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

September, 1943

September 1, 1943

US forces land on Baker Island and begin work on airfields to support operations in the Gilbert Islands. Meanwhile, US naval planes hit Marcus Island. This attack was the debut for the new Grumman F6F “Hellcat” fighter, arguably the most successful plane in the war.

The Soviet summer offensive continues forward as Dorogobuzh fall.

September 2, 1943

Red army forces liberate Lisichansk and Kommunarsk in the Donets while to the north, Sumy and Glushkovo are recaptured.

September 3, 1943

After a secret armistice is signed between Italy and the Allies, elements of the British VIII Corps (from Montgomery’s 8th Army) land on the Italian mainland at Reggio, Catona and San Giovanni. As part of the armistice agreement, no Italian troops went into action against the invaders.

The Soviet offensive rolls forward as the Germans abandon Putivl and Ilovask.

September 4, 1943

The Australian 9th Division lands at Huon Gulf east of Lae in New Guinea.

US forces begin attacks out of their beachhead on Arundel.

September 5, 1943  

The attacks toward Lae contrinue as the US 503rd Parachute Regiment is dropped into the Markham Valley and link up with the Australians attacking out of Tsili Tsili.

Red army forces continue their attacks, liberating Artemovsk, Kuhtov and Mikhailovsky.

September 6, 1943  

The German navy sorties the battleship Tirpitz, heavy cruiser Scharnhorst, and nine destroyers (Erich Steinbrinck, Karl Galster, Hans Lody, Theodor Riedel, Z27, Z29, Z30, Z31, Z33) with the intent to bombard Spitzbergen.

Soviet forces succeed in opening a large hole between the German Army Group Center and South. They continue their march west capturing Makeyevka, Konotop, Kromatorsk and Slavyansk.

The Australian 9th Division meets heavy Japanese resistance while moving toward Lae in New Guinea.

September 7, 1943  

The British 8th Army begins moving up the “Italian boot” capturing Bova Marina.

Red Army offensives force the Germans to abandon Baturin and Zvenkov. They also begin the evacuation of the Donets industrial center at Stalino.

RAF aircraft bomb a series of suspicious sights along the coast of France. It turned out that these sites were to be launch points for V-1 “Buzz Bombs”. The attacks greatly disrupted the German plan for this new “Blitz” against England.

Hitler visited the HQ of Army Group South were he was briefed on the disasters on that front. That afternoon, he flew back to Germany. It was the last time he would set foot on Soviet territory.

September 8, 1943

An armistice is signed between the Italian government and the Allied powers. Although some diehards would continue the fight, Fascist Italy becomes the first Axis nation to surrender. 

An Italian Fleet of 3 battleships (Roma, Vittorio Veneto, Italia), 6 cruisers and 9 destroyers sorties from La Spezia and Genoa with the intent of surrendering to the Allies. Meanwhile, the British 8th Army captures Locri and Pizzo.

Red Army advances continue unabated as Stalino, Yasinovataya and Krasnoarmeisk are captured.

After taking Saingaua, Austrlian forces are stopped by stiffening Japanese resistance along the Busu River. Meanwhile, US destroyers bombard Lae.

German naval forces lead by the battleship Tirpitz bombarding the enemy 3” gun battery at Barentsburg. The destroyers landed parties who captured prisoners, wrecked a radio station and destroyed a supply dump.

September 9, 1943  

Operation “Avalanche” begins as the US 5th Army, led by Mark Clark, begin landing operations south of Salerno, behind the German forces facing the British 8th Army. The British X Corps and US VI Corps lead the assault. Commando and Ranger units support the attack capturing inland targets. Meanwhile, the British 1st Airborne Division captures the port at Taranto. Minor resistance is encountered.

German forces enter Rome, brushing aside the Italian garrison and forcing the government to flee.

While attempting to save his ships from capture by the Germans, Italian Admiral Bergamini’s ships are attacked by Luftwaffe air units. In the attack, the new Fritz X guided bomb was used to great effect as one of the devices went down the funnel of the Roma, exploding deep inside her. All hands, including Bergamini were killed.

German begin to fight back against Red Army attacks as heavy fighting is reported around Bakhmach. However, the German 17th Army in the Kuban begins pulling back from its exposed position.

After heavy fighting, Australian forces establish positions across the Busu River.

September 10, 1943  

Quick reaction by the Germans turn the beachhead at Salerno into a bitter fight. Rearguards are left to slow the advance of the already tardy Montgomery while the bulk of the German striking power is directed at the US VI Corps. Meanwhile, the British advance in the north of the beachhead, capturing Montecorvino and Battipaglia, only to loose them in German counterattacks.

Large parts of the Italian navy reach Malta to surrender. Meanwhile, British forces are landed at Castelrosso in the Aegean Sea and the Germans begin the evacuation of Sardinia.

Red Army forces try their hand at amphibious landings hitting the Black Sea coast near Novorossiysk. The makeshift nature of the attack creates a great deal of confusion among the Soviet units and unexpectedly heavy resistance and quick reaction from the Germans leads to heavy losses. A similar assault in the sea of Azoz is conducted at Mariupol. It too is met by heavy resistance from Rumanian artillery units which cause heavy losses. Other Red Army forces take Barvenkovo, Volnovakha and Chaplino.

September 11, 1943  

Allied forces fail to expand the very shallow beachhead at Salerno after a day of heavy fighting which saw no appreciable gains against ever stiffening German resistance. German aircraft attack the Allied positions despite friendly air cover, damaging the US cruiser Savanah. Meanwhile, Montgomery’s 8th Army continues to creep forward capturing Catanzaro and Brindisi.

The Italian’s on Rhodes surrender to the Germans.

As heavy fighting on the island continues, the US 27th Infantry Regiment reinforces Arundel.

Australian forces in New Guinea capture Salamaua.

A German U-boat succeeded in laying mines off the coast of Charleston, SC.

September 12, 1943  

In a daring German assault, Otto Skorzeny leads a glider attack on a mountain top resort at Gran Sasso to free Mussolini who had been under arrest since the Badoglio government was formed. Despite high winds and a rocky landing field, the attack goes in and within minutes, Il Duce is flown off the mountain to Rome and then Germany.

At Salerno, the German “Herman Goring” panzer division attacks Allied forces at the Molina Pass. Montgomery’s 8th Army makes progress, capturing Crotone.

September 13, 1943  

The Germans launch a general counterattack against the beachhead at Salerno hitting the entire perimeter. Elements of the 16th Panzer and 29th Panzergrenadier Divisions (XIV Panzer Corps) hit the American VI Corps, capturing Persano. The German spearheads come to within a mile of the beach and are stopped only by naval gunfire. Elements of the 82nd Airborne Divisions are rushed into a drop into the beachhead to reinforce the VI Corps. Clark panics and orders the VI Corps to begin planning to evacuate the beachhead.

Fighting is reported between Italian and German units at Cephalonia. 1646 Italians would be killed in the fighting before they would surrender a week later.

September 14, 1943

Heavy fighting continues at Salerno as the Germans attempt to push the Allies back into the sea. A paratroop battalion is dropped behind the German lines to help relieve the pressure.

Free French commandos are landed on Corsica to form resistance groups to harass the Germans occupying the island.

The elite British Boat Service, a watery cousin to the SAS, lands on the Aegean island of Kos.

September 15, 1943

The Australian 7th and 9th Divisions capture Lae in New Guinea.

Mussolini returns to power in Italy (at least the northern half). It is a political move and has little real impact.

The Salerno beachhead is reinforced by the equivalent of four divisions.

September 16, 1943

German attacks are renewed against the British 10th Corps between Salerno and Battipaglia, but failed utterly. By evening, Field Marshal Kesselring calls it quits and orders the withdrawl of German forces to the Volturno line.

After a week of very heavy fighting, Soviet ground forces link up with the beachhead at Novorossysk, capturing the town.

RAF Bomber Command makes a hash of the first use of the massive 12,000 pound “Tall Boy” bomb in raids against the Dortmund-Ems Canal.

The British battleship Warspite is damaged when two of the new German glider bombs hit the ship.

British forces occupy the Aegean islands of Leros and Samos.

September 17, 1943

The Germans begin to withdraw from the Salerno area as the British 8th Army finally links up with the US 5th Army.

The Soviets move into Bryansk as the Germans complete their withdrawal. On the Sea of Azov, the town of Berdyansk is captured.

September 18, 1943

British forces continue their occupation of Aegean islands moving onto Simi, Stampalia and Icaria. German aircraft hit the British airfield on Kos.

The Soviet offensive in the Ukraine continues as Red Army forces capture Pavlograd, Krasnograd, Pologi and Nogaysk.

Admiral Pownall’s fast carrier force (Lexington, Princeton and Belleau Wood) attack the island of Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands chain.

September 19, 1943  

US heavy bombers (B-24 Liberators) attack Tarawa.

German forces complete the evacuation of Corsica under pressure from French resistance fighters.

Soviet forces capture Yartsevo and Dukovschina northeast of Smolensk.

The British 8th Army continues driving north in Italy capturing Auletta.

September 20, 1943  

British commandos launch an attack on the German battleship Tirpitz at its anchorage in Alta Fjord. The six midget (4-man crew) submarines were sent against the anchorage. Three were lost before reaching the target, but the survivors succeeded in damaging the ship, knocking it out of action for six months.

In testimony before the US Senate, General Marshal and Admiral King indicate that failure to allow draft exemptions for fathers will likely prolong the war.

After weeks of bitter fighting, Kholm falls to Red Army forces.

September 21, 1943  

German hopes of establishing a firm defensive line along the Dnepr River are thwarted as an advance party establishes a small bridgehead over the river at Dnepropetrovsk, south of Kiev.

The British 8th and US 5th Armies realign their boundries and begin the long drive north in Italy.

September 22, 1943

Elements of the 9th Australian Division (20th Brigade) land at Finschhafen in New Guinea.

Soviet forces take Anapa in the Kuban Peninsula and Novomoskovosk (near Dnepropetrovsk). Heavy fighting is reported at Poltava.

After two weeks of heavy fighting, the Italian “Acqui” Division surrenders to the Germans. 1500 Italians died in the fighting. Of the survivors of the fighting on Cephalonia 5000 were murdered and the rest sent to labor camps.

September 23, 1943  

Red Army forces capture Poltava.

The British 10th Corps (5th US Army) makes contact with German rearguards in the mountain passes on the road to Naples.

September 24, 1943  

The Australian 20th Brigade breaks the Japanese defense lines along the Buni River, capturing the Finschhafen airfield.

Red army forces capture Borispol on the road to Kiev while Army Group Center prepares to abandon Smolensk and Roslavl.

September 25, 1943  

Red Army forces liberate Smolensk and Rostavl.

Japanese forces begin the evacuation of Kolombangara in the Solomon Islands.

September 26, 1943  

German forces in Italy begin a planned withdrawal to fortified lines as the US 5th  and British 8th Armies move north in pursuit.

September 27, 1943  

Elements of the British 8th Army occupy Foggia and Melfi. The capture of Foggia brought with it the massive airbase, allowing the Allies to stage future raids throughout the Balkans and southern Germany and Poland.

Soviet forces enter Dnepropetrovsk.

The people of Naples rise up against German troops in their city, harassing the retreating former ally.

 September 28, 1943

The British 10th Corps (US 5th Army) captures Nocera and continues its advance on Naples. The US 6th Corps captures Teora and moves on Avellino.

 September 29, 1943

The Soviets capture Kremenchug

Allied forces open fresh attacks from the Salerno area taking Pompeii on the road to Naples.

 September 30, 1943

The US 5th Army enters Naples and captures Avellino.

The Gestapo and Danish Nazis begin the roundup and deportation of Danish Jews. Much of the plan is thwarted because anti-Nazi Danes organized a covert operation to smuggle many of the potential victims to neutral Sweden.


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