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

June 1944


June 1, 1944

Allied forces in Italy continue to advance, unhinging the German defenses south of Rome. Kesselring orders his forces to withdraw north of Rome.

Attacks by the 2nd Ukrainian Front around Jassy continue and gain back much of the ground lost earlier to the German counter-attacks.

BBC broadcast the first warning message to the French resistance that the invasion is imminent.

June 2, 1944

The British 2nd Division begins to drive south out of Kohima to clear the road to Imphal. Further to the east, Chinese forces arrive at Myitkyina, reinforcing the Marauders and extending the siege lines around the town.

In Italy, German forces are in full retreat as elements of the US 5th Army take Valmontone, 20 miles from Rome.

Heavy fighting continues on Biak island in New Guinea.

June 3, 1944

Rome is declared an open city as the Allied armies move north in pursuit of the fleeing Germans. Elements of the US 5th Army capture Albano and Frascati while elements of the British 8th Army captures Anagni.

Japanese forces withdraw from Kohima, ending the siege.

June 4, 1944

Rome is Captured: Elements of the US 88th Infantry Division (5th Army) enter Rome, the first Axis capital to fall to the Allied armies.

In a stunning coup, the German submarine U-505 was captured intact off the coast of Cape Blanco by the US destroyer escort Chatelain. Normally, when forced surface, submarine crew is able to set charges and scuttle the boat before capture. The alert US crew was able to board the German boat before she could be destroyed. The boat now resides at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry and has had over 20 million visit her.

The initial landing units for the Normandy invasion set sail in the late evening only to be recalled to port when the weather report for June 5th called for heavy seas, high winds and low overcast. Eisenhower was forced to postpone the invasion for 24 hours. Meanwhile, across the channel in France, Rommel decides to take advantage of the poor weather and return home. His wife's birthday is June 6 and he plans to spend the day with her.

June 5, 1944

BBC broadcasts messages to the French underground to begin their pre-invaision sabotage

The US 41st Division on Biak Island in New Guinea begins to take control of the situation, destroying much of the Japanese resistance and inflicting heavy losses. However, one beachhead near Aitape is evacuated due to continued Japanese attacks.

June 6, 1944

Allies Land in France as Operation Overlord Begins: In the early morning hours, 1000 air transports dropped 20,000 paratroops into France. At dawn, more than 5000 sea transports were off the coast of Normandy and began landing over 130,000 soldiers.

The Allies hit at five locations along the coast between St. Mere-Egliese in the west and Caen in the east. The landings were made at UTAH, OMAHA, GOLD, SWORD, and JUNO. American, British, Canadian and French soldiers were involved in the initial landings. German resistance was stiff but, except for OMAHA, it was quickly overcome and the troops were able to move inland from 6-8 miles.

The exception was OMAHA. Here, elements of the US 1st and 29th Infantry Divisions landed against very heavy opposition. The Germans, unknown to Allied intelligence had moved the 352nd Infantry Division into this sector. This veteran division was far superior to the coastal defense divisions in other sectors and fought very well. The first two waves to hit the beaches were decimated and pinned down. Casualties were heavy. As the third wave was moving up the already overcrowded beaches, the navy, in a particularly desperate move, ran destroyers close into the beach and provided direct fire support to the men on shore. This turned the tide and the Americans were able to crawl up the draws and get off the beach. At the end of the day, 3000 men were lost at OMAHA, but they had gained a mile of depth for their beachhead.

By the end of the day, none of the D-Day objectives had been reached. However, all of the landings had been made and succeeded in establishing firm, if not secure positions. The Allies were back in France. The "Great Gamble" had been won.

In other war news ….

The advance in Italy continues north of Rome as Tivoli falls.

June 7, 1944  

The Allies continue to expand their beachheads in Normandy. Elements of US 4th Division drive inland from UTAH beach to link up with the paratroops around the US 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. Those divisions continue their attacks on Montebourg and Carentan. The US 1st and 29th Infantry Divisions continue to consolidate their tenuous beachhead at OMAHA driving toward Isigny. British forces, attempting to link up with the Americans drove toward Bayeux, taking the city. British forces also drive toward Caen against increasing German resistance.

Allied forces in Italy continue to advance as the US 5th Army captures intact port facilities at Bacciano and Civitavecchia. The British 8th Army takes Subiaco and Civita Castellana.

The British 2nd Division continues its attack out of Kohima toward Imphal.

The US 41st Infantry Division takes Mokmer Airfield on Biak Island in New Guinea.

An Enigma intercept decrypted by British Intelligence indicated the Germany was beginning to suffer severe shortages of aviation fuel. The bombing of Germany's synthetic fuel plants became the primary target for strategic bombing.

June 8, 1944

Allied forces in Normandy continue to drive inland as both sides move reinforcements into the area. The US 4th Infantry Division is engaged in heavy fighting around Azeville. The US 29th Division takes Isigny. Elements of the British 30th Corp take Port-en-Bessin, linking the British beaches with OMAHA. All of the beachheads, except UTAH are now linked.

A US cruiser force under Admiral Crutchley engages and forces a Japanese reinforcing convoy to withdraw from Biak Island in New Guinea..

June 9, 1944

In Normandy, US forces driving out of St. Mere-Eglise cut the rail line to all important port city of Cherbourg. Azeville and Trevieres falls to US forces while British forces are heavily engaged north and west of Caen by ever stiffening German resistance. USAAF and RAF fighter forces begin operating out of airfields in France.

The Soviet 21st and 23rd Armies, with massive aid and artillery support, launch a major in the Karelian Isthmus north of Lenningrad in a bid to knock the Finns out of the war. Finnish resistance was stiff and no breakthrough was achieved.

Allied forces in Italy continue their advance against German reargued taking Tarquinia, Viterbo and Vetrella. Meanwhile, substantial forces involved in the attacks begin to be withdrawn from the front to provide troops for the upcoming landings in southern France.

While attempting to move toward Normandy, elements of the 2nd SS "Das Reich" Panzer Division came under fire from French Resistance fighters near the village of Tulle. The SS troopers retaliated by killing 200 random French civilians.

June 10, 1944  

After four days, elements of the German Panzer Lehr Division attempt their first operational counterattack against the Allied beachhead in Normandy, but are unsuccessful in making any headway against the massed naval gun fire and tenacious defenses of the British 7th Armored Division. Meanwhile, the US 2nd Armored Division makes contact with the 101st Airborne Division near Carentan, securing a tenuous land link with UTAH beach.

While attempting to move to Normandy, the 2nd SS Panzer Division, harassed constantly from the air moves through Oradour-sur-Glane, where they come under small arms fire. The Nazis then turn their guns on the city and raze the town killing 642 residents including 200 women and children who were locked into a church that was set on fire.

Allied advances in Italy continue as The British 8th Army takes Pescara and Chieti, while heavy fighting is reported in Avezzano.

The Soviet offensive north of Leningrad makes headway as elements of the 23rd Army captures Terijoki and Yalkena on the Karelian Isthmus.

June 11, 1944

The 101st Airborne Division succeeds in taking Carentan in Normandy. British forces continue to advance against heavy German resistance. Fighting at Tilly is very severe.

Advances continue in Italy as the US 5th Army captures Monte Fiascone and the British 8th Army fight for Cantalupo and Bagnoregio.

US Naval forces begin raids on the Mariana Islands as TF58 (9 fleet carriers) under Admiral Mitscher hits Japanese bases on Saipan, Tinian and other locations. Thirty-six Japanese planes were claimed as kills and 3 warships and 30,000 tons of merchant shipping were destroyed.

June 12, 1944

The German 17th SS Panzergrenidier Division supported by paratroops launch a counterattack against the Americans at Carentan. The attack forces the US paratroops back several miles, but the town is held. The battlefront in Normandy is now nearly 50 miles long with fighting going on for Montebourg, Crisbecq, Caumont, Foret de Cerisy, Bayeux, Tilly and Caen. The Allies have landed 326,000 troops and 54,000 vehicles since D-Day.

TF 58 continues to hammer Japanese positions in the Mariana Islands hitting Saipan, Guam and Tinian. A Japanese force of 5 fleet carriers, 2 light carriers, 5 battleships, and numerous smaller vessles sets sail from Tawitawi and Batjan to destroy the American force. They were spotted by an American submarine.

June 13, 1944

In one of the most stunning examples of single combat in WWII, Michael Wittman, commanding a Tiger tank at Villers-Bocage, spots a column of British 7th Armored Division tanks and trucks moving on a road below his position. He calmly advanced his tank into the hedgerow-lined field next to the road and proceeded down the column destroying tanks with his main gun and trucks and men with the machineguns. He then moved his tank into town and was soon joined by other tanks from his company. After an hour of confused fighting, several of the Tiger tanks were abandoned, but only after the British had lost 25 tanks, over 600 men and dozens of other vehicles.

German commence Operation "Rumpelkammer", launching their first V-1 "Buzz Bomb" against England. Ten in all were launched, of which 1 landed in London, killing 6 people.

British officers, with assistance from local authorities, investigated an object that had crashed in Sweden. It turned out that this was a V-2 rocket that had failed to land in the Baltic Sea after being fired from Peenemunde.

Allied forces in Italy continue to advance taking Narni and Terni.

June 14, 1944

Operating from bases in China, the first USAAF raids to use the new B-29 "Superfortress" bombers hit Japan. The night raid by 48 aircraft attempted to hit the Yawata ironworks on Kyusu, but failed to do appreciable damage. Four of the new bombers were lost in the raid.

As the Japanese naval forces continued to move to close with the American fleet in the Mariana Islands, US naval aviation continues to pound positions on Tinian and Saipan. The battleship California is hit by Japanese shore batteries.

Having been warned about an impending attack on their supply ships to Normandy by an ULTRA intercept, RAF bombers obliterated the torpedo boat base at Le Havre, sinking all but one of the small craft.

June 15, 1944

US forces begin landings in the Mariana Islands. After a three-hour bombardment from sea and air, the US 5th Amphibious Corps (2nd and 4th Marine Divisions) under General H. M. Smith hits Afetna Point. The initial landings secure isolated beachheads. The Japanese defend the area with 30,000 men centered on the 43rd Infantry Division.

Soviet forces penetrate the main Finnish defenses on the Karelian Isthmus as there attacks continue to pound forward.

US Naval forces launch a carrier raid against Iwo Jima, Haha Jima and Chichi Jima.

Finnish resistance begins to crumble as the relentless attacks from the Red Army's Leningrad Front (21st, 23rd, and 59th Armies) continues their offensive.

June 16, 1944

Allied forces in Italy capture Grosseto, Foligno and Spoleto in Italy.

The Germans begin a massive launch of V-1 "Buzz Bombs" against England. 244 of the flying bombs reach England causing widespread damage and panic.

Japanese forces, heavily supported by artillery, launch counterattacks against the now combined Marine beachhead on Saipan. They are bloodily repulsed. Meanwhile, US battleships deliver a massive bombardment on Guam.

British forces in Normandy make slow but steady progress toward Caen against very heavy resistance. Meanwhile, US forces continue to drive west to cut the Cotentin Peninsula and isolate Cherbourg, capturing St. Saveur.

June 17, 1944

After loosing oil pressure, G.H.W. Bush ditches his Avenger torpedo bomber in the ocean. This would only be the first of the planes he would lose in the war.

Free French forces are landed on Elba as the Germans continue to attempt to evacuate the island.

US forces in Normandy succeed in capturing Barneville, cutting the Cotentin Peninsula, isolating the Germans to the north around Cherbourg. Hitler orders those doomed units to stand fast.

The US 27th Infantry Division is landed on Saipan to reinforce the Marines.

Agent "Arabel", Jan Pujol Garcia, was awarded the Iron Cross by Hitler, who stated he was his best agent in Britain. Garcia, of course, was instrumental in fooling the Germans into believing that the Normandy invasion was a diversion and the real assault would come in Belgium.

June 18, 1944

The British 2nd Infantry Division, after months of fighting between Diampur and Imphal finally cross the last of the mountainous terrain and break into the planes north of Imphal.

With the approach of the Japanese fleet, the US fleets begin to move to meet them and are reinforced by the forces which recently raided Iwo Jima. Japanese scout planes spot the US fleet at dusk and plan to launch a predawn raid. With much of the US air support on the move, Japanese aircraft operating from land succeed in sinking a destroyer and damaging the light carrier Fanshaw Bay as well as two fleet oilers. Meanwhile, the advance continues on Saipan as the 4th Marine Division reaches Magicienne Bay, cutting the Japanese into two groups.

Japanese forces in China captured Changsha, threatening the air bases used by the B-29s to hit Japan.

June 19, 1944

The Great Turkey Shoot - The Japanese and US carrier fleets meet in the Philippine Sea. The Japanese forces (including the forces on Guam) consisted of 550 plane. The US Navy had 950 planes to throw against them. In the early morning hours, Japanese launched 372 planes against the Americans. US radar pickets picked up the incoming raids and fighters were able to intercept the enemy planes 50 miles from the fleet. Most of the attacking Japanese aircraft were destroyed. Those that survived pressed on toward the American fleet where they were met with a massive display of AA fire that destroyed even more aircraft. The US forces lost 29 planes and the battleship South Dakota took a single bomb hit. The surviving Japanese planes from the raid headed for Guam. US forces then mounted an attack on the airfields on Guam, destroying another 50 planes on the ground. Along with these attacks, US submarines hit the Japanese fleet, sinking the carriers Taiho and Shokaku

A massive storm hits the Normandy coast wrecking much of the prefabricated harbor facilities ("Mulberry") at St. Laurent. This port along with it's sister port in the British sector allowed the quick buildup of Allied forces and supplies. It's loss was a severe blow to the Allied advance. However, the advance toward Cherbourg continues as elements of the US 1st Army takes Montebourg and Valognes.

The US 41st Infantry Division launches fresh attacks on Japanese strongpoint on Biak in New Guinea.

The British 8th Army begins to meet significant resistance in Italy as it closes in on the German's new "Albert Line".

June 20, 1944

In a desperate attempt to catch the Japanese fleet before they can escape, Admiral Mitsher launches a long range air attack against the fleeing Japanese carriers. It is a desperate move because it will be dark long before the US planes return to their carriers. 372 planes are launched. They meet a mere 35 defenders and are able to sink the carrier Hiyo and damage two other carriers as well as a battleship and cruiser for the cost of 20 planes. As the raiders returned, short on fuel, they began to fall into the sea. Others were finding it difficult to spot their carriers. In another desperate move, Admiral Mitchser order the ships to turn on their lights to assist the fliers. The move made the US fleet a perfect target for Japanese submarines, but none were in the area. In all, 72 planes were lost on the return leg. It could have been much worse.

The Japanese abandon their hopeless positions at Imphal and begin a much belated withdrawal from India back to Burma.

US forces continue to advance to within 5 miles of Cherbourg and make contact with the outer defenses of the fortified city.

Soviet forces operating north of Leningrad secure a clean breakthrough of the Finnish defenses and take Viipuri.

June 21, 1944

The Soviet 7th Separate Army opens a new set of attacks north and east of Lake Ladoga, hitting the Finnish 6th Corps. Amphibious landings are made on several of the islands off the Karelian Isthmus.

June 22, 1944

Operation Bagration Begins - Soviet forces open a massive offensive designed at the destruction of the German positions in Belarus. Four Soviet fronts (1st, 2nd and 3rd Belarusian, and 1st Baltic) with 124 division, 1,700,000 men 2,700 tanks, 1,300 assault guns, 24,000 heavy artillery pieces, 2,300 rocket launchers, and 6,000 aircraft attack along a 450 mile front. The German formations, greatly depleted defend with about ¼ the combat power massed by the Red Army. They consists of (north to south) 9th Army, 4th Army and 3rd Panzer Army.

After 88 days of being surrounded, Commonwealth forces at Imphal link up with the British 2nd Infantry Division advancing south from Kohima. Meanwhile, the Chindit forces move toward Mogaung to assist the US/Chinese forces in northern Burma.

The US 7th Corps, after a massive heavy bomber raid on the city, begins its attacks on Cherbourg.

In what could be argued as one of Roosevelt’s greatest legacies to America, the GI Bill of Rights is signed into law. The GI Bill would guarantee education and housing benefits to the returning service men which would launch the unprecedented, and unequaled economic expansion of the United states during the 50’s and 60’s.

June 23, 1944

Soviet forces, under the direction of Marshals Zhukov and Vasilevsky, advance, shattering the forward German positions of General Busch's Army Group Center. Breakthroughs of over 10 miles are noted for most of the attacking forces.

Heavy fighting is reported in Normandy as US forces break into the German defenses at Cherbourg and British forces take St. Honorina northwest of Caen.

June 24, 1944

The Soviet offensive continues to roll forward with advances of 20-25 miles being common. Elements of 1st Baltic and 3rd Belarusian Fronts forces cut the Orsha-Vitebsk rail line and trap the German 53rd Corps (6 divisions). The Germans are ordered to conduct a breakout attack. 2nd Belarusian Front advances in strength on Mogilev.

US forces offer the Germans an opportunity to surrender at Cherbourg, but the garrison commander General Schlieben refuses. In the meantime, his engineers are busy destroying the port's facilities.

US Naval forces under Admiral Clark hit the Volcano Bonin Islands in another set of raids. This time planes for the the carriers Hornet, Yorktown, Bataan and Belleau Wood strike Iwo Jima and Chichi Jima destroying 66 Japanese planes.

June 25, 1944

The destruction of Army Group Center continues as elements of 1st Baltic and 3rd Belarusian Fronts complete the encirclement of Vitebsk, 1st Belarusian Front crosses the Dvina River and begins operations to surround Bodruisk, while 2nd Belarusian Front takes Mogilev. The German 9th and 4th Armies are in disarray and making hasty retreats in front of the Soviet juggernaut. 

US forces reach the outskirts of Cherbourg. The attack is reinforced with support from naval gunfire from 3 battleships, 4 cruisers and 11 destroyers. Meanwhile, the British 30th Corps launches "Operation Epsom", it's first set piece attack to take Caen. The attack is largely futile and results in heavy losses for the British.

The advance in Italy comes to a halt as elements of the US 5th and British 8th Army hit the new German defensive position, The Albert Line, near Chiusi.

June 26, 1944

The Red Army offensive continues as Vitebsk and Orsha fall to the 3rd Belarusian Front attacks. The German 53rd Corps at Vitebsk made an attempt to withdraw from the doomed position and lost 28,000 men in the effort. Mogilev fell to 2nd Belarusian Front. Meanwhile Bodruisk, defended by 40,000 Germans of the 41st Panzer Corps, was surrounded by 1st Belarusian Front. The first German reinforcements to the beleaguered Army Group, the 5th Panzer Division, began to trickle into Minsk.

In a cooperative attack by Chinese and Chindit forces, Mogaung was captured from Japanese forces.

The battle for Cherbourg winds down as the Germans complete the destruction of the port facilities.

Japanese naval forces made an attempt to reinforce Saipan, but turn back when faced with US naval interdiction.

June 27, 1944

Canadian forces take Hill 112, a dominant hill west of Caen, from the 12 SS Panzer Division, beginning ten days of vicious, no-quarter fighting. Meanwhile, the garrison at Cherbourg formally surrendered the destroyed port city to the Americans.

The Red Army continues to drive in German positions along the front. 1st Belarusian Front begins reducing the pocket of the 41st Panzer Corps at Bodruisk while other columns drive toward the Berezina River.

June 28, 1944

The British conclude "Operation Epsom" as German resistance from the 1st and 2nd SS Panzer Corps proves too much for their forces to overcome at Caen.

Elements of the German 41st Panzer Corps attempt a breakout at Bodruisk hitting a weak spot in the cordon, breaking through the Soviet ring, and getting 15,000 out of the pocket. Hitler begins sacking his commanders as Model replaces Busch as commander of Army Group Center. Meanwhile, attacks on the Finnish front continue as Red Army forces take Petrozavodsk.

 

June 29, 1944

The last fortifications at Cherbourg are surrendered allowing the Americans begin port clearing operations. The destruction by the Germans was immense and initial estimates indicated that it will be at least 3 weeks before any tonnage can be landed in the city. Meanwhile, the British use their heavy bomber force on the tactical battlefield (much to the chagrin of "Bomber" Harris in an attempt to obliterate the 2nd and 9th SS Panzer Divisions at Villers-Bocage. The destruction is widespread, including some serious "friendly fire" losses.

As they reach their initial objectives for Operation Bagration, Red Army forces pause briefly to resupply and regroup. Drives continue north and south of Minsk while the Germans franticly attempt to build a new defensive line.

The V-1 blitz on England continued unabated. On this day, one of the weapons hit the Strand, killing 198 people. Another of the random bombs hit a children's hospital in Kent killing 24 newborns. To date, 1,935 British civilians had been killed by the buzz bombs.

June 30, 1944

Hill 112 is recaptured by the Germans. Meanwhile, German resistance in the Cotentin Peninsula ends and the US 1st Army begins to redirect it's operations toward St. Lo.

The Red Army offensive continues as the 3rd Belarusian Front establishes bridgeheads over the Berezina River north and south of Borisov. The Germans abandon the city before they could be surrounded.

The US 5th Army attacks Cecina making little progress and taking heavy losses.

Heavy fighting on Saipan continues as nearly half of the island is cleared. Heavy fighting is still reported north of Mount Tipo Pale and for Moutn Tapotchau.

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