366 Days

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March

News Headlines

1

GOERING TO HEAD GERMAN AIR FORCE

Berlin, Germany · March 1, 1935 On this date in 1935 Adolf Hitler appointed World War I air ace Her­mann Goering, last com­mander of the famous “Red Baron” Richt­hofen Fighter Squad­ron, to the posi­tion of Luft­waffe Com­man­der-in-Chief. Goering held the post until the final days of the Third Reich. A faith­ful Nazi from the earliest […]

2

PIUS XII IS NEW VATICAN HEAD

Rome, Italy • March 2, 1939 On this date in 1939 in Vatican City, Roman Catholic Cardi­nal Eugenio Pacelli was elected pope on his sixty-third birth­day. His coro­nation took place ten days later. Son of a Vatican lawyer, Pacelli took the name Pius XII. Pius’ actions during the Holo­caust are contro­ver­sial. Critics have accused him of […]

3

MASSIVE AIR RAID ON REICH CAPITAL

Berlin, Germany · March 3, 1945 Round-the-clock bombing operations against Germany began on March 3, 1944, with a U.S. 800‑plane day­light raid that dropped 2,000 tons of bombs on Berlin. On this date in 1945 Amer­i­can bombers mounted a day­light raid on Berlin that left 3,000 peo­ple dead and 100,000 home­less. Luft­waffe bombers reta­li­a­ted, attacking Brit­ain […]

4

BRITISH ARMY IN FIERCE BATTLE IN BURMA

Central Burma · March 4, 1945 The British Fourteenth Army was a multinational force that took part in the Burma Cam­paign (January 1942 to July 1945). Units were drawn from the British Army and the Indian Army, with signi­fi­cant con­tri­bu­tions from Ghurkha and West and East African regi­ments. The Four­teenth Army has often been referred […]

5

POLISH NATIONALISTS TO DIE

Moscow, Soviet Union · March 5, 1940 In a proposal written on this date in 1940 to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and other mem­bers of the Soviet Polit­buro, Lavrentiy Beria, who was the head of the People’s Com­mis­sar­iat for Internal Affairs (NKVD), the Soviet secret police, advo­cated exe­cuting all mem­bers of the Polish Offi­cer Corps […]

6

CHURCHILL PROCLAIMS BATTLE OF ATLANTIC

London, England · March 6, 1941 By January 1941 the Allies had lost 1,300 mer­chant ves­sels, almost half of them to Ger­man U‑boats. Following the enslave­ment of 120 mil­lion peo­ple in seven West­ern and East­ern Euro­pean coun­tries by Nazi Ger­many the pre­vious year, the Brit­ish were reduced to fighting Adolf Hitler’s mili­tary jugger­naut alone. In […]

7

BRITISH RUSH TROOPS TO AID GREECE

Cairo, Egypt • March 7, 1941 On this date in 1941 in Greece, a British expe­di­tion­ary force from Egypt arrived just two days before the army of Ital­ian dictator Benito Mus­so­lini started its last unsuc­cess­ful cam­paign against Greek forces. The pre­vious Octo­ber the Ital­ian Army had crossed Greece’s north­west­ern fron­tier from neigh­boring Albania, launching the […]

8

DUTCH SURRENDER EAST INDIES

Batavia (Jakarta), Dutch East Indies • March 8, 1942 The mineral- and oil-rich Dutch East Indies (today’s Indo­nesia) was Japan’s next colo­nial tar­get in the Pacific Theater—this after Allied resis­tance had col­lapsed in the British Crown colony of Sin­ga­pore (Febru­ary 15, 1942) and all but did so in the U.S. Philip­pines with Gen. Douglas Mac­Arthur’s forces holed […]

9

HUGE B-29 RAID DESTROYS JAPANESE CAPITAL

Tokyo, Japan · March 9, 1945 Apart from Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle’s April 1942 raid on the Japa­nese capi­tal, Tokyo, early air raids on Japan focused on mili­tary and indus­trial tar­gets with dis­appointing results. So U.S. Army Air Forces Maj. Gen. Curtis LeMay, a vete­ran of the hor­rific air cam­paign over Nazi Ger­many, filled each […]

10

RHINELAND CAMPAIGN DELAYS CAPTURE OF GERMANY’S RUHR

SHAEF HQ, Versailles, France • March 10, 1945 On this date in 1945 three sets of battles fought during the final stages of the Euro­pean war ended in Allied vic­tories and marked the begin­ning of the Allied inva­sion of Nazi Germany. The Battle of the Reichs­wald (German, Imperial Forest), known also as Oper­a­tion Ver­i­ta­ble, was […]

11

U.S. SUB’S DECK GUNS SINK JAPANESE VESSEL

Aboard the USS Pollack in Pacific Ocean • March 11, 1942 On this date in 1942 the USS Pollack made the first sub­marine attack using only its deck guns. Its tar­gets were two Japa­nese fishing boats. During 1942 U.S. sub­marines reported 34 gun attacks on sam­pans and trawl­ers. The num­ber of attacks in­creased to 64 in 1943, […]

12

HITLER INVADES AUSTRIA

Linz, Austria · March 12, 1938 After abolishing Germany’s Ministry of War on February 4, 1938, and creating in its place the Ober­kom­mando der Wehr­macht (OKW, or Supreme Com­mand of the Armed Forces) with him­self at its helm, Adolf Hitler now focused on a peace­ful take­over of Europe beginning with his native Aus­tria. (Hitler was […]

13

U-BOAT SHOOTS SHIPWRECK SURVIVORS

U-852 in Mid-Atlantic Ocean • March 13, 1944 On this date in 1944 German U‑boat 852, skippered by 28‑year‑old Heinz-Wilhelm Eck, tor­pe­doed the British-chartered Greek freighter SS Peleus as it steamed west across the Atlantic from Free­town, Sierra Leone, to Buenos Aires, Argen­tina. After the Peleus sank, U‑852 patrolled the large debris field for five […]

14

FORMAL FLAG-RAISING OVER BATTERED ISLAND

Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands · March 14, 1945 On this date in 1945 the U.S. flag was raised over the 10‑sq‑mile island of Iwo Jima in a for­mal flag-raising cere­mony. The battle for the bar­ren Japa­nese-held is­land lying some 760 miles south­east of Tokyo was the most bitterly con­tested of the war. Its cap­ture was […]

15

HITLER INVADES CZECHOSLOVAKIA

Prague, Czechoslovakia • March 15, 1939 From the ruins of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in November 1918 a half-dozen new states emerged. Among them were Austria and Czecho­slovakia. When Austria was incor­porated into Adolf Hitler’s Greater German Reich in March 1938, Czecho­slovakia found itself inside a German pin­cer. On Octo­ber 1, 1938, following the Munich Agree­ment signed […]

16

FIRST LIQUID-FUEL ROCKET LAUNCHED

Auburn, Massachusetts · March 16, 1926 On this date in 1926 in Auburn, Massachusetts, Dr. Robert God­dard (1882–1945) con­ducted his first suc­cess­ful rocket flight. His liquid-pro­pel­lant rocket rose 41 ft, tra­veled 184 ft, and burned no more than 3 sec­onds, but it proved the con­cept of rocket flight worked. God­dard, who received limited sup­port for his re­search and […]

17

U-BOAT ACE CAPTURED, SUB SUNK

Aboard the HMS Walker in the North Atlantic · March 17, 1941 On this date in 1941 U-99, skippered by Otto Kretschmer, one of Ger­many’s most famous U‑boat com­manders, had just fired the last of her tor­pedoes when she was spotted by a Brit­ish de­stroyer south­east of Ice­land. By this time Kretsch­mer, on his eighth […]

18

HITLER, MUSSOLINI HOLD SUMMIT

Brenner Pass, Austria • March 18, 1940 On this date in 1940 on the Austro-Italian border, German leader Adolf Hitler and Ital­ian strong­man Benito Musso­lini met for their fifth face-to-face meeting. Hitler had requested the sum­mit in order to force Il Duce (Italian, “the leader”) to take sides within the frame­work of the so-called Pact of […]

19

FIRST BLACK FIGHTER SQUADRON FORMED

Chanute Field, Rantoul, Illinois · March 19, 1941 Pressed on one side by Black news media and civil rights groups demanding that pilot training be opened up to Afri­can Amer­i­cans and on the other by an up­coming re-election, Pre­si­dent Franklin D. Roose­velt in 1940 autho­rized the crea­tion of a segre­gated flight school and an all-Black […]

20

JAPANESE NAVY ORDERS SHIPWRECK SURVIVORS SHOT

Japanese Naval Base, Truk Lagoon, South Pacific • March 20, 1943 Although Japanese submarines attacked far fewer ships than the Allies or Germany did, they were involved in a dozen or so docu­mented atro­ci­ties—naval war crimes—against crew sur­vivors. On this date in 1943 Rear Admiral Takero Kouta, com­mander of the First Sub­marine Group at the large Japa­nese […]

21

HITLER ESCAPES ASSASSIN’S BOMB

Berlin, Germany · March 21, 1943 Adolf Hitler was the target of assassins on at least 30 occasions. On this date in 1943 in Berlin, Ger­man army offi­cers made the second of two attempts in March to kill Hitler with a bomb. The week before, two staff offi­cers had planted a bomb aboard Hitler’s pri­vate plane. […]

22

PATTON’S THIRD ARMY CROSSES RHINE

Oppenheim, Germany • March 22, 1945 On this date in 1945, one day before the mixed British-Canadian 21st Army Group under Field Marshal Ber­nard Law Mont­gomery was due to launch Opera­tion Plunder, the long-awaited northern offen­sive across the Rhine River at Rees and Wesel in North Rhine-West­phalia, Gen. George S. Patton sneaked 5th Divi­sion soldiers […]

23

JAPAN PUSHES SOVIETS FOR NEUTRALITY PACT

Moscow, Soviet Union (USSR) • March 23, 1941 On this date in 1941 Japanese Foreign Minister Yōsuke Matsu­oka (1940–1941) arrived in Moscow after a 7‑day jour­ney by train from the Sibe­rian port city of Vladi­vostok. On this his first of two visits to senior Soviet offi­cials, Matsu­oka met Soviet Pre­mier Vya­che­slav Molotov. At the top of […]

24

NEW MILITIA TO DEFEND JAPANESE HOMELAND

Tokyo, Japan • March 24, 1945 On this date in 1945 the Japanese Deputy Minis­ter of War, Lt. Gen. Kane­shiro Shiba­yama, in­formed the Japa­nese Diet (Parlia­ment) of the for­ma­tion of a mili­tia for the defense of the Home Islands. A home mili­tia was criti­cal to the nation’s sur­vi­val because 60 per­cent of the roughly 4.6 mil­lion Japa­nese com­bat […]

25

YUGOSLAVIA JOINS AXIS PACT

Vienna, Austria • March 25, 1941 On this date in 1941 in Vienna, the govern­ment of Yugo­slav regent Prince Paul signed a pro­to­col of ad­her­ence to the Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Tri­par­tite Pact, there­by setting the stage for a com­plex guer­rilla war against Germans, Ital­ians, and their Yugo­slav allies, and within the Yugo­slav resis­tance forces them­selves. Not two […]

26

SUICIDE PILOTS MAKE LETHAL SHOW

U.S. Navy Offshore Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands • March 26, 1945 Late in 1944 Vice Admiral Taki­jirō Ōnishi, recently appointed com­man­der of the First Air Fleet in Japa­nese-held Manila, the Philip­pine’s capital, cham­pioned a special attack force (tokubetsu kogeki tai, abbre­vi­ated as tokkotai) that would inflict maxi­mum damage on Allied naval vessels squeezing the island empire: Japan’s […]

27

FRANCE BEGINS TO EMPTY ITSELF OF JEWS

Paris, Occupied France • March 27, 1942 On May 10, 1940, Adolf Hitler, having ended Poland’s exis­tence in Sep­tem­ber 1939, turned his wrath on the demo­cra­cies in the West. The Nether­lands, Belgium, and Luxem­bourg capit­u­lated to his war machine in May. Repre­sen­ta­tives of 84‑year-old Marshal Philippe Pétain, who had recently been named presi­dent of the […]

28

EISENHOWER TO DIVIDE GERMANY IN MIDDLE

SHAEF HQ, Reims, France • March 28, 1945 On this date in 1945 Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Dwight D. Eisen­hower tele­grammed Soviet leader Joseph Stalin that he proposed, after encircling Germany’s Ruhr district, to advance on an west-east axis through the center of Germany to the Upper Elbe River, 50 miles west of Berlin, there to await […]

29

NAZI MINISTER TO QUASH HITLER’S “NERO ORDER”

Berlin, Germany • March 29, 1945 By 1945 everything was falling apart for the Nazi regime. Most of the con­quered areas in the Soviet Union and West­ern Europe had been recap­tured from the Germans. The Wehr­macht’s last gam­bit in the west, the Ardennes Offen­sive, better known as the Battle of the Bulge (mid-Decem­ber 1944 to […]

30

CHINESE “QUISLING” OUSTS CHIANG KAI-SHEK REGIME

Nanjing (Nanking), China • March 30, 1940 By 1940 Japan had close to a decade’s worth of expe­ri­ence in admin­is­tering con­quered Chi­nese terri­tory, having installed a pup­pet govern­ment in 1932 in Man­churia, which the Japa­nese called Man­chu­kuo. On this date in 1940 in Nan­jing (Nan­king), China, the Japa­nese installed Wang Jingwei (Ching-wei) as head of […]

31

BRITAIN GUARANTEES POLAND’S INDEPENDENCE

London, England • March 31, 1939 On this date in 1939, two weeks after German troops entered Prague and all of Czecho­slo­va­kia fell under the German boot, the British govern­ment, followed a few days later by the French, pledged to guar­an­tee the inde­pen­dence (though inter­estingly not the terri­torial integ­rity) of Poland. “If any action clearly […]

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