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

February, 1943


February 1, 1943

German troops evacuate the Demyansk Pocket in order to shorten their lines and free up troops to plug the gapping holes to the south.

Japanese destroyers 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.

Soviet forces capture Svatovo, southeast of Kharkov, cutting the rail lines from the city to the Donets Basin.

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

Hitler, 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.

Kuschevka on the Soskya River, 50 miles south of Rostov is liberated.

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.

British 8th 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.

Convoy SC118, escorted by 10 ships, is attacked by 20 U-boats.

February 5, 1943

Soviet forces capture Staryy Oskol and Izyum, but the landings at Anopa are repulsed.

Mussolini takes command of the ministry of foreign affairs, firing his son-in-law Ciano. He now controls all aspects of Italian government.

February 6, 1943

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower was appointed Commander in Chief of all Allied forces in North Africa.

Soviet advances continue as Bataysk (near Rostov), Yeysk (Sea of Azov), Lisichansk (Donets River) and Barvenkovo (near Kharkov) are all liberated.

February 7, 1943

Soviet forces capture Azov and the mouth of the Don River and in the Ukraine, Kramatorsk is liberated.

February 8, 1943  

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 rear area.

The last Japanese soldiers on Guadalcanal, some 2000 in all, are evacuated on 18 destroyers.

Kursk is liberated by advancing Red Army columns.

Finland requested the U.S. to arbitrate in possible peace talks with Russia. Although it would end in failure, the Finns became the first of Hitler’s allies to seek an end to the war.

February 9, 1943

Organized 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.

Belgorod, northeast of Kharkov, is liberated.

Attacks on SC-118 end, as 15 merchants are lost in the five-day running battle with Hitler’s U-boats.

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.

Russians 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 liberated.

Advancing in two columns , Wingate’s Chindits cross the Chindwin River.

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 Mareth line.

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 the plan.

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.

February 22, 1943  

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.

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