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April 17th, 1939 (MONDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: One pilot and 100 production Covenanter cruiser tanks are ordered.

GERMANY: Martin Bormann requests that the Minister of Education eliminates the logical faculties in German universities. More...

JAPAN:  The USN heavy cruiser USS Astoria (CA-34) arrives in Yokohama carrying the remains of the former Japanese Ambassador to the United States, the late Hirosi Saito. In command of the ship is Captain Richmond Kelly Turner. In addition to his normal duties, he is tasked with attempting to photograph the Japanese battleships Yamato and Musashi. USS Astoria sailed for Shanghai, China, on 26 April. (Jack McKillop)

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17 April 1940

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April 17th, 1940 (WEDNESDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM:

RAF Bomber Command: 4 Group. (Armstrong-Whitworth Whitley Mk Vs. ) 58 Sqn. Two aircraft to Kjeller and Fornebu. No bombing due to weather.

77 Sqn. Three aircraft to Trondheim. No bombing due to weather.

102 Sqn. Three aircraft to Trondheim. No bombing due to weather.

NORWEGIAN CAMPAIGN: Heavy cruiser HMS Suffolk bombards Sola airfield near Stavanger, but as she returns is badly damaged by Ju88 bombers. She barely make Scapa Flow. RAF Hudsons spot for the Navy’s gunners.

RAF bombers attack a submarine in Bergen Fjord and a supply ship at Larvik. At noon 12 Blenheims attack Stavanger. 2 FTR. At night 11 Wellington’s renew the attack on Stavanger airfield. One Wellington is lost.

In the south a mixed force of British aircraft mine German sea and coastal communications.

British troops are sent in two forces to land at less conspicuous ports that are still in Norwegian hands to effect an attack on Trondheim. ‘Mauriceforce’ is to land at Namsos, 80 miles to the north of Trondheim. ‘Sickleforce’ is to land at Aandalsnes, 100 miles to the southwest. The heart of Mauriceforce is the British 146th Brigade under Maj. Gen. Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart, a stiff-backed veteran who had left Oxford to enlist in the army during the Boer War. He wore a piratical black patch over the empty socket of an eye he had lost in the Middle East, an artificial hand to replace one lost in France during WW1 and a splendid collection of medals that included the Victoria Cross.

Carton de Wiart had arrived at Namsos by flying boat, intending to prepare the way for his troops. He had some problems. The 15 mile fjord leading to the tiny port of Namsos proved too winding and narrow for bulky troop transports to navigate; the ships would be easy targets for the Luftwaffe. Before entering the fjord, therefore, much of the British brigade had to be transferred to destroyers. In the confusion, equipment was misplaced, and one transport sailed home with 170 tons of weapons, rations and ammunition still aboard, leaving the 146th with just two days’ supplies. Even the brigade commander was missing; he was aboard one of the transports heading for Narvik.

(Mark Horan adds): It was decided that the Skua squadrons at RNAS Hatston would continue the armed reconnaissance sorties to Bergen. Working under the same plan as the day before, two aircraft from 800 Squadron were dispatched in company around 0945, some 4 1/2 hours late due to weather. Each carried as single 250 SAP pound bomb and eight 20 pound Cooper bombs. Again, the actual reconnaissance was carried out at low level, from 5,000 feet to 1,000 feet. One Skua sighted a small warship, identified as Bremse, tied up at the Dokajeer jetty and dive bombed her at 1150, but no results were noted. Photos were taken, and both aircraft headed back, one making it to Hatstaon, but the Captain R. T. Partridge, RM, caught but a 180 degree shift in the wind direction, made a forced-landing at RAF Sumburgh in the Shetlands, his 6A:L3025 being seriously damaged when it overturned on the soggy ground. 

Meanwhile, at noon word was received at RNAS Hatston from HMS Suffolk that she had been seriously damaged while returning from bombarding Stavanger, by Luftwaffe aircraft and was returning to Scapa under threat of further air attack, and was requesting air cover. 803 Squadron was placed on alert to fly fighter patrols over her throughout the day. The two Skuas of Green Section led by Lieutenant H. E. R. Torin, RN were dispatched immediately, meeting her 150 miles off the coast. Almost immediately, several German bombers were sighted at 1340, but the duo was able to break up their attacks, one Do-18 being badly damaged. An hour later, the six Skuas of 803's Blue (Lieutenant W. P. Lucy, RN) and Yellow (Lieutenant L. A. Harris, RM) Sections arrived to relieve Green Section. At 1440, both sections shot up a He-111, while Blue section also chased off a Ju-88. About 30 minutes later two sections of 801 Squadron arrived overhead. Red section, led by Lieutenant R. L. Strange, RN chased off a snooper at 1520, while at 1533 Yellow section, led by the Squadron OC Lieutenant-Commander H. P. Bramwell, RN, jumped a Do-18G of 1/KuFlGr 406 and shot it down. 

Still later, after refuelling, 803 Yellow section and Blue-leader returned, this time leading a section of Gladiators from 804 Squadron,  also based at Hatston, and they covered Suffolk's arrival at Scapa without further action.

Meanwhile, with the bulk of the Home Fleet having returned to Scapa to refuel, HMS Furious, with inadequate facilities available, was slowly refuelling. She also took the time to repair her tired and somewhat mangled air group, which now consisted of 12 Swordfish, five of 818 Squadron and seven of 816 Squadron. Fortunately, crew casualties to date have not be serious: two dead and three wounded.

S class submarine HMS Sterlet lost in the Skagerrak with all crew of 30. It is thought that she may have been sunk by minesweeper M 75 on 17 April or mined as she made her way home on 22 April. (Alex Gordon)(108)

FRANCE: General Weygand reports to Gamelin and to General Vuillemin, the C-in-C of the French Air Force, that "the preparations for the bombing of the Caucasian oil fields have advanced so far that the operation can take place shortly." The French High Command accept Weygand’s proposal and decide to attack the USSR at the end of June or beginning of July 1940.

GERMANY: Upon hearing of the loss of Narvik, Hitler had a fit of hysteria; he demanded that General Dietl’s troops there be evacuated by air - an impossibility. ‘Each piece of bad news, leads to the worst fears.’ said Jodl in his diary.

AUSTRALIA: The ocean liner QUEEN MARY arrives after her secret voyage from New York.

U.S.A.: Washington: Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, says that any threat to the status quo in the Dutch East Indies would imperil peace in the Pacific.

ATLANTIC OCEAN: HMS Ark Royal in company with the destroyers HMS Westcott and HMS Bulldog are en-route to the Clyde. HMS Glorious, in company with the destroyers HMS Velox and HMS Watchman continue towards the Clyde.

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17 April 1941

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April 17th, 1941 (THURSDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: Chartier, French Consul-General, is expelled from Britain.

London: Lt. Ernest Oliver Gidden (1910-61), RNVR, spent six hours chiselling molten metal from the highly sensitive fuse of a bomb on Hungerford Bridge, and putting in a gag to stop the mechanism. (George Cross) Hungerford Bridge carries an electrified railway line with the live current on a third rail. This had caused the bomb to weld itself to the rail.

The Luftwaffe drop 170 HEs, 32 parachute mines and 5,400 incendiary bombs on a decoy installation on Hayling Island in Hampshire.

London: Churchill agrees to a secret appeal from General Papagos, the Greek C-in-C for British and Empire forces to evacuate mainland Greece in order to save it from further destruction, but insists that Crete must be held with force.

London: The War Office announced:

No confirmation has been received from the Greek of British high commands in Greece of the German-spread rumour that the enemy has broken through Allied lines at the Mount Olympus sector of the front [northeastern Greece] and that German troops are already advancing into the Larissa area.

GERMANY: Berlin: The Wehrmacht High Command announced:

In retaliation for the British air raid on the residential and cultural centre of the German capital on the night of 9th-10th April, the German Luftwaffe last night carried out a grand assault on the British capital. A great number of German bomber wings released countless high-explosive bombs of all calibres, and incendiary bombs, uninterruptedly throughout the entire night. Ground visibility was good and the bomb detonations and their effects could be observed with absolute clarity. Large fires had sprung up in the harbour districts, a well as in other city areas, by the time the first German formations flew away; some of the fires joined together to form wide-scale conflagrations. The glow from these huge fires was visible as far away as the Channel and some of them even from the Belgian coast. In future, any British air raid on residential quarters of Germany will be answered by increased retaliation.

YUGOSLAVIA: Belgrade: After 12 days of resistance the Yugoslav government signed the act of surrender to the triumphant Germans today. In Sarajevo remnants of the army gave themselves up; around 6,000 officers and 335,000 men were marched off to PoW camps. King Peter and Prime Minister, General Simovich have escaped to Greece.

From the outset the Yugoslav General Staff was committed to fighting an unwinnable campaign. The bitter divisions between the country's many nationalities - especially between Croats and Serbs - meant that an attempt had to be made to defend the whole country.
The Yugoslav forces were thus strung out along the frontier without depth or necessary reserves. The Germans jumping off from Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria plunged into Yugoslavia along the mountain passes accompanied by dive-bombers. Within a week German forces were in Belgrade.

Many Yugoslav units never saw battle and they remain in remote areas still with their weapons, where some intend to fight on as partisans.

GREECE: By midnight the Anzac Corps' four forward brigades had left their positions, embussed and driven south, leaving the 6th NZ and the 16th and 17th Australian Brigades astride the 3 main roads converging on Larisa. (Anthony Staunton)

Savige force withdraws from the Kalabake area during the night.

Athens: A group from the Joint Planning Staff in Cairo arrive to plan the evacuation of 'Lustre', the Allied expeditionary force.

U.S.A.: Igor Sikorsky lifts his VS-300 helicopter off the water for the first time near the plant in Sikorsky plant in Stratford, Connecticut. (Jack McKillop)

ATLANTIC OCEAN: The German raider Atlantis sinks the Egyptian liner Zamzam and takes passengers prisoner. She carried 202 passengers (including 109 women and children) of various nationalities - 138 US (including the Editor of "Fortune" magazine), 26 Canadians, 25 British with the remainder composed of four other nationalities. No one was killed but there were some wounded. The captain of the ATLANTIS claimed to have mistaken ZAMZAM for a British ship in the pre-dawn darkness and fired six salvos at her at 9000 yards obtaining six hits. She was an ex British Bibby liner. Egypt was technically neutral at the time.
These passengers included "Life" magazine photographer David Scherman. Scherman was aboard the "Zamzam" heading toward Cape Town on Apr.17, 1941. He said one passenger on deck late at night saw flashing lights winking from a dark hulk, and then heard two ear-shattering explosions. The fire was coming from the German raider "Atlantis." The passengers aboard the Zamzam had to take to the lifeboats as their ship was attacked, and Scherman got photographs of the Atlantis before being taken aboard it. He secreted the film in tubes of toothpaste and shaving cream.

He passed inspection by two German officers and was put ashore two weeks later on the coast of Portugal. He returned to the USA, and "Life" published his photos. They were used by the Royal Navy in their hunt for the raider, which was eventually sunk.

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17 April 1942

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April 17th, 1942 (FRIDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: Southampton: Private Nora Caveney becomes the first ATS casualty of the war when she is killed operating a range-finder on an anti-aircraft battery site.

GERMANY: Konigstein: General Henri Giraud, the French commander captured in 1940, escapes from a German PoW camp. Giraud was imprisoned in the castle prison at Konigstein. He escapes by lowering himself down the castle wall and jumping on board a moving train, which takes him to the French border. Hitler, outraged, orders Giraud's assassination upon being caught, but Giraud is able to make it to North Africa via a British submarine. He joins the French Free Forces under General Charles de Gaulle and eventually rebuilds the French army. (Jack McKillop)

Dortmund: The Gestapo reports an increase in anti-Nazi graffiti in this city and other industrial areas of the Rhineland.

The RAF has followed up its devastating fire raid on mediaeval Lübeck with a daring raid from 500 feet on the M.A.N. diesel engine factory at Augsburg. The object was to "blood" new Lancaster bombers and crews on an industrial target easily identified by vivid landmarks. Seven out of 12 Lancasters, from 44 and 97 Squadrons, were shot down and five damaged. Only eight reached the target and of 17 bombs on target, just 12 exploded. Only four factory workshops were damaged, but the raid has caught the public imagination because it was in daylight at low-level.

Augsburg, GERMANY: Sqn-Ldr. John Dering Nettleton (1917-43) led six Lancasters on a daylight raid under heavy attack. Only his plane returned. (Victoria Cross)

AUSTRALIA: The first class of Dutch personnel bound for the Royal Netherlands Military Flying School at Jackson Army Air Base (1 mile northwest of Jackson, Mississippi), leaves Australia. (Jack McKillop)

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17 April 1943

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April 17th, 1943 (SATURDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: London: The Polish government in exile asks the Red Cross to investigate the Katyn massacre.

After a raid by 30 Focke-Wulf FW190 fighter bombers on London, one lands by mistake at West Malling aerodrome.

London: Major-General Ira Eaker, the commander of the US 8th Army Air Force has put forward a proposal called "The Combined Bomber Offensive from the United Kingdom" reasserting the belief that a joint Allied bombing campaign could bring Germany to its knees. Maj-Gen Eaker believes that it will be necessary to "seek the destruction of enemy fighters in the air and on the ground." 

The Commanding General, VIII Fighter Command, expresses the need for 20 fighter groups to neutralize growing German fighter opposition to the Combined Bomber Offensive (CBO).

GERMANY: The US 8th AF raids the aircraft factories in Bremen with 115 B-17s.

VIII Bomber Command Mission Number 52: 115 B-17s are dispatched against the Focke-Wulf factory at Bremen, Germany the Eighth Air Force's largest mission to date. A mass of fighters attacks during bomb run, shooting down 15 while flak claims another. The B-17s claim 63-15-17 Luftwaffe aircraft; 39 B-17s are damaged.  (Jack McKillop)

FINLAND: Finnish Commander-in-Chief Marshal Mannerheim travels to Switzerland to tend his health. He uses the alias of 'Baron Marhein'. Chief of General Staff Gen. Erik Heinrichs acts as the C-in-C during Mannerheim's absence.

Numerous rumours float around explaining the 'true' reasons for Mannerheim's trip. Some say there's in fact been a military coup and Mannerheim has been driven to exile. Others say Mannerheim went to present the Finnish surrender to the Western Allies. But the truth is just that: Mannerheim goes to tend his health after being seriously ill in early April. He returns on 9 May and resumes his duties. Mannerheim is old (he will be 76 next June) and his duties has worn him further. The old Marshal is no more in top of his powers. (Mikko Härmeinen)

POLAND: Katyn: Five days ago a devout Russian peasant called on the German Field Security Police at Katyn, near Smolensk, with a grim story. "The Poles are looking for their officers in Siberia, but they lie here, in the forest," he said.

The Germans dug up some 4,100 Polish officers, still in their uniforms, with identity documents, and hands tied behind their backs. All had been shot in the back of the neck. Local Russian peasants told of "Black Ravens", prison coaches driven by Soviet secret police, arriving in spring 1940. Other corpses found nearby are of Soviet civilians who died in Stalin's purges. The discovery has provided a propaganda triumph for Göbbels. "I saw to it that the mass graves were inspected by neutral journalists from Berlin," he noted in his diary.

Professors of forensic medicine from German-occupied countries have been given a free hand at Katyn, but today the exiled Polish government in London has demanded in investigation by the International Red Cross. Moscow has reacted with fury. It says that the Germans carried out the mass killings, and accuses the Poles in London of "aiding and abetting Hitler". The affair is embarrassing Britain, as both Stalin and the Poles are Allies.

ITALY: SICILY: Ninth Air Force B-24s (including Liberator Mk IIs of the RAF 178 Squadron, under operational control of the IX Bomber Command) bomb Catania. Northwest African Strategic Air Force B-17s bomb shipping and docks at Palermo. (Jack McKillop)

MEDITERRANEAN SEA: US bombers raid Palermo, Catania and Syracuse.

TUNISIA: Despite Rommel's plea to Hitler and Mussolini to evacuate North Africa and prepare for the invasion of Europe, German engineers are working feverishly to prepare new defence lines in Tunisia. The high command in Berlin reasons that if Axis troops can hold out in Tunisia until the autumn, the invasion of mainland Europe will be delayed for another year.

Allied numerical superiority is overwhelming, however. The British and American air forces can muster 3,000 aircraft; the Axis, 500; the Allies have 1,200 tanks; the Axis, 130. Despite this the Germans are skilled improvisers, particularly when it comes to defence.

Ninth Air Force P-40s fly sweeps, sea patrol, and fighter-bomber missions. During the night of 16/17 April, Northwest African Strategic Air Force (NASAF) Wellingtons bomb the N quay in Bizerte harbour. Shortly after noon, B-17s bomb shipping and docks at Ferryville. B-25s hit the town area and marshalling yard at Mateur. Fighters provide escort. Northwest African Tactical Air Force (NATAF) Blenheims bomb La Sebala Airfield and A-20s hit Ksar Tyr and concentrations NE of Grich el Oued. Fighters fly escort and reconnaissance missions. Northwest African Coastal Air Force (NACAF) airplanes fly sea patrol and reconnaissance and attack shipping in the Strait of Sicily. (Jack McKillop)

BURMA: 7 Tenth Air Force B-25s bomb the Myitnge bridge, scoring 4 damaging hits. Ten others hit the Myitnge railroad works. Sixteen P-40s damage the bridge at Kamaing, attack the town of Nanyaseik, and score hits on the N approach to the bridge at Namti. Six B-24s damage the S approach to the Pazundaung railroad bridge. (Jack McKillop)

NEW GUINEA: A single Fifth Air Force B-24 scores hits on the NW shore of Hollandia Bay. (Jack McKillop)

MOLUCCAS ISLANDS: Fifth Air Force B-24s bomb targets on Amboina Island. (Jack McKillop)

SOLOMON ISLANDS: During the night of 16/17 April, 15 Thirteenth Air Force B-17s and 8 TBF Avengers of Torpedo Squadron Twenty Seven (VT-27) (part of Air Group 27, USS SUWANEE) and Composite Squadron Twenty Six (VC-26) (part of Air Group 26, USS SANGAMON) and Composite Squadron VC-28 (part of Air Group 28, USS CHENANGO), bomb Kahili Airfield on Bougainville. Two of the VC-27 TBFs conduct a mast-high bombing attack on ships in New Georgia Sound, the first attack of this kind in this theatre.  (Jack McKillop & Massimiliano Stola)

PACIFIC OCEAN: Three Japanese ships are sunk at sea:

- A mine laid by USN TBF Avengers on 30 March sinks a transport near Buin, Bougainville, Solomon Islands.

- An ex-whale factory ship is sunk by unknown agent about 160 miles (257 km) east of Formosa.

- Submarine USS Flying Fish (SS-229) sinks an army cargo ship off Yerimozaki, Hokkaido, Japan. (Jack McKillop)

TERRITORY OF ALASKA: ALEUTIANS: 7 B-24 of the Eleventh Air Force bomb and score 8 direct hits on the runway and gun emplacements at Attu. One B-24 and 2 F-5As abort due to weather. 4 B-25s, 31 P-38s, and 14 P-40s hit Kiska 9 times, bombing installations and strafing gun emplacements and 3 parked airplanes. (Jack McKillop)

ATLANTIC OCEAN: The German submarine U-175 is sunk southwest of Ireland by depth charges and gunfire from USCGC Spencer (WPG-36); 41 of the 54 U-boat crewmen survive. USCGC Spencer was escorting convoy HX 233. (Jack McKillop)

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17 April 1944

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April 17th, 1944 (MONDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: 14 of 15 Eighth Air Force B-24s of the 93d and 467th Bombardment Groups (Heavy) bomb the primary target, V-weapon sites at Wizernes, France without loss. (Jack McKillop)

London: Under pressure from the military commanders for the "Overlord" invasion of Europe, the British war cabinet has clamped down on diplomatic privileges, held up diplomatic bags and put all foreign embassies under surveillance.

Even friendly embassies have been included, since it was reckoned that they could not be completely secure against spies, dupes or chumps. There has been only one protest against the restrictions - from officials of General de Gaulle's Free French.

The worrying gap in this security cordon is Eire, where de Valera's government remains at peace with Nazi Germany. German agents in Dublin move freely. But the long, coiling border with Northern Ireland, where travellers pass to and fro freely in peacetime, is now under close guard.

FRANCE:

The Eighth Air Force flies two mission.

Mission 304: 14 B-24s bomb the V-weapon site at Wizernes without loss; escort is provided by 33 P-47 Thunderbolts.

Mission 305: 5 B-17s drop 1.48 million leaflets on Rennes, Brest, Nantes, Lorient and St Nazaire at 2248-2258 hours without loss. (Jack McKillop)

ITALY: Naples: Italy's return to democracy is not coming easily. Nine months after Mussolini's downfall, the country if without a government. The dictator's successor, Marshal Pietro Badoglio, has announced the resignation of his entire cabinet.

Badoglio has been asked to form a new government with a broad base - and has approached the veteran communist leader Palmiro Togliatti as well as "Actionists", led by Prince Caracciolo, at the other end of the political spectrum.

From Zurich come reports that Mussolini, who has spent much of his time at his Lake Garda villa, has visited a Vienna cancer clinic, but has refused an operation.

Twelfth Air Force B-25s attack bridges north of Orte and at Monte Molino, while A-20s pound a fuel dump NE of Rome; P-40, P-47 and A-36 Apache fighter-bombers hit motor transport stores and gun positions north of Anzio, bomb Fara in Sabina station, hit tracks, trains and guns in the Orte and Narni area and at other points north of Rome. (Jack McKillop)

 

BULGARIA: Fifteenth Air Force B-24s bomb the marshalling yard at Sofia. (Jack McKillop)

YUGOSLAVIA: Fifteenth Air Force B-17s bomb the industrial area, air depot and marshalling yard at Belgrade. (Jack McKillop)

CHINA: The Japanese launch Operation Ichi-Go, to crush Chinese resistance between the Yellow and Yangtze rivers and wipe out USAAF bases in Honan and Kwangsi provinces.

BURMA: 6 Tenth Air Force P-51 Mustangs support ground forces near Meza; 9 P-38s destroy several airplanes at Heho Airfield while 5 B-24s bomb Ywataung; 26 B-25s and 36 P-51s support ground forces at Mawlu and bomb a fuel dump at Kin; 13 other P-51s are diverted to intercept a Japanese force over the Imphal, India area and claim 3 airplanes shot down. (Jack McKillop)

JAPAN: The submarines USS Barb (SS-220) and USS Steelhead (SS-280) shell phosphate works on Rasa Island which lies 254 miles (408 km) southeast of Okinawa. Officially, the island is named Okidaito-jima. (Jack McKillop)

NEW GUINEA: Fifth Air Force P-39s attack AA positions at Bogia; other planes, operating individually or in pairs, attack Hollandia, Uligan Harbor and vicinity and the Madang area. A Japanese army vessel is sunk off Aitape by USAAF aircraft. (Jack McKillop)

EAST INDIES: 20 Fifth Air Force B-24s bomb storage areas and troop concentrations in Kai Island, Moluccas Islands. (Jack McKillop)

CAROLINE ISLANDS: 20 Thirteenth Air Force B-24s bomb the airfield at Satawan Atoll. (Jack McKillop)

MARSHALL ISLANDS: Seventh Air Force B-25s, based on Tarawa Atoll, strike Maloelap and Mille Atolls, rearming at Majuro Atoll between the raids. (Jack McKillop)

BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: On New Britain Island, 24 B-25s pound runway and revetments at Rapopo Airfield; 40+ fighter-bombers hit Matupi with incendiaries while 10 others pound the runway at Keravat. (Jack McKillop)

PACIFIC OCEAN: Two Japanese ships are sunk by submarines at sea:

- USS Harder (SS-257), in an attack on a convoy, sinks an army cargo ship about 150 miles (241 km) northwest of Woleai Atoll in the Caroline Islands.

- USS Searaven (SS-196) sinks an auxiliary minesweeper 120 miles (193 km) south of Haha Jima, Bonin Islands. (Jack McKillop)

ATLANTIC OCEAN: The German submarine U-986 is sunk southwest of Ireland by depth charges from the RN destroyer HMS Swift and the USN sub chaser USS PC-619. All 50 crewmen on the U-boat are lost. (Jack McKillop)

 

 

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17 April 1945

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April 17th, 1945 (TUESDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: 981 of 1,054 Eighth Air Force B-17s and B-24s bomb rail targets in south-eastern Germany and Czechoslovakia; 756 of the 816 P-47s and P-51 dispatched escort the bombers and then attack ground targets. (Jack McKillop)

GERMANY: Large scale German surrenders begin in the Ruhr area.

Allied bombing has destroyed over a thousand Luftwaffe aircraft on the ground as US troops reach Magdeburg.

The Ninth Air Force's 9th Bombardment Division attacks the defended city of Magdeburg (including numerous gun positions in the area), marshalling yard and ordnance depot at Aalen, marshalling yard and ordnance depot at Tubingen, and ordnance depot at Ravensburg; fighters fly escort to the bombers, fly patrols, area cover, and armed reconnaissance, hit airfields at Marianske Lazne and Michalovy Hory, and support the US 3d Armored Division mopping up south of the Elbe River and west of the Mulde River near Dessau, the 9th Armored Division along the Mulde east of Leipzig, the VIII Corps in the Greiz-Zwickau area, the XX Corps southwest of Chemnitz, the 5th Armored Division at the Knesebeck Forest, south of Wittingen, and the 2d Armored Division opening an assault on Magdeburg. (Jack McKillop)

Bergen-Belsen: There is a pile of naked female corpses here, 80 yards long by 30 yards wide and four feet high. You can't see any faces; just bony elbows, knees and buttocks or twisted hands and feet. It looks like the overladen counter of an insane butcher's shop where flies dance on the mound of greying flesh.

It is two days since the British Army agreed a truce with the local German commander which enabled them to enter the camp peacefully. The Hungarian army guards who stayed on duty "to prevent a mass breakout", have shot dead 83 prisoners for minor offences. Now the British are in full control, and a Jewish sergeant, Norman Turgel, has arrested Josef Kramer, the camp's commandant.

Kramer's men have been disarmed and put to work burying the estimated ten thousand dead lying around the camp. They have to be locked up to protect them from the vengeance of prisoners. Yesterday seven Kapos [prisoner-guards] were savagely beaten to death.

About 30,000 victims, mostly Jews, gypsies and political prisoners, are still alive, but raging epidemics of typhus and dysentery threaten to finish off the deadly work that the Nazis started. British medical staff are now struggling to save lives and halt the spread of disease. Derrick Sington, the first British officer to enter the camp, told how a Hungarian-Jewish girl took him to a clearing: "Three hundred yards away was a mound of bodies, six feet high. A crosswind was blowing and carrying into our nostrils the stench of putrefying flesh."

U.S. Lieutenant Colonel Boris T. Pash commandeers over half a ton of uranium at Strassfut, in an effort to prevent the Soviets from developing an A-bomb. Pash was head of the Alsos Group, organized to search for German scientists in the post-war environment in order to prevent the Soviets, previously Allies but now a potential threat, from capturing any scientists and putting them to work at their own atomic research plants. Uranium piles were also rich "catches," as they were necessary to the development of atomic weapons.

The Eighth Air Force flies Mission 957: 1,054 bombers and 816 fighters are dispatched to hit rail targets in eastern Germany and western Czechoslovakia (see above); 50 Luftwaffe fighters are encountered, mostly jets and the AAF claims a total of 300-0-119 aircraft destroyed on the ground and in the air (including 4 jets); 8 bombers and 17 fighters are lost.

- 152 B-17s bomb the rail centre at Dresden and 276 bomb the marshalling yard at Dresden; they claim 1-0-1 aircraft; 6 B-17s are lost. Escorting are 230 P-51s; they claim 2-0-3 aircraft in the air and 91-0-37 on the ground; 2 P-51s are lost.

- 76 B-17s bomb the Dresden area and 86 attack the rail junction and station at Aussig; 86 hit the secondary target, the marshalling yard at Dresden; 2 B-17s are lost. 265 P-51s escort claiming 11-0-2 aircraft in the air and 142-0-47 on the ground; 14 P-51s are lost.

- 55 B-24s hit the rail centre and junction at Fischern while 37 bomb the rail junction and bridge at Falkenau. The escort is 228 P-47s and P-51s; they claim 53-0-29 aircraft on the ground; 1 P-51 is lost.

 

AUSTRIA: 147 Fifteenth Air Force P-38s dive-bomb railroad bridges at Seefeld and Mariahof. (Jack McKillop)

CENTRAL EUROPE: Fifteenth Air Force P-51s, with 10 flying top cover, strafe targets of opportunity in the Munich, Germany, Plzen, Czechoslovakia, and Linz, Austria areas. (Jack McKillop)

CZECHOSLOVAKIA: During the Eighth Air Force's Mission 957, 115 B-17s bomb an oil depot and marshalling yard at Roundnice and 36 B-24s bomb the rail junction and industry at Kladno and 61 bomb the railroad, rail industry and marshalling yard at Beroun. (Jack McKillop)

 

ITALY: The British V Corps captures Argenta.

During the night of 16/17 April, Twelfth Air Force A-20s and A-26 Invaders hit Po River crossings and several towns west and southwest of Bologna; during the day B-25s successfully attack 4 Reno River bridges near Bologna and close support targets on the British Eighth Army front to the southwest, and extensively damage 4 bridges in northern Italy and Austria on the Brenner rail line; XXII Tactical Air Command fighters and fighter-bombers concentrate on close support of the US Fifth Army south and west of Bologna.

The Fifteenth Air Force dispatches 751 B-24s and B-17s, in support of the US Fifth Army, to hit troop concentrations, supply dumps, gun positions, and HQ immediately south and southwest of Bologna; 143 P-51s provide escort. (Jack McKillop)

 

CHINA: The Fourteenth Air Force dispatches 4 B-25s and 4 P-51s to attack river shipping south of Yiyang; 6 B-25s bomb the area around Kwangsi University at Liang-feng; 2 B-24s bomb the Bakli Bay dock area on Hainan Island; 70+ P-51s and P-40s hit troops, town areas, road traffic, river shipping, and general targets of opportunity at several locations in southern and eastern China including Changsha, Sinning, Sinhwa, Yiyang, Tungting Lake, Paoching, Yungfengshih, Shanhsien, Lingling, Pingsiang, Tsinkong, and Hochih. (Jack McKillop)

BURMA: 18 Tenth Air Force fighter-bombers hit troops and supplies near Mong Kung and Wan Hpun; 12 others attack vehicles and other targets of opportunity along roads south of the bomb line; 489 transport sorties are completed to forward areas throughout the day. (Jack McKillop)

FORMOSA: Far East Air Forces B-24s bomb Taichu, Shinshoshi, Toyohara, and Okayama Airfields and B-25s hit the airfield at Taito. (Jack McKillop)

JAPAN: The XXI Bomber Command flies Missions 70 to 75: 118 B-29 Superfortresses bomb airfields at Tachiarai, Kokubu, Izumi, Nittagahara, and 2 at Kanoya; 5 others attack targets of opportunity; beginning on this date and continuing through 11 May, XXI Bomber Command devotes about 75 per cent of its combat effort to support of the Okinawa campaign; during this period the B-29s fly more than 2,100 sorties against 17 airfields on Kyushu and Shikoku Islands which are dispatching air attacks (including Kamikaze raids) against USN and USMC forces. (Jack McKillop)

OKINAWA: Off Okinawa, destroyer USS Benham (DD-796) is damaged by kamikaze and by friendly fire. (Jack McKillop)

COMMONWEALTH OF THE PHILIPPINES: In Operation VICTOR FIVE, the U.S. Army's X Corps consisting of the 24th and 31st Infantry Division is landed on Mindanao Island, Philippine Islands, near Malabang, Parang and Cotabato. The landings are supported by the cruisers and destroyers of Task Group 74.2. (Jack McKillop)

The 24th Infantry Division lands near Malabang, Parang, and Cotabato on Mindanao Island by a naval attack group (Rear Admiral Albert G. Noble); the landings are supported by cruiser and destroyer gunfire and USMC aircraft (30 F4U Corsairs and 35 SBD Dauntlesses).

The defenders do not make a determined stand.

Far East Air Forces flies numerous sweeps and sorties in support of ground forces in Luzon, Cebu, Negros, and Mindanao Islands and the Sulu Archipelago. B-24s over Mindanao bomb Cotabato and Kabacan. (Jack McKillop)

BONIN ISLANDS: 18 VII Fighter Command P-51s flying two strikes from Iwo Jima, attack vessels at Futamiko on Chichi Jima. (Jack McKillop)

PACIFIC OCEAN: Four Japanese ships are sunk at sea:

- Mines sink a guardboat off Goto Rette.

- A USN PB4Y-1 Liberator of Patrol Bombing Squadron One Hundred Eleven (VPB-111) based at Palawan AAFld in the Philippines, sinks a cargo ship off the coast of Malaya.

- A mine laid by USAAF B-29 sinks a cargo ship off Shanghai, China.

- A mine laid by USAAF B-29 sinks a cargo ship off Wada Misaki light, Japan. (Jack McKillop)

Japanese submarine RO.56 is sunk by the USS Sea Owl (SS-405) north of Marshall Islands. (Mike Yared)(144 and 145)

U.S.A.: Pete Gray, the one-armed Outfielder,  plays his Major League debut game with the St. Louis Browns. He singles once, off Les Mueller, in four at bats, and handles no chances in the outfield. St. Louis beats the Detroit Tigers 7-1, for their 9th straight Opening Day win, a major-league record that the 1975-83 New York Mets will tie. (Rodney Sanders)

 

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