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WWII History for May 13

Today in WWII History

World War II History for May 13

Winston Churchill in Helmet

Winston Churchill in Helmet

May 13, 1940 – Winston Churchill told Britain’s Parliament that “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.”

Winston Churchill “blood, toil, tears, and sweat” speech (May 13, 1940)

May 13, 1944 – Adolf Hitler gave permission for a full Germany withdrawal from the U.S.S.R.

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Posted by on May 13, 2011 in Europe Theater, Images, Media, Podcast

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Fireside Chat On Battle Of The Bulge

[Audio History] 1945-01-06 FDR Fireside Chat On Battle Of The Bulge

“Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States…

FDR Fireside Chat Ladies and gentlemen,

Today in pursuance of my constitutional duty, I sent to the Congress a message on the State of the Union, and this evening I am taking the opportunity to repeat to you some parts of that message:

This war must be waged, it is being waged, to the greatest and most insistent intensity. Everything we are, everything we have, is at stake. Everything we are, and have, will be given. We have no question of the ultimate victory, we have no question of the cost. Our losses will be heavy, but we and our allies will go on fighting together to total victory.

We have seen a year marked on the whole by substantial progress toward victory, even though the year ended with a setback for our arms. When the Germans launched a ferocious counterattack into Luxembourg and Belgium with the obvious objectives of cutting our line in the center.

Our men have fought with indescribable and unforgettable gallantry under most difficult conditions. The high tide of this German attack was reached two days after Christmas. Since then we have reassumed the offensive. We have rescued the isolated garrison at Bastogne and forced a German withdrawal along most of the line of the salient.

The speed with which we have recovered from this savage attack was possible primarily because we have one supreme commander in complete control of all the allied armies in France. General Eisenhower has faced this period of trial with admirable calm and resolution and is steadily increasing success.”

This the text of the first 2 minutes of the fireside chat given by Franklin D. Roosevelt after he delivered his State of the Union to Congress on 06 January 1945 covering the war and the Battle of the Bulge.

(Transcribed by S. Terjeson)

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Winston Churchill – The Few – Speech

Winston Churchill “The Few” Speech
House of Commons – August 20, 1940

Almost a year has passed since the war began, and it is natural for us, I think, to pause on our journey at this milestone and survey the dark, wide field. It is also useful to compare the first year of this second war against German aggression with its forerunner a quarter of a century ago. Although this war is in fact only a continuation of the last, very great differences in its character are apparent. In the last war millions of men fought by hurling enormous masses of steel at one another. “Men and shells” was the cry, and prodigious slaughter was the consequence. In this war nothing of this kind has yet appeared. It is a conflict of strategy, of organization, of technical apparatus, of science, mechanics and morale. The British casualties in the first 12 months of the Great War amounted to 365,000. In this war, I am thankful to say, British killed, wounded, prisoners and missing, including civilians, do not exceed 92,000, and of these a large proportion are alive as prisoners of war. Looking more widely around, one may say that throughout all Europe, for one man killed or wounded in the first year perhaps five were killed or wounded in 1914-15.

The slaughter is only a small fraction, but the consequences to the belligerents have been even more deadly. We have seen great countries with powerful armies dashed out of coherent existence in a few weeks. We have seen the-French Republic and the renowned French Army beaten into complete and total submission with less than the casualties which they suffered in any one of half a dozen of the battles of 1914-18. The entire body-it might almost seem at times the soul-of France has succumbed to physical effects incomparably less terrible than those which were sustained with fortitude and undaunted will power 25 years ago. Although up to the present the loss of life has been mercifully diminished, the decisions reached in the course of the struggle are even more profound upon the fate of nations than anything that has ever happened since barbaric times. Moves are made upon the scientific and strategic boards, advantages are gained by mechanical means, as a result of which scores of millions of men become incapable of further resistance, or judge themselves incapable of further resistance, and a fearful game of chess proceeds from check to mate by which the unhappy players seem to be inexorably bound.

There is another more obvious difference from 1914. The whole of the warring nations are engaged, not only soldiers, but the entire population, men, women and children. The fronts are everywhere. The trenches are dug in the towns and streets. Every village is fortified. Every road is barred. The front line runs through the factories. The workmen are soldiers with different weapons but the same courage. These are great and distinctive changes from what many of us saw in the struggle of a quarter of a century ago. There seems to be every reason to believe that this new kind of war is well suited to the genius and the resources of the British nation and the British Empire; and that, once we get properly equipped and properly started, a war of this kind will be more favorable to us than the somber mass slaughters of the Somme and Passchendaele. If it is a case of the whole nation fighting and suffering together, that ought to suit us, because we are the most united of all the nations, because we entered the war upon the national will and with our eyes open, and because we have been nurtured in freedom and individual responsibility and are the products, not of totalitarian uniformity, but of tolerance and variety. If all these qualities are turned, as they are being turned, to the arts of war, we may be able to show the enemy quite a lot of things that they have not thought of yet. Since the Germans drove the Jews out and lowered their technical standards, our science is definitely ahead of theirs. Our geographical position, the command of the sea, and the friendship of the United States enable us to draw resources from the whole world and to manufacture weapons of war of every kind, but especially of the superfine kinds, on a scale hitherto practiced only by Nazi Germany.

Hitler is now sprawled over Europe. Our offensive springs are being slowly compressed, and we must resolutely and methodically prepare ourselves for the campaigns of 1941 and 1942. Two or three years are not a long time, even in our short, precarious lives. They are nothing in the history of the nation, and when we are doing the finest thing in the world, and have the honor to be the sole champion of the liberties of all Europe, we must not grudge these years or weary as we toil and struggle through them. It does not follow that our energies in future years will be exclusively confined to defending ourselves and our possessions. Many opportunities may lie open to amphibious power, and we must be ready to take advantage of them. One of the ways to bring this war to a speedy end is to convince the enemy, not by words, but by deeds, that we have both the will and the means, not only to go on indefinitely, but to strike heavy and unexpected blows. The road to victory may not be so long as we expect. But we have no right to count upon this. Be it long or short, rough or smooth, we mean to reach our journey’s end.

It is our intention to maintain and enforce a strict blockade, not only of Germany, but of Italy, France, and all the other countries that have fallen into the German power. I read in the papers that Herr Hitler has also proclaimed a strict blockade of the British Islands. No one can complain of that. I remember the Kaiser doing it in the last war. What indeed would be a matter of general complaint would be if we were to prolong the agony of all Europe by allowing food to come in to nourish the Nazis and aid their war effort, or to allow food to go in to the subjugated peoples, which certainly would be pillaged off them by their Nazi conquerors.

There have been many proposals, founded on the highest motives, that food should be allowed to pass the blockade for the relief of these populations. I regret that we must refuse these requests. The Nazis declare that they have created a new unified economy in Europe. They have repeatedly stated that they possess ample reserves of food and that they can feed their captive peoples. In a German broadcast oL27th June it was said that while Mr. Hoover’s plan for relieving France, Belgium and Holland deserved commendation, the German forces had already taken the necessary steps. We know that in Norway when the German troops went in, there were food supplies to last for a year. We know that Poland, though not a rich country, usually produces sufficient food for her people. Moreover, the other countries which Herr Hitler has invaded all held considerable stocks when the Germans entered and are themselves, in many cases, very substantial food producers. If all this food is not available now, it can only be because it has been removed to feed the people of Germany and to give them increased rations-for a change-during the last few months. At this season of the year and for some months to come, there is the least chance of scarcity as the harvest has just been gathered in. The only agencies which can create famine in any part of Europe, now and during the coming winter, will be German exactions or German failure to distribute the supplies which they command.

There is another aspect. Many of the most valuable foods are essential to the manufacture of vital war material. Fats are used to make explosives. Potatoes make the alcohol for motor spirit. The plastic materials now so largely used in the construction of aircraft are made of milk. If the Germans use these commodities to help them to bomb our women and children, rather than to feed the populations who produce them, we may be sure that imported foods would go the same way, directly or indirectly, or be employed to relieve the enemy of the responsibilities he has so wantonly assumed. Let Hitler bear his responsibilities to the full, and let the peoples of Europe who groan beneath his yoke aid in every way the coming of the day when that yoke will be broken. Meanwhile, we can and we will arrange in advance for the speedy entry of food into any part of the enslaved area, when this part has been wholly cleared of German forces, and has genuinely regained its freedom. We shall do our best to encourage the building up of reserves of food all over the world, so that there will always be held up before the eyes of the peoples of Europe, including-I say deliberately-the German and Austrian peoples, the certainty that the shattering of the Nazi power will bring to them all immediate food, freedom and peace.

Rather more than a quarter of a year has passed since the new Government came into power in this country. What a cataract of disaster has poured out upon us since then! The trustful Dutch overwhelmed; their beloved and respected Sovereign driven into exile; the peaceful city of Rotterdam the scene of a massacre as hideous and brutal as anything in the Thirty Years’ War; Belgium invaded and beaten down; our own fine Expeditionary Force, which King Leopold called to his rescue, cut off and almost captured, escaping as it seemed only by a miracle and with the loss of all its equipment; our Ally, France, out; Italy in against us; all France in the power of the enemy, all its arsenals and vast masses of military material converted or convertible to the enemy’s use; a puppet Government set up at Vichy which may at any moment be forced to become our foe; the whole western seaboard of Europe from the North Cape to the Spanish frontier in German hands; all the ports, all the airfields on this immense front employed against us as potential springboards of invasion. Moreover, the German air power, numerically so far outstripping ours, has been brought so close to our Island that what we used to dread greatly has come to pass and the hostile bombers not only reach our shores in a few minutes and from many directions, but can be escorted by their fighting aircraft. Why, Sir, if we had been confronted at the beginning of May with such a prospect, it would have seemed incredible that at the end of a period of horror and disaster, or at this point in a period of horror and disaster, we should stand erect, sure of ourselves, masters of our fate and with the conviction of final victory burning unquenchable in our hearts. Few would have believed we could survive; none would have believed that we should today not only feel stronger but should actually be stronger than we have ever been before.

Let us see what has happened on the other side of the scales. The British nation and the British Empire, finding themselves alone, stood undismayed against disaster. No one flinched or wavered; nay, some who formerly thought of peace, now think only of war. Our people are united and resolved, as they have never been before. Death and ruin have become small things compared with the shame of defeat or failure in duty. We cannot tell what lies ahead. It may be that even greater ordeals lie before us. We shall face whatever is coming to us. We are sure of ourselves and of our cause, and that is the supreme fact which has emerged in these months of trial.

Meanwhile, we have not only fortified our hearts but our Island. We have rearmed and rebuilt our armies in a degree which would have been deemed impossible a few months ago. We have ferried across the Atlantic, in the month of July, thanks to our friends over there, an immense mass of munitions of all kinds: cannon, rifles, machine guns, cartridges and shell, all safely landed without the loss of a gun or a round. The output of our own factories, working as they have never worked before, has poured forth to the troops. The whole British Army is at home. More than 2,000,000 determined men have rifles and bayonets in their hands tonight, and three-quarters of them are in regular military formations. We have never had armies like this in our Island in time of war. The whole Island bristles against invaders, from the sea or from the air. As I explained to the House in the middle of June, the stronger our Army at home, the larger must the invading expedition be, and the larger the invading expedition, the less difficult will be the task of the Navy in detecting its assembly and in intercepting and destroying it in passage; and the greater also would be the difficulty of feeding and supplying the invaders if ever they landed, in the teeth of continuous naval and air attack on their communications. All this is classical and venerable doctrine. As in Nelson’s day, the maxim holds, “Our first line of defense is the enemy’s ports.” Now air reconnaissance and photography have brought to an old principle a new and potent aid.

Our Navy is far stronger than it was at the beginning of the war. The great flow of new construction set on foot at the outbreak is now beginning to come in. We hope our friends across the ocean will send us a timely reinforcement to bridge the gap between the peace flotillas of 1939 and the war flotillas of 1941. There is no difficulty in sending such aid. The seas and oceans are open. The U-boats are contained. The magnetic mine is, up to the present time, effectively mastered. The merchant tonnage under the British flag, after a year of unlimited U-boat war, after eight months of intensive mining attack, is larger than when we began. We have, in addition, under our control at least 4,000,000 tons of shipping from the captive countries which has taken refuge here or in the harbors of the Empire. Our stocks of food of all kinds are far more abundant than in the days of peace, and a large and growing program of food production is on foot.

Why do I say all this? Not, assuredly, to boast; not, assuredly, to give the slightest countenance to complacency. The dangers we face are still enormous, but so are our advantages and resources. I recount them because the people have a right to know that there are solid grounds for the confidence which we feel, and that we have good reason to believe ourselves capable, as I said in a very dark hour two months ago, of continuing the war “if necessary alone, if necessary for years.” I say it also because the fact that the British Empire stands invincible, and that Nazidom is still being resisted, will kindle again the spark of hope in the breasts of hundreds of millions of down-trodden or despairing men and women throughout Europe, and far beyond its bounds, and that from these sparks there will presently come cleansing and devouring flame.

The great air battle which has been in progress over this Island for the last few weeks has recently attained a high intensity. It is too soon to attempt to assign limits either to its scale or to its duration. We must certainly expect that greater efforts will be made by the enemy than any he has so far put forth. Hostile air fields are still being developed in France and the Low Countries, and the movement of squadrons and material for attacking us is still proceeding. It is quite plain that Herr Hitler could not admit defeat in his air attack on Great Britain without sustaining most serious injury. If after all his boastings and bloodcurdling threats and lurid accounts trumpeted round the world of the damage he has inflicted, of the vast numbers of our Air Force he has shot down, so he says, with so little loss to himself; if after tales of the panic-stricken British crushed in their holes cursing the plutocratic Parliament which has led them to such a plight-if after all this his whole air onslaught were forced after a while tamely to peter out, the Fuhrer’s reputation for veracity of statement might be seriously impugned. We may be sure, therefore, that he will continue as long as he has the strength to do so, and as long as any preoccupations he may have in respect of the Russian Air Force allow him to do so.

On the other hand, the conditions and course of the fighting have so far been favorable to us. I told the House two months ago that, whereas in France our fighter aircraft were wont to inflict a loss of two or three to one upon the Germans, and in the fighting at Dunkirk, which was a kind of no-man’s-land, a loss of about three or four to one, we expected that in an attack on this Island we should achieve a larger ratio. This has certainly come true. It must also be remembered that all the enemy machines and pilots which are shot down over our Island, or over the seas which surround it, are either destroyed or captured; whereas a considerable proportion of our machines, and also of our pilots, are saved, and soon again in many cases come into action.

A vast and admirable system of salvage, directed by the Ministry of Aircraft Production, ensures the speediest return to the fighting line of damaged machines, and the most provident and speedy use of all the spare parts and material. At the same time the splendid-nay, astounding-increase in the output and repair of British aircraft and engines which Lord Beaverbrook has achieved by a genius of organization and drive, which looks like magic, has given us overflowing reserves of every type of aircraft, and an ever-mounting stream of production both in quantity and quality. The enemy is, of course, far more numerous than we are. But our new production already, as I am advised, largely exceeds his, and the American production is only just beginning to flow in. It is a fact, as I see from my daily returns, that our bomber and fighter strength now, after all this fighting, are larger than they have ever been. We believe that we shall be able to continue the air struggle indefinitely and as long as the enemy pleases, and the longer it continues the more rapid will be our approach, first towards that parity, and then into that superiority, in the air upon which in a large measure the decision of the war depends.

The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and b~ their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. All hearts go out to the fighter pilots, whose brilliant actions we see with our own eyes day after day; but we must never forget that all the time, night after night, month after month, our bomber squadrons travel far into Germany, find their targets in the darkness by the highest navigational skill, aim their attacks, often under the heaviest fire, often with serious loss, with deliberate careful discrimination, and inflict shattering blows upon the whole of the technical and war-making structure of the Nazi power. On no part of the Royal Air Force does the weight of the war fall more heavily than on the daylight bombers, who will play an invaluable part in the case of invasion and whose unflinching zeal it has been necessary in the meanwhile on numerous occasions to restrain.

We are able to verify the results of bombing military targets in Germany, not only by reports which reach us through many sources, but also, of course, by photography. I have no hesitation in saying that this process of bombing the military industries and communications of Germany and the air bases and storage depots from which we are attacked, which process will continue upon an ever-increasing scale until the end of the war, and may in another year attain dimensions hitherto undreamed of, affords one at least of the most certain, if not the shortest, of all the roads to victory. Even if the Nazi legions stood triumphant on the Black Sea, or indeed upon the Caspian, even if Hitler was at the gates of India, it would profit him nothing if at the same time the entire economic and scientific apparatus of German war power lay shattered and pulverized at home.

The fact that the invasion of this Island upon a large scale has become a far more difficult operation with every week that has passed since we saved our Army at Dunkirk, and our very great preponderance of sea power enable us to turn our eyes and to turn our strength increasingly towards the Mediterranean and against that other enemy who, without the slightest provocation, coldly and deliberately, for greed and gain, stabbed France in the back in the moment of her agony, and is now marching against us in Africa. The defection of France has, of course, been deeply damaging to our position in what is called, somewhat oddly, the Middle East. In the defense of Somaliland, for instance, we had counted upon strong French forces attacking the Italians from Jibuti. We had counted also upon the use of the French naval and air bases in the Mediterranean, and particularly upon the North African shore. We had counted upon the French Fleet. Even though metropolitan France was temporarily overrun, there was no reason why the French Navy, substantial parts of the French Army, the French Air Force and the French Empire overseas should not have continued the struggle at our side.

Shielded by overwhelming sea power, possessed of invaluable strategic bases and of ample funds, France might have remained one of the great combatants in the struggle. By so doing, France would have preserved the continuity of her life, and the French Empire might have advanced with the British Empire to the rescue of the independence and integrity of the French Motherland. In our own case, if we had been put in the terrible position of France, a contingency now happily impossible, although, of course, it would have been the duty of all war leaders to fight on here to the end, it would also have been their duty, as I indicated in my speech of 4th June, to provide as far as possible for the Naval security of Canada and our Dominions and to make sure they had the means to carry on the struggle from beyond the oceans. Most of the other countries that have been overrun by Germany for the time being have persevered valiantly and faithfully. The Czechs, the Poles, the Norwegians, the Dutch, the Belgians are still in the field, sword in hand, recognized by Great Britain and the United States as the sole representative authorities and lawful Governments of their respective States.

That France alone should lie prostrate at this moment is the crime, not of a great and noble nation, but of what are called “the men of Vichy.” We have profound sympathy with the French people. Our old comradeship with France is not dead. In General de Gaulle and his gallant band, that comradeship takes an effective form. These free Frenchmen have been condemned to death by Vichy, but the day will come, as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow, when their names will be held in honor, and their names will be graven in stone in the streets and villages of a France restored in a liberated Europe to its full freedom and its ancient fame. But this conviction which I feel of the future cannot affect the immediate problems which confront us in the Mediterranean and in Africa. It had been decided some time before the beginning of the war not to defend the Protectorate of Somaliland. That policy was changed in the early months of the war. When the French gave in, and when our small forces there, a few battalions, a few guns, were attacked by all the Italian troops, nearly two divisions, which had formerly faced the French at Jibuti, it was right to withdraw our detachments, virtually intact, for action elsewhere. Far larger operations no doubt impend in the Middle East theater, and I shall certainly not attempt to discuss or prophesy about their probable course. We have large armies and many means of reinforcing them. We have the complete sea command of the eastern Mediterranean. We intend to do our best to give a good account of ourselves, and to discharge faithfully and resolutely all our obligations and duties in that quarter of the world. More than that I do not think the House would wish me to say at the present time.

A good many people have written to me to ask me to make on this occasion a fuller statement of our war aims, and of the kind of peace we wish to make after the war, than is contained in the very considerable declaration which was made early in the autumn. Since then we have made common cause with Norway, Holland and Belgium. We have recognized the Czech Government of Dr. Benes, and we have told General de Gaulle that our success will carry with it the restoration of France. I do not think it would be wise at this moment, while the battle rages and the war is still perhaps only in its earlier stage, to embark upon elaborate speculations about the future shape which should be given to Europe or the new securities which must be arranged to spare mankind the miseries of a third World War. The ground is not new, it has been frequently traversed and explored, and many ideas are held about it in common by all good men, and all free men. But before we can undertake the task of rebuilding we have not only to be convinced ourselves, but we have to convince all other countries that the Nazi tyranny is going to be finally broken

The right to guide the course of world history is the noblest prize of victory. We are still toiling up the hill; we have not yet reached the crest-line of it; we cannot survey the landscape or even imagine what its condition will be when that longed-for morning comes. The task which lies before us immediately is at once more practical, more simple and more stern. I hope-indeed, I pray-that we shall not be found unworthy of our victory if after toil and tribulation it is granted to us. For the rest, we have to gain the victory. That is our task.

There is, however, one direction in which we can see a little more clearly ahead. We have to think not only for ourselves but for the lasting security of the cause and principles for which we are fighting and of the long future of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Some months ago we came to the conclusion that the interests of the United States and of the British Empire both required that the United States should have facilities for the naval and air defense of the Western Hemisphere against the attack of a Nazi power which might have acquired temporary but lengthy control of a large part of Western Europe and its formidable resources. We had therefore decided spontaneously, and without being asked or offered any inducement, to inform the Government of the United States that we would be glad to place such defense facilities at their disposal by leasing suitable sites in our Transatlantic possessions for their greater security against the unmeasured dangers of the future. The principle of association of interests for common purposes between Great Britain and the United States had developed even before the war. Various agreements had been reached about certain small islands in the Pacific Ocean which had become important as air fueling points. In all this line of thought we found ourselves in very close harmony with the Government of Canada.

Presently we learned that anxiety was also felt in the United States about the air and naval defense of their Atlantic seaboard, and President Roosevelt has recently made it clear that he would like to discuss with us, and with the Dominion of Canada and with Newfoundland, the development of American naval and air facilities in Newfoundland and in the West Indies. There is, of course, no question of any transference of sovereignty-that has never been suggested-or of any action being taken without the consent or against the wishes of the various Colonies concerned; but for our part, His Majesty’s Government are entirely willing to accord defense facilities to the United States on a 99 years’ leasehold basis, and we feel sure that our interests no less than theirs, and the interests of the Colonies themselves and of Canada and Newfoundland, will be served thereby. These are important steps. Undoubtedly this process means that these two great organizations of the English-speaking democracies, the British Empire and the United States, will have to be somewhat mixed up together in some of their affairs for mutual and general one can stop it. Like the Mississippi, it just keeps rolling alone. Let it roll. Let it roll on full flood, view the process with any misgivings. I could not stop it if I wished; no one can stop it. Like the Mississippi, it just keeps rolling alone. Let it roll. Let it roll on full flood, inexorable, irresistible, benignant, to broader lands and better days.

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Posted by on August 20, 2010 in Europe Theater, Media, Podcast

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WWII History for June 4 – Battle of Midway

Today in WWII History – The Battle of Midway

World War II History for June 4

Audio: MBS News – The Battle of Midway 06.04.1942

Jun 04, 1940 “We must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of a victory. War’s are not won by evacuations.” – Winston Churchill – To Parliament

Jun 04, 1942 Battle of Midway

Jun 04, 1942 Battle of Midway – PBYs attack Occupation Force northwest of Midway; one PBY torpedoes fleet tanker Akebono Maru.

Jun 04, 1942 Battle of Midway – Japanese carrier fleet – Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, and Hiryu – sends its aircraft against defensive installations on Midway. Although defending USMC F2A’s and F4F’s suffer disastrous losses, damage to facilities on Midway is comparatively slight.

Jun 04, 1942 Battle of Midway – Japanese carrier fighters and antiaircraft fire annihilates the USMC SBD’s and SB2U’s, Navy’s new TBF’s, and USAAF torpedo-carrying B-26’s sent from Midway Island to attack the Japanese carriers. USAAF B-17’s likewise bomb the Japanese carrier force without success.

Jun 04, 1942 Battle of Midway – Concentrating on the destruction of Midway air forces, the Japanese carriers were caught unprepared for the U.S. carrier air attack.

Jun 04, 1942 Battle of Midway – Torpedo bombers (TBD’s) from American carrier striking force Hornet (CV-8), Enterprise (CV-6), and Yorktown (CV-5) attack the enemy carriers. Although mauled by the defending combat air patrol and antiaircraft fire, they draw off the former and leave the skies open for dive bombers (SBD’s) from Enterprise and Yorktown.

Jun 04, 1942 Battle of Midway – SBD’s from Enterprise sink carrier Kaga and bomb Akagi (flagship) SBD’s; SBD’s from Yorktown bomb and sink carrier Soryu.

Jun 04, 1942 Battle of Midway – Submarine Nautilus (SS-168) torpedoes carrier Kaga but her “fish” do not explode.

Jun 04, 1942 Battle of Midway – Hiryu escapes destruction that morning, launches dive bombers that temporarily disable Yorktown. Fletcher transfers flag to Astoria (CA-34) .

Jun 04, 1942 Battle of Midway – A second Japanese counter attack 2 hours later, damages Yorktown with bombs and torpedoes so severely that she was abandoned.

Jun 04, 1942 Battle of Midway – In the late afternoon, SBD’s from Enterprise, including Yorktown planes, hit the Japanese Force again, striking Hiryu, the fourth and last of the Japanese carriers.

Jun 04, 1942 Battle of Midway – TF-16 (Spruance) released at dusk.

Jun 04, 1942 Battle of Midway – With control of the air irretrievably lost, the Japanese are compelled to abandon Midway invasion plans and the invasion force retires westward.

Jun 04, 1942 – Jun 05, 1942 Battle of Midway – Overnight – Three Japanese fleets, with ten battleships, including Yamato, the world’s largest battleship, two escort carriers, cruisers, and destroyers race to engage the U.S. carriers.

Jun 04, 1942 – Jun 05, 1942 Battle of Midway – Overnight – The U.S. fleet withdraws till midnight, then returns to the protective air cover of Midway.

Jun 04, 1942 – Jun 05, 1942 Battle of Midway – Overnight – Finding nothing, the Japanese battle fleets also withdraws.

Jun 04, 1942 Battle of Midway – 4:1 win in favor of US

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Dunkirk – Operation Dynamo

May 26, 1940 – Jun 04, 1940
Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of Allied troops at Dunkirk began. In one of the most dramatic withdrawals in military history, a hastily assembled fleet of 861 ships and boats began pulling what was left of the trapped Allied armies off the beaches of Dunkirk. In a week, 224,585 British and 112,546 French and Belgians were taken to safety. About 40,000 Frenchmen were left behind. A total of 231 of the rescue vessels were sunk, mostly by the Luftwaffe, but German air strikes were restricted by bad weather and the tenacious fighters of the RAF. For all the glory that accompanied the gallant retreat, Dunkirk represented the nadir of the war for Britain. (More…)

May 26, 1940
Hitler after a critical two-day delay, ordered German troops to attack Dunkirk. The first units could not advance until late in the day, but the main force could not be organized until the following day. “By then,” said General Guderain, “it was too late to achieve a great victory.”


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Posted by on May 26, 2010 in Europe Theater, Images, Media, Podcast, Today

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World War II History for March 19

Today in WWII History

World War II History for March 19

Audio Clip: March 19, 1944 edition of CBS World News Today

19 Mar 1940 – The French government of Daladier fell.

19 Mar 1940 – 50 RAF bombers strike Hornum, the German seaplane base on the island of Sylt, but inflict no significant damage.

19 Mar 1941 – Admiral Raeder met with the Japanese ambassador in Berlin to discuss his desire for Japan to attack Singapore.

19 Mar 1945 – About 800 people were killed as Japanese kamikaze planes attacked the U.S. carrier Franklin off Japan.

19 Mar 1945 – Adolf Hitler issued his “Nero Decree” which ordered the destruction of German facilities that could fall into Allied hands as German forces were retreating.

19 Mar 1945 – General Fromm executed for plot against Hitler

On this day, the commander of the German Home Army, Gen. Friedrich Fromm, is shot by a firing squad for his part in the July plot to assassinate the Fuhrer, as portrayed in the movie Valkyrie. The fact that Fromm’s participation was half-hearted did not save him.

By 1945, many high-ranking German officials had made up their minds that Hitler must die. He was leading Germany in a suicidal war on two fronts, and they believed that assassination was the only way to stop him. According to the plan, coup d’etat would follow the assassination, and a new government in Berlin would save Germany from complete destruction at the hands of the Allies. All did not go according to plan, however. Col. Claus von Stauffenberg was given the task of planting a bomb during a conference that was to be held at Hitler’s holiday retreat, Berchtesgaden (but was later moved to Hitler’s headquarters at Rastenburg). Stauffenberg was chief of staff to Gen. Friedrich Fromm. Fromm, chief of the Home Army (composed of reservists who remained behind the front lines to preserve order at home), was inclined to the conspirators’ plot, but agreed to cooperate actively in the coup only if the assassination was successful.

On the night of July 20, Stauffenberg planted an explosive-filled briefcase under a table in the conference room at Rastenburg. Hitler was studying a map of the Eastern Front as Colonel Heinz Brandt, trying to get a better look at the map, moved the briefcase out of place, farther away from where the Fuhrer was standing. At 12:42 p.m. the bomb went off. When the smoke cleared, Hitler was wounded, charred, and even suffered the temporary paralysis of one arm-but was very much alive.

Meanwhile, Stauffenberg had made his way to Berlin to meet with his co-conspirators to carry out Operation Valkyrie, the overthrow of the central government. Once in the capital, General Fromm, who had been informed by phone that Hitler was wounded but still alive, ordered Stauffenberg and his men arrested, but Fromm was located and locked in an office by Nazi police. Stauffenberg and Gen. Friedrich Olbricht began issuing orders for the commandeering of various government buildings. Then the news came through from Herman Goering that Hitler was alive. Fromm, released from confinement by officers still loyal to Hitler, and anxious to have his own association with the conspirators covered up quickly, ordered the conspirators, including two Stauffenberg aides, shot for high treason that same day. (Gen. Ludwig Beck, one of the conspiracy leaders and an older man, was allowed the “dignity” of committing suicide.)

Fromm’s last-ditch effort to distance himself from the plot failed. Within the next few days, on order of Heinrich Himmler, who was now the new head of the Home Army, Fromm was arrested. In February 1945, he was tried before the People’s Court and denigrated for his cowardice in refusing to stand up to the plotters. But because he went so far as to execute Stauffenberg and his partners on the night of July 20, he was spared the worst punishment afforded convicted conspirators-strangulation on a meat hook. He was shot by a firing squad on March 19.[1]

[1] “General Fromm executed for plot against Hitler,” The History Channel website, (accessed Mar 19, 2009).

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World War II History for March 17

Today in WWII History

World War II History for March 17

*St. Patricks Day*

Audio Clip: CBS World News Today (03.14.1943)

17 Mar 1940 - Dr. Fritz Todt was appointed Germany’s Minister for Weapons and Munitions.

17 Mar 1941 – The US Senate begins debating the Lend-Lease bill.

17 Mar 1942 – United States assumes strategic defense of the Pacific Ocean.

17 Mar 1942 – MacArthur arrives Australia by B-17 during Japanese attack and became the Supreme Commander of the United Nations forces in the Southwestern Pacific.

17 Mar 1943 – British forces capture Medenine in Tunisia, but US and British forces in other North African fronts begin falling back in the face of heavy German armor attacks. The Mark IV tanks prove effective for the Germans since their introduction.

17 Mar 1944 – US forces bomb Vienna.

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Audio – Landing on Iwo Jima

Audio Clip: 02.19.1945 – Live Coverage Of U.S. Marines Landing On Iwo Jima

“The battle of Iwo Island has been won. The United States Marines by their individual and collective courage have conquered a base which is as necessary to us in our continuing forward movement toward final victory as it was vital to the enemy in staving off ultimate defeat.

By their victory, the 3rd, 4th and 5th Marine Divisions and other units of the Fifth Amphibious Corps have made an accounting to their country which only history will be able to value fully. Among the Americans who served on Iwo Island, uncommon valor was a common virtue.”

–Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

K-9 Marine Platoon on Iwo Jima
Members of the Marine Corps Dog platoon head to the front lines – great assets in this type of operation due to their ability to find snipers and as speedy messengers
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Audio – Battle for Iwo Jima

On 02.19.1945 at 0905 hrs, the first of 30,000 US Marines land on Iwo Jima.

Battle for Iwo Jima Photo Gallery

Audio Clip: Arthur Prim Reports the First Strikes on Iwo Jima

Amphibious Tractors landing on Iwo Jima Feb 1945
Amphibious Tractors landing on Iwo Jima Feb 1945

Iwo Jima, which means Sulfur Island, was strategically important as an air base for fighter escorts supporting long-range bombing missions against mainland Japan. Because of the distance between mainland Japan and U.S. bases in the Mariana Islands, the capture of Iwo Jima would provide an emergency landing strip for crippled B-29s returning from bombing runs. The seizure of Iwo would allow for sea and air blockades, the ability to conduct intensive air bombardment and to destroy the enemy’s air and naval capabilities.

Photo & Text source:

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Posted by on February 19, 2010 in Images, Media, Pacific Theater, Podcast, Today

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World War II History for February 19

Today in WWII History

World War II History for February 19

Audio Clip: 02.18.1943 Soong Mei-Ling Appeals to Congress to Aid Chinese Nationalists

02.19.1932 – The Sino-Japanese dispute was referred to the Assembly by the League of Nations Council.

02.19.1937 – An attempt was made in Addis Ababa to assassinate the Italian viceroy of Ethiopia, General Rodolfo Graziani. Though he was only wounded, the Italians launched large scale reprisals vowing to keep the Ethiopians in line.

02.19.1938 – The British Cabinet rejects Foreign Secretary Eden’s proposal to have Italian troops withdraw from Spain. Their hope was misplaced, believing that Italy would check any further advances by Germany (they had already occupied Austria).

02.19.1938 – Nazis were permitted to join the ruling party of Austria, the Fatherland Front.

02.19.1939 – A trade agreement was signed between the Soviet Union and Poland in an attempt to strengthen Poland as a buffer against Germany.

02.19.1940 – Ambassador Hull extends the US moral embargo to the Soviet Union.

02.19.1941 – The 8th Australian Division lands in Singapore.

02.19.1942 – Executive Order 9066 is signed by President Roosevelt, authorizing the transfer of more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans living in coastal Pacific areas to concentration camps in various inland states (and including inland areas of California). The interned Japanese-Americans lose an estimated 400 million dollars in property, as their homes and possessions are taken from them.

02.19.1942 – Japanese air raids on Darwin, Australia. Considered the “Pearl Harbor of Australia”, they largest attacks ever mounted by a foreign power against Australia. The raids were the first of almost 100 air raids against Australia during 1942-43.

02.19.1942 – Battle of Badoeng Strait begins; ABDA force attacks retiring Japanese Bali occupation force with 1 Dutch DD sunk, 2 CL and 1 DD damaged.

02.19.1942 – Mandalay came under aerial attack for the first time. Defending forces are ordered back from the Bilin River.

02.19.1942 – Japanese troops landed on the Portuguese island of Timor in the East Indies. Tokyo says the action is taken in self-defense and that its forces would withdraw when the area was secure. The neutral Portuguese accept the occupation.

02.19.1942 – Canada’s Parliament vote to begin military conscription.

02.19.1942 – The Supreme Court of Vichy France begin trials in Riom to establish responsibility for the defeat in 1940.

02.19.1943 – Allied defenses in Tunisia are restructured in the face of a deteriorating position. The Axis forces begin frontal assaults on American positions in the Kasserine Pass.

02.19.1943 – German Army Group South opens a counteroffensive toward Kharkov and Belgorod.

02.19.1944 – US forces land on Engebi Island, Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

02.19.1945 – Units of the US 8th Div begin encircling German troops trapped within the Siegfried Line.

02.19.1945 – Himmler makes his first peace overtures to Swedish Count Folke Bernadotte of the Red Cross.

02.19.1945 US troops land on Samar and Capul Islands in the Philippines.

02.19.1945 (0905 hrs) – The first of 30,000 US Marines land on Iwo Jima. /via World War II Database

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