Skip to comments.ROMMEL REELS BACK, POUNDED BY PLANES; ARMOR SHATTERED, FOE MAKES FOR COAST (2/25/43)
Posted on 02/25/2013 4:40:57 AM PST by Homer_J_Simpson
Thank you so much for your kind message. I was sure the Kasserine battle would turn out all right in the end.
Winston S. Churchill, The Hinge of Fate
Red Army attacking west of Kharkov
Thursday, February 25, 1943 www.onwar.com
German troops in battle around Kharkov [photo at link]
On the Eastern Front... The Soviet offensive in the Caucasus continues. Meanwhile, in the salient west of Kharkov, Mingrelsk is captured to the east of Krasnodar.
February 25th, 1943 (THURSDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: The RAF and USAAF establish a pattern of round-the-clock bombing, hitting Nürnberg today: the RAF makes night raids and the USAAF flies by day.
Sloop HMS Redpole launched.
Submarine HMS Sea Rover launched. (Dave Shirlaw)
GERMANY: U-965 commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
U.S.S.R.: The Soviet attacks in the Caucasus continue.
Moscow: Stalin orders General Konstantin Rokossovsky to attack towards Gomel and Smolensk, even though only half his troops have arrived in the battle zone.
ITALY: Ninth Air Force B-24s bomb Naples harbor and Crotone during the night of 24/25 February.
TUNISIA: Kasserine: It was a cavalry charge, with heavy guns this time, almost in the movie tradition of the Seventh Cavalry, that finally saved the day at the Kasserine Pass for the Allies, Brigadier LeRoys 9th Infantry Division had travelled the 735 miles from western Algeria non-stop, and arrived just as the British and French forces were preparing to pull back.
It was a final sortie by the 2nd Lothians and Border Horse Regiment that convinced Rommel that he had no chance. British tanks took their objective, but five were lost in the mist and destroyed. Rommel chose to withdraw in the belief, based on this tank assault, that his army would be engulfed by the reinforced Allies. Such was the stealth of his withdrawal that the Allies found themselves attacking empty positions the next morning.
The Battle of the Kasserine Pass is over, and now the Allies count the cost: 10,000 men (6,500 Americans) lost, to the Axis’s 2,000. The US II Corps alone has lost 183 tanks and 208 artillery pieces, 500 Jeeps and trucks, and also huge amounts of ammunition.
Ninth Air Force B-25ls attack motor transport on the Arram road.
Twelfth Air Force B-17 Flying Fortresses bomb El Aouina Airfield. Fighters and A-20s hit troops and military traffic in the Thala-Kasserine-Sbeitla areas and along the Gafsa-Feriana road. Other fighters carry out widespread reconnaissance and patrol missions. (Jack McKillop)
INDIA: 40+ Japanese aircraft attack Dinjan Airfield; 32 intercepting P-40s shoot down 12 aircraft at about 0730 hours local.
BURMA: Tenth Air Force P-40s from Dinjan dive-bomb a bridge 10 miles (16 kilometres) west of Myitkyina. A single span is knocked out with 1,000 pound (453.6 kilogram) bombs and another damaged. B-24s again fail to damage the Myitnge Bridge. (Jack McKillop)
BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: Fifth Air Force B-17 Flying Fortresses and B-24s attack shipping, airfields, and the town area at Rabaul, New Britain Island. The airfield on Gasmata Island is also bombed.
NEW GUINEA: Fifth Air Force A-20 Havocs again bomb and strafe forces at the Guadagasal Saddle and vicinity.
SOLOMON ISLANDS: Thirteenth Air Force P-38 Lightnings, P-40s and USN F4U Corsairs sweep the Kahili, Bougainville Island area.
NEW ZEALAND: Japanese PoWs stage a mass breakout from Featherston army camp, in which 48 Japanese and one camp guard are killed.
Dave Gillies, an officer at the camp, says the army had sought to move two Japanese officers from one compound to another. The prisoners resisted.
After a two-hour standoff while the seated prisoners refused to move, Lieutenant James Malcolm fired a warning shot and then a second shot, apparently aiming to wound an officer, which he did. The same bullet killed a man behind him. The Japanese moved; some said they were attacking the guard, others that they were scattering. The armed guard surrounded the prisoners. Thirty seconds later, 31 Japanese were dead and 91 injured. Seventeen died of their wounds. A New Zealand soldier was killed.
An investigation showed that most of the Thompson sub-machinegun rounds were fired by Corporal Jack Owen, brother of Charles Owen who had been killed in the Tarawa Massacre. whose nickname “Drag” came from a Hollywood Western character who was always drawing his six-shooter.
“I think Jack Owen probably helped in speeding up the Japanese wish to die for their emperor, while getting some satisfaction in avenging the ill treatment and execution of his brother, and his brother’s associates,” Mr Gillies says. He believes that Jack knew his brother was dead.
“Whether the corporal’s contribution at Featherston was a vengeance one is a matter for conjecture in the riot,” Mr Gillies says. But Japanese prisoners sensed that Jack Owen’s action had been a reprisal, he says.
Guard Len James told Mike Nicolaidi in The Featherston Chronicles that Jack Owen fired on the prisoners; from behind, “mowing, them down”. (Gordon Rottman)
More from the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre.
TERRITORY OF ALASKA: In the Aleutians, 4 Eleventh Air Force P-40s sweep Kiska Island while six B-24 Liberators and 5 B-25 Mitchells bomb the Main Camp and North Head areas. (Jack McKillop)
Minesweeper HMS Mary Rose (ex-HMCS Toronto) laid down Toronto, Ontario.
Frigate HMCS Levis laid down Lauzon, Province of Quebec.
Frigate HMCS (ex-HMS) Ettrick launched. (Dave Shirlaw)
Submarine USS Sea Lion laid down.
Minesweepers USS Triumph, Swerve and Spear launched.
Destroyer escort USS Daniel T Griffin launched.
Destroyer USS Endicott commissioned.
Light fleet carrier USS Princeton commissioned.
ATLANTIC OCEAN: At 0817, U-628 fired a spread of four FAT torpedoes and one stern torpedo at Convoy ON-166 about 400 miles ESE of Cape Race and reported one ship sunk. The Manchester Merchant sank within 90 seconds. 29 crewmembers and six gunners were lost. The master, 27 crewmembers and four gunners were picked up by destroyer HMS Montgomery and frigate HMCS Rosthern and landed at St John’s. (Dave Shirlaw)
I yesterday finished watching one of the very best WW II series I have ever seen.
“Soviet Storm: WWII in the East”
It is an 18 part series of 1 hour segments depicting the efforts of the Soviet Union in the East. It was aired in Russia in 2011. It is a mashup of vintage film, Russian and German, Computer graphics , live reinactors , and docoments. (ie the actual orders of german and Russian Generals)
It has really great maps indicating troop movements, envelopments, bulges in the lines, and lines of attack. All the great battles/operations are included. There is a segment dedicated to air, sea, clandestine, and partizen participation.
It was produced in Britain and broadcast in Russian. The maps are all labeled in Cyrillic. The narrator is a Brit in English over the top of the Russian. It is a truly fantastic piece of work, propagandaish in some respects but mostly solid history.
It puts things in perspective......... We had 6800 dead on Iwo Jima At Koninsberg alone, there were 60,00 Russian dead. The total losses pf Russian troop is is really uncomprehensible. Same for the Germans. We measuere losses in 5 or 6 figures, they measure losses in 7 figures at the minimum
It is avaliaible on Hulu Plus.
It is a truly great piece of historical work
ROMMEL WITHSTANDS ATTACK DESPITE ALLIED AIRPOWER; TAKES SOME DAMAGE, FOE MAKES A SUCCESSFUL RETREAT; ALLIED STRATEGY IN SERIOUS DOUBT; ROOSEVELT SILENT (2/25/43)
It truly amazes me how Hitler threw away entire armies when he was advised by the finest military minds ever produced to withdraw them when their position became untenable. FM von Manstein pleaded with Hitler to withdraw the 6th Army from Stalingrad after it became encircled. Field Marshall Rommel pleaded with Hitler to withdraw the Afrika Corp from Tunisia when it was no longer possible to hold on. In both instances, Hitler adamantly refused and over 600,000 troops were lost as result. Did Hitler WANT to lose? One wonders.
IMHO Hitler knew they would lose the war. I think he was just prolonging it as long as possible in hopes he could get a truce with the Allies and keep his dictatorship and part of what he had captured.
It was all about him and his ideas. He cared nothing about anyone else.
Just make the war as long as possible, kill as many Allies as possible and hope the Allies would get tired of the war and be happy to stop before invading Germany.
Yes but Hitler’s constant strategic blundering and over-ruling his generals advice most likely succeeded in shoertening the war, not prolonging it. Imagine if Hitler had permitted FM Paulus to break out of the Stalingrad pocket or had withdrawn FM Rommel’s Afrika Corp from Tunisia. These armies would have been able to regroup and fight again and therefore prolong the war. Hitler’s blundering was so obvious that the Allies eventually gave up their plots to assassinate him, they figured he was more valuable alive than dead. Meanwhile, many high ranking officers in the German Wehrmacht took precisely the opposite view which of course lead to the July 20th 1944 Bomb Plot, almost entirely instigated by high ranking German military officers.
IMHO Hitler wanted to prolong the war so he could complete the “Endlosung der Judenfrage.” The eternal enemy in his warped mind had to be destroyed, no matter how many German soldiers had to die.
Hitler already knew the 6th army was finished even before the Russian trap was complete. General Halder warned Hitler that he didn't have the resources to take Stalingrad and the Caucuses. He told Hitler that his exposed flanks, mainly manned by “Satellite Armies” were in danger of a Soviet offensive that would be a disaster. Hitler reacted as one would expect of him, he fired Halder and appointed a dedicated Nazi to Chief of Staff. A withdrawal from Stalingrad would have resulted in a rout. The 6Th Army occupied many Soviet Armies which could have been used in the Ukraine.
Respectfully disagree. My studies of the Battle of Stalingrad have lead me to conclude that given his ammunition, food, fuel, and other supplies, Paulus had one week, perhaps two at most, to break out of the trap after his army was encircled in the Stalingrad pocket. I’m in good company here. Practically every single German general advising Hitler on what do urged him to order Paulus to break out, including I might add, the legendary Field Marshall Erich von Manstein, arguably the most brilliant military mind of the entire war. Only Reichmarshall Goering agreed with keeping the 6th Army stationed in the frozen ruins of Stalingrad, persuading Hitler that a massive airlift could keep the trapped army supplied. This, despite the fact, that the brutal Russian winter was setting in making flying conditions next to impossible. So whose advice would you have followed, Goering’s or Manstein’s? Manstein even encouraged Paulus to break out anyways and defy Hitler’s orders. But Paulus was too timid. Paulus was promoted to field marshall on the just about the last day of the battle. Hitler’s way of ordering him to commit suicide. But for once Paulus decided to defy Hitler and gave himself up.
The only time Paulus disobeyed Hitler was to save his own butt. He obeyed every other order, consigning his entire command, save about 6,000, to death. Some kind of officer, that.
Paulus asked permission to break out, but Hitler denied it. Shortly after the fall of Stalingrad, another city, Kharkov, was surrounded by the Soviets. Hitler insisted that city be held at all costs in another one of his insane orders. The commander, Waffen SS General Paul Hausser, ignored the insane order. Hausser evacuated his troops in tact. A few weeks later they actually recaptured Kharkov part of von Manstein’s brilliant counterattack which succeeded in recapturing much territory which had been lost during the Soviet winter offensive and annihilating several Soviet armies as well.
At some point a good German commander had to place the welfare of his command over that raving lunatic.