Skip to comments.STRONG RAF FORCE BLASTS BERLIN; RUSSIANS PUSH BEYOND KOROSTEN (12/30/43)
Posted on 12/30/2013 5:30:04 AM PST by Homer_J_Simpson
Winston S. Churchill, Closing the Ring
Huge formations of American "heavies" flew 1090 miles today to smash Ludwigshafen, led by the group commanding officer, Lt Col Joseph J. Nazarro.
"The 30 ships which made up the 381st contingent encountered little opposition, but reports indicate that the formation behind were not so fortunate. The lead groups experienced no fighter attacks on the way in although they saw a large number of dog fights taking place in the distance.
"Nine ships from this squadron were part of the formation, the pilots participating were: Lts Gleichauf, Butler, Chason, Crozier, Parsons, Nason, Fridgen, Klein and Stewart Hanson. One of our men, radio operator S/Sgt Curtis E. Hickman died of anoxia on the return trip. His body was taken to the 121st Station Hospital at Braintree, a few miles away.
The man who died from anoxia was part of the Chason crew. I wonder what happened.
Marines capture airfield at Cape Gloucester
Thursday, December 30, 1943 www.onwar.com
In the Bismarck Archipelago... On New Britain, the US marine division captures the Japanese airfield at Cape Gloucester.
On the Eastern Front... Soviet forces capture Kazatin, near Berdichev, in the advance west of Kiev.
December 30th, 1943 (THURSDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: : The USAAF Eighth Air Force’s VIII Bomber Command flies Mission 170: five B-17 Flying Fortresses drop 1 million leaflets on Antwerp, Ghent and Lens, Belgium and Cambrai, France at 2319-2340 hours.
Minesweeping trawler HMS Gorregan launched.
Aircraft carrier HMS Venerable launched.
Destroyer HMS Wrangler launched.
Submarine HMS Vox commissioned.
FRANCE: About 100 USAAF Ninth Air Force B-26 Marauders bomb Saint-Omer Airfield and V-1 weapon sites on the north coast. About 100 others abort missions because of bad weather.
During the night of 30/31 December, RAF Bomber Command dispatches ten Lancasters and six Pathfinder Mosquitos to destroy the Domart-en-Ponthieu V1 site at Flixecourt which had been missed on an earlier raid, 12 aircraft attack but the markers are 200 yards (183 meters) from the target and, with the Lancasters’ bombs well grouped around these, the site is again undamaged; two other aircraft bomb the V1 site at Bristillerie and one bombs a site at La Glacerie. Bombers also mine Biscay Bay ports: nine mine off Gironde, four off St. Nazaire, three off Lorient, two off Le Havre and one each off Cherbourg and La Glacerie. Eleven bombers drop leaflets over northern France.
GERMANY: The USAAF Eighth Air Force’s VIII Bomber Command flies Mission 169: 653 B-17 Flying Fortresses, B-24 Liberators, and 11 PFF aircraft attack the I.G. Farben synthetic oil refinery at Ludwigshafen at 1156-1300 hours; they claim 12-4-9 Luftwaffe aircraft. Fourteen B-17s and nine B-24s are lost. The mission is escorted by 79 P-38 Lightnings, 463 P-47 Thunderbolts and 41 Ninth Air Force P-51 Mustangs; they claim 8-3-6 Luftwaffe aircraft; 11 P-47s and two P-51s are lost. Five other aircraft bomb targets of opportunity.
During the night of 30/31 December, RAF Bomber Command Mosquitos bomb three cities: nine hit Cologne, seven bomb Duisburg (five hit the city and two bomb the Vereinigte Stahl steel factory) and two bomb Bochum (one each bombs the Bochemer Verein industrial area and the Vereinigte Stahl armaments factory). Eleven bombers lay mines in the Heligoland Bight, the arm of the North Sea extending south and east of the island of Helgoland, Germany.
U-1205, U-1206 launched
U-320, U-925, U-1005 commissioned.
U.S.S.R.: Kazatin falls to the Red Army in the Kiev sector.
ITALY: In the U.S. Fifth Army’s II Corps area, the 34th Infantry Division relieves battle-worn 36th Infantry Division. In the VI Corps area, the 180th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division, attempts to clear the hills astride the St. Elia road in the region east of Acquafondata and succeeds in getting elements on one, Mt. Rotondo.
USAAF Twelfth Air Force A-20 Havocs hit Atina. P-40s and A-36 Apaches support ground forces, hitting targets in the Chieti-Miglianico area while railway sidings near Frosinone, gun positions near Arce and west of Minturno, and the town areas of Sant’ Elia Fiumerapido, Ferentino, and Atina are bombed.
USAAF Fifteenth Air Force B-17 Flying Fortresses bomb two marshalling yards (M/Ys): 29 bomb the M/Y at Padua and 25 hit the M/Y at Rimini. Thirty four other aircraft bomb the industrial area at Ravenna. The B-17s and escorting P-38 Lightnings and P-47 Thunderbolts claim the destruction of nine German fighters during air battles in the Padua-Vicenza area, off the coast east of Ravenna, and south of Aquila. B-26 Marauders hit the Borgo San Lorenzo marshalling yard and viaduct, the marshalling yard at Viareggio, and a road junction near Roccasecca.
During the night of 30/31 December, 19 RAF bombers of No. 205 (Heavy Bomber) Group bomb the airfield at Treviso.
YUGOSLAVIA: USAAF Twelfth Air Force B-25 Mitchells bomb Zara hitting a junction, railway station, repair shops, warehouse, and harbour. Fighter-bombers attack vessels are hit at Crkvice
CHINA: Eight Japanese fighters strafe Suichaan Airfield while 12 others provide cover; two USAAF Fourteenth Air Force airplanes are destroyed on the ground while eight P-40s intercept the formation after the attack and shoot down three aircraft.
BURMA: Twenty USAAF Tenth Air Force B-24 Liberators bomb Monywa hitting railway facilities and the area in general.
NEW GUINEA: In Northeast New Guinea, the Australian 2/7th Commando Squadron, 2/6th Commando Regiment, occupies Walum village. Walum is about 45 miles (72 kilometres) southeast of Aitape.
NEW BRITAIN: The airfield at Cape Gloucester falls to the US Marines.
MARSHALL ISLANDS: USAAF Seventh Air Force aircraft flying from bases in the Gilbert Islands attack a number of targets: 17 B-24 Liberators, flying from Tarawa Atoll, bomb Kwajalein Atoll and nine B-25 Mitchells from Tarawa hit the town of Jabor on Jaluit Atoll. A-24 Dauntlesses from Makin Island, escorted by 24 P-39 Airacobras, dive-bomb gun positions on Mili Atoll.
BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: Cape Gloucester Airfield (Tuluvu), located on the western tip of New Britain Island’s northern coast, is declared secure; it has been taken by the Marines at very light cost. Heavy rains delay its improvements, and American aircraft do not start operating from the strip until February 1944.
On New Britain Island, 19 USAAF Thirteenth Air Force B-24 Liberators, with 25 fighters covering, attack shipping at Rabaul and also hit Tobera airfield. The escorts encounter aggressive fighter opposition and claim 12 shot down. The aircraft sink a Japanese guard boat
SOLOMON ISLANDS: On Bougainville, Piva South (Piva Uncle) airstrip is completed; the field is located just inland from Torokina, on the coast of Emperess Augusta Bay. The Fiji patrol, composed of Fijians, having advanced along the Numa Numa trail, establishes outposts near the coast at Ibu village, where it can observe Japanese movements. An airstrip for use of Piper Cubs is cleared there. After aircraft attack Japanese positions on Pearl Ridge for 40-minutes, the Australian 25th Battalion, 7th Brigade, 3rd Division, begins an advance at 0800 hours local behind artillery and machine gun fire. Companies A and D meet heavy resistance and dig in by 1600 hours but Companies B and C reach their objectives. During the night, the Japanese mount strong counterattacks but are driven off.
On Bougainville, 16 USAAF Thirteenth Air Force B-24 Liberators and 35 B-25 Mitchells bomb Kahili and the bivouac and supply areas in the vicinity and six B-25s bomb the Korovo area.
U.S.A.: The 1st US Marine Parachute Regiment (1-3rd Battalions) and the 4th Parachute Battalion are ordered to disband. (Gordon Angus Mackinlay)(167)
Destroyer escorts USS Thornhill, Wingfield, Straus and Robert I Paine launched.
Minesweeper USS Captivate commissioned.
Destroyers USS Barton, McNair and Yarnall commissioned.
ATLANTIC OCEAN: U-618 saved 21 survivors from the sunken German destroyer Z-27. After the war these men became honorary members of the crew and took part in their annual meetings.
U-545 fired four torpedoes at the convoy ON-217 in grid AL 1228 (60°30N/24°35W) and heard four detonations. Mannesmann thought that he had hit four ships, but the only ship hit was Empire Housman. U-545 observed one ship sinking on 1 January. On 30 December, U-744 attacked also the convoy ON-217 in grid AL 1215 and reported one ship damaged, it is possible that the already damaged Empire Housman was hit. On 3 Jan 1944, the Empire Housman (Master David John Lewis), now straggling from the convoy, was again torpedoed by U-744 and foundered two days later. One crewmember was lost. The master, 37 crewmembers and seven gunners were picked up by the British armed trawler HMS Elm and rescue tug HMS Earner. Landed at Reykjavik.
The British special service vessel HMS Fidelity (D 57) is torpedoed and sunk about 277 nautical miles (513 kilometres) north of Lagens Field, Azores Islands in position 43.23N, 27.07W, by a torpedo fired by the German submarine U-435. This 2,455 ton ship, formerly the French merchant ship Le Rhin is armed with 4-inch (10,2 centimetre) guns, torpedoes and depth charges and also carried two seaplanes, a motor torpedo boat and two small landing craft. The vessel, believed by some of the crew to be totally unseaworthy, carried out operations of an extremely hazardous nature, i.e., landing of secret agents on enemy territory. Due to the secret nature of the ship, the crew are volunteers, the non British members sailing under assumed names and the French and other crew members received anglicized names. Her captain was an ex-French spy Claude Peri, who assumed the name Jacques Langlais and to the amazement of the crew took his mistress, Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) officer Madeleine Barclay, onboard with him. After operations in the Mediterranean, Fidelity is assigned to the Far East Fleet and sails from Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, to Colombo, Ceylon, via the Cape of Good Hope, Union of South Africa, part of the way with slow convoy ONS-154 (U.K. to North America). In an area of the Atlantic known as the Black Pit, an area beyond the protection aircraft, the convoy, escorted by a Canadian destroyer and five corvettes, is attacked by the ten U-boat of Wolfpack Spitz and over the next four days 14 of the 45 ships are sunk with 510 lives lost. The Fidelity, lagging behind with engine failure, is torpedoed today. She goes to the bottom with almost all her complement of 280 crew, 51 Royal Marine Commandos and the WRNS officer plus four civilians. About fifty survivors rescued earlier from the British freighter SS Empire Shackleton are also on board. There are only ten men who survive the sinking of the Fidelity.
From the linked source:
...At dawn on Dec. 21, two understrength companies and a half-squadron of Three Rivers Regt. tanks moved cautiously up the main street towards the first of three large public squares. By mid-afternoon the advance had slowed to a halt, and Hoffmeister sent a company of Seaforths to help. The next morning it was apparent the German resistance had stiffened and Hoffmeister committed the balance of the Seaforths, assigning each battalion to half the town.
The Canadians now fought for Ortona house by house, often fighting from the top floor down. They used a “mouse-holing” techniqueblasting through walls, lobbing grenades through the gaps and then using more grenades to move down the stairs. Here the Canadians wrote the book on street-fighting. After the war, former Seaforths commander Colonel S.W. Thomson recalled that the standard training film for British and Commonwealth forces, Fighting In Built-up Areas, was based on interviews with Seaforth and Edmonton veterans.
War correspondents anxious to cover the last phase of a month-long campaign arrived in Ortona and quickly revised their initial optimistic reports. Ortona became “little Stalingrad” as radio journalist Matthew Halton and reporter Ralph Allen wrote feature stories on the battle. Christopher Buckley, a British correspondent whose beautifully written 1945 book The Road To Rome should be reprinted, insisted “a painter of genius, Goya perhaps” was needed to record the poignant images of Ortona. In one “half-darkened room,” he wrote, “there were five or six Canadian soldiers, there were old women and there were innumerable children. The children clambered over the Canadian soldiers and clutched them convulsively every time one of our anti- tank guns fired down the street . Soon each of us had a squirming, terrified child in our arms.”
Most of the vets I knew as a B.C. boy in the ‘40s and ‘50s were Seaforth Highlanders. In 1973 I worked in the bush with such a man who had five exit wounds the size of hen’s eggs from German machine-gun fire in that battle across his upper back. He was agile as a cat and strong as a bear...
Every day is Remembrance Day to me - God bless them all!