Skip to comments.AMERICAN TROOPS TAKE EL GUETTAR, BUT FLOODS SLOW TUNISIAN ADVANCE (3/20/43)
Posted on 03/20/2013 4:35:13 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
Winston S. Churchill, The Hinge of Fate
#1 - Ive Heard That Song Before Harry James, with Helen Forrest
#2 Brazil - Xavier Cugat
#3 - There Are Such Things - Tommy Dorsey, with Frank Sinatra and the Pied Pipers
#4 Youd be So Nice to Come Home To - Dinah Shore
#5 That Old Black Magic - Benny Goodman, with Skip Miller and the Modernaires
#6 - Why Dont You Do Right - Benny Goodman, with Peggy Lee
#7 - I Had the Craziest Dream - Harry James, with Helen Forrest
#8 It Started All Over Again - Tommy Dorsey, with Frank Sinatra, Pied Pipers
#9 - Moonlight Becomes You - Bing Crosby
#10 - That Old Black Magic - Freddie Slack, with Margaret Whiting
Allies increase pressure on Mareth Line
Saturday, March 20, 1943 www.onwar.com
Italian gun emplacement covers the field [photo at link].
In Tunisia... The New Zealand Corps abandons efforts at concealment to increase speed. They reach the Tebaga Gap in the evening. During the night the main attack on the Mareth Line begins with a bombardment of Axis positions near the coast (held by the Italian “Young Fascist” Division). The barrage is followed up by troops of the British 50th Division. The Mareth line is held by a mixture of Italian and German units with the remaining 30 tanks of the German 15th Panzer Division in reserve. The 10th Panzer Division guards the American forces at Gafsa and the 21st Panzer Division is in general reserve at Gabes.
March 20th, 1943 (SATURDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: Despite the successes achieved by U-boats in battles now raging in the Atlantic a new radio-location system has raised Allied hopes of improving their ability to attack enemy submarines. The new system, known as ASV III, operates outside the Metox radio-location detectors which enabled U-boats to avoid aircraft fitted with earlier ASV II systems. ASV III has been fitted to bombers of 172 Squadron, based at Chivenor, Devon, and is being used over the Bay of Biscay.
Minesweeper HMS Rinaldo launched. (Dave Shirlaw)
GERMANY: Berlin: A second attempt by army officers to assassinate Hitler fails. Colonel Rudolf von Gersdorff’s plan to blow himself up with the Führer at a show of weapons captured from the Russians is foiled when Hitler leaves the exhibition before the bomb can be detonated.
TUNISIA: The New Zealand Division reaches the Tebaga Gap in Tunisa. Bombardment begins in the attack on the Mareth Line.
True to form, General Montgomery made no attempt to follow up his success at Medenine. The Mareth Line was his objective, and no one doubted that this was going to be a tough nut to crack. The line was built by the French - against the Italians in Libya - and consists of minefields, anti-tank ditches, barbed wire and carefully concealed artillery positions stretching from the sea to the Matmata Hills in the south.
As the American II Corps, now led by the attack minded Lieutenant-General George Patton Jr, attacks in the north to draw off Axis reserves and 27,000 New Zealanders and 200 tanks make a lengthy outflanking move, Montgomery began his frontal assault today. He is taking a leaf from Alamein, using infantry - three divisions of Lieutenant-General Sir Oliver Leese’s XXX Corps - to create a gap for X Corps under Lieutenant-General Brian Horrocks.
Although the infantry has succeeded in getting a foothold in the enemy lines, the tanks have been baulked by mines and the soft going of the Wadi Zigzaou. The infantry, concentrated in a relatively small area, is coming under heavy fire from German artillery. As dusk falls over Mareth, Montgomery is preparing a fresh attack.
Lt-Col. Derek Anthony Seagrim (b.1903), Green Howards, led his battalion with great valour in combat which led to the capture of a key objective. (Victoria Cross)
PACIFIC OCEAN: During the night of 20/21 March, 40 US Marine Corps and Navy Grumman TBF Avengers drop forty 1,600-pound (730 kg) antishipping mines in the southern Bougainville area of Buin-Tonolei. The Thirteenth Air Force dispatches 18 B-17s and B-24s to hit Kahili Airfield on Bougainville in a diversionary strike. (Jack McKillop)
CANADA: HMCS Griffin renamed HMCS Ottawa. (Dave Shirlaw)
U.S.A.: The United States offers to act as an agent between Soviet Union and Finland in preparing the peace. (Gene Hanson)
New Haven, Connecticut: The Big Band leader and Captain in the United States Army Air Force, Alton G. “Glenn” Miller, creates a special 50-member band, the 418th Army Air Force Band. Their post duties include reveille, taps, march, retreat and entertainment. (Jack McKillop)
Destroyer escort USS Breeman laid down.
Destroyer escorts USS Marchand and Fogg launched.
Destroyers USS Ammen and Dashiell commissioned.
Submarine USS Billfish commissioned.
Destroyer escort USS Edgar G Chase commissioned.
Great Big Band movies on TCM today:
5:00 AM Melody For Two (1937)
6:00 AM Carolina Blues (1944)
7:30 AM Syncopation (1942)
9:00 AM Pete Kelly’s Blues (1955)
10:45 AM Young Man With a Horn (1950)
12:45 PM Eddy Duchin Story, The (1956)
3:00 PM Gene Krupa Story, The (1959)
4:49 PM Skinnay Ennis And His Orchestra (1941)
5:00 PM Orchestra Wives (1942)
6:39 PM Headline Bands (1945)
"Three elderly Jews walk arm-in-arm through the streets of Kraków, Poland, during the final liquidation of the ghetto.
The deportations during 1942 had significantly reduced the number of ghetto inhabitants in Kraków and served as a prelude to the final liquidation that occurred in March 1943.
That month 2,000 Jews were transferred to the nearby Plaszów work camp, and 2,300 more were deported to Auschwitz.
Jewish Resistance groups helped hundreds of Kraków Jews escape to relative safety.
Armed partisan groups were active in areas surrounding the city, and they engaged German troops in gun battles that helped indirectly to slow the pace of deportations."
"The abandoned possessions of Jews recently deported from Kraków litter the streets of the ghetto.
The liquidation of Kraków was a painfully brutal operation.
In addition to the Jews who were deported to Plaszów, Poland, and Auschwitz, 700 Jews were shot on the spot."