On This Day in Military History


    ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY February 28-April 8 Civil War, 1862 Missouri, Land War: The Battle of New Madrid/Island no.10. Union forces place New Madrid and nearby Island No.10 on the Mississippi River under siege. New Madrid, having been abandoned by the Confederates, falls on March 14, and Island No.10 on April 8. February 24 WW11, 1942 SEA WAR, FAR EAST Under the command of the Dutch Rear Admiral Karel Doorman, five cruisers and nine destroyers from four Allied nations engage a Japanese force of four cruisers and 13 destroyers in the Java Sea. Following an inconclusive opening engagement, the Japanese inflict severe losses using their faster “Long Lance” torpedoes. Five Allied cruisers and give destroyers are sunk. Doorman is killed. Japan loses two transports, one cruiser is sunk, and six destroyers are damaged. February 25 WW11, 1941, Africa, Italian Somaliland: British-led East and West Africa troops advance into Mogadishu, the capital. The defeated Italians begin evacuating the colony. Civil War, 1862, Tennessee, Land War: Having lost the protective Forts Donelson and Henry, Nashville becomes the first Confederate state capital to fall to Union forces. It is surrendered by the town's mayor. Civil War, 1862, The Union, Finances: The Federal Government in Washington introduces the Legal Tender Act. It issues $150 million in Treasury notes, popularly known as greenbacks. These notes are not directly backed by gold reserves. The act compels people to accept the notes for all depts., public of private, with two exceptions: customs duties and interest on government bonds. The system made government bonds a very attractive investment. The bonds sold briskly, and not just to banks and wealthy investors. Ordinary citizens could buy a bond in notes as low as $50, and a large-scale advertising campaign worked overtime to make sure that they did. February 24 WW11, 1942, SEA WAR, PACIFIC The US aircraft carrier Enterprise leads a task force to attack the Japanese on Wake Island. February 23 WW11, 1942,  POLITICS, ALLIES Britain, Australia, the United States, and New Zealand ratify the Mutual Aid Agreement. February 19-23 WW11, 1941, Politics, Allies A meeting of Political and military leaders in Cairo, Egypt, decides to deploy forces to Greece. The Greek and British authorities subsequently agree to send 100,000 British troops to bolster the country's defenses. February 18 – 23 WW11, 1942 FAR EAST, BURMA Japanese forces are in constant pursuit of the British forces. At the battle of the Sittang River, the British are withdrawing across a single bridge over the river when Japanese troops make a sudden crossing elsewhere. The British quickly blow up the bridge, losing much of their equipment with their forces only partially across; those left behind have to use boats. The Sittang River is the only major physical obstacle in the path of the Japanese forces moving toward Rangoon, the capital. February 17 WWII, 1945 Pacific, Iwo Jima Under the command of Lieutenant General Holland M. Smith, the US 4th and 5th Marine Divisions land. Resistance is at first light, but then the attackers are hit by intense artillery and small-arms fire from the 21,000-man Japanese garrison. However, despite casualties, the Americans have 30,000 men on the island by the end of the day. February 16 Civil War, 1862, Tennessee, Land War: On February 12 Ulysses Grant's forces marched from Fort Henry toward Fort Donelson. Within two days they surrounded Fort Donelson. Foote's gunboats bombarded the fort on the 14th but suffered damage from its well-sited cannons. Grant then waited for reinforcements before attempting to take the fort. Confederate leadership was poor. The fort's commander, John B. Floyd, vetoed a breakout from the fort at a time when most of the garrison could easily have escaped. Then, when a surprise attack yesterday punched a hole in the Union line, his second-in-command, Gideon J. Pillow, threw away the chance to escape by trying to destroy Grant's army. Pillow's action gave Grant time to order counter-attacks that forced the Confederates back into the fort. Floyd, fearing that as a former U.S secretary of war he might be tried for treason, resolves to join part of the garrison that plans to escape from the fort under cover of night. He turns command over to Pillow, who immediately passes it to his subordinate the fort's third-ranking office, Simon Bolivar Buckner. Floyd, Pillow and about 15,000 Southerners capitulate. February 14 WW11, 1941, Politics, Soviet Union: General Georgi Zhukov is appointed chief of the General Staff and deputy commissar for defense. He has previously commanded the Red Army forces fighting against the Japanese in Mongolia in the summer of 1939 WW11, 1941, Politics, Bulgaria:   Bulgaria grants Germany access to its border with Greece. This move enables Germany to increase its power in the Balkans and provides a route for forces earmarked to invade Greece WW11, 1941, Africa, Libya: In response to Adolf Hitler’s offer to send an armored division to ensure that the Italians will not withdraw in Libya, the first detachments of General Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps disembark at Tripoli. February 11 – 12 WW11, SEA WAR, NORTH SEA 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, WWII, SEA WAR, ATLANTIC 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 WWII, FAR EAST, SINGAPORE 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. ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY 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 1939, SEA WAR, ATLANTIC 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 1965, SOUTH VIETNAM, GROUND WAR 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. November 30 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.   November 29 1863, The Civil War Tennessee, Land War The Battle of Fort Sanders/Fort Loudon. A Confederate move to take Knoxville is defeated by a vigorous Union defense of nearby Ford sanders/Ford Loudon.   November 28  1941, Pacific Sea Admiral “Bull” Halsey sets his carrier group, the USS Enterprise, off to sea in preparation for war after General Georg C Marshall, the US Army Chief of Staff issued this war warning: “Japanese future action unpredictable but hostile action possible at any moment. If hostilities cannot, repeat cannot be avoided, the United States desires that Japan commit the first overt act. This policy should not, repeat not, be construed as restricting you to a course of action that might jeopardize your defense….Should hostilities occur you will carry out the tasks assigned in Rainbow Five so far as they pertain to Japan “   November 26 1940, FINAL SOLUTION, POLAND The Nazis begin creating a ghetto in Warsaw for the Jews, who will eventually be kept there in intolerable conditions.   November 25 1863,  The Civil War Tennessee, Land War The Battle of Chattanooga. In one of the war’s most stunning victories, Union troops under George H. Thomas storm Missionary Ridge and defeat the Confederates. With no safe positions left, Bragg retreats south along the rail line to Atlanta in order to protect that key supply artery. The battles for Chattanooga are over. In six months Union armies have taken control of the “Gateway to the South” and changed the course of the war. Union forces under William T. Sherman now have the supply base and jumping-off point they need to initiate a campaign against Atlanta. For the confederacy the loss of Chattanooga completes the South’s loss of the rail networks, food supplies, and manpower of central Tennessee.   November 24 1863, The Civil War Tennessee, Land War The Battle of Chattanooga. Grant’s Union army fights what becomes known as the Battle above the Clouds, which forces Bragg out of a key position above Chattanooga. Following defeat at Lookout Mountain, Bragg entrenches on Missionary Ridge, a strong position stretching south from the Tennessee River. Bragg’s generals place their men in poor position however.   November 23 1970, The Vietnam War North Vietnam, Ground War US Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird reports that a joint American force has conducted an unsuccessful helicopter raid on the empty Son Toy Prisoner of War camp, 32km (20 miles) west of Hanoi, on November 19. 1863,  The Civil War Tennessee, Land War The Battle of Chattanooga. Chattanooga in southeastern Tennessee lies at the rail junction linking Virginia with Tennessee, Georgia, and points west. Without this vital rail terminus confederate troops moving between different theaters of war would have to use a roundabout series of railroads in the Deep South. For the Union, Chattanooga is an objective because it could serve as a base for an attempt to capture Atlanta. As the war has gone on, it has become clear that whoever controls Chattanooga controls Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama. Between June and August 1863, Union General William S. Rosecrans and his Army of the Cumberland have opened up central and eastern Tennessee and driven Confederate General Braxton Bragg and his Army of Tennessee out of Chattanooga. The Confederates checked the Union advance at the Battle of Chickamauga (September 19-20), forcing the Army of the Cumberland back to Chattanooga. Bragg then laid siege to the city. The outlook for the Union forces was grim, as their supplies quickly begin to run out. The Confederate were unable to muster the strength to attack, though, and Lincoln reinforced the city with additional troops. In October Ulysses S. Grant arrived to resolve the situation. Today, the Union Army crosses the Tennessee River at several points in an attempt to break the Confederates siege. The offensive succeeds. Elements of Grant’s army scale Lookout Mountain.   November 22 1941,  The Third Reich Sea War, Atlantic The German Auxiliary cruiser Atlantis, after being at sea for 622 days and sailing over 160,000 km (100,000 miles), is intercepted and sunk by HMS Devonshire.   November 21 1970, The Vietnam War South Vietnam, US Armed Forces Task Group 79.4 is predesignated the 31st Marine Amphibious Unit (31st MAU). US Marines will no longer designate their amphibious ready units as the “Special Landing Force Alpha”.   November 20 1939, SEA WAR, GREAT BRITAIN First mines are dropped in British waters by the German aircraft. 1940, POLITICS, HUNGARY Hungary joins the Axis powers. Since the Italian invasion of Greece, the Germans have been attempting to secure their food and oil supplies from the Balkans by pressing the countries of the region to join the Tripartite Pact.   November 19 1941, The Third Reich Sea War, Pacific The German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran, after a successful career in the south Atlantic and the Indian Ocean that lasted 350 days at sea, falls in with the Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney. Apparently the cruiser was taken in by the disguised raider’s pretence of being an innocent Dutch Freighter and come too close. The concealed guns quickly inflicted serious damage and a torpedo hit damaged the Sydney seriously. The cruiser replied effectively with her guns, but both ships caught fire and were heavily damaged. The Sydney drifted away and was never seen again, and the Kormoran sank. Nothing was known about the action until months later, when a few of the Kormoran’s survivors were found on a South Pacific island. It was the only case of a mercantile auxiliary cruiser sinking a regular warship of any size during the war. 1970, The Vietnam War North Vietnam, Ground War US Special Forces conduct a joint raid aimed at the Son Toy Prisoner of War Camp, 32km (20 miles) west of Hanoi, in order to liberate Americans held by the North Vietnamese. Apparently, the NVA had been alerted beforehand and had moved the prisoners. 1863, The Civil War Virginia, Politics U.S. President Abraham Lincoln makes his famous “Gettysburg Address.”   November 18 1940, TECHNOLOGY, BRITAIN British “Air-to-Surface-Vessel” radar fitted to a Sunderland flying boat locates its first U-boat during a patrol in the Atlantic.   November 17 1965, SOUTH VIETNAM, GROUND WAR The 1st Viet Cong Regiment with all three of its battalions – the 50th, 80th, and 90th – overruns the small Regional Forces garrison located at Hiep Duc, west of Tam Ky. The enemy units are indentified from some captured documents and by the interrogation of an enemy defector. Hiep Duc District leaders report 174 of the 433 defenders missing and 315 weapons lost to the enemy. Shortly after the fall of Hiep Duc, Marine F-4B Phantom jets from Marine Air Group 11 and A-4 Skyhawks from Marine Air Group 12 arrive over the outpost and conduct strikes against enemy positions in the surrounding hills. At the same time, two Marine helicopter groups (MAG-16 and MAG-36) prepare to helilift two ARVN battalions into the battle area.   November 16 1863, The Civil War Tennessee, Land War The Battle of Campbell’s Station. Burnside’s union Department of the Ohio troops beat Longstreet’s confederate forces in East Tennessee in a race to Knoxville, and conduct a successful defensive action.   November 15 1941, Third Reich Sea War, German Navy U-459, the first purpose-built supply submarine, is commissioned by Korvettenkapitan Georg von Wilamowitz-Mollendorf.   November 14 1915, WW1 Western Front The losses are severe when the German stage a violent attack in “Labyrinth” Artois which is repelled by the French. Naval and Overseas Operations The British war submarine, HMS-E-20 under the helm of Lt. Commander Clyfford Warrne, is torpedoed and lost in the Sea of Marmora.   November 13 1941, The Third Reich Mediterranean Sea, During an engagement to reinforce Malta the British aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal was sunk.The HMS Ark Royal had survived many near misses prior to November 14, and also a bombing attack during the Battle of Cap Spartivento.  She had even been reported sunk many times by Germany.  Within sight of Gibraltar upon her return there she was torpedoed by the U-Boat 81.  All of the crew on board were evacuated prior to her sinking on November 15.   November 12 1941, Russian Front During the long advance of the German Army from  Barbarossa to Moscow Hans Roth and the German Army experienced many hazards and hardships and they were exhausted.  The weather impeded their process and they were forced to take shelter and forcing a well needed rest so that the road could freeze over before proceeding.   November 11-12 1940, SEA WAR, MEDITERRANEAN At the Battle of Taranto British torpedo aircraft from the carrier Illustrious destroy three Italian battleships and damage two vessels during the raid on the Italian base. Illustrious loses only two aircraft. When the fleet leaves for Naples and Genoa, three British cruisers sink four vessels in the Strait of Otranto. This air attack on a fleet in harbor is closely studied by other navies, especially the Japanese.   November 10 1940, POLITICS, ITALY General Ubaldo Soddu replaces General Sabasiano Visconti-Prasca as the Italian commander-in-chief in Albania.   November 9 1939, GERMANY RESISTANCE A bomb explodes in the Burgerbraukeller in Munich shortly after Hitler leaves the hall on the 16th anniversary of the Munich Putsch. WESTERN FRONT, FRANCE There is little military activity on the Western Front. This is the period of the “Sitzkrieg” or phony war.   November 8-9 1861, KENTUCKY, LAND WAR The Battle of Ivy Mountain/Ivy Creek/ Ivy Narrows. A Union pursuit force fights an intense engagement after being ambushed around Ivy Mountain, Floyd County, and pushes the Confederates back into Virginia.   November 7 1863,  The Civil War Virginia, Land War The Battle of Rappahannock Station. Over 1,600 Confederate soldiers are captured at Rappahannock Station as the Union forces forge two crossings of the Rappahannock River.   November 6 1863, The Civil War West Virginia, Land War The Battle of Droop Mountain. A Confederate brigade is defeated during a Union action into Virginia against the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad.   November 5 1940, SEA WAR, ATLANTIC German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer attacks a British convoy of 37 ships escorted by the armed merchant cruiser Jervis Bay, which fights to save the convoy. The battleship rams and sinks Jervis Bay, but only five other vessels are lost. Eastbound convoys are suspended until the 17th while the Allies search for the Admiral Scheer. 1940, POLITICS, UNITED STATES President Franklin D. Roosevelt is elected for an unprecedented third term.   November 4 1965, SOUTH VIETNAM, GROUND WAR: The North Vietnamese Army (NVA) attacks a Special Forces camp near Plei Mei. When this attack is repulsed, General Westmoreland directs the 1st Cavalry Division to launch an offensive to find and destroy enemy regiments that have been identified in the vicinity of the US Special Forces camp. The result of this action will be the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley, named after the small river that flowed through the area of operation. For 35 days the division pursued and fought the North Vietnamese 32nd, 33rd and 66th Regiments until the enemy, suffering heavy casualties, returned to base in Cambodia. With scout platoons of the air cavalry, each battalion of the division’s 1st Brigade established company-size bases from which patrols searched for enemy ground forces. For several days the scouts of the 1st Brigade failed to spot the enemy, until November 4, when they uncovered an enemy force at what appeared to be a regimental aid station several miles west of Plei Mei. Platoons of quick-reacting air cavalry-men converged on the site, while UH-1B helicopter gunships attacked the North Vietnamese forces. Operating beyond the range of artillery support, the air cavalrymen engaged the enemy in an intense firefight. Once again the North Vietnamese troops attempted to “hug” American forces and then broke contact as soon as the US reinforcements arrived.   November 3 1863, The Civil War Tennessee, Land War The Battle of Collierville. The Union 3rd Cavalry Brigade (850 men) stops a Confederate attempt by 2,500 cavalrymen under Brigadier General James R. Chalmers to cut the Memphis & Charleston Railroad behind the Union XV Army Corps, which is heading to relieve Chattanooga.   November 2 1940, The Second Sinking of U-Boat U-31 In March 1940 this UBoat was sunk for the first time when a Blenheim bomber attacked her with four Armour piercing bombs.  Two of these bombs hit the U-Boat damaging the air tanks which caused the death of the entire crew of 58.  After this bombing the U-boat was recovered and repaired and sent back out to sea. When she was out on war patrol from Wilhemshaven to Lorient she was attacked by the destroyer HMS Antelope.  Although the U-Boat dived the HMS Antelope during the course of 4 separate attacks the U-Boat was damaged to the point of being pushed under and sank.  Only 2 of the 45 crew were casualties as the remaining were rescued.   October 30 WWII Warsaw, 1944 The Pianist survives alone in burnt out Warsaw As outlined in the movie the Pianist, Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Jewish Pianist who was played on Polish radio, escaped deportation and continued to live in Warsaw after the uprising by hiding in the city. When he and his family were being sent to be murdered at Treblinka, he was luckily pulled out of the line by a Jewish Policeman and his family continued to their deaths.   His luck continued throughout the years as he was saved numerous times by Poles who helped. October 29 WWII Japan, 1943 Japanese execute troublesome Hong Kong internees. During the previous year the Japanese discovered group of “resistance civilians”.  Though this group was only interested in getting food and listening to world news on a radio anyone in or associated with this group were arrested.  Of these arrested 33 Chinese residents were included and after a thorough interrogation they decides to execute them.  On October 29 they were beheaded on a Japanese beach. October 28 The Civil War, October 28-29, 1863 Tennessee, Land War The Battle of Wauhatchie/Brown’s Ferry. In a night action aimed at preventing relief forces reaching Chattanooga, Confederate forces attack Union defenses at Wauhatchie, but without success. Union losses are 420; Confederate 408. October 27 The Civil War, 1863 The Union, Armed Forces The first Sanitary Fair is held in Chicago (many Northern cities will hold Sanitary Fairs to raise funds to buy medical supplies for wounded soldiers and other types of relief). The organizers – Mary Livermore and Jane Hoge of the U.S Sanitary Commission – encourage people to donate items of interest that they can sell to raise funds.  The Chicago fair will run for two weeks and draw 5,000 visitors. The entrance price is 75 cents, and the items on sale include artwork, musical instruments, toys, and clothes. President Lincoln donates the original draft of the Emancipation Proclamation, which is the fair’s main attraction and sells at auction for $3,000. The Chicago fair will raise a total of $100,000. Following its success, other major Northern cities held fairs. The largest sanitary fair was held in New York in April 1864. Visitors could buy trinkets made by Confederate prisoners of war of even bid for a tame bear or a shipload of coal. October 26 WWII Afrika, 1942 After General Georg Stumme died of a heart attack the day before General Rommel returns to the El Alamein.  He had been in Germany and was to now resume his command in North Africa.  . His position was that of a Field Marshal. October 25 The Civil War, 1863 Arkansas, Land War The Battle of Pine Bluff. A company of Union cavalry heading for Princeton are forced back by Confederate troops to Pine Bluff, which the Union troops successfully defend. The confederates themselves then retreat. October 23 WWII, Afrika The British Guns open up at El Alamein.  The British Eighth Army – including Australian, New Zealand, South African, Indian, Polish and Free French forces – was poised for action. A frontal assault on the German lines was about to be launched. October 22 The Vietnam War, 1970 South Vietnam, Ground War Employing the 51st ARVN Regiment, the 1st Ranger Ground, the 2nd and 3rd Troops of the US Army`s 17th Armored Cavalry Squadron, over 300 Regional Forces and Popular Force platoons, the People`s Self Defense Force, and the national police in a province-wide offensive against the Viet Cong, Lieutenant General Lam launches Operation Hoang Dien. This is one of the most ambitious, essentially South Vietnamese pacification operations to date. October 21 Western Front, Germany,   1944 The city of Aachen surrenders to US forces following a 1-day siege. October 20 Balkans, Yugoslavia,1944 The 1st Proletarian Division of Marshals Tito’s Army of Liberation captures Belgrade. Pacific, Philippines As the US Sixth Army lands on Leyte Island, General Douglas MacArthur wades ashore and keeps a promise he made two years earlier: “I shall return.” By the evening 10,000 US troops are dug in around Leyte’s capital, Tacloban. October 19 The Civil War, 1863 Virginia, Land War The Battle of Buckland Hills/Buckland Races/Chestnut Hill. Confederate troops ambush Union cavalry that were pursuing Lee’s retreating army, following its defeat at Bristoe Station and an aborted advance on Centreville. The Union forces are chased for 5 miles (8km), hence the action is sometimes called the “Buckland Races.” October 18 1940,WW11,  Politics, Vichy France The puppet Vichy regime put its first  anti-Semitic laws in place. October 17 WWII, Atlantic, 1941 The USS Kearney torpedoed in mid Atlantic Though in 1941 the American’s were not at war with Germany their Navy did escort convoys in the Atlantic Ocean.  On October 17 the Kearney was struck by a German torpedo.  Another 2 torpedos missed their target. Eleven men died in the attack, it was one more incident hardening the attitude of the American people. Ten days later President Roosevelt was to address the nation stating that Hitler’s objective was to scare the American people.  The American reaction was just the opposite. October 16 The Civil War, October 16-18, 1863 Florida, Coastal War The Battle of Fort Brooke. Union gunboats bombard  Fort Brooke in Tampa while a Union raiding party is landed and then attacks Confederate shipping on the Hillsborough River. October 15 The Civil War, 1863 South Carolina, Naval War The Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley sinks for a second time during training exercises, killing seven crew members. The Vietnam War, 1970 South Vietnam, US Armed Forces The last US Marines leave their base at An Hoa and turn it over to the ARVN. October 13 The Civil War, 1863 Virginia, Land War The Battle of Auburns/Catlett’s Station/St. Stephen’s church. Confederate troops under General “Jeb” Stuart skirmish with the Union’s III Corps near Auburn. October 12 South Vietnam, US Ground Forces, October 12-18, 1966 The US Army’s 1st Battalion, 40th Field Artillery Regiment, which consists of 105mm self-propelled howitzers, arrives at Da Nang, and the next day the US Army’s 2nd Battalion, 94th Artillery Regiment, consisting of Self Propelled 175mm guns, also arrives. October 11 The Third Reich, 1941 SS, Waffen-SS Dutch volunteers join in the SS parade in The Hague before leaving for training in eastern Prussia. German stupidity, broken promises and contempt for the nationals of countries they had defeated has adversely affected recruitment, though, and many volunteers return home disillusioned. This is an inauspicious beginning for Himmler’s brotherhood of “Nordic” nations. October 9 Western Front, Belgium, , 1944 Although the Allies captured Antwerp on September 4, they have not been able to use the great port because there are German units on both sides of the Scheldt Estuary. Therefore, the Canadian First Army commences operations to eradicate the enemy presence in this area. Pacific, Iwo Jima Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, commander of all Allied forces in the Central Pacific, informs Lieutenant General Holland M. “Howling Mad” Smith, one of the leading exponents of amphibious warfare and commander of all US Marines in the Pacific, that the island of Iwo Jima will be his next target and that Smith will lead the invasion with three US Marine divisions. The island is within bombing range of the Japanese mainland. The Third Reich, 1940 Sea War, Atlantic: The start of one of the most important and critical convoy battles: 21 ships are sunk from convoy SC7 and another 12 from convoy HX79, making this also one of the most successful U-boat “wolf pack” attacks. October 8 South Vietnam, US AID, , 1966 The 4th Battalion, 503rd Airborne Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade, arrives at Da Nang. Civil War, 1862 Kentucky, Land War:  The Battle of Perryville. As part of the South’s fight for Kentucky, in September Generals Braxton Bragg and Kirby Smith launched an invasion from Tennessee. By October 4 Bragg secured the state capital of Frankfort and set up a new Confederate state government. It was short-lived, though. Today, the Union Army of the Ohio leg by Don Carlos Buell meets Bragg’s Army of the Mississippi. After a morning assault by divisions hits the Union left flank and forces it back. More Rebel divisions join the battle, eventually forcing back the Union line. Union troops on the left flank, reinforced by two brigades stabilize the line. A Confederate attack against a Union division on the Springfield Puke is repulsed, the attackers retreating back to Perryville. Union troops pursue into the town. With his left flank threatened, Bragg withdraws and retreats into East Tennessee. Union losses are 4,211; Confederate 3,196. October 7 1940, WW11, Balkans, Romania German forces enter Romania on the pretext of helping to train the army of the fascist Iron guard government. Germany's principal motive is to occupy the Ploesti oil fields. October 6 The Civil War, 1863 Kansas, Land War The Battle of Baxter Springs. Lieutenant Colonel William Quantrill massacres 103 Union troops around the Union post of Baxter Springs. October 5 The Civil War, 1863 South Carolina, Naval War The CSS David, a confederate torpedo boat, explodes a spar torpedo against the side of the USS New Ironsides in Charleston harbor, causing significant damage to the union vessel. October 4 Mediterranean, Greece, 1944 Determined to prevent a communist takeover in Greece, Winston Churchill launches Operation Manna. British troops land at Patrai in the Peloponnese as German forces pull back. Civil War, 1862 Texas, Naval War.  The Battle of Galveston. The port of Galveston is forced to surrender by U.S. gunboats and tough Union diplomacy after a lengthy period of blockade. October 2 South Vietnam, Ground War, October 2-24, 1966 Operation Irving, lasting 23 days, is carried out by the sky soldiers on the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), ARVN, and Republic of Korea troops against the NVA 610th Division in Binh Dinh Province with 681 enemy casualties. South Vietnam, US Ground Forces, 1966 Equipped with 175mm guns, Battery C, 6th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, comes under control Task Force Delta in I Corps Tactical Zone. Eastern Front, Poland, 1944 After  a bitter two-month battle, the last poles in Warsaw surrender. The Germans evacuate the entire remaining population and begin the systematic destruction of anything left standing. Polish deaths number 150,000 while the German commander, SS General Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski, claims he lost 26,000 men. October 1 The Third Reich, 1941 Eastern Front, Soviet Union The German Army begins Operation Typhoon, the offensive against Moscow. Meanwhile, Hitler in Berlin speaks to the German public and describes the extent of his victory: 2.5 million prisoners, 22,000 guns captured, 18,000 tanks destroyed and 145,000 Russian aircraft eliminated. After such losses he may wonder why the Red Army is still in existence. The Vietnam War, 1970 South Vietnam, US Armed Forces In a ceremony which is attended by Lieutenant-General Keith B. McCutcheon, Commanding General, III Marine Amphibious Force, Lieutenant-General Sutherland of XXIV Corps, Lieutenant-General Lam of I Corps, and Major-General Widdecke, Commanding General of the 1st Marine Division, the regimental colors of the 7th Marines are “troops” for the very last time in Vietnam. On the same day, the regimental command group leaves Vietnam and heads for its home base, located at Camp Pendleton in California. ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY September 30 WWII, 1944 Warsaw Uprising The Polish Resistance Home Army timed the Warsaw uprising to coincide with the Soviet’s Red Army approach, so combined forces could drive the German Army out of Warsaw. The Soviets advanced feel short and the Polish were left to fight the Germans on their own.  At first the Polish were able to gain control over most of central Warsaw however intense fighting between the Polish and Germans continued.  Without the Red Armies air support, nor the bulk of the Red Army aid the Germans were able to gain back control and demolish the city in 63 days. The Warsaw uprising was the single largest military effort by a resistance movement from Europe in WWII.  An estimated 16,000 Polish Resistance were killed, as high as 200,000 Polish civilians were killed and 8000 German soldiers.   September 29 The Civil War, 1863 Louisiana, Land War The Battle of Stirling’s Plantation/Fordoche Bridge. Confederate troops act against a Union thrust toward Texas, defeating a 1,000-strong force at Stirling’s Plantation/Fordoche Bridge. Total battle casualties are 575.   September 26 WWII, 1944, Japan Operation Jaywick An attack by Australian Special forces with the Allied Z Special Unit and comprised of  14 commandos and sailors paddling into the Japanese waters to raid the Singapore Harbour.  They successfully sunk or incapacitated 7 ships using limpet mines.  Only after the ensuing commotion subsided did the commandos return to the Krait, a captured Japanese fishing boat.  The Japanese were taken completely by surprise.   September 25 WWII, 1942 Gestapo Headquarters Oslo Once British officials learnt of the Nazi Gestapo meeting at its Headquarters at the Victoria Terrasse building in Oslo the planned a raid. Four de Havilland Mosquito aircraft from the RAF 105 Squadron crossed the North Sea armed with 4 500 lb bombs of which 3 crashed into a back wall before exploding and one failed to detonate altogether the building was not destroyed.   September 23 WWII, 1944 Air War, Germany The RAF makes a night precision raid on the Dortmund to Ems Canal, the inland waterway that links the Ruhr with other industrial centers. A total of 141 aircraft are involved, the canal is breached, and a section drained. The RAF loses 14 bombers. WWII, September 23-30, 1944 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.   September 22 WWII, 1944 Western Front, France Boulogne surrenders to the Canadian II Corps; its garrison of 20,000 men is taken into captivity. WWII, September 22-25, 1944 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 the Poles and advance troops of XXX Corps to cross the river are driven back, and so the evacuation of the surviving paratroopers begins two days later, leaving 2500 of their dead comrades behind. The Civil War, 1863 Tennessee, Land War The Battle of Blountsville. During Burnside’s moves into Tennessee, Union forces overcome the 1st Tennessee Cavalry Regiment at Blountsville.   September 21 WWII, 1944 Italy, Adriatic Sector The Eighth Army takes Rimini after a week of heavy fighting. Since the beginning of its 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 “tough old gut.” Politics, Yugoslavia The Partisan Chief Marshal Tito meets the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. They reach agreement on the “temporary entry of the Red Army into Yugoslavia” The Vietnam War, 1969 South Vietnam, US Troop Withdrawals Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird announces the deactivation of the 5th Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California. The 25th Marines, still in Vietnam, would not be deactivated with the remained of the division.   September 20 The Civil War, 1863 Tennessee, Land War The Battle of Chickamauga. Initial Rebel attacks begin four hours late due to poor staff work and make little headway against Thomas’ well-situated defensive line on the Union left. At 11:00 hours, Rosecrans pulls Thomas Wood’s division out of the right of his line to plug what he thinks is a gap farther north. Fortunately for the Confederates, three of their divisions under Longstreet launch an attack into the gap left by Wood at precisely the same time. The Union’s defensive position is shattered as Longstreet’s men come close to cutting his line of communication with Chattanooga, Rosecrans orders a retreat. Not all Union forces are through fighting. Troops under George H. Thomas make a stand on Snodgrass Hill, A wooded ridge on the northern end of the Union line. Thomas and his force succeed in holding Bragg at bay as Rosecrans and the bulk of the Union army withdraw into Chattanooga. For his efforts Thomas earns the Medal of Honor and is thereafter known as the “Rock of Chickamauga.” In stark contrast to Thomas, Rosecrans is inconsolable as he is carried along into Chattanooga by the wreckage of his army, Chickamauga is a hollow victory for the Confederates: Bragg is unable to follow is up with the final defeat of the Army of the of the Cumberland. At a cost of over 18,000 casualties, Bragg can only push Rosecrans back to Chattanooga – he is unable to destroy him or force the surrender of his army by siege.   September 19 WWII, September 19-21, 1944 Western Front, Holland Forward elements of the British XXX Corps reach US paratroopers at 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 Division and the British XXX Corps. The next day, the British troops at Arnhem are overwhelmed. The remainder form a defensive perimeter on the northern bank of the Neder Rijn, around the village of Oosterbeek. The Third Reich, 1941 Eastern Front, Ukraine German troops take Kiev, having already occupied most of the Ukraine and begin siege of Leningrad. The Shah of Iran is forced to abdicate and two zones of control, Soviet and British, are established in Iran. The specially equipped and trained 90th Light Division reinforces the Afrika Korps. U-boats experienced difficulties in finding and attacking enemy convoys.   September 18 WWII, 1963 Tennessee, Land War The Battle of Chickamauga. General Rosecrans, Commander of the Union Army of the Cumberland (62,000 men), orders George H. Thomas to position his corps north of Thomas L. Crittenden’s corps to prevent Confederate General Braxton Bragg and his 65,000 men from cutting off the Union army from Chattanooga, a key rail junction on the main Confederate east-west railroad. Not realizing that Thomas now forms the left flank of the Union army, Bragg crosses his forces over Chickamauga Creek and makes camp after some skirmishing with two Union cavalry brigades. The opposing battle lines are set, but due to the thickly wooded terrain along the creek, neither side is aware of it.   September 17 WWII, 1944 Western Front, Holland Operation Market Garden, General Bernard Montgomery’s plan for an armored and airborne thrust across Holland to outflank the German defenses, begins. The British 1st Airborne Division lands near Arnhem, the US 101st Airborne Division near Eindhoven, 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 at Nijmegen. The 101st Division also takes its bridges, but 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.   September 16 The Vietnam War, 1969 South Vietnam, US Troop Withdrawals.  President Nixon announces another troop withdrawal. Of a total reduction of 40,500, more that 18,400 would be US Marines, most of whom will come from the 3rd Marine Division.   September 15 WWII, 1944 Air War, Norway Lancaster’s 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. Eastern Front, Poland Units of the Soviet-raised First Polish Army cross the Vistula River and seize bridgeheads in Warsaw.   September 13 Prisoner of War Camps Prisoners from Russia began to be moved to Austria after thousands of them died in German Prisoner of War camps.   Some of these prisoners went to POW camps but others were sent to concentration camps.  Russians were treated separate from other POW’s.  Russians were treated horribly and continued to have a high death rate   September 12 WW11 Naval The Laconia Order When the German U boat U-156 torpedoed a passenger ship, RMS Laconia, off the coast of Africa, they did not know that it carried Italian Prisoners of War.   The commander of the U-boat, Hartenstein, Hartenstein, immediately commenced rescue operations, broadcasting their humanitarian intent on open radio channels to all Allied forces in the area, broadcast that rescue operations had begun however the Allies’ believed it to be a false signal.  Even though the U-Boat now displayed a Red Cross, a U.S. Liberator bomber attacked and the U-156 was force to submerge to avoid being sunk.  Eventually a French ship arrived to save over 1500 men. This caused the Germans to order that U-Boats were no longer allowed to rescue survivors – The Laconia Order.   September 10 WWII, September 10-14, 1944 Eastern Front, Poland Despite Stalin’s refusal to aid the hard-pressed Warsaw insurgents, units of Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky’s 1st Belorussian Front attack Praga, the east bank quarter of the city. Fighting is savage, and it is not until the 14th that the area is freed from German control. The Civil War, 1863 Arkansas, Land War The Battle of Bayou Fourche/Little Rock. Union troops take Bayou Fourche and Little Rock, consolidating Union control in the Trans-Mississippi area.   September 8 WWII, 1944 Air War, Manchuria China-based B-29 Superfortress bombers make their first daylight raid against Japanese industrial targets at Anshan. Politics, Bulgaria Bulgaria declares war on Germany WWII, September 8-13, 1944 Western Front, Belgium/Holland The British 50th Division crosses the Albert Canal at Gheel. On the 10th, the British Guards Armored Divisions advances to De Groot. Three days later, the British 15th Division crosses the Meuse-Escaut Canal. WWII, September 8-25, 1944 Eastern Front, Slovakia The Soviet 1st and 4th Ukrainian Fronts begin their attacks on the Dukla Pass, the key to the Carpathian Mountain barrier separating the Red Army from eastern Slovakia. It will take the Soviets until the end of November to clear the Carpathians. The Civil War, 1863 Texas, Land War The Battle of Sabine Pass/Fort Griffin. A Union flotilla of four gunboats and 18 troop transports, carrying 6,000 troops, steams into Sabine Pass and up the Sabine River with the intention of reducing Fort Griffin and landing troops to begin occupying Texas. However, the Davis Guards (49 men and six cannon in Fort Griffin) sinks two of the gunboats, kill or wound more than 100 Union troops, and take 300 prisoners, successfully turning back the invasion. The Confederates suffer no losses.   September 6 The Civil War, September 6-8, 1863 South Caroline, Coastal War The Battle of Charleston Harbor. Confederate forces around Charleston lose for Wagner and Battery Gregg to Union forces, but manage to fend off a combined marine/infantry assault against Fort Sumter.   September 5 WWII, 1944 Western Front, France US Third Army spearheads cross the Meuse River. General Karl von Rundstedt is made Commander-in-Chief West by Hitler with orders to counterattack the Allies and split their armies apart. However, his resources for such an undertaking are scant. Eastern Front, Bulgaria After declaring war on the country, Red Army units invade rapidly and reach Turnu Severin. The Soviet Union’s leadership is planning to occupy the entire Balkans.   September 4 WWII, 1944 Italy, Adriatic Sector The British Eighth Army fails to breach the Gemmano-Coriano Ridge on the Gothic line. The ridge is the pivot point of the German Tenth Army’s second line of defense, and as such it is strongly held, particularly by anti-tank weapons. An attack by the British 2nd Armored Brigade, for example, is defeated easily, with the British losing over half their tanks. Western Front, Belgium The British Second Army liberates the port of Antwerp.   September 3 WWII,  1944 Western Front, France/Belgium The US First army takes Tournai and three German corps are crushed. The British Second Army liberates Brussels. The Third Reich, 1941 Nazi Party, Personalities Heydrich, perhaps in reward for his efforts, certainly in recognition of his considerable talents, is appointed to succeed Neurath as Protector of Bohemia and Moravia. His administration of the territory is masterful. It begins in Brutality, but within months adroitly combines stick and carrot. Czech industrial production began to rise. Fuelled with this, Heydrich issued additional ration cards on productivity basis. The message was unequivocal: collaborate and prosper, or resist and perish. Heydrich was shown the crown Jewels of Czechoslovakia by President Hacha, who told him of an intriguing legend that surrounded them. It is said that any person not the true heir who put the crown on his head is sure to die. It is said that he laughed and tried it on. The Vietnam War, 1969 North Vietnam, Politics The President of North Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, dies having inspired thousands of insurgents.   September 2 WWII, 1944 Eastern Front, Bulgaria The Red Army reaches the Bulgarian border. Politics, Finland Finland accepts the preliminary conditions for a peace treaty with the Soviet Union and breaks off diplomatic relations with Germany. The Soviet Union then agrees to an armistice.   September 1 WW11, September 1-3, 1944 Western Front, France/Belgium The British Guards and 11th Armored Divisions, both part of the British XXX Corps, reach Arras and Aubigny.  The Canadian II Corps, part of the Canadian first Army, liberates Dieppe. On the 2nd, XXX Corps is instructed to slow its advance and await a projected paratroop drop. With the cancellation of the drop, the advance resumes again. The 32nd and 5th Brigades of the Guards Armored Division begin a race for Brussels, which is won by the 32nd Brigade on the 3rd. On the same day, the British XXI Corps is bogged down in fighting around the town of Bethune. The Third Reich, 1941 Germany, Legal Yellow star becomes compulsory attire for Jews living in Germany. The general deportation of German Jews to concentration camps starts. The Civil War, 1963 Arkansas, Land War The Battle of Devil’s Backbone/Backbone Mountain. Confederate forces temporarily check a Union pursuit of Rebels from Fort Smith, but are eventually forced to retreat in disorder to Waldron. The Vietnam War, 1969 USA, Race Riots Racial tensions again flare in the United States and in Vietnam as the African American Marines protest over what they perceive as excessive force by guards at the Camp Pendleton brig. Tensions are also evident in Vietnam as well, though are not present in any of the frontline companies. ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY August 31 WWII, 1944 Western Front, France The US Third Army spearheads an advance toward the Meuse River as the British XXX Corps secures all the main bridges over the Somme near Amiens.   August 30 WWII, 1944 Eastern Front, Slovakia Elements of the armed forces and partisans in the Nazi puppet state stages an uprising against their German over-lords as the Red Army approaches the country’s eastern border. The Vietnam War, 1970 South Vietnam, Politics In elections held throughout South Vietnam, 30 South Vietnamese senators are elected in voting that is characterized by terrorist attacks by Viet Congsappers and charges of fraud. Forty-two civilians are killed.   August 28 WWII, 1944 Eastern Front, Poland The Polish Home Army continues to fight in Warsaw, but German air attacks and artillery fire are so heavy that the Poles have been forced into the sewers. Soviet leader Stalin has refused to help the freedom fighters, and so the Red Army awaits the outcome on the far side of the Vistula River. The Third Reich, 1941 Sea War, Atlantic British forces capture the U-571 which later becomes HMS Graph.   August 27 WWII, 1944 Far East, Burma The last of the Chindits are evacuated to India. Chidits were a special forces, that were developed to operate deep behind Japanese enemy lines using guerilla warfare and long-range penetration.  They operated in Burma and India in 1943-44.   August 25 WWII, 1944 Italy, Adriatic Sector The Allied assault on the Gothic Line begins. The German defense line is 200 miles (320 km) long and runs from the valley of the Magra River, south of La Spezia on the west coast, through the Apuan Mountains and the Apennines, ending in the valley of the Foglia River, and reaching the east coast between Pesaro and Cattolica. The assault is conducted by three corps – the British V, Canadian 1, and Polish – of the Eighth Army. The plan is to seize the Gemman-Coriano Ridge complex, thereby unlocking the coastal “gate” and allowing Allied armor to break out to the plains of the Po Valley. However, German resistance is fierce. Western Front, France The British XII and XXX Corps cross the Seine River. The Civil War, 1863 Missouri, Home Front General Order No. 11 is issued by Union Brigadier General Thomas Ewing, forcing the evacuation of people from four counties in western Missouri.   August 24 WWII, 1940, Air War, Britain: The Luftwaffe inflicts serious losses on the RAF during attacks on its main air bases in southeast England, straining the resources of Fighter Command to breaking point in a few days. London has also been Bombed.   August 21 The Civil War, 1863 Tennessee, Land War The Battle of Chattanooga. Union forces conduct a bombardment of Chattanooga, causing much damage and diverting attention from major Union crossings of the Tennessee River. Kansas, Land War The Battle of Lawrence/Lawrence  Massacre. Quantrill,  attack Lawrence, well known as a hotbed of antislavery sentiment. On Quantrill’s order they burn the town and murder every adult male they encounter, as well as a small garrison of Union soldiers. In all, over 150 people are killed and 200 dwellings destroyed. Quantrill has been declared an outlaw by the Union but holds a captaincy in the Confederate army. Among those who fight in his band are Frank and Jesse James “Bloody Bill” Anderson. Quantrill and his men have a policy of “no quarter” with regard to Jayhawkers and Union soldiers.   August 20 The Vietnam War, 1970 South Vietnam, US Armed Forces A US Department of Defense study reports on the use of illegal drugs by US servicemen during the Vietnam war, and concludes that about three out of every ten US servicemen who are interviewed have either smoked marijuana or taken other illegal drugs during their time in Vietnam.   August 19 1944, WW11 Western Front, France Allied units have closed the Falaise pocket two weeks after the Canadian First Army launched Operation Totalize to cut off the encircled German troops. Some 30,000 German soldiers escape from the pocket across the Seine River, but an estimated 50,000 are captured and another 10,000 killed. In the pocket, which has been continually strafed and bombed by Allied aircraft, are hundreds of destroyed and abandoned German vehicles. Canadian, British and Polish forces coming from the north link up with the US First Army driving from Argentan. ON THIS DAY IN MILITARY HISTORY July 30 1944, WWII, Normandy  Operation Bluecoat An attack by the British Second Army from 30 July – 7 August meant to secure the key road of Vire and the high ground of Mont Pincon. The attack was successful in diverting the German 2nd Panzer Division forces away from the American offensive in Brittany. made to support the American exploitation of their break-out on the western flank of the Normandy beachhead and tactically, to exploit the German depletion of the defenses of what had been a quiet area, by withdrawing the Successful British diversion of forces away from the US offensive in Brittany.   July 29 1942, WWII, Battle of the Kokoda: The Kokoda Track campaign consisted of a series of battles between the Japanese and the Allies mostly Australian. After the Japanese landed near Gona, New Guinea they attempted to advance the Owen Stanley Mountains to seize Port Moresby, forcing the Australians back and isolating them from the American forces. . Port Moresby was vital to the defense of Australia, launched from Port Moresby. This campaign became one of the most desperate and bloody battles of the whole war. The Australian defense began at Kokoda, about half way along the mountain trail. In the early morning of 29th July the Australian force of 80 hastily assembled men sought to beat off the Japanese invasion force of over 400. With their commander mortally wounded, shot through the head, and the Japanese outflanking them in the jungle, they were forced to withdraw.  The Australians attempted to recapture Kokoda on 8 August without success which resulted in heavy casualties on both sides. Continue reading →

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