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

January 1944


January 1, 1944

The ďDesert FoxĒ, Erwin Rommel, returns to the front as commander of Army Group B. He is placed in charge of the defense of northwest France, including the Atlantic Wall defenses at Normandy.

January 2, 1944

Elements of the 32nd Infantry Division land at and take the heavily fortified Japanese position at Saidor in New Guinea. The Americans suffered 54 KIAs and the entire garrison of 1275 Japanese were killed.

The 1st Ukrainian Front captures Radovel.

RAF bombers score a direct hit on Hitler's Chancellery in Berlin, nearly destroying the building.

January 3, 1944

Montgomery returns to England to take command of British forces for the coming cross channel attack.

The Soviet Winter offensive continues to close on the old Polish border capturing Olevsk and Novograd-Volynski.

RAF Bomber Command executes a disastrous raid on Berlin loosing 27 Lancaster bombers from the 383 planes in the mission

January 4, 1944

Operation Carpetbagger begins as covert air resupply missions are flown over Netherlands, Belgium, France and Italy in order to support resistance movements on the continent.

January 5, 1944

As temperatures plunge well below freezing, Konevís 2nd Ukrainian Front opens itís offensive toward Kirovograd. The massive attack, from 6 armies, hits the weakened German 8th Army. The initial attacks rip massive holes in the German lines. Meanwhile, 1st Ukrainian Front captures Berdichev and Tarascha.

January 6, 1944

The Red Army offensive rolls forward capturing Rakitino, inside the old Polish border.

The US 5307 Composite Regiment gets a new commander that will also provide the unit its identity - Merrill's Marauders.

January 7, 1944

The US 5th Army captures Monte Chiaia and Monte Porchia in Italy.

The 2nd Ukrainian Front begins meeting serious opposition as its spearheads begin to surround Kirovograd.

French resistance fighters bomb the electricity generating facilities at Tulle.

January 8, 1944

Three German divisions are surrounded by Konevís 2nd Ukrainian Front at Kirovograd. They begin an immediate breakout and abandon the city to the Red Army. The Soviet 67th Tank Brigade scored a substantial victory when it overran the headquarters of the German 47th Panzer Corps.

January 9, 1944

British forces in Burma take Maungdaw on the Arakan front.

The Soviet offensive continues to roll forward as the Red Army captures Polonnoye and Aleksandrovka.

Two German soldiers were shot dead in Lyon, France by partisans. In retaliation, the Gestapo chief Klaus Barbie, ordered the murder of 22 French civilians.

January 10, 1944

Vatutin's 2nd Ukrainian Front continues its attacks cutting the Smela-Kristinovka railroad and threatening to isolate the German forces north of Kirovograd.

RAF bombers begin mining the mouth of the Salween River in order to disrupt Japanese supply lines to northern Burma and China.

January 11, 1944

After a brief trial, Countess Ciano and 17 other Fascist ex-ministers who supported Mussolini are executed by firing squad at Castel Vecchio.

Operation Pointblank opens as 633 heavy bombers and 200 other aircraft from the US 8th Air Force strike aircraft manufacturing targets at Braunshweig, Magdeburg and Ascherleben. Targets were heavily damaged by losses were also heavy at 63 bombers destroyed.

January 12, 1944

Red Army forces capture Sarny in Poland.

The US 34th Infantry Division captures Cervaro, Italy and starts marching toward Cassino.

January 13, 1944

Soviet forces take Korets.

The Chinese 38th Infantry Division clears Japanese forces from the north bank of the Tarung River in Burma.

January 14, 1944

The long awaited attacks by the Leningrad and Volkov Fronts to relieve Leningrad begins. The attack is supported by a major offensive against Novgorod. The operation is intended in destroying Army Group North.

Japanese forces hit the positions of the US 1st Marine Division at Cape Gloucester.

January 15 1944

The US 2nd Corps captures Monte Trocchio in Italy. Meanwhile, French troops capture Monte Santa Croce.

The government of Peru announces that they have uncovered and thwarted a Nazi backed coup attempt.

A mid-winter thaw brings drastically slows the Red Army operations in the Ukraine.

anuary 16, 1944

Japanese attacks on New Britain are defeated and the Marine positions secured.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower takes command the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Britain in preparation for the cross-channel attack.

January 17, 1944

Slugging through deep mud, Soviet forces capture Slavuta.

The US 5h Army (British 10th Corps) opens attacks on the German Gustav Line along the Garigliano River (German 14 Panzer Corps).

January 18, 1943  

Soviet attacks in the Vitebsk area are met by stiff resistance and generally fail to make an impression. Further to the north, Red Army forces are completing the encirclement of Novgorod, south of Leningrad.

British attacks (10th Corps of US 5th Army) establish a bridgehead over the Garigliano River that draws German reserves away from Anzio.

January 19, 1943

The Soviet attacks around Leningrad intensify as 42nd Army attacking out of the city links up with 2nd Shock Army attacking toward the city. Elements of the Volkhov Front surround German forces at Novgorod who begin a break out attack.

January 20, 1942

Franklin D. Roosevelt is inaugurated president for the fourth time.

RAF Bomber command launches its 11th raid against Berlin sending 759 bombers to drop 2,456 tons of bombs on the city. 243 civilians were killed in the raid. One bomber, dropped his load 30 miles from the city, but managed to destroy a Todt Organization (military engineering) depot.

Soviet forces move into Novgorod.

US forces along the Rapido River are thrown back by German counterattacks.

January 21, 1943  

The key communications and supply center at Mga is captured by advancing Soviet forces in the Leningrad area.

The Luftwaffe launches a feeble 90-plane bombing raid against England. It is the largest such raid in some time.

The US 36th Infantry division suffers severe losses while attempting to establish a bridgehead over the Rapido River while the invasion force for Anzio steams out of Naples.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower is named as Commander-in-Chief of Operation Overlord, the cross-channel invasion at Normandy.

January 22, 1944

Anzio Landings: The US 6th Corps (US 5th Army) commanded by General Lucas lands a two-division force consisting of the US 3rd and British 1st Infantry Divisions behind the German Gustav lines at Anzio, 30 miles south of Rome. The initial landing goes extremely well, meeting little resistance. However, General Lucas, the commander of the landing force hesitates to take advantage of the situation by driving forward and instead consolidates a shallow beachhead. At the end of the day, 36,000 troops had been landed at a cost of 13 killed, 97 wounded, and 44 missing. The German reaction by General Kesselring was quick, but a scarcity of troops forced desperate improvisation to contain the Allied force.

January 23, 1944

The landings at Anzio continue and 50,000 troops are in the beachhead by the end of the day. Lucas continues to cautiously expand the beachhead against feeble resistance. Kesselring decides that his strong positions at Cassino can be maintained so long as reinforcements promised from OKW reserves arrive as scheduled. In all, eight divisions from France, northern Italy and the Balkans are on the move to Anzio. The Luftwaffe is able to hit the beachhead and landing zone with several air raids, one of which sinks the British destroyer Janus.

January 24, 1944

The Red Army attacks in the north gather momentum as Pushkin and Pashovsk are captured and the important rail line between Narva and Krasnogvardeisk is cut.

The Soviets, having regrouped and replenished supplies open a fresh set of attacks south of Kiev. 1st Ukrainian Front launches a major attack on the left wing of the German 1st Panzer Army positions near Korsun. Later in the day, similar attacks begin by the 2nd Ukrainian Front to the south. Zhukov is coordinating the two offensives in the hope that the Germans will be trapped in their desperate and seemingly meaningless desire to hold some part of the Dnepr River.

At Anzio, the beachhead is slowly expanded (now 24 miles wide and 7 miles deep) against little resistance. The Germans hit the beachhead from the air, sinking the hospital ship St. David. The rest of the US 5th Army batters against the Gustav line with the Free French Corps attacking Monte Santa Croce, north of Casino, and the US 2nd Corps striking across the Rapido River near Caira.

January 25, 1944

The attacks by Soviet forces around Korsun meet serious resistance. The 1st Ukrainian Front meets heavy resistance but continues to move toward Zvenigorodka. The 4th Guards and 5th Guards Tank Armies (2nd Ukrainian Front) are met with very serious resistance and suffer heavy casualties from concentrated German artillery support.

German forces in the Casino area launch counterattacks against the Free French Corps, wiping out their gains from the previous day.

US aircraft raid Rabul destroying 83 Japanese planes.

January 26, 1944

British forces launch a set-piece attack on Japanese fortified positions in the Arakan, in central Burma.

The US 5th Army makes headway against the Gustav Line as the Free French Corps captures Colle Belvedere and the 2nd Corps finally establishes a secure position across the Rapido River.

The attack at Leningrad continues to move forward as Krasnogvardeisk is captured. The Germans are showing signs of collapse on this front. Slightly to the south, the Red Army opens an offensive to clear the Moscow-Leningrad rail line. Heavy fighting flares up at Tosno and Lyuban.

US aircraft make a series of bombing raids against Japanese airfields around Rabaul on New Britain. Japanese losses are heavy.

January 27, 1944

Leningrad Freed: After 900-days under the guns of the Germans, the siege of Leningrad Officially ends. The Germans are beginning to collapse as Tosno and Valosovo both fall to Red Army advances.

The battle around Korsun continues to rage as the 2nd Ukrainian Front captures the important road junction at Shpola. Fighting on the northern side of the bulge is heavy and 1st Ukrainian front makes limited advances.

The Free French Corps once again is hit by serious German counterattacks and is pushed back.

RAF bomber command attacks Berlin, dropping 1887 tons of ordnance, again inflicting severe losses on the city's population. Estimates are that 6000 people perished in the attack.

January 28, 1944

Korsun Pocket Formed: The spearheads of the Soviet 1st and 2nd Ukrainian Fronts link up as forward elements of the 6th Tank Army and 5th Guards Tank Army enter Zvenigorodka. 56,000 Germans from the 11th and 42nd Corps (8th Army) are trapped in the salient at Korsun. Hitler insists that the now surrounded positions on the Dnepr River be held and forbids a breakout attempt. Von Manstein, commanding Army Group South, begins to assemble an armored force to break into the encircled troops.

Red Army attacks in the north gain momentum as the German 18th Army is ordered to abandon positions held since the fall of 1941 and retreat to the Luga River line. Soviet forces take Lyugan.

January 29, 1944

The British cruiser Spartan receives the dubious honor of being the first ship to be sunk by a guided bomb. The attack took place at Anzio.

Luftwaffe bombers hit London while 800 USAAF bombers hit Frankfurt (killing 736 planes) and Ludwigshafen and RAF Bomber Command hits Berlin yet again. Less than 40 tons of bombs hit London while the Allies deliver nearly ten times that amount.

Hitler, incensed over Kuchler's orders allowing 18th Army to retreat from the vicinity of Leningrad before it was surrounded, replaces the commander of Army Group North with General Model. Model's new command continues to collapse as the Volkhov Front takes Chudovo and 2nd Baltic Front overruns Novosokolniki.

With his entire command (69,000 troops, 240 tanks, 500 guns) now ashore, Lucas makes plans to break out of the Anzio beachhead. Regrettably, the Germans have massed 8 divisions (grouped under the 14th Army) against him. To the south, the US 2nd Corps makes some progress in expanding their positions across the Rapido River.

US Naval forces under Admiral Mitscher begins the preliminary bombardment of Japanese positions in the Marshall Islands in preparation for invasion. Roi, Namur, Maloelap, Wotje, Jaluit and Mille are all hit.

The Allies open a new escape route, codename "Shelburne", for downed Allied airmen. Thirteen USAAF airmen escape from Plouha, France to Dartmouth, England on British MTBs.

January 30, 1944

Lucas' offensive out of the Anzio beachhead opens with a disaster. Darby's Rangers (1st, 3rd and 4th Ranger Battalions) are ordered to spearhead a night attack against the key German position at Cisterna. The attack goes badly as the infiltration groups (1st and 3rd battalions) break into separate groups in the confusing terrain. Upon reaching the town, the Rangers are brought under a horrific fire. The Germans bring forward the tanks of newly reformed Herman Goring Panzer Division. The 1st and 3rd Rangers are cut off and pushed into a small perimeter. They fight throughout the day but lack heavy weapons, and ammunition to prolong the battle. By the evening, they are surrendered or dead. All but 6 of the 767 men from the two battalions are lost.

Heavy fighting continues along the Gustav Line as the US 34th Division holds its bridgehead over the Rapido River against counterattacks while the British 50th Division (10th Corps) takes Monte Natale.

British forces suspend their attacks in the Arakan as Japanese resistance proves to tenacious.

The bombardment of the Marshall Islands continues as US Naval units from TF 58 hit Kwajalein, Roi, Namur and Eniwetok. Seven battleships and 400 aircraft participate in the operation.

The Chinese 22nd Infantry Division clears the Taro plain in Burma.

Harris' bombers return to Berlin, killing an estimated 2400 civilians in this raid.

January 31, 1944

Marshall Islands Invaded: US forces begin landing at Kwajalein Atoll. Elements of the 4th Marine Division land at Roi and Namur. The attack at Roi goes well making good progress against stiff resistance. Japanese defenses at Namur were very strong and progress was limited. Elements of the US 27th Infantry Regiment landed at Majuro Atoll, meeting minimal resistance. The position was quickly consolidated. While the attacks went in, the bombardment of Eniwetok and Maleolap continued.

The Soviet's open a new offensive against Nikopol. 3rd Ukrainian Front spearheads the attack along the lower Dnepr aimed at the industrial and transportation hub.

The attacks around Leningrad continue as Red Army forces reach Kingisepp.

The US 5th Army made some progress against the Gustav Line as 2nd Corps captured Caira and the Free French Corps captured Monte Abate.

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