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This Day in History

February 11 – 12


The German battle cruisers Gneisenau and Scharnborst, and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, supported by destroyers and air cover, leave Brest and sail through the English Channel. RAG and Royal Navy strikes against the German ships are total failures, and 42 aircraft are downed. During the “Channel Dash” to the North Sea, both battle cruisers hit mines and need repairs. British operations to contain the threat of these commerce-raiders are easier while the vessels are in port. Gneisenau subsequently has to be rebuilt after being hit during an air raid against Kiel on February 26, but the project is never completed before the war’s end.

February 10,


Britain offers the United States 34 anti-submarine vessels with crews to battle the U-boats.

February 9

The Vietnam War, 1968
South Vietnam, Ground War

Units of III Marine Amphibious Force succeed in beating back the 2nd North Vietnamese Army division’s offensive at Da Nang, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, Forward, (MACVF) under General Creighton W. Abrams, General Westmoreland’s Deputy Commander and soon-to-be successor, is established in I Corps Tactical Zone in order for MACV to better assess and react to the enemy’s offensive operations.

WWII, 1945
Eastern Front, Poland
The Soviet 2nd Belorussian Front launches an offensive in the region of Grudziadz and Sepolno but runs into determined resistance from the German Second Army. Soviet Progress is very slow.

February 8 – 14,1942

Two Japanese divisions, supported by artillery and air bombardment, land on the northwest of the island, quickly followed by a third. Repairs to the Johore causeway enable tanks and 30,000 troops to advance, while in the air the Japanese achieve supremacy. Confused orders often result in the defenders making unnecessary withdrawals and much equipment is lost. Lieutenant General Arthur Percival, the Singapore commander, is forced to surrender on February 14 as the water supply for Singapore’s residents and the 85,000-strong garrison is cut. Japan has fewer than 10,000 casualties in Malaya. British and Commonwealth forces have lost 138,000 men, and thousands more will die in captivity. The campaign is one of Britain’s greatest defeats.

February 7-8

Civil War, 1861, North Carolina, Land War:
The Battle of Roanoke Island/Fort Huger. A union amphibious landing of 7,500 men under Brigadier General Burnside captures Confederate forts on Roadnoke Island, tightening the Union's Atlantic blockade.

February 5-7

WW11, 1941, Africa, Libya: The Italians fail in their final attempt to escape encirclement at Beda Fomm, south of Benghazi, and surrender to the British 7th Armored Division. Meanwhile, the Australian 6th Division, advancing along the coastal roads, forces troops in Benghazi to surrender on the 7th. This ends a two-month campaign in which the British have inflicted a complete defeat on a stronger enemy by executing a carefully-planned offensive using highly trained troops backed by air naval support.

February 4- March 22
WW11, 1941, Sea War, Atlantic: The German battlecruisers Scharnborst and Gneisenau embark on commerce-destroying raids in the Atlantic. They succeed in dispersing numerous convoys and sink 22 ships before returning to the safety of French waters on March 22

February 3
WW11, 1934, Nazi Party, SA: In a clear attempt to strengthen his hold of veteran membership, Captain Ernst Röhm issues an order authorizing all SA as well as SS leaders and subordinates who were members prior to December 31, 1931, and still members, to receive and wear a specially inscribed Honour Dagger. Rohm's dedication is inscribed on the reverse of the blade. The inscription In herzlicher fruendschaft Ernst Rohm, "in cordial comradeship Ernst Rohm", was acid etched onto the blade from a template bearing Rohm's own handwriting. A total of 135,860 daggers are awarded, of which the SS receives 9900. Rohm states "The SA and SS will not tolerate the German revolution going to sleep or betrayal at the halfway stage by non-combatants." He further assures his SA: "You won't make a revolutionary army out of the old Prussians NCOs ...You only get the opportunity once to make something new and big and that'll help us lift the world off its hinges." Rohm once again begins to make plans to merge the SA with the Reichswehr to form a "people's army" and also continues talking about second National Socialist revolution. The party leadership clearly does not approve of these ideas, not least due to the fact that Hitler needs the support of Reichswehr.

January 30
D-Day Preparations, 1944

Deception, Bodyguard.  Two of the officers responsible for the Bodyguard deception plan fly to Moscow to ask for Soviet cooperation. Bodyguard will not work without the active participation of the Russians. It is vital that the Soviet summer offensive coincides with Overlord. While Churchill broaches the subject to Stalin at the Tehran Conference in November-December 1943, there are doubts in London that the Russians will be willing to alter their own plans to suit Overlord. Making the hazardous trip from Scotland, crammed into the bomb bay of a B-24 Liberator, are Colonel Bevan of London Controlling Section (LCS) and his assistant Lieutenant-Colonel Baumer, Us Army.

WW11, 1945 Eastern Front, Germany
The left wing of the 1st Ukrainian Front has reached the Oder River and some of its units have set up bridgeheads on the west bank. This ends one of the greatest strategic operations of the whole war.

The Red Army has advanced 355 miles (568 km), liberated all of Poland and a large part of Czechoslovakia, reached the Oder on a broad front, and is only 100 miles (160 km) from Berlin. In its offensive, it has inflicted losses of 500,000 dead, wounded, or captured on the Germans, and captured 1300 aircraft, 1400 tanks, and over 14,000 guns of all calibers.

January 29

WW11, 1945 Pacific, Philippines
Major General Charles Hall’s US XI Corps lands unopposed on the west coast of Luzon just to the north of the Bataan Peninsula.

Civil War, 1863 Idaho, Indian Wars The Battle of Bear River/Massacre at Bao Ogoi. Union retaliation against the Shoshoni Tribe kills over 380 Native Americans at their Boa Ogoi Camp.

January 28

WW11, 1945, January 28-February 1 Western Front, Ardennes.
Two corps of General Courtney Hodges US First Army and one from General George Patton’s US Third Army try to penetrate the German defenses northeast of St. Vith, which lies astride the Losheim Gap. Snow and ice inhibit progress, and the Germans manage to fight back hard, thereby slowing the rate of the US advance.

WW11, 1945 Western Front, Ardennes
The last vestiges of the German “bulge” in the Ardennes are wiped out. The total cost of the Germans in manpower for their Ardennes offensive has been 100,000 killed, wounded, and captured. The Americans have lost 81,000 killed, wounded, or captured, and the British 1400. Both sides have lost heavily in hardware – up to 800 tanks on each side. The Germans have also lost around 1000 aircraft. However, whereas the Americans can make good their losses in just a few weeks, for the Germans the military losses are irreplaceable.

January 27

The Third Reich, 1945 Eastern Front, Poland
The soviets liberate Auschwitz, the Third Reich’s main death camp. The centre of a rail network, the first camp, Auschwitz I, was reserved throughout its history for political prisoners. In October 1941, work began on Auschwitz II, or Birkenau, located outside the nearby village of Brzezinka. There the SS later developed a huge concentration camp and extermination complex that included some 300 prison barracks; four large Badeanstalten (Bathhouses), in which prisoners were gassed to death; Leichenkeller (corpse cellars), in which their bodies were stored; and Einascherungsofen (Cremating ovens). Another camp (Buna-Monowitz), near the village of Dwory, later called Auschwitz III, became a slave-labour camp in May 1942.

Newly arrived prisoners at the death camp were divided in a process known as Selektion. The young and the able-bodied were sent to work; young children and their mothers and the old and infirm were sent directly to the gas chambers. Thousands of prisoners were also selected by the camp doctor, Josef Mengele, for medical experiments, which were mostly sadistic. Experiments involving the killing of twins, for example, were meant to provide information that would supposedly lead to the rapid expansion of the “Aryan race”. Subject to harsh conditions – including inadequate shelter and sanitation – given minimal food, and worked to exhaustion, those who could no longer work faced transport back to Birkenau for gassing. Between 1.1 and 1.5 million people died at Auschwitz; 90 percent of them were Jews, though other victims included a large number of Gypsies. Russian army groups, both north and south of Warsaw, break through and take the city crossing the river Oder within 160km (100 miles) of berlin. They reach the Baltic at Danzig and overrun industrial Silesia, seizing the last possible coal supplies of the Third Reich. The Soviet offensive in the East causes  Hitler to move armored forces from the west, including “Sepp” Dietrich’s sixth SS Panzer Army.

Western Front, France
German losses in France since D-Day amount to 1.5 million, over half of whom are prisoners of war.

WW11, 1945 Eastern Front, Poland
The Red Army liberates the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. The SS has evacuated the camp nine days previously, taking 20,000 weak inmates with them. Those left number a few hundred disease-ridden inmates in the camps hospital block

Far East, Burma
Units of the Allied Y Force, pushing across the Shweli River at wanting, reopen the Burma Road supply route into china.

Vietnam War, 1967 South Vietnam, Social Policies
The III MAF will take over the bulk of fighting the NVA, since the 2nd ARVN Division will now concentrate on the revolutionary Development programme, otherwise known as pacification.

South Vietnam, Ground War Operation
Desoto begins along South Vietnam’s coast near Nui Dang and Vinh Binh. Operation Desoto would last nearly three months and would be assisted by the Seventh Fleet’s Special Landing Force, a special task-organized Marine amphibious reaction force which was airlifted into battle off South Vietnam’s coast, and provided III MAF commanders with a manoeuvrable on-call force of US Marines to execute special landing missions.

January 25

The Vietnam War, 1972 South Vietnam, Peace Proposals

A new American-South Vietnamese peace initiative is announced by Presidents Nixon and Nguyen Van Thieu.

January 23

WW11, 1945

Eastern Front, Poland
The Soviet Second Guards Tank Army, part of the 1st Belorussian Front, storms the fortified town of Bromberg, an important strongpoint in the German Poznan line.

Eastern Front, East Prussia
The Soviet 2nd Belorussian Front cuts all road and rail crossings across the Vistula River, Isolating German units on the east bank.

D-Day Preparations, 1944

Planning, Resources
Eisenhower and Bedell Smith draft a long telegram to the Combined Chiefs of Staff in Washington, DC, informing them the conclusions of the 21 January commanders’ conference. It explains Montgomery’s revised invasion plan and lists the additional landing craft and warships SHAEF needs to implement it. They include an extra 47 LSTs (Landing Ship, Tanks), 144 LCT’s (Landing Craft, Tanks), 72 LCI(L)s (Landing Craft, Infantry, Large), together with 24 more destroyers and an extra 5 cruisers. The telegram also advocates the new D-Day target date of 31 May and makes a plea to end what Eisenhower sees as the current under-resourcing of Overlord. He states bluntly that Overlord is the moment of crisis for the entire European war and that British and American governments must ensure the resources for success.

January 22

D-Day Preparations, 1944

German Defences, Europe
The Allies make a two-division amphibious assault on Anzio, south of Rome. It is the last large-scale seaborne attack of German-held territory before Overlord, and its progress is watched carefully by SHAEF planners in London. Initially, it is a remarkable success. An armada of 250 ships land 50,000 British and American troops and 5000 vehicles almost unopposed. The landings are a boost to SHEAF, because they reveal the appalling state of German military landings the OKW intelligence Section in Berlin confidently reported that “there are no indications that any major undertaking in the Mediterranean area is imminent.”
The Anzio operations also reduces the number of first-class German units, particularly panzergrenadier and falschirmjager (paratroop) divisions available to meet the invasion of France. OKW transfers movement orders for five divisions from the Channel coast to Italy within days. For months the British have advocated continued support for the Italian campaign for exactly this reason. Their faith now seems justified. By March there will be 24 German divisions fighting in Italy.

January 21

The Third Reich, 1942

North Africa, Libya
Rommel, having retreated, allowed the British Eighth Army into Libya again. Two Australian divisions are moved from Egypt to the Pacific theatre of war to hold Japanese advances, while Rommel receives reinforcements from Germany. Rommel then attacks and smashes the British armour. Benghazi falls by the 29th.

WW11, 1945

Far East, Burma
The Island of Ramree is invaded by the British 71st Brigade. Japanese resistance is virtually non-existent, although it stiffens as Allied troops push farther inland. The island is not cleared until the middle of February, by which time General William Slim has an invaluable base for future long-range operations against Rangoon.

D-Day Preparations, 1944

Reconnaissance, Coasts
The midget submarine X-20 returns successfully from its mission to survey the Normandy landing beaches. The two COPP swimmers involved, Bowden and Ogden Smith, bring back detailed information on beach geology, the position of rocks, and tidal ranges. Their findings are passed to the Inter-Services Topographical Department and Admiral Ramsay. Although they report firm beaches and few obstacles, Ramsay still has doubts as to the viability of some of the landing sites, and orders more survey missions.

January 20

The Third Reich, 1942

Germany, Anti-Semitism
Reinhard Heydrich hosts a conference of Nazi Party and government officials in the SS RHSA headquarters at Wannsee, a Berlin suburb. The meeting is chaired by Heydrich and attended by 15 SS and government officials, including Stukard, Heinrich, Muller, Adolf Eichmann, head of the “Jewish Evacuation Departments” of the Gestapo, and Freisler.

In July 1941, Heydrich has been appointed the officer in charge of planning the “final Solution” of the Jewish “problem”. In the early years of the Nazi regime, they promoted the idea of achieving Aryan racial purity. They decided that undesirables – Slavs, Gypsies, homosexuals, and the handicapped and mentally ill – were to be disposed of. But the chief target of the regime’s campaign was the Jewish population of Germany; later, of all Europe. A policy of consistent persecution was followed during the 1930s, but a more ambitious programme was crafted under the cover of the war. Hitler announced that about 11 million European Jews yet remained to be dealt with. He has decided that a “Final Solution” to the Jewish problem must be implemented while the war was going on.
The Wannsee Conference, as it was known, lasted only a few hours, and proposed the “Final Solution”. The idea of mass deportation was ruled out as impractical, considering the ongoing war. Forced sterilization was discussed but no decision was made at the conference. But as a result of it, directives were sent to move Jews to the East as part of the “territorial solution”. No doubt was left that this meant the physical destruction of all Jews, accelerating the process that has already started. The Einsatzgruppen had already been in action for six months and the first extermination camp, at Chelmno, was by then in operation. The conference decided that the best policy was to round up the Jews from all parts of Europe and send them eastward to work in labour gangs. Hard enough work, it was believed, would result in significant loss of life. Within a few weeks the first poison gas chambers in concentration camps were built in Poland.
Responsibility for carrying out the policy of extermination was given to Reichsfuhrer-SS Heinrich Himmler. The conference gave Eichmann the necessary authority for his actions in the various ministries, and 30 copies of the conference records were distributed to them. At no point was killing mentioned. Recipients were expected to understand the meaning of “final solution” and “ deportation to the east”. The policy of extermination went forward until the end of the war. Accurate numbers are impossible to obtains, but the estimates run as high as 15 million people, including six million Jews. They were liquidated in the camps or by mass executions in isolated places.

Civil War, 1863, January 20-22

Virginia, Land War
The Union Army of the Potomac begins its march to quickly cross the Rappahannock River above Lee’s left and attack that flank of the Confederate position. However, it begins to rain relentlessly, turning the whole area into a sea of mug. The “Mug March” ends with Burnside ordering his army to return to their camps across the river from Fredericksburg.

January 19

WW11, 1945

Eastern Front, Poland
Following heavy fighting, units of the 1st Ukrainian Front liberate Cracow, the former capital of Poland. The German Third and Fourth Panzer Armies are not isolated in East Prussia, and the German front is falling apart in the face of immense pressure.

D-Day Preparations, 1944

French Resistance, Resources

The Committee for National Liberation today formerly appeals to the Combined Chiefs of Staff for a large increase in the amount of arms and supplies being send to Resistance groups. The Germans have been very successful in finding arms caches in recent months. There is also a request by the British Special Operations Executive (SOE), the secret organization responsible for sabotage and subversion, for an increase in airlift capacity. At present there are only 23 Halifax bombers available to drop agents and supplies into the whole northern and northwest Europe. SOE wants a substantial increase in aircraft if its agents and the Resistance groups it supports are to play a full role in the coming invasion.

The Civil War, 1865

South Carolina, Land War
Union General William T. Sherman, having completed his infamous March to the Sea, during which his army has stormed from Atlanta to Savannah in just five weeks, destroying everything in its path, vows to push on through the Carolinas into Virginia. Today, he orders a northward march into South Carolina. The state is considered to be the “cradle of secession,” and many Union troops want to make it pay for being the cause of so much suffering. The 60,000 Union troops are opposed by the Confederate Army of Tennessee, led by Joseph E. Johnston from February and numbering fewer than 10,000.

January 18

WW11, 1945, January 18-27

Eastern Front, Hungary
The German IV SS Panzer Corps launches an offensive to relieve Budapest. In the face of soviet resistance, it reaches the Vali River on the 22nd, only 15 miles (24 km) southwest of the city. However the momentum of the attack had been halted by the 25th, and two days later the Red Army counterattacks with 12 rifle divisions and strong armored support, effectively ending the German Budapest relief operation.

WW11, 1945, January 18-February 3

Far East, Burma
A vicious battle develops at Namhpakka between the Japanese 56th division, which is retreating to Lashio, and the American Mars Brigade.

D-Day Preparations, 1944

Commanders, Eisenhower
After the public announcement of Eisenhower’s arrival in Britain as Allied Supreme Commander, the general meets the press for a photo session. Winston Churchill arrives back in London from Marrakech, Morocco, after convalescing from a bout of pneumonia. The prime minister has been out of the country since he left for Cairo and Tehran conferences the previous November. He is now extremely keen to be brought up to speed with all current invasion plans and preparations

Order of Battle, US Forces
Eighteen thousand men of the US 4th Infantry Division, under the command of Major-General Raymond O. Barton, set sail from New York for England.

January 17

D-Day Preparations, 1944

Reconnaissance, Coasts
As part of the increased reconnaissance by COPP of proposed landing beaches along the Calvados coast, Royal Navy midget submarine X-20, under Lieutenant-Commander Wilmott, begins a secret mission. On board are two COPP swimmers, Major Scott Bowden and Sergeant Ogden Smith, who completed a similar mission 17 days previously. Tonight Wilmott surfaces the X-20 just 350m (380yds) from the shore of occupied France, and Bowden and Ogden swim ashore to take the first of a series of geological samples. The mission will go on for the next three days

Order of Battle, US Forces
Eisenhower appoints General Omar N. Bradley, commander US First Army, as the future commanding officer of all US armies in the field. The appointment will take effect after the invasion, and only when the battle of Normandy has been won and US forces are in a position to strike towards Germany. Before this time US forces will operate under the control of Montgomery’s 21st Army Group.

January 16

WW11, 1945

Far East, Burma
In the north of the country, General Daniel Sultan’s Chinese New First Army occupies Namhkan. The last Japanese positions threatening the Burma Road have been eradicated.

D-Day Preparations, 1944

Commanders, Eisenhower
It is announced by BBC radio that General Eisenhower is now the Allied Supreme Commander in Europe. SHAEF holds a press conference to give details to the newspapers of the free world.

January 15

D-Day Preparations, 1944

Order of Battle, Command
Today is the formal end of COSSAC. Most of its staff will be absorbed into Supreme Headquarters, Allied expeditionary Force (SHAEF) in the coming four weeks. The former head of COSSAC, General Frederick Morgan, will not become one of the deputies to SHAEF’s chief of staff, Bedell Smith. General Eisenhower will fill other key appointments with officers who have served his earlier commands in North Africa and the Mediterranean. These will include RAF Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder, who was former Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Allied Air Forces. He is to be appointed as Deputy Allied Supreme Commander.

WW11, 1945, January 15-26

Western Front, Germany
After the containment of the German Ardennes offensive, the Allies launch a large counterattack against the Germans.  In the north, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery’s British 21st Army Group presses into the Roermond area, while farther south General Omar Bradley’s US 12th Army Group approaches the upper Roer River

The Civil War, 1865

North Carolina, Naval War
The only Major Confederate port is still open, Wilmington, is sealed off. The Confederacy has lost its last significant access to the outside world.

January 14

WW11, 1945

Far East, Burma
The 19th Division, part of Lieutenant General William Slim’s British Fourteenth Army, crosses the Irrawaddy River at Kyaukmyaung but is then violently attacked by Japanese troops holding the line of the waterway. Forced back by hordes of infantry with fixed bayonets, the division manages to hold the bridgehead in the face of the fierce onslaught.

D-Day Preparations, 1944

Commanders, Allies
Eisenhower makes his visit to Norfolk House where SHAEF HQ is to be established initially. In the coming weeks the Supreme Commander will divide his time between here and his personal office at 20 Grosvenor Square.
General Montgomery leaves London on his own specially converted HQ train to visit and address units of V and VII Corps, US First Army. As he is not officially in command of the US Army troops, this is a morale-boosting public relations exercise, and the first of several such tours in which Monty will speak to groups of up to 5000 men at a time.

Air Campaign, Target Strategy
As part of the campaign to reduce the threat German fighters pose to the invasion, Air Chief Marshal Arthur Harris, head of RAF Bomber Command is ordered by Combined Chiefs of Staff to concentrate his raids on fighter production plants and ballbearing factories. He agrees reluctantly, but voices the opinion that his bombers would be better employed attacking German cities, particularly Berlin.

January 13

The Civil War, January 13-15, 1865

North Carolina, Land/Naval War
The Fall of Fort Fisher. Fort Fisher is finally taken by a large combined-forces Union operation. The Union can now attack Wilmington, the South’s last open seaport on the Atlantic coast.

D-Day Preparations, 1944

German Defences, France
General Jodl continues his inspection of coastal defences in France. He finds preparations in Cherbourg – one of the largest ports on the Atlantic coast and an obvious Allied invasion objective – to be in a state of chaos. As a result of Jodl’s findings, Cherbourg and other major ports on the coast are fortified on the landward side and their port facilities wired for demolition.

Planning, Army
Montgomery convenes a meeting of senior British and American army corps and divisional officers at 21st Army Group HQ. With the imminent arrival from the United States of the Allied Supreme Commander, Eisenhower, Monty describes the organizational structure of the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) and his own role within it. The general also describes how he intends to run the coming land battle and what he expects of his chief subordinate officers. He places particular emphasis on integrating the work of the various command staffs within 21st Army Group and the importance of Allied air superiority to the land campaign.

Commanders, Allies
General Eisenhower flies into Great Britain from Washington, DC. He arrives late at night in secret, and without any ceremony is driven straight to London and his quarters near Berkeley Square.

January 12

The Vietnam War, 1972

Laos, Ground War
The Communist forces in Laos capture the city of Long Chen, using Soviet supplied armour and artillery.

WW11, 1945, January 12-17

Eastern Font, Poland
The Red Army begins its Vistula-Oder offensive. Soviet forces total over two million men: Marshal Georgi Zhukov’s 1st Belorussian Front, Marshal Ivan Knoev’s 1st Ukrainian front, and General Ivan Petrov’s 4th Ukrainian Front. In addition, Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky’s 2nd Belorussian Front and General Ivan Chernyakhovsky’s  3rd Belorussian front are providing tactical and strategic cooperation. The soviets make excellent progress, and by the 17th, Zhukov’s Second Guards Tank Army has reached Sochaczew. To the north, the 1st Baltic, 2nd Belorussian, and 3rd Belorussian  Fronts launch an offensive into East Prussia on the 13th.

Training, Amphibious Assault
US V Corps headquarters issues a critique of Exercise Duck I, completed last week. Although the exercise was the first amphibious operation undertaken on a large scale by American troops, V Corps’ report is highly critical. Embarkation of troops was slow and the organization of supplies needs improving. During the assault the landing craft became disorganized and landed out of order. Once on the beach, the troops were overloaded with equipment, and were too slow and bunched together under simulated fire. Corps commander General Gerow goes so far as to wonder whether any of them would have made it off the beach alive. Support units come in for equal criticism. Vehicles were landed and not unloaded, troops and vehicles used the same roads resulting in traffic jams inland, there was a lack of radio equipment, security was very bad and camouflage was poor.
V Corps HQ concludes that a lot of work needs to be done and much improvement shown, at all levels.

January 11

Vietnam War, 19767

South Vietnam, US AID
After an inspection tour of Marine forces in South Vietnam, the commandant of the Marine Corps, General Wallace M. Greene, tells the press that nearly one-fourth or 22 percent of the US Marine corps is now in Vietnam.

D-Day Preparations, 1944

Order of Battle, US Forces
The headquarters units of the US 4th Armored Division arrive in Great Britain by ship from Boston. This is the first American armoured division to arrive in Great Britain, and will be organized into General Omar C. Bradley’s US First Army. The division will not land in France until July

Air Campaign, Factory Bombing
As part of the strategy to seriously reduce the numbers of German fighter aircraft available to meet the invasion, bombers of the US Eighth Army Air Force attack three fighter production plants in central German

January 10

WW11, 1945, January 10-February 10

Eastern Front, Czechoslovakia
With the Red Army on their soil, Czech partisans begin to attack German units and supply lines.

D-Day Preparations, 1944

Air Campaign, Target Planning
The Allied Expeditionary Air Forces sets up its Bombing Committee, to agree on the targets on the continent to be raided in support of the invasion. SHAEF and the Supreme Commander, however, have no control over the strategic bombers commanded by Air Marshal Harris and General Spaatz. Until there is a chance in the Allied chain of command these two bomber chiefs will answer to the Combined Chiefs of staff only. The consequences of this is that the bomber chiefs will regard SHAEF’s targeting requests as a low priority.

January 9

WW11, 1945

Pacific, Philippines
Preceded by a heavy bombardment, units of the US Sixth Army, commanded by Lieutenant General Walter Krueger, make unopposed amphibious landings on Luzon.

Civil War, 1863, January 9-11

Missouri, Land War
The Battle of Hartville, Elements of John S. Marmaduke’s Confederates raid into Missouri and drive Union troops out of Hartville on two occasions, the second time as Union forces attempt to surround the Confederates.

Arkansas, Land War
The Battle of Arkansas Post/Fort Hindman. A union combined force envelops and captures Fort Hindman, a major hindrance to Union shipping on the Mississippi. Union losses are 1,047. Over 5,000 Confederates surrender

January 8

Vietnam War, 1967

South Vietnam, Ground War
The US Army launches Operation Cedar Falls, which has been planned with the objective of destroying the Viet Cong’s headquarters as well as interdicting the movement of enemy forces into the major war zones in III Corps Tactical Zone, and defeating Viet Cong units encamped there.
Like Operation Attleboro preceding it, Cedar Falls tapped the manpower and resources of nearly every US Army unit in the corps area. A serious of preliminary manoeuvres brought army units into position, while several air assaults sealed off the area known as the Iron Triangle exploiting the natural barriers of the rivers that formed two of its boundaries. Then American units began a series of sweeps to push the enemy towards the blocking forces. At the village of Ben Suc, long under the sway of the Viet Cong, 60 helicopters descended into seven landing zones in less than a minute. Ben Suc was surrounded and its entire population evacuated, before the village and tunnel complex were destroyed. But the Viet Cong had fled before the heliborne assault. As Cedar Falls progressed throughout January and into February, US troops destroyed hundreds of enemy fortifications, captured large quantities of supplies and food, and evacuated the hamlets. But contact with the enemy was fleeting. Most of the Viet Cong, including the high-level cadre of the regional command, had escaped by infiltrating through Allied lines.

Civil War, 1863

Missouri, Land War
The Battle of Springfield. Union troops occupying the major supply depot at Springfield repel large-scale Confederate attacks, inflicting 240 casualties on the Rebels.

January 7

D-Day Preparations, 1944

German Defences, France
General Alfred Jodl, the chief of operations for the German Army High Command, the OKW, is on tour of inspection of the Western defences. He is deeply concerned by their poor state of readiness. He identifies several major problems. These including the transfer of experienced combat units and officers to the Eastern Front and the use of the Western theatre of operations as an area for re-equipping and reorganizing units after tours of duty in Russia. He notes in his diary: “The best people have been removed. The officers are good and the men are good, but they cannot act. Re-equipment is producing chaos.” Despite the current lack of combat-ready divisions in the West, Jodl puts his faith in the construction of Hitler’s Atlantic Wall.

WW11, 1945

Eastern Font, Hungary
German forces capture Esztergom, northwest of Budapest, a Nazi National Redoubt, in their attempt to relieve the garrison in the capital.

January 6

Vietnam War, 1967

South Vietnam, Naval War
The US Marine’s Special Landing Force (Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division), along with some elements of the 3rd and 4th Marine Battalions, launches Deckhouse V from the USS Iwo Jima (LPH-2), which assaults an area of suspected Viet Cong concentrations along the coast between the Co Chien and Ham Luong reaches of the Mekong Delta. The Marines manage to kill only 21 Viet Cong, destroy two small-arms workshops and capture 44 weapons and 42.6 tonnes (42 tons) of rice. Seven US Marines are killed in action, while one South Vietnamese Marine dies in a combat-related accident.

January 5

WW11, 1945

Air War, Belgium/Holland
The Luftwaffe launches Operation Bodenplatte in support of the Ardennes offensive with 1035 fighters and bombers attacking Allied airfields in Belgium and southern Holland. The Germans destroy 156 Allied aircraft but lose 227 of their own, losses the Luftwaffe cannot make good. It is the last major German air attack.

D-Day Preparations, 1944

Order of Battle, US Forces
The US Strategic Air Forces in Europe are established in the UK under the command of Lieutenant-General Carl Spaatz. He is to coordinate operations of the US Eighth and Ninth Army Air Forces in Great Britain and the US Fifteenth Army Air Force in Italy. Although he is independent of Eisenhower’s command of Overlord, his cooperation will be essential for the success of the invasion, particularly because he has operational control of the B-17 and B-24 squadrons of VIII Bomber Command.

Planning, Strategy
This is the final day of Montgomery’s review of the COSSAC invasion plan. These meetings are later recalled by one of the COSSAC’s senior planning officers, Major-General K.G. McLean:
“On the third day we reduced his demand to extending to ‘Sword’ beach [on the left flank]… and to the Cotentin. He didn’t believe in the Mulberry [harbours], stressed Cherbourg heavily, which we didn’t. this is particularly why he wanted the Cotentin. On the third day Monty took the line we must have more [landing] craft. He said it must be a five division front – or no show, ‘Give me this or get someone else …’.”
Finally, the planners are told to go away and draft a wholly new invasion plan, to involve a five-division assault flanked by two airborne landings. The assault area is to be on the 30km (50mile) front, stretching from the River Orne to the east coast of the Cotentin.
The conclusions reached at this first Overlord conference will form the basis of all the invasion plans agreed upon in the coming months. One decision, however, will prove to have far-reaching implications for the battle of Normandy later in the year. The capture of Caen, the region’s biggest town and communications hub, will no longer be guaranteed as a D-Day objective.
In three days Montgomery has galvanized the planning operation and injected a much-needed sense of urgency. He has also identified the fact that so far Overlord has not been given the resources it needs, and that if an invasion is to go ahead at all it must have first call on one of the most important Allied strategic resources: landing craft.

January 4

WW11, 1945

Far East, Burma
Units of General William Slim’s British Fourteenth Army make an unopposed landing on the island of Akyab, securing the port and the airfield.

WW11, 1945, January 4-6

Pacific, Philippines
Prior to the landings on Luzon, the Japanese launch a series of Kamikaze attacks on ships of the US 7th Fleet. Over 1000 Americans and Australians are killed in the suicide attacks, a minesweeper is sunk, and more than 30 other vessels are damaged.

D-Day Preparations, 1944

Planning, Overall Strategy
Montgomery holds his first meeting with Allied naval commander Admiral Ramsay at Norfolk House. Later in the day, at 21st Army Group HQ, the general meets with COSSAC planners once again. The officers have worked overnight and studied the feasibility of an extension of the assault front on both flanks. They conclude that extending the initial assault into Brittany and towards Dieppe would be impractical, and Montgomery agrees; but the COSSAC staff concur with the general that a landing on the east coast of the Cotentin Peninsula is essential to secure Cherbourg. The conference will conclude tomorrow.

Training, Amphibious Assault
The first major amphibious exercise for American troops begins at Slapton Sand, Devon. Exercise Duck I involves headquarters units of US V Corps and 29th Infantry Division, together with elements of the 175th Regimental Landing Team and 1st Engineer Special Brigade. About 16,000 assault troops are involves, embarking on landing craft from ports along the south coasts of Cornwall and Devon. Duck I has been in preparation since November 1943
A Convoy including 14 LCT (Landing Craft, Tanks), 57 LCM (Landing Craft, Mechanized), escorted by four British destroyers, simulate an opposed landing. The assault troops overcome “enemy” coastal defences, including pillboxes and (stimulated) minefields and then move inland to establish a defensive perimeter against attack by armour. While the assault teams practice combat, support units are refining their own tasks. Quartermaster units experiment with loading and unloading equipment on newly designed pallets, while engineers try our new techniques for laying beach roads. Despite the months of planning and the thousands of troops involved, the US Ninth Army Air Force cannot supply aircraft on the opening day because of other priorities.

January 3

WW11, 1945, January 3-16

Western Front, Ardennes
The last German attack against Bastogne is defeated. The Allied counterattack begins: on the northern flank the US First Army attacks the northern sector of the “Bulge,” while the southern sector is assaulted by the US third Army. In the “bulge” itself, Hitler orders a German withdrawal to Houffalize on the 8th. However, in the face of overwhelming Allied superiority in men and hardware the Germans are forced to retreat farther east, and the US First and Third Armies link up at Houffalize on the 16th.

WW11, 1945, January 3-4

Pacific, Ryukyus
The US 3rd Fleet attacks Japanese targets on Formosa, destroying 100 enemy aircraft.

The Third Reich, 1945

Western Front, Ardennes
The final German attack against Bastogne is defeated. Hitler’s last offensive in the West has been stopped. The Allies regroup and launch a counterattack. By the 16th the US First and Third Armies have linked up at Houffalize.

Vietnam War, 1967

South Vietnam, Ground War
Republic of Korea troops begin operation Maeng Ho 8, a 60-day search and destroy operation in Phu Yen and Binh Dinh Provinces in II Corps Tactical Zone. Korean troops kill 211 Viet Cong Soldiers and capture 403/

January 2

WW11, 1945

Technology, United States
An American Sikorsky helicopter is used in convoy escort duties for the first time.

D-Day Preparations, 1944

Commanders, Allies
General Montgomery arrives in London to take up his post as commander 21st Army Group. Admiral Ramsay, who has been working on naval invasion plans for the past five months, airs a rather pessimistic view to Sir Alan Brooke, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, that Monty’s arrival has come “two months too late”.
General Eisenhower arrives in Washington, DC, from North Africa, for a short visit to his family before he flies to London to take up his post as Supreme Commander. While in Washington, “Ike” will hold several meetings with General Marshall and President Roosevelt. Of Particular concern to Marshall is the British attitude to operation Anvil, the proposed invasion of southern France, earmarked to coincide with Operation Overlord. Marshall is worried that the British seem more concerned with keeping forces in Italy than using them is an assault on France’s Mediterranean coast.

January 1

The Vietnam War, 1972

South Vietnam, US AID
General Leonard Chapman, Jr, Commandant of the Marine Corps, is succeeded in office by General Robert E. Cushman, Jr Both Marine officers served as commanding generals of III Marine Am[hibious Force in South Vietnam.

WW11, 1945

Eastern Front, Czechoslovakia
The Soviet 2nd and 4rd Ukrainian Fronts begin an offensive against the German Army Group Center in Czechoslovakia. The German-held area contains last foreign industrial resources under the control of the Third Reich. The soviet fronts between them have 853,000 men, 9986 guns, 590 tanks, and 1400 combat aircraft. German forces total 550,000 men, 5000 guns, and 700 combat aircraft. Despite German fortification and resistance, the Red Army makes good progress.

WW11, 1945, January 1-21

Western Front, France
In a follow up to the attack in the Ardennes sector, General Johannes von Blaskowitz’s Army Group G attacks the US seventh Army in Alsace and Lorraine, forming the so-called Colmar Pocket. The Americans retreat, although General Dwight D. Eisenhower, commander-in-chief of Allied forces in Europe, orders Strasbourg to be held after the leader of the Free French, General Charles de Gaulle, expresses concern that the loss of the city would affect French morale. The Fighting is bitter and it Costs the US 15,600 Casualties, and the Germans 25,000.

WW11, 1945, January 1-27

Far East, Burma
The Chinese units of Lieutenant General Daniel Sultan’s Northern Combat Area Command and Marshal Wei Lihuang’s Y Force link up in northern Burma in the face of significant resistance from the Japanese 56th Division.

 D-Day Preparations, 1944

German Defences, France
From Fuhrer Headquarters in Rastenburg, East Prussia, Hitler agrees to von Rundstedt’s proposal that Rommel should command a new army group to be known as Army Group B. it will emcompass three major forces: General Hans von Salmuth’s Fiftheenth Army, defending the coast from Antwerp in Belgium to the River Orne in Normandy; General Friedrich Dollman’s Seventh Army, holding a sector covering both Normandy and Brittany from the Orne to the River Loire; and the Netherlands occupation forces of LXXXVIII Army Corps, commanded by General Hans Reinhard.
Army Group B will remain subordinate to von Rundstedt’s OB West. Confusing the German chain of command further is the fact that all panzer units in northern France are presently under the separate command of General Geyr von Schweppenburg’s Panzer Group West. Von Schweppenburg reports to OB West regarding training and organization, but any commitment of armoured units to combat operations by von Rundstedt must have Hitler’s personal permission. Rommel will assume his command of Army Group B on January 15.

December 30

D-Day, 1943

Reconnaissance, Coast
Steps are already being taken by the Allies to identify and chart potential landing beaches in Normandy. This secret work is undertaken by the Combined Operations Pilotage Parties (COPP), based in Portsmouth. These units include Royal Navy and British Army personnel who specialize in covert reconnaissance. They operate from canoes or miniature submarines and have already worked successfully on the coasts of Sicily and mainland Italy.

      Quoted:  “Two of the COPP’s swimmers, Major Scott Bowden and Sergeant Ogden Smith, are on a mission tonight to survey an area of beach opposite the village of La Riviere. They are dropped by launch to swim 365m (400 yds.) to shore. Once there, they use augers to take samples of beach sand to bring back. This is vital work. Planners must be told whether potential landing beaches are stable enough to hold the weight of vehicles and armour.”

German Defences, France
There are proposed changed to the German chain of command in France. So far Rommel’s task here has been as advisor to Hitler and OKW regarding defence preparations; he has no control over field units within OB West. Both von Rundstedt and Rommel realize that this situation is a waste of Rommel’s experience, so von Rundstedt recommends to Hitler that a new army group be established in northern France and the Netherlands, under OB West control but commanded by Rommel – in effect, putting Rommel in charge of defence preparations.

December 29

The Civil War, 1863

Tennessee, Land War
The Battle of Mossy Creek. A cavalry engagement in the Vicinity of Dandridge, Jefferson County, sees rebel forces eventually pushed back and the Union in control of Mossy Creek.

December 28

World War 1, 1915

28th December

Allied troops evacuate the Gallipoli Peninsula following the failure of the August Offensive of the Gallipoli Campaign.  British General Ian Hamilton first brought up the suggestion of retreat and evacuation October 11, 1915.  He though was dismissed right after this and was replaced with Lieutenant General Charles Monro who continued on with the war objectives.  After substantial reinforcement of the Ottoman forces in late November the Allies were forced to address the issue of evacuation again and in early December agreed to evacuate.

Full evacuation of Gallipoli was completed on January 8, 1916.

December 27

D-Day, 1943

Commanders, Allies
Montgomery flies to Algiers to meet Eisenhower. It is their first discussion about the organization of the Allied armies for Overlord and Montgomery will establish a forward tactical 21st Army Group HQ in France to control the battle. In effect, he will be Overlord’s land forces commander until there are sufficient US Army forces in France to create their own army groups.

December 26

The Civil War, December 26-29, 1862

Mississippi, Land War
The Battle of Chickasaw Bayou/Walnut Hills. The Union assault towards Vicksburg is stopped and suffers 1,776 casualties when it turns into Confederate defenses in the Walnut Hills.

December 24

D-Day, 1943

Commanders, Allies.
British General Bernard L. Montgomery, of the Eighth Army in Italy, is appointed commander of the 21st Army Group. Its headquarters (HQ), based in Great Britain, will be charged with planning and executing the amphibious assault and initial stages of the land battle in France. General Montgomery will report directly to General Eisenhower, who will retain overall command of all the Allied forces in Europe.

December 23

Italy, WW11, 1943

The Ciano Diaries are released.

The son-in-law of Mussolini, Count Galeazzo Ciano who was had been the Foreign Minister of Italy had already been imprisoned for a year as of December 1943. 

Ciano was not a proponent of Mussolini’s war plans and eventually turned against the war and Mussolini.  He pushed for the war to end, including leaking information and aided in Mussolini’s removal.  After fleeing from Italy he was returned by the German to Mussolini who had been re-instated in the North of Italy who then charged him with treason.  Tried and found guilty Ciano was to face a firing squad.

Ciano had kept a diary for most of the war with daily writings about his meetings with Hitler, Mussolini and other major WW11 players, including many personal insights into these people his diaries were quite threatening to the Germans and fascists.

On December 23 Ciano manage to get a large portion of his diaries snuck out of the prison.  These became quite important historical documents still used today.

December 22

WW11, 1943

Canadians confront Fallschirmjager in Ortona.

On the 19th of December the Canadian First Infantry Division who had just survived some brutal fighting were given some much needed rest. Not long after they were back on the attack in the town of Ortona joining the Second Brigade.  The Canadians were in a stalemate with the German Paratroopers.  Fighting a house to house battle with the Germans became very brutal and the Canadians had to battle furiously for every gain.

December 21

World War 1, 1914

Western Front

During the Battle of Givenchy the British troops come to the aid of the Indians to help push the Germans further north. 

December 20

1861, VIRGINIA, LAND WAR: The Battle of Dranesville. As part of McClellan’s continuing operations in northern Virginia, Union troops inflict a sharp local defeat on Confederate cavalry around Dranesville.

December 19

D-Day, 1943

German Defences, France
In Paris, Rommel meets with Field Marshal  Gerd von Rundstedy, the commander of Oberbefehlshaber West (OB West), which controls the German Army in France and the Low Countries. Although Rommel has no role within the OB West chain of command, his recommendations for the defence of France go direct to Hitler, so von Rundstedt must take them into consideration. The field marshals agree that the Pas de Calais in the most likely invasion point and that is unlikely that the Atlantic wall will be strong enough to hold the Allies on the beaches. A counterattack by armoured divisions will be needed, but the two men disagree on how to organize it. Von Rundstedt wants to counterattack inland, away from any navy bombardment, using a large armoured reserve. Rommel knows that such a reserve will come under concentrated Allied air attack. He wants a mobile reserve to hit the Allies near the beachhead. In order to hold the Allies long enough to give the reserve time to move in, coastal defences will have to be improved rapidly.

December 18

1940, POLITICS, GERMANY: Adolf Hitler issues his plan for invading the Soviet Union, code-named Operation Barbarossa. His Directive No.21 retains a three-pronged offensive but the weight of the invasion plan has now shifted northward to Leningrad and the Baltic area, where Army Groups North and Center are to annihilate the enemy forces, before attacking and occupying Moscow.

1965, SOUTH VIETNAM, GROUND WAR: During Smash II Lieutenant-General Jonathon O. Seaman’s 2nd Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division encounters no Viet Cong forces, but the soldiers do find an enemy base camp, as well as a large quantity of ammunition; the brigade destroys it. What the effects of Operations Smash I and Smash II will have on the enemy’s plans cannot be immediately determined. Meanwhile, US commanders believe that they have prevented a probable enemy holiday offensive. More importantly, the presence of the American units at this short notice to the Viet Cong and NVA that the Americans are now here to stay in III Corps Tactical Zone (IIICTZ).

December 17


The Battle of the River Plate

After sinking several merchant ships in the Atlantic, the Admiral Graf Spee was sighted on December 13, 1939, off the Rio de la Plata estuary by a British search group consisting of the cruisers Exeter, Ajax and Achilles, commanded by Commodore H. Harwood. At 06:14 hours Harwood’s three ships attacked, but in a little more than an hour the Admiral Graf Spee had damaged the Exeter and driven off the other two cruisers. The Admiral Graf Spee then made for Montevideo, Uruguay, where its commander, Captain Hans Langsdorff, obtained permission to stay for four days to repair damage. The British devoted the period to intense diplomatic and intelligence activity in order to keep the Admiral Graf Spee in harbor while they brought up heavy reinforcements. On December 17, however, when the Admiral Graf Spee put to sea again, only the Cumberland had arrived to reinforce the Ajax and Achilles. The fight that the British had anticipated never took place: Captain Langsdorff, believing that a superior force awaited him, had his crew scuttle their ship; three days later Langsdorff shot himself.

1861, KENTUCKY, LAND WAR: The Battle of Rowlett’s Station/Woodsonville/Green River, Union troops engage with Confederate units in the Woodsonville woodlands. Neither side wins, but the Unionists secure the flow of logistics along the Louisville & Nashville Railroad.

December 16

The Civil War, 1862

North Carolina, Land War
The Battle of White Hall/Whitehall/White Hall Ferry. Federal troops of the Goldsborough expedition, led by General J.G. Foster, fix Confederate forces on the Neuse River while the mass Union troops continue their march.

December 15

1939, SEA WAR, ATLANTIC:  The damaged Leipzig is torpedoed again, this time by HMS Ursula.

1965, NORTH VIETNAM, AIR WAR: US Air Force aircraft bomb and destroy a  North Vietnamese thermal power plant at Uongbi in the first American air raid on a major North Vietnamese industrial target.

December 14

The Third Reich, 1941

Sea War, Atlantic
A dramatic and very significant convoy battle takes place in the Atlantic Ocean. Swordfish aircraft from the British escort carrier Audacity succeed in keeping U-boats away from convoy HX76. U-751, commanded by Korvettenkapitan Gerhard Bigalk, manages to sink the Audacity after a ferocious battle. However, Donitz records in his war diary: “The risk of being sunk is greater than the possible success. The presence of aircraft makes ‘wolf pack’ tactics impossible.” U-boat High Command now uses standing directives to U-boat commanders telling them to make the location and destruction of aircraft carriers their prime objective.

The Civil War, December 14-15, 1863

Tennessee, Land War
The Battle of Bean’s Station. General Longstreet pushes Union Brigadier General J.M Shackelford’s 4,000 infantry and cavalry out of Bean’s Station in a two-day engagement. This battle ends the confederacy’s failed Knoxville Campaign.

December 13

1939, SEA WAR, ATLANTIC: The British submarine HMS Salmon scores torpedo hits on the cruisers Leipzig and Nurnberg.

1861, WEST VIRGINIA, LAND WAR:  The Battle of Camp Allegheny/Allegheny Mountain. Federal troops fail to displace Confederates from Allegheny Mountain.

December 12
D-Day, 1943

German Defences, France
Field Marshall Erwin Rommel arrives in France to review defence preparations. He is on an inspection tour of the western coast, from Denmark to the Spanish border, ordered by Hitler and the Army High command, the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW) in November. Rommel will review the progress of the fixed defences of the “Atlantic Wall” and the preparedness of German Army units. He sets up his headquarters at Fontainebleu, southeast of Paris, and begins work north of the River Seine. This coastal sector of the Pas de Calais, from Le Havre to Ostend, is held by the Fifteenth Army, commanded by General Hans von Salmuth. This stretch of the French coast is closest to Great Britain and is the most likely target for an allied invasion.

December 11
The Third Reich, 1941

Germany and Italy, Treaties
Germany and Italy declare war on the United States, an absurd gesture of solidarity with Japan which is to have significant consequences for Germany.

December 10
The Vietnam War, 1970

USA, Military Strategy
President Richard M. Nixon warns that in North Vietnamese forces increase the level of fighting in South Vietnam as the American forces withdraw, he will resume bombing targets within North Vietnam.

December 8
World War 1, 1918

Western Front

The Allies have a busy day on the Western Front as the Belgians occupy Urdingen, Germany at the Rhine River and the Third American Army arrives at Koblenze, Germany.   

British 1st Cavalry Division reaches Germany after passing Namur and secured the crossings of the Rhine at Cologne.

December 7
WWII, Pacific War, 1941

Pacific, Pearl Harbor The Japanese attack Pearl Harbor and part of the US Pacific Fleet is destroyed.

December 6

1940, POLITICS, ITALY: Marshal Pietro Badoglio, Italy’s commander-in-chief, resigns.

December 5

The Third Reich, 1941

Eastern Front, Soviet Union
To the surprise of the German General staff and the bewilderment of the frontline troops, Russian counterattacks come through the snow using reserves fresh from training in Siberia and signalling the commencement of the Soviet Union’s effort to drive the German Army from the outskirts of Moscow. In the days that were to follow, the Siberians distinguished themselves. Kept warm by sheepskin coats, as well as quilted pants, fur hats and felt boots, they could travel almost silently over the snow and wait patiently for hours in snow before launching an attack at night.

The Siberians broke through on December 14 near Klin, a transportation centre north of Moscow, littering the road to the west for 40km (25 miles) with the charred and frozen remnants of tanks and men from two panzer divisions. On that day the Siberians killed 3000 German soldiers. South of Moscow, the Red Army’s cavalry corps crossed frozen rivers. Tanks pulled armoured sleds packed with more infantry. Soldiers fought on the run, carrying sacks of dry bread crusts and raw vegetables, and feeding their horses with straw stripped from thatched roofs. The Red Army forced the Germans back 160-240km (100-150 miles) before stabilizing the line.

Stalin, gambling that Japan would not attack Russian in the East, moved the Siberians across to Asia to the European theatre. In the south Rundstedt was forced to evacuate Rostov, which he has just taken. Shocked by the news of his first major military setback ever, Hitler dismissed Brauchitsch and assumes his role. Other army commanders are dismissed including Rundstedt and Guderian.

December 4

World War 1, 1917

Western Front

The Canadians flush out the Germans at Bourlon Wood, France during the Hundred Days Offensive (Canada’s Hundred Days)

West Verdun:   German attempts to reach Avocourt and Forges is stopped by the French during the battle of West Verdum (February 21 to December 18)

December 3

The Vietnam War, 1970

South Vietnam, US Armed Forces
American strength in Vietnam is down to 349,700, the lowest number since October 29, 1966.

December 2-5


Colonel William D. Brodbeck’s 3rd Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division’s task force searches towards the southeast of Landing Zone Dallas in rectangle-sized area of heavy undergrowth that extends for about 13km (8 miles) west to east and 20km (12 miles) to the south. Two infantry battalions maneuver methodically over several days from phase line to phase line in search of the elusive enemy, but fail to find the Viet Cong.

December 1

The Vietnam War, 1970

South Vietnam, US Armed Forces
The 1st Marine Division’s strength, over 28,000 at the start of the year, now stands at 12,000 US Marines and sailors.

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