On May 5, 1945, Denmark was liberated by the Allied forces commanded by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, putting an end to an almost 5-year-long German occupation of the country. Out of all the countries in Europe, although it did have its share of difficulties and tragedies, Denmark was spared many of the hardships that other European states had to face during the war. Read more >>>
April 4, 1945 marks the liberation of Hungary by the Red Army. Or does it? During the Communist regimes of 1950-1989, the answer was a loud and clear yes. Declared a national holiday by the force of law, April 4 was celebrated with party gatherings, military parades and remembrance of the fallen Soviet heroes. With the advent of democracy, however, two fundamental questions have arisen in connection with the holiday: one concerning the date itself, the other whether liberation is really what the Soviets accomplished. Read more >>>
Troops from 3rd Canadian Division and 1st British Division enter Caen and take most of the city north of the Orne. The American advance toward St Lô and farther west continues.
Operation Windsor was a Canadian offensive launched as part of the Battle of Normandy, taking place on 4–5 July 1944. The 3rd Canadian Infantry attacked Carpiquet in conjunction with flanking attacks by armoured regiments. Although the 8th Brigade captured Carpiquet by mid-afternoon, heavy resistance to the south prevented the capture of the airfield. The following day, Canadian Forces repelled several German counter attacks, held Carpiquet in preparation for more attacks on Caen as part of Operation Charnwood. The 3rd Canadian Infantry division meets many difficulties to dislodge the Hilterjugend fanaticized soldiers who defend each farm, each crossroads and who fight until death.
Troops of First and Third Belorussian Fronts complete the capture of Minsk. Many German units, particularly from Fourth Army are now isolated to the east and casualties and losses of equipment have been enormous. Already less than two weeks of the Soviet offensive, Army Group Center is in total disarray and before long it will have practically cased to be a coherent fighting formation. General Freissner replaces General Lindemann in command of Army Group North.
The VIII and XV Air Forces drop 73,000 tons of bombs and RAF Bomber Command adds 57,000 tons more. Among the targets are, for the Americans, Munich, Friedrichshafen, Metz and Belfort and, for the British, Stuttgart and Hamburg. The German oil industry is heavily hit by both British and Americans especially at Wesseling, Bohlen, Merseburg, Vienna and Ploesti.
Operation Epsom was a British offensive that took place between June 26 and 30, 1944. The offensive was intended to outflank and seize the German-occupied city of Caen. The VIII corps, which consisted of 15th Scottish, 11th Armoured and the 43rd Wessex Divisions along with the 4th Armoured brigade, were charged with crossing the Orne and Odon rivers. During the early hours of June 28 a battle group of the 1st SS Panzer Division, Kampfgruppe Frey, arrived at the front and demonstrated their superiority.
On this day in 1944, the Allies capture the fortified town and port of Cherbourg, in northwest France, freeing it from German occupation. Near Caen Rauray is captured by the British and slightly farther east there are new attacks by the British VIII Corps.
On January 23, 1944, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), along with two delegates from Denmark, examined Theresienstadt, a veritable utopia for esteemed Jews living in German-controlled areas. The inhabitants of this prosperous Czech village enjoyed governmental autonomy, modern amenities like cafes and barbershops, sporting events, and cultural enrichment in the form of orchestras and theater. Read more >>>
The storm is still strong in the English Channel and if the wind seems to increase in power, the Allied specialists envisage the return to the normal for the following day, June 22nd. The American forces of the VII Corps reach Cherbourg, transformed into a strongpoint by the German defenders, who refuse to leave. Supported by the Allied Navy, the American soldiers of the 22nd Infantry Regiment move towards the downtown area and the deep water harbor.
Troops of the 4th Infantry Division entered Valognes on June 20th, 1944, but passage in the city itself was hampered by damage caused by previous bombardments. The Germans fell back from Valognes without attempting a major stand, and there were reports the enemy was steadily withdrawing his lines toward Cherbourg.
The Battle of the Philippine Sea took place between June 19 and June 20, 1944. This battle was said to be the last great carrier battle of World War Two. The battle was nicknamed the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot" in American accounts, for the severely disproportional loss ratio inflicted upon Japanese aircraft by American pilots and anti-aircraft gunners. American forces suffered much lighter losses, and a pilot from the USS Lexington supposedly remarked that "This is like an old-time turkey shoot!" during the battle.
On June 18, 1944 the US 9th Infantry Division reached the west coast of Cotentin peninsula at Barneville. Within 24 hours, the 4th, 9th and 79th Infantry Divisions were driving north on a broad front. General Collins launched the 7th Corps against Cherbourg fortress.
On 15 June 1944, U.S. Marines of the 2nd and 4th Divisions began their invasion of Saipan, landing on the southwestern coastline. Elements of the US 5th Amphibious Corps (General H M Smith) come ashore with a force of 67,500 men, to the north and south of Afetna Point. The main American units engaged are the 2nd Marine Division (Watson) and 4th Marine Division (Schmidt). The two beachheads fail to link up immediately, but the American forces do advance inland.
Germany launched the first V1 flying bomb against London on June 13, 1944. The 'V' came from the German word Vergeltungswaffen, meaning weapons of reprisal. They were nicknamed "buzz bombs" by the British due to the distinct buzzing sound made by the pulse-jet engines powering the bombs. During the first V-1 bombing campaign, up to 100 V-1s fell every hour on London.
The lift bridge spanning the Orne Canal was captured by British 6th Airborne Division glider troops in the first few minutes of D-day. The three Horsa gliders, visible in the top right brought Major John Howard and his troopers in on time, accurately placing them in position to seize the bridge by rapid surprise. Lt. Den Brotheridge, the first allied death on D-day was killed where the Jeep is standing as he and his men rushed across the bridge from the eastern side. A Bedford 4x4 engineer's truck is returning from the airborne headquarters area to secure supplies from Sword Beach. The drivers, although in Europe, are still driving on the left side as in England.
Between 8 and 15 June 1944 the 101st Airborne Division fought the Battle of Carentan against troops of the 6th Parachute Regiment (Fallschirm Regiment) and the 17th SS-Panzergrenadier Division. Carentan was one of the key positions to take Cherbourg and the Cotentin Peninsula. The attacking 101st Airborne Division, landed by parachute on 6 June as part of the American airborne landings in Normandy, was ordered to seize Carentan.
Wednesday, june 7th 1944. At that moment, the Normandy landing is a success even if the initial objectives are not achieved. In the West of the invasion beaches, the American sector is held by the 82nd and 101st airborne divisions parachuted in the night of June 6 (these two divisions having undergone many losses and breakage) and by the 4th U.S Infantry Division having landed on Utah Beach at dawn (without major problems). The American parachuted troops are in possession, in the evening of June 7, of a beachhead of 15 kilometers out of 15. In Omaha Beach, the situation of the 1st and 29th American divisions having landed at dawn is more critical: they hold only one small piece of France land. The British landing on the east side was also difficult but is on the whole a great success. The parachutists of the 6th Airborne Division took the bridges on the Orne river and they carried out their junction with the troops having landed in Sword Beach.
In the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, Americans received word that three years of concerted war efforts had finally culminated in D-Day- military jargon for the undisclosed time of a planned British, American, and Canadian action. During the night, over 5,300 ships and 11,000 planes had crossed the English Channel and landed on the beaches of Normandy. The goal of every soldier and civilian involved in that effort was to drive the German military back to Berlin by opening a western front in Europe. Today June 6, 2012 is The 68th Anniversary of D-Day.
Eisenhower selected June 5, 1944, as the date for the invasion; however, bad weather on the days leading up to the operation caused it to be delayed for 24 hours. On the morning of June 5, after his meteorologist predicted improved conditions for the following day, Eisenhower gave the go-ahead for Operation Overlord. He told the troops: “You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you.”
June 1, 1944. The British Broadcasting Corporation aired the coded message from the first line of a poem by Paul Verlaine to underground resistance fighters in France to inform the French resistance that the D-Day invasion was imminent.
The second Washington Conference, code named Trident, took place between May 12 and May 25, 1943. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his chief military advisors traveled to Washington to meet with President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his planning team to debate strategic issues. The conference was mainly concerned with the issues of future Mediterranean strategy, and the invasion of northwestern Europe, but it did have altogether five main objectives: to get Italy out of the war; taking the weight off Russia; to apply to the greatest possible extent the vast Armies, Air Forces and munitions of the Allies to the enemy; to undertake a full-scale invasion of the continent of Europe from the United Kingdom as soon as possible; to aid China. Perhaps the most significant decision taken by the conference, however, was the target date set for D-Day: May 1, 1944. Read more >>>
The 1965 movie "The Heroes of Telemark," told the story of the Norwegian heavy water sabotage during World War II. This movie is based on true events that occurred on February 28, 1943. Read more >>>
The British launched the third Thousand Bomber Raid against the German city of Bremen during the night of June 25-26, 1942. 1,067 aircraft, most of which from the Bomber Command but also with participation from Coastal Command and Army Cooperation Command, were launched against Bremen. Although only 696 successfully reached the city, they were able to damage the capacity of the Focke-Wulf factory and destroy 572 houses. 85 were killed on the ground, with a further 497 wounded, at a cost of 48 Bomber Command and 5 Coastal Command aircraft.
On June 22, 1941, Nazi Germany and its Axis allies began a massive invasion of the Soviet Union named Operation Barbarossa, some 4.5 million troops launched a surprise attack deployed from German-controlled Poland, Finland, Hungary and Romania. The operation was named after the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa of the Holy Roman Empire, a leader of the Third Crusade in the 12th century.
In Egypt, General Erwin Rommel and his Deutsches Afrikakorps pushed the British out of the Halfaya Pass, southeast of Sollum, and back to the Buq Buq-Sofafi line on April 25, 1941. With the Battle of Britain over, and Operation Barbarossa still months off, the Mediterranean became the prominent battlefield in the West. North Africa provided the testing ground for several key generals in World War II, including Rommel, who became known to the world as the Desert Fox, Montgomery and Patton. Advances in modern tactics and weaponry also took place in the North Africa, particularly in tank (and anti-tank) warfare. Read more >>>
The collapse of the Habsburg and Ottoman empires at the end of World War I led to the creation of a new country, a hesitant amalgamation of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs unified as one nation, Yugoslavia. On December 11, 1940, despite an earlier declaration of neutrality, Yugoslavia signed a "Friendship Treaty" for fear of an invasion like that suffered by France. Yugoslavia was able to remain firm in its position in resisting German pressures through February 14, 1941, when Hitler was unsuccessful in persuading Prime Minister Dragisa Cvetkovic to formally join the Axis. As it was essential to the Allies that Yugoslavia co-operate with Anglo-Greek forces, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill contacted Prince Pavle, the Yugoslav Regent, the next day to commend the prince and encourage him to maintain his position of resistance against Germany. Read more >>>
On June 14, 1940, the German army captured Paris. It was a stunning achievement that few outside of Hitler had believed possible. Although the Germans would need another week to defeat France officially, the war was effectively over once German soldiers marched through the Arc de Triomphe into an abandoned city. Read more>>>
On May 29, 1940, the BBC sent out a call for civilian assistance to aid the evacuation of Dunkirk, an act of desperation that would help pull off one of the great military escapes in history. At the end of May 1940, British, French and Belgian soldiers began filing off the coast of Dunkirk onto boats headed to England. In a daring military strike, the Germany military had routed the forces of four nations at once, cornering a huge contingent of troops in a pocket centered on the town of Dunkirk in northeastern France. For reasons still debated to this day, the Germans pulled back on their military throttle, continuing their attack but only with partial commitment. Read more >>>
The Spanish Civil War, often viewed as yet another test balloon for German aggression, came to an end on April 1, 1939. General Francisco Franco's Fascists defeated a hodge-podge of left-leaning parties after protracted conflicts left several hundred thousand dead and placed a fascist dictator in control of the country. Although the history books place the beginning of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, Spain had been a country in turmoil for decades, even during its financially prosperous years as a neutral country during the First World War. By the early 1930s governments rarely lasted more than a year, with communists, royalists, nationalists, anarchists and republicans, among others, jockeying for power. Read more >>>
After informing Czech president Emil Hacha that the country would be bombed by the Luftwaffe if German troops were not allowed passage, Hitler invaded the provinces of Moravia and Bohemia and, by the end of the day, took Prague as well. Read more >>>