September 16th, 1944
EASTERN FRONT: The Soviets begin new attacks, in the Baltic states, towards Riga and Tallinn.
The Red Army launched a new offensive on the Baltic front yesterday. Some 40 divisions with strong tank and air support are attacking the German positions on a 130-mile front running from Valga on the Estonian border to Bauska, south of Riga, the Latvian capital. The Russians are trying to drive through the narrow German-held corridor on the Gulf of Riga in order to trap the much-battered Army Group North under General Schorner. They are also seeking to give themselves "elbow room" to build up their forces in preparation for their next campaign: the invasion of East Prussia.
The 3rd Ukraine Front turns west after crossing the Danube River to threaten the retreating Germans from Greece.
POLAND: Warsaw: Stalin has at last come to the aid of the Poles who have been fighting the German occupation for the last six weeks. The Red Army has halted at the gates of the city while Stalin has either refused, or been unable, to help the Poles whom he describes as "reactionary".
The Soviet leader has actively obstructed British and American efforts to drop supplies. More than 200 Polish, American, South African and British airmen have died in attempts to supply Warsaw. Flying from bases in Italy, they have been refused permission by Stalin to land on Russian airstrips.
In the last 48 hours, Stalin's forces have dropped two heavy machine-guns, 50 pistols and a quantity of ammunition for the freedom fighters, a meagre offering made even more negligible by the Russian failure to use parachutes. With nothing to break their fall, most of the arms were damaged and made useless when they hit the ground.
Stalin's half-hearted aid has coincided with the opening of a Russian assault on Warsaw. The First Infantry Division of a Polish army raised in Russia has captured the suburb of Praga.
STRATEGIC OPERATIONS: The US Eighth Air Force in England flies 2 missions:
- Mission 635: 178 P-47 Thunderbolts and 149 P-51s are dispatched to bomb and strafe the Hannover-Bremen-Osnabruck areas and bomb Ahlhorn Airfield and the Mannheim-Kaiserslautern area, all in Germany; they claim 6-0-1 aircraft on the ground; 1 P-51 is lost.
- Mission 636: 7 B-17s drop leaflets in France, Germany and the Netherlands during the night.
- 32 B-24s and C-47 Skytrains are dispatched on CARPETBAGGER missions; 1 B-24 is lost.
TACTICAL OPERATIONS: US Ninth Air Force tactical operations in Europe: In the Netherlands, 150+ B-26s and A-20s, escorted by fighters, attack the Bath dike and Arnemuiden road and rail embankment. In France, fighters fly sweeps, and armed reconnaissance over Rastatt, Germany and Haguenau, and support the US Third Army's XII and XV Corps in repelling counterattacks in northeastern France.
STRATEGIC OPERATIONS: Bad weather cancels bombing operations by the US Fifteenth Air Force but 2 P-38 Lightnings fly weather reconnaissance and 54 B-24s fly supplies to southern France.
TACTICAL OPERATIONS: In Italy, US Twelfth Air Force medium bombers attack fuel and supply dumps and defensive positions in the Bologna and Rimini areas while fighter-bombers and fighters bomb and strafe rail and road targets north of the battle areas in the northern Apennine Mountains as US Fifth Army forces struggle to break through strong enemy defenses in the hills north of Prato, along the main Monte Altuzzo ridge, on Monte Veruca, Monte Monticelli, and other mountain positions.
UNITED KINGDOM: Destroyer HMS Cadiz launched. (Dave Shirlaw)
FRANCE: Beaugency: In the first capitulation on the western front, General Botho Elster surrenders to the US Ninth Army with 18,850 men of Group Elster of the XVI Luftwaffe Field Division.
DENMARK: Copenhagen: All Denmark stopped work today in protest against the shooting of 23 demonstrators by German soldiers in City Hall Square last night. The demonstrators were protesting at the removal of 190 Danes to concentration camps. Railways, trams and factories are still. The strike was called by the Danish Freedom Council, which co-ordinates the resistance with the discreet support of King Christian and the majority of his subjects.
GERMANY: U-3507 launched.
U-2526 laid down.
U-1014 suffered an accident during its trials at Libau in the Baltic Sea where 2 men were killed and 3 wounded. (Dave Shirlaw)
ARCTIC: The German submarine U-703 is last heard from in the Arctic east of Iceland today, position unknown. All 54 hands on the U-boat are lost.
Peleliu, Palaus Islands: The beachhead is consolidated by US Marines, including capturing part of the airfield.
The first night ashore was gruelling: small Japanese infiltration parties hit the Marine lines repeatedly. The cruiser Honolulu and three destroyers provided star shell illumination to help the Marines turn the infiltrators back, but the rest of the fleet withdrew to avoid enemy submarines. The Marines fought the night away, well dug in, in their foxholes. In the south, the foxholes filled with stinking swamp water.
Today the 5th and 7th Marines advance
relentlessly; the 1st Marines more slowly, encountering fierce resistance from
the northern ridges they were assigned to take. (Paul and Jean Beach)
PACIFIC: Five Japanese ships are sunk byUSNaircraft and submarines: (1) South of Formosa, USS Picuda (SS-382) sinks an army cargo ship in Bashi Channel and USS Redfish (SS-395) sinks a fleet tanker; (2) USS Sea Devil (SS-400) sinks submarine HIJMS I-364 off Yokosuka, Japan; (3) an army cargo ship is sunk by aircraft southwest of Mindanao, Philippine Islands; and (4) a cargo vessel is sunk by a mine south of Mindanao. (Jack McKillop)
The British Eastern Fleet begins 4 days of air strikes on Sigli in northern Sumatra.
CHINA: In China, 19 US Tenth Air Force B-24s haul fuel from Burma to Liuchow. In spite of bad weather in Burma, 4 P-47s sweep the Lungling, China-Wanling-Loiwing road and 5 damage a bridge approach at Manyut. The US Fourteenth Air Force dispatches 20 B-24s to bomb Hengyang; 12 B-25s to bomb Kutkai; 28 B-25s hit targets including the Yuangshaho ferry, Pakmushih, Chuanhsien, and Lengshuitang; 130+ P-40s and P-51 Mustangs on armed reconnaissance hit targets of opportunity in the Mangshih and Lungling area and from north of Tangyang and along the Yangtze River southward including areas around Changsha, Kiyang, Samshui, Chuanhsien, Lingling, and Kwongning.
JAPAN: In the Kurile Islands, 3 US Eleventh Air Force B-24s bomb Kataoka naval base on Shimushu Island and 4 B-25s abort a shipping sweep due to weather and mechanical difficulties.
CENTRAL PACIFIC:In the Palau Islands, USMC ground troop capture the airfield on Peleliu Island. The US Seventh Air Force sends 17 Saipan Island-based B-24s to bomb Iwo Jima Island; 3 others on training and armed reconnaissance missions bomb Pagan and Marcus Islands. B-24s in the Marshall Islands bomb Emidj Island, Jaluit Atoll, Marshall Islands.
SOUTHWEST PACIFIC: Japanese aircraft make light raids on US ground and naval forces involved in the invasion of Morotai.
The US Far East Air Force attacks various islands. On Celebes Island, B-24s bomb Kendari air depot and Ambesia Airfield while B-25s attack a large warehouse at Gorontalo and B-24s and B-25s hit Kairatoe and Kamarian. B-25s and B-24s pound Namlea on Buru Island, Liang on Ambon Island, Haroekoe on Haroekoe Island, and Laha on Amboina Island. In New Guinea, fighter-bombers hit Manokwari, Sagan, Moemi, and Warren airstrips. (Jack McKillop)
USA: Heavy cruiser USS St Paul launched.
Frigate USS Gulfport commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
CANADA: The Second Quebec
Conference (Octagon) attended by US President Franklin D Roosevelt, British
Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCS) ends.
At a press conference concluding this, the eighth summit of the war, President Roosevelt said that after Germany's surrender "the British Empire and the United States will work together" against Japan.
Much of the conference was taken up, however, with three different great questions: Anglo-US co-operation on the "atom bomb"; the British prime minister's fear of Russian influence in central Europe after the war; and the plans of the US treasury secretary, Henry Morgenthau, for turning Germany into an "agrarian" country after the war. Sitting on the terrace of the citadel here knows as "the deck", Mr. Churchill called Japan an "evil and barbarous nation".
Mr. Churchill has confided to Mr. Roosevelt his fears of the "dangerous spread of Russian influence" in the Balkans, especially Greece and Yugoslavia, and FDR is beginning to agree.
The CCS approves Admiral William F Halsey's plan to move the date of the Leyte invasion from 20 December to 20 October. Agreement is also reached on invading Japan; Kyushu will be invaded in October 1945 and Honshu in December 1945.
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