Skip to comments.RUSSIANS OPEN BIG OFFENSIVE AROUND VITEBSK; ATTACK ON CHERBOURG GAINS; EARLY FALL SEEN (6/24/44)
Posted on 06/24/2014 4:12:13 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
#1 Ill Get By - Harry James, with Dick Haymes (reissue of 1941 recording)
#2 - Ill Be Seeing You Bing Crosby
#3 - Swinging on a Star Bing Crosby
#4 I Love You Bing Crosby
#5 - Amor Andy Russell
#6 Long Ago (and Far Away) Dick Haymes, with Helen Forrest
#7 - Long Ago (and Far Away) Jo Stafford
#8 San Fernando Valley - Bing Crosby
#9 - G.I. Jive Louis Jordan
#10 - Ill Be Seeing You - Tommy Dorsey, with Frank Sinatra
Germans resisting Soviet offensive
Saturday, June 24, 1944 www.onwar.com
German infantryman with Panzerfaust [photo at link]
On the Eastern Front... The 1st Belorussian Front joins the offensive against German Army Group Center, launching a two-pronged assault aimed at the encirclement of Bobruisk. Red Army forces have now advanced as much as 25 miles and the Orsha-Vitebsk rail line is cut. Elements of the 1st Baltic Front and 3rd Belorussian Front are threatening to encircle the German 53rd Corps (part of 3rd Panzer Army) at Vitebsk. Orsha, to the south, is also threatened. The 2nd Belorussian Front presses on Mogilev.
On the Western Front... The battle for Cherbourg continues. American forces of US 7th Corps (part of 1st Army) continue to make progress. The German garrison commander, General Schlieben, refuses to surrender.
In the Mariana Islands... The battle for Saipan continues as US 5th Amphibious Corps makes progress. The 27th Division clears the southern part of the island and most of the division moves northward. The 2nd Marine Division continues to battle for Mount Tapotchau.
In the Volcano Bonin Islands... Japanese bases on Iwo Jima and Chichi Jima are raided by American carrier aircraft. The planes are from Hornet, Yorktown, Bataan and Belleau Wood (a force commanded by Admiral Clark). Japanese losses are 66 aircraft.
June 24th, 1944 (SATURDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: The USAAF’s Eighth Air Force in England flies three missions.
Mission 438: During the morning 967 bombers are dispatched in four forces to hit targets in Germany and FRANCE: five bombers are lost:
1. Of 340 B-17 Flying Fortresses, 213 hit oil industry targets in Bremen, 53 hit an aircraft factory at Westermunde and 40 attack Bremen; one B-17 is lost. Escort is provided by six fighter groups (185 P-38 Lightnings and 85 P-47 Thunderbolts); one group str afes an airfield and rail transport in the Munster and Hamm areas and claims 2-0-0 Luftwaffe aircraft on the ground.
Personal Memory: Diary for today: “Bremen, Germany, Oil refinery. PFF (Radar) Target nine tenths clouded. Flak moderate to intense. Few flak holes. Hate to go there on a clear day. Another Flak City.” We each carried 18 bombs of 250 pounds each to bomb an oil refinery at Oslebshausen, a suburb of Bremen all of which was in the industrial section of Bremen. Beiser and I had the newly repaired “Buzz Blonde” and we were in the number 4 position. Bob Sheets, our 427th operations officer was flying lead with Lieutenants Wardowski and Roy flying his wing positions. We had 17 planes flying the low group of the 41st “A” combat wing. We assembled over our base at Molesworth at 4,000 feet and flew in Wing formation until we reached the IP. We overran the IP a small amount in order to take interval for Group bombing. We made a seven minute bomb run during which the radar guided flak became intense, but didn’t seem to be aimed at anyone in particular. At bombs away we immediately made a turn to throw off their aiming lead and rejoined the wing formation for the trip back to base We had dropped quite a bit of chaff and I think that it messed up the German radar. We had dropped our bombs from 24,000 feet on a magnetic heading of 211 degrees. Lt Harold C. Farthing in A/C # 42 37645 (with no name) was straggling for some time and finally disappeared into the cloud cover. But he never made it. We later learned that they all bailed out successfully but the bombardier, Flight Officer John D. Carson was shot by the Germans when they learned that he was a Jew. This really came home to us somewhat later.(My next mission would be to Reims on June 28. Score: Milk runs 13, others 9. (Dick Johnson)
2. 407 B-24 Liberators are dispatched to France; 78 hit Conches Airfield, 45 hit Chateaudun Airfield, 45 hit Orleans/Bricy Airfield, 34 hit Toussus/Le Noble, 31 hit a fighter strip, 12 hit Pont Audmer, 11 hit Toussus/Paris and nine hit Dreux Airfield; two B-24s are lost. Escort is provided by 45 P-38s and 36 P-47s; a P-38 is lost; the fighters later fly strafing missions.
3. 86 B-17s and 60 B-24s are dispatched to hit 12 CROSSBOW (V-weapon) sites in the Pas de Calais area but are prevented by overcast from bombing the sites, but 11 B-17s fly south and release bombs near the industrial area of Rouen; a B-17 is lost to AA fire. Escort is provided by 35 P-47s without loss.
4. Of 74 B-17s dispatched to the Saumur bridge, 38 hit the primary and 36 hit Tours/La Riche Airfield without loss; escort is provided by 121 P-51 Mustangs who claim 4-0-2 Luftwaffe aircraft on the ground.
Mission 439: During the afternoon 62 B-17s and 167 B-24s in two forces are dispatched to targets in France; two B-24s are lost; escort for the mission is provided by 71 P-47s and 50 P-51s without loss; 25 other P-51s fly a sweep of the Angers/LeMans area and claim 25-0-6 Luftwaffe aircraft on the ground:
1. Of 62 B-17s, 32 hit V-weapon sites in the Pas de Calais area, 12 hit Holque electrical stations and 12 hit Saint-Pol-sur-Mer marshalling yards.
2. Of 167 B-24s, 67 hit V-weapon sites in the Pas de Calais area, 14 hit the Abbeville power station, 12 hit Pont-a-Vendin and 12 hit the Tingry electrical station; two B-24s are lost.
Mission 440: Five B-17s drop leaflets over France during the night.
The USAAF’s Ninth Air Force dispatches 430+ B-26 Marauders and A-20 Havocs to attack targets in France, including four gun positions, three V-weapon sites, three fuel dumps, two marshalling yards, and a railroad bridge; 200+ transports fly supplies to the Continent; 11 fighter groups provide escort, attack fuel dumps, rail targets and bridges west of Paris and south of the Loire, and fly armed reconnaissance south of the Cherbourg Peninsula and southwest of Paris.
FRANCE: Paris: The first play by Albert Camus appears. Le Malentendu is staged at the Théâtre des Malthurins.
General Schlieben, commanding at Cherbourg, doesn’t believe that his forces can hold out much longer against the steady US pressure on his defending troops. He refuses to surrender at this time.
Nearly 750,000 Allied troops have landed in Normandy.
Cotentin Peninsula: After capturing Carentan, American troops have raced across to Barneville to seal off the Cotentin Peninsula, and now the battle has begun for the key port of Cherbourg. Two days ago, after a heavy air bombardment, Major-General J. Lawton Collins launched his VII Corps into an attack on the Germans’ outer defences - three ridges to the south of the port. These were soon reduced, the Germans surprising Collins by withdrawing almost at once to the inner forts. Hitler will not countenance the thought of giving up the port.
Destroyer HMS Swift is mined (possibly acoustic) off Ouistreham which breaks her back. She later broke in half and sank. Location: English Channel, Seine Bay, Sword Beach area. (Alex Gordon)(108)
The Canadian-owned, British-registered merchantman FORT NORFOLK (7,131 GRT), struck a mine and sank off of the Normandy beaches in the English Channel. Eight crewmembers were lost in this incident.
Minesweeper FS Magicienne launched.
FINLAND: In Olonets Isthmus the Red Army breaks through the defences of Finnish 15th Brigade this afternoon. The Finnish rear is also threatened by the Soviet invasion at Tuulos. Commander of the VI Corps Maj. Gen. Aarne Blick decides to leave the PSS-line and withdraw past the Tuulos bridgehead. He doesn’t inform his superior, commander of the Olonets Group Lt. Gen. Paavo Talvela of his decision, and Gen. Talvela only finds out tomorrow.
In Maaselkä Isthmus the II Corps starts its withdrawal towards the Finnish border after the Soviet breakthrough at Karhumäki. The Red Army follows slowly, sticking to the few roads.
German 122nd Infantry Division arrives Helsinki and Hanko. It’s transferred to western shore of the Bay of Viipuri. Commander of the German 122nd Infantry Division just arriving Finland was Generalmajor H. Breusing.
EASTERN FRONT: The strain on the German defenders is already evident on the second day of the Russian offensive.
The Soviet Union answers Finnish peace feelers by demanding unconditional surrender.
ITALY: The USAAF’s Fifteenth Air Force in Italy dispatches 335 bombers to attack targets in Romania; B-17s attack the railroad bridge at Piatra; B-24s bomb the railroad repair depot at Craiova and oil refinery at Ploesti; 33 P-51s sweep the Ploesti-Bucharest area while other P-51s, P-38s, and P-47s fly 220+ sorties in support of the bombers; the bombers and fighters claim 20+ aircraft shot down; ten US aircraft are downed and several others are missing.
MARIANAS ISLANDS, SAIPAN: The 27th Division has completed clearing the southern part of the island. It is now ordered to join the 2nd and 4th Marine Divisions in the fierce fighting in the northern part of the island. Elements of the 27th remain under Corps control.
BONIN ISLANDS: Carrier-based aircraft of the USN’s Task Group 58.1, the aircraft carriers USS Hornet (CV-12) and USS Yorktown (CV-10) and light aircraft carriers USS Bataan (CVL-29) and USS Belleau Wood (CVL-24), attack Japanese airfields, fuel supplies and barracks on Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands. Over 140 IJN aircraft rise to challenge the attackers but USN F6F Hellcat pilots claim 116 enemy aircraft destroyed; ship AA fire downs others. After sunset, TG 58.1 retires towards Eniwetok Atoll.
Task Group 58.4 (aircraft carriers Cowpens, Essex and Langley) remain off Guam supporting the Allied operations on Saipan. Meanwhile, Task Force 58 is retiring towards Eniwetok Atoll and Task Group 58.1 (aircraft carriers Bataan, Belleau Wood, Hornet and Yorktown) attack Pagan Island in the Mariana Islands as a diversion. From radio intercepts, the US Navy learns that the Japanese are concentrating about 100 aircraft on Iwo Jima and orders are issued for Task Group 58.1 to sail north and attack the Bonin and Volcano Islands.
COMMONWEALTH OF THE PHILIPPINES: 33 remaining P-47s are launched from USS MANILA BAY.
CANADA: Corvette HMCS Merrittonia (ex HMCS Pointe Claire) commissioned.
LCdr Gordon Wilson Stead RCNR awarded Bar to DSC. Lt Cornelius Burke RCNVR, A/LCdr Digby Rex Bell Cosh RCNVR, LCdr Rein Boulten Wadsworth RCNVR awarded DSC. Lt Thomas Ellis Ladner RCNVR, A/LCdr Charles Anthony Law RCNVR, Lt Frederick John Boyer RCNVR, LCdr Jeffry “Jeff” Vanstone Brock RCNVR, A/LCdr Digby Rex Bell Cosh RCNVR, Lt James William Gladwell RCNVR, A/LCdr John Davis Maitland RCNVR, Lt Herbert Marquis Pickard RCNVR, Lt John Parmeter Robarts RCNVR, Lt Harry Parks Wilson RCNVR awarded Mention-in-Dispatches.
Corvette HMCS Bowmanville (ex HMS Nunney Castle) commissioned. Built by Wm. Pickersgill and Sons Ltd., Sunderland, UK. Corvette, Castle Class, 1,060 tons, 251.75x36.6x10ft, 16kts, crew 7/105, 1-4in, 6-20mm(2xII, 2xI) Squid. Gunshield art, a Naval crown over three maple leaves, over Two bows represent her Canadian heritage, over a castle tower and chevron reflecting her RN Heritage as the former HMS Nunney Castle. Post WW.II, sold mercantile 1947, renamed Ta Shun (Chinese flag) later renamed Yuan Pei, 1949 rearmed and renamed Kuang Chou (China Communist).
U.S.A.: Martha Tilton’s record of “I’ll Walk Alone” makes it to the Billboard Pop Singles chart. The song is from the motion picture “Follow The Boys” starring Marlene Dietrich, George Raft, Orson Welles, Dinah Shore, W.C. Fields, Jeanette MacDonald, The Andrew Sisters and Sophie Tucker. This is her first single to make the charts and it stays there for 24 weeks reaching Number 4.
CINCPAC COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 62,
1. Carrier aircraft of the fast carrier task force swept Iwo Jima in the Bonin Islands on June 23 (West Longitude Date). Sixty or more enemy aircraft of a force which attempted to intercept our fighters were shot down. Twelve of the enemy planes found our carriers and all of these were shot down by our combat air patrols.
We lost four fighters. There was no damage to our surface ships.
2. Pagan Island in the northern Marianas was attacked by carrier aircraft on June 22. The following damage was inflicted on the enemy Four small cargo ships and one sampan, sunk. Two small cargo ships and 12 sampans, damaged. Four enemy aircraft destroyed and two probably destroyed on the ground. A flight consisting of one twin-engine bomber and five Zero fighters Intercepted some distance from our carrier force was shot down.
A wharf and fuel dumps at Pagan were destroyed and buildings and runways were damaged.
We lost one Hellcat fighter and one pilot.
3. United States Marines and Army troops are pushing ahead on Saipan Island and have made new gains along the northern shore of Magicienne Bay. Booby traps and land mines are being extensively employed by the enemy. Two enemy aircraft detected in the Saipan area were shot down by carrier aircraft of the fighter screen on June 21.
Coastal guns on Tinian Island have intermittently shelled our ships at anchor of Saipan, but have done little damage. On June 23 the airfields on Tinian Island were heavily bombed and shelled.
4. The airstrip and buildings at Rota Island were attacked by carrier aircraft on June 22. A medium cargo ship at Rota was sunk by an aerial torpedo. Our planes received no damage.
5. Shimushu Island in the Kuriles was attacked by Ventura search planes of Fleet Air Wing Four before dawn on June 23. In the Central Pacific, Army, Navy, and Marine aircraft continued neutralization raids on June 23 against enemy positions in the Marshall and Caroline Islands. (Denis Peck)
Destroyer minelayer USS Shannon launched.
Destroyers USS Samuel N Moore and Porter commissioned.
Escort carrier USS Mantanikau commissioned.
Minesweeper USS Serene commissioned.
Coast Guard manned Army vessel FS-182 was commissioned at New Orleans with LT R. P. Anderson, USCGR, as first commanding officer. He was succeeded by LTJG Robert L. Mobley, USCGR, and he in turn by LT Leon A. Danco, Jr. on 1 October 1945. She was assigned to and operated in the Southwest Pacific area including Hollandia.
Coast Guard-manned Army vessel FS-257 was commissioned at New York with LT G. P. Hammond, USCG, as her first commander. He was succeeded by LTJG S. N. Harstook, USCGR, ahd he in turn by LTJG William F. Moffatt, USCG, on 9 June 1945. On 26 July 1944 she departed the Third Naval District for the Southwest Pacific area. She operated in the Southwest Pacific, including Leyte.
ATLANTIC OCEAN: A TBM Avenger of Composite Squadron Sixty Nine (VC-69) in the escort aircraft carrier USS Bogue (CVE-9), sinks the Japanese submarine HIJMS I-52 in the Atlantic, 800 miles (1,287 km) southwest of the Azores.
HMCS HAIDA (G63), Cdr. Harry George DE WOLF, DSO, RCN, CO, and HMS ESKIMO (G75), both Tribal-class destroyers, with a Czechoslovakian Liberator ‘O’patrol aircraft from Czech 311 Squadron, sank U-971, OLtzS. Walter ZEPLIEN, CO, in the English Channel north of Brest, in position 49-01N 05-35W. There was only one casualty from U-971s crew of 53 men.
U-971 was a medium-range Type VIIC submarine built by Blohm and Voss, at Hamburg. She was commissioned on 01 Apr 43. U-971 was on her first operational patrol when she was lost and had not sunk or damaged any ships. U-971 had been attacked several times by patrol aircraft and had already suffered heavy damage while she was enroute from Bergen to the English Channel, where she was to operate against the invasion fleet. OLtzS. Zeplien had decided to abandon the patrol and head to Brest for repairs when a Czech Liberator aircraft attacked them again. HAIDA and ESKIMO were summoned by the patrol aircraft and they carried out a series of depth charge attacks. U-971 had exhausted her batteries and the water was kneedeep in the control room when the decision to emergency surface and scuttle the boat was taken. However, before the final order was given, the commander first ordered that the last of the boats beer be issued. Eventually, U-971 burst to the surface between HAIDA and ESKIMO who immediately opened an intense fire upon her. The crew abandoned the boat in good order suffering only one casualty. The destroyers recovered the survivors.
Walter Zeplien was born in 1918, at Greifswald. He joined the navy in 1937. His first recorded service is as the commander of the 7th R-boat flotilla (coastal mine countermeasures craft) from Jan 41 to Jul 42. He transferred to the U-boat force in Jul 42 and, after conversion training, was assigned in Dec 42 as the First Watch Officer in the successful Type VIIC boat U-575, KptLt. Günther Heydemann, Knights Cross, Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves, CO (nine ships sunk). He was selected for command and after his U-boat commanders course was assigned to commission U-971 on 01 Apr 43, at the age of 24. After U-971 was sunk, OLtzS. became a prisoner of war. There is no record of how long he was detained after the war or of his release date. (Dave Shirlaw and Alex Gordon)
U-1225 (Type IXC/40) is sunk northwest of Bergen, at position 63.00N, 00.50W, by depth charges from a Canadian Canso (Catalina) aircraft (RCAF-Sqdn 162/P). 56 dead (all crew lost). U-1225 is commanded by OLtzS. Ernst Sauerberg. -1225 was a long-range Type IXC/40 submarine built by Deutsche Werft AG, at Hamburg. She was commissioned on 10 Nov 43. U-1225 was on her first patrol at the time of her loss and had not sunk or damaged any ships. OLtzS. Sauerberg was her only commanding officer. F/Lt. D.E. Hornell, was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his conduct during the attack and afterwards while awaiting rescue in the dinghy, which did not occur until the afternoon of the next day. Three of the eight aircrew died of exposure. Although approximately thirty members of the U-1225s crew were also seen in the water after the attack, they all died of exposure and drowning.
Ernst Sauerberg was born in 1914, at Heide, in Holstein. He joined the navy in 1934 and transferred to the U-boat force in Jul 41. After conversion training he was assigned for a time to the 26th U-Flotilla. In Feb 42, he was assigned at the Second Watch Officer in the successful Type IXC boat U-515, OLtzS. Werner Henke, Knights Cross, Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves, CO, (25 ships sunk). He was promoted to Oberleutnant on 01 Dec 42 and was selected for command. He underwent his U-boat commanders course from Jul to Aug 43. Sauerberg was assigned to commission U-1225 on 10 Nov 43, at the age of 29. (Alex Gordon and Dave Shirlaw)
“If they have put another shift on at the mill, you won’t have much chance of getting a house, will you?”
My grandparents were living with daughter and SIL about a 3 mile walk from the sawmill. There were some company houses near the mill but evidently not enough for all.
Housing was a major problem throughout the war years and following. I remember visiting Oak Ridge, TN, and seeing the housing the government put up for Manhattan Project workers ... still in use in the 1990s!
Mission number 4 for the Cook crew of the 493d Bomb Group was an easy one to Orleans, France
493d Bomb Group Mission 24 June 1944 Orleans, France
8th Air Force Mission 438: During the morning 967 bombers are dispatched to hit targets in Germany and France: 5 bombers are lost:
407 B-24s are dispatched to France; 78 hit Conches Airfield, 45 hit Chateaudun Airfield, 45 hit Orleans/Bricy Airfield, 34 hit Toussus/Le Noble, 31 hit a fighter strip, 12 hit Pont Audmer, 11 hit Toussus/Paris and 9 hit Dreux Airfield; 2 B-24s are lost and 81 damaged; 20 airmen are MIA. Escort is provided by 45 P-38s and 36 P-47s; 1 P-38 is lost (pilot is MIA); the fighters later fly strafing missions.
Maps and mission strike photos can be found here:
493d Bomb Group Mission 13: 24 aircraft from the 493d Bomb Group were assigned to the mission for 24 June. The Cook crew was the lead for the A Group of 12 aircraft. The target was the Bricy airfield in Orleans, France. Their assigned aircraft was a B-24J, serial number 44-40378. The command pilot on this mission was Captain Bill Buckingham, Operations Officer of the 860th Squadron. Captain Donald B. Schulman from Group Headquarters was the extra navigator. SSG Creed Miller was the gunner bumped by the co-pilot on this mission.
Take off from Debach was at 0401 and the group assembled at 20,000 feet at Buncher 27. Assembly was very good with subsequent wing assembly on Splasher 6 at 0635. The French coast was crossed at 0739 hitting the IP at 0806. The Operations Officers report (probably written by Captain Cook or Captain Buckingham) gave the following narrative:
At 0818, we bombed the primary target visually, with obviously excellent results. We turned to the Rally Point and the formation was again in approximate position by 0827. Light to moderate flax was encountered, with heavy flak at the bomb release point. The trip back was uneventful, and we left the enemy coast at 0906. 21,500 feet. Mission accomplished results excellent.
First Lieutenant David Morris was the lead bombadier, his reported stated that half of their bombs fell on the first half of the airfield and half of the fell on the second half. The assigned MPI was the center of the field. One bomber could not release their bombs and returned to Debach with 40 x 100lb bombs on board. In the report of the B Group, they noted that they made a run on the wrong airfleld, realized their mistake and had to realign and make a second pass on Bricy airfield.
One aircraft of the Cook formation turned back early and one failed to bomb due to rack malfunction. All aircraft returned.
Page 7: The sad true ending of “The Great Escape”.
Why is it the German officers who give fight to the death orders always seem to survive alive?
By 1944, German officers were well aware that they were going to be held accountable when the war was over. I think that this sort of thing must have been very rare by that time. The Luftwaffe was not the Waffen SS and even the most zealous Nazis were thinking about the future.
POWs generally tried to protect the identities of their fellow POW’s who were Jewish and the Army would issue an alternate set of Dog tags if they wished.
Interesting comment. I’m sure that even the fanatical SS troops could see what was coming, and would chose to make their beds in the west as opposed to the east. Shooting American POW’s, Jewish or not, would be a bad way of introducing yourself to your new masters.
Also, I didn’t know about the United States offering Jewish soldiers cover for their background. Thanks for the information.
Which brings up another point. I still marvel at the German soldier’s willingness to die for the Reich even though they knew the war was lost. At this time the average Jerry in Normandy probably does not realize they have lost, but certainly after Operation Cobra, the realization has to sink in. Yet they still fought on. On the Eastern Front, I can understand the desire to fight. They didn’t want to be taken prisoner by the Soviets, and they knew damn well the revenge the Red Army would take on their mothers, sisters and neighbors if they ever got to Germany. So they had every incentive to fight.
But other than duty and orders, what kept them fighting so hard in the West?
In a book I read recently, it was mentioned that captured aviators who were Jewish were segregated in Luftwaffe prison camps, even if their id’s didn’t mention being Jewish.
The German Army held together through a combination of discipline, leadership, and recruiting practices that were geographically based. They were effective long after it was well known that the war was lost.
There is a very rare color film made by the U.S. Army Signal Corps in Czechoslovakia the day before the war ended in May 1945. German Army units can be seen surrendering to American troops quite happy for having escaped the advancing Russians. Their march discipline and unit cohesion are really quite remarkable to see.
Most, however, were not willing to die for the Fuhrer and when their ability to fight was gone, they surrendered.
Just speculating, but I suppose it came down to what keeps many armies fighting - fighting for each other, your comrades in arms.
I also think at this point the soldier on the line probably thinks they can still turn things around in Normandy. After Cobra, it's practically a broken-field run across France. They were back on the German border before they could catch their breath. At that point, I suppose they were fighting for home and hearth.