World War II Axis Military History Day-by-Day: January

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January 1

January 1, 1941: Hitler, in his New Year's order of the day to the German armed forces, promises "...completion, on the Western Front, of the greatest victory in our history..."

January 1, 1943: German troops of 1. Panzerarmee (von Kleist) in the Caucasus begin withdrawing from the Terek front to avoid being cut off by Soviet forces attacking from the northeast toward Rostov-on-Don.

January 1, 1944: Field Marshal Rommel is appointed C-in-C of Heeresgruppe B, the German forces in France north of the Loire river.

January 2

January 2, 1942: On the central front in Russia, the Red Army achieves a breakthrough at Rshev.

January 3

January 3, 1944: The US Fifth Army (Clark) begins an offensive against the German forces in Italy (Kesselring) entrenched in the Gustav Line along the Rapido river, with its center at Cassino.

January 4

January 4, 1942: The Red Army captures Kaluga SW of Moscow.

January 4, 1944: On the southern front in the Ukraine, Soviet forces cross the old Polish-Russian border in Volhynia.

January 5

January 5, 1941: The British 8th Army (Wavell) captures Bardia in Cyrenaica, taking 45,000 Italian prisoners.

January 5, 1942: German forces in the Crimea repulse a Soviet landing at Eupatoria.

January 6

January 6, 1941: In his annual message to Congress, President Roosevelt announces the "Four Freedoms". The Luftwaffe launches its first attacks against British convoys bound for Malta in the Mediterranean.

January 7

No major events on this day.

January 8

January 8, 1942: On the Northern front in Russia, the Red Army begins an offensive near Lake Ilmen.

January 8, 1943: General Rokossovsky, C-in-C of Don Front, issues a surrender ultimatum to the troops of 6.Armee, guaranteeing "their lives and safety, and after the end of the war return to Germany', and promising that "...medical aid will be given to all wounded, sick and frost-bitten..."

January 9

January 9, 1943: The Soviet ultimatum to 6.Armee at Stalingrad is ignored by order of Colonel-General von Paulus, and the battle continues with unabated ferocity.

January 10

January 10, 1942: Colonel-General Ernst Udet, head of Luftwaffe aircraft production and development, commits suicide for failure to provide adequate replacements and new improved aircraft models.

January 10, 1943: After a 55-minute bombardment by thousands of guns and rocket-launchers, and employing seven armies, the Red Army begins Operation Ring, the final annihilation of the tattered remnants of 6.Armee defending themselves desperately against all odds in the ruins of Stalingrad.

January 11

January 11, 1942: The Kriegsmarine begins Operation Drum Beat, the first coordinated attack carried out by five U-boats initially against US shipping along the East Coast of the United States. Their first victim is the 9,000 ton British freighter Cyclops which is sunk by U-123 (Kptlt. Hardegen).

January 11, 1944: 660 heavy bombers of the US 8th Air Force carry out attacks against industrial targets at Braunschweig, Magdeburg and Ascherleben.

January 12

January 12, 1943: The Red Army begins an offensive to restore the land communications with the encircled city of Leningrad. In the East, Heeeresgruppe A continues its withdrawal from the Caucasus to the Taman peninsula, i.e. the Kuban bridgehead.

January 12, 1945: The Soviet 1st Ukrainian Front (Konev) launches an offensive from its bridgehead across the Vistula at Baranov.

January 13

January 13, 1945: In the East, the Soviet 1st Belorussian Front (Zhukov) begins an offenive toward Pillkallen in East Prussia. German forces of Heeresgruppe E complete their withdrawal from Greece and Albania.

January 14

January 14, 1942: At the so called Arcadia Conerence held in Washington, President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill agree to concentrate the Allied war effort on the European theater.

January 14, 1943: Beginning of the Casablanca Conference in Morocco with Rooseelt and Churchill and the Allied joint staff under General Dwight D. Eisenhauer.

January 14, 1944: South of Leningrad, the Red Army begins an offensive against the lines of Heeresgruppe Nord (von Küchler) at Narva

January 14, 1945: The Soviet 2nd Belorussian Front (Rokossovsky) begins an offensive from its Narev bridgehead against Elbing in East Prussia.

January 15

January 15, 1942: Heeresgruppe Mitte (von Kluge) evacuates the Kaluga sector and takes up winter positions 20 m further West.

January 15, 1943: On the Northern front in Russia, the Red Army captures Velikije Luki in the Valdai Hills.

January 15, 1944: In Italy, French troops under General Juin capture Monte Santa Croce.

January 15, 1945: In its drive toward the Oder river, the Red Army captures Kielce in western Poland.

January 16

January 16, 1945: In the Battle of the Bulge, US and British forces brought up to block the German advance meet at Houffalize.

January 17

January 17, 1942: The British 8th Army (Auchinlech) captures ollum in Cyrenaica.

January 17, 1945: The Red Army captures Czenstochova, while German forces evacuate Warsaw. The German defenders of encircled Budapest withdraw to Buda on the western bank of the Danube.

January 18

January 18, 1942: In the East, the Red Army encircles seeral German divisions at Demjansk near Lake Ilmen. In the Crimea, German troops of Heeresgruppe B recapture Feodosia and seal off the Soviet bridgehead at Kerch. Germany, Italy and Japan sign a new military treaty.

January 18, 1944: German forces of Heeresgruppe Mitte repel repeated Soviet attacks in the area of Vitebsk.

January 18, 1945: German troops in Poland evacuate Kracow. Beginning of a German offensive from Lake Balaton to lift the Soviet siege of Budapest.

January 19

January 19, 1945: Sweeping the German defenders before it, the Red Army captures Lodz.

January 20

January 20, 1941: With Hitler's tacit support, Marshal Antonescu suppresses a rebellion by the Iron Guard in Rumania.

January 20, 1943: The Red Army begins an offensive against Heeresgruppe Mitte in the Voronesh area.

January 20, 1944: On the Northern front in Russia, the Red Army recaptures Novgorod. The RAF launches a heavy attack (700 bombers) against Berlin.

January 21

January 21, 1941: The US informs the Soviet Union that the "moral embargo" imposed on it after its 1939 attack on Finland no longer applies.

January 21, 1942: Having been reenforced and resupplied, the Afrikakorps begins a counter-offensive against the British 8th Army to recapture Cyrenaica. The Luftwaffe, with 400 aircraft available, begins a series of raids against London and ports in southern England. The US Fifth Army (Clark) achieves a landing at Anzio and Nettuno south of Rome.

January 22

January 22, 1945: Advancing in East Prussia, the Red Army captures Insterburg and Allenstein.

January 23

January 23, 1943: Panzerarmee Afrika evacuates Tripoli in Libya.

January 23, 1945: The Kriegsmarine begins the evacuation by sea of hundreds of thousands of civilian refugees from East Prussia and the Danzig area, the Red Army having cut all land communications with the rest of the Reich.

January 24

January 24, 1942: German troops of Heeresgruppe Mitte recapture Suchinitshe near Kaluga.

January 24, 1943: The offensive by the Soviet Trans-Caucasian Front toward the Kuban bridgehead is topped at Novorossiisk and Krasnodar.

January 24, 1945: German forces evacuate Slovakia. The Soviet 1st Ukrainian Front (Konev) captures Oppeln and Gleiwitz in Upper Silesia. Heinrich Himmler is appointed C-in-C of the newly formed Heeresgruppe Weichsel (Vistula).

January 25

January 25, 1941: The British 8th Army recaptures Tobruk in Cyrenaica.

January 25, 1943: At Stalingrad, the Red Army succeeds in splitting the remnants of 6.Armee into a northern and a southern pocket. German forces evacuate Armavir and Voronesh. President Roosevelt and Prime Miniter Churchill end the Caablanca Conference with their announcement of the demand for the unconditional surrender of Germany and Italy.

January 26

January 26, 1942: The first US troops begin arriving in North Africa.

January 26, 1945: The Red Army captures Kattowitz in Upper Silesia.

January 27

January 27, 1944: The Soviet 1st Ukrainian Front launches an offensive against Luzk and Rovno.

January 27, 1945: German forces evacuate the vital coal mining and industrial district of Upper Silesia, a heavy loss for the remaining German war effort.

January 28

January 28, 1941: In Cyrenaica, the Afrikakorps recaptures Benghazi.

January 28, 1944: In the Ukraine, the Red Army succeeds in encircling several German divisions in the area of Tcherkassy.

January 29

January 29, 1941: In Washington, US and British military leaders begin secret staff talks regarding coordination of a common war policy against Germany.

January 29, 1944: 800 bombers of the US 8th Air Force launch heavy attacks against Frankfurt am Main and Ludwigshafen.

January 30

January 30, 1941: THe British 8th Army (Wavell) captures Derna in Egypt from the Italians.

January 30, 1945: In its relentless drive for Berlin, the Red Army reaches the Oder river at Küstrin and establishes several bridgeheads. On the twelfth anniversary of his coming to power Hitler, in his last speech to the country, calls for fanatical resistance by soldiers and civilians and predicts that "...in this struggle for survival it will not be inner Asia that will conquer, but the people that has defended Europe for centuries against the onslaughts from the East, the German nation..." Also on this date, the Wilhelm Gustloff, an ex-Kraft Durch Freude ship (Strength Through Joy) in the service of the German Kriegsmarine, is sunk in the Baltic Sea by a Soviet sub with the loss of over 9,343 lives - the largest single naval disaster in history (The Goya, another German ship similar to the Gustloff, would be sunk on April 16th, 1945, taking with it another 6,000 lives, making these two ships the worst naval disasters of all time.)

January 31

January 31, 1943: At Stalingrad, the exhausted troops of 6.Armee in the southern pocket of the Kessel, with newly promoted Field Marshal von Paulus, have spent their last rounds and surrender to the Red Army.