366 Days

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August

News Headlines

1

U.S. OPERATION TIDAL WAVE A STRATEGIC FAILURE

Ploesti (Ploiești), Romania • August 1, 1943 Allied war planners had long favored a second, much more damaging air strike on the Ploesti (Ploiești) oil com­plex, the center of Roma­nia’s natural oil indus­try some 35 miles north of the capital, Bucha­rest. In mid-June 1942, 13 U.S. B‑24 Lib­er­ators lifted off from a British air­field in Egypt, crossed […]

2

EINSTEIN PRESSES ROOSEVELT ON ATOMIC RESEARCH

Peconic, Long Island, New York • August 2, 1939 On this date in 1939, one month before the outbreak of World War II in Europe, distin­guished German-born profes­sor, mathe­ma­tician, and physi­cist Albert Ein­stein wrote Presi­dent Franklin D. Roose­velt about the possi­bility of using a nuclear chain reaction to pro­duce enor­mous amounts of energy that could be used in […]

3

THREE BALTIC STATES COERCED INTO SOVIET ORBIT

Moscow, Soviet Union • August 3, 1940 Early on the morning of August 24, 1939, Soviet People’s Com­mis­sar on Foreign Affairs, Vyache­slav Molotov, and his German counter­part, Joachim von Ribben­trop, affixed their signa­tures to the German-Soviet Non­aggres­sion Pact, also known as the Molotov-Ribben­trop Pact. As German dicta­tor Adolf Hitler viewed it, the pact was a “stra­tegic […]

4

U.S. EIGHTH AIR FORCE KICKS OFF OPERATION APHRODITE

London, England • August 4, 1944 In early June 1944 the Royal Air Force began deploying the first of several bunker-buster bombs—the 4,000‑lb Tall­boy S (small), Tall­boy M (medium) weighing in at 12,000 lb, and its suc­ces­sor Grand Slam (Tall­boy L, large) at 22,000 lb, whose blast yield was equi­va­lent to 6.5 tons of TNT. Mean­while the United States Army Air […]

5

CHURCHILL TAPS MONTGOMERY TO HEAD EIGHTH ARMY

Cairo, Egypt • August 5, 1942 On this date in 1942 British Prime Minister Winston Chur­chill and Gen. Sir Alan Brooke, chief of the Imperial General Staff, flew into Cairo. They arrived in the Egyp­tian capi­tal 44 days after the British garri­son at Tobruk in East­ern Libya (Cyrenaica) had fallen to German Gen. (soon Field […]

6

U.S. A-BOMB INCINERATES HIROSHIMA, JAPAN

509th Composite Group HQ, Tinian, Mariana Islands • August 6, 1945 For several months the U.S. had dropped more than 63 mil­lion leaf­lets across Japan, warning civil­ians of devas­tating aerial bombings and to evacu­ate the cities identi­fied in the leaf­lets. Radio broad­casts from the Amer­ican-held island of Saipan under­scored the printed warnings. Many Japa­nese cities suffered ter­rible […]

7

FAILED HITLER ASSASSINS TO GET DAY IN COURT

Berlin, Germany • August 7, 1944 On July 20, 1944, Col. Claus von Stauffenberg left a bomb in his brief­case in a con­ference room at the East Prussia head­quarters of Adolf Hitler, the Wolf’s Lair (Wolfs­schanze), before excusing him­self to take a call in the tele­phone exchange hut. In the con­ference room were Hitler and […]

8

ALLIED AND JAPANESE NAVIES IN FIERCE BATTLE

Off Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands • August 8, 1942 A United States naval task force carrying Maj. Gen. Archi­bald Vande­grift’s First Marine Divi­sion arrived off Guadal­canal, in the eastern Solo­mon Islands, on the morning of August 7, 1942, and launched Oper­a­tion Watch­tower, the first Amer­i­can offen­sive of World War II. Two days later the Marines had cap­tured the […]

9

SECOND U.S. A-BOMB LEVELS NAGASAKI

509th Composite Group HQ, Tinian, Mariana Islands • August 9, 1945 Despite the shockwaves that Hiroshima’s destruction on August 6, 1945, sent through Imperial circles, Japan’s govern­ment refused to agree to an uncon­di­tional sur­render; their leaders insisted on precon­ditions, chief among them pro­tecting the “pre­ro­ga­tives” of Emperor Hirohito as Japan’s “sovereign ruler.” (Had there been no […]

10

PARIS PARALYZED ON EVE OF LIBERATION

Paris, Occupied France • August 10, 1944 On August 1, 1944, almost two months after the initial D-Day landings in Nor­mandy, France, more than 14,000 per­son­nel and equip­ment from 41-year-old Gen. Philippe Leclerc’s Free French 2nd Armored Divi­sion began landing on Utah Beach. Leclerc (1902–1947) juggled three roles: He was a sub­ordi­nate divi­sional com­mander in an […]

11

AXIS FOREIGN MINISTERS HUDDLE ON EVE OF WAR

Salzburg, Austria • August 11, 1939 On this date in 1939 near Salzburg, Austria, Adolf Hitler’s foreign minis­ter Joachim von Rib­ben­trop told Ital­ian dicta­tor Benito Musso­lini’s foreign minis­ter, Gale­azzo Ciano, about Hitler’s deci­sion “to set Europe on fire.” “We want war,” Ribben­trop said to the 36‑year‑old Ciano (who was Musso­lini’s son-in-law), though the German foreign […]

12

HIROHITO DECIDES FATE OF HIS NATION

Tokyo, Japan • August 12, 1945 In 1945 the endgame in Europe was to capture Berlin, the epi­center of Nazi resis­tance, which the Red Army did in the last week of April. On May 7 and 8, 1945, Adolf Hitler’s poli­tical heir, Adm. Karl Doenitz, surren­dered Nazi Germany uncon­di­tionally to the Allies. The end­game in the […]

13

LUFTWAFFE KICKS OFF EAGLE DAY OVER BRITAIN

London, England • August 13, 1940 Although the Battle of Britain (July 10 to October 31, 1940) had inten­si­fied days earlier, the Luft­waffe’s air attacks had been launched in poor weather and were mostly limited to the south of England. How­ever, on this date, August 13, 1940, a Tues­day, the Luft­waffe sent five waves of fighters, […]

14

HIROHITO TO NATION: TIME TO “BEAR THE UNBEARABLE”

Tokyo, Japan • August 14, 1945 Two days after the United States had dropped a second atomic bomb on a major Japa­nese city, this on Naga­saki on August 9, Emperor Hiro­hito (post­humously referred to as Emperor Shōwa) personally inter­vened during an Imperial Con­ference (Gozen Kaigi) to let die­hard hawks in his govern­ment and armed services know […]

15

ALLIES OPEN UP SECOND FRENCH FRONT

Côte d’Azur on the French Mediterranean • August 15, 1944 The Allied assault on German-occupied Southern France was to have kicked off simul­ta­ne­ously with the Allies’ June 6, 1944, inva­sion of North­western France (Oper­a­tion Over­lord)—the intent being that the Germans would think twice before sending rein­force­ments from Southern France to the Normandy beach­heads and that, with any […]

16

HITLER FEARS TRAP, ABANDONS NORMANDY

Berlin, Germany • August 16, 1944 On this date in 1944, two-and-one-half months after the Allies had landed on the Normandy coast of German-occupied North­western France (Opera­tion Over­lord) and one day after thou­sands of service­men from the U.S. Seventh and French First armies had landed by air and sea on the French Rivi­era in the […]

17

U.S. EIGHTH AIR FORCE TESTS DAYLIGHT PRECISION BOMBING

Rouen, Normandy, Occupied France • August 17, 1942 On ­July 4, 1942, a dozen Douglas A-20 Havoc medium bombers took off from a small, grassy air­strip in Norfolk, about 100 miles north­east of London, England, and headed for Nazi-occupied Holland. Half the bombers were Amer­i­can, part of the U.S. Army Air Force’s Eighth Air Force, […]

18

ALLIES TRAP GERMAN ARMY IN FALAISE POCKET

Falaise, Northern France • August 18, 1944 Two and a half months had passed since the initial landings of U.S., British, and Cana­dian forces in North­ern France (Opera­tion Over­lord). On the British flank the Cana­dian First Army, Second Divi­sion, II Corps entered Falaise on August 16, 1944 (see map below), and engaged the Germans in bitter street […]

19

ALLIED RAID AT DIEPPE, FRANCE, ENDS IN DEBACLE

Dieppe, German-Occupied France • August 19, 1942 Ever since the German Wehrmacht (armed forces) launched its sur­prise Blitz­krieg on the Soviet Union in June 1941 (Oper­a­tion Bar­ba­rossa) the Allies had been sensi­tive to Soviet demands on the West to open a “second front” in North­western Europe. British Prime Minis­ter Win­ston Chur­chill glommed onto the idea of […]

20

GERMANS, SOVIETS INK ECONOMIC DEAL

Berlin, Germany • August 20, 1939 In the early morning hours on this date in 1939 the first of two back-to-back seismic changes to Europe’s polit­i­cal, eco­no­mic, and geo­strategic equi­lib­ria occurred with the signing of the German-Soviet Trade and Credit Agree­ment in Berlin. An out­growth of months­long econo­mic and polit­i­cal talks between German and Soviet […]

21

GERMANS, SOVIETS INK ECONOMIC DEAL

Berlin, Germany • August 20, 1939 In the early morning hours on this date in 1939 the first of two back-to-back seismic changes to Europe’s polit­i­cal, eco­no­mic, and geo­strategic equi­lib­ria occurred with the signing of the German-Soviet Trade and Credit Agree­ment in Berlin. An out­growth of months­long econo­mic and polit­i­cal talks between German and Soviet […]

22

“DEVIL’S WORK” AHEAD HITLER TELLS GENERALS

Obersalzberg, Bavaria, Germany • August 22, 1939 Adolf Hitler’s foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop was just about to affix his signa­ture to the German-Soviet Non­ag­gres­sion Pact (aka Molotov-Ribben­trop Pact) in Moscow, when, on this date, August 22, 1939, the Fuehrer sum­moned the com­manders of his various armed forces and other officers to the Berg­hof, his palatial Bava­rian […]

23

GERMANS, SOVIETS AGREE TO HISTORIC NONAGGRESSION PACT

Moscow, Soviet Union • August 23, 1939 At least since April 1939 Adolf Hitler was deter­mined to end the exis­tence of Poland, a country of just over 35 mil­lion people lying on Germany’s eastern border. But con­quering that nation was fraught with danger because Poland shared a border with the Soviet Union, Hitler’s long-time bogey­man. The […]

24

CHURCH UPROAR UPENDS NAZI T-4 KILLING PROGRAM

Berlin, Germany • August 24, 1941 On this date in 1941 Adolf Hitler cancelled the Aktion T-4 eutha­na­sia pro­gram that he had person­ally put in place in Septem­ber 1939. Normally Hitler had a policy of not issuing written instruc­tions for poli­cies relating to what would later be called crimes against human­ity, but he made an […]

25

FIRST BOOTS ON JAPANESE SOIL ARE ARMY BOOTS

Kyūshū Island, Japan • August 25, 1945 On this date in 1945, ten days after Japanese Emperor Hiro­hito had announced his agree­ment to sur­render his nation uncon­di­tionally, two U.S. Army pilots flying P‑38 Lightnings on armed recon­nais­sance landed at Nitta­ga­hara Air­field on Kyūshū Island, the southern­most Japa­nese Home Island, after one of the P‑38s ran […]

26

BLACK MARINES OPEN SEGREGATED RECRUIT DEPOT

Montford Point, North Carolina • August 26, 1942 On this date in 1942, 12 miles upriver from the new whites-only amphib­ious training camp at Camp Lejeune, the first set of black Marine Corps recruits set up a segre­gated recruit depot of their own. The training camp, named Mont­ford Point, was a satel­lite camp of Camp Lejeune […]

27

PEACE THREATENED, EUROPE MOBILIZES ITS ARMED FORCES

Berlin, Germany; Warsaw, Poland; and London, England • August 27, 1939 On this date in 1939, one day after Adolf Hitler aborted his plan to invade his eastern neigh­bor, Poland, German mobili­zation con­tinued. Between August 25 and 31, a further twenty-one infan­try divi­sions and two motor­ized divi­sions were in place along the German-Polish fron­tier. No reserve units […]

28

ANGLO-FRENCH FIRMNESS BOOSTS PEACE FORTUNES

London England; Paris, France; Warsaw, Poland • August 28, 1939 Public opinion in Europe had shifted from dread of war and a longing for peace evi­dent in the Czech Sudeten crisis of Septem­ber 1938 to a fata­listic accep­tance that war over Poland was now un­avoid­able. In Germany even Adolf Hitler’s polit­i­cal oppo­nents assumed that if the […]

29

LEADING JAPANESE POLLED ON HOW TO END WAR

Tokyo, Japan • August 29, 1944 From the summer of 1944 to the spring of 1945, Japanese forces con­tinued their retreat from mili­tary out­posts in South­east Asia and the Pacific. Japanese losses in person­nel, war­ships, and air­planes were mini­mized by front­line com­manders, who exag­gerated Japa­nese mili­tary successes against the Allied enemy in reports to Imperial […]

30

CRISIS TALKS COLLAPSE, POLAND MOBILIZES ARMY

Warsaw, Poland • August 30, 1939 After his sudden decision on Friday, August 25, 1939, to cancel his inva­sion of Poland, Adolf Hitler ordered prep­a­ra­tions for a second planned inva­sion of his neigh­bor to the east. From the Army’s Quarter­master General he learned that the ear­liest date on which mobi­li­za­tion could be com­pleted was Thurs­day, August 31. […]

31

RADIO STATION ATTACKED, HITLER VOWS REPRISAL

Berlin, Germany • August 31, 1939 On August 22, 1939, in a meeting at his Bavarian mountain­top retreat, the Berg­hof, Adolf Hitler told his generals he would fabri­cate “a propa­gan­distic reason” to justify his plan­ned aggres­sion against neigh­boring Poland. The plan was for Nazi Party Schutz­staffel (SS) opera­tives to dress in Polish uni­forms, attack a […]

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