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)