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WWII Timeline – Spring 1943

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at April – June 1943 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Spring 1943

April 4, 1943

A newly built gas chamber and Crematoria V became operational at Auschwitz.

April 6/7, 1943

Axis forces in Tunisia began withdrawing toward Enfidaville, in northeastern Tunisia, from American and British forces.

April 9, 1943

Exterminations at the Chelmno termination camp temporarily ceased, although it would be reactivated in the spring of 1944.

April 18, 1943

Japanese Fleet Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was shot down and killed by American P-38’s over the Solomon Islands after U.S. code breakers were able to locate him flying in a Japanese bomber near Bougainville. (Yamamoto planned and executed the attack on Pearl Harbor).

April 19-30

Representatives from the United States and Britain met in Hamilton, Bermuda for the Bermuda Conference. They discussed Jewish refugees from Nazi-occupied countries, but declined any assistance to those liberated by the Allies or those who still remained under Nazi control.

April 19, 1943

In the spring of 1943, Heinrich Himmler, Reichsführer of the Schutzstaffel (SS), ordered the SS to conduct a “special action” against the Jews remaining in the Warsaw Ghetto to clear it out.

On April 19, the Waffen SS (the military rather than the domestic branch of the SS) launched a major attack against the Jewish resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto. It was a Monday and was the eve of Passover. Twelve hundred Jews armed with pistols, rifles, a few machine guns, grenades, and Molotov cocktails (which had been smuggled into the ghetto) were attacked by over two thousand of SS General Jürgen Stroop’s Waffen SS soldiers, heavily armed with tanks, artillery, and flame throwers.

The first attack left twelve Nazis dead and the Jewish fighters escaped capture by retreating through hidden passageways, cellars, and sewers. By the fifth day, SS General Stroop, on the orders of Himmler, decided to burn the entire ghetto. The Jews in Warsaw managed to resist for a total of twenty-eight days.

April 21, 1943

American President Franklin Roosevelt announced that the Japanese had executed several airmen from the Doolittle Raid (aka the Tokyo Raid, the air raid of April 18, 1942 by the United States on the Japanese capital of Tokyo, led by Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle).

April 22, 1943

Japan announced that captured Allied pilots will be given “one way tickets to hell.”

April 30, 1943

The British launched Operation Mincemeat. In the operation, a corpse was dressed as a British military officer carrying fake war plans and released off the coast of Spain. He was given the identity of Major William Martin of Britain’s Royal Marines. The fake plans indicated that the Allies would attack Greece and Sardinia rather than Sicily as expected. The ruse successfully diverted Axis defenses.

May 1943

SS doctor Josef Mengele, who would perform deadly experiments on prisoners, arrived at Auschwitz Concentration Camp.

May 1, 1943

In May of 1943, known as “Black May,” the Allies sank thirty-eight German U-boats. It was considered a turning point in the Battle of the Atlantic.

May 7, 1943

The Allies took Tunisia.

May 10, 1943

U.S. Troops invaded the Japanese-held island of Attu in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands.

May 13, 1943

German and Italian troops of the Axis powers surrendered to the Allies in Tunisia, bringing an end to the North African campaign.

May 14, 1943

A Japanese submarine sank Australian hospital ship Centaur off the coast of Queensland, Australia. Of the 332 medical personnel and civilian crew aboard, 268 died (299 in another report), including 63 of the 65 army personnel aboard.

May 16, 1943

Jewish resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto ended. SS General Jürgen Stroop reported,

The former Jewish quarter of Warsaw is no longer in existence. The large scale action was terminated at 2015 hours by blowing up the Warsaw synagogue…Total number of Jews dealt with: 56,065, including both Jews caught and Jews whose extermination can be proved.

Polish sources estimated that in the uprising, three hundred Germans were killed and one thousand were wounded.

May 16/17, 1943

The British carried out an air raid on the Ruhr.

May 19, 1943

The Nazis declared Berlin to be Judenfrei (cleansed of Jews).

May 22, 1943

Supreme Command of the German Navy, Admiral Karl Dönitz, suspended U-boat operations in the North Atlantic.

May 31, 1943

The Japanese ended their occupation of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands when the U.S. completed the capture of Attu.

June 1, 1943

The United States began submarine warfare against Japanese shipping.

June 3, 1943

Actor Leslie Howard, who played Ashley Wilkes in the movie Gone with the Wind, was aboard a plane shot down by the German Luftwaffe over the Bay of Biscay and killed along with sixteen others aboard. The Times (British daily national newspaper based in London) reported the news of Howard’s death and the death of Major William Martin (the fake name given to the corpse in Operation Mincement) in the same issue.

June 10, 1943

Operation Pointblank (or the Pointblank Directive) was issued regarding Allied bombing strategy. It ordered the Eighth Air Force (of which my dad would become a member in the 384th Bomb Group) to destroy the German aviation industry and gain air superiority over the continent of Europe.

June 11, 1943

SS Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler ordered the liquidation, or destruction, of all Jewish ghettos in occupied Poland.

June 21, 1943

The Allies advanced to New Georgia in the Solomon Islands.

June 25, 1943

A newly built gas chamber and Crematory III became operational at Auschwitz. With its completion, the four new crematories at Auschwitz had a daily capacity of 4,756 bodies.

June 30, 1943

The U.S. launched Operation Cartwheel, a combined operation by Supreme Allied Commander in the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) General Douglas MacArthur, and United States Navy Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., then in command of the South Pacific Area, to neutralize the Japanese base on Rabaul.

Sources:

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia

The History Place:

The National WWII Museum Interactive Timeline

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

World War II Chronicle by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Auschwitz Concentration Camp: The Gas Chambers and Crematoria

The Warsaw Ghetto

Operation Mincemeat

Most recent post from the series:

Winter 1943

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020


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