Archive for the ‘February’ Category

Feb 09

World War II Today: February 9

1941 Admiral Darlan becomes Vichy Vice-Premier.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1943 The Red Army captures Belgorod.

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

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

1944 The Germans capture Aprilia in the Anzio beachhead.

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

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

The Red Army encircles Elbing and Posen.

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

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

Feb 08

World War II Today: February 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

1943 The Russians take Kursk and continue their advance.

Japanese complete their evacuation of Guadalcanal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paraguay declares war on Germany.

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

Feb 07

World War II Today: February 7

1940 British railroads are nationalized.

1941 The Italian troops stay between Agedabia and El-Agheila.

In Libya, the British are victorious at Beda Fomm; 20,000 troops of the Italian Tenth Army surrender.

General Graziani ask Mussolini for substitution as a commander of the Italian forces at North Africa, and as Libyan Governor.

1942 After just over 2 weeks of frenetic action, Rommel’s counter-offensive comes to a halt in front of the Gazala line, a series of self supporting fortified boxes running south from Gazala for 100 miles to Bir Hacheim. Although not complete, it presents too much of an obstacle for the Afrika Korps who by this time are running low on fuel and reserves.

Lt. General Percival, the commander at Singapore, says city will be held to the last man. The Japanese launch a feint landing on Pulua Ubin Island to the east of Singapore.

“Double V” campaign proposed by Pittsburgh Courier, the leading black newspaper, to fight for victory at home and abroad.

US Navy Atlantic Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Unit established at Boston, MA, under Capt. Wilder Baker.

1943 Shoe rationing begins in the USA, limiting civilians to three pairs of leather shoes per year.

802nd Medical Air Evacuation Transport Squadron embarks from New York for Algeria on USS Lyon.

1944 The first operational ‘Schnorkel’ U-boat arrives in the Atlantic.

The Germans begin a full-scale counter-attack against the Anzio Beachhead.

1945 Russian attacks north of Konigsberg are blocked with the help of naval gunfire by the cruisers Scheer and Lutzow.

The Germans blow up the floodgates in the Ruhr, flooding the area West of Cologne and preventing the use of assault floating bridges by Allies.

Paraguay declared war on Germany and Japan.

The 2nd Ukrainian Front captured the southern rail station at Buda, Hungary.

 

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: January 5 WWII Today: November 10 WWII Today: November 2

Feb 06

World War II Today: February 6

1940

The Finnish 9th Division finally manages to encircle the Russian 54th Division in Kuhmo.

Finnish pilot Lt. Sarvanto, flying a Fokker, shoots down six out of seven Russian SB-2 bombers in just 5 minutes. The Russian 44th Division’s commander General Vinogradov, authorizes the remainder of his troops to try escape back to Russian lines.

1941 House of Commons vote for war credits of £1,600,000,000.

Hitler makes one last appeal to the Spanish leader, General Franco, to enter the war.

The Bishops of Norway start the Church’s struggle against the occupying German forces.

Australian forces capture Benghazi along with six senior Italian Generals. Italian forces make repeated attempts to break through the weak British blocking forces at Beda Fomm, but cannot.

Adolf Hitler sends Field Marshal Erwin Rommel to North Africa to help the Italian forces.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt asks Congress to support the Lend-lease Bill to help supply the Allies.

In his annual message to Congress, President Roosevelt announces the “Five Freedoms”.

Churchill demands that troops be released from Wavell’s offensive and sent to Greece.

The Luftwaffe launches its first attacks against British convoys bound for Malta in the Mediterranean.

1942 Roosevelt announces that US forces are to be based in UK.

In Moscow, the Russian Foreign Minister denounces German atrocities in occupied Russia, where in Kiev alone 52,000 people have been massacred. ‘The Soviet Union will never forget or forgive’.

Rommel’s battered forces reach the Tripolitanian frontier having evaded all British attempts to cut them off.

The British are pushed back to Gazala. The British Commonwealth forces lose 40 tanks, 40 field guns and 1,400 troops. This was a disaster for the Allies in more ways than one. Now the Allied convoys to Malta must pass between Axis occupied Crete and Axis airfields in Benghazi.

1943 Russians cut off Army Group A by reaching Yeysk on the Sea of Rostov.

The Americans outflank the retreating Japanese on Guadalcanal.

1944 The allies announce that jet-propelled aircraft will soon to be in production.

The Air Ministry says that Bomber Command dropped 157,000 tons of bombs on Germany in 1943, while the Luftwaffe dropped only 2,400 tons on Britain.

The Red Army crosses the 1939 Polish frontier after a 170-mile advance in just two weeks.

The Japanese pressure in Arakan forces the British to retreat.

Kwajalein Island in the Central Pacific falls to U.S. Army troops.

1945 The 1st Belorussian Front makes further advances to reach the Oder between Küstrin and Frankfurt.

General MacArthur announced the imminent recapture of Manila while his staff planned a victory parade. But the battle for Manila had barely begun.

The ban on dancing is lifted in Finland, where it had been illegal to dance during wartime.

Boeing B-29 bombers in the Pacific strike new blows on Tokyo and Nanking.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: August 1 WWII Today: December 14 WWII Today: September 9

Feb 05

World War II Today: February 5

1940 British and French governments agree to land an expeditionary force in northern Norway without regard for Norway’s neutrality in order to aide Finland, although it was never carried out.

First sinking of a U-boat by a lone British destroyer: in convoy OA-84 off Land’s End, HMS Antelope sinks U-41.

1941 An advanced column of armoured cars from the 7th Armoured Division intercept the Italian retreat about 70 miles south of Benghazi.

Battle of Beda Fomm begins: British and Australian troops encircle bulk of Italian army in Libya.

US Navy designates new class of ship—the auxiliary aircraft vessel (AVG), later known as escort carriers—able to be constructed quickly on merchant ship hulls.

1942 First US C-47 cargo plane lost in combat, strafed by Zeros on Bathurst Island, Australia.

Japanese begin bombarding Singapore from Malaya.

US National Naval Medical Center is established in Bethesda, MD.

US Far East Air Force renamed Fifth Air Force; Caribbean AF renamed Sixth AF; Hawaiian AF renamed Seventh AF; Alaskan AF renamed Eleventh AF.

1943 Mussolini sacks his son-in-law, Count Ciano from Foreign Ministry and takes control himself.

1944 U.S. troops reach the outskirts of Cassino, but are repulsed.

The ‘Chindits’ begin moving towards Indaw, 100 miles behind the Japanese lines in Burma.

1945 Red Army troops approach Elbing and Marienburg in East Prussia.

RAF balloon command to be disbanded as the air raid threat lessens. 278 V1’s have been claimed by balloons.

US Seventh and French Armies link, splitting the Colmar pocket in France.

MacArthur orders a containment in the northern Philippines, as the main effort is directed to the capture of Manila. The Australians land on the Japanese stronghold of New Britain, East of New Guinea.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: February 17 WWII Today: April 8 WWII Today: April 12

Feb 04

World War II Today: February 4

1941 The Battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau sail from the Baltic to the Atlantic, causing absolute havoc to shipping routes and timetables.

RAF reconnaissance planes report that the Italians are beginning to evacuate Benghazi in a withdrawal towards El Agheila. The 7th Armoured Division is given immediate instructions to advance from Mechili across the desert in order to cut off the Italians escape route.

1942 The Afrika Korps recaptures Derna.

In North Africa, British retreat from German drive ends at Gazala, Libya.

Hahas Pasha forms a new Egyptian Cabinet, becomes the Military Governor and dissolves Parliament the next day.

Japanese take Ambon, Netherlands East Indies from small Australian garrison.

British seize Egyptian palace in Cairo to force the abdication of pro-Axis King Farouk.

The British refuse to surrender at Singapore, heavy bombardment by the Japanese continues for 4 days.

1943 Red Army troops achieve a landing near the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk.

General Bernard Montgomery’s British Eighth Army crosses from Libya into Tunisia.

European Theater of Operations (ETO) branches into North African Theater of Operations (NATO) in North Africa and Mediterranean under General Dwight Eisenhower and ETO (UK, Iceland, continental Europe except Spain and Italy) under General Frank Andrews.

1944 The Germans start their offensive to relieve the Korsun pocket.

Chinese advances in Hukawng Valley, continue while the Japanese offensive on Arakan front gains strength in order to push the British back into India.

US forces take Kwajalein Island in Marshall’s, losing 486 killed and 1,495 wounded, but inflicting 8,386 casualties on the Japanese.

1945 Yalta Conference begins: A summit conference between Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt opens at Yalta in Crimea, to discuss plans for the treatment of postwar Germany, its division into zones of occupation, reparations and the future Polish western border.

The U.S. First Army takes the first of seven Ruhr dams. Belgium is now reported as completely free of German troops.

First Allied truck convoy over the reopened Burma Road arrives in Kunming, China.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: February 19 Mamoru Shigemitsu Quote “Hell is on us. WWII Today: November 7

Feb 03

World War II Today: February 3

1941 33 Italian Fascist Party leaders are dispatched to bolster morale on the Albanian front.

Hitler reviews the plans for Operation ‘Barbarossa’, as German intelligence estimates that 155 Red Army divisions are deployed in western Russia against just 116 German and Axis divisions. The starting date is again confirmed as the 15th May 1941.

The British ‘Northern Force’ bumps into the Italian defenses at Keren, but fail to crack them open. General Platt decides he must build up his forces for a major assault.

1942 German forces of Army Group Centre launch a counterattack at Vyazma, cutting off and encircling several Red Army divisions.

Japanese air raids on Port Moresby.

President Quezon of the Philippines proposes to President Roosevelt that his country should be granted total independence from the USA so that it could declare itself neutral, but Roosevelt dismisses this idea. General MacArthur warns Roosevelt that the Bataan garrison has suffered over 50 per cent casualties and it was ‘near done’. MacArthur was given permission by Roosevelt to surrender Filipino, but not US troops who were to fight until the end.

Irish Prime Minister Eamon de Valera predicts the war will continue for at least 4 more years.

1944 An attempt to breakout of the Anzio Beachhead ends after an advance of just three miles in three days. The German begin their first counterattacks against Anzio.

The Japanese open their counter-offensive against the British in Arakan, Burma.

The United States shells the Japanese homeland for the first time at Kurile Islands.

The United States captures the Marshall Islands.

1945 The Russians capture Landsberg, 80 miles Northeast of Berlin.

The US 8th Air Force, with 937 bombers and 613 fighters, carries out the heaviest attack to date against Berlin which levels large areas of the city and kills more than 25,000 civilians.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: Yank Magazine Pin Up: Frances Vorne WWII Today: September 3 WWII Today: September 23

Feb 02

World War II Today: February 2

1939 Hungary breaks relations with the Soviet Union.

1940 Big Russian offensive continues on the Karelia front.

Italian Jews banned from serving as engineers, professors, or journalists, and from serving Gentiles as doctors or lawyers.

1941 5th Indian Division captures Barentu, forcing the Italians to withdraw towards the mountain fortress at Keren.

Indian & British forces take Italian fortifications at Barentu, Eritrea, and take 8000 POWs.

In East Africa, aircraft from HMS Formidable attack the harbor installations at Mogadishu.

1942 Japanese invade Java in the Dutch East Indies.

The Japanese launched their 1st air raid on Port Moresby in New Guinea.

The commander of the British XIII Corps, Godwin-Austen, resigns as a result of Lieutenant General Ritchie bypassing him and dealing direct with his divisional commanders.

A supply convoy bound for Malta sets sail from Alexandria. It consisted of 3 fast freighters, 2 cruisers, 8 destroyers and an anti-aircraft ship. However, the Luftwaffe still managed to sink all three merchantmen before they reached Malta.

Congress appropriates $26.5 billion for the U.S. Navy, bringing total U.S. war costs since June of 1940 to more than $115 billion.

US 808th Engineer Aviation Battalion arrives in Melbourne to build airfields near Darwin, Australia.

Allied ships begin withdrawal from Singapore to East Indies.

1943 The remnants of 6th Army under General Strecker in the northern pocket cease fighting and surrender to the Red Army. In all, over 96,000 survivors of the once 300,000-strong Army are captured, of which, only about 5,000 will live to return to Germany after the war. At Moscow, the victory over the Germans is celebrated with a salute of several hundred guns.

1944 The Germans stop an Allied attack at Anzio, Italy.

The 1st Ukrainian Front captures Luzk and Rovno. Stalin agrees to USAAF using Russian bases.

U.S. Marines complete the capture of Roi and Namur in the Marshall Islands.

1945 Ecuador declares war on Germany.

The 1st Belorussian Front reaches the Oder River near Frankfurt-an-der-Oder.

French troops occupy Colmar.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: February 13 WWII Today: April 9 WWII Today: August 11

Feb 01

Amazing B-17 Bomber Survival Story

Amazing B-17 Bomber Survival Story on February 1, 1943

A mid-air collision on February 1, 1943, between a B-17 and a German fighter over the Tunis dock area, became the subject of one of the most famous photographs of World War II. An enemy fighter attacking a 97th Bomb Group formation went out of control, probably with a wounded pilot then continued its crashing descent into the rear of the fuselage of a Fortress named All American, piloted by Lt. Kendrick R. Bragg, of the 414th Bomb Squadron. When it struck, the fighter broke apart, but left some pieces in the B-17. The left horizontal stabilizer of the Fortress and left elevator were completely torn away. The two right engines were out and one on the left had a serious oil pump leak. The vertical fin and the rudder had been damaged, the fuselage had been cut almost completely through connected only at two small parts of the frame and the radios, electrical and oxygen systems were damaged. There was also a hole in the top that was over 16 feet long and 4 feet wide at its widest and the split in the fuselage went all the way to the top gunners turret.

Although the tail actually bounced and swayed in the wind and twisted when the plane turned and all the control cables were severed, except one single elevator cable still worked, and the aircraft still flew – miraculously! The tail gunner was trapped because there was no floor connecting the tail to the rest of the plane. The waist and tail gunners used parts of the German fighter and their own parachute harnesses in an attempt to keep the tail from ripping off and the two sides of the fuselage from splitting apart. While the crew was trying to keep the bomber from coming apart, the pilot continued on his bomb run and released his bombs over the target.

When the bomb bay doors were opened, the wind turbulence was so great that it blew one of the waist gunners into the broken tail section. It took several minutes and four crew members to pass him ropes from parachutes and haul him back into the forward part of the plane. When they tried to do the same for the tail gunner, the tail began flapping so hard that it began to break off. The weight of the gunner was adding some stability to the tail section, so he went back to his position.

The turn back toward England had to be very slow to keep the tail from twisting off. They actually covered almost 70 miles to make the turn home. The bomber was so badly damaged that it was losing altitude and speed and was soon alone in the sky. For a brief time, two more Me-109 German fighters attacked the All American. Despite the extensive damage, all of the machine gunners were able to respond to these attacks and soon drove off the fighters. The two waist gunners stood up with their heads sticking out through the hole in the top of the fuselage to aim and fire their machine guns. The tail gunner had to shoot in short bursts because the recoil was actually causing the plane to turn.

Allied P-51 fighters intercepted the All American as it crossed over the Channel and took one of the pictures shown. They also radioed to the base describing that the empennage was waving like a fish tail and that the plane would not make it and to send out boats to rescue the crew when they bailed out. The fighters stayed with the Fortress taking hand signals from Lt. Bragg and relaying them to the base. Lt. Bragg signaled that 5 parachutes and the spare had been “used” so five of the crew could not bail out. He made the decision that if they could not bail out safely, then he would stay with the plane and land it.

Two and a half hours after being hit, the aircraft made its final turn to line up with the runway while it was still over 40 miles away. It descended into an emergency landing and a normal roll-out on its landing gear.

When the ambulance pulled alongside, it was waved off because not a single member of the crew had been injured. No one could believe that the aircraft could still fly in such a condition. The Fortress sat placidly until the crew all exited through the door in the fuselage and the tail gunner had climbed down a ladder, at which time the entire rear section of the aircraft collapsed onto the ground. The rugged old bird had done its job.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: November 1 Words at War: Der Fuehrer WWII Today: October 30

Feb 01

World War II Today: February 1

1940 General Timoshenko launches his big offensive across the iced up straits of Viipuri Bay, although Finnish aircraft raids disrupt these attacks.

The battleship Alabama (BB-60) is laid down at the Norfolk, Virginia.

In Japan, expenditure on the military accounts for half of the national budget for 1940.

1941 The Admiral Hipper slips out of Brest for another sortie into the Atlantic.

Agordat in Eritrea falls to the 5th Indian Division after 2 days of fighting.

The US Navy is reorganized in to the Atlantic, Pacific and Asiatic fleets and ordered to gradually bring ship crews up to war establishment.

1942 The Red Army begins an offensive toward Vyazma. Zhukov is promoted to command the West Theatre, which includes the Kalinin, West and Bryansk Fronts.

Quisling forms a puppet government in Norway.

All U-boats adopt a new Enigma cipher known as ‘Triton’. The new cipher replaces the previous cipher, ‘Hydra’ and has an additional rotor in the Enigma machine. This meant that the British were unable to read U-boat coded communications traffic until much later in the year, seriously affecting there ability re-route their convoys around U-boat wolf packs.

First U.S. aircraft carrier offensive of the war as YORKTOWN and ENTERPRISE conduct air raids on Japanese bases in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands.

USS Enterprise is damaged in attacks on Japanese-held airfields in the Marshall and Gilbert Islands.

1943 German troops evacuate Demyansk.

Twenty Japanese destroyers begin the evacuation of 13,000 troops from Guadalcanal.

1944 The Polish underground executes Major Fritz Kurschera, the chief of the Gestapo in Poland.

1945 The U.S. First Army takes Remscheid, 20 miles to the East of Düsseldorf. The U.S. Seventh Army reaches Moder and Siegfried Line.

Troops of the 1st Belorussian Front surround the fortress town of Küstrin. Since the 20th January, the Kriegsmarine has evacuated 140,000 civilian refugees and 18,000 wounded soldiers by sea from East Prussia.

U.S. troops land unopposed to the Southwest of Manila.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WW2 Manuals WWII Today: October 3 WWII Today: September 24