Archive for the ‘March’ Category

Mar 21

World War II Today: March 21

1940 Paul Reynaud becomes Prime Minister of France, with Edouard Daladier being made Minister of Defense and War.

First German merchant ship sunk by British sub: British submarine Ursula sinks German freighter Heddernheim.

1941 The last Italian post in East Libya, North Africa, falls to the British.

1942 In a repeat of Force H’s mission on the 7th March 1942. Sixteen more Spitfires are delivered to Malta. The Axis, now aware of the large British supply convoy sailing towards Malta, dispatches Admiral Iachino from Taranto with the Battleship Littorio and 4 destroyers. Admiral Parona also sets sail from Messina with 3 cruisers and 4 destroyers.

President Roosevelt signs bill making violation of Executive Order 9066 (removal of Japanese-Americans from the west coast) a federal offense.

1943 Hitler breaks his four-month silence with a Hero’s Day speech.

Another failed assassination attempt on Hitler’s life, at Heroes Day celebration.

In Tunisia, US Rangers ambush Italians near Gafsa and take 1000 POWs.

Cornelia Fort becomes first WAFS (Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron, precursor of WASPs) member killed in action, ferrying BT-13 in Texas.

1944 Eruption of Mount Vesuvius buries villages of San Sebastiano and Massa; 6-km-high lava fountains are seen.

1945 Units of the U.S. First Army advances from the Remagen bridgehead toward Siegburg.

The Russians capture Stuhlweissenburg in Hungary.

The US 8th Air Force launches a major attack (650 bombers) against Hamburg.

Allied bombs for Copenhagen Gestapo HQ hit school; kill 86 students and 17 teachers.

Japanese use rocket-powered Ohka kamikaze plane for first time, but cause little damage to US fleet.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: November 14 WWII Today: November 10 WWII Today: May 10

Mar 20

World War II Today: March 20

1940 The British Royal Air Force conducts an all-night air raid on the Nazi airbase at Sylt, Germany.

French Prime Minister Edouard Daladier resigns after vote of no confidence from Parliament.

1941 Four Yugoslav ministers resign rather than accept German terms.

The Berbera force and elements of the 11th African Division meet at Hargeisa inside British Somaliland.

Luftwaffe bombs Plymouth right after a visit by King George & Queen Elizabeth.

1942 Kesselring launches an intensified air offensive against Malta, which by the end of March had racked up 4,927 sorties for the Luftwaffe, as opposed to 2.497 during February.

The Red Army offensive at Kerch in the Crimea is defeated with heavy losses to the Russians.

About 1,000 schoolteachers are arrested in Norway.

In what was to become known as the 2nd Battle of Sirte, 4 freighters, escorted by 3 cruisers, 1 anti-aircraft cruiser and 17 destroyers leave Alexandria bound for Malta. This force would later be strengthened by the cruiser Penelope and a destroyer from Force K.

Japanese troops, reinforced by the 18th and 56th Division which had arrived by sea at Rangoon a few days earlier, attack the 6th Chinese Army near Toungoo in Burma.

1943 The Eighth Army continues its attacks against the Mareth line in southern Tunisia.

1944 The Russians recapture Vinnitsa in the Ukraine, the site of Hitler’s Headquarters during in 1943.

Destroyer escort USS Mason commissioned at the Boston Navy Yard, the first US Navy ship with a predominately African-American enlisted crew.

1945 German troops of Army Group Weichsel evacuate their bridgehead across the Oder at Stettin. The Russians capture Braunsberg, 40 miles South of Konigsberg.

The U.S. Seventh Army takes Saarbrucken.

Onn Luzon, a force of Filipinos takes San Fernando, led by US Col. Russell Volckmann, who refused to surrender to the Japanese in 1942

The British 19th Indian Division completes the capture of Mandalay.


Take a look at these other WWII Posts:

WWII Today: January 17 WWII Today: November 26 WWII Pin Up: Francis Rafferty

Mar 19

World War II Today: March 19

1936 The Soviet Union signs a pact of assistance with Mongolia against Japan.

1940 The RAF retaliates against the Luftwaffe’s bombing of Scapa Flow, by attacking the German seaplane base at Hornum on the island of Sylt with 50 bombers. Later photo reconnaissance reveals little damage to the target.

Helsinki releases figures showing that 26,662 Finns were killed in the 105 day war with the Soviet Union.

1941 Churchill forms the ‘Battle of the Atlantic’ committee in order to afford the highest level of co-ordination against the U-boat menace.

German Naval staff complain to the Italians about their lack of effort to intercept British convoys to Greece.

1942 An offensive by Army Group North cuts off the Soviet 2nd Shock Army, commanded by General Vlasov, in a salient between Novgorod and Gruzino. Operation ‘Munich’ is launched. Joined by a new air detachment, German troops attack partisan bases around Yelnya and Dorogobuzh.  Operation ‘Bamberg’ kicks off near Bobruisk, with SS Police troops attacking Russian villages. The German security forces burn many villages and kill 3,500 people, which only infuriate the Russian civilians more, which encourages many of them join the partisans, making the whole exercise very counter-productive. The 3rd Panzer Army diaries says “There are indications that the partisan movement in the region of Velikiye Luki, Vitebsk, Rudnya, Velizh, is now being organised on a large scale. The fighting strength of the partisans hitherto active, is being bolstered by individual units of regular red army troops.”

General Bill Slim is appointed as commander of the 1st Burma Corps, which covers all British, Indian and Burmese troops in Burma. This left  General Alexander to concentrate on co-ordination with the Chinese.

1943 The British Eighth Army begins its offensive against German and Italian defenders of the Mareth line.

1944 The RAF launch Operation Strangle, aimed at German communications in Italy.

The German 352nd Infantry Division deploys along the coast of France.

In order to ensure Hungary’s continued support as an axis partner, Hitler orders its occupation Operation Margaret. Eleven German divisions cross the border from Austria into Hungary, encountering minimal resistance.

Hungary’s 750,000 Jews, which have so far remained unmolested by the Germans are about to endure a nightmare of mass deportation to the concentration camps as Eichmann arrives in Hungary with his “Special Section Commandos”.

1945 The US 8th Air Force carries out another heavy attack (200 bombers and 700 fighters) against Berlin.

The U.S. Seventh Army take Worms, 60 miles to the Southeast of Koblenz. Hitler orders the demolition of all German industrial, utility and transport facilities in danger of falling into enemy hands; this order (Verbrannte Erde Scorched Earth) is sabotaged by armaments minister Speer and most local commanders.

The Japanese evacuate Mandalay.

The USN hit Kure naval base in the Inland Sea, Southwest of Tokyo.

About 800 people were killed as Kamikaze planes attacked the U.S. carrier Franklin off Japan; the ship, however, was saved.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: October 17 WWII Today: January 12 WWII Today: July 7

Mar 18

World War II Today: March 18


Mussolini and Hitler meet in the Brenner Pass in northern Italy, Mussolini agreeing to Italy’s entry into the war “at an opportune moment”.

Alan Turing’s Bombe electromechanical decipher machine becomes operational at Bletchley Park, England to decrypt German Enigma messages.

Russia assures Sweden of its safety after Finland’s surrender.

1941 The United States and Canada sign joint defense pact.

German spy Capt. Ulrich von der Oster is struck and killed by a car in New York City; his briefcase is swiped by fellow spy Kurt Ludwig; FBI launches investigation.

The Luftwaffe bombed Liverpool and Birkenhead.

Erwin Rommel departed North Africa for a meeting with Adolf Hitler.

The British armed boarding vessel Rosaura struck a naval mine off Tobruk and sank.

1942 Lord Mountbatten is appointed Chief of Combined Operations.

US forces occupy the New Hebrides in order to help protect Australia’s west coast from direct Japanese invasion.

: President Roosevelt creates War Relocation Authority under Milton Eisenhower to remove all Japanese-Americans from West Coast.

1943 Chindit forces cross the Irrawaddy in Burma.

The United States II Corps takes El Guettar, Tunisia.

After successful US Eighth Air Force mission to Vegesack, Germany, experiment with daylight bombing is declared a success.

1944 A New Zealand tank attack on Monte Cassino is repulsed, with the loss of all 17 tanks.

Hitler forces Hungary’s regent, Admiral Miklós Horthy, to agree to new terms of alliance, including occupation by German troops and deportation of Hungary’s 750,000 Jews.

1945 Kolberg falls to the Polish 1st Army, of the 2nd Belorussian Front, although the Germans manage to evacuate 80,000 refugees and wounded first.

The US Third Army captures Boppard on the Rhine.

US Fifth Fleet strikes Kyushu, Shikoku, and Honshu in Japan in preparation for Okinawa landings.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: September 29 WWII Today: April 30 WWII Today: February 13

Mar 17

World War II Today: March 17

1940 Fritz Todt named German Minister for Armaments and Munitions.

1941 The 11th African Division captures Jijiga in central Abyssinia; having advanced 744 miles up the Italian built Strada Imperiale in just seventeen days.

In convoy HX-112, British destroyer Walker causes U-99 to scuttle (40/43 captured, including famous captain Otto Kretschmer).

British begin to ration jam & marmalade (8 oz per month).

162 planes of the Luftwaffe bombed the Avonmouth district of Bristol

1942 General MacArthur flown by B-17 from Mindanao to Australia.

The deportation of Jews from Lublin to Belzec begins.

Britain begins rationing fuel and electricity.

The first mass gassings began at the Belzec Concentration Camp, near Lublin, on March 17, 1942

1943 Bulgaria, an Axis power allied with Germany, refused to comply with a German demand that Bulgarian Jews be deported to Nazi concentration camps. The Parliament voted unanimously to revoke plans that had been made by government minister Alexander Belev to arrest Bulgaria’s Jewish citizens (although deportations had taken place in the conquered territories of Macedonia and Thrace). “As a result of these protests,” it was observed, “no Bulgarian Jews were deported to the gas chambers from Bulgaria itself.

The Japanese attack British positions in Arakan, western Burma leading to Indian retreat.

Lieutenant General George Patton launches drive in Tunisia from Fériana, and occupies Gafsa.

1944 The British blow up the Manipur bridge South of Imphal.

New Zealand troops take Cassino railway station.


The U.S. Third Army takes Koblenz.

The Ludendorff bridge at Remagen, seized by US troops on the 7th March, suddenly collapses, killing dozens of US Army engineers working to reinforce it. —American engineers erect new pontoon bridge in ten hours.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: October 5 WWII Today: October 22 WWII Today: August 6

Mar 16

World War II Today: March 16

1935 Adolf Hitler orders a German rearmament and violates the Versailles Treaty.

1939 Germany occupies the rest Czechoslovakia.

1940 The Luftwaffe attacks the British Fleets anchorage at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands. This raid causes the death of a British civilian, the first of the war.

1941 The Kriegsmarine loses two of its most successful U-boat commanders, Kretschmer (U-99) and Schepke (U-100) to British escorts from convoy HX112.

British troops from Aden land at and capture Berbera in Italian occupied British Somaliland.

1943 Wolfpack ‘Raubgraf’ and attacks convoys HX-229 (37 ships) between until the 19th March, sinking 12 ships for 86,326 gross tons damaging 4. Another wolfpack, named ‘Stürmer’, attacks SC122 and over a period of four days and nights sinking 11 ships (54,740 tons) for the loss of just one U-boat, U-384 (Oblt. von Rosenberg-Gruszinski).

1944 The ‘Chindit’ ‘White City’ base at Mawla severs Japanese communications in northern Burma.

Oswald Job, a British subject, is hanged for spying at Pentonville Prison.

The British Eighth Army continues to batter itself against Monte Cassino.

A Japanese advance through Burma isolates the British garrison at Imphal. During the three-month siege, 150,000 men had to rely entirely on air supply for their survival. More than 400 tons of stores had to be flown daily into a heavily guarded valley, with only three squadrons of Spitfires available for air defence and six squadrons of Hurricanes for attack.

1945 Iwo Jima is declared secure by U.S. forces although small pockets of Japanese resistance still exist.

Two fresh Soviet armies of the 3rd Ukrainian Front counter attack the German offensive towards Budapest.

The US 8th Air Force launches a massive attack (675 bombers) against the HQ complex of the OKH at Zossen 20 miles south of Berlin, but with minimal effect.

The German Heavy Cruisers Schlesien and Prinz Eugen give supporting fire forces of Heeresgruppe Kurland in their defense of the Kurland pocket.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: October 7 WWII Today: September 27 WWII Today: February 22

Mar 15

World War II Today: March 15

1935 Joseph Goebbels, German Minister of Propaganda bans four Berlin newspapers.

1939 Germany occupies Bohemia and Moravia, Czechoslovakia.

1941 Roosevelt broadcasts to the nation announcing ‘the end of compromise with tyranny.

The British ‘Northern Force’ having concentrated the 4th and 5th Indian Divisions begin their offensive for Italian fortress of Keren in Eritrea.

German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau sink 15 Allied ships in the North Atlantic over next two days.

1942 U-503 is sunk near the Grand Banks, off Newfoundland, by another aircraft from the US squadron, VP-82.

Norwegian resistance members seize ship SS Galtesundand sail to Britain.

Off Newfoundland, US Navy PBO Hudson sinks U-503, the same pilot (CPO Donald Mason) who had radioed “Sighted sub—sank same” in January, vindicating himself

1943 Germans re-capture Kharkov.

The climax of the Battle of the Atlantic: U-boats sink 21 ships, with only one U-boat lost.

The US Navy establishes numbered fleet system; fleets in the Pacific assigned odd numbers and those in the Atlantic even.

The British Navy launches first X-class midget submarines.

1944 The heaviest RAF raid of war is made against Stuttgart, with 3,000 tons dropped from 863 bombers, for the loss of only 36 planes.

The allies pound Cassino, dropping 1,250 tons of bombs dropped and firing 195,969 in 7 and a half hours, but the troops make slow headway.

The Soviet 1st Ukrainian Front breaks through German defenses and reaches the Bug river, the starting point in 1941 for Operation ‘Barbarossa’.

The U.S. 1st Cavalry Division lands on Manus in the Admiralty Islands.

The Japanese begin crossing the Chindwin for an advance against Kohima.

1945 Attacks by troops of the US First Army to expand the Remagen bridgehead further, meet with little success.

The Soviet 1st Ukrainian Front begins an offensive in the Ratibor area of Upper Silesia.

U.S. troops report slow progress on Luzon in the Philippines.

1949 Almost four years after the end of World War II, clothes rationing in Great Britain ends.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: January 14 WWII Today: January 12 WWII Winston Churchill Quote


Mar 14

WWII Points – Adjusted Service Rating Score (ASRS)

World War 2 “Points” the Adjusted Service Rating Score or ASRS, the system for calculating the eligibility of when a U.S. Soldier was allowed to

In early as mid-1943, as troops were being shipped all over the world, it was becoming obvious that bringing all the Soldiers, Sailors and Marins back home after the war was going to be a huge logistic challenge. The U.S. military about 12 million strong in 1945, with approximately 3 million Service men an women in Europe.

On May 10, 1945, two days after Germany’s surrender, the War Department announced a point system to decide who gets to go home first. In this system, every service member received 1 point for every month in service and an additional 1 point for every months of service spent overseas. Awards, namely the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Silver Star Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Soldier’s Medal, the Bronze Star Medal, the Air Medal and the Purple Heart, were worth 5 points each. The Combat Infantryman Badge was not worth anything, leading to much grumbling among the troops.

Campaign participation credits were also worth 5 points each. American participation in the war was divided into 16 separate campaigns, but even the most battle-hardened units only participated in up to nine of these. Finally, each dependent child under 18 years of age was worth an additional 12 points. Moreover, men with three or more minor children could go home regardless of their score. It should be noted that age, marital status and dependents above 18 were not factored into calculating the score.

Initially, service members needed 85 points to go home. Once this was reached, further points did not count towards even higher priority: someone with, say, 105 points was not guaranteed to go home before one with only 85. Another cause for complaint was that the system didn’t reflect the nature of service: a month spent in the rear was worth just as much as a month on the front lines. Initially, officers were not subject the point system: they would go home or continue to serve based on their efficiency and special qualifications.

Units in Europe were placed in four categories. Category I units, consisting of men with low scores were designated as occupational forces and would stay quite a while. Category II units still had a ways to go and were either to redeploy to the Pacific, directly or via the U.S., or return to the States and stay in strategic reserve. Category III units were to be reorganized and then placed in Category I or II. Finally, Category IV units were those with 85 or more points, waiting to be sent home and demobilized.

One practical problem with the system was the categories were designed for units, while the score applied to individual soldiers. As a result, soldiers had to be shuffled around en masse to place all high-scoring soldiers in Category IV units and low-scoring ones to others.

Once demobilization started in earnest, it actually progressed quicker than anticipated thanks to the efforts of Operation Magic Carpet. As a result, the score needed to go home was revised and lowered several times, with different limits established for different types of personnel. In May 1945, for example, limits just within the Medical Corps varied from 88 for administrative personnel to 62 for hygienists and dietitians.

By September 1945, demobilization was proceeding at such a pace that units still in Europe were re-designated according to a new system: Occupation Forces who would stay, Redeployment Forces who would go home and Liquidation Forces, whose soldiers had credits of about 60-79 and had the job of closing down former frontline facilities such as ammunition dumps and field hospitals before getting demobilized.

In December, 1945, an overhaul of the system incorporated the length of service. An officer, for example, could go home with 70 points, but only if he had served for at least four years. In contrast, enlisted women could go home with as little as 32 points and no minimum service time.

By early 1946, the rapid pace of demobilization was causing a manpower shortage in occupation troops in Europe and Japan. Consequently, the War Department slowed the process down. This sparked a slate of protests worldwide. On January 6, 1946, 20,000 soldiers marched on their headquarters in Manila in the Philippines after a ship home was canceled at Christmas. Protests with tens of thousands of participants started in Germany, Austria, France, the United States, India and various Asian locations. A few service members were arrested but Eisenhower suggested they should not be penalized. Demobilization was sped up again and measures were introduced to make overseas service more palatable: training was made shorter, soldiers’ families were able to move to his place of service free of charge and European occupation troops were offered 17-day tours of Europe for a nominal price.

Take a look at these other WW2 Posts: WW2 Camel Cigarette Advertisement WW2 Today: October 14 The Other D-Days

Mar 14

World War II Today: March 14

1936 Adolf Hitler tells a crowd of 300,000 that Germany’s only judge is God and itself.

1939 The Nazis dissolve the republic of Czechoslovakia.

1941 Japanese fighters raid Chengtu, China in longest range for fighter operation of war to date.

1942 US troops arrive in Australia in force.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur arrives in Mindanao, after evacuating from Corregidor on Roosevelt’s orders.

1943 Gen. Henri Giraud restores representative government in French North Africa, suppresses Vichy organizations.

The Germans armoured forces recapture Kharkov.

The Krakow Ghetto is liquidated.

The Royal Navy Submarine Thetis, now renamed Thunderbolt is sunk by the Italian corvette Cicogna, off Sicily.

1944 The British are forced to withdraw towards Imphal in Assam, while fighting a bitter rearguard action.

In Burma, Japanese cut road from Tiddim north to Imphal; Indian troops are unable to retreat.

1945 The U.S. Third Army crosses the Moselle, Southwest of Koblenz.

Germans counterattack to recapture the oilfields near Lake Balaton come to an end. The Red Army cuts all communications between Koenigsberg and the German forces fighting in the Braunsberg pocket.

RAF Bomber Command makes its first use of the 22,000lb ‘Grand Slam’ bomb, wrecking the Bielefeld viaduct.

The US 15th Air Force, taking off from Italian airfields, launches a heavy raid (500 bombers) against Regensburg, while the RAF attacks Wuppertal with 400 aircraft.

On Luzon, a force of Filipinos led by US Col. Russell Volckmann, who refused to surrender to the Japanese in 1942, takes San Fernando.

First US infantry arrive in China, the Mars Task Force, ferried by the Air Transport Command.

U.S. troops begin mopping up on Iwo Jima and launch heavy attacks in the North of the island.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: October 28 WWII Today: July 16 WWII Today: May 30

Mar 13

World War II Today: March 13

1940 Finland capitulates conditionally to Soviet terms, but maintains its independence. The Finns have lost 25,000 killed and 45,000 wounded, while the Russians have lost an estimated 200,000 killed and an unknown number of wounded.

1941 President Franklin Roosevelt establishes President’s Committee on War Relief Agencies.

The Luftwaffe carries out a heavy raid against Clydebank, near Glasgow. 35,000 of the town’s population of 47,000 are made homeless.

Hitler issues an edict calling for an invasion of the Soviet Union.

1942 The Red Army launches a major attack against Army Group B from the Kerch peninsula in the eastern Crimea.

Three German spies in New York get a total of 117 years imprisonment.

Julia Flikke of the Nurse Corps becomes the first woman colonel in the U.S. Army.

Fifty aircraft equipped with Gee receivers attack Cologne. This is the most successful attack to date with the device; estimates put it is being five times more effective than non-Gee equipped aircraft.

1943 An assassination attempt is made on Hitler.

A Chinese counter-attack throws the Japanese back across the Yangtze River.

Japanese forces end their attack on the American troops on Hill 700 in Bougainville.

1944 British troops take the ‘Golden Fortress’ (Razabil) in Arakan, Burma.

A U.S. submarine, Sandlance sinks a Japanese troopship convoy en route to the Marianas.

The Russians announce the capture of Kherson in the southern Ukraine.

1945 The 2nd Belorussian Front launches an offensive against the Braunsberg pocket to the South of Koenigsberg.

Following a 600-bomber raid by the US 8th Air Force, the RAF with 800 bombers attack Swinemünde North of Stettin, a major port of embarkation for German refugees from eastern Germany, causing heavy damage to the docks and killing hundreds of civilians.

A surprise armored thrust by the British in central Burma, cuts off 3,000 Japanese in Mandalay.

US B-29s launch fire raid on Osaka, killing 4000 and destroying 119 factories.

Take a look at these other WWII Posts: WWII Today: September 30 WWII Today: January 6 WWII Today: November 7