Archive for the ‘December’ Category

Dec 31

World War II Today: December 31

1939 Allied merchant shipping sunk by U-boats, world-wide from the out break of war to year’s end 1939 is 165 ships, equaling 693,557 gross tons. 9 U-boats were lost worldwide in the same period.

Finnish troops destroy yet another Russian division.

New Year’s Eve observances in Britain, France and Germany are very subdued due to blackout and noise restrictions. Most celebrations are held in private homes with the windows shuttered.

German Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels makes a radio address reviewing the official Nazi version of the events of 1939. No predictions are made for 1940 other than saying that the next year “will be a hard year, and we must be ready for it.”

Generalissimo Francisco Franco makes a radio broadcast asking “all Spaniards in this period of depression which follows any war to close the mouths of grumblers and not permit the enemies of the state to take advantage of the situation.”

Japan and the Soviet Union sign an accord on fishing rights in adjacent territorial waters.

1940 British civilian casualties figures for the month: 3,793 killed, 5,244 injured.

Allied merchant shipping sunk by U-boats, world-wide from January to year’s end 1940 is 567 ships, equaling 2,771,483 gross tons. 24 U-boats were lost worldwide in the same period.

RAF bombers attack Vlorë on the Greco-Italian front, Rotterdam and IJmuiden in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands, and the German cities of Emmerich am Rhein and Cologne.

Hitler issues a New Year’s Order of the Day to Germany’s armed forces, declaring “the year 1941 will bring us, on the Western Front, the completion of the greatest victory of our history

1941 All further German attacks against the Crimean fortress of Sevastopol are halted for the winter.

Allied merchant shipping sunk by U-boats, world-wide from January to year’s end 1941 is 503 ships, equaling 2,530,011 gross tons. 35 U-boats were lost worldwide in the same period.

Lieutenant General George H. Brett takes command of US forces in Australia.

Admiral Chester W. Nimitz is appointed to command the US Asiatic Fleet.

Venezuela breaks off diplomatic relations with Germany, Italy and Japan.

Panamanian cargo ship Ruth Alexander is bombed and damaged by a Japanese flying boat in Makassar Strait. A Dutch Dornier 24 rescues the 48 survivors and the ship was abandoned, finally sinking two days later.

1942 In what is to become known as the ‘Battle of the Barents Sea’, the German pocket battleship Lützow, cruiser Admiral Hipper and 6 escorting destroyers are intercepted at 9.30am by the British cruisers HMS Jamaica, HMS Sheffield and five destroyers before they can reach convoy JW-51B.

During the naval exchanges that follow, the British lose 1 destroyer and a minesweeper, which had been searching for stragglers from the convoy,

whilst the Germans lose a destroyer. By Midday the Germans have decided to withdraw and the battle is over.

Allied merchant shipping sunk by U-boats, world-wide from January to year’s end 1942 is 1,323 ships, equaling 7,047,744 gross tons. 87 U-boats were lost worldwide in the same period.

The Red Cross are now spending £375,000 per month on food parcels for allied POWs.

After five months of battle, Emperor Hirohito allows the Japanese commanders at Guadalcanal to retreat.

1943 Allied merchant shipping sunk by U-boats, world-wide from January to year’s end 1943 is 588 ships, equaling 3,042,371 gross tons. 242 U-boats were lost worldwide in the same period.

Russians retake Zhitomir, 80 miles East of Kiev.

The Battle for Razabil in the Arakan begins between British and Japanese forces.

1944 Allied merchant shipping sunk by U-boats, world-wide from January to year’s end 1944 is 251 ships, equaling 978,892 gross tons. 252 U-boats were lost worldwide in the same period.

Rochefort is back in U.S. hands. Third Army launch new counter-offensive near Bastogne. At about 11pm the Germans launch their ‘Nordwind’ offensive towards Strasbourg.

Hungary declares war on Germany.

1946 President Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: November 30 WWII Today: December 1 Words at War: Gunners Glory

Dec 30

World War II Today: December 30

1939 Finnish troops at Suomussalmi, completely destroy the Russian 163rd Infantry Division.

1940 California’s first freeway, the Arroyo Seco Parkway, opens between Los Angeles and Pasadena.

U.S. Vice Admiral Claude C. Bloch writes a letter to the Navy Department complaining of inadequate defenses at Pearl Harbor

1941 The Russian success in the Crimea continues as the Germans make a hurried evacuation of Kerch.

German Gen. Rommel retreats to El Agheila, Libya and the positions held before his April offensive against the British.

The Congress Party in India supports the British war effort, while Gandhi resigns his leadership in protest.

Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond, CA launches its first Liberty-class cargo ship.

Operation Crusader ends in Allied victory.

The Battle of Kampar begins in Malaya.

Japanese forces occupy Kuantan.

Ernest King assumes command of the United States Fleet.

Soviet troops make amphibious landings in the eastern Crimea and took Kerch and Feodosia. The Germans pause their assault on Sevastopol in order to deal with these forces.

Winston Churchill makes the “Chicken Speech” to Canadian Parliament. In reference to a comment made by Philippe Pétain that Britain would be invaded and “have its neck wrung like a chicken” by the Germans in three weeks, Churchill exclaimed, “Some chicken! Some neck!”

German submarines U-705 and U-756 are commissioned.

1942 The allies cut Japanese forces in two at Buna.

The German pocket battleship Lützow, cruiser Admiral Hipper and 6 destroyers leave Altenfjord and head north to intercept convoy JW-51B.

Henry Kaiser opens Kaiser steel plant in Fontana, CA.

Eighth Air Force first uses “combat box” formation to better protect bombers from German fighters.


1943 The Russians report 30-60 mile advances from the Kiev salient along a 180-mile front.

British/Indians launch Second Arakan Campaign toward Akyab, Burma.

US Marines secure crucial airfield at Cape Gloucester, New Britain in the Solomons.

General Eisenhower traveled to the headquarters of France’s General Charles de Gaulle at Algiers, and agreed to de Gaulle’s request that French troops be allowed to accompany the other Allied forces during the liberation of Paris.

The Soviets continued to advance in the Ukrainian sector as the 1st Tank Army drove the German XLVIII Panzer Korps out of Koziatyn.

1944 The Germans launch a heavy attack on the Bastogne, Belgium, corridor in the Ardennes.

The British attack on Houffalize is halted by bitter German resistance.

Second German spy (Erich Gimpel) who landed in Maine by U-boat on November 29, 1944 is arrested by FBI in New York City; William Colepaugh had turned himself in on December 26, 1944.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Pin Up: Dusty Anderson WWII Today: October 6 WWII Today: Jun 28

Dec 29

World War II Today: December 29

1939 Finnish forces launch a successful counter attack to the North of Lake Ladoga.

Finnish ski troops tear up the Leningrad-Murmansk rail line.

1940 The worst Luftwaffe raid on London causes 1500 fires in the “Second Great Fire of London,” but St. Paul’s Cathedral survives.

President Roosevelt makes “Arsenal of Democracy” radio address in a fireside chat, promising aid to Britain.

Vichy France creates a commission for Jewish affairs.

The Italian troopship Sardegna is torpedoed and sunk by the Greek submarine Proteus, which was then rammed and sunk by the destroyer Antares.

1941 Soviet troops make an amphibious landing at Feodosiya on the south coast of the Crimea in order to relive pressure against Sevastopol and hopefully clear the Germans from the Crimea.

British evacuate from British Borneo to Dutch Borneo.

Japanese bomb Corregidor in the Philippines for the first time.

German submarine U-602 was commissioned.

1942 The British cruisers HMS Jamaica and HMS Sheffield join convoy JW-51B south of Bear Island as its makes the dangerous passage through the Barents Sea.

German army begins retreat from Caucasus.

British Eighth Army occupies Buerat and Bu Ngem, Libya.

1943 The Eighth 2,000-ton air raid is flown against Berlin by the RAF on the third anniversary of the fire bombing of London.

General Eisenhower orders Allied Commanders to, as far as possible, avoid attacking the historic monuments of Italy. “Today we are fighting in a country which has contributed a great deal to our cultural inheritance,” Eisenhower wrote. “We are bound to respect those monuments so far as war allows. If we have to choose between destroying a famous building and sacrificing our own men, then our men’s lives count infinitely more and the buildings must go. But the choice is not always so clear-cut as that. In many cases the monuments can be spared without any detriment to operational needs.”

US Marines secure Cape Gloucester airfield on New Britain.

1944 In Italy, Germans retreat in Serchio Valley after counterattack against US Fifth Army.

British Commandos carried out Operation Partridge over the night of December 29/30, a diversionary raid behind German lines in Italy.

RAF drops 12,000-pound bombs on German U-boat pens in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

The Siege of Budapest by Soviet and Romanian forces begins.

German submarine U-322 was depth charged and sunk south of Weymouth, Dorset by Canadian corvette Calgary.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: February 2 WWII Today: November 17 WWII Today: November 25

Dec 28

World War II Today: December 28

1939 First flight of the XB-24 Liberator, at Lindbergh Field, San Diego, the prototype for what will be America’s most-produced four-engine bomber of the war.

The German submarine U-30 spotted the British battleship HMS Barnham west of the Butt of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides and hit it with a torpedo. Four crew members were killed but the Barham was able to make it back to Liverpool where it underwent six months of repairs.

The British Minister of Food W.S. Morrison announced that starting January 8, rationing would be expanded to include butter, bacon, ham and sugar.

1940 Mussolini asks Hitler for support, to help the bogged down Italian forces with their offensive against the Greeks in Albania.

As food becomes scarce in Italy, the Italian government announces that in extreme cases people caught hoarding food might be executed.

1941 General Wavell takes over command of the British forces defending Burma and India.

Lieutenant eneral Thomas Jacomb Hutton assumed command of Burma Army.

US authorizes first contingent of Navy Construction Battalions: the “Seabees.”

Japanese paratroopers land on Sumatra.

The British cargo ship Volo was torpedoed and sunk off the coast of Egypt by German submarine U-75. The destroyer HMS Kipling chased the U-boat down and sank U-75 with depth charges.

1942 The Japanese withdrawal from Buna ordered.

In the face of the continuing Soviet offensive toward Rostov-on-Don, Army Group A is ordered to withdraw its forces from the Caucasus.

Sterilization experiments on women at Birkenau begin.

General De Gaulle welcomes Giraud’s appointment and calls for French unity.

1943 The British military mission arrives in Turkey to discuss the supply of arms and troops as agreed at Cairo. However, the Turks make surprising new demands, which cannot be met.

The Eighth Army and Canadians take Ortona, Italy after fierce house-to-house fighting.

In Naples, US Army opens mass delousing stations for civilians to control typhus epidemic.

The Battle of the Bay of Biscay was fought between British and German warships. The result was a victory for the Royal Navy as two German torpedo boats and the destroyer Z27 were sunk with no British losses in return.

1944 U.S. troops gain ground against the Ardennes salient.

Corrie ten Boom is released from Ravensbrück concentration camp due to a clerical error; she would later write The Hiding Place about her experiences. Musical On the Town premieres on Broadway.

1945 The United Sstates Congress officially recognizes the Pledge of Allegiance.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: July 8 WWII Today: July 12 WWII Today: October 13

Dec 27

World War II Today: December 27

1939 The Finnish 9th Division attacks towards Suomussalmi, recapturing the village and forcing the Russian 163rd Division to retreat in panic.

US State Department protests British removal and censorship of US mail from neutral ships.

1941 Japanese bomb Manila despite “open city” declaration.

Australian Prime Minister John Curtin proclaims, “Australia looks to America.”

Japanese sub I-25 shells US tanker Connecticut off the mouth of the Columbia River.

US announces rationing of tires and all rubber goods, effective January 5.

British and Norwegian Commandos raid the Norwegian port of Vågsøy, causing Hitler to reinforce the garrison and defenses.

The Australian Prime Minister, Curtin, announces, “Australia looks to America”.

The Red Army continues its counter-offensive in the Kalinin area.

1942 Hitler agrees to allow the retreat by Army Groups A and Don to a line 150 miles west of Stalingrad.

General Giraud becomes the leader of French Africa.

Germans form Smolensk Committee to persuade Soviet POWs to fight for Axis.

1943 In Italy, the Allied advance halts at Monte Cassino.

President Roosevelt signed an order seizing the railroads of the United States in advance of a December 30 strike of rail workers, and at 7:00 pm Washington time, soldiers from the U.S. Army began taking control of lines affected by the impending walkout.

1944 British troops reach Foul Point in Arakan.

The Russians capture Gran, this cutting all communications with Budapest and trapping five German and Hungarian divisions.

Soviets encircle Budapest, Hungary, beginning 102-day siege.

The siege of Bastogne ends in U.S. Victory.

German submarine U-877 was depth charged and sunk northwest of the Azores by Canadian corvette HMCS St. Thomas using Squid.

1945 The US, UK, and USSR agree to govern Korea jointly for five years.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: July 19 WWII Today: November 2 WWII Cartoon Ben Dix

Dec 26

World War II Today: December 26

1939 The first squadron of Australian airmen arrives in Britain.

1941 Japanese troops cross the river Perak. The Japanese commander General Yamashita senses that British resistance is weakening in Malaya and is determined to push home his advantage and not allow the British any time to reorganize themselves. This he does by forcing the British troops back down the coast roads until he reaches a defensive position and then outflanks it through the jungle.

The Philippine capital of Manila is declared an open city by General Douglas MacArthur

Winston Churchill addresses Joint Session of Congress and receives a rousing ovation, but says allied offensive must wait until 1943.

The Russians land on the Kerch Peninsula in an attempt to relieve the siege of Sevastopol.

1942 The Russians continue their advance on the southern front and claim 56,000 prisoners taken in middle Don region

The French authorities execute Admiral Darlan’s assassin.

1943 Ordered to sail to the Barents Sea and destroy the allied convoy JW-55B bound for the Soviet port of Murmansk, the German battle-cruiser Scharnhorst encounters a protective force of the British Home Fleet consisting of the cruisers HMS Belfast, Duke of York, Jamaica and Norfolk. After a fierce action, Scharnhorst is sunk, with only 36 of her crew of 1,839 surviving.

US Marines land at Cape Gloucester, New Britain in the Solomons; they encounter little opposition due to heavy bombing.

British ships sink German battlecruiser Scharnhorst in the Battle of North Cape off Norway; only 36 of 1963 men survive.

1944 Eight French Gestapo leaders are executed in Paris.

Bastogne is relieved by the U.S. 4th Armored Division.

US Third Army’s 4th Armored Division under Patton open a corridor to Bastogne, relieving the defenders. German Ardennes Offensive grinds to a halt due to supply problems caused by Allied bombing.

In Italy, Germans launch counterattack against US Fifth Army in Serchio Valley, retaking territory.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: Winston Churchill Quote WWII Today: December 28 WWII Today: July 8


Dec 25

World War II Today: December 25

1939 A fresh Russian division is thrown into the attacks at Taipale. The Russian air force bombs 11 towns and villages.

Soviets attempt to break out at Suomussalmi, Finland, but fail.

The admiralty announces the completion of a minefield, 500 miles long and 35 wide, down the East coast.

1940 The Admiral Hipper intercepts a convoy bound for the middle east, but is forced to withdraw by three escorting cruisers and has to put in to Brest for repairs.

Pope Pius XII celebrates Christmas Midnight Mass in afternoon due to blackout.

1941 The British retake Benghazi.

Hong Kong surrenders after a 7 day siege, with more than 2,000 killed or missing and 2,300 wounded.

The RAF and American Volunteer Group shoot down 51 Japanese aircraft over Rangoon for loss of just 12 of their own number.

Japanese secure Jolo Island in Philippines.

Over 3,000 starve to death in Leningrad.  Hitler removes Guderian from command of Panzer Group 2.

1942 Heavy fighting continues all around the perimeter of Stalingrad, while the decimated and starving troops of 6th Army receive their last rations of horse meat, the 12,000 horses in the pocket having now all been slaughtered.

Convoy JW-51A arrives at Murmansk without loss.

In Tunisia, Germans retake Longstop Hill; Americans lost 500 men in 4-day battle.

1944 The 2nd Panzer Division is just four miles from the river Meuse, Southwest of Liege, but is stopped by the U.S. 2nd Armored Division with British help.

The last Japanese port on Leyte is captured and MacArthur proclaims that Leyte is secure.

US lands at Palompon on Leyte in the Philippines, cutting off the last Japanese port on the island, and ending the assault phase of the campaign.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: January 8 WWII Today: March 26 WWII Today: August: 3

Dec 23

World War II Today: December 23

1939 British form military intelligence section MI9 to aid resistance fighters, downed airmen, and POWs in Nazi-occupied countries.

First Canadian troops arrive in Britain.

1940 Anthony Eden becomes Foreign Secretary.

Churchill broadcasts to Italy: ‘All because of one man’.

Lord Halifax appointed British ambassador to Washington.

Italian torpedo boat Fratelli Cairoli sinks after hitting a mine off the coast of Tripoli.

Chiang Kai-shek dissolves all Communist associations in China.

1941 Concerned about the safety of the founding documents of the United States in wartime Washington, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are removed from their display space at the National Archives and are transported in a special sealed container to temporary storage at the U.S. Gold Depository at Ft. Knox, Kentucky. On Oct. 1, 1944, with the danger to the mainland United States passed, the documents are returned to public display in Washington.

Under continuous pressure, Rommel and his Afrika Korps start to evacuate Benghazi.

The Japanese launch their first bomber attack on Rangoon. They suffer heavy losses to RAF fighters, but press home their attack, inflicting substantial damage to docks at Rangoon.

The Japanese launch another attack against Wake Island, overwhelming the small US garrison. Immediately after its capture, the Japanese rename the Island as Bird Island. Rear-Admiral Frank J. Fletcher’s task force is still more that 400 miles away and so is diverted to Midway. American and Filipino troops of the North Luzon Force, begin to fall back towards the River Agno under heavy pressure from the Japanese.

British evacuate Malaya above Perak River as Japanese advance.

Off Cambria CA, Japanese sub I-21 sinks US tanker Montebello in sight of the coast; survivors machine-gunned in lifeboats but no one is injured.

1942 Having advanced as far as the Myshkova river 30 miles southwest of Stalingrad, the three Panzer divisions of the relief force have exhausted their power and begin to withdraw towards their starting line at Kotelnikovo.

Bob Hope entertains troops in Alaska, the first of his Christmas shows. First War Loan Drive ends, raised $13 billion (quota was $9 billion).

1944 A breakthrough to the South West of Budapest is now 60-mile wide.

A German E-boat force is routed off the Scheldt Estuary.

1945 General Dwight D. Eisenhower confirms the death sentence of Private Eddie Slovik, the only American shot for desertion since the Civil War.

Germans reach maximum range of Ardennes offensive, within 3 miles of Meuse River.

In US, all horse and dog racing banned to save labor, effective January 3, 1945.

At Papago Park camp in Arizona, 25 German POWs escape, ecstatic about successes in the Battle of the Bulge.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: November 19 WWII Today: July 28 Words at War: Wild River

Dec 22

World War II Today: December 22

1939 Finns overrun Soviets at Ägläjärvi, Finland.

1940 David Margesson appointed to replace Anthony Eden as British Secretary of State for War.

The Battle of Himara ended in Greek victory.

The heaviest raids of the Manchester Blitz began. Over the next two days a total of 654 people were killed and over 2,000 injured.

1941 Prime Minister Churchill arrives at the White House as the guest of President Roosevelt for the Washington Conference.

The Arcadia Conference begins in Washington: Britain and US agree to “Germany First” plan.

The Japanese begin their invasion of the Philippines by landing 43,000 troops of General Homma’s 14th Army in Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, 150 miles north of Manila. Filipino troops here failed to prevent the beachhead from being established and their scouts, which had been sent forward in order to secure the defiles barring the way south were also unsuccessful.

First American troops arrive in Australia.

US expands draft: all men 18-65 must register, all men 20-44 liable for conscription.

Allied troops reached Beda Fomm but were halted by 30 German tanks. Axis forces began evacuating Benghazi by sea.

The Battle of Sjenica was fought in the Italian governorate of Montenegro. The Yugoslav Partisans were defeated.

German submarine U-380 was commissioned.

1942 Convoy JW-51B (14 merchants) leaves Loch Ewe escorted by 6 destroyers and a minesweeper.

The Soviets drive German troops back 15 miles at the Don River.

The Soviets retake Morozovsk.

German submarine U-200 was commissioned.

Chifley is appointed as Minister of Post-War Reconstruction in Australia.

1943 The allies announce that Tito is to be the allied commander in Yugoslavia as his partisans now estimated at 250,000 men.

Hitler issued a “Führer Order” (Führerbefehl) creating the “National Socialist Leading Officers”, charged with disseminating propaganda for “getting soldiers to believe in final victory” in the war “even if they did not know how it was going to be achieved”.

The German government ordered that all boys aged 16 and older would be required to register for military duty in January.

The Second Battle of Kiev ends in Soviet victory.

The German light cruiser Niobe was sunk by British motor torpedo boats three days after running aground off Silba, Yugoslavia.

1944 The allies report that the Germans have penetrated up to 40 miles in the Ardennes.

The Germans demand surrender of surrounded Bastogne, Belgium—The artillery commander of the 101st ABN, US Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe replies, “Nuts!”

Rundstedt’s suggestion of a withdrawal is refused by Hitler.

The U.S. 3rd Army begins an offensive to relieve Bastogne.

The British announce a call-up of 250,000 troops ‘to sustain and nourish our armies in the line’.

Patton begins to turn his army 90 degrees to the north to relieve Bastogne as he had promised Ike Dec. 19 – 250,000 troops 75 mi.

The US 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne, Belgium, is surrounded.

The U.S. First Army withdraws from St. Vith

1945 Britain and the U.S.A formally recognize Tito’s Yugoslavia.

President Truman issues “Truman Directive,” authorizing immigration of increased numbers of displaced persons.

1948 Former Japanese prime minister Hideki Tojo is executed for war crimes. Tojo tried to commit suicide before his trial but survived to face the executioner.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: July 18 WWII Today: June 3 WWII Today: July 17

Dec 21

World War II Today: December 21

1939 During their brief period of comradeship, Hitler sends Joseph Stalin a telegram wishing him a happy sixtieth birthday.

1940 The RAF attacks Berlin, inflicting only minor damage.

The Admiralty decides to transfer another Battleship, HMS Malaya to Force H from the Mediterranean fleet. Again this was to be accomplished by escorting a convoy to Malta and linking up with units of Force H for the journey to Gibraltar. No losses were suffered to enemy action although a Destroyer was sunk when it hit a mine.

Bardia is surrounded by the 6th Australian Division, although the Italians are determined to fight it out.

1941 Typhus reported to be sweeping through the German forces along the Russian front.

The Axis launch a renewed air offensive against the Island of Malta.

In convoy HG-76, U-751 sinks British escort carrier Audacity, which had kept away 12 U-boats for a loss of only 4 ships in the convoy, leading the Germans to change tactics when carriers were present.

1942 Hitler refuses to let Paulus break out from their encirclement at Stalingrad.

British troops cross the Burmese border from India and head Southeast towards Akyab.

1943 Under pressure from the Allies to curtail German espionage operations in the Irish Free State, Prime Minister Eamon de Valera confiscates the German embassy’s radio transmitter.

The Eighth Army’s 1st Canadian Division battles to capture Ortona in central Italy.

Russian forces smash the German bridgehead over Dnieper River at Kherson.

1944 The U.S. First Army retakes Stavelot but to the south, the Germans surround and besiege Bastogne. Units of 5th Panzer Army capture St. Vith.

1945 General George S. Patton dies at the age of 60 after being injured in a car accident on Dec.9th.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: June 17 WWII Today: March 20 WWII Today: May 10