December 17th, 1944 (SUNDAY)
WESTERN EUROPE: The USAAF Eighth Air Force flies Mission 753: three B-17 Flying Fortresses and seven B-24 Liberators are dispatched to drop leaflets on France, the Netherlands and Germany during the night. (Jack McKillop)
FRANCE: The US 82nd Airborne Division and the 101st Airborne Division refitting near Rheims, after more than two months combat in Holland, are alerted for movement to the Ardennes. Their mission is to reinforce the Allied troops that were attacked during the start of the German offensive yesterday. (Jay Stone)
The French First Army, II Corps, captures Keintzheim, in the "Colmar Pocket".
Elements of the US 100th Infantry Division mount an attack on Fort Schiesseck, one of the Maginot forts attacked by the Germans in 1940, from the same direction, the south. In 1940, the German 257th Infantry Division failed to take Schiesseck, whose French garrison only surrendered a week after the rest of the French army. (William L. Howard)
Other elements of US Seventh Army, XV Corps are stalled by opposition from Fort Simershof. The VI Corps is virtually halted at the outer defences of the West Wall.
Mormelon. Members of Battery B, 321st Glider Field Artillery Battalion continue to hear reports of the German attack in the Ardennes. Late in the day they are alerted for movement and told to pick up their unpainted helmets from the supply room.
The 82d and 101st Airborne Divisions refitting near Rheims, after more than two months combat in the Netherlands, are alerted for movement to the Ardennes. Their mission is to reinforce the Allied troops that were attacked during the start of the German offensive yesterday. (William Jay Stone)
BELGIUM: A US field-artillery observation battery of 125 men (Battery B of the 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion, from the 7th Armored Division) found itself under enemy fire when its trucks came to a crossroads near Malmedy early this afternoon. Panzers of SS Lt-Col Jochim Peiper's Task Force rumbled into view and the Americans, who had no heavy weapons or tank support, surrendered. (Joachim Peiper is CO of SS-Pz. Rgt1. and holds the rank of SS-Obersturmbannführer. The commander of I. /SS-Pz.Rgt1 is SS-Stuf. Werner Pötschke)
After being searched, they were taken into a nearby field under guard to await an escort to the rear. The SS troops move on except for two Mark IV tanks Nos. 731 and 732, left behind to guard the GIs. An order was given to fire and SS Private Georg Fleps of tank 731 drew his pistol and fired at Lary's driver who fell dead in the snow. The machine guns of both tanks then opened fire on the prisoners. Many of the GIs took to their heels and fled to the nearest woods.
Incredibly, 43 GIs survived, but 86 of their comrades lay dead in the field, being slowly covered with a blanket of snow. The U.S. troops in the area are issued with an order that for the next week no SS prisoners were to be taken. At the end of the war, Peiper, and 73 other suspects (arrested for other atrocities committed during the offensive) are brought to trial. When the trial ends on 16 July 1946, 43 of the defendants are sentenced to death, 22 to life imprisonment, two to twenty years, one for fifteen years and five to ten years. Peiper and Fleps are among those sentenced to death, but after a series of reviews the sentences are reduced to terms in prison. On 22 December 1956, SS Sturmbannührer (Major) Peiper is released. He settles in the small village of Traves in northern France in 1972 and four years later, on the eve of Bastille Day, he is murdered and his house burned down by a French communist group. His charred body is recovered from the ruins and transferred to the family grave in Schondorf, near Landsberg in Bavaria. Most of the remains of the murdered GIs are eventually shipped back to the U.S. for private burial but 21 still lie buried in the American Military Cemetery at Henri-Chappelle, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Malmedy. (Jack McKillop)
Further away in the little hamlet of Wereth, eleven black American soldiers of the 333rd Field Artillery Battalion (Negro) are killed in cold blood by a reconn party of the 9th SS Division (KG Knittel or KG Hansen). More... (W. Jay Stone and Norm Lichtenfield)
The commander of the German XLVII Corps, General der Panzertruppen Heinrich Freiherr von Luettwitz had expected that his two lead divisions in the attack to the west, 26th Volks Grenadier and 2nd Panzer would have crossed the Clerf River by 16 December the first day of the attack. This is a distance of 4.5 miles. The attacking divisions of the corps had advanced approximately one-half of that. Once across, 2nd Panzer would advance on Bastogne using the hard surface road west out of Clerf but swing to the northwest at Chilfontaine and go north of Bastogne through Noville. It's mission remained seizing crossings over the Meuse. 26th VG would advance to the west in zone and take Bastogne. Once the 26th VG had crossed the Clerf, Panzer Lehr would move south of Bastogne to the Meuse
Seeking to stop, or at least delay XLVII Corps was the 110th Infantry of the 28th Infantry Division with the 109th Field Artillery in direct support and the 707th Tank Battalion attached. The 1st Battalion of the 110th defended the northern half of the regiment's sector while the 3rd Battalion defended the southern portion. The 2nd Battalion was in division reserve at Donnange 2.5 miles northwest of Clerf in the zone of the 1st Battalion.
On the morning of 17 December elements of the 1st Battalion barely held Marnach but had been by-passed by elements of 2nd Panzer moving on the crossing over the Clerf at Clervaux. Company K, 3rd Battalion held Hosingen.
The village was astride the Main Supply Route (MSR) for the 26th. In addition, units which had just crossed the Our River had to pass through Hosingen in order to move forward and enter the battle. American strongpoints at Munshausen, Bockholz, Holzthum, Hosingen, and Hoscheid were under heavy attack.
Major General Troy Middleton, commander of US VIII Corps had moved his corps reserve, CCR, 9th Armored Division to a position closer to Bastogne and attached it to the 28th with the proviso that it not be committed without his approval.
Colonel Hurley Fuller, commander of the 110th asked for and received his 2nd Battalion, less G Company, from the division reserve. He planned to use it in an attack on Marnach so as to restore the position there and stop the movement of the 2nd Panzer toward the Clerf. This was to part of a three pronged attack on Marnach. The light tank company of the 707th also was ordered to attack south out of the zone of the 112th Infantry toward Marnach. The third part of the attack was to be undertaken by the medium tank platoon then located at Munshausen approximately one mile south of Marnarch. The 109th Field Artillery had been over run or forced to displace by the Germans. Only one battery was firing during the morning and it was low on ammunition. It was driven from Buchholz with the loss of half its howitzers.
The two companies of the 2nd Battalion attacked at 0730. Within a few minutes they ran into strong German positions supported by tanks and self-propelled guns. By noon, the battalion without Field Artillery support was stopped along a ridge running southwest from Urspelt to the Clerf road.
The medium tank platoon did reach Marnach but reported that there were no US troops there. Colonel Fuller ordered it to return to its original position at Munshausen and then directed that it fight its way to Clervaux to assist in the defence of the river crossing there.These two attacks from the south and west had made no headway but were not too costly. The attack by the light tank company of the 707th was disastrous. As it emerged from the village of Heinerscheid, three miles north of Marnach in a column of tanks eight of the tanks were knocked out by hidden high velocity guns while three were lost to bazooka fire. The action lasted only ten minutes. Two of the American tanks returned to Heinerscheid, only to be lost later in the day when the Germans took the town. The company commander withdrew the remaining three tanks down a side road to Urspelt where he joined the CP of the 2nd Battalion.
Since the 110th Infantry had failed to stop the German advance at Marnach the fight would have to be made at Clervaux through which the Clerf River passes. The approach to the town from Marnach is by means of a road which makes a twisted and tortuous descent to the valley floor, finally crossing the river at the south-eastern edge of the town. The road proceeds through narrow street emerging at the northern end of the town. Clervaux was the headquarters for the 110th Infantry and it was here that the fight to hold back the 2nd Panzer would be made.
The CP was in a hotel near the bridge while Headquarters Company was in a chateau across town. German infantry entered the town and engaged Headquarters Company in the chateau. Then two platoons of Mark IV tanks and 30 half tracks loaded with grenadiers approached Clervaux. A platoon of the 707th Tank battalion climbed up the serpentine road to engage the enemy tanks. The lead enemy tank was hit blocking the road from Marnach. Shortly after noon the left flank of the 2nd Battalion moved on an assembly area northeast of Ruler. Both of these events caused German pressure on Clervaux to relax. In addition, while he had been ordered not to commit CCR without approval of General Middleton, Colonel Fuller ordered B Company, 2nd Tank Battalion of that command to send a platoon to clear out the German infantry in the vicinity of the chateau, another to Reuler to help his 2nd Battalion, and a third to Heinerscheid where the light tanks had been roughly handled.
The advance guard of the 2nd Panzer Division had taken a bloody nose but help was on the way. More tanks and infantry were arriving and manoeuver was possible: It was not necessary to stay on the roads. During the afternoon the Germans pressed the 2nd Battalion back through Reuler. The soldiers aided by the dwindling tank force of CCR and towed tank destroyers of Company B, 630th Tank Destroyer Battalion fought stubbornly. Shortly before dusk under a hail of German shells, the two infantry companies of the 2nd Battalion and attached units dug in on a ridge north of Reuler. On their left German tanks were reducing the last positions of the 1st Battalion. By mid-afternoon Company A had been overrun, leaving open an avenue into the left flank of the 2nd Battalion. Late in the day German tanks knocked out the last 57mm anti tank gun protecting the crossing over the Clerf and the way into the town was open. For the rest of the day and into the night the Germans cleared all American opposition in Clervaux.
At Hosingen Company K with some Shermans held out even though the Germans set the town on fire during the morning. The Shermans held the enemy at bay all day. Other remnants of the 3rd Battalion had assembled at Consthum and established a defence there.
At the end of the second day of the German offensive, elements of the 110th Infantry were still causing delay to the enemy advance but its resistance was rapidly crumbling. Colonel Fuller had reacted to the German advance by moving the relatively few forces at his command. His soldiers, most of them recent replacements fought fiercely but his regiment was attacked by a German corps and his options were few.
A race for Bastogne had begun in earnest. While the 110th Infantry was delaying XLVII Corps, the 82nd Airborne Division and the 101st Airborne Division were moving east toward the sound of the guns from bases in the vicinity of Rheims, France. The 101st would go to Bastogne while the 82nd would go to Webormont.
At 1600 on the 18th Colonel William Roberts, commander of CCB, 10th Armored Division, reported to General Middleton at his headquarters in Bastogne. Middleton ordered Roberts to establish three blocking positions to the east and north of Bastogne. Team Desorby went to Noville in the north, Team Cherry Neffe and Longvilly and Team O'Hara to Wardin. XLVII Corps was advancing on Bastogne but because of the fierce delay of the 110th Infantry it would loose the race as Middleton began to establish a solid defence in front of the town.
1135 Corps Info Message.: 'The 28th ID situation continues to deteriorate. Their strong points south of Marnach at Hosingen, Holzthum, Consthum and Wellermerschied, are all in danger of being overrun. Their left flank is in bad shape and two infantry positions and an arty battery were wiped out. The 28th sent a tank company to help, but one tank platoon was destroyed in an attempt to relieve Heinerscheid. The rest of the tank company was destroyed by an enemy tank battalion, coming from Marnach. The only reinforcements available, an artillery Battery, was sent to help at Clervaux. The commander at Clervaux, was told to hold at all costs and:
"nobody comes back!"
1255 Lt.Col. Riggs, CO, St. Vith Defense Force: 'We have dug in one mile east of St. Vith. Hqs and Service Company, 81st Eng. with fifty men, is on the left side of road. Company B, 168th Eng. with 170 men, is on the right side of the road. A/168th will be put in here later and Company A, 81st Eng. with sixty-four men, will be on their right. The TD platoon, B/820th TD Bn. will be in front of the positions but they only have three AT guns and no -Repeat- no direct fire sights for any of them! I can't count on guns without sights, but they are in position and will fight! I've beefed up the TDs by putting the division defense platoon with them. Lt.Col. Patrick, CO of the 820th TD has joined me.'
..............................Noticing three AT guns stopped along side the road, he'd rushed over and grabbed the NCO in charge. "What the hell are you all doing sitting here?" he snarled. "You look like you're praying for guidance. Well the Lords busy right now so he's sent me to give you the word!" Not giving the startled sergeant a chance to reply, he'd shouted : "The word is to, GET OVER THAT HILL! The Krauts aren't going to wait for you to finish your prayers." The NCO stood speechless for a moment than replied; "Listen sergeant, I got three guns but they just came back from the repair shop and there ain't a sight on any of 'em."
Face a bright red...........he calmly came back with; "We all have problems and the solution to no sights is easy.....Just let the tanks get closer--now, MOVE OUT!
NOTE; The AT platoon moved out and except for the short sound of their guns........were never heard from again. (William L. Howard)
Jose M. Lopez is awarded the Medal of Honor for killing more than 100 German soldiers today. Lopez is a sergeant serving with the Second Infantry Division in Belgium. When a superior force of German infantry and armour advances on his company's position he jumps into a shallow hole with his heavy machine gun and kills 10 German soldiers. In the face of German tank fire he held his position and shot 25 more German infantrymen trying to get around his flank. He later takes another position and continues firing to slow down enemy forces while member of his unit retreat.
Lopez was born in Santiago Huitlan, Mexico.
The road that led to K Company, 23 Infantry's position. This picture is facing roughly northwest; the front-line was about 400 meters to the front, and once the Germans broke the line, they came right up this road toward Krinkelt-Rocherath. (Treb Courie)
Originally planned for the early hours of 16 December, Operation Stösser was delayed for a day because of bad weather and fuel shortages. The new drop time was set for 0300 hrs on December 17; their drop zone was 11 km north of Malmedy and their target was the "Baraque Michel" crossroads. Von der Heydte and his men were to take it and hold it for approximately twenty-four hours until being relieved by the 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend, thereby hampering the Allied flow of reinforcements and supplies into the area.
Just after midnight 16 December/17 December 112 Ju 52 transport planes with around 1,300 Fallschirmjäger (German paratroopers) on board took off amid a powerful snowstorm, with strong winds and extensive low cloud cover. As a result, many planes went off-course, and men were dropped as far as a dozen kilometres away from the intended drop zone, with only a fraction of the force landing near it. Strong winds also took off-target those paratroopers whose planes were relatively close to the intended drop zone and made their landings far rougher.
By noon a group of around 300 managed to assemble, but this force was too small and too weak to counter the Allies. Colonel von der Heydte abandoned plans to take the crossroads and instead ordered his men to harass the Allied troops in the vicinity with guerrilla-like actions. Because of the extensive dispersal of the jump, with Fallschirmjäger being reported all over the Ardennes, the Allies believed a major divisional-sized jump had taken place, resulting in much confusion and causing them to allocate men to secure their rear instead of sending them off to the front to face the main German thrust. (Nick Minecci)
LUXEMBOURG: In the U.S. First Army's VIII Corps area, the 4th Infantry Division halts the Germans south of Osweiler and Dickweiler, but units are isolated at a number of points. The 10th Armored Division arrives in vicinity of Luxembourg city. (Jack McKillop)
GERMANY: 125th Armored Engineers and 62nd Armored Infantry, American 14th Armored Division sent patrols after dark to Siegfried Line near Bergzabern, Alsace. (Joe Brott)
In U.S. First Army VII Corps area, while rounding up paratroopers and guarding against possible airborne attack, continues to press its right flank toward the Roer River. 83d Infantry Division clears Roelsdorf and Lendersdorf. The 9th Infantry Division gains ground slowly just west of Dueren. The V Corps is fully occupied holding current positions north of the breakthrough and delaying the German offensive, which continues to gain ground slowly toward MalmÃ©dy, Belgium. The 1st and 30th Infantry Divisions are getting into position to counterattack. In the VIII Corps area, disorganized 14th Cavalry Group (Mechanized) continues to fall back on the northern flank of the corps. German columns isolate two regiments (422d and 423d) of the 106th Infantry Division in the Schnee Eifel salient and push on through Heuem toward St. Vith, Belgium. Elements of 7th and 9th Armored Divisions are committed to the defense of St Vith. In the 28th Infantry Division zone, the Germans drive a lmost to Wiltz. The Corps releases Combat Command R of the 9th Armored Division from reserve to block the Bastogne- Trois Vierges road.
In the U.S. Third Army's XX Corps area, the 5th Infantry Division continues to relieve the 95th Infantry Division in the Saarlautern bridgehead. Engineers complete a bridge in the Ensdorf area. (Jack McKillop)
USAAF Fifteenth Air Force bombers attack three synthetic oil refineries: 277 bomb the Deschowitz refinery at Odertal, 155 hit the I.G. Farben North and 86 attack the I.G. Farben South refineries at Blechhammer while 39 aircraft bomb the East marshalling yard (M/Y at Salzburg and six hit the M/Y at Strelitz. P-38 Lightnings and P-51 Mustangs escort the bombers, fly reconnaissance, strafe the railroad running from Rosenheim, Germany into Austria, and escort photo reconnaissance operations. Luftwaffe fighters appear in force for the first time since August 1944; the USAAF claims 55 air victories. (Jack McKillop)
During USAAF 15th Air Force mission to Odertal (now Kozle in Poland) a SAM defense is used. An after action report by 485th Bomb Group Commander, LTC. John E. Atkinson, recounts that six B-24s of his command were damaged by German SAMS (Surface to Air Missiles) on the return leg from a mission to Blechhammer South. Alleged attack happened at 1414hrs at 12,000 feet, at 46-33N 16-30E (southwestern Hungary--in the center of the Nagykanizsa Triangle, the last oil fields left to the Third Reich). (John D. Bybee)
Today's 15AF mission to Odertal (Kozle, Poland) is a blood bath for the B-24s of the 49th Bomb Wing. For the first time since summer, the 190s and 109s from JG300 bases at Lobnitz, Juterbog, Reinsdorf and Borheide, Germany were up in force. They slammed into the 461st BG and shot down 10 of 26 B-24s, 484th lost two B-24s, 451st lost two B-24s. (John D. Bybee)
A 415th NFS (Night Fighter Squadron) P-61 had a rocket/missile fired at it during the night, in the Karlsruhe-Mannheim area (1725-1920 hrs)
His post mission report reads:
10/10 clouds at 7500 ft, visibility 1 mile. vectored onto bogie by Churchman
at 1855 hours - head on
interception, assed each other and lost contact. Flak: Moderate, heavy at R-4980, R-3968, R-3146; scant, light at R-1363; 1 rocket at R-5699. No traffic sighted. (Sandy Bybee)
Weather prevents Ninth Air Force bomber operations but over 1,000 fighters fly armed reconnaissance, defensive patrols, and attacks on bridges and gun positions. The IX and XIX Tactical Air Commands also support ground forces (8th, 28th, 78th, 99th, and 106th Infantry Divisions, 5th Armored Division, and V, VII, VIII, XII, and XX Corps) against the German counteroffensive in the Ardennes and in a battle to hold the Saarlautern bridgehead. (Jack McKillop)
During the night of 17/18 December, RAF Bomber Command hits several targets: 523 aircraft, 418 Halifaxes, eight Lancasters and 24 Mosquitos, are sent to Duisburg; 486 bomb the city causing heavy damage; three aircraft are lost. A second target is Ulm: 317 Lancasters and 13 Mosquitos are dispatched; 316 bomb the city with the loss of two Lancasters. This is Bomber Command's first and only raid on Ulm, an old city but also the home of two large truck (lorry) factories, Magirius-Deutz and Kässbohrer, several other important industries and some military barracks and depots, and 1,449 tons (1 315 metric tonnes) of bombs are dropped during the 25-minute raid, starting in the centre and then creeping back to the west, across the industrial and railway areas and out into the country. The Gallwitz Barracks and several military hospitals are among 14 German Army establishments destroyed. A third target is Munich: 280 Lancasters and eight Mosquitos are dispatched and 266 bomb with the loss of four Lancasters. Bomber Command claims "severe and widespread damage" in the old centre of Munich and at railway targets. Mosquitos are also active: 39 fly a spoof (deception) raid to Hanau, 24 bomb Munster, three hit the Hermann Goering benzine facility at Hallendorf and three others hit targets of opportunity. (Jack McKillop)
U-3014, U-3015 commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
AUSTRIA: Fifty six USAAF Fifteenth Air Force aircraft bomb the Main marshalling yard (M/Y) at Wels while six bomb the M/Y at Villach and six other bomb the city of Saak. Two other aircraft hit targets of opportunity. (Jack McKillop)
CZECHOSLOVAKIA: Eighteen USAAF Fifteenth Air Force bombers attack a synthetic oil plant at Ostrava Moravaska. (Jack McKillop)
HUNGARY: Elements of the Soviet Second Ukrainian Front push to within 5 miles (8 kilometers) of Budapest. (Jack McKillop)
POLAND: Four USAAF Fifteenth Air Force bomb four targets of opportunity at Rybnik. (Jack McKillop)
ITALY: In the U.S. Fifth Army's British XIII Corps area, the Indian 8th Division's sector is now so narrow, because of the Polish II Corps advance, that it is held by a single brigade, the 17th. (Jack McKillop)
In the British Eighth Army's Polish II Corps area, the 5th Kresowa Division begins relieving the 3rd Carpathian Division along the Senio River. In the V Corps area, the Indian 43rd Brigade tries in vain to advance from Faenza. The Indian 10th Division secures small bridgeheads across the Senio River north and south of Tebano, but no strong effort can be made to expand them until the supply situation improves and environs, of Faenza are cleared. (Jack McKillop)
Bad weather again cancels USAAF Twelfth Air Force medium bomber operations. The XXII Tactical Air Command hits communications in the Po River Valley and attacks the Trento marshalling yard on the rail line running north to the Brenner Pass. (Jack McKillop)
YUGOSLAVIA: Forty five RAF Bombers of No. 205 (Heavy Bomber) group bomb tactical targets near Matesevo. (Jack McKillop)
BURMA: Eight USAAF Tenth Air Force P-47 Thunderbolts support ground forces in the Namhkam sector; eight other P-47s hit rail targets of opportunity between Kyaikthin and Kinu, then east to the Irrawaddy River and up the river to Tigyaing and four hit river craft at Tagaung. Over 50 fighter-bombers attack storage areas, vehicles, bivouacs, personnel areas, and general targets of opportunity at Pang-hsao, Kyaukme, Manai, Kutkai, Maugon, Hpa-ye, and Man Namman while 12 others strafe targets of opportunity during a Kyaukme-Nampyao railroad sweep. (Jack McKillop)
Five USAAF Fourteenth Air Force B-25 Mitchells bomb a road at Wan Pa-Hsa while 12 fighter-bombers hit a nearby railroad bridge, damaging it severely. (Jack McKillop)
VOLCANO ISLANDS: Twenty four USAAF Seventh Air Force B-24 Liberators from Saipan and 26 from Guam bomb Iwo Jima. During the night of 17/18 December, B-24s from Saipan and Guam fly three single-plane harassment strikes against Iwo Jima. (Jack McKillop)
FRENCH INDOCHINA: Nine USAAF Fourteenth Air Force B-24 Liberators bomb the Camranh Bay area. (Jack McKillop)
PHILIPPINE ISLANDS: In the U.S. Sixth Army's X Corps area on Leyte, the 32d Infantry Division progresses slowly south of Limon. In the XXIV Corps area, the 307th Infantry Regiment, 77th Infantry Division attacks at 1415 hours local, after artillery and air preparation, toward Valencia and reaches the edge of the airfield. The 306th Infantry Regiment stops for the night 500 yards (457 meters) south of its objective, Cabulihan. The 305th Infantry Regiment gains positions along the Tambuco- Dolores road and clears Tambuco.
On Mindoro, patrolling and work on defenses continue. (Jack McKillop)
USAAF Major Richard I. "Dick" Bong shoots down a Japanese "Oscar" fighter (Nakajima Ki-43, Army Type 1 Fighter Hayabusa) over San Jose, Mindoro Island at 1625 hours local. This is his 40th victory and Lieutenant General George Kenney, Commanding General Far East Air Forces, orders him grounded and returned to the U.S. Bong is the most successful U.S. fighter pilot ever. (Jack McKillop)
On Negros Islands, USAAF Far East Air Forces B-24 Liberators bomb Bacolod while B-25 Mitchells hit Silay Airfield and U.S. Marine Corps fighter-bombers in attacking the Cananga area and P-38 Lightnings destroy several aircraft during sweeps. B-25 Mitchells bomb Likanan on Mindanao Island while B-24s with P-47 Thunderbolt support, hit the airfield on Jolo Island; and fighter-bombers hit positions at Valencia on Mindanao Island. (Jack McKillop)
EAST INDIES: USAAF Far East Air Forces B-24 Liberators and fighter-bombers attack Jesselton Airfield, British North Borneo, and Laha Airfield on Ambon Island, Netherlands East Indies. (Jack McKillop)
CAROLINE ISLANDS: Three USAAF Seventh Air Force B-24 Liberators from Saipan, on armed reconnaissance, bomb Woleai and Eauripik Atolls. (Jack McKillop)
PACIFIC OCEAN: Destroyer USS Spence foundered in a typhoon east of Samar. There were only 23 survivors. (Dave Shirlaw)
U.S. Seventh Fleet Task Groups 77.3, 78.3, and 77.12 safely reach Leyte Gulf from Mindoro. (Jack McKillop)
U.S.A.: Wendover, Utah: A top-secret bombing team, the 509th Composite Group, assembled here today on the salt flats west of the Great Salt Lake. Its exact role is unknown to any of its members except for the commanding officer, Colonel Paul Tibbets, who had a distinguished flying record in Europe; but it is thought that the 509th is being trained to drop a new weapon, using atomic power on Japan.
Wendover Air Force Base was chosen because it enjoys more than 300 days of sunshine a year. The 509th is equipped with B-29 bombers. It will practise daylight bombing with large dummy bombs from 20,000 - 30,000 feet, using a special diving technique to gain speed in order to outrun blast waves expected to be greater than those of any existing bombs.
Two squadrons are assigned to the group, the 320th Troop Carrier Squadron, also activated today and initially equipped with C-47 Skytrains and later C-54 Skymasters, and the 393d Bombardment Squadron (Very Heavy) equipped with B-29 Superfortresses. The 393d had been activated on 11 March 1944 and has been training in Texas, Nebraska and Wendover.
Washington: Admiral Ernest J. King, Chief of Naval Operations, is promoted to the (five star) rank of Fleet Admiral. (Jack McKillop)
Destroyers USS Harlan R Dickson and Hugh Purvis launched.
The US Army announces the end of its policy of excluding Japanese-Americans from the West Coast when Major General Henry C. Pratt, Commanding General Western Defense Command, issues Public Proclamation No. 21, declaring that, effective 2 January 1945, Japanese-American "evacuees" from the West Coast could return to their homes. Some individual exclusions continue under the new policy. On 19 February 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the removal of any or all people from military areas "as deemed necessary or desirable." The military in turn defined the entire West Coast, home to the majority of Americans of Japanese ancestry or citizenship, as a military area. By June 1942, more than 110,000 Japanese-Americans were relocated to remote internment camps built by the military in scattered locations around the country. (Dave Shirlaw)
ATLANTIC OCEAN: U-400 sunk in the North Atlantic south of Cork, in position 51.16N, 08.05W, by depth charges from frigate HMS Nyasaland. 50 dead (all hands lost). (Dave Shirlaw)
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