November 20th, 1944
UNITED KINGDOM: London: Five years of darkness end as street lights are switched on in Piccadilly, the Strand and Fleet Street.
WESTERN EUROPE: USAAF Eighth Air Force bombers fly Mission 719: six B-17 Flying Fortresses and seven B-24 Liberators drop leaflets on the Netherlands, France and Germany during the night. (Jack McKillop)
NETHERLANDS: In the British Second Army area, XII Corps continues toward the Maas River with the 49th Division, supported by elements of 4th Separate Armoured Brigade, and the 51st Division. The 51st finds villages on the river southwest of Venlo clear of Germans. (Jack McKillop)
FRANCE: Units of the US 3rd Army capture Dieuze in the Metz area. In the U.S. Third Army's XX Corps area, the 95th and 5th Infantry Divisions continue methodically to clear rear-guard opposition within Metz and contain the forts about the city. Preparations are made for the final drive to the Saar River. In the XII Corps area, the 80th Infantry Division conducts a reconnaissance in force on the northern flank of corps, seizing a bridge at Faulquemont and establishing a bridgehead north of the Nied Allemande River. The 137th Infantry Regiment, 35th Infantry Division, upon emerging from Bois de Freybouse, is disorganized by a German counterattack. Combat Command A, 4th Armored Division, followed by the 320th Infantry Regiment, secures Francaltroff. The 26th Infantry Division advances quickly behind the retreating Germans, elements of 101st Infantry Regiment reaching Torcheville, west of Munster. Corps orders Combat Command A, 6th Armored Division, to attack to gain Saar River crossings in the 35th Infantry Division zone and Combat Command B of 4th Armored Division to advance through Mittersheim in 26th Infantry Division zone; Combat Command A of 4th Armored Division is recalled from Francaltroff area to assembly area near Conthil. (Jack McKillop)
In the U.S. Seventh Army's XV Corps area, the French 2d Armored Division commits Combat Command D on the northern flank of corps in effort to outflank the Saverne Gap from the north while Combat Command L continues enveloping maneuver from the south; Combat Command D crosses the Saar River north of Sarrebourg and drives eastward in two columns, one toward Phalsbourg, at the western entrance to the gap, and the other toward La Petite Pierre, to the north; Combat Command L encounters stiffening resistance in the vicinity of the Wolfsberg Pass, southwest of Saverne, and Combat Command V is committed to assist in that area. In the VI Corps area, the 3d Infantry Division crosses the Meurthe River in the Clairefontaine-St Michel area before dawn to spearhead the drive, beginning at 0645 hours, on Strasbourg via Saales. The attack is preceded by intense artillery preparation and closely supported by the USAAF XII Tactical Air Command of the First Tactical Air Force (Provisional). The Germans, stunned by bombardment and threatened by successes of the Allied forces on both flanks of VI Corps, is incapable of resisting effectively. The 3d Infantry Division gains a substantial bridgehead including the towns of Le Paire, Hurbache, and La Voivre. The 103d Infantry Division, cross the Meurthe River in the 3d Infantry Division zone, during the night of 20/21 November, to drive toward St Die. On the southern flank of the corps, the 36th Infantry Divisionbs 143d Infantry Regiment seizes ridge commanding Anould and Clefcy. (Jack McKillop)
The French Army are fighting in Belfort and some of their advance units reach the Rhine at Mulhouse.
In the French First Army area, the 2d Moroccan Division and Combat Command 6, 5th Armored Division, now under army command, break into Belfort, where fighting continues for next few days. In the II Corps area, the 3d Algerian Division occupies Gerardmer without resistance. The 1st Division takes Plancher-les-Mines and Champagney. In the I Corps area, elements of the 1st Armored Division reach the outskirts of Muihouse. St Louis, the French suburb of the Swiss city of Basle, is now largely clear. The 5th Armored Division attacks toward Fontaine and Cernay, meeting strong opposition on the Rhine-Rhone Canal south of Fontaine. (Jack McKillop)GERMANY: In the British Second Army's XXX Corps area, the 334th Infantry Regiment of the U.S. 84th Infantry Division eliminates resistance in environs of Prummern with help of British flame-throwing tanks, but enemy retains heights to NE. Strong opposition is slowing other elements of corps. (Jack McKillop)
On the First US Army
Front. The weather is bad with low cloud cover and no aircraft fly in support of offensive
operations. In the north, the 104th Divisions clears the towns of Rohe and Burgrath and up
to Hehlrath and the outskirts southwest of Eschweiler. The 3d Armored Division is pinched
out by the 104th and 1st Divisions which also clears Wenau, bypasses Hersten and has
elements well across the open ground towards Schnthal. Its attached 47th Regimental Combat
Team reaches to within 1/2 mile of the Aachen-Stolberg-Dren railway. The 4th Division's 8
Infantry is counter-attacked and loses some ground, while the 22d Infantry makes slow
progress towards Grosshau. (Richard Rush)
Units of the US XIX Corps are on the offensive near Julich, east of Aachen.
In the U.S. Ninth Army's XIX Corps area, the 2d Armored Division, assisted by attached British tanks, renews an all-out drive in heavy rainfall; Combat Command B employs three Task Forcebs against Gereonsweiler and takes the town; one Combat Command A Task Force overruns Ederen and another clears Freialdenhoven. The 29th Infantry Division, after seizing the village of Niedermerz, makes a two-pronged attack on Aldenhoven, in the second defensive arc of Juelich defenses, and takes the town. (Jack McKillop)
In the U.S. Third Army's XX Corps area, Combat Command B, 10th Armored Division, continuing toward Merzig, reaches Hill 378 but pulls back to Hill 383 because of fire from the Merzig area. (Jack McKillop)
With the Red Army fast approaching Rastenburg, Hitler leaves his old headquarters and returns to Berlin.
The USAAF Eighth Air Force flies Mission 718: 60 B-17 Flying Fortresses are sent to hit the Schowen oil plant at Gelsenkirchen and 92 hit the secondary target, the marshalling yard at Munster. (Jack McKillop)
Bad weather prevents USAAF Ninth Air Force bomber operations but fighters fly sweeps and night patrols over broad areas of western Germany and strafe and bomb numerous railroads, trains, buildings and various military targets. (Jack McKillop)
USAAF Fifteenth Air Force B-24 Liberators and B-17 Flying Fortresses bomb three targets: 172 bomb the I.G. Farben synthetic oil refinery at Blechhammer, six bomb Oppell and one hits the marshalling yard at Glewitz. (Jack McKillop)
During the day, RAF Bomber Command sends 183 Lancasters to make a G-H attack on the Meerbeck synthetic oil plant at Homberg but the weather is stormy and many aircraft are not able to maintain formation with the G-H aircraft on the bombing run. The bombing by 168 aircraft, through cloud, is believed to have been scattered. Five Lancasters are lost. (Jack McKillop)
During the night of 20/21 November, RAF Bomber Command sends 43 Lancasters on an unusual Pathfinder solo raid on Koblenz; 42 bombers attack without loss. The purpose of the raid is not recorded. It is possible that either the large road and rail bridges over the Rhine and Mosel Rivers or the local railway yards are the targets. Only high-explosive bombs are carried. Koblenz is completely covered by cloud and all bombing is by H2S from 15,000 feet (4 572 meters). The local report states that some bombs fall in the town, blocking several roads and railways and scoring hits on a road and a rail bridge, although these remained usable. Other raids are made by Mosquitos to six other targets: 58 hit Hannover, 14 bomb the Rauxel/Klocknerwerke synthetic oil refinery at Castrop, 11 attack the Meerbeck synthetic oil refinery at Homberg, seven bomb an aircraft engine factory at Eisenach and one each hit Duisburg and Minden. (Jack McKillop)U-2349 launched.
laid down. (Dave Shirlaw)
CZECHOSLOVAKIA: USAAF Fifteenth
Air Force B-24 Liberators and
B-17 Flying Fortresses encounter bad
weather and attack several alternate targets and targets of opportunity: 166
bomb the marshalling yard at Brno, 50 hit the marshalling yard at Hodonin with
the loss of one aircraft, 27 attack the Bata synthetic rubber plant at Zlin, 26
bomb the marshalling yard at Lundenburg, 21 hit Kromeriz and one each attack the
marshalling yard at Ostrana Moravaska, the city of Trnava and a third unknown
target. (Jack McKillop) HUNGARY: Three targets of opportunity are bombed
by USAAF Fifteenth Air Force bombers: two
attack the marshalling yard at Nagykanizsa and one each bomb tactical targets at
Gyor and the marshalling yard at Szombathely. (Jack McKillop)
CZECHOSLOVAKIA: USAAF Fifteenth Air Force B-24 Liberators and B-17 Flying Fortresses encounter bad weather and attack several alternate targets and targets of opportunity: 166 bomb the marshalling yard at Brno, 50 hit the marshalling yard at Hodonin with the loss of one aircraft, 27 attack the Bata synthetic rubber plant at Zlin, 26 bomb the marshalling yard at Lundenburg, 21 hit Kromeriz and one each attack the marshalling yard at Ostrana Moravaska, the city of Trnava and a third unknown target. (Jack McKillop)
HUNGARY: Three targets of opportunity are bombed by USAAF Fifteenth Air Force bombers: two attack the marshalling yard at Nagykanizsa and one each bomb tactical targets at Gyor and the marshalling yard at Szombathely. (Jack McKillop)
FINLAND: Finnish forces reach Utsjoki, the northernmost tip of Finland. (Mikko Härmeinen)
Northern ITALY: As the autumn rains turn to driving snow, General Alexander, the Allied commander-in-chief in Italy, has called a halt to the gruelling campaign and stood down his armies. British tanks have found the going almost impossible, particularly across hundreds of rivers in the marshy Po valley. The German defence in Italy has been outstanding - but costly. With the Germans equally exhausted, winter activity at the front lines seems likely to be confined to patrolling and occasional artillery duels. The Allies will devote much time to training, particularly in the skills of river crossing and the Alpine warfare yet to come.
In the British Eighth Army's V Corps area, German positions are heavily hit by air. The 46th Division, as a preliminary to their main assault, which is postponed until 21 November, begins to clear the Cosina loop north of Castiglione and takes Castiglione. (Jack McKillop)
Bad weather prevents USAAF Twelfth Air Force medium bombers from successfully attacking targets but fighter-bombers are able to operate during the late morning and destroy two factories east of Modena, and supply dumps near Parma, and cause large explosions in a dump near San Felice del Benaeo. (Jack McKillop)
RAAF 3 Sqn flies its last operation with the Curtiss Kittyhawk. (Daniel Ross)
YUGOSLAVIA: USAAF Fifteenth Air Force bombers attack five targets: 33 bomb a railroad bridge at Doboj, 25 hit the West marshalling yard at Sarajevo, 20 attack a railroad bridge at Zenicca, 14 bomb a railroad bridge at Fojnica and one bombs the marshalling yard at Zagreb. (Jack McKillop)
RAF bombers of No. 205 (Heavy Bomber) Group attack Visegrad: 38 bomb vehicles and 27 hit a pontoon bridge. (Jack McKillop)
GREECE: The task of disbanding guerrilla armies is placed in the hands of British Lieutenant General Sir Ronald Scobie, General Officer Commanding British Troops in Greece.
BURMA: On the Salween front, the Chinese of the XI Group Army push through Mangshih, whose airfield is soon used to land supplies. (Jack McKillop)
Seven USAAF Tenth Air Force B-25 Mitchells knock out the Hsipaw road bridge; four others fail to damage the Bawgyo bridge; 12 P-47 Thunderbolts support ground forces in the Pinwe sector; 20+ others hit defenses at Mong Nge, a horse transport unit at Selan, bomb storage areas at Kyungon and Kyakataing, Japanese HQ and troop concentration at Man Mao, and several scattered targets of opportunity. (Jack McKillop)
Eight USAAF Fourteenth Air Force B-25 Mitchells hit the barracks area at Lashio. (Jack McKillop)
CHINA: Over 60 USAAF Fourteenth Air Force P-38 Lightnings, P-40s, and P-51 Mustangs on armed reconnaissance over parts of southeastern and southwestern China and French Indochina attack shipping--especially severely in the Chiuchiang area--and barracks, radio stations, villages, and other targets of opportunity. (Jack McKillop)
COMMONWEALTH OF THE PHILIPPINES: In the U.S. Sixth Army's X Corps area on Leyte, the 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry Regiment, 32d Infantry Division, is still held up on Corkscrew Ridge. Company C, 34th Infantry Regiment, joins the main body of the 1st Battalion on Kilay Ridge, abandoning forward positions. Company B tries unsuccessfully to recover knoll lost yesterday. The ammunition supply is critically low. (Jack McKillop)
The U.S. merchant ship SS Thomas Nelson, at anchor with twenty other ships in Dulag Bay. Leyte Island, is attacked by a Japanese suicide plane that has dived through a barrage of anti-aircraft fire to crash on her deck. On board are hundreds of tons of ammunition. The plane's single bomb explodes on impact, the explosion and fire causing the deaths of some 140 US Army enlisted men, navy gunners and merchant navy crewmen. (Jack McKillop)
USN submarine USS Gar (SS-206) lands supplies on the north coast of Mindoro. (Jack McKillop)
NETHERLANDS EAST INDIES: British carrier aircraft strike Sumatra. The targets are the airfields at Sabang and oil installations at Belawan Deli. The two carriers launch two strikes at these targets.
In the air, USAAF Far East Air Forces (FEAF) B-25 Mitchells bomb Haroekoe Drome on Haroekoe Island, an island off Ambon Island, and Laha Drome on Amon Island. On Celebes Island, P-38 Lightnings hit targets of opportunity over Sidate and in the Makassar areas. (Jack McKillop)
Eight Australian Bostons and four Beaufighters attack the airfield and buildings at Tanamon Airfield on Celebes Island. (Jack McKillop)
NEW GUINEA: The U.S. Eighth Army's operations on Asia and Mapia Islands are successfully concluded. The islands are to become sites for loran and radar stations. (Jack McKillop)
CAROLINE ISLANDS: The USS MISSISSINEWA, AO-59; a CIMARRON class US Navy Oiler is the first ship sunk by a Japanese "Kaiten" (manned suicide torpedo) while in the lagoon (4th largest in the world) at Ulithi Atoll. (Gene Hanson)
The destruction of the Mississinewa proved to be one of the most important sinkings of the Pacific war as this was the first time the US Navy had encountered this type of submarine. Two kaitens, launched from their mother submarines HIJMS I-36 and I-47 had penetrated the safety nets across the mouth of the harbor. One ran ashore but failed to explode and is recovered by the USN. The second kaiten found its mark on the starboard side of the Mississinewa which is loaded with 440,000 U.S. gallons (366,377 Imperial gallons or 1.67 million liters) of aviation fuel which explodes and erupts into a blazing inferno at 0547 hours local. At about 0900 hours the ship slowly turns over and disappeares. Casualties are three officers and 47 enlisted men killed, 11 officers and 81 enlisted wounded from the ships complement of 298. (Jack McKillop)
CANADA: Frigate HMCS Kirkland Lake departed Halifax for workups in Bermuda.
Corvette HMCS Strathroy commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
U.S.A.: Destroyer USS Rogers launched.
Coast Guard-manned Army vessel FS-277 was commissioned at New York with LTJG F. A. Grantham, USCG, as her first commanding officer. She departed New York on 14 December 1944 for the Southwest Pacific where she operated during the war. LT Matthew L. Stansell, USCG, succeeded Grantham as commander on 1 December 1945. (Dave Shirlaw)
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