Archive for the ‘December’ Category
1939 In friendly fire incident near Metz, France, Cpl. Thomas Priday becomes the first British soldier killed in WWII.
1940 The Western Desert Force which is 30,000 strong and under the command of Wavell takes to the offensive ‘Operation Compass’. The 4th Indian division captures the Italian camps at Nibeiwa, Tumar East and West, while the 7th Armoured drives south of the camps at Sofafi and Rabia and turns north towards Buq Buq on the coast road. As column also advances along the coast road from Mersa Matruh towards Maktila as British warshipsÂ bombard both Maktila and Sidi Barrani. Italian troops eating breakfast at Nibeiwa in are interrupted by British and Indian tanks crashing through their camp. The Italian commander ignored a report of approaching tanks given earlier by a scout plane.
1941 Franklin D. Roosevelt tells Americans to plan for a long war.
The Red Army recaptures Tikhivin. Zhukov issues an order forbidding frontal attacks, in favor of envelopment and outflanking maneuvers, as heÂ says frontal attacks merely allow the Germans to withdraw in good order.
China declares war on Japan, Germany and Italy.
Bangkok is occupied by Japanese troops as they to push through Thailand towards the Burmese border. The Japanese also continue to land troops along the Kra Isthmus in southern Thailand and at Kota Bharu in north eastern Malaya.
Japanese aircraft attack Alor Star airfield, Malaya. From the two squadron of Blenheims based there, only one aircraft survives; its pilot, Flt Lt A S K Scarf single-handedly overcame strong enemy defences to attack Singora airfield in the North. After recovering to Alor Star, Flt Lt Scarf died from his wounds, and was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross five years later when the full facts of his heroism were established.
Japanese troops land on Tarawa and Makin in the Gilbert islands.
New England and New York City have first air raid alert; schools and defense plants are evacuated.
1942 Fresh US troops relieve the besieged 1st Marine Division on Guadalcanal.
1943 The Establishment of the Council of Freedom in Denmark is announced in Britain.
The Chinese retake Changteh in Hunan.
1944 The Russians reach the Danube north of Budapest.
In Formosa Strait, US subs Redfish and Sea Devil damage Japanese carrier Junyo beyond repair.
Bulgar and Yugoslav armies drive last German forces from Serbia and Macedonia.
1945 General Patton is seriously injured in car crash in Germany.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: January 27 WWII Today: January 19 WWII Today: May 14
1939 Two more U-boats are reported to have been destroyed as the British campaign to destroy three a week continues.
1940 Franco says Spain is not prepared to enter war.
Italian Naval Chief resigns, to be replaced by Admiral Campioni.
The Western Desert Force is now fully concentrated for ‘Operation Compass’.
Greeks take Argyrokastro and Delvino.
1941 Congress declares war after personal address by Roosevelt. But the vote is not unanimous. The lone dissenting vote is cast by Representative Jeanette Rankin, who was a dissenter also when Congress approved U.S. entry into World War I.
Britain and dominions declare war on Japan.
The Soviet offensive against Army Group Centre succeeds in breaking through the German lines in many places, causing hasty withdrawals by ill-prepared and frost-bitten troops that are forced to abandon much heavy equipment that was immobilized by the below-zero weather.
In occupied Poland, near Lodz, Chelmno extermination camp becomes operational. Jews taken there are placed in mobile gas vans and driven to a burial place while carbon monoxide from the engine exhaust is fed into the sealed rear compartment, killing them. The first gassing victims include 5,000 Gypsies who had been deported from the Reich to Lodz.
The Eighth Army officially relieves the Tobruk garrison.
Japanese aircraft bomb Singapore, which as yet has not blacked out. The raid inflicts about 200 casualties, mostly civilians. Japanese troops land at Singora and Patani on the Kra peninsula in southern Thailand, which surrenders the same day. Japanese make landings at Kota Bharu on the north eastern coast of Malaya, although troops of the 8th Indian Brigade put up strong resistance against these Japanese landings. However, rumors that the Japanese had broken through the defenders, caused the RAF to evacuate Kota Bharu airfield and forced the 8th Indian Brigade to withdraw to the south after dark. Japanese troops launch an offensive against the new territories, a part of the British colony of Hong Kong. The Japanese overrun the US garrisons in Shanghai and Tientsin.
Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita begins his attack against the British army at Singapore. By nightfall, 60 of the 110 British and Australian aircraft defending Malaya and Singapore had been destroyed.
The British battleships Prince of Wales and Repulse, set sail from Singapore in an attempt to intercept and destroy the Japanese landings that are taking place at Kota Bharu on the north eastern coast of Malaya, while the RAF manages to damage three of enemy’s transports.
Japanese aircraft attack Guam and Wake Islands in the central pacific. The Japanese bomb the US controlled Philippine islands of Luzon and Mindanao from their bases in Formosa.
1942 German troops occupy the port of Bizerte in Tunisia.
1943 Lieutenant General Carl Spaatz becomes the chief of U.S. strategic air forces in Europe.
Australians troops capture Wareo in New Guinea.
U.S. carrier-based planes sink two cruisers and down 72 planes in the Marshall Islands.
1944 German troops evacuate JÃ¼lich on the Roer river.
The Red Army begins an offensive aimed at encircling Budapest.
A second Japanese airborne counter-attack on Leyte achieves some success against US airfields.
The USAAF begins a 72-day bombardment of Iwo Jima Island 700 miles to the South of Japan.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: November 24 WWII Today: December 11 WWII Today: October 24
1939 Norway, Denmark and Sweden declare their neutrality. The Soviet Ninth Army launches an offensive in central Karelia. Britain and France agree to send troops and material to help Finland fight against the Soviet Union. However, there is virtually no way to get these forces to Finland and so the promises mean little.
Italy reaffirms her neutrality.
1940 The Admiral Hipper leaves Kiel for an anti-shipping sortie into the Atlantic.
1941 At 6:15 Honolulu time, the first wave of Japanese aircraft take of from their carriers which are located about 200 miles north of Hawaii. At 7:50, 43 fighters, 51 dive-bombers, 70 torpedo-bombers and 50 ordinary bombers arrive over Hawaii. They launch attacks against the airfields at Wheeler, Kaneohe, Ewa and Hickham and against the American warships anchored at ‘Battleship Row’. Surprise was complete and within a few minutes 5 battleships and 2 light cruisers had been sunk and a large number of aircraft (180) destroyed on the ground. Within an hour, the second wave of Japanese strike aircraft (36 fighters, 80 dive-bombers, 54 bombers) had arrived over the target, sinking a further 3 destroyers and damaging another battleship. By 10:00 the attack was over and the casualties could be accounted for. The Americans lost 2,729 killed and 1,178 wounded, while the Japanese losses amounted to just 29 aircraft (59 airmen) and five mini-submarines. The Japanese launch air attacks against Manila.
Japan declares war on Britain and the USA.
The US begins mobilization.
Field Marshal von Brauchitsch after suffering a recent heart attack tenders his resignation to Hitler, although this is not accepted immediately. Zhukov issues orders to the left flank armies of his West Front to begin offensive operations against Panzer Group 2, which is attempting to withdraw out of a salient near Tula. The aim of this offensive would be to cut off Panzer Group 2 and destroy it in the area of Stalinogorsk.
Panzer Army Afrika retreats westwards through Libya, completing its withdrawal to the Gazala line.
1942 The US Navy launches the Battleship New Jersey, one of the four “Iowa Class” battleships, the largest ever built for the US Navy, and 11 other ships on the anniversary of Pearl harbor.
British Commandos make daring raid on Bordeaux harbor, rowing 50 miles up the River Gironde and attaching limpet mines to German shipping.
US make a beachhead South of Buna, cutting off Japanese forces there.
1943 The Cairo conference ends.
1944 Nazi women’s leader Gertrud Scholtz-Klink asks all German women over 18 to volunteer to serve in army or Luftwaffe to release men to the front.
1945 Japanese Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita is sentenced to death for his role in atrocities in the Philippines.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: November 19 WWII Today: October 1 WWII Today: November 15
1938 France and Germany sign a treaty of friendship.
1939 Soviet attacks against the Mannerheim line are beaten back by the Finns with heavy Red Army casualties.
Germany warns neutral ships to resist the British blockade.
1940 The Western Desert Force begins Training Exercise No.2. This was a 60 mile approach march to their concentration point, designated Piccadilly, approximately 20 miles south of Maktila.
War Guilt trial in Vichy France indicts MM Blum, Daladier, La Chambre and Gen. Gamelin.
Greeks occupy Santi Quaranta, Albania. Italian Supreme Commander Badoglio resigns ˜at his own request; replaced by Gen. Cavallero.
SS executes mentally ill inmates in Stralsund and Chelm, Poland, including Hitler’s second cousin, Aloisia Veit.
General Ugo Cavallero assumes command of Italian army (Comando Supremo) after Marshal Badoglio resigns.
1941 Zhukov extends the Red Army’s counter-offensive along the whole Moscow axis in an attempt to prevent Panzer Groups 3 and 4 from outflanking Moscow from the northeast. To launch this offensive, Zhukov uses 4 armies on the right flank of his own West Front.
An RAF Hudson aircraft spots Japanese transports sailing west off Cape Cambodia towards Malaya. The British, having feared a surprise Japanese attack for a number of months now, had developed a plan codenamed ‘Matador’, to advance forces into southern Thailand should the Japanese attack, in order to deny the Japanese use of the airfields and ports at Patani and Singora. However, the implications of violating Thai neutrality and more importantly the possible US reactions, dissuaded the British from launching ‘Matador’.
Battleships USS Oklahoma and USS Nevada arrive at Pearl Harbor.
Roosevelt makes a personal appeal to the Japanese Emperor Hirohito for peace.
1942 Germans victorious in tank battle at Djebel el Guessa, Tunisia.
1943 Monte Casino is finally taken by U.S. Fifth Army.
Soviets take Yeysk on Sea of Rostov, cutting off German Army Group A.
1944 The Japanese capture Tushan, south of the Nationalist capital of Chungking.
1945 The United States extends a $3 billion loan to Great Britain to help compensate for the termination of the Lend-Lease agreement.
USASTAF (USA Strategic Air Forces) based in the Pacific, is inactivated.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: September 2 WWII Today: March 3 WWII Today: December 9
1939 Heavy fighting in Karelia, Finland.
Two Polish submarines escape from the Baltic Sea to join Royal Navy.
1940 McGovern’s ILP peace amendment is rejected by House of Commons, 341 votes to 4.
The German draft plan for the Invasion of Russia Operation ‘Otto’ is presented to Hitler.
Admiral William Leahy takes oath of office as US Ambassador to Vichy France.
1941 The Battleship USS Arizona arrives at Pearl Harbor.
USS Lexington departs with Marine aircraft for Midway, leaving no carriers at Pearl Harbor.
James J. Kilroy of Boston hired at Fore River Shipyard, Quincy MA to check work of riveters; his “Kilroy Was Here” mark on ships becomes legendary.
Britain declares war on Finland, Hungary and Rumania.
With the main forces of Army Group Centre just 19 miles from Moscow, Hitler abandons the offensive for winter and agrees to some local withdrawals to more defensive terrain.Â Zhukov launches a counter-offensive across the frozen upper Volga in the area of Kalinin, to the northwest of Moscow. He uses Konev’s Kalinin Front for the purpose, but despite the severe cold and exhaustion of the German troops, his forces meet severe resistance, with only the 31st Army enjoying any success as it pushed towards Turginovo. Hungary declares war on Britain. Romania declares war on Britain.
In order to mount a final attack on the British forces around Bir El Gobi, Rommel orders the evacuation of the eastern part of the Tobruk perimeter, but the attack fails.
Japanese fleet is officially reported moving south.
1943 The first Japanese daylight raid on Calcutta is mounted with many reported killed.
P-51 Mustang fighter planes first escort US Eighth Air Force on bombing missions, extending range of raids.
Japanese planes bomb Calcutta (350 killed), including US Tenth Air Force airfields (500 casualties).
1944 The U.S. Third Army advances into Germany along a 30-mile front.
The British Eighth Army takes Ravenna in and cuts the rail link to Bologna.
Malinovsky attacks with two armies from North East of Budapest and makes a 60-mile advance in eight days.
US launches final offensive on Leyte in the Philippines, driving into the Ormoc Valley.
Victory ship SS Red Oak Victory commissioned into US Navy as ammunition ship at Richmond, CA (currently at Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Park, Richmond, CA).
1945 Six US Navy planes disappear in the “Bermuda Triangle,” creating its reputation.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: November 3 WWII Today: April 7 WWII Today: November 1
1939 The German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee sinks the liner Doric Star off the western coast of South Africa.
1940 Greeks capture Premeti, Pogradec and the Albanian port of Sarande.
F4F-3 Wildcat fighter enters service with US Navy.
1941 Temperature falls to -31°F (-37°C) on Russian Front.
The Japanese Embassy in Washington begins to leave, destroying code books and personal files in the process.
Chicago Tribune and Washington Times-Herald publish news of classified unapproved US Victory Program war plans, leaked to the papers by isolationist Sen. Burton Wheeler, creating cries of warmongering among isolationists.
In Libya, the German army under General Rommel retreats to Gazala
1942 The U.S.A 5th Air Force launches its first raid against the Italian port of Naples.
German forces in Tunisia capture Tebourba.
President Roosevelt cancels Depression-era Works Progress Administration (WPA).
US Ninth Air Force, based in Egypt, bombs Naples (Rommel’s supply port) in first US attack on Italy
1943 Tito’s Partisans set up a provisional government in the liberated part of Yugoslavia.
Units of the German 11th Army begin an offensive to eliminate the Soviet bridgehead at Kerch in the eastern Crimea.
The second Cairo conference opens with Churchill, Roosevelt and the Turkish President Inonu.
Bolivia declares war on all the Axis powers.
US submarine Sailfish sinks Japanese escort carrier Chuyo off Japan, 1250 killed.
1944 Athens is now under martial law.
Italian partisans liberate Ravenna in first major planned partisan attack in Italy.
British Fourteenth Army begins major offensive in Burma, crossing Chindwin River.
1945 The U.S. Senate votes to allow the USA to join the UN and to permit the UN to use American forces to preserve peace and security.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: October 29 WWII Today: October 28 WWII Today: August 22
1939 The RAF scores a number of direct hits on German warships at the Heligoland Bight naval base.
Finnish troops withdraw in good order towards the Mannerheim line defensive position.
1940 Britain allots each person an extra 4 oz of sugar and 2 oz of tea for Christmas.
1941 Hitler issues Rationalization Decree, urging modern efficient mass production.
In South Atlantic, U-124 sinks unarmed US freighter Sagadahoc (1 killed), sixth US ship sunk in the Atlantic while the US remained neutral.
1942 Several German divisions ordered to be transferred from Western Europe begin arriving in the area of Army Group Don southwest of Stalingrad in preparation of ‘Operation Winter Tempest’, the relief of the encircled 6th Army.
Germans reoccupy Tebourba, Tunisia, using Mark VI Tiger tanks for the first time in combat.
1943 The RAF conduct a heavy attack against Leipzig killing 1,500 and making 40,000 homeless.
US Fifth Army launches main ground attack on Winter Line in Italy after artillery barrage and infantry assault at night.
1944 Britain’s Home Guard, the civilian force assigned to the defense of Britain in the event of German invasion, is stood down after five years. King George VI declares the “You have fulfilled your charge”.
Armored units of the US 3rd Army succeed in penetrating the fortified German lines of the Westwall near Saarlautern.
Civil war breaks out in Greece between Communists and Royalists; British intervene.
British Eighth Army opens drive for Bologna, Italy.
Col. Elliott Roosevelt, son of the president, marries actress Faye Emerson in a highly publicized wedding at the Grand Canyon.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: August 2 WWII Today: August 19 WWII Today: October 8
1939 Russian troops capture Petsamo in the extreme north of the Finland.
The German liner Watussi is scuttled after her interception by South African Defence Force bombers.
1941 Churchill introduces a new National Service Bill, including compulsory service for women.
Germans patrols are just five miles from the Kremlin.
Soviet troops evacuate the last territory in Karelia, taken from Finland in the 1939-1940 war.
Hitler issues Directive No.38 which tasks Kesselring as C-in-C South, with gaining air superiority and naval supremacy over the area between southern Italy and Libya in order to deny British supplies to Malta and Libya. To assist with this, he was reinforced by Fleiger Korps II, which was transferred from Russia. This, together with the existing air units of Fleigerkorps X were to form Luftflotte 2 and give the axis a significant numerical superiority over the RAF.
The Battleship Prince of Wales and the Battle Cruiser Repulse arrive in Singapore.
1942 At the University of Chicago the first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction is realized by Professor Fermi and a team of scientists working under the name of the “Manhattan Engineering District.”
The Allies repel a strong Axis attack in Tunisia, North Africa.
1943 Allied bombers resume the ‘Battle of Berlin’ dropping 1,500 tons, but losing 41 aircraft.
A Luftwaffe raid against the Allied naval base at Bari in Italy, hits an ammunition ship which explodes, sinking 17 other ships.
Ernie Bevin announces the conscription to mines as coal output continues to flag in Britain.
Hitler orders the conscription of German Youth for active service.
German forces in Yugoslavia begin a major operation against Tito’s partisan’s.
The first transport of Jews from Vienna arrives at Auschwitz.
1944 General George S. Patton’s troops enter the Saar Valley.
The British 11th East African Division takes Kalewa and advance to the Chindwin from India.
1945 59 Japanese are arrested on suspicion of war crimes.
1946 The United States and Great Britain merge their German occupation zones.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: October 9 WWII Today: August 6 WWII Today: October 7
1939 The Soviet Union creates a puppet Finnish government in Moscow under the leadership of a Finnish communist, Otto Kuusinen, who immediately accedes to the Soviets territorial demands. Finnish coastal guns at Russar engage the Russian cruiser Kirov and its screen of destroyers. The Kirov and one destroyer damaged.
1940 The Italian submarine Argo torpedoes Royal Canadian Navy destroyer Saguenay, killing 21, but not sinking the ship. Saguenay had been escorting anÂ eastbound convoy 300 miles west of Ireland.
First attack by British Long Range Desert Group, a commando group based in Egypt.
Joseph Kennedy resigns from position as US ambassador to Britain, wanting to keep US out of war.
1941 State of Emergency is declared in Malaya and Hong Kong is put on ‘stand by’.
Japan fixes the date of its attack against Pearl Harbour as the 7th December 1941.
US-Japanese talks continue and Roosevelt curtails holiday.
US forms Civil Air Patrol for civilian pilots to aid in Civil Defense.
Japanese Navy changes its communications code, blinding the US to its movements.
1942 Coffee joins the list of rationed items in the US.
The Australians take Gona in New Guinea.
1943 The British 10th Corps opens the U.S. Fifth Army’s offensive on the Garigliano.
Russian forces isolate the Germans in Crimea and control the northern half of the Dnieper bend.
The Conclusion of the Tehran Conference, with the three Allies in substantial agreement on the division ofÂ post-war Germany, the westward movement of the Polish eastern and western frontiers and theÂ summary execution of 50,000 German officers.
First use of US P-51 Mustang fighter planes in Europe, as US Ninth Air Force flies a sweep over France.
Mussolini orders arrest of all Jews in Italy, but Italians shelter many.
1944 Princess Elizabeth launches HMS Vanguard, the last and biggest battleship ever built in Britain.
Germans evacuate most of Crete
1945 Seventy-six German industrialists who helped Hitler are arrested.Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: October 4 WWII Today: October 24 WWII Today: November 20
1939 Pope Pius XII makes a Christmas appeal for peace.
1940 US refuses to admit Jewish refugees, believing it will lead to expulsion of all Jews from Europe.
Bonus Christmas ration is distributed in Germany—26 oz rice & vegetables, 1 lb sugar, coffee, and jam.
1941 Japanese troops make further landings on Luzon to the southeast of Manila in Lamon Bay. The Japanese 16th Division starts its drive north towards Manila in an attempt to link up with the North Luzon Force. General MacArthur announces his decision to withdraw his forces to Bataan. A supply base is to be setup on Corregidor with sufficient stock to carry on the fight for 6 months.
British Eighth Army takes Benghazi, Libya.
White House tree-lighting ceremony moved to south end of grounds to be easily seen, the last tree-lighting until 1945.
1942 US bomb Wake Island.
Following the suspension of ‘Operation Winter Tempest’, the relief of Stalingrad, the Red Army begins an offensive against Army Group Don toward Kotelnikovo, breaking through the lines of 4th Romanian Army.
Soviets take 1 of 2 airfields used in Luftwaffe supply of Stalingrad.
In Algiers, Admiral Jean-François Darlan, French commander in North Africa, is assassinated by Ferdinand Bonnier de la Chapelle, a French royalist.
1943 Commanders of the ‘Second Front’ are announced as Eisenhower, Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force; Montgomery to be C in C of 21st Army Group.
Sir Henry Maitland Wilson is made Supreme Commander in the Mediterranean and Alexander is C in C Allied Armies, Italy.
The Russians commence a third winter offensive, with Vatutin’s 63 divisions in the Ukraine and capture Berdichev.
Roosevelt broadcasts about the Cairo and Teheran conferences and says plans have been laid for the invasion of Europe and its post-war reconstruction.
1944 In the English Channel, U-486 (Oblt.z.S. Gerhard Meyer) sinks the allied troop carrier SS Leopoldville with the loss of 763 men of the US 66th Infantry Division. All news and information on this incident is suppressed by orders of SHAEF headquarters.
In the largest mission to date, 2034 bombers of the US Eighth Air Force bomb German targets in the Ardennes.
Brigadier General Frederick Castle, commander of 4th Combat Bombardment Wing and former commander of US 94th Bomb Group, dies in crash after giving his crew time to bail out from his damaged B-17, receives Medal of HonorTake a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: December 25 – Christmas Day WWII Today: July 2 WWII Today: February 7