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This Day in History

November 20


First mines are dropped in British waters by the German aircraft.


Hungary joins the Axis powers. Since the Italian invasion of Greece, the Germans have been attempting to secure their food and oil supplies from the Balkans by pressing the countries of the region to join the Tripartite Pact.


November 19

1941, The Third Reich

Sea War, Pacific
The German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran, after a successful career in the south Atlantic and the Indian Ocean that lasted 350 days at sea, falls in with the Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney. Apparently the cruiser was taken in by the disguised raider’s pretence of being an innocent Dutch Freighter and come too close. The concealed guns quickly inflicted serious damage and a torpedo hit damaged the Sydney seriously. The cruiser replied effectively with her guns, but both ships caught fire and were heavily damaged. The Sydney drifted away and was never seen again, and the Kormoran sank. Nothing was known about the action until months later, when a few of the Kormoran’s survivors were found on a South Pacific island. It was the only case of a mercantile auxiliary cruiser sinking a regular warship of any size during the war.

1970, The Vietnam War

North Vietnam, Ground War
US Special Forces conduct a joint raid aimed at the Son Toy Prisoner of War Camp, 32km (20 miles) west of Hanoi, in order to liberate Americans held by the North Vietnamese. Apparently, the NVA had been alerted beforehand and had moved the prisoners.

1863, The Civil War

Virginia, Politics
U.S. President Abraham Lincoln makes his famous “Gettysburg Address.”


November 18


British “Air-to-Surface-Vessel” radar fitted to a Sunderland flying boat locates its first U-boat during a patrol in the Atlantic.


November 17


The 1st Viet Cong Regiment with all three of its battalions – the 50th, 80th, and 90th – overruns the small Regional Forces garrison located at Hiep Duc, west of Tam Ky. The enemy units are indentified from some captured documents and by the interrogation of an enemy defector. Hiep Duc District leaders report 174 of the 433 defenders missing and 315 weapons lost to the enemy.

Shortly after the fall of Hiep Duc, Marine F-4B Phantom jets from Marine Air Group 11 and A-4 Skyhawks from Marine Air Group 12 arrive over the outpost and conduct strikes against enemy positions in the surrounding hills. At the same time, two Marine helicopter groups (MAG-16 and MAG-36) prepare to helilift two ARVN battalions into the battle area.


November 16

1863, The Civil War

Tennessee, Land War
The Battle of Campbell’s Station. Burnside’s union Department of the Ohio troops beat Longstreet’s confederate forces in East Tennessee in a race to Knoxville, and conduct a successful defensive action.


November 15

1941, Third Reich

Sea War, German Navy
U-459, the first purpose-built supply submarine, is commissioned by Korvettenkapitan Georg von Wilamowitz-Mollendorf.


November 14

1915, WW1

Western Front

The losses are severe when the German stage a violent attack in “Labyrinth” Artois which is repelled by the French.

Naval and Overseas Operations

The British war submarine, HMS-E-20 under the helm of Lt. Commander Clyfford Warrne, is torpedoed and lost in the Sea of Marmora.


November 13

1941, The Third Reich

Mediterranean Sea,

During an engagement to reinforce Malta the British aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal was sunk.The HMS Ark Royal had survived many near misses prior to November 14, and also a bombing attack during the Battle of Cap Spartivento.  She had even been reported sunk many times by Germany.  Within sight of Gibraltar upon her return there she was torpedoed by the U-Boat 81.  All of the crew on board were evacuated prior to her sinking on November 15.


November 12

1941, Russian Front

During the long advance of the German Army from  Barbarossa to Moscow Hans Roth and the German Army experienced many hazards and hardships and they were exhausted.  The weather impeded their process and they were forced to take shelter and forcing a well needed rest so that the road could freeze over before proceeding.


November 11-12


At the Battle of Taranto British torpedo aircraft from the carrier Illustrious destroy three Italian battleships and damage two vessels during the raid on the Italian base. Illustrious loses only two aircraft. When the fleet leaves for Naples and Genoa, three British cruisers sink four vessels in the Strait of Otranto. This air attack on a fleet in harbor is closely studied by other navies, especially the Japanese.


November 10


General Ubaldo Soddu replaces General Sabasiano Visconti-Prasca as the Italian commander-in-chief in Albania.


November 9


A bomb explodes in the Burgerbraukeller in Munich shortly after Hitler leaves the hall on the 16th anniversary of the Munich Putsch.


There is little military activity on the Western Front. This is the period of the “Sitzkrieg” or phony war.


November 8-9


The Battle of Ivy Mountain/Ivy Creek/ Ivy Narrows. A Union pursuit force fights an intense engagement after being ambushed around Ivy Mountain, Floyd County, and pushes the Confederates back into Virginia.


November 7

1863,  The Civil War

Virginia, Land War
The Battle of Rappahannock Station. Over 1,600 Confederate soldiers are captured at Rappahannock Station as the Union forces forge two crossings of the Rappahannock River.


November 6

1863, The Civil War

West Virginia, Land War
The Battle of Droop Mountain. A Confederate brigade is defeated during a Union action into Virginia against the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad.


November 5


German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer attacks a British convoy of 37 ships escorted by the armed merchant cruiser Jervis Bay, which fights to save the convoy. The battleship rams and sinks Jervis Bay, but only five other vessels are lost. Eastbound convoys are suspended until the 17th while the Allies search for the Admiral Scheer.


President Franklin D. Roosevelt is elected for an unprecedented third term.


November 4


The North Vietnamese Army (NVA) attacks a Special Forces camp near Plei Mei. When this attack is repulsed, General Westmoreland directs the 1st Cavalry Division to launch an offensive to find and destroy enemy regiments that have been identified in the vicinity of the US Special Forces camp. The result of this action will be the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley, named after the small river that flowed through the area of operation. For 35 days the division pursued and fought the North Vietnamese 32nd, 33rd and 66th Regiments until the enemy, suffering heavy casualties, returned to base in Cambodia. With scout platoons of the air cavalry, each battalion of the division’s 1st Brigade established company-size bases from which patrols searched for enemy ground forces. For several days the scouts of the 1st Brigade failed to spot the enemy, until November 4, when they uncovered an enemy force at what appeared to be a regimental aid station several miles west of Plei Mei. Platoons of quick-reacting air cavalry-men converged on the site, while UH-1B helicopter gunships attacked the North Vietnamese forces. Operating beyond the range of artillery support, the air cavalrymen engaged the enemy in an intense firefight. Once again the North Vietnamese troops attempted to “hug” American forces and then broke contact as soon as the US reinforcements arrived.


November 3

1863, The Civil War

Tennessee, Land War
The Battle of Collierville. The Union 3rd Cavalry Brigade (850 men) stops a Confederate attempt by 2,500 cavalrymen under Brigadier General James R. Chalmers to cut the Memphis & Charleston Railroad behind the Union XV Army Corps, which is heading to relieve Chattanooga.


November 2

1940, The Second Sinking of U-Boat U-31

In March 1940 this UBoat was sunk for the first time when a Blenheim bomber attacked her with four

Armour piercing bombs.  Two of these bombs hit the U-Boat damaging the air tanks which caused the death of the entire crew of 58.  After this bombing the U-boat was recovered and repaired and sent back out to sea. 

When she was out on war patrol from Wilhemshaven to Lorient she was attacked by the destroyer HMS Antelope.  Although the U-Boat dived the HMS Antelope during the course of 4 separate attacks the U-Boat was damaged to the point of being pushed under and sank.  Only 2 of the 45 crew were casualties as the remaining were rescued.



October 30

WWII Warsaw, 1944

The Pianist survives alone in burnt out Warsaw

As outlined in the movie the Pianist, Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Jewish Pianist who was played on Polish radio, escaped deportation and continued to live in Warsaw after the uprising by hiding in the city.

When he and his family were being sent to be murdered at Treblinka, he was luckily pulled out of the line by a Jewish Policeman and his family continued to their deaths.   His luck continued throughout the years as he was saved numerous times by Poles who helped. 


October 29

WWII Japan, 1943

Japanese execute troublesome Hong Kong internees.

During the previous year the Japanese discovered group of “resistance civilians”.  Though this group was only interested in getting food and listening to world news on a radio anyone in or associated with this group were arrested.  Of these arrested 33 Chinese residents were included and after a thorough interrogation they decides to execute them.  On October 29 they were beheaded on a Japanese beach. 

October 28

The Civil War, October 28-29, 1863

Tennessee, Land War
The Battle of Wauhatchie/Brown’s Ferry. In a night action aimed at preventing relief forces reaching Chattanooga, Confederate forces attack Union defenses at Wauhatchie, but without success. Union losses are 420; Confederate 408.


October 27

The Civil War, 1863

The Union, Armed Forces
The first Sanitary Fair is held in Chicago (many Northern cities will hold Sanitary Fairs to raise funds to buy medical supplies for wounded soldiers and other types of relief). The organizers – Mary Livermore and Jane Hoge of the U.S Sanitary Commission – encourage people to donate items of interest that they can sell to raise funds.  The Chicago fair will run for two weeks and draw 5,000 visitors. The entrance price is 75 cents, and the items on sale include artwork, musical instruments, toys, and clothes. President Lincoln donates the original draft of the Emancipation Proclamation, which is the fair’s main attraction and sells at auction for $3,000. The Chicago fair will raise a total of $100,000.
Following its success, other major Northern cities held fairs. The largest sanitary fair was held in New York in April 1864. Visitors could buy trinkets made by Confederate prisoners of war of even bid for a tame bear or a shipload of coal.


October 26

WWII Afrika, 1942

After General Georg Stumme died of a heart attack the day before General Rommel returns to the El Alamein.  He had been in Germany and was to now resume his command in North Africa.  . His position was that of a Field Marshal.


October 25

The Civil War, 1863

Arkansas, Land War
The Battle of Pine Bluff. A company of Union cavalry heading for Princeton are forced back by Confederate troops to Pine Bluff, which the Union troops successfully defend. The confederates themselves then retreat.


October 23

WWII, Afrika

The British Guns open up at El Alamein.  The British Eighth Army – including Australian, New Zealand, South African, Indian, Polish and Free French forces – was poised for action. A frontal assault on the German lines was about to be launched.


October 22

The Vietnam War, 1970

South Vietnam, Ground War
Employing the 51st ARVN Regiment, the 1st Ranger Ground, the 2nd and 3rd Troops of the US Army`s 17th Armored Cavalry Squadron, over 300 Regional Forces and Popular Force platoons, the People`s Self Defense Force, and the national police in a province-wide offensive against the Viet Cong, Lieutenant General Lam launches Operation Hoang Dien. This is one of the most ambitious, essentially South Vietnamese pacification operations to date.


October 21

Western Front, Germany,   1944
The city of Aachen surrenders to US forces following a 1-day siege.


October 20

Balkans, Yugoslavia,1944
The 1st Proletarian Division of Marshals Tito’s Army of Liberation captures Belgrade.

Pacific, Philippines
As the US Sixth Army lands on Leyte Island, General Douglas MacArthur wades ashore and keeps a promise he made two years earlier: “I shall return.” By the evening 10,000 US troops are dug in around Leyte’s capital, Tacloban.


October 19

The Civil War, 1863

Virginia, Land War
The Battle of Buckland Hills/Buckland Races/Chestnut Hill. Confederate troops ambush Union cavalry that were pursuing Lee’s retreating army, following its defeat at Bristoe Station and an aborted advance on Centreville. The Union forces are chased for 5 miles (8km), hence the action is sometimes called the “Buckland Races.”


October 18

1940,WW11,  Politics, Vichy France:

The puppet Vichy regime put its first  anti-Semitic laws in place.


October 17

WWII, Atlantic, 1941

The USS Kearney torpedoed in mid Atlantic

Though in 1941 the American’s were not at war with Germany their Navy did escort convoys in the Atlantic Ocean.  On October 17 the Kearney was struck by a German torpedo.  Another 2 torpedos missed their target.

Eleven men died in the attack, it was one more incident hardening the attitude of the American people. Ten days later President Roosevelt was to address the nation stating that Hitler’s objective was to scare the American people.  The American reaction was just the opposite. 


October 16

The Civil War, October 16-18, 1863

Florida, Coastal War
The Battle of Fort Brooke. Union gunboats bombard  Fort Brooke in Tampa while a Union raiding party is landed and then attacks Confederate shipping on the Hillsborough River.


October 15

The Civil War, 1863

South Carolina, Naval War
The Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley sinks for a second time during training exercises, killing seven crew members.

The Vietnam War, 1970

South Vietnam, US Armed Forces
The last US Marines leave their base at An Hoa and turn it over to the ARVN.


October 13

The Civil War, 1863

Virginia, Land War
The Battle of Auburns/Catlett’s Station/St. Stephen’s church. Confederate troops under General “Jeb” Stuart skirmish with the Union’s III Corps near Auburn.


October 12

South Vietnam, US Ground Forces, October 12-18, 1966

The US Army’s 1st Battalion, 40th Field Artillery Regiment, which consists of 105mm self-propelled howitzers, arrives at Da Nang, and the next day the US Army’s 2nd Battalion, 94th Artillery Regiment, consisting of Self Propelled 175mm guns, also arrives.

October 11

The Third Reich, 1941

SS, Waffen-SS
Dutch volunteers join in the SS parade in The Hague before leaving for training in eastern Prussia. German stupidity, broken promises and contempt for the nationals of countries they had defeated has adversely affected recruitment, though, and many volunteers return home disillusioned. This is an inauspicious beginning for Himmler’s brotherhood of “Nordic” nations.

October 9

Western Front, Belgium, , 1944.
Although the Allies captured Antwerp on September 4, they have not been able to use the great port because there are German units on both sides of the Scheldt Estuary. Therefore, the Canadian First Army commences operations to eradicate the enemy presence in this area.

Pacific, Iwo Jima
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, commander of all Allied forces in the Central Pacific, informs Lieutenant General Holland M. “Howling Mad” Smith, one of the leading exponents of amphibious warfare and commander of all US Marines in the Pacific, that the island of Iwo Jima will be his next target and that Smith will lead the invasion with three US Marine divisions. The island is within bombing range of the Japanese mainland.

The Third Reich, 1940

Sea War, Atlantic: The start of one of the most important and critical convoy battles: 21 ships are sunk from convoy SC7 and another 12 from convoy HX79, making this also one of the most successful U-boat “wolf pack” attacks.


October 8

South Vietnam, US AID, , 1966
The 4th Battalion, 503rd Airborne Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade, arrives at Da Nang.Civil War, 1862

Kentucky, Land War:  The Battle of Perryville. As part of the South’s fight for Kentucky, in September Generals Braxton Bragg and Kirby Smith launched an invasion from Tennessee. By October 4 Bragg secured the state capital of Frankfort and set up a new Confederate state government. It was short-lived, though. Today, the Union Army of the Ohio leg by Don Carlos Buell meets Bragg’s Army of the Mississippi. After a morning assault by divisions hits the Union left flank and forces it back. More Rebel divisions join the battle, eventually forcing back the Union line. Union troops on the left flank, reinforced by two brigades stabilize the line. A Confederate attack against a Union division on the Springfield Puke is repulsed, the attackers retreating back to Perryville. Union troops pursue into the town. With his left flank threatened, Bragg withdraws and retreats into East Tennessee. Union losses are 4,211; Confederate 3,196.

October 7

1940, WW11, Balkans, Romania

German forces enter Romania on the pretext of helping to train the army of the fascist
Iron guard government. Germany's principal motive is to occupy the Ploesti oil fields.

October 6

The Civil War, 1863
Kansas, Land War
The Battle of Baxter Springs. Lieutenant Colonel William Quantrill massacres 103 Union troops around the Union post of Baxter Springs.


October 5

The Civil War, 1863

South Carolina, Naval War
The CSS David, a confederate torpedo boat, explodes a spar torpedo against the side of the USS New Ironsides in Charleston harbor, causing significant damage to the union vessel.


October 4

Mediterranean, Greece, 1944
Determined to prevent a communist takeover in Greece, Winston Churchill launches Operation Manna. British troops land at Patrai in the Peloponnese as German forces pull back.

Civil War, 1862

Texas, Naval War.  The Battle of Galveston. The port of Galveston is forced to surrender by U.S. gunboats and tough Union diplomacy after a lengthy period of blockade.


October 2

South Vietnam, Ground War, October 2-24, 1966
Operation Irving, lasting 23 days, is carried out by the sky soldiers on the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), ARVN, and Republic of Korea troops against the NVA 610th Division in Binh Dinh Province with 681 enemy casualties.

South Vietnam, US Ground Forces, 1966
Equipped with 175mm guns, Battery C, 6th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, comes under control Task Force Delta in I Corps Tactical Zone.

Eastern Front, Poland, 1944
After  a bitter two-month battle, the last poles in Warsaw surrender. The Germans evacuate the entire remaining population and begin the systematic destruction of anything left standing. Polish deaths number 150,000 while the German commander, SS General Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski, claims he lost 26,000 men.


October 1
The Third Reich, 1941

Eastern Front, Soviet Union
The German Army begins Operation Typhoon, the offensive against Moscow. Meanwhile, Hitler in Berlin speaks to the German public and describes the extent of his victory: 2.5 million prisoners, 22,000 guns captured, 18,000 tanks destroyed and 145,000 Russian aircraft eliminated. After such losses he may wonder why the Red Army is still in existence.

The Vietnam War, 1970

South Vietnam, US Armed Forces
In a ceremony which is attended by Lieutenant-General Keith B. McCutcheon, Commanding General, III Marine Amphibious Force, Lieutenant-General Sutherland of XXIV Corps, Lieutenant-General Lam of I Corps, and Major-General Widdecke, Commanding General of the 1st Marine Division, the regimental colors of the 7th Marines are “troops” for the very last time in Vietnam. On the same day, the regimental command group leaves Vietnam and heads for its home base, located at Camp Pendleton in California.