Skip to comments.RUSSIANS CAPTURE MINSK ON 11TH DAY OF PUSH; AMERICANS OPEN NEW OFFENSIVE IN NORMANDY (7/4/44)
Posted on 07/04/2014 5:01:48 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
Soviets capture Polotsk
Tuesday, July 4, 1944 www.onwar.com
Soviet rifle troops in Polotsk [photo at link]
On the Eastern Front... The Soviet 1st Baltic Front launches attacks on the right flank of German Army Group North. Polotsk is captured.
On the Western Front... Attacks by the US 7th and 8th Corps (parts of US 1st Army) continue. The Canadian 3rd Division (part of British 2nd Army) captures the village of Carpiquet, west of Caen, but cannot secure the airfield.
In the Mariana Islands... Elements of US Task Force 58 attack Guam Island with carrier aircraft.
In the Volcano Islands... Elements of US Task Force 58 attack Iwo Jima Island with carrier aircraft.
In the Bonin Islands... Elements of US Task Force 58 attack Chichi Jima Island with carrier aircraft.
In New Guinea... On Numfoor Island, the Kornasoren airfield is captured by Allied forces. A second parachute battalion is dropped and suffers heavy casualties.
In the United States... The Bretton Woods conference continues.
July 4th, 1944 (TUESDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: The Eighth Air Force in England dispatches 558 bombers and 632 fighters on Mission 451 to attack 7 airfields north and west of Paris; bad weather and mechanical failures cause 350+ bombers to abort; 1 B-17 and 4 fighters are lost:
1. Of 300 B-17s, 24 hit Dreux Airfield, 24 hit Illiers L’Eveque Airfield, 13 hit Conches Airfield and 1 hits a target of opportunity; 1 B-17 is lost, 2 damaged beyond repair and 37 damaged.
2. Of 258 B-24s, 56 hit Conches Airfield, 50 hit Beaumont le Roger Airfield, 49 hit Evreux Airfield, 25 hit Beaumont-sur-Oise Airfield and 12 hit Creil Airfield; 2 B-24s are damaged beyond repair and 52 damaged.
199 P-38s, 189 P-47s and 244 P-51s are dispatched to escort the bombers but 63 abort; 2 P-38s, 1 P-47 and 1 P-51 are lost and 1 P-47 is damaged.
Of 144 P-38s and 176 P-47s, 29 hit Nevers marshalling yard, 25 hit Joinville Bridge, 16 hit Chartre-Chateaudun marshalling yard, 14 hit Perrigny marshalling yard, 14 hit Fresnes Bridge, 8 hit La Tours marshalling yard at Cercy, 8 hit Cambrai marshalling yard, 6 hit St Florentin, 5 hit targets of opportunity and 4 hit Rouen Bridge; they claim 17-0-10 Luftwaffe aircraft in the air and 1-0-0 on the ground; 1 P-38 is lost and 1 damaged.
36 B-24s fly CARPETBAGGER missions during the night; 1 aircraft crashes.
FRANCE: Carpiquet, just west of Caen is liberated by the Canadian 3rd Division.
Bad weather curtails Ninth Air Force bomber operations, but 95 B-26 Marauders and A-20 Havocs bomb a rail bridge at Oissel and strongly defended positions north of Anneville-sur-Mer, using the Pathfinder technique; 900+ fighters strafe and bomb numerous targets including troop concentrations, gun positions, rail lines, marshalling yards, a tunnel, a radio station, bridges, highways, and a command post; fighters also fly escort and cover the beach and assault areas; units moving from England to France.
Following a conference at First Army Headquarters, General Eisenhower crowded into the cockpit of a P-51 with Maj. Gen. Elwood R. “Pete” Quesada, commander of IX Tactical Air Command, and, with three other P-51s, spent over half an hour ranging over the battle area, flying as much as fifty miles beyond friendly positions. The lack of space precluded either man from wearing a parachute. (172) (Roger Miller)
ITALY: Castellina: Nakamura, William K., Pfc., 442nd Infantry, and Ono, Frank Hl, Pfc., 442nd Regimental Combat Team will be awarded the MOH for actions today. (Posthumous) (William L. Howard)
ROMANIA: USAAF Fifteenth Air Force bombers attack three targets: 148 B-17 Flying Fortresses bomb the Photgen Oil Refinery at Brasov, 105 B-24 Liberators bomb the railroad bridge at Pitesti and one aircraft hits a target of opportunity; 350+ fighters escort the bombers and carry out sweeps in the target area; claims of enemy fighters destroyed total 17; a fighter group strafes two landing grounds and a troop train in Yugoslavia on the return trip to base. .
EASTERN FRONT: The First Baltic Front attacks The German Army Group North. Polotsk, the gateway to Latvia, quickly falls. The extended German position is held tenuously because the Soviet forces to the south have advanced quickly, exposing the flanks of these units.
FINLAND: Ihantala: after the Finnish radio-intelligence detects the Soviet h-hour and a defector reveals the starting positions.
Two Soviet attacks are repulsed at Tähtelä this morning, but later on the day Finnish radio intelligence captures a message stating that the Soviets were going to attack at 8 pm, supported by tanks and aircraft. Accordingly Finnish artillery and aircraft bomb the Soviet positions in the evening, and the Soviet attack is postponed. After 10 pm. the Soviet forces are observed forming for an attack, and the Finnish artillery fires on them, and the attack is again aborted. This ends the Soviet offensive activity for this day at Ihantala.
At 7.28 pm. the Soviet aircraft try to repeat their success the day before yesterday by attacking again the Finnish airfield in Immola where Obstlt. Kurt Kuhlmey’s German Stukas and Jabos are based. This time the defenders are ready, and only few bombs fall on the target. Losses are negligible.
Bay of Viipuri: renewed Soviet attacks today. After heavy fighting Finnish troops are forced to leave the islands of Suonionsaari, Esisaari and Ravansaari. Islands of Teikarinsaari and Melansaari are almost lost but regained by counterattacks later in the day.
Vuosalmi (between Bay of Viipuri and Ihantala): heavy fighting as the Soviets try to capture the Finnish bridgehead on the southern side of the river Vuoksi. Defenders’ losses are so heavy that the commander of the defending 2nd Div, Maj. Gen. Martola, gives the order that the bridgehead should be evacuated. Evacuation is cancelled, however, as a POW Soviet officer reveals that the attackers are also greatly weakened.
Tulemajoki (on the northern shore of the Lake Ladoga): Soviets break into Finnish positions and the defenders are forced to retreat even further west, behind the pre-1939 border.
INDIAN OCEAN: In the Indian Ocean, the Indian Navy trawler Hoxa rescues 23 survivors of the US freighter SS Jean Nicolet sunk by Japanese submarine I-8 on 2 July. The freighter had a crew of 41, an Armed Guard contingent of 28 and 30 passengers. The captain, radio operator and a passenger where taken aboard the submarine and were interned by the Japanese; only the passenger survived the war. One person was shot and the remainder were left on deck with their hands tied as the submarine submerged. The 23 that survived managed to free their hands, swim to the burning ship and launch rafts.
New Guinea: Operation Table Tennis: Kornasoren airfield is captured on Numfoor. Paratroops are used and lose heavily due to inexperience. Allied ground forces continue pushing east and southeast from the Kamiri Airfield area on Numfoor Island and taking Kamiri village and Kornasoren Airfield. C-47s drop 400 paratroopers of the US 503rd PRCT, 3rd Battalion Reinforcement on Kamiri Airfield but when casualties reach 8 percent due to accidents and enemy fire, it is decided to fly the remainder of the paratroopers to the airfield as soon as C-47s can land.
(Jack McKillop adds): These were Task Groups 58.1 and 58.2 (ships and air groups listed on 3 July). At least 51 Japanese aircraft are shot down, most in the early morning.
PACIFIC: Two task groups of US TF 58 strike Iwo Jima and Chichi Jimi. The other task groups strike Guam.
Carrier-based aircraft from the USN’s Task Groups 58.1 and 58.2 attack Japanese airfields and shipping at Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, and Chichi Jima and Haha Jima in the Bonin Islands. These two task groups are composed of four aircraft carriers and four light aircraft carriers. The USN aircraft sink 12 Japanese vessels.
Chichi Jima, south of and fairly close to Iwo, was very unlike Iwo. The latter was essentially a volcanic ash heap full of natural caves and tunnels, all defensive enhanced by the Japanese over time. All was apparently easy to see, but all of it very difficult to get into; everything had to be first found, then rooted out. Chichi was quite hilly, almost mountainous, and heavily covered with all sorts of greenery. What made Iwo important was its airfield. What made Chichi important was its sprawling and powerful radio setup, the central transmission point for the entire Imperial Navy. Chichi presented an extremely difficult direct land attack problem, which is why nobody tried it — and why it got lots of aerial attacks. It was off Chichi that then-Lieutenant George H.W. Bush got shot down.
In the Marianas, TG 58.3 returns from Eniwetok Atoll and commences air attacks over Guam while USAAF P-47s attack IJA troops on Aguijan, Rota, Saipan and Tinian Islands. TG 58.3 consists of two aircraft carriers and two light aircraft carriers. With the return of TG 58.3, TG 58.4 retires to Eniwetok.
Japanese submarine I-10 is lost off Saipan believed sunk by USS DAVID W. TAYLOR (DD-551) and USS RIDDLE (DE-185). (Marc James Small)(220, 221 and 222)
Task Group 58.3 arrives in the Mariana Islands from Eniwetok Atoll, Marshall Islands, to relieve Task Group 58.4 which then departs for Eniwetok. During the day, aircraft of TG 58.3 attack Guam. TG.58.3 consists of:
USS Enterprise (CV-6) with Carrier Air Group Ten (CVG-10)
USS Lexington (CV-16) with CVG-16
USS Princeton (CVL-23) with Light Carrier Air Group Twenty Seven (CVLG-27)
USS Jacinto (CVL-30) with CVLG-51
Frigate HMCS Antigonish commissioned.
Minesweeper HMCS Revelstoke commissioned.
TERRITORY OF HAWAII: Submarine USS S-28 went missing during training exercises off Oahu, Hawaii with USCGC Reliance. A Court of inquiry was unable to determine the cause of her loss.
Destroyer USS Beatty laid down.
Destroyer minelayer USS J William Ditter launched.
Destroyer USS Borie launched.
Destroyer escorts USS Jobb and Naifeh commissioned.
Destroyer escorts USS Cross and Hanna launched.
Destroyer USS Mannert L Abele commissioned.
Submarine USS Blackfin commissioned.
ATLANTIC OCEAN: Between 1631 and 1706, U-539 fired torpedoes at a tanker convoy and reported four tankers with 26,000 tons torpedoed. According to the xB-Dienst one of these tankers was the American Hollywood (5498 tons). However, the only ship hit was the unescorted Kittanning, which was torpedoed three times about 40 miles NE of Cristobal. The Kittanning had left port at 1330, but soon thereafter the third assistant engineer fell and seriously injured himself and the master decided to return to Cristobal. At 1631, just after the ship changed course back at 14.5 knots, a torpedo struck on the starboard side at the #6 tank. At 1646, a second torpedo hit the #7 tank on the same side abaft the midships house and the ship swung hard right. The explosions opened a hole 65 feet long and 20 feet high and flooded five tanks, causing a 35° list to starboard. At 1700, the ten officers, 39 crewmen and 25 armed guards (the ship was armed with one 5-in, one 3-in and eight 20-mm guns) abandoned ship in four lifeboats, but two boats swamped in the choppy seas and squally weather. A coup de grâce, fired at 1706, struck on the port side at the #4 tank under the midship house, causing the tanker to right herself and float on an even keel. The U-boat had reported another torpedo fired at 1849 hours, but it seems that it had missed. USCGC Marion and Crawford arrived; the former picked up the survivors and took them to Cristobal. The master and five men reboarded the Kittanning and Crawford began towing the tanker, but when the tow line parted, the operations halted for the night. The next morning, tug USS Woodcock arrived and took the tanker in tow. However the tug suffered engine trouble and had to drop the tow. Later the Panama Canal tug Tavernilla took the ship in tow, later helped by the Panama Canal tug Cardenas. With the help of the American tug Jupiter Inlet the tanker moored at Cristobal on 6 July. The Kittanning was drydocked at Balboa, before being towed to Galveston for permanent repairs.
"Alfred Rosenberg, a chief Nazi theorist, was Reich minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories, and a vocal proponent of the superiority of Aryan and German blood.
After writing many racist tracts -- often purchased by Germans but seldom read -- Rosenberg headed the Nazi Institute for the Study of the Jewish Question, and planned to chair an international anti-Jewish congress in July 1944."
"The gallows at Vught, Holland, dominate the landscape, symbolic of the harsh turn the transit and work camp took in 1943 when SS-Sturmbannführer Adam Grünewald became commandant.
Belgian and Dutch partisans were hanged from the gallows.
The number of prisoners at Vught steadily decreased from mid-1943 as the Nazis sought to kill all Jews interned there.
From a high of 8,684 Jewish prisoners in early May 1943, the camp's Jewish population stood at less than 500 by the early summer of 1944.
Most of Vught's Jews were deported through Westerbork to their deaths at Auschwitz and Sobibór."
Every time I see that name -- Keynes -- it sends shivers up my spine.
Fortunately, I predict, in the long run, Keynes will be dead.
He will join Nietzsche.
On German maps, enemy units and actions are in red, friendlies are shown in blue. Allied maps also showed the enemy in red and friendlies in blue.
In the Official U.S. Army History, Gordon Harrison's volume "Cross Channel Attack" has ended, and Martin Blumenson's excellent "Breakout and Pursuit" begins with this offensive. Also, it's interesting to notice how the Germans have aligned the army boundaries between Panzer Group West and 7th Army to coincide with the army boundaries between the Americans and British.
To the extent I’ve been able to decipher some Soviet maps (I don’t read Russian very well), it appears that the units are identified by color shaded areas, and the different color shades are used to group units by parent formations. The dominant color for their units appears to be red.
“Following a conference at First Army Headquarters, General Eisenhower crowded into the cockpit of a P-51 with Maj. Gen. Elwood R. Pete Quesada, commander of IX Tactical Air Command, and, with three other P-51s, spent over half an hour ranging over the battle area, flying as much as fifty miles beyond friendly positions. The lack of space precluded either man from wearing a parachute.”
I wonder why Eisenhower did this. There has to be a back-story and there should be a movie. Maybe there was one!
Michael Korda speculates on the reasoning behind the flight in his bio, "Ike".(This excerpt picks up after Eisenhower's driver, Kay Summersby, has left on a trip to the U.S.)
"In Kays absence, Ike had taken every opportunity to get to the front and see for himself what was happening. His most dangerous excursion took place when he ordered Major General Elwood Queseda, the commander of the U.S. Ninth Air Force fighters and fighter bombers, to squeeze him into the tiny backseat of a converted two-seat P-51 Mustang and fly him over the front lines. This was a daredevil stunt for a four-star general. Because of the Luftwaffe, German antiaircraft fire, and the normal accident rate of high-performance fighter planes flown from improvised and often muddy grass strips and serviced by ground personnel who had just graduated from a quick course in aircraft maintenance, a flight over the front lines in a P-51 would certainly not have met with General Marshalls approval, had Marshall known about it. Ike may have been influenced by the fact that Winston Churchill had persuaded Air chief Marshal Leigh-Mallory to fly him over the front lines in a captured two-seat Fiesler Stroch, the German equivalent of a Piper Cub how the prime minister managed to squeeze himself into the backseat remains one of the enduring (and endearing) mysteries of World War II. Anyway, for Ike, who had wanted to be a military aviator until Mr. Doud made him choose between that and marrying Mamie, and who had taken flying lessons in the Philipines in her absence, the opportunity of flying in a P-51, even as a passenger, must have been well-nigh irresistible."
To all- please ping me to Canadian topics.
That comment casts doubt on the entire explanation since any WWII historian should have known that at Grand Sasso, a Fieseler Storch piloted by Heinrich Gerlach flew Benito Mussolini and Otto Skorzeny to an airfield near Rome.
Here is an AP photograph of casualties being removed from Normandy to the hospital ship in the English Channel. It might have looked very much this way when our manuscript author was evacuated the first time.
Second is an article about a Normandy citizen, a millionaire, and what life has been like for him under German occupation. I note particularly his final comments in the last paragraph: He said he had no complaint to make about the Germans. "They were very correct," he said, "but of course they were Germans, and we do not want them."
This reminded me very much of something I typed just yesterday. Note particularly the nearly identical use of the words "We have had no complaints":
An elderly white haired gentleman, scholarly looking, stood in the yard of his bungalow nearby, beckoning to those of us nearest.
Why have you come? he asked earnestly, speaking perfect English; no British accent discernible, just good old plain American English. We have been very happy. We have had no complaints. We did not ask you to come. He was speaking very seriously.
Why, we came because we had to, I answered. Someone had to stop the Germans. I thought everyone knew that.
Well we dont want you. Why dont you go away and leave us alone? he asked.
Thanks Homer. So while the surrogate wife was away Ike got loose? I do have to wonder what the visibility was from the tiny converted back seat of the P-51 and whether any useful intelligence was gained by Ike for his purposes as commander.