Skip to comments.NAZIS OCCUPY ROME, TAKE MILAN AFTER SIEGE; BRITISH SEIZE TARANTO, ALLIES GAIN AT NAPLES (9/11/43)
Posted on 09/11/2013 4:44:51 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
Winston S. Churchill, Closing the Ring
#1 - Sunday Monday or Always - Bing Crosby, with the Ken Darby Singers
#2 Youll Never Know - Dick Haymes, with the Song Spinners
#3 - In the Blue of the Evening - Tommy Dorsey, with Frank Sinatra
#4 Paper Doll - Mills Brothers
#5 - All or Nothing At All Harry James, with Frank Sinatra
#6 Youll Never Know - Frank Sinatra, with the Bobby Tucker Singers
#7 - I Heard You Cried Last Night - Harry James, with Helen Forrest
#8 - Pistol Packin Mama - Al Dexter
#9 In My Arms - Dick Haymes, with the Song Spinners
#10 - It Cant Be Wrong - Dick Haymes, with Song Spinners
Luftwaffe active over Salerno
Saturday, September 11, 1943 www.onwar.com
American cruiser USS Savannah [photo at link]
In Italy... On the Salerno beachhead, British and American forces of the US 5th Army fail to make significant progress against German resistance. German aircraft bomb the beachhead throughout the day despite the presence of Allied air forces. The cruiser Savannah is damaged by a German glider bomb. Meanwhile, troops of the British 1st Airborne Division capture Brindisi without opposition. To the south, the British 8th Army takes Catanzaro and advances toward Crotone.
In the Mediterranean... The Italian garrison on Rhodes surrenders to German forces on the island.
In the Solomon Islands... The US 27th Infantry Regiment lands on Arundel, reinforcing American forces.
In New Guinea... The Japanese garrison of Salamaua withdraws. Australian forces capture the airfield and enter the town.
September 11th, 1943 (SATURDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: Destroyer HMS Vigo laid down.
Frigates HMS Cubitt and Taff launched.
FRANCE: The US Eighth Air Force’s VIII Air Support Command flies Mission 56 against 2 locations without loss. (1) 19 B-26Bs bomb the shipyard at Le Trait at 1704 hours, when the primary target is obscured by clouds and (2) 32 B-26Bs attack Beaumont le Roger Airfield at 1756 hours.
GERMANY: U-767 commissioned.
U.S.S.R.: German officers imprisoned in a PoW camp at Lunyovo set up the anti-Nazi League of German Officers.
ITALY: The fighting at Salerno becomes more chaotic and piecemeal. Typical is the fight on the British 56 Division’s front, where 167 Brigade and 201 Guards Brigade are subjected to sudden sharp attacks by infiltrating German units at the ‘Tobacco Factory’ between Battipaglia and Bellizzi. These attacks are beaten off, but neither British nor German troops are really sure of the situation. In 46 Division’s sector, the fighting is also scrappy and disjointed. 139 Brigade is able to gradually relieve the Commando forces at Vietri sul Mare and on the left the US Rangers are reinforced and continue to hold their positions. A three-pronged push in the US VI Corps’ sector by the 36th and 45th Infantry Divisions is held up in the left and center as troops of the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division filter into the fighting on the plain.
In southern Italy, British 1 Airborne Division enters Bari and then Brindisi. General Bernard Montgomery, Commanding General Eighth Army, pushes forward units of the British 5 Division towards Castrovillari and Belvedere and the Canadian 1 Division towards Crotone. General Harold Alexander’s Chief-of-Staff, Major General Alexander Richardson, arrives at Montgomery’s headquarters to explain the crisis at Salerno and to offer men and equipment to threaten the South flank of the Germans facing Fifth Army.
Shortly after 0000 hours local, German E-boats attack the USN destroyer USS Rowan (DD-405) in the Gulf of Salerno. Rowan pursued and fired on the enemy, then, as her quarry pulled away, ceased firing and changed course to rejoin the convoy she was escorting back to Oran, French Morocco. Within 5 minutes a new contact was made, range less than 3,000 yards (2.7 kilometres). Again she changed course, to avoid torpedoes and bring her guns into position. As the range decreased to 2,000 yards (1.8 kilometres), Rowan was hit by a torpedo. She sank in less than a minute, taking 202 of her 273 officers and men with her.
Off the coast of Salerno in the morning, the USN light cruiser USS Savannah (CL-42) is struck by a remote controlled Ruhrstahl/Kramer X-1 (Fritz X) glide bomb launched by a Do-217K-2 of III/KG 100. It pierces through the armored turret roof of the Number 3 Gun Turret, passes through three decks into the lower handling room where it explodes causing a gaping hole in the bottom, and tears open a seam in the ship’s port side. For 30-minutes, secondary explosions in the gun room hamper firefighting efforts; 197 crewmen are killed and 15 seriously wounded. The ship arrives at Malta on 12 September and then departed for the U.S. in December.
In the air, the USAAF Twelfth Air Force’s XII Bomber Command sends B-17s to bomb the Benevento marshalling yard and bridge and highway junction nearby; B-25s and B-26s hit highways and junctions at Castelnuovo, Ariano, Mignano, and Isernia; P-40s fly an uneventful sweep over southern Sardinia; and USAAF and RAF aircraft of the Northwest African Tactical Air Force continue to provide beachhead cover in the Salerno area, hit road communications throughout the day, and attack road and rail bridges, junctions, airfield, and town areas at Saptri, Corleto, Perticara, Auletta, and Gioia del Colle.
During the night of 11/12 September, 96 RAF Liberators of No. 205 (Heavy Bomber) Group visually bomb Frosinone Airfield.
YUGOSLAVIA: The partisans occupy Split.
CHINA: 10 US Fourteenth Air Force B-25s and 11 P-40s attack the Hankow docks and Wuchang cotton mills.
NEW GUINEA: The Australian attack against the Japanese at Salamaua takes the airfield and the Australians enter the town itself as the Japanese pull out.
The advance on Salamaua was held up for two weeks while the Australian 7th and 9th Divisions completed preparations for converging attacks on Lae by land and sea.
PACIFIC OCEAN: USN submarines sink two Japanese ships: (1) USS Harder (SS-257) sinks a transport south of Mikura Island, located off Honshu, Japan; and (2) USS Narwhal (SS-167) sinks a transport (hit earlier by dud torpedoes) five miles northwest of Nauru Island.
JAPAN: KURILE ISLANDS: the US Eleventh Air Force dispatches 12 B-25 Mitchells and 8 B-24 Liberators to attack Paramushiru Island for the third and last time this year. 6 B-24s bomb the Kashiwabara staging area; shipping is bombed and strafed in Kashiwabara harbor and Paramushiru Straits; 1 freighter and 1 large transport are sunk while 1 transport and 2 cargo ships are damaged; 2 other cargo vessels sustain possible hits; targets hit on land include 2 buildings and an AA battery on Shimushu Island. Of 40 fighters giving battle, 13 are shot down and 3 more are probables. 2 B-24s force-land in the USSR, one with a mechanical defect, the other after being hit; 1 B-24 is downed by AA fire; losses are 7 B-25s and 2 B-24s in this most disastrous day for the Eleventh Air Force.
It will be another 5 months before it is able to strike at the Kuriles again.
SOLOMON ISLANDS: A regiment of the U.S. 25th Infantry Division lands on the western end of Bomboe Peninsula on Arundel Island and starts moving east. Artillery and, for the first time in the South Pacific, 4.2 inch (10,7 centimeter) mortars support the attack.
18 US Thirteenth Air Force B-25s pound the area west of Vila airfield on Kolombangara Island and west of Disappointment Cove on New Georgia Island. The airfield is hit again in the evening by 3 B-24s. 25 B-24s, with fighter escort, bomb Kahili airfield on Bougainville Island; B-24s and fighters claim 7 aircraft shot down. P-40s and P-39Airacobras support SBD Dauntlesses in striking gun positions at Hamberi on New Georgia Island.
EAST INDIES: US Fifth Air Force B-24s bomb Makassar on Celebes Island and in New Guinea, Australian forces cross the Francisco River to Salamaua airfield as Japanese forces draw toward Lae.
CANADA: Frigate HMCS Waskesiu arrived Halifax from workups in Bermuda.
Frigate HMCS Runnymede laid down Montreal, Province of Quebec.
Frigate HMCS Dunver commissioned.
HMC ML 107 commissioned.
Off the U.S.A. coast, the German submarine U-107 lays mines off Charleston, South Carolina.
U-107 damaged oiler USS Rapidan in Convoy NG-385.
U.S.A.: Destroyer USS Lyman K Swenson laid down.
Frigate USS Bayonne launched
Destroyer escorts USS Hollis, Jenks and Loeser launched’
Destroyer USS Mertz launched.
Minesweepers USS Penetrate and Pinnacle launched.
Destroyer escort USS Sederstrom commissioned.
"This mountain of shoes at the Majdanek death camp testifies to the number of people who walked through the gates of the camp to their deaths.
While prisoners hobbled in ill-fitting clogs, tons of shoes accumulated in the storerooms of the death camps.
At Auschwitz-Birkenau, women were assigned to the Schuhkommando.
They performed tedious labor, separating soles from uppers and rubber from leather, with the pieces shipped to Germany.
One woman, Giuliani Tedeschi, described the work as 'drowning in a sea of shoes.' "
The record shows that Hull blocked aid to Jews on at least two occasions, and exaggerated in reports to President Roosevelt about how many Jews were allowed to immigrate to the US.
WASHINGTON, September 11, 1943 – How should a war correspondent who has been away a long time begin his first column after he returns to his homeland?
Frankly, I don’t know. I can’t truthfully say, "My, it’s wonderful to be back," because I haven’t had a moment to sense whether it’s wonderful or not. In my first forty-eight hours in America I got two hours’ sleep, said "no" three hundred twenty-four times, lost my pocketbook and caught a bad cold.
That pocketbook business, incidentally, is sort of disheartening to a guy who returns full of eagerness for his own people. The wallet contained about a hundred dollars and all my War Department credentials and private papers. It had my name and address in it at least a dozen times, but it has not yet been returned.
Whoever got it, if he had a crumb of decency, could certainly send back the papers even if he kept the money. Anybody who wouldn’t do that, it seems to me, would make a fine client for some oil-boilers. This thing happened in New York on my first day home. And here I’ve been ranting for a year about the lowly Arab!
Perhaps you who read this column wonder why I came home just at this special time, when events are boiling over in Italy.
Well, I might as well tell you truthfully. I knew, of course, that the Italian invasion was coming up, but I chose to skip it. I made that decision because I realized, in the middle of Sicily, that I had been too close to the war for too long.
I was fed up, and bogged down. Of course you say other people are too, and they keep going on. But if your job is to write about the war, you’re very apt to begin writing unconscious distortions and unwarranted pessimisms when you get too tired.
I had come to despise and be revolted by war clear out of any logical proportion. I couldn’t find the Four Freedoms among the dead men. Personal weariness became a forest that shut off my view of events about me. I was no longer seeing the little things that you at home want to know about the soldiers.
When we fought through Sicily, it was to many of us like seeing the same movie for the fourth time. Battles differ from one another only in their physical environment – the emotions of fear and exhaustion and exaltation and hatred are about the same in all of them. Through repetition, I had worn clear down to the nub my ability to weight and describe. You can’t do a painting when your oils have turned to water.
There is, in the months and years ahead, still a lot of war to be written about. So I decided, all of a sudden one day in Sicily, that you who read and I who write would both benefit in the long run if I came home to refreshen my sagging brain and drooping frame. To put it bluntly, I just got too tired in the head. So here I am.
It has been fifteen months since I left America. Things at home have changed a lot in that time, I’m sure. But at first glance there doesn’t seem to be much change.
When I rode in from the airport in New York, and checked into the hotel, everything was so perfectly natural that it truly seemed as though I had never been away at all. It was all so normal, so exactly like what it had been on other returns, that I couldn’t realize that now I was going through that beautiful hour that millions of our men overseas spend a good part of their waking hours yearning for and dreaming about. I do hope that when their hour comes, they’ll find themselves more capable of enthrallment by it.
On the whole, the few little things that struck me the most were normal things that I had thought would be gone by now. I was surprised to find sugar bowls on the table. We have plenty of sugar in the Army overseas, but we had figured you were very short over here.
And I was astonished at finding the store windows of New York looking so full and so beautiful. I’d like to take a pocketful of money and just go on a spree, buying everything that was smart and pretty whether I really wanted it or not.
We’ve had nothing to spend money on for so long, over on the other side. The countries we’ve been in were so denuded; why, England was shorter of everything after one year of war than we are after nearly two.
The decline of traffic on the streets was noticeable; and how much nicer it is too, isn’t it? In fact, it’s too nice, and I propose to recreate some of our old congestion by getting out my own jalopy and dashing nonessentially around the streets for a month or so.
Well, anyway, on second thought, it’s wonderful to be home.
“Off the coast of Salerno in the morning, the USN light cruiser USS Savannah (CL-42) is struck by a remote controlled Ruhrstahl/Kramer X-1 (Fritz X) glide bomb launched by a Do-217K-2 of III/KG 100. It pierces through the armored turret roof of the Number 3 Gun Turret, passes through three decks into the lower handling room where it explodes causing a gaping hole in the bottom, and tears open a seam in the ships port side. For 30-minutes, secondary explosions in the gun room hamper firefighting efforts; 197 crewmen are killed and 15 seriously wounded. The ship arrives at Malta on 12 September and then departed for the U.S. in December.”
I am amazed that the USS Savannah didn’t sink!
Their damage control drills paid off when it mattered.
Italy is broken in half, I don’t see them fighting much
Around one more month for poor Benito
I can’t hardly wait
Today’s “journalists” aren’t worthy to shine Ernie’s shoes.
The Savannah was a 9500 ton light cruiser of the Brooklyn class. She survived a hit from a Fritz. The 40000 ton Italian Battleship Roma did not, although it took two hits from Fritzes to destroy her. What is interesting is the Savannah was hit in the “handling room,” which is the room under a main turret where the propellant is hoisted to the guns. Roma was hit in the forward magazine, a similar spot. Roma blew up. Savannah did not.
I would attribute this not so to much damage control as to naval construction and ammunition handling procedures. I have toured a couple of American battleships, the North Carolina and Alabama. In American ships, all of the propellant bags were in brass containers. There were several layers of “protection” designed to prevent a magazine explosion in terms of keeping the bags in the containers until they were needed, keeping the powder in the lowest decks, having many separate storage rooms, limiting the number of bags in the handling room under the turret, etc... A tour of an American 16” gun battleship is quite interesting to say the least.
I don’t know how the Italians or other navies stored their powder, but with the exception of the USS Arizona and the USS Maine, no American battleship has suffered a fatal magazine explosion. The Roma did, and I suspect her internal design did not have the same safety features as her American counterparts.
Looking at the specs for the Brooklyn class light cruisers, the 6” 47 cal. gun ammunition consisted of separate projectiles and propellant. The propellant was contained in individual brass casings, so it would be less susceptible to the sort of chain-reaction powder explosion you would get with a number of powder bags in a bigger ship. Add to it that despite being a lightweight ship, they were apparently tough to kill. Savannah’s sister, USS Boise suffered a magazine explosion at the Battle of Cape Esperance off Guadalcanal. Despite losing 107 crewmen, the ship stayed afloat and returned to the US for repair. In fact, she was off Salerno providing fire support as this article was written.
To my knowledge, no Brooklyn class hulls were sunk during the war. Only one Cleveland Class CL hull was sunk; the CVL USS Princeton, sunk at the Battle of Leyte Gulf, was built on a Cleveland class hull.
While damage control was important, I think the construction was even more important. American ships were built to take a pounding. You just don’t see many examples of a “lucky hit” in combat that sank them, blew them up, or burned them out. Maybe you could count the two torpedoes on the USS Indianapolis, or the single torpedo that sank the very thin-skinned USS Atlanta.
Off the top of my head, “lucky kill shots” of other navies:
Given time I could come up with a few more.
Also lost was IJN Mutsu, a 16” gun battleship, which mysteriously blew up, and was not claimed as a loss by any American ship, submarine or aircraft. She appeared to have some sort of magazine issue.
Pyle was from Dana, Indiana, in Parke County where Mrs. henkster’s family is from. Pyle was a semester short of graduation at Indiana University when he left for his career. The IU School of Journalism is located in Pyle Hall.
I don’t know how many of the kids studying there know why Pyle Hall has that name, but the IU does give him credit on their website:
It is actually a very nice tribute. Pyle Hall is the only building on campus named in honor of a student.
Go IU! Fight! Fight! Fight!
Thanks for the additional detail.
As the Princeton was dispatched by US sub, it might not be safe to conclude that it would have actually sunk on its own!
“Efforts to save the carrier continued, but at 16:00 the fires were out of control. The remaining personnel were evacuated and at shortly after 17:06 Irwin commenced firing torpedoes at the burning hulk. However, Irwin abandoned this effort due to torpedo malfunctions (likely her torpedo tubes were damaged in the collision with Princeton) which caused her torpedoes to circle back and almost hit her. USS Reno (CL-96) at 17:46 took over the task of scuttling Princeton.”
Take a look at the map of Italy and the Balkans. I look at the terrain along the eastern shore of the Adriatic, and think there is no way I would want to invade the Balkans by that route.
Ernie Pyle could sure write.
The brutality on the Eastern Front never ceases to amaze me.
The p14 photo is interesting in that the caption indicates it was taken somewhere on the Kuban. Almost every caption of that photo I have ever seen has it taken during the battle of Kursk.
Wherever the photo was taken, I’m pretty sure it was NOT in the Kuban. Tigers were a precious resource, and virtually all of them were in “Schwere Panzer Abteilungen” or Heavy Tank Detachments. Some were semi-organic to the Waffen SS Divisions but most of them, numbered 501-505, were temporarily attached to panzer divisions for special purposes in the hottest sectors.
The Kuban never had a Schwere Panzer Abteilung or Waffen SS Panzer Division sent there, as they were all needed in the Ukraine.
That said, thinking about it from every angle I can come with, I can't see a viable Anglo-American military option in the Balkans. Everything not engaged in the Italy campaign is going to Britain for Overlord and it is needed there.
You make an excellent point about the geography. Behind the prosperous Dalmatian Coast lies a mountain barrier extending from Albania to Slovenia. For centuries the boundary between Austria and Turkey left Croatia and Slovenia in Austria, with Bosnia, Montenegro and Albania in the Turkish Empire. Austria had the good bits, the Dalmatian Coast and fertile interior, with Turkey occupying most of the the mountainous bits. In the pre-industrial Mediterranean mountainous regions were decidedly less prosperous than the coasts and plains. If we sent troops across from Italy, they would have to fight through the mountain barrier to get to the Sava, Drava and Danube valleys and the plains. Just as it is ideal terrain for the partisans to play hide and seek with the Germans, it would be ideal defensive terrain for the Germans. It would be as hard a slog as climbing the Italian boot will become for us.
I certainly would not have pursued a Balkan operation in place of Overlord, as Smuts suggested. I don't think he is thinking that through. We need boots on the ground in France, the Low Countries and Germany to keep them from coming under Russian influence. After the war there were powerful Communist parties in place in France and Italy. I would hate to think what would have happened if Russia had occupied all or the lion's share of Germany.
We didn't have the manpower to do both Overlord and a Balkan operation, unless Roosevelt wants to mobilize another 20-30 divisions, which he does not. The Brits are tapped out.
I reviewed the history of Greece and interestingly, as the Germans were pushed farther into Eastern Europe they pulled out of Greece in late 1944, uncharacteristic for Hitler. Churchill finally got his heart's desire when the Brits rushed troops to Athens.
So, I've reluctantly concluded there was just no way to get our troops into the Balkans and take some of the countries the Russians would later turn communist.