Historical events from 1 January 1930 to 31 December 1949
(-9999 / +9999) = Days before / after end of World War Two in Europe (day zero = Tuesday)
30/12/1949. Friday (+1,697) Vietnam gained sovereignty from France.
28/12/1949, Wednesday (+1,695) Ahmed Sukarno, aged 48, leader of the Indonesian Nationalist Party, arrived in Batavia (Djakarta) to take up residence on the former Dutch Governor’s Palace. Since the end of the Japanese occupation of Indonesia in 1945, Sukarno had fought hard for independence from the Netherlands.
27/12/1949. Tuesday (+1,694) Holland recognised the independence of Indonesia.
26/12/1949. Monday (+1,693) Einstein's Theory of Relativity was announced.
19/12/1949, Monday (+1,686) Britain passed the National Parks Act.
16/12/1949, Friday (+1,683) A quarter of a million Afrikaners attended the unveiling of the Voortrekker Memorial to South Africa’s Boer pioneers in Pretoria.
8/12/1949, Thursday (+1,675) Taipei, Taiwan, was formally chosen as the capital of Nationalist China. Chiang Kai Shek’s Nationalist Government fled to Taiwan from China to escape the advancing Communists.
5/12/1949, Monday (+1,672) David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, proclaimed Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
29/11/1949, Tuesday (+1,666) The Parliament Act was passed in the UK, restricting the Lords delaying abilities. The House of Lords had rejected this Bill but it still became law as MPs had voted for it three times.
21/11/1949, Monday (+1,658) The United Nations declared that Tripolitania should form part of the independent state of Libya.
19/11/1949. Saturday (+1,656) Prince Ranier III was sworn in as the 30th ruling Prince of Monaco.
15/11/1949, Tuesday (+1,652) In India, Nathuram Godse was hanged for the murder of Ghandi.
7/11/1949, Monday (+1,644) The first meeting of the Council of Europe; Spaak was the Chairman.
3/11/1949, Thursday (+1,640) The BBC bought the Rank Studios in Shepherds Bush for programme making.
20/10/1949, Thursday (+1,626) Britain recognised the People’s Republic of China, under Chairman Mao.
16/10/1949, Sunday (+1,622) The Greek civil war ended with the defeat of the rebels.
7/10/1949. Friday (+1,613) The German Democratic Republic was set up in East Germany.
6/10/1949, Thursday (+1,612) (1) The USA granted South Korea US$ 10.2 million for military aid and US$ 110 million for economic aid for the year 1950.
(2) The Berlin airlift ended. It had carried on from 12/5/1949 despite the Soviet lifting of the land blockade.
(3) Aneurin Bevan gave some figures for the demand on Britain’s new NHS since its inception on 5/7/1948. 187,000,000 prescriptions had been dispensed at a cost of 2s 9d (14p) each; 5,250,000 pairs of glasses had been given out, with another 3,000,000 on order; 8,500,000 dental patients had been treated. The Government Actuary, Sir George Epps, had estimated that the cost of the NHS in its first year would be £170 million; the actual figure turned out to be £242 million. Annual costs were expected to fall as the population grew fitter; in fact annual costs rose to £384 million in 1952/3.
1/10/1949. Saturday (+1,607) The Chinese Communists set up a government in Peking, The People’s Republic of China, under Mao. Taiwan remained independent. Chinese Party Chairman Mao Tse Tung made no secret of the fact that he considered Tibet part of China.
26/9/1949, Monday (+1,602) The railway from Liverpool Street, London, to Shenfield, was electrified.
25/9/1949, Sunday (+1,601) The Central Line, London, opened from Woodford to Epping.
21/9/1949, Wednesday (+1,597) The first comprehensive school in Britain opened, at Holyhead, Anglesey, formed by the merger of two local schools.
19/9/1949, Monday (+1,595) ‘Twiggy’, British model, actress, and singer, was born in Neasden, London, as Lesley Hornby.
18/9/1949. Sunday (+1,594) The British Pound was devalued by 30% by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Sir Stafford Cripps. The exchange rate to the US$ fell from 4.03 to 2.80. This would raise the cost of living by 5%. Britain faced a severe Dollar deficit, and in the first quarter of 1949 alone had to sell US$ 160 million of gold. On the same day the milk ration was reduced to 2 pints per person per week. The milk ration had been reduced to 2 ½ pints a week on 11/9/1949.
17/9/1949, Saturday (+1,593) The first meeting of NATO was held.
15/9/1949, Thursday (+1,591) Konrad Adenauer was elected Chancellor of Germany.
8/9/1949, Thursday (+1,584) Richard Strauss, composer, died.
4/9/1949, Sunday (+1,580) Britain’s largest ever aircraft, the 130-ton 8-engined Bristol Brabazon, made its first flight.
2/9/1949, Friday (+1,578) The redistribution of land became an official part of Chinese Communist policy.
29/8/1949, Monday (+1,574) The Soviet Union successfully tested its first nuclear device, in what is now Kazakhstan.
25/8/1949. Thursday (+1,570) The UK began experiments with colour TV transmission.
24/8/1949, Wednesday (+1,569) The North Atlantic Treaty, NATO, came into force.
6/8/1949, Saturday (+1,551) John Haugh, the ‘acid bath murderer’ was executed.
3/8/1949, Wednesday (+1,548) The Council of Europe came into being.
30/7/1049, Saturday (+1,544) The HMS Amethyst successfully sailed 140 miles down the Yangtse River overnight to escape Chinese Communist forces, see 20/4/1949.
29/7/1949, Friday (+1,543) The BBC issued its first televised weather forecast.
27/7/1949, Wednesday (+1,541) The world’s first jet-propelled airliner built in the UK, the De Havilland DH 106 Comet, flew at Hatfield.
22/7/1949, Friday (+1,536) The London docks strike ended.
20/7/1949, Wednesday (+1,534) Syria signed an armistice with Israel.
19/7/1949, Tuesday (+1,533) Laos became independent within the French Union.
15/7/1949, Friday (+1,529)
12/7/1949, Tuesday (+1,526) Douglas Hyde, President of Ireland, died.
11/7/1949. Monday (+1,525) The first film made specifically for television, ‘A Dinner date With Death’ was shot at Marylebone Studios between 11 and 14 July 1949.
10/7/1949, Sunday (+1,524) The last tramcar ran in Dublin.
1/7/1949. Friday (+1,515) The maximum wage for footballers in the UK was set at £12 per week. A nurse was paid £350 a year. A pint of milk cost 5d (2p), the same as a Mars bar, which went on sale in the UK for the first time. 20 Woodbines cost 2s 9d (14p).
29/6/1949, Wednesday (+1,513) (1) US troops completed their withdrawal from South Korea, leaving behind just 500 men to serve as advisors to the 98,000-strong South Korean armed forces, a body barely large enough to maintain internal order, let alone deal with any threat from North Korea.
(2) A docks strike began in London.
20/6/1949, Monday (+1,504) The USA, the USSR, France, and the UK signed a Four-Power agreement on Berlin, including a clause ensuring the freedom of movement within the entire city.
7/6/1949, Tuesday (+1,491) In a statement to US Congress, President Harry S Truman, talking about measures necessary to prevent Communist domination of the Pacific, declared that Korea had become a testing ground in the ideological conflict between Communism and democracy.
6/6/1949, Monday (+1,490) George Orwell’s book Nineteen Eighty Four was published. Suffering from tuberculosis, Orwell completed the book between periods of hospitalisation in a remote house in The Hebrides.
2/6/1949. Thursday (+1,486) Transjordan was renamed Jordan.
26/5/1949. Thursday (+1,479) Chinese Communists captured Shanghai.
23/5/1949. Monday (+1,476) (1) Chinese Communists drove the Nationalists off the mainland to Taiwan.
(2) The Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) was formally established, with its capital at Bonn.
(3) The Stratford on Avon to Broom railway closed to passengers.
21/5/1949, Saturday (+1,474) The Meltham branch railway (Huddersfield) closed to passengers.
13/5/1949, Friday (+1,466) Britain flew its first jet bomber, the Canberra, from Warton airfield, Canberra.
12/5/1949. Thursday (+1,465) The Soviet blockade of West Berlin was called off after 11 months, it began 28 June 1948. It had cost the Allies £200 million to fly in food and essential supplies, with up to 200 flights a day.
11/5/1949. Wednesday (+1,464) (1) Israel was voted into the UN.
(2) Siam changed its name to Thailand.
9/5/1949. Monday (+1,462) (1) Prince Ranier III became Head of State of Monaco, succeeding his grandfather Prince Louis II.
(2) Britain’s first launderette opened in Queensway, London.
(3) Billy Joel, American singer and songwriter, was born in the Bronx, New York.
5/5/1949, Thursday (+1,458) The USSR announced it would lift the blockade of Berlin on 12.5.1949.
3/5/1949. Tuesday (+1,456) The Council of Europe was established, after a ten-state conference in London.
1/5/1949. Sunday (+1,454) In the UK, the gas industry was nationalised.
28/4/1949, Thursday (+1,451), The Allies set up the International Authority for the Ruhr, or IAR. This was dissolved on 10/8/1952 when the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) came into force.
27/4/1949, Wednesday (+1,450) The Commonwealth was founded in London.
24/4/1949. Sunday (+1,447) Sweets and chocolates came off rations in Britain. Clothes rationing, which began on 2/6/1941, ceased on 15/3/1949. All food rationing ended on 3/7/1954. Identity cards were abolished in Britain on 21/2/1952.
20/4/1949, Wednesday (+1,443) The HMS Amethyst was fired upon by Chinese whilst sailing up the Yangtse River with supplies for the British community in Nanking. She was trapped until the night of 30/7/1949 when she successfully sailed downriver 140 miles, under fire from further Chinese forces.
18/4/1949. Monday (1,441) (1) The Boy Scouts began their first ‘bob-a-job’ (5p) week.
(2) Ireland was formally proclaimed a Republic (by the Republic of Ireland Act), on an Easter Monday (Easter Rising), at the General Post Office in Dublin, a place with many historical associations with the Rising. See 17/11/1948. Ireland asserted its independence from Britain by leaving the Commonwealth.
4/4/1949. Monday (+1,427) The North Atlantic Treaty was signed in Washington. NATO was set up on 18/3/1949, by Britain and seven other European countries. Denmark had agreed to join on 25/3/1949. Eleven countries signed in total.
3/4/1949, Sunday (+1,426) Jordan signed an armistice with Israel.
2/4/1949, Saturday (+1,425)
1/4/1949, Friday (+1,424) (1) The National Parks Bill was approved by the UK Parliament. 12 National Parks were created, covering 9% of the area of England and Wales; none were created in Scotland or Northern Ireland.
(2) The 6th Marquess of Bath took the unprecedented step of opening his house to visits by paying tourists. 135,000 came in the first 12 months. As he later explained, aristocratic homes had to be run as businesses, to gain the same tax regime as other businesses. The assets of the wealthy had been shrunk by heavy taxation, including Death Duties of 75% on estates of over £1million.
31/3/1949. Thursday (+1,423) Newfoundland, with its dependency Labrador, joined Canada as the 10th province of the dominion.
23/3/1949, Wednesday (+1,415) Lebanon and Israel signed an armistice.
17/3/1949, Thursday (+1,409) The USSR agreed to provide heavy military equipment to North Korea.
15/3/1949, Tuesday (+1,407) Clothes rationing ended in Britain. See 24/4/1949.
8/3/1949, Tuesday (+1,400) Vietnam became independent within the French Union.
7/3/1949, Monday (+1,399) Ghulam Nabi Azad, Indian politician, was born.
5/3/1949, Saturday (+1,397)
2/3/1949. Wednesday (+1,394) A crew of US Air Force personnel completed the first non stop round the world flight, refuelling four times mid-air, taking 94 hours. See 21/5/1927, first transatlantic flight. The flight captain was James Gallagher, flying the US Air Force B50 ‘Lucky Lady’.
1/3/1949, Tuesday (+1,393) Joe Louis retired as world heavyweight boxing champion.
16/2/1949, Wednesday (+1,380) Chaim Weizmann was sworn in as first President of Israel.
14/2/1949, Monday (+1,378) Egypt and Israel signed an armistice.
9/2/1949, Wednesday (+1,373) US actor Robert Mitchum was jailed for 2 months for smoking marijuana.
8/2/1949, Tuesday (+1,372) The Irish Government refused to join NATO whilst Ireland remained divided between South and North.
1/2/1949, Tuesday (-1,365)
26/1/1949, Wednesday (+1,359) The first test photograph was made at Mount Palomar observatory.
25/1/1949. Tuesday (+1,358) (1) COMECON (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance) was founded in Moscow.
(2) Ben Gurion's Mapai Party won the Israeli elections.
24/1/1949, Monday (+1,357)
22/1/1949 Saturday (+1,355) The Chinese Communists under Mao Tse Tung captured Peking. The Nationalists under Chaing Kai Shek were defeated at Huai Hai north of Beijing.
21/1/1949, Friday (+1,354) Chiang Kai Shek resigned
20/1/1949, Thursday (+1,353) Attlee set up a Royal Commission on capital punishment.
19/1/1949. Wednesday (+1,352) In the US, President Truman was inaugurated.
15/1/1949. Saturday (+1,348) Chinese Communists captured Tientsin.
12/1/1949. Wednesday (+1,345) In Britain, Margaret Allen was hanged, the first woman hanged for 12 years.
10/1/1949 Monday (+1,343) 33.3 and 45 rpm vinyl records went on sale in the USA.
7/1/1949, Friday (+1,340) Marshall was succeeded by Acheson as US Secretary of State.
1/1/1949. Saturday (+1,334) India and Pakistan agreed a truce in the war over Kashmir.
23/12/1948, Thursday (+1,325) Hideki Tojo, Japanese Prime Minister 1941-44, who attacked Pearl Harbour and so provoked the entry of the USA into the War, was hanged as a war criminal.
15/12/1948. Wednesday (+1,317) (1) France’s first nuclear reactor began operating.
(2) In Indonesia, Dutch troops seized Jakarta.
14/12/1948, Tuesday (+1,316) South Korea formed a Department of National Defence.
10/12/1948, Friday (+1,312) The United Nations issued the Declaration of Human Rights.
1/12/1948. Wednesday (+1,303) National Service in Britain was increased from 12 to 18 months.
28/11/1948. Sunday (+1,300) The first Polaroid cameras went on sale, in Boston, USA. The price was US$ 89.75 – the equivalent of US$ 900, or UK£595 in 2015. All 37 had sold by the end of the day.
21/11/1948, Sunday (+1,293) In London, Central Line trains began running between Hainault and Woodford.
17/11/1948, Wednesday (+1,289) In Dublin, a ‘Republic of Ireland’ Bill was introduced to the Parliament, severing all links with Britain; Ireland left the Commonwealth. See 18/4/1949.
16/11/1948, Tuesday (+1,288) US President Truman refused to participate in talks with the Soviets on the future of Berlin until the blockade was lifted.
14/11/1948. Sunday (+1,286) Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, was born in Buckingham Palace, as Charles Philip Arthur George.
4/11/1948, Thursday (+1,276) The new Indian Constitution was formally introduced to the Constituent Assembly.
2/11/1948. Tuesday (+1,274) Harry S Truman was re-elected as President of the USA.
30/10/1948, Saturday (+1,271) Passenger services on the East Kent Light Railway, 25 ½ miles from Shepherds Well to Wingham, ceased.
29/10/1948, Friday (+1,270) Chinese Communist forces captured the important city of Mukden, and its arsenal, from Kuomintang forces.
15/10/1948, Friday (+1,256) US President Gerald Ford married widow Elizabeth Bloomer Warren.
12/10/1948. Tuesday (+1,253) First Morris Minor came off the production line at Cowley, Oxfordshire. The car was designed by Alex Issigonis.
6/10/1948, Wednesday (+1,247) Gerry Adams, Irish Republican politician, was born.
28/9/1948. Tuesday (+1,239) First British Grand Prix held at Silverstone.
22/9/1948, Wednesday (+1,233) Captain Mark Phillips, husband of Princess Anne, was born in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.
17/9/1948. Friday (+1,228) Jewish terrorists assassinated Count Folke Bernadotte, Swedish UN mediator, in Jerusalem.
13/9/1948, Monday (+1,224) Nehru sent Indian troops to occupy the State of Hyderabad, whose ruler, the Nizam, had declined to join India. An appeal by the Nizam to the United Nations was in vain. The Nizam was allowed to keep his palaces and other private property.
12/9/1948, Sunday (+1,223) Max Walker, Australian cricket player, was born.
11/9/1948, Saturday (+1,222) Death of Muhammed Ali Jinnah, first Governor-General of Pakistan.
10/9/1948, Friday (+1,221) Margaret Trudeau, former Canadian 1st lady, was born in Vancouver, British Columbia.
9/9/1948 Thursday (+1,220) (1) Footwear rationing ended in the UK.
(2) Following the withdrawal of Russian troops, North Korea became independent as the People’s Democratic Republic of North Korea.
7/9/1948, Tuesday (+1,218)
6/9/1948, Monday (+1,217) John Derry, piloting a De Havilland DH 108, in a dive, became the first pilot to fly at supersonic speed in Britain.
5/9/1948, Sunday (+1,216) In France, Robert Schuman became President of the Council while being Foreign Minister, As such, he was the negotiator of the major treaties of the end of World War II.
4/9/1948. Saturday (+1,215) Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, aged 68, Queen since 1890, abdicated. Juliana, her daughter,39, became Queen on 6/9/1948.
3/9/1948, Friday (+1,214) Eduard Benes, Czech President until the Communist take-over, died. See 6/6/1948.
2/9/1948, Thursday (+1,213) Christa McAuliffe, US teacher who died in the Challenger space shuttle disaster in 1986, was born in Boston, Massachusetts.
1/9/1948. Wednesday (+1,212) The North China People’s Republic was formed by the Communists, under Chairman Mao.
23/8/1948, Monday (+1,203) The World Council of Churches was formed.
15/8/1948. Sunday (+1,195) The Republic of Korea was proclaimed in the south of the peninsula; Syngman Rhee was the first President. On 9/9/1948 a Communist republic was set up in North Korea.
14/8/1948, Saturday (+1,194) The London Olympics closed.
13/8/1948, Friday (+1,193) After heavy rains damaged the line, passenger services ceased on the St Boswells to Duns railway.
2/8/1948, Monday (+1,182) Alger Hiss testified in the US McCarthy anti-Communist hearings, using the phrase ‘Reds under the bed’.
30/7/1948, Friday (+1,179) The world’s first radar station designed to assist shipping was opened at Liverpool, UK.
29/7/1948. Thursday (+1,178) The first post-war Olympic Games, the 14th, opened in London. Opened by King George V at Wembley Stadium, these were the first Games since those in Berlin in 1936. The atmosphere was one of post-war austerity and reconstruction, and Japan, the USSR, and Germany were not present. The USA won 38 gold medals. The UK came 12th.
25/7/1948. Sunday (+1,174) Bread rationing ended in Britain.
15/7/1948. Thursday (+1,164) (1) The UN ordered a ceasefire in Palestine.
(2) Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in London, having been in existence in America since 1935.
(3) John Pershing, commander of the US Army in France in World War One, nicknamed ‘Black Jack’, died in Washington DC.
13/7/1948, Tuesday (+1,162) It was announced that the UK coal industry lost £13 million in its first year of nationalisation.
10/7/1948, Saturday (+1,159) Full university status was granted to University College, Nottingham.
5/7/1948. Monday (+1,154) The National Health Service was established in the UK (see 6/11/1946). Introduced under a Labour government, it provided free medical treatment, and free prescriptions for glasses, teeth, and wigs. In its first year the NHS cared for 47.5 million patients, provided 5.25 million pairs of glasses, 7,000 artificial eyes and 5,000 wigs. Doctors wrote 187 million NHS prescriptions, and by 1950, 95% of UK citizens were using the NHS.
1/7/1948. Thursday (+1,150) (1) The first Oxfam shop opened in the UK. See 1/7/1942.
(2) A secondary school teacher with a degree earned £615 a year, a baker was paid £5 5s(£5.25) a week. The air fare from London to New York was £86 17s (£86.85p). The standard rail fare from Manchester to London return was £1 17s (£1.85p). The return bus fare from Manchester to Wythenshawe, 8 miles, was 1 shilling (5p).
30/6/1948, Wednesday (+1,149) The last British troops left Palestine.
28/6/1948. Monday (+1,147) (1) Yugoslavia ceased to be a Soviet satellite. Yugoslavia strengthened its ties with the West, and with Turkey and Greece. On 14/11/1951 a US-Yugoslav military agreement was reached providing for supply of tanks and heavy artillery to the Yugoslav Army. On 28/2/1953 a Turkish-Greek-Yugoslav treaty of friendship and co-operation was signed in Ankara, and on 9/8/1954 the three governments strengthened this treaty into a military and defensive alliance.
(2) The Anglo-US airlift to Berlin began; see 12/5/1949.
24/6/1948. Thursday (+1,143) The Russians began a blockade of West Berlin. The Berlin Airlift began on 28/6/1948 and delivered some 7,000 tons of food supplies to the city over a period of three months by British and American aircraft, defying the Soviet land blockade. The airlift continued until 30/9/1949, although the Soviet blockade was lifted on 12/5/1949. See 30/3/1948.
22/6/1948. Tuesday (+1,141) Dr Peter Goldmark of Columbia Records unveiled the first successfully produced micro-groove, or long playing, record.
16/6/1948, Wednesday (+1,135) The first airline hijack took place. A gang of Chinese bandits took over a Cathay Pacific flying boat, Miss Macao, on a scheduled flight to Hong Kong. The crew fought back and the aircraft crashed, killing everyone except the hijack gang leader. Foul play was at first not suspected, until salvagers recovered the bullet-ridden plane. Police then placed an informer next to Wong yu Man’s hospital bed with a tape recorder and recorded conversations between them.
7/6/1948, Monday (+1,126) Over half of UK doctors agreed to join the NHS.
6/6/1948, Sunday (+1.125) In Prague, President Benes resigned. He had been attempted to maintain a neutral government in Czechoslovakia but the Communist, Klement Gottwald succeeded in introducing a Russian-oriented political system. Benes died three months later (3/9/1948), a broken man.
31/5/1948, Monday (+1,119) (1) In London, Central Line trains began running over the loop from Newbury Park to Hainault, and North Acton to West Ruislip.
(2) The South Korean National Assembly elected Syngman Rhee as Chairman.
26/5/1948. Wednesday (+1,114) South Africa elected a Nationalist government with apartheid policies.
25/5/1948, Monday (+1,112) Moshe Dayan assisted Israeli General Yigael Yadin to mount a counter offensive against Arab troops, checking their invasion.
23/5/1948. Sunday (+1,111) The Empire Windrush sailed from Jamaica with the first West Indian migrants, to alleviate Britain’s severe labour shortage.
21/5/1948, Friday (+1,109) Egyptian forces were reported to be only 4 miles from Bethlehem.
20/5/1948, Thursday (+1,108) Egyptian forces captured Beersheba.
18/4/1948, Tuesday (+1,106)
17/5/1948, Monday (+1,105) The USSR recognised the State of Israel.
16/5/1948. Sunday (+1,104) Chaim Weitzmann was named first President of Israel.
15/5/1948, Saturday (+1,103), Egyptian forces invaded Israel.
14/5/1948. Friday (+1,102) The State of Israel was created (see 16/2/1949, 27/4/1950), after the British Mandate ended in Palestine, and the first Arab-Israeli war began. Arab forces invaded from Jordan. See also 2/11/1917, Balfour Declaration. Ben Gurion was the head of the provisional Israeli Government. The nation’s 400,000 Jews at once opened the country to unrestricted Jewish immigration, which had been banned since 1944. US President Harry Truman immediately recognised the new State. On 15/5/1948 the British left Palestine, and Egypt invaded, as did Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. The 30,000-strong Israeli defence force, the Haganah, assumed a war footing. However the Arab attacks were uncoordinated and by the end of 1948 the Israeli Army, by then 100,000 strong, had achieved conclusive victory.
30/4/1948. Friday (+1,088) (1) First Land Rover exhibited at the Amsterdam Motor Show.
(2) The Organisation of American States was set up. The agreement, covering all 21 of the republics in the Americas, was signed at Bogota, Colombia. The fourteenth state ratified the treaty on 13/12/1951, thereby formally legally validating the treaty.
19/4/1948, Monday (+1,077) The USA tested a plutonium bomb at Eniwetok Atoll.
16/4/1948. Friday (+1,074) The Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC) was set up, see 14/12/1960.
12/4/1948. Monday (+1,070) The Roosevelt Memorial was unveiled in Grosvenor Square, London.
9/4/1948, Friday (+1,067) Major riots in Bogota, Colombia, following the assassination of the popular liberal-nationalist politician, Jorge Eliecer Gaitan. Martial law was declared under moderate-conservative Mariano Ospina Perez; the pro-Nazi Gomez became President of Colombia in 1950.
7/4/1948. Wednesday (+1,065) The World Health Organisation was set up with its headquarters in Geneva. Its aim was to attain the highest possible level of health for all peoples.
1/4/1948. Thursday (+1,059) Britain nationalised the electricity industry. Average weekly earnings for men aged over 21 were £6, 14 shillings £6.70). For women over 18 full time they were £3, 12 shillings, 11d (£3.64.5p). Adult men worked an average 46.5 hours a week; adult women worked 41.6 hours average. The food and drink industry paid some of the lowest wages, at average weekly wage £6, 4 shillings, 1d (£6.20.5p) for men and £3, 8 shillings, 7d (£3.43) for women.
31/3/1948. Wednesday (+1,058) (1) US Congress passed the Marshall Aid Bill.. On 3/4/1948 President Truman signed the Economic Assistance Act, putting in effect Marshall aid for 16 countries in war-torn Europe. The first aid shipments to Europe left the USA on 5/4/1948.
(2) Al Gore, US Vice President under Bill Clinton, noted for his strong pro-environmental stance, was born.
30/3/1948, Tuesday (+1,057) The Russians imposed restrictions on Western traffic into West Berlin. See 26/4/1948. The West feared that the USSR was trying to absorb West Berlin; Moscow said it was responding to the West creating West Germany out of the three western occupation zones.
17/3/1948. Wednesday (+1,044) (1) King Farouk of Egypt laid the foundation stone of the Aswan Dam.
(2) Britain, France, and the Benelux countries signed the Brussels Treaty, a pact of economic, military, political, and cultural alliance. The Treaty came into effect on 25/7/1948.
16/3/1948, Tuesday (+1,043)
15/3/1948. Monday (+1,042) (1) The UK Civil Service was closed to Fascists and Communists regarding posts vital to State Security.
(2) US coal miners went on strike for better pensions.
11/3/1948. Thursday (+1,038) The offices of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem were blown up.
10/3/1948, Wednesday (+1,037) Ian Masaryk, Czech politician, died in Prague under suspicious circumstances after the Communists gained control.
7/3/1948. Sunday (+1,034) Juan Peron won elections in Argentina.
28/2/1948. Saturday (+1,026) Last British troops left India.
25/2/1948. Wednesday (+1,023) Communists seized power in Czechoslovakia. In Czech elections in May 1946 the Communists, under Gottwald, secured 114 of the 300 seats and became leader of a coalition government. However by 1948 the Communists were losing popularity in Czechoslovakia, because Gottwald had declined Marshall Aid and because he was appointing his own supporters to senior positions in the police force. A new Czech election was due in May 1948; before this could take place Gottwald organised what was effectively a Communist Revolution, backed by the workers militia and the police; there were no Soviet troops in Czechoslovakia at this time. Gottwald died in March 1953 and was succeeded as Communist dictator by Novotny, who ruled until early 1968. See 5/1/1968.
20/2/1948, Friday (+1,018) The 863 kilometre railway from Salta, Argentina, to Antofagasta, Chile, was completed.
18/2/1948. Wednesday (+1,016) (1) In a poll by the British Medical Association, 86% of doctors voted against joining the NHS.
(2) In Ireland, John Costello became Head of a new Coalition Government, see 4/2/1948. Fianna Fail, which had held power since 1932, lost votes to Clann na Poblachta, a party headed by Sean McBride, former Chief of Staff of the IRA, and offering a brand of radical republicanism similar to that of Fianna Fail in 1932. Fianna Fail remained the largest party, and Clann na Poblachta with 10 seats was now the junior partner in a coalition with Fine Gael and Labour.
16/2/1948, Monday (+1,014) Britain warned off Argentina as the Argentines conducted naval exercise near the Falkland Islands.
12/2/1948, Thursday (+1,010) The ashes of Mahatma Gandhi were placed in the ‘holy waters’ of the River Ganges at Allahabad.
4/2/1948. Wednesday (+1,002) (1) De Valera lost his overall majority at the Irish elections, see 18/2/1948.
(2) Ceylon became a self-governing dominion; it had been a British colony since 1802. It achieved full independence on 22/5/1972.
30/1/1948. Friday (+997) (1) The Indian leader Mahatma (= ‘Great Soul) or Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic. Ghandi had been at a prayer meeting when he was shot by Nathuram Godse, a fanatic who totally rejected Ghandi's message of goodwill, peace, and love. Some extremist Hindus saw that India could never become a Hindu-dominated state whilst Ghandi was still alive; Ghandi had preached tolerance between Hindus and Moslems.. Nathuram Godse was hanged on 15/11/1949. A previous attempt on Ghandi’s life had been made on 20/1/1948.
(2) The US aviator Orville Wright, younger of the two Wright brothers, died.
27/1/1948, Tuesday (+994) UK medical consultants threatened to boycott the new National Health Service.
13/1/1948, Tuesday (+980), Mahatma Ghandi began a six-day fast, in order to promote harmony between Muslims and Hindus.
12/1/1948. Monday (+979) (1) A law school in Oklahoma was ordered to admit a Black student.
(2) The Co-op opened the first supermarket in Britain, at Manor Park.
9/1/1948, Friday (+976)
5/1/1948, Monday (+972) In Jerusalem, the Arab-owned Semiramis Hotel was destroyed by a bomb explosion; 20 people were killed.
4/1/1948. Sunday (+971) Burma became independent from Britain, and joined the Commonwealth. The new Republic was troubled by civil war; general Ne Win was in charge of military action against the Karen and their Communist guerrilla allies. U Nu (see 19/7/1947), a devout Buddhist, was Burmese leader until 1962 when Ne Win took over in an army coup.
1/1/1948. Thursday (+968) Britain’s railways were nationalised.
30/12/1947. Tuesday (+966) (1) The Kashmir problem went before the UN.
(2) King Michael of Romania abdicated, and a Communist republic was set up.
28/12/1947, Sunday (+964) Victor Emmanuel III, King of Italy from 1900 until he abdicated in 1946, died.
27/12/1947, Saturday (+963) The Greek Government banned the Communist Party.
17/12/1947. Wednesday (+953) A blizzard dumped 27 inches of snow on New York.
14/12/1947, Sunday (+950) (1) In London, the Central Line was extended from Leytonstone to Woodford and through the north Ilford tunnels to Newbury Park. The former surface rail connection between Newbury Park and the Rumford line was used by goods trains until March 1956.
(2) Stanley Baldwin, British Conservative politician, three times Prime Minister, who became Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, died.
2/12/1947, Tuesday (+938) Anti-Jewish riots broke out in the British colony of Aden (90% Muslim, 5% Jewish, 5% other). 82 Jews, 38 Arabs and 3 others were killed.
1/12/1947, Monday (+937) Samuel Courtauld, silk and nylon manufacturer, and patron of the arts, died in London.
30/11/1947. Sunday (+936) In London, steam trains from Liverpool Street ceased to run on the Chigwell to Newbury Park loop.
29/11/1947, Saturday (+935) The United Nations voted to partition Palestine between Jewish and Arab areas.
27/11/1947. Thursday (+933) Austrian banks were nationalised.
25/11/1947. Tuesday (+931) The USSR demanded war reparations from Germany.
20/11/1947. Thursday (+926) Princess Elizabeth married Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh, in Westminster Abbey. Austerity and rationing were temporarily forgotten.
14/11/1947. Friday (+920) The UN recognised the independence of Korea.
13/11/1947. Thursday (+919) Chancellor Hugh Dalton resigned after admitting passing tax details to a reporter minutes before the Budget speech.
10/11/1947, Monday (+916) Strachey admitted to the House of Commons that because of food shortages and rationing, the average daily Calorie intake per head was down to 2,700, as opposed to a British Medical Association recommendation of 3,386 made in July 1933.
7/11/1947, Friday (+913) The first railway in Albania opened. It ran from Durres to Pekinj, 42km.
1/11/1947. Saturday (+907) Sports Report, the BBC radio Saturday afternoon programme, went on the air. The Benelux customs union, officially created on 29/10/1947, became active.
26/10/1947. Sunday (+901) Kashmir joined India despite Pakistani protests.
14/10/1947. Tuesday (+889) The first supersonic flight was made, by Charles Yeager of California. Major Charles Yeager was taken to 30,000 feet from Edwards Air Base, Muroc, California, in a Bell X-1, underneath a B-29 Superfortress plane, and released. He flew at 670mph, (Mach 1.05), held for several seconds, then landed at Edwards Air Base again.
9/10/1947. Thursday (+884) The first radio-telephone call was made, from a car to a plane, above Wimington, Delaware, USA. However radio contact between a person in a car and a person on the ground had been made in 1922. This was at Brooklands motor circuit where a Morse message was transmitted from a racing car at 80mph. The aerial was on large poles propped up on the car.
6/10/1947, Monday (+881) The Holme to Ramsey North railway closed.
5/10/1947. Sunday (+880) In the US, President Truman urged Americans to give up meat on Tuesdays and poultry and eggs on Thursday to aid Europe.
4/10/1947, Saturday (+879) (1) The German physicist, Max Planck, died at his home in Gottingen, aged 89. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1918 for his work on quantum physics and black-body radiation.
(2) Ann Widdecombe, British politician, was born.
2/10/1947, Thursday (+877)
30/9/1947, Tuesday (+875) (1) The UK Government asked women to wear shorter skirts, to save cloth.
(2) Pakistan and Yemen joined the UN.
29/9/1947, Monday (+874) Sir Stafford Cripps was appointed by PM Attlee, as Minister of Economic Affairs. He went on to replace Hugh Dalton as Chancellor of the Exchequer following Dalton’s resignation on 13/11/1947. Sir Cripps was a keen advocate of austerity, as the UK made efforts to cut back on imports from outside the Sterling Area.
24/9/1947. Wednesday (+869) 1,200 Muslims fleeing India for Pakistan on a train were massacred by Sikhs at Amritsar in the Punjab.
18/9/1947, Thursday (+863) The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was founded, under the 1947 National Security Act. Created by President Truman, it was a response to the Cold war with the Soviet Union.
17/9/1947, Wednesday (+862) Tessa Jowell, UK politician, was born.
16/9/1947. Tuesday (+861) John Cobb broke the world land speed record at 394 mph.
15/9/1947, Monday (+860) The Free Territory of Trieste was created as the Peace Treaty with Italy came into effect.
14/9/1947, Sunday (+859) Baldwin retired in May 1937 and was made Earl Baldwin of Bewdley. He died on 14 September 1947.
7/9/1947, Sunday (+852)
31/8/1947. Sunday (+845) The Communists won Hungarian elections.
30/8/1947, Saturday (+844) About 90 people were killed and 60 injured in a cinema fire in the Rueil district of Paris, France. Police said the blaze was caused by a wire in the second balcony that short-circuited
29/8/1947, Friday (+843) James Hunt, British motor racing champion, was born in Belmont, Surrey.
28/8/1947, Thursday (+842) Ecuador's new dictator Carlos Mancheno abolished the country's 1944 constitution and proclaimed himself President.
27/8/1947. Wednesday (+841) The UK Government announced cuts to deal with an economic crisis.
24/8/1947, Sunday (+838) The Edinburgh International Festival of Music and Drama was launched. It was an antidote to the prevailing austerity.
15/8/1947. Friday (+829) (1) The UK’s first atomic reactor, at Harwell, began operating.
(2) India became independent; the Union Jack was run down for the last time in New Delhi. Pandit Nehru was the first Indian Prime Minister. Ali Khan became first PM of the newly created Pakistan. See 4/6/1947 for more details.
14/8/1947, Thursday (+828) Pakistan became independent from Britain.
1/8/1947. Friday (+815) The UN Security Council asked for a ceasefire in Indonesia.
30/7/1947, Wednesday (+813) Arnold Schwarzenegger, star of the Terminator films and Governor of California 2003-11, was born.
20/7/1947. Sunday (+803) Dutch troops attacked Indonesian forces in Java.
19/7/1947, Saturday (+802) The Burmese leader Aung San was assassinated by gunmen in the pay of a political rival, shortly before Burma was to gain independence from Britain, see 4/1/1948. U Nu became leader of Burma.
6/7/1947. Sunday (+789) Spain voted to have a King when Franco died.
3/7/1947. Thursday (+786) The Benelux Union Bill was ratified, creating an economic union of 18 million people.
1//7/1947. Tuesday (+784) A Police Constable was paid £273 a year. A pint of beer rose from 1s 1d (5.5p) to 1s 4d (7p). A ‘New Length Cardigan’ from Debenham and Freebody cost £(£4.16p) plus 6 coupons. A man’s watch cost £6.40. The average UK wage was £351 a year. The average UK house cost £1,577. A 6-bed house in Wimbledon cost £7,250 (4.60 x average). Road tax for a car cost ££1. 2 weeks in Lucerne cost £57.
500g of streaky bacon cost 8p. 500g of beef cost 7p. 250g of cheddar cheese cost 2p. 250g of butter cost 4p. 500g of margarine cost 4p. 1 kg old potatoes cost 1p. 125g of loose tea cost 4p. 6 eggs cost 4p. 1 kg granulated sugar cost 3p. 800g sliced white bread cost 2p. 1 pint of pasteurised milk cost 2p. The Observer newspaper cost 1p.
30/6/1947. Monday (+783) In the UK, food rations were cut further in the midst of an economic crisis.
28/6/1947, Saturday (+781) The statue of Eros returned to Piccadilly Circus.
24/6/1947, Tuesday (+777) US pilot Kenneth Arnold, flying over Mount Ranier, Washington State, filed the first report of flying saucers; he reported seeing nine flying disc-shaped objects.
22/6/1947, Sunday (+775) Jerry Rawlings, President of Ghana, was born.
19/6/1947, Thursday (+772) Salman Rushdie was born.
17/6/1947. Tuesday (+770) Burma became an independent Republic.
16/6/1947, Monday (+769) Passenger services were withdrawn on the Duffield to Wirksworth branch railway. The Canterbury to Folkestone via Elham railway closed to passengers. The Hemel Hempstead to Harpenden railway closed.
10/6/1947, Tuesday (+763)
5/6/1947. Thursday (+758) US Secretary of State George Marshall announced the Marshall Plan to help Europe recover from near – bankruptcy following the War. See 16/4/1947.
4/6/1947. Wednesday (+757) The last British viceroy to India, Lord Mountbatten, announced that plans for Indian independence from Britain would be speeded up and completed in just 70 days, not the 12 months previously envisaged (see 20/2/1947). Britain was deep in economic crisis and wanted to shed Empire as fast as possible. As a result of this haste, the subcontinent was hacked crudely into three states, and following this a million people were massacred and one of the greatest forced migrations in history began as Muslims fled India and Hindus fled East and West. Pakistan. This was the start of the Kashmir problem. The Maharajah of Kashmir was faced with a choice of joining Pakistan, effectively ending his own rule, or of joining India with his mainly Muslim population. On Independence Day, 15/8/1947, Kashmir had still not decided who to join. In October 1947 Afghan tribesmen, backed by Pakistan, began invading Kashmir from Pakistan and in response India sent tens of thousands of troops to repel them, one day after the Maharajah had decided to join India. Had Britain not pulled out of India in such haste, more orderly arrangements for Kashmir could have been set up whilst Britain was still in a position to enforce them.
29/5/1947. Thursday (+751) The Indian Parliament banned 'untouchables'.
23/5/1947, Tuesday (+742) Britain agreed to the partition of India. Muslims wanted a separate state (Pakistan), fearing they would be subsumed in a Hindi India.
15/5/1947 Thursday (+737) The United Nations set up a special committee to decide the future of Palestine.
8/5/1947. Thursday (+730) Death of the American department store founder, Henry Gordon Selfridge.
5/5/1947, Monday (+727) In London, Central Line trains began running to Leytonstone.
27/4/1947, Sunday (+719) Thor Heyerdahl set sail on a balsa wood raft from Callao in Peru to Raroia in Polynesia in order to prove that Peruvians could have settled in Polynesia.
26/4/1947. Saturday (+718) The English FA Cup Final, between Charlton Athletic and Burnley, was televised in its entirety for the first time.
23/4/1947, Wednesday (+713)
20/4/1947, Sunday (+712) Christian X, King of Denmark, died aged 76. He was succeeded by his son Frederick IX, aged 48.
19/4/1947, Saturday (+711) The Flick Trial began in Nuremberg. Friedrich Flick and five other leading Nazi industrialists were put on trial for using slave labour, among other crimes.
18/4/1947, Friday (+710) Tiso was executed, see 22/5/1945.
17/4/1947, Thursday (+709) In Rome, a mob of about a thousand unemployed workers staged a noisy protest outside the Parliament building, stopping private cars and sometimes beating the occupants. One of those assaulted was Italian Foreign Minister Carlo Sforza, who was struck by several fists as he stepped out of his car to go to his office. The Foreign Ministry said that Sforza had been shaken but not seriously hurt.
16/4/1947, Wednesday (+708) (1) The phrase ‘Cold War’ was first used, in a speech by Bernard Baruch in Columbia, South Carolina, when the US Congress was discussing the ‘Truman Doctrine’. This was a doctrine of checking further Communist expansion into Europe by giving economic and military aid to governments threatened by communist subversion. This was followed within 2 months by the Marshall Plan (5/6/1947).
(2) Ammonium nitrate stored aboard the freighter Grandcamp exploded in Texas City Port, killing 752.
12/4/1947, Saturday (+704)
9/4/1947, Wednesday (+701) The first food packages from the USA for Britain arrived at Liverpool. They were sent by the charity organisation CARE (Co-operative for Remittance to Europe) and intended for unemployed widows who had children to look after.
8/4/1947, Tuesday (+700) Following a series of killings due to labour strife, the Cuban Interior Ministry banned all political meetings that might provoke disorder.
7/4/1947. Monday (+699) Henry Ford, American motor car manufacturer who pioneered techniques of mass-production, died aged 83.
5/4/1947, Saturday (+697)
3/4/1947. Thursday (+695) In the UK, the private medical company BUPA was founded.
2/4/1947. Wednesday (+694) Britain passed the Palestine problem to the UN.
1/4/1947. Tuesday (+693) King George II of Greece died aged 56, and was succeeded by his brother, 45, as King Paul I.
29/3/1947. Saturday (+690) Nationalist uprising in Madagascar against the French.
27/3/1947, Thursday (+688) To stem the rising tide of divorce, the |British Government pledged more funding for the Marriage Guidance Council.
25/3/1947. Tuesday (+686) Elton John, British musician, was born in Pinner, London, as Reginald Kenneth Dwight.
15/3/1947. Saturday (+676) Almost 600,000 acres of farmland were flooded in The Fens as the River Ouse overflowed, following a thaw of deep snow, drowning 2 million sheep. See 6/3/1947.
12/3/1947, Wednesday (+673) US President Truman spoke of a Cold War (see 5/3/1946) against Communism. He instituted the ‘Truman Doctrine’, whereby the US would give military and economic access to any countries deemed to be under Soviet threat, such as Greece or Turkey.
6/3/1947, Thursday (+667) Deep snow cut off 13 towns in Britain. See 15/3/1947.
1/3/1947. Saturday (+662) The International Monetary Fund began operating.
26/2/1947, Wednesday (+659) The UK Government considered rationing coal as a cold snap entered its fifth week. The winter was the coldest since 1880/81. Coal was piling up at the pit heads, unable to move as railways were blocked by snow. Buxton and Bridlington were cut off by snowdrifts as high as 20 feet. Blizzards at sea kept fishing fleets in port, worsening food shortages.
21/2/1947. Friday (+654) The world’s first soap opera, “A woman to remember”, began on USA television.
20/2/1947, Thursday (+653) (1) (Weather) In Britain, very cold weather along with fuel shortages threatened to damage the economy.
(2) Lord Louis Mountbatten was appointed the last Viceroy of India, the same day the British government announced that the British would leave India by June 1948. See 4/6/1947. Mountbatten was to supervise the peaceful transition to independence of India, despite major difference between Hindus and Muslims. Winston Churchill opposed Indian independence.
18/2/1947, Tuesday (+651)
10/2/1947. Monday (+643) (1) A Peace Treaty concluded in Paris between Italy, Romania, and Bulgaria made the following provisions. a) Most of the Italian province of Venezia Giulia, with its predominantly Slovene and Croat population, as well as the enclave of Zadar (Zara) and all the Adriatic Islands were ceded to Yugoslavia. b) A Free Territory of Trieste, demilitarised and neutral, was to be formed. However this was impractical and on 5/10/1954 the British, US, Italian, and Yugoslav governments agreed to divide the territory between Italy and Yugoslavia. c) Romania ceded Northern Bukovina and Bessarabia to the USSR. The Russian occupation of these areas had been by aggression on 27/6/1940; the population of Bessarabia was however mainly Romanian.
(2) The USSR concluded a peace treaty with Finland.
7/2/1947. Friday (+640) (1) (Britain) The Minister of Fuel and Power, Emanuel Shinwell, startled the House of Commons by announcing that Britain’s power stations were running out of coal, as very cold snowy weather paralysed the rail system. Four weeks of intermittent power cuts followed, with two million workers suspended. Greyhound racing, TV and magazine production were halted.
(2) Britain proposed dividing Palestine into Jewish and Arab zones but both sides rejected the plan.
2/2/1947. Sunday (+635) The RAF began evacuating Britons from Palestine.
29/1/1947, Wednesday (+631) In the UK, record low temperatures caused power cuts.
26/1/1947, Sunday (+628) Prince Gustav of Sweden was killed in an air crash near Copenhagen.
25/1/1947, Saturday (+627) Al Capone, American gangster and leader of organised crime in Chicago during the Prohibition era, died aged 48 due to a major brain haemorrhage, virtually penniless. In 1931 he was jailed for 11 years income tax evasion; he was released from Alcatraz in 1939, suffering from syphilis and prematurely aged.
24/1/1947, Friday (+626)
23/1/1947, Thursday (+625) Snow began falling in south east England. It was the start of a protracted period of extremely cold weather.
22/1/1947. Wednesday (+624) The meat ration in Britain was reduced, again, to 1 shilling (5p) worth weekly.
20/1/1947 Monday (+622)
14/1/1947, Tuesday (+616) The newly-renovated Covent Garden Opera House in London opened, with a performance of Bizet’s Carmen.
13/1/1947, Monday (+615) In Britain, top radio shows included Woman’s Hour, Dick Barton, and Radio Forfeits.
10/1/1947, Friday (+612)
8/1/1947. Wednesday (+610) (1) In Britain, a shortage of coal caused closures of steel works. There were also food shortages because of the hauliers’ strike. Troops were called in to move supplies.
(2) David Bowie, British musician and rock star, was born in London as David Jones.
7/1/1947, Tuesday (+609) George Marshall was appointed US Secretary of State.
4/1/1947, Saturday (+606)
1/1/1947. Wednesday (+603) (1) Britain’s coal industry was nationalised under the Coal industry Nationalisation Act, 1946. The National Coal Board (NCB) was set up, to control 1,647 mines, 100,000 miners homes and over a million acres of land. The NCB was chaired by Lord Hyndley. Cable and Wireless was also nationalised this day.
(2) All British ‘silver coins’, except Maundy Money, now made from cupro-nickel, 75% copper and 25% nickel.
(3) The USA and British zones in West Germany were merged. Russia objected, and so did France, who wanted a divided Germany, and had annexed the Saar from French-occupied Germany.
31/12/1946, Tuesday (+602) In Britain, people were eating horsemeat as the food, fuel and transport crisis continued.
27/12/1946, Friday (+598) In Britain, 12 cotton mills closed today and much industry in the Midlands went on a 4-day week as a fuel shortage deepened. Meanwhile a world food shortage, compounded by a global shipping shortage, and, for the UK, a lack of foreign exchange, caused UK rations to be cut. In February 1946 butter, margarine and cooking fat rations were reduced from 8 to 7 ounces per person per week. In May 1946 bread, previously un-rationed, came on-ration.
20/12/1946. Friday (+591) Uri Geller was born in Tel Aviv.
19/12/1946, Thursday (+590) An uneasy post-War period of tactical co-operation between the French and the Vietcong Communist forces ended. The French had wanted to regain their colony of Vietnam; the Vietcong also wanted Nationalist factions in the country eliminated. But on this day the Vietcong attacked French troops at Hanoi, starting the First Indo-China War. The Vietcong began a campaign of guerrilla warfare.
18/12/1946. Wednesday (+589) Labour MPs triumphantly sang The Red Flag as the House of Commons voted to nationalise the railways, road haulage, and ports. This was under Clement Attlee’s Labour Government. The Bank of England had already been nationalised and, despite the UK’s economic problems, civil aviation, broadcasting, road transport and steel woild soon follow. Attlee also proposed independence for Burma and India.
16/12/1946, Monday (+587) In France, Leon Blum formed a Socialist government.
11/12/1946, Wednesday (+582) The UN International Children’s Emergency Fund was set up to provide aid to children in war-torn countries.
10/12/1946, Tuesday (+581) Heavy smog in London caused bus conductors to have to walk in front of their buses, carrying lighted newspapers.
5/12/1946. Thursday (+576) New York was chosen as the permanent site of the UN.
4/12/1946, Wednesday (+575) In London, Central Line trains began running to Stratford.
28/11/1946, Thursday (+569) In Britain the House of Lords was told of a ‘tidal wave of divorce sweeping Britain’.
22/11/1946. Friday (+563) The first ball point pen went on sale, invented by the Hungarian Laslo Biro. The pen, which would write 200,000 words without refilling, went on sale for £2.75.
21/11/1946, Thursday (+562) 1) The first commercial aerosol sprays were marketed in the US by Airosol Inc of Kansas. The US army had discovered the usefulness of aerosol insect sprays whilst fighting the Japanese in the rainforests of south east Asia.
2) Bulgarian Communist Georgi Dimitrov returned from Moscow to become President of Bulgaria.
19/11/1946, Tuesday (+560) The first General Conference of UNESCO was held at Paris.
11/11/1946. Monday (+552) Stevenage, Hertfordshire, became the first ‘New Town’ to be designated in Britain.
6/11/1946. Wednesday (+547) In the UK, the National Health Act came into force, see 5/7/1948.
5/11/1946, Tuesday (+546) In the US, Republicans gained control of Congress.
4/11/1946. Monday (+545) (1) US and China signed a friendship pact.
(2) UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation, was established, with headquarters in Paris.
23/10/1946, Wednesday (+533) The first New York meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations Organisation took place.
20/10/1946. Sunday (+530) Muffin the Mule, a wooden puppet, first appeared on BBC TV.
16/10/1946. Wednesday (+526) (1) The liner Queen Elizabeth made her first commercial voyage, after serving as a troopship during the War.
(2) After 216 meetings of the Nuremberg Tribunal, from 20/11/1945, the verdicts on 24 top Nazis charged with war crimes were delivered on 30/9/1946. 3 Nazis were acquitted; Hjalmar Schacht, Franz von Papen and Hans Fritzsche. A fourth defendant, Robert Ley, had committed suicide in prison before the trials were completed. The industrialist Gustav Krupp was judged to be unfit to stand trial through senile dementia. The remaining 19 defendants were found guilty. Four of them, Karl Donitz, Baldur von Shirach, Albert Speer and Konstantin von Neurath, received sentences of between 10 and 20 years. Three defendants, Rudolf Hess, Walther Funk and Erich Raeder, received life sentences. Rudolf Hess was detained at Spandau Prison, Berlin, until his death in 1987. The remaining 12 defendants were sentenced to death. Martin Bormann was not executed as he had been tried in absentia having escaped the Allied authorities. Hermann Goering committed suicide by self-poisoning in prison a few hours before he was due to be hanged. The remaining ten, Hans Frank, Willhelm Frick, Julius Streicher, Alfred Rosenberg, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Fritz Sauckel, Alfred Jodl, Wilhelm Keitel and Arthur Seiss-Inquart, were hanged on 16/10/1946.
As regards lesser Nazis, the problem facing the Allies was that millions of Germans had joined the Nazi Party, some merely for reasons of self-preservation, so it was impractical to prosecute all those who had served Hitler. Ultimately, out of a population of 44.5 million Germans in West Germany, 209,000 were prosecuted. In East Germany the Soviets prosecuted a much smaller number, just over 17,000. This was because many Nazis were executed by the Soviets without a formal legal process.
10/10/1946, Thursday (+520) In China the Kuomintang re-elected Chiang Kai Shek as President.
4/10/1946, Friday (+514) From Our Own Correspondent was first broadcast on UK radio.
29/9/1946, Sunday (+509) BBC Radio’s Third Programme, later to become Radio Three, began broadcasting.
28/9/1946, Saturday (+508) King George II returned to Greece. A referendum had shown a majority in favour of restoring the monarchy.
21/9/1946, Saturday (+501)
20/9/1946. Friday (+500) The first Cannes Film Festival opened.
19/9/1946. Thursday (+499) Winston Churchill, in Zurich, urged Franco-German reconciliation and a ‘kind of United States of Europe’.
17/9/1946, Tuesday (+497)
16/9/1946, Monday (+496) King Simeon and the Queen Mother left Bulgaria
15/9/1946, Sunday (+495) The Bulgarian People’s Republic was proclaimed.
12/9/1946, Thursday (+492|)
10/9/1946, Tuesday (+490) A referendum in Bulgaria gave a 92% vote in favour of a Republic.
9/9/1946, Monday (+489) Trans Australia Airlines made its first flight, from Melbourne to Sydney. The government-owned carrier changed its name to Australian Airlines in 1986, and then was merged with Qantas in 1993.
8/9/1946. Sunday (+488) Communists took control in Bulgaria.
1/9/1946. Sunday (+481) (1) The jet aircraft Meteor EE549 reached the record speed of 616 mph
(2) A Greek plebiscite favoured return the of the monarchy.
25/8/1946, Sunday (+474) In Britain, a flourishing black market existed in nylons, chocolate and perfumes.
24/8/1946, Saturday (+473) Elijah Muhammad was released from prison in Milan, Michigan after four years, and became the Nation of Islam's undisputed leader.
23/8/1946, Friday (+472) In North Korea, the Workers Party was established. By December 1946 its membership reached 600,000 (total population of North Korea was then 9 million).
19/8/1946, Monday (+468) (1) Violence in Calcutta between Hindus and Moslems, thousands were killed.
(2) Bill Clinton, US President, was born.
16/8/1946, Friday (+465) Major riots against the British salt tax began in Calcutta, inspired by Ghandi’s campaign of disobedience. The riots lasted till 20/8/1946.
13/8/1946. Tuesday (+462) (1) The United Nations refused to admit Ireland because of opposition from the Soviet Union. The War years, known in Ireland as ‘The Emergency’, resulted in agricultural and economic crisis, strikes, unemployment and rising emigration. Ireland now had a small and ageing population, and widespread dissatisfaction with the ruling Fianna Fail Party. Small parties such as Clann na Talmhan, the Farmers Party, proliferated.
(2) Author H G Wells; born on 21/9/1866, died in London, aged 76.
9/8/1946, Friday (+458) The Arts Council of Great Britain was incorporated.
1/8/1946, Thursday (+450) British European Airways, BEA, was formed.
29/7/1946, Monday (+447) The Paris Peace Conference began.
28/7/1946, Sunday (+448) Howard C. Petersen, US Assistant Secretary of War, announced that, in addition to deaths in combat, 131,028 American and Filipino citizens, mostly civilians, had died "as a result of war crimes" from December 7, 1941 until the end of World War II.
27/7/1946, Saturday (+445) The US writer Gertrude Stein (born 3/2/1874 in Allegheny, Pennsylvania), died in Paris, France.
25/7/1936, Thursday (+443)
24/7/1946, Wednesday (+442) Aircraft fitter Benny Lynch tested the first British ejector seat. Bailing out 8,000 feet above Chalgrove, Oxfordshire, he landed safely in the back yard of pub, and was recovered later from the bar.
23/7/1946, Tuesday (+441) The last German prisoners of war in the United States were released, as 1,385 POWs were placed on the ship General Yates, following detention at Camp Shanks in New York. In all, there had been 375,000 German prisoners kept in the US at the end of World War II.
22/7/1946. Monday (+440) The King David Hotel, Jerusalem, HQ of the British Palestine Army, was destroyed by a Zionist bomb planted by Irgun, killing 91 and injuring 45. Many Jews wanted Britain to withdraw so a Jewish State could be established.
21/7/1946. Sunday (+439) Bread rationing began in Britain because of a world shortage of wheat, caused by a poor harvest and shortages of transport and fertilisers.
13/7/1946, Saturday (+431) The US House of Representatives approved a loan to Europe.
8/7/1946. Monday (+426) Margaret Roberts, later Margaret Thatcher, was elected president of the Oxford University Conservatives.
6/7/1946, Saturday (+424) The Young Conservatives political organisation was founded in Britain.
5/7/1946. Friday (+423) The bikini was officially invented by French engineer Louis Reard. “It is a two-piece bathing suit that reveals everything about a girl except her mother’s maiden name”, said the Americans about the bikini. Two months earlier the French designer Jacques Heim had created the Atome, another two-piece bathing suit, so Louis Reard was inspired to create an even smaller bathing suit. Reard knew he had created an explosive item, so he called it the bikini, as the US military exploded an atom bomb on the south Pacific island of Bikini atoll. No Parisian model would wear the bikini at the time as it was considered indecent, but Reard hired a nude dancer, Micheline Bernardini, to wear it at his presentation. The bikini was banned in several Catholic countries such as Spain and Italy, but Reard kept promoting the garment, insisting it was not a real bikini unless “it could be pulled through a wedding ring”. In the 1950s Brigitte Bardot helped promote the bikini and by the 1970s it was more or less accepted in most countries.
4/7/1946. Thursday (+422) The Philippines was granted independence from the USA. Manual Roxas was elected as the first President.
1/7/1946. Monday (+419) (1) The first US atom bomb test at Eniwetok atoll. A second test with an underwater bomb was on 25/7/1946.
(2) Bananas, available for the first time since the war, cost 1s 1d (5.5p) per pound. A pound of pork sausages cost 14s 5d (72.5p). A whole haddock cost 9d (4p). The average weekly wage for a farm labourer was 72s 2d (£3.61p), and a weaver in the textiles industry got 84s 7d (£4.23p) a week.
(3) London’s Aldwych to Holborn spur line re-opened. It had been closed during the War and used as an air raid shelter.
(4) British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) began transatlantic flights between London and New York, in 19 ¾ hours.
28/6/1946, Friday (+416) Enrico de Nicola became first President of Italy.
27/6/1946, Thursday (+415) Italy ceded the Dodecanese islands to Greece.
17/6/1946, Monday (+405) (1) The Allied decided not to try Hirohito as a war criminal.
(2) Barry Manilow, American singer and songwriter, was born in New York City.
14/6/1946. Friday (+402) (1) Demis Roussos, Greek operatic singer, was born; see 25/1/2015.
(2) Death of John Logie Baird, at Bexhill on Sea, Sussex, aged 58. He was born on 13/8/1888 at Helensburgh, Scotland. In 1926 he demonstrated the first true television before the Royal Institution of Great Britain, following developments on the first prototype in his laboratory in Hastings in 1924. In 1939 Baird demonstrated colour television, and had reportedly developed stereoscopic television by April 1946.
11/6/1946, Tuesday (+399) Italy was officially declared a Republic.
5/6/1946, Wednesday (+393) King George V took the salute at the Victory Parade in The Mall, London.
4/6/1946. Tuesday (+392) General Juan Peron became President of Argentina.
3/6/1946, Monday (+391) King Umberto II left Italy, to join his family in Lisbon.
2/6/1946, Sunday (+390) A referendum in Italy produced 12.7 million votes for a Republic and 10.7 million votes for continuing the monarchy.
1/6/1946. Saturday (+389) The first TV licences issued in Britain, at a cost of £2. TV broadcasting resumed in Britain.
31/5/1946, Friday (+388) Heathrow was officially opened as London Airport.
30/5/1946. Thursday (+387) The Labour Minister of Food, John Strachey, announced that bread would be rationed. The greatest allowance would go to manual workers in heavy industry.
28/5/1946, Tuesday (+385)
27/5/1946, Monday (+384) The Bank for Reconstruction and Development, an organisation first proposed at the Bretton Woods Conference and constituted in 1945, began operations.
26/5/1946. Sunday (+383) The Communists gained power in Czechoslovakia.
25/5/1946. Saturday (+382) Transjordan (Jordan) proclaimed its independence, with Emir Abdullah ibn Husayn as King. Husayn (born 1882) was assassinated in Jerusalem in 1951.
22/5/1946, Wednesday (+379) Karl Hermann Frank, the Nazi ruler in Czechoslovakia who ordered the massacre at Lidice, was hanged in Prague.
20/5/1946, Monday (+377) The British Government announced plans for student grants.
17/5/1946. Friday (+374) France nationalised its coal mines.
9/5/1946. Thursday (+366) King Victor Emmanuel III, monarch of Italy since 1900, abdicated. He was succeeded by Umberto II. A referendum voted narrowly for a republic on 2/6/1946. Enrico de Nicola became the first President of Italy on 28/6/1946, and Umberto II left Italy on 3/6/1946.
25/4/1946, Thursday (+352) The USSR agreed to withdraw its troops from Iran.
21/4/1946, Sunday (+348) The economist Lord Keynes died of a heart attack. He believed that unemployment could only be eased by public spending.
18/4/1946. Thursday (+345) The League of Nations was formally dissolved, after the United Nations had been set up on 24/10/1945. See 26/6/1945.
2/4/1946. Tuesday (+329) The Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst was founded. The Woolwich Academy was merged with Sandhurst.
1/4/1946, Monday (+328) Major earthquake in the Aleutian Islands.
31/3/1946, Sunday (+327) General Gort, British commander of the British Expeditionary Force that entered France in 1939 and retreated again in 1940, died.
28/3/1946, Thursday (+324) The British Government announced plans for free school dinners and free milk at school.
21/3/1946. Thursday (+317) (1) Aneurin Bevan announced Labour Government plans for a National Health Service to become operational in 1948. The cost per year was expected to be around £152 million (£5,000 million in 2015 prices; actual 2015 NHS spending is more like £115,000 million).
(2) Goering denied he knew anything of the ‘final solution’.
15/3/1946. Friday (+311) The USSR began its 4th 5-Year Plan.
10/3/1946. Sunday (+306) Britain and France began to withdraw from Lebanon.
9/3/1946, Saturday (+305) 33 football fans were crushed to death at Bolton Wanderer’s Football Ground when a barrier collapsed.
8/3/1946, Friday (+304) In Covent Garden, London, bananas went on sale for the first time since the War.
5/3/1946. Tuesday (+301) (UK, USA) Winston Churchill referred to an “Iron Curtain” descending across Europe, in a speech at Fulton, USA. The first public acknowledgement that the Cold War had begun. See 12/3/1947.
2/3/1946. Saturday (+298) In North Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh was elected President.
1/3/1946, Friday (+297) The Bank of England was nationalised by Act of Parliament.
28/2/1946, Thursday (+296) Robin Cook, British politician, was born.
26/2/1946, Tuesday (+294)
25/2/1946. Monday (+293) The first bananas arrived in Britain after the War.
24/2/1946. Sunday (+292) Juan Peron was elected President of Argentina.
23/2/1946, Saturday (+291)
22/2/1946, Friday (+290) Dr Selman Abrahams announced the discovery of streptomycin, an antibiotic for treating tuberculosis.
21/2/1946, Thursday (+289) Indian naval mutiny at Bombay.
10/2/1946, Sunday (+278) The first ‘GI brides’ arrived in the USA to live with their new partners. When US servicemen were stationed in the UK, British males complained they were ‘overpaid, oversexed, and over here’. Many British women became engaged or married to them. Now the GI brides assembled at camps in Hampshire, to be shipped over to the USA aboard the Queen Mary.
7/2/1946. Thursday (+275) (1) In response to world food shortages, UK food rations were reduced.
(2) Hess was on trial at Nuremberg for war crimes.
3/2/1946, Sunday (+271) The Hosiery Designers of America chose actress Jane Russell’s legs as the ‘perfect pair’.
1/2/1946. Friday (+269) Hungary declared itself a republic.
30/1/1946. Wednesday (+267) UN General Assembly met for the first time, in London.
27/1/1946, Sunday (+264) In the Far East, more than 2,000 airmen went on strike at the slow pace of demobilisation.
22/1/1946, Tuesday (+259) UK pit owners protested at plans to nationalise the coal industry.
20/1/1946. Sunday (+257) De Gaulle resigned. Goiun became President of France.
19/1/1946, Saturday (+256) Dolly Parton, American Country and Western singer, was born in Sevierville, Tennessee.
18/1/1946, Friday (+255) Poland appropriated all farms of over 100 hectares (50 hectares for arable land) and redistributed the land to farm labourers. 6 million hectares of land were reassigned, resulting in the disappearance of the landowning gentry class.
15/1/1946, Tuesday (+252)
11/1/1946. Friday (+248) General Enver Hoxha’s “Democratic Front” won 95% of the vote in Albania and proclaimed a People's Republic. King Zog of Albania had been deposed on 2/1/1946. See 7/4/1939.
10/1/1946, Thursday (+247) The League of Nations was officially dissolved, after 26 years, and replaced by the United Nations.
9/1/1946, Wednesday (+246)
8/1/1946. Tuesday (+245) The trial of Goering and Von Ribbentrop began.
7/1/1946. Monday (+244) Austria was established as a de facto independent state, divided into four zones of military occupation, as was Germany. See 15/5/1955. Vienna was also divided into four zones, apart from the Innere Stadt district which was occupied jointly by all four powers (Britain, France, the USA, and the USSR).
4/1/1946, Friday (+241)
3/1/1946. Thursday (+240) Nazi propagandist William Joyce, the notorious Lord Haw Haw, was hanged in London for treason. He was known as Lord Haw Haw for the falsely posh nasal tones of his radio broadcasts telling of German military ‘successes’ (often false). He had been convicted on 19/9/1945.
2/1/1946. Wednesday (+239) King Zog of Albania was deposed in his absence. He was born Ahmed Bey Zogu, a member of the Zogolli family. The Zogolli led a powerful Moslem faction in the mountains of Albania, so when in 1912 Zog joined the powerful anti-Turkish movement, pressing for Albanian independence, Muslims abandoned traditional religious ties in a push for national freedom. Under King William, Zog achieved high office and in 1922 became Prime Minister. He was forced to flee abroad in 1924 but returned to Albania in 1925 to become President of Albania. He played off various opposing factions within the religiously divided state and gathered enough personal power to have himself declared King in 1928. However he was unable to withstand Mussolini in Italy and had to allow the Italians to invade in 1939 to prepare to invade Greece. His credibility ruined, Zog was easily ousted by the Communists in 1946.
1/1/1946, Tuesday (+238) Test flights began at an airfield west of London, called Heathrow, to be developed as a major civilian airport.
31/12/1945, Monday (+237) Most Berliners were subsisting on just 800 calories a day; in 1946 in the British sector rations dropped on occasion to a slow as 400 calories a day, less than was received by the inmates at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Not only was food desperately short but numbers to be fed were swollen by huge numbers of German refugees from eastern Europe. Medical supplies were also virtually non-existent, and 43 of Berlin’s 44 hospitals had been destroyed or badly damaged. Typhoid spread due to broken water mains and damaged sewers. Then mosquitoes and other insects feeding on corpses spread disease, and dysentery killed 6 out of 10 babies born in Berlin in July 1945. Another lethal hazard was unexploded ordnance, shells, mines and grenades. In 1945 Berlin women outnumbered men by 3 to 1.
30/12/1945, Sunday (+236)
28/12/1945, Friday (+234) Theodore Dreiser, US author (born 27/8/1871 in Terre Haute, Indiana), died in Hollywood, California.
27/12/1945. Thursday (+233) The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, commonly known as the ‘World Bank’, was established. The Bank began operations, officially, in June 1946 at its headquarters at Washington, DC. The IMF was also established this day.
21/12/1945, Friday (+227) (1) France appointed Jean Monnet as head of a commission to repair and develop French industry. He evolved the Monnet Plan which with 5 years enabled French industry to surpass its per-war output level.
(2) US General Patton was killed in a road accident whilst commanding the 5th US Army in West Germany.
15/12/1945. Saturday (+221) Iranian Azerbaijan declared itself an independent republic, following a Communist-led revolt there against Tehran in November 1945. On 11/12/1946 Iranian troops re-conquered the province.
11/12/1945. Tuesday (+217) The new Waterloo Bridge, London, designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, fully opened. Half its width had been in use since 1942.
8/12/1945, Saturday (+214)At the Nuremberg Trials it emerged that Hitler had expected the Spanish General Franco to seize Gibraltar from Britain.
7/12/1945. Friday (+213) The Japanese General Yamashita was sentenced to death as a war criminal – on the anniversary of Pearl Harbour – and was hanged the following month.
6/12/1945, Thursday (+212) U.S. General George C. Marshall testified at the Pearl Harbour inquiry that he did not anticipate the attack but that an "alert" defence would have prevented all but "limited harm”.
5/12/1945. Wednesday (+211) Five US Navy bombers on a training flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, disappeared over the area later known as the Bermuda Triangle, with 27 crew. When radio contact with the 5 planes was lost, a 6th plane was sent to search for them; it too disappeared without trace.
2/12/1945, Sunday (+208) (US, Islam, Jewish) The Arab world began a general boycott of Israel, to geographically isolate the country. The boycott was to cover not just companies trading with Israel or with Israeli companies but also companies doing business with these companies. In 1977 the US, under President Carter, declared it illegal for US companies to participate in this boycott. In the 1990s Israel insisted upon the dismantling of the boycott, which was estimated to have cost the country some US$ 40 billion, as part of the Peace Process. In 2001, however, the Arab League’s Boycott Office resumed activities as part of its support for the Palestinians during the Intifada.
29/11/1945. Thursday (+205) King Peter of Yugoslavia was ousted from power and a Communist Republic declared.
28/11/1945, Wednesday (+204) Dwight F Davis, founder of the Davis Cup tennis tournament, died.
20/11/1945. Tuesday (+196) The Nuremberg Trials began. Setting up a war crimes tribunal was unprecedented and an act of doubtful legality, but the world had a keen desire to see revenge for the atrocities the Nazis had committees, especially in their concentration camps. 24 Nazi leaders were on trial. Defendants included Goering, Hess, and Ribbentrop. On 16/10/1946 the executions of the guilty began. These included Von Ribbentrop, Rosenberg, and Streicher.
18/11/1945, Thursday (+191) Dr W N Leek, in Cheshire, claimed that the falling UK birth-rate was due to people wearing pyjamas in bed instead of nightshirts.
13/11/1945. Tuesday (+189) (1) De Gaulle was elected President of France by the unanimous vote of all 555 deputies. However he resigned within ten weeks when the Fourth Republic disagreed with his idea for a strong US-style Presidency. See 21/12/1958.
(2) Britain and the USA announced the creation of a joint committee to decide the future of Palestine.
12/11/1945. Monday (+188) Marshall Tito’s National Front Party secured an overwhelming majority in general elections.
11/11/1945, Sunday (+187) Daniel Ortega, President of Nicaragua, was born.
10/11/1945, Saturday (+186) The Communist Enver Hoxha established a Republican government in Albania, recognised by the UK, USA, and the USSR.
9/11/1945, Friday (+185)
7/11/1945, Wednesday (+183) The jet aircraft Meteor EE454 reached the record speed of 606 mph.
6/11/1945. Tuesday (+182) The USSR said it would build its own atom bomb.
5/11/1945, Monday (+181) In Britain, a seven-week dock strike ended.
29/10/1945. Monday (+174) (1) Biro pens went on sale in New York for the first time. Priced at US$1.25 at Gimbels store, some 10,000 were sold in one day.
(2) The Harwell Atomic Energy Research Establishment was set up.
25/10/1945, Thursday (+170) Taiwan was formally ceded by Japan to China.
24/10/1945. Wednesday (+169) (1) The United Nations Charter came into force, see 18/4/1946.
(2) Vidkun Quisling was hanged as a war criminal, at Askerhus Fortress, Oslo. He had joined the Norwegian Fascist Party (Nasjonal Samlung) in 1933, and had encouraged Hitler to invade Norway. He was also held responsible for sending nearly 1,000 Norwegian Jews to Nazi concentration camps. See 10/9/1945.
23/10/1945, Tuesday (+168)
16/10/1945, Tuesday (+161) The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) was established. Its aim was to raise levels of nutrition and standards of living.
15/10/1945, Monday (+160) Pierre Laval, leader of the French Vichy government, was executed for treason for collaboration with the Nazis.
14/10/1945, Sunday (+159) Kim Il Sung returned to North Korea (in the uniform of a Soviet Red Army Major) to receive a hero’s welcome. Soviet policy in North Korea was to install North Korean Communists in key positions swiftly after the War ended to reinforce Communist rule in the northern half of the country.
12/10/1945, Friday (+157)
11/10/1945. Thursday (+156) Fighting broke out in China between the Nationalists under Chiang Kai Shek and the Communists under Mao Tse Tung.
10/10/1945, Wednesday (+155) The Communist Party of Korea was founded. North Korea observes Party Foundation Day every October 10 as a national holiday.
9/10/1945. Tuesday (+154) Pierre Laval, Prime Minister of Vichy France, was sentenced to death.
8/10/1945, Monday (+153) Percy Spencer, a radar expert, patented the first microwave oven. His employer gave him a bonus of 2 US$. US engineers working on the magnetron, a crucial component of radar systems in World war Two, had noticed how food items in the lab would warm up when near this apparatus; in fact engineers used to test if the magnetron was working by putting their finger near it to see if it warmed up
26/9/1945. Wednesday (+141) Bela Bartok, composer, died.
19/9/1945. Wednesday (+134) Clement Attlee, UK Prime Minister, promised India will have independence.
15/9/1945, Saturday (+130) Japan was occupied by Allied forces under General MacArthur. See 28/4/1952, and 14/8/1945.
12/9/1945, Wednesday (+127) An estimate of War casualties reckoned that Britain had lost 420,000 members of the armed forces; the US had lost 292,000, and the USSR, 13 million. German loss of military men was put at 3.9 million, Japan’s at 2.6 million. British civilian casualties from air raids were set at 60,000, with 860,000 severely injured.
11/9/1945, Tuesday (+126) Japanese General Hideki Tojo attempted suicide when American troops arrived at his home to arrest him as a war criminal. Tojo shot himself below the heart with a revolver, but survived.
10/9/1945. Monday (+125) Vidkun Quisling was sentenced to death at Oslo for collaborating with the Nazis. He had been puppet Prime Minister during the Nazi occupation of Norway. He was executed on 24/10/1945, by firing squad, at Akershus Fortress, Oslo.
9/9/1945, Sunday (+124) Japanese forces in China formally surrendered to Chiank Kai Shek in Nanking.
8/9/1945. Saturday (+123) The USA and USSR agreed to divide the Korean Peninsula.
7/9/1945, Friday (+122) Berlin Victory Parade of 1945: The Allies held a victory parade in Berlin. The Soviet JS-3 heavy tank was displayed in public for the first time.
6/9/1945, Thursday (+121) A leftist committee led by Woon Hyung Lyuh proclaimed itself the official Government of an independent South Korea. However the US under Lieutenant John R Hodge, Commanding General of US forces in Korea, refused to recognise this Government. The US wanted to establish a trusteeship to supersede both the US military administration in the South and the Soviet-backed administration in the North. The Korean Government in exile declared itself as a political party, not the government.
5/9/1945. Wednesday (+120) Singapore re-occupied by the British. See 15/2/1942.
4/9/1945, Tuesday (+119) The Japanese garrison on Wake Island formally surrendered to the USA, see 23/12/1941..
3/9/1945, Monday (+118) General Tomoyuki Yamashita formally surrendered the remaining Japanese troops in the Philippines to United States Army General Jonathan M. Wainwright, the same commander who was compelled to surrender to Yamashita at Corregidor in 1942.
2/9/1945, Sunday (+117) Formal surrender of Japan, see 14/8/1945. The Japanese Chief of Staff, General Yoshijiro Umezo, signed the surrender document on board the USS Missouri, in front of General McArthur.
1/9/1945. Saturday (+116) British troops took control of Hong Kong.
31/8/1945, Friday (=115) Douglas MacArthur established the Supreme Allied Command in Tokyo.
30/8/1945, Thursday (+114) The British Royal Navy returned to Hong Kong.
29/8/1945, Wednesday (+113) The Xinghua Campaign began in China.
28/8/1945. Tuesday (+112) US troops landed in Japan.
25/8/1945, Saturday (+109)
20/8/1945, Monday (+104) The US terminated the Lend Lease Act, as hostilities had ceased Passed by US Congress in 1941, it offered help to the UK, under attack from the Nazis. However US aid to Europe continued under the Marshall Plan.
19/8/1945. Sunday (+103) Soviet troops occupied Harbin and Mukden in Manchuria; 100,000 Japanese there surrendered.
18/8/1945 Saturday (+102) The Soviet invasion of the Kuril Islands began, opening with the Battle of Shumshu.
17/8/1945, Friday (+101) Indonesia was proclaimed an independent republic, under Dr Sukarno, after its liberation from Japanese forces. The PNI (Indonesian Nationalist Party) proclaimed a Republic in the city they called Jakarta, and the Dutch called Batavia. The Dutch and the PNI began fighting.
16/8/1945, Thursday (+100) Emperor Hirohito issued a decree at 4:00 p.m. local time ordering all Japanese forces to cease fire. The Japanese cabinet resigned.
15/8/1945, Wednesday (+99) Marshal Petain was convicted of treason (see 23/7/1945) and sentenced to death. Like all death sentences on minors and women, this was commuted by President De Gaulle to life and the 90-year-old Marshal was confined to the Ile de Yeu off the Vendee coast. In June 1951 Petain, feeble and devoid of mental faculties, was released; he died less than a month later. Overall in France the purge of collaborators, known as l’epuration (the purification) lasted from September 1944 to the end of 1949. Just over 2,000 death sentences were handed down, of which 768 were carried out. Even the entertainer Maurice Chevalier, who had merely entertained French PoWs in Germany, narrowly escaped a firing squad. Some 12x this number of those officially executed were summarily shot by firing squad immediately after liberation.
14/8/1945. Tuesday (+98) (1) Japan surrendered unconditionally. This marked the end of World War II. VJ day was officially celebrated on the following day, the 15th August. The Japanese surrender was officially accepted by General Douglas MacArthur on the US aircraft carrier Missouri on 2/9/1945. Between November 1944 and August 1945 nearly 70 Japanese cities were pulverised, with around 300,000, mostly civilians, killed.
(2) J M Keynes warned that Britain was facing a ‘financial Dunkirk’ as Lend Lease was ended (see 20/8/1945). Britain’s overseas debts had risen from UK£ 496 million in 1939 to UK£ 3,500 million in 1945. Pre-War gold and Dollar reserves had been used up, along with UK£1,118 million of overseas investments. The UK only avoided bankruptcy with a US$ 4,000 million loan from the USA, granted on strict terms including abandoning the trade preferences granted to Commonwealth countries and making Sterling fully convertible. When these terms were implemented in 1947, Sterling crashed.
12/8/1945, Sunday (+96)
11/8/1945, Saturday (+95) The US drafted General Order No.1, providing for Japanese forces in Korea north of the 38th parallel to surrender to the Soviets; those south of the 38th parallel to surrender to the Americans. The Soviets began to seal off the North at the 38th parallel, whilst the US was keen to halt any further southwards penetration by Russian soldiers.
10/8/1945, Friday (+94) Emperor Hirohito of Japan announced he was prepared to surrender unconditionally. The US cancelled plans to drop two further atoms bombs, scheduled for 13 and 16 August.
9/8/1945. Thursday (+93) The second atomic bomb was dropped, on Nagasaki. 40,000 were killed here. The intended target, Kokura, was obscured by cloud.
8/8/1945. Wednesday (+92) The USSR, under Stalin, declared war on Japan. The USSR invaded Japanese-held Manchuria, and northern Korea.
7/8/1945, Tuesday (+91) Radio Tokyo reported unspecifically about an attack on Hiroshima. The Americans were unable to immediately assess the results for themselves because of impenetrable cloud over the detonation site. Late in the day, Imperial Japanese headquarters referred to a "new type of bomb" used on Hiroshima, admitting that "only a small number of the new bombs were released, yet they did substantial damage.
6/8/1945. Monday (+90) The first atomic bomb was dropped, on Hiroshima, Japan, from the B29 bomber Enola Gay. At 8.15 in the morning a nuclear chain reaction in the bomb built up a temperature of several million degrees centigrade. In 0.1 milliseconds a fireball at 300,000 degrees centigrade was created, and this expanded to 250 yards in diameter one second after detonation. The mushroom cloud reached 23,000 feet into the sky. 78,000 of the city’s population of 300,000 was killed, some instantaneously, by the blast, some later by the firestorm that the bomb created, and another 90,000 injured, many seriously.
5/8/1945, Sunday (+89) The U.S. Twentieth Air Force flew over twelve Japanese cities and dropped 720,000 pamphlets warning their populations to surrender or face devastation.
4/8/1945, Saturday (+88) The US dropped leaflets over Hiroshima, warning that their city was to be obliterated.
3/8/1945, Friday (+87) The American government announced that every Japanese and Korean harbor of consequence had been mined, leaving Japan totally blockaded.
2/8/1945, Thursday (+86) The Potsdam Conference (began 16/7/1945) ended without agreement on the future of Europe. The Soviets would not agree to free elections in Eastern Europe.
1/8/1945. Wednesday (+85) Family Favourites record request programme began on the BBC.
31/7/1945, Tuesday (+84) On Tinian, the assembly of the Little Boy atomic bomb was completed.
30/7/1945, Monday (+83) The Japanese submarine I-58 sank the USS Indianapolis, killing 833 seamen.
29/7/1945, Sunday (+82) (1) The BBC Light Programme began broadcasting.
(2) Japan rejected a US ultimatum to surrender. The US estimated that 1 million Allied casualties would ensue from a land invasion of Japan.
28/7/1945, Saturday (+81) A B-25 bomber crashed into the 78th floor of the Empire State Building, killing the 3 crew and 11 passengers.
27/7/1945, Friday (+80) On the Philippine island of Tinian, the Little Boy atomic bomb began being prepared for use.
26/7/1945. Thursday (+79) Clement Attlee’s Labour Government came to power with a huge majority of 173 seats. The result was Labour, 412 seats, Conservative 213 seats, and Liberals 12 seats. Clement Attlee was born in Putney, London, on 3/1/1883. The former government of Winston Churchill was defeated. Churchill’s warning that ‘no Socialist system can be established without some form of political police or Gestapo’ did the Conservatives more harm than Labour, as voters thought it ridiculous to compare politicians like Attlee and Bevan to Hitler. However the new Labour Government now faced severe economic problems. £4 billion of British foreign investments had gone, exports were half the 1938 level, industry was damaged and run-down, and 700,000 houses in London alone were bomb damaged. Then there were the Labour commitments to a Welfare State, free healthcare, and the nationalisation of major industries. Politically the USA and USSR emerged as superpowers, but Britain had lost its premier standing in the world forever.
25/7/1945, Wednesday (+78) The British 14th Army captured the railhead of Taunggyi in Shan State, north eastern Burma.
23/7/1945, Monday (+76) Marshal Petain was charged with treason, see 15/8/1945.
17/7/1945, Tuesday (+70) The Potsdam Conference began, attended by Allied leaders Truman, Stalin, and Churchill (later replaced by Attlee).
16/7/1945. Monday (+69) The atom bomb, produced at Los Alamos, was tested at Alamogordo airbase in the desert of New Mexico. See 8/3/1950.
7/7/1945, Saturday (+60) Trains carried a record 102,889 holidaymakers to Blackpool. UK beaches had been off limits to civilians since the War began in 1939. In 1948 the Holidays With Pay Act increased the holiday trade even more.
5/7/1945, Thursday (+58) UK General Election. The results were delayed three weeks to allow for postal votes cast overseas by members of the armed forces.
1/7/1945. Sunday (+54) The average wage of a bricklayer on London was 2s (10p) an hour; in Glasgow it was 2s 2d (11p) an hour. A 4lb (1.75 kg) loaf of bread cost 8d (3.3p) A gallon of petrol cost 1s 11d (9 ½p). A week at the Victoria Hotel, Buttermere, Lake District, with full board, cost £5 5s (£5.25). Quite expensive for the London bricklayer.
26/6/1945, Tuesday (+49) (1) The Charter for the United Nations was signed by the US.
(2) William Joyce, known as Lord Haw Haw for his falsely posh tones in his pro-Nazi radio broadcasts, was arrested in Denmark and charged with treason.
25/6/1945. Monday (+48) The Charter for the United Nations was drawn up in San Francisco, and signed by 50 countries. This was the successor to the League of Nations. See 18/4/1946.
22/6/1945. Friday (+45) US troops captured Okinawa.
18/6/1945, Monday (+41) The first demobilisations began in Britain (see 22/9/1944).
16/6/1945, Saturday (+39) Sean Kelly was elected President of Ireland.
15/6/1945. Friday (+38) Family Allowance payments were introduced in Britain. The rates were 5 shillings (25 pence) for the second child and subsequent ones, but nothing for the first child.
5/6/1945. Tuesday (+28) Allied commanders signed a pact for the occupation of Germany; it was t be divided into 4 zones, British, French, USA, and USSR.
31/5/1945, Thursday (+23) The Norwegian Government returned to govern in Oslo, having been in exile in London. King Haakon returned from London a week later.
28/5/1945, Monday (+21) Lord Haw Haw, William Joyce, was arrested, see 3/1/1946.
23/5/1945. Wednesday (+15) Heinrich Himmler, former Nazi Chief of Police, killed himself whilst in British custody. He had joined the waves of German civilian refugees unnoticed after VE Day and wandered aimlessly until he encountered a British checkpoint at Bremervorde, where his true identity was uncovered. As he was being searched he bit into a cyanide capsule and died.
22/5/1945, Tuesday (+14) Tiso, President of ‘Slovakia’, was arrested whilst in hiding in Austria. He was tried for wartime collaboration in a Czechoslovak court and sentenced to death in April 1947. Some Czechoslovaks pressed for a reprieve but the national government wanted the death sentence and he was executed, see 26/10/1939 and 18/4/1947.
15/5/1945, Tuesday (+7) The last Nazi fighters in Yugoslavia ceased resistance.
11/5/1945. Friday (+3) Prague, the last European capital under Nazi occupation, was liberated.
10/5/1945, Thursday (+2) Vidkun Quisling was captured by Resistance fighters in Norway.
9/5/1945, Wednesday (+1) The German occupation of the Channel Islands ended. The German commander of the Channel Islands, Vice-Admiral Huffmeier, had threatened to fight on but his 10,000 men ignored him and surrendered without a shot being fired. The ordinary people had come close to starvation, subsisting on stewed rabbits and cabbage. As late as 7/5/1945 the German occupiers had been issuing orders to improve coastal fortifications
8/5/1945. Tuesday (0) VE Day. The Second World War officially ended in Europe, at one minute past midnight. Field Marshall Keitel signed the final capitulation. The Channel Islands remained under Nazi occupation till the following day, 9/5/1945. Street parties were held all over Britain.
UK Bomber Command has calculated the following statistics relating to the Second World War. 55,573 aircrew were killed, of whom 47,130 died on operations, 138 died as PoWs, and 8,090 were killed in ‘mon-operational incidents’ (mostly flying accidents). Of those killed, 38,462 were British, 9,980 were Canadian, 4,050 were Australian and 1,703 were New Zealanders. 530 RAF groundcrew were killed, and 759 injured, in incidents such as bombs detonating when being loaded onto aircraft or being jammed in the bomb bay. Total bombs dropped on Axis countries amounted to 955,044 tons, of which 657,674 tons was dropped on Germany itself. 336,037 bombing raids were carried out by the RAF. 8,655 aircraft were reported as missing (failed to return). By the end of 1944 Allied raids had reduced German oil production by 40%, so that many German tanks and aircraft became unusable due to lack of fuel, even if they were serviceable.
German civilian casualties have been estimated at between 350,000 and 600,000.
Some 3.4 million German houses and flats had been destroyed out of a total of 17.1 million; a further 30% of homes had been severely damaged by bombing. The desperate housing shortage was exacerbated by an influx of some 10 million refugees from eastern Europe. Many Germans lived 5 or 6 to a room, or existed in makeshift shelters. Some, as at Dachau near Munich, lived in former concentration camps.
In Greater Manchester 684 people died in the bombing, and an additional 2,364 were injured.
See also Hungary for other War damage tolls.
7/5/1945. Monday (-1) (1) German Chief of Staff Jodl unconditionally surrendered to Allied forces at Reims, ending the fighting in Europe. The surrender was at 2.40 am in a small schoolhouse that served as General Eisenhower’s headquarters.
(2) The last ship sunk by German forces, the Avondale Park, was lost. See 4/9/1939.
(3) Soviet forces took Wroclaw, south-west Poland.
6/5/1945, Sunday (-2) German forces in Norway surrendered.
5/5/1945. Saturday (-3) (1) Denmark liberated from Nazi occupation – see 9/4/1940. German troops in Holland under General Johannes von Blaskowitz also surrendered to the Canadian Commander Charles Foulkes.
(2) Elsie Mitchell and the five children she was looking after were killed in Oregon by a Japanese balloon bomb. They ware the only people killed in enemy action on the US mainland during World War Two.
4/5/1945, Friday (-4) German troops in The Netherlands, Denmark, north-west Germany surrendered.
3/5/1945, Thursday (-5) (1) Hamburg captured by the British.
(2) Rijeka (Fiume) was captured by the Yugoslavs; the Germans left, but blew up the port installations first.
(3) British forces took Rangoon, Burma.
2/5/1945. Wednesday (-6) The one million German soldiers in Italy and Austria surrendered. Berlin finally surrendered to the Russians at 3 pm. British and Russian troops linked up at Wismar on the Baltic. Trieste captured by New Zealand forces.
1/5/1945, Tuesday (-7) (1) Joseph Goebbels and his wife Magda committed suicide, having killed their six children with poison.
(2) US troops entered Bavaria.
(3) Berlin was totally in Russian hands.
30/4/1945. Monday (-8) (1) Adolf Hitler poisoned his wife Eva Braun with cyanide, then shot himself, in his Berlin bunker. They had married two days earlier. Hitler ordered that his body be burned; he was determined to avoid its being displayed as Mussolini’s had (28/4/1945). He feared even more being captured alive and taken to Moscow. German radio announced that Grand Admiral Doenitz was now leader of the Reich. Doenitz stated that the main aim was ‘to defend Germany from Bolshevism’; Doenitz and his supporters wanted to fight on, whilst another faction led by Heinrich Himmler wanted to surrender to both the Western Allies and Russia. As Hitler died, Soviet tanks were entering the ruins of central Berlin. There was panic on the Berlin streets as SS men shot deserting Nazi soldiers, whilst low-flying Soviet biplanes machine-gunned bread queues. Bodies littered once elegant streets, looted of all valuables.
(2) Turin entered by US forces.
(3) the face of Big Ben, London, was lit once more for the first time in 5 years 123 days, an important sign that the War was nearly over.
29/4/1945. Sunday (-9) (1) The Allies took Venice. German troops in Italy unconditionally surrendered at 12 noon on 29/4/1945. Munich entered by US forces. British troops crossed the Elbe near Hamburg. At 1am on 30/4/1945 Hitler was informed that all Nazi forces he had been hoping would relieve Berlin were now encircled or on the defensive.
(2) Allied planes began Operation Manna, a 10-day long food drop for the starving Dutch. During the ‘Hongerwinter’ of 1944/5 severe cold weather had combined with a Nazi ban on food imports to The Netherlands and the scorched earth policy of the retreating Nazis to create a famine that killed 20,000 Dutch civilians, who had been reduced to eating tulip bulbs and stinging nettles. The RAF dropped 7,030 tons of food, and the US Air Force dropped a further 4,150 tons under Operation Chowhound; 3.5 million Dutch were saved from starvation before the German surrender of 8/5/1945. German forces still occupying Holland did not fire upon the food relief planes, flying at just 100 metres above ground.
28/4/1945, Saturday (-10) (1) Hitler married his mistress, Eva Braun, in his Berlin bunker, in the early hours of the morning. The act was a symbolic abandonment of Hitler’s plans for ‘national socialism’ - he had insisted that, as Fuhrer, he would have no ties to another human being.
(2) Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci were caught and shot in Azzano, near Milan, by Italian partisans, as they tried to flee Italy. Born in 1883, Mussolini allied with Nazi Germany in WW2. However as the allies invaded Italy the Italian Communist partisans decided to execute him. He tried to cross the frontier disguised as a German soldier retreating towards Innsbruck, Austria, but was recognised. Democracy was restored to Italy after 20 years and a neo – Fascist party supporting Mussolini’s ideals won only 2% of the vote in the Italian elections of 1948. The body of Mussolini, his mistress, and other government officials, were hung upside down in Milan.
(3) US General George Patton ordered that German civilians be taken to see the Dachau concentration camp.
27/4/1945, Friday (-11) Genoa captured by US forces. Berlin was now totally surrounded by Soviet forces, and Hitler received reports that Heinrich Himmler, leader of the SS, had offered to surrender to the western Allies.
26/4/1945, Thursday (-12) Bremen captured by Allied forces.
25/4/1945, Wednesday (-13) (1) US and Soviet forces met on the Elbe near Torgau. The Allies captured Verona. Italian partisans liberated Milan. Marshal Petain was arrested. Zhukov’s and Koniev’s armies met west of Berlin, surrounding it.
(2) An international conference to establish a world security organisation, the ‘United Nations’, opened in San Francisco.
24/4/1945, Tuesday (-14) Himmler offered to surrender the German Reich to the governments of Great Britain and the USA.
23/4/1945, Monday (-15) River Po reached by the Allies. Blackout restrictions removed in Britain.
22/4/1945, Sunday (-16) Stuttgart taken by French forces. Hitler was told that forces under SS General Felix Steiner were unable to rescue Berlin from Soviet occupation.
21/4/1945, Saturday (-17) (1) Soviet forces entered the suburbs of Berlin. Dessau entered by US forces.
(2) Bologna, Italy, was liberated by the Allies, cutting links between the German 10th and 14th Armies. It had been under German occupation from September 1943, when Italy switched sides in the War.
20/4/1945, Friday (-18) (1) Britain estimated its civilian casualties from the war at 146,760. Civilian casualties in London amounted to 80,307.
(2) Nuremberg, once the scene of huge Nazi rallies, fell to the Allies, on Hitler’s 56th birthday. There was also the last air raid on Berlin. Soviet forces were to enter Berlin tomorrow. Since the first raid on 29/8/1940, some 76,652 tons of explosives and incendiary bombs had been dropped on the German capital. 50,692 tons were British, and 25,962 American. Soviet artillery also rained down some 40,000 tons of shells during the final stages of the war.
19/4/1945, Thursday (-19) US forces took Leipzig; the city was later handed to the Soviet sector, East Germany.
18/4/1945, Wednesday (-20) (1) Russians fighting on the Seelow Heights broke through westwards towards Berlin. The US took Magdeburg (later handed to the Soviet Zone).
(2) US troops under General Patton entered Czechoslovakia.
(3) Dachau concentration camp was liberated by the Allies.
17/4/1945, Tuesday (-21) The Battle of the Hongorai River began in New Guinea.
16/4/1945, Monday (-22) The Russians began a major assault on the Seelow Heights, crossing the Oder River.
15/4/1945. Sunday (-23) The Allies captured the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Eva Braun descended to Hitler’s bunker; she had previously resided in a private apartment in the Chancellery, since March 1945.
14/4/1945, Saturday (-24) Canadian forces in Holland reached the North Sea and captured Leeuwarden. French and US forces attacked Germans in the Bordeaux area. The Americans crossed the Elbe south of Dessau.
13/4/1945. Friday (-25) Vienna was captured by Soviet troops from the Germans.
12/4/1945. Thursday (-26) (1) The Scottish Nationalists won their first by-election, gaining a seat from Labour at Motherwell. However Labour regained the seat at the General Election a few months later.
(2) Franklin D Roosevelt, 32nd President from 1933, Democrat, died, aged 63, having suffered a massive stroke that day at Warm Springs, Georgia.. He was succeeded by Vice President Harry S Truman, as 33rd President of the USA.
11/4/1945, Wednesday (-27) Buchenwald concentration camp, near Weimar, was liberated by US forces. On the Western Front, the Allies reached the Elbe, 60 miles from Berlin.
10/4/1945, Tuesday (-28) Hanover taken by US forces. The Nordhausen underground V2 assembly plant was overrun by US forces.
9/4/1945, Monday (-29) (1) Konigsberg, capital of east Prussia, taken by the Russians.
(2) Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German theologian involved with anti-Hitler conspirators, was hanged in Flossenburg concentration camp.
8/4/1945, Sunday (-30) Cebu City fell to the Allies.
7/4/1945, Saturday (-31) Germany sent out 120 student pilots to face 1,000 American bomber planes with the objective of ramming their planes into the U.S. aircraft and then parachuting to safety. Only a few of the pilots managed to hit the bombers and three-quarters of the Luftwaffe pilots were shot down.
6/4/1945, Friday (-32) Allied forces began Operation Grapeshot, a renewed Spring offensive in Italy.
5/4/1945, Thursday (-33) British forces reached Minden.
4/4/1945, Wednesday (-34) Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, captured by Soviet forces. The last Wermacht forces evacuated Hungary. French forces entered Karlsruhe.
3/4/1945, Tuesday (-35) Hamm and Cassel captured by US forces.
2/4/1945, Monday (-36) The Soviet Army began an offensive to take Vienna.
1/4/1945, Sunday (-37) (1) German forces in the Ruhr area trapped, and 21 German divisions destroyed.
(2) The Battle of Okinawa began as US troops landed on the island. US victory came 83 days later.
31/3/1945, Saturday (-38) In the last days of war, Berlin maintained a surreal normality. The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra continued recitals until now. Telephones functioned, the underground railway ran, and post continued to be delivered right up to the last few days of the war. Berlin workers still picked their way through rubble filled streets to work, often in offices whose windows had all been blown out.
30/3/1945. Friday (-39) The Russians took Danzig (Gdansk), Poland, also the town of Ratibor in Silesia. The Poles renamed the city Gdansk, from Danzig, expelled the Germans, and linked the city administratively with the neighbouring port of Gdynia, built on Polish territory in the 1920s.
29/3/1945, Thursday (-40) (1) Mannheim captured by US forces.
(2) Soviet troops entered Austria.
28/3/1945, Wednesday (-41) Gdynia captured by the Russians. Last air raid warning siren sounded in London.
27/3/1945. Tuesday (-42) The last German V-2 rocket fell on Britain, at Orpington. (see 8/9/1944). The Allies then overran the last V-2 launching site. In all, 1,050 rockets fell on England, each carrying a ton of explosive with a range of 200 miles. 518 of these V2s hit London, killing 2,754 people and seriously injuring a further 6,523. The V-2s were designed by Werner von Braun, who surrendered to the Americans in 1945. Von Braun was given US citizenship and helped design the rockets for the US space programme, including the Saturn rockets and the Apollo missions.
26/3/1945. Monday (-43) David Lloyd George, British Liberal Prime Minister from 1916 to 1922, died in Llanystundwy, near Criccieth, north Wales, aged 82.
25/31945, Sunday (-44) The US Army broke out of the bridgehead at Remagen and advanced 6 miles east (see 7/3/1945). After their failure to destroy the bridge, Germany sent the Luftwaffe to bomb it; 5 out of 20 Luftwaffe aircraft were lost, the bridge was successfully destroyed, but the Americans, holding both river banks, had laid temporary bridges alongside.
24/3/1945, Saturday (-45) Darmstadt captured by US forces.
23/3/1945. Friday (-46) The US 2nd Army crossed the Rhine at Oppenheim. By 20/4/1945 British troops had advanced 200 miles into Germany.
22/3/1945, Thursday (-47) (1) Soviet forces broke the Danzig / Gdynia defence perimeter.
(2) The Arab League was formed. The treaty was signed in Cairo this day, with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Yemen as members. The League was intended to promote inter-Arab cultural, technical, and economic links, and to minimise conflict between Arab states, but it remained a loose association with no central authority. In 1979 the headquarters of the Arab league was moved from Cairo to Tunis, after Egypt was suspended for signing a peace treaty with Israel. It returned to Cairo in 1992.
21/3/1945, Wednesday (-48) Ludwigshaven entered by US forces.
20/3/1945. Tuesday (-49) Mandalay was recaptured from the Japanese.
19/3/1945, Monday (-50) Worms and Saarbrucken captured by US forces. Hitler issued an order to destroy all German industrial infrastructure, so the invading Allies would find nothing of value, but this order was ignored.
18/3/1945, Sunday (-51) Major air raid on Berlin.
17/3/1945. Saturday (-52) Coblenz captured by the Americans, and Brandenburg, East Prussia, captured by the Russians.
16/3/1945, Friday (-53) Iwo Jima was totally occupied by US forces; 4,590 US soldiers were killed, out of a force of 30,000 attacking 23,000 Japanese who were heavily dug in with underground bunkers. See 19/2/1945. Iwo Jima, just 750 miles from Tokyo, could now be used as a base to bomb some 66 Japanese cities in an attempt to force a Japanese surrender.
15/3/1945, Thursday (-54) The Soviet Army launched the Upper Silesian offensive.
14/3/1945, Wednesday (-55) First use of ten-ton bombs by the RAF. The ‘Grand Slam’, 22,000 lbs, was dropped on Bielefeld railway viaduct.
13/3/1945, Tuesday (-56) The Battle of Kiauneliskis, Lithuania.
12/3/1945. Monday (-57) The young Jewish diarist Anne Frank died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
11/3/1945. Sunday (-58) (1) The huge Krupps factory in Germany was destroyed when 1,000 allied bombers took part in the biggest ever daylight raid.
(2) Cambodia declared its independence.
(3) Essen taken by US forces.
10/3/1945. Saturday (-59) Tran Kim declared Vietnam independent.
9/3/1945, Friday (-60) A night of major firebombing of Tokyo began. Around 100,000 died, mostly the elderly, women and children; men were away fighting a war that Japan was by then losing badly.
8/3/1945, Thursday (-61) Canadian forces took Xanten, Germany.
7/3/1945. Wednesday (-62) Cologne fell to the Allies. Allied troops crossed the Rhine by the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen. The Germans had intended to destroy this bridge like all others on the Rhine, as German resistance west of the Rhine had been crushed; however the explosive charges failed to detonate and US forces found the bridge intact and defended only by a few engineers and teenagers from the Volkssturm Stalin became alarmed that the western Allies crossing of the Rhine so quickly meant the Americans would take Berlin, not the Russians. Stalin wanted the Nazi stores of uranium and above all their A-bomb expertise, located in a research facility in the south western Berlin suburb of Dahlem. However the US was concentrating on southern Germany.
6/3/1945, Tuesday (-63) German forces launched Operation Spring Awakening, their last offensive of the war. This was in Hungary, near Lake Balaton, and was aimed at securing some of the last oil supplies still available to the Germans, the Nagyakanisza oilfield. Troops from the failed Ardennes offensive were utilised. However by mid-March the operation had failed and the Germans were being pushed back by overwhelming Soviet strength. Also on this day the Soviets began arresting and executing any members of the Polish Home Army of Polish Government in Exile they could find.
5/3/1945. Monday (-64) The British captured the Japanese base of Meiktilla in Burma, cutting Japanese-occupied Burma in two.
2/3/1945, Friday (-67) (1) Trier and Krefeld captured by US forces.
(2) The British 14th army entered Mandalay, Burma.
24/2/1945, Saturday (-73) Egypt declared war on Germany, largely to secure a place in the post-War United Nations. The announcement of war was made to the Egyptian Parliament by Ahmed Maher; as Maher left the Parliament he was assassinated, probably by the Muslim Brotherhood.
23/2/1945, Friday (-74) Turkey, reluctantly, declared war on Germany – only because the Allies had announced that only those nations who did so would be invited to take part in the United Nations Conference at San Francisco.
19/2/1945, Monday (-78) US forces began the invasion of Iwo Jima, see 16/3/1945.
16/2/1945. Friday (-81) (1) US Air Force began heavy raids on Tokyo.
(2) The US took Bataan, Philippines.
15/2/1945. Thursday (-82) British troops reached the Rhine.
14/2/1945, Wednesday (-83) U.S. Army Air Forces bombed Prague. 701 people were killed and about 100 houses and historical sites were destroyed in what was attributed to a navigation mistake.
13/2/1945. Tuesday (-84) (1) Allied bombers devastated the German city of Dresden. Many civilians had moved to the cultural city of Dresden, and its population in 1945 was over 1,000,000. There were up to 400,000 casualties, including 130,000 civilian deaths. Dresden was famous for its 17th and 18th century architecture, but was also an industrial centre and was a key communications centre for the German armies on the Eastern Front. 1,400 RAF fighters and 450 US planes bombed Dresden over a 14 hour period.
(2) Soviet forces took Budapest.
(3) Soviet forces took Sommerfeld, just 80 miles from Berlin.
12/2/1945, Monday (-85) The Treaty of Varkiza was signed. The Greek resistance agreed to disarm and relinquish control of all the territory it occupied in exchange for legal recognition, free elections, and the removal of Nazi collaborators from the armed forces and police.
11/2/1945, Sunday (-86) The Yalta Conference ended. See 4/2/1945.
8/2/1945, Thursday (-89) British and Canadian troops broke through the northern, weaker, section of the Seigfried Line near Millingen.
4/2/1945. Sunday (-93) (1) The Yalta Conference between the Allied leaders Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill opened in the Crimea. This conference concluded on 11/2/1945. Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin all had very different aims. Roosevelt wanted to disengage US troops from Europe to defeat Japan. Stalin wanted to extend Soviet influence as far west into Europe as possible. Stalin got to occupy eastern Poland, as agreed in Tehran on 28/11/1943. Churchill wanted to build a democracy from the ruins of Germany. The ailing Roosevelt trusted Stalin’s assurance that he would work to build a ‘peaceful and democratic world’. The West insisted that Greece be given a western-style democracy, but otherwise all of eastern Europe fell under the Soviet sphere. Stalin also gained Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands in return for a war effort against Japan that was never made. Yalta set the world order for the next 45 years.
(2) Belgium liberated of German forces.
3/2/1945. Saturday (-94) The US recaptured Manila, which had fallen to the Japanese on 2/1/1942. Manila was not totally cleared of Japanese soldiers till 24/2/1945.
2/2/1945, Friday (-95) (1) (See 28/10/1944) Under Soviet occupation, the Bulgarian authorities began to try and execute various ‘war criminals’ including Prince Cyril, former government ministers, and businessmen. Further trials and executions continued till June 1945, when the legal process was declared complete.
(2) The French took Colmar.
1/2/1945, Thursday (-96) US forces reached the Seigfried Line, see 8/2/1945.
31/1/1945. Wednesday (-97) Soviet troops crossed the River Oder into the province of Brandenburg, north of Frankfurt, 40 miles from Berlin.
30/1/1945, Tuesday (-98) Adolf Hitler made his very last radio broadcast to Germany, marking 12 years of Nazi rule.
29/1/1945, Monday (-99) The Soviet 3rd Belorussian Front advanced into the city of Konigsberg.
28/1/1945, Sunday (-100) Soviet forces invaded Pomerania.
27/1/1945. Saturday (-101) (1) The Red Army captured Auschwitz. They found 8,000 prisoners remaining there; a further 80,000 had been forced to leave on a death march. However, of the 1.3 million who had entered Auschwitz during World war Two, 1.1 million died there; 6,000 a day were murdered there. The Red Army now captured Silesia, and the loss of the mines and factories there was a severe blow to Nazi war production.
(2) Russian forces captured Memel, liberating all of Lithuania.
26/1/1945, Friday (-102) German troops from the Battle of the Bulge now forced back to the German frontier.
25/1/1945, Thursday (-103) The Battle of the Bulge ended in Allied victory.
24/1/1945, Wednesday (-104) Gleiwicz in Silesia taken by the Russians, as was the key fortress of Lotzen in East Prussia. The Russians were now close to Konigsberg, capital of East Prussia.
23/1/1945, Tuesday (-105) Bromberg taken by the Russians.
22/1/1945, Monday (-106) Allenstein taken by the Russians.
21/1/1945, Sunday (-107) Russia and Hungary signed an armistice. Hungarian borders were returned to their position at 31/12/1937, renouncing the Vienna Awards.
20/1/1945, Saturday (-108) The German evacuation of East Prussia began. The 4th Ukrainian Front advancing through Slovakia took Presov.
19/1/1945, Friday (-109) Russian troops took Tilsit. They were now on the pre-War frontier of Germany.
18/1/1945, Thursday (-110) Soviet troops took Lodz.
17/1/1945, Wednesday (-111) Soviet and Polish troops captured Warsaw. Only 162,000 citizens remained, compared to a pre-war population of 1,310,000. See 14/9/1945.
16/1/1945, Tuesday (-112) Hitler left his office in the Reich Chancellery, Berlin, for the last time, and descended to his bunker, 15 metres underground. By now most of Berlin’s buildings had been destroyed by Allied bombing.
15/1/1945, Monday (-113) Soviet forces captured Cracow from Germany.
14/1/1945, Sunday (-114) Radom in central Poland taken by the Russians.
13/1/1945. Saturday (-115) Budapest was completely in Soviet hands. Hungary, Nazi Germany’s last ally in the Balkans, was now siding openly with Russia.
12/1/1945, Friday (-116) 5.am, Moscow time, Konev’s 1st Ukrainian Front began an offensive against Nazi forces from the Sandomierz bridgehead, north east of Cracow.
11/1/1945, Thursday (-117) The British escort carrier HMS Thane was torpedoed in the Irish Sea and declared a total loss.
10/1/1945, Wednesday (-118) Rod Stewart, British rock singer, was born in London.
9/1/1945. Tuesday (-119) Luzon in the Philippines was taken by the US from the Japanese. General Guderian warned Hitler that the eastern front was like a house of cards, ready to collapse at any time; Hitler dismissed reports of superior Russian military strength as ‘the greatest bluff since Genghis Khan’. In fact, the Soviets possessed a 5:1 advantage in manpower, a 7:1 advantage in artillery, and a 17:1 advantage in aircraft.
6/1/1945, Saturday (-122) The Battle of the Bulge ended as German forces under Gerd von Rundstedt and Hasso von Manteuffel in the Ardennes were forced back by Allied forces under US General George Patton. See 16/12/1944. Hitler, to the despair of his Generals, started fantasising of a great offensive in the Alsace-Lorraine area, seemingly oblivious of the Russians advancing to the east.
4/1/1945, Thursday (-124) Severe Kamikaze attacks on US ships.
3/1/1945, Wednesday (-125) The Dies Committee (see 26/5/1938), formed to monitor activities by Nazis and Communists within the USA, was given permanent status as the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC)
31/12/1944, Sunday (-128) Rochefort retaken by the Allies.
28/12/1944, Thursday (-131) Hungary renounced all treaties with the Third Reich and declared war on Germany.
27/12/1944, Wednesday (-132) The Soviet Army began to besiege Nazi forces in Budapest. See 13/1/1945.
26/12/1944, Tuesday (-133) The US Army completed operations, begun 17/12/1944, to move 2.8 million gallons of motor fuel away from the Ardennes, so that German troops in this offensive would not capture the fuel supplies they needed to continue the Battle of the Bulge successfully and reach Antwerp. The German military was desperately short of fuel and needed to capture more in order to continue their initiative,
25/12/1944, Monday, (-134)
22/12/1944, Friday (-137) An American unit was surrounded at Bastogne by the German advance in the Battle of the Bulge. The unit held out until relieved on 26/12/1944. Inside Bastogne, General Anthony C McAuliffe received a message from the besieging Germans inviting him to surrender; his reply, scrawled on the surrender invite, was one word -“NUTS”.
21/12/1944, Thursday (-138) The Soviet Army, having entered Hungarian territory in early September 1944, set up a provisional government in Debrecen.
19/12/1944, Tuesday (-140)
16/12/1944. Saturday (-143) Germany began the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes. 15 German divisions, 250,000 men and 950 tanks, under General von Rundstedt confronted 83,000 Americans with 420 tanks, and advanced 60 miles before they were halted. The German Army was desperately short of fuel, and were hoping to capture the fuel they needed from Allied dumps as they advanced. This was their last offensive of the war. See 6/1/1945. The sleet and low cloud that protected them from Allied air attacks soon cleared.
13/12/1944, Wednesday (-146) For London, a series of concentric ring roads and green belts were proposed. Two of these correspond to the North Circular and M.25.
10/12/1944. Sunday (-149) De Gaulle and Stalin signed a treaty of alliance.
9/12/1944, Saturday (-150) The Danube north of Budapest was reached by the Russians.
8/12/1944, Friday (-151)
6/12/1944. Wednesday (-153) 20 million Germans were homeless after Allied bombing.
5/12/1944, Tuesday (-154) The 3rd Ukrainian Front of the Soviet Army captured Szigetvár and Vukovar.
4/12/1944, Monday (-155) German bridgehead west of the Maas taken by the British.
3/12/1944, Sunday (-156) The Home Guard was formally disbanded in London as King George VI witnessed its final parade. Britons were jubilant that this symbolised imminent victory in the War. The Black-Out was replaced by the Dim-Out as the Luftwaffe was no longer a credible threat. However British strikes rose, particularly in the coal mines. Coal miners pay was relatively low compared to other occupations, and conditions were poor.
2/12/1944, Saturday (-157) Ibrahim Rugova, president of Kosovo, was born.
1/12/1944, Friday (-158) The U.S. Ninth Army captured Linnich.
30/11/1944, Thursday (-159) HMS Vanguard, Britain’s largest and last battleship, was launched at Clydebank – see 20/10/1941.
29/11/1944. Wednesday (-160) Russian troops crossed the Danube, in Hungary.
28/11/1944, Tuesday (-161) Antwerp reopened to port traffic.
27/11/1944. Monday (-162) (1) Between 3,500 and 4,000 tons of high explosives went off in a cavern beneath Staffordshire, killing 68 people. The explosion was heard as far away as Geneva. The former gypsum mine at Hanbury was used by the RAF to defuse bombs that had failed to drop from planes raiding Germany. Against strict rules, an operative used a steel screwdriver, causing a spark.
(2) The crematoria at Auschwitz were blown up.
26/11/1944, Sunday (-163) Heinrich Himmler ordered the destruction of the crematoria at Auschwitz concentration camp to eliminate evidence of the mass killings there.
25/11/1944, Saturday (-164) The first Kamikaze (divine wind) suicidal attacks were made by Japanese pilots on US ships.
24/11/1944. Friday (-165) (1) US planes bombed Tokyo, for the first time since 18/4/1942.
(2) Strasbourg taken by Allied forces.
23/11/1944, Thursday (-166) U.S. troops liberated the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp in France.
22/11/1944, Wednesday (-167) Mulhouse and Metz retaken by Allied forces.
21/11/1944 Tuesday (-168) The Moscow Conference ended.
20/11/1944, Monday (-169) (1) Belfort taken by the French.
(2) After five years of black-out, the lights were switched on again in Piccadilly, Strand, and Fleet Street.
19/11/1944, Sunday (-170) The Shinano, the largest Japanese aircraft carrier ever built, was formally commissioned. Thought capable of withstanding any bomb, she was sunk ten days later by the US submarine Archerfish, with four torpedo hits, with the loss of 1,435 lives. A further 1,000 sailors were rescued.
18/11/1944, Saturday (-171) The Popular Socialist Youth organization was founded in Cuba.
17/11/1944, Friday (-172) Tirana, capital of Albania, was recovered from German occupation.
15/11/1944, Wednesday (-174)
12/11/1944. Sunday (-177) The last big German battleship, the Tirpitz, was sunk by the Lancaster bombers from the RAF, in Tromso Fjord, Norway. She had been lurking in Norwegian waters for several years, diverting Allied resources to protect Atlantic convoys. Three 5,500 kg bombs dropped on her decks resulted in the battleship turning turtle and sinking, trapping some 1,000 crewmen. A squadron of German fighter planes assigned to protect the Tirpitz did not even take off.
11/11/1944, Saturday (-178) Iwo Jima was bombarded by the U.S. Navy.
10/11/1944, Friday (-179) Allied troops took Forli, Italy.
9/11/1944, Thursday (-180) The Moscow Conference began.
8/11/1944, Wednesday (-181) Joseph Goebbels announced the V-2 rocket campaign for the first time. Winston Churchill followed suit and finally announced that England had been under rocket attack, providing the people of London with an explanation for all the mysterious explosions of recent weeks.
7/11/1944, Tuesday (-182) (1) Middleburg, Holland, captured by the Allies.
(2) President Franklin Delano Roosevelt won an unprecedented fourth term in the USA.
6/11/1944, Monday (-183) Monastir liberated by Yugoslav forces.
5/11/1944. Sunday (-184) Soviet troops entered Budapest, Hungary.
4/11/1944, Saturday (-185) RAF Bomber Command sent 749 aircraft to conduct the last major raid on Bochum. Over 4,000 buildings were destroyed and nearly 1,000 people were killed.
3/11/1944, Friday (-186) Flushing captured by the British. Canadian troops captured two bridges from South Beveland onto Walcheren.
2/11/1944, Thursday (-187) Belgium was clear of German troops. The Germans re-entered Belgium on 16/12/1944, and were finally expelled on 4/2/1945.
1/11/1944, Wednesday (-188) British troops landed on Walcheren Island. Walcheren commended the approaches to Antwerp, which had been captured by the Allies on 1/9/1944; however until Walcheren was cleared of German forces, Antwerp Harbour was unusable. It took five weeks to capture the Walcheren fortifications, at a cost of 12,873 Allied lives. Before Walcheren fell, opening up Antwerp, Allied forces in Belgium had to be supplied from the Normandy beaches, because every Channel port from Cherbourg to Ostend had been wrecked by Allied bombing or by German demolition squads.
31/10/1944, Tuesday (-189) British forces reached the River Maas.
29/10/1944, Sunday (-191)
28/10/1944. Saturday (-192) General De Gaulle ordered the French Resistance to disarm.
27/10/1944, Friday (-193) The Japanese fleet suffered a crushing defeat in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, effectively ending its role as a fighting force. This was the world’s largest naval battle, which began on 22/10/1944, involving a total of 231 ships and 1996 aircraft.
26/10/1944, Thursday (-194) British troops crossed the River Scheldt and occupied the Beveland peninsula.
25/10/1944, Wednesday (-195) US escort carrier St Lo became the first ship sunk by a Japanese kamikaze attack.
24/10/1944, Tuesday (-196) The Riga Offensive ended in Soviet victory.
23/10/1944, Monday (-197) De Gaulle was officially recognised by the Allies as French leader. However De Gaulle was offended by the Allies refusal to treat France as a Great Power, or to invite him to the Yalta or Potsdam Conferences alongside the USA, UK, and USSR.
22/10/1944, Sunday (-198) Russian troops in Finland reached the Norwegian border.
21/10/1944, Saturday (-199) Aachen was captured by the Allies. The battle for the city, the first major German city to fall to the Allies, lasted a week, and over 10,000 prisoners were taken. Much of the city was destroyed.
20/10/1944. Friday (-200) (1) Tito’s partisans and the Red Army took Belgrade. It had been taken by Germany on 13/4/1941.
(2) General Mac Arthur returned to the Philippines with 250,000 troops, fulfilling a promise he made when his forces retreated from the Japanese.
19/10/1944, Thursday (-201) Churchill returned home after talks with Stalin.
18/10/1944. Wednesday (-202) The Russian army entered East Prussia and Czechoslovakia.
17/10/1944, Tuesday (-203) Rival partisans in Athens began to fight each other.
16/10/1944, Monday (-204) Aachen was surrounded by US forces.
15/10/1944, Sunday (-205) Sali Berisha, President of Albania, was born.
14/10/1944, Saturday (-206) Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, 53, Commander of the Afrika Corps 1941-43, took his own life by swallowing poison rather than be executed for an attempt on Hitler’s life. Hitler had promised him a hero’s funeral if he committed suicide. Otherwise Rommel would face the notorious Nazi judge, Roland Freisler, who had already condemned the other conspirators against Hitler to slow hanging by piano wire. The official cause of Rommel’s death was given as heart failure.
13/10/1944, Friday (-207) Athens was liberated from the Germans, who occupied it on 27/4/1941.
12/10/1944. Thursday (-208) Angela Rippon, British TV presenter, was born in Plymouth.
11/10/1944, Wednesday (-209) Cluj, capital of Transylvania, recaptured by the Russians.
9- 19/10/1944, Churchill travelled to Moscow for talks with Stalin.
9/10/1944, Monday (-211) Canadian and British forces landed behind German lines south of the Scheldt Estuary. Russian forces reached the Baltic coast near Libau.
7/10/1944, Saturday (-213) The Dumbarton Oaks Conference ended.
4/10/1944, Wednesday (-216) Allied troops landed on the Greek mainland, at Patras.
3/10/1944, Tuesday (-217) The insurgents in the Warsaw Uprising surrendered to German forces.
2/10/1944. Monday (-218) British troops landed on Crete.
1/10/1944, Sunday (-219) The German war economy was hopelessly disorganised. In September 1944 German factories produced 3,000 fighter planes, but aviation fuel production was only 10,000 tons, as against Luftwaffe consumption of 165,000 tons in April 1944. These new planes sat on the runway with empty fuel tanks and vacant cockpits, as pilot training had virtually ceased.
30/9/1944. Saturday (-220) Canadian forces captured Calais.
29/9/1944, Friday (-219) The Battle of Arracourt ended in American victory.
28/9/1944, Thursday (-222) Soviet, Yugoslav Partisan and Bulgarian forces began the Belgrade Offensive.
27/9/1944, Wednesday (-223) Soviet troops and Yugoslav Partisans crossed the border into Albania.
26/9/1944, Tuesday (-224) The Canadian 2nd Army captured the German guns on Cap Gris Nez; the Allies now had total control of The Channel.
25/9/1944, Monday (-225) The Allied forces who had been parachuted into Arnhem (17/9/1944) had succeeded in capturing key bridges over the Rhine, Maas and Waal rivers but had met fierce resistance from the 9th and 10th German Panzer Divisions. This resistance forced the withdrawal of Allied troops from Arnhem to south of the Rhine.
24/9/1944, Sunday (-226) The second Quebec Conference ended (began 13/9/1944), see 24/8/1943. It was concerned with shifting the war effort to the Pacific to finish off the Japanese, also how best to advance into Germany (the Morgenthau Plan), and operations in The Philippines.
23/9/1944, Saturday (-227) Soviet forces entered Hungary,
22/9/1944, Friday (-228) (1) Boulogne surrendered to Canadian forces. Rimini captured by Allied forces.
(2) The Russians captured Tallinn, capital of Estonia.
(3) In Britain details of demobilisation were released to the public. Class B ‘demob’ covered builders and others with skills greatly needed for post-war reconstruction; these had priority of demob, but could be recalled to the military if they entered another trade. Class A covered everyone else. They would be released from military service on a scheme that equated years of age to years of military service at 6:1. This meant a 40 year old with 1 year’s military service had the same demob priority as a 22 year old with 3 year’s military service. The first demobilisations in the UK were on 18/6/1945.
21/9/1944, Thursday (-229) San Marino declared war on Germany.
20/9/1944, Wednesday (-230) British forces reached The Rhine at Nijmegen.
19/9/1944, Tuesday (-231) (1) Brest taken by US forces.
(2) Finland agreed to the peace terms demanded by Russia (see 20/6/1944), except that the indemnity was halved to US$300million.
18/9/1944, Monday (-232) The Battle of Arracourt began near the French town of Arracourt.
17/9/1944. Sunday (-233) The British airborne invasion of Arnhem and Nijmegen, Holland, began as part of Operation Market Garden, to secure a bridge over the Rhine. However a hard winter for Holland began as German forces in the north of the country resisted Allied attacks under Field Marshal Model. Food became scarce and could only be bought by barter on the black market. Money had no value and the rations system collapsed. In Britain the blackout was replaced by the dimout, except for all areas within 5 miles of the coast where the blackout remained in force.
16/9/1944, Saturday (-234) The Soviet 3rd Ukrainian Front occupied the Bulgarian capital of Sofia.
15/9/1944, Friday (-235) In London, the Benelux Organisation was formed.
14/9/1944, Thursday (-236) (1) Russian forces took Praga, on the right bank of the River Vistula, opposite Warsaw. An anti-Nazi uprising by Poles had begun in Warsaw on 1/8/1944. However the Russian forces did not immediately cross the Vistula to Warsaw, but held back whilst the Nazis put down the Polish rebellion and razed the city. Warsaw was only taken by the Russians on 17/1/1945.
(2) Patton’s Third Army took Nancy in France.
13/9/1944. Wednesday (-237) (1) William Heath Robinson, the English artist famous for his drawings of excessively complicated machinery cobbled together, died.
(2) The Maastricht area was captured by Allied forces.
12/9/1944, Tuesday (-238) Le Havre captured by the British.
11/9/1944. Monday (-239) The Allies in the west under US First Army General Omar Bradley took their troops onto German soil, north of Trier. Large numbers of German troops were deserting. Civilian morale in Aachen collapsed as Nazi SS officials, troops and police hurriedly left the German city for Cologne, as US troops drew close
10/9/1944, Sunday (-240) RAF Bomber Command began Operation Paravane, another attack on the German battleship Tirpitz anchored in northern Norway.
9/9/1944, Saturday (-241) The Russians captured Sofia, capital of Bulgaria.
8/9/1944, Friday (-242) (1) Liege taken by US forces.
(2) The first V-2 fell in on Chiswick in the London area, killing three people. By the end of the war, 1,100 V-2s fell in England an a further 1,675 on the continent, mainly on Antwerp. V-2 stood for Vergeltungswaffe, or ‘reprisal weapon’. The V-2 rocket weighed 12 tons and travelled at 3,600 mph, faster than sound, so there was no warning of its imminent arrival. It had a range of 200 miles and carried a one ton bomb. The Germans fired them from launchers in The Netherlands, but the explosions in London were attributed, by the authorities, to gas explosions to mislead the German intelligence. The earlier V-1 rocket was slower and had a shorter range; V-1 strikes on London ceased as the Allies captured the launch sites in France.
7/9/1944, Thursday (-243) Hungary declared war on Romania and crossed into southern Transylvania
6/9/1944. Wednesday (-244) Bulgaria declared war on Germany. Bulgaria had wanted to become neutral but Russia found this ‘insufficient’ and threatened to declare war on Bulgaria. Bulgaria therefore declared war on Germany and Russian troops marched into Bulgaria unopposed On 28/10/1944 Bulgaria signed an armistice with the Allies and the Bulgarian Army, under Soviet command, attacked German forces in Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. See 2/2/1945.
5/9/1944, Tuesday (-245) German and Dutch Nazis began to flee Holland, as Allied forces advanced through Belgium.
4/9/1944. Monday (-246) The Allies crossed into Holland. Antwerp was liberated.
3/9/1944. Sunday (-247) (1) The Allies entered Belgium, and liberated Brussels. The Belgian resistance was then well trained and armed, and German plans to destroy the docks at Antwerp as they retreated were thwarted. Thus the Allies could use this port to land ammunition and troops during the remaining eight months of fighting. Lyons also liberated by the Allies.
(2) Anne Frank and her family were transported to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland, see 14/6/1943.
2/9/1944 Saturday (-248) Allied forces took Pisa.
1/9/1944, Friday (-249) Dieppe taken by the Canadians. British forces, helped by the Belgian Resistance, took Antwerp; see 1/11/1944.
31/8/1944. Thursday (-250) Russian and Romanian forces captured the Ploesti oilfields, which had supplied Germany with one third of its military oil. Allied troops reached Amiens, northern France. Meanwhile Hitler declared that the political differences between the Allies would result in the collapse of their efforts against Germany (see 19/8/1944).
30/8/1944, Wednesday (-251) Rouen taken by the Canadians. Soviet forces took Bucharest. German forces, putting up little resistance to the Allied advance in France, were retreating across the Seine; they were flooding the lower reaches of the Somme to delay the Allied advance there.
29/8/1944, Tuesday (-252) Constanza taken by Russia.
28/8/1944, Monday (-253) Marseilles and Toulon fell to the Allies.
27/8/1944. Sunday (-254) Polish and Russian officials showed the news media the Maidenek concentration camp.
26/8/1944, Saturday (-255) The Battle of Toulon ended in Allied victory.
25/8/1944. Friday (-256) (1) Germans in Paris surrendered. The Nazi commander, General von Cholitz, ignored Hitler’s instructions to destroy the city. The USA had held back to allow the French under General LeClerc to retake Paris, led by General De Gaulle. Paris had been under German occupation since 14/6/1940.
(2) Finland was forced to sue the USSR for peace (see 12/3/1940) under pressure from the Soviet Army. Finland gave up territory gained from the USSR since 1940, and also ceded the Petsamo region, with the Arctic port at Porkkala; this gave the USSR a common border with Norway.
24/8/1944, Thursday (-257) Canadian forces captured Bernay and crossed the Risle River at Nassandres
23/8/1944. Wednesday (-258) Following a coup d’etat in Bucharest, in which pro-Nazi dictator General Ion Iliescu was overthrown, Romania changed sides and declared war on Germany and Soviet troops entered Rumania as allies. Germans had entered Bucharest as allies in September 1940. French forces took Marseilles, then advanced up the Rhone Valley.
22/8/1944, Tuesday (-259) The Royal Navy began Operation Goodwood, a series of raids against the German battleship Tirpitz anchored in northern Norway.
21/8/1944, Monday (-260) (1) US forces crossed the Seine.
(2) Meetings began at Dumbarton Oaks, Washington DC, on starting the Charter of the United Nations. These meetings ended on 7/10/1944.
20/8/1944, Sunday (-261) (1) Toulouse taken by French forces.
(2) Rajiv Ghandi, younger son of Prime Minister Indira Ghandi, was born.
19/8/1944. Saturday (-262) (1) Allied forces in Italy took Florence.
(2) Paris rebelled against German occupation.
(3) Differences emerged between the Americans and the British as to how to press on against Germany. The US wanted to go directly east into Germany via the Saar region; the British wanted to secure Belgium and Holland and then occupy the industrial Ruhr region. This latter option would both neutralise the V-weapon launching sites and capture the deepwater port of Antwerp. Politically, however, both options had to be pursued, or else public outrage would ensue if one Allied army was halted whilst the other pressed on.
18/8/1944, Friday (-263) The Allies closed the Falaise Gap, trapping German forces to the north and west.
17/8/1944, Thursday (-264) (1) Falaise taken by the Canadians.
(2) The Russians reached the border of East Prussia.
16/8/1944, Wednesday (-265) Canadian troops surrounded Falaise, France.
15/8/1944. Tuesday (-266) US and French forces landed in southern France, on a front from Nice to Marseilles, and joined up in eastern France with the forces landing in Normandy. This was Operation Anvil. From Marseilles Allied forces swung north up the Rhone Valley.
14/8/1944, Monday (-267)
12/8/1944. Saturday (-269) PLUTO, or Pipeline Under The Ocean, began operating. It carried fuel from Shanklin, Isle of Wight, to Allied forces advancing against the Germans in France.
11/8/1944, Friday (-270) Florence evacuated by the Germans.
10/8/1944, Thursday (-271)
9/8/1944, Wednesday (-272) St Malo and Le Mans taken by US forces. The USA completed the recapture of Guam.
8/8/1944. Tuesday (-273) Officers convicted of an attempt on Hitler’s life were hanged with piano wire. See 20/7/1944.
7/8/1944, Monday (-274) RAF attacked German lines south of Caen.
5/8/1944, Saturday (-276)
4/8/1944, Friday (-277) (1) Anne Frank and her family, who had gone into hiding from the Nazis on 6/7/1942 (see also 14/6/1943) were discovered by the Nazis, see 3/9/1944.
(2) Purge of the German Army by Hitler.
3/8/1944, Thursday (-278) Rennes taken by US forces.
2/8/1944. Wednesday (-279) Turkey broke off relations with Germany, reluctantly, under pressure from the United Nations to fulfil its treaty obligations.
1/8/1944. Tuesday (-280) (1) Anti-Nazi rising in Warsaw began. Russian forces were close to the city, see 14/9/1944.
(2) US forces captured the Pacific island of Tinian from the Japanese. Tinian was then developed as a US air force base, from which the mission to drop atom bombs on Japan was to depart (see 6/8/1945).
31/7/1944. Monday (-281) (1) The Allies drove the Germans out of Normandy. Avranches was captured, opening the way into Brittany.
(2) The pilot and writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of ‘The Little Prince’, was reported missing.
(3) The last scheduled deportation of Parisian Jews from Drancy. By now gunfire could be heard in Paris and liberation seemed very close. Nazi Army commanders wanted to requisition the deportation trains for moving their own troops back to safer positions.
30/7/1944, Sunday (-282) Soviet forces captured Simno, Poland, only 35 miles from the Prussian border and 330 miles as the crow flies from Berlin. They also took Gluda which cut the railway line west from Riga. German forces in Riga now had just one minor rail line west as an escape route, leading to Windau, a small Baltic port.
29/7/1944, Saturday (-283)
28/7/1944. Friday (-284) Soviet forces took Brest Litovsk, Poland.
27/7/1944, Thursday (-285) Russian forces captured Lvov from Germany.
26/7/1944, Wednesday (-286) Dvinsk retaken by Russia. Narva, Estonia, retaken by Russia.
25/7/1944. Tuesday (-287) Allied forces in Normandy forced through weakened German defences at St Lo.
24/7/1944, Monday (-288) Lublin retaken by Russia. German losses in the past 5 weeks amounted to over 2,000 tanks, 340 aircraft and 113,000 men. Only 10,000 men replaced them.
23/7/1944, Sunday (-289)
22/7/1944, Saturday (-290) The Bretton Wood conference ended.
21/7/1944, Friday (-291) Guam, in the western Pacific, was liberated by US Marines. It had been under Japanese occupation since December 1941.
20/7/1944. Thursday (-292) (1) Roosevelt was nominated for a fourth term.
(2) An attempt was made on Hitler’s life by a German Staff Officer, Count Claus Von Stauffenberg, at Hitler’s headquarters at Rastenburg, East Prussia. A bomb was left in a briefcase under a table in the conference room where Hitler was to speak. The plot failed because the heavy oak table top shielded Hitler from much of the blast, as did the thick table leg against which the briefcase was placed. The plotters were arrested, as were 1,000 other people implicated in the plot. See 8/8/1944.
(3) Tbe USA began to retake the island of Guam from the Japanese.
19/7/1944, Wednesday (-293) Leghorn retaken by American forces.
18/7/1944. Tuesday (-294) Prime Minister Tojo of Japan resigned.
17/7/1944, Monday (-295) Field Marshal Rommel was badly injured when an Allied fighter plane shot up his car.
14/7/1944, Friday (-298)
13/7/1944. Thursday (-299) The capital of Lithuania, Vilnius, was recaptured by the Russians.
12/7/1944, Wednesday (-300) (1) The RAF became the first air force to use jet aircraft in operational service.
(2) The Russians advanced 21 miles on the Baltic Front.
9/7/1944. Sunday (-303) The Allies took Caen. The last train carrying Jews to the concentration camps left from Budapest (see 13/1/1945).
7/7/1944, Friday (-305) Tony Jacklin, British golf champion, was born in Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire.
4/7/1944, Tuesday (-308) Conclusion of the Battle of Kohima-Imphal. Crucial battle of the Burma campaign; the 14th Army under Slim fought the Japanese in Burma from 4/3/1944. Allied troops were supplied by air and held back the Japanese from the key towns of Kohima and Imphal.
3/7/1944, Monday (-309) (1) Evacuation of children from London because of the V-1 bombings.
(2) Siena retaken by French troops.
(3) Minsk was recaptured by the Russians.
2/7/1944, Sunday (-310)
1/7/1944. Saturday (-311) (1) The Bretton Woods Conference began. Representatives from 44 nations began formulating the post World War Two International Monetary Policy.
(2) A bottle of Scotch cost 25s 9d (£1.29), up from 16s (80p) at the start of the War. A ‘coupon saver’ dress from Debenham and Freebody cost £9 9s (£9.45) plus 11 coupons. A ‘popular crepon neat practical skirt’ from the same store cost £2 9s 11d (£2.49 ½) plus six coupons. The First Sea Lord and Chief of |Naval Staff received an annual salary of £4,525. the Senior Design Officer in the Directorate of camouflage got an annual salary of £700.
30/6/1944, Friday (-312) The last German resistance in the Contentin Peninsula, France, ceased with the Allied capture of Auderville.
29/6/1944, Thursday (-313) The Russians captured Petrozavodsk from Finland, see 20/6/1944. See 19/9/1944.
28/6/1944, Wednesday (-314)
27/6/1944. Tuesday (-315) The Allies took Cherbourg. This was important as it gave the Normandy bridgehead its first deep water port.
26/6/1944, Monday (-316) (1) Vitebsk retaken by Russia.
(2) Naval fighting between the USA and Japan off the Marianas Islands.
21/6/1944, Wednesday (-321)
20/6/1944, Tuesday (-322) (1) Perugia, Italy, taken by the Allies.
(2) The Russian attacked Finland, which had begun peace discussions with the USSR in February 1944. Russia had demanded restoration of the 1944 frontier, plus Petsamo, thus excluding Finland from the Arctic Ocean, and an indemnity of US$ 600 million, Finland’s entire national income for 1939. Finland refused such humiliating terms, and Russia attacked, capturing Viipuri this day. See 29/6/1944.
19/6/1944, Monday (-323) (1) The French retook Elba.
(2) The USA took Saipan. It took over three weeks to defeat the Japanese, at a cost of 3,000 Americans dead and 17,000 wounded; 27,000 Japanese also died. The US did not attempt to capture all Pacific islands in their path to Japan, only selected ones, leaving other heavily-armed islands to ‘wither on the vine’. The Japanese fought fiercely and had no fear of death; many ‘Banzai’-charged the US soldiers, led by officers wielding swords.
17/6/1944. Saturday (-325) Iceland became an independent republic. The 25-year Union with Denmark had expired, see 1/12/1918.
15/6/1944. Thursday (-327) Air raids on Japan hit steel mills at Yawata.
13/6/1944. Tuesday (-329) (1) The first V-1 flying bomb, or doodlebug, to hit Britain landed on a house in Southampton, killing three people. Within 24 hours, others hit London.
(2) Fifteen US warships bombarded Saipan with 165,000 shells. Saipan, with Tinian (see 1/8/1944), was a small Pacific island halfway between Australia and Japan, occupied by the Japanese. 8,000 US marines landed on Saipan on 15/6/1944; Japanese troops hid in caves but were attacked with flame throwers. On 7/7/1944 3,000 cornered Japanese troops, along with hundreds of civilians jumped to their death rather than surrender.
12/6/1944, Monday (-330) Churchill visited the front in Normandy. The 101st American Airborne division captured the town of Carentan, which commended the Vire estuary; this closed the last gap in the Normandy beachheads, between Omaha and Utah beaches, into a single front 42 miles wide.
11//6/1944, Sunday (-331)
10/6/1944. Saturday (-332) (1) Allied troops began a push towards Caen. This tied down large numbers of German troops and Hitler sent in his elite Panzer forces.
(2) Troops from the 2nd SS Panzer Division massacred 642 people in the French village of Oradour sur Glane in revenge for Resistance attacks. After the war, President De Gaulle ordered that the village be left as a ruin, as a memorial; a new village was built nearby.
(3) The USSR began an offensive against Finland.
9/6/1944, Friday (-333) Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery ordered massive air raids on German positions in northern France as the Allies advanced from Normandy. 450 Allied bombers hit towns including Lisieux and le Havre.
8/6/1944, Thursday (-334) Bayeux liberated.
7/6/1944. Wednesday (-335) King Leopold of Belgium was arrested.
6/6/1944. Tuesday (-336) D – Day. Allied forces landed in Normandy. Operation Overlord was the biggest sea-borne invasion in history. It was delayed 24 hours due to bad weather.
In the early morning of Tuesday 6 June 1944 11,600 aircraft, 6,000 surface craft, and nearly 170,000 men assaulted the coast of France on a 50 mile front, and 9,000 had been killed. Men from boats joined with parachutists. By the sixth day, 326,000 Allied soldiers were in the French bridgehead.
The Luftwaffe mustered 183 planes, which faced 11,000 Allied planes. The Allies had also intercepted a Luftwaffe message indicating they were critically short of aviation fuel, and Allied bombing raids were concentrated on German oil installations. Crucially for the Germans, Hitler was asleep when the D-Day landings began, at 06.35 local time, and no-one dared waken him. Extra reinforcements could not be ordered without him, and vital hours were lost by the Axis forces battling to hold Normandy. By the end of the first day, the Allies had a beachhead 25 miles long and 5 miles deep. Further initial advance was delayed by the Normandy bocage, small fields with thick hedgerows, and steep valleys and hillsides. See 15/5/1944.
5/6/1944. Monday (-337) The Café Gondree was the first place to be liberated from the Germans on the eve of the D-Day landings when paratroopers from the 6th Brigade dropped on the town of Benouville to seize a vital canal bridge.
4/6/1944. Sunday (-338) (1) Rome liberated by the Allies.
(2) Eisenhower decided on a 24-hour delay to D-Day due to poor weather.
3/6/1944, Saturday (-339)
2/6/1944, Friday (-340) Eisenhower settled on 5 June for D-Day
1/6/1944, Thursday (-341) The BBC transmitted a coded alert to the French Resistance warning od the D-Day landings; the message was the first verse of Paul Verlaine’s poem, Chanson D’Automne.
25/5/1944. Thursday (-348) Tito escaped to the hills as German troops captured his Bosnian headquarters.
23/5/1944. Tuesday (-350) The Battle of Anzio, Italy. Landings by the Allies had begun at Anzio on 22/1/1944, 40 miles behind German lines and just 30 miles south of Rome. German troops in the area were sparse but rather than break out straightaway, taking advantage of the element of surprise, the Allies waited until further reinforcements came, by which time the Germans had brought in more troops too.
18/5/1944. Thursday (-355) Allied troops captured Monte Casino in Italy. This opened the way to Rome. See 15/2/1944 and 4/6/1944.
15/5/1944. Monday (-358) (1) In St Pauls School, London, the D-Day landings of 6/6/1944 were planned using a huge map of the area. 8 divisions, 5 seaborne and 3 airborne, were to be landed in the first 48 hours. The Germans had 60 divisions defending the coast of the Netherlands, Belgium and France. An elaborate deception was mounted to make Germany think Calais was the landing point with fake radio traffic, misleading reports from Nazi agents who had been ‘turned’ to serve the Allies, and a phantom army with wooden tanks stationed in south-east England. In May 1944 Montgomery received a decode of a message from Field Marshall Rommel to Hitler saying that Allied bombing of railways in northern France was disrupting his efforts to defend the Calais area from an Allied invasion.
(2) Field Marshall Erwin Rommel attempted to cut off occupied France from neutral countries to stop information being passed out to the Allies.
9/5/1944. Tuesday (-364) The Russians took Sevastopol, liberating all of the Crimea.
8/5/1944, Monday (-365) Eisenhower settled on 5, 6, or 7 June as date for the D-Day landings.
6/5/1944, Saturday (-367) Rehearsals for the D-Day landings were held at Slapton Sands, Devon.
30/4/1944, Sunday (-373) Pre-fabricated houses went on show in London. 500,000 of them were planned as temporary housing for those who had lost their homes to Luftwaffe bombs.
29/4/1944, Saturday (-374) Bernardino Machado, President of Portugal, died.
24/4/1944. Monday (-379) The Japanese evacuated New Guinea as US troops landed.
21/4/1944, Friday (-382) (1) In France, women got equal voting rights with men.
(2) Burdett Road railway station, E London, closed.
20/4/1944. Thursday (-383) The RAF set a new bombing record. 4,500 tons of bombs were dropped in a single raid, on Hitler’s 55th birthday.
19/4/1944, Wednesday (-384) The RAF bombed railways and river bridges in France.
13/4/1944. Thursday (-390) The Russian army took Simferopol, capital of Crimea.
11/4/1944. Tuesday (-392) The USSR began the liberation of the Crimea. Odessa retaken.
9/4/1944. Sunday (-394) General Charles De Gaulle became commander in chief of the Free French forces. This angered his rival for the post, World War veteran General Henri Giraud. De Gaulle fled France for Britain in 1940.
7/4/1944. Friday (-396) Hitler suspended all laws in Berlin and made Goebbels dictator of the city.
6/4/1944. Thursday (-397) In the UK, PAYE (pay as you earn) Income Tax began.
5/4/1944. Wednesday (-398) The Germans began deporting Jews from Hungary.
4/4/1944, Tuesday (-399)
2/4/1944. Sunday (-401) USSR troops crossed the Romanian frontier.
1/4/1944, Saturday (-402) The Wick to Lybster railway, 13 ¾ miles, closed in Scotland.
28/3/1944, Tuesday (-406)
25/3/1944, Saturday (-409) German army commander, Von Manstein, leader of Army Group South, successfully argued with Hitler that the 1st Panzer Army must be allowed to retreat to avoid a Soviet encirclement south-east of Tarnopol. Von Manstein was a much better strategist than Hitler, and was never afraid to argue persuasively and strongly with the Fuhrer when necessary. However Von Manstein was replaced by Field Marshal Model. Army Groups South and A were renamed, respectively, Army Groups Northern and Southern Ukraine; an ironic move given that by now very little of the Ukraine remained under German occupation.
24/3/1944, Friday (-410) Orde Wingate, British Army Commander who created and led the Chindits in Burma, was killed in a plane crash in the rainforest in Assam. The Chindits, from the Burmese for ‘mighty lion’ struck deep behind Japanese lines, destroying railways and bridges.
20/3/1944, Monday (-414)
15/3/1944, Wednesday (-419) Heavy air raids against the ancient monastery at Casino by the Allies.
14/3/1944, Tuesday (-420) Heavy German air raid on London, with 100 Luftwaffe bombers.
13/3/1944, Monday (-421) Kherson retaken by Russia.
12/3/1944. Sunday (-422) The UK government banned all travel between Britain and Ireland to prevent Normandy invasion plans being passed to pro-German spies in Ireland.
11/3/1944, Saturday (-423) The Irish prime Minister, Eamon de Valera, refused to comply with a US request to close the German and Japanese Embassies in Dublin, to prevent possible transmission of military intelligence.
10/3/1944, Friday (-424)
8/3/1944, Wednesday (-426) 9,000 Welsh miners went on strike over pay differentials; the government met their demands.
7/3/1944, Tuesday (-427) Japan launched an offensive from Burma into India.
6/3/1944. Monday (-428) US planes began daylight bombing raids on Berlin, flying from bases in Britain.
29/2/1944. Tuesday (-434) US troops landed at Los Negros in the Admiralty Islands.
23/2/1944, Wednesday (-440) Leo Hendrik Baekeland, Belgian-born American chemist, inventor of a plastic called Bakelite, died.
22/2/1944, Tuesday (-441) Krivoi Rog retaken by Russia.
21/2/1944. Monday (-442) Hideki Tojo became Chief of Staff of the Japanese Army.
17/2/1944, Thursday (-446) In the UK, the White Paper on the National Health Service was published. The Education Bill was also published, raising the school leaving age to 15, see 30/12/1938. Also, fre secondary education was provided for all children up to age 15, divided into grammar schools, technical schools and secondary modern schools, selection for these by an 11-plus examination. Primary education was divided into infant and junior schools. Schools would provide free milk, subsidised meals, and free dental and medical examinations. There was provision for raising the school leaving age to 16; this was implemented in 1973.
15/2/1944, Tuesday (-448) (1) Casino monastery bombed by the Allies. The monastery, founded in 529 AD by St Benedict, occupied a strategic position at the entrance to the Liri valley and the route to Rome. See 18/5/1944.
(2) The US cleared the Solomon Islands of Japanese forces.
14/2/1944, Monday (-449) Carl Bernstein, the journalist who exposed the Watergate scandal along with Bob Woodward, was born.
13/2/1944. Sunday (-450) The Allies dropped weapons for the French Resistance in Haut-Savoie.
10/2/1944, Thursday (-453)
4/2/1944. Friday (-459) US warships shelled the Japanese homeland; the island of Paramishu.
3/2/1944, Thursday (-460) Germans reopened an offensive against the Anzio beach head.
1/2/1944. Tuesday (-462) In New York, the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian died, aged 71.
30/1/1944, Sunday (-464) The Brazzaville Conference; French colonial governors met in Brazzaville, capital of French Equatorial Africa, to set out post-war relations between France and her African colonies. Further intergartion between France and the colonies was anticipated, rather than eventual independence.
27/1/1944, Thursday (-467) Russia announced the complete lifting of the 2-year blockade against Leningrad. The Leningrad to Moscow railway reopened.
25/1/1944, Tuesday (-469) In Macao the Reverend Florence Tim-Oi Lee became the first woman Anglican Priest
23/1/1944. Sunday (-471) Death of Norwegian artist Edvard Munch.
22/1/1944. Saturday (-472) The Allies landed at Anzio, Italy. Anzio was over 60 miles behind German lines and only 35 miles from Rome. The Allies found the town deserted; the Italians had evacuated the place and the German army had moved elsewhere. 50,000 Allied troops and 3,000 vehicles were put ashore with only 13 casualties, from mines. Initially the Germans were taken by surprise but rushed troops to the area to contain the bridgehead, which did not rejoin Allied forces until May 1944 with the general retreat of the Germans north of Rome. Anzio made it impossible for Kesselring to establish a German defensive line south of Rome.
21/1/1944, Friday (-473) The Luftwaffe resumed bombing raids on London, after a lull of over two years. 268 tons of bombs were dropped, followed by a similar raid a week later.
20/1/1944, Thursday (-474) (1) Russia recaptured Novogorod.
(2) The RAF dropped 2,300 tons of bombs on Berlin.
18/1/1944, Tuesday (-476) The first batch of UK conscripts to be sent down the mines, nicknamed ‘Bevin Boys’, began their training. See 2/12/1943.
16/1/1944, Sunday (-478) General Eisenhower was appointed Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe.
15/1/1944, Saturday (-479) Major earthquake hit San Juan province, Argentina.
10/1/1944. Monday (-484) Mussolini’s son in law was sentenced to death for treason.
4/1/1944. Tuesday (-490) Hitler ordered the mobilisation of all children over the age of ten. On this day Soviet forces crossed the pre-war frontier from Russia into Poland at Rokitno. Hitler, anticipating an Allied attack on France, was keen to hold the northern French and Belgian coasts, so as to be able to launch the V weapons against Britain, even of this meant some territorial losses in the east.
1/1/1944, Saturday (-493) (1) Sir Edwin Lutyens, English architect, designer of The Cenotaph in London and planner of New Delhi, died in London.
31/12/1943, Friday (-494) Penicillin was finally in common usage in hospitals, its development having been delayed by the War. Its first successful use had been on 13/2/1941. Another ‘wonder drug’, sulphonamide, was also useful against infections.
28/12/1943, Tuesday (-497) Allied troops landed at Ortona, east coast of Italy.
26/12/1943. Sunday (-499) The German battleship Scharnhorst was sunk by the Royal Navy off the North Cape.
22/12/1943. Wednesday (-503) The author Beatrix Potter died aged 77. The UK government announced there were only enough turkeys left for one in ten families.
19/12/1943. Sunday (-506) At the first war crimes trial, in the USSR, three Germans were found guilty of atrocities and hanged at Kharkov.
17/12/1943, Friday (-508) The Haegebostad rail tunnel, Norway, 3.2 km long, also the Kvineshei rail tunnel, Norway, 8.5 km long, opened. The Gyland rail tunnel, Norway, 5.5 km long, opened.
7/12/1943 Tuesday (-518) British forces captured Monte Camino, Italy.
2/12/1943, Thursday (-523) Britain was running out of manpower. The number of registered unemployed, 1,250,000 in 1939, was now just 60,000, and the conscription age was now from 18 to 51. Conscription of women had also been extended upwards from those in their 20s to those in their 50s, although they could choose between armed forces or factory work.
1/12/1943, Wednesday (-524) The Cairo Declaration, issued by the USA, UK, and China, pledged independence for Korea ‘in due course’. The provisional Korean government in exile, in Chungking, south west China, asked for clarification of this vague phrase, but received none.
30/11/1943, Tuesday (-525)
29/11/1943, Monday (-526) The Jacje Congress began (ended 30/11/1943). Delegates from various regions of Yugoslavia met in the Bosnian town of Jacje, which had been taken by Tito’s partisans from the Nazis in September 1942. The Congress was organised by the AVNOJ (Anti-Fascist National Liberation Committee), and decided on various aspects of Yugoslavia’s post war governance and leadership.
28//11/1943. Sunday (-527) The main Allied leaders, Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin, all met in Tehran. Co-ordinating the Normandy landings with a Russian attack on the eastern front was discussed, also a Russian attack on Japan, and a post-war United Nations Organisation. All agreed that the USSR could have eastern Poland as far west as the Curzon line, and Poland would be compensated with lands in eastern Germany. This was confirmed at the Yalta Conference of 4 – 11 February 1945.
25/11/1943, Thursday (-530)
23/11/1943. Tuesday (-532) US forces retook Makin in the Gilbert Islands.
22/11/1943, Monday (-533) A major RAF raid on Berlin destroyed the armaments ministry, the Charlottenburg Palace, and the British Embassy. A church at the end of the Kurfurstendamm, the main shopping street in Berlin, was also destroyed, but its bell tower was rebuilt as a landmark in post-War Berlin.
20/11/1943. Saturday (-535) Oswald Moseley, leader of the British Union of Fascists, was released from gaol on grounds of ill-health. The UK Labour Party protested.
11/11/1943. Thursday (-544) French troops arrested the Lebanese government after it declared itself independent.
6/11/1943. Saturday (-549) Russian troops retook Kiev.
5/11/1943, Friday (-550) Allied planes accidentally bombed The Vatican; there were no casualties.
3/11/1943. Wednesday (-552) US miners ended a 6 month strike.
1/11/1943, Monday (-554) (1) Russians cut off the Germans who were attempting to retreat from the Crimea.
(2) US forces retook Bougainville, in the Solomon Islands.
28/10/1943. Thursday (-558) The UK Court of Appeal ruled that money saved from the housekeeping by a wife belonged to the husband.
20/10/1943, Wednesday (-566) The United Nations War Crimes Commission was formed.
19/10/1943. Tuesday (-567) Italian troops began to help Tito’s partisans in their fight against the Germans.
13/10/1943. Wednesday (-573) Italy changed sides and declared war on Germany. See 8/9/1943.
7/10/1943, Thursday (-579) Russian forces crossed the Dnieper River.
4/10/1943. Monday (-582) Allied troops occupied Corsica, the first part of France to be liberated.
30/9/1943. Thursday (-586) Allied troops entered Naples.
29/9/1943. Wednesday (-587) (1) In a decisive battle, which lasted until 4/10/1943, French forces, together with Italians, fought the Germans and forced them to evacuate Corsica. The Germans retreated to mainland France and the Italians moved to Sardinia.
(2) Polish leader Lech Walesa was born in Popovo, the son of a carpenter.
27/9/1943, Monday (-589)
25/9/1943. Saturday (-591) The USSR retook Smolensk.
24/9/1943, Friday (-592) Repairs were finished on the Möhne river dam, which had been heavily damaged in a British bombing raid on May 16; the Edersee Dam, which had been bombed in the same raid, was restored to full operation six days later.
23/9/1943, Thursday (-593) The German battleship Tirpitz was severely damaged and disabled.
22/9/1943. Wednesday (-594) UK government announced that P.A.Y.E. was to begin in April 1944. Income tax collection needed reform after the number of manual workers paying it rose from 1 million in 1939 to 7 million in 1943. Deduction from pay packets based on the previous year’s earnings was considered, but that could cause hardship if overtime fell. The solution was to deduct tax at wage payment each week.
21/9/1943, Tuesday (-595) The Soviet 43rd Army captured Demidov.
20/9/1943. Monday (-596) Allies attacked Naples.
19/9/1943, Sunday (-597) Germany evacuated Sardinia.
18/9/1943, Saturday (-598) Mass deportations began of French Jews in Paris, with 1,150 being shipped in railroad freight cars to the Buchenwald concentration camp.
17/9/1943, Friday (-599) Briansk retaken by Russia.
16/9/1943, Thursday (-600) Novorossisk retaken by Russia.
15/9/1943, Wednesday (-601) (Italy, France-Germany) Three days after freed from imprisonment by Germany, and seven weeks after his overthrow in July, Benito Mussolini was restored to leadership of Italy by the Nazi occupiers; German paratroopers also landed in St. Peter's Square at Vatican City in Rome, despite the Vatican's neutrality in the war Mussolini made his announcement of a return to power from Adolf Hitler's headquarters at Rastenburg.
14/9/1943. Tuesday (-602) Yugoslav partisans were advancing along the Dalmatian coast, and Allied officers had reached Tito. Allied troops landed at Bari, SE Italy.
13/9/1943, Monday (-603) (1), Free French forces attacked the German and Italians on Corsica, see 29/9/1943.
(2) Chiang Kai Shek was elected President of China.
12/9/1943. Sunday (-604) Mussolini was rescued from prison by the Germans.
11/9/1943, Saturday (-605) (Italy, France-Germany) German Field Marshal Albert Kesselring declared that all Italian territory was under German military control, which former dictator Benito Mussolini would later describe as reducing Italy to the status of a German "colony". Adolf Hitler ordered that the occupied Italian territory be divided into three zones, with the area around Rome extending south toward the front lines against the Allies, the Alpine mountain region ("Alpenvorland") and the coast along the Adriatic Sea ("Adriatische Kusterland"). Hitler also issued orders to deal with any Italian military units that had gone over to fight for the Allies, with all officers to be executed, and soldiers and non-combatants to be deported to Germany as labourers.
10/9/1943. Friday (-606) (1) German troops occupied Rome.
(2) Allied troops took Tarantino, Italy.
9//9/1943. Thursday (-607) (Italy, Germany) Allied forces landed at Salerno, Italy. King Umberto of Italy left Rome and fled to Brindisi in the south. This was seen as an abandonment by many Italians and contributed to the conversion of the country to a Republic in 1946.
8/9/1943. Wednesday (-608) The Italian Prime Minister, Badoglio and King Victor Emmanuel agreed to Italy’s unconditional surrender to the Allies (see 25/7/1943, and 13/10/1943).
7/9/1943, Tuesday (-609) (1) (Italy, Germany) Suspecting that Italy was about to make peace with the Allies, German troops quickly occupied Italy, especially its airfields, to forestall a complete Allied possession of the country. However the entire Italian navy escaped to Malta, thereby freeing up Allied ships for combat in the Pacific or Atlantic.
(2) German troops began a retreat from the Ukraine.
4/9/1943, Saturday (-612)
3/9/1943. Friday (-613) Allied troops landed on the Italian mainland, in the province of Calabria. See 25/7/1943.
2/9/1943. Thursday (-614) Inmates of the concentration camps in Poland were being used for medical experiments.
1/9/1943, Wednesday (-615)
30/8/1943, Monday (-617) Taganrog retaken by Russia.
29/8/1943, Sunday (-618) The Nazis occupying Denmark dismissed the Danish Government, following extensive strike action and acts of sabotage against the Germans. In response the Danes formed the Frihedsrad (Free Council) in order to coordinate and escalate resistance activity. It commanded a Danish Resistance Army of some 43,000 men; several of its members held government positions in the post-war Danish Government from 1945.
28/8/1943, Saturday (-619) Boris III, Tsar of Bulgaria, died.
26/8/1943, Thursday (-621)
24/8/1943, Tuesday (-623) The Quebec Conference ended (began 19/8/1943). Code-named Quadrant, it was concerned with plans for the Normandy landings, also land operations in south east Asia (especially Burma), and with campaigns in Italy. See 16/9/1944.
23/8/1943, Monday (-624) Kharkov retaken by Russia.
18/8/1943, Wednesday (-629)
17/8/1943. Tuesday (-630) The Allies completely controlled Sicily.
16/8/1943. Monday (+631) (1) US troops took Messina, Sicily.
(2) Jews in the ghetto at Bialystock, Poland, rose up.
15/8/1943. Sunday (-632) The Allies attacked Messina.
13/8/1943. Friday (-634) The Allies bombed Rome, Milan, and Turin.
10/8/1943, Tuesday (-637) The Quebec Conference opened. Churchill, Roosevelt and McKenzie were present.
5/8/1943. Thursday (-642) The USSR retook Orel.
2/8/1943, Monday (-645) Hamburg was seriously damaged by Allied aircraft, at a cost of 87 British aircraft. The RAF had considerably enlarged its bomber force; in January 1943 the RAF only had 260 heavy bombers, but now it regularly sent 700 bombers on a single raid, One million civilians had fled the city after three nights of bombing, and 40,000 were killed. 7,000 tons of bombs destroyed 10 square miles of Hamburg, creating a 1,000 C firestorm, and U-boat construction yards were severely damaged. The RAF used Pathfinder aircraft to drop marker bombs on the target city, then release masses of aluminium foil to confuse enemy radar, followed by the main bomber raid. The scale of these raids forced Hitler to withdraw Luftwaffe forces from the Russian front, where in August 1943 just 20% of Luftwaffe strength was then deployed. Albert Speer, Hitler’s Minister for War Production, feared that just six more raids on the scale of Hamburg could bring Germany to its knees.
30.7/1943, Friday (-648) In Sweden, the Saab 21 became the first aircraft to fly with the modern explosives-powered ejector seat.
28/7/1943, Wednesday (-650) The Italian Fascist Party was formally dissolved.
25/7/1943. Sunday (-653) Mussolini was ousted from power by the Fascist Grand Council. On 3/9/1943 the Italian Prime Minister, Badoglio, secretly signed an armistice with the Allies. See 8/9/1943.
23/7/1943, Friday (-655) Allied troops took Palermo, Sicily.
13/7/1943. Tuesday (-665) The Germans lost the greatest tank battle in history, in the cornfields around Kursk. See 8/2/1943 for more details.
10/7/1943. Saturday (-668) Allied forces under US General Patton invaded Sicily (Operation Husky), landing in the south and south west of the island. 3,000 Allied troopships were used. Palermo fell on 23/7/1943.
8/7/1943. Thursday (-670) The French Resistance leader, Jean Moulin, died after torture by the Gestapo.
29/6/1943, Tuesday (-679) US forces landed in New Guinea.
19/6/1943. Saturday (-689) Goebbels declared Berlin to be ‘free of Jews’.
14/6/1943, Monday (-694) Anne Frank (born 12/6/1929) began to write her famous diary. She was born in Frankfurt, Germany, to Otto and Edith Frank; Otto was a German Army officer in World War One. Anne had a sister called Margot. In 1933, as the Nazis came to power, the Frank family moved to Amsterdam where they hoped to be safe from Hitler’s anti-Semitic policies. However Germany invaded The Netherlands in May 1940.
10/6/1943. Thursday (-698) The ball point pen was patented by its inventor, a Hungarian called Laszlo Biro. He had devised a prototype pen that would not blot in 1938, but fled to Paris and then Argentina in 1940, to escape the Nazis. In 1944 the RAF began using the pens as they were not affected by low air pressure in aircraft.
3/6/1943, Thursday (-705) Charles de Gaulle of France set up the Committee of National Liberation, through which he promised that Algerians would have a full say in how their country was run after World War Two. De Gaulle’s failure to honour thos promise after the War was a major factor in the hardening of Algerian desire for independence.
1/6/1943, Tuesday (-707) The close of the Hot Springs Conference (opened 18/5/1943); the Allies discussed World War Two.
26/5/1943, Wednesday (-713) Edsel Ford, president of the Ford Motor Company from 1919, died.
25/5/1943. Tuesday (-714) The Allies bombed Sardinia.
22/5/1943, Saturday (-717) After a month of disastrous losses, Grand Admiral Karl Donitz ordered his U-boats out of the \North Atlantic. On 19/5/1943 his son Peter died when U-954 was sunk by an RAF Liberator bomber from Iceland. Allied losses from U-boats had declined sharply from 1942 when 8 million tons of shipping was lost. Even in March 1943 600,000 tons were sunk. However the Allies developed new shortwave radar that could detect U-boats surfacing to recharge their batteries (see 26/10/1940), also more powerful depth charges. A week earlier, 5 U-boats out of 33 were lost in an unsuccessful attack on convoy SC-130. The Allies were better at breaking Germans communications codes; from 24 codebreakers at the beginning of the war the Royal Navy now had 1,000 codebreakers, including historians, mathematicians and linguists, many of them German refugees. Listening posts to intercept German communications were scattered across Britain and British territories overseas.
18/5/1943, Wednesday (-720) UNRRA was founded.
16/5/1943. Monday (-722) (1) The RAF launched its ‘Dambuster’ raid on the Ruhr dams, which had provided power to Germany’s industrial heartland. The Mohne, Eder, and Sorpe dams were destroyed by special ‘bouncing bombs’ designed by Dr Barnes Wallis; these bombs could skip over barriers placed in the dam lakes. The bombing squadron consisted of 19 Lancaster bombers from 617 squadron, from Scampton, led by Guy Gibson. The dams were destroyed, but less than half the bombers returned to the UK.
(2) German forces began an offensive against Tito’s partisans in Yugoslavia.
12/5/1943. Wednesday (-727) All resistance by Axis forces in North Africa was over.
10/5/1943. Monday (-729) The Allies bombed Sicily.
7/5/1943. Friday (-732) Tunis, and Bizerta, 60 miles NNW of Tunis, were recaptured by the Allies. See 14/11/1942.
3/5/1943. Monday (-736) The UK government made part-time war work compulsory for women aged 18 to 45.
2/5/1943, Sunday (-737) The RAF bombed Berlin.
1/5/1943, Saturday (-738) The Moniave ranch railway (Dumfries) closed to passengers.
28/4/1943, Wednesday (-741) Sergei Rachmaninov, Russian composer, died in Beverley Hills, California.
26/4/1943. Monday (-743) The mass grave of 4,000 Polish officers was found in the Katyn forest. Germany accused Russia of the murder. The Soviet Union finally admitted carrying out the 1940 massacre, of up to 15,000 Polish officers, on 12/4/1990.
24/4/1943, Saturday (-745) Heavy bombing raid on Dortmund.
19/4/1943. Monday (-750) Polish Jews in Warsaw put up a major fight against the Nazis. This was the first case of serious resistance by the Jews to the Nazis, en masse. The Jews could not win, but they seriously hampered German operations. The Nazis retook the ghetto on 20/4/1943, and massacred the Jews. The Warsaw ghetto was totally erased from the city.
14/4/1943. Wednesday (-755) Rommel evacuated his troops from Tunis. The Allies entered Tunis on 7/5/1943.
17/4/1943, Sunday (-758) Hitler and Ribbentrop demanded that Hungary round up its Jews for extermination in concentration camps; part of the ‘final solution’. Hungary initially delayed but Germany exercised considerable political influence within Hungary.
10/4/1943. Saturday (-759) The Allied 8th army took Sfax, Tunisia.
7/4/1943. Wednesday (-762) (1) Keynes published his plan for the post-war recovery of Britain.
(2) The drug LSD (lysergic acid di-ethylamide) was first synthesised by Swiss scientist Albert Hoffman.
3/4/1943, Saturday (-766) Saturday Night Theatre was first broadcast on UK radio.
1/4/1943. Thursday (-768) The rationing of meats, fats, and cheese began in the USA.
29/3/1943. Monday (-771) (1) Montgomery broke through the Axis Mareth Line in north Africa.
(2) British Prime Minister John Major was born.
28/3/1943, Sunday (-772) The Russian-American composer, Sergei Rachmaninov, died in Beverley Hills, California.
14/3/1943. Sunday (-786) The Germans re-occupied Kharkov in a counter offensive against the Russians.
9/3/1943. Tuesday (-791) Bobby Fischer, chess champion, was born in Chicago. He took the world title from Boris Spassky in 1972.
8/3/1943, Monday (-792) Michael Grade, BBC chief, was born
6/3/1943. Saturday (-794) The RAF pounded the Ruhr city of Essen.
4/3/1943, Thursday (-796) The Battle of the Bismarck Sea ended (began 2/3/1943). A Japanese convoy carrying troops to Papua New Guinea was sunk by Allied forces.
3/3/1943, Wednesday (-797) 178 people were crushed to death whilst descending the stairs into Bethnal Green tube station to shelter during an air raid. A woman at the top of the stairs, carrying a child, slipped and fell on those immediately in front of her, causing those below to lose their balance too.
2/3/1943, Tuesday (-798)
1/3/1943. Monday (-799) Ghandi broke his fast after 12 days.
28/2/1943. Sunday (-800) The RAF bombed Berlin by day for the first time.
25/2/1943, Thursday (-803) George Harrison, of the pop group ‘The Beatles’ was born in Liverpool.
21/2/1943, Sunday (-807) Britons celebrated ‘;Red Army Day’ to congratulate the Russians on their success at Stalingrad.
18/2/1943, Thursday (-810) In Britain, the House of Commons voted in principle to accept the proposals of Beveridge’s Welfare State
16/2/1943, Tuesday (-812) Kharkov retaken by Russia.
14/2/1943, Sunday (-814) Rostov retaken by Russia.
12/2/1943, Friday (-816) (1) Krasnodar recaptured by the Russians.
(2) Lord Nuffield set up the Nuffield Foundation with a gift of £10 million.
10/2/1943, Wednesday (-818) The Allied 8th Army reached the border of Tunisia.
9/2/1943. Tuesday (-819) The USA reported that Japanese resistance in Guadalcanal and the Solomon Islands had ceased.
8/2/1943. Monday (-820) Russia recaptured Kursk. Kursk was a major rail junction, and this significant Russian victory followed their major success at Stalingrad. The Russians created a salient 160 km wide and 130 km deep into German lines around Kursk, and in the summer of 1943 Hitler ordered this salient eliminated under ‘Operation Citadel’.2,500 German tanks, supported by 1,000 aircraft, attempted to cut off the salient from Orel in the north and Belgorod in the south. Fighting was especially severe at Prokhorova, where Germany lost 300 tanks in one day, but made a deep penetration into the salient. However the Russians had filled the salient with an even greater number of tanks and aircraft, protected by deep minefields. The Battle of Kursk, 5 – 15 July 1943, was the greatest tank battle in history. Orel was liberated by the Russians on 4/8/1943 and Belgorod on 5/8/1943. German losses were so heavy as to rule out any further major offensives by them on the Eastern Front.
7/2/1943, Sunday (-821) The Japanese completed their withdrawal from Guadalcanal.
2/2/1943. Tuesday (-826) Japan made a last-ditch effort to recapture the Solomon Islands.
31/1/1943. Sunday (-828) The German 6tb Army under Field Marshal Paulus surrendered at Stalingrad after five months of fighting. The last Germans fighting in Stalingrad surrendered on 2/2/1943. Hitler had refused to countenance an attempted German breakout from Stalingrad and insisted his troops hold on, despite, from December 1942, increasing shortages of food, ammunition, and medical supplies. The Luftwaffe tried to drop supplies by air to the besieged city but often failed in this task. The Stalingrad Campaign cost the lives of 479,000 men from November 1942; German deaths amounted to 147,000, with a further 91,000 troops captured (many to be worked to death as Stalinpferde, Stalin horses, in Soviet labour camps).
30/1/1943, Saturday (-829) The RAF made its first daytime raid on Berlin.
28/1/1943. Thursday (-831) Hitler ordered the mobilisation of the entire population aged between 16 and 65.
27/1/1943. Wednesday (-832) Air raids on Wilhelmshaven, Germany. The USA made its first bombing raid on Germany.
26/1/1943, Tuesday (-833)
25/1/1943, Monday (-834) The Russians retook Voronezh, see 7/7/1942.
24/1/1943, Sunday (-835) The Casablanca Conference ended, see 14/1/1943. President Wilson, with Churchill, then issued a statement demanding unconditional surrender of the Axis powers, rather than a negotiated settlement. This was intended to reassure Russia; the Nazis used the statement as propaganda to warn the German people of the greed of their enemies.
23/1/1943. Saturday (-836) The British 8th army captured Tripoli from the Germans and Italians.
21/1/1943, Thursday (-838) The Russians retook Stavropol.
18/1/1943. Monday (-841) (1) The Russians broke the 890-day siege of Leningrad. Supplies had only reached the city intermittently over frozen Lake Ladoga.
17/1/1943, Sunday (-842) The Luftwaffe conducted the first night raid on London since May 1941.
16/1/1943, Saturday (-843) Iraq declared war on Germany, Italy, and Japan.
15/1/1943. Friday (-844) The Pentagon, built to house the US Defence department, opened in Arlington, Virginia, on the Potomac River.
14/1/1943. Thursday (-845) (1) Churchill, de Gaulle, and Roosevelt met at Casablanca. They demanded the unconditional surrender of the Axis powers. Plans were made for the invasion of Sicily increased US bombing of Germany, and the transfer of British forces to the far east once Germany was defeated.
(2) The Japanese began withdrawing from Guadalcanal.
12/1/1943, Tuesday (-847) The Second Hungarian Army was annihilated in fierce fighting against Russia at Voronezh, near Stalingrad.
8/1/1943, Friday (-851) (1) German forces began to retreat from the Stalingrad area, leaving some of their compatriots under siege in Stalingrad itself.
7/1/1943. Thursday (-852) (1) Free French forces took Oul-el-Araneb, the main Axis base in southern Libya.
(2) Nikola Tesla, the Croatian-American scientist who developed alternating current, died.
1/1/1943, Friday (-858) Velikye Luki re-occupied by the Russians.
24/12/1942, Thursday (-866) At Peenemunde, Werner von Braun perfected the first flying bomb.
23/12/1942, Wednesday (-867) Operation Winter Storm ended with the German 6th Army still trapped in Stalingrad.
22/12/1942, Tuesday (-868) Franz Boas, anthropologist, born 9/7/1858 in Minden, Germany, died in New York.
21/12/1942. Monday (-869) The Allied 8th Army took Benghazi Libya.
20/12/1942. Sunday (-870) The US began to produce electricity from nuclear fission.
19/12/1942. Saturday (-871) British troops advanced in the Malay peninsula, pushing the Japanese back into Burma.
15/12/1942, Tuesday (-875) The British Government began a campaign against venereal disease, which had increased markedly since the war began.
12/12/1942, Saturday (-878) British commandoes blew up six ships in Bordeaux harbour.
2/12/1942. Wednesday (-888) Controlled release of energy by nuclear fission was first achieved. The first atomic pile began operating in Chicago. It was at Stagg Field, University of Chicago, under physicists Enrico Fermi and Arthur Compton.
1/12/1942. Tuesday (-889) The Beveridge Report was published. William Henry Beveridge’s report was the foundation of the British Welfare State. Beveridge was born at Rangpur, in Bengal, on 5/3/1879, and was a distinguished academic and economist; he helped establish labour Exchanges after joining the Board of Trade in 1908. His report of 1942 was entitled ‘Report on Social Insurance and Allied Services’ and advocated a free national health service and unemployment and sickness benefit. The report envisaged ‘Slaying the Five Giants of Want, Ignorance, Squalor, Idleness and Disease’. This became a reality under the post-war Labour government of Clement Attlee, elected 26/7/1945. Beveridge became a Baron in 1946.
29/11/1942. Sunday (-891) In the US, coffee rationing began.
27/11/1942. Friday (-893) The French fleet was scuttled in the harbour of Toulon, six hours after German troops arrived there.
26/11/1942, Thursday (-894) 250,000 German troops under General von Paulus were surrounded at Stalingrad.
25/11/1942, Wednesday (-895) Greek guerrillas fighting the Axis occupation destroyed the Gorgopotamos railway.
24/11/1942, Tuesday (-896)
20/11/1942, Friday (-900) Benghazi re-occupied by the British.
19/11/1942. Thursday (-901) The Russians counterattacked at Stalingrad, across ground hardened by the winter frosts but not yet clogged by snow. The Russians had more of their superior T34 battle tanks, and created a giant pincer movement to encircle the 250,000 Germans at Stalingrad. German generals, knowing they were overstretched, wanted to shorten their lines and conserve men, equipment, and supplies. However Hitler initially refused to sanction giving up any occupied territory. Only in January 1943 did Hitler realise that the fall of Stalingrad could entail the cutting off of his forces in the Caucasus; he ordered Kleist to retreat from this region, whilst Paulus hung on inside Stalingrad., diverting Soviet forces. The Germans in Stalingrad surrendered on 2/2/1943, after 7 weeks under siege; had they surrendered 3 weeks earlier, Kleist would also have been cut off. Kleist retreated along the northern shores of the Black Sea, assisted by a sudden thaw that swelled Russian rivers and hindered the movements of the Soviet army.
17/11/1942, Tuesday (-903)
16/11/1492, Monday (-904) Russian forces took Kharkov.
15/11/1942, Sunday (-905) The naval battle of Guadalcanal ended in US victory. On the battle's final day the Japanese battlecruiser Kirishima and destroyer Ayanami were sunk by the American battleship USS Washington, while the Americans lost the destroyers Benham and Walke.
14/11/1942. Saturday (-906) Bizerta, 60 miles NNW of Tunis, was captured by the Axis. See 7/5/1943.
13/11/1942. Friday (-907) The Allies recaptured Tobruk, north Africa. Rommel’s army was in full retreat.
12/11/1942, Thursday (-908) The naval battle of Guadalcanal began
11/11/1942. Wednesday (-909) The Axis invaded Vichy France. Russian forces took Lozovaya Junction.
10/11/1942, Tuesday (-910)
8/11/1942. Sunday (-912) Rommel retreated from Egypt into Libya. British and US forces took Algiers, a move which precipitated the German occupation of all of France. Russian forces took Kursk.
7/11/1942. Saturday (-913) Allied troops landed in Vichy-French North Africa. 65,000 Allied troops and 650 warships under General Dwight Eisenhower landed in North Africa under Operation Torch to secure French North Africa and link up with Montgomery’s Eighth Army. Oran, Casablanca, and Algiers were the main landing points. Surprisingly little resistance was met and Bougie and Boune were soon occupied by paratroopers.
6/11/1942. Friday (-914) The Church of England relaxed its rule that women must wear hats in church.
5/11/1942, Thursday (-915) Art Garfunkel, of (Paul) Simon and Garfunkel fame, was born
4/11/1942, Wednesday (-916) The second Battle of El Alamein ended after 12 days with Montgomery sending Rommel’s army into full retreat westwards. Axis losses were 2,000, but 30,000 Axis troops were taken PoW; Allied casualties were 13,500.
2/11/1942, Monday (-918)
1/11/1942, Sunday (-919) Brazil replaced the Millreis with the Cruzerio as its currency. One millreis = 1 cruzerio. The millreis was the old currency of Portugal.
31/10/1942, Saturday (-920) The Germans bombed Canterbury in retaliation for the bombing of Cologne.
30/10/1942. Friday (-921) Montgomery won a key victory at El Alamein. El Alamein was only 80 miles west of Alexandria. This began an Allied advance of 1,400 miles in six months, culminating in the clearance of Axis forces from North Africa.
27/10/1942, Tuesday (-924)
23/10/1942, Friday (-928) (1) The Second Battle of El Alamein began, see 30/10/1942 and 30/6/1942. The British forces had been reinforced and now numbered 230,000 men, against the 80,000 Axis army.
(2) Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, was born.
22/10/1942, Thursday (-929) German planes dropped high explosives and incendiaries on Appleby-Frodingham steelworks, Scunthorpe, injuring 15 employees.
20/10/1942, Tuesday (-931)
4/10/1942, Sunday (-947) A small British air raid on Sark.
3/10/1942. Saturday (-948) New US law froze wages, rents, and farm prices.
30/9/1942. Wednesday (-951) The Allies seized key positions near El Alamein in a dawn raid.
27/9/1942. Sunday (-954) Japanese forces pulled back in New Guinea as the allies advanced.
26/9/1942, Saturday (-955) Wilson Carlile, British clergyman who founded the Church Army in 1882, died aged 95.
24/9/1942, Thursday (-957) Linda McCartney, American photographer who married ex-Beatle Paul McCartney and campaigned for animal rights, was born.
23/9/1942, Wednesday (-958) (1) A Russian counter-attack north-west of Stalingrad began.
(2) British troops captured Antananarivo, capital of Madagascar.
18/9/1942. Friday (-963) The battle of El Alamein began with a barrage of one thousand guns aimed at Italian and German troops.
13/9/1942. Sunday (-968) The German attack on Stalingrad began. Fighting became so intense that each side at times fought the other from different stories of the same building.
10/9/1942. Thursday (-971) The RAF dropped 100,000 bombs on Dusseldorf in a single raid.
6/9/1942, Sunday (-975) (1) The IRA shot two policemen in Belfast.
(2) The Germans captured the major Black Sea naval base of Novorossiisk.
2/9/1942. Wednesday (-979) German SS troops deported and murdered 50,000 Jews from the ghetto in Warsaw.
26/8/1942, Wednesday (-986) German forces reached the outskirts of Stalingrad.
22/8/1942. Saturday (-990) Brazil declared war on Germany and Italy. Besides participating in the defence of the South Atlantic against German U-boats, Brazil sent an expeditionary force to Italy in July 1944.
19/8/1942. Wednesday (-993) (1) Allied commando raid on Dieppe, by the Canadians and British. There were heavy Allied casualties. The aim of the raid was to try and seize a Channel port from the Germans; the raid failed, with 1,000 Allied troops killed and 2,000 taken prisoner out of a total of 6,100 men, and all their tanks and equipment abandoned there was nine hours of fighting along 11 miles of coastline. However information from the raid was very useful in planning the D-Day landings of June 1944. The principal lesson was that any attempted Allied landing in France must be on a beach using artificial harbours, not at an existing port.
(2) Montgomery became commander of the British Eight Army in North Africa.
17/8/1942. Monday (-995) Daylight air raids by the Allies began, with a raid on the railway marshalling yards of Rouen. The first US bombing raids in Europe.
15/8/1942, Saturday (-997) Winston Churchill had his first summit meeting with Joseph Stalin.
11/8/1942. Tuesday (-1,001) (1) Sir Barnes Wallis, born on 26/9/1887, patented the bouncing bomb, which was used against the German Mohne and Eder dams in 1943 by the RAF Dambusters Squadron.
(2) In London, the new Waterloo Bridge opened to traffic.
9/8/1942. Sunday (-1,003) With Ghandi about to launch a major civil disobedience campaign to force the British out of India, the British arrested the whole Congress leadership, including Nehru.
7/8/1942. Friday (-1,005) The USA attempted a landing on the Japanese-occupied southern Solomon Islands. US troops invaded Guadalcanal.
6/8/1942. Thursday (-1,006) The Germans advanced on Stalingrad.
4/8/1942, Tuesday (-1,008) David Russell Lange, New Zealand politician and Prime Minister 1984-9, was born. He
controversially refused to allow nuclear armed ships to dock in New Zealand.
28/7/1942. Tuesday (-1,015) Germans captured Rostov on Don, USSR.
27/7/1942, Monday (-1,016) The first Battle of El Alamein ended after 27 days; the British under Auchinlek held back the Germans and Italians, preventing their advance into Egypt.
26/7/1942, Sunday (-1,017) In Britain, sweets were rationed.
22/7/1942, Wednesday (-1,021)
18/7/1942, Saturday (-1,025) Germany tested its first military jet aircraft, the Messerschmitt Me262A.
17/7/1942, Friday (-1,026) Operation Spring Wind in Paris came to a conclusion, with the roundup of some 7,000 Jews, almost all of those remaining in the city. Some Jews escaped, others committed suicide; in fact Spring Wind, which intended to capture 28,000 Jews, in fact seized just 12,884. The detainees were initially sent to Drancy or the Velodrome D’Hiver. Nazi action against the French Resistance also intensified at this time. Non-Jewish Parisians were not without sympathy for the Jews, especially the children.
16/7/1942, Thursday (-1,027) The RAF made its first daylight raid on the Ruhr.
10/7/1942, Friday (-1,033)
7/7/1942, Tuesday (-1,036) The Germans took the city of Voronezh, see 25/1/1943.
6/7/1942, Monday (-1,037) Anne Frank and her family went into hiding from the Nazis (see 14/6/1943).
4/7/1942, Saturday (-1,039)
2/7/1942, Thursday (-1,041) Churchill, having been criticised for his leadership following German victories in North Africa, easily won a vote of confidence in the House of Commons, by 476 to 25 votes with 30 abstentions.
1/7/1942. Wednesday (-1,042) (1) The Germans captured Sevastopol after a 9 month siege.
(2) The charity, Oxford Famine Relief (Oxfam) was formed, see 1/7/1948.
(3) In Britain, a bottle of Scotch cost 23 shillings (£1.15), a recent rise from 17s 6d (88p). A woman’s “Tweed Swagger Coat” from Peter Robinson’s Wartime Shopping cost £1 10s (£1.50). The Chairman of the Governors of the BBC earned £3,000 per annum, and the Press officer for the Ministry of Economic Warfare got £900 a year.
30/6/1942, Tuesday (-1,043) The First Battle of El Alamein began. It lasted till 25/7/1942, and prevented an Axis breakthrough to Cairo and the Suez Canal. See 23/10/1942.
29/6/1942. Monday (-1,044) The Germans launched an offensive at Kursk, south of Moscow.
28/6/1942. Sunday (-1,045) (1) The Germans launched Operation Blue, an offensive to capture the Russian Caucasus oilfields and secure the Volga River. The Soviets responded by concentrating resistance at Stalingrad, threatening the northern flank of this Operation. On 23/7/1942 Hitler ordered General Paulus to capture Stalingrad at all costs. Meanwhile Stalin could not let go the city that bore his name.
(2) The Allied 8th Army retreated to El Alamein, north Africa.
25/6/1942. Thursday (-1,048) The RAF launched a 1,000 bomber raid on Bremen.
21/6/1942. Sunday (-1,052) Tobruk fell to Rommel’s Afrika Corps (see 18/11/1941). 25,000 Allied troops were taken prisoner.
18/6/1942, Thursday (-1,055) Paul McCartney of The Beatles pop group was born in Liverpool.
15/6/1942, Monday (-1,058) In the UK, restaurants were forbidden from charging more than 5 shillings (25p) for a meal. Whilst they could charge more for wine, very little wine was available in wartime Britain. Some of the more upmarket hotel restaurants evaded this restriction by charging several shillings for ‘service’.
9/6/1942, Tuesday (-1,064) The Germans massacred the inhabitants of the Czech mining village of Lidice, as a reprisal for the assassination of Heydrich, Nazi governor of Bohemia and Moravia. The village of Lezaky was also obliterated.
8/6/1942. Monday (-1,065) (1) Battle of Midway Island (4-8 June). The Japanese withdrew after 4 days of shelling. See 27/5/1942. The Japanese ability to mount strategic attacks in the Pacific was effectively ended. The US lost 500 men, the Japanese lost 3,500 men.
(2) Churchill arrived in Washington for talks with Roosevelt.
(3) The Japanese shelled the Australian cities of Newcastle and Sydney.
7/6/1942, Sunday (-1,066) The US aircraft carrier Yorktown was sunk by the Japanese at Midway Island.
6/6/1942, Saturday (-1,067) The US and Japan both lost one destroyer each at Midway.
5/6/1942, Friday (-1,068) Japanese Admiral Yamamoto realised the surprise factor had failed and ordered a withdrawal from Midway.
4/6/1942, Thursday (-1,069) The ‘Protector of Bohemia-Moravia, the Nazi Heydrich, was assassinated by Czechs. See 9/6/1942.
3/6/1942, Wednesday (-1,070) (1) The UK Government announced plans to nationalise the coal mines.
(2) The Japanese launched a diversionary attack on the Aleutians but did not draw US forces away from Midway.
2/6/1942, Tuesday (-1,071) Task forces 16 and 17 rendezvous 350 miles north east of Midway.
1/6/1942. Monday (-1,072) Mexico declared war on the Axis.
31/5/1942.Sunday (-1,073) (1) An air raid of 1,000 planes was made against Cologne. 1,455 tons of bombs were dropped in 90 minutes. 2,300 separate fires started, destroying over 3,000 buildings. 45,000 people were made homeless.
(2) Japanese submarines attempted, unsuccessfully, to enter Sydney harbour, Australia.
30/5/1942, Saturday (-1,074) US Task Force 17 set sail from Pearl Harbour to join Task force 16 against the Japanese at Midway Island,
29/5/1942. Friday (-1,075) (1) Jews in Paris were ordered to wear the Yellow Star of David. The Nazis ordered 5,000 metres of yellow material from a French company so the requisite number of stars, some 400,000, could be produced. However some Parisian non-Jews disliked this order, and many made a point of respecting the star, giving up their seats on the Metro for wearers for example. Additionally, some French Catholics wore the star also. French university students wore a badge reading ‘JUIF’, said to stand for Jeunesse Universitaire Intellectuelle Francaise.
(2) Bing Crosby recorded the bestseller White Christmas for the soundtrack of the film Holiday Inn.
28/5/1942, Thursday (-1,076) US Task Force 16 sailed to intercept the Japanese fleet bound for Midway Island.
27/5/1942, Wednesday (-1,077) A Japanese fleet left Japan on operation M.1, the capture of Midway Island. They hope to repeat the surprise factor of Pearl Harbour; however the US had cracked the Japanese radio codes and were ready, see 8/6/1942
26/5/1942. Tuesday (-1,078) (1) The Germans attacked Bir Hakeim, an Allied fortified position in eastern Libya, about 90 kilometres south of Tobruk. The fort of Bir Hakeim was blocking the Axis advance towards El Alamein. Over the next two weeks the Luftwaffe flew 1,400 sorties against the fort, whilst 4 German / Italian divisions attacked on the ground. Despite an explosion destroying the fort’s ammunition dump, Bir Hakeim refused to surrender, and the Allies dropped food and water as British armoured cars brought in fresh ammunition by night. On the night of 10-11/6/1942 the French defenders retreated, leaving the badly wounded to hold the lines.
Although Bir Hakeim fell to the Axis forces, it did give the Allies time to regroup and hold the Axis advance at El Alamein. Without this, the Germans might have succeeded in occupying Egypt and taking the Suez Canal.
(2) The USSR and Britain signed a 20 year peace pact of alliance.
9/5/1942, Saturday (-1,095)
8/5/1942. Friday (-1,096) The Battle of the Coral Sea. The Japanese and the US each lost an aircraft carrier(US carrier, the Lexington), and the Japanese turned back from an invasion of Port Moresby, New Guinea. This was the first Allied success in the Pacific, and saved Australia from a Japanese invasion.
7/5/1942, Thursday (-1,097) Madagascar was occupied by British troops to forestall any Japanese invasion.
6/5/1942. Wednesday (-1,098) The Japanese captured Corregidor.
5/5/1942, Tuesday (-1,099) The first of the ‘Baedeker raids’; the Germans used Baedeker guidebooks to guide them to targets in British towns and cities.
4/5/1942, Monday (-1,100) Passenger services were withdrawn on the Southall to Brentford railway, west London. Trains to Waterloo were more convenient and trams and buses took the local traffic. See 1/5/1860.
3/5/1942, Sunday (-1,101) Heavy German air raid on Exeter. 30 acres of the city were destroyed, 156 killed and 593 injured.
2/5/1942, Saturday (-1,102) The Japanese captured Mandalay.
1/5/1942. Friday (-1,103) Iraq was declared eligible for US Lend-Lease.
30/4/1942, Thursday (-1,104) The Dzyatlava massacre. About 1,100 Jews were massacred by German authorities in the Kurpiesze forest, near Dzyatlava.
29/4/1942. Wednesday (-1,105) York was bombed by the Luftwaffe. 79 were killed.
28/4/1942, Tuesday (-1,106) Bombing raid on Rostock, Germany. The target was the large Heinkel military aircraft factory there.
27/4/1942, Monday (-1,107) All Jews in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands were ordered to wear the yellow badge.
26/4/1942, Sunday (-1,108) The world’s worst coalmine disaster occurred at Honkeiko Colliery, China. 1,572 were killed.
25/4/1942, Saturday (-1,109) American troops arrived in New Caledonia to assist in defence of the archipelago.
24/4/1942, Friday (-1,110) The Germans bombed Exeter, in revenge for the raid on Lubeck on 28/3/1942.
20/4/1942, Monday (-1,114)
18/4/1942. Saturday (-1,116) US planes bomb Tokyo and other Japanese cities; the ‘Doolittle Raids’. See 24/11/1944.
17/4/1942, Friday (-1,117) Japanese forces in Burma reached Yenangyaung. The main oilfields in Burma were destroyed to prevent them from falling into Japanese hands.
16/4/1942. Thursday (-1,118) The island of Malta was awarded the George Cross by George VI for its heroism during the German and Italian bombardment.
9/4/1942. Thursday (-1,125) The Japanese captured Bataan.
2/4/1942, Thursday (-1,132) The British under Sir Miles Lampson forced their way into the Abdin Palace, Cairo, and demanded that King Farouk either abdicate or invite Nahas to form a Wafd Party government. King Farouk was friendly with the Italians, and like many Egyptians had pro-Axis sympathies, simply because they believed an Axis victory would rid Egypt of the British. Meanwhile Rommel was advancing from Libya into western Egypt. Success for Rommel would cut the Suez Canal and sever naval communications with India. Lampson hoped that Farouk would abdicate but instead he chose to appoint Nahas, whose Wafd Party were pro-British.
30/3/1942. Monday (-1,135) The first 1,000 bomber raid took place on Cologne.
29/3/1942. Sunday (-1,136) The British revealed plans for Indian independence after the war.
28/3/1942. Saturday (-1,137) (1) The RAF began continuous bombing of German munitions factories. They also raided Lubeck and Rostock, Germany. These were coastal targets, easy to find and highly combustible. Lubeck,, with its naval stores, oil tanks, submarine shipyards, and naval school, was 40% (200 acres) destroyed.
(2) British commandos made a dawn raid on the French port of St Nazaire. In ‘Operation Chariot’ they rammed an old destroyer, the Campbeltown, full of explosives, against the dock gate, putting the port out of action for the rest of the war.
(3) Neil Kinnock, Labour leader, was born in Tredegar, south Wales.
27/3/1942, Friday (-1,138) 1,112 Jews were deported from Drancy, Paris, to an undisclosed destination.
26/3/1942. Thursday (-1,139) Germany began deporting Jews to Auschwitz concentration camp.
17/3/1942, Tuesday (-1,148) In the UK, coal, electricity and gas were to be rationed.
12/3/1942, Thursday (-1,153) US troops occupied New Caledonia.
11/3/1942, Wednesday (-1,154) Brazilian President Getúlio Vargas reiterated his powers to declare war or a state of national emergency, clearing the way for the seizure of subjects and property of Axis countries.
10/3/1942. Tuesday (-1,155) Rangoon, Burma, fell to the Japanese.
9/3/1942, Monday (-1,156) The Dutch East Indies campaign ended in decisive Japanese victory. The Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies began.
8/3/1942. Sunday (-1,157) Java surrendered to the Japanese.
7/3/1942. Saturday (-1,158) British forces withdrew from Rangoon. Bandung, Java, also fell to the Japanese, effectively giving all of Java to Japan.
5/3/1952, Thursday (-1,160)
3/3/1942, Tuesday (-1,162) The USA declared the West Coast a military area and evacuated some 100,000 civilians.
2/3/1942, Monday (-1,163) The Japanese began heavy air strikes on New Guinea in preparation for an invasion.
1/3/1942, Sunday (-1,164) Skirts were being made several centimetres shorter to save material. A woman’s winter tweed coat sold for £4 3s 11d. Men’s shirt tails were also 5 centimetres shorter.
28/2/1942. Saturday (-1,165) The Japanese landed on Java, Indonesia.
27/2/1942, Friday (-1,166) The Battle of the Java Sea, in which the Dutch navy was destroyed in defence of Australia. The Japanese were now able to occupy Java.
25/2/1942, Wednesday (-1,168)
24/2/1942, Tuesday (-1,169) Joe Lieberman, US politician, was born.
23/2/1942, Monday (-1,170) Lend Lease was made reciprocal between the USA and Britain.
22/2/1942. Sunday (-1,171) Civilians were evacuated from Rangoon as fighting raged 80 miles north east of the city.
21/2/1942, Saturday (-1,172)
19/2/1942. Thursday (-1,174) The Japanese bombed the Australian city of Darwin.
18/2/1942. Wednesday (-1,175) The British public were urged to take fewer baths and to only use five inches of water when they did.
15/2/1942. Sunday (-1,178) Singapore occupied by the Japanese. See 5/9/1945. The base was supposed to be impregnable, but all its guns pointed out to sea; the Japanese came overland. The base was running out of water and surrendered, but the British did not know the Japanese were almost out of ammunition. The Japanese now had a massive arsenal of guns and ammunition.
12/2/1942. Thursday (-1,181) The Japanese captured Bandjermasin, the main town on the south coast of Borneo.
11/2/1942, Wednesday (-1,182) Ugo Pasquale Mifsud, two-time prime minister of Malta, died aged 52.
10/2/1942, Tuesday (-1,183) American bandleader Glen Miller was presented with a gold record of his popular tune ‘Chattanooga Choo Choo’; the tune was the first to hit one million sales.
9/2/1942. Monday (-1,184) Soap rationing began in Britain.
5/2/1942, Thursday (-1,188) The US established a military base at Londonderry.
31/1/1942. Saturday (-1,193) The Japanese laid siege to Singapore. They landed on Singapore on 9/2/1942.
30/1/1942, Friday (-1,194) The Irish government claimed that its neutrality was being violated by the American troop presence in Northern Ireland. An official statement declared that the United States had recognized a "Quisling government" in Northern Ireland by sending troops there and that the British were making a new attempt to force Ireland into the war on the side of the Allies.
29/1/1942. Thursday (-1,195) The first broadcast of the BBC radio programme ‘Desert Island Discs’, devised and presented by Roy Plomley. Roy Plomley presented the programme until 11/5/1985; he died 17 days later on 28/5/1965. The first ‘castaway’ was the comedian, Vic Oliver.
28/1/1942, Wednesday (-1,196) German and Italian forces recaptured Benghazi.
27/1/1942, Tuesday (-1,197) Jacqueline Cochrane, US aviatrix, flew a US bomber to the UK, for raids against Germany.
26/1/1942, Monday (-1,198) American troops landed in Northern Ireland.
25/1/1942, Sunday (-1,199) Siam (Thailand) declared war on Britain and the USA. The USA did not declare war on Siam. Many Thai sympathised with the Allied side.
23/1/1942, Friday (-1,201)
21/1/1942. Wednesday (-1,203) German offensive began in the Western Desert, Egypt.
20/1/1942. Tuesday (-1,204) Reihard Heydrich proposed his ‘final solution’ – to exterminate all of Europe’s 11 million Jews.
19/1/1942. Monday (-1,205) (1) Japanese invaded Burma.
(2) Michael Crawford, British comedy actor, was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire, as Michael Dumble-Smith.
18/1/1942, Sunday (-1,206) Japanese forces captured Tavoy, Burma.
17/1/1942, Saturday (-1,207) Muhammad Ali, American boxer, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, as Cassius Clay.
16/1/1942, Friday (-1,208) In the Battle of Muar in Malaya, the Japanese 5th Infantry Division crossed the Muar River and captured Muar itself.
15/1/1942. Thursday (-1,209) Ghandi named Nehru as his successor.
14/1/1942, Wednesday (-1,210) The Battle of Gemas was fought in Malaya, resulting in tactical Australian victory.
13/1/1942, Tuesday (-1,211) The first escape by emergency ejection seat from an aircraft. The German pilot ejected at 7,875 feet due to heavy icing, over Rechlin, Germany, and landed safely.
12/1/1942, Monday (-1,212) In North Africa, the British took Sallum after a 56-day siege when the Germans ran out of ammunition.
11/1/1942. Sunday (-1,213) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was captured by the Japanese. The Japanese also landed on the northern tip of the Celebes this day, and within a month controlled all the island except the remote interior.
10/1/1942. Saturday (-1,214) The Japanese invaded the Dutch East Indies.
9/1/1942, Friday (-1,215) The Battle of Dražgoše began between the Slovene Partisans and Nazi occupying forces.
8/1/1942, Thursday (-1,216) Stephen Hawking, astrophysicist, was born.
2/1/1942. Friday (-1,222) Manila captured by the Japanese. The US recaptured it on 3/2/1945.
31/12/1941, Wednesday (-1,224) De Valera declined to join the War despite its main ally, the USA, now being involved.
29/12/1941, Monday (-1,226) Russia re-occupied Kerch and Feodosia.
26/12/1941, Friday (-1,229) Second British raid on the Lofoten Islands. Winston Churchill discussed war strategy in America.
25/12/1941. Thursday (-1,230) Hong Kong surrendered to the Japanese. 6,000 troops laid down arms after a 7-day battle.
24/12/1941, Wednesday (-1,231) Benghazi recaptured by the British.
23/12/1941, Tuesday (-1,232) Wake Island (US territory) surrendered to the Japanese, see 4/9/1945.
21/12/1941, Sunday (-1,234) Siam (Thailand) signed a treaty with Japan permitting the entry and transit of Japanese troops. This facilitated the Japanese invasion of Burma.
19/12/1941. Friday (-1,236) Hitler made himself Commander in Chief of the Army.
17/12/1941. Wednesday (-1,238) Sarawak, Borneo, was invaded by the Japanese.
15/12/1941, Monday (-1,240) The Germans abandoned attempts to take Moscow.
13/12/1941, Saturday (-1,242) The Japanese controlled the mainland area of Hong Kong, and Kowloon; Hong Kong Island was still British-held.
12/12/1941. Friday (-1,243) (1) The USSR began to push back Nazi forces. Rostov in the south was retaken by the USSR, and the German advance towards Moscow was turned back at Solechnaya Gora, 40 miles north-west from the Russian capital. 30,000 German soldiers ware taken prisoner and 700 German tanks captured or destroyed. German supply lines had become over-stretched, and the varying gauges and fuel requirements of Russia’s railways meant that 70% of the Wermacht forces had to walk into Russia. German hopes that Russian civilians would see them as liberators failed to materialise. The German soldiers were ill-prepared for winter temperatures as low as -40 C. However Stalin now made some tactical errors. He anticipated the main German thrust for 1942 would be against Moscow whereas the Nazis now aimed for Stalingrad, so as to capture the Caucasus oilfields.
(2) The Japanese captured the island of Guam, see 20/7/1944.
(3) More Jews were arrested in Paris. This time it was the professional members of the community – doctors, academics, scientists and writers – who were detained and sent to Drancy.
11/12/1941. Thursday (-1,244) Hitler declared war on the USA, as did Italy, even though he had not yet conquered Russia or invaded Britain. The USA declared war on Germany and Italy.
10/12/1941. Wednesday (-1,245) Japanese forces off Malaya sank two major British naval vessels, the Repulse and Prince of Wales, thereby eliminating British naval power from the Far East for some time. Also on this day the Japanese occupied Aparri, a major port in northern Luzon, Philippines. US forces retook it in June 1945. Japan invaded Malaya.
9/12/1941, Tuesday (-1,246)
8/12/1941. Monday (-1,247) Britain and the USA declared war on Japan. Costa Rica, El Salvador, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic also declared war on Japan, and China declared war on all the Axis powers. Britain declared war on Finland, Rumania, and Hungary. Siam (Thailand) agreed to the passage of Japanese forces through its territory to attack British Malaya.
7/12/1941. Sunday (-1,248) Japanese attack on the USA fleet in Pearl Harbour, Hawaii. Pearl Harbour was taken entirely by surprise and within 2 hours 360 Japanese warplanes had destroyed 5 battleships, 14 smaller craft, and 200 aircraft. 2,400 people, many of them civilians, were killed. However the Japanese failed to find and destroy America’s all-important aircraft carriers, both of which were away on manoeuvres. The Japanese force then turned west to strike the British in the East Indies, Australia, and Ceylon (Sri Lanka). The US Congress met to declare war in emergency session on 8/12/1941, much to the relief of Britain.
6/12/1941. Saturday (-1,249) (1) Roosevelt appealed to Hirohito to avoid a war with the USA.
(2) Britain declared war on Finland, after it ignored warnings not to continue fighting on the German side.
(3) A Russian counterattack began to relieve the pressure on Moscow.
5/12/1941, Friday (-1,250) (1) A civilian gas mask exercise was held in Plymouth. At 3pm all civilians were supposed to don their gas masks for 15 minutes; many did not comply.
(2) Britain declared war on Hungary and Romania.
4/12/1941, Thursday (-1,251) In Britain, unmarried women in their 20s were now being called up to perform non combat support work for the military, such as factory work, fire services and policing. For men, the call-up age was extended down to 18 and up to 49.
3/12/1941, Wednesday (-1,252) Russia evacuated its naval base at Hanko, Finland, west of Helsinki.
2/12/1941, Tuesday (-1,253)
1/12/1941. Monday (-1,254) The Japanese Emperor ratified the decision to go to war with the USA.
28/11/1941, Friday (-1,257) Russia re-occupied Rostov.
26/11/1941, Wednesday (-1,259) (1) A Russian counter attack saw them advance 70 miles in the Ukraine.
(2) Japanese naval forces set sail for Pearl Harbour
25/11/1941, Tuesday (-1,260) The Royal Navy battleship, HMS Barham, was sunk.
22/11/1941, Saturday (-1,263) Rostov occupied by Germany.
18/11/1941. Tuesday (-1,267) (1) Allies under General Auchinlek began Operation Crusader, ousting the Italians from North Africa. By 25/12/1941 the British gained territory and were back to where they were in February 1941. On 21/1/1942 Rommel hit back and Tobruk surrendered to him on 21/6 1942.
(2) Iraq broke off relations with Japan.
16/11/1941, Sunday (-1,269) Iraq broke off relations with Vichy France.
14/11/1941. Friday (-1,271) The British aircraft carrier, HMS Ark Royal, was sunk. She was torpedoed by a U-boat near Gibraltar; she was under tow to Gibraltar for repair when fire broke out, her list increased and she was abandoned.
3/11/1941. Monday (-1,282) (1) The Germans captured Kursk, Russia – see 8/2/1943.
(2) President Roosevelt was warned by the US Ambassador to Tokyo of a possible Japanese attack on the USA.
1/11/1941, Saturday (-1,284) Simferopol captured by Germany.
29/10/1941, Wednesday (-1,287) Germans began to cross the Perikop isthmus into Crimea.
24/10/1941, Friday (-1,292) Kharkov occupied by Germany.
21/10/1941, Tuesday (-1,295) The hull of Britain’s last, and largest ever, battleship HMS Vanguard, was laid at Clydebank. She was launched on 30/11/1944.
20/10/1941, Monday (-1,296) German forces reached close to Moscow. The city suffered heavy bombing raids as fighting raged in the countryside around.
19/10/1941, Sunday (=1,297)
18/10/1941, Saturday (-1,298) The expiry of a 6-week deadline, set by the Japanese military on 6/9/1941, for the completion of negotiations with the USA. By the end of September 1941 Japanese oil reserves had fallen to 15 million barrels, and the military wanted to go to war in SE Asia to secure more oil. However there were concerns in Japan about the reaction of America to this invasion. The President of the Japanese National Planning Board stated that domestic oil production could be increased for a fraction of the cost of a war. The pacifist Prince Konoye also opposed war. But when the 18 October deadline passed without result, Konoye resigned and General Tojo became Minister of War. Tojo was less militant than many of his colleagues and extended the deadline for a result of the Japan-US negotiations for a further 6 weeks, to 25 November; again no agreement was achieved.
17/10/1941. Friday (-1,299) General Tojo appointed Prime Minister of Japan.
16/10/1941. Thursday (-1,300) The Germans advanced to within 60 miles of Moscow. Odessa evacuated by Russia.
14/10/1941, Tuesday (-1,302)
13/10/1941. Monday (-1,303) RAF raid on Nuremberg.
12/10/1941, Sunday (-1,304) Briansk evacuated by Russia.
11/10/1941, Saturday (-1,305) The Japanese Government approved plans for an attack on Pearl Harbour.
8/10/1941. Wednesday (-1,308) The US civil rights leader and Baptist minister Jesse Jackson was born in Greenville, North Carolina.
3/10/1941. Friday (-1,313) The aerosol was patented by L D Goodhue and W N Sullivan.
2/10/1941. Thursday (-1,314) (1) As the first winter snows began, the Russian Army launched a counter-attack at Leningrad.
(2) The Nazi occupiers of Paris blew up Jewish synagogues across the city. Six were destroyed, a seventh explosive failed to detonate but the building was destroyed anyway the next day.
1/10/1941, Wednesday (-1,315)
30/9/1941, Tuesday (-1,316) Finland took Petrozavodsk from Russia.
29/9/1941. Monday (-1,317) A Nazi death squad murdered 30,000 Russian Jews in Kiev, following the fall of Kiev to the Nazis on 19/9/1941.
28/9/1941, Sunday (-1,318)
26/9/1941, Friday (-1,320) The US proclaimed an embargo on steel and scrap iron exports to Japan, with effect from 16/10/1941.
25/9/1941, Thursday (-1,321) Germany attacked the Crimea.
23/9/1941, Tuesday (-1,323) In London, Charles de Gaulle formed a Free French Government in exile.
19/9/1941. Friday (-1,327) The Germans captured Kiev, USSR.
16/9/1941. Tuesday (-1,330) The Shah of Iran, Reza Khan Pahlavi, abdicated. His son, Reza Pahlavi, took over.
15/9/1941, Monday (-1,331) The Nazis began testing the gas chambers at Auschwitz.
9/9/1941, Tuesday (-1,337) Churchill met Roosevelt in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland.
31/8/1941, Sunday (-1,346) Nazi persecution of the Jews in Paris intensified. On this day all radios belonging to Jews were confiscated. Then their bicycles were taken. The Post Office was ordered to disconnect all phones belonging to Jewish households, and Jews were forbidden to use public phone boxes. Jews were barred from cinemas, Jewish lawyers were forbidden to practise, and it was made illegal for Jews to change address. Jews could only use the last carriage of the Paris Metro trains.
30/8/1941. Saturday (-1,347) The Germans began the siege of Leningrad. The siege ended in January 1943.
29/8/1941. Friday (-1,348) The Germans captured Tallinn, capital of Estonia.
25/8/1941, Monday (-1,352) (1) Canadian and British and Norwegian forces raided Spitzebergen.
(2) British and Soviet troops occupied Iran. This was a violation of Iran’s neutrality but was seen as a vital move to pre-empt German Fifth Columnists who might sabotage the oil installations.
22/8/1941, Friday (-1,355) Sir Oliver Lodge, pioneer of wireless telegraphy, died.
20/8/1941, Wednesday (-1.357) A further mass arrest of Parisian Jews took place, this time mainly affecting the artisan Jews of the 11th Arrondissement. These detainees were held at a large unfinished public housing complex at Drancy on the outskirts of Paris.
17/8/1941, Sunday (-1,360) The Germans took Narva, Estonia.
15/8/1941, Friday (-1,362) Josef Jakobs became the last person to be executed at the Tower of London. A German spy, he had parachuted into Huntingdonshire with a radio transmitter; however he injured his leg in the fall and was captured by the Home Guard. He was tried and shot the same day, in a chair.
9/8/1941, Saturday (-1,368) Hitler outlined to his government ministers his vision for Russia. “The German colonist will live on handsome spacious farms. The German services will be lodged in marvellous buildings, the governors in palaces. Beneath the shelter of the administrative services we shall gradually organise all that is indispensable to the maintenance of a certain standard of living. Around the city to a depth of thirty of forty kilometres we shall have a belt of handsome villages connected by the best roads. What exists beyond that will be another world in which we mean to let the Russians live as they like. It is merely necessary that we should rule them. In the event of a revolution we shall only have to drop a few bombs on their cities and the affair will be liquidated. Once a year we shall lead a troop of Kirghizes through the capital of the Reich in order to strike their imagination with the size of our monuments”.
8/8/1941. Friday (-1,369) The Soviet air force raided Berlin for the first time, in revenge for the 22 July raid.
4/8/1941, Monday (-1,365)
1/8/1941, Friday (-1,376) The US imposed an embargo on oil sales to Japan.
31/7/1941. Thursday (-1,377) Goering issued an order to Heydrich, a subordinate of Himmler, to draw up a plan for the total extinction of all non-Russian Jews. Heydrich called a conference on 20/1/1942 at Wannsee, a picnic area outside Berlin. Reich administrators were to arrange for this genocide via the concentration camps. Jews were to be forced to labour building roads and many were expected to die of over-work.
29/7/1941, Tuesday (-1,379)
27/7/1941. Sunday (-1,381) (1) Japanese troops moved into Cambodia and Thailand, and captured Saigon.
(2) German forces entered the Ukraine.
26/7/1941, Saturday (-1,382) Britain and the USA froze Japanese assets.
24/7/1941, Thursday (-1,384) Japan announced that Vichy France had consented to Japanese ‘protection’ of the French colonies in Indo-China.
22/7/1941, Tuesday (-1,386) Germany made its first bombing raid on Moscow.
21/7/1941, Monday (-1,387) First German air raid on Monaco.
17/7/1941, Thursday (-1,391)
14/7/1941, Monday (-1,394) A crisis caused by a pro-Axis coup in Syria in May 1941 came to a conclusion. The Vichy French administration in Syria had allowed Germans the use of Syrian airfields to support Iraqi Nationalist rebels fighting British administration in Iraq. Britain declared that Marshal Petain had breached an undertaking not to act against the former allies of France, and invaded Syria with a mixed army of British and Free French troops. Heavy fighting occurred around Beirut between 8/7 and 14/7, although Damascus was spared. An armistice signed on 14/7 gave French troops and civilians in Syria and Lebanon the choice of repatriation to France or joining Free French forces.
13/7/1941. Sunday (-1,395) Britain and the USSR concluded an assistance pact.
7/7/1941. Monday (-1,401) American troops joined the British force occupying Iceland. This released 20,000 British troops.
4/7/1941. Friday (-1,404) In the UK, coal rationing began.
2/7/1941, Wednesday (-1,406) Japan called up over one million conscripts, and pulled its merchant ships out of the Atlantic.
1/7/1941. Tuesday (-1,407) (1) The first TV commercial was shown; on WNBT in New York, USA. It was for the Bulova clock and Watch company.
(2) In Britain a pint of beer cost 10d (4p), up from 9d. A pair of ‘Land Girl’ tailored cord breeches cost 17s 6d (88p), half a dozen medium eggs cost 7 1/2d (3p) from J Sainsbury. Income tax was 8s 6d (43p) in the pound. A tax inspector earned £975 a year, the Secretary of State for War was paid £5,000 per annum.
30/6/1941, Monday (-1,408) German forces took Lvov from Russia.
29/6/1941, Sunday (1,409) Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Prime Minister of Poland, died.
28/6/1941. Saturday (-1,410) Germany captured Minsk.
27/6/1941. Friday (-1,411) (1) Finland joined with Germany in attacking Russia, to recover territory lost in 1939/40.
(2) Hungary declared war on Russia.
26/6/1941, Thursday (-1,412) The Kosice (Hungarian name, Kassa) incident. Kosice, the principal town of eastern Slovakia, became part of Hungary on 12/11/1938. On this day, four days after Hitler invaded Russia, and when Hungary was still a non-combatant in the war, three airplanes bombed Kasice. The official story was that these planes were Russian, and this incident helped bring in Hungary against Russia. However the planes were far more likely to have been German, to provoke aggression by Hungary against Russia.
24/6/1941, Tuesday (-1,414)
22/6/1941. Sunday (-1,416) (1) Germany invaded Russia. Hitler expected the war in Russia to be over by Christmas 1941, saying “We only have to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down”. Hitler calculated that Stalin’s purges of the officer class had badly weakened the Red Army.
The invasion plan, called Operation Barbarossa (see 21/12/1187) had been announced by Hitler to his generals on 30/3/1941 in a speech to 200 senior army officers. At 3.am on 22 June the greatest offensive in history was launched. Three million men poured across a front nearly a thousand miles long. Hitler had said that the Communists must be not only beaten but annihilated, or ‘in 30 years we shall have to fight them again’. By the end of World War Two, four million Russians had died in battle and a further 3.5 million had been taken captive. 97% of these died in captivity; Hitler had decided that the Geneva Convention did not apply to them, or to millions more captured later. 17,000 Russian villages were wiped off the map by the Germans.
Stalin had not believed Germany would attack, despite troop movements on the frontier in the weeks before the invasion.
The German invasion was to have begun on 15/5/1941, but the need to intervene in the Balkans against Greece and Yugoslavia delayed the Russian invasion by seven (crucial) weeks. The original plan was for German forces to have reached a line from Archangel to the Volga by autumn 1941. Russian resistance was greater than Hitler anticipated, and Hitler’s orders to try and capture Moscow whilst Leningrad was already besieged, whilst simultaneously taking tanks from the Moscow front to the southern front gave a respite to the defence of Moscow.
The Germans correctly estimated Russian military strength in the west at 150 divisions but thought the Soviets had just 50 further divisions in reserve; in fact the Red Army summoned up over 200 reserve divisions. Unexpected July rains turned unsurfaced Russian roads into mud whilst the scorched earth policy meant roads, bridges, railways and factories were destroyed before the Germans advanced. The Russians also destroyed the railway rolling stock and because the Russian gauge was different from the German one, the Nazis could not use the Russian rail network.
(2) Romania joined in with Germany in attacking Russia. Rumania was led by Ion Antonescu (born 2/6/1882 in Transylvania). Antonescu was pro-Nazi, and during a period of serious internal disorder in Rumania, King Carol of Rumania was compelled to offer Antonescu the Premiership on 5/9/1940. Antonescu then demanded the abdication of Carol. In 1944 Russia counterattacked into Rumania and King Michael I, who had succeeded Carol, arrested Antonescu. Antonescu was convicted of war crimes on 17/5/1946 and executed near the Rumanian fort of Jilava on 1/6/1946.
21/6/1941. Saturday (-1,417) British forces took Damascus, Syria.
20/6/1941, Friday (-1,418)
19/6/1941. Thursday (-1,419) Germany and Italy expelled US consuls.
18/6/1941, Wednesday (-1,420) (1) Turkey concluded a two-year non-aggression pact with Germany.
(2) Delia Smith was born.
8/6/1941. Sunday (-1,430) A combined force of British and Free French invaded Syria.
6/6/1941, Friday (-1,432) Louis Chevrolet, American car designer, died.
4/6/1941, Wednesday (-1,434) Kaiser Wilhelm II, exiled German Emperor, died in exile in The Netherlands.
3/6/1941, Tuesday (-1,435) Britain installed a pro-British regime in Baghdad.
2/6/1941. Monday (-1,436) Clothes rationing was introduced in Britain, and not lifted until 15/3/1949. 60 clothes coupons were allowed a year; for all except baby clothes; a dress cost 11 coupons, a man’s suit, 26.
1/6/1941, Sunday (-1,437) British forces occupied Baghdad.
31/5/1941, Saturday (-1,438)
30/5/1941, Friday (-1,439) Anti-British politicians fled from Baghdad and Iraq asked for an armistice as British forces occupied the country.
29/5/1941. Thursday (-1,440) Axis forces took the capital of Crete, Canea.
27/5/1941. Tuesday (-1,442) (1) The German battleship Bismarck was sunk by the battleships Prince of Wales, King George V, and Rodney, after torpedo attacks by Swordfish aircraft from the carrier Ark Royal.
(2) British plans to extend conscription to Northern Ireland were cancelled after Dublin protested,
24/5/1941. Saturday (-1,445) The German battleship Bismarck sank the 42,000 ton battle cruiser HMS Hood 13 miles off the coast of Greenland. Only 3 of her crew of 1,421 survived.
23/5/1941, Friday (-1,446) Herbert Austin, British motor mechanic and manufacturer of the Austin car, died near Bromsgrove.
20/5/1941. Tuesday (-1,449) (1) Germany began an aerial invasion of Crete. King George II of Greece fled Crete on 23/5/1941. By 1/6/1941 the German occupation of Crete was complete. Guerrilla action continued on Crete until its liberation in 1945.
(2) Italian East Africa forces surrendered to British Empire forces.
(3) British forces occupied Falluja, Iraq.
15/5/1941. Thursday (-1,454) In the UK, the first aircraft with a jet engine, invented by Frank Whittle, flew from Cranwell.
14/5/1941. Wednesday (-1,455) (1) Germany began a week-long bombing of Crete. On 20/5/1941 German paratroopers attacked the islands three airfields. They managed to seize only one airfield, Maleme, but this was enough, and the British had to evacuate Crete, leaving 13,000 wounded behind.
(2) The first of a series of mass arrests of Parisian Jews took place, affecting 4,000 non-French Jews. SS officer Dannecker, who had arrived in Paris in September 1941 to oversee the ‘Jewish Question’, sent these detainees to the prisons at Pithiviers and Beaune la Rolande.
13/5/1941, Tuesday (-1,456)
10/5/1941. Saturday (-1,459) (1) Rudolph Hess, Hitler’s deputy, parachuted into Scotland to try and negotiate a peace settlement but was arrested and imprisoned for the remainder of the war. He landed at Eaglesham. After the war, Hess was tried at Nuremberg and found guilty of war crimes.
(2) The House of Commons was almost destroyed by incendiary bombs. It was rebuilt, and reopened by George VI on 26/10/1950. This was the worst night of the Blitz; 550 German bombers dropped 100,000 incendiaries, and over 1,400 people were killed. The House of Commons had to meet in the Lords.
9/5/1941, Friday (-1,460) British forces occupied Rutba, Iraq.
7/5/1941, Wednesday (-1,462) The British Air Force forced the relief of the base at Habbaniya, see 29/4/1941. See 9/5/1941.
5/5/1941, Monday (-1,464) Natalija Obrenovic, Queen of Serbia, died.
4/5/1941, Sunday (-1,465) Emperor Haile Selassie returned to Ethiopia from exile in England, after the liberation of his country by British forces.
3/5/1941, Saturday (-1,466) The first successful treatment by penicillin. A patient was treated for a 4 inch carbuncle, which was cleared and the patient was discharged on 15/5/1941.
1/5/1941, Thursday (-1,468) The first of seven consecutive nights of bombing raids on Liverpool began.
29/4/1941, Tuesday (-1,470) The Iraqi Army laid siege to the British airbase at Habbaniya, see 7/5/1941.
27/4/1941. Sunday (-1,472) The Germans occupied Athens. They held it until 12/10/1944.
22/4/1941. Tuesday (-1,477) British forces left Greece.
20/4/1941. Sunday (-1,479) The German Afrika Corps attacked Tobruk, Libya.
16/4/1941, Wednesday (-1,483) Yugoslavia capitulated to Germany. Belfast was bombed by the Luftwaffe.
13/4/1941. Easter Sunday (-1,486) (1) Stalin signed a neutrality pact with Japan; Russia was concerned that Japanese conquests in Manchuria had brought Japanese forces up to Russian territory.
(2) The German Afrika Corps recaptured Bardia. Germany occupied Belgrade.
11/4/1941. Friday (-1,488) (1) Hungary regained the Bacska region from Yugoslavia.
(2) Major German air raid on Coventry.
10/4/1941. Thursday (-1,489) The USA sent troops to Greenland to protect arms supply lines from the USA to Britain.
9/4/1941, Wednesday (-1,490) Salonika was taken by the Germans. This cut off Thrace from Greece and divided Macedonia in two.
8/4/1941, Tuesday (-1,491)
6/4/1941. Sunday (-1,493) (1) Axis troops invaded Yugoslavia. Belgrade fell on 13/4/1941. Yugoslavia fell on 16/4/1941. Belgrade was recaptured by the Soviets and Tito’s forces on 20/10/1944.
(2) Allied forces, including British, Indian, and South African troops, recaptured the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, from the Italians.
5/4/1941, Saturday (-1,494) The British army took Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
4/4/1941, Friday (-1,495) Andre Michelin, French industrialist who built the first factories that mass-produced tyres, died in Paris.
3/4/1941. Thursday (-1,496) Allied troops evacuated Benghazi ion the face of Rommel’s advance. There was a pro-Axis coup d’etat in Iraq.
2/4/1941, Wednesday (-1,497) Germany tested the world’s first aircraft ejector seat, powered by compressed air.
1/4/1941. Tuesday (-1,498) Allied troops took the Eritrean capital, Asmara, four days after storming Keren.
30/3/1941. Sunday (-1,500) Hitler outlined, to his generals, plans for the invasion of Russia – see 22/6/1941.
28/3/1941, Friday (-1,502) The Battle of Matapan, off the coast of Crete. The British navy beat an Italian fleet, sinking seven warships for no loss of its own.
27/3/1941. Thursday (-1,503) The British took Keren and Hasara in Ethiopia, defeating an Eritrean-Italian force. At the Battle of Kerem, nearly 4,000 British and Indian soldiers had died.
26/3/1941, Wednesday (-1,504)
25/3/1941. Tuesday (-1,505) Prince Paul, the Yugoslav Regent, signed a pact with the Nazis.
24/3/1941, Monday (-1,506) The Battle of the Bismark began; Allied forces sunk the German battleship Bismark on 27/3/1941.
22/3/1941, Saturday (-1,508) The Grand Coulee Dam, on the Columbia River, Washington State, began operating.
19/3/1941. Wednesday (-1,511) The Luftwaffe resumed raids on London, following its failure in the Battle of Britain.
17/3/1941. Monday (-1,513) The UK Labour Minister, Ernest Bevin, called for women to fill vital jobs.
13/3/1941, Thursday (-1,517) Heavy German air raid on Clydebank, 1,100 killed
11/3/1941. Tuesday (-1,519) In the USA, the Lend Lease Bill became law. In May 1940 Churchill had asked President Roosevelt for both arms and financial assistance in the war, which the USA was not to enter as a combatant until Pearl Harbour on 7/12/1941. Roosevelt was sympathetic to the British cause but had three obstacles to face. 1) Congress was isolationist, and Roosevelt did not wish to do anything to jeopardise his re-election prospects before November 1940. 2) The neutrality Act had to be amended to allow Britain and France to purchase arms for cash; this was done in November 1939. 3) The Johnson Act, 1934, forbade loans to any country defaulting on its loans, and Britain had still not paid back money it borrowed during World War One. In May 1940 Roosevelt authorised Congress to release from ordnance stores 500,000 WW1 rifles and 900 75mm field guns. In September 1940 Roosevelt provided Britain with 50 old destroyers in return for 99 year leases on British islands in the Caribbean and Newfoundland. In December 1940 Churchill requested American protection of Atlantic convoys and financial assistance to purchase further American arms. Roosevelt was advised that Britain had less than US$2 billion to meet arms purchases of US$ 5billion. Roosevelt coined the term ‘lend lease’, on the analogy of a neighbour who lends his hose if the house is on fire.
7/3/1941. Friday (-1,523) (1) Compulsory labour for German Jews began.
(2) The British army entered Ethiopia.
6/3/1941. Thursday (-1,524) (1) Haile Selassie’s troops recaptured Burye from Italy.
(2) Gutzon Borglum, American sculptor noted for his work on the Mount Rushmore heads of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt, died.
5/3/1941, Wednesday (-1,525)
4/3/1941. Tuesday (-1,526) British forces, assisted by Norwegian resistance fighters, raided the German-occupied Lofoten Islands; 11 German boats were destroyed.
3/3/1941, Monday (-1,527) Nazi troops entered Bulgaria, occupying its Black Sea ports.
2/3/1941, Sunday (-1,528)
1/3/1941. Saturday (-1,529) Bulgaria joined the Axis. Bulgaria then allowed German troops to mount operations against Yugoslavia and Greece from its territory. However on 4/3/1941 Turkey refused to join the Axis.
28/2/1941, Friday (-1,530) Alfonso I, former King of Spain, who had been forced into exile when Spain became a Republic in 1931, died in Rome.
27/2/1941, Thursday (-1,531) Jeremy (Paddy) Ashdown, Liberal leader, was born.
25/2/1941. Tuesday (-1,533) Mogadishu, the main port of British Somaliland, was recaptured by the British from the Italians.
21/2/1941, Friday (-1,537) Sir Frederick Banting, Canadian scientist who along with Charles Best discovered insulin in 1921, was killed in an air crash.
19/2/1941, Wednesday (-1,539) Start of a devastating 48-hour air raid on Swansea. 230 were killed and over 400 injured as 41 acres of the city and its docks were destroyed by the |Luftwaffe. Previously it had been hoped that Swansea was too far west to be at risk of air raids.
17/2/1941, Monday (-1,541) The British ship SS Gairsoppa was torpedoed and sunk 300 miles southwest of Ireland. She had been carrying 110 tons of silver, in the form of 2,792 bars, to boost Britain’s funds as War costs mounted.
16/2/1941. Sunday (-1,542) The last Italians were expelled from Sudan.
15/2/1941, Saturday (-1,543)
14/2/1941. Friday (-1,544) The first of Rommel’s Afrika Corps arrived in Tripoli.
13/2/1941, Thursday (-1,545) The ‘miracle drug’ penicillin was used on a human for the first time; a policeman from Oxford, UK. However he died on 15/3/1941 because not enough was available. See 31/12/1943.
12/2/1941, Wednesday (-1,546) General Franco travelled to Bordighera, Italy, to meet Mussolini. Again Franco avoided any significant commitment to the Axis cause.
11/2/1941, Tuesday (-1,547)
10/2/1941. Monday (-1,548) The Luftwaffe bombed Iceland.
6/2/1941. Thursday (-1,552) The British 8th Army captured Benghazi in Libya.
5/2/1941, Wednesday (-1,553) The War was costing Britain £11 million per day.
3/2/1941, Monday (-1,555) Cyrene re-occupied by the British.
1/2/1941. Saturday (-1,557) (1) The RAF raided Tripoli, Libya.
(2) The Air Training Corps, the junior arm of the Royal Air Force, was formed.
(3) Vidkun Quisling was appointed puppet Prime Minister of Norway by the Germans.
23/1/1941, Thursday (-1,566) Nylon was first produced in Britain, at Coventry.
22/1/1941. Wednesday (-1,567) Allied forces recaptured the Libyan port of Tobruk from Italy.
21/1/1941, Tuesday (-1,568) (1) In Britain the Communist newspaper The Daily Worker was banned.
(2) Placido Domingo, Spanish operatic tenor, was born in Madrid.
19/1/1941, Sunday (-1,570) Kassala in Sudan re-occupied by the British.
14/1/1941, Tuesday (-1,575) King George V signed a royal warrant authorising the formation of the Reconnaissance Corps.
13/1/1941. Monday (-1,576) James Joyce, Irish author of Ulysses, died after surgery in Zurich.
12/1/1941, Sunday (-1,577) Bank Underground station, London, received a direct bomb hit during the Blitz.
11/1/1941, Saturday (-1,578) Hitler issued Directive No. 22, German Support for Battles in the Mediterranean Area.
10/1/1941, Friday (-1,579) British bases on Malta were bombed.
9/1/1941, Thursday (-1,580) At a conference with his Generals, Hitler stated that the territory of Russia contained vast riches which Germany should dominate economically and politically, but not incorporate into the Third Reich. German military leaders expected Russia to crumble quickly under a German invasion. In February 1941 German plans for the invasion of Afghanistan and India were being prepared.
8/1/1941. Wednesday (-1,581) Lord Baden Powell, British soldier and Boer War hero, also founder of the Boy Scouts in 1908, died aged 83.
7/1/1941, Tuesday (-1,582) A special committee of the Canadian government recommended that Japanese Canadians not be allowed to volunteer for the armed forces on the grounds of strong public opinion against them.
6/1/1941. Monday (-1,583) Roosevelt sent the Lend Lease Bill to Congress. Congress agreed the Bill on 11/3/1941.
5/1/1941. Sunday (-1,584) (1) The Italian garrison of Bardia in the Western Desert fell to the Allies, 5,000 Italians were taken as POWs. On 30/1/1941 the Italian garrison of Derna fell to General Wavell. Benghazi fell to the Allies on 6/2/1941.
(2) Amy Johnson disappeared, presumed drowned, in a mysterious flying accident on a routine flight over the Thames estuary. She was the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia.
(3) A bomb hit Wormwood Scrubs prison, west London.
4/1/1941. Saturday (-1,585) The German-born actress Marlene Dietrich became a US citizen.
3/1/1941, Friday (-1,586) Martin Bormann promulgated a Nazi decree banning gothic typefaces in all printing and proclaiming roman type as the new standard. The order sought to make Nazi communications more understandable in occupied France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Norway, where roman type was used
2/1/1941, Thursday (-1,587) Germany bombed Southern Ireland, despite its neutrality in the War.
1/1/1941, Wednesday (-1,588) 141 aircraft of the Royal Air Force bombed the Focke-Wulf aircraft production plant south of Bremen.
31/12/1940. Tuesday (-1,589) Fire-watching became compulsory in wartime Britain.
30/12/1940, Monday (-1,590) 136 German bombers dropped 22,000 incendiary bombs and 127 tons of high explosive on London on one of the worst nights of the Blitz, in the early hours of the morning.. Eight Wren churches and Guildhall were destroyed, but St Paul’s survived.. Overall one third of the City of London was razed.
21/12/1940. Saturday (-1,599) F Scott Fitzgerald, US author, died.
18/12/1940, Wednesday (-1,602) Hitler signed the directive for Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of Soviet Russia.
17/12/1940, Tuesday (-1,603) US President Franklin Roosevelt proposed ‘Lend Lease’ for Britain.
16/12/1940, Monday (-1,604) Bombing of Mannheim: The first area bombardment of a German city was conducted by the Royal Air Force when 134 bombers attacked Mannheim during the night, starting large fires on both banks of the Rhine.
15/12/1940. Sunday (-1,605) Italian troops were driven by the British back across the Libyan border from Egypt.
14/12/1940, Saturday (-1,606) Plutonium was first produced by Dr Glenn Seaborg, Joseph Kennedy, Edwin McMillan and Arthur Wall at the University of California, Berkeley.
13/12/1940, Friday (-1,607) Hitler issued Directive No. 20 on the German invasion of Greece, codenamed Operation Marita.
12/12/1940, Thursday (-1,608) Heavy bombing of Sheffield; a further raid followed on 15/12/1940. The weather was clear with a full moon; massive fires from the city’s steelworks further illuminated the city. 600 people were killed and a further 1,500 injured; 40,000 were made homeless.
11/12/1940, Wednesday (-1,609) British forces recaptured Sidi Barrani, western Egypt, from the Italians.
10/12/1940, Tuesday (-1,610) In London, two Germans were hanged after being convicted as spies.
9/12/1940. Monday (-1,611) British troops launched an attack on the Italians in the Western Desert.
27/11/1940. Wednesday (-1,623) The last of the Italian forces occupying Abyssinia surrendered to the British.
23/11/1940, Saturday (-1,627) The Willys-Overland company launched its new General Purpose vehicle, known as a jeep (GP)., for the US army.
22/11/1940. Friday (-1,628) The Greeks routed the Italians at Koritza.
16/11/1940, Saturday (-1,634)
15/11/1940. Friday (-1,635) Warsaw’s 35,000 Jews were confined to the ghetto.
14/11/1940. Thursday (-1,636) Coventry Cathedral was destroyed by German bombing. Over 1,000 civilians died in the raid, of a population of 250,000. 449 Luftwaffe bombers dropped 503 tons of bombs and 881 incendiaries.
13/11/1940, Wednesday (-1,637) HMS Ark Royal was sunk by an Italian submarine, near Gibraltar.
12/11/1940, Tuesday (-1,638) Molotov was invited to Berlin for Nazi-Russian talks.
11/11/1940, Monday (-1,639) The Italian Fleet at Tarantino was crippled in a raid by naval planes of the British Fleet Air Arm.
10/11/1940, Sunday (-1,640) Screaming Lord Sutch, British politician, was born.
9/11/1940. Saturday (-1,641) The former British Prime Minister (1937-1940), Neville Chamberlain, died of cancer, at Heckfield, near Reading.
7/11/1940. Thursday (-1,643) Britain, the USA, and Australia agreed on the defence of the Pacific.
5/11/1940. Tuesday (-1,645) (1) Roosevelt was elected President of the USA for a record third term.
(2) HMS Jervis Bay was lost defending an Atlantic convoy from the German battleship Admiral Scheer.
2/11/1940, Saturday (-1,648) The only air-raid free night in London during the period 7 September to 13 November, due to bad weather that night. Over this period, 27,500 high explosive bombs had fallen on London, along with incendiaries, parachute mines and oil explosive bombs.
29/10/1940, Tuesday (-1,652) British troops landed in Greece.
28/10/1940. Monday (-1,653) Italy invaded Greece, from Albania. This opened a Balkan Front, and was a complication to Hitler’s plans to invade Russia, as the British would become involved.
27/10/1940, Sunday (-1,654) A German bomb fell on Scunthorpe, killing 11.
26/10/1940, Saturday (-1,655) German U-boats used new tactics developed by Admiral Karl Donitz to sink much Allied supply shipping. The U-boats operated in ‘wolf packs’, forming long lines then gathering when one boat spotted a convoy. They then outnumbered the defence ships. Allied shipping losses in October 1940 rose to 88,000 tons a week, eight times the average weekly loss in January 1940. Worse for the Allies, the U-boats could only be detected when underwater, not on the surface, where their low profile made them almost invisible. However see 22/5/1943.
25/10/1940, Friday (-1,656) Air raid on Birmingham.
24/10/1940. Thursday (-1,657) Hitler failed to persuade Franco or Petain to help invade Britain.
23/10/1940, Wednesday (-1,658) General Franco travelled to Hendaye, France, to meet with Hitler. Franco avoided making a serious commitment to the Axis cause.
22/10/1940, Tuesday (-1,659) German Jews were deported from the regions of Baden, Saar, and Alsace-Lorraine.
21/10/1940. Monday (-1,660) (1) Purchase Tax was introduced in Britain.
(2) The ‘Empress of Britain’, en route to Canada with child refugees, was sunk by a German submarine. British warships rescued most of the 634 crew and passengers.
19/10/1940, Saturday (-1,662)
18/10/1940, Friday (-1,663) A Second Nazi Ordinance was issued in Paris relating to the city’s Jews (see 27/9/1940). Jews were now excluded from a number of occupations, including banking.
17/10/1940, Thursday (-1,664) A bomb knocked out all the automatic railway signalling within two and half miles of Waterloo Station, London.
15/10/1940, Tuesday (-1,666) Over London, a full Moon coincided with clear weather, leading to heavy German bombing raids. 410 German aircraft dropped 538 tons of high explosive bombs, killing 400 people.
12/10/1940, Saturday (-1,669) Germany captured Bucharest.
9/10/1940. Wednesday (-1,672) (1) St Paul’s Cathedral was bombed as the Luftwaffe made heavy raids on London. A German bomb went through the dome of the cathedral, destroying the high altar. An unexploded bomb had to be removed from the cathedral roof. German air raids continued throughout the rest of 1940 but the cathedral suffered little more damage. Surrounding buildings were destroyed, but the image of the dome standing intact amidst smoke and rubble became a national image symbolising the fighting spirit of Britain against Nazi Germany.
(2) John Lennon, songwriter and musician in The Beatles pop group, was born in Liverpool. He was the son of a ship’s steward.
8/10/1940. Tuesday (-1,673) German and Italian troops invaded the Romanian oilfields. Bucharest was occupied on 12/10/1940.
1/10/1940. Tuesday (-1,680) Finland signed a military and economic treaty with Germany.
27/9/1940. Friday (-1,684) (1) Imperial Japan signed a 10-year military and economic alliance with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. This was greatly disturbing to both the USSR and the USA; Japan and Russia had been enemies since the 1905 war, and Hitler’s alliance with Russia, signed in 1939, was looking more uncertain.. The USA now realised that entering the war on the side of the Allies would now entail a war in the Pacific.
(2) The Nazi Governor of Paris, Helmut Knochen, issued an Ordinance relating to the city’s Jews. A census of Jews was to be taken, all Jewish households had to report to the Prefecture of Police by 20/10/1940 (149,734 Jews registered) and all Jewish owned businesses had to put up a sign indicating Jewish ownership, in both French and German; Enterprise Juif and Judisches Geschaft. See 18/10/1940.
23/9/1940. Monday (-1,688) The George Cross was instituted. This was the highest British civilian award for acts of courage. The George Medal was also instituted.
22/9/1940. Sunday (-1,689) Japanese forces entered Indo-China.
21/9/1940, Saturday (-1,688) The day scheduled for the opening of the 12th Olympic Games in Tokyo. However they were cancelled due to the War.
18/9/1940, Wednesday (-1,693)
17/9/1940. Tuesday (-1,694) (1) Hitler ordered the indefinite postponing of the invasion of Britain, after the Luftwaffe had failed to establish command of the air over Britain.
(2) The first women workers on the London Underground began work, as ticket collectors and porters.
(3) Marble Arch became the first tube station to be hit by German bombs.
16/9/1940. Monday (-1,695) Italian forces reached Sidi Barani in the Western Desert, Egypt. Their aim was to capture the Suez Canal and open a route to the Persian oil fields.
15/9/1940, Sunday (-1,696) The Battle of Britain ended with victory to the Allies. 1,733 German planes were destroyed as against 915 lost by the RAF. It began on 8/8/1940. The Nazis had given up hope of achieving air superiority and invading Britain. The RAF had also destroyed much of the shipping that was to carry German troops to England.
14/9/1940, Saturday (-1,697)
13/9/1940, Friday (-1,698) Buckingham Palace hit by German bombs. The King and Queen would have been seriously injured by flying glass had the windows been closed. The incident was a PR blunder for the Germans, as now the monarch could claim to have shared the privations of London’s east enders.
12/9/1940. Thursday (-1,699) (1) Italian forces advanced on Egypt from Libya.
(2) A group of five boys discovered a cave at Lascaux, in the Dordogne, south west France, which was to become famous because it contained fine examples of prehistoric cave paintings.
11/9/1940. Wednesday (-1,700) The Lord Mayor of London launched the Mansion House Fund to relieve the suffering of those made homeless by bombing.
10/9/1940, Tuesday (-1,701)
9/9/1940. Monday (-1,702) The RAF carried out a three-hour raid on Hamburg.
8/9/1940, Sunday (-1,703) A heavy German air raid on the London Docks area; 400 died. The following day, 200 bombers came in the daytime and another 170 after darkness. A further 370 east enders died on 9/9/1940.
7/9/1940, Saturday (-1,704) The Germans imposed the Treaty of Craiova on Romania, by which southern Dobruja was ceded to Bulgaria. This frontier was reconfirmed by Treaty in February 1947.
6/9/1940, Friday (-1,705) King Carol II of Romania abdicated in favour of his son Michael, by pro-Nazi Ion Antonescu.
3/9/1940, Tuesday (-1,708)
2/9/1940, Monday (-1,709) To bring Bulgaria onto the Axis side, Germany awarded it the Southern Dobruja, from Romania. See 1/3/1941.
30/8/1940, Friday (-1,712) (1) The Second Vienna Award restored the territory of Northern Transylvania to Hungary, from Romania. However Hungary, although succeeding in breaking the power of the ‘Little Entente’ against it (the nations of Czechoslovakia, Romania, Serbia), had only managed to regain some of its lost territories (from the pre-World War One era) by becoming almost totally dependent on the Nazi economy and politics of Germany.
(2) Sir Joseph John Thomson, British scientist who discovered the electron in 1897, died in Cambridge. He was buried near Isaac Newton in the nave of Westminster Abbey.
25/8/1940. Sunday (-1,717) First British air raid on Berlin.
24/8/1940, Saturday (-1,718) The Lancet reported on the first purification of penicillin by professors Howard Florey and Ernest Chain.
23/8/1940. Friday (-1,719) The Blitz on London began. Bombs initially fell on the Docks and the East End, but then hit targets further west, including Buckingham Palace.
22/8/1940, Thursday (-1,720) Sir Oliver Lodge, pioneer of wireless telegraphy, died.
21/8/1940, Wednesday (-1,721)
20/8/1940. Tuesday (-1,722) Leon Trotsky was assassinated in Coyoacan, Mexico, where the exiled Bolshevik leader had fled to. He was struck several blows on the head with an ice pick by Ramon Mercader del Rio, one of Stalin’s agents. Aged 61, he had been outmanoeuvred for power by Stalin in 1923.
19/8/1940, Monday (-1,723) British Somaliland fell to the Italians. See 4/8/1940.
18/8/1940. Sunday (-1,724) The first German plane was shot down over London.
17/8/1940, Saturday (-1,725) Germany began a blockade of British waters.
16/8/1940, Friday (-1,726) Wimbledon, south west London, was bombed.
15/8/1940, Thursday (-1,727) Croydon aerodrome was bombed.
12/8/1940. Monday (-1,730) (1) Dover was hit by German shells, the first bombardment of the War here.
(2) In Albania, a revolt against Italian occupation began.
8/8/1940. Thursday (-1,734) Battle of Britain began. See 31/10/1940. German aircraft had already made raids on Britain; on 10/7/1940 the Cornish port of Falmouth was attacked by 63 Junkers 88s. However it was on this day that mass attacks of over 1,000 German aircraft began. Hermann Goering was confident of victory. Until 30/8/1940 German air attacks were mainly on British shipping and coastal towns, and German air losses exceeded those sustained by the RAF. But between 30/8/1940 and 6/9/1940 the Luftwaffe switched its attacks to airfields in southern Britain. The RAF lost 20% of its fighter planes and at one stage only 2 airfields in southern Britain were operational. In one week 185 RAF fighter planes were destroyed. There was a real possibility that the Luftwaffe could destroy the RAF.
But on 24/8/1940 a German pilot accidentally dropped his bombs on London, and Churchill ordered revenge raids on Berlin. This angered Hitler and he ordered Goering to switch the Luftwaffe’s raids to London, which faced continual bombing until 2/11/1940. The Luftwaffe faced the problem that if their aircraft were shot down, the pilot was captured as a POW; however if a British plane was shot down, over Britain, the pilot could return to the fighting. Pilots were much harder to replace, with all their training, than an aircraft was to build. Prime Minister Winston Churchill said that ‘never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few’.
7/8/1940. Wednesday (-1,735) (1) First German air raid on Exeter.
(2) Alsace-Lorraine and Luxembourg were made part of Germany.
6/8/1940, Tuesday (-1,736)
4/8/1940. Sunday (-1,738) Italian troops began to invade British Somaliland from Ethiopia. See 19/8/1940.
3/8/1940, Saturday (-1,739) Latvia officially joined the Soviet Union.
31/7/1940. Wednesday (-1,742) Hitler gave orders for a massive air offence against Britain (see 8/8/1940).
26/7/1940, Friday (-1,747) US President Roosevelt imposed sanctions on Japan in retaliation for Japanese air raids on US missions and churches in China.
23/7/1940, Tuesday (-1,750) Britain’s :Local Defence Volunteers were renamed as the Home Guard. The one million strong force, containing many World War One veterans, would have been the Resistance had Hitler invaded.
21/7/1940. Sunday (-1,752) Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, occupied by the USSR since June 1940, voted to become part of the USSR.
20/7/1940. Saturday (-1,753) The first singles charts were published in the US journal Billboard.
19/7/1940. Friday (-1,754) Hitler offered some prospect of peace in Europe, having occupied Paris (14/6/1940). He said he was willing to recognise the British Empire, so long as Germany could have Egypt and Iraq, and would negotiate with a British government containing Lloyd George and the Duke of Windsor. Both men has expressed some sympathy for Hitler, and the UK Cabinet would have none of it.
18/7/1940, Thursday (-1,755) (see 3/7/1940), in retaliation for the British bombing the French Navy in Algeria, French Air Force planes from Morocco half-heartedly bombed Gibraltar. Most of their bombs fell in the sea, though 3 were killed and 11 wounded on the Rock. French planes also bombed Gibraltar on 24/9/1940 dropping a total of 450 bombs; again most fell in the sea and damage was minimal.
17/7/1940, Wednesday (-1,756) The Baghdad Railway was completed.
16/7/1940. Tuesday (-1,757) Adolf Hitler issued Directive 16, to invade Britain, under Operation Sealion. He had delayed issuing this order because he had still hoped that Britain would jon with Germany in an ‘anti-Communist Alliance’. But Churchill had soundly rejected this idea.
14/7/1940. Sunday (-1,759) The Soviet Union annexed Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia.
10/7/1940. Wednesday (-1,763) The British Union of Fascists was banned.
9/7/1940. Tuesday (-1,764) The RAF began night raids on Germany.
7/7/1940, Sunday (-1,766) Ringo Starr, drummer in the Beatles pop group, was born Liverpool as Richard Starkey.
5/7/1940. Friday (-1,768) The Vichy government broke off relations with Britain.
4/7/1940, Thursday (-1,769) Three weeks after Italy entered the War, Italian forces invaded Sudan, occupying Kassala, 300 kilometres east of Khartoum, They also occupied Gallabat, further south.
3/7/1940. Wednesday (-1,770) The British Royal Navy destroyed a large part of the French navy at Oran in Algeria to prevent it falling into German hands. The French navy at Alexandria was immobilised but those ships at Oran were a more serious threat. The French commander at Oran was offered 4 choices by the British. 1) to sail his forces to a British port and join forces with Britain. 2) To sail to a British port and have his men repatriated to France. 3) To sail to a West Indian port, and have his ships de-commissioned, or handed over to the USA. 4) To sink his own ships. The French admiral, on instructions from Vichy France, refused these alternatives. At 5.55pm on 3/7/1940 the British opened fire, destroying the French ships, wounding 351 and killing 1,279 French sailors. See 18/7/1940.
2/7/1940. Tuesday (-1,771) (1) The first daylight bombing raid on London.
(2) The Vichy French government was officially formed after the collapse of France. Henri Petain was Head of State.
1/7/1940. Monday (1) In Britain, the average annual income of a GP was £1,094; a bricklayer earned 80s 7d (£4.03) a week. A pint of beer went up to 9d (4p), at Sainsbury half a dozen medium eggs cost 7 1/2d (3p). 12 shredded wheat cost 8d (3 1/2p). A pair of man’s ‘sports shorts’ cost 11s 6d (58p) from ‘Peter Robinson’s Wartime Shopping’ and a pair of Clark’s ‘Babbacombe Luce Corrugated Crepe Rubber Soled Shoes’ cost 13s 6d (68p). Cadbury’s Bourn-vita cost 9d (4p) per quarter-pound.
(2) The practice of informal marriages at Gretna Green was abolished by Statute.
(3) Britain was concerned that the French colonial administration in Lebanon and Syria had submitted to Vichy rule. Britain was determined that Axis forces should not occupy this region and mounted a naval blockade of Syria and Lebanon, causing severe shortages in both countries. Meanwhile Arab Nationalists were demanding independence from French control.
30/6/1940. Sunday (-1,773) German troops occupied Guernsey and Alderney, Channel Islands, after the defeat of the French.
29/6/1940, Saturday (-1,774) Paul Klee, artist, died in Switzerland.
28/6/1940, Friday (-1,775) Britain formally recognised De Gaulle as leader in exile of France.
27/6/1940. Thursday (-1,776) The USSR invaded Bessarabia. German troops in France reached the Spanish border.
26/6/1940. Wednesday (-1,777) The USSR demanded that Romania cede Bessarabia, and also northern Bukovina as ‘compensation for Romanian misrule in Bessarabia’. The Romanian government had to submit and on 28/6/1940 Russian troops marched into these areas. In July 1941 Romania entered the war as Germany’s ally and recaptured Bessarabia. The Russians re-occupied Bessarabia during 1944 and in February 1947 Romania again had to cede Bessarabia and northern Bukovina.
25/6/1940, Tuesday (-1,778)
23/6/1940, Sunday (-1,780) Hitler flew in to Paris for a three-hour tour, his only ever visit to the city.
22/6/1940. Saturday (-1,781) (1) The French armistice with Germany (see 16/6/1940) cut the country in half. Although the French Government was nominally in control of all pre-1940 French territory, including its colonies, except for Alsace and Lorraine which were annexed to Germany, the Germans claimed ’occupying rights’ across northern and western France. Germany held some 2,500,000 French POWs and required the French Government to pay the costs of occupation. France was allowed to retain a small army (100,000 men), and all its navy, albeit disarmed. The arrangement was designed to keep France quite until Britain was conquered. The Germans had the armistice signed in Marshall Foch’s old railway carriage in the Forest of Compeigne, where in 1918 a defeated Germany had to accept French armistice terms.
(2) Britain evacuated 30,000 civilians from the Channel islands, about a third of the population. Germany invaded these islands a week later.
(3) Esther Rantzen, TV presenter, was born in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire.
21/6/1940, Friday (-1,782) Italian troops advanced into the French Alps, meeting little resistance.
20/6/1940. Thursday (-1,783) The first Australian and New Zealand troops arrived in Britain.
19/6/1940, Wednesday (-1,784)
18/6/1940, Tuesday (-1,785) Charles de Gaulle, leader of the French Resistance, broadcast an appeal for his countrymen to carry on fighting. It was in response to Marshall Petain’s announcement of an armistice with Germany.
17/6/1940, Monday (-1,786) (1) The British troop ship Lancastria was sunk by German bombs off St Nazaire; 2,300 troops and crew were killed.
(2) The Soviet Union occupied Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.
16/6/1940. Sunday (-1,787) (1) The Soviet army invaded the Baltic Republics, starting with Lithuania, on the pretext that these countries were planning to attack the USSR. 200 Soviet tanks crossed the Lithuanian border and seized the capital, Kaunas.
(2) Paul Reynaud resigned as French Prime Minister. Marshall Petain took over and asked the Germans for an armistice. See 22/6/1940.
14/6/1940. Friday (-1,789) German troops entered Paris, and the Swastika flew from the Eiffel Tower. The French government had fled to Bordeaux, and was seeking release from the British Alliance so it could negotiate separately with Germany. On 22/6/1940 an armistice between France and Germany was signed and the Vichy government was set up. Paris was liberated on 25/8/1944. With continental Europe largely occupied, Hitler now hoped the British would negotiate a settlement.
12/6/1940, Wednesday (-1,791) At a by-election in Bow and Bromley, east London, the anti-War candidate won just 6% of votes cast.
11/6/1940, Tuesday (-1,792)
10/6/1940. Monday (-1,793) The Germans were within 35 miles of Paris; the French government moved to Tours. Italy declared war on Britain and France; French troops did repel Italian attacks across the frontier, but they could not hold the Germans back in the north. France declared Paris an ‘open city’ on this day and French troops left. This was to spare the city, its people and buildings, from destruction by war.
8/6/1940, Saturday (-1,795) (1) The first German bombs fell in the London area, in open country near Addington. The only casualty was a goat.
(2) Nancy Sinatra, daughter of singer Frank Sinatra, was born.
5/6/1940. Wednesday (-1,798) The UK government outlawed strikes.
4/6/1940. Tuesday (-1,799) Dunkirk evacuation completed by British forces (see 10/9/1939). Evacuation (Operation Dynamo) had begun on 29/5/1940, and 338,226 troops (114,000 French and Belgian, 228,000 British) had been rescued by an armada of destroyers, fishing boats, ferries, and assorted small craft. It was thought that only 45,000 could be rescued, under attack from the Luftwaffe who were dive-bombing the beaches. However the German army stopped its advance just outside Dunkirk, apparently unwilling to risk pressing forward through the coastal marshes. Churchill made his famous ‘we shall fight them on the beaches’ speech in the Commons.
3/6/1940, Monday (-1,800)
2/6/1940, Sunday (-1,801) Constantine I, King of the Hellenes, was born the son of King Paul. A further 80,287 men were evacuated from Dunkirk.
1/6/1940, Saturday (-1,802) A further 64,229 men were evacuated from Dunkirk.
31/5/1940. Friday (-1,803) Britain arrested Sir Oswald Moseley, leader of the British fascists. He was interned at Brixton Prison. A further 68,104 men were evacuated from Dunkirk.
30/5/1940. Thursday (-1,804) (1) Two divisions were shipped from Britain to France, to help defend Brittany. However on 22/6/1940 France signed an armistice with Germany. The 51st Highland Division was surrounded and forced to surrender at St Valery. A further 52,823 men were evacuated from Dunkirk.
(2) The Nazi Reichskommisar Arthur Seyss-Inquart took control of The Netherlands. German occupation became heavier-handed as Germany invaded Russia, and became very oppressive after Stalingrad and the Allied victories in North Africa.
29/5/1940, Wednesday (-1,805), A further 47,310 men were evacuated from Dunkirk.
28/5/1940. Tuesday (-1,806) Belgian troops under King Leopold III surrendered to Germany. Narvik captured by Germany. A further 17,804 men were evacuated from Dunkirk.
27/5/1940, Monday (-1,807) Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of British and French troops from the Dunkirk beaches, began – see 4/6/1940. 7,669 men were evacuated to England.
26/5/1940. Sunday (-1,808) The Germans took the port of Boulogne. Calais later surrendered after being held against two German divisions from 24 to 27 May, leaving Dunkirk the only French Channel port on Allied hands (see 4/6/1940).
25/5/1940, Saturday (-1,809)