Skip to comments.450 PLACES FALL IN PSKOV DRIVE; BRITISH WIN 2 ANZIO STRONG POINTS (2/29/44)
Posted on 02/28/2014 10:35:48 AM PST by Homer_J_Simpson
The part about helping a patrol cross a river by travelling pulley might be the first operational type detail we have read in these letters. It makes me yearn for more.
Russians Sweep On (Lawrence) 2-3
Liberated by the Red Army (photo) 3
Gain on Beachhead (Bracker) 3
Casualties of the Bitter Fighting on the Anzio Beachhead (photo) 4
Libyan Arabs Get Help from British 5
Peoples of Countries that Refuse to be Conquered (photos) 5
Our First Big Burma Victory Foils Move to Invade India 6-7
Battered Rabaul Again Heavily Hit 7
Ground Crew Head Hears Bad News 7
U.S. Bombers Hit Nazis in France; Pace New Pas-de-Calais Attacks (Middleton) 8
War News Summarized 8
War Decorations 9
Latest War Casualties 11
The Texts of the Days Communiques on the Fighting in Various War Zones 12-13
Allies Facing Acid Test (Baldwin) 13
Ukrainian partisans ambush Vatutin
Tuesday, February 29, 1944 www.onwar.com
Marshal Nikolai VatutinOn the Eastern Front... The commander of the Soviet 1st Ukrainian Front, Marshal Nikolai Vatutin, is ambushed by Ukrainian nationalist partisans and mortally wounded while on a motor tour with Nikita Khrushchev in the area of the Soviet 60th Army. Zhukov replaces him in command.
In Italy... German forces continue limited attacks on the Anzio beachhead; there is a heavy artillery bombardment. Poor weather prevents a full-scale effort.
From London... RAF Fighter Command is reorganized and renamed Air Defence of Great Britain.
In the Admiralty Islands... On Los Negros, 1000 men from the US 5th Cavalry Regiment (General Chase) land at Hyane Harbor. General MacArthur and Admiral Kinkaid, commanding the US 7th Fleet, are present offshore and decide to convert the landings into a full-scale occupation. Japanese counterattacks during the night are defeated.
February 29th, 1944 (TUESDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: RAF Fighter Command is reorganized and renamed Air Defence of Great Britain.
Corvette HMS Allington Castle launched.
Submarines HMS Stygian and Virtue commissioned.
GERMANY: U-876 launched.
ITALY: Anzio: The Allies fend off a German attack on their right flank.
Uj.201 German Corvette. (Ex Italian EGARIA) Damaged at Montfalcone by air raid; not repaired before the end of the war. (James Paterson)
As the rain teems down on frustrated Allied troops before Cassino, a major question mark hangs over the whole of the Italian campaign. “Overlord”, the invasion of Normandy, is due to take place in May. “Anvil”, the diversionary landing in the south of France, is timed to coincide with the main thrust in the north.
General Alexander’s chief of staff, Lt-Gen John Harding, has produced a plan - Operation Diadem - which will bring the Eighth Army from the Adriatic front to join the US 5th Army in a fullscale attack co-ordinated with a breakout from Anzio. The operation would be launched three weeks before the Normandy landings - and, it is hoped, draw off German divisions from France. “Anvil” would be abandoned under the British plan.
British chiefs of staff are enthusiastic. So, too, is Winston Churchill, desperate for what he sees as a “British” victory in Italy. The Americans are opposed. Apart from the worries about losses in Italy and the slow pace of the campaign, they favour “Anvil” as more acceptable.
The British generals, Maitland Wilson - who has been made Allied Supreme Commander Mediterranean - and Alexander, insist that no troops should be withdrawn from Italy until the breakthrough has succeeded. They want the campaign there to go through to its decisive conclusion.
The American chiefs of staff, their attention distracted by events in the Far East, have nominated General Eisenhower, a firm supporter of “Anvil”, as their representative. He has reluctantly agreed to postpone the operation until July, As preparations begin for the spring offensive in Italy, lengthy cables are being exchanged between Churchill and Roosevelt.
FINLAND: Helsinki: The whole of Finland is waiting for the Diet, the Finnish parliament, to decide whether or not to agree to the Russian terms for the cessation of hostilities. These terms include territorial concessions similar to those laid down by the Russians after the “Winter War” of 1939-40, but they do not require unconditional surrender as preliminary to peace talks.
The main reasons that the Finns are not taking up the Soviet terms are the amount of reparations the Soviets are demanding ($600 million in 1938 US Dollars; economic experts consulted stated that it was impossible to pay in the schedule), and the very short time given to expel or intern the German forces from country coupled with the rapid demobilization of the Finnish Army (it was feared that the Soviets would use this as an excuse to occupy Finland)
In a secret session the Finnish parliament votes the cabinet the powers to continue the peace-feelers with the Soviet Union.
U.S.S.R.: Kiev: General Nikolai Vatutin, commander of the First Ukrainian Front and one of the Red Army’s most brilliant generals, was ambushed today by partisans fighting for an independent Ukraine. It is feared that his wounds may be fatal.
Vatutin, who had played a vital role in last year’s battle at Kursk and in clearing the Ukraine, was fired on as he drove with his staff to visit front-line troops. His attackers are Ukrainian nationalists who went over to the Germans in the hope that they would establish a Ukrainian state. Now they fight both Germans and Russians.
Vatutin will be sorely missed by the Red Army, It was he who, with Konev, engineered the destruction of the German pocket at Korsun. Georgi Zhukov, has taken over command of the First Ukrainian Front.
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: At 1704, motor tanker Ensis was torpedoed and damaged by U-407, while in a convoy.
INDIAN OCEAN: The unescorted MS Palma was torpedoed and sunk by U-183 about 400 miles south of Ceylon. Four crewmembers and three gunners were lost. The master, 41 crewmembers and four gunners were picked up by armed trawler HMS Balta and whaler HMS Semla and landed at Colombo on 2 March.
ADMIRALTY ISLANDS: US landings on Los Negros. Los Negros, at 2.03S 147.24E, was separated from Manus Island by a narrow body of water. Los Negros as the site of Momote Airdrome one of the major Japanese air bases in the Bismarck Sea and it’s capture allows the Allies to isolate Rabaul.
Today’s invasion of the Admiralty Islands by the South-West Pacific Command is the final act in breaking the barrier of the Bismarks. The isolation of the great enemy bastion of Rabaul has transformed it into a liability. With the sudden exodus of the combined fleet from Truk, Japan’s outer defences are crumbling dramatically.
The Pacific War has gathered a new momentum, with MacArthur”> MacArthur poised to thrust rapidly northwards to the Philippines and the enormously powerful US Pacific Fleet, backed by a fleet “train” and many divisions of marines and infantry, set to roll through the central Pacific (as it did this month in the attacks on the Marshall Islands).
American strategists are divided on which route to take to Japan. MacArthur insists that the Allies are morally obliged to liberate the Philippines on the way to Tokyo. Admiral King wants to bypass the archipelago and invade Formosa. The US joint chiefs of staff have authorised a two-pronged drive and set the major objectives of invading Luzon, Formosa and the south China coast.
The joint chiefs believe that the central Pacific route is “strategically, logistically and tactically” better than the South-west Pacific route. However, they agree that by using both routes they will prevent the enemy from knowing where the next blow falls. In 1942 the intention had been to take Rabaul. But in 1943 MacArthur was told to bypass it. Instead of being captured at a predictably high cost in lives, it was to be isolated and neutralized.
During 1943 the Allies had advanced ever closer to Rabaul. Bouganville was invaded in November. and in December the 1st Marine Division landed at Cape Gloucester in New Britain. Rabaul had also suffered devastating air attacks.
Rabaul is now neutralized. Most of the large enemy garrison will wait in vain to die for the emperor because the Allies have no intention of making a costly frontal attack. Bypassing enemy strongpoints has become one of the war’s most momentous strategic concepts.
The US submarine Trout (SS-202), commanded by Albert H. Clark, is lost N.W. of the Philippines. All hands are lost. (Joe Sauder)
CANADA: Minesweeper HMS Golden Fleece launched Toronto, Ontario.
U.S.A.: 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 “German Mountain Warfare.” (William L. Howard)
Destroyers USS Borie and Robert K Huntington laid down.
Destroyer escorts USS Naifeh, Chester T O’Brien and Carter launched.
Submarine USS Cavalla commissioned.
Frigate USS Gallup commissioned.
Minesweeper USS Improve commissioned.
Destroyer escorts USS John J Powers, Lamons and Varian commissioned.
ATLANTIC OCEAN: Since January, 34 U-boats have been sunk.
Minesweeper HMCS Mulgrave damaged by grounding Horta, Azores. She was towed to Greenock for repairs.
Soviet General Vatutin will die of his wounds later this spring. He will be replaced by Georgi Zhukov, who will exercise Front command for the first time since 1941. I’m not sure whether Zhukov would have been given a Front command but for the death of Vatutin. By this time, Stalin has assembled a competent cadre of Front commanders in Vatutin, Rokkossovsky, Konev, Malinovsky and Tolbukhin. Cherniakovsky will be the next rising star on the scene. But of all those commanders, Vatutin was clearly the best. Stalin had a reason to assign Zhukov to Front command as a way of lessening his power and prestige. In Moscow, Zhukov is Deputy Commander of the Red Army, and #2 to Stalin in the Soviet power structure. As a Front Commander, while he still carries the title, he is in reality just one among many rival Front commanders.
If Zhukov had not been given command in the field, it would have been Nikolai Vatutin who gained the title of Conqueror of Berlin.
Amazing coincidence of conflict between the same parties 70 years ago!
“Marshal Nikolai VatutinOn the Eastern Front... The commander of the Soviet 1st Ukrainian Front, Marshal Nikolai Vatutin, is ambushed by Ukrainian nationalist partisans and mortally wounded while on a motor tour with Nikita Khrushchev in the area of the Soviet 60th Army. Zhukov replaces him in command.”
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