Skip to comments.RUSSIANS SWEEP INTO BESSARABIA; NAZIS HIT BACK ON CASSINO’S RIM (3/20/44)
Posted on 03/20/2014 4:38:01 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
Winston S. Churchill, Closing the Ring
Soviets capture Vinnitsa
Monday, March 20, 1944 www.onwar.com
On the Eastern Front... Soviet forces continue to advance along a broad front throughout the Ukraine. Troops of 1st Ukrainian Front capture Mogilev Podolsky and Vinnitsa (former headquarters for Adolf Hitler and, afterward, German Army Group South), both important communication centers.
In Burma... The first brigade of the British 5th Division arrives at Imphal by air. A battalion is sent to Kohima.
In Italy... British General Alexander, Supreme Allied Command in the Mediterranean, agrees to the request of New Zealand Corps commander General Freyberg to halt attacks on Cassino because of heavy losses, unless substantial progress is achieved within the next two days.
In the Bismark Archipelago... The US 4th Marine Division (General Noble) lands on Emirau Island, in the Matthias group. There is no Japanese resistance. Naval support includes 4 carriers and 7 cruisers. Admiral Griffin commands 4 battleships and 2 carriers in attacks on Kavieng as cover for the landings.
March 20th, 1944 (MONDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: The Ninth Air Force’s 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Group completes a series of 83 missions begun on 23 February during which photographs were made of 160 miles (260 km) of the French coastline and two inshore strips, all in preparation for the Normandy invasion. A total over 9,500 prints are produced; no aircraft were lost during this operation.
Rescue tug HMS Freedom commissioned.
ITALY: Cassino: The new commander of the Canadian 1 Corps, Lt-Gen Eedson Burns - better known to his troops as “Smiling Sunray” because of his dour, unchanging manner - is a formidable intellectual and the complete antithesis of his predecessor, Lt-Gen Henry Crerar. The outgoing, dynamic Crerar has left for Britain where he will join General Montgomery in D-Day planning. Burns, who is inexperienced in tank warfare, commanded the 5th Canadian Armoured Division, part of Canadian I Corps.
U.S.S.R.: Another Russian advance in the Ukraine gives the Germans little chance for concentrating for a defence.
The Red Army captures Mogilev-Podolski and Vinnitsa, key bases in the Ukraine.
ALGERIA: Algiers: Pierre Pucheu, the former Vichy interior minister found guilty of treason, is shot.
BURMA: Air Commando Combat Mission N0.33 2:55 Flight time Hailakandi to Indaw Lake, Burma. Reached objective around 1600 hours. Caught fifteen Japanese trucks loaded with troops on a road just west of town. Road was in a narrow defile. Blocked first and last trucks in convoy with .75mm shell fire and went into our gunnery/bombing pattern. Completely destroyed convoy with machine gun, cannon and frag bombs. Also located five locomotives, damaging 2 and blowing the boilers out of 3.
Notes: Our primary objective was the locomotives on the Burma railway and we just happened to catch the convoy by accident. A target of opportunity causing some 300 casualties and a 36 hour lull in Japanese resistance. Expended the entire ready rack of .75 mm shells (21) plus several I had stashed away on our cockpit floor. (Chuck Baisden)
SOLOMON ISLANDS: On Bougainville Island the Japanese ground forces mount their last major thrust to break into the American perimeter. The ground attack is broken by by artillery fire from U.S. Army units.
BISMARK ARCHIPELAGO: A US Marine Corps infantry regiment lands on Emirau Island in the St. Mathias Islands without opposition. Supporting the invasion are aircraft of Task Force 36 from:
Task Unit 36.1.5, the Air Support Force Carrier Unit, consisting of:
USS Enterprise (CV-6) with Carrier Air Group Ten (CVG-10), and
USS Belleau Wood (CVL-24) with Light Carrier Air Group Twenty Four (CVLG-24).
Task Unit 36.3.1, the Air Support Force Escort Carrier Support Unit, consisting of:
USS Coral Sea (CVE-57) with Composite Squadron Thirty Three (VC-33), and
USS Corregidor (CVE-58) with VC-41.
Aircraft from Task Group 36.3, the Air Support Force Air Support Group, support the landing by attacking Kavieng on New Ireland Island. The carriers of TG 36.3 are:
USS Manila Bay (CVE-61) with VC-7, and
USS Natoma Bay (CVE-62) with VC-63).
CANADA: Frigate HMCS Strathadam launched.
Corvette HMCS Hepatica arrived New York City for refit.
Destroyer escort USS Rolf laid down.
Destroyer minelayer USS Adams laid down.
Destroyer escort USS Haas launched.
Destroyers USS Preston and Blue commissioned.
Destroyer escorts USS Mason and Dennis commissioned.
Interesting article on Army leadership. The more things change....
Yeah, good catch. Martinets. They’re still around.
I wonder if having Sobel in a way made them better because it created a bond between the men who opposed him. They put their necks on the line together to get him removed.
Looking at the Wikipedia page for Sobel (yes, there is one) it seems that the characterization of him in the series was contested by some of the 505 vets. Some of the vets said his training did help them when it came time for combat.
Like most things, there is probably some truth both ways. By being a total dick, he probably did cause the men to bond together. On the other hand, that doesn’t mean in actual combat they’d want to go take the hill because he said so. Good trainers don’t necessarily make good combat leaders.
True, and I think Colonel Sink showed his brilliance in handling the situation.
True. George McClellan comes to mind.
George McClellan was a total dick, but his troops loved him. Grant took the army he built, and gutted it in bringing Lee to bay. That’s what had to be done, but McClellan was never going to be the general to do it.
Article on page 6 about British Sloops sinking 6 U-boats in a 20 day period mentions Capt. F.J. Walker, the leading submarine killer with 17 kills.
He was called Johnnie Walker after the whiskey and worked himself to death, dying from exhaustion this coming July.
Hanson Baldwin, USNA class of 1924 had quite an axe to grind against the Army, didn’t he. I suppose that was all part of the campaign to ensure that the Navy could keep both its air arm and it army (the Marine Corps) when the Defense Department was formed after the war.
Sobel sort of reminded me of Sgt. Himmelstoss in All Quiet on the Western Front
Both arguably did their jobs by making the men physically ready for combat. One could also say the abuse they poured out also helped prepare the men emotionally.
Sobel had a very tragic life. He tried to commit suicide in the 60’s but only managed to sever both of his optic nerves. Blinded, he spent the rest of his life in a VA assisted living center.
The troops personally despised Patton as a martinet, but would follow him anywhere because they knew he was the best field army commander in the Army.
Sobel was a tough trainer, but with his mapreading skills, he would have gotten people killed. And they knew it.
The problem is the Army is growing so fast that the officers are 90 day wonders and clueless about what they're doing. The experienced NCO corps is spread so thin that often young officers are paired with NCO's that have little more experience than they do. The natural leaders intuitively know there is a zone between being a martinet and getting too close to the men, and that's where they live.
Agreed. Seems like we see this recycle during every major conflict. Remember shake and bake NCOs during Vietnam? I was very lucky as a young Infantry butter bar post Vietnam assigned to an Infantry Battalion with only a handful of seasoned NCOs on hand. My PSG and two of my E-6 squad leaders being among them. Both of those squad leaders were fresh from assignment with the 1st Ranger Battalion. My PSG had multiple combat tours in Vietnam under his belt. I was extremely fortunate and my education level as a young officer benefited immensely. Some of my peers had junior E5s as PSGs and E-4s with less than 2 years service as squad leaders. That’s what Carter’s post Vietnam Army looked like. We were broke in so many ways.
The NCO corps was slowing re-establishing itself after what happened in Vietnam. By the end of the seventies a lot of the damage had been undone. I was lucky too and worked with some damn fine NCO's.
I remember signing for firing pins when we signed out our weapons from the arms room. Same for radio batteries. All of our rolling stock was dogged out, beat up leftovers from Vietnam. If we rolled out the gate to the field with 70% of our people and equipment, it was a good day. Battalions took turns borrowing each others’ soldiers and equipment to conduct their annual ARTEPs. We were damned glad when Reagan became President, although it took several years before we saw real changes in equipment, training, etc...