Project 60 - "The First Fight Against Fascism" - Archives
March 1, 1943
nsion between the Polish exile government in Britain and the Soviet Union
escalated as, in response to the Polish protests regarding her borders with
Belarus and Ukraine, the Soviet News Agency issued a statement accusing the
Poles of being imperialist and having been pro‑Fascist before the
nsion between the Polish exile government in Britain and the Soviet Union escalated as, in response to the Polish protests regarding her borders with Belarus and Ukraine, the Soviet News Agency issued a statement accusing the Poles of being imperialist and having been pro‑Fascist before the war.
Red Army forces occupy Demyansk as the Germans withdraw from the salient.
March 2, 1943
US aircraft spot and attack a Japanese
convoy carrying elements of General Nakano’s 51st Division en route
to Lae from Rabaul.
US forces in Tunisia follow the retreating Germans, occupying Sbeitla and advancing toward Feriana. Fighting continues in the north as von Arnim continues to probe at the British defenses.
March 3, 1943
Red Army forces occupy Rzhev as the
Germans withdraw from the exposed postion. Soviet attacks north of Kharkov
continue to gain ground as Lgov, west of Kursk, is captured. The situation south
of Kharkov is not going well as the Papov finally realizes his mistake and
begins to withdraw. 9000 prisoners are taken in the first of many surrenders to
come in the next few weeks.
Wingate’s Chindits make their
presence know to the Japanese by blowing up several miles of the
Mandalay-Myitkyina railroad in Burma.
Attacks continue on the Japanese convoy
carrying elements of the 51st Division in the Bismarck Sea.
An air raid warning was sounded in London. It was a false alarm. Regretably, 173 civilians were killed a panicked crush attempting to enter the shelters at Bethnal Green.
March 4, 1943
US PT-boats join in the air attacks on
the convoy carrying the Japanese 51st Division. After three days of
attacks, all 8 transports, carrying 7000 troops, along with 4 of the 8 escorting
destroyers are sunk. At least half of the infantry force is lost. In the air, 25
Japanese planes were shot down while the US-Australian force lost 5 planes.
Montgomery reinforces his already
strong defenses around Medenine as elements of the 10th and 21st
Panzer Divisions head south.
North of Kharkov, Red Army forces
continue to make advances against the Germans capturing Olenino and Chertolino
to the west of Rzhev, and Sevsk and Sudzha west of Kursk. However, von
Manstein's redirects his attacks at Kharkov sending the SS Panzer Corps west
from Poltava and elements of 4th Panzer Army attack northward from
positions along the Berestovaya River, west of Izyum.
Japanese forces in Burma launch an attack against the British columns attempting to take Akyab.
March 5, 1943
After a winter of limited raid,
“Bomber” Harris unleashes RAF Bomber Command in a major offensive against
Germany’s industrial heartland in the Rhur. The first victim in the terror
bombing raids is Essen where 443 planes attacked. The use of the Oboe
targeting system greatly improved accuracy as 160 acres of the city were
devastated including 53 buildings in the Krupps works. Over 5000 homes were
destroyed and 475 civilians killed.
Von Manstein’s attack continues as elements of 4th Panzer Army mauls the retreating Soviet forces west of Izyum. However, the attack could not be forces over the Donets River as the ice on the river was breaking up preventing bridging operations.
March 6, 1943
Red Army troops capture Gzhatsk,
between Vyazma and Rzhev.
Rommel launches his attack on Medenine.
Montgomery’s defenses defeat the attack. Rommel renewed the attack in the
afternoon and, once again, failed to make any headway against the thick
defenses. By the end of the day, Rommel had less than 100 tanks left.
Wingate’s Chindits continue blowing
up bridges and railroads in Burma.
A US Navy force of three cruisers and
seven destroyers bombard Japanese airfields at Munda and Vila. In a chance
engagement, the force stumbles on two Japanese destroyers, which are.
General George S. Patton takes command
of the beaten and poorly handled US II Corps in Tunisia after their drubbing at
U-boats intercept convoy SC-121 in the north Atlantic. 13 merchants of the 56-ship convoy would be sunk
March 7, 1943
Von Manstein redirects 4th Panzer Army westward and now attacks northeast from around Krasnograd in an attempt to link up with the SS Panzer Corps.
As the jaws of von Manstien’s pincer
attack begin to close on the Red Army forces outside Kharkov, Soviet troops take
Sychevka between Rzhev and Vyazma.
In an attempt to improve communications
security, the German U-boats begin operating with a fourth rotor on their Enigma
equipment. This creates some problems for the Allies but the code breakers are
able to break the new system with minimal effort.
Japanese forces in China cross the Yangtze River between Ichang and Yoyang.
March 9, 1943
Hitler, fearing that
his “best General” would be defeated in Tunisia, recalls Rommel, leaving von
Arnhim in charge of the Axis forces in Africa. Rommel would never return to that
March 10 1943
Heavy fighting at
Ksar Rhilane, southeast of Mareth, Tunisia is reported.
Leclerc’s Free French troops fight off determined Axis attacks which
were heavily supported from the air.
After raiding the
Mandalay-Mytikinia railline, the Chindit Brigade breaks up into several columns
and crosses the Irawaddy River between Tagaung and Tigyaing.
March 11, 1943
Heavy street fighting
erupts in Kharkov as the SS Panzer Korps enters the city and manages to get to
the city center.
March 12, 1943
Heavy fighting is
still reported in Kharkov as the Germans clear the Russians from the city. The
Germans break mobile forces from the city fight and drive south in an attempt to
cut off Soviet forces southwest of the city. Further to the north, the Germans
abandon and the Red Army occupies Vyazma as Army Group Center continues its
limited withdrawals to shorten their front.
In an attempt to outflank the Marenth Line, Montgomery moves the 2nd New Zealand Division and the 8th Armored Brigade south from Medenine opposite Wilder’s gap.
March 13, 1943
visiting Army Group Center’s Headquarters in Smolensk narrowly avoids
assassination. The first attempt was to be made by machine-gunning his car, but
the motorcade sped by before Captain Boeselager’s troops could open fire. The
second attempt was to be made during the luncheon, but Hitler and Field Marshal
von Kluge were seated next to one another and the conspiracy leader, Col.
Henning von Tresckow feared hitting his commander. Finally, Tresckow was able to
plant a time bomb on board Hitler’s FW-200 Condor transport plane at Smolensk.
The detonator for the bomb, a British Plastic-C, failed to ignite due to its
sensitivity to low temperatures.
From Berlin... The
German Army High Command issues the preliminary orders for Operation Zitadelle
(in English meaning Citadel) -- the plan to eliminate the Soviet held salient
centered on Kursk.
Chinese forces counterattack the Japanese bridgehead over that Yangtze River and succeed in eliminating Japanese intrusion.
March 14, 1943
The Allies score a victory with a submarine as HMS Thunderbolt sinks the Italian corvette Cicogna off the coast of Sicily.March 15, 1943
March 15, 1943
Kharkov changes hands for the third time in the war as German forces destroy organized resistance in the shattered city. Meanwhile, further north, Red Army forces capture Kholm and Zharkovskiy, as the German Army Group Center continues its withdrawal.
March 16, 1943
Army begins probinb the approaches to the Mareth Line as it prepares to open
it’s main offensive in Tunisia.
Off the coast of Newfoundland, the eastbound fast convoy HX229 overtook the slow convoy SC122 and over the course of 4 days, the German U-boats of wolfpaks Raubgraf and Surmer, sunk 21 ships for the loss of one U-boat, U-384, at the hands of a Sunderland patrol craft. The disaster nearly ended the convoy scheme, but improvements in aircover were made which ultimately turned the tide in the Allie’s favor
March 17, 1943
The Japanese 33rd and 55th Divisions attack the British 123rd Indian Brigade, occupying defensive positions north of Rathedaung in Arakan. Threatened with being surrounded, the Indian’s withdraw.
March 18, 1943
Von Manstein’s attack comes to a close as the "Grossdeutchsland" Division attacks Belgorod northeast of Kharkov, as the spring thaw and its accompanying sea of mud take over. In the attack, the overextended Red Army suffered 40,000 casualties and lose at least 600 tanks, and the Germans succeeded in stabilizing the southern half of the eastern front. However, the blow was nowhere near as devastating as the attacks of the summer of 1941. The Soviet Army was coming of age and able to fight with the Germans on a more level field.
Elements of the US
2nd Corps captures Gafsa, Tunisia, and advances toward El Guettar.
March 19, 1943
The New Zealand Corps begins moving toward Ksar Rhilane in preparation for Montgomery’s attack on the Marenth Line
March 20, 1943
As night falls,
Montgomery’s long awaited attack on the Mareth line finally begins with a
massive barrage on Italian positions along the coast followed by attacks by the
British 50th Infantry Division. The New Zealand Corp was still
marching to their flanking position to the west.
March 21, 1943
forces defending Tebaga Gap in Tunisia, put up a surprisingly determined
defense, stopping the New Zealand Corps’ flank attack. Meanwhile, the main
attack on the Mareth Line, by British forces, in the morning has established a
small force across the natural antitank obstacle of Wadi Zigzaou, but ground
conditions prevent a further buildup.
March 22, 1943
As the British attempt to expand their bridgehead over Wadi Zigzaou, German reserves from the 15th Panzer Division (with a mere 30 tanks in all) counterattack, ending the attempt. Meanwhile elements of 21st Panzer and 164th Light Divisions arrive at Tebaga Gap to stop t he new Zealand Corps’ advance.
March 23, 1943
Patton’s drive on El Guettar is stopped by determined German and Italian resistance with the 10th Panzer Division taking serious losses. Montgomery redirects his main attack toward the Tebaga Gap, sending General Horrocks’ 1st Armored Division to reinforce the New Zealand Corps.
March 24 1943
Wingate is ordered to end his Chindit
operations and return to India. The group breaks into smaller march columns.
Most of the force would be back in India in April.
March 25, 1943
Pressure from the British 1st Armored
Division at Tebaga Gap and the US II Corps at Maknassy forces General von Arnim
to withdraw from the Mareth Line.
March 26, 1943
The British 1st Armored
Division, supported by heavy air support break the Axis rearguard at the Tebaga
Gap and advance toward El Hamma.
March 27, 1943
As Patton begins a new attack near
Fondouk, British armor is stopped in front of El Hamma as German infantry hold
the road open for the retreating Axis forces heading toward new positions at
March 28, 1943
British 8th Army forces complete the capture of the Mareth line as Free French forces operating in southern Tunisia, clear several towns
March 29, 1943
With the Wadi Akarit line fully manned, the New Zealand Corps enter Gabes. The new Axis defense is a strong natural barrier, but preparations for the line were poor and the forces to defend it depleted.
March 30, 1943
The light cruiser HMS Glasgow
successfully intercepts the German blockade runner Regensburg in the
Denmark Strait. Rather than be captured, the Germans fire the ship. Only 6 of
her crew survived.
March 31, 1943
Attacks against the German 17th
Army in the Kuban peninsula result in the fall of Anastasyevsk to the advancing