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

November, 1943


November 1, 1943  

Soviet forces capture Chaplinka, sealing off the Crimean peninsula from land communications, trapping the German 17th Army. The German's only line of communications is across the Black Sea to Rumania. Red Navy forces land on the Kerch peninsula.

The US 3rd Marine Division lands 14,000 troops at Cape Torokina, opening direct operations against Bougainville. The landings are supported by 4 cruisers and 8 destroyers from TF 39 and air support comes from the carriers Saratoga and Princeton (TF 38) The landings are resisted fiercely and the marines are subjected to heavy aerial attacks.

FDR, faced with 530,000 striking miners,  orders the Solid Fuels Administration to take over the operations of coal mines.

November 2, 1943

While attempting to reinforce Bougainville, Japanese naval forces are intercepted by US Naval forces off Empress Augusta Bay. In the battle, the Japanese cruiser Sendai and a destroyer were sunk.

The US 3rd Marine Division is engaged in heavy fighting at Bougainville as they attempt to expand their beachhead.

160 land-based bombers from the us 5th Air Force raid the Japanese harbor at Rabaul, sinking three ships.

Chinese forces attacking along the Garung River in Burma meet heavy resistance and suffer heavy losses.

The British 8th Army opens fresh attacks in Italy, forcing the Trigno River line.

The Red army continues its attacks in the southern Ukraine capturing Kakhovka and stopping a German counterattack at Krivoii Rog.

November 3, 1943

Fighting in Italy is heavy as the British 8th Army tangles with the German 16 Panzer Grenadier Division at San Salvo and the US 5th Army takes Sessa Aurunca.

US 8th Air Force bombers returned to Germany in daylight raids, hitting Wilhelmshaven with 500 planes.

With their diversionary mission completed, the 2nd Marine Parachute Battalion is withdrawn from Choiseul.

As Soviet attacks drove closer to the facility, the Germans decided to murder the remaining 17,000 Jews in the Maideanek concentration camp.

November 4, 1943

The Soviet Steppe Front (Vatutin) launches fresh attacks out of their bridgeheads over the Dniepr River north of Kiev.

The US 5th Army makes good progress in Italy capturing Monte Massico, Monte Croce, Venafro and Rocavirondola as the Germans withdraw to their next prepared defences - the Reinhard Line.

November 5, 1943

US TF 38 under Admiral Sherman, reinforced with the carriers Saratoga and Princeton hit the newly arrived Japanese Squadron at Rabaul under Admiral Kurita. 107 planes attack the Japanese damaging 4 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers and 2 destroyers at a cost of 10 aircraft. The attack was followed up with a US 5th Air Force raid by B-24 heavy bombers.

The Japanese 23rd Infantry Regiment launched strong attacks against the US 3rd Marine Division's perimeter at Bougainville. The attack was crushed.

A series of explosions ripped through the Peugeot factory at Sochaux. French partisans were responsible for the sabotage.

The attacks by the Steppe Front sweep west and south of Kiev, cutting the important double rail line between Zhitomir and Kiev. Meanwhile, South Front (Tolbukhin) closes on the lower Dniepr River.

The US 5th Army comes to a grinding halt as attacks against Hube's 14th Panzer Corps prove futile. The British 8th Army captures Vasto, Palmoli and Torrebruna.

November 6, 1943

As the Germans execute a hasty withdrawal from the city, Vatutin's Stepper Front liberates the city of Kiev.

November 7, 1943  

Over 100 Japanese aircraft raid US TF 38, failing to do any serious damage to the US carriers (Saratoga and Princeton).

Japanese forces make a sea borne landing north of the US 3rd Marine Division beachhead. Heavy fighting follows as the Marines shift to face the new threat.

November 8, 1943  

German forces launch counterattacks against the advancing US 5th Army in Italy. The attacks are easily stopped, but force a temporary halt in the Allied drive north.

Soviet forces continue to drive the Germans away from Kiev, capturing the important rail junction and supply head of Fastov, 30 miles west of Kiev.

November 9, 1943  

The US 37th Infantry Division begins landing at Bougainville to reinforce the marine beachhead.

November 10, 1943

The Kremlin, feeling secure in victory announces the creation of two new decorations, the "Victory Order" for officers and the "Order of Glory" for lower ranks.

The Allies announce the formation of a new group to reform the Italian economy to support the Allied war effort.

November 11, 1943  

Admiral Sherman's TF 38, now including five aircraft carriers, hit Rabaul with 185 planes. The Japanese lose 70 aircraft as well as a light cruiser and 2 destroyers. Japanese counterattacks against the American carriers fail to do any damage.

November 12, 1943  

The Germans launched division sized combined sea borne and airborne invasion of the British held island of Leros in the Aegean Sea. The British defenders were subjected to heavy air attacks from Stuka dive-bombers as the RAF was unable to provide support to the distant outpost. Heavy fighting ensued.

Soviet forces continue their drive out of Kiev, entering Zhitomir. German resistance grows more serious as reinforcements arrive to begin patching up their shattered lines.

The 52 surviving Japanese aircraft at Rabaul were withdrawn ending the biggest threat to the Marine operations on Bouganville. Many of Japans best pilots were lost in this forlorn campaign.

November 13, 1943  

Vatutin's Steppe Front captures Zhitomir.

US B-17 bombers hit Tarawa atoll in preparation for the coming invasion.

The 37th Infantry division completes its landing at Bouganville and the 21st Marine Regiment begins landing.

November 14, 1943  

In a freak accident, President Roosevelt, Generals Marshall and Arnold, Admirals Leahy and King, plus scores of distinguished politicians, and army, naval and air force strategists came under fire while traveling to the the Tehran Conference on board the battleship Iowa. While running a torpedo drill, the US destroyer William D. Porter was targeting the Iowa's #2 magazine, a live torpedo was ejected and headed for the battleship. After maneuvering, the torpedo detonated 1200 feet aft of Iowa in her wake turbulence. When the incident was concluded, Air Force General Hap Arnold leaned over to Fleet Commander Admiral King and asked, "Tell me Ernest, does this happen often in your Navy?"

The Germans begin counterattacks against Vatutin's forces around Zhitomir. The 7th Panzer Division spearheads the attacks which throw the Soviet spearheads into disarray.

November 15, 1943 

German forces counterattacking against the Steppe Front recapture Zhitomir. The attack is now being executed by the elite 48th Panzer Corps (7 divisions in all).

Attacks in Italy come to a close as bad weather and German reinforcements arrive to shore up the already formidable defenses. 

November 16, 1943  

Germany's dream of developing an atom bomb comes to an end as 160 US heavy bombers hit the hydro-electric plant at Vermork, Norway. Twenty civilians were killed in the attack which missed the plant. However, the damage done to the rest of the facility was so severe that the Germans abandoned further production of "heavy water".

After five desperate days of fighting, the bulk of the British survivors of the 234th Brigade surrender to the Germans on Leros, ending effective resistance on the island. The Germans took 3500 British soldiers prisoner along with nearly 6000 Italians who did not participate in the battle.

The Australian 9th Division opens fresh attacks against Japanese strongholds at Sattelberg in New Guinea.

November 17, 1943

Soviet forces continue to advance toward Gomel in the north and Korosten in the south. German counterattacks south of Zhitomir succeed in breaking the Soviet lines at several points.

November 18, 1942

Under the cover of the long European winter nights, British Bomber Command is ready to unleash deep penetration raids into Germany. Harris opens his attacks with a 440 bomber raid on Berlin, dropping 700 tons of ordnance on the city. Despite heavy cloud cover, nearly 150 civilians were killed in the terror bombing.

Fighting on the eastern front remains heavy west of Kiev as Korosten and Ovruch are captured by the Soviets. Meanwhile German attacks south of Zhitomir continue to make progress. To the north, the rail line out of Gomel to the west is cut as the Red Army captures Rechitsa.

The 3000 ton British freighter Penolver stuck a mine off Newfoundland. Within minutes, 14 of her crew were rescued by the US merchantman De Lisle, which shortly thereafter struck a mine and was sunk.

November 19, 1943

The German forces enter Zhitomir and heavy street fighting results. The Soviets, realizing how exposed their position is against this strong thrust made limited and organized retreats to more defensible lines while continuing their attacks west of Kiev.

The US navy launches major air raids against the Gilbert Islands. The planes from 11 aircraft carriers hit Tarawa, Makin and Nauru islands.

German forces in Italy successfully withdraw their forces north of the Sangro River into prepared defensive positions. The British 8th Army is stopped cold.

November 20, 1943

Gilbert Islands Invaded - Elements of the 2nd Marine Division under General J.C. Smith land on the Tarawa Atoll. The attack is supported by gun fire from three battleships, four cruisers and aircraft from 3 aircraft carriers. Despite the massive firepower, the landings are a fiasco. As the landing craft and amphtracks approached the beach, they came to a stop 500 yards from landfall when a previously undiscovered reef was struck. The amphtracks could climb the reef only with difficulty and the landing craft disgorged its infantry in the waste deep water. The Japanese then opened up on the defenseless Marines. Most of the first wave was wiped out. Successive waves piled in behind the wreckage of the previous one. By nightfall, the marine beachhead was 100 yards wide and 20 feet deep. Of the 5000 men engaged 1500 were dead or wounded.

A simultaneous landing was made on Makin Atoll by elements of the US 27th Infantry Division commanded by General R. C. Smith. Fire from four battleships, four cruisers and aircraft from 3 carriers supported these landings. The landings are made against stiff opposition but casualties and confusion are not as great as at Tarawa.

Elsewhere

Soviet forces opened a new offensive across the Dniepr River near Cherkassy, south of Kiev.

With the loss of Leros, British forces begin a hasty withdrawal from the exposed Aegean island of Samos.

November 21, 1943

The 2nd Marine Division makes additional landings against very heavy resistance at Tarawa Atoll. Casualties are very heavy. Of the 800 men landed, 450 became casualties. After a day of very heavy fighting, the marines established an improved, but still not secure position and the Japanese were exhausted. Admiral Shibasaki, the Japanese commander radioed Tokyo,  "Our weapons have been destroyed. From now on everyone is attempting a final charge. May Japan exist for ten thousand years!"

Elements of the US 27th Infantry Division successfully established their beachhead at Makin Atoll and advanced to clear the island.

German forces take Samos capturing 4800 British soldiers.

November 22, 1943

After heavy fighting and serious losses, 2nd Marine Division establishes a secure bridgehead on Tarawa Atoll and begins advancing to clear the island. At dusk, the Japanese sent in a final suicide charge which nearly overran B company, 6th Marine Regiment.

On Makin Atoll, most of the island is cleared by midnight.

The British 8th Army assaults the Sangro River line establishing a very limited bridgehead 5 miles wide and a little over a mile deep. The position is made especially tenuous as heavy rains have made it difficult to reinforce and supply the position.

Harris' terror bombing campaign against Berlin continues. This time 764 bombers, carrying 2300 tons of bombs, hit the city. Despite the heavy cloud cover, several firestorms were ignited and heavy damage was done to the western residential areas of the city. The smoke from fires over the city rose to 19,000 feet. The devastation was so extensive that exact damage estimates were difficult to determine. 2000 civilians were killed, including 500 who died when an air raid shelter took a direct hit from a 4000# bomb. 175,000 people lost their homes and 23 industrial sites were burned out.

November 23, 1943

Tarawa Atoll is cleared of enemy troops by noon. Both sides have suffered heavily as the Japanese garrison of 4836 men are utterly destroyed. Less than 100 survived and most of those were foreign workers. The Marines lost 3283 men, including 1090 dead. The butcher's bill from Makin was less but still severe. The Japanese garrison of 600 was destroyed at a loss of 200 dead and wounded by the US infantry.

A test flight of the first true jet fighter aircraft, the Me-262 is made for Hitler. Hitler inexplicably declared that the plane must be capable of carrying bombs. This incredible order would delay deployment for a critical year. This remarkable aircraft could have potentially turned the tide of the air war over German in favor of the Nazis had it gone into production.

383 RAF bombers hit Berlin for a second night in a row causing severe damage to the city.

November 24, 1943

The US Navy lost the escort carrier Liscomb Bay and 600 hands perished when she sunk.

Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands launch a counterattack against the Marines at Bougainville. The attack is shredded to pieces.

Berlin reports large sections of the city to be in flames from the British terror bombing. They report 8-10,000 civilians killed.

November 25, 1943

Bombers from the US 14th Air Force based in China, hit Shinchiku airfield on Japanese held Formosa destroying 42 Japanese planes on the ground and in aerial combat.

In a night action in the Bismark Archipelago, five Japanese destroyers carrying troops to reinforce Buka in the Solomon Islands are intercepted by an equal number of US destroyers led by Captain John Burke. Three of the Japanese destroyers were sunk and the survivors fled.

November 26, 1943

Red Army forces capture Gomel.

A German glider bomb hits and sinks a British troop transport off Bougie, Italy killing more than 1000 men on board.

RAF Bomber command sends 443 heavy Lancaster bombers against Berlin, striking the city center. 2-3000 civilians were killed in the raid. In addition, the Berlin Zoo was heavily hit, killing most of the animals but some of the larger beasts escaped and had to be hunted down in the ruined streets of the city.

November 27, 1943

The British 8th Army consolidates its bridgehead over the Sangro River by crossing an armored brigade.

November 28, 1943

The British 8th Army launches another attack across the Sangro River. The attack was  spearheaded by the Indian 8th Division and heavily supported by artillery and air assets. The German 65th Infantry division defending the area took heavy losses and withdrew in disorder before German reinforcements restored the situation.

Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt meet for the first time in person as the Teheran Conference begins.

November 29, 1943

The British 8th Army continues its attacks along the Sangro River, capturing Mozxzogrogna.

Australian forces capture Gusika and Bonga in New Guinea.

The effort to modify a B-29 bomber to carry a nuclear bomb was completed.

November 30, 1943

The British 8th Army continues its attacks along the Sangro River, capturing Fossacesia. They also succeed in clearing the line of ridges north of the river denying the Germans positions to observe and bring down fire on the British bridgeheads.

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