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WWII Timeline – Winter 1944

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at January – March 1944 in this post.

A Timeline of WWII, Winter 1944

January 6, 1944

Soviet troops reached the Polish border and advanced into Poland.

January 9, 1944

British and Indian troops recaptured Maungdaw in Burma.

January 17, 1944

The Allies launched their first attack against the Nazis at Cassino, Italy.

January 22, 1944

The U.S. Fifth Army successfully landed two divisions at Anzio in Italy, 30 miles south of Rome.

January 24, 1944

American president Franklin D. Roosevelt created the War Refugee Board to help Jews under Nazi control. His action was due to political pressure.

January 25, 1944

German politician and lawyer, Hans Frank, who served as Gauleiter (a regional party leader or Governor General) of Poland, recorded on this day in his diary,

At the present time we still have in the General Government perhaps 100,000 Jews.

Frank, who at one time was personal legal adviser to Adolf Hitler, was referencing the fate of the 2.5 million Jews originally under his jurisdiction. After the war, Frank was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity and sentenced to death. He was executed on October 16, 1946.

January 27, 1944

The German siege of Leningrad ended after nearly 900 days, since July 8, 1941. Soviet soldiers broke through the German line of defense and recaptured hundreds of towns and villages in the region of Leningrad. Estimates of hundreds of thousands to more than one million civilians are thought to have starved to death in the city during that time.

January 31, 1944

American troops invaded Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands.

February 1944

Nazi SS leader Adolf Eichmann visited Auschwitz.

February 1-7, 1944

American troops captured Kwajalein and Majura Atolls in the Marshall Islands.

February 15, 1944

Due to an error in translation, the Allies bombed and destroyed the Benedictine monastery at Monte Cassino, Italy.

February 16, 1944

On orders of German Field Marshal Albert Kesselring, the Nazis carried out a counterattack against the Allied beachhead at Anzio, Italy.

February 17/18, 1944

American aircraft carrier-based planes destroyed the Japanese naval base at Truk in the Caroline Islands.

February 20, 1944

American aircraft carrier-based and land-based planes destroyed the Japanese base at Rabaul.

February 20-25, 1944

During “Big Week,” the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) and British Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command carried out a joint bombing campaign in a sequence of raids against Nazi Germany. The 384th Bomb Group of the 8th AF participated daily in missions against,

  • Aircraft Industry in Leipzig, Germany
  • Junkers Aircraft Plant & Airfield, Aircraft Industry in Bernburg, Germany
  • Fighter Field & Aircraft Storage Depot, German Air Force (Luftwaffe) in Werl, Germany
  • Aircraft Factory, Aircraft Industry in Halberstadt, Germany
  • Aircraft Factory, Aircraft Industry in Aschersleben, Germany
  • Ball-Bearing Plant, Bearings Industry in Schweinfurt, Germany
  • Aircraft Assembly Plant, Aircraft Industry in Augsburg, Germany
  • Ball Bearing Plant, Bearings Industry in Stuttgart, Germany

February 23, 1944

American aircraft carrier-based planes attacked the Mariana Islands.

February 24, 1944

Merrill’s “Marauders” (U.S. 5307th Composite Unit, also known as Unit Galahad) began their ground campaign into northern Burma. The unit was named for US Army General Frank Merrill. 

March 4, 1944

The Allies bombed Berlin in the first major daylight bombing raid of WWII on Berlin. The mission was originally scheduled for the day before, March 3, but the 8th Air Force recalled it after entering enemy airspace, due to a fuel shortage caused by unexpected maneuvering necessitated by the weather.

Soviet troops began a major offensive along the Belorussian front.

Merrill’s “Marauders” fought their first major action in Burma.

March 5, 1944

British army officer General Orde Wingate’s groups began operations behind the Japanese lines in Burma.

March 15, 1944

The second Allied attempt to capture Monte Cassino, Italy began.

The Japanese began an offensive toward Imphal and Kohima in northeast India.

March 18, 1944

In an air raid, the British dropped 3000 tons of bombs on Hamburg, Germany.

March 19, 1944

Believing Hungary, with its Jewish population of 725,000, intended to leave the Axis, Adolf Eichmann arrived with his Gestapo “Special Section Commandos.” The Nazis occupied Hungary and forced Admiral Miklos Horthy, the regent, to appoint a pro-German minister president, General Dome Sztojay.

March 24, 1944

British army officer General Orde Wingate flew to assess the situations in three Chindit-held bases in Burma and on the return flight the USAAF B-25 Mitchell bomber on which he was flying crashed in India. He and nine others died.

Overnight March 24/25, seventy-six Allied airmen escaped German POW camp Stalag Luft III through an underground tunnel.

American President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a statement condemning both German and Japanese ongoing “crimes against humanity.”

The United Nations are fighting to make a world in which tyranny and aggression cannot exist; a world based upon freedom, equality, and justice; a world in which all persons regardless of race, color, or creed may live in peace, honor, and dignity.

In the meantime in most of Europe and in parts of Asia the systematic torture and murder of civilians — men, women, and children — by the Nazis and the Japanese continue unabated. In areas subjugated by the aggressors, innocent Poles, Czechs, Norwegians, Dutch, Danes, French, Greeks, Russians, Chinese, Filipinos — and many others — are being starved or frozen to death or murdered in cold blood in a campaign of savagery.

The slaughters of Warsaw, Lidice, Kharkov, and Nanking — the brutal torture and murder by the Japanese, not only of civilians but of our own gallant American soldiers and fliers — these are startling examples of what goes on day by day, year in and year out, wherever the Nazis and the Japs are in military control — free to follow their barbaric purpose.

In one of the blackest crimes of all history — begun by the Nazis in the day of peace and multiplied by them a hundred times in time of war — the wholesale systematic murder of the Jews of Europe goes on unabated every hour. As a result of the events of the last few days hundreds of thousands of Jews, who while living under persecution have at least found a haven from death in Hungary and the Balkans, are now threatened with annihilation as Hitler’s forces descend more heavily upon these lands. That these innocent people, who have already survived a decade of Hitler’s fury, should perish on the very eve of triumph over the barbarism which their persecution symbolizes would be a major tragedy.

It is therefore fitting that we should again proclaim our determination that none who participate in these acts of savagery shall go unpunished. The United Nations have made it clear that they will pursue the guilty and deliver them up in order that justice be done. That warning applies not only to the leaders but also to their functionaries and subordinates in Germany and in the satellite countries. All who knowingly take part in the deportation of Jews to their death in Poland or Norwegians and French to their death in Germany are equally guilty with the executioner. All who share the guilt shall share the punishment.

Hitler is committing these crimes against humanity in the name of the German people. I ask every German and every man everywhere under Nazi domination to show the world by his action that in his heart he does not share these insane criminal desires. Let him hide these pursued victims, help them to get over their borders, and do what he can to save them from the Nazi hangman. I ask him also to keep watch, and to record the evidence that will one day be used to convict the guilty.

In the meantime, and until the victory that is now assured is won, the United States will persevere in its efforts to rescue the victims of brutality of the Nazis and the Japs. Insofar as the necessity of military operations permit, this government will use all means at its command to aid the escape of all intended victims of the Nazi and Jap executioner — regardless of race or religion or color. We call upon the free peoples of Europe and Asia temporarily to open their frontiers to all victims of oppression. We shall find havens of refuge for them, and we shall find the means for their maintenance and support until the tyrant is driven from their homelands and they may return.

In the name of justice and humanity let all freedom-loving people rally to this righteous undertaking.

~Franklin D. Roosevelt – March 24, 1944

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.

Hans Frank

The 900-day Siege of Leningrad

The Bombing of Monte Cassino

8th AF Mission of March 3, 1944

384th Bomb Group Mission List, 1944

Stalag Luft III

Most recent post from the series:

Fall 1943

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020


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