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

October, 1943


October 1, 1943

The German withdrawl comes to an end along a line running south of Rome. Meanwhile, the SU 5th Army completes the occupation of Naples while the British 8th Army continues to advance north.

Soviet forces establish several more small bridgeheads over the Dniepr River.

October 2, 1943

The Australian 20th Brigade, reinforced by the Australian 23rd Brigade takes Finschafen in New Guinea.

In Italy, the US 5th Army captures Benevento while the Britgish 8th Army establishes a bridgehead over the Biferno River.

The continuous manpower drain on the Germans forced them to reorganize their infantry divisions from a force of 9 infantry battalions (18,000 men) to one of 6 battalions (10,000 men).

 October 3, 1943

As the British occupied more islands in the Aegean Sea, they began to pressure Turkey to enter the war. In an effort to force Turkey to remain neutral, the Germans launched Operation Polar Bear, a series of attacks in these islands. The first attack came from paratroops landing on the island of Kos.

During the early morning hours, British commandos land and occupy Termoli in Italy. The Germans react quickly by counterattacking with the 16th Panzer Division. The commands successfully hold out until relief comes when a linkup with the British 78th Division is made. Meanwhile, elements of the US 5th Army capture Aversa and Maddaloni.

October 4, 1943

The Germans complete their conquest of Kos capturing 1400 British and 3150 Italians. Even more important is the destruction of the northern most British airfield in the Aegean.

Planes from the US aircraft carrier Ranger operating with the British home fleet, succeed in sinking 4 German freighters and crippling 7 others off the coast of Norway.

October 5, 1943

Heavy fighting between the British 78th Division and the 16th Panzer Division continues at Termoli, bringing the advance of the British 13th Corps (8th Army) to a halt.

Wake Island is hit by aircraft and naval guns from Task Force 14. The group consists of 6 aircraft carriers, 7 cruisers and 25 destroyers.

October 6, 1943

Elements of the US 25th Division land on Kolomabangara in the Solomon Islands meeting no opposition. That night the 600 man Japanese garrison is evacuated from Vella Lavella by a force of six destroyers. They encounter three US destroyers. Both sides lost one ship sunk and the Americans withdrew when their other two ships were damaged.

In Italy, the US 5th Army advances beyond the Volturno Rivers, capturing Capua. Meanwhile, heavy fighting continues

October 7, 1943

Red Army forces launch a fresh offensive in the north capturing Nevel. In the south, the Soviets pause to bring up supplies and consolidate their recently gained bridgeheads over the Dniepr River.

Royal Navy forces intercept a convoy of German transports heading for Cos. The entire force of seven transports are sunk.

Fighting between the 16th Panzer Division and the British 78th Division at Termoli ends as the Germans pull back behind the Trigno River.

In their initial use, Bomber Command deploys its “Cigar” jammers to confuse German night-fighter communications. The technique succeeds in largely eliminating the opposition over Stuttgart, which is hit with 343 heavy Lancaster bombers. Nearly 5000 homes were destroyed, and 160 civilians killed in the raid at a cost of 4 bombers.

October 8, 1943

The entire US 5th Army has reached the Volturno River and begin preparations for crossing the river.

Communist and anti-communist factions in Greece launch attacks against each other, beginning six years of civil war.

October 9, 1943

The German 17th Army completes the evacuation of the Kuban Peninsula moving across the Strait of Kerch into the dubious safety of the Crimean Peninsula. 225,000 German and Rumanian soldiers and 27,000 civilians made the withdrawal.

October 10, 1943

US 5th Army forces capture Portelandalfo, Italy.

Soviet forces approach Gomel capturing Dobrush.

A German submarine successfully mines the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal.

October 11, 1943  

The Red Army forces capture Novobelitsa near Gomel.

October 12, 1943  

The US 5th Army begins its assaults on the Volturno River line. The British 10th Corps operating along the coast makes little progress, being faced by determined German counterattacks. Lucas’ US 6th Corps makes more progress but poor weather and determined resistance limits advances.

The US 5th Air Forces launches 349 aircraft at the Japanese stronghold at Rabaul, New Britian.

October 13, 1943

The newly formed Italian government declared war on Germany and Italian troops began entering the line to fight their former German allies.

Allied forces announce that all of the New Georgia Island group in the Solomons are in friendly hands.

October 14, 1943  

The American 8th Air Forces launches the disastrous raid against the ball-bearing works at Schweinfurt. 291 B-17 Flying Fortresses, flying without fighter escorts, did limited damage to the factory complex. The Americans lost 60 bombers shot down and another 120 were damaged beyond repair. Because of this disaster, it was decided to end all unescorted daylight bombing raids over Germany.

Zaporozhye is captured by Soviet forces. German forces resist Red Army attacks at Melitopol as the German rail line into the Crimea is cut.

The US 5th Army attacks along the Volturno River continues as the British 10th Corps established a bridgehead over the river.

October 15, 1943  

Allied attacks in Italy and Russia continue to gain ground.

October 16, 1943  

Vatutin’s forces launch attacks out of the Bukrin bridgehead south of Kiev. The attacks are met by several German panzer divisions. Fighting is severe.

German forces begin an organized withdrawal from Volturno River as the US 5th Army offensive grinds forward.

October 17, 1943  

Soviet forces shatter the Dniepr River line defenses with attacks near Kremenchug.

Japanese forces attempt to strike back in New Guinea launching serious air raids against Oro Bay and ground attacks against Finschafen. Both result in serious losses and failure for the Japanese forces involved.

The US 5th Army takes Liberi and Alvignano.

The German raider Michel is sunk by the American submarine Tarpon. In it’s career of  three years, the armed merchant sunk 17 ships.

October 18, 1943  

The British 8th Army, after a brief rest period to regroup and resupply, launches its offensive toward the Trigno River while the US 5th Army captures Gioia.

Heavy fighting continues at Melitopol as Soviet forces drive into the center of the town.

October 19, 1943

The 2nd Ukrainian Front under Konev launches fresh attacks out of the Kremenchug area.

Italian Marines from the San Marco, now fighting for the Allies, are the first troops to enter Venice.

Horrible weather forces the US 5th Army to suspend offensive operations as heavy rains turn the roads into lakes of mud.

October 20, 1943

Soviet forces meet determined resistance from von Manstein’s Army Group south. The attacks are stopped cold with heavy losses.

The Allies announce that they will establish a war crimes tribunal under the auspices of the UN after hostilities are concluded.

Some Japanese aircraft from the carriers Zuikaku, Zuiho, Shokaku, Junyo, Hiyo and Ryuho are transferred to land bases around Rabaul in New Britain, the clearest sign yet that the Japanese have surrendered the initiative to the Allies and are in a strategic defense.

October 21, 1943

SS troops surrounded the Minsk ghetto for one last time. 2000 Jews were loaded into trucks and taken away to be shot. The buildings were blown up, just in case someone was hiding in them. The last inhabitants of the ghetto perished on this last day of the tragedy. Only the ruins would bare witness to the horrible and inhuman crimes committed against the tens of thousands of Jews of the Minsk Ghetto.

Subhas Chandra Bose announced the formation of the pro-Axis “Free India” government. Bose, an ardent nationalist would declare war on England two days later and ultimately raise a division of former Indian POWs to fight for the Japanese.

October 22, 1943

Continuing with their near nightly terror bombing of German cities, RAF Bomber command hits the city of Kessel in a particularly devastating raid. 569 bombers, all of them four engine heavy Lancasters or Halifax bombers. Despite initial errors in marking the center of town, the raid was remarkably concentrated and accurate. The combination of high explosives and incendiary bombs created a firestorm smaller but reminiscent of the  one in Hamburg in July. Over 11,000 blocks of housing were destroyed or heavily damaged displacing over 100,000 people. 5,600 people were killed and another 2,800 were missing and presumed dead. The three Henschel aircraft plants were seriously damaged and this set back the production of V-1 bombs.

October 23, 1943

The daily murder of people at Aushwitz was interrupted when one woman, among the 1750 Polish Jews that arrived that day, rebelled. When ordered to strip, she threw her shoe at SS Sergeant-major Josef Schillinger. In the ensuing confusion, she took his pistol and shot him in the stomach, mortally wounding him, and wounded a second SS sergeant. This set off a riot among the rest of the women in line outside the gas chamber. One SS trooper had his nose ripped off and a second SS soldier was scalped. The women’s victory was short lived. The camp commander, Rudolf Hoess, organized a counter attack and sprayed the area down with machine pistols and grenades. The survivors were shot.

After 10 days of heavy street fighting, Soviet forces take Melitopol. Dnepropetrovsk also falls as tank spearheads reach Krivoi Rog.

HMS The Royal Navy cruiser Charybdis and destroyer Limborne are sunk by German MTBs T23 and T27, in the English Channel off the coast of  France. 462 sailors were lost.

October 24, 1943  

German E-boats attack a convoy off Norfolk sinking one trawler for the cost of three of their craft.

The second day of heavy Allied air raids against the Japanese stronghold at Rabaul, New Britain ends with the sinking of one Japanese destroyer and five merchant ships.

October 25, 1943  

The Japanese open the infamous Siam-Burma rail line (of “Bridge on the River Kwai” fame). Of the 46,000 Allied POWs forced to labor on the project, 16,000 would die of starvations, brutality and illness.

October 26, 1943  

RAF bomber command hits Stuttgart while the US 8th Air Force launches a devastating attack against Bremen.

October 27, 1943

Field Marshal von Kluge is invalided and removed from command of Army Group Center after he is severely injured in a car crash.

Troops from New Zealand land on Stirling and Nomo islands in the Treasury Island chain starting the Boughainville campaign.

October 28, 1943  

The 2nd Marine Parachute Battalion makes a diversionary sea borne assault at Voza on Choiseul Island in support of the main operations to commence against Bougainville.

October 29, 1943  

Red Army attacks against the German 4th Army between Orsha and Vitebsk intensify. The hard pressed Germans contain the Soviet advances in heavy fighting.

In an event that would be repeated 25 years later, US forces mined the waters outside Haiphong harbor. This time, the operation was conducted by the US Navy submarine Grenadier.

October 30, 1943  

The US 5th Army captures Mondragone, Italy 

Soviet forces capture Genichesk, cutting the only rail communications for the Germans into the Crimean peninsula.

October 31, 1943  

The Italian 1st Motorized Group became the first large Italian formation to fight with the Allies. They were assigned to the 5th Army.

 

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