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

April, 1943


April 1, 1943

British coastal fighters and torpedoe planes engage the Italian blockade-runner Pietro Orseolo off the coast of Spain. Escorting German destroyers destroy five of the attacking aircraft, but the US submarine Shad hits the ship with a torpedo, causing substantial damage

April 2, 1943

American bombers make a series of raids on Kiska and Attut islands in the Aleutians.

April 3, 1943

Patton’s thrust by II Corps around El Guettar are stopped by determined Axis defenses.

April 4, 1943

In their now nearly continuous operations over Germany, British Bomber Command has a particular “success” against Kiel, dropping 1300 tons of bombs on Kiel during a night raid, killing 26 civilians.

German aircraft begin dropping mines in the Thames Estuary near London.

April 5, 1943

Japanese forces on the Mayu peninsula drive northwestward, in the direction of India overrunning a British brigade HQ.

As Italian units take up defensive postions at Wadi Akarite, the Geramn 15th Panzer and 90th Light Divisions move to counterattack Patton’s II Corps at El Guettar. Meanwhile, the British 8th Army makes a tentative move to dislodge the Axis by sending the 4th Indian Division on a flank move against the Djebel Fatnassa position.

USAAF Bombers hit the Renault factory in Paris, killing 228 French civilians.

Bomber command launched a daylight raid over Antwerp. The intended target, the Minerva aircraft factory, was generally missed due to a navigation error. Most of the bombs fell on residential areas. 936 Belgian civilians, including 209 children, were killed in the raid.

While returning from a raid over Naples, the US bomber “Lady Be Good” gets lost and flies over 200 miles into the Libyan desert. Low on fuel and thinking they were over water, the crew bails out. This began a nine-day trek across the desert which would end in death for the crew.

April 6, 1943

After making good progress, the 4th Indian Division attacks Diebel Fatnassa. The attack goes poorly and draws the German 15th Panzer and 90th Light divisions south, and away from Patton’s forces at El Guettar

April 7, 1943

The Japanese concentrate the last of their highly trained aviators and send the fleet carriers Shokaku, Junyo and Hiyo south to raid the Americans in the Solomon Islands. During the first of 10 days of bombing, 180 aircraft bomb Guadalcanal and Tulagi. The attacks sink a destroyer, the USS Aaron Ward, a NewZealand corvette, the Moa, and a merchant ship.

Attacks by Patton’s II Corp succeed in forcing the Axis forces to abandon the Wadi Akarit line. Elements of the US 9th Infantry Division and the British 8th Army meet up on the coastal road.

April 8, 1943  

Japanese forces in Burma, planning to advance into northern Burma, begin building a series of new rail lines. 60,000 Allied prisoners of war are employed in this work.

April 9, 1943

Axis forces continue to retreat in Tunisia as the British 8th Army occupies Mahares, 50 miles north of Gabes.

April 10 1943

A force of 84 USAAF B-24 bombers attack and sink the Italian heavy cruiser Trieste in a raid on La Maddalena, The Gorizia is also damaged in the raid.

The British 8th Army enters Sfax, while the British 9th Corps moves out of the Fondouk Pass, having failed to move quickly enough to trap the retreating Axis forces.

April 11, 1943

In northern Tunisia, the British First Army takes Kalrouan, 100 miles South of Tunis.

The Japanese air campaign in the Solomons, now in its fourth day, hits Oro Bay, sinking two Allied merchant ships.

April 12, 1943

The British 8th Army takes Sousse.

April 13, 1943

German radio announces to the world that they have found mass graves in the Katyn Woods near Smolensk. They stated, “…A ditch was found, 28 meters long and 16 meters wide, in which the bodies of 3,000 Polish officers were piled up in twelve layers. They were fully dressed in military uniforms, some were bound, and all had pistol shot wounds in the back of their heads…”. The reports, coming from Gobbles' Propaganda ministry were suspect, but the relationship between Russia and Poland had never been a happy one.

US bombers launch a series of raids against Kiska Island in the Aleutians.

The British destroyer Eskdale is sunk by a German torpedo boat off the coast of Cornwall.

US Naval Intelligence units intercept and decode the exact timing and complete itinerary of Admiral Yamamoto’s visit to various Japanese bases on Bougainville Island. The Americans immediately started planning Operation Peacock, a daring raid to intercept Yamamoto’s plane in flight.

April 14, 1943

The Soviet 14th Army defeats a series of attacks by German forces southeast of Leningrad.

Stalin’s son Jacob dies in a German POW camp.

Axis forces occupy the hills around Bizerta and Tunis, extending from the Cape of Seratt to Enfidaville. This is the last tenable line they have in Tunisia. Montgomery’s 8th Army is moving north toward Djebel Garci and Takrouna.

The Japanese air raids in the south Pacific come to an end as a raid against Milne Bay results in the sinking of two transports. The offensive is considered a failure due to the extremely heavy losses suffered by the Japanese air crews.

April 15, 1943

In reaction to the German accusations of mass murders hidden in the Katyn Woods, the Soviet government issued the following statement, “The Polish prisoners in question were interned in the vicinity of Smolensk in special camps…It was impossible to evacuate them at the time of the approach of the German troops and, as a result, they fell into their hands. If, therefore, they have been found murdered, it means that they have been murdered by the Germans…”. The British authorities, suspecting that the Russians were lying, nonetheless issued the following statement on BBC, “Moscow radio officially and categorically denied the news, propounded by the Germans about the alleged shooting of Polish officers by the Soviet authorities. These German lies …” and so, the British joined in the conspiracy.

The US 7th Infantry division, originally intended for transfer to North Africa is diverted to prepare for the invasion of Attu Island in the Aleutians.

April 16, 1943

British intelligence services intercept and decode a series of orders indicating that the main German effort for the summer would be an attack against the Kursk salient. Churchill is informed mere hours after the messages reach the German commanders in the field who were to undertake the attack.

The Polish government in exile in London formally requested that the International Red Cross investigate the German report that the bodies of thousands of Polish officers had been found near Smolensk.

In a brave but futile attempt to reinforce the Tunisian bridgehead, Italian naval forces sortie. In the attacks the British lose the destroyer Pakenham while the Italians lose two destroyers.

April 17, 1943

The Germans launch Operation Magic Flute, an anti-partisan operation in the Minsk area. Soviet partisans had been creating serious delays in the buildup of forces and supplies for Army Group Center in preparation for the Kursk offensive.

Eight Air Force suffers severe losses in a daylight bombing raid on Bremen’s aircraft factories. Of the 115 B-17s committed, 16 were destroyed.

Soviet forces in the Kuban launch a series of attacks against the German 17th Army.

April 18, 1943

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Commander of the Japanese Combined Fleet, arguably the most capable of the Japanese leaders in the war, was killed when the plane he was in was shot down while touring Japanese bases in the Bougainville Islands, well behind friendly lines. The daring interception was made possible because the Admirals schedule was decoded by US Naval intelligence. In a daring attack, a flight of P-38 Lighting fighters from the USAAF 339th Fighter Squadron out of Guadalcanal, skimmed the wave tops for over 400 miles of open ocean, and successfully intercepted the transports and escorts just outside Kahili airfield.

In a final attempt to get needed supplies to the Axis forces in Tunisia, over 100 transports, fly off bases in Sicily. Fifty-one of the transports and 16 escorts were destroyed when 70 Allied fighters pounced on the armada. The Allies lost 7 fighters..

Turkey and German sign a trade agreement whereby Germany would supply industrial products for Turkish agricultural products.

The German 17th Army launches a series of attacks against the Russian’s isolated beachhead at Novorossivsk. In heavy fighting, the Soviets cling to their toehold. 

April 19, 1943

Possessing one machine gun, less than 20 rifles, a handful of pistols, grenades and Molotov cocktails, 1200 Jews, led by 23-year old Mordecai Anielewicz, rose up against the Germans in the Warsaw. In the attack, the Germans surrounded the ghetto and sent infiltration parties forward under the cover of darkness. At dawn, the SS troopers brashly marched down the vacant streets. They came under fire and attempted to retreat, but were pinned down. They called for reinforcements and tank support. After a 7-hour battle, the bloodied SS troopers withdrew leaving behind their dead, two destroyed tanks and scores of weapons. The remainder of the day saw artillery and aircraft attack the ghetto.

April 20, 1943

German SS forces attempt to storm the Warsaw ghetto. Their initial attempt suffered heavy losses, but they did gain some toeholds in the area.

Montgomery’s 8th Army begins a series of attacks on Axis defenses around Enfidavill. The Allies fail to budge the enemy and take heavy losses in t he process. The US II Corps is far more successful, taking the mountainous stronghold north of Medjez el Bab, allowing tanks to move into the Tine River valley.

April 21, 1943

The Japanese authorities announce the death of Admiral Yamamoto and appoint Admiral Koga to succeeds him as Chief of the Japanese Combined Fleet.

Fighting intensifies as Soviet forces in the Kuban peninsula press the German 17th Army back in the Novorossivsk area.

German SS forces are able to establish a secure position in the Warsaw Ghetto against continuing stubborn opposition. They achieve this by using flamethrowers to methodically burn down whole blocks of the area, thus clearing the Jewish fighters from their strongholds. After the days fight, the German commander, Stroop, gave the inhabitants a day to turn themselves over to his authority.

German forces launch a spoiling attack around Medjex el Bab. It is quickly defeated.

After sinking a Japanese minesweeper off the Alelutian islands, Captain Fred M. Smith dispatched the following report: “SAW STEAMER, STRAFED SAME, SANK SAME, SOME SIGHTED, SIGNED SMITH.”

April 22, 1943  

Allied attacks against enemy positions in Tunisia begin again. The US 2nd Corps, now commanded by General Bradley, push toward Mateur. Meanwhile, the British 5th Corp hits Longstop" and "Peter's Corner", while the British 9th Corps attacks between Boubellat and Bou Arada. In order to save supplies, Montgomery is ordered to stop his feeble efforts along the coast. Further attempts to resupply the Axis forces from the air meet with disaster as another 30 transport craft are shot down in the attempt.

April 23, 1943

Orders were given to raze the Warsaw Ghetto. Fighting became desperate as the Jewish fighters took to the vast network of sewers, cellars. and underground shelters.

Australian troops occupy positions around Mubo, New Guinea.

April 24 1943

SS forces begin to reduce Jewish strongholds in the Warsaw ghetto. Deploying heavy artillery and flamethrowers, the defenders are burned or blown out of their defenses. But the Jews continue the fight reoccupying the rubble and taking to the sewers in tenacious fighting.

The Attu invasion force set sail from San Francisco.

April 25, 1943

After a lull in the fighting at Warsaw, the German SS troops cut off water and electricity to the ghetto and continue their clearing operations burning the city to the ground.

US Naval forces under Admiral McMorris bombard the Japanese held harbors on Attu Island.

The Soviet government breaks off diplomatic relations with the London based Polish government in exile because of the allegations concerning the Katyn massacre. 

The British 5th Corps, with heavy armor support, succeeds in capturing "Longstop" hill after heavy fighting.

In a transfer between a German and a Japanese submarine in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Madagascar, Indian National Army leader, Subhas Chandra Bose takes his first step toward creating the army he hoped to use to ’liberate’ India from British rule. Within a year, he would recruit 25,000 of his countryman from Japanese POW camps.

April 26, 1943

April 27, 1943

April 28, 1943

April 29, 1943

April 30, 1943

April 31, 1943

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