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April 18th, 1939 (TUESDAY)

GERMANY: Franz Von Papen is appointed German Ambassador in Ankara (Turkey).

The Graf Spee commences service in Atlantic waters on naval manouvers along with Panzerschiffe Deutschland, Panzerschiffe Admiral Scheer, Kruizer Leipzig, Kruizer Köln, a Zerstorer, a Uboat tender, and various submarine flotillas. She will make port at Ceuta and Lisbon. (Navy News)

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18 April 1940

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April 18th, 1940 (THURSDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM:
RAF Bomber Command: 4 Group. Bombing - Kjeller and Fornebu airfields; shipping in Trondheimfjord. 

10 Sqn. Three aircraft to Kjeller and three to Fornebu. No bombing due to poor weather.

58 Sqn. Three aircraft to Kjeller and Fornebu. No bombing due to poor weather.

77 Sqn. Three aircraft to attack shipping in Trondheimfjord. None sighted. One aircraft ditched.

London: General Sir John Dill, the commander of 1 Corps of the BEF in France, has become the vice-Chief of the Imperial General Staff. Aged 59, Dill is a former director of military operations. Before the war he commanded the army's Staff College. In France he has earned a considerable reputation as commander of one of three army corps holding ground between two French army groups, an allied wall of men which has the impregnable fortress of the Maginot Line on its right. Dill is a man of mature judgement whom friends describe as "canny" and opponents as irresolute. However, among his admirers is Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty, who is not known for his dithering.
Dill, like some French military leaders, has risen to prominence as a classroom warrior who prefers to make his move only after all information is to hand. The German High Command is reputed to have a low opinion of British officers who are averse to taking decisions; but Dill is probably of tougher mettle than his detractors think.

'Gone With The Wind', the film colossus famed for costing (GBP) 1 million to make, taking three hours and 40 minutes to see and winning Oscars galore, including one for Vivien Leigh as best actress, had its premiere in no fewer than three West End cinemas tonight. It has broken box office records in America. The critics' reception in Britain has been warm, but not ecstatic. "Very good indeed but no masterpiece," declares Campbell Dixon in the Daily Telegraph.

GERMANY: Hitler recovers sufficiently from his previous days panic to order Dietl to hold Narvik as long as possible before withdrawing into the interior.  

NORWEGIAN CAMPAIGN: Four days after sinking the gunnery training ship Brummer, submarine HMS Sterlet is presumed lost in the Skagerrak to A/S trawlers.
Allied troops disembark at Åndalsnes  (100 miles southwest of Trondheim) and Trondheim, and occupy the Faeroe Islands.

The British 148th Brigade lands at Åndalsnes , Norway.

The French 5th Chasseurs Alpines land at Namsos, Norway. They are without legging type bindings for their skis and thus are unable to use them.

(Mark Horan adds): There are no missions on this date. RNAS Hatston is quiet. HMS Furious, after refuelling at Tromsø , is transiting the most narrow party of Grotsund fjord when she is surprised by a single FW-200 of I/KG 40 which drops two 250 kg bombs. 

One lands very close, badly whipping the hull, and stripping some turbine blades. Although the ship continues operations, this damage will eventually force her home for repairs.

Meanwhile, HMS Glorious arrives in the Clyde, completing her high-speed dash from Alexandria. She immediately disembarks 812 and 823 Squadrons (Swordfish), in preparation for embarking 263 Squadron, RAF, for transport to Norway.

Having taken aboard enough fuel to again steam, HMS Furious sent off three aircraft. One Swordfish was dispatched on a search mission to seaward of "Furious" fjord to ensure that the ship could depart safely. A second was dispatched to the Narvik area with orders to locate Flag Officer Narvik for further communication, while a third was sent to Narvik to photograph the area. 

Meanwhile, Furious got underway. At 1350, while transiting the narrowest part of Grotsund fjord in company with the destroyers HMS Isis and HMS Ilex, she was surprised by a single FW-200 of I/KG 40 which dropped two 250 kg. bombs. One landed very close, badly whipping the hull, and stripping some turbine blades. The ship then returned to "Furious" fjord to evaluate the damage, recovering two of her aircraft at 1515. The third, 816's U4K:P4214 was returning home at low altitude in poor weather after completing the photographic mission when it hit a power line across Kvalsund. In the resulting crash, Lieutenant(A) Frank Whittingham, RN (P) was killed while Lieutenant(A) O. M. Cheeke, RN (O) and Leading Airman F. White, RN (AG) were seriously injured, though quick action on the ground saved both.

Although Furious was to continue operations, the damage to her turbines would ultimately force her home for repairs. (Mark Horan)

ATLANTIC OCEAN: HMS Ark Royal in company with the destroyers HMS Westcott and HMS Bulldog are en-route to the Clyde. HMS Glorious, now in company with the destroyers HMS Walker and HMS Walpole arrive in the Clyde after nightfall.

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18 April 1941

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April 18th, 1941 (FRIDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM:
Churchill to CIGS:
After the capture of Benghazi ... the 7th Armoured Division, ... was ordered back to Cairo to refit. This involved a journey of over 400 miles, and must have completed the wearing out of the tracks of many of the tanks. It was an act of improvidence to send the whole division all his way back, in view of the fact that German elements were already reported in Tripoli. The whole of the tanks in this division could not have been all in a condition of needing prolonged heavy repairs. Workshops should have been improvised at the front for lighter repairs, and service personnel sent forward.

FRANCE: Vichy France quits the League of Nations. (Jack McKillop)

GERMANY:
Berlin: The German News Bureau reported:
At 9:00 P.M. on April 17, all the Yugoslav forces that had not yet been disarmed surrendered unconditionally. The surrender came into force at 12:00 today, April 18.

YUGOSLAVIA:
The Yugoslavs surrender after 12 days fighting.

GREECE:
Athens: The Greek Prime Minister, Alexander Korizis, commits suicide.
Athens: The Greek High Command announced:
Our position in West Macedonia has remained substantially unchanged. Our troops on the Albanian front have carried out an ordered retreat.

Thermopylae: Throughout daylight the Germans attacked the 16th Australian Brigade in the Pinios Gorge and the 21st Battalion 6th New Zealand Brigade at Elasson. The 16th Australian Brigade held the road until late that night but the German tanks forced the two battalions (2/2Nd and 2/3rd) of the 16th Brigade Australian Imperial Force into the hills. From the air, the Luftwaffe attacked the long lines of vehicles along the 70 miles escape route to Lamia. Although the air attacks continued all day and were noisy and nerve wracking, the Luftwaffe failed to exploit its superiority and was unable to halt the retreating column and did remarkably little damage to men and vehicles. (Anthony Staunton and Jack McKillop)


EGYPT:
Cairo: British Headquarters in Egypt announced:
Under growing pressure from the German forces receiving reinforcements daily, Greek and British troops along the Greek northern front are making a gradual retreat to a shorter defensive line.

FORMOSA:
Takao (Kaohsiung): A Mitsubishi G3M2 bearing no national emblems but belonging to No. 3 "Kukutai" Corps of the Japanese navy, takes off and sets a course for the US base at Legaspi on the Philippine island of Luzon. Keeping just outside the territorial waters 15 miles from shore they photograph the island of Luzon from 28,000 feet.

U.S.A.: General Motors, now producing 50% of U.S. cars, announces that it will make no changes in passenger-car models due to defence needs. (Jack McKillop)

 

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18 April 1942

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April 18th, 1942 (SATURDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: London: Vyacheslav Molotov, Stalin's foreign minister, is on his way to London to demand an Anglo-American invasion of Europe to relieve the hard-pressed Soviet forces battling with the Germans along a 1,000-mile front. The unsmiling Molotov will be gratified to see the slogan chalked on the walls of the capital, on bombed buildings and on railway bridges everywhere, by the obedient British communists: SECOND FRONT NOW!

The Communists, who only a few months ago were preaching defeatism, now have curious allies: Lord Beaverbrook, who was in Churchill's cabinet until a few weeks ago, has ordered his Daily Express newspapers to call for a second front; and the Americans, led by General George C Marshall, the chief of staff, and Henry Stimson, the secretary for war, are pressing Churchill to agree to a direct onslaught.

There are mixed motives at work. The Communists, as usual, are taking orders from Moscow, but they are also out to embarrass the Labour ministers in the government, by making them appear lukewarm in support of the Soviet Union. Beaverbrook, the Canadian with a liking for baiting Americans, is simply mischief-making when he praises Stalin for producing "the best generals of this war."

The Americans are Churchill's main problem. They want to see some action, but the British believe they greatly underestimate the resources in men and materials needed to secure a foothold in Europe. As he cannot oppose them directly. Churchill has agreed to the setting up of an Anglo-American staff to plan for a European assault.

But Churchill believes that the Allies should first drive the Germans out of North Africa and then open the Second Front in Italy - the soft under-belly of the Axis, as he calls it.

FRANCE: Pierre Laval, dismissed as vice-premier by Marshal Petain in December 1940, will soon be back in control in Vichy under Petain. Laval is to be named tomorrow as not only head of the government but also minister of foreign affairs, the interior and information.

The Nazis were impatient with Admiral Darlan, whom Laval will replace, not least for his incompetent handling of the Riom war guilt trial. Laval's return to favour has been caused by German pressure. It will leave Petain as increasingly a figurehead for the Vichy regime.

BURMA: Mauchi: Japanese soldiers of the IJA 56th Division destroy the Chinese 55th Division, and the supply road to Lashio, the eastern terminus of the Burma Road, is captured.

Two American Volunteer Group P-40s down a Japanese reconnaissance aircraft over Loiwing at 1300 hours local.

JAPAN:  A totally unexpected air raid today by American bombers on large Japanese cities, including Tokyo, has shocked Japan. The raid, by 16 Mitchell B-25 bombers, was launched from the deck of the American aircraft carrier USS HORNET some 650 miles from Tokyo.

After completing their bombing runs, all 16 aircraft cleared the Japanese home islands and continued westwards towards the coast of China. The raid was planned deliberately as a psychological shock to the Japanese and a much needed boost to sagging Allied morale which has suffered from a cataract of military disasters since the Pacific war began. The US Army Air Force crews volunteered and trained vigorously in secret for this unorthodox and dangerous mission. To take off from the deck of an aircraft carrier with the very heavy fuel load required as well as bombs was a problem never before encountered by army pilots.

Off Pearl Harbor the USS HORNET was joined by an escort force which included the carrier USS ENTERPRISE. Col. Doolittle is the first to take off. William Farrow pilots the last B-25 off the deck. The propeller on Farrow's aircraft struck a Hornet deckhand resulting in an amputation. (John Nicholas)

The raiding B-25s were unopposed when they crossed the Japanese coast. The raid was led by General James Doolittle. His plane roared over Tokyo at a height of 1,200 feet just as an air-raid practice ended and the barrage balloons had been winched down. He dropped his incendiaries before the real alarm was sounded. Over China it was night and the weather was bad. A few pilots force landed their planes and of 63 crewmen who parachuted, five died and eight were captured. The raid has caused little material damage but has boosted Allied morale. It throws weight to Admiral Yamamoto's plan to attack Midway Island.  The Japanese are unaware of the source of this raid.  President Roosevelt refers to Shangri-La in a radio broadcast. 

The US submarine USS Searaven (SS-196), which arrived off Japanese-held Timor Island, Netherlands East Indies (8.35S, 126.00E) yesterday evening, rescues 32 Royal Australian Air Force airmen from the island. (Jack McKillop)

Also RAAF Hudsons drop supplies to the Australian troops fighting a guerrilla war from the hills of the island. (William L. Howard)(188, 189, 190, 191)

AUSTRALIA: General Douglas MacArthur assumes command of the Southwest Pacific Area. The staff of the new command is: Australian General Thomas Blamey, Commander of Allied Land Forces; USAAF Lieutenant General George H Brett, Commander of Allied Air Forces; USN Vice Admiral Herbert F Leary, Commander of Allied Naval Forces; US Army Lieutenant General Jonathan M Wainwright, Commander of Forces in the Philippines; and US Army Major General Julian F Barnes, Commander of US Army Forces in Australia. The Allied Air Forces had command all USAAF tactical and associated service units in Australia, and operational control, except for training, of the Royal Australian Air Force and the Royal Netherlands East Indies Air Force. In reality General MacArthur kept Blamey from having control over United States land forces in the Pacific during World War II. (Jack McKillop)

U.S.A.: Due to the fear of a Japanese attack, west coast military leaders ask baseball's Pacific Coast League teams to limit crowds to 3,000 fans.

The USN orders a blackout of waterfront lights along the eastern seaboard, where German U-boats have been using the illumination to silhouette their targets. (Jack McKillop)

 

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18 April 1943

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April 18th, 1943 (SUNDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: No. 254 Squadron RAF makes the first successful operational sortie against enemy shipping using the new torpedo-carrying Bristol Beaufighter known as the 'Torbeau'. (22)

U.S.S.R.: Moscow: The USSR accuses the Gestapo of concocting the Katyn massacre.

MEDITERRANEAN SEA: A convoy of 100 transport aircraft leaves Sicily for Tunisia to re-supply Axis forces.  It sustains over a 50% loss to Allied fighters when intercepted off Cape Bon and 59 Luftwaffe transports and ten of the fighter escort are shot down. Nine Allied fighters are lost.

Submarine HMS Regent is lost to a mine off Bari in the Adriatic. All 53 crew are lost. Post mortem on some bodies wearing British uniforms which were washed ashore between Brindisi and Otranto during April and May 1943 gave indication of a sinking three weeks earlier, hence between 18 and 25 April.

After leaving Freetown on a routine passage to Takoradi in company with MMS107, submarine P.615 (ex-Turkish) is attacked by U-123 and struck (by a torpedo?) on the starboard side below the conning tower. There are no survivors. Location: off the Liberian coast at 06 49N 13 09W. (Alex Gordon)(108)

TUNISIA: Off Cap Bon, 46 Ninth Air Force P-40Fs of the 57th Fighter Group's three squadrons (64th, 65th and 66th Fighter Squadrons) and the attached 314th Fighter Squadron, 324th Fighter Group, led by Arthur Salisbury, plus 11 Spitfires of the RAF No. 92 Squadron flying top cover, take off to patrol. At approximately 1800 hours, they spot 2 Bf 109s and an armada of 65 Ju 52/3m transports heading back to Sicily for more supplies. The transports are in three great vees, covered by 16 Bf109s and Mc 202s and 5 Bf 110s. The 64th Fighter Squadron and the RAF Spitfires stay high; the remaining 3 squadrons of P-40s attack the Luftwaffe formation and down 24 Ju 53/3m's and 16 fighters; another 35 Ju 52/3m's crash along the coast. This all takes places in the space of 20 minutes in what becomes known as the Palm Sunday Massacre. (Scott Peterson)

During the night of 17/18 April, RAF Wellingtons of the Northwest African Air Force bomb the Tunis docks and marshalling yard. RAF Blenheims hit the La Marsa landing ground while fighter fly reconnaissance and scramble missions. Fighters fly reconnaissance and patrols, attacking vessels, troop columns, and truck in the coastal area. (Jack McKillop)

ITALY: Sardinia: Northwest African Air Force B-25s, escorted by P-38s, hit the Alghero-Fertilia Airfield and shipping at Porto Torres while RAF Beaufighters attack the Decimomannu Airfield. (Jack McKillop)

Sicily: Ninth Air Force In Sicily, B-24 Liberators attack Catania.

Over 75 Northwest African Air Force B-17 Flying Fortresses, escorted by P-38s, attack Boccadifalco Airfield and the Palermo Marshalling Yard. (Jack McKillop)

CHINA: Fourteenth Air Force P-40s strafe an enemy-held supply village southeast of Tengchung. (Jack McKillop)

NEW GUINEA: Fifth Air Force B-24s bomb the Finschhafen and Saidor areas. (Jack McKillop)

EAST INDIES: B-25 Mitchells of the RAAF's No. 18 (NEI) Squadron bomb the airfield at Penfoei, Timor. (Jack McKillop)

SOLOMON ISLANDS: Major John W. Mitchell leads a flight of 16 USAAF P-38s (2 others abort) on a low-level, circuitous, over-water trip from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal to a spot up the Bougainville coast from Kahili to intercept the fight of Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku, Chief of the Combined Fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy. These P-38s are part of the USAAF 339th Squadron, 13th Airforce. Admiral Yamamoto according to US intelligence, is on an inspection trip in the South Pacific and is due in Ballale Airfield on Bougainville at 0945 local. As Chief of the Combined Fleet he has planned and directed the Japanese Naval moves from preparing for the attack on Pearl Harbor and the advance during 1942. His ability has helped stiffen the Japanese resistance in the South Pacific. This mission to intercept his flight has the support of high ranking US officers. It is not clear who actually authorized the mission.

Admiral Yamamoto's well-known punctuality is calculated to allow the interception to take place at 0935 local at a point 35 miles (56 km) from Kahili. Two hours and 15 minutes after takeoff at 0725 local, as the P-38s streak toward Bougainville at almost sea level, a flight of 2 Mitsubishi G4M, Navy Type 1 Attack Bombers (Allied Code Name "Betty") and 6 Mitsubishi A6M, Navy Type 0 Carrier Fighters (Allied Code Name "Zeke") appears just ahead.

The 4-aircraft attack section under Captain Thomas G. Lanphier, Jr bores in. The "Zekes" spot the attacking P-38s at about 1 mile (1.6 km) and try in vain to cut off the attack as the bombers attempt to escape. In the air battle, both "Bettys" are shot down and Captain Lanphier and First Lieutenant Rex T. Barber are credited with shooting down the "Betty" carrying Admiral Yamamoto. The resulting controversy has never been resolved.

In 1997 the American Fighter Aces Association gave Barber 100 percent credit for the shoot down of the bomber carrying Yamamoto. In 1998 the Confederate Air Force recognizing that Barber alone and unassisted brought down Yamamoto’s aircraft inducted Barber into the American Combat Airman Hall of Fame. (Jack McKillop)

PACIFIC OCEAN: Submarine USS Drum (SS-228) sinks a Japanese ammunition ship about 200 miles (322 km) north-northwest of Mussau Island, Bismarck Archipelago. A submarine chaser rescues survivors, who include a number of Army prostitutes among them. (Jack McKillop)

TERRITORY OF ALASKA: ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: 22 Eleventh Air Force P-38 Lightnings (some flown by Royal Canadian Air Force pilots) and 37 P-40s hit Kiska Island 9 times. The submarine base and gun emplacements on North Head are bombed and gun emplacements near the submarine base are silenced. (Jack McKillop)

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18 April 1944

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April 18th, 1944 (TUESDAY)


UNITED KINGDOM: In preparation for Operation Overlord; the British Government issues a ban on coded radio transmissions and telephone calls.  Diplomatic bags are to be censored. (The only people, apart from armed forces and spies, with the privilege of sending coded messages were embassies -- allied and neutral. The ban on coded telegrams referred to ALL traffic from neutral embassies and, I believe, "consular" traffic from allied ones. The security service -- MI5 -- was responsible for monitoring messages and diplomatic bags. (Cris Whetton))

Incitement to strike is made a criminal act.

Invasion stripes are ordered for aircraft. These stripes are to be applied to all aircraft except four-engined bombers, transports (not troop carriers), gliders, night fighters and sea planes. (Ron Babuka)

125 Luftwaffe bombers, including five He-177A-5s take off for an attack on London. The Greifs climb as high as possible while over German territory and then make a shallow dive at high speed and return at low altitude. Even the speedy Mosquito has trouble catching the Germans when using these tactics. (Jack McKillop)

FRANCE: RAF bombers tonight raid Rouen, Juvisy, Noisy-le-Sec and Tergnier killing 1,383 French people.

The Eighth Air Force flies Mission 306 Part 2: 12 B-24s hit V-weapon sites at Watten; escort is provided by 36 P-47 Thunderbolts without loss.

277 Ninth Air Force B-26 Marauders, including 24 dropping Window, and 37 A-20 Havocs bomb gun positions and marshalling yards at Dunkirk, Calais, and Saint Martin Airfield at Charleroi. (Jack McKillop)

GERMANY: Hitler forbids all exports of weapons to Finland. This comes as a further retaliation for the Finnish peace feelers earlier in this year, even though Finland just recently decided to reject the Soviet terms for peace. (Mikko Härmeinen)

The Eighth Air Force flies Mission 306 Part 1: 776 bombers and 634 fighters are dispatched to hit airfields and aviation industry targets; they claim 33-5-19 Luftwaffe aircraft; 19 bombers and 5 fighters are lost; due to poor weather, several units bomb targets of opportunity in the Berlin area:

- 275 B-17s hit aviation industry targets at Oranienburg, Perleberg Airfield, Wittenberge and targets of opportunity; 3 B-17s are lost.

- 210 B-17s hit Oranienburg, Brandenburg, Luneburg Airfield, Rathenow and targets of opportunity; 14 B-17s are lost.

- 248 B-24s hit Brandenburg, Rathenow, Cuxhaven, Wittenberge and targets of opportunity; 2 B-24s are lost.

Escort is provided by 119 P-38s, 296 P-47s and 219 Eighth and Ninth Air Force P-51 Mustangs; 1 P-38, 1 P-47 and 3 P-51s are lost. (Jack McKillop)

NORWAY: During Eighth Air Force Mission 307, 5 B-17s drop 2.56 million leaflets on Stavanger, Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim between 2336-0041 hours without loss. (Jack McKillop)

U.S.S.R.: German forces attack around Buchach.

General Feodor Tolbukhin's 4th Ukrainian Army reaches the outskirts of Sevastopol and takes Balaklava, scene of the charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War. The 17th German-Romanian Army is trapped in Sevastopol and awaiting evacuation by ship. (Jack McKillop)
 

ITALY: Twelfth Air Force P-47 fighter-bombers cut several rail lines in the Florence and Arezzo areas and strafe trains and motor transport; P-40s and P-47s hit Itri and a rail bridge and fuel dumps as the campaign against communications continues.

Fifteenth Air Force P-38s and P-47s strafe Udine and Aiello Airfields and targets of opportunity in the Basiliano, Sant' Andrea Island, and Cervignano del Friuli areas and in Golfo di Panzano; other fighters fly cover for the strafing missions. (Jack McKillop)

BURMA: 7 Tenth Air Force B-24s bomb an oil plant at Yenangyaung while 5, along with 7 P-38s, hit Ywataung; 6 B-25s score numerous hits on the Mandalay-Shwebo railroad; and 15 B-25s and 4 P-51s bomb Kamaing and hit the Myitkyina-Bhamo road. (Jack McKillop)

JAPAN: 3 Eleventh Air Force B-24s fly armed reconnaissance over Matsuwa, Onnekotan, and Paramushiru Islands in the Kurile Islands; cloud cover and lack of moonlight permit only bombing of Kashiwabara Airfield and the Banjo Cape area. (Jack McKillop)

NEW GUINEA: Fifth Air Force B-24s bomb Manokwari and Babo while fighter-bombers attack the Madang area. (Jack McKillop)

MARSHALL ISLANDS: Seventh Air Force B-25s from Abemama Island bomb Jaluit and Maloelap Atolls, using Majuro Atoll as a shuttle base between strikes. (Jack McKillop)

CAROLINE ISLANDS: Seventh Air Force B-24s staging through Eniwetok Atoll hit Truk Atoll while B-25s from Tarawa Atoll bomb Ponape Island.

Twenty two Thirteenth Air Force B-24s bomb Woleai Atoll and Mariaon Island. (Jack McKillop)

PACIFIC OCEAN: Seven PB4Y-1P Liberators of Photographic Squadron Three (VD-3) and Marine Photographic Squadron Two Hundred Fifty Four (VMD-254), take off on a 1,252 mile (2015 km) flight from Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, to Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The next day, the aircraft take off, escorted by 5 Seventh Air Force B-24s, which bomb Saipan, and fly over 1,000 miles (1609 km) to Momote Airdrome on Los Negros Island, Admiralty Islands, via Saipan, Tinian and Aguijan Islands, in the Mariana Islands, obtaining complete photographic coverage which will be used for the upcoming invasions.

The submarine USS Gudgeon (SS-211), CO Robert A. Bonin, is sunk, probably by Japanese naval aircraft (901st Air Group), southwest of Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands. All hands lost. (Jack McKillop and Joe Sauder)

Submarine USS Tambor (SS-198) sinks a Japanese guardboat 300 miles (483 km) northwest of Wake Island.

Seventh Air Force B-24s from Kwajalein Atoll bomb Wake Island after failing to find shipping reported in the area. (Jack McKillop)

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18 April 1945

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April 18th, 1945 (WEDNESDAY)

NETHERLANDS: The Wehrmacht's Army Group H is cut off when the Canadian 2nd Army reaches the Zuider Zee. (Jack McKillop)

GERMANY: Heligoland: The RAF drops 5,000 tons of bombs on the island; German marines who arrange a peaceful handover of the island to British forces are shot by the SS as mutineers.

Berlin: Goebbels burns his office files.

The citizens of Berlin, like their Führer, are taking refuge from impending disaster underground. As the Allied armies close in on their city they leave their cellars and dugouts only to fetch vital supplies of food and water. But the basic essentials are running short in Berlin and people often queue for hours - in the dead of night before the Russian bombardment begins at 5am - just in the hope of a loaf of bread. They are also taking refuge from their own people - from the SS which is reportedly shooting people on the spot on the accusation that they are "defeatists", or rounding them up to join the Volkstürm  in the last desperate defence of the Reich. Many are now waiting only to surrender.

The U.S. Army 8th Division is assigned Military occupation of a sector of the Ruhr - Rhine area. This sector includes the Wuppertal, Dusseldorf, Wissen and Mulheim areas. Some officers from all units attached to the division are temporarily assigned to the Military Government section to help administer such a large area. The primary problem is that of Displaced Persons (DPs). Russian, Polish, Italian, French and other nationalities were used as slave labour in the Ruhr region. Freed DPs begin looting and pillaging both as a means of survival and revenge. Some acts of violence take place within the 8th Division area. DP camps are set up, and DPs fed and clothed (from German stores) which brings the situation under control Other than several cases of typhus reported in the town of Siegburg, no serious epidemics are reported. (Greisbach, pp.92-93)(Greg Canellis)

In the West, the British Second Army captures Ülzen and Lüneburg; resistance in the Ruhr ends as the US First Army rounds up 325,000 Germans; and the US Third Army captures Nürnberg and advances into Bohemia.

In the East, the Soviet 1st Ukrainian Front captures Forst on the Neisse River; north of Frankfurt, the Soviet 1st Belorussian Front continues its attack to take the Seelow Heights, gradually wearing down the outnumbered German defenders.

During Eighth Air Force Mission 959:

- 174 B-17s bomb the secondary target, the marshalling yard at Straubing without loss. 99 P-51s escort.

- 166 B-24s bomb the marshalling yard while 28 attack the rail bridge and rail industry at Passau without loss. Escorting are 240 P-47s and P-51s; they claim 12-0-8 aircraft on the ground; 1 P-51 is lost.

- 9 B-17s bomb the electrical transformers and 56 attack the marshalling yard at Traunstein while 148 hit the marshalling yard and electrical transformers at Rosenheim; 61 hit the secondary, the marshalling yard at Freising. 139 P-51s escort.

About 590 Ninth Air Force B-26 Marauders, A-26 Invaders and A-20s attack oil storage at Neuburg an der Donau, marshalling yards at Juterbog and Nordlingen, and rail junctions at Falkenburg and Juterbog; fighters escort the bombers, fly patrols, sweeps, and armed reconnaissance, attack assigned targets, and support ground forces including the US V Corps assaulting Leipzig, the VII Corps in the Dessau-Halle areas, the 5th Armored Division near Steimke, and the 2d Armored Division at Magdeburg and other XIX Corps elements astride the Elbe River south of Barby; organized German resistance in the Ruhr pocket ceases. (Jack McKillop)

WESTERN EUROPE: Patton's US 3rd Army crosses the Czech frontier.

CZECHOSLOVAKIA: During Eighth Air Force Mission 959: 97 B-17s bomb the marshalling yard at Kollin while 21 others hit the secondary, the marshalling yard at Pilzen. The escort is 157 P-51s; they claim 3-0-4 aircraft in the air; 1 P-51 is lost. (Jack McKillop)

ITALY: During the night of 17/18 April, Twelfth Air Force A-20s and A-26s pound communications in the southern Po Valley and the towns of Vignola, Bazzano, and Sassuolo in the US Fifth Army battle area; B-25s and B-26s hit 2 railroad fills and a bridge on the southern Brenner line and troop concentrations on the US Fifth and British Eighth Army fronts, southwest of Bologna and in the Dugnano Paderno area; fighter-bombers of the XXII Tactical Air Command also concentrate on support targets in the Fifth Army battle area.

473 Fifteenth Air Force B-24s and B-17s, with an escort of 89 P-51s, support the US Fifth Army offensive in the Bologna area, blasting defensive positions and communications in areas around the city; 78 P-38s dive-bomb a railroad bridge at Malborghetta Valbruna, while 87 others dive-bomb 2 railroad bridges at and southeast of Kolbnitz, Austria. (Jack McKillop)

CHINA: 3 Fourteenth Air Force B-25s hit trucks and other targets of opportunity east of Siangtan; 52 P-51s and P-40s attack river shipping, town areas, rail and road traffic, tanks, and bridges at several southern and eastern China locations including Sinhwa, Hengyang, Changsha, Luchai, Paoching, Kweiyang, Yenkou, Sinning, and Siangtan. (Jack McKillop)

BURMA: 21 Tenth Air Force P-38s attack a troop concentration, tanks, artillery positions, and a bivouac area near Man Li and Kongsam; 5 P-61 Black Widows hit a supply area west of Laihka; transports land or drop 806 tons of supplies at forward bases and frontline areas. (Jack McKillop)

JAPAN: Ryukyu Islands: Ie Shima: Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent, Ernie Pyle is killed today by Japanese machine-gun fire. The war correspondent who, more than any other, brought the reality of war, the mud, the blood and the agony, into the American home, died among the ordinary GIs whose cause became his own personal battle; and it is those GIs who will mourn him most. American infantrymen braved enemy fire to recover Pyle's body. For most of the war, Pyle had followed US servicemen in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and France, including the D-Day landing. But he started covering the London Blitz in 1941. He moved to the Pacific theatre after taking a rest in America. Ernest Taylor Pyle was 44. A monument exists to him to this day on Ie Shima, describing him simply as "a buddy". (Jack McKillop)

Off Okinawa, the battleship USS New York (BB-34) is damaged by a kamikaze.

The Japanese submarine I-56 is sunk by five USN destroyers and a TBM Avenger of Torpedo Squadron Forty Seven (VT-47) in the light aircraft carrier USS Bataan (CVL-29) 150 miles (241 km) east of Okinawa at 26.42N, 130.38E.

(Jack McKillop)

JAPAN: The XXI Bomber Command flies Missions 76 to 81. 112 B-29 Superfortresses hit Japanese airfields at Tachiarai, Izumi, Kokubu, Nittagahara, and 2 at Kanoya, the same targets attacked yesterday; 13 other B-29s hit targets of opportunity; 2 B-29s are lost. (Jack McKillop)

BONIN ISLANDS: During the night of 18/19 April, 3 VII Fighter Command P-61s based on Iwo Jima, flying individual strikes, bomb and strafe Futamiko and the radio station on Chichi Jima. (Jack McKillop)

BORNEO: Far East Air Force B-25s and P-38s attack Tarakan and Sandakan. (Jack McKillop)

FORMOSA: Far East Air Forces B-25s bomb Karenko Airfield, B-24s bit Tainan, Giran, Toyohara, Hobi, and Soton Airfields, and P-38s on sweeps hit rail and road transportation. (Jack McKillop)

PACIFIC OCEAN: Japanese vessels sunk at sea:

- Submarine HIJMS I-56 is sunk 150 miles (241 km) east of Okinawa by destroyers USS Heermann (DD-532), USS McCord (DD-534), USS Mertz (DD-691), and USS Collett (DD-730), assisted by destroyer USS Uhlmann (DD-687) and TBM Avengers from Torpedo Squadron Forty Seven (VT 47) in the light aircraft carrier USS Bataan (CVL-29).

- Submarine HIJMS RO 46 is sunk 500 yards (457 meters) off Wake Island by submarine USS Sea Owl (SS-405).

- A mine sinks a transport near the western entrance to Shimonoseki Strait, Japan. (Jack McKillop)

COMMONWEALTH OF THE PHILIPPINE: Far East Air Forces fighter bombers and A-20s hit the Balete Pass area and support ground forces on Luzon, Negros, and Cebu Islands. B-24s bomb Piso Point on Mindanao. (Jack McKillop)

U.S.A.: In baseball, the St. Louis Browns' Pete Gray, an one-arm outfielder, makes his major league debut with one hit in four at-bats in a 7-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers. Gray played in 77 games for the Browns in 1945 and batted .218 for the season. (Jack McKillop)

ATLANTIC OCEAN: Two armed U.S. merchant freighters are sunk by German submarines:

- SS Cyrus H. McCormack, while in convoy HX 348, is torpedoed and sunk by U-1107 70 miles (113 km) southwest of Brest, France.

- SS Swiftscout is torpedoed by U-548 about 145 miles (223 km) northeast of Cape Henry, Virginia; Armed Guard gunfire drives the attacker down, but U-548 returns to torpedo the ship a second time, sinking her. (Jack McKillop)

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