(July 30, 2021) This week, 80 years ago, the Siege of Odessa began as elements of the Romanian Fourth Army, commanded by Lt. Gen. Nicolae Ciupercă, arrived outside Odessa.
(July 23, 2021) Today, 80 years ago, the Germans finally captured Maj. Pyotr Mikhaylovich Gavrilov of the Red Army during the fight for the Brest fortress. Maj. Gavrilov was an officer in the 44th Motor Rifle Regiment, one of the units tasked with defending Brest. This was the second time in…
(July 16, 2021) This week, 80 years ago, the 29th Motorized Infantry Division, commanded by Walter von Boltenstern, from Gen. Heinz Guderian’s Second Panzergruppe, entered the 1,000-year-old city of Smolensk, and captured it after three days of house-to-house fighting. The Soviets did not co…
(July 9, 2021) This week, 80 years ago, the Spanish Blue Division was incorporated into the German Wehrmacht as the 250th Infantry Division.
(July 2, 2021) This week, 80 years ago, Hungarian and Finnish soldiers joined German, Slovakian and Romanian soldiers in their assault on the Soviet Union. Finland had a score to settle with the USSR. and Hungary owed a debt to the German Reich.
(June 25, 2021) This week, 80 years ago, Minsk, the capital of Belarus, fell to the onrushing German Wehrmacht. When hostilities opened, Minsk had a population of 300,000. By the time the Red Army liberated the city in 1944, its population had shrunk to 50,000. Today it has a population of m…
(June 18, 2021) This week, 80 years ago, German dictator Adolf Hitler declared, “When Barbarossa is launched, the whole world will hold its breath.” On the morning of June 22, 1941, exactly one year after the French armistice, more than 150 divisions with 3.2 million men, 500,000 horses, 3,5…
(June 11, 2021) This week, 80 years ago, Allied forces, commanded by Gen. Sir Noel Beresford-Peirse, reluctantly, and under pressure from London, launched “Operation Battleaxe.”
(June 4, 2021) This week, 80 years ago, Allied forces invaded the French Mandates of Syria and Lebanon, in “Operation Exporter.” The Allied forces did not believe that they would face serious resistance from the French forces stationed there, or their colonial Arab units. They were wrong.
(May 28, 2021) This week, 80 years ago, the Royal Navy began evacuating Allied forces from the Greek island of Crete, after having failed to stanch the German airborne invasion.
(May 21, 2021) This week, 80 years ago, as songster Johnny Horton recounted, “In May of nineteen forty-one...‘Sink the Bismarck!’ was the cry that shook the Seven Seas.”
(May 14, 2021) This week, 80 years ago, Commonwealth forces in North Africa launched a limited offensive against Erwin Rommel’s Axis forces. Before delving into the particulars of that operation, let’s reacquaint ourselves with the history.
(May 7, 2021) This week, 80 years ago, Deputy Führer of the Nazi Party, Rudolf Hess, (not to be confused with Rudolf Höss, commandant of the extermination camp at Auschwitz) climbed into a Messerschmitt Vf110E-1/N at the Messerschmitt company airfield, at Augsburg-Haunstetten Airport, in Bav…
(April 30, 2021) Today, 80 years ago, 6,000 — soon to grow to 9,000 — Iraqi soldiers occupied the heights surrounding Habbanayi Royal Air Force Base, which was located near Lake Habbanayi, about 60 miles outside of Baghdad.
(April 23, 2021) This week, 80 years ago, the Siege of Tobruk was entering its third week. Before it was lifted, 241 days would pass.
(April 16, 2021) Today, 80 years ago, the Independent State of Croatia was created when Dr. Ante Pavelić declared the Provision for the Appointment of the Croatian State Government, which he signed as Poglavnik of the Independent State of Croatia.
(April 9, 2021) This week, 80 years ago, five Axis armies, from three countries, attacked the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
(April 2, 2021) This week, 80 ago, Axis forces under the command of Gen. Erwin Rommel captured an old Turkish fort in the middle of the desert at a place called El Mechili. El Mechili is a small village located 170 miles east of Benghazi, at the eastern end of Jebel Akhdar, which was a raise…
(March 26, 2021) This week, 80 years ago, the Royal Navy administered a decisive defeat to the Regia Marina Italia in the Battle of Cape Matapan, south of the island of Crete.
(March 19, 2021) This week, 80 years ago, the new German commander of the Deutsches Afrikakorps (DAK) struck his first blow when he captured El Agheila from the British.
(March 12, 2021) This week, 80 years ago, U-99, skippered by Otto Kretschmer, one of Germany’s most famous U-boat commanders, had just fired the last of her torpedoes, when she was spotted by British destroyers southeast of Iceland in the North Atlantic.
(March, 5, 2021) Eighty years ago, this week, U-47 commanded, by Günther Prien, was attacked and sunk in the North Atlantic, west of Ireland, by destroyers HMS Wolverine and HMS Verity. This happened not long after Prien was promoted to the rank of lieutenant commander.
(Feb. 26, 2021) This week, 80 years ago, after a siege lasting more than a month, Free French troops, under the command of Col. Philippe François Marie Leclerc de Hauteclocque (“Leclerc”) finally captured Kufra, an oasis in the Sahara Desert that lies 530 miles south of Tobruk and the Medite…
(Feb. 19, 2021) This week, 80 years ago, the Tirpitz, the second and last battleship of the Bismarck class, was commissioned. It was launched on April 1, 1939, and christened by Großadmiral (Grand Admiral) Alfred von Tirpitz’ daughter, Ilse von Hassel. Both the Tirpitz and the Bismarck were …
(Feb. 12, 2021) Eighty years ago today, German Gen. Erwin Rommel arrived in the Libyan capital of Tripoli. Before his departure from the North African shore, he would earn the sobriquet “The Desert Fox,” and the admiration of friend and foe alike.
(Feb. 5, 2021) This week, 80 years ago, Commonwealth Forces completed the destruction of the remnants of the Italian Tenth Army at Beda Fomm in Libya.
(Jan. 29, 2021) This week, 80 years ago, Commonwealth forces began assaulting Italian defenses at Keren, in Eritrea.
(Jan. 22, 2021) This week, 80 years ago, the Australians continued their pursuit of the beaten Italian Tenth Army, now under the command of Lt.-Gen. Giuseppe Tellera, after capturing Tobruk.
(Jan. 15, 2021) This week, 80 years ago, units of the French Navy achieved a victory over the Royal Thai Navy during the brief war between the two countries.
(Jan. 8, 2021) This week 80 years ago, after the 6th Australian Division, commanded by Gen. Iven Mackay, completed the capture of Libyan port of Bardia, it continued its westward advance and began the assault on the fortress of Tobruk.
(Dec. 25, 2020) This week, 80 years ago a regiment of the 6th Australian Division, under the command of George Wootten, was besieging the Italian garrison of Giarabub, commanded by Maj. Salvatore Castagna.
(Dec. 18, 2020) This week, 80 years ago, the German Auxiliary Merchant Cruiser Komet was on her first cruise, to hunt, sink or capture Allied merchant ships sailing in the Pacific Ocean.
(Dec. 11, 2020) This week, 80 years ago, U.S. President, Franklin D. Roosevelt held a press conference to announce the “Lend-Lease” Program. The United States and the world had passed through the greatest depression in modern history and was still very much in the throes of a difficult and p…
(Dec. 4, 2020) This week, 80 years ago, the Commonwealth’s Western Desert Force, under the command of Major-Gen. Sir Richard O’Connor, launched “Operation Compass” against the Italian Tenth Army commanded by Gen. Mario Berti.
(Nov. 27, 2020) This week, 80 years ago, the Royal Navy and the Regia Marina Italia clashed in the Battle of Cape Spartivento off the western coast of Sardinia. The Italians know this as the Battle of Cape Teulada.
(Nov. 20, 2020) This week, 80 years ago, one of the great injustices of the war was imposed by the British Government on one of its country’s heroes, Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh C.T. Dowding, as he was unceremoniously removed from his position — a position from which he had, literally, saved …
(Nov. 13, 2020) This week, 80 years ago, the Communist Chinese Eighth Route Army, under the command of Zhu De launched the “Hundred Regiments Offensive” against the Japanese North China Area Army commanded by Hayao Tada.
(Nov. 6, 2020) This week, 80 years ago, the Royal Navy established a blueprint for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, when the Royal Navy’s carrier-based planes attacked the Italian navy — Regia Marina Italia — at its base in the 2,600-year-old port of Taranto.
(Oct. 30, 2020) This week, 80 years ago, the German Fuhrer’s personal train, Amerika, pulled into the Santa Maria Novella Railway Station in Florence, Italy, where the German Fuhrer was scheduled to meet the Italian Duce. It was not a week that had gone well for the German dictator.
(Oct. 23, 2020) This week, 80 years ago, der Führer of Deutchland, Adolf Hitler, met with El Caudillo de España, Generalísimo Francisco Franco, in the French resort town of Hendaye on the Franco-Spanish Border. El Caudillo was accompanied by his brother-in-law, Spanish Foreign Minister Ramón…
(Oct. 16, 2020) This week, 80 years ago, the 1940 presidential campaign was in the “home stretch.” Franklin Roosevelt, in 1940, had served the traditional two terms which every President, since George Washington set the tradition, in 1797, had honored. Beginning with his landslide victory ov…
(Oct. 9, 2020) This week, 80 years ago, the Regia Marina Italia engaged the Royal Navy, the first night engagement between the two Navies, in the Battle of Cape Passero in the southeast part of Sicily.
(Oct. 2, 2020) This week, 80 years ago, a Nationalist Chinese force, commanded by Han Deqin (Te-ch’in), attacked the 7,000-man-strong Communist New Fourth Army, commanded by Su Yu at Huangqiao (“Yellow Bridge”), in the coastal province of Jiangsu, whose capital is Nanking.
(Sept. 25, 2020) Today, 80 years ago, the British Cabinet decided to cancel the British/Free French force assault on Dakar, the capital of the French colony of French West Africa. Following the end of the colonial period, the colony devolved into the countries of Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, C…
(Sept. 18, 2020) In the spring of 1940, the storm clouds of war were hovering over Europe. After the German conquest of Poland, the previous fall, a “Phony War” was being waged as France and Britain stood by waiting for a Nazi attack.
(Sept. 11, 2020) This week, 80 years ago, the Regio Escercito Italia (Royal Italian Army), crossed the border separating Libya and Egypt.
(Sept. 4, 2020) This week, 80 years ago, Romanian general, Ion Victor Antonescu, became prime minister of the Kingdom of Romania. Not bad considering that only a few weeks prior, the general had been an involuntary guest of the king, Carol II. Within a day of naming the general prime ministe…