Skip to comments.ROME CAPTURED INTACT BY THE 5TH ARMY AFTER FIERCE BATTLE THROUGH SUBURBS (6/5/44)
Posted on 06/05/2014 4:28:05 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
John Toland, The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945
Winston S. Churchill, Closing the Ring
Prime Minister to Chief of the Air Staff 5 June 44
Thank you for your minute of May 17, enclosing photographs taken from the air and with the latest camera modification. They show a remarkable improvement in technique, and I hope we have ample special cameras available for use in operations.
Lord Cherwell also showed me a night photograph taken by similar technique which was very much better defined than any night photos I have previously seen. No doubt the enemy will do much of his movement by night, so that we should make sure cameras for this sort of work are ready.
Winston S. Churchill, Triumph and Tragedy
I found some film negatives with my fathers letters and had them developed. I dont know exactly when or where they were taken but I suspect it was around this time and they may be the ones he refers to in this letter. He appears in all 4 of the photos below HJS.
Godfrey Talbot, BBC, reports Rome taken by Allies. (1:16)
Richard Dimbleby, BBC reports on the first D-Day aircraft taking off. (0:47)
Field Marshal Montgomerys address on eve of D-Day (0:54)
General Eisenhowers pre-D-Day announcement to the troops. (1:42) General Eisenhower, This great and noble undertaking
Finally, BBC broadcasts cryptic messages for the French resistance. If you remember The Longest Day you should remember this. (1:05)
AEF crossing the English Channel
Monday, June 5, 1944 www.onwar.com
Eisenhower speaks to paratroopers before their departure [photo at link]
On the Western Front... Allied airborne troops embark for Normandy just before midnight. The convoys carrying the Allied Expeditionary Force are nearing France.
From London... The BBC broadcasts a second message, intended for the French Resistance, warning of the imminent invasion. Again, the significance of the message is noted by German authorities but the 7th Army in Normandy is not alerted.
In Italy... The US 5th Army enters Rome in force and continues to advance in pursuit of the retreating German forces. Traffic congestion on the limited road network hinders the advance, as does the German rearguards.
In New Guinea... On Biak, elements of the US 41st Division continue to advance, reducing pockets of Japanese resistance. On the mainland, near Aitape, American forces evacuate one of their beachheads because of continuing Japanese attacks. The Japanese forces are sustaining heavy losses.
In Burma... A British flank attack at Kohima forces the Japanese forces off the Aradura Spur and into retreat. The road to Imphal remains blocked by Japanese forces.
June 5th, 1944 (MONDAY)
The USAAF’s Eighth Air Force in England flies two missions.
Mission 392: 423 of 464 B-17s and 203 of 206 B-24s hit coastal defenses in the Le Havre, Caen, Boulogne and Cherbourg, France areas; four B-17s and two B-24s are lost. Escorting are 127 P-47 Thunderbolts and 245 P-51 Mustangs; one P-47 and one P-51 are lost.
Mission 393: Seven of eight P-51 fighter-bomber attack a truck convoy near Lille, France; the 8th P-51 bombs Lille/Vendeville Airfield.
Personal Memory: “Cherbourg Peninsula, France,” my diary reads. “Heavy gun emplacements on invasion coast. Made three bomb runs. Meager flak, no damage. Four tenths cloud cover on target. Saw hundreds of ships near English coast. Things may pop open very soon now.” This was to be a short mission so we traded fuel for bombs. Each of the nine planes in our part of the group carried sixteen, 500 pound semi-armor piercing bombs. We departed England at Selsey Bill at 23,000 feet and headed for our IP which was in the English Channel as determined by LORAN. This was a crude form of modern LORAN which uses three stations while ours was only two stations that could take us within a quarter mile of a given point. Due to clouds we were unable to see the target and after three tries, returning to the IP each time we finally dropped our bombs on a heavy gun emplacement near an air strip. They received our attention because of bad weather elsewhere. We dropped our 144 bombs and then let down through clouds and returned to Molesworth. We saw two fighters but they were both ours. Score so far, Milk Runs: 5, Others: 4.(Dick Johnson)
In preparation for D-Day, three B-17s fly weather reconnaissance over the UK and the Atlantic Ocean.
During the night, eleven B-24s fly CARPETBAGGER missions; one B-24 is lost over Belgium.
The USAAF’s Ninth Air Force in England dispatches 100+ B-26s to bomb coastal defence batteries in France; 100+ P-47s dive-bomb targets in the same area.
The second code word message is transmitted to French Resistance indicated the invasion is near. German units are again alerted, but the 7th Army in Normandy is not.
Rommel leaves his HQ for Germany.
Rocket-firing Hawker Typhoons of Nos. 174, 175 and 245 Squadrons RAF destroy the Jouourg radar station. (22)
D-Day Countdown The German Perspective Monday, 5 June, 1944
The orders go out at once to the Allied fleets. Nearly 6,000 ships of all types begin to set sail once again from various points in England. Thousands of vessels will be leaving port all throughout the 5th. Spearheading the task forces are waves of various-sized minesweepers. There are some 255, Including the ones already working. They must clear wide channels through the German minefields so that the task forces can safely pass through them.
The central office for Professor Walther Stroebe, in charge of weather forecasting for the Germans in the West, has predicted that the weather for June 5th would be bad and it has turned out that way. It is generally assumed by the Wermacht that no invasion will come. Dr. Stroebe gives his staff members the day off. The weather will probably continue to be bad for a few days.
Late this morning, Adolf Hitler chairs a conference on Portuguese tungsten imports. He then attends his noontime OKW conference. Most of the time is spent discussing the withdrawal of the German 10th Army from the Americans advancing up the Italian boot.
That afternoon, he has a lengthy talk with Speer and Jodl about the Rhine bridges. Speer, recently noting damage by an Allied air raid, and reading reports of the Seine bridges going down, has suddenly realized that the enemy could knock out all the Rhine bridges in one day. A landing in the North Sea would then become effective, and a blitz down through Germany could effectively neutralize all the units in France.
Jodl dryly comments, “I suppose you are now, on top of everything else, becoming an armchair strategist as well.” Hitler though, finds merit in the argument, and they had spent some time making plans to set up smoke screens around the Rhine bridges.
Later, the Führer will undergo a faecal examination by his doctor for his meteorism.*
That evening, they will hear Roosevelt on the radio, broadcasting the liberation of Rome.
Throughout the 5th, nothing unusual is reported to -Heeres- gruppe B-. There has been no recon flights this month, so no photo-intelligence reports have to be analyzed. There is, in short, nothing that plausibly indicates that an invasion might be on its way. On the contrary, it is dreary outside, raining at times.
Rommel enjoys June 5th at home in Herrlingen, lounging around in relaxed attire with Lucie and Manfred. With them was Hildegarde Kircheim, whose husband had been with Rommel early-on in North Africa.
During the day, Rommel checks in by phone with General Schmundt, Hitler’s army adjutant, to arrange for a meeting with the Fuehrer. Schmundt tells him that the Fuehrer would probably have some time to see him in the next day or two - probably on Thursday, the 8th. Schmundt would call him back later to confirm this.
In the meantime, Rommel enjoys his time at home, relaxing. He goes over what he will discuss with the Fuehrer.
At about 9:18 P.M., General von Salmuth, playing a boring game of bridge with his chief of staff and two other officers, is interrupted by his intelligene officer, Meyer.
“Herr General!” he exclaims. “The message! The second part - it’s here!”
The second verse of the Verlaine poem. If the Abwehr was correct, the invasion would come within the next 24 hours.
Von Salmuth thinks a moment, then calmly orders the 15th Army to full alert. Later, he comments, “I’m too old a bunny to get too excited about this.”
In the meantime, Meyer tears down the hallway to alert the other major commands. -—————
That evening, a strange event takes place at Rommel’s head- quarters. His chief-of-staff, the overthrow plot foremost on his mind, has taken the liberty of inviting by phone a number of guests over for dinner. This included many co-conspirators from the Paris section of the secret anti-Hitler resistance. With unusual Teutonic humor, he prefaces his unexpected invitations with the wry phrase “The Old Man’s gone away”.
There are a number of interesting guests. Among them is Speidel’s brother-in-law Dr. Max Horst, who works in military administration. There is of course author/philosopher Ernst Juenger, now a captain serving with the military governor of France. There is `war reporter’ and good friend Major Wilhelm von Schramm, who was a good friend .
Juenger brings with him a secret, 20-page document that he has written. It describes a detailed plan on how they intend to make peace with the Allies after the Fuehrer is either overthrown and imprisoned, or just killed.
They spend an interesting evening in the château. There are a number of discussions about a variety of subjects, both before and during dinner. Closer to the main theme of the evening, they also talked about “the insufficient development of Hitler’s future plans.”
After dinner, the guests take a number of brief walks about the château. A number of them go over Jünger’s written peace proposal, to be given to the Allies after Hitler’s demise. Plans to involve the field marshal probably are lso discussed. The plotters needed his name to give credence to their coup if and when it occurs.
Just after 10 P.M., Speidel gets a call from Col. Staub- wasser at the Operations Desk. He tells Speidel about the second verse to the Verlaine poem.
Speidel excuses himself from his guests, walks down to operations, and discusses the message with Staubwasser. Speidel finally recommends that they call OB West. They do, and Operations Officer Bodo Zimmermann there tells them no alert is necessary. So they forget the matter.
At 7th Army headquarters, Chief of Staff Max Pemsel is concerned. There is a -Kriegspiel- scheduled for the next day at Rennes. Despite his recommendations, too many key officers have left that evening, citing the weather and Allied bombing as excuses for leaving early. The number that are absent is alarming. Field Marshal Rommel, perhaps the key figure in the command chain, is at home with his family. So is his operations officer, von Tempelhoff.
Most of Seventh Army commanders are gone. General von Schlieben, commanding the 709th Division; General Hellmich, commanding the 243rd division; General Falley, with the 91st Air Landing Division
Max shakes his head. It is going to be a long night.**
Around 10:30 P.M. in England, hundreds of C-47’s begin their motors. Destination: Normandy. -———————
Field Marshal von Rundstedt enjoys a nice evening with his son. They had delighted in an exquisite Parisian dinner at the -Coq Hardi-, and are now back at the field marshal’s villa. They are planning to leave his headquarters in the morning. Von Rundstedt wants to take his son on a tour the Atlantic Wall.
Around 10 P.M., after von Rundstedt’s son has gone to bed, Blumentritt walks in on the old man with a special message. Their Intelligence Officer, Meyer-Detring, has received a message from 15th Army Intelligence. The second half of the Verlaine poem has just come in. If Intelligence is correct, the invasion is only one or two days away. Blumentritt wanted to know if von Rundstedt wanted to alert the armies along the coast.
Von Rundstedt does not even look at the message. He doubts that there was any truth to it. He does not believe in any of this covert cloak and dagger stuff anyway, and he sure as hell does not believe that the enemy would risk tipping the Germans off that they are coming, just to get some Resistance fighters active.
He looks at his chief of staff skeptically. “Blumentritt, do you think that a commander like Eisenhower would announce the invasion over the BBC?!?”
Of course, when he put it that way...
“Well, sir,” the chief replies, “Even so, von Salmuth is alerting the Fifteenth Army.”
The field marshal snorts derisively. “Idiots,” he quips.
He looks up. “Well, pass the information on to OKW and to Blaskowitz.”
“Shall we order a general alert?”
“No,” the field marshal barks. “Especially not in this weather.”
Thousands of Resistance fighters, alerted by certain prepared, coded messages broadcast that evening by the BBC (including the Verlain verse), prepare to execute dozens of different missions against their 4-year oppressors. They carefully uncover hidden explosives, guns, knives, and other weapons or equipment that they will need in the next 48 hours.
Each of their missions has some significance to the upcoming invasion. Many of them will have to do with cutting communication links, while others will attack transportation routes. They will damage bridges, block roads, or cause breaks in rail lines, including the Avranches, Cherbourg, and Caen rail lines into St.Lo.
All of these missions are designed to further isolate western France.
Admiral Hennecke at Cherbourg, has spent a relaxing day, bolstered by the forecast his staff had given him that the weather would continue to be foul for several days.
“Then that means,” Hennecke had replied with a grin, “that the next date on which all the conditions of tide, moon and overall weather situation necessary for a landing would coincide would not be until...” He consults his chart. “Until the second half of June, right?”
The weather officer had nodded. “Excellent,” Hennecke had replied.
So he had enjoyed an informal day. That evening he attends a small social function. He had gone to a concert given by a German “USO” troop, and has asked a number of performers back to his villa. He is now listening to the wife to one of his senior lieutenants playing Schumann’s “Papillons”.
One of his lieutenants is called to the phone. It is the battle headquarters in the tunnel below the villa. “They report,” he whispers, “Very heavy air raids on towns and roads in the coastal area, Herr Admiral. Other strong bomber formations are reported from the Calvados coast.”
The admiral, his eyes never leaving the musicians, gently nodds his head in acknowledgement and looks at his watch. It is 11:30 P.M.
General Marcks at his 84th Corps headquarters in St Lo is resigned to spending the rest of the night there. He too would probably have left for Rennes that evening, had he not become so engrossed in planning for the next day’s exercise to be held there. And besides, his staff wants to give him a small party. After all, he will be 53rd birthday on Tuesday. So he decides to delay his departure until the next morning.
As 12 A.M. approaches, he studies map after map for the upcoming exercise. He is to be the enemy, and the theoretical invasion site will be Normandy.
* Equated to tympanites, which is a flatulent distention of the stomach; the presence of gas in the stomach intestines.
** Other commanders missing include: General Edgar Feuchtinger, commanding the 21st Panzer Division, somewhere in Paris; Waffen SS General Sepp Dietrich, commander of the 1st SS Panzer Corps, is in Brussels; Admiral Krancke, down in Bordeaux; Von Rundstedt’s intelligence officer, Col Meyer-Detring was getting ready to leave; even Grossadmiral Karl Doenitz, is united with his family in their home in the Black Forest.
ITALY: The Allies stage a triumphal entry into Rome.
The USAAF’s Fifteenth Air Force in Italy dispatches 440+ B-17s and B-24s to hit targets in Italy; B-17s hit railroad bridges at Pioppi and Vado; and B-24s hit marshalling yards at Bologna, Castel Maggiore, Forli, Ferrara, Faenza and four railroad bridges; P-38s and P-51s fly escort; 53 P-38s strafe Ferrara and Poggio Renatico Airfields and 40 strafe and dive-bomb airfields at Bologna and Reggio Emilia.
INDIA: The USAAF’s Twentieth Air Force flies its first B-29 Superfortress combat mission. 77 of 98 India-based aircraft bomb the primary target, the railroad shops at Bangkok, Siam between 1052 and 1232 hours local. Because of a heavy undercast, 48 bomb by radar. Five B-29s are lost to non-battle causes.
PACIFIC OCEAN: N. D. COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 522, Pacific and Far East. 1. U. S. submarines have reported the sinking of sixteen vessels in operations against the enemy in these waters, as follows:
1 large transport
1 large cargo vessel
7 medium cargo vessels
2 small cargo vessels
4 medium cargo transports
1 small cargo transport
2. These actions have not been reported in any previous Navy Department communiqué.
N. D. COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 523, Atlantic. 1. The Escort Carrier USS Block Island was sunk in the Atlantic during May, 1944 as the result of enemy action.
2. The next of kin of casualties, which were light, have been notified.
CINCPAC PRESS RELEASE NO. 433, Several enemy patrol-type vessels were sighted west of Truk Atoll on June 2 (West Longitude Date) and attacked by a single search plane. One was probably sunk and all were heavily strafed. On June 3 another search plane sighted the disposition and made an attack which resulted in the sinking of one of the auxiliaries and severe damage to another.
Liberators of the Eleventh Army Air Force bombed Ketoi Island in the Kuriles before dawn on June 4. No opposition was encountered. A single search plane of Fleet Air Wing Four bombed Paramushiru Island before dawn on June 4. All of our planes (Denis Peck)
TERRITORY OF HAWAII: 37 P-47s of the 73rd Fighter Squadron USAAF are loaded onto the USN escort carrier USS MANILA BAY. Another 37 P-47s of 19th Fighter Squadron are loaded onto USS NATOMA BAY.
CANADA: Mention in Dispatches: Lt Alan GARDNER RCNVR Tug HMCS Heatherton commissioned Examination Vessel HMCS Listowel ordered from Chatier Maritime de St.Laurent, Province of Quebec.
Frigate HMCS Jonquiere arrived Halifax from builder Quebec City, Province of Quebec.
An extract from Jim Verdolini’s diary:
June 5, 1944.
Well, she is still afloat behind us. . Guess, they think if the Germans know we captured her, we would have all the wolf packs in the Atlantic after us, and we would go the way of the Block Island, our sister ship sunk just north of us. Our Com officer was sent back to the States on our fastest DE with around 12 duffle bags of loot we got off the sub. I saw some manuals with a big German swastika on the cover. I think they are the code books.
If the Germans knew we had one of their subs, wow! They keep telling me we are always one mile from land. Straight down. We are towing the sub back to the states.
The captain put up big signs “ Keep your bowels open, and your mouth shut, when we get into port”. (footnote: No one ever let it leak out, and a year later, they sent me a letter, saying I could write home about Junior( our nickname for U 505).
The skipper of U 505 was Capt. Lange. A decent sort of guy. We put the German crew under the flight deck, in caged walkways. We let them out during the day, to play volleyball, when we lowered the elevators, and gave them good food, and gedunk(ice cream). Of course our boatswain’s mate kept a tommy gun on them at all times.
I don’t know, but something in my gut tells me that something really big is going to happen tomorrow.
On June 4, 1944, an soldier from Detroit, Sam Lucido, entered Rome with the 3rd I.D. Two days later (D-Day) he met a young girl named Assunta. Two years later, he returned to marry her. I was their third child.
Part of my fascination with WWII is how it reverberates to this day in so many ways. For me, also, it determined how my parents met.
This evening at 6:48 pm eastern, the first PIR’s jumped.
My father did not meet a nice girl in New Guinea and return after the war to marry her.
"Hannah Szenes relaxes in her native Budapest, Hungary, before the war.
Very gifted, Hannah excelled in her studies before immigrating to Palestine, where she joined a kibbutz.
Her diaries and poems reflect a love of life exceeded only by her fierce commitment to the Jewish people.
One of a daring band of parachutists sent into Yugoslavia to rescue Allied pilots and further Jewish resistance, she was captured after crossing into Hungary.
Tortured, she refused to reveal radio codes.
Her poem 'Blessed Is the Match' became an emblem of her own heroic self-sacrifice.
It included the line 'Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame.' "
"Immigrating to Palestine from her native Slovakia in 1939, Haviva Reik joined the Hagana (Jewish military organization) to fight the Nazis.
Following that service, Reik volunteered for the even more dangerous duty of parachutist, hoping that she could return to her native land to rescue her fellow Jews.
Landing near Banská Bystrica, Slovakia, on September 21, 1944, she sought to reach leaders of the Jewish Resistance in Bratislava.
Fierce fighting impeded her mission, and Reik, her fellow parachutists, and local partisans retreated to the mountains.
Captured by the SS, she was fatally shot on November 20."
"About 250 Palestinian Jews volunteered to serve as paratroopers in the British Army--a highly dangerous mission.
The ones selected were chosen from the best and brightest Eastern European Jews, those who could speak Balkan languages and were familiar with Balkan customs and geography.
"After training, 32 Jews parachuted into the Balkans, Austria, and France to spy for the British.
Once the Jews finished their Allied missions, the British permitted them to help their Jewish coreligionists.
Although the British were at first opposed to the training of Palestinian Jews to fight, the British deputy minister of state in Cairo, Lord Walter Moyne, finally agreed to their training.
Cynically, he recognized that parachuting the bravest Jews on suicide missions in Eastern Europe would permanently remove them from Palestine.
"One of the most famous Palestinian-Jewish paratroopers was Hannah Szenes, a Hungarian-born poet.
Like most others, she successfully completed her mission for the British. But once her task for them was completed, she was caught and executed by the Germans.
nother of the group, Enzo Sereni, was trained by the British and dropped into northern Italy in May 1944.
Wearing the uniform of a British captain, he was captured and sent to the Dachau, Germany, concentration camp, where he was a leading figure among the prisoners."
Thanks, Larry, quite a story.
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