July Offensive

July Offensive

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A Provisional Government, headed by Prince Georgi Lvov, was formed in Russia on 15th March, 1917. Lvov attempted to maintain the Russian war effort but he was severely undermined by the formation of soldiers' committee that demanded "peace without annexations or indemnities".

In May, 1917, Alexander Kerensky was appointed as Minister of War. He toured the Eastern Front where he made a series of emotional speeches where he appealed to the troops to continue fighting. On 18th June, Kerensky announced a new war offensive. Encouraged by the Bolsheviks, who favoured peace negotiations, there were demonstrations against Kerensky in Petrograd.

The July Offensive, led by General Alexei Brusilov, was an attack on the whole Galician sector. Initially the Russian Army made advances and on the first day of the offensive took 10,000 prisoners. However, low morale, poor supply lines and the rapid arrival of German reserves from the Western Front slowed the advance and on 16th July the offensive was brought to an end.

Soldiers on the Eastern Front were dismayed at the news and regiments began to refuse to move to the front line. There was a rapid increase in the number of men deserting and by the autumn of 1917 an estimated 2 million men had unofficially left the army.

The Battle of Kursk

The Battle of Kursk (July 4 - July 20, 1943) was a decisive battle on the Eastern Front during World War II.

The battle was an attempt by the German side to get on the offensive after defeat in the Battle of Stalingrad.

The Soviet counterpart, however, had good intelligence about the German preparations. , the Red Army established deep defensive positions and gathered large forces in reserve.

The Battle of Kursk was one of the greatest armored battles and probably the air battle in history that led to the largest loss in a single day.

The famous tank crew at Prokhorovka was part of the Battle of Kursk. The German forces were unable to break through the Soviet lines, and eventually brought the Soviet forces counterattacked.

The German side named the battle as "Operation Citadel", while the Soviet side, had two names for it: "Operation Kutuzov" for the defensive and "Operation Polkovodets Rumjantsev" for the offensive.

The Battle of Kursk was the last major German offensive on the Eastern Front, after Kursk the initiative shifted to the Red Army.

The Soviet battle plan and its execution was exemplary and is still a subject of study in war schools.

For 60 years now domestic historiography has been repeating these data about the crucial battle at Prokhorovka, on the Kursk Bulge: 800 Soviet tanks vs. 700 Nazi tanks Soviet losses - 300 vehicles Nazi losses - 400. A decisive victory was won. Document analysis, however, reveals a somewhat different picture

The Battle of Kursk, which took place 60 years ago, was a direct continuation of the Battle of Stalingrad.

After the Paulus army was successfully encircled, the Soviet command made a serious mistake and failed to surround and eliminate the entire Nazi force on the Don and in the North Caucasus.

Field Marshal Manstein, who had been allowed to get away from the Caucasus, in February-March 1943 inflicted a crushing defeat on Soviet forces, retaking Kharkov and Belgorod.

The Nazis did not have enough firepower for Kursk, hence the Kursk Bulge, a projection going deep into the Nazi front. Within that bulge a powerful Soviet force was concentrated, and the Nazis were out to get the Soviets in revenge for Stalingrad by encircling and routing them.

After June 1941, the Nazis did not prepare any other offensive operation as thoroughly as they did Operation Citadel.

Preparations continued for almost four months the troops received a substantial amount of modern hardware and equipment, including Tiger and Panther tanks, Elephant (Ferdinand in Soviet terminology) self-propelled guns, Fw-190 fighters, the AT modification of the Ju-87 bomber, and so forth.

Preparations were made amid the utmost secrecy, but that secret was known to everyone. The axis of the upcoming Nazi strike was far too obvious.

Soviet intelligence services merely confirmed the Nazi plans.

So Soviet troops prepared the counteroffensive operation just as thoroughly. Never in the entire Great Patriotic War had our army built such strong, deeply layered defensive installations.

And, whereas virtually all Nazi attacks in the 1941-1942 period came as a surprise to us, this one was awaited impatiently (if this term is at all applicable to a relentless battle).

Furthermore, it is a military-science axiom that an attacking force should have at least a four-fold superiority over a defending force.

At Kursk, in the summer of 1943, the Nazis did not have any superiority at all. The Soviet Central and Voronezh Fronts had a 20 percent to 50 percent superiority over the opposing Center and South Groups while there was also a whole reserve front - the Steppe Front, making Soviet superiority over the Nazis more than twofold. To cap it all, we knew exactly when the Nazi offensive was to begin.

In such conditions, Operation Citadel was a suicide mission for the Nazis, pure and simple. It is noteworthy that Hitler was well aware of that, but the Nazi generals were resolved to take their revenge for the Stalingrad humiliation.

The offensive began on July 5. Strange as that may be, the strike by the group under Manstein's command, in the south, proved successful.

In less than a week, an armored fist of Tigers, Panthers, and Elephants, escorted by AT Junkers, despite fierce resistance by Soviet forces, breached all three defense lines of the Voronezh Front commanded by Gen. Vatutin.

By July 12, the Nazis gained operational depth, and so to rectify the situation, which was getting catastrophic, the Soviet command mounted a counterstroke with the assets and forces of the Fifth Guards Tank Army under Gen. Rotmistrov. That was the historic battle of Prokhorovka.

It consisted of a number of separate combat episodes, the total number of Soviet tanks reaching 660 with the Nazis having not more than 420. So Prokhorovka cannot be regarded as the largest tank battle in war history: Even in the course of the Battle of Kursk there were more wide-ranging engagements, while in late June 1941 over 1,500 tanks on both sides had been involved in a battle in Western Ukraine.

As for the losses, the fact is that the Soviet side lost approximately 500 vehicles while the Nazis, about 200. Therefore it is difficult to talk about victory here although that was very well understood at the time.

As Rotmistrov himself recalled later, "when he learned about our losses, Stalin flew into a rage: After all, according to the Supreme High Command plans, the tank army was designed to take part in a counteroffensive, near Kharkov, but now it had to be reconstituted and reinforced.

The supreme commander decided to dismiss me from command and all but have me court-martialed." To analyze thebattle of Prokhorovka, Stalin gave orders to set up a State Defense Committee commission, which judged the operation a classic failure.

Manstein's victory, however, proved hollow. First, Nazi losses were enormous even though smaller than Soviet losses.

There were no assets left to exploit the success. Second, Gen. Model, who attacked the Kursk Bulge from the north, moving toward Manstein, got hopelessly stuck in the defense lines of the Central Front commanded by Gen. Rokossovsky.

Furthermore, on July 12, he was attacked from the rear, when Soviet Western Front troops began an advance on Orel.

Finally, British-U.S. troops landed on Sicily, and Hitler panicked. The subsequent course of the war showed that the allies did not have a chance on the Italian Front, but in July 1943, Hitler ordered troops to be redeployed from the Eastern Front to Italy. By July 17, Manstein began to retreat. The Nazis "achieved a defeat," showing that they were still superior fighters while the Soviets "suffered a victory" since the battle had from the start been hopeless for the Nazis.

Everything could have been different at Kursk had the Nazis attacked not at the base of the bulge, where Soviet forces were expecting them, but head-on, where there were virtually no defensive lines. In that case they would have reached the rear service positions of both the Central and the Voronezh Front on the second day of the operation.

That was what Manstein wanted to do, and Marshal Zhukov recognized the danger after the war. Hitler was also inclined to support that plan.

But being products of the classical Prussian military school, Wehrmacht generals refused to break canons. They did everything "properly." And lost.

After that, the Nazis, having lost their elite units, were unable to attack successfully until the end of the war while the Soviets took another step to victory, once again paying an exorbitant price for that.

Battle of Kursk: Eastern Front 1943

© Battle of Kursk: Eastern Front 1943 - All rights reserved! - Battle of Kursk - Contact - Policy

Gaudy, Sure—But Racist Too? Unpacking Centuries of 'Blackamoor' Art

Elaborately robed in patterned textiles and wearing a turban encrusted with tiny jewels, an ebony figurine dangles a hanging lamp from his outstretched arm. Another figure is harder at work: Bare-chested and gleaming, he balances a tabletop on his back, his ample biceps securing it in place. These are Blackamoors—a trope in Italian decorative art especially common in pieces of furniture, but also appearing in paintings, jewelry, and textiles. The motif emerged as an artistic response to the European encounter with the Moors—dark-skinned Muslims from North Africa and the Middle East who came to occupy various parts of Europe during the Middle Ages. Commonly fixed in positions of servitude—as footmen or waiters, for example—the figures personify fantasies of racial conquest.

Gaudy by nature, and uncomfortably dated—a bit like the American lawn jockey, or Aunt Jemima doll—the Blackamoors aren’t exactly highlights in the expansive art collection of La Pietra, a Florentine villa bequeathed to NYU by Sir Harold Acton in 1994. But while historians haven’t always championed them, Blackamoors are still a thriving industry, with the United States as their no. 1 importer. (In fact, the figurines are especially popular in Texas and Connecticut—search “Blackamoor” online and you’ll find countless listings on eBay, Etsy, and elsewhere.) Unlike their American counterparts, which focus mostly on romanticizing scenes from the era of slavery, these European ornaments often depict black bodies as exotic noblemen. And not everyone considers them passé: As recently as September 2012, the Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana invited outrage when it included a caricatured black woman figurine on an earring as part of its spring/summer collection.

So how does a forward-thinking, global university like NYU respond to the discovery that the 34 Blackamoors now in its possession form the largest of any known public or private collection? How do we make sense of the industry’s endurance—and America’s role in it? “We thought that instead of simply putting them in storage, we can train students in contextualization and curation,” says Awam Amkpa, curator and NYU professor of Africana studies, of La Pietra’s collection. “We can use it to create a wider understanding of how we have seen the black body through the ages.”

Amkpa—also a playwright, filmmaker, and professor of drama—had already established a relationship with NYU’s study-away site in Florence by curating several exhibitions centered on African migration and labor, so when it came to confronting the challenge of the Blackamoors, he was an obvious choice for consultant. Working with NYU Florence Executive Director Ellyn Toscano, he curated ReSignifications, an exhibition of contemporary artworks displayed “in conversation” with the Blackamoors—challenging and interrogating their form and subject matter, as well as that of Classical and Renaissance art more generally.

The exhibition and accompanying symposium, “Black Portraiture[s ]II: Imaging the Black Body and Re-staging Histories,” would go beyond Europe and its history. “This is not only about the past,” says Amkpa. “It’s an emergency response for cultural producers and commentators, a response to bodies in historical crisis.” Conceived as a dialogue among students, local and international artists, activists, scholars, and consumers, ReSignifications challenges contemporary racial dynamics across the globe, confronting continued discrimination in a post-Ferguson America and tackling themes of immigration and xenophobia in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. The weekend-long symposium—which included a keynote address by New York City’s first lady, Chirlane McCray, as well as lectures on topics like jazz and Afrofuturism—facilitated further discussion of how codes of race representation have been inherited, and how they affect our modern associations with the black body.

“We wanted the exhibition to be highly inclusive,” says Amkpa. “We sought artists from Brazil, Africa, Barbados, Europe, and elsewhere.” Some of the most provocative African, African-American, and diaspora artists were commissioned, including MacArthur fellow Carrie Mae Weems, Fred Wilson, and Mickalene Thomas from the United States, Mary Sibande and Zanele Muholi from South Africa, and Kiluanji Kia Henda from Angola. Ahead of the exhibition, which opened in May, an artists residency was established to give emerging artists an opportunity to develop work for the exhibition. The final showcase is dispersed across three venues in Florence—La Pietra, the Museo Bardini, and the Galleria Biagiotti for contemporary art.

Alongside positive reviews in The Guardian and The International Review of African American Art, ReSignifications has garnered local attention too. Though the show is currently set to run through August 29, Amkpa was approached by the mayor of Florence, who requested that the exhibition extend to the first week of November to coincide with an international mayoral conference organized by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs. Given Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s newfound commitment to immigrant rights—he’s stated his support for automatic citizenship for immigrants’ children born in Italy—the mayor recognized NYU’s contribution as an opportunity to showcase Florence as a center of progressive dialogue.

NYU Stories sat down with Amkpa to discuss the importance of this exhibition—and the conversations it has generated—in Italy and beyond.

How has Florence’s local art community responded to ReSignifications?
Florence being well known as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, a lot of emerging local artists have felt that the cultural landscape is overwhelmed by it, that there isn’t much space for interrogation. ReSignifications allowed them to do that, and since its opening in May we’ve seen more young artists producing art in this vein. There is a real crisis of xenophobia towards African immigrants in Italy, and many artists expressed a desire to explore themes of migration and immigration. We also reached out to immigrant communities within the art world. For example, one of the local collectives that participated is called Influx, and consists of three Italians and two Africans. They produced a work that combined images of La Pietra with poetic musical renditions.

I strongly believe that NYU, with its satellite campuses and study abroad sites, has a special responsibility to incorporate the communities it encounters in producing new knowledge. So we didn’t just bring in outsiders, but made an effort to engage local artists who could look at the classical through the eyes of the contemporary.

Were there any reactions—local or international—that surprised you?
Everyone was so open to working with us. There is a sizeable Blackamoor industry in Florence and in Venice, and there are many factories that make them to order. One such factory assisted us with research on the industry, and even loaned us two of their works. There are also families in the city who keep Blackamoor collections as heirlooms. One of these is the Pucci family, and they were also very open to working with us, inviting us to see the collection at their home. I think we saw these reactions because it was clear that apart from criticizing Blackamoors, we were interested in historicizing them.

Dolce and Gabbana also approached me about participating, which I didn’t expect! I said no, of course—we’re not that broke.

How do you put Blackamoors in context historically while also challenging the industry?
It’s important to understand that Blackamoors emerged as a response to the Moorish occupation of Europe. They were Arabic, hence the turbans and tunics you see in many of them. They were a curiosity—there were not many Africans in Italy at the time. So that’s where the tradition came from. Today there is a much larger African population in Italy, one that is often marginalized. So to continue to practice the craft as it existed back then—that’s to say that Africans are more acceptable as pieces of art than as fellow citizens. That’s the attitude we want to challenge.

In the world of antiques and collectibles, are Blackamoors considered mainstream, or are they more of a fetish?
It depends on who is making them and who is buying them. The making of Blackamoors has been a respected craft in Italy for centuries, something that’s been passed down from one generation to the next. But for the last six years there’s been a definite upsurge in interest, and then you see something like the Dolce & Gabbana earrings, which are obviously playing on Blackamoors as a fetish. That’s why I didn’t want to get involved with them—I was nervous about fanning that flame and that interest.

Were there any particularly controversial artworks included in the exhibition?

There are definitely some that have caused more of a stir than others. One that comes to mind is by the Angolan artist Kiluanji Kia Henda, who recreated the trope of the “reclining nude” by using a black male body—so he changed the kind of nudity we take for granted to a different kind of nudity. Another was Carrie Mae Weems’s “Not Manet’s Type,” a series of photographs that considers the tradition of the female model under the male gaze. These artworks are particularly effective as our aim is to challenge not only the subject matter of classical Western art, but its very conventions, and how these conventions affect the rest of the world. Where better to do this than Florence? Ultimately we are asking how we can build a more broadly inclusive world.

Archives: July 2021

"To say 'neoliberal' is the same as saying 'semiliberal' or 'pseudoliberal.' It is pure nonsense. One is either in favor of liberty or against it, but one cannot be semi-in-favor or pseudo-in-favor of liberty, just as one cannot be 'semipregnant,' 'semiliving,' or 'semidead.' The term has not been invented to express a conceptual reality, but rather, as a corrosive weapon of derision. It has been designed to devalue semantically the doctrine of liberalism. And it is liberalism—more than any other doctrine—that symbolizes the extraordinary advances that liberty has made in the long course of human civilization."
Mario Vargas Llosa
"Global Village or Global Pillage?"

"What has gone mostly unseen and unremarked upon is the effort by industries who benefit from copyright law to shift the balance of the law forever in their favor, and away from the public interest that, according to Article I of the U.S. Constitution, is supposed to be the beneficiary of copyrights."
Mike Godwin

25 years ago

"Rather than capitalizing on the broad, if often inchoate, anti-government and pro-individualist sentiments that seem to be growing among voters, insisting on systematic libertarianism in the political arena reduces the libertarian impulse to a series of litmus tests on issues that many voters may not see as particularly important or connected: gun rights and abortion rights, property rights and drug legalization, free speech and lower taxes. To these mainstream issues the Libertarian Party platform adds such problematic esoterica as jury nullification, a reliance solely on tort law and 'strict liability' to govern pollution, and the right of individual political secession. When libertarianism is presented as an all-or-nothing bargain, interested voters are more likely to leave the whole package on the table."
Nick Gillespie
"Uncompromising Position"

"The home school movement suggests that educational choices need not be limited to public and private schools. Rather, parents can create far more flexible arrangements, relying on an array of learning services, resources, and technologies that enable their children to learn at home on a part-time or full-time basis. We can begin contemplating a future of learning opportunities analogous to the innovation and decentralization that is currently taking place in traditional workplaces."
Britton Manasco
"Special Ed"

"To achieve the social goal of a 'livable wage' (even for teenagers living with their parents), the state confiscates the assets of certain employers and forces them to give those assets to certain employees. But a fast-food restaurant has alternatives: It can buy machines, shorten its hours, perhaps even raise its prices (though this is a doubtful proposition since prices are determined, not by costs, but by supply and demand if a restaurant could charge more for a hamburger, it would be doing so already, whatever the minimum wage)."
James Glassman
"Economics: Minimum Standards"

35 years ago

"The drug police have to resort to such invasive surveillance techniques precisely because the 'crimes' they are trying to detect involve no victims and therefore no plaintiffs. The various transactions that take place among participants in the drug trade, from producers to traffickers to buyers, are purely private and voluntary. If I peacefully sell a substance to someone who is willing to pay for it, whose rights have been violated? If I peacefully buy a substance that someone's willing to sell me, whose rights have been violated? If I peacefully ingest the substance, whose rights have been violated? No one's."
Eric Marti
"Freedom Dies in the War on Drugs"

45 years ago

"The essence of the State through history is a minority of the population, constituting a power elite or a 'ruling class,' governing and living off of the majority, or the 'ruled.' Since a majority cannot live parasitically off a minority without the economy and the social system breaking down very quickly, and since the majority can never act permanently by itself but must always be led by an oligarchy, every State will subsist by plundering the majority on behalf of a ruling minority."
Murray Rothbard
"America's Libertarian Revolution"

"It is no accident that conservatives tend to share attitudes in favor of free enterprise and against big government with the libertarians, and to share attitudes with the communists against personal freedom and in favor of social repression. Conservatives find their political motivation in the defense of community norms and traditional values. In this country, a few libertarian values are 'traditional,' as luck would have it. In Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia, of course, conservatives and communists differ only in their 'enemies lists,' not in their programs. Deviation from the permitted norm is a police matter."
Joe Cobb

Allies Bomb Northern Nazi Germany: June 1943-December 1943

In early 1943, President Frankli­n Roosevelt and Winston Churchill discussed the future direction of the war and agreed to maintain a relentless bombing campaign against the European Axis states to ease the pressure on the Red Army. This Combined Bomber Offensive was the Allies' substitute for a seco­nd front, which was deemed too risky in 1943. In May 1943, the German navy lost 41 submarines while Allied merchant vessel losses dropped sharply. Over the next two months, a further 54 submarines were sunk, prompting the German naval commander-in-chief, Admiral Karl Dönitz, to withdraw from the North Atlantic.

The Allies' critical victory over the submarine menace made possible the broad extension of American military and economic power into the European Theater.

In 1943, that power was principally represented in the air. The Combined Bomber Offensive was officially launched as Operation Pointblank in June 1943, although British Bomber Command and the U.S. Eighth Air Force had begun around-the-clock bombing -- the British by night, the Americans by day -- from the winter of 1942-43. The offensive was aimed at the enemy's military-economic complex -- the source of German airpower and the morale of the urban workforce.

Efforts to attack identifiable industrial or military targets could not be achieved with prevailing technology without a high cost to civilians. From July 24 to 28, a succession of attacks on the northern German port city of Hamburg resulted in the first "firestorm," which killed an estimated 40,000 people. Over the course of the war, more than 420,000 German civilians would die from the bombing attacks a further 60,000 civilians would be killed in attacks on Italian cities.

The bomb attacks immediately affected German strategy. The Germans established a large air defense sector. To do so, they had to withdraw valuable resources of manpower, artillery, shells, and aircraft from the military front line. There, German armies were forced to fight with shrinking air cover. Though military production continued to rise in Nazi Germany during 1943, the increase was much lower than it would have been otherwise. Bombing placed a ceiling on the German war effort and brought the war to bear directly on German and Italian society.

The Allies capitalized on these growing advantages. In North Africa, the Axis forces that were bottled up in Tunisia were slowly starved of supplies by Allied naval and air power in the Mediterranean. By May 13, when the battle was over, 275,000 Italian and German troops had surrendered. As had been decided at Casablanca, the Western Allies launched an attack on Sicily on July 9-10, 1943. During the capture of the island, Mussolini's regime was overthrown by the Fascist Grand Council and the monarchy. On September 3, an armistice was agreed upon, and on September 8, Italy surrendered.

That same week, American and British Commonwealth forces landed in southern Italy against limited German resistance. However, German forces were reinforced as the battle took shape. Though Naples was liberated on October 1, Allied progress slowed in the difficult mountain terrain. By the end of 1943, the German army -- which had formally occupied Italy as an enemy state -- consolidated a strong line of defense, the Gustav Line, south of Rome.­

The Allies' pressure at sea, in the air, and on the southern front made the Axis task in the Soviet Union more difficult. Following the collapse of the German assault on the Caucasus and Stalingrad, the Red Army became overly ambitious. After the Soviets pressed the German army back, a swift counteroffensive around Kharkov in early 1943 was a reminder that the huge German army remained a formidable foe. Hitler listened to the advice of his generals, who argued that in summer weather, with good preparation, they could smash a large part of the Soviet Union army in a single pitched battle. They chose a large salient that bulged into the German front line around the city of Kursk as their battleground.

Operation Citadel lacked the geographical scope of previous operations, but it became one of the largest set-piece battles of the whole war. It followed a classic German pattern: Two heavily armored pincers would close around the neck of the salient, trapping the Soviet Union armies in the salient and creating conditions for a possible drive into the areas behind Moscow. Manstein, who commanded the southern pincer, wanted to attack in April or May, before the Red Army had time to consolidate its position. But Hitler, in agreement with General Model (who commanded the northern pincer), ordered a delay until German forces were fully armed with a new generation of heavy tanks and guns -- the Panthers and Tigers.

The Soviet Union, for the first time, guessed the German plan correctly. Stalin had to be persuaded by Georgi Zhukov and the General Staff that a posture of embedded defense was better strategy than seeking open battle against a powerful mobile enemy. Stalin accepted it only because the defensive stage was to be followed by a massive blow struck by Soviet Union reserves against the weakened and retreating German armies.

In May and June, a vast army of Soviet Union civilians turned the Kursk salient into a veritable fortress. Six separate defense lines were designed to absorb the expected shock of the German armored assault. The Red Army numbered 1.3 million, the Germans 900,000. Each side had approximately 2,000 aircraft and more than 2,500 tanks. On July 5, German forces began the attack. They made slow progress over the first week against determined Soviet Union resistance. Zhukov's plan worked, and for the first time in the two years of fighting on the Eastern Front, a large-scale German campaign was held and then reversed without the crisis and retreat that had preceded other victories.

On July 13, Hitler canceled Operation Citadel after news of Allied landings in Italy. But at just the moment that German forces pulled back, the Soviet Union punch into the rear of the northern pincer was delivered. The German army had not expected a counterstroke of such size and ferocity. Over three months, they were pushed back across the whole area of southern and central Russia. On November 6, Russian forces reentered the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. The Battle of Kursk, more than any other single engagement of the war, unhinged the German war machine and opened the way to victory in the East.

In the midst of the euphoria of victory, Stalin traveled to the Iranian capital of Tehran for the first summit conference with his Western partners. The central issue was a second front in the West. Though Stalin now privately argued that his forces could finish the job without Western help, the Red Army continued to suffer a terrible level of loss that could not be sustained indefinitely in a single-front ground war. After two days of argument, in which Churchill tried to insist on a strengthened Mediterranean strategy at the expense of invasion, Roosevelt was able to promise Stalin an operation in the spring of 1944 that would bring American and British forces in strength into northwestern Europe. One witness recalled a sober, pale-faced Stalin replying, "I am satisfied with this decision."

In the atmosphere at Tehran, it was easy to forget that another war was being fought in Asia and the Pacific that was quite distinct from the conflict in Southern and Eastern Europe. There, it was still possible for the Japanese to attempt further expansion. In October 1943, the Japanese army undertook military operations in central China designed to erode the spread of Chinese communism. The Communist forces were led by Mao Zedong, who had devoted much of the Communist efforts to maintaining independence from the Chinese Nationalist army of Chiang Kai-shek.

In the Pacific Theater, the Japanese defeat on Guadalcanal was followed by a slow American advance through the Solomon Islands and a combined American and Australian campaign in New Guinea. Japanese air and naval strength could not match the United States' huge production programs. And though the Allies' move through the islands of the southern and central Pacific, code-named Operation Cartwheel, was slow and costly, it proved unstoppable. By the end of 1943, the central Solomons had been occupied and progress had been made on New Guinea. Japan's major base at Rabaul was bypassed.

Throughout the region, Japanese garrisons were left to themselves in strategically unimportant places, increasingly hungry and sick but supplied by submarines. In the rest of the Japanese empire of occupation, imperial rule was consolidated. Anticolonial and anti-European movements were encouraged. The Japanese encouraged the formation of the Indian National Army under the leadership of nationalist Subhash Chandra Bose, who recruited 18,000 Indian prisoners of war to the cause in Southeast Asia. They were tolerated only as long as they fought for the Japanese. For millions of others in the so-called Great East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, one form of domination had been exchanged for another. In China, more than 10 million people died during the course of the war with Japan in a conflict largely unnoticed by the rest of the world.

Continue to the next section to learn more about crucial World War II events in the second half of 1943. A detailed timeline of events from late June to early July 1943 is included.

To follow more major events of World War II, see:

World War II Timeline: June 24, 1943-July 5, 1943

The war continued in earnest through the summer of 1943, with air strikes in Italy and new operations in the Pacific. The World War II timeline below summarizes important events that occurred during late June 1943 and early July 1943.

World War II Timeline: June 24-July 5

June 24: African American troops and American military police engage in a gun battle in the streets of the village of Bamber Bridge, England, after the MPs attempted to detain the soldiers in a pub.

June 25: The ghettoized Jews of Czestochowa, Poland, are transported to Auschwitz after the SS crushes their resistance.

June 27: Following Jewish resistance, the ghetto at Lvov, Poland, is officially closed. Most of its 20,000 residents are en route to the Belzec or Auschwitz death camps.

The Allies attack the Greek mainland with a bombing raid. They target air facilities near Athens.

June 28: The air war continues in earnest, with Allied planes hitting such targets as Livorno, Italy, and Messina, Sicily.

June 30: The U.S. launches Operation Cartwheel in the Pacific, beginning in the central Solomon Islands.

As Washington closes the books on its fiscal year, it is revealed that a full 93 percent of the federal budget was allocated to national defense spending.

July 4: Prime Minister-in-Exile General Wladyslaw Sikorski and other members of Poland's ruling elite die when their plane crashes immediately after takeoff from the airport at Gibraltar. With the Soviet Union and Axis alike potentially benefiting from Sikorski's demise, there will be no shortage of conspiracy theories in the aftermath.

July 5: A German attack on Red forces at Kursk ends with a decisive Soviet victory.

Boise City, Oklahoma, is inadvertently bombed by a B-17 pilot who mistakes the lights on the town square for his training target.

World War II Headlines

More World War II highlights and images related to events in 1943 appear below.

The reliable, versatile P-38 sees action worldwide: The P-38 was designed to meet a 1936 U.S. Air Corps specification for a twin-engined interceptor. Lockheed's first military aircraft, the P-38 faced teething problems and went through numerous modifications before and after deliveries began in 1941. Ultimately, its reliability, exceptional range, and versatility compensated for its slightly inferior maneuverability. About 10,000 were built, including versions that carried rockets, lugged up to 4,000 pounds of bombs, and acted as ambulances and photographic aircraft. Lightnings, as the British and then Americans called them, saw action in North Africa, Europe, and the Pacific.

Three Allied cruisers damaged in the Battle of Kolombangara: Sailors examine the bow of the USS Honolulu, blasted by a Japanese torpedo in the Battle of Kolombangara. This cruiser and two others, as well as 10 destroyers, intercepted a Japanese naval force attempting to land reinforcements at the island on the night of July 12-13, 1943. U.S. commander Admiral W. L. Ainsworth relied on radar to give him the advantage, but he failed to reckon with the lethal "Long Lance" torpedoes carried by Japanese destroyers. The Japanese lost the cruiser Jintsu to naval gunfire, but severely damaged all three Allied cruisers. The Japanese landed their reinforcements as planned.

America's female pilots contribute to the war effort: Shirley Slade, with the Women's Flying Training Detachment (WFTD), appears on the cover of Life. In August 1943, the WFTD merged with the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) to form the Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP). The WASPs were American civilian pilots who freed male pilots for combat duty. Some, including Slade, were ferry pilots, transporting military aircraft from factories to embarkation ports and training bases. Others served as test pilots, trainers, and combat simulators. Despite their noncombat status, they faced real dangers. Of the 1,074 WASPs active during the war, 38 lost their lives.

Navajo code-talkers help the U.S. seize Iwo Jima: Navajo Indians radio a message during fighting in the Pacific. The Navajo code-talker teams were used to relay radio and phone messages in their native dialect during combat operations. The method was fast and indecipherable to enemy eavesdroppers. At the time of World War II, the Navajo language was understood by fewer than 30 non-Navajos. The code was never broken by the Japanese, and its security has been credited with contributing significantly to the seizure of Iwo Jima in 1945. Approximately 400 Navajo code-talkers served with the six U.S. Marine divisions during the war.

Nazis kidnap Polish children: A Polish girl is chosen for inclusion in the Nazi Heuaktion (Hay Action) program. This program involved the kidnapping of "Germanic- looking" children and taking them to Lebensborn (source of life) institutions. Even though the Nazis considered Poles inferior, they took selected children with "Aryan" characteristics from their parents and raised them as Germans. Estimates of children kidnapped from Eastern countries run as high as 250,000. Only about 25,000 were returned to their families after the war. Some German families refused to give up the children, and some children refused to believe they were not originally German. Many children who did not adapt well were exterminated in concentration camps.

"War without mercy" waged in the Pacific: This photograph was taken on Tulagi, near Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, in July 1943. Admiral William "Bull" Halsey commanded the South Pacific Area at that time. He galvanized the tired ground and naval American forces fighting in the Solomons, and led them to the signal victory at Guadalcanal. Halsey was unconventional, but his full-blooded hatred of the Japanese was not. The Pacific conflict has been called a "war without mercy." Allied troops' ruthlessness was prompted by prewar racism and personal experience of the extraordinary viciousness of their opponents.

In the next section, see a detailed timeline of key World War II events during the first half of July 1943.

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World War II Timeline: July 5-6, 1943-July 15, 1943

In July 1943, World War II saw the death of French Resistance leader Jean Moulin, and the largest tank battle in history. The following timeline has details of these events and more.

World War II Timeline: July 5-July 15

July 5-6: The light cruiser USS Helena is sunk in the overnight Battle of Kula Gulf. More than 150 of its sailors perish in the oil-slicked waters off the Solomon Islands.

July 7: The island of Malta, which suffered hundreds of punishing raids in the early days of the air war, receives word that Britain will grant it independence after the conclusion of hostilities.

July 8: Jean Moulin, the celebrated French Resistance leader, dies after weeks of torture at the hands of Klaus Barbie, the "Butcher of Lyon."

July 9: The U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) and British Royal Air Force (RAF) drop paratroopers on Sicily. However, they are mistakenly dropped in an area too far remote from their destination to fulfill their mission of securing airfields for the imminent Allied invasion.

July 10: More than 150,000 Allied soldiers land on Sicily, catching the meager Axis defensive force completely by surprise.

July 12: Some 3,000 tanks clash in the Battle of Kursk, the largest tank battle in world history. Although the Soviets will lose more tanks than the Germans, they can replace them more quickly.

July 13: In a desperate bid to realign his forces, Hitler reallocates troops from the Russian front to reinforce the defense of Italy.

July 14: The Allies stage an intense bombing raid on the Sicilian city of Messina, which serves as the importation point for Axis troops and materiel.

July 15: The Japanese naval air force suffers a stunning defeat, losing 45 of 75 planes while knocking out only three U.S. aircraft in a daylight raid against the Allies in the Solomon Islands.

World War II Headlines

The headlines below show how America dealt with the war at home and include other World War II-related news from 1943.

American Kids contribute to war effort: American youngsters participated enthusiastically in wartime "victory drives," collecting scrap metal, aluminum foil, rubber, and other materials that could be reused. Some pulled their wagons from door to door collecting old tools and appliances from their neighbors. Kids also helped cultivate homegrown vegetables in community or family "victory gardens," and they took over jobs such as mixing yellow dye into the white butter substitute called oleomargarine.

The Three Stooges take on the Führer in the movies: Because Hitler struck Americans as eccentric as well as intimidating, the Führer became ripe for parody. In a 1943 comedy short called They Stooge to Conga, the Three Stooges are inept handymen who stumble into a nest of German and Japanese agents. In short order, the boys impersonate Nazis, kick a few spies in the pants, and successfully foul up an Axis scheme to direct a German U-boat into New York Harbor. Moe Howard (far right) had lampooned Hitler, and the imaginary Axis nation of Moronica, in two earlier Stooges comedies, You Nazty Spy! (1940) and I'll Never Heil Again (1941).

Bombing raids devastate Hamburg, Germany: The residents of Hamburg, Germany, had suffered through many British and American air raids since British planes began bombing runs in mid-November 1940. They were not prepared, however, for the payload that the Allies dropped on July 27-29, 1943. High-explosive and incendiary bombs dropped on those two nights unleashed firestorms that consumed nine square miles of the city in fire. The attacks killed more than 45,000 civilians and soldiers and left more than a million residents homeless.

Non-Germans join Nazi Germany'sWaffen-SS: Beginning in 1942, Heinrich Himmler sought to expand the Waffen-SS by recruiting in other nations. The multinational forces, operating under German officers, included French, Danish, Flemish, Norwegian, Finnish, Dutch, and others. They even included Russians, Albanians, Hungarians, Ukrainians, and Bosnian Muslims -- all of whom the Nazis generally classed as inferior Untermenschen. As many as 30 British citizens and about five Americans joined. Some volunteers supported Nazi ideas. Others, including the Nederlanders (Dutchmen) appealed to on this poster, could escape forced labor by becoming SS members.

In the next section, learn more World War II history and see a timeline for July 16-26, 1943.

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There were walls of flame round them now. Suddenly into the square came a fire engine drawn by two startled horses. They swerved aside, and one of the terrified children rushed down a side street. The mother followed, leaving her boy behind. As the first child reached a burning house, some blazing wood fell near her, setting her clothes alight. The mother threw herself on top of the child to try and smother the flames, but as she did so the whole top floor of the house opposite crashed down on the two of them.

--Hamburg resident Else Wendel, recalling the July 27, 1943, Allied bomb raid on Hamburg

World War II Timeline: July 16, 1943-July 26, 1943

In July 1943, the Allies attacked Sicily, and Hitler ordered reinforcements to the Balkan States. The following timeline highlights these and other World War II events from this period.

World War II Timeline: July 16-July 26

July 16: In an Allied leaflet drop over Italy, President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill ask the Italian people if they would like to "die for Mussolini and Hitler. or live for Italy and for civilization."

July 17: Hitler orders reinforcement of German forces to the Balkan States, believing the region will be the site of the Allies' next move.

July 19:Pope Pius XII offers to shelter Italians in Vatican City as the Allies drop more than 500 tons of munitions on strategic targets around Rome.

July 20: Reversing an earlier order, Roosevelt directs his Los Alamos team to share advances in atomic weapons research with America's British allies.

July 22: The Allies capture Palermo, the administrative seat of Sicily and the provincial capital.

July 25: Having lost the support of fellow politicians, his own military, and a majority of the Fascist Grand Council, Mussolini is ousted in a bloodless coup.

Naunita Harmon Carroll christens the destroyer escort Harmon, which is named for her late son. Leonard Roy Harmon, a hero of the Battle of Guadalcanal, is the first African American to be honored with a U.S. Navy ship.

Still thoroughly fooled by Operation Mincemeat, Hitler believes that the attack on Sicily is a diversion and sends Erwin Rommel, one of his better generals, to Greece.

Krupp steelworks in Essen, Germany, is put out of commission by a punishing air raid executed by more than 600 British Royal Air Force (RAF) bombers.

July 26: Pietro Badoglio, appointed by King Victor Emmanuel III to head the Italian government following the deposition of Mussolini, abolishes the Fascist political party.

World War II Headlines

Here are more headlines describing World War II news in 1943.

The B-26 Marauder exceeds its reputation: An engine of a B-26 Marauder is blown off by ground fire over the French city of Toulon. The American-made medium bomber was dubbed the "Widowmaker" after a number of disastrous early tests. Indeed, the plane was never popular with pilots, who jokingly claimed that it required half the state of Texas for takeoff and glided like a flatiron. Nevertheless, it had the lowest loss record of any combat plane flown during WWII. In mid-1943, when the U.S. Ninth Air Force began serving a key tactical role in the European Theater, the Marauder was its primary bomber.

Fierce fighting on New Georgia in the Solomon Islands: Alert for Japanese snipers, GIs patrol a jungle track on New Georgia in the central Solomon Islands. The 43rd Infantry Division landed on New Georgia in July 1943 after U.S. intelligence learned that the Japanese were constructing an airfield on the island, at Munda. Enemy troop strength was greater than expected, and the offensive quickly bogged down. The Japanese sent in 4,000 reinforcements by sea via a convoy system dubbed the "Tokyo Express" to aid the 10,000 troops already on New Georgia. The battle settled into a slugfest, as the Americans also brought in reinforcements, including the 37th Infantry Division. The Allies finally occupied Munda on August 5.

Humane treatment for German POWs: Axis soldiers imprisoned in America were treated much better than Allied prisoners in German and Japanese camps. A May 1945 Newsweek article noted that American POWs lost an unhealthy amount of weight during their confinement while Axis prisoners in America generally gained weight. Allied prisoners were often forced to march hundreds of miles when transferred from one German camp to another, while Germans were generally transported between camps by passenger trains. German prisoners also experienced freedoms that were not allowed to their Allied counterparts, such as saluting a Nazi flag at Camp Crossville, Tennessee.

Next, learn about John F. Kennedy's wartime experience, along with other important World War II events in late July and early August 1943.

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As soon as the 275,000 German and Italian members of the Afrika Korps surrendered at Tunisia in May 1943, Allied commanders faced a serious problem. They did not have the resources to sustain that many prisoners in North Africa. Allied leaders decided to transport the POWs to camps in the United States.

The first group of prisoners, arriving in the U.S. in August 1943, was transported to abandoned Civilian Conservation and military camps. Special camps were built in mid-America, far from the coasts and Canadian and Mexican borders. During the war, nearly 500,000 Axis prisoners were confined in 155 main POW camps or in more than 500 branch camps. In accordance with the Geneva Convention, these prisoners were put to work in nonmilitary jobs: logging, mining, harvesting crops, building roads, and other jobs important to the American economy.

The captives lived in comfortable barracks and were provided with basic necessities, such as food, clothing, and medical attention. If the jobs were outside the camp, the workers received pay enough to buy cigarettes or other items available in camp canteens. "When I was captured, I weighed 128 pounds," one POW remembered years later. "After two years as an American POW, I weighed 185. I had gotten so fat you could no longer see my eyes." It was a stark contrast to the treatment of American POWs by their German captors.

World War II Timeline: July 27-28, 1943-August 4, 1943

A variety of worldwide World War II operations took place in early July and late August 1943. Here is a timeline describing key events.

World War II Timeline: July 27-August 4

July 27-28: Some 20,000 German civilians die when an RAF raid on Hamburg ignites a series of deadly firestorms.

July 28: The U.S. continues to develop plans for an invasion of Kiska, unaware that the Japanese have secretly withdrawn from the Aleutian island.

August 1: The Americans hit Axis fuel supplies with a damaging air raid on the oil refineries in Ploesti, Romania.

German troops begin to execute a plan to seize control of Italy in the wake of Mussolini's fall from power. The Germans infiltrate northern Italy and disarm Italian forces on Crete.

With the occupation of Burma complete, the Japanese announce that Burma is henceforth independent, no longer a colony of Britain.

Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels broadcasts an announcement on Berlin radio recommending the evacuation of all nonessential personnel. For many Germans in the capital city, this is the first admission that Berlin could be in jeopardy from heavy air raids.

August 2: An uprising at the Treblinka death camp leads to the deaths of 16 SS guards, while about 150 of the approximately 700 prisoners manage to escape in the melee.

The Japanese destroyer Amagiri rams and sinks USS PT-109. Lieutenant John F. Kennedy and 10 of the 12 men under his command will survive the incident. Though Kennedy will be hailed by most for saving the crew, General MacArthur will be unimpressed with Kennedy and will question why the highly maneuverable PT boat was unable to evade the Amagiri.

August 4: About 150 Italian civilians die when the USAAF bombs the southern port of Naples.

World War II Headlines

Learn how homesick American soldiers dealt with war, how the Nazis viewed the Roosevelts, how John F. Kennedy became a wartime hero, and more by reading these headlines from 1943.

American GIs' favorite pinup girl, Betty Grable: Far from home during World War II, American GIs found escape in the movies and image of actress, singer, and dancer Betty Grable. In 1943 the bubbly, accessible-seeming Grable was Hollywood's No. 1 star, and probably the highest-paid woman in America. In a publicity stunt engineered by her studio, 20th Century-Fox, her shapely legs were insured for $1 million. Servicemen voted her their favorite pinup girl, and her image decorated not just barracks walls but bomber jackets and aircraft. Even when Grable posed for pinups in bathing suits, she preserved her image as the wholesome "girl next door."

Allied raid on Ploesti, Romania: By summer 1943, refineries in Ploesti, Romania, produced 60 percent of Germany's crude oil supply. The location was too far for bombers to reach from England, but the capture of Libya made such a raid possible. At dawn on August 1, 1943, 177 U.S. B-24 bombers flew out of Libya for a raid on Ploesti, one of the most heavily defended targets in Europe. Confusion after the lead navigators were shot down reduced the effectiveness of the raid. By the end, 54 bombers were lost. About 42 percent of the refineries' production capacity was lost, although they were rebuilt by the Germans within weeks.

The Nazis' portrayal of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: In a 1943 German cartoon, President Franklin Roosevelt holds the war casualty list as Eleanor Roosevelt asks, "Have we lost many dollars, Delano?" The president replies, "Don't worry, Eleanor, we are paying only in human lives." Eleanor Roosevelt wears a Star of David and has exaggerated lips. Nazi propaganda frequently presented the Roosevelts as puppets of the Jews, and also made fun of the first lady's support of African American singer Marian Anderson.

Japanese demolish John F. Kennedy's PT boat: Naval lieutenant and future U.S. president John F. Kennedy was at the helm in the early morning hours of August 2, 1943, when his PT boat (a motor torpedo boat) was rammed by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri in the South Pacific. PT-109 was sliced in half, and two crewmen were killed. Though Kennedy was later awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his actions following the sinking, some officers felt he should have been court-martialed for negligence. PT-109 was the only PT boat in the war to be surprised and rammed by an enemy ship.

Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh helps the Allies: Ho Chi Minh cooperated with the Allies during the war in hopes of obtaining Vietnamese independence from French rule. A fervent nationalist, Ho formed the Communist-dominated Viet Minh independence movement in 1941. Traveling to China in 1942 to seek military assistance, he was arrested as a spy and spent 13 months in jail. Returning to Vietnam upon his release, he worked with the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS), rescuing Allied pilots shot down over Indochina and conducting operations against the Japanese. Despite his efforts, the U.S. government supported a return to French colonial rule after the war. Ho and his Communist forces would battle the United States in the Vietnam War.

FDR's vice president Henry Wallace speaks against segregation: Henry Wallace was President Roosevelt's secretary of agriculture from 1933 to '40 and vice president from 1941 to '44. A committed anti-segregationist, he declared in a 1943 speech that America could not fight the Nazis abroad and condone racism at home. Wallace's vision of a postwar America included close relations with the Soviet Union. This position put him at odds with Roosevelt's successor to the presidency, the staunch Cold Warrior Harry Truman, who fired him from his cabinet post as secretary of commerce in 1946. Wallace made an unsuccessful run as the Progressive Party's presidential candidate in 1948.

To learn how World War II progressed during the first weeks of August 1943, continue to the next section of this article.

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World War II Timeline: August 5, 1943-August 14-24, 1943

In August 1943, Nazi forces began withdrawing from Sicily and the Allies won key battles in the Pacific. Highlights of this period are presented in the timeline below.

World War II Timeline: August 5-August 24

August 5: The Soviets recapture the city of Orel, Russia, from the Germans.

Sweden revokes the right of troop transit it had granted to the Germans at the beginning of the war.

A series of fierce battles concludes in the Pacific island chain of New Georgia, where the Japanese fled following their defeat on Guadalcanal. The Allies emerge victorious, capturing the airfield at Munda on New Georgia.

August 6-7: A small Japanese fleet attempting to resupply Japan's Solomon Islands base at Kolombangara is intercepted and badly damaged by a fleet of American destroyers.

August 9: In one of the first viable challenges to National Socialism in years, several German leaders form the Kreisau Circle, a resistance group calling for, among other things, the "acknowledgement of the inviolability of human dignity as the foundation for an order of peace and justice."

August 12: With Sicily all but lost to the Allies, Nazi Germany begins the successful withdrawal of a substantial portion of its reeling defensive force. Casualties include 32,000 Germans and 132,000 Italians.

More than 600 British Royal Air Force (RAF) bombers pummel Milan, Italy.

August 14: On orders from General Dwight Eisenhower, foul-tempered General George Patton apologizes to the two American soldiers he slapped in field hospitals after accusing them of malingering.

August 14-24: Allied leaders meet in Quebec for the Quadrant Conference, at which they hammer out details for the next phase of the war. It is decided that both the invasion of France and the occupation of Italy remain on the table. The invasion of France will take precedence.

World War II Headlines

The following World War II events were among those that made headlines in 1943.

Allies' Operation Strangle continues in Italy: British general Bernard Montgomery and American General Dwight Eisenhower study the Italian mainland. The lack of coordination between Allied commands in Sicily not only prolonged the fighting but also contributed to the escape of more than 100,000 Axis troops and thousands of vehicles across the Strait of Messina to the mainland. For several months, the Allied air force had been active in its own operation over Italy, Operation Strangle. The objective was to shut down the Axis supply lines throughout Italy. Rail facilities, railroads, and bridges were pounded from spring 1943 to 1944.

Battles rage for Soviet Union city of Kharkov: Kharkov, the fifth largest Soviet Union city, was captured by the German Sixth Army on October 24, 1941. Soviet Union troops failed to recapture the city in May 1942. German defenders held off another Soviet Union attack in February 1943, but abandoned the city on the 16th when it was obvious they would be surrounded. Reinforced, these Germans mounted a counterattack in early March. Holding off Soviet Union attacks, the Germans retook the city on March 15. In the offensive thrust following their victory at Kursk, the Soviets drove German troops out of Kharkov for good in August.

Germans meet Corsican resistance: From their mountainside position, a group of Corsican patriots fires upon occupation forces. When German and Italian troops occupied the French island of Corsica in the Mediterranean Sea, they were harried by highly effective resistance fighters. The tangled scrubby foliage on Corsica's mountainous terrain, called maquis, not only gave patriots a place to hide but also gave its name to the entire French resistance movement -- the Maquis. On September 9, 1943, Corsicans rose up to participate in their liberation by the Free French and other Allies.

Italy surrenders to Nazi Germany: When Italy surrendered in early September 1943, there was much celebration in America's Italian communities, for many had immigrated to escape Mussolini and his Fascist policies. Once Hitler learned of Italy's surrender, he ordered the German occupation of his onetime ally and the arrest of all Italian troops. More than 6,500 Italian soldiers were executed in Greece for allegedly resisting arrest. The Germans also removed 50,000 Allied prisoners from Italy and sent them and 268,000 Italian troops to labor camps in Germany.

In the next section, learn about a major Allied victory over the Japanese, the relationship between Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, and more World War II history from 1943.

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For those who doubt that the principal scene of conflict of World War II was other than the Eastern Front, the Russian casualty figures settle the issue. During almost four years of total war fought across the unending vastness of the Russian Steppes, among the ruins of the Soviet Union's towns and cities, and through the devastation of Eastern Europe to the very heart of the Third Reich in Berlin, nearly nine million Red Army soldiers were killed and 18 million were wounded.

From October 1944 to May 1945 alone, the Red Army sustained 319,000 fatal casualties. Also, of more than 4.5 million Red Army prisoners captured by the Wehrmacht, only 1.8 million ultimately survived. Many of them were then persecuted by an unforgiving and suspicious Soviet Union regime. The wholesale destruction of Russian towns and villages during combat, and the reprisal operations and executions carried out by the SS and the Wehrmacht during an uncompromising counter-partisan campaign, resulted in at least 18 million Soviet Union civilian war dead. Altogether, some 26 million to 27 million Soviets died. In contrast, this was more than five times greater than the total German war dead incurred from 1939 to 1945.

World War II Timeline: August 15, 1943-August 29, 1943

Among the important World War II events of August 1943 were an Allied victory over the Japanese at New Guinea and extensive Allied bombing of Nazi rocket factories. This timeline details these and more August 1943 events.

World War II Timeline: August 15-August 29

August 15: A 34,300-man Allied invasion force lands on Kiska, the last Japanese-occupied island in Alaska's Aleutians, only to discover it was abandoned weeks earlier.

August 16: The Nazis purge the Jewish ghetto at Bialystok, Poland, sending most of the remaining 25,000 inhabitants to the death camps at Majdanek and Treblinka.

August 17-18: Nearly 600 British Royal Air Force (RAF) bombers target the Nazis' rocket factories in Peenemünde on the German island of Usedom.

The Americans score a major victory over the Japanese on New Guinea when they ambush the airfield at Wewak and destroy an entire bombing formation of 150 planes.

August 18:Luftwaffe chief Hans Jeschonnek kills himself in despair over the failure of the Luftwaffe to defend Nazi Germany against the Allies. The Nazi command will lie about his cause of death to conceal their concerns about the status of the Reich.

August 22: Allied forces declare Kiska secure (and uninhabited) after a weeklong sweep of the island and a few friendly-fire casualties.

August 27: Germans and Italians clash in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

August 28: Bulgaria's King Boris III dies following an audience with Hitler, leading to rampant, though unproven, speculation that he was assassinated.

August 29: Washington puts Berlin on notice, saying it has become aware of German atrocities against Poles and that the perpetrators will pay for any war crimes when the day of reckoning arrives.

Following Nazi suppression of Danish civil rights and the arrest of King Christian X, the Danes sink most of their naval fleet to prevent it from falling into Nazi hands.

World War II Headlines

Here are more World War II highlights and images from 1943.

The Grumman F6F Hellcat naval fighter plane proves potent: Despite its inelegant appearance and hasty development, the Grumman F6F Hellcat naval fighter contributed hugely to Allied victory. An improvement on the Wildcat, it proved superbly reliable and potent. Production figures reflected its effectiveness: 12,272 built from 1942, mainly in 1944 and 1945. Altogether, Hellcats destroyed some 6,000 enemy aircraft, most of which were Japanese. First sent into action in August 1943, Hellcats were usually carrier-borne and armed with six .5-inch machine guns. They could carry bombs, and ground-attack Hellcat aircraft employed rockets, notably at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Night-fighter and reconnaissance versions also were made.

German General KurtStudent plans Benito Mussolini's rescue: German general Kurt Student, a pilot during World War I, pioneered the tactic of parachuting troops into battle. In 1940 Student's paratroops performed brilliantly in Norway, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The staggering casualties of Student's otherwise successful 1941 paratroop invasion of Crete caused Hitler to forbid any further major airborne operations. However, in 1943 Student planned a daring and successful hilltop rescue in September of the deposed and imprisoned Benito Mussolini. In 1944 his troops served as infantry in Italy, then in France after the invasion of Normandy.

Nazi Colonel Otto Skorzeny's performs daring feats: After Italian king Victor Emmanuel stripped away Mussolini's power on July 25, 1943, he placed Il Duce under arrest and imprisoned him on the island of Ponza. After Mussolini was transferred to the mountain resort of Abruzzi a few months later, Hitler sent his best agent, Colonel Otto Skorzeny, and a commando unit to Italy in September 1943 to free Mussolini. Skorzeny's exploits later in the war included kidnapping Hungarian leader Miklos Horthy to prevent him from signing an armistice with the Soviets. Skorzeny also placed German agents in American uniforms behind Allied lines during the Battle of the Bulge.

The Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini relationship uncovered: As he reshaped Nazi Germany's government and society in the 1930s, Hitler turned to Benito Mussolini as a mentor for implementing his Fascist reforms. The war was not very old when Hitler realized that the Italian army could not be depended on to stop the Allied advances in the Mediterranean, but that did not affect his relationship with Mussolini. The situation changed, however, when Il Duce was deposed and imprisoned in July 1943. Hitler arranged for Mussolini's rescue and installed him as head of a puppet Fascist government. However, he no longer considered Mussolini a mentor or an equal.

Vilna's resistance leader, Abba Kovner, helps Jews: In the Vilna Ghetto, Lithuanian Jews in the Fareinikte Partisaner Organizatzie (FPO United Partisan Organization) followed poet and resistance leader Abba Kovner's motto: "Let us not go like sheep to the slaughter." When the Nazis liquidated the Vilna Ghetto in September 1943 -- transferring its residents to death camps or killing them outright -- Kovner helped FPO fighters escape into the Rudninkai Forest. For 10 months, he led the Jewish partisans in guerrilla attacks against the Nazis. Here, Kovner is pictured after the 1945 Soviet liberation of Vilna.

Civilians led to their deaths by Nazis: The Nazis spread their plans for genocide throughout each occupied country, killing Jews, political opponents, and anyone else they believed was a threat or an inferior to the Aryan race. They often took pictures to denigrate victims as they were led to their deaths. German officers showed these to their troops in order to dehumanize the victims, making it easier for them to perform their gruesome assignments.

Follow World War II history in early September 1943 by reading the timeline and headlines in the next section of this article.

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World War II Timeline: September 1, 1943-September 7, 1943

The timeline below describes day-to-day World War II events in early September 1943, including operations in Italy and the Pacific.

World War II Timeline: September 1-September 7

September: The efficacy of Allied forces in India is jeopardized by a devastating famine in the Bengal province.

September 1: The U.S. military introduces its F6F Hellcat fighter during an attack on the Japanese base on Marcus Island.

September 2: The Polish government-in-exile publishes a report detailing atrocities against concentration camp inmates. The atrocities include bizarre medical experiments on healthy inmates at Ravensbrück and human skin "tanneries" at Dachau and Buchenwald.

September 3: A substantial Allied force lands in southern Italy and captures the town of Reggio in the province of Calabria.

Italy signs a treaty with American officials in Sicily, effectively surrendering to the Allies. The treaty will be kept secret for a time, both to aid Allied operations in Italy and prevent immediate Nazi reprisals against the Italian people.

September 6: For the first time in this war, Allied merchant ships are able to safely operate in Italy's Strait of Messina.

U.S. General Joseph Stilwell, Chiang Kai-shek's chief of staff, suggests that the Chinese Nationalists join forces with the Communists to defeat the Japanese. Chiang is disgusted by the suggestion and will ask the U.S. high command to recall Stilwell.

September 7: Corsicans take up arms against the Axis troops that have been occupying their French Mediterranean island.

Hitler permits his German troops, badly battered by the Red Army as they attempted to hold the Ukraine, to retreat to the Dnieper River.

World War II Headlines

The headlines and images below present more World War II history from 1943.

Gruesome experiments conducted at Ravensbrück in Nazi Germany: During the course of the war, the Nazis built concentration camps throughout Europe. Ravensbrück, a camp primarily for women from many different nationalities, religions, and lifestyles, was located about 60 miles north of Berlin. As in most of the other camps, the Ravensbrück prisoners were required to do heavy labor or work in sweatshops making military supplies. Medical experiments were also conducted on helpless inmates. Two types were performed at Ravensbrück: testing the effects of sulfanilamide drugs on infected wounds, and studying the regeneration of bones, nerves, and muscles. This picture of Polish inmate Bogumila Babinska, smuggled out of the camp, shows the effect of four deep cuts on her thigh muscles.

Anne Frank writes diary: A German Jewish girl in Amsterdam, Anne Frank was given a diary for her 13th birthday on June 12, 1942. Three weeks later, her family went into hiding to escape deportation to a labor camp in Nazi Germany. Anne faithfully kept a diary during her two years in hiding. "It's a wonder I haven't abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical," Anne wrote less than a month before her arrest. "Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart." Anne died at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in February or March 1945. The Diary of Anne Frank is one of the best-selling books of all time, with more than 25 million copies published.

Reich minister of the interiorWilhelmFrick falls from power: Nazi Wilhelm Frick became Reich minister of the interior in 1933. He drafted anti-Jewish laws and other legislation that sent political foes to concentration camps. In 1943, after losing a power struggle with Heinrich Himmler, Frick was demoted to the ceremonial post of protector of Bohemia and Moravia. He refused to defend himself at the 1946 Nuremberg Trials, where he was found guilty and hanged. Frick's final words were "long live eternal Germany."

Adolf Hitler's chief architect, Albert Speer, helps German economy: Albert Speer (right) watches a 1943 weapons demonstration with Adolf Hitler (center). Soon after joining the Nazi Party in 1931, Speer became the Führer's chief urban architect. Speer designed monumental structures -- such as the Nuremberg parade grounds -- to exploit classical themes for Nazi spectacles. Appointed armaments minister in 1942 and given economic responsibilities in 1943, the ever-efficient Speer used concentration camp labor to increase war production, thus strengthening the economy. At the Nuremberg Trials, Speer professed both remorse and ignorance concerning the most inhumane Nazi practices. He kept a diary during his 20-year jail term and became a successful memoirist after his 1966 release.

The battle for control of Italy dominated wartime operations in September 1943. See the timeline in the next section for more World War II history.

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In 1912 Italy seized the 12 Dodecanese islands, located in the Aegean Sea, from Turkey. By 1940 Italian and German troops garrisoned the islands, just off the Turkish coast. Italy's surrender on September 8, 1943, prompted Winston Churchill to try to seize the islands so the Allies could strike at Germany's Balkan flank.

After British officers failed to incite the Italians to disarm the smaller German garrisons, Churchill ordered British infantry brigades and special-forces units to eight of the islands and the Greek Aegean Sea island of Samos. The Germans reacted swiftly. With naval and air forces already in the Aegean, they added reinforcements from Greece and Crete. These included Luftwaffe paratroops and a coastal raiding unit of the elite Brandenburg Division.

Airpower was crucial to the defeat of the scattered British garrisons. British (and South African) planes fought a losing fight against the Luftwaffe over the islands. By early October, the Germans had recaptured Cos. They seized Leros a month later and took Samos by late November.

German losses were minimal, while British casualties included more than 4,000 troops captured and the loss of more than a hundred aircraft. Losses also included four cruisers and seven destroyers sunk or damaged (including several Greek ships). The hapless Italians and the islands' people (who had welcomed the British landings) suffered from German reprisals.

The venture exposed Allied tensions over a Mediterranean strategy. Churchill persisted in his aim, ignoring his generals' arguments against a campaign far from the nearest Allied bases (in Cyprus and Egypt). Eisenhower and other U.S. and British commanders saw the diversion from the Italian campaign as unjustified. The two-month campaign was the Allies' last defeat of the war.

World War II Timeline: September 8, 1943-September 20, 1943

In September 1943, the Allies and Axis powers continued battling for control of Italy. The World War II timeline below has details and these and other events of September 1943.

World War II Timeline: September 8-September 20

September 8: General Eisenhower announces Italy's surrender under Marshal Badoglio. Nazi officials characterize the act, undertaken by the new government under Badoglio, as treason.

September 9: The Allies land in Italy in full force, with the Americans establishing a beachhead near Salerno and the British landing on Italy's "heel." The city of Brindisi will fall to the British within two days, securing the region for the Allies.

Nazi Germany attacks the Allied base on the Arctic whaling island of Spitsbergen, causing considerable damage.

September 10: In answer to Italy's surrender, the German army captures Rome, taking control of the Eternal City from its former Axis partner.

September 12: Benito Mussolini, under arrest at Abruzzi's Hotel Campo Imperatore, is freed in a dramatic raid by German troops, on Adolf Hitler's order.

September 13: The Allies' position at Salerno, Italy, is in serious jeopardy, as several German divisions come within a few miles of completely repelling the Americans and British from their beachhead.

More than a month after the death of his predecessor, Lin Sen, Chiang Kai-shek is appointed president of Nationalist China.

September 15: Mussolini reorganizes Italy's National Fascist Party in an effort to regain power and restore ties to Hitler.

September 17: A depleted and heavily bombarded German force begins to withdraw from the Salerno beachhead as the Americans push inland to rendezvous with the British.

September 20: U.S. forces pushing in from Salerno in the west and British troops marching from Calabria in the southeast link up at Eboli, bisecting Italy with a solid Allied force.

World War II Headlines

Check out the headlines and images below to learn about the destruction of Nazi factories, the Japanese military police, the war's effect on mapmaking, and more 1943 news.

B-17s bombers pound factories in Nazi Germany: Beginning in January 1943, Allied bombing runs focused on German wartime industries. The first mass-produced, four-engine heavy bombers were Boeing B-17s, known as Flying Fortresses. These heavily armed bombers were designed to be able to protect themselves, but a loss of one plane in every 10 was standard. Although the Allies destroyed many German factories with B-17 bombers during 1943, the Nazis quickly compensated by stepping up production in others.

Mapmaking experiences boom during World War II: World War II revolutionized mapping. Aviation and aerial photography allowed the mapping of previously uncharted regions and much more detailed maps of known areas. Here, an Army Map Service Cartographer uses a Japanese map of a city to enter man-made works, such as factories and docks, on an Army chart. These will be potential bombing targets. By the end of the war, two U.S. armed forces agencies had reportedly produced approximately 650 million copies of 50,000 different maps.

Japan's occupation currency called "Mickey Mouse money": Japanese authorities minted money, usually banknotes, for use in the territories they invaded. For example, they produced shillings and pounds for Singapore (where it was labeled "banana money") and centavos and pesos for the Philippines (where it was called "Mickey Mouse money"). Though supposedly at par with the existing local currencies, the occupation money was issued in excessive amounts and quickly depreciated. The pre-invasion currencies tended to be hoarded. The Allies made propaganda versions of the currency with persuasive messages on the reverse side. After the Japanese defeat, the "occupation currency," or "invasion money," became worthless.

Beheadings performed behind Japanese lines in New Guinea: Naval civil service officer Chikao Yasuno prepares to decapitate Sergeant Leonard George Siffleet, an Australian Army radioman caught operating behind Japanese lines in New Guinea. Siffleet and two comrades were beheaded on October 24, 1943, at Aitape after natives betrayed them to the Japanese. American troops found this film on the body of a dead Japanese man during the invasion of Hollandia in 1944. The photo received wide publicity, reinforcing the perception that the Japanese were savages who gave no mercy and deserved none. Chikao was sentenced to hang after the war, but his sentence was later commuted to 10 years in prison.

The Kempeitai (Japanese military police) doles out harsh justice: Members of the Kempeitai pose with British POWs. Though the Kempeitai's authority over Japanese civilians was limited, the organization had free rein in the occupied territories, where harsh military justice prevailed. The Kempeitai dealt severely with anti-Japanese efforts in occupied territories. It was also responsible for travel permits, labor recruitment, rear area security, counterintelligence, operating POW camps, and providing "comfort women" to military brothels. Though the Kempeitai is sometimes equated with the Gestapo or secret police, that description is more accurately applied to the Kempeitai's civilian counterpart, the Tokkou keisatsu, which combined criminal investigation and counter-espionage functions.

Continue to the next section to learn about critical events in World War II's Pacific and Atlantic operations from late September 1943 to early October 1943.

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World War II Timeline: September 21, 1943-October 5, 1943

Hundreds lost their lives in the bombing of Frankfurt, Germany, in early October 1943. Read about other World War II events in late September and early October 1943 in the following timeline.

World War II Timeline: September 21-October 5

September 21: Japan leaves the central Solomon Islands to the Allies after losing 600 men in an unsuccessful bid to defend Arundel Island.

September 22: British submarine troops sabotage the Tirpitz, Nazi Germany's preeminent battleship, as it sits in port at Norway's Altenfjord.

Recognizing that a two-front war is straining the Reich's resources, Joseph Goebbels suggests that Adolf Hitler agree to a separate peace with the Soviet Union, but Hitler declines.

September 23: Mussolini announces the creation of the Salò Republic, in the Axis-controlled part of Italy beyond the scope of the Badoglio administration.

September 27: German troops abandon the Italian province of Foggia, with its strategically critical airstrips, to the Allies.

Chiang Kai-shek orders the execution of Chen Tu-hsiu, the founder of China's Communist Party.

October 1: The Allies occupy Naples, southern Italy's largest port city. It will become an important Allied naval and supply base.

The Nazis come up short in their effort to relocate Denmark's Jews, testimony to the character of the Danish people who have enabled their Jewish friends and neighbors to escape to Sweden. Most Danish Jews will survive the war.

October 3: Nazi Germany recaptures the British Aegean island of Kos.

Japanese troops complete their retreat from the Solomon island of Kolombangara.

October 4: More than 500 die on the ground when the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) and British Royal Air Force (RAF) join forces to keep bombs falling on Frankfurt day and night.

October 5: Nazi Germany incorporates the Istrian Peninsula, much of the Italian Alps, and the eastern Italian city of Trieste into the Reich.

World War II Headlines

The following World War II headlines and images cover additional wartime news from 1943.

Alternative fuel sources in Europe and South America: Due to wartime fuel shortages, alternative power sources were put to use in some European and South American countries. Seen here, the chauffeur of a "charcomobile" shows Brazilian women how to light the charcoal burner that powers their car. Although the charcoal-powered car took some time to get started and had poor acceleration and speed, its fuel supply could be regenerated by a simple stop to gather combustible materials. Brazilian army trucks were fitted with both charcoal burners and gasoline tanks -- and with adjustable carburetors that could switch from one fuel to the other.

The Soviet Union's Yak fighter planes: The Yak series of fighter planes was manufactured by the Soviet Union's Yakovlev company throughout World War II. Beginning with 1940's Yak-1, Yaks were regarded as among the war's finest aircraft. The Yak-3 first saw service in 1944. Although it was manufactured in fewer numbers than the longer-range Yak-9 (which went into service in 1942, despite its higher designation number), the Yak-3 was widely favored by pilots for its strength, lightness, and maneuverability. At lower altitudes, it was considered superior to any of the Luftwaffe's sophisticated fighters.

Louis Mountbatten named Allied commander of SEAC: A great-grandson of Queen Victoria, the aristocratic Louis Mountbatten rose to military prominence during World War II as captain of the HMS Kelly and commander of the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla. He was appointed supreme Allied commander of the South East Asia Command (SEAC) in October 1943. In that post, which he held until 1946, he successfully directed international forces in the liberation of Burma and Singapore from the Japanese. After the war, Mountbatten became the last British viceroy of India, overseeing the independence of India and Pakistan from colonial rule.

Yugoslavian women fight the Axis: After the Axis powers seized Yugoslavia in 1941, Marshal Tito's Yugoslav Partisans proved themselves more capable of effective armed resistance than their rivals, the royalist Chechniks. By 1943 the Western Allies supported the Partisans over the Chechniks, despite misgivings about the Communist commitment of Tito's group. Some two million women (12 percent of Yugoslavia's prewar population) joined the Partisans in all capacities. Most of them were under 20 years of age. Many served in combat side by side with men.

The rest of October 1943 was an eventful period in World War II history. For a detailed timeline for this period, see the next section of this article.

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World War II Timeline: October 8, 1943-October 19-30, 1943

In October 1943, the United States launched an air raid on the island of Bougainville and helped plan the invasion of France. The following World War II timeline describes these and other major events of the period.

World War II Timeline: October 8-October 30

October 8: Civil war erupts in Greece when the country's pro- and anti-Communist factions face off.

October 10: A German U-boat lays mines at the eastern end of the Panama Canal.

The U.S. attacks the Axis-held islands of Crete and Rhodes with B-17 Flying Fortress bombers.

October 12: The Allies obtain permission to establish a convoy defense base on the Azores, an important island chain in the Atlantic that belongs to Portugal.

October 13: Italy joins the Allies when Premier Pietro Badoglio declares war on Hitler's Germany.

Yugoslavian partisans sabotage the Krupp steelworks in the city of Zeneca.

October 14: An uprising at the Nazis' Sobibór death camp claims the lives of 11 guards, while more than 100 prisoners manage to escape.

October 18: The Nazis begin the "resettlement" of Italian Jews to death camps in Poland.

The U.S. launches an air raid on the Japanese base on the northern Solomon island of Bougainville.

October 19: Some 5,000 seriously wounded German POWs and about the same number of British captives are heading home after the first British-German prisoner exchange of the war.

A civilian uprising in Jesselton, North Borneo, claims the lives of 40 occupying Japanese soldiers.

October 19-30: Allied foreign ministers meet in Moscow. They confirm the May 1944 date for the invasion of France, and agree that the Soviets will join the fight against the Japanese once the Germans are neutralized. They also announce plans for the postwar trials of war criminals. The Soviet Union promises to join a new international organization to keep the peace.

World War II Headlines

These news headlines and images describe other important events of 1943, including U.S. operations on Bougainville, one of the Solomon Islands.

America enjoys Pacific triumphs: The turn of the strategic tide in the Pacific began in 1942 with the decisive U.S. naval victories at the Coral Sea (May) and Midway (June), followed by the successful operations on Guadalcanal from August. The subsequent "island-hopping" campaign concluded with the end of Japanese resistance on Okinawa on June 22, 1945. Other notable Allied successes during a consistently hard-fought series of amphibious landings and battles were Kokoda (1942) Bougainville (1943) Saipan, Guam, and Leyte Gulf (1944) and Iwo Jima and Corregidor (1945). Meanwhile, from November 1944, the capture of the Marianas enabled U.S. bombers to fly strategic missions against Japan -- including the atomic bomb missions in August 1945.

"Sunny Jim" Vandegrift praised as commander of the U.S. First Marine Division at Guadalcanal: General Alexander Archer Vandegrift, nicknamed "Sunny Jim" for his upbeat personality and courteous style, gained acclaim as the commander of the First Marine Division at Guadalcanal. Thrown into battle before his division was fully prepared, Vandegrift earned a Navy Cross for his landing on Guadalcanal and Tulagi. Later, his stubborn defense of Henderson Field stymied the Japanese and earned him a Medal of Honor. He later commanded the First Marine Amphibious Corps in the landings at Bougainville. On January 1, 1944, he was sworn in as the 18th commandant of the Marine Corps.

American troops land on Bougainville island: U.S. troops clamber into assault boats assembling for the landing on Bougainville, the largest of the Solomon Islands. Part of the effort to neutralize the Japanese base at Rabaul 220 miles away, the landing was spearheaded by the Third Marine Division on November 1, 1943, at Cape Torokina. Though the Japanese had some 17,000 troops on southern Bougainville alone, they had not considered swampy Cape Torokina a likely target, and the landing was lightly opposed. Work began on an airfield, and U.S. Army troops were brought ashore. Futile enemy attacks on the perimeter began immediately, the last occurring in March. Australian forces took over the fighting on the island until the Japanese surrendered in 1945.

Nasty fighting seen in theBougainvillejungle: Much of the fighting on Bougainville focused on efforts to dominate valuable high ground and the few trails that traversed the swampy terrain. Roadblocks, ambushes, and terrifying patrol encounters at point-blank range in the thick jungle were routine. Japanese machine gunners sheltered in well-concealed log and earthen bunkers had to be reduced one by one by infantrymen using hand grenades, small arms, and flamethrowers.

Rookie GIs seize Makin Atoll in the Pacific: U.S. Army troops in November 1943 view a wrecked Japanese seaplane in the lagoon at Makin Atoll, which was seized along with Tarawa as part of Operation Galvanic. The operation was a stepping-stone toward the more valuable Marshall Islands. Unlike Tarawa, which lay fewer than 100 miles to the south, Makin was not heavily fortified. Only about 300 of the 800-man garrison could be considered combat troops the rest were mostly Korean laborers. Nevertheless, it took nearly 6,500 men from the rookie U.S. 27th Infantry Division more than three days to secure Makin.

For an outline of historical World War II events in late October 1943 and early November 1943, see the timeline in the next section.

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World War II Timeline: October 20, 1943-November 6, 1943

In late October 1943 and early November 1943, the Soviet Union's Red Army isolated Nazi troops in Crimea and recaptured Kiev. Follow the timeline below for more events in World War II history.

World War II Timeline: October 20-November 6

October 20: The Allies take one step closer to Nuremberg with the establishment of a commission charged with the investigation of war crimes.

October 23: A brief uprising on the threshold of an Auschwitz gas chamber results in the death of a hated SS guard and the wounding of several others. The mutineers are then shot.

October 24: For the first time, the Allies stage an air raid on Axis targets from bases in the former Axis nation of Italy.

October 29: Dockworkers on England's Thames River go on strike, forcing soldiers to pick up the slack.

The U.S. Navy heavily mines the waters off French territory in Indochina.

October 31: The Red Army has cut the supply line and isolated some 150,000 German and Romanian troops in Crimea.

November 2: The Battle of Empress Augusta Bay erupts when the U.S. Navy attacks a small Japanese fleet attempting to reinforce Bougainville, where the Marines landed the day before.

November 3: A massive force of 539 U.S. planesbombs the key German port of Wilhelmshaven.

The Red Army launches an offensive across the Dnieper River in a bid to retake Kiev from the Germans.

The Nazis purge the population of the Majdanek death camp, murdering some 17,000 Jews in a single day.

November 4: The United States begins to manufacture plutonium at a facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

November 6: The Red Army recaptures Kiev from the Germans with relative ease. This third-largest Soviet city has been largely reduced to a smoldering ruin.

World War II Headlines

Coastwatchers were crucial to Allied success in the Pacific. For more information on coastwatchers and other World War II news, see the headlines and images below.

U.S. sinks Japanese merchant ships in the Pacific: Its seagoing days at an end, the 7,000-ton Japanese transport Kinugawa Maru lies stranded on the Guadalcanal shore. Japan's merchant fleet was crucial for transporting raw materials to the home islands and for carrying supplies and reinforcements to the empire's far-flung outposts. As the war in the Pacific turned against Japan in 1943, U.S. planes and submarines began sinking Japanese merchant ships more quickly than they could be replaced. The mounting losses wreaked havoc on the Japanese war machine.

Aircraft carrier landings pose danger: A crewman on the USS Enterprise scrambles to help the pilot of a burning F6F Hellcat, which crashed on the flight deck during operations off Makin Island. Flying on and off the heaving carrier decks was hazardous under the best of circumstances. One miscalculation could send the plane hurtling into the crash barrier at the end of the deck, or over the side. The process was also dangerous for the deck crews, known as "deck apes," who were exposed to everything from crash landings and spinning props to loose bombs. As one seaman remarked, "every landing was a potential casualty."

Britain's RAFspeaks of mythical "gremlins": Faced with unexpected and seemingly inexplicable mechanical problems during WWII, British Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots added a supernatural, gnome-like creature to world folklore: the "gremlin." Perhaps more than semi-seriously, pilots discussed gremlins, their mischievous expertise, and methods of placating and controlling them. Gremlins were said to often ride on wings, sometimes manipulating ailerons to tip the plane, but they were nothing but a myth.

Pacific island coastwatchers help Allies: Working on remote Pacific island locations, "coastwatchers" reported enemy activity and guided Allied attacks and guerrilla operations. They also rescued hundreds of civilians and Allied servicemen, including future U.S. president John F. Kennedy. White Australian, New Zealander, American, and Solomons Islands civilians provided most personnel, but they relied on natives as spies, guards, messengers, and laborers.

Allied supreme commander General Douglas MacArthur criticized: General Douglas MacArthur was supreme commander of Allied forces in the South West Pacific Area during World War II. After commanding the futile defense of the Philippines in 1941-42, he escaped to lead the defense of Australia and later the recapture of New Guinea and the Philippines. MacArthur's personal attachment to the Philippines led him to insist on a speedy return to the islands, a course criticized by some strategists. During his southwest Pacific campaigns, MacArthur astutely bypassed heavily defended areas whenever possible, leapfrogging to strike where the enemy was weakest. He was a powerful personality -- talented but also vain, imperious, a political machinist, and a shameless publicity seeker. During his career, he gained a reputation in the public mind as a military genius -- a stature now in dispute among historians.

American planes clear the Himalayasto supply Chinese nationalists: American aircraft of the China National Aviation Corporation (CNAV) were able to fly over the Himalayas from China to India. After the Burma Road closed in 1942, such flights over "The Hump" were the only means of supplying the Chinese Nationalists. It was a 500-mile flight over 15,000-feet-high mountain ranges. In 1943 the C-46 Commando replaced the C-47 as the main carrier. More than 1,000 C-46s took the journey, usually fully loaded. They battled severe turbulence, ice, and monsoonal storms. Unarmed, they risked air attack. CNAV aircraft made some 35,000 journeys over the Hump, carrying 71,000 tons in July 1945 alone.

The Nazis continued to send thousands to death camps in 1943. See the next section for a summary of this and other wartime news from November 1943.

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World War II Timeline: November 9, 1943-November 19, 1943

The horror of Nazi death camps continued as thousands were sent to their deaths at Auschwitz and other camps in November 1943. Here is a timeline of November 1943 World War II events.

World War II Timeline: November 9-November 19

November 9: General Charles de Gaulle is named president of the French Committee of National Liberation, the "Free French," in the wake of the resignation of General Henri Giraud.

November 11: Vichy police arrest 450 demonstrators in Grenoble, France, for rallying against the Nazis.

The Nazis running the Theresienstadt death camp torture some 47,000 Jews, forcing them to stand exposed for eight hours in a bitterly cold November rain.

November 12: Unaware of the Enigma breach, German admiral Karl Dönitz claims of the Allies: "He knows all our secrets."

Japanese bases in the Marshall and Gilbert islands come under heavy air assault by Allied planes. The attacks will continue on a daily basis.

November 14: A friendly-fired torpedo narrowly misses striking the battleship USS Iowa. President Franklin Roosevelt, en route to the Tehran Conference, is on board.

November 15: Effective immediately, all Gypsies in Nazi Germany are to be deported to death camps on the order of SS chief Heinrich Himmler.

The Nazis attempt to put a lid on sabotage by the nascent Italian resistance by taking some 2,000 of Milan's industrial workers hostage.

November 16: The Nazis round up another 2,000 Jews in the Netherlands and send them to Auschwitz.

The Germans effectively abandon their atomic bomb-building ambitions when the Allies launch another raid on the Vemork, Norway, heavy-water plant.

November 19: The Fog Investigation Dispersal Operation (FIDO) is employed for the first time by British Royal Air Force (RAF) officials hoping to enable landings in heavy British fog.

World War II Headlines

These headlines and photos detail Soviet Union POW camps, the fighting at Tarawa, and more World War II news from 1943.

The Soviet Union's Red Air Force superior to Luftwaffe: Soviet Union pilot Victor Radkevich animatedly tells fellow fliers of his triumph over a German plane. On the first day of the 1941 German invasion of Russia, the Luftwaffe destroyed more than 1,000 largely outmoded Russian military aircraft -- about 800 of them still on the ground. The next year, the Soviets began a huge buildup of air forces. Instead of British- and American-style long-range bombings intended to destroy enemy infrastructure and morale, the Red Air Force focused on supporting ground forces against the German invaders. By late 1943, the Soviets had achieved clear air superiority over the Luftwaffe.

German POWs face likely death at Soviet Union POW camps: Captured German troops were transferred to Soviet Union POW camps, many of which were in Siberia. In the camps, the prisoners received a harsh education in communism, and many died from overwork and malnutrition. Of the approximately 90,000 exhausted and starving German soldiers captured at the end of the fighting at Stalingrad, fewer than 6,000 returned to their homes.

Self-propelled (SP)guns destroy tanks and more: SP guns, such as this U.S. Army 105mm howitzer, were guns mounted on tracked, turret- less chassis that provided speedy, mobile fire support as required. Among the Western Allies, the U.S. led the development of SP guns and -- for SP guns used in the anti-armor role -- "tank destroyers." However, while the Anglo-U.S. forces generally utilized their SP guns as a more maneuverable form of conventional indirect-fire artillery, the German and Russian armies used SP guns primarily as direct-fire weapons -- literally as "assault guns" -- providing close support for infantry engaged in offensive operations.

Bosnian Muslims support the Nazis: In March 1942, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, said in a radio broadcast, "If, God forbid, America and her allies are victorious in this war . . . then the world will become hell." Al-Husseini helped recruit Bosnian Muslims into the Waffen-SS with assurances that Allah would never allow the Allies to win. Bosnian SS members and their German officers wore fez hats bearing the Nazi eagle.

Tehran Conference held in Iran: Joseph Stalin, Franklin Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill, The Big Three, met only twice during the war. The first time was in Tehran, Iran, from November 28 to December 1, 1943. For more than a year, Stalin had demanded the invasion of France to force Nazi Germany to shift resources to the West. In Tehran, Roosevelt and Churchill announced their decision to invade France in May 1944. Stalin agreed to simultaneously mount an aggressive offensive in the East. He also pressured his allies to accept some of his demands, including Soviet possession of the eastern part of postwar Poland and his veto on the plan to divide postwar Germany into five autonomous states. It also was determined that the Soviets would join the fight against Japan after Nazi Germany was defeated.

U.S. seizes Kwajalein, Roi-Namur in the Pacific: Hit by antiaircraft fire, a Japanese torpedo bomber explodes during an attack off Kwajalein Island. The U.S. assaults on Kwajalein and nearby Roi-Namur, deep in the Marshall Islands chain, in February 1944 surprised the Japanese, who had committed more defensive effort to the outermost islands. The Fourth Marine Division seized Roi-Namur in two days, and the Seventh Infantry Division took Kwajalein in four days. U.S. casualties were relatively light. Capture of the island air bases deprived the Japanese of a defensive shield and opened the way to the Carolines and Marianas, which were the true strategic springboards for any assault on Japan.

Japan defends Tarawa Atoll: Draped with hand grenades and ammunition, a Marine pauses to drink from his canteen on December 6, 1943, during the fight for Tarawa. The Second Marine Division had fought in the Solomons, but the amphibious assault on tiny, heavily defended Tarawa was a new experience. Japanese rear admiral Shibasaki Keiji boasted that "a million Americans couldn't take Tarawa in a hundred years." Defenses included barbed wire, mines, tetrahedrons, nearly 500 pillboxes, light tanks, heavy machine guns, and eight-inch naval rifles. Thanks to the stubborn courage of individual Marines, Shibasaki was proven wrong, but the cost was high. More than 1,000 Americans were killed or went missing.

U.S. Marines shot down by the hundreds on Tarawa Atoll: Dead Marines litter the beach following the 76-hour battle for Betio (at the southwest corner of Tarawa Atoll) and its strategically important airstrip. As the first large-scale test of U.S. amphibious doctrine against a strongly fortified enemy beach, the Tarawa assault was a costly learning experience. Preceded by an inadequate bombardment, hampered by a disastrously low tide, and lacking sufficient tracked vehicles to negotiate Betio's wide reef, Marines were shot down by the hundreds as they waded toward the heavily defended landing beaches. "It was a time of utmost savagery," wrote a witness. "I still don't know how they took the place."

Japanese troops choose suicide over surrender: Trapped in their bunker on Tarawa, two Japanese Special Naval Landing Force troops chose suicide over surrender. U.S. Marines would become accustomed to such tenacity in their march through the central Pacific. Typical of what was to come on Saipan, Guam, and Iwo Jima, the enemy garrison at Tarawa fought almost to the last man. Of the approximately 5,000 enemy personnel on Betio, 4,690 were killed. Of the 146 prisoners taken by U.S. Marines, virtually all were conscripted Korean laborers. Only 17 Japanese -- all wounded -- were captured.

U.S. Admiral RaymondSpruance:low-key but successful: Admiral Raymond Spruance led Task Force 16 with its two aircraft carriers at Midway in June 1942, playing a key role in that decisive engagement. As commander of the Fifth Fleet, he subsequently directed the operations to seize the Gilberts, Marshalls, Marianas, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. He also commanded the force that defeated the Japanese carrier fleet in the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944. Spruance succeeded Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz as commander of the Pacific Fleet in late 1945. Described by historian Samuel Eliot Morison as "one of the greatest fighting and thinking admirals in American naval history," Spruance shunned publicity and never received much popular acclaim.

By the end of November 1943, the Allies had conquered Tarawa. The next section's timeline summarizes this and other events of that month.

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Considering Nazi Germany's aggression toward the Soviet Union, it is not surprising that the Soviets treated German POWs without mercy. The Germans not only invaded Soviet territory, but the SS and Wehrmacht committed a litany of atrocities against those who Nazi leadership called Soviet Untermenschen (sub-humans). Despite some isolated instances of Russian compassion, conditions in the POW camps were generally abysmal, with a daily death rate of one percent in the camp hospitals.

German POWs were often forced to build their own camps -- but with underground earth bunkers rather than huts for accommodation. The bunkers regularly flooded in the spring and autumn. Suicide, disease, dysentery, summary execution, and death by freezing were all commonplace. Even POWs who were fit when captured often succumbed to a below-starvation diet of unground millet and a punishing program of hard labor. POWs worked on major construction projects, such as the reconstruction of Stalingrad, hydroelectric schemes, and excavation of the Don-Volga canal.

In Soviet philosophy, man was just another material to be used to maximum effect and then discarded. In May 1945, the Soviets held nearly 1.5 million POWs in Germany alone. Several million more had already been transported to the Soviet Union to join the several hundred thousand German POWs captured earlier in the war. Of the POWs, two-thirds survived to return home to Germany. The final 9,626, who were sentenced for war crimes, were not released from the Soviet Union until 1955.

World War II Timeline: November 19, 1943-December 2, 1943

The conquest of Tarawa is just one of the history-making World War II events of November 1943. War highlights from late November-early December 1943 are included in the following timeline.

World War II Timeline: November 19-December 2

November 19: Fourteen British sailors, survivors of the mine-sunk freighter Penolver, are rescued by the American freighter DeLisle. The DeLisle promptly strikes another mine, sending the British back into the Atlantic, where they are miraculously rescued for a second time.

November 20: U.S. forces battle fierce Japanese resistance as they land on the Gilbert islands of Makin and Tarawa.

November 21: In one of the most overpowering air raids in the history of warfare, Berlin comes under assault by 775 British Royal Air Force (RAF) planes.

November 22-26: At the Cairo Conference, Roosevelt, Churchill, and Chiang Kai-shek discuss strategy for the Burma front. They announce that all areas seized by Japan since 1894 will be returned to their former owners.

November 25: The Allies bomb Japanese positions in Rangoon, Burma.

November 28: Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin hold their first face-to-face meeting in Tehran, Iran. They restate their commitment to prepare for Operation Overlord, the invasion of France.

The Allies complete their conquest of the island of Tarawa. Some 4,600 Japanese and 1,100 Americans lose their lives in the battle.

December 2: The U.S. brings 15 noted atomic scientists to New Mexico to help build the bomb.

Facing a sharp decline in the number of miners working on the home front, British labor minister Ernest Bevin decrees that one of every 10 draftees will be sent to the coal mines instead of the front lines.

The southern Italian port of Bari is devastated by a German air raid. Nineteen ships are destroyed when bombs strike two shipboard ammunition stores.

World War II Headlines

The headlines and photos below provide even more insight into World War II events of 1943.

Germans fight on in Italy: Since the Casablanca Conference in January 1943, Churchill pushed for the invasion of Italy, the "soft underbelly of Europe." Roosevelt and his military advisers believed such an invasion would be an unwise distraction from preparation for the invasion of France. The third allied partner, Stalin, was also against the Italian campaign. The fighting in Sicily had not yet started when discussions were renewed about Italy. It was finally decided not to stop the offensive momentum. British and Canadian troops invaded Italy on September 3 with little opposition. Before the second landing at Salerno on September 9, the troops learned that Italy had surrendered. German troops, however, stubbornly contested the Salerno landing and every inch of the Allied advance.

The Gustav Line extends across the Italian peninsula: To block the Allied advance, Field Marshal Albert Kesselring, the German commander in Italy, constructed defenses south of Rome. The Gustav Line was the most formidable of four lines of defense that extended across the Italian peninsula. The Gustav Line was a series of concrete bunkers and artillery positions on the rocky faces of mountains fronted by a no-man's-land of barbed wire and land mines. Allied infantry, airborne, and rangers fought stubbornly along this line, as seen here.

Hitler's mistress, Eva Braun, is isolated from the war: Eva Braun, Hitler's longtime mistress, is pictured at the Berghof, the Führer's Bavarian mountain home. Isolated from the political realities of the Third Reich and the war, Braun was permitted luxuries that Hitler denied to other German women, including makeup and the use of alcohol and tobacco. Although Hitler was said to become uncharacteristically lighthearted in her presence, he never publicly acknowledged their relationship, and Braun was reportedly lonely and unhappy. Hitler and Braun finally married in a civil ceremony on April 29, 1945, the day before they committed suicide together.

U.S. Army General Mark WayneClark fights the Nazis in Italy: Capable but overly confident, General Mark Wayne Clark was appointed commander of the U.S. Fifth Army in 1943. His September assignment, to land his troops in the port of Salerno and direct a portion of the invasion of Italy, seemed easy enough. Mussolini had already been removed from power, and the Italian government had surrendered to the Allies. But Clark and other Allied commanders failed to grasp Hitler's determination not to lose Italy. The Italian Campaign wore on bitterly at such places as Anzio and Monte Cassino until the Fifth Army entered Rome in June 1944. The Allied commanders finally accepted the surrender of Italy's last German defenders on May 2, 1945.

Food for Russian soldiers includes bread, soup: Red Army rations varied from adequate to nonexistent depending on the supply situation. Bread and soup were staples. A type of cabbage soup called shchi was common, as was kasha, which is boiled buckwheat. Supplements included macaroni, salted fish, tea, salt, lard or bacon fat, and whatever vegetables the soldier could forage. American Spam became a common source of meat. Bread and sausage were often issued prior to combat operations since they would last for days without spoiling.

The Nazis' Atlantic Wall includes armed bunkers: From spring 1942 to 1944, Nazi Germany built fortifications along 3,000 miles of French and Belgian coastline. Called the Atlantikwall (Atlantic Wall), the defense system was designed by engineer Fritz Todt. Under the direction of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, the wall was intended to protect Europe against seaborne Allied invasions. Defenses included 14,000 concrete bunkers armed with mortars, machine guns, and larger gun emplacements, such as this Fernkampfbatterie (distant battle battery). The beach and waters below were protected by antitank obstacles, steel "Belgian Gates" intended to damage landing craft, and six million mines.

December 1943 began with Nazi Germany's plan to intensify its bombing campaign over Britain. Find out what else happened in December 1943 by reading the timeline in the next section.

Champagne-Marne Offensive, 15-18 July 1918

The Champagne-Marne Offensive, 15-18 July 1918, was the last of Ludendorff&rsquos five offensives of 1918 that had come close to breaking the Allied lines (this offensive is often seen as part of the Second Battle of the Marne, 15 July-6 August 1918). The first two of those offensives (Second Battle of the Somme, March 1918 and the Lys Offensive of April 1918) had been aimed at the British, with the hope that a gap could be created between the British and French armies that would allow the Germans to reach the Channel ports. After Lys Offensive had failed to break through the British lines, Ludendorff decided to switch his attention to the French lines on the Aisne. This Third Battle of the Aisne was originally intended as a diversion, to draw reserves south in preparation for a new attack on the British lines in Flanders. However, the success of the Aisne offensive fatally distracted Ludendorff from his strategic objectives. While always planning to renew the offensive in Flanders, his fourth offensive (Noyons-Montdidier, June 1918) was a purely tactical affair, aimed at straightening out the German front line.

The Champagne-Marne Offensive took Ludendorff even further away from his intended field of action in Flanders. The earlier German advances had created a new salient in the French lines around the fortified city of Reims. Ludendorff now decided to launch a two pronged attack to the west and east of Reims. The two prongs would meet south of the city, pinching out the French salient. That done, Ludendorff was once again planning to move troops north to Flanders.

Three German armies and 52 divisions were allocated to the Champagne-Marne offensive. West of Reims was the Seventh Army under General Max von Boehn. To the east were the First Army under General Bruno von Mudra and the Third under General Karl von Einem.

Against them stood two French armies, the Sixth under General Jean Degoutte west of Reims and the Fourth under General Henri Gouraud to the east. The French were well aware that Ludendorff was prepared to attack, and preparations were underway to launch a massive counterattack on the Marne salient.

The attack began on 15 July. East of Reims the two German armies ground to a halt on the first morning of the battle and made no more progress. In the west the German Seventh Army did rather better. Here the French defences were rather weaker, having only been under construction since the end of May. The Germans were able to penetrate four miles across the Marne on a front nine miles long. They were then stopped by the French Ninth Army, which then included the American 3rd Division. Allied airpower began to tell, with attacks on the Marne bridges and supply lines disrupting the German offensive.

The offensive was ended on 18 July by a massive French counterattack launched by four French armies, with American, British and Italian divisions in support. This Aisne-Marne offensive would be the turning point of the fighting on the Western Front, marking the beginning of the Allied offensives that would only end with the Armistice.

The Ludendorff Offensives, 21 March-18 July 1918

At the start of 1918 the Germans were faced with a simple problem. They had a temporary numerical advantage on the Western Front, given to them by the Russian collapse. Fifty first class divisions were free to move west, transforming the balance of numbers in the west. 192 German divisions faced 189 Allied divisions. However, both sides knew that millions of fresh American troops would soon reach France. By March 1918 General Pershing had 318,000 men in France, although they had not yet entered the line. Pershing was determined to keep his men together and form an American Army that would fight as a unit, rather than see his men dissipated amongst British and French units. The British and French would have the face the first of Ludendorff&rsquos offensives without American support, but by the start of June American divisions were playing a major role in the fighting. By August Pershing had 1,300,000 men in France, and would be able to play a major role in the final Allied offensives of the war.

After examining a number of different options for attacks from Flanders to Verdun, Ludendorff decided to make his war winning attack on the Somme front. The attack would be launched around St. Quentin. It would advance to the line of the Somme, which would then be held against any French counterattack, while the main attack continued to the north west, cutting off the BEF and allowing the Germans to defeat the British before their allies could come to their aid. If things went really well, the Germans hoped to reach the sea, perhaps at Abbeville where the Somme enters the English Channel. The battle would be known as the &ldquoKaiserschlacht&rdquo, or Kaiser&rsquos Battle.

One weakness with the German plans for the spring of 1918 was an understandable obsession with the tactical problems posed by trench warfare and a comparative lack of an overall strategic plan. As a result the intended course of each battle, and indeed of the entire campaign, could be disrupted by local successes. Ludendorff&rsquos planning concentrated on the creation of a hole in the Allied lines rather than what to do once one had been made. This became increasingly obvious with the third offensive, on the Aisne. Despite an overall plan aimed at isolated the BEF in Flanders, the final three German attacks would be made to the south against the French, and increasingly against the Americans.

1: 21 March-5 April: Second battle of the Somme or the Kaiserschlacht (Michael)

When Operation &ldquoMichael&rdquo began, the Germans won a series of dramatic victories that pushed the British line back up to twenty miles and came dangerously close to achieving its main objectives. The battle began with a five hour artillery bombardment that was the most intense yet seen. The Germans had gathered together 6,473 artillery guns and 3,532 mortars. During the bombardment they fired over one million shells, filled with a mix of munitions that included a variety of different types of poisoned gas.

The British had only 28 divisions in the area that was attacked. Ludendorff had assembled 76 divisions to make the attack, 32 of which took part in the initial infantry assault, at 9.40am on 21 March. The British were forced out of their front line along most of the front, and the Germans even broke through the second line of defence, the battle zone, along a quarter of the fifty mile front attacked.

The German attack hit the Fifth Army (General Hubert Gough) hardest. To the north the attack on the Third Army (General Julian Byng) made less progress, but did threaten to cut off the British troops in the salient left over after the battle of Cambrai. The Germans continued to make progress throughout March, but the crisis of the battle came early. On 24 March, as the British were being forced ever further west, a gap threatened to appear between the British and French armies. Pétain, commander of the French armies of the north, visited Haig to warn his that he expected to be attacked at Verdun, and could therefore spare no more reinforcements to help the British.

If this policy had been carried through, then it is hard to see how a German breakthrough could have been prevented. Early on the morning of 25 March, Haig communicated his fears to the War Office, and requested a high level delegation visit France. He also suggested placing General Foch in overall command of Allied operations.

The required conference took place at Doullens, near Amiens, on 26 March. The French delegation could not have been any more high powered &ndash the President, Prime Minister Clemenceau and the Minister of Munitions were joined by Foch and Pétain. The British were represented by Lord Milner, the War Minister, Gerenarl Wilson, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff and General Haig. The most important outcome of the meeting was the appointment of General Foch to coordinate all Allied troops on the Western Front.

Foch&rsquos appointment ended any danger of a rift between the allies. The German advance soon began to run out of steam, as the units involved became increasingly exhausted. Captured British supply dumps, far better provisioned than the blockaded Germans, slowed down the advance when troops settled in to forage for much needed supplies.

The German attack continued to the end of March, but progress began to slow down. The first three days of April were quiet, and when the fighting was renewed on 4 April both sides launched attacks. Finally, on 5 April Ludendorff recognised that the great offensive had failed, and cancelled any further attacks. The German army had lost between 200 and 300 thousand men without achieving their objectives.

2: 9-29 April: Battle of the Lys (Georgette)

The main German effort now moved north, to Flanders. The British First and Second Armies were attacked by the German Forth and Sixth, on a narrower front than during the first offensive. This time Ludendorff hoped to break through to the channel ports. Another massive artillery bombardment was followed by an advance of up to five miles on parts of the line, but the threat to the channel ports never developed. On 12 April Haig issued his famous &ldquobacks to the wall&rdquo order, forbidding further retreat, and the line held, with Belgian and French help. The Germans lost another 120,000 men, and once again failed to achieve their objectives.

3: 27 May-3 June 1918: Third battle of the Aisne (Blücher-Yorck)

For his third offensive Ludendorff turned against the French. Forty one divisions supported by 6,000 guns attacked sixteen Allied divisions on a line than ran from the southern edge of the salient won during the first offensive down to Reims. The attack was seen a something of a diversion, designed to draw Allied reserves away from Flanders, where Ludendorff still wanted to launch his main attack.

The initial attack smashed through the Allied lines on the Chemin des Dames. In some areas the Germans advanced thirteen miles on the first day, the biggest single day advance since the start of trench warfare. The advance was so rapid that the bridges over the Aisne were captured intact, and German armies reached the Marne. The Germans reached Château-Thierry on 30 May, and were only thirty seven miles from Paris.

The offensive then bogged down. German losses of 100,000 reduced the size of the attacking force, while twenty seven Allied divisions were fed into the line, amongst them, for the first time, large numbers of American troops. On 1 June the American 3rd Division took over the defence of Château-Thierry (1-4 June 1918), and even launched a series of counterattacks (amongst them Belleau Wood, 6-26 June 1918). Ludendorff&rsquos great war-winning gamble was beginning to come apart.

4: 9-13 June 1918: The Noyon-Montdidier Offensive (Gneisenau)

Ludendorff&rsquos next offensive was a much smaller affair, designed to link the two salients created on the Somme and the Marne. This time numbers were rather more equal &ndash two German armies attacked two French armies with American support. The attack from the Somme salient made some progress, but the attack from the Marne salient failed to make progress. The attack was quickly called off.

5: 15-18 July 1918: Champagne-Marne Offensive (Marne-Reims)

Even after the failure of the Noyon-Montdidier offensive, Ludendorff was still determined to launch his great attack in Flanders. The third offensive, on the Aisne, had left an awkward salient in the line around the fortified city of Reims, and so Ludendorff decided to launch a two pincers attack, with attacks east and west of the city. Once Reims had been taken and the line straightened out, the Flanders offensive could begin. This was the final significant German offensive of the war. East of Reims it failed on the first day. West of Reims some progress was made and the Germans established a four mile deep beachhead across the Marne.

This battle is sometimes known as the second battle of the Marne, although that name is also often used for the entire campaign, including the upcoming Allied counterattack.

The five expensive offensives had cost the German army at least 800,000 casualties, many in the elite units used to spearhead the attacks. In many areas the new German front line was only weakly held, with newly constructed defences that lacked the strength and depth familiar in 1915-17. Even before the Champagne-Marne Offensive began, Foch had been planning his own counterattack. Four French Armies, along with eight American divisions, would attack the German salient created by the second battle of the Aisne.

On 18 July that counterattack slammed into the salient (Aisne-Marne Offensive, 18 July-6 August 1918). Allied troops advanced up to five miles, forcing the Germans back across the Marne. It soon became clear that the salient could not be defended. By the end of July the Germans had been forced out of the area conquered at such cost only two months earlier, and had formed up a new defensive line on the Aisne and Velse rivers.

This was the first of the series of Allied counterattacks that forced the exhausted German armies back towards the French border (the Hundred Days). The Aisne-Marne offensive would be followed by the battle of Amiens, 8 August-3 September 1918, which forced the Germans out of the salient on the Somme and back to the Hindenburg Line, which would itself be breached in early October.

The Hindenburg Line, Patrick Osborn & Marc Romanych. A good study of the full network of defences generally known in English as the Hindenburg Line, and which spread from the Channel coast to the St. Mihiel salient east of Verdun. Looks at the original purpose behind their construction, the actual shape they took on the ground, and how they performed under attack. Very useful to have a book that focuses on the entire length of this key German fortification [read full review]

Timeline - 1918

The First World War spanned four years and involved many nation states.

This section lists the events of the year 1918, the final year of the war. This year saw the German military high command attempt one final large-scale offensive on the Western Front. A near success, Operation Michael's ultimate failure led to an increasingly sweeping series of successes by the Allies from the summer of 1918.

By the autumn the German Army was no longer able to continue fighting. With revolution imminent, Germany's political leadership petitioned for an armistice. It took effect at 11am on 11 November - the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The war was over, and with its end many of the European dynasties fell.

For a day by day account click any given month using the sidebar to the right.

Date Event
January - September T.E. Lawrence leads Arab guerrillas in successful campaign against Turkish positions in Arabia and Palestine
January 8 US President Woodrow Wilson makes "Fourteen Points" speech to Congress
February 11 US President Woodrow Wilson makes "Four Principles" speech to Congress
March 3 Soviet Russia concludes separate peace negotiations in treaty of Brest-Litovsk
March 21 Germany launches Spring push, eventually mounting five major offensives against Allied forces, starting with the Battle of Picardy against the British
March 26 Doullens Agreement gives General Ferdinand Foch "co-ordinating authority" over the Western Front
April 9 Germany launches second Spring offensive, the Battle of the Lys, in the British sector of Armentieres
April 14 Foch appointed Commander-in-Chief of Allied forces on Western Front
May 25 German U-boats appear in US waters for first time
May 27 Third German Spring offensive, Third Battle of the Aisne, begins in French sector along Chemin des Dames
May 28 US forces (28th Regiment of 1st Division) victorious in first major action, Battle of Cantigny
June 6 US 3rd Division captures Bouresches and southern part of Belleau Wood
June 9 Germans launch fourth Spring offensive, Battle of the Matz, in French sector between Noyan and Montdider
June 15 Italians prevail against Austro-Hungarian forces at Battle of Piave
July 6 US President Woodrow Wilson agrees to US intervention in Siberia
July 15 Final phase of great German Spring push, the Second Battle of Marne, begins
July 16-17 Former Tsar Nicholas II, his wife, and children, are murdered by the Bolsheviks
July 18 Allies counterattack against German forces, seizing initiative
August 3 Allied intervention begins at Vladivosto
August 8 Haig directs start of successful Amiens offensive, forcing all German troops back to the Hindenburg Line Ludendorff calls it a "black day" for German army
September 12 US forces clear the St.-Mihiel salient, during which the greatest air assault of the war is launched by the US
September 19 Start of British offensive in Palestine, the Battle of Megiddo
September 26 Battle of the Vardar pits Serb, Czech, Italian, French and British forces against Bulgarian forces
September 26 Meuse-Argonne offensive opens the final Franco-American offensive of the war
September 27 - October 17 Haig's forces storm the Hindenburg Line, breaking through at several points
September 29 Bulgaria concludes armistice negotiations
September 28 - October 14 Belgian troops attack at Ypres
October 3-4 Germany and Austria send peace notes to US President Woodrow Wilson requesting an armistice
October 17 - November 11 British advance to the Sambre and Schledt rivers, taking many German prisoners
October 21 Germany ceases unrestricted submarine warfare
October 27 Erich Ludendorff resigns
October 30 Turkey concludes an armistice with the Allies
November 3 German fleet mutinies at Kiel
November 3 Trieste falls to the Allies Austria-Hungary concludes an armistice
November 7-11 Germany negotiates an armistice with the Allies in Ferdinand Foch's railway carriage headquarters at Compiegne
November 9 Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicates
November 10 Kaiser Wilhelm II flees to Holland
November 10 German republic is founded
November 11 Armistice day fighting ceases at 11am

Saturday, 22 August, 2009 Michael Duffy

The USA suffered 57,476 fatal army casualties during the war.

- Did you know?

As A Black American, I Don't Celebrate The Fourth Of July

As a child, I was always emotionally apathetic to the spectacular display of fireworks and the school lessons on the history of America’s independence. The most exciting thing about this time of year, for me, are the cookouts comprised of meats simmering away on the grill and the communal spirit of breaking bread with family members not seen for months.

In school, the story of Independence Day comprised a rather large portion of our American History curriculum. I learned and memorized the key players in the American Revolution and almost every year was given a typed copy of the Declaration of Independence to study for quizzes and tests. But never once in my school career did anyone mention Frederick Douglass’ famous "What to the Slave Is The Fourth of July," decrying the Fourth of July jubilation. Perhaps the spirit of resistance and revolt were only pertinent when it came to how America won its independence, not to how America achieved and maintained its power &mdash through the rod and whip of slavery.

Perhaps the spirit of resistance and revolt were only pertinent when it came to how America won its independence, not to how America achieved and maintained its power.

I was introduced to Douglass' speech through my grandfather, an active man who made it a priority to expose me to black culture from a young age. I cannot quite remember the last time I accompanied him to a reading of "What to the Slave Is The Fourth of July" but I remember the feeling I had. I knew that the Fourth of July wasn't for me.

Douglass gave his seminal “What To The Slave Is Fourth of July” speech in 1852 at Corinthian Hall in New York, addressing the Rochester Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society. He criticized the independence of America, an independence that meant little for the slaves still toiling away in the American South. Up north, free black citizens still bore the burden of living in a systemically racist society and were offered no protection by law from housing discrimination, segregated school systems or even bodily harm. “I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us,” Douglass said in his speech. “I am not included within the pale of glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us.”

“What To The Slave Is Fourth of July?” laid bare the hypocrisy of a nation so eager for independence, yet so reluctant to bestow those same freedoms to the enslaved people driving the country’s economy forward. Douglass also turned a critical eye on the church, accusing slaveholders of using the Bible to justify the subjugation of slaves though in reality, the religious tome emphasized the freedom of all people. He believed that the church, in particular, could play a large part in the abolition of slavery.

Eleven years passed, after Douglass’ speech, before the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It wasn’t until 1865 when the last enslaved people in Texas learned that they were no longer in bondage. But even after slavery was abolished, freedom and independence were empty, hollow words.

Douglass’ speech is as relevant today as it was in 1852. There’s a reason why groups around Boston continue to recite the speech, year after year during the week of the Fourth of July. Our current political climate speaks volumes on our country’s interpretation of freedom. If you are not white, your freedom is conditional, not a guarantee.

Protests are erupting across the country as more and more evidence of the inhumane treatment of migrant children in detention centers at the border circulates. In these detention centers, migrants are stuffed into small areas and cells, without reliable access to food and water. Reports tell the story of children in these centers, who have no access to regular meals or medical care and are without clean clothing or a way to bathe themselves. At least seven children have died while in immigration custody since last year.

Some may argue that because the people in these detention centers are not American citizens, they aren't guaranteed the rights that come along with citizenship. But what's troublesome is that the United States, a nation that claims to be the land of the free, has a long history of denying citizenship to people who don't fit within certain paradigms. At one point, black people born on U.S. soil weren't considered citizens and America employed this same argument to rationalize their immoral treatment. Racism has been codified again and again, from internment camps for Japanese Americans to the Chinese Exclusion Act. Putting migrant children in cages, without reliable access to basic human necessities, is the newest iteration of this great American sin.

There is great irony in the pomp and circumstance of the Fourth of July, in the number of free musical concerts, fireworks and other themed activities.

What, to us, is the Fourth of July when our freedoms are provisional and subject to alteration? What does the Fourth of July actually stand for?

What, to us, is the Fourth of July when our freedoms are consistently infringed upon by a government meant to uphold those very freedoms? What, to us, is the Fourth of July when our freedoms are provisional and subject to alteration? What does the Fourth of July actually stand for? Does it mean something? Or is it an empty promise?

“The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me,” Douglass said in his speech. “. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine.” His assertions are ones we must meditate on when the time comes to pull out the fireworks and light up the grill, when it’s time to head down to the Esplanade to watch the lights explode over the Charles River.

This year, I was unable to attend the annual reading of Douglass' speech in the Boston Common and I'm not sure if my grandfather and I will ever attend together again. But the lesson I learned, all those years ago alongside him, is timeless. For us, the Fourth of July remains a hollow statement, a shallow symbol of a freedom that is only a mirage for many. It remains a festivity with no substance, a celebration with no soul. And every year, we are reminded that while we are able to participate in the party, the party isn’t for us. We are only visitors who may or may not be asked to leave once the party is over.

Navy Seabees Built and Fought in Vietnam

On the morning of July 1, 1967, Chief Petty Officer Joseph Herrara of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11 was driving a truck near Da Nang Air Base when a lone Viet Cong soldier fired a poisonous dart that shattered a window and caused a deep gash in the chief’s arm. Realizing he was under attack, Herrara switched off the engine and got out. As he ran toward the back of the truck, a bullet struck his belt loop. He drew his pistol and made his way to a ditch across the road. He spotted the Viet Cong and fired four rounds before chasing him. The Viet Cong threw a grenade, and Herrara hit the ground, waiting for an explosion that didn’t come. He slowly rose and inspected the grenade its safety pin was still partially in place. The Navy construction man had survived the sudden attack.

Two years earlier, on June 10, 1965, steelworker Petty Officer 2nd Class William C. Hoover from the same battalion was less fortunate. When Viet Cong attacked the U.S. Army Special Forces camp at Dong Xoai, about 55 miles northeast of Saigon, Hoover was wounded in the initial mortar shelling but continued firing and was killed later in the battle. Posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal with a “V” device for valor, Hoover was the first person from the Navy’s construction battalions—abbreviated CBs and called “Seabees”—killed in the Vietnam War.

Trained for combat as well as construction, Seabees frequently found themselves in the thick of the fighting and just as often distinguished themselves with their heroism. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., includes 85 Seabees among its list of war dead—a tribute to their motto, “We build, we fight,” which is symbolized in their logo of a bee holding a wrench, hammer and machine gun.

I served in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969 as a swift boat maintenance and repair electrician aboard the landing craft repair ship USS Krishna. We were anchored near An Thoi, a fishing village on the southern tip of Phu Quoc Island in the Gulf of Thailand. When the site became the home of the first swift boat division in Vietnam in December 1965, the Seabees were short on virtually everything needed to build the base, so the Krishna served as their supply depot. That all changed after Secretary of the Navy Paul Nitze visited in 1966. After living in a tent for a few days and taking part in some swift boat patrols, Nitze made sure the Navy delivered the materials needed to make life at least a little more bearable. In short order, the Seabees, with a hand from the Krishna and swift boat crews, had the buildings up and occupied, including Quonset huts, the military’s old standby in prefabricated metal structures used for officers housing, storage and recreation.

The Seabees at An Thoi were continuing a tradition that began in the summer of 1940 when the Navy’s Bureau of Yards and Docks began to build Naval Air Station Quonset Point, near Davisville, Rhode Island. The new huts were designed in two primary sizes—20 feet by 48 feet and 40 feet by 100 feet—and could be connected side-by-side and end-to-end, offering numerous configurations.

Assistance to local communities
was a priority for Seabees, who trained Vietnamese in construction techniques. (Naval History and Heritage Command)

In the 1930s, as Japan’s expansion in the Pacific increased the prospects for war, the Navy had begun building bases on islands in the region. The work was initially done by civilian construction contractors, but after the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor pushed the United States’ into war, the Navy needed to replace the civilian workers with military construction personnel who could engage in combat if necessary.

On Jan. 5, 1942, Navy officials authorized the Bureau of Yards and Docks to organize battalions of armed military construction workers. Within days, men just out of basic training gathered at Quonset Point to learn how to use construction equipment and build the huts before shipping off to Charleston, South Carolina, where they established the Navy’s first construction unit on Jan. 21. Although called a construction battalion, the unit comprised only 250-300 men—not much bigger than a company. One week later they shipped out to build a fueling station on Bora Bora. The men, initially dubbed “Bobcats,” after the operation’s code name, reached Bora Bora on Feb. 17.

The Navy officially named its construction battalions “Seabees,” on March 5, 1942. Ten days later in Norfolk, Virginia, the Seabees formed their first true battalion-sized unit with a headquarters organization and four companies, totaling about 1,000 men. In April the battalion split into two detachments, and each sailed to different islands in the Pacific. Although the first Seabees went to the war zone with little more than basic training, by the end of June 1942, the Navy had established “advance base depots” for advanced military and construction training in Davisville Port Hueneme, north of Los Angeles and Gulfport, Mississippi.

During World War II, about 325,000 Seabees served on six continents and 300 islands. Their gallantry caught the attention of Republic Pictures Corp., which released The Fighting Seabees, starring John Wayne, in January 1944.

Rapid postwar demobilization left the Seabee force with just 2,800 men at the onset of the Korean War on June 25, 1950. The Navy quickly put about 10,000 members of the Naval Reserve Seabee program on active duty, and Seabees were among Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s troops who landed at Inchon on Sept. 15, 1950, and forced a North Korean retreat. An armistice that stopped the fighting and set up a demilitarized zone was signed on July 27, 1953.

Three years later, in the summer of 1956, a team of Seabees arrived in the Republic of Vietnam, created just two years earlier when the country was split into a communist North and noncommunist South after French colonial rule ended. The Seabees’ initial task was to survey approximately 1,800 miles of current and proposed roads across South Vietnam. They worked seven days a week for two months in challenging terrain and then left Vietnam after completing their assignment. Years later, those surveys would be crucial in the construction of roads essential for U.S. military operations in the country.

In 1963, Seabee teams were once again in South Vietnam, constructing U.S. Army Special Forces camps being established to help counter the political influence and armed threats of the Viet Cong in rural areas. The Seabees also assisted civilian communities with projects that included construction of hospitals and storage facilities and digging wells for drinking water.

The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, passed by Congress in August 1964, gave President Lyndon B. Johnson the authority to send combat troops to Vietnam. On March 8, 1965, the Marines were the first ashore, landing at Da Nang in the northern part of South Vietnam. On May 7, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 10 was the first Seabee battalion in Vietnam after the introduction of combat forces, arriving to build an airfield for the Marines at Chu Lai.

Dozens of other Seabee units soon followed, including more than 20 mobile construction battalions, the 3rd Naval Construction Brigade, the 30th Naval Construction Regiment, the 32nd Naval Construction Regiment, construction battalion maintenance units 301 and 302, and amphibious construction battalions 1 and 2. Seabees served in 22 provinces from the Mekong Delta, up through the Central Highlands, to the border with North Vietnam at the Demilitarized Zone. They not only performed their assigned construction tasks for the military, but also helped teach the Vietnamese construction techniques.

Force protection was crucial for Seabee work crews in isolated and vulnerable areas. (U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

Early on, the Seabees discovered that there would be many times when they had to put down their hammers and pick up their weapons. Among the most prominent gunfights in Seabee lore is the June 1965 Dong Xoai battle in which Hoover was killed. The American camp at Dong Xoai was defended by 11 Special Forces soldiers and nine members of Seabees Team 1104 from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11. Seven of the Seabees were wounded, and killed along with Hoover was Petty Officer 3rd Class Marvin Shields, a construction mechanic. Shields posthumously received the Medal of Honor for carrying a wounded man to safety and destroying a Viet Cong machine gun emplacement before dying. He was the only Seabee awarded the nation’s highest honor and the first Navy man to receive it in Vietnam.

In October 1965, the Viet Cong attacked the Marble Mountain airfield, just south of Da Nang, inflicting severe damage on U.S. aircraft and a base hospital being constructed by Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 9. Eight Seabee-built Quonset huts used for X-rays, labs and surgical wards were destroyed. Two Seabees were killed and more than 90 wounded. After the attack it was—as always—“all hands on deck” to rebuild the hospital and living quarters. The Seabees accomplished that task in just three months.

FedEx Corp. CEO Frederick W. Smith, who served two tours in Vietnam as a Marine officer, worked with Seabees during the war. “I first saw the Navy Seabees’ abilities at Marble Mountain, where I was stationed in Vietnam on my second tour,” Smith recalled in 2016. “The Seabees built this airfield, bulldozing sand dunes and laying steel runways to accommodate heavy traffic. They also built a 660-tent camp and a huge mess hall, working alongside Marines under tough conditions, including enemy fire.”

By the final months of 1965 the Seabees had established large bases in Da Nang, Chu Lai and Phu Bai in South Vietnam’s northern provinces. The bases provided combat forces the support required to increase their attacks and were instrumental in defeating Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army offensives around the Demilitarized Zone and Laotian border.

As U.S. forces in South Vietnam gradually increased, so did the need for Seabees to build facilities for those troops. In mid-1965 there were 9,400 Seabees in Vietnam, and that number increased to 14,000 over the next 12 months. By 1967 there were 20,000, and over the following two years the number peaked at more than 26,000. Typically, deployed Seabees spent eight months in Vietnam, returned stateside for six months in Davisville and then went back to Vietnam for a second eight-month tour.

To support the demand for Seabees, the Navy made a concerted effort to recruit skilled construction trade workers. Using advanced pay grades as an incentive, a program for “direct procurement” of petty officers was very effective: More than 13,000 signed up.

In 1966 the Seabees were expanding the initial bases and building permanent facilities for men and equipment. They went into Quang Tri, the province closest to North Vietnam, to construct concrete bunkers overlooking the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and they built structures for the Marine base in Dong Ha, about 12 miles south of the DMZ.

The next year brought still more construction projects. An airfield in Dong Ha and Liberty Bridge south of Da Nang were on the Seabees’ endless “to do” list. Despite the challenges of working during the monsoon season, they finished the airstrip in 38 days. The bridge, more than 2,000 feet long, was completed in five months. Among the other projects in 1967 was the construction of officers housing for swift boat skippers in Chu Lai.

The ever-resourceful Seabees also created barbecue grills from modified 55-gallon drums that had drilled-out sections of deck plate installed on them for cooking hot dogs, hamburgers and even chicken. We had one at An Thoi and used it when we visited a nearby island beach.

Jacks of all trades, the Seabees performed
tasks that included constructing huts for the Marines, laying pipes, working on power distribution systems and surveying more than 1,000 miles for roads across Vietnam, a crucial job done in challenging and dangerous conditions—sometimes in enemy-held territory. (U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

When the communists’ Tet Offensive began on Jan. 31, 1968, the Seabees were on the battlefield alongside the Marines and Army. Much of South Vietnam’s third-largest city, Hue, in the northern part of the country, crumbled during the struggle, and Seabees stationed about 8 miles to the south at Phu Bai were called to rebuild a critically needed concrete bridge. After enemy snipers began to fire on the construction team, it immediately formed a combat force, eliminated the sniper fire and finished the bridge. In spring 1968, the Seabees rebuilt the railroad from Da Nang to Hue, completing a project that had been halted for three years due to relentless enemy fire.

American military operations were significantly reduced after June 1969, when President Richard Nixon announced his Vietnamization policy of gradually withdrawing U.S. troops and transferring combat responsibility to the South Vietnamese. But the Seabees continued to be busy. For instance, they built coastal bases and radar operation centers in the Mekong Delta that enabled the South Vietnamese to assume coastal surveillance operations previously conducted by American swift boats.

On June 23, 1970, the last units of Seabees left Vietnam from Chu Lai’s Camp Shields, a site that had been renamed in September 1965 to honor the Medal of Honor recipient. Their work had not only assisted the military but also improved the lives of South Vietnamese civilians. They had built bridges, docks, schools and hospitals. They had dug wells and paved roads to provide access to farms and bring medical treatments to villagers. Such efforts proved the Seabees were not just fighters, but also “builders of peace.”

After his discharge from the Navy, Tom Edwards earned an engineering degree and spent most of his career as senior facilities engineer with General Dynamics-Space Systems Division in San Diego. He thanks Jack Springle of the Seabee Museum and Memorial Park and Bob Bolger and Bob Brown of the Swift Boat Sailors Association for their help with this article.


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