March 22nd, 1943 (MONDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: London: What might be vital intelligence has today come from a top-secret interrogation centre in Kensington Park Gardens. Two German generals captured in North Africa, Cruwell and von Thoma, were placed in a bugged room and their conversation was monitored. During it they spoke of long-range rockets being developed to strike London, and expressed surprise that the capital is not already under attack. This ties in with scraps of information from other sources, and is likely to be treated very seriously by the intelligence world.
POLAND: Auschwitz: Crematorium IV, a modern extermination plant fitted with an underground gas chamber and electric lifts to custom-built incinerator, is opened.
U.S.S.R.: Khatyn: The SS unit which swept on the Russian village of Khatyn, near Minsk, was very unusual, even by Nazi standards; it had been formed from German criminals released from concentration camps. Commanded by SS Major-General Oskar Dirlewanger, the SS men systematically murdered all but one of the 150 villagers and burned the village to the ground. The atrocity is intended to deter villagers from giving food and shelter to the partisans, about 150,000 of whom are in action behind enemy lines.
Moscow: Once again the weather has taken a decisive hand in the war in Russia. The thaw has come early this year and both armies are bogged down in the morass of mud churned up by fighting vehicles of both sides.
Where, only a few days ago, tanks could roar at full speed across the hard-frozen steppe, they are now in danger of drowning in a sea of mud, and the runways of airstrips have turned into quagmires which refuse to release aircraft. While the thaw has brought difficulties to both sides, it has hurt the Germans most by bringing von Manstein's successful counter-offensive to a halt.
After recapturing Kharkov he had planned to cut quickly across the Donets behind the Russian armies which were still pressing west. If he had been able to do so, he night well have been caught the Red Army in a trap and produced a disaster comparable to Stalingrad. But he lost too many men and too many machines to achieve the quick result, and now General Thaw has taken command.
ITALY: SICILY: 24 B-17s bomb port facilities at Palermo. This is the first Allied bomber mission against Sicily by aircraft based in Northwest Africa. (Jack McKillop)
NORTH AFRICA: General Montgomery transfers his main attack to the Tebaga Gap in Tunisia.
RAF Hurricanes smash a Panzer counter-attack near the German's Mareth Line.
ATLANTIC OCEAN: German submarine U-524 is sunk south of Madeira, Portugal, in position 30.15N, 18.13W, by a Consolidated B-24 Liberator of the 1st Antisubmarine Squadron (Heavy) based at Port Lyautey, French Morocco. All hands on the U-Boat are lost. (Jack McKillop)
U-665 (Type VIIC) is sunk in the North Atlantic west of Ireland in position 48.04N 10.26W by depth charges dropped by an RAF Whitley from Squadron 10OTU/Q. All 46 of the crew of U-665 are lost. (Alex Gordon)
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