The Mohne Dam after the "Dambuster Raid"

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

Remembering the First Fight Against Fascism

The "Memphis Belle" and her crew

May 11, 1943  

The US 7th Infantry Division lands on Attu Island in the Aleutians. The landings were made in dense fog which assisted in giving the Americans complete tactical surprise. Despite this, the 2500 Japanese defenders put up a very stiff resistance.

Churchill arrives in Washington for the TRIDENT Conference with Roosevelt.

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May 12, 1943

AXIS FORCES SURRENDER IN NORTH AFRICA - After three years of struggle, Allied forces liberate all of North Africa from the Axis powers. A quarter of a million troops 130,000 Germans and 120,000 Italians) surrendered in Tunisia, ending the campaign. General Jurgen von Arnim and 25 other generals were included in the tally of prisoners. General Gustav Fehn, the last commander of the vaunted 'Afrika Krops', sent this final message to higher authorities "Ammunition exhausted. Equipment destroyed. In accordance with orders received, the Afrika Korps has fought to the last man". General Alexander, in a message to Churchill wrote, "It is my duty to report that the Tunis campaign is over. All enemy resistance has ceased. We are masters of the North African shores."

With the approach of the monsoon season and continuing pressure from the Japanese against their exposed positions, British operations in the Arakan in Burma end with the abandonment of Maungdaw by the 26th Division and retreat to their start lines.  The division suffered 3,000 losses in the operation. Japanese losses were estimated at half that number.

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May 13, 1942

British officials announce that for the first time in the war, there are more German prisoners of war in the hand of the Allies than British prisoners in the hands of the Axis.

Allied forces launch a series of heavy bombing attacks on Pantelera Island (between Tunisia and Sicily) in preparation for the invasion of Sicily.

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May 14, 1943

The British and American Chiefs of Staff at the TRIDENT Conference approved operation Pontblank, the systematic strategic bombing of Germany. That very night, British bombers struck the Skoda munitions factory near Pilsen. The terror bombing did little real damage, but 9 bombers were lost in the raid.

Operation Mincemeat, the deception operation for the invasion of Sicily, bares fruit as the Germans reinforce their forces in Greece against the upcoming invasion, which, of course, would never come.

The clearly marked hospital ship Centaur, is torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine. 268 of those on board, many of them with severe wounds from previous combat, were killed.

The US 8th Air Force launches a large 125 bomber raid against the submarine pens at Kiel. The attack succeeded in destroying 3 U-boats.

German forces in the Leningrad area attempt to cut the land bridge to the city, but the operation falls apart quickly.

Fighting on the Aleutian island of Attu continues to be heavy as Japanese forces hold the US attackers at Massacre Bay.

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May 15, 1943

Hitler, worried over the potential for an Allied invasion of Italy (and the subsequent fall of Mussolini's regime), removes troops earmarked for the eastern front and Operation Citadel and sends them to Italy.

General Slim, one of the best in the British Army, takes command of the 14th Army in Burma.

Stalin dissolves the Komintern, the Communist International, who's mission was to obtain the worldwide revolution. He thought it might be good for relations with Churchill and Roosevelt.

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May 16, 1943

THE DAMBUSTER RAID - After 6 weeks of intensive training, 617 Squadron, lead by Wing Commander Guy Gibson, raids the power generating dams in the Ruhr.  Despite flying at extremely low level to avoid German night fighters, five bombers were destroyed and one other turned back with flak damage before reaching the target. One bomber turned back when a high wave tore the bomb from the belly. The twelve remaining planes headed for their targets. Five Lancaster hit and breached the Mohne Dam while three bombers struck and breached the Eder damn. Two planes hit the Sorpe Dam and one the Schwelme Dam but neither was breached. Three more bombers were downed on the return flight. The subsequent flooding caused severe damage and disrupted transportation routes. Civilian losses were estimated at 1,294 (859 people of Neheim-Husten were killed when the entire town was wiped out). Power supplies were disrupted to the local industry, and water was rationed in the area until the next winter, but little damage was done to factories. Gibson would be awarded the Victoria Cross for his gallantry during the mission.

The Germans declare operations in the Warsaw Ghetto at an end with the destruction of the Warsaw synagogue.

Operation Gypsy Baron starts as six German divisions (5 infantry and 1 panzer) make a partisan sweep through the Bryansk area. The attack would kill or capture 3,000 partisans but would not have any long-lasting effects on Soviet operations in the area. Further south, 17th Army launches attack out of the Kuban bridgehead. Little progress is made.

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May 17, 1943

A convoy of ships successfully traversed the Mediterranean Sea without meeting any enemy submarines or air attacks. This was the first convoy to do this since Italy joined the war in 1940.

The Germans launch Operation Schwarz, the fifth major attack on Tito's partisans. In all, 120,000 Axis forces are sent against 20,000 of Tito's troops.

The 17th Army continues it's attacks in the Kuban. Soviet defenses hold firm.

The 'Memphis Belle' returns from a raid on Lorient, France, finishing her 25th bombing mission with an intact crew. This was a first for a plane in the 8th Air Force. During the Belle's 10 months of combat, her crew shot down eight enemy fighters, probably destroyed five others, and damaged at least a dozen more, dropped more than 60 tons of bombs over Germany, France and Belgium, flew 148 hours, 50 minutes, and covered more than 20,000 combat miles. Although there were no major injuries in the crew, the plane had five engines shot out and on one mission, her tail was nearly shot away.

The Luftwaffe sent 89 bombers on a night air raid against Cardif in Wales.

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May 18, 1943

A new Japanese offensive began along the Yangtze River. The goal of the offensive was nothing less than the Chinese capital of Chunking 250 miles distant.

Japanese forces on Attu give ground as American forces prepare to drive toward Chicagof Harbor.

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May 19, 1943

Churchill addressed a joint session of the US congress saying that, "The enemy is still proud and powerful. He is hard to get at. He still possesses enormous armies, vast resources and invaluable strategic territories. But, there is one grave danger, the undue prolongation of the war No one can tell what new complications and perils might arise in four or five more years of war. And it is in the dragging-out of the war at enormous expense, until the democracies are tired or bored or split, that the main hopes of Germany and Japan must now reside."

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May 20, 1943

The US 10th Fleet is formed to contend with the German submarine threat in the Atlantic.

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May 21, 1943

Admiral Rene Godfroy, after having his crews back pay made good by the British, formally announces that his French naval units, interned at Alexandria, would join the Allied cause.

Heavy fighting continues between the Germans and Russians in the Kuban, and American and Japanese forces on Attu.

German forces launch a raid with Fulk-Wolfe 190 fighter-bombers against Malta.

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May 22, 1943

Heavy fighting continues between the Germans and Russians in the Kuban, and American and Japanese forces on Attu.

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May 23, 1943

As part of the ongoing series of nightly terror bombing raids against cities in the Ruhr, British bombers dropped 2000 tons of explosives on Dortmund. 826 planes were involved in the raid which came off as planned. In all 2000 buildings were destroyed, gutting the Hoesch steelworks. Six hundred people were killed and 1275 injured.

Heavy fighting continues between the Germans and Russians in the Kuban, and American and Japanese forces on Attu.

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May 24, 1943

THE BATTLE FOR THE ATLANTIC ENDS - In the first three weeks of May, 31 German U-boats were sunk. Because of these mounting losses, Admiral Donitz orders all U-boat patrols in the north Atlantic to break off operations against the convoys, ending the battle of the Atlantic. The improved anti-submarine tactics, better weapons and the breaking of the German Navy Enigma code, along with the bravery and perseverance of the Allied sailors and seamen, lead to this great Allied victory.

Dr. Josef Mengele takes up his new position at Auschwitz concentration camp. His sickening and grotesque "medical research" would lead to the death of several thousand Jews.

RAF Bomber Command reached the dubious milestone of dropping 100,000 tons of bombs on Germany.

Heavy fighting continues between the Germans and Russians in the Kuban and American and Japanese forces on Attu.

May 25, 1943

The TRIDENT Conference between Churchill and Roosevelt ends in Washington. The decision to invade northern France was concluded with May 1, 1944 being selected as D-Day. Decisions were also made regarding knocking Italy out of the war early, increasing aid to China and beginning offensive operations in the Pacific. Churchill's plan to invade the Balkans was rejected.

Heavy fighting continues between the Germans and Russians in the Kuban and American and Japanese forces on Attu.

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May 26, 1943

Roosevelt and Churchill agree to collaborate on the development of the atomic bomb after a year of working separately.

Albert Speer, Germany's armaments minister agrees to fund a new program to develop pilotless planes. The project would lead to the development of the V1 'buzz bomb' and the V2 ballistic missile.

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May 27, 1943

American forces on Attu clear the Japanese from 'Fish Hook Ridge' and begin work on an airfield at Alexai Point.

The German 17th Army suspends offensive operations after making no progress. The Soviets begin their own operations in the Kuban, and also meet stiff resistance.

For the first time in the war, a small parties of British troops are para-dropped into Yugoslavia to coordinate sabotage and guerrilla activities with Tito's partisans. The partisans have been in heavy fighting now for ten days and prepare to breakout how that the British have arrived.

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May 28, 1943

Chinese troops defending Ichang stop the Japanese advance along the Yangtze River.

Japanese forces on Attu, concluding the end was near for their defense, launched a final desperate attack that was quickly and easily destroyed. The survivors chose suicide over capture.

The US 15th Air Force attacked the Italian oil refineries at Livorno with 100 B-17 bombers.

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May 29 1943

US forces secured Attu Island in the Aleutians. US losses were 512. Only 28 wounded Japanese remain of the 2,350 man Japanese garrison.

British terror bombing raids in the Ruhr continue. This night, 719 planes attacked Wuppertal. The raid killed 2,450 civilians and left 118,000 homeless. Over 80% of the city was destroyed as 1000 acres of the city were burned out in a firestorm.

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May 30, 1943

Twenty children are killed when a bomb hit a church in Torquay, England.

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May 31, 1943

In heavy fighting in the Ichang area, Chiang Kai-Shek's Nationalist Chinese forces counterattack the stalled Japanese and succeed in surrounding three divisions.

The US 15th Air Force hit the Italian airfields at Foggia, destroying large numbers of aircraft.

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

1942 Archive:
  January |  February | March  | April | May | June | July | August | September | October
| November | December

1943 Archive:
JanuaryFebruary | March | April 

Special Editions:
Pearl Harbor | The Doolittle Raid | Midway

Editor's Corner Archive:

Hitler's Angle "The story of Prescott Bush and his association with the Nazis begins just before the end of World War I..."

The Past Through Tomorrow "It is quite frightening to realize just how similar our nation's actions have been and appear to be heading when compared this way..."

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

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