Project 60 - "The First Fight Against Fascism" - Archives
February 1, 1943
evacuate the Demyansk Pocket in order to shorten their lines and free up troops
to plug the gapping holes to the south.
begin to evacuate the 13,000 soldiers who are still on Guadalcanal.
Ground was broken at
Oak Ridge, Tennessee for the first Uranium-235 processing plant.
February 2, 1943
The final assault at Stalingrad took
place. The German perimeter had been reduced to a small area of the wrecked city
around the Tractor Factory complex. The Soviets massed over 300 guns per
kilometer of front and smashed the German positions under a massive barrage. The
survivors surrendered. Of the more than 280,000 men surrounded at Stalingrad,
160,000 had been killed in action, or died of starvation or exposure. 34,000,
mostly wounded men, had been evacuated. 90,000 German soldiers marched off into
captivity. Most would die in the march from the city or in captivity. Only 5000
of these men would see Germany again, the last returning 12 years later in 1955.
American forces advance along the coast of Guadalcanal in pursuit of the retreating Japanese, crossing the Bonegi River.
February 3, 1943
in a national broadcast from his headquarters, announced to the nation that the
6th Army had been destroyed at Stalingrad, saying that "the
sacrifice of the Army, bulwark of a historical European mission, was not in
vain." Four days of national morning were declared.
February 4, 1943
Soviet forces make an
large scale amphibious landing at Novorussisk in the Black Sea behind the German
17th Army in the Kuban. The attack was designed to unhinge the strong
German mountain positions east of the city but quick reactions from the Germans
turned the tiny bridgehead into a charnel house.
Army forces cross the Libyan border into Tunisia.
A force of one
cruiser and 22 destroyers led by Admiral Koyanagi rescues 5000 Japanese troops
from Guadalcanal. Four of the ships were damaged in the action.
February 5, 1943
Soviet forces capture
Staryy Oskol and Izyum, but the landings at Anopa are repulsed.
February 6, 1943
Dwight D. Eisenhower was appointed Commander in Chief of all Allied forces in
February 7, 1943
Soviet forces capture Azov and the mouth of the Don River and in the Ukraine, Kramatorsk is liberated.
Orde Wingate launches
the first Chindit raid in Burma. The specially trained 77th Brigade
starts out from Imphal, India and heads for Tamu, Burma, deep in the Japanese
The last Japanese
soldiers on Guadalcanal, some 2000 in all, are evacuated on 18 destroyers.
Kursk is liberated by
advancing Red Army columns.
February 9, 1943
Japanese resistance on Guadalcanal came to an end. In all, the Japanese lost
10,000 men killed and the Americans 1,600. Guadalcanal was the first strategic
defeat for the Japanese in the war.
northeast of Kharkov, is liberated.
February 10 1943
Volchansk and Chuguyev are taken by the Red Army. Soviet forces are only 20 miles from Kharkov.
February 11, 1943
Lozovaya is captured by Vatutin’s Southwest Front.
February 12, 1943
Krasnodar in the Kuban is captured by Red Army forces. Forces west of the Don River liberate Shakhty, Kommunarsk and Krasnoarmeskoye.
February 13, 1943
The Soviets forces take Novocherkassk.
February 14, 1943
A major German attack
is launched into the US 2nd Corps. The Americans, positioned poorly
between Faid and Sbeitla break retreat in disorder as General Arnim’s forces
led by the 10th and 21st Panzer Divisions shatter their
lines. The Americans suffer heavy losses.
recaptured Rostov, cutting off the German 17th Army in the Kuban
peninsula forcing the Germans to lines of communications west over the Kerch
Straits into the Crimean Peninsula. The Soviets now control the entire length of
the rail line from Vornezh to Rostov. Drasnyy Sulin and Shakhty are also
February 15, 1943
Rommel’s forces join the attack in Tunisia against the Americans at Kassarine as elements of 15th Panzer Division attack and capture Gafsa. The bulk of Rommel’s forces have taken up strong positions to the east as the last forces from Libya enter the Mareth Line.
February 16, 1943
Despite orders from Hitler himself to
hold the city to the last, General Hauser orders his 2nd
SS Panzer Korps to abandon Kharkov as it is about to be surrounded by
elements of the Soviet 40th Army and 3rd Tank Army. The
Soviets enter the city during the day.
In Tunisia, 5th Panzer
Army’s advance past Kasserine Pass is temporarily suspended as elements of
Montgomery’s 8th Army occupies Medenine on the approaches to the
February 17, 1943
The German offensive in Tunisia
continues as the American’s continue to take huge losses in men and material.
1st Armored Division is particularly seriously hit, losing 2/3 of its
strength. Von Arnim redirects his forces against Foundouk while Rommel’s
forces to the south enter Feeriana. Rommel, wanting a greater victory, had hoped
Von Arnim would head for Sbeitla, which would have destroyed an even greater
portion of the American force. This was to be only the first of many command
coordination problems for the Germans in Tunisia.
Hitler, panicked over the
constant retreats of his armies in Russia, flies to Zaporozhye to harass Field
Marshal von Manstein for his failures. Von Manstein calmly lays out the plan for
his counter-attack on the already overextended Soviet spearheads. Hitler accepts
February 18, 1943
German attacks continue as the routed
American forces abandon Sbeitla. Rommel, von Arnim and the Italians still
can’t decide on the direction for the continued offensive, giving the Allies
time to react.
Attu Island is bombarded by an American
task force under Admiral McMorris (2 cruisers and 4 destroyers).
Hans and Sophie Scholl were arrested in Munich. Their crime was painting anti-Hitler slogans on a wall in the town square and distributing anti-Nazi pamphlets. Their punishment was decapitation by guillotine.
February 19, 1943
German U-boats begin attacks on convoy
ON-l16 in the North Atlantic. Before the two-day running battle was done, 14
merchants of 85,000 tons would be sunk at the cost of one U-boat.
After days of arguing on objectives,
the German offensive in Tunisia resumes. A two pronged attack, lead by 15th
and 21st Panzer Divisions were to take Le Kef. However, Allied forces
had occupied the mountain passes the German tankers would have to move through.
Hitler, hearing the thunder of Russian artillery and finding out that Soviet tanks are only 60 miles from Zaporozhye, hastily decides to cut short his visit to von Manstein’s headquarters and return to the safety of his HQ at Vinnitsa.
February 20, 1943
The German offensive in Tunisia meets heavy resistance from British tank forces, including the Guards Brigade, supported by heavy artillery fire from the Americans. The only success for the Germans comes at Kasserine Pass, where elements of 15th and 10th Panzer Divisions broke through only to be met by the British 26th Armored Brigade, limiting the advance to 10 miles.
February 21, 1943
Heavy fighting takes place in Tunisia
as the German 10th Panzer Division batters against the British armor
at Thala while the regrouped US 1st Armored Division holds Tebessa
against attacks by 15th Panzer Division.
Elements of the US 43rd Infantry
Division under General Hester occupy Banika and Pavuvu in the Russell Islands
after the Japanese abandoned the islands.
British commandos raid Japanese bases at Akyab in Burma.
Von Manstein launches his “Backhanded
Blow” against the overextended Soviet spearheads. The counteroffensive to
recapture Kharkov begins as elements of the German 1st and 4th Panzer Armies
strike from south to north from the area west of Krasnoarmeskoye while
reinforced elements of 2nd SS Panzer Corps attacks north to south from Krasnodar.
Meanwhile, oblivious to the threat to their flanks and rear, the Soviet
spearhead under Popov continues to advance west, deeper into the trap von
Manstein has sprung.
Heavy fighting continued through the
night and early morning ours around Thala. Both sides took heavy losses before
the Germans withdrew in the afternoon.
The Regiment Normandie took to
the air over Russia for the first time. This fighter unit was formed from
anti-Vichy French forces in Syria in 1942.
The Bulgarian government agreed
to deport 11,000 Jews living in Yugoslavia and Greece. Within a month, all had
been captured and transported to Treblinka, where they were killed.
February 23, 1943
Von Manstein’s offensive rolls
forward as the German 48th Panzer Korps takes Barvenkovo. Meanwhile,
Soviet forces capture Sumy and Lebedin northeast of Kharkov.
The newly formed 16th Rifle Division went into action for the first time on the Russian front. This formation was made up almost exclusively of Lithuanian Jews. Needless to say, they fought with uncommon vigor.
February 24 1943
After the failure of their offensive in Tunisa, the Axis forces decided on a unified command. Rommel is to command Army Group Afrika while von Arnim commands 5th Panzer Army and Messe commands the Italian 1st Army.
February 25, 1943
Allied forces started their new
strategy of “round-the-clock bombing” as Americans hit Germany during the
daylight and RAF bombers at night. In the next two days, 2000 sorties would
strike German targets.
Tensions between “allies” intensifies as the Polish Government in exile stated that it expected that the Soviet Union would restore Poland's pre‑war eastern frontier. This statement came in protest against the Russian decisions affecting Polish sovereignty over eastern territories and the rights of Polish citizens there.
February 26, 1943
The Germans launch a limited attack against the British at Medjez el Bab in northern Tunisia with the 10th and 21st Panzer Divisions. No appreciable progress is made.
February 27, 1943
Von Manstein's southern pincer continue
to gain ground, occupying a line from Lozovaya to Kramatorsk.
Operation “Factory Action” commenced in Berlin as the last 8000 Jews in the city were rounded up for deportation. Most were factory workers, exempt from deportation up till now. Within 24 hours, these people were on their way to Auschwitz.
February 28, 1943
A daring raid, Norwegian commandos launched attacks against The Norsk Hydro power station near Telemark in Norway. The site was the German “heavy water” atomic weapons research facility and it was destroyed in the attack.