Skip to comments.RUSSIANS BREACH LINE, ROUT 22 DIVISIONS; BIGGEST U.S. AIR ARMADA SMASHES REICH (12/31/43)
Posted on 12/31/2013 4:44:43 AM PST by Homer_J_Simpson
Unhappily the President was himself laid up with influenza.
President Roosevelt to Prime Minister 31 Dec 43
I am in bed for two or three days with a mild case of the flu, which, in a mild form, has become epidemic throughout the country.
I am delighted that you are safely at the villa. I suggest that on New Years Day you invite the two gentlemen who congratulated you, then lock them in the top of the tower where we saw the sunset, and tell them you will stay at the bottom to see whether the black or the red throws the other one over the battlements.
Winston S. Churchill, Closing the Ring
Red Army wins battle for Zhitomir
Friday, December 31, 1943 www.onwar.com
On the Eastern Front... Soviet forces recapture Zhitomir. Farther north there is fighting west of Nevel and south of Vitebsk where the road to Orsha is cut. German-held Vitebsk is almost surrounded.
In Italy... Both the US 5th Army and the British 8th Army continue their offensive operation without significant success.
December 31st, 1943 (FRIDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: Civilian casualties from German air raids in the last three months are 247 killed and 561 wounded.
Escort carrier HMS Arbiter commissioned.
Frigates HMS Caicos and Thornborough commissioned.
Corvette HMS Flint Castle commissioned.
NETHERLANDS: During the night of 31 December/1 January, two RAF Bomber Command Stirlings lay mines off Texel Island.
FRANCE: Resistants carry out a simultaneous bombing of rail depots and junctions.
The USAAF Eighth Air Force’s VIII Bomber Command flies Mission 171: various targets in France are hit; 19 B-17 Flying Fortresses and six B-24 Liberators are lost. The targets are (numbers in parenthesis indicate number of aircraft bombing and number lost, e.g., 97-1):
- Airfields: Chateaubernard Airfield at Cognac (257-23); St. Jean D’Angely (68-1) and Landes de Bussac (19-0).
- Ball bearing factories: Bois-Colombes (57-1) and Ivry (63-0) in Paris.
The total bomb tonnage dropped by the Eighth Air Force in December 1943, 13,142 tons (14,486 metric tonnes), for the first time exceeds that dropped by the RAF Bomber Command.
About 200 USAAF Ninth Air Force B-26 Marauders bomb V-1 weapon sites in the French coastal area.
POLAND: Karpiowka: The Germans burn 59 villagers to death for helping partisans.
ITALY: The US 5th and British 8th Armies are now battering fruitlessly against the German defences. In the U.S. Fifth Army’s VI Corps area, the 180th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division, attempts in vain to clear more hills east of Acquafondata.
Civilian casualties from Allied air raids in the last three months are 6,500 dead and 11,000 wounded.
Whilst on passage from La Maddalena to Bastia in company with LST.411, minesweeper HMS Clacton strikes a mine and immediately sinks. 43 survivors are rescued by HMS Polruan. (Alex Gordon)(108)
USAAF Twelfth Air Force P-40s and Spitfires of the USAAF, RAF, RAAF, and SAAF, strike infantry and heavy artillery around Tollo, Orsogna, Miglianico, Ripa, and Teatina in support of the British Eighth Army. A-36 Apaches bomb the town of Formia and hit gun positions.
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: Due to illness among the crew, U-81 broke off her patrol in the Mediterranean for two days and rested on the bottom.
USSR: Zhitomir is recaptured by the Soviets. To the north they cut the road to Orsha and have Vitebsk essentially surrounded.
Destroyers HMCS Haida, Huron and Iroquois departed Kola Inlet with Convoy RA-55B for Loch Ewe.
Soviet Navy records two submarine losses during the month that are not listed by day - D-4 Black Sea Fleet Kalamitski zaliv (sunk by German submarine chasers off Yevpatoria); S-55 Northern Fleet off coast of Norway (lost off Norwegian coast, former M-91)
EUROPE: With the opening of five new gas-chamber and crematorium complexes this year, the camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau has become the centre of the plan to exterminate the Jewish people. It has become the final destination for Jews from Poland, France, Greece, Italy, Russia, the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia and Germany.
Himmler’s order this summer for all Polish and Russian ghettoes to be liquidated has mainly been carried out. The remnant of Polish Jews still alive are in hard labour camps, where few will survive. Yet this was also the year when the Jews started to fight back, assaulting guards, destroying camp buildings and property and setting up armed resistance to German troops in the ghettoes. Polish Jews have killed themselves in the transports, defying the Nazi death machine waiting at the end of the line.
Towards the end of this year, there has been a lull in the extermination process which has nevertheless killed one million people since 1 January. But resistance in the face of such a determined and well-armed enemy will always be crushed in the end.
CHINA: Twenty five USAAF Fourteenth Air Force B-24 Liberators bomb the Lampang railroad yards, causing several big fires and many secondary explosions. Six B-25 Mitchells hit Yangtze River shipping in the Anking and Lu-Kuan areas, claiming three cargo vessels and a troop carrier sunk; and two others on a sea sweep damage a passenger vessel in the Hainan Straits.
JAPAN: Four USN PBY-5A Catalinas from Attu, Aleutian Islands, bomb Shimushu and Kashiwabara, in the Kurile Islands.
NEW GUINEA: On the Huon Peninsula, the Australian 2/15th Battalion, 20th Brigade, 9th Division, accompanied by tanks, move through Kanomi and resume the advance until halting at the last creek before Nanda. The 20th Brigade has advanced 17 miles (27 kilometres) in ten days.
In Northeast New Guinea, almost 150 USAAF Fifth Air Force B-24 Liberators and medium bombers attack the Madang, Alexishafen, and Bogadjim areas.
D’ENTRECASTEAUX ISLANDS: Task Force MICHAELMAS sails from Goodenough Island. for Saidor, Northeast New Guinea.
BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: On New Britain Island, USAAF Fifth Air Force A-20 Havocs hit troop concentrations in the Cape Gloucester area; nearly 50 P-40s and P-47 Thunderbolts intercept a small force of airplanes attacking the Arawe beachhead area and 12 aircraft are claimed shot down.
CANADA: The RCAF is at its peak, with 215,000 men and women and 78 squadrons, including 35 overseas and six heading there. Canadian industry has produced 11,000 aircraft so far.
Corvette HMCS Port Arthur completed refit Liverpool NS and commenced workups.
U.S.A.: The Dow-Jones Industrial Average finished the year at 135.89 13.81%
up on the year.
The motion picture “Destination Tokyo” opens at the Strand Theatre in New York City. Directed by Delmer Daves, this action drama about U.S. submarines stars Cary Grant, John Garfield, Alan Hale, Dane Clark and Warner Anderson. On stage is Charlie Barnet and his Orchestra.
During WW II, the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) produced numerous documents, most commonly known are the Intelligence Bulletins. The Military Intelligence Special Series continues with “Japanese Infantry Weapons.” (William L. Howard)
Lend-lease agreements signed with United States - Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, French Committee of National Liberation, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, Liberia, Mexico, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, United Kingdom, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Uruguay, Venezuela, Yugoslavia.
The city of Cheyenne, Wyoming, bans the sale of alcohol to service personnel. (Pat Holscher)
The escort aircraft carrier St. Simon (CVE-51) is transferred to the British under Lend Lease and is renamed HMS Arbiter (D31). This is the 33rd escort aircraft carrier transferred to the British under Lend Lease. The ship is returned to the USN on 3 March 1946.
Destroyer escorts USS Weaver, Stockdale and De Long commissioned.
Destroyer USS Watts launched.
Destroyer USS Cassin Young commissioned.
Minesweeper USS Spear commissioned.
U-972 sunk by own acoustic torpedo in the North Atlantic. 49 dead (all hands lost)
An engine fire on U-425 necessitated two days of repairs to make the boat ready for battle again.
Global: An onlooker from another planet could be forgiven for describing the vicious conflict in which the people of earth are engaged as a mindless, endless cycle of production and destruction. The faster aircraft are shot out of the sky or ships are sent to the bottom of the oceans, the faster new planes and vessels are manufactured to replace them.
Production of military aircraft worldwide has soared since last year. The Russians have built 34,900 as compared with last year’s figure of 25,436, while the US churned out a staggering total of 85,898, nearly doubling last year’s figure of 47,836. Britain has made the smallest increase - from 23,672 to 26,263 - but the total production is still ahead of Germany’s 24,807, itself a significant increase on last year’s 15,409. The Japanese built 16,693 military aircraft this year, a huge leap from last year’s 8,861.
The world’s biggest wartime production boom is undoubtedly taking place in the US. Early last year it took 260 days to produce one “Liberty Ship” - now it takes a mere 40 days. Defence spending has risen during 1943 from just over $50bn to some $85bn.
In Britain the war has not stopped the worker’s demanding their rights: 1.8 million days were lost to strikes this year.
Fleet Admiral King and Field Marshall Marshall?
I remember a Major Major, from Catch-22, but Marshal Marshall is a new one.
I see Lt. Gen. Jacob Devers getting some ink. He was at one time Ike’s rival, and Ike treated him like a red-headed stepchild in late 1944. Devers was not in the same league as Ike, but on the other hand he was a competent general, under appreciated and unknown to most Americans. I consider Ike’s treatment of Devers to be a stain on Ike’s otherwise excellent record.
And they will lose the war. US war production is now at a staggering level and Germany can't even produce more planes than the UK. This is now a war they cannot possibly win.
And the articles in the Times today are really bringing home the fact that Germany has lost the war.
The Soviets took the best shot von Manstein could give them at Zhitomir, shrugged it off, and are now back on the rampage again.
Admiral King is boasting of transferring power (presumably naval assets) from the Atlantic to the Pacific to begin the defeat of Japan. He’s daring the IJN to come out and fight.
The bombing campaign against Germany is picking up steam, and the Germans can’t stop it.
There are the production figures you mentioned.
The Battle of the Atlantic is over and the Kriegsmarine has been neutered since the sinking of the Scharnhorst.
The only place the Germans are holding is Italy, and we aren’t on the Continent in France...yet.
Germany’s defeat in 1944 is being openly, and seriously, discussed; it’s not empty propaganda. The average Joe, Josif, or Josef, wherever he is in the world, knows who will win this war.
More on Major Edward Drake, who was referenced in the front page above:
Edward Francis Drake ‘32
(b. March 19, 1911, Paonia, CO-d. December 21, 1943, Mediterranean)
Attended Plainfield High School, Plainfield, NJ
Entered Rutgers September 1928, BA, May 1932
Entered Service April 1942, U.S. Army, commissioned 2nd Lt., May 12, 1942, 1st Lt., November 1942, Captain, April 15, 1943, Major, October 1943
While at Rutgers, Edward was a member of Chi Psi, the Student Council and the Spiked Shoe Honoree Track Fraternity. For two years, he was editor-in-chief of the Scarlet Letter and associate editor of the Targum. Edward played football, basketball, and raced at the Penn Relays as a member of the track team. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and was a member of Cap and Skull. In September 1932, he was the youngest of five men from the Mid-Atlantic Region to receive a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford. Edward served with the Intelligence Division of the Army Air Forces for 16 months in North Africa. While there, he gathered information that resulted in a successful attack on the German airbase at Foggia, Italy. He died in a plane crash over the Mediterranean shortly after being promoted to Major. He was awarded the Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service in the Northwest African Strategic Air Force.
More than two hundred Rutgers alumni gave their lives in the war.
But he was right, especially from a Navy viewpoint. I've won the Battle of the Atlantic and have fully supplied my needs for Overlord, so why not take the rest of my assets, including the Marine Corps, and roll the Japanese back in the Pacific?