World War II Time Line/History
7: (December 8, Asian time zones) Japan launches an attack on Pearl Harbor, declares war on the United States and the United Kingdom. Japanese troops invade Thailand and British Malaya and launches aerial attacks against Guam, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Shanghai, Singapore and Wake Island. Canada declares war on Japan. Australia declares war on Japan.
8: The United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and New Zealand declare war on Japan.
Japanese forces take the Gilbert Islands (which include Tarawa). Clark Field in the Philippines is bombed, and many American aircraft are destroyed on the ground.
Japanese troops attack Thailand in the Prachuap Khiri Khan.
The Battle of Hong Kong begins
The Malayan Campaign begins.
9: China officially declares war on Japan, although a de facto state of war has existed between the two countries since the Marco Polo Bridge Incident of July 7, 1937. China also declares war on Germany and Italy. Australia officially declares war on Japan.
10: British battlecruiser HMS Repulse and battleship HMS Prince of Wales are sunk in a Japanese air attack in the South China Sea.
11: Germany and Italy declare war on the United States. The United States reciprocates and declares war on Germany and Italy.
US forces repel a Japanese landing attempt at Wake Island.
Japanese troops invade Burma.
12: Japanese landings on the southern Philippine Islands—Samar, Jolo, and Mindanao.
The United States and the United Kingdom declare war on Romania after It had declared war on both the United States and the United Kingdom; India declares war on Japan.
US seize the French ship Normandie.
13: Bulgaria and Hungary declare war on the United States and the United Kingdom. The United States and the United Kingdom reciprocate and declare war on Bulgaria and Hungary.
Japanese under General Yamashita continue their push into Malaya. Under General Homma the Japanese forces are firmly established in the northern Philippines.
Hong Kong is threatened.
14: The British cruiser HMS Galatea is sunk by U-557 off Alexandria, beginning a series of naval defeats for the Allies.
15: Italian “human torpedoes” sink two British battleships, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Valiant in Alexandria harbor.
Commonwealth troops push Rommel back at the Gazala line in Libya.
16: Rommel orders a withdrawal all the way to El Agheila, Libya, where he had begun in March. He awaits reinforcements of men and tanks.
Japan invades the country of Borneo.
The German offensive around Moscow is now at a complete halt.
17: The Battle of Sevastopol, Russia begins.
18: Japanese troops land on Hong Kong Island.
19: Hitler becomes Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the German Army.
HMS Neptune, leading Force K, strikes a minefield and sinks with one survivor and a loss of 766 crew members.
20: The battle for Wake Island continues with several Japanese ships sunk or damaged.
21: The suffering of besieged Leningrad continues; it is estimated that about 3,000 are dying each day of starvation and various diseases.
22: The Japanese land at Lingayan Gulf, on the northern part of Luzon in the Philippines.
Start of the Arcadia Conference in Washington, D.C., the first official meeting of British and American political and military leaders.
23: A second Japanese landing attempt on Wake Island is successful, and the American garrison surrenders after hours of fighting.
General MacArthur declares Manila an “Open City.”
Japanese forces land on Sarawak (Borneo).
24: In the Philippines, American forces retreat into Bataan Peninsula.
Japanese bomb Rangoon.
25: Hong Kong surrenders to Japan.
Allied forces retake Benghazi in Libya.
Red Army and Navy amphibious forces land at Kerch, in the Crimea; their occupation will last through April.
27: British and Norwegian Commandos raid the Norwegian port of Vågsøy, causing Hitler to reinforce the garrison and defenses.
28: Japanese paratroopers land on Sumatra.
1: Twenty-six Allied countries signed the Declaration by United Nations during the Arcadia Conference.
2: Manila is captured by Japanese forces. They also take Cavite naval base, and the American and Filipino troops continue the retreat into Bataan.
5: The beginning of a major Red Army offensive under General Zhukov.
6: The British advance continues to El Agheila, on the western edge of Libya.
In his State of the Union speech, President Roosevelt promises more aid to Britain, including planes and troops.
7: The Soviet Winter counter-offensive comes to a halt, after having pushed the exhausted and freezing German Army back 62–155 mi from Moscow. ‘Operation Barbarossa’ had failed.
Siege of the Bataan Peninsula begins.
Heavy air attacks on Malta; it is estimated that the bomb tonnage dropped on the island is twice that dropped on London.
8: Japanese troops penetrated the outer lines of defense at Kuala Lumpur, Malaya.
9: Japanese advances in Borneo met with little opposition.
10: Japan declares war on the Netherlands.
11: Japanese troops capture Kuala Lumpur, Malaya.
Japan invades the Dutch East Indies.
13: The Red Army takes Kirov and Medya, as its counter-offensive continues.
The German U-boat offensive comes closer to the US shores starting the Second Happy Time.
19: Japanese forces take large numbers of British troop’s prisoner, north of Singapore.
20: Nazis at the Wannsee conference in Berlin decide that the “final solution to the Jewish problem” is relocation, and later extermination.
Japanese bomb Singapore as their troops approach the city.
21: Rommel’s Afrika Korps begins a surprise counter-offensive at El Agheila; his troops, with new reinforcements and tanks, capture Agedabia; then push north to Beda Fomm.
23: The Battle of Rabaul, on New Britain begins.
24: American troops land in Samoa, as part of a strategy to stop the Japanese advance in the Pacific.
25: Thailand declares war on the United States and United Kingdom.
Japanese troops invade the Solomon Islands.
26: The first American forces arrive in Europe landing in Northern Ireland.
27: The British withdraw all troops back into Singapore.
28: Brazil breaks off relations with the Axis powers.
29: Rommel’s Afrika Korps recaptures Benghazi, Libya in his drive east. For the next few months, the two sides will rest and rearm.
31: The Japanese take the port of Moulmein, Burma; they now threaten Rangoon as well as Singapore.
On the Eastern front, the Germans are in retreat at several points.
The last organized Allied forces leave Malaya, ending the 54-day battle.
1: Vidkun Quisling becomes the Nazi-aligned Minister-President of Norway
Rommel’s forces reach El Gazala, Libya, near the border with Egypt; during a “Winter lull” he will remain there.
The United States Navy conducts the Marshalls-Gilberts raids attacking Jaluit, Mili, and Makin (Butaritari) islands as well as Kwajalein, Wotje, and Taroa.
2: General Joseph (“Vinegar Joe”) Stilwell is named Chief of Staff to Chiang Kai-shek and Commander-in-Chief of the Allied forces in China.
3: Japanese air power conducts airstrikes against Java, especially the naval base at Surabaya.
Port Moresby, New Guinea is bombed by the Japanese, increasing the threat to Australia posed by Japan.
7: Americans continue their defense of Bataan against General Homma’s troops.
9: British troops are now in full retreat into Singapore for a final defense.
Top United States military leaders hold their first formal meeting to discuss American military strategy in the war.
10: The cruise liner SS Normandie catches fire and capsizes in New York harbor. Although the cause is probably a welder’s torch, various conspiracies are imagined in the media.
11: The “Channel Dash” – The German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, with the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, rush out of Brest through the English Channel to northern ports, including Wilhelmshaven, Germany; the British naval units fail to sink any of them.
USS Saratoga is torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-6 480 miles southwest of Pearl Harbor
13: The battle for Bataan continues.
15: Singapore surrenders to Japanese forces; this is arguably the most devastating loss in British military history.
16: Plans for the internment of Japanese-Americans living generally in the western US are discussed by American government personnel.
The Japanese commit the Banka Island Massacre in which they open fire on Australian military nurses, killing 21.
17: Orders are given for Rangoon to be evacuated as Japanese forces approach.
19: Japanese aircraft attack Darwin, in Australia’s Northern Territory.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066 allowing the United States military to define areas as exclusionary zones. These zones affect the Japanese on the West Coast, and Germans and Italians primarily on the East Coast.
A military conscription law is passed in Canada.
20: Japanese troops cross the important Salween River in Burma.
Japanese invade Bali and Timor by a combined use of paratroops and amphibious troops.
21: The American Air Corps is now firmly established at bases in the UK.
22: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt orders General Douglas MacArthur to evacuate the Philippines as American defense of the nation collapses.
25: The internment of Japanese-American citizens in the Western United States begins as fears of invasion increase.
26: Vivian Bullwinkel, the only survivor of the Banka Island Massacre, is captured and imprisoned by the Japanese.
27: Battle of the Java Sea – Under a Dutch Rear Admiral Karl Doorman, the combined forces loses 2 light cruisers and 3 destroyers.
USS Langley is attacked by nine Japanese Betty bombers in the Java Sea, damaged and later scuttled to prevent capture.
28: Japanese land forces invade Java.
1: A Red Army offensive in the Crimea begins; in the north, the siege of Leningrad continues.
4: Japanese naval Operation K intended as a reconnaissance of Pearl Harbor and disruption of repair and salvage operations.
5: The Japanese capture Batavia, the capital of the Dutch East Indies.
New conscription laws in the United Kingdom include women and men up to the age of 45.
6: Malta receives more fighters for its on-going defense.
8: The Japanese land at Lae and Salamaua, on Huon Bay, New Guinea, beginning their move toward Port Moresby, New Guinea, and then Australia.
9: Japanese troops entered Rangoon, Burma, which was abandoned by the British two days earlier. It appears that the Japanese are in control of Java, Burma, and New Guinea.
The Secretary of War reorganizes the General Headquarters (GHQ), United States Army into three major commands – Army Ground Forces, Army Air Forces, and Services of Supply, the latter of which is later re-designated Army Service Forces. At the same time, the four Defense commands and all Theaters Of Operations (TOPNS) are subordinated to the War Department General Staff.
11: The Japanese land on Mindanao, the southernmost island in the Philippines.
12: American troops begin to land in Nouméa, New Caledonia; it will become an important staging base for the eventual invasion of Guadalcanal.
13: RAF launches an air raid against Essen, Germany.
14: Japanese land troops in the Solomon Islands, underscoring Australia’s dangerous situation, especially if, as it is soon made clear, an airfield is built on Guadalcanal.
The Japanese are now threatening American forces around Manila Bay; the retreat to Corregidor begins.
17: U.S. General Douglas MacArthur arrives in Australia, after leaving his headquarters in the Philippines.
The United Kingdom institutes rationing of electricity, coal, and gas; the clothing ration is decreased as well.
20: Operation Outward begins; a program to attack Germany by means of free-flying balloons.
22: A fractured convoy reaches Malta, after heavy losses to the Luftwaffe and an Italian sea force. Continued heavy bombing attacks on the island overtaxed RAF air forces.
25: RAF sends bomber raids against targets in France and Germany.
28: The RAF sends a raid against Lübeck, destroying over 30% of the city, and 80% of the medieval center. Hitler is outraged.
British commandos launch Operation Chariot, a raid on the port at Saint Nazaire, France. HMS Campbeltown, filled with explosives on a time-delay fuse, rams the dock gates and commandos destroy other parts of the naval service area. The port is completely destroyed and does not resume service till 1947; however, around two-thirds of the raiding forces are lost.
1: The Eastern Sea Frontier, desperately short on suitable escort vessels after the Destroyers for Bases Agreement, institutes an interim arrangement known as the “Bucket Brigade,” wherein vessels outside of protected harbors are placed in anchorages protected by netting after dark, and move only under whatever escort is available during the day. As word of this and similar measures reaches Dönitz, he does not wait to test their effectiveness, but instead shifts his U-boats to the area controlled by the Gulf Sea Frontier, where American anti-submarine measures are not as effective. As a result, in May more ships will be sunk in the Gulf, many of them off the Passes of the Mississippi, than off of the entire Eastern Seaboard.
The Pacific War Council meets for the first time in Washington. Intended to allow the smaller powers involved in fighting the Japanese to have some input into US decisions, its purpose is soon outstripped by events, notably the collapse of the ABDA Command.
2: Over 24,000 sick and starving troops (American and Filipino) are now trapped on the Bataan Peninsula.
Japanese make landings on New Guinea, most importantly at Hollandia.
3: Japanese forces begin an all-out assault on United States and Filipino troops in Bataan.
Sustained Japanese air attacks on Mandalay in Burma.
4: Germans plan “Baedeker raids” on touristy or historic British sites, in revenge for the Lübeck bombing.
5: On Bataan, the Japanese overwhelm Mt. Samat, a strong point on Allied defensive line.
The Japanese Navy attacks Colombo in Ceylon. Royal Navy heavy cruisers HMS Cornwall and HMS Dorsetshire are sunk southwest of the island.
Adolf Hitler issues Directive No. 41, outlining his plans for the coming summer offensive in Russia. The main offensive is directed to seize the Russian oil fields in the Caucasus; a secondary thrust is to capture Stalingrad and protect the flank of the main advance.
6: Japanese naval forces put troops ashore on Manus Island in the Bismarck Archipelago (some sources give a date of 8 April for these landings).
8: Heavy RAF bombing of Hamburg.
American forces are strained for one last offensive on Bataan.
With the withdrawal of HMS Penelope from Malta, Force K in Malta comes to a close.
9: The Japanese Navy launches an air raid on Trincomalee in Ceylon; Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Hermes and Royal Australian Navy destroyer HMAS Vampire are sunk off the country’s east coast.
Bataan falls to the Japanese. The “Bataan Death March” begins, as the captives are taken off to detention camps in the north.
Corregidor, in the middle of Manila Bay, remains a final point of resistance.
10: Japanese land on Cebu Island, a large middle island of the Philippines.
12: Japanese forces capture Migyaungye in Burma.
14: Winston Churchill, concerned that the situation in Malta will cause the Axis forces in North Africa to be better supplied than British forces, sends a telegram to Sir Stafford Cripps in Cairo, asking him to pressure General Auchinleck to take offensive action before this can occur.
USS Roper becomes the first American ship to sink a U-boat.
15: Malta is awarded the George Cross by King George VI for “heroism and devotion”.
Soldiers of the I Burma Corps begin to destroy the infrastructure of the Yenangyaung oil fields to prevent the advancing Japanese from capturing them intact.
17: French General Henri Giraud, who was captured in 1940, escapes from a castle prison at Königstein by lowering himself down the castle wall and jumping on board a moving train, which takes him to the French border.
18: Doolittle Raid on Nagoya, Tokyo and Yokohama. Jimmy Doolittle’s B-25s take off from USS Hornet. The raids are a great boost of morale for Americans whose diet has been mostly bad news.
The Eastern Sea Frontier, the United States Navy operational command in charge of the East Coast of the United States, somewhat belatedly forces a blackout along the East Coast. This deprives U-boat commanders of background illumination, but provides only a very little relief from U-boat attack; as the nights grow shorter more U-boat attacks are occurring in daylight hours.
20: General Dobbie, Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of Malta, sends a message to Winston Churchill saying “it is obvious that the very worst may happen if we cannot replenish our vital needs, especially flour and ammunition, and that very soon….” Churchill concludes from this and other “disturbing news” that Dobbie is not capable enough for such an important job, and decides to replace him with Lord Gort.
USS Wasp delivers 47 Spitfire Mk. V fighters of No. 603 Squadron RAF to Malta; the planes are destroyed, mostly on the ground, by intense Axis air raids before they can affect the course of battle.
23: Beginning of so-called Baedeker Raids by the Luftwaffe on English provincial towns like Exeter, Bath, Norwich, and York; attacks continue sporadically until June 6.
24: Heavy bombing of Rostock, Germany by RAF.
26: Hitler assumes supreme authority over Germany.
27: Rostock is bombed for fourth night in a row.
A national plebiscite is held in Canada on the issue of conscription. It passes in favor of conscription; French Canadians are the main, though not the only, objectors.
The finalized thirty-three page draft for the German Amerika Bomber trans-Atlantic range strategic bomber design competition is submitted to the RLM.
28: The bulk of the British assault troops depart Durban in South Africa for Madagascar; the slower ships, carrying transport and heavy weapons, have departed in great secrecy some days earlier.
29: The “Baedeker raids” continue, focused on Norwich and York.
Japanese cut Burma Road with the capture of Lashio in Burma.
Adolf Hitler summons Benito Mussolini and Galeazzo Ciano to a summit conference at Salzburg. Like most Hitlerian conferences, this one is actually a thinly-disguised attempt to harangue the invitees into compliance with the Fuehrer’s will; in this case, the Italians are to commit more troops to the Eastern Front. Hitler is successful, and Mussolini agrees to send an additional seven divisions, as well as the two already promised. These unfortunate troops will be formed into the Eighth Italian Army and attached to von Bock’s (later von Weichs’s) Army Group B.
1: Rommel readies for a new offensive during the early part of this month.
2: In response to American intelligence intercepts, which warn of the impending Japanese landings, the Australian garrison is evacuated from Tulagi.
American General Joseph Stilwell decides that nothing more can be accomplished in Burma, and that the time has come to evacuate.
Stilwell and his party of 114, mostly Americans, begin their trek to the Indian border and safety. To reach India, Stilwell will not only have to stay ahead of the Japanese, but beat the coming monsoon.
5: Heavy Japanese artillery attack on Corregidor.
In the Coral Sea, both Japanese and American carrier aircraft spend this day and the following one searching for each other’s ships, with no success, even though at one point the opposing carrier groups are separated by less than a hundred miles of ocean.
General Stilwell abandons his trucks, which constantly become stuck and so are actually impeding progress rather than aiding it. He retains his Jeeps, which do better. Late in the day his party arrives at Indaw.
6: On Corregidor, Lt. General Jonathan M. Wainwright surrenders the last U.S. forces in the Philippines to Lt. General Masaharu Homma. About 12,000 are made prisoners. Homma will soon face criticism from his superiors over the amount of time it has taken him to reduce the Philippines, and be forced into retirement (1943).
After a pep talk, General Stilwell and his party of 114 set out from Indaw on foot, with only 11 Jeeps to carry their supplies and any incapacitated, to reach the Indian border. He sends a last radio message which ends, “Catastrophe quite possible.” The radio is then destroyed.
In the Coral Sea, Japanese search planes spot refueling ship USS Neosho and destroyer USS Sims, which have retired from Fletcher’s Task Force 17 into what should have been safer waters to refuel Sims. They are mistaken for an aircraft carrier and a cruiser. Japanese Admiral Takagi, believing he has at last found the location of Fletcher’s main force, orders a full out attack by carriers Shōkaku and Zuikaku and sinks both ships. This distraction helps prevent the Japanese from finding the real location of Fletcher’s carriers. Meanwhile, Fletcher has a similar false alarm, the spotting of two cruisers and two destroyers being mistakenly encrypted as “two carriers and four cruisers.” By chance, though, planes from USS Lexington and USS Yorktown stumble across light carrier Shōhō while pursuing the false lead and sink her, leading to the first use in the American Navy of the signal, “Scratch one flattop.” Admiral Inoue is so alarmed by the loss of Shōhō he halts the Port Moresby invasion group north of the Louisiades until the American carriers can be found and destroyed.
In Burma, General Stilwell must abandon his Jeeps. From here on all in the party will have to march. The fifty-nine-year-old General decides a cadence of one hundred five beats per minute will best match the disparate abilities of his party, and they march fifty minutes and rest ten each hour.
8: In the Coral Sea, each side finally locates the other’s main carrier groups, consisting of Japanese carriers Shōkaku and Zuikaku, and American carriers Lexington and Yorktown. Several attacks follow. Only Zuikaku escapes unscathed; Shōkaku has her flight deck bent, requiring two months’ repairs; Lexington is sunk and Yorktown damaged. Fletcher retires; this action closes the Battle. While arguably a stalemate or even tactical victory for the Japanese, who have sunk the most tonnage and the only large carrier, the Battle of the Coral Sea is usually seen as a strategic victory for the United States, as Admiral Inoue cancels the Port Moresby operation, the first significant failure of a Japanese strategic operation in the Pacific Theatre. In addition, Yorktown will be repaired in time to make important contributions at Midway (although she will not survive), whereas neither the damaged Shōkaku nor Zuikaku (which, although not directly attacked, has suffered unsustainable losses in aircraft), will be able to refit in time for Midway, giving the Japanese only four operable carriers available for that battle.
The Germans take the Kerch peninsula in the eastern Crimea.
9: On the night of 8/9 May 1942, gunners of the Ceylon Garrison Artillery on Horsburgh Island in the Cocos Islands rebelled. Their mutiny was crushed and three of them were executed, the only British Commonwealth soldiers to be executed for mutiny during the Second World War.
USS Wasp and HMS Eagle deliver a second contingent of Spitfires to Malta in Operation Bowery. A few days later, a grateful Churchill will signal Wasp “Who says a Wasp can’t sting twice?” These aircraft, employed more aggressively than those previously delivered, turn the tide in the skies over Malta during the next few days, and the Axis is forced to abandon daylight bombing. This is the major turning point in the Siege, and thus in the North African Campaign, although the approaches to the island remain subject to deadly and accurate Axis air attack, preventing efficient re-supply of the island.
Churchill, growing ever more frustrated with General Auchinleck’s inactivity, finally sends him a telegram with a clear order; attack in time to cover for the Harpoon/Vigorous convoys to Malta during the dark of the moon in early June. This places Auchinleck in the position of complying or resigning. Auchinleck does not immediately reply, leaving Churchill, CIGS, and the War Cabinet in a state of suspense.
Second Battle of Kharkov – In the eastern Ukraine, Soviet forces of Marshal Timoshenko’s Southwest Theatre of Operations, including Gorodnyanski’s 6th Army and Kharitonov’s 9th Army, initiate a major offensive to capture Kharkov from the Germans. 9th Army is to attack first, with a primary objective of Krasnograd, and a secondary one of Poltava; 6th Army is to follow immediately. After 9th Army has captured Krasnograd, 6th Army is to swing north and link up with 28th Army and 57th Army, the latter two formations having meanwhile cut the railway between Belgorad and Kharkov.
The 33-page Amerika Bomber trans-Atlantic strategic bomber design competition proposal document makes it to Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering’s offices, with ten copies printed — six of these were sent to the Luftwaffe, and four held in reserve.
13: General Stilwell and his party cross the Chindwin River. They are now almost certainly safe from the Japanese, but still dependent on their own supplies in a very remote area and racing to beat the monsoon.
14: In response to the Soviet offensive in the Kharkov area, Hitler orders elements of Richthofen’s Fliegerkorps VIII north to do ground support missions. As a result, by the end of the day 14 May, the Germans have established tentative, but increasing air superiority over the Kharkov sector. In addition, on this day Hitler orders General Kleist, whose command is in positions opposite and to the south of the Soviets’ left flank, to quickly prepare and launch a strong armored counter-offensive.
In Burma, General Stilwell and his party begin ascending the Naga Hills. They are met at Kawlum by a relief expedition headed by British colonial administrator Tim Sharpe. “Food, doctor, ponies, and everything,” notes a grateful Stilwell in his diary.
15: In the United States, a bill creating the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) is signed into law.
General Stilwell crosses the border into India.
16: United States 1st Armored Division arrives in Northern Ireland.
17: In the salient north of Kharkov, Russian 28th and 57th Armies are having trouble making progress against General Paulus’s (German) 6th Army. For once, Adolf Hitler has not hobbled his local commander with a strict “no retreat” order, and Paulus is free to conduct an efficient delaying action. In addition, Paulus’ troops are largely up to strength and fully equipped as a result of preparations for the upcoming drive to Stalingrad. In the south salient, Kharitonov’s 9th Army has routed the Romanian (3rd and/or 4th Army; accounts differ) troops in his path and captured Krasnograd, and is proceeding to Poltava; Gorodnyanski’s 6th Army has made its planned turn to the north to link up with 28th and 57th Armies. 9th Army’s impetus has stretched Kharitonov’s armored units out along a seventy-mile track, diluting their strength; and attempts to cover his left flank by driving the Germans back from it have been unsuccessful. The Russians take only a few prisoners along this flank, but Timoshenko is dismayed by the variety of units, especially armored units, this handful of men represent (this is because Kleist is concentrating troops in this area in preparation for his counter-offensive). Timoshenko loses confidence and has his Political Officer Nikita Khrushchev ring up the Stavka and ask for permission to halt while he secures his left flank; Stavka refuses.
It has been a week since Churchill sent his ultimatum to General Auchinleck, and he has not yet received a reply. He sends a terse follow-up: “It is necessary for me to have some account of your general intentions in light of our recent telegrams.” Again there is no immediate reply.
18: The Red Army is in a major retreat at Kerch, after large numbers surrender.
In the salient north of Kharkov, the Soviet offensive has bogged down. In the southern salient, Kleist has launched his counter-offensive. It is immediately successful and by the end of the first day the leading elements have reached the confluence of the Oksol and Donetz rivers, greatly narrowing the base of the salient. In the process the Germans traverse and disrupt so many lines of communication that Kharitonov’s 9th Army begins to lose cohesion as a fighting force, and becomes useless as a screen to protect Gorodnyanski’s 6th Army which, because of its northward progress, is badly disposed to repel the German attacks coming from the south.
The Assam Rifles give General Stilwell’s party a formal salute in honor of their arrival at Ukhrul, but can offer no motorized transport; the nearest road passable by trucks is still a day’s march away, and there are no Jeeps yet in this part of India.
19: At Kharkov, Kleist‘s counter-offensive continues to prosper; and now Paulus launches a second counter-attack from the north, designed to link up with Kleist’s and encircle as many Soviet troops as possible. The Stavka, gradually becoming aware of the extent of the danger, orders Gorodnyanski’s 6th Army to halt their advance. But by now Timoshenko is planning to extricate what forces he can before the two German spearheads link up.
20: The Japanese conquest of Burma is complete; it is called a “military catastrophe”. Coincidentally, on this same day General Stilwell arrives in Imphal and dismisses his evacuation party. All 114 have arrived, although some have to be hospitalized due to exhaustion; one of whom, Major Frank Merrill, later commander of Merrill’s Marauders, is diagnosed to have had a mild heart attack en route.
At Kharkov, as Kleist‘s and Paulus’ forward elements draw ever closer together, Timoshenko sends his subordinate General Kostenko into the salient to organize a fighting retreat, or, failing that, maximize what can be saved.
Molotov arrives in London, and high-level discussions begin the next day.
21: Invasion of Malta postponed indefinitely.
In discussions with Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden, Molotov continues to press Soviet demands for territorial acquisitions made during the run-up to war, including the Baltic states, Eastern Poland, and Bessarabia. Churchill cannot or will not agree to these demands, and the talks become deadlocked.
22: Mexico declares war on the Axis.
At the high-level Soviet/United Kingdom talks in London, Anthony Eden suggests abandoning attempts to reach territorial understandings, and instead conclude a twenty-years’ alliance. Molotov, whose diplomatic position is weakening rapidly as the Soviet military situation deteriorates at Kerch and Kharkov, expresses interest.
25: In preparation for the next battle, the Japanese naval strategists send diversionary forces to the Aleutians.
26: The Anglo-Soviet Treaty: their foreign secretaries agree that no peace will be signed by one without the approval of the other. (An important treaty since Himmler and others will attempt to separate the two nations at the end of the war.)
Rommel begins a spring offensive at the Gazala line (west of Tobruk). It opens with “Rommel’s Moonlight Ride,” a dramatic mechanized dash around 1st Free French Brigade Group positions at Bir Hakeim on the British left (desertward) flank, conducted by moonlight during the night of 26/27 May. In the process Rommel disperses 3rd Indian Motorized Brigade, some six hundreds of whom are taken prisoner and then released in the desert, and who will make their way to Bir Hakeim. The offensive lasts well into June and ends with a total victory for Rommel.
British use American Sherman tanks in attempts to stop Rommel’s attacks on the Gazala line.
USS Yorktown, damaged at the Coral Sea, limps into Pearl Harbor; it is ordered to get repaired and ready as fast as possible for the impending battle.
29: Japanese forces have large successes south of Shanghai.
Rommel turns his troops to Bir Hachim on the south edge of the Gazala line; once it is taken, he can move north and destroy the Allied emplacements in the line.
30: “The Thousand Bomber Raid” on Cologne, revealing new area bombing techniques.
31: Huge German successes around Kharkov, with envelopment of several Red Army armies.
Japanese midget subs enter Sydney harbor and sink one support ship; fears of invasion grow.
So effective has been the use of the Spitfires delivered to Malta in Operation Bowery earlier in the month, that Kesselring has only eighty-three serviceable aircraft left, as opposed to more than four hundred at the peak of Axis air strength earlier in the spring.
Rommel’s offensive has stalled out well short of Tobruk, due to resistance by British 1st Armored Division and 7th Armored Division, partially equipped with the new American Sherman tanks. He is also confronted by a long supply line, which must reach around and is under constant threat from the 1st Free French Brigade Group position at Bir Hakeim. He orders two lanes cut through the British minefields which run from Gazala to Bir Hakeim, on either side of fortified positions held by the 150th Brigade of British 50th Infantry Division. He then gathers the bulk of his forces near the outlets of these two lanes, completing the process on the 31st. These tactics serve the triple purpose of shortening his supply line, encircling 150th Brigade, and allowing him to use the British minefields as part of his defenses. The area of concentration, promptly nicknamed “the Cauldron” by British Command, will be the focus of the battle for the next few days.
1: To further secure his supply lines, Rommel launches an attack on 150th Brigade of British 50th Infantry Division, whose position he has surrounded. Since he is attacking from the east against a position designed to defend against attacks from the west, and since there is scant hope of relief, there is little 150th Brigade can do and they are soon overwhelmed.
2: Further heavy bombing of industrial sites in Germany, centered mainly on Essen.
3: The British coal industry is nationalized.
The Battle of Midway opens with ineffective attacks by land-based American B-17s on the approaching Japanese fleet. Admiral Nagumo, in charge of the Japanese carrier force (Hiryu, Soryu, Akagi, and Kaga) is unable to locate any American aircraft carriers and decides to attack Midway’s land-based air defenses the first thing the next morning, which in any event is one of his planned tasks.
4: In the Battle of Midway, the day opens with Admiral Nagumo’s attack on the air defenses of the island. A good deal of damage is done and many aircraft destroyed on both sides, but in the end the island’s airbase is still functional. Nagumo plans a second attack on the island, and begins refueling and rearming his planes. Meanwhile, attacks are launched from all three American aircraft carriers in the area. Planes from USS Hornet, Yorktown, and Enterprise all find the targets, although most of the planes from Hornet follow an incorrect heading and miss this attack. Torpedo Squadron 8 from Hornet breaks and follows the correct heading. The Devastators of “Torp 8” are all shot down without doing any damage; there is only one survivor, George H. Gay, Jr. of Waco, Texas, who watches the battle unfold from the water. The torpedo attack fails, but draws the Japanese Combat Air Patrol down to low altitude, and they are unable to effectively repel the dive bombers from Yorktown and Enterprise when they arrive. The bombs find the Japanese flight decks crowded with fueling lines and explosive ordnance, and Akagi, Kaga, and Soryu are all soon reduced to blazing hulks, Akagi hit by only one bomb dropped by Lt. Commander Richard Halsey Best; only Hiryu escapes with no hits. Admiral Nagumo shifts his flag from Akagi to another ship, the cruiser Nagara, and orders attacks on the American carriers, one by a group of Aichi D3A dive bombers and a second by Nakajima B5N torpedo bombers. The Japanese planes find Yorktown (thinking Yorktown already sunk, the second attack group assume it must be Enterprise) and damage it so badly that Yorktown must be abandoned. Admiral Fetcher shifts his flag to cruiser Astoria and cedes operational command to Admiral Spruance. The attacks on Yorktown give away Hiryu‘s continued operations, though, and it is promptly attacked and will sink the next day, Admiral Yamaguchi choosing to go down with it. Of note, Hiryu and the other three destroyed Japanese carriers had participated in the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Reinhard Heydrich, a key architect of the Holocaust, dies in Prague from medical complications that had arisen from injuries suffered from an attempted assassination by Czechoslovak patriots one week earlier. (Operation Anthropoid).
5: At Gazala, British forces of the Eighth Army commanded by General Ritchie launch a major counter-attack against Rommel’s forces in the Cauldron. The attack fails, partly because Rommel has already recovered his critical logistics situation and has established an excellent defensive position, but also in large part due to German anti-tank tactics; 32nd Army Tank Brigade, for example, loses 50 of 70 tanks. By early afternoon Rommel is clearly in control of the situation and attacks the British position known as “Knightsbridge” with the Ariete and 21st Panzer divisions. Several British tactical headquarters positions are overrun and command and control of the British forces becomes problematic; as a result, several brigades are stranded in the Cauldron when the British retirement begins. In addition, the British suffer further heavy tank losses.
United States declares war on Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania.
The Battle of Midway comes to a close; USS Yorktown sinks; four Japanese carriers and one cruiser are sunk. The battle is viewed as a turning point in the Pacific war.
8: Malta receives a squadron of Spitfires.
A Japanese submarine fires several shells into a residential area in Sydney but with little effect.
9: At Bir Hakeim, Rommel renews his attacks on the 1st Free French Brigade’s “box.” Although the Free French continue to hold out, their perimeter, never the largest, is dangerously reduced in size, and their position becomes untenable. General Ritchie orders 1st Free French Brigade to withdraw the following day.
Rommel pushes the Free French forces out of Bir Hakeim, a fortress south-west of Tobruk. Although the 1st Free French brigade is largely surrounded, their commander, General Koenig, is able to find and fight his way through gaps in Rommel’s widely dispersed forces.
11: Two convoys set out for Malta, one from Gibraltar (code named ‘Harpoon’) and the other from Alexandria (code named ‘Vigorous’), with desperately needed supplies of food, fuel, and ammunition. The hope is that the Axis will concentrate their attacks on whichever convoy they find first, allowing the other one to get through.
12: Heavy fighting in Sevastopol with serious losses of life on both sides.
At Gazala, the British are forced out of the defensive position known as ‘Knightsbridge;’ it is only approximately fifteen miles from the Tobruk perimeter (some sources give a date of 13 June for this; the withdrawal may have been in operation on both calendar days).
‘Black Saturday’ for the 8th Army at the Battle of Gazala; during the course of the day Rommel does great damage to the British armor. At the end of the day not only have unsustainably large amounts of British armor been destroyed, but both 50th Division and 1st South African Division, who have largely retained their forward positions along the Gazala Line, are threatened with envelopment. The position of 50th Division is especially grave since Rommel’s armor now ranges freely between them and safety.
1st South African Division is able to withdraw along the coastal road, but the road cannot accommodate all the troops at once, and this route is in any event is under threat of being cut by Rommel’s forces; so troops including 50th Division must first breakout to the southwest, through the area occupied by Italian X Corps, and then turn east to rejoin 8th Army. This somewhat daring operation is concluded successfully. The RAF forces available, although outnumbered, make a valiant effort to cover the retreat. Churchill sends Auchinleck a telegram beginning, ‘To what position does Ritchie want to withdraw the Gazala troops? Presume there is no question in any case of giving up Tobruk.’
The convoy ‘Vigorous’, en route to Malta, sights a large Italian naval squadron headed toward it. ‘Harpoon’ comes under attack for the first time; ‘Vigorous’ has been under air attack almost since leaving port.
16: Two convoys moving toward Malta suffer heavy losses; German air forces continue to bomb the island itself. Operation Harpoon arrives in Malta, but only two of the six supply ships survive; one of them has lost part of its cargo due to mine damage. The sinking of the tanker Kentucky means that there will be precious little aviation fuel added to the dwindling RAF stocks on Malta. Late in the day, Operation Vigorous is cancelled; the convoy diverts back to Alexandria.
17: Tobruk is now surrounded.
18: Manhattan Project is started, the beginning of a scientific approach to nuclear weapons.
Winston Churchill arrives in Washington for meetings with Roosevelt.
21: Afrika Korps recaptures Tobruk, with 35,000 men captured; the road to Egypt is now open as the British retreat deep into Egypt. Tobruk’s loss is a grievous blow to British morale. German land forces have been assisted by Luftwaffe attacks.
25: Another massive British “Thousand Bomber” raid, this time on Bremen; the raiders suffer grievous losses.
26: The Germans drive toward Rostov-on-Don.
27: Convoy PQ 17 sets sail from Iceland; only 11 of 37 ships will survive.
Mersa Matruh, Egypt, about 140 miles from Alexandria, falls to Rommel.
30: United States deploys II Corps to the European Theater.
1: First Battle of El Alamein begins as Rommel begins first assault on British defenses.
Sevastopol, Russia, falls to the Germans; marking the end of Red Army resistance in the Crimea.
2: Churchill survives a censure motion in the House of Commons.
3: Guadalcanal is now firmly in the hands of the Japanese.
4: First air missions by the United States Army Air Forces in Europe.
11: Rommel’s forces are now stalemated before El Alamein; largely because of a lack of ammunition.
12: It now becomes clear that Stalingrad is the largest challenge to the invaders.
19: Battle of the Atlantic: German Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz orders the last U-boats to withdraw from their United States Atlantic coast positions in response to an increasingly effective American convoy system.
20: After landing in the Buna-Gona area, the Japanese in New Guinea move across the Owen Stanley mountain range aiming at Port Moresby in the south-eastern part of the island, close to Australia; a small Australian force begins rearguard action on the Kokoda Track.
24: Germans take Rostov-on-the-Don; the Red Army is in a general retreat along the Don River.
26: A second attack by the British under Auchinleck fails against Rommel. First Battle of El Alamein is over.
27: Heavy RAF incendiary attack on Hamburg.
29: The Japanese take Kokoda, halfway along the Owen Stanley pass to Port Moresby.
30: Continuing stalemate at El Alamein between Rommel and Auchinleck.
1: The Germans continue their successful advance toward Stalingrad.
3: A convoy to Malta is decimated by the Luftwaffe and U-boats.
5: The U.S. planning team for Operation Torch, which includes George S. Patton; Jimmy Doolittle; Kent Lambert; and Hoyt S. Vandenberg, meets in Washington, D.C. to join the combined planning team from London, England.
The naval Battle of Savo Island, near Guadalcanal; the Americans lose three cruisers, the Australians one.
9: Numerous riots in favor of independence in India; Mahatma Gandhi is arrested.
10: Rommel begins an attack around El Alamein, but by September he is back to his original lines.
11: HMS Eagle, a carrier on convoy duty to Malta, is torpedoed and sinks with heavy loss of life.
12: At a conference in Moscow, Churchill informs Stalin that there will not be a “second front” in 1942.
American forces establish bases in the New Hebrides islands.
Fighting increases as the Germans approach Stalingrad.
13: General Bernard Montgomery appointed commander of the Eighth Army, which encompassed Allied ground forces in Egypt and Libya; Churchill is anxious to see more offensive action on the part of the Allies in North Africa.
Disastrous end to the Malta convoy, but one tanker and four merchant ships get through.
15: Malta is supplied via Operation Pedestal.
17: First US Army Air Forces B-17 heavy bomber raid in Europe, targeting the Sotteville railroad yards at Rouen, France.
18: In New Guinea, both Japanese and Australian reinforcements arrive.
20: Henderson Field on Guadalcanal receives its first American fighter planes.
21: Japanese counter-attack at Henderson Field; in another foray at the Tenaru (or Ilu) River, many Japanese are killed in a banzai charge.
22: Brazil declares war on the Axis countries, partly in response to numerous riots by a populace angry at the sinking of Brazilian ships.
23: Massive German air raid on Stalingrad.
24: The naval battle of the Eastern Solomons; USS Enterprise is badly damaged and the Japanese lose one light carrier, Ryujo.
27: Marshal Georgii Zhukov is appointed to the command of the Stalingrad defense; the Luftwaffe is now delivering heavy strikes on the city.
28: Incendiary bombs dropped by a Japanese seaplane cause a forest fire in Oregon.
30: The Battle of Alam Halfa, a few miles south of El Alamein begins. This will be Rommel’s last attempt to break through the Allied lines in Egypt; the air superiority of the Desert Air Force will play a significant role for the Allies.
Luxembourg is formally annexed to the German Reich.
31: Start of the 1942 Luxembourg general strike against conscription.
1: US Navy Construction Battalion personnel, Seabees, began to arrive at Guadalcanal.
3: The Battle of Stalingrad proper may be said to have begun on this date, with German troops in the suburbs; even civilian men and boys are conscripted by the Red Army to assist in the defense.
4: Irish Republican Army riots occur in Belfast during the night.
5: Australian and U.S. forces defeat Japanese forces at Milne Bay, Papua, the first outright defeat for Japanese land forces in the Pacific War. Their evacuation and the failure to establish an airbase eases the threat to Australia.
6: The Black Sea port of Novorossiysk is taken by the Germans.
9: A Japanese plane drops more incendiaries on Oregon, but with little effect.
10: RAF blasts Düsseldorf with large incendiary bombing.
12: RMS Laconia, carrying civilians, Allied soldiers, and Italian POWs, is torpedoed off the coast of West Africa and sinks.
12–14: American troops on Guadalcanal push back the Japanese in the Battle of Edson’s Ridge.
13: The Battle for Stalingrad continues; it is now totally surrounded by the Germans. On the Soviet Union side General Vasily Chuikov is put in charge of the defense.
14: The Japanese retreat again from Henderson Field, Guadalcanal.
The Japanese are now within 30 miles of Port Moresby, New Guinea, on the Kokoda trail.
15: Americans send troops to Port Moresby as reinforcements for the Australian defenders.
Light carrier USS Wasp is sunk by a Japanese submarine off Guadalcanal.
18: Battle of the “grain silo” in Stalingrad; the Germans are beaten back. The Red Army begins ferrying troops across the Volga at night.
23: General Rommel leaves North Africa for medical treatment in Germany.
23–27: In the Third Battle of Matanikau River, Guadalcanal, Japanese naval bombardment and landing forces nearly destroy Henderson Field in an attempt to take it, but the land forces are soon driven back.
28: The Japanese continue their retreat back down the Kokoda Track in New Guinea.
30: The Eagle Squadron (American volunteers in the RAF) is officially transferred to the US Army Air Force.
Hitler speaks to the nation and boasts that Stalingrad will be taken.
6: By mutual arrangement, the Allies agree on a strategy whereby Americans will bomb in the daytime and the RAF at night.
11: On the Northwest coast of Guadalcanal, United States Navy ships intercept and defeat a Japanese fleet on their way to reinforce troops on the island. With the help of radar they sink one cruiser and several Japanese destroyers.
12: The Red Army methods of ferrying troops across the Volga and into Stalingrad directly, seems to be a success, as the German advance comes to a halt.
13: Heavy bombardment of Henderson Field, Guadalcanal by the Japanese navy.
18: Hitler issues Commando Order, ordering all captured commandos to be executed immediately.
Admiral William “Bull” Halsey is given command of the South Pacific naval forces.
21: Heavy RAF activity over El Alamein.
22: Conscription age in Britain reduced to 18.
American General Mark Clark secretly lands in Algeria to confer with Vichy officials and Resistance groups in preparation for impending Allied invasion.
23: The Second Battle of El Alamein begins with massive Allied bombardment of German positions. Then Australian forces, mainly, begin advance while offshore British naval forces support the right flank.
24: US Navy Task Force 34, consisting of aircraft carriers, a variety of support ships, including troop ships and other vessels, set sail from Hampton Roads, Virginia with Patton’s forces for Operation Torch, the landing in North Africa. The other two task forces of Operation Torch, the first American-led force to fight in the European and African theatres of war, depart Britain for Morocco.
Crisis at El Alamein: British tanks survive German 88 mm fire; Montgomery orders the advance to continue despite losses.
25: Rommel hurriedly returns from his sickbed in Germany to take charge of the African battle. (His replacement, General Stumme, had died of a heart attack).
The Japanese continue their attacks on the Marines west of Henderson Field.
29: The Japanese continue to send troops as reinforcements into Guadalcanal.
United States 1st Armored Division moves from Northern Ireland to England.
31: The British make a critical breakthrough with tanks west of El Alamein; Rommel’s mine fields fail to stop the Allied armor.
1: Operation Supercharge, the Allied breakout at El Alamein, begins.
The Americans begin the Matanikau Offensive against the Japanese
American victory over the Japanese in the Koli Point action
6: Carlson’s Patrol begins.
French resistance coup in Algiers, consisting of about 400 fighters neutralize the Vichyist XIXth Army Corps and the Vichyist generals (Juin, Darlan, etc.), contributing significantly to the immediate success of the operation.
Montgomery begins a major British offensive beginning at Sollum on the Libya/Egypt border. The British reach Bardia on the 11th, Tobruk on the 12th, and Benghazi on the 18th.
Lieutenant General Montgomery is knighted and made a full General.
Churchill speaks: “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
11: Convoys reach Malta from Alexandria; an official announcement proclaims that the island is “relieved of its siege”.
The Red Army makes an attempt to relieve Stalingrad at Kotelnikov.
The British move westward in Tunisia.
17: Japanese send reinforcements into New Guinea; Americans are stymied at Buna.
18: Heavy British RAF raid on Berlin with few losses.
20: The Allies take Benghazi, Libya; the Afrika Corps continues the retreat westward.
21: The Red Army attempt at encirclement of Stalingrad continues with obvious success.
American army moves to shove Japanese off the extreme western end of Guadalcanal.
22: Battle of Stalingrad: The situation for the German attackers of Stalingrad seems desperate during the Soviet counter-attack; General Friedrich Paulus sends Adolf Hitler a telegram saying that the German 6th Army is surrounded.
Red Army troops complete the encirclement of the Germans at Kalach, west of Stalingrad.
23: “Der Kessel”– the Cauldron, a description of the heavy fighting at Stalingrad; Hitler orders General Paulus not to retreat, at any cost.
25: The encirclement of Stalingrad continues to stabilize. Hitler reiterates his demand of Paulus not to surrender.
Operation Harling: a team of British SOE agents, together with over 200 Greek guerrillas from both ELAS and EDES groups, blow up the Gorgopotamos railway bridge, in one of the war’s biggest sabotage acts.
27: At Toulon, the French navy scuttles its ships (most notably Dunkerque and Strasbourg) and submarines to keep them out of German hands; the French have declined another option – to join the Allied fleets in North African waters.
29: The Allied offensive in Tunisia meets with only minimum success.
30: The naval Battle of Tassafaronga (off Guadalcanal); this is a night action in which Japanese naval forces sink one American cruiser and damage three others.
1: Gasoline rationing begins in the United States.
The US cruiser Northampton is sunk as Japanese destroyers attempt to come down “the Slot” to Guadalcanal.
2: Heavy fighting in Tunisia, as German forces are pushed into the final North African corner.
Below the bleachers of Stagg Field at the University of Chicago; a team led by Enrico Fermi initiate the first nuclear chain reaction. A coded message, “The Italian navigator has landed in the new world” is sent to President Roosevelt.
4: The first US bombing of mainland Italy –Naples.
Carlson’s patrol ends.
6: RAF bombs Eindhoven, the Netherlands.
7: On the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, USS New Jersey, America’s largest battleship is launched (commissioned five months later).
9: The Marines turn over Guadalcanal to the American army.
12: Rommel abandons El Agheila and retreats to Tripoli; the final stand will be at the Mareth line in southern Tunisia.
In a large operation named “Operation Winter Storm“, the Germans attempt to break through to forces trapped in Stalingrad.
13: The Luftwaffe flies in meagre supplies to the beleaguered Stalingrad troops.
15: American and Australian troops finally push Japanese out of Buna, New Guinea.
Allies clash with Japanese troops in the Battle of the Gifu.
22: The Germans begin a retreat from the Caucasus.
The battle for “Longstop Hill” begins; a key position outside Tunis, the Germans eventually take it and hold it until April.
The United States reorganizes its Combat Arms Regiments with their Organic Battalions into Separate Groups and Battalions.
25: American bombers hit Rabaul.
26: Heavy fighting continues on Guadalcanal, now focused on Mount Austen in the west.
31: In the Battle of the Barents Sea, the British win a strategic victory, leading Hitler to largely abandon the use of surface raiders in favor of U-boats.
As the year draws to a close, things look much brighter for the Allies than they did a few months ago: Rommel is trapped in Tunisia, the Germans are encircled at Stalingrad, and the Japanese appear ready to abandon Guadalcanal.
7: Japanese land more troops at Lae, New Guinea.
14: The Casablanca Conference of Allied leaders begins. Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt discuss the eventual invasion of mainland Europe, the impending invasion of Sicily and Italy, and the wisdom of the principle of “unconditional surrender”.
16: Iraq declares war on the Axis powers.
Besieged defenders of Leningrad link up with relieving forces.
19: General Georgy Zhukov is promoted to Marshal as the Stalingrad struggle grinds to a close.
21: The last airfield at Stalingrad is taken by Red Army forces, ensuring that the Luftwaffe will be unable to supply German troops any further; Hitler demands that Friedrich Paulus continue fighting and promotes Paulus to Field Marshal in order to bolster morale. Shortly after, Paulus and his forces surrender to Soviet forces, the first time a German Field Marshal is lost to surrender and thus captured by the enemy.
Red Army armies have more victories in the Caucasus.
22: Allies liberate Sanananda, New Guinea.
23: British capture Tripoli, Libya.
24: The Casablanca Conference ends; Allies insist on unconditional surrender from Germany.
German forces in Stalingrad are in the last phases of collapse.
26: Soviet troops retake Voronezh.
28: A new conscription law in Germany: men between 16 and 65 and women between 17 and 50 are open to mobilization.
30: The last Japanese have cleared out of Guadalcanal by a brilliant evacuation plan undetected by the Americans.
2: In the Soviet Union, the Battle of Stalingrad comes to an end with the official surrender of the German 6th Army. The German public is informed of this disaster, marking the first time the Nazi government has acknowledged a failure in the war effort.
5: The Allies now have all of Libya under their control.
Essen is bombed, marking the beginning of a four-month attack on the Ruhr industrial area.
7: In the United States, it is announced that shoe rationing will go into effect in two days.
Nuremberg is heavily bombed.
United States’ VI Corps arrives in North Africa.
9: Guadalcanal is finally secured; it is the first major achievement of the American offensive in the Pacific war.
Munich and Vienna are heavily bombed, along with Berlin.
11: U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower is selected to command the Allied armies in Europe.
13: Rommel launches a counter-attack against the Americans in western Tunisia; he takes Sidi Bouzid and Gafsa. The Battle of the Kasserine Pass begins: inexperienced American troops are soon forced to retreat.
14: Rostov-on-Don is liberated by the Red Army.
18: In a speech at the Berlin Sportpalast German propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels declares a “Total War” against the Allies; the Nazis arrest the members of the White Rose movement, an anti-Nazi youth group.
21: Americans take the Russell Islands, part of the Solomons chain.
22: Japanese POWs refuse to work at Featherston prisoner of war camp; this escalates into a deadly clash between the inmates and the guards.
26: Rommel retreats northward from the Mareth Line in Tunisia.
1: Heinz Guderian becomes the Inspector-General of the Armored Troops for the German Army.
2: Battle of the Bismarck Sea. U.S. and Australian naval forces, over the course of three days, sink eight Japanese troop transports near New Guinea.
Wingate’s Chindits continue their localized strikes in Burma.
5: German advances around Kharkov threaten earlier Red Army gains.
6: Battle of Medenine, Tunisia. It is Rommel’s last battle in Africa as he is forced to retreat.
8: Continuing German counter-attacks around Kharkov.
The US House of Representatives votes to extend the Lend-Lease plan.
11: The Germans enter Kharkov and the fierce struggle with the Red Army continues.
13: German forces liquidate the Jewish ghetto in Kraków.
14: Germans recapture Kharkov.
Stalin for the ninth time demands a “Second Front,” accusing his allies of treachery.
17: Devastating convoy losses in the Atlantic due to increased U-boat activity; the middle of the Atlantic is apparently not sufficiently covered by planes or ships.
20: Montgomery‘s forces begin a breakthrough in Tunisia, striking at the Mareth line.
23: American tanks defeat the Germans at El Guettar, Tunisia.
26: The British break through the Mareth line in southern Tunisia, threatening the whole German army. The Germans move north.
Battle of the Komandorski Islands: In the Aleutian Islands United States Navy forces intercept Japanese attempting to reinforce a garrison at Kiska. Poor leadership on both sides leads to a stalemate of sorts, and the Japanese withdraw without achieving their goal.
1: Allies continue to squeeze the Germans into the corner of Tunisia.
4: The only large-scale escape of Allied prisoners-of-war from the Japanese in the Pacific takes place when ten American POWs and two Filipino convicts break out of the Davao Penal Colony on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines. The escaped POWs were the first to break the news of the infamous Bataan Death March and other atrocities committed by the Japanese to the world.
7: Hitler and Mussolini come together at Salzburg, mostly for the purpose of propping up Mussolini’s fading morale.
Allied forces, the Americans from the West, the British from the East, link up near Gafsa in Tunisia.
Bolivia declares war on Germany, Japan, and Italy.
10: The British 8th Army enters Sfax, Tunisia.
15: Finland officially rejects Soviet terms for peace.
The “Palm Sunday massacre”: large numbers of German troop-transport aircraft are shot down before reaching Tunisia, where they were to pick up the isolated German troops.
26: The British finally take “Longstop Hill” in Tunisia, a key position on the breakout road to Tunis.
28: Allies attempt to close the mid-Atlantic gap in the war against the U-boats with long-range bombers.
30: Operation Mincemeat: Lt. Jewell’s crew releases a body bearing false documents near the Spanish coast. Later, the body washes up on the Spanish coast and is discovered by a local fisherman. They will go on to mislead the Germans about the site and timing of the Allied invasion of France.
1: Allies close in on the cornered Germans in the Tunis area.
2: Japanese aircraft again bomb Darwin, Australia.
7: Tunis captured by British First Army. Meanwhile the Americans take Bizerte.
11: American troops invade Attu Island in the Aleutian Islands in an attempt to expel occupying Japanese forces.
15: The French form a “Resistance Movement.”
The Dambuster Raids are carried out by RAF 617 Squadron on two German dams, Mohne and Eder. The Ruhr war industries lose electrical power.
22: Allies bomb Sicily and Sardinia, both possible landing sites.
24: Admiral Karl Dönitz orders the majority of U-boats to withdraw from the Atlantic because of heavy losses to new Allied anti-sub tactics. By the end of the month, 43 U-boats are lost, compared to 34 Allied ships sunk. This is referred to as “Black May“.
29: RAF bombs Wuppertal, causing heavy civilian losses.
30: Attu Island is again under American control.
31: American B-17‘s bomb Naples.
8: Japanese forces begin to evacuate Kiska Island in the Aleutians, their last foothold in the Western hemisphere. The event is almost to the year of their landing.
11: British 1st Division takes the Italian island of Pantelleria, between Tunisia and Sicily, capturing eleven thousand Italian troops.
12: The Italian island of Lampedusa, between Tunisia and Sicily, surrenders to the Allies.
13: Heavy US aircraft losses over Kiel.
17: Allies bomb Sicily and the Italian mainland, as signs increase of a forthcoming invasion.
21: Operation Cartwheel opens with landings by the United States 4th Marine Raider Battalion at Segi Point on New Georgia in the Solomon Islands, beginning the New Georgia Campaign. It will not be secured until August.
24: Continuing attacks against the Ruhr industrial valley. One result is the evacuation of large numbers of German civilians from the area.
30: American troops land on Rendova Island, New Georgia, another part of Operation Cartwheel.
5: Operation Citadel (the Battle of Kursk) begins.
6: U.S. and Japanese ships fight the Battle of Kula Gulf in the Solomons.
10: Operation Husky (the Allied invasion of Sicily) begins.
12:/:13: The Japanese win a tactical victory at the Battle of Kolombangara.
12: The Battle of Prokhorovka begins; the largest tank battle in human history and part of the Battle of Kursk, it is the pivotal battle of Operation Citadel.
13: Hitler calls off the Kursk offensive, but the Soviets continue the battle.
19: The Allies bomb Rome for the first time.
22: U.S. forces under Patton capture Palermo, Sicily.
3: The first of two “George S. Patton slapping incidents” occurs in Sicily.
5: Swedish government announces it will no longer allow German troops and war material to transit Swedish railways.
Russians recapture Orel and Belgorod.
6: German troops start pouring in to take over Italy’s defenses.
11: German and Italian forces begin to evacuate Sicily.
15: The Land Battle of Vella Lavella island in the Solomons begins.
US and Canadian troops invade Kiska Island in the Aleutians, not knowing the Japanese have already evacuated.
U.S. troops enter Messina, Sicily.
17: All of Sicily now controlled by the Allies.
Heavy loss of Allied bombers in the Schweinfurt–Regensburg mission.
29: During the Occupation of Denmark by Nazi Germany, martial law replaced the Danish government.
1: Over twenty two million British men and women are either in the services or Civil Defense or doing essential war work, according to the U.K. Ministry of Labor.
Nazi Germany begins the evacuation of civilians from Berlin.
4: Soviet Union declares war on Bulgaria.
The 503rd Parachute Regiment under American General Douglas MacArthur lands and occupies Nadzab, just west of the port city of Lae in northeastern New Guinea. Lae falls into Australian hands and Australian troops take Salamaua.
The USAAF bombs the German General Headquarters for the Mediterranean zone at Frascati.
9: The Allies land at Salerno, Italy; meanwhile the British troops take Taranto in the heel of the Italian “boot”. Allied strategy aims at a “drive” up the “boot”.
Iran declares war on Germany.
10: German troops occupy Rome. The Italian fleet meanwhile surrenders at Malta and other Mediterranean ports.
11: British troops enter Bari in southeastern Italy.
12: Mussolini is rescued by aircraft from mountaintop captivity by German SS troops led by Otto Skorzeny. Mussolini is then set up by Hitler, who remains loyal to his old friend, as the head of the puppet “Italian Social Republic.”
13: The Salerno beachhead is in jeopardy, as German counterattacks increase.
15: Chiang Kai-shek asks that General Stilwell, American military advisor/commander, be recalled for suggesting an alliance with the Communists.
16: British forces land on various Italian-held Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, beginning the Dodecanese Campaign.
British and American troops link up near the Salerno beachhead.
19: German troops evacuate Sardinia.
21: The battle of the Solomons can now be considered at an unofficial end.
The Massacre of the Acqui Division begins: After resisting for a week, the Italian Acqui division on the Greek island of Cephallonia surrenders to the Germans. During the next days, over 4,500 Italians are executed and a further 3,000 are lost during transport at sea.
22: Australian forces land at Finschhafen, a small port in New Guinea. The Japanese continue the battle well into October.
25: The Red Army retakes Smolensk.
26: Germans assault the island of Leros, beginning the Battle of Leros.
27: The Germans take over the island of Corfu from the Italians; the previous occupiers.
The Germans conquer the island of Kos.
4: Corsica is liberated by Free French forces.
5: The Allies cross Italy’s Volturno Line.
14: Two hundred and twenty nine of 292 B-17s reached the target in the Second Raid on Schweinfurt. Losses are so heavy that the long range daylight bombing campaign is suspended until the bombers can be escorted by P-51 fighters.
Members of the Sobibor extermination camp underground, led by Polish-Jewish prisoner Leon Feldhendler and Soviet-Jewish POW Alexander Pechersky, succeeded in covertly killing eleven German SS officers and a number of camp guards. Although their plan was to kill all the SS and walk out of the main gate of the camp, the killings were discovered and the inmates ran for their lives under fire. About 300 out of the 600 prisoners in the camp escaped into the forests.
18: The Third Moscow Conference convened.
25: The Red Army takes Dnipropetrovsk.
28: Cruiser HMS Charybdis sunk, and destroyer HMS Limbourne damaged, by German torpedo boats off the North coast of Brittany with large loss of life. Bodies of 21 sailors and marines washed up on the Island of Guernsey. Buried with full military honors by the German Occupation authorities, allowing around 5,000 Islanders to attend and lay some 900 wreaths.
29: Troops replace striking London dockworkers.
31: Heavy rains in Italy slow the Allied advance south of Rome.
British troops, in Italy, reach the Garigliano River.
5: The Italians bomb the Vatican in a failed attempt to knock out the Vatican radio.
9: Allies take Castiglione, Italy.
General De Gaulle becomes President of the French Committee of National Liberation.
11: American air power continues to hit Rabaul.
12: Germans overrun British forces on the Dodecanese islands, off Turkey.
14: Heavy bombers hit Tarawa, in the Gilbert Islands in the Pacific.
15: Allied Expeditionary Force for the invasion of Europe is officially formed.
16: Anti-German resistance in Italy increases; there are explosions in Milan.
The Battle of Leros ends with the surrender of the British and Italian forces to the Germans.
19: Prisoners of the Janowska concentration camp stage a mass escape/uprising when they are ordered to cover up evidence of a mass-murder. Most are rounded up and killed.
20: Battle of Tarawa begins – United States Marines land on Tarawa and Makin atolls in the Gilbert Islands and take heavy fire from Japanese shore guns. The American public is shocked by the heavy losses of life.
British troops under Montgomery continue their slow advances on the eastern side of Italy.
24: Heavy bombing of Berlin continues.
Rangoon is bombed by American heavy bombers.
26: The Red Army offensive in the Ukraine continues.
The Cairo Conference (“Sextant”) ends; Roosevelt, Churchill, and Chiang Kai-shek complete the Cairo Declaration, which deals with the overall strategic plan against Japan.
27: Huge civilian losses in Berlin as heavy bombing raids continue.
28: The Tehran Conference . US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet Leader Joseph Stalin meet in Tehran to discuss war strategy; (on 30 November they establish an agreement concerning a planned June 1944 invasion of Europe codenamed Operation Overlord). Stalin at last has the promise he has been waiting for.
2: The Germans conduct a highly successful Air Raid on Bari, Italy. One of the German bombs hits an Allied cargo ship carrying mustard gas, releasing the chemical which killed 83 Allied soldiers. Over 1000 other soldiers died in the raid.
4: Bolivia declares war on all Axis powers.
12: Rommel is appointed head of “Fortress Europa”; chief planner against the expected Allied offensive.
13: German soldiers carry out the Massacre of Kalavryta in southern Greece.
16: Kalinin is retaken in a large Red Army offensive.
24: US General Dwight D. Eisenhower becomes the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe.
26: American Marines land on Cape Gloucester, New Britain.
27: General Eisenhower is officially named head of Overlord, the invasion of Normandy.
28: In Burma, Chinese troops have some success against the Japanese.
3: Major Gregory Pappy Boyington, the USMC fighter ace, was shot down after downing the last 3 of his 26 victories, and would spend the next 20 months in Japanese POW Camps.
4: The 1st Ukrainian Front of the Red Army enters Poland.
9: British forces take Maungdaw, Burma, a critical port for Allied supplies.
11: Count Ciano, the Italian Foreign Minister and Mussolini’s son-in-law, is executed by Mussolini’s revived Fascist government sympathizers.
16: General Dwight D. Eisenhower arrived in London, returning from a week of rest and planning in Washington, D. C., and assumed command of the European Theater by General Orders No. 4. His new title was Commanding General, U.S. Forces, European Theater of Operations.
19: Red Army troops push westward toward the Baltic countries.
22: Allies begin Operation Shingle, the landing at Anzio, Italy, commanded by American Major General John P. Lucas. The Allies hope to break the stalemate in south Italy, but they are unable to break out of the beachhead and the line holds until late May. The minesweeper USS Portent (AM-106), commanded by Lt. H.C. Plummer, hit a mine and sank southeast of Anzio, Italy.
23: The British destroyer HMS Janus is sunk off Anzio.
24: The Allied forces have a major setback on the Gari River.
27: The Siege of Leningrad ended after 872 days, as Soviet forces finally forced the Germans to withdraw. Some 2 million died, mostly of starvation and disease.
28: The Russian Army completes encirclement of two German Army corps at the Korsun pocket, south of Kiev. Two-thirds of the Germans escape in the breakout next month with the loss of most heavy equipment.
30: The Japanese kill 44 suspected spies in the Homfreyganj massacre.
At Anzio, Italy the disastrous Battle of Cisterna took place, as MG John P. Lucas sent Darby’s Rangers to begin the breakout from the beachhead. One of the four battalions in the action returned with only 6 of 767 men, the rest killed, wounded or captured.
U.S. Navy shelling and carrier bombing began in the Marshall Islands, preliminary to invasions the following day.
1: U.S. Marines mop up on Roi and Namur in the northern part of the Kwajalein atoll in the Marshall Islands.
Germans defeat American troops in the Battle of Cisterna near Anzio.
4: Kwajalein, the world’s largest atoll and a major Japanese naval base, is secured.
5: The American Navy bombards the Kuril Islands, northernmost in the Japanese homelands.
7: In a radio interview, the last Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Uluots, as acting Head of State, supports mobilization.
8: The plan for the invasion of France, Operation Overlord, is confirmed.
11: German forces sent to relieve the Korsun pocket in Ukraine are now only 10 miles away.
14: The Russian 374th Rifle Regiment forms a bridgehead on the western shore of Lake Peipus. The Mereküla Landing Operation of the special unit of the Soviet Baltic Sea Fleet in the rear of the Germans at the Narva front at Mereküla is resisted.
The underground organization, the National Committee of the Republic of Estonia, is formed in Tallinn.
15: The second Battle of Monte Cassino begins with the destruction of the historic Benedictine monastery on Monte Cassino by Allied bombing. The Allies believed the grounds were used as an observation post by the Germans.
The Soviet bridgehead on the west coast of Lake Peipus is annihilated.
Soviet Leningrad Front initiates the Narva Offensive, February 15–28.
16: Germans launch a major counter-attack at Anzio, threatening the American beachhead.
Germans, with Panzer forces leading, fail to break out of the Korsun pocket.
Diplomats from the USSR and Finland meet to sign an armistice.
17: American Marines land on Eniwetok.
18: The light cruiser HMS Penelope is torpedoed and sunk off the coast of Anzio with a loss of 415 crewmen.
American naval air raid takes place on the Truk Islands, a major Japanese naval base, but they will be one of the bypassed fortresses of the Japanese outer defense ring.
26: The “Big Week” bombing campaign comes to a successful conclusion; the American P-51 Mustang fighter with its long range proves invaluable in protecting American bombers over Germany.
Red Air Force continues to bomb Helsinki, as Finland continues peace talks.
27: USS Cod sinks a Japanese merchant ship by torpedo.
29: The Admiralty Islands are invaded by U.S. forces, marked by the Battle of Los Negros and Operation Brewer. The struggle for this important fleet anchorage will continue until May. Rabaul is now completely isolated.
Leningrad Front initiates the Narva Offensive, March 1–4.
3: German forces around Anzio, having failed to drive the Allies from the beachhead, go over to a defensive posture.
6: Wingate’s Chindits make several successful forays in Burma.
The Soviet Air Force bombs Narva, the city is destroyed. The Leningrad Front initiates the Narva Offensive, March 6–24.
The Allies receive intelligence that the Japanese may be about to attack Western Australia, causing them to greatly bolster defenses there. When no attack comes, forces return to their regular stations on the 20th.
7: Japanese begin an invasion attempt on India, starting a four-month battle around Imphal.
8: American forces are attacked by Japanese troops on Hill 700 in the Bougainville; the battle that will last five days.
A Red Army offensive on a wide front west of the Dnieper in the Ukraine forces the Germans into a major retreat.
15: The third Battle of Monte Cassino begins. The small town of Cassino is destroyed by Allied bombers.
Americans take Manus Island in the Admiralty chain.
17: Heavy bombing of Vienna, Austria.
18: The Red Army approaches the Romanian border.
Yugoslav partisans attack Trieste, on the border of Italy and Slovenia.
20: Red Army advances in the Ukraine continue with great success.
21: Finland rejects Soviet peace terms.
22: Japanese forces cross the Indian border all along the Imphal front.
Frankfurt is bombed with heavy civilian losses.
24: The Fosse Ardeatine massacre in Rome, Italy. 335 Italians are killed, including 75 Jews and over 200 members of various groups in the Italian Resistance; this is a German response to a bomb blast that killed German troops.
Orde Wingate is killed in a plane crash.
Heavy bombings of German cities at various strategic locations last for 24 hours.
25: Soviet air force bombs the city of Tartu, Estonia.
26: On Narva front, Strachwitz Offensive destroys part of the Soviet bridgehead.
28: Japanese troops are in retreat in Burma.
30: RAF suffers grievous losses in a huge air raid on Nuremberg.
4: General Charles de Gaulle takes command of all Free French forces.
5: US Air Force bombs Ploesti oil fields in Romania, with heavy losses.
6: The Japanese drive on the Plain of Imphal, supposedly halted, proves strong enough to surround British forces at Imphal and Kohima, in India.
8: The Red Army attacks in an attempt to retake all of the Crimea, the Germans retreat westward to Sevastopol.
10: Soviet forces enter Odessa, Ukraine.
15: Heavy air raids on Ploesti oil fields (Romania) by both the RAF and the US Air Force.
16: Soviet forces take Yalta; most of Crimea has been liberated.
21: The Badoglio government in Italy falls.
An Allied air raid on Paris kills a large number of civilians.
30: Vast preparations for D-Day are going on all over southern England.
American navy air raids continue in the Carolina Islands, including Truk.
6: Heavy Allied bombings of the Continent in preparation for D-Day.
8: D-Day for Operation Overlord set for 5 June.
9: Sevastopol in the Crimea is retaken by Soviet forces.
11: The fourth battle of Monte Cassino begins led by General Anders of the 2nd Polish Corps.
12: Large numbers of Chinese troops invade northern Burma.
13: The entirety of Crimea is under Soviet control. Many thousands of German and Romanian soldiers have been captured, but many thousands have been evacuated.
The bridgehead over the Gari River is reinforced.
18: The Battle of Monte Cassino ends in Allied victory. Polish troops of the 2nd Polish Corps led by General Władysław Anders capture Monte Cassino. German troops in west Italy have withdrawn to the Hitler Line.
Allied troops take airfields at Myitkyina, Burma, an important air base; the struggle over the city itself will continue for nearly three months.
The last Japanese resistance in the Admiralty Islands, off New Guinea comes to an end.
21: Increased Allied bombing of targets in France in preparation for D-Day.
23: Allies start a new breakout from Anzio.
25: Allies at Anzio link up with Allies from south Italy. Though Harold Alexander wishes to trap the German Tenth Army, American Fifth Army commander Mark W. Clark orders Truscott to turn north toward Rome. The Germans in Italy form a new defensive position on the Caesar Line.
27: Operation Hurricane starts. Americans land on Biak, Dutch New Guinea, a key Japanese air base; encounter stubborn Japanese resistance until August.
31: The Japanese retreat from Imphal (India) with heavy losses; their invasion of India is over.
2: The provisional French government is established.
3: There are daily bombings of the Cherbourg peninsula and the Normandy area.
Operation Overlord is postponed 24 hours due to high seas. German U-505 was captured by US forces, and towed to Bermuda.
5: Operation Overlord commences when more than 1,000 British bombers drop 5,000 tons of bombs on German gun batteries on the Normandy coast in preparation for D-Day. And the first Allied troops land in Normandy; paratroopers are scattered from Caen southward.
In the Pacific, the U.S. fleet transporting the expeditionary forces for the invasion of Saipan in the Mariana Islands leaves Pearl Harbor.
6: D-Day begins with the landing of 155,000 Allied troops on the beaches of Normandy in France. The Allied soldiers quickly break through the Atlantic Wall and push inland in the largest amphibious military operation in history.
7: Bayeux is liberated by British troops.
In the Distomo massacre in Greece, 218 civilians are killed.
13: Germany launches a V1 Flying Bomb attack on England, in Hitler’s view a kind of revenge for the invasion. He believes in Germany’s victory with this “secret weapon.” The V-1 attacks will continue through June.
The U.S. Naval bombardment of Saipan begins. In response, Admiral Toyoda Soemu, commander-in-chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy, orders his fleet to attack U.S. Navy forces around Saipan.
15: U.S. Marine and Army forces invade the island of Saipan. U.S. submarines sight the Japanese fleet en-route.
17: Free French troops land on Elba.
18: Elba is declared liberated.
Allies capture Assisi, Italy.
19-20: The Battle of the Philippine Sea, nicknamed the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot by Americans, takes place. The United States Fifth Fleet wins a decisive naval battle over the Imperial Japanese Navy near the Mariana Islands. Over 200 Japanese planes are shot down while the Americans only lose 29 to enemy action.
19: A severe Channel storm destroys one of the Allies’ Mulberry harbors in Normandy.
The Red Army prepares for “Operation Bagration,” a huge offensive in Byelorussia (White Russia).
20: The British take Perugia, Italy.
The Siege of Imphal is lifted after three months.
22: V-1s continue to hit England, especially London, sometimes with horrifying losses.
Operation Bagration: General attack by Soviet forces to clear the German forces from Belarus. This results in the destruction of the German Army Group Centre, possibly the greatest defeat of the Wehrmacht during World War II.
26: Cherbourg is liberated by American troops.
2: V-1s continue to have devastating effects in South-East England in terms of material destruction and losses of life.
The Allies find themselves in the “battle of the hedgerows”, as they are stymied by the agricultural hedges in Western France which intelligence had not properly evaluated. Various impromptu devices and inventions, often made out of cut-up German “hedgehog” shore defense devices and mounted to Allied tanks, are designed and made to successfully deal with the matter.
Siena, Italy falls to Algerian troops of the French forces.
6: Largest Banzai charge of the war: 4,300 Japanese troops are slaughtered on Saipan.
7: Soviet troops enter Vilnius, Lithuania.
9: After heavy resistance Caen, France is liberated by the British troops on the left flank of the Allied advance.
Saipan is declared secure, the Japanese having lost over 30,000 troops; in the last stages numerous civilians commit suicide with the encouragement of Japanese military.
10: Japanese are still resisting on New Guinea.
Tokyo is bombed for the first time since the Doolittle raid of April 1942.
11: President Roosevelt announces that he will run for an unprecedented fourth term as U.S. President.
12: Hitler rejects General Field Marshal Walther Model’s proposal to withdraw the German forces from Estonia and Northern Latvia and retreat to the Daugava River.
13: The Soviets take Vilnius, Lithuania.
The Lvov-Sandomierz Offensive begins.
16: First troops of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force (BEF) arrive in Italy.
17: Field Marshal Rommel is badly wounded when his car is strafed from the air in France.
18: General Hideki Tojo resigns as chief minister of the Japanese government as the defeats of the Japanese military forces continue to mount. Emperor Hirohito asks General Kuniaki Koiso to form a new government.
St. Lo, France is taken, and the Allied breakout from hedgerow country in Normandy begins.
19: American forces take Leghorn (Livorno), Italy far up the Italian boot.
20: The July 20 Plot is carried out by Col. Claus von Stauffenberg in a failed attempt to assassinate Hitler. Hitler was visiting headquarters at Rastenburg, East Prussia. Reprisals follow against the plotters and their families, and even include Rommel.
21: US Marines land on Guam.
22: Hitler gives permission to retreat from the Narva River to the Tannenberg defense line in the Sinimäed Hills, 20 km West from Narva.
23: The Poles rise up against the Germans in the Lwow Uprising.
24: Marines land on Tinian Island, last of the Marianas (after Saipan and Guam); Tinian will eventually be a B-29 base, and the base from which the atomic bombers departed.
Operation Cobra is now in full swing: the breakout at St. Lo in Normandy with American troops taking Coutances.
At the start of the Soviet Narva Offensive, July 24–30, the Soviet 8th Army is beaten by the Estonian 45th Regiment and East Prussian 44th Regiment. The army detachment “Narwa” begins to retreat to the Tannenberg line.
Majdanek Concentration Camp is liberated by Soviet forces, the first among many. The Soviet Union is now in control of several large cities in Poland, including Lublin.
US bombers mistakenly bomb American troops near St. Lo, France.
26: The first aerial victory for a jet fighter occurs, with an Me 262 of the Luftwaffe’s Ekdo 262 damaging a de Havilland Mosquito reconnaissance aircraft of the Royal Air Force’s No. 540 Squadron RAF.
The Leningrad Front’s Narva Offensive captures the town.
27 July to 10 August: Battles on the Tannenberg Line. At the start of the battles there are 25 Estonian and 24 Dutch, Danish and Flemish infantry battalions on the German side at the Narva Front. The artillery forces, and the tank, engineer and other special units are composed mainly of Germans. The attack by the Soviet Armed Forces is halted; tens of thousands of men are killed in both sides.
28: The Red Army takes Brest-Litovsk, the site of the Russo-German peace treaty in World War I.
1: The Warsaw Uprising, staged by the Polish Home Army, begins: the Polish people rise up, expecting aid from the approaching Soviet Union armies, but it never comes.
The Red Army isolates the Baltic States from East Prussia by taking Kaunas.
The Americans complete the capture of the island of Tinian.
3: Myitkyina, in northern Burma, falls to the Allies (the Americans and Chinese under Stilwell), after a vigorous defense by the Japanese.
4: Florence is liberated by the Allies, particularly British and South African troops. Before exiting, the Germans under General Albert Kesselring destroy some historic bridges and historically valuable buildings.
Rennes, France, is liberated by American forces.
Ukrainian insurgents kill 42 Polish civilians in the Baligród massacre.
7: First trials of the bomb conspirators against Hitler begin in a court presided over by notorious Judge Roland Freisler.
8: Plotters in the bomb plot against Hitler are hanged and their bodies hung on meat hooks. Reprisals against their families continue.
10: Guam is liberated by American troops; all of the Marianas are now in American hands. They will be turned into a major air and naval center against the Japanese homeland.
USAAF bombers attack Palembang in the Dutch East Indies
14: The failure of the Allies to close the Falaise pocket in France proves advantageous to the Germans fleeing to the east who escape the pincer movement of the Allies.
The Allies reach the “Gothic Line”, the last German strategic position in North Italy.
18: The Red Army reaches the East Prussian border.
19: The French Resistance begins an uprising in Paris, partly inspired by the Allied approach to the Seine River.
In a radio broadcast, Jüri Uluots, the acting Head of State of Estonia, calls the Estonian conscripts to hold the Soviet Armed Forces back until a peace treaty with Germany is signed.
20: The Red Army relaunches its offensive into Romania.
21: The Dumbarton Oaks Conference begins, setting up the basic structure of the United Nations.
22: The Japanese are now in total retreat from India.
23: Romania breaks with the Axis, surrenders to the Soviet Union, and joins the Allies.
25: Paris is liberated; De Gaulle and Free French parade triumphantly down the Champs-Élysées. The German military disobeys Hitler’s orders to burn the city. Meanwhile the southern Allied forces move up from the Riviera, take Grenoble and Avignon.
Patton’s tanks cross the Marne.
30: The Allies enter Rouen, in northwestern France.
31: American forces turn over the government of France to Free French troops.
The Soviet army enters Bucharest.
1: Canadian troops capture Dieppe, France.
2: Allied troops enter Belgium.
Lyon is liberated by French and American troops.
4: A cease fire takes effect between Finland and the USSR.
Operation Outward ends.
5: Antwerp is liberated by British 11th Armored Division and local resistance.
The uprising in Warsaw continues; Red Army forces are available for relief and reinforcement, but are apparently unable to move without Stalin’s order.
6: The “blackout” is diminished to a “dim-out” as threat of invasion and further bombing seems an unlikely possibility.
8: Ostend is liberated by Canadian troops.
Soviet troops enter Bulgaria.
The Belgian government in exile returns to Belgium from London where it has spent the war.
9: The first V-2 rocket lands on London.
The Fatherland Front of Bulgaria overthrows the national government and declares war on Germany.
10: Luxembourg is liberated by U.S. First Army.
Two Allied forces meet at Dijon, cutting France in half.
First Allied troops enter Germany, entering Aachen, a city on the border.
Dutch railway workers go on strike. The German response results in the Dutch famine of 1944.
12: The Second Quebec Conference (codenamed “Octagon”) begins: Roosevelt and Churchill discuss military cooperation in the Pacific and the future of Germany.
13: American troops reach the Siegfried Line, the west wall of Germany’s defense system.
The Lapland War begins
16: The Red Army enters Sofia, Bulgaria.
18: Brest, France, an important Channel port, falls to the Allies.
Nancy liberated by U.S. First Army.
20: The Government of Estonia seizes the government buildings of Toompea from the German forces and appeals to the Soviet Union for the independence of Estonia.
United States XVI Corps arrives in European Theater.
21: British forces take Rimini, Italy.
The Second Dumbarton Oaks Conference begins: it will set guidelines for the United Nations.
San Marino declares war on the Axis.
The Germans surrender at Boulogne.
24: The Red Army is well into Poland at this time.
25: British troops pull out of Arnhem with the failure of Operation Market Garden. Over 6,000 paratroopers are captured; of the British 1st Airborne Division, approximately 8,000 of the 10,005 paratroopers are declared casualties, a staggering 80% loss. Hopes of an early end to the war are now abandoned.
30: The German garrison in Calais surrenders to Canadian troops. At one time, Hitler thought it would be the focus of the cross-Channel invasion.
1: A Hungarian delegation arrives in Moscow to negotiate an armistice with the USSR.
Soviet troops enter Yugoslavia.
2: Germans finally succeed in putting down the Warsaw Uprising by the Polish Home Army. The Soviet armies never moved to assist the Polish.
American troops are now in a full-scale attack on the German “West Wall”.
Allied forces land on Crete.
5: Canadian troops cross the border into the Netherlands.
The Red Army enters Hungary and also launches an offensive to capture Riga, Latvia.
6: Soviet and Czechoslovak troops enter northeastern Slovakia.
The Battle of Debrecen begins as German and Soviet forces advance against each other in eastern Hungary.
9: The Moscow Conference (1944) begins: Churchill and Stalin discuss spheres of influence in the postwar Balkans.
The Allied combined forces take Corinth, Greece.
12: US Navy carriers attack Formosa (Taiwan).
14: British troops enter Athens.
Field Marshal Rommel, under suspicion as one of the “bomb plotters” voluntarily commits suicide to save his family. He is later buried with full military honors.
15: Allied bombardment of Aachen continues; the first major battle on German soil.
18: Hitler orders a call-up of all men from 16 to 60 for Home Guard duties.
21: Aachen is occupied by U.S. First Army; it is the first major German city to be captured.