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This Day in History

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
October 25

The Vietnam War, 1966

South Vietnam, Ground War
Operation Thayer I begins. This is an operation in Binh Dinh Province conducted by elements of the 1st Cavalry Divisions (Airmobile). It is followed by Operation Thayer II and in turn by Operation Pershing in the rich northern coastal plain and Kim Son and Loi Ci Valley to the west. There is a total of 1757 confirmed enemy casualties and the operation takes place over 111 days.

 

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
October 24

The Vietnam War, 1966

USA Diplomacy
At a conference in Manila, President Johnson holds a meeting with leaders from six other nations; South Vietnam, New Zealand, Australia, Korea, Thailand and the Philippines. The conferees issue a four-point statement called the Declaration of Peace, which demands the peaceful settlement of the Vietnam War.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
October 23

The Third Reich, 1940

Sea war, Atlantic
The Pocket battleship Admiral Scheer leaves Gotenhafen for the Atlantic under the command of Kapitan zur See Theodor Krancke. Some of the German heavy cruisers were classes as pocket battleships.

Spain, Diplomacy
Reichsfubrer-SS Himmlet visits Spain to discuss various questions to include those arising out of the shared frontier between France and Spain, now that France has been occupied.

Pacific, Philippines,  October 23-26, 1944

Following the US landings on Leyte, the Japanese put in motion their Sho Plan, in which a part of the Combined Fleet is used to decoy the US carrier force while the remainder concentrates against the landing area and attempts to destroy the amphibious armada. The resulting naval battle of Leyte Gult has four phases: the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea, the Battle of the Surigao Strait, the Battle of Samar, and the Battle of Cape Engano. The result is the Japanese Combined Fleet is finished as a fighting force, not least because its losses in trained pilots are irreplaceable. It loses 500 aircraft, four carriers, three battleships, six heavy and four light cruisers, 11 destroyers and a submarine, while every other ship engaged is damaged. US losses are 200 aircraft, one light carrier, two escort carriers, two destroyers, and one destroyer-escort.

 

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
October 22

Civil War, 1862

Oklahoma, Land War
The Battle of Old Fort Wayne/Beaty’s Prairie. The Confederate 1st Brigade loses 150 men and much equipment during a defeat at Old Fort Wayne. 

Brig. Gen. James G. Blunt and his troops attacked Col. Douglas H. Cooper and his Confederate command on Beatties Prairie near Old Fort Wayne at 7:00 am on October 22, 1862. The Confederates put up stiff resistance for a half hour, but overwhelming numbers forced them to retire from the field in haste, leaving artillery and equipage behind. This was a setback in the 1862 Confederate offensive that extended from the tidewater in the east to the plains of the Indian Territory of the west.

 

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
October 21

Western Front, Germany, 1944

The city of Aachen surrenders to US forces following a 1-day siege.

 

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
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.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
October 18

South Vietnam, Ground War, October 18-December 30, 1966

Operation Paul Revere IV, a continuing operation, sees the soldiers of the US Army’s recently arrived 4th Infantry Divisions – along with elements of the 25th Infantry Division and the 1st Air Cavalry Division – conduct in Pleiku Province. The US soldiers inflict a total of 809 casualties on the enemy, and the operation takes place over 74 days altogether.


ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
October 14

Politics, Germany, 1944

Field Marshal Erwin Rommel commits suicide with poison. Implicated in the July assassination plot against Hitler, he has killed himself, under pressure, to save his family from arrest. He is to be given a state funeral as part of the charade to maintain the illusion that he was an uncompromising Nazi.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
October 12

The Vietnam War, October 12-18, 1966

South Vietnam, US Ground Forces 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.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
October 11

World War II, October 11-19, 1944

Balkans, Yugoslavia The Red Army joins with the Yugoslavian First Army in the drive to Belgrade, which is abandoned by the Germans on the 19th.

 

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
October 10

World War II, October 10-29, 1944

Eastern Front, Hungary.
A massive tank battles ranges around Drebrecan between two panzer divisions of Germany’s Army Group Southern Ukraine, commanded by General Johannes Friessneer. The German forces have cut off three Soviet tank corps of Marshal Rodion Malinovsky’s 2nd Ukrainian Front. The Soviet lose many tanks in the initial German attacks, but fresh Soviet units tip the scales against the Germans, who do not have the forces to fight attritional battles. Farther south, the German Army Group E leaves Greece.

The Vietnam War, 1966

South Vietnam, US Ground Forces
The US 3rd Marine Division is ordered to deploy to Thua Thien and Quang Tri Provinces in the north of South Vietnam in order to conduct offensive operations as directed, and continue current offensive operations in Phu Bai TAOR Task Force Delta is ordered deactivated; Task Force X-Ray is activated at Chu Lai under the 1st Marine Division. The 1st Marine Division is now responsible for all three southern provinces around Chu Lai against an enemy growing in numbers.

 

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
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.

 

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

October 8

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.

The Vietnam War, 1966

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

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

October 7

The Third Reich, 1940

France, Nazi Ideology
Deportations of “non-Germans” from Alsace-Lorraine, Saar and Baden take place.

Eastern Front, Romania
Germany invades Romania, seizing the vital oilfields at Ploesti. The pretext is the training of the Fascist Iron Guard.

 

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

October 5

Civil War, 1862

Tennessee, Land War. The Battle of Hatchie’s Bridge/Davis Bridge/Matamora. Following their defeat at Corinth, elements of Major General Earl Van Dorn’s Confederate Army of West Tennessee are pushed back across the Davis Bridge over the Hatchie River.

 

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

October 4

World War II

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.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

October 3

Air War, Britain, 1944
The German bombardment of Britain with V2 long-range heavy rockets has resumed from new launch sites dotted across Holland.

Civil War, October 3-4, 1862

Mississippi, Land War
The Battle of Corinth. A combined Confederate army of 22,000 men is defeated attempting to crush heavily defended Corinth, spoiling plans for a Confederate drive into mid-Tennessee.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

October 2

World War II, 1944

Eastern Front, Poland.
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.

The Vietnam War, 1966

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

The Vietnam War, October 2-24, 1966

South Vietnam, Ground War
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.



ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

October 1

The Vietnam War, 1966

South Vietnam, US Ground Forces
General Herman Nickerson, Jr, replaces Major-General Lewis J. Fields as the Commanding General of the 1st Marine Divisions. 

Civil War, 1862, October 1-3

Florida, River War.  The Battle of St. Johns Bluff. Confederate coastal batteries on the St. John’s River near Jacksonville are abandoned after a Union amphibious operation.

 

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

September 29, 1863

Civil War

The Battle of Stirling’s Plantation/Fordoche Bridge. Confederate troops act against act against a Union thrust toward Texas, defeating a 1,000-strong force at Stirling’s Plantation/Fordoche Bridge. Total battle casualties are 575.

 

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

September 25, 1966

South Vietnam, US Aid

South Vietnam, US Aid. Marine Air Group 13 Arrives at the Marine Air Facility at Chu Lai, having come from its base in Iwakuni, Japan.

 

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

September 23

South Vietnam, US Aid.

Marine Air Group 13 Arrives at the Marine Air Facility at Chu Lai, having come from its base in Iwakuni, Japan.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

September 23

Air War, Germany.

The RAF makes a night precision raid of theDortmundtoEmscanal, the inland waterway that links theRuhrwith other industrial centers. A total of 141 aircraft are involved, the canal is breached, and a section drained. The RAF loses 14 bombers

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

September 23-30

Western Front, France

The Canadian 3rd Division invests the port of Calais, which is defended by 7500 men. Following heavy artillery and bomber attacks and the use of specialized armor Calais surrenders on the 30th.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

September 22, 1944.

Western Front, France.

Boulogne surrenders to the Canadian II Corps; its garrison of 20,000 men is taken into captivity.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

September 22-25

Western Front, Holland.

Outside Arnhem, the British XXX Corps’advance is slowed by German resistance. The Polish Brigade drops south of the Neder Rijn near Driel. On the 23rd, attempts by by poles and advance troops of XXX corps to cross the river are driven back, and so the evacuation of the surviving paratroopers begin two days later, leaving 2500 of their dead comrades behind.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY 

September 21, 1944

Politics, Yugoslavia.

The partisan chief Marshal Tito meets the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. They reach agreement on the “Temporary entry of the Red Army intoYugoslavia

Italy, Adriatic Sector

The Eighth Army takes Timmini after a week of heavy fighting. Since the beginning of the offensive against the Gothic Line, it has lost 14,000 men killed, wounded and missing plus 200 tanks. The Italian campaign has not lived up to being the “soft underbelly of Europe.” A more accurate description would be “touch old gut.”

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

September 19-21, 1944

Western Front, Holland.

Forward elements of the British XXX corps reach US paratroopers at the Eindhoven, but at Arnhem all attempts to break through to the troops fail. On the 20th, the bridge at Nijmegen is captured by a combined force drawn from the US 82nd Airborne Divisions and the British XXX Corps. The next day, the British troops atArnhem are overwhelmed. The remainder form a defensive perimeter on the northern bank of the Neder Rijn, around thevillage of Oosterbeck

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

September 17, 1944

Western Front, Holland.

Operation Market Garden, General Bernard Montgomery’s plan for an armored and airborne thrust across Hollandto outflank the German defenses, begins. The British 1st Airborne Divisions lands near Arnhem the US 101st Airborne Divisions near Einghoven, the US 82nd Airborne Division near Grave and Nijmegen, while the British XXX Corps advances from the Dutch border. The 82nd lands without difficulty and takes the Maas and Maas-Waal Canal bridges, but then encounters heavy resistance as Nijmegen. The 101st Division also takes its bridges, but the British paratroopers discover their way to Arnhem is blocked by German units. Only one battalion, under Lieutenant Colonel John Frost, manages to reach the bridge, where it is quickly cut off.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY 

Sept 15

Western Front, Holland.

Operation Market Garden, General Bernard Montgomery’s plan for an armored and airborne thrust across Hollandto outflank the German defenses, begins. The British 1st Airborne Divisions lands near Arnhem the US 101st Airborne Divisions near Einghoven, the US 82nd Airborne Division near Grave and Nijmegen, while the British XXX Corps advances from the Dutch border. The 82nd lands without difficulty and takes the Maas and Maas-Waal Canal bridges, but then encounters heavy resistance as Nijmegen. The 101st Division also takes its bridges, but the British paratroopers discover their way to Arnhem is blocked by German units. Only one battalion, under Lieutenant Colonel John Frost, manages to reach the bridge, where it is quickly cut off.

Eastern Front, Poland

Units of the soviet-raised First Polish Army cross the Vistula River and seize bridgeheads is Warsaw.

Air War, Norway.

Lancasters from 9 and 617 Squadrons of the RAF attack Germany’s only remaining battleship – the Tirpitz – in Altenfiord. However, little damage is done, chiefly due to the effectiveness of the German smokescreens.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY 

Sept 7

1940, AIR WAR, BRITAIN: Full-scale bombing raids on London – the “Blitz” – begin with 500 bombers and 600 fighters. The RAF is initially surprised by the new German tactics, but adapts and concentrates its weakened forces against this threat. The bombing reaches its greatest intensity on the 15th, but the Luftwaffe is now suffering heavy losses, especially during its daylight raids on English cities, which are largely abandoned by the 30th. Bomber Command raids in France and the Low Counties destroy a tenth of the Nazi invasion barges on the 14-15th.

1965, SOUTH VIETNAM, GROUND WAR: The US Marines launch a near-simultaneous operation on the heels of Starlite, called Operation Piranha. The target this time is the Batangan Peninsula, 13km (8 miles) southwest of Van Tuong, where a buildup from among the battered remnants of the 1st Viet Cong Regiment is reported to be taking place. The Batangan Peninsula is like-wise reported to be a place of entry for the seaborne infiltration of supplies for the Viet Cong forces in the area. Operation Piranha was a coordinated operation with sizable elements of the 2nd ARVN Division and the Vietnamese Marine Corps.   The operation took longer than Starlite as the intelligence was not quite as good, nor were the results as good as for Starlite. Nevertheless, during the days Piranha took place, the Marines managed to kill over 183 Viet Cong in action; this total included 66 men found in a single cave. The South Vietnamese forces killed an additional 66 Viet Cong.

1939, SEA WAR, BALTIC: Operational submarines are withdrawn from the Baltic Sea.

 

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

September 7-30

1940, WWII,  Air War, Britain: Full-scale bombing raids on London – the “Blitz”   – begin with 500 bombers and 600 fighters. The RAF is initially surprised by the new German tactics, but adapts and concentrates its weakened forces against this threat.    The bombing reaching its greatest intensity on the 15th, but the Luftwaffe is not suffering heavy losses, especially during its daylight     
raids on English cities which are largely abandoned by the 30th. Bomber Command raids in France and the 
Low Countries destroy a tenth of the Nazi invasion barges on the  14th-15th.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

February 8 – 14

FAR EAST, SINGAPORE

Two Japanese divisions, supported but the 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.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
February 8

POLITICS, PHILIPPINES

President Manuel Quezon proposes to the United States that his country should become independent, that both Japanese and US forces should withdraw, and Filipino units be disbanded. The United States rejects the proposal.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
February 5

POLITICS, UNITED STATES

The US government declares war on Thailand.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
February 4

AFRICA, LIBYA

Axis forces have overextended their lines of communication and a stalemate is developing in the desert. Allied forces are establishing a fortified line from Gazala on the cost to Bir Hacheim farther inland. Both sides are building up their forces for a new offensive.

FAR EAST, SINGAPORE

Britain rejects Japanese demands for Singapore to surrender. Reinforcements are being sent to help defend the base which is believed to be impregnable.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

SEA WAR, ATLANTIC
Germany adopts a new radio code for U-boat communications in the Atlantic. Although the British are unable to crack the code until the end of the year, the detection of U-boats is made easier by photoreconnaissance and radio direction-finding technology.
SEA WAR, PACIFIC
The US Navy carriers Enterprise and Yorktown, together with the cruisers Northampton and Salt Lake City, attack the Marshall and Gilbert Islands.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY 

FAR EAST, SINGAPORE

Retreating British and Commonwealth troops cross the Johore Strait, separating Singapore from the mainland, and partly destroy the connecting causeway. They abandon the rest of the Malayan Peninsula, where mobile Japanese unites have constantly outwitted them. Singapore is designed to repel a naval attack. Its great guns have no suitable shells for bombarding land forces as the British believe that a land invasion through dense jungle is impossible, although the RAF has asked for more aircraft to meet a land attack from the north.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
January 29

POLITICS, UNITED STATES

Major General Millard Harmon succeeds General Carl Spaatz as United States Army Air Force chief-of-staff. Spaatz takes over the Air Force Combat Command.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
January 26

WESTERN FRONT, BRITAIN

The first US troop convoy of the war reaches Britain.

SEA WAR, FAR EAST

Several Japanese troopships off Malaya are struck by 68 British aircraft, of which 13 are lost. That night, the British increase their attacks. The destroyer Thanet and the Australian destroyer Vampire are sunk while attacking the Japanese convoy.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
January 25

POLITICS, THAILAND

The government declares war on Britain and the United States.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
January 23 – 24

PACIFIC, PHILIPPINES

US and Filipino forces on Bataan begin withdrawing to a line running from Bagac in the east to Orion on the west.

SEAWAR, FAR EAST

At the battle of Macassar Strait, four US destroyers, Dutch bombers, and a submarine attack a Japanese convoy off Borneo. Four Japanese transports are lost.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
January 22

EASTERN FRONT, SOVIET UNION

The besieged city of Leningrad evacuates 440,000 citizens over 50 days. Thousands are dying of starvation, typhus, and other diseases due to inadequate supplies reaching the city and the German shelling and bombing.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
January 21 – 29

AFRICA, LIBYA


General Erwin Rommel begins his second desert offensive in North Africa, moving from El Aghelia to Agedebia on the 22nd. The British Eigth Army is caught unawares and the German capitalize on this by driving it back. Benghazi falls on the 29th.


ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

January 20

FINAL SOLUTION, GERMANY


At the Wannesee Conference, Berlin, deputy head of the SS Reinhard Heydrich reveals his plans for the “Final Solution” to the so-called “Jewish problem.” Heydrich receives permission to begin deporting all Jews in German-controlled areas to Eastern Europe to face either forced labor or extermination. The killing of the Jews in Eastern Europe is already commonplace. Execution by shooting, however, is providing inefficient and a strain for the troops engaged. A more efficient way of killing using poison has will soon become widespread.


SEAWAR, PACIFIC


In Japan’s ongoing offensive against Allied possessions in the Far East, four carriers begin air strikes on Rabaul, New Britain (soon to become a major Japanese naval base), and two submarines shell Midway Island. US and Australian warships sink a Japanese submarine off Darwin. Japanese amphibious landings are made on Borneo, New Ireland, and the Solomons on the 23rd.


ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

January 18 – 27

EASTERN FRONT, UKRAINE


Soviet South and Southwest Front forces, under Marshal Semyon Timoshenko, make an attack aiming to cross the Donets River and then swing south toward the Sea of Azov to trap units of the German Sixth and Seventeenth Armies. The Donets River is crossed by the 24th, but the Soviet advance is halted by the 27th.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

AFRICA, LIBYA
The Axis garrison of Halfaya, besieged throughout the British Operation Crusader, finally falls and 5500 Germans and Italians are captured.

SEAWAR, ARCTIC

U-boats make their first attack on an Allied Arctic convoy. U-454 sinks the destroyer Matabele and a merchant ship from convoy PQ-8.

 

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
January 16 – 19

POLITICS, GERMANY


Field Marshal Walther von Reicheau, commander of the German Army Group South on the Eastern Front, dies in a plane crash. Field Marshal Fedor von Bock replaces him in the 19th. Adolf Hitler removes Field Marshal Wilhelm von Leeb and replaces him with General George von Kuchler as Army Group North’s commander. Since December, the Fuhrer has removed over 30 senior officers, including two army group and two panzer group commanders, due to his impatience with their constant appeals to make withdrawals in the face of Soviet offensives


ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
January 13


POLITICS, ALLIES

 

At a London meeting, the Allies agree to punish Axis leaders responsible for war crimes.


SEA WAR, ATLANTIC

 

Germany’s U-boats launch attacks, code-named Operation Drum Roll, on shipping off the east coast of the united States. Approximately 20 ships are sunk in the first month of operations as a result of the US Navy’s failsure to take proper antisubmarine measures, despite British warnings. U boats begin hunting in the Caribbean the following month.

 

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

January 9 – 12

EASTERN FRONT, SOVIET UNION


The Battle of the Valdai Hills begins in the Moscow sector. During the 12-day battle Soviet troops make a 75-mile (120-km) penetration of the German lines that captures nine towns between Smolensk and Lake Ilmen.


ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

January 5 – 12

 

FAR EAST, MALAYA

 

Following the recent landing of Japanese troops on the northeast coast, British, Indian, and Australian forces are now retreating southward toward Singapore, unable to mount any meaningful defense against the Japanese. The British have underestimated the Japanese, who are well trained and equipped. Kuala Lumpur, the capital, falls to the Japanese on the 12th.

 

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

January 5

 

EASTERN FRONT, SOVIET UNION

 

Joseph Stalin orders a general offensive against the German invaders, despite warnings from the General Georgi Zhukov, the Western Front commander, that the Soviet Union lacks the resources for an attack on four fronts (Leningrad, Moscow, Ukraine, and Crimea). Zhukov advocates a concentrated attack against Army Group Center, which is threatening Moscow. However, the general offensive initially makes considerable inroads and captures trains, food, and munitions. German forces offer stiff resistance and are ordered to hold their positions. They set up defensive areas (“Hedgehogs”) that frustrate the Red Army’s attacks.

 

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

January 3

 

POLITICS, ALLIES

 

Following the Arcadia Conference. British General Sir Archibald Wavell takes charge of the new American, British, Dutch, and Australian (ABDA) command. He is responsible for holding the southwest Pacific. Chinese holding the southwest Pacific. Chinese Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek is made commander-in-chief of the Allied forces in his country.

 

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

January 2 – 9

 

PACIFIC, PHILIPPINES

 

US and Filipino forces under General Douglas MacArthur prepare defensive positions on the Bataan Peninsula and the island of Corregidor as Manila falls. MacArthur realizes that Japan has air and sea superiority. He also knows that no reinforcements will be sent. His troops begin a desperate resistance against Japanese attacks across the mountainous peninsula, which began on the 9th. For several months the 80,000 troops will resist the Japanese, despite suffering from tropical diseases and being short of supplies.

 

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

January 1


POLITICS, ALLIES

 

At the Arcadia Conference in Washington, 26 Allied countries sign the United Nations Declaration, pledging to follow the Atlantic Charter principles. These include an agreement to direct their “full resources” against the three Axis nations and not to make any separate peace agreements or treaties. This is a key development in the formation of the United Nations Organization.

 

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
December 29

1940, POLITICS, UNITED STATES:

In President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “fireside chat” broadcast, he describes how the United States must become the “arsenal of democracy” by giving maximum assistance to Britain in its fight against the Axis powers.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

December 22

 

POLITICS, ALLIES

 

US President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill meet at the Arcadia Conference, Washington. Talks between the respective political and military delegations reaffirm the “Germany First” strategic priority and establish the Combined Chiefs-of-Staff to direct Allied military action. They also agree to build up US forces in Britain in preparation for future military action against Nazi Germany and in order to continue the aerial bombing of Nazi-occupied Europe.


ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

December 20 – 26

 

POLITICS, UNITED STATES

 

Admiral Ernest King becomes chief of naval operations.


PACIFIC, PHILIPPINES

Japanese forces invade Mindanao, the most southerly island, and Jolo. The islands offer Japan the chance to gain naval and air bases. The main invasion of Luzon commences on the 22nd. General Douglas MacArthur decides not to defend Manila, the capital, but declares it an open city in order to withdraw his forces westward to the Bataan Peninsula.

 

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

December 19

 

POLITICS, GERMANY

 

Adolf Hitler appoints himself as commander-in-chief of the army following Field Marshal Walter von Brauchitsch’s resignation on the 7th. Beauchitsch resigned following a heart attack brought on by the strain of Soviet counterattacks. He was already under pressure to resign. His authority had been increasingly undermined by Hitler dominating strategic planning.

 

Hitler successfully keeps the Eastern Front armies in defensive positions during the winter. He decelops an increasing skepticism toward the competence of his army commanders. Parallel to this is the expansion of the Waffen SS, seen by Hitler as being politically-reliable troops.


POLITICS, UNITED STATES

 

An amendment to the Selective Service Act requires all men aged 18 – 64 to register, and for men aged 20-44 to be liable for conscription.

 

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

December 16

 

POLITICS, UNITED STATES

 

Admiral Chester Nimitz replaces Admiral Husband Kimmel as commander of the Pacific Fleet following the attack on Pearl harbor on December 7.


ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

December 14

 

SEA WAR, ATLANTIC

 

A British convoy of 32 ships, including the aircraft carrier Audacity, leaves Gibralter for Britain. Audacity is the first British escort carrier introduced to provide Allied convoys with constant air cover by intercepting enemy bombers or U-boat “Wolf Packs” when they are beyond the operational range of land-based aircraft. During the voyage, the convoy suffers attacks from the 12 U-boats, but destroys give of them. The convoy loses Audacity, a destroyer, and two merchant ships, before it reaches Britain on the 23rd.


ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

December 11

 

POLITICS, AXIS

 

Germany and Italy declare war on the United States. The United States then declares war on the two Axis states. Romania declares war on the United States on the 12th. Germany’s declaration now confirms US participation in the European war.


ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY

December 10

 

SEA WAR, FAR EAST

About 90 Japanese aircraft sink the British battleship Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser Repulse while they are attempting to intercept Japanese warships off Malaya. The attack claims 730 lives and leaves the Allies without a single battleship in the theatre.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
December 9
 
1861, OKLAHOMA, INDIAN WARS: The Battle of Chusto-Talasah/Caving Banks. Retreating Creek/Seminole Indians under Chief Opothleyahola are driven out of defensive positions on the Horseshoe Bend of Bird Creek by 1,300 Confederate soldiers.

1940, AFRICA, EGYPT: General Sir Archibald Wavell, the commander-in-chief in the Middle East and North Africa, launches the first British offensive in the Western Desert. Major General Sir Richard O’Connor’s Western Desert Force of 31,000 British and Commonwealth troop, supported by aircraft and long-range naval gunfire, is ordered to attack the fortified camps that have been established by the Italians in Egypt. Sidi Barrani is captured on the 10th and 34,000 Italians are taken prisoners as they retreat rapidly from Egypt. It is a famous victory in the face of overwhelming odds.

1965, SOUTH VIETNAM, GROUND WAR:  Elements of the 60th and 80th Viet Cong Battalions attack the ARVN’s 1st Battalion, 5th Regiment, at Que Son. In the heavy fighting that follows, both the 1st Battalion and its regimental command group are overrun. The regimental commander is killed and the ARVN force is scattered to the south and east. At the same time, another Viet Cong battalion attacks the 1st Battalion, 6th ARVN Regiment, to the northeast, but it manages to hold its ground.

1939, EASTERN FRONT, FINLAND: Russia attacks Finland, but the invasion only penetrates the border areas and is carried out so inefficiently that Germany and the world thinks the Red army is of poor quality. But the Soviet Union had purged its officer corps three years before, on suspicion of political disloyalty, and had not yet completed the training of enough new officers.

1940, POLITICS, JAPAN: Japan officially recognizes the puppet government of President Wang Ching-wei in China.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
November 14

1940, BALKANS, GREECE: Greece launches a major counter-attack and 3400 British troops, plus air support, arrive from Alexandria, Egypt. When Greek forces finally enter Koritza they capture 2000 Italians and drive almost all the invaders back into Albania by December.

AIR WAR, BRITAIN: Germany sends 449 bombers to bomb the city of Conventry. The raid kills 500 civilians, leaves thousands homeless, and shocks the British public.

1965, SOUTH VIETNAM, GROUND WAR: As the 1st Cavalry Division begins the second stage of General Westmoreland’s search and destroy mission, enemy forces begin to move out of their bases in the Chu Pong Massif, a mountain near the Cambodian border. Units of the 1st Cavalry Division advance to establish artillery or fire support bases and landing zones at the base of the Chu Pong MassifLanding.

Fighting begins on November 14, pitting three US Army battalions against elements of two NVA regiments. Withstanding repeated mortar attacks and infantry assaults, the American troops use all means of firepower at their disposal, including the division’s own gunships, massive artillery bombardments, hundreds of bombing and strafing attacks by tactical aircraft, and the earth-shattering “arc light” strikes by B-52 Stratofortress bombers based on Guam, and eventually turn back the determined enemy. The Communists lose an estimated 600 troops while the Americans suffer 79 killed in action.

Although badly mauled, the NVA does not retreat. Elements of the 66th North Vietnamese Regiment move east towards Plei Mei and encounter an American battalion on November 17, a few miles north of Landing Zone X-Ray. The fight that results is a stark reminder of the North Vietnamese mastery of the ambush. The Communists quickly trap three US Army infantry battalions. As the trapped units struggle to fight their way out, nearly all semblance of organized combat disappears in confusion. Neither reinforcements nor firepower can be brought in; combat is reduced to hand-to-hand and small-unit fighting in order to avert total annihilation. When the fighting ends, 60 percent of the Americans are casualties, with one of every three soldiers in the battalions engaged are killed or wounded.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
November 13

Sea War, Mediterranean
Two U-boats attack the British carriers Argus and Ark Royal en route to Gibraltar after flying off fighters to Malta. Ark Royal is badly hit. The carrier sails to within 25 miles (40 km) of Gibraltar when a fire breaks out and the ship sinks along with 70 aircraft.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
November 6

Politics, United States
A loan of US $1 billion is made to the Soviet Union for Lend-Lease purchases.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
October 6 - 15

Eastern Front, Ukraine
Germany's Second Army and Second Panzer Army encircle three Soviet armies north and south of Bryansk on the 6th. Soviet forces begin evacuating 30,000 troops by sea from the besieged port of Odessa on the 15th.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
October 7 - 20

Eastern Front, Soviet Union
After fierce fighting, six Soviet armies are encircled around Vyazma by the 14th. German forces elsewhere cover great distances, but the onset of heavy rains on the 8th severely limits mobility as the roads to Moscow become quagmires. Until the 20th, the Second Panzer Army also has to reduce the Bryansk pocket. The encirclements at Vyazma and Bryansk trap 673,000 troops and 1242 ranks, but also preoccupy the advancing forces, giving the Red Army time to establish new defensive positions.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
September 19

1862, MISSISSIPPI, LAND WAR: The Battle of Iuka. A Confederate attempts to prevent Union forces massing reinforcements against their Kentucky offensive results in a Confederate defeat around Iuka.
1862, WEST VIRGINIA, LAND WAR: The Battle of Shepherdstown/Boteler’s Ford. Brigadier General Fitz John Porter’s V Corps attacks Confederate forces on the Potomac then attempts to push a bridgehead across the river. The bridgehead operation is so costly that the Union forces do not pursue the retreating Confederates.
1966, SOUTH VIETNAM, SOUTH KOREAN FORCES: The 2nd Battalion of the 2nd Brigade, Republic of Korea Marine Corps, arrives at Chu Lai from Cam Ranh Bay, where they were stationed to operate as a security force.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY  
September 15

1941, EASTERN FRONT, UKRAINE: Guderian’s 2nd Panzer Group links up with Army Group South at Lokhvitsa, 100 miles (160 km) east of Kiev, trapping four Soviet armies. This seals the fate of the Soviet South-west Front and its 500,000 men.

ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
September 17

1862, MARYLAND, LAND WAR: The Battle of Antietam/Sharpsburg. At 06:00 hours McClellan begins the battle with an artillery bombardment. Hooker’s corps attacks again. Ten brigades hit the Confederate left and push their line back to the West Woods. Jackson counterattacks at 07:00 hours and throws the Union forces back, but Hooker receives reinforcements from Mansfield’s XII Corps. The battle now centers on the struggle for the possession of the Dunker Church, in the West Woods. Three divisions of Sumner’s II Corps come forward from the Union right to help Mansfield. Attacking into the West Woods, one of the divisions advances straight into a line of Confederates and suffers more than 2,500 casualties in 20 minutes, including General John Sedgwick, the division’s commander. Falling back nearly a mile, the Union troops take up defensive positions. The fighting for the West Woods is at a stalemate. Meanwhile, another Sumner’s divisions loses its way and heads for the Confederate center. At 09:30 hours it attacks brigades holding the sunken road between the Boonsboro and Hagerstown Pikes, later called Bloody lane. Fighting continues here for four hours as first one Union division and then a second makes repeated charges. At about the same time on the Union right flank, IX Corps under Ambrose E. Burnside begins attacking across the creek at the Rohrbach Bridge, later renamed Burnside Bridge. Burnside sends in brigade after brigade but is held off by a Confederate force of just 400 Georgians. They hold the bridge until 13:00 hours, when one of Burnside’s division commanders has the good sense to use a nearby ford and flank the Confederate position. By early afternoon the Confederate line is on the verge of collapse. Reinforcements have been arriving from Harpers Ferry all day. But Lee only has one division in reserve, and by noon he has committed most of that to help defend the sunken road. At 13:00 hours the sunken road...


ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
September 15

1941, EASTERN FRONT, UKRAINE: Guderian’s 2nd Panzer Group links up with Army Group South at Lokhvitsa, 100 miles (160 km) east of Kiev, trapping four Soviet armies. This seals the fate of the Soviet South-west Front and its 500,000 men.


ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
September 6

FINAL SOLUTION, GERMANY: Restrictions on Jews are reinforced with an order requiring them to wear a Star of David badge. Their freedom of movement is also restricted.


ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY  
September 4

1941, SEA WAR, ATLANTIC: A U-boat mistakes the US destroyer Greer for a British vessel and attacks it. This is presented as an act of aggression and US warships are ordered to “shoot on sight” in waters integral to national defense.