Wednesday, June 4, 2014

This Day in WWII History: Jun 4, 1942: The Battle of Midway begins

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On this day in 1942, Japanese Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, commander of the fleet that attacked Pearl Harbor, launches a raid on Midway Island with almost the entirety of the Japanese navy.

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As part of a strategy to widen its sphere of influence and conquest, the Japanese set their sights on an island group in the central Pacific, Midway, as well as the Aleutians, off the coast of Alaska. They were also hoping to draw the badly wounded U.S. navy into a battle, determined to finish it off.

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The American naval forces were depleted: The damaged carrier Yorktown had to be repaired in a mere three days, to be used along with the Enterprise and Hornet, all that was left in the way of aircraft carriers after the bombing at Pearl Harbor.


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On the morning of June 4, Admiral Nagumo launched his first strike with 108 aircraft, and did significant damage to U.S. installations at Midway. The Americans struck back time and again at Japanese ships, but accomplished little real damage, losing 65 of their own aircraft in their initial attempts. But Nagumo underestimated the tenacity of both Admiral Chester Nimitz and Admiral Raymond Spruance, commanders of the American forces. He also miscalculated tactically by ordering a second wave of bombers to finish off what he thought was only a remnant of American resistance (the U.S. forces had been able to conceal their position because of reconnaissance that anticipated the Midway strike) before his first wave had sufficient opportunity to rearm.

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A fifth major engagement by 55 U.S. dive-bombers took full advantage of Nagumo's confused strategy, and sunk three of the four Japanese carriers, all cluttered with aircraft and fuel trying to launch another attack against what they now realized—too late—was a much larger American naval force than expected. A fourth Japanese carrier, the Hiryu was crippled, but not before its aircraft finished off the noble American Yorktown.

The attack on Midway was an unmitigated disaster for the Japanese, resulting in the loss of 322 aircraft and 3,500 men. They were forced to withdraw from the area before attempting even a landing on the island they sought to conquer.

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Taken from: [04.06.2014]

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

This Day in WWII History: Jun 3, 1940: Germans bomb Paris

On this day in 1940, the German air force bombs Paris, killing 254 people, most of them civilians.

Determined to wreck France's economy and military, reduce its population, and in short, cripple its morale as well as its ability to rally support for other occupied nations, the Germans bombed the French capital without regard to the fact that most of the victims were civilians, including schoolchildren. The bombing succeeded in provoking just the right amount of terror; France's minister of the interior could only keep government officials from fleeing Paris by threatening them with severe penalties.$(KGrHqFHJFQE88fBZKsUBPdJNZoT!Q~~60_35.JPG

Despite the fact that the British Expeditionary Force was on the verge of completing its evacuation at Dunkirk, and that France was on the verge of collapse to the German invaders, the British War Cabinet was informed that Norway's king, Haakon, had expressed complete confidence that the Allies would win in the end. The king, having made his prediction, then fled Norway for England, his own country now under German occupation.


Taken from: [03.06.2014]

Monday, June 2, 2014

This Day in WWII History: Jun 2, 1944: United States begins "shuttle bombing" in Operation Frantic

On this day in 1944, American bombers of the Fifteenth Air Force launch Operation Frantic, a series of bombing raids over Central Europe, alighting from airbases in southern Italy, but landing at airbases in Poltava, in the Soviet Union, in what is called "shuttle bombing."

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The Fifteenth U.S. Air Force was created solely to cripple Germany's war economy. Operating out of Italy, and commanded by General Carl Spaatz, a World War I fighter pilot, the Fifteenth was recruited by a desperate Joseph Stalin to help the Red Army in its campaign in Romania. In exchange for the Fifteenth's assistance, Stalin allowed the American bombers to land at airbases within the Soviet Union as they carried out Operation Frantic, a plan to devastate German industrial regions in occupied Silesia, Hungary, and Romania. Given that such bombing patterns would have made return flights to Foggia and other parts of southern Italy, the Fifteenth's launching points, impossible because of refueling problems, the "shuttle" to Poltava was the solution that made Frantic a reality.

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Before it was shortened to Frantic, the operation was dubbed Operation Frantic Joe-a commentary on Joe Stalin's original urgent appeal for help. It was changed to avoid offending the Soviet premier.

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Also on this day in 1944, the date for D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy, was fixed for June 5.,_Gerd_v._Rundstedt.jpg/220px-Bundesarchiv_Bild_146-1987-047-20,_Gerd_v._Rundstedt.jpg

Originally June 4, it was acknowledged by Allied strategists that bad weather would make keeping to any one day problematic. German General Karl von Rundstedt, intercepting an Allied radio signal relating the June 4 date, was convinced that four consecutive days of good weather was necessary for the successful prosecution of the invasion. There was no such pattern of good weather in sight. The general became convinced that D-Day would not come off within the first week of June at all.*t-AS6HuGDp74w5Ub.jpeg

Taken from: [02.05.2014]