The British also begin construction of a major defensive line in front of Mersa Matruh.
German troops occupy Athens.
1942 The RAF use 107 aircraft in another raid against Rostok.
Norwich is attacked by the Luftwaffe.
RAF Bomber Command again attack the Tirpitz at Trondheim, without success. Wing Commander Bennett who led the raid crashes in Norway, but manages to escape to Sweden.
1943 A report that Soviet troops have executed thousands of Polish officers near Smolensk causes a rift between the Polish government-in-exile and Moscow, jeopardizing their alliance.
1944 Both the Canadian and New Zealand Prime Ministers arrive in London for the Imperial Conference.
German planes spot an Allied convoy west of Start Point along the Channel Coast. The convoy is actually making a practice run (‘Operation Tiger‘) for the planned invasion of Normandy on a stretch of coast very much like that found in the Normandy region of France. The 5th and 9th Schnellbootflottillers are directed to attack at night, which they do with the following boats: S100, S130, S138, S138, S140, S142, S143, S145, S150. They engage the convoy, consisting of 8 landing craft and protected by the lone English Corvette Azeala at Lyme Bay. The result is that LST 507 was set on fire and had to be given up, LST 531 was sunk and LST 289 received a torpedo hit which killed many soldiers. Total Allied losses were 197 seaman and 441 soldiers lost.
Merrill’s ‘Marauders’ begin a march on Myitkyina.
The U.S. Army complete their capture of Hollandia’s airfields and isolate 200,000 Japanese for the duration of war.
1945 Total V-weapon casualties in Britain are announced as 2,754 killed and 6,523 seriously injured.
The U.S. First Army captures Straubing and Kempten in Bavaria.
The Russians take Wittemberge on Elbe. Russian troops reach the Alexanderplatz in Berlin and Spandau is taken. The 2nd Belorussian front advances in Pomerania seizes Prenzlau and Angermunde, 70 miles northwest of Berlin. The German 9th Army tries to reach Berlin from the southeast and even counterattacks at Zossen. The German 20th Army does the same Southeast of Belzig. The German High command confesses that the last German forces in Pillau, East Prussia have surrendered.
The U.S. Fifth Army enters Genoa.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: January 22 WWII Today: December 22 WWII Today: December 20
1940 The British stun the French and Norwegians by deciding to evacuate southern Norway.
1941 The Italian fortress of Dessie, south of Amba Alagi is captured by South African forces.
1942 The RAF again attacks Rostok, this time with 128 aircraft. The Luftwaffe again raid Bath.
Cunningham is forced to order the withdrawal of the 10th Submarine Flotilla from Malta as a result of the intense bombing and because of the mines laid by aircraft and German E-boats.
1943 Axis losses in Africa for first 3&½ months of 1943 are 66,000 killed, wounded and captured.
1944 In marked contrast to earlier USAAF efforts, Bomber Command makes a hugely successful attack on the German ball-bearing factories at Schweinfurt.
The Greek PM resigns and George Papandreou forms a new government.
The ‘Chindits’ occupy Indaw.
Japanese fighters attack their first B-29, one fighter is shot down.
Australians troops occupy Alexishafen in New Guinea.
The Army seizes a Montgomery Ward plant in Chicago and reopens it for war production after its board of directors refuses to negotiate with the CIO labor union. Chairman Sewell Avery refuses to leave his office, and still seated in his chair, is carried out to the parking lot, where he bows to workers and enters a waiting limousine.
1945 The first of some 75,000 ex-prisoners of war are flown back to the UK by aircraft of Bomber Command.
German troops at Bremen surrender to the British and Canadians. Allied troops now line the Swiss border from Basle to Lake Constance. The U.S. Third Army takes Regensburg on the Danube. Goering’s fall from grace announced in Germany, General Ritter von Greim is to replace him.
Marshal Henri Philippe Petain, the head of France’s Vichy government during World War II, was arrested.
Italian Partisans take Genoa and stage revolt in Milan. The U.S. Fifth Army captures Verona, 20 miles Northeast of Mantua.
The 2nd Belorussian front captures Stettin on the river Oder, while the 3rd Belorussian Front captures the Baltic port of Pillau, 20 miles West of KÃ¶nigsberg. General Wenck embarks on the last German offensive to relieve Berlin, but only manages to reach Ferch on the 27th April, before the offensive grinds to a halt. The remnants of 9th Army are cut off and surrounded in the Halbe pocket 30 miles southwest of Frankfurt am der Oder. The 2nd Ukrainian Front captures Brno, in Czechoslovakia.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Goodyear Rubber Company Ad WWII Today: February 10 WWII Today: April 24
1940 Allied forces withdraw from Lillehammer in central Norway.
New evacuation scheme introduced in Britain as a Ministry of Health survey shows that only 8% of eligible children have been registered; 19% of parents refused to do so; 73% did not bother to reply.
1941 Roosevelt announces an indefinite extension of US Atlantic patrols.
German paratroops seize Corinth and cross the Corinth Canal to the Peloponnese.
Hitler issues Directive No.28, ordering the preparation of plans to capture Crete. The basic plan is to involve 22,750 paratroops, 650 combat aircraft and is to be launched on the 18th May 1941, although this is put back to the 20th May 1941.
1942 The Luftwaffe attack Bath as the ‘Baedeker’ raids continue.
On his last patrol aboard U-404, Kapitanleutnant Otto von Bulow fires two FAT and two G7e torpedoes at British aircraft carrier HMS Biter. All detonate prematurely and HMS Biter escapes without damage. Von Bulow is later decorated by Hitler with Oak leaves to his Knights Cross for his Atlantic successes and German newspapers report the recent sinking of the American carrier USS Ranger as well. Later, USS Ranger commander Gordon Rowe, is photographed aboard his carrier smiling at a photograph of von Bulow and the German report of his vessel’s demise.
1944 With Allied control of the skies over Germany now virtually complete, Goebbels strongly objects to Hitler’s plan to fly to Berlin for one of his rare visits to attend Colonel General Hube’s funeral. Hitler insists on going anyway. It will be the last time the increasingly reclusive Fuhrer will show himself at a large public gathering in the Third Reich.
The British right hook South of Kohima begins.
1945 Beginning of the San Francisco Conference convened to discuss the founding of the United Nations.
German U-boats sink 5 allied supply ships in the English Channel.
The U.S. Third Army crosses the Danube, 70 miles Northeast of Munich.
The RAF attacks the ‘Eagle’s Nest’, Hitler’s chalet and the SS barracks at Berchtesgarten.
Troops of the U.S. Ninth Army and the Soviet 1st Ukrainian Front meet on the Elbe at Torgau, 100 miles Southwest of Berlin.
The U.S. Fifth Army enters Mantua, 60 miles Northwest of Bologna and continues its drive up coast, while the British Eighth Army crosses the Po river and captures Parma.
Russian units of the 1st Belorussian and 1st Ukrainian Fronts meet at Kietzen west of Berlin, meaning that eight Russian armies have now surrounded Berlin in a vice like grip. The suburbs Tegel and Reinickendorf fall into Russian hands. A relief attack by the III Panzer Korps from the area of Eberswalde 50 miles northeast of Berlin fails.
U.S. Marines seize islands off coast of Okinawa in Pacific.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: November 24 WWII Today: March 14 WWII Today: February 13
1940 Commons approves trade agreement with Spain, first since Spanish Civil War.
French reinforcements arrive at Aandalesnes.
British troops forced to withdraw north of Trondheim after sharp fighting.
Norwegian troops attack the Germans south of Narvik, but are beaten back.
Germans appoint Josef Terboven as Reich Commissar of Norway.
1941 German forces in Greece break through British positions at Thermopylae and land paratroops on Greek islands in the north-eastern Aegean. The British expeditionary force begins the evacuation of its troops to Egypt and Crete.
1942 The Luftwaffe raids Exeter in the first of Hitler’s retaliatory raids, which were soon to become known as the ‘Baedeker’ raids after the famous guidebook series of that name. A second raid employing 91 aircraft is made against Rostok.
US Marine Corps raises maximum age for recruits from 33 to 36.
1943 The first Women’s Flying Training Detachment class (precursor of WASPs) graduates from flight training.
1944 All overseas travel is banned in Britain.
The first B-29 arrives in China, over the Hump of the Himalayas.
The British force the road to Kohima open.
U.S. troops secure Hollandia and Aitape in New Guinea inflicting 9,000 Japanese casualties, while only suffering 450 dead themselves. Australians troops enter Madang in New Guinea.
1945 The British Second and Canadian First Armies enter Bremen.
The U.S. First Army liberates Dachau concentration camp.
The US Seventh Army crosses the Danube at Dillingen and captures Ulm.
The Eighth Army captures Ferrara, 30 miles to the Northeast of Bologna and crosses the Po after fierce fighting. The U.S. Fifth Army takes Spezia on the Gulf of Genoa and Modern.
The Japanese Burma Area Army C-in-C leaves Rangoon. The British Fourteenth Army takes Pyinmana in central Burma.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: September 15 WWII Today: September 10 Frances Langford: USO Entertainer
1940 Budget Day raises taxes on beer by 1d, whiskey up 1/9d (9p) and postage up 1d. Estimates of the 1940 war expenditure as £2,000 million criticized by MPs for being too low.
1941 King George II of Greece and his government are flown to Crete by the RAF.
The German build up for Operation ‘Barbarossa’ continues with 59 divisions now deployed along the border with the Soviet Union.
1942 In a secret session of the House of Commons, Churchill delivers a speech declaring that the liberation of Europe was ‘the main war plan’ of Britain and the USA.
Churchill tells the House of Commons of disasters in Japanese war.
The RAF raids Rostok with 142 aircraft.
The Russian plan to hit the Germans with a powerful force of 640,000 men, 1,200 tanks, and 900 aircraft in the Kharkov area, while the Germans plan to hit the Russians with 636,000 men, 1,000 tanks, and 1,220 aircraft.
1944 The last Japanese attack on Garrison Hill, Kohima is repulsed as the British ‘left hook’ begins its advance to the North.
US Sixth Army secures Hollandia, New Guinea.
Helicopter used for air evacuation for first time—Sikorsky YR-4B helicopter of the US 1st Air Commando Group rescues 4 downed airmen in Burma.
1945 Dessau is reported as clear of German troops. The British Second Army reaches Harburg across the Elbe from Hamburg. Frankfurt is captured. Goring telegraphs Hitler saying that he will take over command as Hitler’s Deputy. Hitler says he must resign all his posts and orders Goring’s arrest. Reichsfuhrer-SS Himmler begins secret negotiations for a separate peace in the West with Count Bernadotte, head of the Swedish Red Cross.
The U.S. Fifth and British Eighth Armies reach the Po, to the North of Bologna.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: March 10 WWII Today: September 25 WWII Today: March 25
The failure of the Dieppe Raid in 1942 made it clear for Allied war planners that the Invasion of Normandy had to be prepared as thoroughly as possible. One important part of this preparation was Exercise Tiger, a nine-day secret live fire rehearsal held in April, 1944.
The exercise was held along the British coast at Slapton Sands in southwest England. The 3,000 civilian residents of the area, which was chosen for its similarity to the Normandy beaches, were evacuated beforehand without learning of the reason. The exercise was held by 30,000 troops from “Force U,” the American force slated to land on Utah Beach. Due to the need for secrecy about the upcoming invasion, most of the participating soldiers weren’t told the purpose of the exercise. In order to prevent discovery by German E-Boats (fast attack craft), a Royal Navy force of 2 destroyers, 3 motor torpedo boats and 2 motor gun boats patrolled the area, with another force watching the E-Boat base in Cherbourg, Normandy.
The first four days, starting from April 22, concentrated on marshaling and embarkation drills, followed by a naval exercise and the actual beach assault. LSTs (Landing Ship, Tank) loaded with troops sailed out to sea, took a circuitous route during the night to simulate crossing the Channel, then arrived at Slapton Sands just before dawn. It was this second part of the exercise that turned into tragedy. With the U.S. and U.K. militaries still declining to share some information up to this day, the order of some events is uncertain. What we know if that two unrelated incidents led to the death of hundreds of troops.
During the night, a convoy of eight LSTs were making their way towards the coast, traveling along a straight line in a single column. They were meant to be escorted by two British warships but one was damaged in an earlier collision and left for harbor, leaving the convoy’s defense to the corvette HMS Azalea. The same night, a force of German E-Boats departed from France, slipped the British ships on guard and came upon the exercise. Once the German vessels were spotted, a radio message was sent to warn the convoy. Due to a typographical error in orders, however, the radios onboard the American LSTs were tuned to a different frequency than the one used by the Brits and only the Azalea received the warning. The LSTs, dubbed Long, Slow Targets by their crews, didn’t even know they were under attack until the first torpedoes exploded under them with the E-Boat weaving in and out between the ponderous targets before getting away. Two of the eight transports were sunk, one was damaged by friendly fire and one was set on fire but managed to make it to shore, though only after losing over 120 men.
Hundreds of people went under with the LSTs and others jumped into the frigid waters. The men were not instructed on the proper use of their life belts and many wore them on their waist rather than under the arms. Many of these men, therefore, turned upside down and drowned with their heads held underwater by the weight of their equipment, while others froze to death in the four hours it took for rescue to arrive. According to one widespread estimate, 749 soldiers died that night. According to one survivor, “When we got back and then the light broke, you could walk across the dead bodies in the water.”Among the people lost were ten officers who knew vital information about D-Day. Allied planners were afraid that some of them might have fallen into German hands and Operation Overlord was at risk of being canceled until the bodies of all ten officers were found.
The German attack wasn’t the only thing to go horrendously wrong. More people died during a beach assault exercise either the preceding or the following morning. In order to make the operation realistic and acclimatize soldiers to the conditions they were to experience in Normandy, General Eisenhower decided that a live fire exercise should be incorporated to give the troops experience with the sight, sound and smell of actual naval bombardment. The plan called for a shelling of the beach for 50 minutes, ending just as the first wave of landing craft were to arrive at 7:30am, while soldiers inland were to fire live ammunition above the incoming assault force.
Several of the landing ships were delayed en route to the beach and U.S. Navy Admiral Don P. Moon, who commanded the exercise, decided to delay both the landing and the preceding bombardment by one hour to give them time to catch up. Some of the other landing craft, however, did not receive the message and stuck to the original schedule, their second wave hitting the beach just as the navy bombardment commenced. The exact number of casualties from the appalling incident are unknown but might have been as high as 450.
The catastrophic results of Exercise Tiger were kept a secret to prevent the loss of morale among the troops slated to participate in the invasion. Survivors, as well as local doctors, tending to the wounded were sworn to secrecy and information about the ill-fated exercise was suppressed for decades. Admiral Moon went on to direct the Utah Beach landing but committed suicide in August 1944. The case was blamed on combat fatigue. Corvette Captain Bernd Klug, the German officer leading the E-boot attack on the convoy, became an Admiral in West Germany during the Cold War. Local rumors of several hundred American soldiers being buried in secret mass graves have never been fully confirmed or disproven.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: November 2 WWII Today: April 16 WWII Today: October 21