Skip to comments.1,000 U.S. ‘HEAVIES’ BLAST BERLIN; MORE SHIPS SUNK AT SEVASTOPOL (4/30/44)
Posted on 04/30/2014 4:39:10 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
The News of the Week in Review
The Main Objectives in a Week of the Air Offensive (map) 12
Air Invasion 13-14
Other Fronts 14-15
Fifteen News Questions 16
In the Pacific Theatre the Allies Hold the Offensive (map) 17
Our Forces in Pacific Overwhelm the Enemy (Kluckhohn) 18
Hon. Nip Up Tree (cartoon) 19
Report from the Nation (by Lawrence Dame, Virginius Dabney, James E. Crown, Louther S. Horne, Roland M. Jones, and Lawrence E. Davies) 20-21
Answers to Fifteen News Questions 21
Letters to the Times 25-27
The New York Times Magazine
Symbol of Our Coming Invasion of Europe: The New Emblem Worn by Eisenhowers Staff 28-29
The Fateful X: How Strong is Germany (by Hanson W. Baldwin) 30-36
Uncle Joe Footslogs with His Soldiers (by Tillman Durdin) 37-38
Allies hold firm at Imphal
Sunday, April 30, 1944 www.onwar.com
In Burma... The battle for Imphal continues. Japanese forces, however, are experiencing food shortages.
In the Caroline Islands... US Task Force 58 (Admiral Mitscher) raids the Japanese base at Truk for a second day. Over the two days, the Japanese lose 93 aircraft out of a total 104 while the Americans lose 35 planes. Meanwhile, American Admiral Oldendorf leads a force of 9 cruisers and 8 destroyers to bombard targets in the Sawatan Islands, southeast of Truk.
April 30th, 1944 (SUNDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: Civilian air raid casualties this month were 146 dead and 226 injured.
In an all-out aerial assault on enemy communications in northern Europe, goods trains, road and rail bridges, radar installations, wireless telegraphy stations and power station transformers within 150 miles of the planned invasion zone are being pounded in day and night attacks. The bombing range, extending from Liege, in Belgium, to Orleans in central France, is calculated to leave the Germans guessing as to the landing area.
About 1,000 locomotives have been knocked out in recent months; one squadron wrecked 34 on two nights under a “Bombers’ moon”. Trains seeking refuge in tunnels are sealed inside by bombs at each entrance. Some 18,000 labourers from the Todt Organization, allocated to Rommel after his urgent appeals for help in strengthening coastal defences, have had to be put to work repairing railway tracks, some 75% of which have become unusable in northern France.
Allied servicemen assemble in Britain: Southern England is a gigantic armed camp with vast tank, truck and artillery parks, and innumerable arms dumps to, to equip an invasion force of over 3.5 million men, over a million of them Americans.
The initial assault will be carried out by Americans, Britons - with Irish volunteers - and Canadians. But almost every occupied country in Europe will join in the assault on the Germans: the French have Gen Leclerc’s 2nd Armoured Division from North Africa; the Poles an armoured division and nine air squadrons; the Belgians a brigade and two squadrons; the Dutch a brigade and two squadrons; the Norwegians four squadrons and the Czechs three. The Australians and New Zealanders have five air squadrons each.
“Prefab” house is built in three days: London: The first pre-fabricated or factory-made house has been erected in three days in London and is now on view. The single-storey house of 600 square feet arrived in parts on Wednesday and was ready for occupation by Saturday afternoon. Mr. Churchill has said that 500,000 will be erected for bombed-out families and demobilised servicemen after the war.
The “pre-fab”, made of sheet steel lined with plywood, has two bedrooms, living room, kitchen, bathroom, lavatory and bicycle shed. A single wall unit comprises a bath and wash-basin on one side and a cooker, sink and refrigerator on the other. It will cost £550.
FRANCE: Sunday, 30 April, 1944
After an early breakfast, -Generalfeldmarschall- Erwin Rommel and his inspection group board a patrol boat in the port of Royan (north bank of the Gironde River) and travel south-southwest across the estuary. They pass the destroyer -Z-37- and circle her once in salutation.
The crew responds smartly, turning out in parade formation, (they’ve been told that the Desert Fox is on that little patrol boat) and returning salutes. Rommel is moved.
Their cars are waiting for them, and they leave southward towards Bordeaux. They pass a large section of coast recently ravaged by a forest fire. This fire had detonated or destroyed five percent of the estimated 200,000 mines laid there. On top of that, the areas is too lightly defended.
Rommel holds his tongue. After all, this area is commanded by 1st Army commander Johannes Blaskowitz.
Technically, the 1st is directly subordinate to OB West, Field Marshal von Rundstedt, and it is only a matter of time before the 1st and the 19th are combined to form a new army group.* So there’s no need to stir up trouble.
Rommel finally reaches Blaskowitz’s headquarters at Bordeaux late in the morning. Admiral Ruge (Rommel’s Naval Advisor) and the 1st Army staff go into conference, while Rommel and Blaskowitz talk privately for a short while.
Blaskowitz and Rommel continue talking through lunch, relating their past experiences. Rommel of course talks about North Africa (specifically, El Alamein), and Gen. Blaskowitz tells of his experiences in Poland in `39, briefly going over the atrocities that he had protested
against so vehemently.
By 1 P.M., Rommel and co. are on the road again on this beautiful Sunday afternoon. They finally reach the town of Biarritz.
That evening, they dine in the soldier’s mess, being served on priceless Basque china. Rommel finds himself as usual the centre of attention, surrounded by
smiling, adulating men. He beams and, rising to the occasion, he launches into one of his North African stories. This one is about his first retreat, and the
resulting problems that he had experienced with that bombast Italian General Bastico. (1)
When he finally finishes, the men make comments and ask him questions, trying to get him to converse with them, relishing their time with him. He tries
answering them, and listens patiently when here or there someone tells some a short story of his own.
By now, the mess hall is packed. Men have come from near and far to see him and to hear him speak. They prod him for some time, asking him about things like fighting the British in North Africa, the Italians, his hectic flight across France, and of course, the upcoming invasion.
He finally realizes that it is getting late, and that he is keeping these men from their duties. Rising from the table, he thanks everyone sincerely for letting him dine with them. In turn, the officer-in-charge of the mess thanks him profoundly for the esteemed privilege of dining with them. Rommel smiles.
He rises to leave, when suddenly the men impulsively break out into a rousing cheer. They are clapping wildly, some of them in tears. They are applauding him-—The Desert Fox. A true German hero. He is moved, and fights to keep his own tears from coming.
They can see now that he wants to say something, so the cheering dies down. Gazing at them, he finds it difficult to speak. With a slight tremor in his voice, he thanks the men sincerely for their warmth and fond sentiment. Then he turns and leaves.
It is a day he will remember for quite a while -— this elegant dinner at Biarritz.
*. Von Rundstedt had proposed it to OKW back in March and had designated that it go to Blaskowitz. OKW had agreed at the beginning of April.
(1) Mike Yaklich adds:
Yes, all that “bombast Italian General Bastico” did was to warn Rommel, during their first meeting, that the British would launch a relief operation before Rommel would be able to mount his own set-piece attack to take Tobruk (the British did, as Bastico predicted, which resulted in Rommel’s retreat mentioned above). This immediately got him on the “Desert Fox’s” bad side (never mind that it was good advice, and good military analysis, nor the inconvenient fact that Bastico was Rommel’s superior and commander-in-chief in the agreed-upon Axis chain of command).
In the days before the British offensive that Bastico correctly predicted (the “Crusader” operation of November-December ‘41), Bastico and his chief of intelligence, Major Revetria, repeatedly pointed out signs of the British build-up (new airfields and supply dumps, extension of new rail lines toward the frontier, extensive forward movement of vehicles, etc), but Rommel, intent on getting his own attack off first (it was scheduled for three days after the British offensive began) ordered his staff to ignore them. As a result, many of the German units were taken by surprise in the first hours of the British assault, and Rommel arguably had his butt saved by the Italian mechanized units on the southern flank (Ariete armoured and Trieste motorized divisions), which had been alerted, and which engaged and took one-quarter of the British tank strength out of the fight for the first 48 hours of the operation.
Had this powerful force, with 160 tanks before they ran into the Italians, been able to fall on the right flank of the already surprised and disorganized German forces as planned, the battle might have been decided in favour of the British within the first 48 hours. As it was, the Italians knocked out about 50 tanks, and, combined with breakdowns, the British force had its working armour cut in half. The battle would become a prolonged affair of attrition, lasting from November 19 until December 8th. Rommel, recovering quickly as always, had essentially won the battle on “Totensonntag,” November 23rd, but then he inexplicably left the field around Tobruk in his ill-conceived “dash to the wire,” an improvised invasion of Egypt, which accomplished nothing except to give the British three full days to recover and regroup their still-superior tank strength. When Rommel eventually had to give up the prolonged slugging-match, he predictably blamed the failure of the totally-spent Italian armoured units to cooperate effectively with his panzers in the last few days of the battle for his entire defeat. He then left the Italians (Ariete armoured and Pavia infantry divisions) to cover his retreat, which they did effectively in a series of rear-guard engagements with the British in mid-December.
After this debacle, most of which arguably can be directly laid at Rommel’s feet (first of all, for refusing to believe unmistakable signs of the coming British offensive, then for throwing away an apparent victory with his “dash to the wire”), Rommel deliberately kept his superior Bastico waiting for a half hour outside his headquarters, then launched into a tirade blaming the Italians for all his troubles. Bastico, it might be mentioned, was a highly successful field commander himself— he was senior to Rommel not only in rank but in experience, having commanded corps-sized formations in Ethiopia and Spain, and having won major victories in both places without losing a single battle. He had also been theatre commander in the Aegean prior to coming to North Africa, and was furthermore something of an intellectual as well, an author on the subject of the art of war who had taught military history at the Italian naval academy and edited Italy’s most prestigious military journal. In short, Bastico wasn’t the type to take that sort of guff, especially from his subordinate (what commanding officer of an entire theatre would?— could you imagine Monty or MacArthur listening to this from one of their corps commanders?), and this session turned stormy in a hurry. At one point Rommel blurted out that all was lost, and that he would retreat with his troops and try to get himself interned in (Vichy French) Tunisia. So much for the calm and confident “Desert Fox,” who never lost his head. This was in December 1941!
It was about this time, or shortly thereafter, that Rommel also ignored warnings from Cavallero, the Chief of the Italian General Staff, that the Allies were reading his radio traffic (Rommel trusted the “unbreakable” Enigma and instead, of course, blamed those notoriously unreliable Italians for “security leaks”). Rommel did call Bastico “Bombastico,” and his staff didn’t like the Italian much either, but I would suggest that a lot of this had to do with the simple fact that Bastico didn’t tolerate the rank insubordination and disrespect with which Rommel was accustomed to treating his Italian allies. Incidentally, Rommel’s career included a long string of senior German officers who also felt he was intolerably insubordinate, only obeying the orders he agreed with (part of the reason that by the end of 1942 Kesselring was conniving with the Italians to get rid of him), and regularly going over his commanders’ heads, exploiting his close personal ties with Hitler. The 1942 desert battles provided the ultimate example of this rank disregard of all established military procedure and etiquette. Rommel launched his own offensive in January 1942, against orders, and did not even notify Bastico (I emphasize again, his immediate superior and the commander of the theatre) until it was already underway. Bastico then grudgingly supported him, putting the interests of the cause above his personal feelings, and was rewarded by being slagged by Rommel afterwards (see “The Rommel Papers,” for instance) for a short delay in releasing the Italian armoured units (his only mobile reserves) to support the unauthorized advance. Later, Rommel violated clear orders from both Cavallero and Kesselring in order to invade Egypt again, an action which resulted in the defeat and virtual destruction of his army within months, again without accomplishing anything beyond scaring the daylights out of the British for a few weeks.
GERMANY: U-2322 launched. (Dave Shirlaw)
U.S.S.R.: The Soviet Navy records 1 submarine loss during the month that is not listed by day:
L-6 Black Sea Fleet Sevastopol (sunk by UJ-104 north of Constanta) (Mike Yared)
INDIA: Japanese forces are gradually worn down in the area of Imphal. The food shortage is taking its toll.
CAROLINE ISLANDS: Having destroyed the Japanese base at Truk and shot down 93 of Japan’s 104 planes, nine US destroyers and eight cruisers shell the Sawatans.
USN Task Force 58 continues air strikes against Japanese installations in especially Truk Atoll. During this two-day attack that began yesterday, only three small ships are found in the harbour that once teemed with ships; all three are sunk. An IJN submarine is also sunk 20 miles (32 km) south of Truk by aircraft and destroyers. In the afternoon, nine heavy cruisers and eight destroyers begin a two-hour bombardment of an airfield on Satawan Island. During this two-day raid, 65 Japanese aircraft are destroyed on the ground.
U.S.A.: Submarine USS Kraken launched. (Dave Shirlaw)
ICELAND: U-955 landed espionage agents Ernst Fresenius, Sigurður Juliusson and Hjalti Björnsson. (Dave Shirlaw)
ATLANTIC OCEAN: Liberty Ship SS William S Thayer sunk by U-711 at 73.46N, 19.10E. (Dave Shirlaw)
1) The tide by now had turned in the European Front. I think that this is about when Hitler’s generals wanted to kill him and try to get out before the eventual annihilation.
2) I love the 15 questions about the news of the day. Too bad most people today (especially younger ones) could never actually answer 5, much less 15.
Those two army privates sentenced to death for raping a young British girl might be able to get a reprieve. They could join a special commando unit with, say, 10 other criminals, and go on a raid of a Nazi HQ the night before D-Day. Or something like that.
The Germans already looking ahead to the war crimes trials after the war. Blaskowitz will commit suicide at Nuremberg.
Blaskowitz was one of the German army commanders in the invasion of Poland in 1939. He did vehemently oppose the atrocities committed by the SS there, which earned him the enmity of the Nazi party and even his own high command. He was relegated to the backwater of France, but finally received command of Army Group G in southern France in 1944. Army Group G initially had fairly strong forces, but by the time the Americans landed in southern France in August, Blaskowitz’ best forces had been sent north into the meatgrinder in Normandy.
It appears that the German soldiers loved Rommel. By this time, the average German knows the odds are against him. They are counting on the Desert Fox to pull off one more upset victory.
“ICELAND: U-955 landed espionage agents Ernst Fresenius, Sigurður Juliusson and Hjalti Björnsson. (Dave Shirlaw)”
During the Second World War, Iceland became tactically important for both sides and Germany sent a series of spies to gather weather information about the area to send back to the Luftwaffe.
But by May 1944 they had become convinced that any naval assault on their forces would be launched from Iceland, MI5 files released on Tuesday by the National Archives in Kew show.
The Germans put together a hurried plan to send three spies to the country to monitor troop movements in a bid to foil Allied attempts to liberate France.
Three Allied forces agents, named Miller, Hoan and Frick, were having dinner in their hotel in Seydisfjordur, Iceland, on the evening of May 5, 1944, when they got wind of the scheme.
A seal hunter had spotted three strangers behaving suspiciously near Borgarfjordur.
The agents tried to alert an Allied ship anchored off the coast in that area but were told it could take hours before it got up enough steam to sail, by which time the men could be deep into the Icelandic wilderness.
So they persuaded the seal hunter to be their guide, borrowed a boat and in the early hours of the morning landed near where the men had been seen.
They hiked across the snow, through the night, following the faint trail left by the spies until finally, at 6am the following day, they spotted them.
Their report notes: ‘’We cocked our pistols and quickened our pace.’’
They surrounded the men, who very quickly confessed to being German soldiers, but claimed they had been sent only to gather meteorological information.
Ernst Fresenius, an avowed Nazi loyalist, was in fact the only German. The other two men, Hjalti Bjornsson and Sigurdur Juliusson, were Icelanders who had been hired as mercenaries by the Nazi military.
They were frogmarched to a farmhouse two miles away where Miller and Frick kept them prisoner while Hoan went back to find the radio transmitter the men had hidden.
A search revealed that the men had £9,000 of sterling, dollars and German marks on them.
It took six interrogation sessions back in UK to establish that the arrested men were in fact trained spies looking for information on troop and naval movements and ships in fjords.
They had attended a special school in Oslo where they learned secret writing, code and sabotage.
The two Icelanders were happy to talk freely about who ran the school, what they learned and even draw diagrams of each room, hoping that they would be set free to return home.
But the German Fresenius was a harder nut to crack and withheld his secret radio call sign from interrogators right until the very end in a bid to stop them sending double-crossing information back to his German masters.
Despite his efforts, British agents did manage to send a message to German control purporting to be from Fresenius and discovered a second radio transmitter he had hidden in the Icelandic hills.
The file notes that it was a badly planned expedition and so rushed that the three enemy spies had barely been given a cover story. They were told to admit to being German spies looking for meteorological information but to keep back the true aim of the trip in a bid to conceal German concern about a naval attack.
Even an examination of their wireless transmitter by British experts found that it had been hurriedly put together without proper parts and valves - which was taken as a sign of increasing equipment shortages in the German forces.
Any hopes that Fresenius, Bjornsson and Juliusson had of returning home or of a dramatic rescue by their spymasters proved hollow.
All three were handed over to the American forces and their file ends with a report from the interrogation camp. It concludes: ‘’There is a vague suggestion that the Germans would be sufficiently interested in Fresenius to arrange for his return from Iceland in a U-boat. My own view is that the Germans will abandon these unsuccessful spies and that any attempts to arrange for a submarine will be doomed to failure.
‘’In my report of 22.5.44 I said the decision may well be that this man should be court martialled and shot. Today I see no reason to depart from that view.’’
I could not located anything on the web suggesting the execution of Ernst Fresenius was carried out.
“Those two army privates sentenced to death for raping a young British girl might be able to get a reprieve. They could join a special commando unit with, say, 10 other criminals, and go on a raid of a Nazi HQ the night before D-Day. Or something like that.”
The best scene from that movie, and completely ad-libbed. Some of the most memorable movie lines are, such as “We need a bigger boat” and “I’ll be back.”
Just after Walter Payton broke Jim Brown’s career rushing record, Saturday Night Live Weekend Update did a story on the NFL reviewing their archives, and they found that Payton had not in fact broken the Brown’s record. NFL Films found footage of additional yardage not credited to Brown in his career stats. SNL then showed the clip from “The Dirty Dozen” of Brown sprinting across the courtyard, chucking hand grenades down the vents. It was hilarious. I tried to find it on You Tube but could not.
I suppose they could have taken some encouragement by how badly the Allies have cocked up the Italy campaign and how easily the Anzio beachhead was contained. But if you look at the big picture the reason for the impasse is a lack of forces - we were trying to take the offensive against an army of almost equal strength - and terrain and weather favoring the defense.
And we have a high command that has very much taken to heart the hard lessons learned at Salerno and Anzio.
The Muslim lobby and PC crowd would never let Ike use a crusader’s sword as his unit symbol today.
Any chance you copied that p1 article about MacArthur and the November election?
Nope. Maybe I can get it on my next news gathering trip.
Thanks. I tried zooming in my browser but it just got fuzzy and appears to continue on a different page.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.