Project 60 - "The First Fight Against Fascism" - Archives
August 1, 1943
Black Sunday – The Ploesti Raid: The
US Army Air Force launches the first of its attacks against the Rumanian oil
complex at Ploesti. 177 heavy B-24 Liberator bombers take part in the long-range
low-level raid. After flying 1000 miles to the target at altitudes sometimes as
low as 50 feet, the bombers were met by a series of flak belts that tore apart
their formations. The return trip was harassed by enemy fighters who gleefully
picked off crippled bombers. The attack was an utter disaster as 52 of the
bombers are brought down. Only 35 of the survivors returned to base without any
battle damage. One plane came back with 365 holes in the plane. Another returned
with corn stalks in its engine cowling. Four “Congressional Medal of Honors”
were won by participants in this heroic, but ultimately fruitless raid
RAF Bomber Command continues to kick at
the carcass of Hamburg, launching yet another raid on the city.
Horrible terrain and a reorganized and
energized enemy combine to bring the advance in Sicily to a halt. Heavy fighting
is reported around Troina, Regalbuto and Cenuripe.
On the eastern front, Hitler permits the withdraw of forces in the Orel salient (which are already retreating on their own.
Another Soviet female hero falls as Lt.
Lydia Vladimirovna Litvak was reported missing after attacking a group of German
bombers near Donetsk. In her carrier, she was credited with 12 kills, 4 assists
and 168 combat missions. Her combat carrier lasted less than a year and she was
wounded twice in that time. Her “Hero of the Soviet Union” medal was not
awarded until 1990.
August 2, 1943
The Allies continue to desimate Hamburg
as the 9th raid in 8 days is launched against the pile of rubble
formerly known as a city. As of this day, more bombs have fallen on Hamburg than
were dropped on London during the entire blitz. 50,000 civilians were killed in
this city alone, more than all of the civilians lost in England during the
entire war so far.
Heavy fighting continues in Sicily as
the Allies make limited progress. The Canadians capture Regalbuto while the
British take Centuripe.
The Americans make progress in the
Solomon Islands as they reach Munda airfield. The Japanese begin to withdraw
some of their more exposed garrisons to Kolombangara where they intend to make
their last stand.
The Soviet offensive continues as
August 3, 1943
The evacuation of Sicily by Italian
The Soviet Voronezh and Steppe Fronts
launch a fresh set of offensives on the Belgorod-Poltava axis aimed at the
liberation of Kharkov. In heavy fighting, the Soviets break the German lines to
the west and force the 4th Panzer Army to withdraw.
The Slapping Incident: While touring the front, General George Patton, commander of the US 7th Army stops in at the 15th Evacuation Hospital outside Nicosia. The facility was overrun with the newly arrived casualties from the heavy fighting by 1st Infantry Division outside Tronia. Patton, as always, was deeply moved by the sight of his men’s injuries, at least until he came to Private Charles H. Huhl, L. Co., 26th Inf. Regt., 1st Infantry Division. When asked what was wrong by the General, the young man replied that “he just couldn’t take it.” Patton lost all control ordering him out of the tent. When the soldier didn’t move, the General swore at him calling him a coward, slapped the man's face with his glove, pulled him up by the shirt collar, threw him toward the door and kicked him in the ass on his way out.
August 4, 1943
Soviet forces capture Orel. Fresh
attacks are launched by the Steppe and Voronezh Fronts south of Kursk targeted
at the 4th Panzer and 8th Armies. The lines of the 52nd
Corps were broken in the initial attacks.
In Sicily, British forces are fighting
in the Catania area while the Americans report heavy fighting around Tronia.
In the Solomon Islands, the Americans capture Munda on New Georgia.
August 5, 1943
Konev’s Steppe Front captures
Belgorod and drives on toward Kharkov. In the Orel area, 2nd Panzer
Army is battered into bits in its unsuccessful bid to hold the city and its
remnants reel under the continuing advance of the Red Army.
British forces captures Catania and
Paterno on Sicily.
Swedish Government canceled its agreement with Nazi Germany which had allowed
the passage of unarmed German soldiers across Sweden between Norway and Finland.
Additionally, transport of war material was to cease August 15. Neutral Sweden
had decided to lean back toward the Allies.
August 6, 1943
The US 1st Infantry Division
captures Tronia after heavy fighting.
Konev’s forces drive to the outskirts
of Kharkov taking Zolochev.
Six American destroyers successfully
intercept 4 Japanese destroyers attempting to run troops and supplies to
Kolombangara, meeting in the Vela Gulf. Three of the Japanese destroyers were
sunk. 1500 Japanese sailors and
soldiers were killed.
The new Italian government meets with
German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop and assures him that they will not be
negotiating a separate peace with the Allies.
German civil defense officials order the partial evacuation of Berlin, fearing that that city would become the next Hamburg.
August 7, 1943
British forces make good progress on Sicily, capturing Adrana and advancing toward Bronte.
August 8, 1943
Patton launches and “end run” on Sicily landing a small amphibious force east of Sant Agata. This move surprised the Germans and they were forced to make a hasty withdrawal allowing the 7th Army forces to take Cesaro. To the east, British forces take Bronte and Acireale.
In a secret negotiation between Hungry and Britain, it was agreed that RAF and American bombers flying on missions originating from Italy would not be fired on while over flying Hungry. In return, the British agreed that the Allies would not bomb Hungarian cities.
August 10, 1943
After a short pause, Red Army forces
continue their drive in the Orel area, capturing Khotinets. The attacks against
Kharkov meet heavy resistance compelling Konev to divert his attacks to surround
Patton launches a second amphibious
“end run”, this time at Borolo. The German’s were once again surprised,
but counter attacks against the beachhead caused serious losses. In the end, the
Germans were once again compelled to abandon their defenses and withdraw.
August 11, 1943
Konev’s forces cut the main rail line
leading into German held Kharkov.
German forces begin to evacuate Sicily.
August 12, 1943
The Red Army encirclement of Kharkov continues as Soviet forces take Chuguyev and drives on Plotava. The Germans are forced to pull their last major tank force (the 3rd Panzer Corps) out of the Taganrog area and move toward Plotava.
August 13, 1943
American and British military leaders
meet in Quebec. This conference saw agreement on the general outline for the
destruction of the Axis. Among the topics agreed to was the cross-channel
invasion of France. D-Day was set tentatively for May 1, 1944
The US 5th Air Force, based
in Australia, hits the Balikpapan oilfields in Borneo with 380 bombers.
Soviet forces tighten their grip on Kharkov, capturing Bolshaya and Danilovka. The Red Army opens a new offensive in the Smolensk area.
August 14, 1943
While visiting Roosevelt in Hyde park,
Churchill and FDR agreed that British and American scientists would completely
share all efforts involved in the development of the atomic bomb.
Red Army forces reach the outskirts of Kharkov.
August 15, 1943
Popov’s Bryansk Front captures
Karachev in heavy fighting.
On Sicily, Patton attempts for a third
time to trap German forces facing him with an amphibious “end run”. This
time, the Germans had already withdrawn before the sea borne force could land.
Meanwhile, British forces occupied Taormina.
In one of the more embarrassing
episodes in the war, 34,436 US and Canadian troops, supported by no less than
three battleships make an amphibious landing at Kiska Island in the Aleutian
Islands. The Allies finally discover that the Japanese had abandoned the island
at the end of July.
The US 25th Infantry
Division lands a regiment on Vella Lavella in the Solomon Islands.
Ninety-one German bombers hit
Italian officials meet with Allied representatives in Spain, offering to defect to the Allies as soon as the invasion of the mainland occurs. They must have forgotten their promise to Ribbentrop on the 6th.
August 16, 1943
Montgomery attempts an “end run” on
the east coast of Sicily but it fails to prevent the Germans from making a
successful withdrawal. US reconnaissance forces enter Messina. Nearly 100,000
Axis troops are successfully evacuated from the island.
Popov’s Bryansk Front continues to make good progress in the Smolensk area, capturing Zhidra, near Bryansk. Far to the south, the Southwest Front opens a fresh set of attacks against the Mius River line.
August 17, 1943
Schweinfurt-Regensburg Raid: The
US Army Air Force launches a dangerous and complicated raid on German ball
bearing factories. The plan called for one group of bombers to hit Schwienfurt
while another hit Regensburg. It was thought that the timing would confuse the
German fighter defenses and reduce the risk to the unescorted bombers. IN the
end, the staggered targeting resulted in a huge delay between the raids,
allowing the German fighter defenses to land and rearm between raids. The result
was a disaster. Of the 230 bombers sent against Schweinfurt, only 184 hit the
city and 36 were shot down. Similar results occurred against Regensburg as 24 of
the 146 bombers in that group were shot down. In all, 8th Air Force
lost nearly 550 men that day. This was a particularly bitter defeat because bomb
damage assessment concluded that the bombing was very inaccurate and the
factories not severely damaged. Thankfully, the American air commanders had
finally seen the folly of long-range unescorted bombing missions.
The Peenemunde Raid: RAF bombers
hit the German rocket research center near Peenemunde on the Baltic coast. 596
bombers take part in the raid. Damage to the facilities and program were severe,
at a cost of 40 bombers. The carnage would have been even more severe had not
nearly 200 German fighters been redirected to Berlin because of the “window”
radar jamming used by the British.
In other news …
Patton’s 7th Army marches
into Messina, followed closely by Montgomery’s 8th Army, thus
completing the conquest of Sicily for the Allies. During the 39-day campaign,
the Axis forces suffered 167,000 casualties (37,000 German, 130,000 Italian).
Allied losses were 25,000. Most deemed this a great Allied victory, but in
retrospective, it was a bitter one in that, had the Allied planning been more
bold, they easily could have destroyed all of the forces on the island rather
than allowing so many to escape.
August 18, 1943
US Naval forces bombard the Italian mainland at Palmi and Gioai Taura in preparation for invasion.
August 19, 1943
After three days of heavy fighting, the
Soviet Southwest Front breaks through the German defenses on the Mius River
August 20, 1943
The Soviet encirclement of Kharkov
continues. Red Army forces capture Libedin, west of Kharkov.
Allied forces engage in heavy fighting over Babdubi Ridge, in New Guinea.
August 21, 1943
Australian troops take Komiatum in New Guinea.
August 22, 1943
German forces, threatened with
encirclement at Kharkov begin to withdraw from Kharkov.
Red Army forces enter Kharkov, the
fourth, and last time the city would change hands in this war. The Germans
attempted to launch a spoiling attack, but this was met by the newly
reconstituted 5th Guards Tank Army and beaten back.
RAF bombers once again took to the night skies over Berlin sending 727 planes carrying 1700 tons of bombs. The raid was badly scatter but still managed to kill over 900 people. This was the opening of a new Bomber Command terror campaign which would come to be known as “The Battle of Berlin”.
August 24, 1943
SS Chief Heinrich Himmler is promoted to Reichminister of the Interior by Hitler.
August 25, 1943
In a military first, the Germans test a
new guided bomb, the Hs293. The device, launched from a bomber is guided by
radio signal from an airborne observer to the target, in this case, Allied ships
in the Bay of Biscay. The initial test failed to hit the ship, but the system
did show great promise.
Nearly 300 fighter-bombers and bombers
hit the Italian airfield at Foggia in preparations for the invasion of the
Red Army forces pursue the retreating Germans occupying Zenkov and Akhtyrka, west and north of Kharkov.
August 26, 1943
Allied nations gave limited recognition
to the French Committee of National Liberation.
August 27, 1943
RAF bomber command launches a 674 plane
raid against Nuremburg, hitting little, but managing to kill 65 people and
hitting the city zoo.
Elements of the US 43rd
Division land on the Nauro Peninsula on Arundel. There is no Japanese
The Soviet offensive contiues as the
Central Front takes Sevsk and Vatutin’s forces take Kotleva.
August 28, 1943
After rioting, strikes and acts of sabotage and German ultimatums, the Danish government falls and Nazi General von Hanneken takes charge.
August 29, 1943
General von Hanneken declares marshal
law as sporadic fighting is reported in Denmark. Most of the
Danish fleet is scuttled, preventing its capture by the Germans.
August 30, 1943
In a massive air battle over Italy, 44
US P-38 fighters, escorting B-26 medium bombers ran into 75 Luftwaffe fighters.
The two fighter groups fought as the bombers went on to obliterate the
marshalling yards at Aversa. The Americans lost 13 fighters to the German 9.
The withdrawal in the south begins as
Taganrog on the Sea of Azoz is abandoned by the Germans. Further to the north,
the Soviets roll forward in the Smolensk area, taking Sokolovsky and Yelna,