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

February 1944


February 1, 1944

Heavy fighting continues in the Marshall Islands. The fighting on Namu is particularly serious. Japanese positions on Roi are being mopped up. Meanwhile, the 7th Infantry division lands on Kwajalein and overrun the Japanese in heavy fighting.

Major Fritz Kurschera, chief of the Gestapo in Poland is assassinated by the Polish underground.

The Red Army continues to attack on the eastern front. Kingisepp falls in the north and spearheads are at the Estonian border. Model attempts to launch counterattacks at Luga and Utorgosh, but they fail to make an impression.

February 2, 1944

Roi and Namur are cleared of Japanese forces. 3700 Japanese are killed defending the islands while the Americans lost 740 dead and wounded. Mopping up operations continue on Kwajalein.

In the north, Red Army forces enter Estonia and capture Vanakula. To the South, 4th Ukrainian Front joins the offensive against Nikopol, threatening to surround the German 6th Army defending the area.

Lucas calls off attacks to break out of the Anzio beachhead as it becomes obvious that the Germans are in great strength and preparing their own counter attack. Unknown to the Allies, the Germans had intended on launching those attacks this very day, but the Allied attacks had disrupted those plans.

February 3, 1944

Japanese forces in the Arakan begin Operation Ha-Go, a major counterattack against British forces.

German forces begin probing attacks against the British 1st Division at Anzio, attacking the exposed position around Campoleone. To the south, the US 5th Army is reinforced by the New Zealand Corps and is deployed opposite Cassino.

Fighting continues in the Marshall Islands as US Navy aircraft hit Eniwetok in heavy raids and troops are landed on Burton Island in the Kwajalein Atoll.

US Naval forces bombard Paramushiru Island in northern Japan.

February 4, 1944

The Japanese defenses on Kwajalein Atoll end as all but 265 of the 8700 man garrison are killed. American losses were 370 killed and 1500 wounded.

German forces open up serious attacks against the British 1st Division, forcing them back. To the south, the US 34th Infantry Division captures two important peaks near Colle Sant'Angelo.

Von Manstein masses four panzer divisions and an ad hoc heavy tank brigade under Bake and opens his counterattack to relieve their comrades at Korsun. The forces was denuded of the full strength 24th Panzer division at the last minute as Hitler personally intervened and sent it south to help at Nikopol. In the end the 24th Panzer would waste it's fuel and supplies slugging through mud marching to no purpose.

The Chinese 38th and 22nd Divisions, augmented by Merrill's Marauders, attack along the Ledo Road in the Hukawng River Valley in northern Burma. In western Burma, Japanese forces continue and intensify their attacks against the British forces hoping to drive them back into India.

February 5 1944

The Allies open a new front in Burma sending Orv Wingate's Chindits on a "deep penetration" raid into north central Burma. This overland march is to be supported by massive airdrops after the 16th Brigade establishes a base deep in the Japanese rear near Idaw.

As the German counterattack to relieve the Korsun pocket continues, 1st Ukrainian Front continues to drive west against the greatly depleted 4th Panzer Army, capturing Rovno and Lutsk. The German forces inside the pocket are designated Group Stemmermann (after the senior commander). The Germans begin air resupply missions to their trapped forces and have limited success. Soviet attacks begin to reduce the pocket. To compound difficulties for both sides, the temperature plummets to well below zero throughout the battle area.

February 6, 1944

Japanese attacks in the Arakan force the British to retreat. Unlike the 1942 campaign, they are pulling back into defensive "boxes" rather than retreating en-mass. The new tactics are beginning to frustrate the Japanese who expected the British to flee.

The attacks by 3rd Ukrainian Front capture Manganets and Apostolovo east and west of Nikopol, threatening to cut off the Germans there.

February 7, 1944

Group Stemmermann, under continuous pressure from Soviet attacks, contracts its perimeter, abandoning Gorodische and Yanovka, and prepares for a breakout attack. Meanwhile, the break-in attack continues against very heavy resistance.

The German attacks at Anzio intensify as the British positions at Aprilla and "The Factory" are hit hard. The British 56th and US 45th Infantry Divisions are landed at Anzio and move to the front.

The first schnorkel equipped German U-boat enters the Atlantic.

February 8, 1943  

At Korsun, the Soviets offer Group Stemmermann the opportunity to surrender. It is refused. To the south, 3rd Ukrainian Front captures Nikopol as the Germans beat a hasty retreat from the trap.

The German counterattack at Anzio continues to hit the British 1st Infantry Division. The British reluctantly give ground under the pressure but hold the key positions of Aprilia and "The Factory".

British bombers use the massive 6-ton "Tall Boy" bomb in a raid on the Gnome-et-Rhone works in Limoges.

February 9, 1943

The Germans continue to launch attacks against the Anzio beachhead, once again hitting the British 1st Infantry Division hardest. In heavy fighting, Aprilia is lost to the Germans, but "The Factory" continues to be held.

The Germans redouble their efforts to fly supplies into the Korsum Pocket, delivering about half the daily requirement the trapped forces needed. Exit flights were able to evacuate some of the seriously wounded.

February 10, 1942

As the ring around the trapped German forces at Korsun tightens, 1st Ukrainian Front continues its offensive capturing Shepetovka.

The Australian-US offensive in New Guinea continues as their forces link up at Saidor. The Allies occupy most of the Huohn Peninsula.

February 11, 1943  

Having finally assembled an effective force, 3rd Panzer Corps begins its attacks to relieve the German forces trapped at Korsun.

Heavy fighting continues at Anzio as the Germans continue their attacks. The Allied troops give ground, loosing "The Factory". For the first time, talk turns to plans to evacuate the beachhead. Further to the south, The US 34th Division makes one last attempt to take the monetary at Cassino. It fails. The exhausted American forces are replaced by Indian and New Zealand troops at Casino.

Australian forces take Rooke Island.

February 12, 1944

Red Army forces capture the important communications center of Luga, 100 miles southwest of Leningrad as their offensive continues to drive Army Group North west. In the south, The German relief force heading toward Korsun meets ever stiffening resistance.

US Marines take Gorissi in the Bismarck Archipelago.

Fighting at Casino pauses as the entire US 2nd Corps is replaced by the New Zealand Corps. At Anzio, the British 1st Infantry Division is also withdrawn due to exhaustion. Lucas orders the construction of a last ditch defensive perimeter.

February 13, 1944

Allied forces, mistakenly assuming that the Germans occupy the monastery at Cassino warn the Italian monks that the dominant feature will be bombed.

Unable to break the British "boxes" in the Arakan, Japanese forces begin to pull back and the British pursue.

Soviet forces continue their offensive out of the Leningrad area capturing Polna and Lyady. To the south, the trapped Germans at Korsun contract their perimeter and concentrate forces for a breakout attempt. The break-in force meets heavy resistance and makes little headway

February 14, 1944

The Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) is established in Britian with Eisenhower at its head.

Heavy fighting continues at Korsun as the relief force meets ever stiffening resistance and makes little headway. The perimeter of the pocket continues to shrink as the Soviet forces capture Kosun-Sevchenkosky against the determined resistance of the SS Walloon Brigade.

The 3rd New Zealand Division supported by the US TF 39, makes landings in the Green Islands north of Bougainville in the Solomons.

February 15, 1944

The monastery at Monte Casino is destroyed as US bombers drop 422 tons of bombs on the historic location. The Allies thought that the Germans were using it as an observation post for artillery fire. They were not. After its destruction, the Germans quickly moved into the rubble and fortified the position. The bombardment is followed by an attack by the New Zealand Corps which makes no headway.

As the situation in the north and south continues to deteriorate, Hitler allows Army Group Center to withdraw to the Panther Line. He also, grudgingly gives permission to attempt a breakout from the Korsun pocket.

RAF Bomber Command launches a massive 891 bomber raid on Berlin, the largest to date. 2,642 tons of bombs were delivered to the city. Over a thousand fires were started and 500 civilians were reported killed or buried in the rubble. Civilian losses were minimized because of the massive evacuation from the city caused by previous raids. 43 British bombers were lost in the raid. This raid was the climax of the "Battle of Berlin"

February 16, 1944

Fighting at Anzio intensifies as Kesselring throws a force of seven divisions into the attack hitting the US 45th and British 56th Divisions hard. German aircraft lend strong support to the attacks and hit allied shipping as well. The ammunition ship Elihu Yale is destroyed in one air attack. At Cassino, the New Zealanders continue to throw themselves against the German paratroops and make little headway.

Finish and Soviet authorities meet in Stockholm, Sweden to discuss terms for an armistice.

US Naval forces from TG 58.4 launch a massive raid on Eniwotok Island in the Marchall Island Chain destroying the Japanese airfield at Engebi.

Elements of the German 3rd Panzer Corp are stopped 12 miles from the perimeter of the Korsun Pocket They have captured a bridge over the Gniloy Tikich River but, are exhausted and conclude that any further action would be fruitless. The 56,000 men of Group Stemmermann inside the pocket are ordered to prepare for a breakout attempt.

February 17, 1944

The End At Korsun: Lead by the remnants of the elite 5th SS Panzer Division, Group Stemmermann launches their attempt to break out of the Korsun Pocket. In a blinding snowstorm they manage to find a seam in the Soviet defenses. At dawn, the weather clears and the Soviet cavalry and aircraft pounce on the columns of fleeing Germans. Having abandoned their heavy equipment, the breakout turns into a rout as desperate men flee from the carnage. General Stemmermann was killed in action along with many of his men. The Russian attacks force many of the refugees away from the bridge over the Gniloy Tikich River. When the fugitives reached the bank, many chose to swim the near freezing river rather than be captured. In the end, some did escape. Estimates vary greatly. Around 35,000 men escaped. They had little other than their personal weapons and often not even that. In the final analysis, the escapees were badly shaken and any semblance of organization had evaporated. The Germans had lost 10 divisions for some time to come.

The Germans continue their counterattack against the Anzio beachhead hitting the US 45th Division particularly hard. Although both sides suffered heavy losses, the Germans came very near a decisive breakthrough to the beach. US artillery units firing over open sights from the beach and ships off shore managed to stop and turn back the German drive.

At Casino, the 4th Indian Division managed to capture a part of the Cassino defenses (Point 593) but it was lost to German counterattacks.

US TF 51.11 lands on Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Three battleships and 3 carriers provide support for the landing against the Japanese garrison of 3400 troops.

A US destroyer force raids Rabaul and Kavieng in the Bismarck Archipelago.

A major grouping of US naval forces under Admiral Spruance (9 carriers and 6 battleships) attacks the Japanese base at Truk in the Caroline Islands.

February 18, 1944

The British cruiser HMS Penelope is torpedoed by U-410 off the coast of Italy between Naples and Anzio. She would be the last cruiser the British would loose in the war.

At Anzio, the German attacks appear to be weakening but massed artillery and off-shore support are still needed to stabilize the situation in the beachhead. Meanwhile, attacks at Casino are called off to refit, rest and reform.

Attacks in the north of the eastern front continue to make progress as the Soviet 2nd Baltic Front captures Starayya-Russa and the Volkhov Front takes Shimsk. In the south, 1st and 2nd Ukrainian Fronts begin regrouping for fresh offensives as the Germans pull away from their exposed positions created from the break-in attempt.

Japanese forces counterattack the US beachhead at Engebi in the Eniwetok Atoll. The attacks are crushed by artillery and off-shore fire.

The last German reserves, the 26th Panzer and 29th Panzer Grenadier Divisions, are committed to the attack at Anzio. Once again, they make some gains but are stopped by a wall of artillery and naval gunfire. To the south, Indian and New Zealand forces of the US 5th Army attempt to attack the hill masses north of Monte Cassino but are bloodily repulsed.

US Naval forces continue to pummel the Japanese base at Truk in the Caroline Islands, hitting the area with 1250 sorties. In addition to the losses at the base, 140,000 tons of Japanese shipping including a cruiser and 2 destroyers are sunk. In a surface action, the battleships Iowa and New Jersey sink an additional cruiser and 2 more destroyers. US forces claim the destruction of 250 aircraft as well. Losses to the US forces are minimal (30 aircraft lost and the carrier Intrepid damaged).

February 19, 1944

RAF Bomber command launches a massive 823 heavy bomber raid against Leipzig which meets with disaster as 78 planes were lost in the raid. Damage to the city was minimal as clouds covered the target and high winds dispersed the bomber stream

German counterattacks end as both sides regroup and refit.

US forces land a regimental force at Eniwotok Atoll which meets with fierce Japanese resistance despite heavy preliminary bombardment

February 20, 1944

"The Big Week" starts: For the first time in the war, RAF and USAAF operations are coordinated. On this first day, 970 USAAF bombers hit Hamburg, Leipzig and Braunschweig in daylight raids and these are followed by 598 RAF bombers dropping 2000 tons of bombs on Stuttgart.

The Soviet 2nd Baltic Front launches a fresh set of attacks against the much-diminished German 16th Army around Kholm. The Soviet 22nd Army makes good progress in the initial assault.

Japanese resistance on Eniwetok Atoll continues as US naval airpower raids jaluit Atoll and surface forces bombard Parry island in the Marshall Islands.

February 21, 1944

US Marines complete the capture of Eniwetok Atoll, losing 339 killed in action. Meanwhile, Japanese resistance on the Green Islands ends.

2nd Baltic Front continues its attacks capturing Soltsy and Kholm. To the south, 3rd Ukrainian Front continues its offensive threatening to surround Krivoi Rog..

February 22, 1944

German forces avoid the fate of their comrades at Korsun as they make a hasty retreat from Krivoi Rog before the Red Army pincers could slam shut. 3rd Ukrainian Front enters the city.

British led Greek partisans succeeded in blowing up a German troop train, killing 400 soldiers.

February 23, 1944

The US 5307 Composite Regiment, better known as the Merrill's Marauders" joined the fight in northern Burma fighting along side Nationalist Chinese forces.

Major General Truscott replaces the disgraced General Lucas as commander of the US VI Corps at Anzio as the Germans regroup for a fresh series of counterattacks against the beleaguered troops.

The fighting on Parry Island ends, completing the occupation of Eniwetok Atoll. US losses were 300 KIA and 750 WIAs. The entire Japanese garrison of 3400 troops was wiped out less 66 POWs taken alive.

The 2nd Baltic and Volkhov Fronts continue their offensive in northern Russia capturing Strugi Krasneyye and 1st Belorus Front drives toward Dno.

US aircraft hit Rota, Tinian and Saipan in the Mariana Islands

February 24, 1944

The "Big Week" continues as RAF and USAAF bombers hit the ball-bearing factories at Schweinfurt.

1st Belorus Front captures Dno while 2nd Beloruss Front took Rogachev.

February 25, 1944

The Artic convoys from Britain to Russia begin to dominate their German adversaries as the latest convoy (JW-57 with 43 merchants) comes through with no merchant losses. The only loss was the destroyer Mahratta sunk by U-956.

The "Big Week" continues as the USAAF hits the Me-109 factories at Regensburg and Augsburg with 980 bombers losing 65 bombers and 8 fighters. German losses were 142 aircraft and nearly 1000 planes on the assembly lines were destroyed. RAF bombers followed up with attacks on Augsburg.

February 26 1944

In a rare event, the Red Air force sends 600 bombers over Helsinki, Finland. Massive fires break out destroying large sections of the city. The Soviets loose only 3 aircraft.

The Soviet offensive continues in northern Russia as the Red Army takes Rorkhov.

February 27, 1944

US bombers hit Momote and Lorengau in the Admiralty Islands.

February 28, 1944

Four German divisions launch attacks against the beleaguered forces at Anzio driving down the Cisterna-Anzio road. The US 3rd Division beat back the attacks. 

February 29, 1944

One of the finest commanders in the Red Army, Marshal Nikolai Vatutin, is killed in an ambush by Ukrainian nationalist partisans while en route to the Soviet 60th Army. Stalin appointed Marshall Gregori Zhukov as the new commander of the 1st Ukrainian Front.

Bad weather prevents the Germans from continuing their attacks at Anzio, but heavy artillery fire hits hard.

The US 5th Cavalry Regiment lands at Hyane Harbor in the Admiralty Islands. Japanese forces counterattacked that night.

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