November 25th, 1944
UNITED KINGDOM: A V2 rocket lands in New Cross Road, London, killing or injuring 268 people. (Alex Gordon)
The most devastating V2 rocket so far scored a direct hit on the Woolworth's store in New Cross, in south-east London, at lunchtime today when it was crowded with Saturday shoppers. The Co-operative Stores alongside was also wrecked. No details have been made public, but 160 people were killed and 200 injured.
A young girl survivor described the scene after the explosion: "Things were still falling out of the sky, bits of things and bits of people. A horse's head was lying in the gutter. There was a pram hood all twisted and bent and there was a little baby's hand still in its woollen sleeve. Outside the pub there was a crumpled bus, still with rows of people sitting inside, all covered in dust and dead. Where Woolworth's had been, there was nothing. Just an enormous gap covered by clouds of dust. No building, just piles of rubble and bricks, and underneath it all, people screaming.
Minesweeper HMS Nerissa launched. (Dave Shirlaw)
GERMANY: The US 1st army advances beyond Hürtgen. In the morning the sky was overcast but cleared in the afternoon, and the IX Tactical Air Command provided close air support in the 104th and 1st Division areas. The 104th Division advances to high ground east of Ptzlohn, and the valley of the Inde River west of Weisweiler was secured. In the 1st Division area good progress was made by the infantry and armor team and the Weisweiler-Langerwehe road was cut. The 8th Infantry of the 4th Infantry Division made an 800 yd advance along the Schevenhtte-Dren road. The 22d Infantry attack Grosshau but is repulsed by intense anti-tank, mortar and artillery fire. There were no significant activities in the 8th Division area. (Robert Rush)
Berlin: Hitler orders any military commander contemplating surrender to hand over command to the next most senior officer willing to carry on the fight, and fall in behind him.
Stuka pilot Hans Ulrich Rudel is awarded the Knight's Cross with Oakleaves and Swords to the Iron Cross. He also receives the Knight's Cross with Oakleaves, Swords and Diamonds back-dated to the time of his escape across the Dnjester of 29 March, 1944.
Rudel landed behind Soviet lines to retrieve a downed German aircrew. Snow and mud bogged down the airplane, making it impossible to take off. Approaching Soviet troops forced everyone to flee on foot, but barring their escape was the 900 foot wide river Dnjestr. The Germans stripped to their longjohns, and swam across the ice-clogged river. Rudel's close friend and crewman, Erwin Henstchel, drowned a few feet from the far shore. They had flown 1490 missions together at the time of Hentschel's death. His body was never recovered. Rudel was pursued by hundreds of Soviet troops who were intent on collecting the 100,000 ruble bounty, and he was shot in the shoulder while they chased him with dogs and on horseback. Through incredible ingenuity, audacity, and raw determination, Rudel escaped and made his way, alone and unarmed, back home, despite being more than 30 miles behind Soviet lines when he began his 24 hour trek. He was barefoot and almost naked in the sub-freezing winter weather, without food, compass, or medical attention.
U-2351, U-2530 launched. (DS
POLAND: Auschwitz-Birkenau: Demolition of the gas chambers and crematoria begins, with the dismantling of heavy plant for transport to other concentration camps further west.
CHINA: Nanning: The Japanese authorities today claimed that their forces had taken Nanning, the former capital of Kwangsi province, 100 miles from the Indochina border. Japanese forces have been driving south for the past week, and the capture of Nanning would effectively split China in two. Allied sources would not confirm the cities fall, but feared it was likely.COMMONWEALTH OF THE PHILIPPINES: The US advance is held up in most sectors of Leyte due to difficult terrain.
Seven US carriers of TG 38.2 and TG 38.3 again strike Luzon. The Japanese cruisers Kumano and Yasoshima are sunk. Four of the carriers sustain damage from Kamikaze attacks.
U.S.A.: Baseball commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis died at age 78.
Minesweepers USS Surfbird and Toucan commissioned.
Destroyer USS Hugh W Hadley commissioned.
Coast Guard-manned Army vessel FS-278 was commissioned at New York with LTJG Beverly L. Higgins, USCGR, as first commanding officer. (Dave Shirlaw)
ATLANTIC OCEAN: U-716 struck bottom off Horten (Norway) and damaged the depth rudder.
U-322 sunk in the North Atlantic west of the Shetlands, in position 60.18N, 04.52W, by depth charges from the British frigate HMS Ascension. 52 dead (all hands lost).
Corvette HMCS Shawinigan sunk by U-1228. The serious vulnerability of surface escorts in one-on-one engagements against submarines was highlighted, yet again, by the loss of Shawinigan. In a case where an element of surprise is involved in the setting of the engagement, the unit that fires effectively first has an almost insurmountable advantage. The additional advantage of precision weaponry made the outcome a virtual certainty. That Canadian operational commanders persisted in employing their escorts in this highly dangerous and wasteful manner until so late in the war calls their competence into question. The lack of durability in the corvette design caused them to perform poorly when they suffered battle damage. Although renowned in popular and academic histories as seaworthy vessels, in fact, while they were generally able to survive adverse weather, their atrocious seakeeping qualities meant they had no seakindliness whatsoever and they were death traps once hit. Shawinigan was one of three Canadian warships during the Second World War lost with all hands. The others were the auxiliary patrol vessels Brad D’Or – on 19 Oct 40, and HMCS Raccoon – on 06 Sep 42. The auxiliary vessels suffered all of the corvettes's shortcoming but lacked their seaworthiness, making them even more dangerous ships in which to serve. Brad D'Or foundered in bad weather and Racoon suffered the same fate as Shawinigan. (Dave Shirlaw)
Top of Page