Project 60 - "The First Fight Against Fascism" - Archives

December, 1942

December 1, 1942

Axis convoys between Italy and Tunisia continue to be interdicted by British naval forces. Four supply convoys set off from Italy. Three were turned back and the fourth had four transports and one escort sunk. The British lost a destroyer in the action.

Australian forces capture parts of the Japanese defenses at Gona.

Admiral Darlan takes command of French forces in North Africa indicating that Marshal Petain was virtually a prisoner of the Germans

December 2, 1942

Enrico Fermi, an Italian physicist, along with Arthur Compton, working in a small lab under the racket courts at the University of Chicago, successfully completes the first controlled nuclear reaction at Chicago Pile 1 (CP-1). Use of the power of the atom was now a reality. After completing the last rod extraction, Fermi said, "Put the rods back down. That's all for now, put the rods down, let's go to lunch."

The Stalingrad and Don Fronts launch massed attacks against the Germans encircled in Stalingrad. Fighting was very heavy and losses high on both sides, little progress was made in reducing the perimeter.

Further north, at Rzhev, the German 41st Panzer Corps begins a counterattack on the west face of the salient. That attack succeeds in destroying the 47th Mechanized Brigade.

December 3, 1942

German units, previously stationed in France, begin arriving in Army Group South, in preparation for the attack to relieve Stalingrad.

In Tunisia, the 10th Panzer Division launches limited attacks capturing Djedeida and Tebourba. French and American forces captured the Faid Pass in southern Tunisia.

In yet another desperate attempt to land supplies for the beleaguered Japanese defenders on Guadalcanal, Admiral Tanaka runs 10 destroyers down the slot with 1500 containers. Instead of landing the supplies, they were simply dumped. 300 containers made it to shore.

December 4, 1942

British and American bombers continue to strike Italian ports. On this day, the Italian light cruiser Muzio Attendolo was sunk.

German forces in Tunisia capture Tebourba.

December 5, 1942

Strong attacks by US forces at Buna are bloodily repulsed. Malaria and heat prostration also take a heavy toll.

The German hospital ship Graz hit a mine off Bizerta, Libya.

December 6, 1942

In Tunisia, German forces hit British forces, inflicting heavy losses, destroying 25 tanks and taking 400 prisoners.

Heavy fighting is reported in both Buna and Gona in New Guinea.

December 7, 1942

After five days of heavy fighting and suffering serious losses, the Soviets suspend the attacks by the Don and Stalingrad Fronts against the German in the Stalingrad pocket. Outside the pocket, the Soviets launch probing attacks against the Germans along the Chir River which are repulsed by counterattacks from the 11th Panzer Division.

Further north, German attacks on the west face of the Rzhev salient intensified as 30 and 41st Panzer Corps (5 Panzer divisions in all) hit the Soviet 41st Army nier Belyi. Fighting was intense.

The Italians launched three manned "Chariot" torpedoes into Gibraltar harbor. No losses were reported.

To commemorate the anniversary of the attack at Pearl Harbor, the United States launches the new battleship New Jersey, along with 11 other ships.

US make an amphibious landing south of Buna, cutting off Japanese forces in the area.

December 8, 1942

The Australian 21st Brigade makes concerted effort to take Gona. The attack fails.

In Tunisia, German counter-attacks hit the American forces at El Guettrar. In this first major contact between the Germans and Americans, the US forces fought with great confusion and retreated in disorder. The Germans also occupy the port of Bizerte in Tunisia.

The Japanese made two more attempts to run supplies and reinforcements into Guadalcanal. The first attempt was forced back by air attacks. The second, a run by destroyers down the slot was turned back by US PT boat attacks.

December 9, 1942

After months of poor and short rations, and living in the jungle nightmare, the 1st Marine Division is relieved by fresh troops from the 14th Corps at Guadalcanal.

December 10, 1942

The Italians launched another "Chariot" (manned torpedo) raid into the port of Algiers. This attack succeeded in sinking four supply ships.

Australian troops finally dislodge the Japanese from Gona.

Germans counterattack at Belyi succeeds in cutting off the 41st Army, destroying the only success Zhukov had enjoyed in Operation Mars. Despite the failure of his operation, he doggedly ordered fresh formations thrown into the meat grinder at Rhzev.

December 11, 1942

The Germans finally realize that their attempt to take Baku and the rich oil fields of the Caucasus had failed and began to withdraw from Elista and Mozdok.

Montgomery's 8th Army starts to advance through Libya again after its leisurely rest and refit.

Zhukov launches fresh attacks from the Vazusa River bridgehead as the Soviet 20th and 29th Armies supported by 350 tanks from the 5th and 6th Tank Corp. Despite the amount of men and material thrown into the attack, the Germans held and inflicted hellish losses on the Russians.

December 12, 1942

The Germans launch their attacks to relieve the Stalingrad pocket. General von Manstein commences Operation "Winter Storm", sending Battle Group Hoth (a mere 13 divisions with 230 tanks) forward in the area around Kotelnikovo. Initial attacks hit the Soviet 51st Army which gives ground but remains intact.

British commandos succeed in destroying eight ships at Bordeaux up the Gironde River. The commandos were landed by submarine at the base of the river and spent five days and nights paddling up 50 miles of enemy held river to get to the anchorage.

December 13, 1942

The wizards at Bletchly Park succeeded in breaking the "Shark" Enigma key. This code was the one used by Germna U-boats and had been unreadable for over a year. This came none too soon as the previous month had been one of the most successful for the Germans as they sunk 83 ships (721,700 tons), their highest total of the war.

Rommel begins to retreat from his positions El Agheila, as the Eighth Army closes once again.

Hoth's tanks continue to make headway against the 51st Army as the German drive to relieve Stalingrad continues.

December 14, 1942

The "Desert Rats" of the British 7th Armored Division hit the German rearguards at El Agheila while elements of the New Zealand Division attempt a flank move to cut them off.

US forces capture most of Buna but diehard Japanese forces still occupy strongholds.

Japanese forces land a battalion of infantry (800 men) 30 miles west of Gona and advance threatening the Australian's flank.

December 15, 1942

The 2nd Guards Army moves into positions along the Myshkova River, backstopping the 51st Army, still retreating before the German relief attacks at Stalingrad.

Zhukov and Konev abandon the attacks on the eastern side of the Rzhev salient as the 20th and 29th Armies simply burn themselves out. On the other side of the bulge, the 40,000 men of the 41st Army attempted to break out of their encirclement. The force lost all of its tanks and heavy weapons and only about half of the men escaped. Operation Mars was over, an inglorious defeat for Zhukov.

The British 8th Army sends the 2nd New Zealand Infantry division in an attempt to outflank and surround the retreating Afrika Korps in Libya.

December 16, 1942

Operation "Little Saturn" begins as the Soviet Voronezh and Southwest Fronts attack the Italian 8th Army and elements of the Rumanian 3rd Army. The Italians were utterly destroyed in the initial attacks along with much of the Rumanian army. and Tatsinskaya, the main German-held airfield for resupplying Stalingrad, was overrun. At Stalingrad, "Operation Ring" began as a new set of attacks to reduce the German pocket began.  

Fighting continues at Guadalcanal as US dive bombers attack yet another resupply effort, sinking the Japanese destroyer Kagero. 

British forces attack in the Arakan Valley in Burma but move to slowly to catch the Japanese defenders before they were able to retreat to more defensible positions

December 17, 1942

A joint declaration was announced in Moscow, London and Washington stating, " the German authorities, not content with denying to persons of Jewish race in all the territories over which their barbarous rule has been extended the intention to exterminate the Jewish people in Europe Jews are being transported, in conditions of appalling horror and brutality, to Easter Europe None of these taken away are ever heard of again ". The Allied governments concluded by condemning " in the strongest possible terms this bestial policy of cold-blooded extermination."


US and Australian forces launch an attack against Japanese positions at Buna. Tank troops lead many of the attacks.

Admiral Darlan announces that the French Fleets in Dakar, Alexandria, and other North African ports would join the United Nations.

The Volga River freezes allowing the Soviets to resupply the depleted 62nd Army in Stalingrad as Operation Winterstorm continues to inch closer to the trapped 6th Army in the city.

December 18, 1942

Heavy fighting continues at Buna as US and Japanese forces continue to make limited headway against tenacious Japanese defenses.

December 19, 1942

Stalled for several days a mere 30 miles from the pocket, Hoth's troops attack in an all out effort to relieve Stalingrad. They succeed in reaching reached the Myshkova. General von Manstein, knowing the relief attack will not succeeds orders von Paulus to breakout. However, von Paulus takes the advice of his chief of staff General Schmidt, a sycophant of Hitlers's and stays in Stalingrad. Meanwhile, the Soviet's capture Kontemirovka and continue to grind the Italian 8th Army to a bloody pulp.

Despite a massive effort to supply the surrounded defenders of Stalingrad from the air, it failed. This day saw the Luftwaffe fly 250 tons to Paulus' Army, less than half the minimum needed simply to sustain his forces. Even this inadequate level was never met again.

The British cruiser Neptune strikes a mine off Malta and sinks.

US forces on Guadalcanal begin their assault on Mount Austen, meeting strong resistance.

December 20, 1942

Hoth's Battle Group was within sixteen miles of Stalingrad and completely spent. They could not break trough the Soviet defense Von Manstein proposed that Paulus break out and link up with Hoth. Paulus was unwilling to do anything without Hitler's authorization. It would never come. The Germans at Stalingrad were doomed. Meanwhile, the Caucasus Front opened it's offensive to drive the Germans from that region and Soviets continue to probe the German defenses along the Chir River and in the Millerovo area.

Spain and Portughal announce the creation of a neutral Iberian bloc. Dispite this, Spain's fascist leader Franco has a 20,000 "volunteers" fighting at Leningrad, officially known as the 250th Infantry Division, but better known as the "Blue Division".

Bomber Command begins using the "Oboe" navigation system to assist in there efforts to burn Germany into submission.

An 8000 ton Japanese merchant ship struck a mine planted by US submarine forces off the coast of Cape Inubo, east of Tokyo. This was the first ship sunk by US forces in Japanese home waters

The Japanese bomb Calcutta for the first time.

December 21, 1942

British troops cross the Burmese border from India and head Southeast towards Akyab.

December 22, 1942

The Indian 14th Division advances in Burma moving toward Rathedaung.

The Soviet Winter Offensive continues to roll forward as Morozovsk, Fydorovka and Kikolkoe are taken from the Germans.

British forces from the 1st Army attack German lines in Tunisia with heavy fighting for Longstop Hill.

December 23, 1942

Operation "Winter Storm" was abandoned an the three exhausted Panzer Divisions which made up the fist of the attack, were withdrawn to the startline at Kotelnikovo.

Heavy rains turn the Tunisian battlefield into a sea of mud and combat action comes to an abrupt halt.

December 24, 1942

Von Manstein was forced to withdraw Group Hoth as new Soviet attacks from the Stalingrad Front broke through the 4th Rumanian Army, threatening the German forces from the south as well as the north. Soviet offensives continue with new vigor on the Don Front as well with the apparent end of "Winter Storm".

US bombers hit Wake Island.

Japanese forces in northern Burma attempt to attack in the Chin Hills and are thrown back by Indian troops.

Admiral Darlan, leader of Free French forces in North Aftrica,  is assassinated by a Gaullist fanatic.

Fighting on Longstop Hill continues in Tunisia. The British occupy the position at the end of the day's fight.

The Germans make a successful test fly the V-1 flying bomb at Peenemunde.

December 25, 1942

Soviet troops around Stalingrad launch attacks against the German perimeter. The fighting is very heavy and casualties are high on both sides. 6th Army slaughter 12,000 horses in the pocket, and distributes the horse-meat as regular rations begin to run out.

The see-saw battle for Longstop Hill continues This time, the Germans take the position from the British.

The 123 Brigade (14 Indian Division) reaches Rathedaung, Burma, but is stopped from entering the city by Japanese reinforcements.

December 26, 1942

The Russians continue their advance in the middle Don region. They spearheads are 100 miles from Rostov, threatening to surround the German forces in the Caucuses and claim 56,000 prisoners since the offensive began.

December 27, 1942

Hitler allows Army Groups A and Don to retreat to a line 150 miles west of Stalingrad.

Red Army General Vlasov forms the anti-Stalin Smolensk Soviet. The German sponsored effort was to recruit Russians to fight communism. Vlasov's efforts would result in the creation of the Russian Liberation Army.

Indian forces in Burma continue to drive toward Akyab, meeting minimal resistance.

December 28, 1942

Japanese forces are ordered to withdraw from Buna.

Roosevelt confirms that information on research activities will not be provided to the British unless they are actively involved in the research. The policy was specifically targeted at the ultra-secret Manhattan Project, the development of the nuclear bomb. The British were particularly upset by this non-cooperation policy.

December 29, 1942

The British 8th Army reaches Buerat as they chase Rommel across Libya.

December 30, 1942

The Soviets retake Remontnoe, 40 miles northwest of Elista.

The Battle of the Barents Sea begins as the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper and Lutzow, escorted by 6 destroyers, leave their anchorage to attack convoy JW51-B, a 14-ship convoy escorted by six destroyers, bound for Kola.

Attacks at Buna continue as the Japanese position is split into two sections.

December 31, 1942

The Admiral Hipper and Lutzow , operating independently, bring convoy JW51-B under fire. The heavily outgunned British escorts, commanded by  Captain Sherbrooke deploy  smoke screens and the fainted torpedo attacks. The Germans refuse to press the attack and continue to fire ineffectively at the convoy. In the action, Hipper engages and sinks the British destroyer Bramble, and one is severely damaged Achates, which sinks after the battle. The convoy escorts are reinforced by Admiral Burnett's light cruisers, Jamaica and Sheffield, who damage Admiral Hipper and sink the German destroyer Friedrich Eckoldt. The still vastly superior German force withdraws.

The Japanese high command decides to abandon Guadalcanal.
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