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WWII Timeline – Fall 1944

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

A Timeline of WWII, Fall 1944

Late 1944

Oskar Schindler saved 1200 Jews by moving them from the Plaszow labor camp in the southern suburb of Kraków, Poland to his hometown of Brunnlitz, Czechoslovakia.

October 2 – 5, 1944

The Polish Home Army surrendered to the Nazis ending the Warsaw Uprising.

October 7, 1944

After learning that they were going to be killed, the Sonderkommando (special work units who were made up of Nazi death camp prisoners, usually Jews, and were forced to aid with the disposal of gas chamber victims) revolted at Auschwitz-Birkenau resulting in the complete destruction of Crematory IV.

October 10-29

Soviet troops captured Riga, the capital of Latvia on the Baltic Sea.

October 11, 1944

The U.S. began air raids against Okinawa.

October 14, 1944

German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel committed forced suicide by cyanide poisoning after being implicated in the July 20, 1944 attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler. His death was announced to be due to battle wounds suffered on July 17, 1944.

The Allies liberated Athens, Greece.

October 15, 1944

As the Hungarian government was pursuing negotiations for surrendering to the Soviets, the Hungarian fascist Arrow Cross movement, with German support, carried out a coup d’état (a revolt performed through violence), allowing the Nazis to seize control of the Hungarian puppet government. The deportation of Jews, which had been temporarily halted due to international political pressure, resumed.

October 17, 1944

SS leader Adolf Eichmann arrived in Hungary.

October 18, 1944

Fourteen American B-29 Superfortress aircraft based on the Mariana Islands attacked the Japanese base at Truk.

October 20, 1944

The U.S. Sixth Army invaded Leyte in the Philippines.

Soviet forces captured Belgrade, the capital of Yugoslavia, from the Germans.

October 21, 1944

The Germans surrendered at Aachen, Germany in the Battle of Aachen. It was the first German city to fall to the Allies.

October 23-26, 1944

The three-day Battle of Leyte Gulf, one of the largest naval battles in history, resulted in a decisive U.S. Naval victory over Japan.

George Edwin Farrar’s younger brother Robert (my Uncle Bob) Burnham Farrar served aboard the USS Intrepid, which was involved in the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

October 25, 1944

In World War II, a Japanese aircraft loaded with explosives and making a deliberate suicidal crash on an enemy target was known as a Kamikaze (meaning “Divine Wind”) attack. Fleet Admiral William Halsey called it the “only weapon I feared in the war.” The first recorded Kamikaze attack occurred against U.S. warships during the three-day Battle of Leyte Gulf.

October 28, 1944

Two thousand Jews in the last transport from Theresienstadt (a hybrid concentration camp and ghetto in the town of  Terezín, located in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia), arrived at Auschwitz.

October 29, 1944

A Japanese Kamikaze hit Bob Farrar’s ship, the USS Intrepid, on one of her port side gun positions. Damage to the ship was minimal, but ten men were killed and six were wounded. 

October 30, 1944

The last transport of Jews from Theresienstadt arrived at Auschwitz and the gas chambers there were used for the last time.

November 8, 1944

The Nazis forced 25,000 Jews to walk over 100 miles in rain and snow from Budapest to the Austrian border. A second forced march of 50,000 persons followed, ending at the Mauthausen Concentration Camp.

For the first time since 1933, Adolf Hitler failed to appear in Munich on the anniversary of the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch.

November 7, 1944

Franklin Roosevelt won his fourth consecutive term as U.S. President.

November 11, 1944

The U.S. navy bombed Iwo Jima.

November 18, 1944

The U.S. Third Army crossed the German frontier.

November 20, 1944

French troops drove through the ‘Beffort Gap’ in southwestern France to reach the Rhine.

November 23, 1944

American troops liberated the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp, located in the Vosges Mountains close to the Alsatian village of Natzwiller in France.

November 24, 1944

The French captured Strasbourg, France.

Twenty-four B-29 Superfortresses bombed the Nakajima aircraft factory near Tokyo.

November 25, 1944

SS Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler ordered the destruction of the crematories at Auschwitz. Crematory IV had already been destroyed by inmates during a revolt on October 7, 1944.

Shortly after noon, two Japanese Kamikazes crashed into Bob Farrar’s ship, the USS Intrepid, killing sixty-six men and causing a serious fire. Bob Farrar was injured in the attack, mainly due to smoke inhalation. The ship remained on station, however, and the fires were extinguished within two hours. She was detached for repairs the following day.

December 4, 1944

Athens, Greece was placed under martial law during a Civil War.

December 11, 1944

At Hartheim Castle, near Linz Austria, German authorities carried out the last gassing of inmates, and under SS guard, Mauthausen (Austria) concentration camp prisoners dismantled the killing facility. Hartheim was one of six gassing installations for adults, the majority of them mentally and physically disabled patients, established as part of the Nazi’s “euthanasia” program.

December 15, 1944

U.S. Troops invaded Mindoro in the Philippines.

In the summer of 1944, bandleader Glenn Miller (a member of the U.S. Army since late 1942 and later Army Air Forces) formed a fifty-piece USAAF (United States Army Air Forces) band and departed for England where he gave hundreds of performances to Allied troops over the next six months. On this date, he left England to entertain American troops in France in a UC-64 Norseman (a Canadian single-engine bush plane), traveling over the English Channel, but never arrived. The wreckage of his plane was never found and his official military status remains Missing in Action.

December 16, 1944

The Battle of the Bulge in Luxembourg’s Ardennes Forest began as the Germans launched a final offensive in the west known as Operation Wacht am Rhein. The objectives were to re-conquer Belgium, split the allied forces along the German border, and capture the strategic port of Antwerp. Three German Armies conducted a surprise attack along a 70-miles front and quickly overtook the American line.

December 17, 1944

On the second day of the Battle of the Bulge, the Nazi Waffen-SS (the military branch of the Nazi Party’s SS organization) murdered eighty-one American POW’s in the Malmedy Massacre.

A regiment of the 1st SS Panzer Division of the Leibstandarte-SS, commanded by SS Lt. Col. Jochen Peiper, intercepted a truck convoy of the U.S. 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion’s Battery B southeast of Malmedy. Peiper’s troops, called the Blowtorch Battalion, had burned their way across Russia and had slaughtered civilians in two separate villages.

The Panzer tanks fired upon and destroyed the lead vehicles in the truck convoy. The convoy halted while the tank fire continued. The Americans were forced to abandon their vehicles and surrendered.

The captured American Battery B soldiers were herded into a nearby field where an SS tank commander ordered an SS private to shoot into the prisoners. The SS opened fire on the unarmed Americans with machine guns.

When the machine gunfire ceased, an English speaking SS man walked among the victims on the ground asking if anyone was injured or needed help. Those survivors who responded were killed by a pistol shot to the head. In what was the single worst atrocity against American troops during World War II in Europe, a total of eighty-one Americans were killed.

Three American survivors reported the massacre to a U.S. Army Colonel stationed at Malmedy. Because the news spread quickly that Germans were shooting POW’s, the American troops became determined to hold the lines against the German advance.

The same day, in the Pacific Theater of Operations, the U.S. Army Air Forces established the 509th Composite Group to operate the B-29 Superfortresses that would drop the atomic bombs.

December 20, 1944

Bob Farrar’s ship, the USS Intrepid, reached San Francisco for repairs.

December 21, 1944

The Germans besieged U.S. paratroopers in Bastogne, Belgium. Units of Germany’s 5th Panzer Army captured St. Vith, Belgium.

December 22, 1944

Surrounded in the Battle of the Bulge, American Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe of the 101st Airborne Division received a surrender ultimatum from the Germans. His immortal reply: NUTS! [Use the link in Sources below to read the fascinating story.]

December 26, 1944

The 4th Armored Division, leading the attack by General George S. Patton’s Third Army, attacked the Germans at Bastogne and was the first unit to break through to relieve the besieged 101st Airborne Division of paratroopers. While American troops held the town, refugees were able to evacuate.

December 27, 1944

Soviet troops besieged Budapest.

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.

Oskar Schindler

The Forced Suicide of Erwin Rommel

USS Intrepid

Last Gassing at Hartheim

The Malmedy Massacre

The Story of Anthony McAuliffe’s NUTS! Reply

Most recent post from the series:

Summer 1944

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

WWII Timeline – Summer 1944

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

A Timeline of WWII, Summer 1944

Summer 1944

The highest-ever daily number of those gassed and cremated at Auschwitz-Birkenau was recorded at just over 9,000. This overwhelmed the capacity of the crematories and required six huge pits to burn the bodies.

July 1944

The Swedish Foreign Ministry sent diplomat Raoul Wallenberg to Budapest, Hungary with the support of the World Jewish Congress and American War Refugee Board to aid the 200,000 Jews left in the Hungarian capital. He saved nearly 33,000 Jews by securing their release from deportation trains, death march convoys, and labor service brigades, and by issuing diplomatic papers (protective documents) and establishing a network of thirty-one safe, or protected, houses in Budapest, called the International Ghetto. On January 17, 1945, Wallenberg was detained by Soviet agents and was never heard from again. 

July 3, 1944

The Battle of the Hedgerows began in Normandy, named so because the Allies were hindered by the agricultural hedges in Western France which intelligence had not properly evaluated. The US First Army VIII Corps advanced only seven miles in twelve days.

The Soviets captured Minsk.

July 4, 1944

Less than one month since D-Day on June 6, the Allies had landed 920,000 troops, and lost 62,000 men, the count including those killed, wounded, and missing.

July 8, 1944

The Japanese withdrew from Imphal, the capital city of the northeastern Indian state of Manipur. They had invaded Imphal in a bid to capture British Colonies, but were defeated.

July 9, 1944

British and Canadian troops captured Caen, France.

Raoul Wallenberg arrived in Budapest as first secretary to the Swedish legation in Hungary and with financing from the US War Refugee Board.

July 11, 1944

The Czech family camp at Auschwitz was liquidated.

July 17, 1944

German General Erwin Rommel was seriously injured in Normandy when a British Royal Air Force (RAF) fighter plane strafed his staff car, injuring the driver, which caused it to crash into trees. Rommel was thrown from the car, suffering cuts to his face from glass shards and three fractures to his skull. He was taken to a hospital with major head injuries and then to his home in Germany to convalesce.

July 18, 1944

British General Bernard Montgomery, the commander of all the Allied ground forces in Normandy, launched Operation Goodwood 40 miles east of Caen.

U.S. troops reached and captured St. Lô, France.

July 20, 1944

German Army officers who were part of the German resistance attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler, but failed when a heavy conference table deflected the blast from a bomb placed under it. Hitler was only slightly wounded.

July 21, 1944

U.S. Marines invaded Guam in the Mariana Islands. In Operation Stevedore, Task Force 53, commanded by Rear Admiral Richard L. Connolly of the U.S. Navy, the Third Marine Division and the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, along with the U.S. Army 77th Infantry Division, landed on Guam.

July 24, 1944

Soviet troops liberated the first concentration camp at Majdanek where over 360,000 had been murdered.

U.S. Marines invaded Tinian, an Island in the Northern Mariana Islands.

July 25, 1944

The U.S. Army began Operation Cobra in Normandy.

The II Canadian Corps began Operation Spring, an offensive south of Caen.

July 27, 1944

American troops completed the liberation of Guam.

July 28, 1944

Soviet troops took Brest-Litovsk, Belarus.

U.S. troops took Coutances, France.

August 1, 1944 – October 5, 1944

The non-communist underground Home Army in Poland, the dominant Polish resistance movement when Poland was occupied by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union during World War II, rose up against the Nazis in an attempt to liberate Warsaw before the arrival of Soviet troops. The Soviet advance stopped on the east bank of the Vistula River. On October 5, the remnants of the Polish Home Army fighting in Warsaw surrendered to the Nazis.

August 1, 1944

Patton’s U.S. Third Army was activated in Normandy, France.

U.S. troops reached Avranches, France.

August 2, 1944

The SS liquidated the Gypsy family camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

August 3, 1944

U.S. And Chinese troops took Myitkyina, the capital city of Kachin State in Myanmar (Burma), after a two month siege.

August 4, 1944

Anne Frank and her family were arrested by the Gestapo in Amsterdam, Holland. They were first sent to the Westerbork Transit Camp and then on to Auschwitz. Anne and her sister Margot were later sent to Bergen-Belsen where Anne died of typhus on March 15, 1945.

August 6, 1944

Lodz, the last Jewish ghetto in Poland, was liquidated with 60,000 Jews sent to Auschwitz.

August 7, 1944

The Germans began a major counter-attack toward Avranches, France.

August 8, 1944

American troops completed the capture of the Mariana Islands.

The Canadians launched Operation Totalize south of Caen, France with 600 tanks and 720 guns.

August 15, 1944

In Operation Dragoon, Allied forces landed in southern France near Nice and advanced rapidly towards the Rhine River to the northeast.

August 19, 1944

The French Resistance caused an uprising in Paris against the Germans.

August 19/20, 1944

A Soviet offensive in the Balkans (an area comprising Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia) began with an attack on Romania.

August 20 – 25, 1944

Allied troops reached Paris. On August 25, Free French forces, supported by Allied troops, entered the French capital. By September, the Allies reach the German border; by December, virtually all of France, most of Belgium, and part of the southern Netherlands were liberated.

August 20, 1944

The Falaise Pocket or Battle of the Falaise Pocket was the decisive engagement of the Battle of Normandy in WWII. The Western Allies encircled the German Army Group B, 7th Army, and Fifth Panzer Army, in the Falaise Pocket, a pocket formed around Falaise, Calvados, in the Normandy region of France.

August 23, 1944

The appearance of Soviet troops on the Prut River induced the Romanian opposition to overthrow the Antonescu regime. The new government concluded an armistice and immediately switched sides in the war. The Romanian turnaround compelled Bulgaria to surrender on September 8, and the Germans to evacuate Greece, Albania, and southern Yugoslavia in October.

August 25, 1944

Paris was liberated when Germany surrendered Paris to the Allied forces, ending four years of occupation.

August 29, 1944 – October 28, 1944

The underground Slovak resistance uprising began under the leadership of the Slovak National Council, consisting of both Communists and non-Communists, against the Germans and the indigenous fascist Slovak regime. In late October, the Germans captured the headquarters of the uprising at Banská Bystrica in central Slovakia and ended the organized resistance.

August 31, 1944

Soviet troops took Bucharest, the largest and capital city in Romania.

September 1944

As the British and American Air Forces destroyed most of the V-1 launch sites, by September of 1944, the Nazis introduced the V-2 rocket. The V-2 was much more sophisticated, a liquid-fueled rocket that traveled at supersonic speeds as high as 50 miles. It would plunge toward its target at a speed of nearly 4,000 miles per hour, smashing its 2,000 pound high explosive warhead into the ground without warning. Unlike the V-1, the V-2 rockets could not be intercepted. Over a thousand were fired at London.

September 1-4, 1944

The cities of Verdun, Dieppe, Artois, Rouen, and Abbeville in France, and Antwerp and Brussels in Belgium, were liberated by Allies.

September 3, 1944

The British Second Army liberated Brussels, Belgium.

Field Marshal Karl Rudolf Gerd von Rundstedt assumed command of the German armies in the West.

September 4, 1944

Finland and the Soviet Union agreed to a cease-fire.

September 13, 1944

U.S. troops reached the Siegfried Line in western Germany.

September 15, 1944

U.S. Troops invaded Morotai Island in Indonesia.

September 17 – 25, 1944

The Allied assault known as “Operation Market-Garden” was an attempt by combined Allied airborne and ground assault troops to capture bridges over Dutch waterways in order to open a rapid northern route for the Allied advance into Germany.

The First Allied Airborne Army dropped at Eindhoven, Nijmegen and Arnhem to secure bridgeheads and the British Second Army pushed north into Holland from Belgium, to link up.

It was the largest Allied airborne operation of the war and the most costly. The third of the three airborne landings, at Arnhem, proved to be a complete failure as British troops landed too far from the Arnhem bridges and the Germans quickly recovered from the surprise of the aerial assault. Of 10,000 British troops at Arnhem, 1,400 were killed while over 6,000 were taken prisoner.

September 19, 1944

The Moscow Armistice ended the Continuation War when it was signed by Finland on one side and the Soviet Union and United Kingdom on the other side. Finland had participated in the Continuation War in an Axis partnership with Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union from 1941 to 1944.

September 25, 1944

The British evacuated the remaining paratroopers from Arnhem in the Netherlands, but only 2,163 men out of nearly 10,000 returned.

Adolf Hitler ordered the formation of the Volkssturm (the “people’s storm”), the German home guard or national militia. It was created not by the formal German Armed Forces, but rather by the Nazi Party on Hitler’s order. Members were conscripted from those between sixteen and sixty years of age who were not already serving in a military unit. It was not officially announced until October 16, 1944.

September 26, 1944

Soviet troops occupied Estonia.

September 28, 1944

Frogmen from the German Marine Einsatzkommando demolished the Nijmegen, Holland railway bridge, which had been a key objective for the Allies to hold in Operation Market Garden.

The two B-17’s of the John Oliver Buslee crew and the James Jospeh Brodie crew of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force collided after coming off the target at Magdeburg, Germany. Four of the eighteen airmen aboard the two ships survived: George Edwin Farrar (my father), Harry Allen Liniger, Wilfred Frank Miller, and George Marshall Hawkins, Jr.

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.

Raoul Wallenberg

Hedgerow Warfare During the Battle of Normandy

Battle of the Hedgerows

Erwin Rommel

Volkssturm

Operation Market Garden

Nijmegen Railway Bridge

Most recent post from the series:

Spring 1944

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

WWII Timeline – Spring 1944

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

A Timeline of WWII, Spring 1944

April 5, 1944

Siegfried Lederer, a Jewish inmate of Auschwitz-Birkenau, escaped to the Theresienstadt Ghetto in Terezin, Czechoslovakia where he warned the Elders of the Council about Auschwitz.

April 6, 1944

The Lyon (France) Gestapo, headed by Klaus Barbie, raided the Jewish children’s home at Izieu. The home was a refuge for children who had come to France to escape Nazi persecution. Fifty-one people were arrested during the raid and forty-four of them were children. They were all first sent to Drancy, and then were one of the last transports from France to Auschwitz. Only one survived.

April 7, 1944

Two days after Siegfried Lederer’s escape from Auschwitz-Birkenau, two more Jewish inmates, Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler, escaped and made it safely to Czechoslovakia. Vrba submitted a report to the Papal Nuncio in Slovakia which was forwarded to the Vatican, and received there in mid-June.

Paul Joseph Goebbels, German Nazi politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda, took overall control of Berlin.

April 8, 1944

Soviet troops began an offensive to liberate Crimea.

April 14, 1944

A total of 5,200 Greek Jews were moved in the first transports of Jews from Athens, Greece to Auschwitz.

April 17, 1944

The Japanese began their last offensive in China, attacking U.S. air bases in eastern China.

April 22, 1944

In the Japanese theater, the Allies invaded Aitape and Hollandia in New Guinea.

April 28, 1944

German E-boats (the western Allies name for the fast German attack craft or fast boat, Schnellboot) attacked Allied forces training for D-Day at Slapton Sands, in Southwest England, killing more than 600 US Army and Navy personnel (1/3 the number killed on D-Day on Utah Beach).

May 1944

Nazi SS Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler’s agents secretly proposed to trade Jews for trucks, other commodities, or money to the western Allies.

May 8, 1944

Rudolf Höss of the Nazi SS returned to Auschwitz to oversee the extermination of Hungarian Jews on the order of Heinrich Himmler.

May 9, 1944

Soviet troops recaptured Sevastopol.

May 11, 1944

The Allies attacked the Gustav Line south of Rome.

May 12, 1944

The Germans surrendered to the Soviets in the Crimea.

May 15, 1944

The Germans withdrew to the Adolf Hitler Line in central Italy.

The Nazis began the deportation of Jews from Hungary to Auschwitz. Eventually, 440,000 Hungarian Jews would be deported with two-thirds of those murdered in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

May 16, 1944

Hungarian Jews arrived at Auschwitz. German-Austrian SS-Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann, one of the major organizers of the Holocaust, arrived to personally oversee and hasten the extermination process. An estimated 100,000 Jews were gassed in the following eight days, by May 24. By the end of the month, May 31, the SS reported collecting 88 pounds of gold and white metal from the teeth of those gassed. By the end of June, half the Jews in Hungary (381,661 persons) had arrived at Auschwitz.

May 18, 1944

The Allies captured the town of Monte Cassino in the province of Frosinone, Italy after four months of battle and the cost of 20,000 lives.

May 19, 1944

Around fifty of the Stalag Luft III Allied POW underground tunnel escapees were executed. Almost all of those who escaped were recaptured, with about twenty returned to the camp to serve as a warning to other prisoners.

May 25, 1944

The Germans retreated from Anzio, on the coast of Italy, south of Rome.

May 26, 1944

Charles de Gaulle proclaimed his Free French movement to be the “Provisional Government of the French Republic.” The new government was recognized by Czechoslovakia, Poland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Yugoslavia, and Norway, but an infuriated Roosevelt and Churchill refused to recognize it and retaliated by excluding de Gaulle from the final planning for Operation Overlord (codename for the Battle of Normandy, which was launched on June 6, 1944 with the Normandy landings).

May 27, 1944

The Allies invaded Biak Island, New Guinea.

June 1944

The Nazis carefully prepared and “beautified” the Theresienstadt Ghetto (in Terezín located in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia) and its Jewish inmates for a Red Cross delegation visit which resulted in a favorable report.

June 4, 1944

Allied troops liberated Rome, the first Axis capital to be liberated.

June 5, 1944

The first B-29 Superfortress combat mission was flown as seventy-seven planes bombed the Japanese Makasan railway yards in Bangkok, Thailand.

June 6, 1944

D-Day (Operation Overlord), the long-awaited Allied (Allied Expeditionary Force of British, American, Canadian, Polish, and Free French troops) invasion of Normandy, on the northern coast of France, began before dawn with naval and aerial bombardments. The British 6th Airborne Division landed near Caen, and 12,000 U.S. 82nd and 101st Airborne Division troops were dropped on the Cotentin peninsula overnight June 5/6.

The first wave followed when five divisions (156,115 men) landed at the Normandy beaches code-named Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha and Utah.

Naval support for D-Day included 1,213 warships (including seven battleships and 23 cruisers), 1,600 auxiliary ships, and 4,126 landing craft. The British and American Air Forces flew 14,674 sorties that day.

Opposition included five German infantry divisions with about 50,000 men, 100 tanks, and assault guns in bunkers and on the beaches.

The Americans on Omaha Beach suffered especially heavy casualties, but the surprised Germans were overwhelmed and most of the allied objectives were reached and secured by nightfall. The German Air Force (Luftwaffe) and Navy Kriegsmarine provided very little opposition.

June 7, 1944

British troops liberated Bayeux, five miles inland from the Normandy coast. All beachheads were reported established.

June 9, 1944

The Soviet offensive against the Finnish front began.

June 10, 1944

The Nazis massacred the town of Oradour-sur-Glane, population 652, in France. A Nazi SS Division (Das Reich) surrounded the village and ordered everyone to gather in the town square. The Nazi commandant accused them of hiding explosives and announced a search and check of identity papers.

The men were locked in barns and the women and children were locked in the church. The men were executed with machine guns. The Nazis then set fire to the entire village, including the barns and church, to cover up the massacre, burning the few male survivors in the barn, and the women and children in the church, alive. A total of 642 townspeople – 245 women, 207 children, and 190 men – were slaughtered. A few men in the barn and a few townspeople who were not in the town at the time of the massacre survived.

The village of Oradour-sur-Glane was never rebuilt, and still stands as a silent monument to Nazi atrocities.

June 12, 1944

Alfred Rosenberg, Reich Minister for the Eastern Occupied Territories, ordered the kidnapping of 40,000 Polish children aged ten to fourteen during the “Heuaktion” (Hay Action). They were first imprisoned in a camp in Poland and then transferred to Germany to be used as slave laborers in the Reich.

June 13, 1944

One week after the D-Day invasion of Normandy, the first German V-1 rocket (“buzz bomb”) raid on Great Britain was launched against London. The ‘V’ stood for the German word Vergeltungswaffen, meaning weapons of reprisal. The British nicknamed them “buzz bombs” due to the distinct buzzing sound made by the pulse-jet engines powering the bombs.

Wernher von Braun and Walter Dornberger directed the development of the V-1, which resembled a small aircraft, by German scientists at the Peenemünde research facility on the Baltic Sea.

After launch from a short-length catapult, the bomb then climbed to about 3,000 feet at speeds up to 350 miles per hour. As it approached its target, the buzzing of the V-1 could be heard on the ground. Then the engine would cut out and in a moment of silence, the bomb plunged toward the ground, ending with the explosion of the 1,870 pound warhead.

During this first V-1 bombing campaign, up to 100 V-1’s fell every hour on London. Over the next eighty days, more than 6,000 people were killed, over 17,000 injured, and a million buildings destroyed or damaged.

V-1 bombing raids occurred constantly at all times of day and night, and in all types of weather, terrorizing the populations of London and parts of Kent and Sussex.

According to German records, of the 8,564 V-1’s launched against England and the port of Antwerp, Belgium, about 57 percent hit their targets. Anti-aircraft guns, barrage balloons, and fighter planes intercepted the remainder.

Using mainly slave labor at the huge underground V-1 factory near Nordhausen, the Germans built over 29,000 V-1 bombs. In Operation Crossbow, nearly 2,000 Allied airmen were killed in bombing raids against V-1 launch sites and factories.

June 15, 1944

The U.S. Marines invaded Saipan in the Mariana Islands.

June 15/16, 1944

The first bombing raid on Japan since the Doolittle raid of April 1942 was carried out with forty-seven B-29’s based in Bengel, India, targeting the steel works at Yawata, Japan.

June 18 – 22, 1944

The “Auschwitz Report,” written by Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler, the two Slovak Jewish prisoners who escaped from Auschwitz on April 7, 1944, went public worldwide through media channels in Switzerland.

June 19 – 20, 1944

American aircraft carrier-based fighters shot down 220 Japanese planes in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, nicknamed the “Great Marianas Turkey Shoot” by American aviators. Only twenty American planes were lost.

June 22, 1944

The Soviets launched a massive offensive in eastern Byelorussia (Belarus). They destroyed the German Army Group Center and by August 1, drove westward to the Vistula River across from Warsaw in central Poland.

Operation Bagration (the Soviet summer offensive) began.

June 27, 1944

U.S. troops liberated Cherbourg, France.

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.

Escape from Auschwitz

German E-boat

Hitler Line

Theresienstadt Ghetto

Oradour-sur-Glane

Most recent post from the series:

Winter 1944

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

 

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