Skip to comments.BATTLE BELOW ROME IS UNABATED AS GERMANS HAMMER BEACHHEAD; RUSSIANS TAKE KEY RAIL JUNCTION (2/12/44)
Posted on 02/12/2014 4:41:46 AM PST by Homer_J_Simpson
I have no intention of moving from the Cabinet War Room until after we have had at least one Blitz which is altogether out of relation to anything we have previously experienced. I do not think the new forms of bombardment make any difference to this. You should provide reasonable accommodation for the Lord Privy Seal. The other Ministers rooms can stay as at present.
Winston S. Churchill, Closing the Ring
#1 - My Heart Tells Me - Glen Gray, with Eugenie Baird
#2 Shoo Shoo Baby - Andrews Sisters
#3 - Besame Mucho Jimmy Dorsey, with Bob Eberly and Kitty Kallen
#4 Paper Doll - Mills Brothers
#5 - Star Eyes - Jimmy Dorsey, with Bob Eberly and Kitty Kallen
#6 Shoo Shoo Baby - Ella Mae Morse, with orchestra
#7 - No Love, No Nothin Ella Mae Morse
#8 - My Shining Hour - Glen Gray, with Eugenie Baird
#9 - I Couldnt Sleep a Wink Last Night Frank Sinatra
#10 Speak Low Guy Lombardo, with Billy Leach
* Under Missing, New York - GENTILE, AMERICUS J., second lieutenant; wife, Mrs. Raffaela Gentile, 2347 2d Ave., New York City
Lt. Gentile was bombardier on the B-17 crew on which Homers uncle was navigator. They bailed out together when their plane was shot down on January 11.
Soviets capture Luga
Saturday, February 12, 1944 www.onwar.com
On the Eastern Front... In the north, Soviet forces reach Luga, southwest of Leningrad, in the continuing offensive operations against Army Group North. In the south, the battle for the Korsun pocket continues.
In the Bismark Archipelago... On New Britain, US marines capture Gorissi, 25 miles east of Cape Gloucester. Meanwhile, Allied forces land on Rooke Island.
In the Marshall Islands... There are American landings on Arno Atoll.
In Italy... Forces of the US 5th Army are redeployed. The New Zealand Corps replaces the US 2nd Corps opposite Cassino. At Anzio, there is a lull in the battle. The British 1st Division is withdrawn from the line because of heavy losses. American General Lucas, commanding Allied forces on the beachhead, organizes an inner defensive perimeter.
In the United States... Wendell Willkie announces his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president. General MacArthur has also been suggested as a potential candidate. President Roosevelt, a Democrat, has made no formal announcement about running for a third term but his name has been put forward for several of the Democratic primaries.
February 12th, 1944 (SATURDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: Channel Islands: The weekly edition of G.U.N.S, Guernsey’s underground newssheet, was running off the duplicating machine yesterday when Gestapo agents burst into a back room in the island’s capital of St. Peter Port. The paper’s founder, Charles Machon, was arrested and will be tried before a German court which is likely to sentence him - and the four others also held - to prison in France or Germany. Machan’s arrest (and probable torture) highlights the dangers faced by people resisting Nazi rule in the Channel Islands - the only part of the United Kingdom subjected to German occupation.
Savage sentences are imposed on islanders found with radio sets, for instance. Stanley Green a cinema projectionist, is in Buchenwald; a fellow Jerseyman, Harold Druillenec, in Belsen; and a rector who hid his radio in the organ loft is feared to be dying in a concentration camp at Spergau.
No. 345 (French) Squadron RAF is formed from French personnel transferred from North Africa.
SCOTLAND: HMCS Tillsonburg (ex-HMS Pembroke Castle) launched Port Glasgow.
Minelayer HMS Ariadne commissioned.
Frigate HMS Seychelles commissioned.
Destroyer HMS Caesar commissioned.
Minesweeping trawler HMS Hannaray launched.
Destroyer escort FS Somali launched.
FRANCE: Paris: Maurice Toesca’s diary records the manner of Joseph Darnand, head of the SOL as he calls on Bussière, the préfet of police. “M. Darnand explained, after a short speech from the préfet, that the position which he occupied was to be restricted to maintaining law and order: ‘I insist on one thing only from the functionaries under my orders, that government instructions are obeyed. I want the governmen’t authority to b effective. I do not ask functionaries to take a political stand, though I do myself, and that’s my business, something distinct from the job in hand.’” (1)
GERMANY: Rastenburg: Hitler merges the Abwehr [military intelligence] with Himmler’s SD (Sicherheitsdienst) [Security Service] and Gestapo, after members are arrested for plotting against him.
Those swinging tunes from New Orleans that caused such an uproar over 20 years ago when they first filled clubs across Europe are still incensing German authorities. One National Socialist has written to Alfred Rosenberg, the head of the party’s foreign affairs department, demanding that “war” be waged against jazz and other “un-German” influences. Nazi music critics are already waging a war of words, describing jazz as an “interminable knee-buckling perversion” and “an irreverence appealing to the lowest instincts of the masses.”
U-324, U-486 launched.
U-805, U-1053 commissioned.
ITALY: Anzio: The Allies have been forces back three miles to their final defensive line.
Back in London Churchill fumes: “We hurled a wildcat on the shores of Anzio - all we have is a stranded whale.” The prime minister is livid that there are 18,000 vehicles in Anzio for 72,000 men - and yet no sign of the promised breakout.
Constant German attacks have put the beach-head on the defensive, and now the roles on two fronts are reversed. The Anzio landings were designed to break the deadlock at Cassino. Now attacks there are to be stepped up in an attempt to break through to Anzio.
Here on the beach-head, morale has reached its lowest ebb. General von Mackensen’s XIV Army is being reinforced almost daily, so that it will soon have ten divisions to confront the Allies’ five. Although the main counter-offensive is yet to begin, German attacks on the beach-head have already pushed the Allies back to the sea. The heavily-reinforced Luftwaffe is joining the attack on the beleaguered Allies.
War correspondents have been summoned to headquarters to be told that all news transmissions from the beach-head have been banned. One despatch happened to mention the possibility of evacuation, raising the unwelcome spectre of another Dunkirk.
No one can ban German leaflets that tell British soldiers: “The Yanks in England ... have loads of money and loads of time to chase after your women.” The lurid pictures of naked women are becoming collectors’ items however.
Monte Cassino: Fierce opposition stops the US 34th Division less than 300 yards short of Cassino town.
U.S.S.R.: Leningrad: The Red Army is maintaining its advance in the Baltic region despite stiffening resistance from the Germans. Hitler has sacked Field Marshal von Kuchler, replaced him with the tough tank expert General Model and rushed in reinforcements to hold the line.
Nevertheless, the Second Shock Army has stormed Kingisepp and reached Narva, on the Gulf of Finland. The town of Luga, 85 miles south of Leningrad, was reached today and the Russians are heading for Pskov. If their advance continues they will soon be facing the Germans all along the “Panther” fortifications which bar their road to the Baltic states.
BURMA: February 12, 1944, Combat Mission No. 1 with the First Air Commandos.
Aircraft B-25H crew Lt/Col. R.T.Smith -Pilot, 1st Lt Wesley Weber -Nav, M/sgt Chuck Baisden -engineer /turret gunner, S/sgt Richard Dickson Radio operator/side gunner, S/Sgt Charles Miller-Tail gunner.
Flew from Hailikandi, Assam to Imphal,Assam and picked up C.O. of the Brit Chindits , General Orde Wingate and flew a reconn mission in the Katha, Burma area.
Wingate very interested in our .75 cannon and R.T .very happily obliged by destroying a small r.r.bridge and blowing off the roof of a very large building that stuck out above the jungle canopy. Had some small arms ground fire which holed the fuselage. One bullet hit the ammunition feed tray near Miller’s head, he was unaware of this until after the mission.
Although we were gone from daylight to dusk the actual mission took only 3 hours
INDIAN OCEAN: The Japanese submarine I-27 sinks the British troopship KHEDIVE ISMAIL, killing nearly 2,000 people, and is herself sunk by the destroyers HMS PETARD and HMS PALADIN.
NAURU: Majuro Harbor: The US Fleet sails bound for Truk in the Marianas Islands. Glen Boren is told ‘it was their “Pearl Harbor” and that they were expecting to find a lot of shipping in the area and a lot of aircraft also.’ (Glen Boren)
PACIFIC OCEAN: Submarine rescue vessel USS Macaw ran aground on 16 January 1944 in the Midway Channel. Salvage attempts failed and on 12 February 1944 she slipped off the reef and sank.
Submarine USS Tambor torpedoes and sinks tanker Ronsan Maru (2735 BRT) in the East China Sea some 40 miles SW of Amami O Shima in position 27.45N, 128.42E.
CANADA: HMCS Aristocrat (ex-RCAF B113) commissioned for W/T calibration service.
U.S.A.: Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five’s record of “Ration Blues” makes it to the Billboard Pop Singles chart. This is their first single to make the charts and it stays there for 1 week reaching Number 16.
Escort carrier USS Hollandia laid down.
Destroyer minelayer USS Shannon laid down.
Destroyer escorts USS Ahrens and Major commissioned.
Oilers USS Marias and Manatee commissioned.
USS YMS-458 launched.
Escort carrier USS Shipley Bay launched.
Destroyer escorts USS Traw and Key launched.
Destroyer USS Lyman K Swenson launched.
Submarine USS Plaice commissioned.
Fleet tug USS Potawatomi commissioned.
Destroyer escorts USS Rinehart and Tweedy commissioned.
The device we see in the photograph actually appears to be a Panzerwerfer, which was an array of 10 150mm rocket projectors mounted on a half-track.
A similar weapons system was the Wurfrahmen, which consisted of six 210mm rockets attached to the side of a halftrack. These were first used by SS Panzer Division Das Reich at Kursk.
The towed Nebelwerfers were easy to manufacture in quantity; its a very simple and basic weapons system. The Panzerwerfer and Wurfrahmen obviously added the complexity of being mounted on scarce Hanomag Sd. Kfz 250 or 251 halftracks, but they also added mobility to the weapons system. The Wurfrahmen had greater hitting power with the 210mm rockets, but as you can see there were difficulties with aiming the system as they were fixed to the sides of the vehicle. The Panzerwerfer had more rockets for saturation bombardments, and a rotating projector with a 360 degree field of fire for better targeting.
In fact, upon further review, the photo of the Panzerwerfer I found on line is the very same photograph that was published in the NYT today.
By golly, you are right. I'm surprised you noticed. That is one of the worst photos I have posted. I probably only kept it for the caption.
They even listed the home address in those days?
Maybe people sent notes or fruit baskets or something to the families.
Better not try that today, weirdo’s and freaks will show up
“I hear you are single now...”
Maybe there were more nice people in the 40s.
I'm glad I know how Anzio turned out because that beachhead is getting uncomfortably small. I understand Churchill's fury.
I'm sure it's politics I don't understand, but I wonder why Bevan is making a row in the House. He's a member of the War Cabinet and should have been able to get answers there. Maybe he thinks Winston is making sweetheart deals for his pals.
Finally, I really enjoyed the story about Major Gordon Warner calling out the Japanese on Bougainville in their own language. It turns out Warner was a practitioner of Kendo and an admirer of Japanese culture. After the war he became a university professor, but continued to practice kendo, despite his amputation. He made many trips to Japan to foster cultural understanding and lived his last days on Okinawa. Warner was not awarded the Medal of Honor, however. His Navy Cross citation:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Gordon Warner (0-5437), Captain, U.S. Marine Corps (Reserve), for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service while serving as Battalion Liaison Officer and later as Commanding Officer of Company B, First Battalion, Third Marines, THIRD Marine Division (Reinforced), during action against enemy Japanese forces on Bougainville Island, Solomon Islands, on 1 and 7 November 1943. Landing at Cape Torokina on the heavily defended enemy beach, Captain Warner unhesitatingly rushed ashore, planted an American Flag on the beach and, taunting the Japanese in their own language to come out and get it, so aroused the enemy forces that they opened fire and threw grenades at him, thus revealing their carefully camouflaged positions. Personally accounting for several enemy dead in the ensuing action, Captain Warner then charged through the hostile positions and, organizing a small group of Marines at the rear, led them in successful attacks on the Japanese bunkers. During the battle at the Koromokina River on 7 November he directed his company in fierce combat with counterattacking enemy forces and, while guiding a tank to the concealed hostile machine-gun emplacements he had discovered by repeating his heroic challenging tactics, was suddenly fired upon at extremely close range by the only remaining gun. As he collapsed to the ground, the tank proceeded on and crushed the enemy weapon. Captain Warner's gallant leadership and valiant conduct were an inspiration to the men of his command and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service.
I suppose if you were on the receiving end of a werfer barrage you really didn’t give a damn what particular system was firing it.
I also liked the story about Maj. Warner calling out the Japanese. I’ll bet it drove them nuts.
Despite the animosity and bitterness of the fighting in the Pacific, there had been a long history of ties between Japan and the United States. Many of the Emperor’s soldiers had studied at universities in the Western United States. The Japanese had a tradition of playing baseball that pre-dated the War. A number of Americans had experience in Japan, even if not to the degree of Maj. Warner.
I am convinced that those pre-war ties helped heal the wounds caused by the war. It is a pity that the Japanese fell prey to the arrogant militaristic culture that brought about this war. I’ve always had the highest respect for the Japanese as a people; they are tough, smart, resilient hard-working SOBs. I regret we had to slaughter them, but I remind myself that they asked for it.
The Japanese sure continued the baseball tradition after the War. They just produced a player the Yankees think is worth $155 million, Masahiro Tanaka.
Because I live in NYC, I always carefully look over the casualty lists to see where these people or their relatives loved. Today, after all these many years, someone appeared on this list whose parents lived 3 doors down from where I live now. Somehow this makes me feel as if this war is very immediate and up close and personal, rather than just some historic event.
That is how I felt when I came upon the name of Lt. Americus Gentile. In all probability his name came from the same list that included my uncle. His name was not included in the times only because he hailed from California instead of NY/NJ/Conn.