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1937:     GERMANY: Chancellor Adolf Hitler orders the resumption of the immorality and foreign exchange trials against Catholic clergymen, which had been halted shortly before the Olympic Games in the summer of 1936.  (Jack McKillop)

 

1938:     U.S.A.: The prototype Bell (Model 11) XP-39 Airacobra (USAAC s/n 38-326) makes its first flight at Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio. A total of 8,914 P-39s are built during the war; a large number are transferred to the Soviet Union and France under Lend Lease.  (Jack McKillop)

 

U.S.S.R.: Soviet Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov proposes that talks between the Soviet and the U.K. governments be held at ministerial level.  (Jack McKillop)

April 6th, 1939 (THURSDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: London: Colonel Josef Beck, the Polish foreign minister, arrived in London today to sign an agreement which turns last month's Anglo-French guarantee of Poland's security into a wider pact of mutual assistance. The move is a belated attempt to put a stop to Hitler's acts of aggression, though nobody seems to know just how Britain and France can go to the aid of the Poles if Hitler decides to strike this year, as intelligence reports from Germany suggest.

The Poles, with long memories of Russian domination, are adamant that Soviet troops will not be allowed to enter their country, not even as formal allies. As for the Polish armed forces, they lack modern equipment and have only a few hundred obsolete planes. Even as Colonel Beck was signing the pact, London was receiving reports from the British military attaché in Warsaw saying Poland's frontiers are indefensible and the strategic position is "disastrous."

The Anglo-French guarantee has driven Hitler into a rage, but Chamberlain has now lost all faith in the Führer and is determined to fight.

ITALY: The government assures Britain it is not considering any sudden attack against Albania. (Jack McKillop)

 

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6 April 1940

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April 6th, 1940 (SATURDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: RAF Bomber Command: 4 Group. Reconnaissance - north-west Germany and the Ruhr. 10 Sqn. Two aircraft to the Ruhr. Slight opposition. One aircraft force landed near Grimsby on return.

After dropping 65 million leaflets, Bomber Command suspends 'nickelling' operations over Germany.

The aerial photographs of MacPhail's mission over the Soviet oilfields and the accompanying intelligence evaluations arrive on the desks of the British and French general staffs. The Allied generals decide to concentrate on the refineries and oil tanks. The French Armee de la Air will raid Batum and the RAF will destroy the installations in Baku and Grozny. The staffs calculate that it will be possible to destroy a third of the targets in the first six days. The plans call for 9 bomber squadrons to level 122 refineries within a 10 to 45 days period. Two French squadrons of Farman 221s, 4 French squadrons of Glenn Martins and 3 British squadrons of Wellingtons were to be used the French flying from Cizre in Turkey and the RAF from Mosul in Iraq. With extra fuel the Allied fleet was expected to carry 70 tonnes of bombs per mission. The RAF anticipated a 20% loss rate, the French expected no losses. The general staffs believed that this would lead "to a total collapse of the USSR's war capacity", and even "decide the entire course of the war."

NORTH SEA: U-1 goes missing. Probably lost by a mine in the mine barrage Field No. 7. in the North Sea. 24 dead (all hands lost). (Gary Kao)

NORWAY: Operation Wilfred, the British mining of Norwegian waters, begins. (Jack McKillop)

GERMANY: Kiel: RAF photo-reconnaissance reveals heavy naval activity at German ports in the area, believed to be in preparation for invasions of Norway and Denmark.

Operation Wesserübung: At midnight the Scharnhorst, accompanied by the Gneisenau, leaves Wilhelmshaven as the cover force of "Group I" for the invasion of Norway. (Navy News)

U.S.A.: A USAAC B-17 Flying Fortress is flown from Mitchell Field, Hempstead, Long Island, New York to Langley Field, Hampton, Virginia, by a pilot in a hooded cockpit using instruments. A co-pilot, navigator and four other crewmen were also aboard but they are not under a hood. (Jack McKillop)

The maiden flight of the first production Curtiss (Model 81-A) P-40, USAAC s/n 39-156, takes place at Buffalo, New York. Deliveries of the 524 P-40s to the USAAC begin in June. (Jack McKillop)

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6 April 1941

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April 6th, 1941 (SUNDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: RAF Bomber Command: 2 Group: Ijmuiden power station in the Netherlands, is attacked from low level.

GERMANY: Berlin:

Von Ribbentrop tells the Yugoslav envoy that "a clique of conspirators" had prevented Yugoslavia from joining the Axis which would have ensured "a happy future for the Yugoslav people."

Hitler addresses his armies:

Soldiers of the southeast front: Since early this morning, the German people are at war with the Belgrade government of intrigue. We shall only lay down arms when this band of ruffians has been definitely and most emphatically eliminated and the last Briton has left this part of the European continent, and these misled people realise that they must thank Britain for this situation.

ITALY: Italy declares war on Yugoslavia and the Italian Second Army occupies some frontier villages in Venezia Giulia, a narrow strip of land west of Trieste. (Jack McKillop)

BALKANS: YUGOSLAVIA: At 0515 hours, the Luftwaffe's Luftlotte 4 (General Lohr) consisting of 210 fighter, 400 bombers and dive bombers and 170 reconnaissance aircraft, launches a heavy attack (Operation CASTIGO) on Belgrade even though it has been declared an open city by the Yugoslav government. The Yugoslav Air Forces has 400 aircraft consisting of 144 fighter, 160 bomber and 40 reconnaissance aircraft. Belgrade is bombed by 150 bombers escorted by fighter flying from bases in Austria and Romania. 

The first strike is made in three waves consisting of 484 sorties. The attack was an act of terror resulting in the death of 17,000 civilians----the largest number of civilian casualties in a single day since the start of the war. Making the slaughter all the worse was that nearby towns and villages had emptied out into the capital city to celebrate Palm Sunday. All of the airfields are also bombed and 600 aircraft are destroyed on the ground. Included in the air assaults on Greece and Yugoslavia are I, II and III Staffel of Kampfgeschwader (Bomber Wing) 2 and III/KG 3 equipped with obsolete Dornier Do 17s; three dive bomber wings, I and III Stukageschwader 2 under Oberst (Colonel) Oskar Dinort and I/St.G 3 under Oberstleutnant (Lieutenant Colonel) Heinrich Eppen, fly their Ju 87B Stuka in devastating attacks on the Greeks and Yugoslavs. These units are later joined by St.G 77.

The German 2nd Army under General Maximillian von Weichs advances towards Belgrade from Austria while the Panzer Group Kleist under General Ewald von Kleist advances from Bulgaria towards Nis in the north and Skopje and Monastir in the south to prevent Yugoslav troops with joining up with the Greeks. The Yugoslav Army, which is antiquated and riven by dissent, mutinies and inefficiency, consists of 28 infantry and three cavalry divisions but only five infantry and two cavalry regiments resist the German invasion, due to their national compositions - they were mostly Serb, Montenegrin and Albanian. (Andy Etherington, Eugen Pinak, Steve Stathros and Jack McKillop)

The offensive on Greece begins with an assault by the German 18 Corps on the Greek left flank. This is followed by an attack by the German 30 Corps on the right flank of the Greek Army of Eastern Macedonia under General Bakopoulos.

Wehrmacht units include the 12th Army, with the 2nd Army expected to add support shortly.

In the east, the German Army's 12th Army under General Wilhelm von List moves into Greece from Bulgaria and attacks the Greek Army of Eastern Macedonia (Lieutenant-General Konstantinos Bakopoulos) on the Metaxas Line in Macedonia. The west of the Metaxas Line is attacked by the German XVIII Corps while the east of the line is attacked by the German XXX Corps. The troops of British General Henry Wilson, General Officer Commanding W Force, man the Aliakmon Line consisting of three Greek divisions, the New Zealand Division, the Australian 6th Division and the British 1st Armoured Brigade.

Both lines are supported by seven RAF squadrons. The Luftwaffe launches an air attack against the port of Piraeus located 5 miles (8 kilometres) southwest of Athens from bases in Bulgaria. During the raid, the British ammunition ship SS Clan Fraser is hit and explodes in a massive fireball, wrecking the harbour and port facilities. (Andy Etherington, Eugen Pinak and Jack McKillop)

There are also 15 Greek divisions in Albania,  3 divisions on the Metaxas Line on the Greek-Bulgarian border, in eastern Macedonia and Thrace and the remaining divisions with the British on the Olympus-Aliakmon line in central Macedonia, stretching from Mount Olympus to the Yugoslav border. (Anthony Staunton)

Yugoslavia had 28 infantry and 3 cavalry DIVISIONS. Only 5 infantry and 2 cavalry divisions resisted, not due to geographical location but due to their national compositions - they were mostly Serb, Montenegrin and Albanian. (Eugen Pinak)

LIBYA: Axis troops reoccupy Mechili and Msus.

A German motor-cycle unit captures a staff car containing Lt-General Neame, commander of 13 Corps and General O'Connor, and Brigadier John Combe, until recently CO of the 11th Hussars.

ETHIOPIA: Addis Ababa: British troops capture Addis Ababa the capital of Ethiopia which had been abandoned by its Italian defenders who are believed to be heading northeast to re-group with other units of the beleaguered Italian East African army. Many Italian women and children are still in Addis Ababa, suggesting that the Italian army's evacuation was a last-minute affair. Two brigades under Lieutenant General Alan Cunningham, Commander in Chief East Africa Command, had, in effect, been racing each other to the Ethiopian capital. The 1st South African Brigade got there first after covering 700 miles (1127 kilometres) in barely a month. Just outside the capital they overtook the 22nd East Africa Brigade commanded by Brigadier Charles Fowkes. Cunningham thought it important that white soldiers enter Addis Ababa first and ordered Fowkes to slow down. Fowkes initially reacted with the Nelson touch. Signals telling him to stop were pronounced garbled in transit; despatch riders were detained by his rear troops. Finally just 10 miles (16 kilometres) from Addis, a plane dropped him a halt order which he could not ignore. From 10 January 1941 to today, the British forces under General Cunningham have covered 1,700 miles (2736 kilometres) without fighting a major battle; their total killed is about 500 while the Italian Army has lost the majority of their arms, equipment and supplies and tens of thousands have been taken prisoner. ((Andy Etherington and Jack McKillop)

ATLANTIC OCEAN: HMS Comorin catches fire and finally goes down west of Ireland - the rescue of her crew and passengers in raging seas is an epic in its own right.

The German battle cruiser Gneisenau is badly damaged when a torpedo launched from an RAF Beaufort of 22 Squadron RAF Coastal Command, strikes while on an exercise just outside the port of Brest, France. The Beaufort is piloted by Flying Officer Kenneth Campbell (b. 1917), RAFVR, who is subsequently shot down and killed. (VC) (Jack McKillop)

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6 April 1942

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April 6th, 1942 (MONDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: The First Canadian Army formed in the U.K. under the command of Lieutenant General Andrew McNaughton. (Jack McKillop)

BELGIUM: During the night of the 6th/7th, one RAF Bomber Command aircraft attacks the port area at Ostend. (Jack McKillop)

NETHERLANDS: During the night of the 6th/7th, one RAF Bomber Command bomber attacks Schipol Airfield. (Jack McKillop)

GERMANY: During the night of the 6th/7th, RAF Bomber Command dispatches 157 aircraft, 110 Wellingtons, 19 Stirlings, 18 Hampdens and ten Manchesters, to bomb Essen The crews encountered severe storms and icing and there is  complete cloud cover over Essen. Only 50 aircraft claimed to have reached the target area and Essen reports only a few bombs, with light damage; no casualties are recorded. Five aircraft, two Hampdens, a Manchester, a Stirling and a Wellington are lost. Individual aircraft attack Aachen, Cologne, Duisburg, Dusseldorf, Gladbeck and Koblenz. (Jack McKillop)

MEDITERRANEAN SEA: Whilst on night passage from Malta to Gibraltar with over 100 passengers on board, destroyer HMS Havock hits a sandbank and goes aground whilst steaming at 30 knots off Kelibia, Tunisia at 36 48N 11 08E. This causes the turbines to disintegrate killing one and scalding 5 stokers. The 100+ crew and passengers were interned by the Vichy French. (Alex Gordon)(108)

EGYPT: Axis bombers attack the port of Alexandria. (Jack McKillop)

INDIAN OCEAN: Japanese Operation C continues: The Second Expeditionary Fleet, Malay Force (Vice Admiral OZAWA Jisaburo) raids Allied shipping off the east coast of India. The Japanese Northern Group (Rear Admiral KURITA Takeo) attacks an Allied convoy about 36 miles (58 kilometres) southeast of Puri, India; an unarmed U.S. freighter and four British merchantmen are sunk by gunfire of heavy cruisers HIJMS Kumano and Suzuya, and destroyer HIJMS Shirakumo. The Southern Group (Captain SAKIYAMA Shakao), consisting of heavy cruisers HIJMS Mogami and Mikuma and destroyer HIJMS Amagiri, sink three British merchantmen. The Central Group, formed around the aircraft carrier HIJMS Ryujo, heavy cruiser HIJMS Chokai, light cruiser HIJMS Yura, and destroyers HIJMS Yugiri and Asagiri, attacks shipping in a third area. 

After aircraft from the carrier HIJMS Ryujo attack an unarmed U.S. freighter, heavy cruiser HIJMS Chokai shells and sinks the American merchantman; Japanese gunfire renders all lifeboats useless and kills 19 of the 41-man crew. Five more crewmen die later of wounds suffered in the attack. Lost with the ship is its cargo of 500 monkeys (which are most likely earmarked for infantile paralysis research in the United States).

Floatplanes from the heavy cruiser HIJMS Chokai bomb an unarmed U.S. freighter 11 miles (18 kilometres) off the coast of India and a British freighter, sinking both. Light cruiser HIJMS Yura and destroyer HIJMS Yugiri, meanwhile, sink two Dutch motorships and a British steamer. Planes from HIJMS Ryujo bomb and sink a British steamer and a Dutch motorship and, at Vizagapatam, India, bomb and damage a British motorship. The Allies lose 83,000 tons of shipping in the well-executed attacks. Ironically, many of the ships sank were those dispersed from Colombo, Ceylon, earlier due to the threat of the Japanese Fleet's attack. (John Rogers and Jack McKillop)

Japanese submarine HIJMS I-5 sinks an unarmed U.S. freighter, en route from Suez to Ceylon, about 216 miles (348 kilometres) north northwest of the Maldive Islands. (Jack McKillop)

Japan bombs the towns of Vizagatapam [Vishakhapatman] and Cocanada [Kakinada] on the east coast of India. 

Sloop HMS Indus  is bombed and sunk in an air attack by the IJ airforce in the Indian Ocean off Fakir Point Light, Akyab at 20 07N 92 54E. (Alex Gordon)(108)

INDIA: New Delhi: The Japanese navy used a Pearl Harbor-style air assault when it attacked Colombo yesterday. But this time the defenders were not caught unawares and the attackers had little success, apart from sinking the destroyer HMS TENEDOS and the cruisers HMS DORSETSHIRE and HMS CORNWALL. 26 Allied planes were lost.

Although it was Sunday morning the harbour was empty of ships. Admiral Sir James Somerville, the fleet commander, had taken his main force to Addu atoll southwest of Ceylon. He sailed from Addu on 4 April to attack the Japanese fleet, but failed to make contact. The Royal Navy had been warned of Japanese intentions in the Indian Ocean by intercepted signals, and ground RDF picked up the air fleet as it approached Ceylon. The aircraft were flown from the five carriers of Admiral Chuichi Nagumo's First Air Fleet; all had taken part in the Pearl Harbor attack.

They entered the Indian Ocean from Sunda Strait on 3rd  April and headed for Ceylon, the heart of British naval power in the Far East, with the objective of driving the British Eastern Fleet out of the Indian Ocean. A second Japanese  naval force, supported by a light aircraft carrier, at the same time entered the Bay of Bengal through the Straits of Malacca to disrupt British shipping.

Near Akyab: No. 5 Squadron RAF, flying Curtiss Mohawks, score their first victory against the Japanese. (22)

Japanese bombers conduct their first bombing raids on India attacking Coconada and Madras. (Jack McKillop)

Ten Pan American World Airways Douglas DC-3s of the USAAF's Assam-Burma-China Ferry Command begin hauling 30,000 U.S. gallons (24,980 Imperial gallons or 113 562 liters) of aviation fuel and 500 U.S. gallons (416 Imperial gallons or 1893 liters) of lubricants from Calcutta to the airstrip at Asansol, completing the mission tomorrow. This fuel, subsequently transferred via Dinjan to China, is for use by Lieutenant Colonel James H Doolittle's Tokyo raiders, already at sea aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8). (Jack McKillop)

 

BURMA: The Japanese land reinforcements at Rangoon. Chinese Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, visiting Maymyo, urges that Taungdwingyi be held and agrees to provide a Chinese division to assist the Burma I Corps. The Chinese 200th and 96th Divisions are in position to defend Pyinmana. (Jack McKillop)

AUSTRALIA: Headquarters of the 41st Infantry Division, the 163d Infantry, the 167th Field Artillery Battalion and other units arrive in Melbourne, Victoria, and are assigned to Army Forces in Australia. (Jack McKillop)

BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: USAAF B-25s bomb Gasmata on New Britain Island. (Jack McKillop)

A small Japanese naval force from Truk Atoll in the Caroline Islands lands on the eastern tip of Manus Island, Admiralty Islands, and captures the town of Lorengau. (Jack McKillop)

COMMONWEALTH OF THE PHILIPPINES: On Bataan, the II Corps counterattacks north toward the reserve line in Sector D but meets a Japanese attack head on and falls back. On the corps eastern flank, the U.S. 31st Infantry and 21st Division, Philippine Army (PA), directed to drive north in the region east of Mt Samat, are unable to reach the line of departure. In the center, the 33d Infantry, PA, followed by the 42d and 43d, endeavors to drive north between Catmon and the western slopes of Mt Samat, but the 33d is surrounded and presumed lost and units to the rear are routed. Headquarters of Sector D and the western flank troops are thus separated from rest of II Corps. On the west, the 41st Infantry, PA, followed by the 45th, makes limited progress, but the 45th is unable to overtake the 41st and the 41st becomes isolated. The U.S. 31st Infantry and a battalion of the 57th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, are assigned to Sector C, where the line is withdrawn to the San Vicente River. The Japanese receive effective air and artillery support throughout day. (Jack McKillop)

River gunboats USS Mindanao (PR-8) and Oahu (PR-6) engage Japanese landing barges, claiming the destruction of at least four, in a night surface action in Manila Bay. USS Mindanao is damaged by return fire. (Jack McKillop)

U.S.A.: Life Magazine features the story of the Devastator crew who ditched their aircraft into the Pacific on 16 January and survived in a raft for 34 days.

Written by the pilot Harold Dixon. Some good parts:

--If you want to know what it was like on that raft, do the following things:
(1) Lie on your back with your knees well drawn up. (There was not enough room to stretch out our legs.) Make sure, of course, that you are lying on a hard mattress with no springs underneath.
(2) Have a good strong man rap you with a full swing of a baseball bat across the back of the head and the shoulders. Two such raps every three seconds will duplicate the action of the waves pounding against the bottom of the boat.
(3) Have a boy with a 3-gal. galvanized pail dash cold water on your face at irregular intervals.
(4) Have four empty dump trucks run circles around you continually for sound effects.
(5) Try all this for 34 days continually. It will get very monotonous.
--They caught fish (two total) by stabbing them with the pocketknife, and shot an albatross with the pistol. They ate part of the albatross and woke up that night to see the remains glowing (from phosphorus?). They got spooked and ditched the albatross (and fish it was wrapped up with), remembering the old sailor's superstition about killing an albatross. They had plenty of chances to kill albatrosses after that, but never did. They also caught a 4-ft shark with the pocketknife, which had several intact sardines inside as a special treat. Along with a tern, and two coconuts found floating by, this was apparently all the food they had for 34 days. (W Rinaman)

 

ATLANTIC OCEAN: German submarine U-160 torpedoes an unarmed U.S. bound from Corpus Christi, Texas, to New York City, about 75 miles (121 kilometres) southeast of Beaufort, South Carolina, U.S.A. The ship manages to reach Hampton Roads, Virginia. (Jack McKillop)

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6 April 1943

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April 6th, 1943 (TUESDAY)

ITALY: RAF Liberators, under IX Bomber Command control, bomb the Naples area. (Jack McKillop)

SICILY: Ninth Air Force B-24s hit the ferry and slips at Messina harbour. Northwest African Air Force B-17s bomb the docks and ships at Trapani. (Jack McKillop)

NORTH AFRICA: General Montgomery's attacks which began last night at Wadi Akarit are making good progress. The attack is led by the Br. 4th Indian Division. Defending units are mostly Italian Infantry plus the 15th Panzer and the 90th Light.
Follow up attacks this morning are badly coordinated and the battle does not continue as well as it started for the British.

For Italian Alpine troops high in the hills overlooking the Wadi Akarit, the nightmare came on a starless night. Sentries knew nothing of the assault by the 4th Indian Division until they felt the cold steel of Gurkha kukris against their throats. In a few hours more than 4,000 Italians had surrendered. The Indian encirclement - over a wide mountainous area - was an overwhelming success. Below on the plains, the 50th and 51st Infantry Divisions of the Eighth Army began their assault an hour before dawn and succeeded in breaching the German defences. Now was the time for the armour of X Corps to exploit the infantry's success.

The attack has been delayed however, and German Panzers have counter-attacked, forcing the infantry back.

TUNISIA: Pte. Eric Anderson (b.1915), East Yorks Regt., a stretcher-bearer, brought in three men under fire and was killed tending a fourth. (Victoria Cross)

TUNISIA: Lt-Col. Lorne MacLaine Campbell (b.1902), Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, led a daring advance - across a minefield and an anti-tank ditch - to form a bridgehead. (Victoria Cross)

TUNISIA: Ninth Air Force B-25s fly 2 missions against concentrations in the Oued el Akarit region, scoring hits on buildings, tanks, and numerous vehicles. P-40s fly escort, fighter sweep, and strafing operations, attacking guns, vehicles and personnel as the British Eighth Army begin their assault on Oued el Akarit from which the enemy begins withdrawing during the night.

During the night of 5/6 April, Northwest African Air Force Wellingtons bomb the dock and shipping at Tunis. During the day, B-25s and P-38 Lightnings attack shipping in the Straits of Sicily. Two forces of B-17s bomb a convoy further west, near Zembra Island and hit a convoy off Bizerte sinking a German freighter and damaging an Italian transport which is later beached to prevent her sinking. B-25s and A-20 Havocs attack landing grounds and airfields at Enfidaville, La Fauconnerie, and El Djem. La Fauconnerie bears the brunt of the attacks and is well covered. Fighters escort the bombing raids, fly reconnaissance missions, and attack scattered enemy movement. (Jack McKillop)

BURMA: 6 Tenth Air Force B-24 Liberators attack Pazundaung bridge, damaging the southern approach. (Jack McKillop)

NEW GUINEA: Fifth Air Force B-25s bomb the town area and AA positions at Salamaua while individual B-17s bomb Finschhafen. (Jack McKillop)

BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: Individual B-17s bomb Gasmata while another strafes Cape Gloucester on New Britain Island. (Jack McKillop)

SOLOMON ISLANDS: Thirteenth Air Force F-5 Lightning photo reconnaissance aircraft note 114 Japanese bombers and fighters on Kahili Airdrome on Bougainville. There were 40 aircraft on the airfield yesterday. (Jack McKillop)

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April 6th, 1944 (THURSDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: Pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) taxation starts today.

FRANCE: The Eighth Air Force flies Mission 290: 12 B-24s bomb V-weapon sites at Watten without loss. Escort is provided by 27 P-47s without loss. (Jack McKillop)

U.S.S.R.: Heavy fighting on the Eastern Front north of Razdelnaya.

ITALY: Twelfth Air Force B-25s hit Perugia Airfield while B-26 Marauders bomb a bridge and its approaches northwest of Orvieto; weather prevents other medium bomber operations; fighter-bombers attack the railroad stations at Capronica and Maccarese, guns southeast of Littoria, a road bridge east of Pescasseroli, railroad bridges in the Arezzo area, other rail facilities in central Italy, and small transport vessels in the Aegean Sea. (Jack McKillop)

YUGOSLAVIA: Fifteenth Air Force B-24s bomb the airfield at Zagreb; numerous other B-24s and B-17s abort because of weather; escorting fighters and the bombers claim 17 enemy fighters destroyed in combat; 6 US aircraft are shot down. (Jack McKillop)

INDIA: Imphal: The Japanese "March on Delhi" has been stopped on the sun-baked plains of Imphal, 40 miles inside India. The battle here, says the British commander, General Slim, will decide India's fate.

The invasion began three weeks ago when the 33rd Division of Lt-Gen Renya Mutaguchi's 15th Army attacked the 17th Indian Division, aiming to draw off reserves at Imphal, the gateway to India. But Slim concentrated his three divisions in the plain, the 17th conducting a fighting withdrawal.

Today an airlift of reinforcements from the 7th Indian Division began from the Arakan front to Dimapur, north of Imphal. Two brigades are to join XXXIII Corps at Dimapur and a third is to join IV Corps at Imphal. Mutaguchi's men are now pressing in on Imphal from the south-west. Two more Japanese divisions have entered the battle: the 15th attacking Imphal from the south-east, with the 31stattacking Imphal's line of communication with India at Kohima, 50 miles north. The 5th Indian Division's 161 Brigade entered Kohima today, but other formations have been unable to break through.

The fighting has been ferocious: as many as half the men holding Nungshigum, a hill which dominates Imphal, were killed today. But time is on Slim's side. The Allies are supplied from the air; the 100,000 Japanese have only what they carry. If they do not capture supplies at Imphal, they will starve.

India: Jemadar Abdul Hafiz (b.1918), 9th Jat Infantry, led an attack across a bare slope and up a steep cliff, routing the enemy but receiving a fatal wound. (Victoria Cross)

BURMA: 6 Tenth Air Force B-25s damage the railroad and rolling stock  Shwebo. 80+ fighter-bombers and 2 B-25s hit troops in the Namti area, support ground forces northeast of Kamaing, damage a bridge near Myitkyina, and hit troops, oil dumps, and supplies at Mogaung and Manywet. (Jack McKillop)

CHINA: Fourteenth Air Force P-40s from Suichwan pound a barrack southwest of Nanchang, causing heavy damage; a B-25 strike during the night of 6/7 April on airfields near Canton is curtailed by bad weather; only 1 B-25 reaches the target, dropping fragmentation bombs on revetments. (Jack McKillop)

EAST INDIES: Fifth Air Force B-25s bomb Koepang, Timor Island. (Jack McKillop)

NEW GUINEA: All but 25 Japanese aircraft at Hollandia have been destroyed.

NEW GUINEA: Fifth Air Force P-39Airacobras, P-40s and P-47s continue to pound coastal targets in the Wewak, Aitape, and Madang areas and at numerous other points along the coast. (Jack McKillop)

BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: Thirteenth Air Force bombers and fighters attack targets on New Britain Island: 22 B-25s bomb Lakunai Airfield and revetment area; 30+ fighter-bombers bomb the vicinity of Toboi wharf with incendiaries while 20+ others carry out incendiary strike on Wunapope, causing severe destruction to several buildings; and fighters maintain a sweep over Rabaul and New Ireland Island areas. (Jack McKillop)

CAROLINE ISLANDS: Seventh Air Force B-25s from Eniwetok Atoll hit Ponape Island twice. B-25s from Abemama Island bomb Jaluit Atoll, rearm at Majuro Atoll, and hit Maloelap Atoll during the return flight. During the night of 6/7 April, 34 Thirteenth Air Force B-24s bomb Dublon Island, Truk Atoll. (Jack McKillop)

CENTRAL PACIFIC: Seventh Air Force B-24s from Kwajalein Atoll bomb Wake Island. (Jack McKillop)

U.S.A: General Henry H "Hap" Arnold assumes command of the Twentieth Air Force at Washington, DC where HQ will remain until July 1945. Chief of Staff is Brigadier General Haywood S Hansell, Jr (currently Deputy Chief of Air Staff), with Colonel Cecil E Combs as his deputy for operations. (Jack McKillop)

 

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6 April 1945

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April 6th, 1945 (FRIDAY)

GERMANY:

The Red Army launches its attack on Königsberg, East Prussia.

The Germans move 15,000 Jewish prisoners out of Buchenwald camp.

Rühr: Two American armies with Rühr industrial heartland in their grip have been rounding up some 20,000 prisoners daily. With the figure already touching 100,000, they reckon the final total will be well over 300,000 when the final pockets of resistance from Field Marshal Walter Model's Army Group B have been eliminated.

Simpson's US Ninth Army came down from the north to join up with Hodge's First at Lippstadt, east of the Rühr valley. In this area, Warburg was captured after German civilians armed with bazookas, put up token resistance to the First Army. The Ninth is now clearing up Hamm, a railway centre and industrial town on the northern edge of the Rühr and a regular RAF target over the years.

Some German units lodged in the many wooded areas in this region are apparently unaware of Allied movements. When fatigue parties came out to collect ammunition from a dump near Marburg they found Allied troops awaiting them. 

Allied aircraft have dropped five million leaflets on the German forces trapped in the Rühr, giving news of the British, American and Canadian advances deep into the heart of the Third Reich.

At Hamelin, First Lieutenant Raymond O. Beaudoin, United States Army, Company F, 119th Infantry, 30th Infantry Division, led the 2d Platoon of Company F over flat, open terrain when the Germans went into action with machineguns and automatic weapons, laying down a devastating curtain of fire which pinned the Americans to the ground. By rotating men in firing positions he made it possible for his entire platoon to dig in, defying all the while the murderous enemy fire to encourage his men and to distribute ammunition. He then dug in himself at the most advanced position, where he kept up a steady fire, killing 6 hostile soldiers, and directing his men in inflicting heavy casualties on the numerically superior opposing force. Despite these defensive measures, however, the position of the platoon became more precarious, for the enemy had brought up strong reinforcements and was preparing a counterattack. Three men, sent back at intervals to obtain ammunition and reinforcements, were killed by sniper fire. To relieve his command from the desperate situation, 1st Lt. Beaudoin decided to make a l-man attack on the most damaging enemy sniper nest 90 yards to the right flank, and thereby divert attention from the runner who would attempt to pierce the enemy's barrier of bullets and secure help. Crawling over completely exposed ground, he relentlessly advanced, undeterred by 8 rounds of bazooka fire which threw mud and stones over him or by rifle fire which ripped his uniform. Ten yards from the enemy position he stood up and charged. At point-blank range he shot and killed 2 occupants of the nest; a third, who tried to bayonet him, he overpowered and killed with the butt of his carbine; and the fourth adversary was cut down by the platoon's rifle fire as he attempted to flee. He continued his attack by running toward a dugout, but there he was struck and killed by a burst from a machinegun. By his intrepidity, great fighting skill, and supreme devotion to his responsibility for the well-being of his platoon, 1st Lt. Beaudoin single-handedly accomplished a mission that enabled a messenger to secure help which saved the stricken unit and made possible the decisive defeat of the German forces. (MOH)

The Eighth Air Force flies Mission 930: 659 bombers are dispatched to hit rail targets in the Leipzig area using H2X radar; 4 B-17s and 1 P-51 are lost.

- 183 B-24s bomb the marshalling yard at Halle; 22 others hit Eisleben, a target of opportunity. Escorting are 201 P-47s and P-51s.

- 321 B-17s hit the main station and marshalling yard at Leipzig and 109 hit Gera; 11 others hit the marshalling yard at Halle; 4 B-17s are lost. The escort is 392 of 410 P-51s; 1 P-51 is lost.

99 Ninth Air Force B-26s, A-20s and A-26 Invaders hit marshalling yards at Gottingen and Northeim and the city area of Herzberg, and drop leaflets over 3 city areas; fighters fly escort, alerts, sweeps, and armed reconnaissance, and support the US VIII Corps in the Eisenach area, and the XX Corps east of the Werra River near Muhlhausen. (Jack McKillop)

Deutsche Reichsbahn operates the Taifun Express, a special train of seventy tarpaulin covered cars (formerly used for V-2 parts) and twelve boxcars/passengers cars. The train is commanded by Luftwaffe 1st Lt. Dr. Klaus Schneufelen. The train transports all the machinery and raw materials needed to mass produce 700 Taifun unguided surface-air missiles from Camp Dora to Austria. The train departs Herzberg Station before noon today. It will skirt the western Harz Mountains via Osterode, Seesen and Goslar. (Sandy Bybee)

AUSTRIA: In a dramatic broadcast tonight, Vienna radio announced that the Russians had broken into the suburbs of the city. The broadcast was interrupted by the noise of heavy gunfire as Marshal Tolbukhin's men penetrated to within a mile of the city centre.

"At this very moment," said the announcer, "shells are howling over our heads, over the ancient tower of St. Stephen, the heavily-damaged Burgtheater and the castle of Schonbrunn. Our men are firing with all guns. Vienna Volkstürm formations have been deployed on a square. They are going into battle at any minute now to support the soldiers of the Wehrmacht fighting only a few kilometres away.

"We can see the bombs and shells crashing. The Russians are trying to enter the bulwark of the German south-east. The thunder of battle is enveloping the front-line city of Vienna." Then, after a short interlude of Viennese music, the announcer called for a "backs to the wall" defence of the city.

ITALY: Second Lieutenant Vernon Baker of the US Army showed outstanding courage and leadership in destroying German installations. Personally killing five Germans. MOH.

Twelfth Air Force A-20s and A-26s on night intruder missions during the night of 5/6 April, bomb several bridges in the Po River Valley, scoring good results on 8 of the targets, also hitting an assembly area along the Po River; XXII Tactical Air Command fighters and fighter-bombers hit lines of communications, mainly in the Po Valley, and support US Fifth Army forces attacking toward Massa Lombarda; B-25s cancel missions against targets on the Brenner line due to weather, but hit 6 bridges in the central Po Valley and gun positions at La Spezia.

The Fifteenth Air Force dispatches 387 B-17s and B-24s, with fighter escort, to bomb marshalling yard flak positions and an ordnance depot at Verona and a marshalling yard and small arms plant at Brescia; 179 other bombers sent against targets in northern Italy are recalled; 81 P-38s dispatched to bomb a bridge in Austria abort due to weather; 14 manage to attack bridges near the Austro-Italian border; 6 P-51s (of 54 airborne) strafe railroad targets in the Straubing-Plattling, Germany area; others fly reconnaissance missions. (Jack McKillop)

BURMA: With improving weather conditions combat strikes by the Tenth Air Force in the central Burma battle area increase; 70+ fighter-bombers attack troop concentrations, artillery positions, tanks, trucks, fuel dumps, and general targets of opportunity along and immediately behind enemy lines; targets are located in several areas including Paklu, Nawnghkio, Loilem, Takaw, Mong Hko, Kongleng, Nawnghsan Pu, and Indaw; air supply sorties continue on a steady basis throughout the day. (Jack McKillop)

CHINA: 3 Fourteenth Air Force B-24s hit targets of opportunity in the Bakli Bay area on Hainan Island and 8 P-51s blast railroad targets of opportunity, troops, horses, and boat landings in the Chenghsien area and along the Lung Hai railroad and Yellow River. (Jack McKillop)

FORMOSA: Fifth Air Force B-25s bomb the town of Hokko. (Jack McKillop)

FRENCH INDOCHINA: 4 Fourteenth Air Force P-38s knock out a bridge in the Dien Bien Phu area. (Jack McKillop)

CENTRAL PACIFIC: 11 Seventh Air Force B-24s from Guam bomb positions and the airfield on Marcus Island. (Jack McKillop)

JAPAN: HIJMS Yamato sails from the Inland Sea on a Kamikaze mission to Okinawa. There is only enough fuel on board for a one way trip. 
Those were the orders, but according to Russell Spurr in "A Glorious Way to Die," the officers at the Imperial Navy's main fuel depot refused to condemn YAMATO and her consorts in this way. They tapped a secret reserve, hand-pumping the dregs from otherwise empty tanks, which were normally irrecoverable. Thus the ships had much more than their allotted allowance of oil, although of course they really didn't have a prayer in any case. (Keith Allen)

The Japanese kamikaze onslaught against the US Navy begins off Okinawa. Kamikazes sink two destroyers (DDs) (one is scuttled after being hit by four kamikazes) and one landing ship tank (LST); and damage one light aircraft carrier (CVL), nine destroyers (DD), three destroyer escorts, three high-speed minesweepers (DMSs), five minesweepers (AMs), two motor minesweepers (YMSs) and one landing ship tank (LST). (Jack McKillop)

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US forces have blasted their way ashore at the island of Okinawa, some 340 miles south of Kyushu. Okinawa is to provide a "springboard" for the invasion of Japan later this year. The landings began on 1 April along a ten-mile stretch of the south-west coast, with a mammoth invasion fleet in support. Within an hour 16,000 Americans were ashore, and by 10am the important Kadena and Yontan airfields were in US hands. The absence of any real opposition from the Japanese puzzled the Americans. It was like a peacetime army exercise.

The Okinawa invasion - Operation Iceberg - is the largest amphibious landing of the Pacific War. Expecting heavy opposition, the Americans assigned the Tenth Army, commanded by Lt-Gen Simon Buckner, comprising three Marine and five army divisions, to take Okinawa. The total force consists of 548,000 army, navy and Marine personnel with 320 combat and 1,140 auxiliary vessels. In support are task forces of the US Navy together with the British Pacific Fleet. To isolate Okinawa before the landing, US carrier aircraft pounded Japanese airfields in Kyushu. B-29s interrupted their fire-bombing of Japanese cities to join in these attacks. The Americans plan to build air bases on the 60 mile long island for the aerial bombardment of Japan. The island also has room to provide bases to support the coming invasion of Japan itself.

The Japanese have some 120,000 troops on Okinawa. They avoided the crippling effects of US air and naval fire-power by stationing only token forces on the beaches and establishing strong defensive positions inland where they can meet the Americans in battle beyond the range of naval gunfire. But desperate measures are planned elsewhere. Kamikaze attacks are under way, and have already damaged the US battleship WEST VIRGINIA and the British carrier INDOMITABLE.

On Okinawa the US XXIV Corps, after cutting the island in two, turned south on 3 April in a drive towards the formidable Shuri Line. At the same time III Amphibious Corps moved north, meeting ever-stiffer resistance. Today Japan made mass attacks on Allied naval forces, sinking six warships and heavily damaging the US fleet carrier HANCOCK. The Japanese used 335 kamikazes, as well as a large number of other aircraft in these attacks.

Eleventh Air Force bombers attacks targets in the KURILE ISLANDS: 8 B-24s attack and photograph Kurabu on Paramushiru Island, especially the airfield, while 8 B-25s hit radar installations in an all-out attack on Hayakegawa, Kotani Island, and Minami Cape, dropping napalm-filled incendiaries for the first time; buildings and shipping in northern part of Hayakegawa are hit especially hard; another B-25 flies weather reconnaissance. (Jack McKillop)

COMMONWEALTH OF THE PHILIPPINES: US Army Forces, Pacific (AFPAC) is established at Manila under General of the Army Douglas MacArthur. MacArthur and Nimitz for the time being retain their responsibilities as commander of all Allied forces in the Southwest Pacific and Pacific Ocean areas respectively.
But these commands are to be phased out in favour of a new arrangement. MacArthur is named Commander in Chief, U.S. Army Forces, Pacific, and will eventually assume command of all Army forces in the Pacific, with some minor exceptions. Similarly, Nimitz, is his capacity as commander of the Pacific Fleet, will eventually be given command of all naval forces in the Pacific, including Seventh Fleet, which currently is under MacArthur's theatre command. The projected invasion of Japan will be conducted with this new structure. (Keith Allen)

Far East Air Forces missions: On Luzon Island, ground support sorties continue in areas around Balete Pass, west of Ft Stotsenburg, north, northeast and south of Laguna de Bay, and around Legaspi and Far East Air Forces fighters hit Carabao Island and Infanta. On Cebu, B-24s bomb a town north of Cebu City while fighters support ground units. A-20s support ground forces on Negros Island and B-25s pound Bunawan on Mindanao. B-24s bomb Jolo Island, Philippine Island defences and ammunition and supply dumps. 

Seventh Air Force missions: 23 B-24s from Angaur Island in the Palau Islands bomb barracks and a wharf at Bunawan on Mindanao. (Jack McKillop)

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