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

May 1944


May 1, 1944

Operations in the Caroline Islands continue as 7 battleships and 11 destroyers bombard Ponape.

May 2, 1944  

Allied authorities and the Franco government come to an agreement to limit Spanish exports to Germany in exchange for exports increased imports of oil from the Allies.

May 3, 1944

Researchers at Harvard lead by Woodward and Doering announce a breakthrough in the production of synthetic quinine which would ultimately save thousands from the scourge of malaria .

French resistance cells increase their activities in anticipation of the cross channel invasion. On this night, 100,000 liters of acetone are burned at the the Lambiotte plant in Premery.

May 4, 1944

The British counter-attacks at Kohima, are repulsed by the Japanese.

May 5, 1944  

Indian nationalist leader Ghandi is released from prison by British authorities due to reported ill health. He had been imprisoned since August 1942.

Soviet forces in the Crimea begin their final attack on Sevastopol with a massive artillery bombardment into the fortress city.

British 14th Army forces in the Imphal area launch limited counterattacks against the encircling Japanese forces.

May 6, 1944

Soviet forces begin to move into the city of Sevastopol as the German and Rumanian forces continue to attempt to evacuated the beleaguered city.

British forces make an attempt to hit the German battleship Tirpitz in Norway but poor weather prevents the attack. The attack, and those planned in the near future, is part of the Normandy deception plan and is not only intended on destroying the dangerous ship but also to divert attention to Norway and away from France.

On her fifth war patrol, the USS Gunard sunk  all three ships (nearly 20,000 tons) in a Japanese convoy. The convoy was carrying 40,000 troops to New Guinea. Nearly half of these men died in the attack.

May 7, 1944

The US 8th Air Force launched a massive 1500 bomber raid against Berlin. Meanwhile the US 15th Air Force and British Bomber Command hit the railway yards in Bucharest, nearly destroying the entire city. The US 9th Air Force continued operations against French transportation targets in preparation for the cross-channel attack

Elements of the US 46th Division occupy Cape Hopkins Airfield in the Bismark Archipelago against no Japanese resistance.

May 8, 1944

Eisenhower designates June 5th as D-Day.

Red Army attacks into Sevastopol continues as 45,000 German and Rumanian troops remain trapped in the city.

May 9, 1944

Large-scale bombing raids continue against German, French, Belgian and Dutch rail, road and bridges in preparation for the cross-channel attack.

Soviet forces capture the city of Sevastopol as Hitler belated orders the full-scale evacuation of the Crimean Peninsula.

May 10, 1944

The Chinese Yunnan Army launches their 150,000 man army against a widely stretch force of less than 10,000 Japanese defending the Salaween River, near the Burma border.

May 11, 1944

Allied forces (US 5th and British 8th Armies) begin a new set of attacks on the Gustav Line. The attack opens with a 2200 gun artillery bombardment augmented by naval gunfire along the coast. Twelve divisions (including Poles and Free French troops) hit the 6 defending German divisions of the 10th Army.

German fighter ace Walter Oesau is killed in action over the Eifel Mountains. He had scored 123 kills in his carrier.

The US 9th Air Force begins a series of attacks in Normandy, hitting airfields around Caen.

May 12, 1944

The US 8th Air Force did serious damage to the German synthetic fuel plants at at Leuna-Merseburg, Bohlen, Zeitz, Lutzkendorf and Brux, hitting them with over 800 bombers. German resistance was severe, claiming 46 bombers and 10 fighters.

The Japanese 15th Army suspends offensive operations against Imphal as they tenaciously hold the ground they have gained.

The survivors of the 17th Army in the Crimea surrender. 36,000 are marched off to become prisoners of war.

The attacks against the Gustav Line begin to develop. The US 5th Army makes some progress. The French Expeditionary Corps breaks through the defenses of the German 71st Division and captures Monte Faito. Meanwhile, the Polish 2nd Corps is stopped cold and takes heavy losses north of Cassino. The British 13th Corps crosses the Rapido River at two locations opposite Casino. Along the US 2nd Corps makes limited progress.

Japanese forces in China gain control of the Peking-Hankow rail line.

May 13, 1944

British forces at Komina recapture the dominant height, “Jail Hill”.

The US 5th Army continues the attack on the Gustav Line. Polish attacks against the German 1st Falshirmjagers result in no gains and heavy losses at Casino. The French Expeditionary Corps continues to move forward capturing Castelforte, Monte Maio and Sant' Appollinaire. The US 2nd Corps and British 13th Corps make limited advances during the day.

Japanese submarine Ro-501, one of the few to operate in the Atlantic, is sunk by American escort vessels off the Azores. Ro-501 was formerly U-1224 of the German Kriegsmarine and was a given to the Imperial Japanese Navy.

May 14, 1944

The attacks by forces of the US 5th Army continue as the French Expeditionary Corps breaks through, advancing into the Ausente Valley, capturing Ausonia, and beyond to the Aurunci Mountains.

The Luftwaffe raids Bristol and southwest England with 91 planes, losing 15 in the process.

Admiral Donitz's son Klaus is killed in action in the North Sea as his submarine U-141 is sunk while engaging landing craft near the Isle of Wight.

May 15, 1944

Kesselring orders the German 10th Army to abandon the Gustav Line and withdraw to new positions along the "Hitler Line". Meanwhile the French Expeditionary Corps captures San Giorgio, the British 13th Corps reaches Pignaturo and the reserve Canadian 1st Corps is committed to exploit the breakthrough.

Fighting in Burma continues to be heavy as elements of the Japanese 31st Division counterattack Hunter's Hill near Kohima. The attack fails. Meanwhile, Chinese and Marauder forces are hitting the 18th Division and are within 15 miles of Myitkyina. Further east, just beyond the border, Chinese forces continue to attack Japanese defenses along the Yunnan River.

May 16, 1944

In yet another disaster for the German submarine forces, RAF Coastal Command aircraft begin patrols off the Norwegian coast, By the end of the month five U-boats would be sunk.

The Indian 17th Division begins to counterattack elements of the Japanese 33rd Division south of Kohima. Meanwhile, the Japanese 31st Division withdraw from Kohima, ending the siege of the city. They still retain control of the Kohima-Imphal road.

Most of the elements of the US 5th Army meet only rearguard defenses as they march beyond the Gustav Line. However. the Polish 2nd Corps at Cassino is still confronted by diehard defenses from the German paratroops. The British 13th Corps and the Canadian 1st Corps mover up the Liri Valley toward Pontecorvo and Piumarola. The US 2nd Corps advances along the coast while the the French Expeditionary Corps captures Monte Petrella and advance toward Monte Revole. On the other side of Italy, the British 8th Army opens it's attacks on the Gustav Line.

May 17, 1944

In a classic flank march through 100 miles of jungle, "Merrill's Marauders" storm out of the mountains north of Myitkyina, taking the airfield west of the town, forcing the Japanese 18th Division into a siege for the important supply depot.

Kesselring orders the defenders of Cassino to withdraw as he releases 3 fresh divisions from his reserves. The US 5th Army continues its drive north capturing Piumarolo, Monte Faggeta, Esperia, Formia, and Sant'Angelo.

US forces land on Insumarai Island and at Arare in New Guinea.

Allied aircraft carriers HMS Illustrious and USS Saratoga raid oil installations at Surabaya, on Java in the Dutch East Indies.

May 18, 1944

Polish forces move into the completely devastated town of Cassino and pass over the ruins of the abbey on Monte Cassino as the Germans withdraw. In the four month battle, forces from 15 nations were involved. 20,000 men were killed and over 100,000 wounded.

The German submarine U-453 sunk a merchant ship in convoy HA-43 in the Mediterranean Sea. This would be the last German submarine kill in those waters.

Hitler attempts to settle the muddled command situation in France by placing Field Marshal von Rundstedt in command of all forces in the west. Rommel was placed in command of Army Group B (which included Normandy) and Blaskowitz in charge of Army Group G.

The US 6th Army announces that the campaign in the Admiralty Islands has been successfully completed. US losses were 1400 dead and wounded while the Japanese lost 3820 dead and 75 prisoners.

May 19, 1944

The US 5th Army continue to make its advance capturing Gasta Itri, and Monte Grande.

May 20, 1944

In a massive display of raw power, the Allies launch 5000 sorties against twenty rail yards and airfields in France and Belgium.

Eisenhower issues orders to the French underground to begin coordinated attacks in support of the coming invasion.

German resistance in Italy begins to stiffen as fighting breaks out in Pico, Pontecorvo and San Germano.

May 21, 1944

The US 5th Army continues moving forward capturing Fondi and Campodimele. Fighting at Pico continues.

May 22, 1944

After heavy fighting, the French Expeditionary Corps captures Pico.

French resistance members blow up the hydroelectric station at Bussy.

May 23, 1944

The US 6th Corps in the Anzio beachhead begin offensive operations to link up with the rest of the US 5th Army. The initial attacks are directed at Cisterna. The fighting is very heavy and losses are severe. Meanwhile, other elements of the 5th Army reaches Terracina.

The advance of the Chinese Yunnan army continues and some ground is gained although the Japanese have offered little resistance, preferring to withdraw from untenable positions.

US Task Group 58.2 launches air attacks on Japanese positions on Wake Island.

Chinese forces launch a counteroffensive in Honan Province.

May 24, 1944

The Japanese 18th Division having recovered there footing and secured the town of Myitkyina, counterattack Chindit forces to the south who were attempting to support the Sino-US forces further north..

The Allied Armies in Italy (US 5th and British 8th) continue to advance capturing Pontecorvo and Terracina. A bridgehead over the Melfa River is also established. The relatively fresh 29th Panzer Grenadier Division bears the brunt of the rearguard fighting.

May 25, 1944

Clark Screws Up: Elements of the US 6th and 2nd Corps link up near Latina ending the four-month siege of the beachhead. Meanwhile, Cisterna and Cori fall. The German 10th Army is in serious situation as it is authorized to withdraw to the Ceasar line north of Rome. However, rather than exploiting the situation, General Clark, commanding the US 5th Army directs his forces on to Rome, ignoring the opportunity for complete victory in Italy over gaining headlines for himself by taking Rome.

Tito turns 52 years old and to celebrate, the Germans make a daring paratroop drop on his mountain headquarters in a cave complex near Drvar in Bosnia. Churchill's son Randolph is also at the headquarters and both men, with bullets cracking into the cave, narrowly escapes capture.

May 26, 1944

In an attempt to disrupt the US B-29 airbases in China, the Japanese launch a major offensive (Operation Ichigo). A total of 620,000 Japanese open there attacks in Hankow (11th Army) and Canton (23rd Army) provinces.

Allied forces in Italy continue their advance against stiffening German resistance. Roccasecca, San Giovanni, Artena are all captured.

French resistance members bomb the hydroelectric station supplying the Tulle Arsenal.

May 27, 1944

Heavy rains start in Burma, threatening the continued advance of the British, Chinese and American forces.

In New Guinea, 12,000 men from the US 41st Infantry Division land on Biak Island near Bosnek. Resistance to the landing from the 11,000-man garrison is negligible.

German forces counterattack the US 3rd Infantry Division at Artena, but are stopped with heavy losses.

May 28, 1944

German resistance to the Allied advance in Italy becomes stiff. Ceprano is captured by Canadian forces after heavy fighting. The German 14th Panzer Corps is committed against the US 6th Corps to insure that the 10th Army will not be surrounded.

Heavy fighting erupts on Biak Island as US forces attempt to take the village of Mokmer and the nearby airfield.

May 29, 1944

Japanese forces on Biak Island launch savage counterattacks against the American beachheads. The attacks are supported by a few Japanese tanks.

The escort carrier USS Block Island is sunk by U-549 in the North Atlantic, before it too was sunk by escorts.

Operating at extreme range, 400 bombers from the US 8th Air Force hit German synthetic oil refineries at Pozen.

Heavy fighting continues in Italy as Campoleone and Carroceto are captured.

 

May 30, 1944

The British 8th Army captures Arce as elements of the US 5th Army move toward Velletri

Elements of the newly constituted German 8th Army launch a series of limited counterattacks around Jassy, Rumania against the advance elements of the Soviet 2nd Ukrainian Front, throwing the Russians back in a few locations.

May 31, 1944

Red Army forces hit back around Jassy, ending the threat from the German attacks. Meanwhile, Stalin gives approval "Operation Bagration", the summer offensive against Army Group Center and the liberation of Byelorussia.

Allied forces in Italy continue to advance as Frosinone, Sora, Velletri and Monte Artemiso are taken. Fighting is heavy at Albano.

Japanese forces in New Guinea are pressing attacks against the US beachhead at Arare. To the east, Australian forces advance, capturing Bunabum.

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