366 Days

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January

News Headlines

1

SURPRISE BODENPLATTE MAULS ALLIED AIR FORCES

SHAEP HQ, Versailles, France • January 1, 1945 Nazi Germany’s position on the Western Front had declined precipitously after the D-Day landings of Allied troops on June 6, 1944. Gen. George S. Patton’s Third U.S. Army was driving rapidly into the enemy’s rear. The German High Com­mand (Ober­kom­mando der Weh­rmacht) was aware that German troops […]

2

NUREMBERG DEALT AERIAL KNOCKOUT BLOW

London, England • January 2, 1945 In the 19th century the Bavarian city of Nuremberg, long associ­ated with ginger­bread, sau­sages, hand­made toys, and Christ­kindl­maerkte (Christ­mas markets), had become an impor­tant indus­trial center with com­panies such as engi­neering and manu­fac­turing giants Siemens and MAN. Both firms con­tri­buted mightily to Germany’s war effort—Sie­mens by pro­ducing every­thing from […]

3

GERMANS SET TO SNUFF OUT BASTOGNE GARRISON

Bastogne, Eastern Belgium • January 3, 1945 Beginning on this date and the next in January 1945 the German Wehr­macht (armed forces) began a risky, last-ditch attack on the U.S. garri­son at Bas­togne in East­ern Bel­gium. Adolf Hitler, in planning his mas­sive onslaught against Anglo-Amer­ican forces via the densely forested Ardennes region shared by Bel­gium, […]

4

JAPAN LAUNCHES TWO-WEEK ASSAULT ON RABAUL

Rabaul, Island of New Britain • January 4, 1942 The Battle of Rabaul was fought from Janu­ary 23 to late Febru­ary 1942 on the island of New Britain, part of Aus­tra­lia’s League of Nations-man­dated Terri­tory of New Guinea (1921 to 1941) lying roughly 660 miles north­north­west of Aus­tra­lia. More forward obser­va­tion post than any­thing else, the 1,400‑strong […]

5

AUSSIES SCORE BIG WIN IN OPERATION COMPASS

Bardia, Eastern Libya • January 5, 1941 In June 1940 Italian dictator Benito Mus­so­lini declared war on Great Britain and France and began building up forces in his North African colony of Libya. That September the Italian Tenth Army under Gen. Rodolfo Grazi­ani invaded Egypt, a British colony to the east of Libya, threatening British […]

6

ROOSEVELT’S LEND-LEASE TO AID WAR AGAINST AXIS

Washington, D.C. • January 6, 1941 Three days after Adolf Hitler had sent his Wehr­macht (Ger­man armed forces) into neigh­boring Poland on Septem­ber 1, 1939, Great Britain and France declared war on Nazi Ger­many. Nine months later, following France’s sur­render to the Wehr­macht in June 1940, the British govern­ment, which since 1939 had been paying for […]

7

IWO JIMA UNDER U.S. AIR ASSAULT

Saipan Island, Northern Marianas • January 7, 1945 In early October 1944, nearly three years into the Pacific War, the U.S. high com­mand decided that, after securing the Philip­pine island of Leyte (done before the end of Decem­ber), Gen. Douglas Mac­Arthur was to lib­er­ate neigh­boring Lu­zon Is­land, while Fleet Adm. Ches­ter Nimitz, from his station […]

8

JAPAN TELLS SOLDIERS: “NEVER SURRENDER”

Tokyo, Japan • January 8, 1941 On this date in 1941 the Tokyo Gazette published the Imperial War Depart­ment’s newly adopted Japa­nese Field Service Code. It advised soldiers in part, “Do not give up under any cir­cum­stances, keeping in mind your re­spon­si­bil­ity not to tar­nish the glo­ri­ous his­tory of the Im­perial Army with its tradi­tion […]

9

U.S. NAVY HELLCATS BOMB HELLSHIP ENOURA MARU

Kaohsiung, Japanese-Occupied Taiwan • January 9, 1945 In the wake of Japan’s military whirlwind conquest and occu­pa­tion of South­east Asia, the Japa­nese Army interned tens of thou­sands of pri­soners of war in various POW camps in occupied Hong Kong, Singa­pore, Malay­sia, Burma, the Philip­pines, the Dutch East Indies (present-day Indo­nesia), and in Japan’s puppet state of […]

10

RED ARMY TIGHTENS STALINGRAD NOOSE

Outside Stalingrad, Southern Russia • January 10, 1943 The contest between the German Wehrmacht (armed forces) and the Red Army for pos­ses­sion of Stalin­grad (August 23, 1942, to Febru­ary 2, 1943) proved to be the most stra­te­gically decisive battle on Ger­many’s Eastern Front and arguably of World War II. Known today as Volgo­grad, Stalin­grad (popu­la­tion 400,000) occupied the west […]

11

GERMANS UNLEASH DEADLY U-BOATS OFF U.S. COAST

Washington, D. C. • January 11, 1942 On this date in 1942 the German Kriegsmarine launched Operation Drum­beat (Unter­nehmen Pauken­schlag, or “roll of the kettle­drums”), intending to destroy U.S. coastal shipping, particularly oil ship­ments from the Gulf of Mexico, and disrupt the stream of troops and key resources (e.g., agri­cul­tural pro­ducts, steel, and oil) crossing […]

12

SOVIETS BEGIN ASSAULT ON GERMAN BORDER

Moscow, Soviet Union • January 12, 1945 On New Year’s Day 1945 Germans of every stripe faced the stark reality of impending defeat. That reality mate­ri­alized in the cacophony of the opening salvos of the Soviet Union’s offen­sive on Ger­many’s east­ern frontier, the Vistula-Oder operation, that began on this date in 1945. The strongest Soviet […]

13

SAAR VOTERS CHOOSE UNION WITH GERMANY

Saarbruecken, Saarland, Germany • January 13, 1935 On this date in 1935 Germans held a plebiscite in the only part of Ger­many that remained under for­eign occu­pa­tion following their country’s defeat in World War I—the Saar region, or Saar­land in German. The wealth of its coal de­pos­its and their large-scale in­dus­trial exploi­ta­tion, coupled with its loca­tion on […]

14

ROOSEVELT, CHURCHILL ENDORSE NEW WAR AIMS

Casablanca, French Morocco • January 14, 1943 On this date in 1943 U.S. President Frank­lin D. Roose­velt, Brit­ish Prime Minis­ter Win­ston Chur­chill, and their respective Chiefs of Staff opened a ten-day strategy confer­ence in Casa­blanca, a sea­side resort half­way down the Moroccan coast in North­west Africa. (Casablanca was a signi­fi­cant venue, chosen to under­score the libera­tion […]

15

FLAMETHROWERS SEE FIRST COMBAT SUCCESS

Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands • January 15, 1945 On this date in 1943 M1 portable flamethrowers were used success­fully in com­bat for the first time rela­tively late in the six‑month Battle of Guadal­canal (August 7, 1942, to Febru­ary 9, 1943). In one attack by U.S. Marines several 2‑man flame­throwing teams crawled close enough to three Japa­nese […]

16

HITLER TAKES SANCTUARY IN UNDER­GROUND BUNKER

Berlin, Germany • January 16, 1945 The Soviet Union’s offensive that began on the Vistula River, the princi­pal river in Poland, on Janu­ary 12, 1945, spread out over the following days to engulf Nazi Ger­many’s entire East­ern Front, running from the Baltic Sea in the north to the Carpa­thian Moun­tains in South­ern Poland. Four days later, […]

17

SOVIETS CAPTURE POLAND’S CAPITAL

Warsaw, Liberated Poland • January 17, 1945 On this date in 1945 Warsaw fell to Soviet and Polish Com­munist forces as the Nazis beat a hasty retreat from the ruins of Poland’s capital. In moving against the retreating Wehr­macht (German armed forces), the Soviets lib­er­ated 800 Jews in Częstochowa and 870 Jews in Łódź, Poland. Ten […]

18

AXIS POWERS RENEW TRIPARTITE TREATY

Berlin, Germany • January 18, 1942 On this date in 1942 Axis partners Germany, Italy, and Japan renewed their military and eco­no­mic alli­ance just one and a half years into their 10‑year con­ven­tion. The Tripar­tite Pact had come into being on Septem­ber 27, 1940, when the foreign minis­ters of the three nations met in Berlin. Originally […]

19

ROMMEL’S AFRIKA KORPS ORDERED TO LIBYA

Fuehrer HQ on the Obersalzberg, Germany • January 19, 1941 On this date in 1941 Adolf Hitler and Italian leader Benito Mussolini began two days of crisis talks at the Berg­hof, Hitler’s pala­tial Alpine resi­dence whose enor­mous sliding win­dow afforded magni­fi­cent views of near­by Berchtes­gaden and, in the dis­tance, Salz­burg, Austria. High on the agenda was […]

20

HIMMLER TO HEAD NAZIS’ SCHUTZ­STAFFEL (SS)

Munich, Germany • January 20, 1929 On this date in 1929 failed German chicken farmer Hein­rich Himm­ler became Reichs­fuehrer-SS Hein­rich Himm­ler. The SS in his title “Reich Leader-SS” referred to Schutz­staffel, meaning “Pro­tec­tion Squad.” Infor­mally known by its initials, the SS was created after National Socialist (Nazi) party leader Adolf Hitler, him­self a Viennese vagrant, […]

21

BRITISH USE ENIGMA MESSAGES TO DEFEAT ROMMEL

London, England • January 21, 1943 Arguably one of Germany’s greatest assets early in World War II was the Enig­ma ma­chine. It could encrypt and decrypt sensi­tive diplo­matic and mili­tary mes­sages in bil­lions of ways (actually 10 to the 23rd power). The loca­tion of German surface ships and U‑boats and Allied supply con­voys in the Atlan­tic […]

22

U.S. AGENCY TO RESCUE JEWS, OTHERS

Washington, D.C. • January 22, 1944 On this date in 1944 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9417, which created the War Refugee Board (WRB), an inde­pend­ent govern­ment agency. The presi­dent said that “it was urgent that action be taken at once to fore­stall the plan of the Nazis to exter­mi­nate all the Jews […]

23

JAPANESE SEIZE RABAUL, AUSSIE ISLAND OUTPOST

Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia • January 23, 1942 On this date in 1942, over a month after Pearl Harbor, 20,000 Japanese Marines quickly overran the 1,400-man Aus­tra­lian gar­ri­son at Rabaul, New Brit­ain, the largest is­land in the Bis­marck Archi­pel­ago (center in map below). Rabaul’s cap­ture was impor­tant because of its prox­im­ity to the Caro­line Islands 800 […]

24

FIRST ALL-BLACK UNIT SEES ACTION ON GUADALCANAL

South West Pacific Area HQ, Brisbane, Australia • January 24, 1944 On this date in 1944 an advance party of the 93rd Infan­try Divi­sion landed on the Pacif­ic Is­land of Guadal­canal, the first Afri­can Amer­i­can (“colored” was the term used at the time) infan­try unit to see action in World War II. Reacti­vated on May 15, 1942, […]

25

ARDENNES BULGE ELIMINATED, GERMANS RETREAT

Bastogne, Belgium • January 25, 1945 On this date in 1945, in the thickly forested Belgian Ardennes, the Battle of the Bulge (referring to the German-induced bulge in Allied lines) effec­tively ended. The largest, most costly land battle fought by Ameri­can sol­diers in World War II marked in many ways the U.S. Army’s finest per­for­mance. Besides […]

26

2ND LIEUTANANT KILLS/WOUNDS 50 ENEMY

Near Holtzwihr, Colmar Pocket, Northeastern France • January 26, 1945 On this date in 1945 U.S. Army Second Lt. Audie Murphy, age 20, com­manded an infan­try com­pany when it came under attack from 200 German infan­try­men and a half dozen Mark VI Tiger tanks on the out­skirts of Holtz­wihr (now part of Porte-du-Ried), a village near Colmar on […]

27

SOVIETS LIBERATE AUSCHWITZ DEATH CAMP

Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland • January 27, 1945 In the months following the Red Army’s entry into the aban­doned Nazi death camp at Majdanek on the out­skirts of Lublin, Poland, where more than 79,000 people had been killed, the growing list of liber­ated camps (the Nazis had over 40 death camps) char­ac­ter­ized by mounds of corpses and […]

28

U.S. EIGHTH AIR FORCE ACTIVATED

Savannah, Georgia • January 28, 1942 On this date in 1942 the fledgling U.S. Eighth Air Force was activated at Savan­nah Air Force Base in Georgia. Second-in-com­mand Brig. Gen. Ira Eaker was sent to Eng­land to form and orga­nize its bomber com­mand, the VIII Bomber Com­mand. An advanced detach­ment was estab­lished at RAF Bomber Com­mand […]

29

ALLIES SHUT DOWN GERMANY’S NORDWIND, OPEN OWN OFFENSIVE

SHAEF HQ, Versailles, France • January 29, 1945 On this date in 1945 Allied armies in Western Europe returned to the offen­sive after having shut down Nazi Germany’s Oper­a­tion Nord­wind (German, Unter­nehmen Nord­wind) four days earlier. Nord­wind was the last major German offen­sive of World War II on the Western Front. It began on the last […]

30

DARBY’S RANGERS SUFFER GRIM END

Cisterna di Lit­toria, Italy • January 30, 1944 The Allied invasion of mainland Italy began in early Septem­ber 1943, nearly six weeks after the Fascist Grand Council had deposed Germany’s Axis ally Benito Musso­lini on July 24–25, 1943, and placed the Italian dicta­tor in deten­tion. Ele­ments of Ber­nard Law Mont­gom­ery’s Eighth Army landed at the coastal […]

31

SOVIETS DESTROY AXIS ARMIES AT STALINGRAD

Stalingrad, Soviet Union • January 31, 1943 On this date in 1943 Red Army staff officers arrived at German Sixth Army head­quarters in Stalin­grad (present-day Volgo­grad) to discuss sur­render terms for an invading enemy now bereft of ammu­ni­tion, food, effec­tive com­mand, and 150,000 men who belonged to the dead or missing. Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus’ […]

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