Project 60: A Day-by-Day Diary of WWII 

Remembering the First Fight Against Fascism

Ten months after the raid, the dry-dock at St.Nazaire is still wrecked. The gate is still missing (left) and sand piled in the entrance. Campbeltown still sits in the middle of the dock, having been washed there when her bow was blown off.  

March 24, 1942

The British Government refuses to hold an inquiry into the loss of Singapore during a Lords debate.

The Japanese begin an intensive bombing campaign of Bataan and Corregidor. General Homma's 14th Army receives reinforcement ready for its final offensive against the Bataan and Corregidor. This takes the form of the Japanese 4th Division, which has been shipped from Shanghai.

Chinese and Burmese forces in the Toungoo area are surrounded and supporting forces forced back to the Irrawaddy River as Japanese forces continue to advance.

Return to the top

March 25, 1942

Attacks by Japanese forces inflict heavy losses against the Chinese 200th Division surrounded at Toungoo.

One-thousand Jews from Tarnopol arrive at Belzec. The death camp is fully operational.

Return to the top

March 26, 1942  

Japanese forces capture most of Toungoo.

The first ?special train? of Jews, 999 Slovenian women, arrives at Auschwitz.

Return to the top

March 27, 1942

Chinese forces rally and hold on at Toungoo.

The first contingent of French Jews, 1112 men and women, arrives at Auschwitz.

Return to the top

March 28 1942

British commandos raid the port facilities at St. Nazaire. The purpose of the daring raid was to destroy the lock at the port, the only one capable of providing shelter to the battleship Tirpitz. By wrecking the port, Tirpitz could not operate in the Atlantic. A force of 210 men in 18 small craft and the ex-US destroyer Campbeltown, headed to the port. The keystone of the plan was to ram Campbeltown into the dock gate and flood the lock system. At 0120, the lead gunboat was spotted and the floatilla was flooded with light. The British attempted to bluff their way with confusing signals and false colors, but the Germans were not fooled for long and opened fire at 0128. Campbeltown, under intense fire and taking heavy casualties stormed through the smoke and confusion and rammed the gate, buckling 35 feet of her bow. The commandos scrambled ashore and started setting charges throughout the facility. A wild melee started throughout the town. Shortly after 0200, the charges were detonated and the facility destroyed. The commandos regrouped for the withdraw only to find that their transports were largely destroyed during the fight. The commandos were stranded, most were killed or captured. The next morning, the commander of the Campteltown was being berated by his interigators for thinking that a destroyer could damage the heavy lock gates. A short time later, the delayed charges blew and the lock was utterly destroyed. Delayed charges continued t odetonate for several days. The raid, although heavy in losses, did succeed. Tirpitz would never enter the waters of the Atlantic.

Under the new tactical doctrine of area saturation bombing, introduced by Air Vice Marshal Harris, the RAF launches a heavy incendiary attack (234 bombers) against L?beck on the Baltic that devastates 265 acres of the city.

The defenders of Bataan began slaughtering horses and mules to provide food for the troops as the Japanese blockade prevented any resupply.

Von Ribbentrop delivers a proposal for the Japanese to attack Russia in the Far East in conjunction with the planned ?crushing blow? by the Germans. Japan was not impressed.

Return to the top

March 29, 1942

Escorts of the Arctic convoy, beat off  a German destroyer attack, sinking U-26, and succeeded in reaching the port of Murmansk.

The text of the "Draft Declaration of Discussion, with Indian Leaders," taken to India by Sir Stafford Cripps was published simultaneously in India and Great Britain. The British Government had decided to lay down in clear terms the steps to be taken for the earliest possible realization of self-?government in India. "The object is the creation of a new Indian union which shall constitute a Dominion, associated with the United Kingdom and the other Dominions by a common allegiance to the Crown but equal to them in every respect, in no way subordinate in any aspect of its domestic or external affairs??

The Chinese defenders at Toungoo withdrew from the area, giving the town to the Japanese.

Return to the top

March 30, 1942

Japanese forces in Burma broke through the allied defenses at Prome.

Return to the top

1941 Archive:
June | July | August | September | October | November | December

1942 Archive:
  January |  February

Special Editions:
Pearl Harbor

Editor's Corner Archive:

Afghanistan and Vietnam: When the ?war against terrorism? began, many knowledgeable people warned that our operations in Afghanistan would turn into another Vietnam.

Want to Win - Think Before You Lash Out - "If we are serious about taking the war to the enemy, it is time to look ..."

The First Fight Against Fascism - We must remember the Spanish Civil War also.

Arguing Victory - "... Each nation who fought against fascist tyranny in WWII brought with it part of whole needed to defeat that evil..." 

War, Glory, Honor and Remembrance - "War is a brutal and savage insult on human society..."

The First Casualty... in time of war, those in power are even more inclined to hide the truth, since that truth is often manifest in the most gruesome and terrible acts.  

Those wishing to contribute items. stories or comments should contact D.A. Friedrichs

Editor's Corner 

The items found in this section are comments from the editors of Project 60 and may not necessarily reflect the opinions of bartcop.

Even the Army Tells the Truth - Once in a While

Information, good, thoughtful and accurate information, is often hard to come by in this day and age. But every once in a while, a group will immerge which provides that need to the people. The publishers of  Parameters is one such group.

Parameters is the quarterly journal of the U.S. Army War College. Their stated mission is to provide,

?a forum for mature professional thought on the art and science of land warfare, joint and combined matters, national and international security affairs, military strategy, military leadership and management, military history, military ethics, and other topics of significant and current interest to the US Army and the Department of Defense.?

To a large extent, they do just what they say they will do, providing intelligent and often critical commentary on their profession. This is not the typical propaganda we have come to expect from our daily Pentagon news briefs or political nonsense from a never-ending stream of Republican chickenhawks. These are the thoughts of professionals, striving to make their profession function better.

In the Spring 2002 issue, there is an interesting article by Michael A. Carlino entitled ?The Moral Limits of Strategic Attack?. Carlino writes,

??the prevailing view is that American lives are somehow more important. That view, however, is misguided. A military commander is morally obligated to do as much as he can to preserve the lives of all noncombatants, even if significantly increasing the risk to his own soldiers. This does not necessitate fighting a war devoid of noncombatant casualties--that may well be virtually impossible--nor does it mean that winning is unachievable. Wars can still be fought and won; however, the moral import of noncombatant immunity demands a shift in the current conception of force protection.?

Seldom have truer words been spoken.

Carlino presents a commentary on the concept of ?force protection? as a military goal and concludes, 

??the commander?s duty to minimize the harm that comes to his soldiers in combat is of tremendous pragmatic import, but it is not a stringent moral obligation. Ultimately, mission must come first, and the safety of each individual soldier comes second.?

He goes on to discuss ?mission? and introduces the idea, that underlying all missions are the protection of the values of the nation for which the combatant is fighting. One of the universal principles of the United States is the right of the individual to life. Therefore, concludes Carlino, the preservation of the lives of innocents is a mission requirement at all times for our military and concludes,

??all moral agents possess the inalienable right to life, regardless of whether they are citizens of the United States or an enemy state. This does not mean that a person cannot forfeit the right? voluntary combatants give up at least a part of their right to life--the right not to be killed by other combatants--in order to gain the right to kill. In contrast, noncombatants do not participate in any such exchange, and their right to life remains inalienable and stringent. Given this difference, the noncombatant is not subject to direct attack, being targeted or intentionally harmed by combatants.

? Hence, a combatant is obligated to respect the rights of all noncombatants. Combatants are morally obligated to respect the stringency of noncombatants? right to life and must never intend to harm them or use them solely as a means to an end. This obligation is particularly poignant for US soldiers. The values that US soldiers fight for are not simply constrained or applicable to their own citizens but are liberal democratic ideals that apply to all people. The Constitution rests on this very premise. So, any war involving the United States ultimately centers on the advancement of such ideals; any fight for the United States against a state that is not ?well-ordered? is a fight for basic rights--including the right to life--for not only its own citizens but those of the enemy state as well.? 

The ultimate conclusion then is that the concept of ?force protection? takes a back seat to minimizing ?noncombatant casualties?. If this is not the case, we deny those fundamental values that we supposedly fight for.

US Air Force doctrine since operation Desert Storm has centered around the concept of destroying the enemy?s ?centers of gravity" ? denying the enemy freedom of action through destruction of leadership, communications and transportation infrastructure. 

In a "just war", targeting considerations are based on four basic requirements ? legitimacy (is the target valid), effect (are the results of a successful mission worth the effort), intent (is the destruction of the target moral), proportionality (do potential ?collateral damage? effects outweigh the level of effort required). This concept is in direct conflict with stated doctrine and politically defined missions in our recent commitments in the United States.

After a great deal of discussion on these factors, Carlino brings forward an interesting comparison between terrorism and strategic bombing, stating,

??terrorism is condemned as immoral because of its indiscriminate nature, which causes foreseeable, innocent noncombatant deaths. In other words, terrorism harms innocents as a direct means to effect its end. Even if the terrorists? cause is considered in some instances to be worthy and good, terrorism, as a means, remains unpalatable, because the terrorist attempts to achieve expediency by placing his goal ahead of his moral responsibility to innocents. 

The terrorist?s response would be that his seemingly evil methods, though drastic, are in fact justified, because they are the only ones available in the given situation. Such a claim is unacceptable. Even a good cause does not justify the use of any possible method to achieve it. ? The fact is that other means are always available. ? terrorism is not the only recourse, as the terrorist claims. The reality is that the terrorist is unwilling to assume risk and instead transfers it to innocents?

Interestingly, however, the moral condemnation that applies to the terrorist differs only in degree, not kind, ? regarding the current practice involving foreseeable deaths [from strategic bombing]. ? breaking the will of an enemy through strategic attack has no more moral legitimacy than terrorism if it capitalizes on the innocent."

Carlino concludes his discussion with several recommendations. He indicates that if we are to fight a ?just war?, our political leaders need to de-emphasize zero-casualty wars. Political leaders need to better articulate national goals so that everyone is cognizant that this is important and worth doing even with losses. Also, until bombing can be as discriminate as the soldier on the ground, military leaders must shift to the ?smarter weapon? to avoid mistakes.

The article concludes by saying,

?Integrity demands not the obtaining of an end, but the rightness of the means. Integrity thus precludes foreseeable deaths as accidental and unintended, because it demands right action regardless of the consequences involved. Integrity also entails selflessness in soldiers, since fulfilling their moral obligations inherently shifts risk onto themselves. Such must be the nature of the true military professional. If we cannot prosecute a war justly, then the war should not be fought. To do otherwise is a compromise of integrity and directly contradicts the very reasons for fighting.?

That pretty much covers it.

D. A. Friedrichs

Read the Carlino article by following this link.


Privacy Policy
. .