366 Days

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October

News Headlines

1

CHAMBERLAIN PROCLAIMS “PEACE FOR OUR TIME”

London, England · October 1, 1938 The storm clouds of war in Europe seemed to have parted on this date in 1938 in London, one day after British Prime Min­is­ter Neville Cham­ber­lain had returned from his triumph in Munich. Three visits to Ger­many had been required to part the clouds: the first to Berchtes­gaden in […]

2

ROOSEVELT DECLARES EAST COAST SECURITY ZONE

Washington, D.C. · October 2, 1939 On January 31, 1939, President Franklin D. Roose­velt held a closed-door meeting with the Senate Mili­tary Affairs Com­mit­tee at the White House. Reportedly FDR made the com­ment that “the frontier of the United States is the Rhine,” meaning France’s east­ern border with Nazi Ger­many. When the state­ment was leaked […]

3

ITALY INVADES ETHIOPIA

Rome, Italy · October 3, 1935 On this date in 1935 Benito Mus­so­lini’s Italy in­vaded the North­east African King­dom of Abys­sinia (present-day Ethi­o­pia) without a declara­tion of war, and for doing so the League of Nations in­structed its mem­ber states to im­pose limited econo­mic sanc­tions on Italy. (Neither the U.S. nor Ger­many were mem­bers of […]

4

MUSSOLINI HINTS AT ATTACK ON GREECE

Brenner Pass, Italy • October 4, 1940 On this date in 1940, at a border crossing between Germany and Italy, Benito Mus­so­lini and Adolf Hitler met for the seventh time. (The two would meet seven­teen times.) The Bren­ner Pass meeting of the two Axis Pact dicta­tors followed on the heels of their June 18, 1940, meeting […]

5

NEW ELECTRIC TORPEDO SINKS JAPANESE SHIP

Washington, D.C • October 5, 1943 On this date in 1943 the Japanese news agency Domei acknow­ledged that the 7,903‑ton Kon­ron Maru was sunk by an Ameri­can sub­marine off the west coast of the Japa­nese home island of Honshū, with the loss of 544 lives. The troop­ship was sunk by the USS Wahoo using the new, […]

6

ALBERT SPEER IMPOSES WAR ECONOMY ON GERMANY

Posen, Western Occupied Poland • October 6, 1943 On this date in 1943 in Posen (Poznań), occupied Poland, Albert Speer, Adolf Hitler’s Minis­ter of Arma­ments and War Pro­duc­tion, stun­ned an assem­bly of Nazi Party big-wigs when he stated that he in­tended to con­vert all fac­to­ries pro­duc­ing for the German civil­ian mar­ket to war pro­duc­tion. Having […]

7

U.S. IMPOSES EMBARGO, JAPAN PROTESTS

Washington, D.C. • October 7, 1940 In the 1930s Japan’s statesmen and military leaders in China were acutely aware that their eco­nomy and armed forces were depend­ent on im­ports from the United States and its colo­nial friends who had holdings in the Asia Pacific region: the Amer­i­cans in the Philip­pines, the Brit­ish in Malaya (now […]

8

MUSSOLINI REBUKES JAPANESE FOR FOOT-DRAGGING

Rome, Italy • October 8, 1941 Two months before Great Britain joined the United States in declaring war on Japan, Italian dictator Benito Mus­so­lini used this date in 1941 to blast the Japa­nese for not carrying their weight in the Tri­par­tite (Axis) Pact, a poli­ti­cal, eco­no­mic, and mili­tary agree­ment that Italy, Germany, and Japan had […]

9

PACIFIST INSTALLED AS JAPAN PRIME MINISTER

Tokyo, Japan • October 9, 1945 On this date in 1945 in Tokyo, Baron Kijūrō Shidehara became Prime Minis­ter of Japan at the head of a consti­tu­tional govern­ment com­mitted to pur­suing a peace­ful future. Before the war Shide­hara had been a pro­mi­nent Japa­nese diplo­mat and a leading pro­po­nent of paci­fism in Japan. On the same […]

10

AILING HITLER FIRES PERSONAL PHYSICIAN

Wolf’s Lair, Fuehrer HQ, East Prussia • October 10, 1944 Shortly after the July 1944 attempt on Adolf Hitler’s life, an ad­ju­tant of the Chief of the Gene­ral Staff of the Army remarked that the 55-year-old Hitler had the “pos­ture of an old man.” On Septem­ber 24, 1944, Dr. Theo­dor Morell, the Fuehrer’s loyal, long-serving phy­si­cian, noted […]

11

U.S. SUB WAHOO MISSING ON PATROL

Honolulu, Hawaii • October 11, 1943 On this date in 1943 the USS Wahoo, a Gato-class (early World War II) sub­ma­rine under Com­mand­er Dudley “Mush” Morton, was sunk in the La Pérouse (Soya) Strait, the chan­nel that sepa­rates the north­ern Japa­nese island of Hokkaidō and the Japanese-held southern half of Sakha­lin Island (today’s Sakha­lin Oblast in […]

12

FIRST B-29 BOMBER ARRIVES ON SAIPAN

Northern Mariana Islands • October 12, 1944 The Pacific Theater was the largest theater of World War II. Because of its watery expanse, Army avi­a­tion engi­neers and Sea­bees had to build more than 100 air­fields on islands that dotted the Pacific Ocean, from New Guinea in the south, up through Guam, the Mari­anas, Iwo Jima, to Oki­nawa. […]

13

JAPAN INVITES U.S. TO JOIN AXIS PACT

Tokyo, Japan • October 13, 1940 On this date in 1940 Japan’s foreign minister Yōsuke Matsuo­ka, who had grown up in Ore­gon and Cal­i­for­nia (1893–1902), invited the United States and other non­aligned nations to join the Tri­par­tite Pact, which Axis powers Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan had initi­aled in Berlin the pre­vious month […]

14

SCAPA FLOW SINKING DEALS ROYAL NAVY SEVERE BLOW

Scapa Flow, Northern Coast of Scotland, Orkney Islands • October 14, 1939 Illuminated only by the northern lights (aurora borealis) early on this date in 1939, barely six weeks into World War II in Europe, a German Type VIIB diesel-electric sub­marine under the com­mand of Kapitaen­leutnant (Captain Lieu­ten­ant) Guenther Prien infil­trated the defenses of Scapa Flow, the […]

15

GERMANS CREATE NUCLEUS OF BRANDENBURGER COMMANDOS

Berlin, Germany • October 15, 1939 On this date in 1939 Adm. Wilhelm Canaris, head of the German Ab­wehr (mili­tary intel­ligence), directed Capt. Theodor von Hippel to raise a com­mando unit that would become known by year’s end as the Branden­burgers. The name derived from the unit’s training site, Branden­burg on the Havel, roughly 54 miles […]

16

SOVIET ARMY SETS STAGE FOR 1945 ASSAULT ON BERLIN

East Prussia, Germany • October 16, 1944 In the summer of 1944 Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany was knocked off balance by one-two punches delivered almost simul­ta­neously by the Western Allies’ inva­sion of North­western France, code­named Oper­a­tion Over­lord (June–August 1944), and the Soviet Union’s offen­sive, Oper­a­tion Bagra­tion (June–August 1944), which began with the recon­quest of Belo­russia […]

17

NAZI-BACKED ARROW CROSS SEIZE POWER IN HUNGARY

Budapest, Occupied Hungary • October 17, 1944 On this date in 1944 Adm. Miklós (Nicholas) Horthy, regent of the Kingdom of Hungary since 1920, left his native country as a prisoner of Nazi Germany. Horthy had angered Adolf Hitler after the latter had received confi­den­tial reports that the 76‑year-old Hunga­rian head of state was secretly […]

18

LUFTWAFFE REQUIRES NEW GIANT TRANSPORTER

Berlin, Germany • October 18, 1940 On this date in 1940 German air­craft maker Messer­schmitt was given just 14 days to submit to the Luft­waffe a pro­po­sal for a large-capa­city troop- and cargo-carrying glider. A proto­type heavy-lift glider flew Febru­ary 25, 1941, pulled by several four-engine Junkers Ju 90s. The proto­type glider’s maiden flight encour­aged Messer­schmitt to enlarge […]

19

SOVIET REINFORCEMENTS BOLSTER MOSCOW’S DEFENSES

Moscow, Soviet Union • October 19, 1941 On this date in 1941, the day the official “state of siege” was declared in the Soviet capi­tal of Mos­cow, Red Army forces from the Soviet Far East and Sibe­ria began arriving on the Rus­sian Front. Soviet dicta­tor Joseph Stalin was con­vinced that evac­u­ating most of his troops […]

20

MACARTHUR: “I HAVE RETURNED!”

Leyte Island, the Philippines • October 20, 1944 On the same day (Japanese time) the forces of Imperial Japan struck Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in a sur­prise assault on U.S. mili­tary instal­lations, they struck the Amer­ican terri­tory of the Philip­pines. On May 6, 1942, Japan swept the last Amer­ican garri­son from the archi­pel­ago by cap­turing Correg­i­dor Island, […]

21

SKORZENY TO HEAD ARDENNES SABOTAGE UNIT

Wolf’s Lair HQ, East Prussia, Germany • October 21, 1944 On this date in 1944 Adolf Hitler summoned SS-Obersturm­bann­fuehrer (Lt. Gen.) Otto Skor­zeny to Fuehrer head­quarters deep in the East Prus­sian wilder­niss near Rasten­berg (present-day Kętrzyn, Poland). The scar-faced 6-ft, 4-in Skor­zeny had made a name for him­self par­ti­ci­pa­ting in a derring-do opera­tion that succeeded in rescuing […]

22

YUGOSLAVS RECLAIM BELGRADE FROM NAZIS

Belgrade, Yugoslavia • October 22, 1944 By late March 1941 Yugoslavia, a multiethnic nation of 15.5 mil­lion people in Central and South­east Europe, was surrounded on all sides by Axis-aligned nations with the excep­tion of Greece to its south. Roma­nia and Hun­gary had joined Yugo­slavia’s neighbor to the west, Italy, in the Tripar­tite Pact in late […]

23

HUGE NAVAL BATTLES IN AND AROUND LEYTE GULF

Off the Coast of Leyte Island, the Philippines • October 23, 1944 Allied campaigns from August 1942 to early 1944 had driven Japa­nese forces from many of their South and Central Pacific island bases, while iso­lating many of their other bases in the same area. The Allies by­passed a few Japa­nese bases like Rota in the […]

24

HITLER, PÉTAIN MEET, PLEDGE COOPERATION

Montoire, Occupied France • October 24, 1940 After failing the day before to convince Spanish dictator Fran­cisco Franco to bring his coun­try into the war on the Axis side, Adolf Hitler met with 84-year-old Maréchal (Marshal) Philippe Pétain, respected French mili­tary leader (“Victor of Verdun”) and now head of state (chef de l’État Fran­çais), and […]

25

BATTLE OF SURIGAO STRAIT CLEAR U.S. VICTORY

Surigao Strait, Philippines • October 25, 1944 In the lightless hours on this date, October 25, 1945, two elderly Japa­nese battle­ships—Fuso and Yama­shiro—escorted by heavy cruiser Mogami and four destroyers, steamed into what would become one of the most lop-sided battles in naval history. The war­ships made up half the Impe­rial Japa­nese Navy’s southern strike […]

26

LAWYER HANS FRANK TO HEAD OCCUPIED POLAND

Berlin, Germany • October 26, 1939 On this date in 1939 in Poland, 56 days after Germany invaded that coun­try, Dr. Hans Frank, Germany’s chief jurist and one of the most vicious pro­ducts of Nazism, was appointed Gover­nor-Gen­er­al of the Gen­er­al Govern­ment—that half of Nazi-occu­pied Poland not directly incor­por­ated into the Reich. It included much of […]

27

MUSSOLINI’S FASCISTS INTIMIDATE GOVERNMENT, KING

Milan, Italy • October 27, 1922 On this date in 1922 in Italy, riots instigated by Benito Mussolini’s National Fascist Party (Partito Nazion­ale Fas­cista) erupted in sev­er­al Ital­ian towns. The Fas­cists called on the national govern­ment to resign. The next day four columns of Mus­so­lini’s para­military insur­gents, Black­shirts (Camicie nere) or squadristi as they were […]

28

ITALIAN ATTACK ON GREECE STUNS HITLER

Rome, Italy • October 28, 1940 In early October 1940 Romanian strongman Gen. Ion Antonescu gave Adolf Hitler per­mis­sion for the German Wehr­macht (armed forces) to occupy his coun­try. Hitler’s Axis part­ner Benito Mus­so­lini was caught off guard by the news, and the Ital­ian public reacted nega­tively. For years the Ital­ian dicta­tor and his country­men […]

29

U.S. SEA MINING TARGETS JAPANESE SHIPS

Honolulu, Hawaii • October 29, 1943 In World War II’s Pacific Theater, sea mines—explosive under­water devices that damaged, sank, or deter­red Japa­nese war­ships, sub­marines, and mari­time com­merce—were wea­pons that had dif­ficulty gaining the same respect as guns, bombs, and tor­pe­does enjoyed in the U.S. ar­senal. Over time, how­ever, a small number of mining advo­cates in […]

30

AUSCHWITZ GAS CHAMBERS SHUT DOWN

Auschwitz-Birkenau, Occupied Poland • October 30, 1944 On this date in 1944 in Poland, the last murders by poison gas took place at the Nazis’ largest and argu­ably most in­famous death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau (Polish, Oświęcim), one of eight camps used for mass murder during World War II. (Six were in what is today Poland, one in […]

31

ROOSEVELT NAMES WEDEMEYER TO REPLACE STILWELL

Chungking, China • October 31, 1944 The war against the Japanese in China was desultory at best, and ser­vice in that thea­ter was viewed as a grave­yard by U.S. mili­tary and diplo­matic offi­cials. On this date, October 31, 1944, Maj. Gen. Albert Wede­meyer arrived to replace dis­missed Gen. Joseph (“Vinegar Joe”) Stil­well as com­mander of the China […]

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