World War II Axis Military History Day-by-Day:
July 1st, 1940: German troops complete the occupation of the Channel Islands, the only British territory ever captured by Germany during WWII. The French government of Marshal Petain moves from Bordeaux to Vichy. Marshal Balbo is replaced by Marshal Graziani as C-in-C of Italian forces in Libya. In the first 6 months of the year, German U-boats have sunk 900,000 tons of Allied shipping.
July 1st, 1941: In the East, armored forces of Panzergruppe 4 (Hoepner) of Heeresgruppe Nord (von Leeb) cross the Dvina and capture Riga, while units of Panzergruppe 2 (Guderian) of Heeresgruppe Mitte (von Bock) reach the Beresina near Borisov near Minsk.
July 1st, 1942: Infantry and combat engineers trof 11.Armee (von Manstein) complete the capture of the fortress of Sevastopol in the Crimea. In Egypt, armored units of the Afrikakorps approach the defensive lines of the British Eighth Army at El Alamein on the road to Alexandria.
July 1st, 1944: Since D-Day, the Allies have landed 920,000 tropps, 177,000 vehicles and 600,000 tons of supplies and equipment. In 24 days of fighting, they have lost 62,000 men killed, wounded and missing. In the East, troops of the 3rd Belorussian Front (Chernyakovsky) recapture Borisov. Beginning of the Bretton Woods (N.H.) Conference convened to deal with postwar financial and economic problems; establishment of the International Monetary Fund for Reconstruction and Development.
July 2nd, 1940: The British liner Arandora Star, carrying 1,500 German and Italian prisoners of war to Canada, is sunk by U-47 (Kptlt. Prien) off the west coast of Ireland, with many casualties.
July 2nd, 1941: On the extreme southern front in the East, troops of the German 11th (von Schobert) and the Rumanian 3rd (Dumitrescu) and 4th Rumanian (Ciuparea) Armies begin an offensive from Moldavia toward Vinnitsa and the Black Sea port of Odessa. The RAF carries out night raids on Bremen and Cologne. China breaks off diplomatic relations with Germany and Italy.
July 2nd, 1943: The US Fifteenth Air Force, based in Libya, raids three airfields in southern Italy.
July 2nd, 1944: In Italy, German troops evacuate Siena. Field Marshal von Rundstedt resigns as C-in-C of German forces in the West and is replaced by FM von Kluge.
July 3rd, 1940: Heavy units of the British Navy, codenamed Force H (Somerville), launch an attack (Operation Catapult) on the French fleet stationed at Mers-el-Kebir near Oran in Algeria, sinking the battleship Bretagne and heavily damaging the battleship Provence and the battlecruiser Dunkerque. 1,300 French sailors are killed and hundreds wounded. Reaction in both occupied and Vichy France is one of shock and outrage at this totally unexpected and ruthless action by their former ally. Some 59 other French warships that had sought refuge at Plymouth and Portsmouth are seized by the Royal Navy, but only after overcoming armed French resistance in some cases.
July 3rd, 1941: For the first time since the beginning of the German attack on the Soviet Union, Stalin speaks to the Russian people over the radio. Demanding utmost resistance 'in our patriotic war against German Fascism', he calls for a policy of scorched earth if the Red Army is forced to yield ground and the formation of 'people's partisan' groups behind enemy lines, as well as the summary execution of all cowards and shirkers.
July 3rd, 1942: In Egypt, due to exhaustion and lack of supplies, especially fuel for the armored divisions, German and Italian forces of the Afrikakorps suspend all offensive operations before El Alamein and begin constructing defensive positions.
July 3rd, 1943: In the East, the opening of Unternehmen Zitadelle (Operation Citadel), the massive German counter-offensive to encircle and destroy the Soviet forces in the Orel-Belgorod salient near Kursk. is delayed by one day because of heavy Soviet air attacks against the German deployment areas. The RAF carries out a heavy night raid on Cologne, causing considerable damage and killing hundreds of civilians.
July 3rd, 1944: In the East, 28 divisions of Heeresgruppe Mitte (Model) are encircled or destroyed by the Soviet 1st and 3rd Belorussian Fronts in the Minsk area. The Soviets claim 400,000 German dead and 158,000 taken prisoner.
July 4th, 1940: In direct response to the devastating British attack on the French fleet at Mers-el-Kebir, the Vichy French government of Marshal Petain breaks off diplomatic relations with Britain. In the House of Commons, prime minister Churchill declares,'I leave the judgment of our actions with confidence to Parliament. I leave it to the nation and I leave it to the United States [?!]. I leave it to the world and to history.' German Stukas and MTBs attack a British convoy S of Portland, sinking 5 merchant ships. Italian bombers raid Malta and Alexandria.
July 4th. 1941: Units of Heeresgruppe Mitte (von Bock) capture Ostrov s of Pskovsk.
July 4th, 1942: Off the northern coast of Norway, German U-boats and Luftwaffe torpedo planes attack Convoy PQ-17 bound for Murmansk. Over a period of 6 days, they sink 24 ships out of a total of 37. In the East, the German 11.Armee (von Manstein) completes the occupation of the Crimea, taking 97,000 Soviet prisoners. For the first time, 6 B-17s of the US 8th Air Force join an RAF bomber formation in raids on German airfields in Holland.
July 4th, 1943: General Sikorski, leader of the London-based anti-Communist Polish government-in-exile, is killed in a plane crash at Gibraltar, some suspect as the result of deliberate sabotage.
July 4th, 1944: In the East, the Soviet 1st Baltic Front begins an offensive toward Riga, capturing Potolsk and threatening to isolate Heeresgruppe Nord in its fighting retreat from iEstonia.
July 5th, 1940: In retaliation for the British action at Mers-el-Kebir, Vichy French warships based at Dakar capture 3 British merchant ships, while French aircraft stationed in Morocco attack British shipping off Gibraltar. The British destroyer Whirlwind is sunk by U-34 (Kptlt. Rollmann) SW of Ireland. The RAF carries out night raids on Kiel and Wilhelmshaven.
July 5th. 1941: In the East, units of 6.Armee (von Reichenau) break through the Stalin Line E of Lvov, while Panzergruppe 1 (von Kleist) continues its advance toward Zhitomir and Berdichev in the Ukraine. The RAF carries out night raids on M=FCnster and Bielefeld.
July 5th, 1942: Armored units of 4.Panzerarmee (Hoth) reach the Don at Voronesh.
July 5th, 1943: Beginning of Unternehmen Zitadelle (Operation Citadel), the massive counter-offensive by Heeresgruppe Mitte to eliminate the Soviet salient between Orel and Belgorod near Kursk. On a 200-mile front, 37 divisions totaling 900,000 men of 9.Armee (Model) attacking from the north, and 4.Panzerarmee (Hoth) attacking from the south, including 11 Panzer divisions with 2,500 tanks and assault guns, 10,000 guns and Nebelwerfer (rocket guns), as well as 1,800 aircraft go into action against 1,300,000 Soviet troops in deeply echeloned defensive positions and protected by 8,000 land mines per square mile, 3,300 tanks, 20,000 guns and 2,500 aircraft. Taken together, the opposing forces in this operation constitute the largest concentration of military power ever assembled in history; the greatest tank and air battles of WWII will be fought here. -- In the northern sector, the Germans advance 6, in the southern, some 25 miles against stubborn Soviet resistance inflicting heavy casualties in tanks and infantry.
July 5th, 1944: German mini-U-boats begin operations off the Normandy coast, sinking 4 small Allied warships and damaging the British cruiser Dragon.
July 6th, 1940: Off the coast of Norway, light units of the Kriegsmarine sink 5 British submarines, Narwhal, Salmon, Spearfish, Shark and Thames. After spending 8 weeks in the West, a triumphant Hitler returns to Berlin where he is wildly cheered by the Berlin population.
July 6th, 1941: In the East, Heeresgruppe Nord continues its advance, reaching a line from Lake Peipus through Reval to Parun N of the Gulf of Riga. In Libya, Axis aircraft bomb Tobruk and Sidi Barrani.
July 6th, 1942: In Egypt, the Afrikakorps is holding on to its positions before El Alamein against continuous attacks by the British Eighth Army. U-132 (Kptlt. Vogelsang) enters the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the Canadian east coast and sinks 3 merchant ships.
July 6th. 1943: In the East, the battle of Kursk continues with unabated ferocity. While the northern pincer of 9.Armee (Model) is struggling to make any significant progress, the southern pincer of 4.Panzerarmee (Hoth) advances some 12 miles, with both sides incurring heavy casualties.
July 6th, 1944: In the East, the Soviet 1st Belorussian Front recaptures Kovel SE of Brest-Litovsk. In Italy, the British Eighth Army (Leese) captures Osimo 20 miles S of Ancona.
July 7th, 1940: A French naval squadron that has sought refuge at Alexandria is disarmed and interned by the British Navy, while the battleship Richelieu berthed at Dakar is attacked and disabled by British naval forces.
July 7th. 1941: Under the pretext of defending the Western Hemisphere against Nazi incursions, the US 1st Marine Brigade is landed in Iceland to relieve the British garrison that has been there since the previous year.
July 7th, 1942: In the East, units of 4.Panzerarmee (Hoth) capture Voronesh on the Don.
July 7th, 1943: In the battle of Kursk, the German forces engaged are still unable to achieve a major breakthrough in the face of stiffening Soviet resistance reenforced by the arrival of strong tank and infantry reserves. Lt. Hartmann, II/JG 52, downs 7 Soviet aircraft near Kursk, bringing his total to date to 22. Off the coast of Brazil, U-185 (Kptlt. Maus) sinks 3 merchant ships.
July 7th, 1944: In the West, 450 heavy RAF bombers carry out a saturation raid (2,300 tons) on the German defenses in and around Caen. Attacks by the US Seventh Army (Bradley) in the Carentan area of the Cotentin peninsula are blunted by violent German counter-attacks.
July 8th, 1941: In the East, Panzergruppe 4 (Hoepner) of Heeresgruppe Nord (von Leeb) captures Pskov and advances toward Novgorod and Leningrad. Germany and Italy announce the dissolution of the state of Yugoslavia, with large portions annexed by Italy; an independent state of Croatia, allied to the Axis and with its capital at Agram (Zagreb), is proclaimed.
July 8th, 1942: In the East, 4.Panzerarmee (Hoth) at Voronesh begins an offensive SE along the west bank of the Don to meet up with 6.Armee (Paulus) advancing E toward the Don from Charkov with the objective of establishing bridgeheads across the river in the Kalach area and continue on to capture Stalingrad on the Volga. Axis bombers carry out raids on harbor facilities at Malta in the Mediterranean.
July 8th, 1943: The battle of Kursk is about to reach its climax, with the exhausted German forces unable to make any further gains while losing vast numbers of men, tanks and planes. Soviet claims for the day are 304 tanks and 161 aircraft, the German 400 tanks and 193 aircraft.
July 8th, 1944: In the West, the British Second Army (Dempsey) begins a major attack (Operation Epsom) to capture Caen. In the East, the Soviet 1st Belorussian Front recaptures Baranovichi NW of Brest-Litovsk.
July 9th, 1940: The German raider Komet leaves Bergen in Norway for operations in the Pacific via the Northwest Passage in the Arctic Ocean assisted by Soviet icebreakers.
July 9th, 1941: In the East, Vitebsk is captured by troops of Heeresgruppe Mitte (von Bock). To date, the Red Army has lost 2.500 tanks and 300,000 men as prisoners of war.
July 9th, 1942: In Egypt, renewed attacks by the Afrikakorps against British defenses at El Alamein bog down in the face of stubborn British resistance.
July 9th, 1943: Beginning of Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily, with the US 82nd and the British 1st Airborne Divisions making the first landings at night; due to navigational errors, hundreds of US paratroopers are dropped in the sea and are drowned, while many others are widely scattered and miss their assigned targets.
July 9th, 1944: In the West, units of the British Second Army enter Caen which has been reduced to a heap of rubble due to the preceding heavy aerial and artillery bombardments by the Allies.
July 10th, 1940: Beginning of the Battle of Britain. - The Luftwaffe carries out its first large scale attack (70 aircraft) against targets in Britain by bombing dock facilities at Swansea and the Royal Ordnance Factory at Pembrey in Wales.
July 10th, 1941: In the East, Panzergruppe 1 (von Kleist) repulses a violent Soviet counter-attack in the area of Korosten W of Kiev. The Finnish Karelian Army (Heinrichs) begins an offensive toward Lake Ladoga NE of Leningrad.
July 10th, 1942: In the East, armored units of 4.Panzerarmee (Hoth) and 6.Armee (Paulus) of Heeresgruppe B (von Weichs) join up N of Kalach on the Don, while 17.Armee (Ruoff) and 1.Panzerarmee (von Kleist) of Heeresgruppe A (List) continue their advance toward Rostov.
July 10th, 1943: Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily, is now fully underway with 12 divisions (160,000 men and 600 tanks) of the US Seventh (Patton) and the British Eighth (Montgomery) Armies being brought ashore by 3,000 landing craft (200 sunk by rough seas) on the southeast coast of Sicily.While the British approaching Syracuse meet with little German resistance, the US forces are held back by strong counter-attacks of the Hermann G=F6ring and the Italian Livorno Divisions.
July 10th, 1944: In the East, the Red Army begins 3 major offensives into the Baltic States: the 2nd Belorussian Front NW from Vitebsk, the 3rd Belorussian Front W from Psovsk, and the Leningrad Front SW toward Narva.
July 11th, 1940: Marshal Petain replaces president Lebrun and proclaims himself head of state of the French Republic.
July 11th, 1941: In the East, armored units of Panzergruppe 1 (von Kleist) advance within 10 miles of Kiev. Stalin replaces 3 major Soviet commanders appointing Voroshilov for the northern, Timoshenko for the central and Budjenny for the southern front.
July 11th, 1943: In the battle of Kursk, the attacking German forces depleted by heavy losses in men and armor have nearly spent their momentum. even though 4.Panzerarmee and Armee-Abteilung Kempf in the southern sector succeed in capturing the pivotal town of Prokhorovka. To prevent further attrition, especially of the vital armored forces, Field Marshals von Kluge and von Manstein urge Hitler to call off the operation which is turning into a disaster for the entire Eastern Front, but Hitler refuses.
July 11th, 1944: In the East, the Red Army captures the remnants of the encircled 4.Armee (35.000 men). In the West, the US VIII Corps (Collins) continues its attacks from the Carentan area toward St. Lo, but is meeting with strong German resistance. The United States formally recognizes the provisional French government of General de Gaulle at London as the de facto government of France.
July 12th, 1940: The Luftwaffe carries out raids on Aberdeen in Scotland and Cardiff in Wales.
July 12th, 1941: The last Vichy French troops in Syria surrender to British and Free French forces. Great Britain and the Soviet Union sign a Mutual Assistance Pact declaring that neither state will make a separate peace with the Axis Powers. In the East, the Luftwaffe launches its first bombing raid on Moscow, but with minimal results.
July 12th, 1942: The Soviet Stavka (Red Army High Command) establishes a Stalingrad Front under Marshal Timoshenko. On the Leningrad front, troops of Heeresgruppe Nord complete the reduction of the Volchov pocket, taking 30,000 Soviet prisoners, including General Vlasov, CO of the Second Guards Army and later to become C-in-C of the anti-Bolshevik Russian Liberation Army.
July 12th, 1943: In the East, while the battle of Kursk is still raging, the Soviet Central (Rokossovsky), Bryansk (Popov) and West Fronts (Sokolovsky) begin a massive counter- offensive in the area of Orel, Bryansk and Kursk. At Krasnograd near Moscow, a group of captured German officers, including Field Marshal Paulus and General von Seydlitz, and exiled German communists form the 'National Committee for a Free Germany' that calls for the overthrow of Hitler and the cessation of hostilities against the Soviet Union. In Sicily, the Allies capture Augusta and Ragusa.
July 12th, 1944: In the West, the US First Army (Bradley) advancing S from the Carentan area toward St. Lo is slowly gaining ground against fierce resistance by the German 7.Armee (Dollmann).
July 13th, 1940: Hitler issues Directive No. 15 outlining the details of Unternehmen Seel=F6we (Operation Sea Lion), the German invasion of the British Isles. In advance of the landings, the Luftwaffe is to begin operations against British defensive positions, airfields and radar installations along the southern coast of England on August 15; 2.600 aircraft have been earmarked for this purpose.
July 13th, 1941: In the East, troops of Heeresgruppe Nord (von Leeb) continue their advance from Pskov toward Luga, 75 miles from Leningrad.
July 13th, 1942: President Roosevelt orders the establishment of the OSS (Office of Strategic Services), with Colonel Donovan as director.
July 13th, 1943: Finally admitting that despite the maximum efforts by the German forces to break through the Soviet defenses no further gains can be made, Hitler orders the suspension of Operation Citadel. Though the Wehrmacht is able to extricate most of its depleted forces from a potential disaster - a second Stalingrad - this outcome of the battle represents a tremendous victory for the Red Army and portends the end of German offensive operations in the East.
July 13th, 1944: In the East, the Red Army recaptures Vilna in Lithuania, and continues its advance into eastern Galicia.
July 14th. 1941: Believing the campaign in the East soon to be concluded in Germany's favor, Hitler orders the German war industry to shift production away from guns and armored vehicles to U-boats and airplanes. In Syria, an armistice is signed at Acre between the Vichy and British-Free French forces.
July 14th, 1942: In the East, the advances by Heeresgruppe A (List) and Heeresgruppe B (von Weichs) toward the Don bend at Kalach and Rostov continue against minimal Soviet resistance. In Egypt, an attack by the British Eighth Army against the positions of the Afrikakorps S of El Alamein is unsuccessful.
July 14th. 1943: Joining in the counter-offensive by the Central, Bryansk and Western Fronts, the Soviet Western Front (Vatutin) launches attacks against 4.Panzerarmee and Armee-Abteilung Kempf in the southern sector of the Kursk salient.
July 14th, 1944: In the East, the Soviet 1st Ukrainian Front (Konev) begins an offensive E of Lvov and recaptures Pinsk.
July 15, 1940: The Luftwaffe carries out raids against British convoys in the English Channel as well as airfields and railway lines in SW England.
July 15th, 1941: German fores of Heeresgruppe Mitte (von Bock) encircle 300,000 Soviet troops in the Smolensk-Orsha pocket. In the outskirts of Leningrad, hundreds of thousands of Soviet civilians, mostly women and teenagers, begin constructing over 300 miles of trenches and field fortifications.
July 15th, 1942: In the East, units of 4.Panzerarmee (Hoth) capture Kamensk on the Donets.
July 15th, 1944: In Italy, the British Eighth Army (Leese) reaches the river Arno near Arezzo. The Italian government returns to Rome.
July 16th, 1940: Hitler issues Directive No. 16 ordering preparations to begin for Unternehmen Seelöwe (Operation Sealion), the seaborne invasion of England, to be completed by mid-August.
July 16th, 1941: In the East, Finnish troops break through Soviet positions N of Lake Ladoga. On the central front, German forces of Heeesgruppe Mitte begin the destruction of several Soviet divisions encircled in the Uman pocket. Stalin's son, Lt. Jacob Dugashvili, is taken prisoner near Vitebsk. In Libya, Axis bombers carry out raids on Tobruk.
July 16th, 1942: In Egypt, the British Eighth Army (Montgomery) attacks the Afrikakorps' positions at El Alamein, gaining some ground near the railway station.
July 16th, 1943: In Sicily, troops of the US Seventh Army (Patton) continue their advance toward Palermo, while the British VIII Corps (Dempsey) approaches Catania.
July 16th, 1944: In the East, the Soviet 1st and 3rd Belorussian Fronts converge to capture Grodno SW of Vilna. In Italy, Allied forces are making only slow progress against German positions of the Gothic Line S of the Arno river.
July 17th, 1941: In the East, units of Heeresgruppe Mitte (von Bock) cross the Dnepr river near Mogilev, while in the South the Rumanian 4.Armee (Dumitrescu) captures Kishinev on the lower Dnestr. Axis bombers carrry out raids on port facilities on Malta.
July 17th, 1942: In the East, units of Heeresgruppe A (List) capture Voroshilovgrad in the Donets industrial region. The German 6.Armee (Paulus) and 4.Panzerarmee (Hoth) continue their advance toward Kalach on the Don.
July 17th, 1943: In Sicily, units of the US Seventh Army capture Agrigento on the road to Palermo.
July 17th, 1944: Returning by car to his HQ at La Roche-Guyon from a tour of inspection to I.SS-Panzerkorps S of Caen, Field Marshal Rommel, C-in-C of Heeresgruppe B, is severely wounded in a low-level attack by an RAF fighter bomber. In Italy, the British Eighth Army advances toward Ancona and Florence. In the East, the Soviet First Guards Tank Army reaches the River Bug, the old border between Poland and the USSR. At Moscow, 57,000 German prisoners of war captured in Belorussia, including several generals, are paraded through the center of the city. In Norway, the British Navy launches an abortive carrier raid on the German battleship Tirpitz in Kaa Fjord.
July 18th, 1940: The RAF carries out a daylight raid on invasion barges at Rotterdam, and a night raid on the Krupp armaments works at Essen in the Ruhr.
July 18th, 1942: In the East, the advance by 6.Armme and 4. Panzerarmee toward the Don bend at Kalach continues. The RAF launches a night raid on Duisburg.
July 18th, 1943: In Sicily, the attacks by the British Eighth Army (Montgomery) before Catania are stalled in the face of stiff German resistance.
July 18th, 1944: In the West, units of thr US First Army (Bradley) enter St. Lo. In the Caen area, the British Second Army (Dempsey) begins Operation Goodwood with the objective of dislodging and destroying the German forces fiercely opposing its further advance, notably the I. (Dietrich) and II.SS-Panzerkorps (Bittrich), and then to break out and join up with US forces to the south.
July 19th, 1940: In A speech before the Reichstag, Hitler reviews the events of the past months, the occupation of Holland and the utter defeat of the Allies in Belgium and France, and declares his readiness to enter into negotiations with Britain to end the war, 'In this hour, I feel it to be my duty before my own conscience to appeal once more to reason and common sense in Britain as much as elsewhere. I consider myself to be in a position to make this appeal since I am not the vanquished begging favors, but the victor speaking in the name of reason. I can see no grounds why this war must go on.' Two days later, this appeal is rejected out of hand by the British government of Winston Churchill.
July 19th, 1941: In a major change of operational plans, Hitler issues Directive No. 33 ordering the German 4.Armee (von Kluge) and Panzergruppe 2 (Guderian) of Heeresgruppe Mitte (von Bock) to suspend their attacks toward Moscow and join 6.Armee (von Reichenau) and Panzergruppe 1 (von Kleist) of Heeresgruppe S=FCd (von Rundstedt) with the objective of destroying the Soviet Fifth, Sixth and Twelfth Armies W of the Dnepr-Dnestr line. The idea behind this directive is to begin exploiting the great agricultural and mineral riches of the Ukraine for the German war effort just as soon as the Soviet forces in that region are defeated. Both Kluge and Guderian object, but are curtly overruled by Hitler.
July 19th, 1942: In the East, the two-pronged German advance toward the Don bend and to Stalingrad beyond (6. Armee and 4.Panzerarmee) and toward Rostov (1.Panzerarmee) continues in the face of stiffening Soviet resistance.
July 19th, 1943: In Sicily, the US Seventh Army (Patton) makes further progress toward Palermo, while the British Eighth Army (Montgomery) is held up before Catania by stubborn German resistance. The US 15th Air Force (270 aircraft) attacks marshalling yards on the outskirts of Rome.
July 19th, 1944: In the East, the Soviet 1st Ukrainian Front (Konev) encircles 5 German divisions W of Brody. In Italy, the US Fifth Army (Clark) captures Leghorn.
July 20th, 1940: Reichsmarschall G=F6ring, C-in-C of the Luftwaffe, orders the formation of a Nachtjagdgeschwader (night fighter wing), NJG 1, under Oberst (Colonel) Kammhuber, consisting of Me-110 fighter bombers.
July 20th, 1941: Stalin appoints himself People's Commissar for Defense. The RAF launches a raid on Naples.
July 20th. 1943: Cancellation of Operation Brimstone, the Allied invasion of Sardinia, in favor of alternate landings in the area S of Naples (Anzio).
July 20th. 1944: At 12:42 p.m. CET, a powerful bomb explodes in the wooden briefing hut at the Wolfsschanze (Wolf's Lair), Hitler's secret HQ near Rastenburg in East Prussia, during Hitler's Lagebesprechung (daily noon-time conference on operations on all fronts) with his chiefs of staff and their aides of the OKW and OKH. Aside from minor injuries, Hitler is unharmed, but four people, Colonel Brandt, Generals Korten and Schmundt, as well as a stenographer are killed, several other severely wounded. The bomb was placed by Colonel Claus Count von Stauffenberg, chief of staff of the Ersatzheer (Reserve or Home Army) who had volunteered to take on the task of killing Hitler on behalf of a group of high Wehrmacht officers, among them Field Marshall von Witzleben and Generaloberst Beck, to overthrow the Nazi regime and end the war. He returns to Berlin, mistakenly informing his co-conspirators at the War Ministry that Hitler was dead and that Operation Valkyrie, the Army's longstanding emergency plan to secure the vital government offices in case of an internal revolt, should go forward so as to be used to establish the conspiracy's hold on the levers of power over the Reich. Due to the prompt actions by Dr. Goebbels, Reich Propaganda Minister, who speaks with Hitler on the telephone and then orders the Wachbataillon Berlin (Guards Battalion) under Major Remer to surround all government offices and arrest any suspicious person, the Putsch is foiled. Stauffenberg and two of his aides are captured and brought before a summary court convened by Generaloberst Fromm, C-in-C of the Home Army; they are convicted of high treason and shot by a firing squad the same evening. In the coming months, some 5,000 persons implicated in the conspiracy will be executed. In the Arctic Ocean, 7 German U-boats begin laying minefields off the Soviet Lend-Lease port of Archangelsk.
July 21st, 1940: In accordance with the results of the July 14 referendums blatantly rigged by the Soviet occupying power, the USSR annexes the three Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
July, 21st, 1941: In the East, the Luftwaffe launches its first bombing raid (127 aircraft) on Moscow, which is followed by another 73 raids until the end of the year. In the Mediterranean, a British 7-ship convoy from Gibraltar to Malta escorted by heavy units of the Royal Navy is attacked by Italian bombers and MTBs which sink one merchant ship and the destroyer Fearless.
July 21st, 1944: At 1:00 a.m. CET, Hitler goes on the air to assure the German people that all is well, and that the Putsch has been foiled: 'A very small clique of ambitious, dishonorable and criminally stupid officers had formed a plot to remove me and at the same time overturn the High Command of the German armed forces... I myself am absolutely unhurt. I regard this as a confirmation of the decree of Providence that I should continue to pursue the goal of my life, as I have done up till now... The circle of the conspirators is a very small one. It has nothing in common with the spirit of the German armed forces and, above all, with the German people. It is a very small gang of criminal elements who will now be ruthlessly exterminated.' Reaction to this news throughout the country is one of deep shock and disbelief; there are spontaneous demonstrations of hatred for the conspirators and sympathy for 'our beloved Führer'. -- Suspecting more treason around him, Hitler replaces General Fromm as C-in-C of the Home Army with Reichsführer-SS Himmler, and General Zeitzler as Chief of Staff of the OKH with Generaloberst Guderian. In the East, the Soviet 3rd Baltic Front recaptures Ostrov S of Lake Peipus, while the 1st Belorussian Front advances toward Brest-Litovsk and Lublin. In Italy, the US Fifth Army prepares for a major attack on the Gothic Line.
July 22nd, 1941: In the East, armored spearheads of Panzergruppe 4 (Hoepner) advancing toward Leningrad reach Lake Ilmen.
July 22nd, 1942: Units of 1.Panzerarmee (von Kleist) are fighting their way into the northern outskirts of Rostov-on-Don which is fiercely defended by the Red Army.
July 22nd, 1943: In Sicily, the US Seventh Army (Patton) enters Palermo.
July 22nd, 1944: In the East, the Soviet 1st Belorussian Front recaptures Chelm.
July 23, 1940: The Soviets take Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as per the Soviet-German non-agression pact in which Poland was divided between the two, and the Baltic Nations were "given" to the Soviets. A provisional Czech Government is set up in London under Dr. Benes.
July 23, 1941: Brest-Litovsk is taken by German troops after a month-long siege.
July 23, 1942: Rostov-on-Don is captured by the 1.Panzer-Armee, thus clearing the way for the advance of Armeegruppe A toward the Caucasus and Kuban region. In North Africa, fighting continues on the El Alamein front.
July 23, 1943: American forces continue to occupy the Island of Sicily in the Mediterranian Sea. In the East, Soviets forces advance in the region of Orel and finish mopping up German troops from the southern sector of the Kursk salient.
July 23, 1944: Introduction of the "Deutsche Gruss", the Nazi form of salute, to the Wehrmacht in the wake of the July 20th bomb plot against Adolf Hitler. German troops clear the city of Narva and force bridgeheads over the Narva River. Soviet forces retake Pskov south of Lake Peipus.
July 24, 1942: Large numbers of Russian troops are liquidated in and around Rostov after German troops secure the city.
July 24, 1943: In Germany the RAF starts a series of devastating bombing raids (6 over 10 days) against the city of Hamburg. These raids kill over 40,000 people and ruin a quarter of the city's dwellings. The dropping of tons of anti-radar foil, code-named Window, effectively paralyz the German early-warning system and blind the flak defenses. Bombing attacked are also launched against industrial targets in Norway. In the Mediterranian, American forces continue to secure Siciliy.
July 24, 1944: Russians occupy Hungerberg and Riigi. Lublink, Poland is occupied by the Soviets. The River San is crossed by the Soviets northwest of Lvov. The 3rd Baltic Army, consisting of 20 divisions, faces the German forces in the region of Narva - the entire Northern front is set to explode.
July 25, 1940: Italy bombs the British naval base at Alexandria and the base at Haifa.
July 25, 1941: 33 Italian naval assault troops attempt to enter Valletta harbor on the island of Malta to attack British ships, but are discovered, 15 men are killed and 18 are taken prisoner.
July 25, 1943: Benito Mussolini is arrested by order of the Italian King, which ends the Fascist regime in Italy. Hitler orders German divisions rushed south to disarm their former allies. In Sicily, Allied forces begin to face stiff resistance as they approach Messina.
July 25, 1944: Narva and the Narva bend are evacuated and troops take up position along the Tannenberg Position. Soviet forces cut the road between Dvinsk and Riga in Lativa. Lvov is surrounded, and Soviet forces converge on Brest-Litovsk. In the West, Operation Cobra begins in Normandy.
July 26, 1941: Three Soviet armies are encircled and destroyed in the Mogilev area.
July 26, 1942: Start of the advance by Armeegruppe A from Rostov and the lower Don toward the Caucasus region.
July 26, 1943: Marshal Badoglio is appointed head of Italy by the Italian King after the arrest of Benito Mussolini. Hilter orders a number of Waffen-SS division sent from Russia to Italy, but only the 1.SS-Panzer-Division is actually transfered.
July 26, 1944: After months of heavy fighting, the Red Army finally recaptures Narva in the "Battle of the European SS" - named as such because of the very large numbers of foreign troops in the ranks of the German Waffen-SS who held the lines in and around Narva. Fighting rages in Normandy as Allied troops continue to attempt to break out of their beachhead.
July 27, 1941: Hitler orders Guderian's Panzers to turn south, away from Moscow, in order to conquer Russia's economic centers. Guderian's 2.Panzer-Armee is renamed Panzergruppe Guderian in recognition of his successes. Further, he is no longer subordinate to Kluge, but answers directly to Bock, Commander of Armeegrupp Mitte. Smolensk is encircled by Axis forces, while fierce battles continue to rage 25 miles east of the city. Tallin, the capital of Estonia, is liberated by German troops. London is severly bombed by the Luftwaffe after a few weeks pause in attacks.
July 27, 1942: German troops take Bataysk, and 6.Armee launches an attack to destroy a bridgehead west of Stalingrad at Kalach.
July 27, 1943: The second in a series of 7 RAF bombing raids against Hamburg takes place, producing a violent firestorm that incinerates thousands of people and buildings. The liberation of Mussolini, the occupation of Rome and all of Italy, and the capture of the Italian fleet is decided upon by the German High Command. Mussolini himself is transfered from Rome to the Island of Ponza. Heavy fighting continues in Sicily.
July 27, 1944: Soviet forces recapture Dunaburg, Bialystok and Lvov. Soviet forces secure a major bridgehead over the Magnuszew River. In the West, US troops breakthrough at St. Lo, forcing a general German withdrawal from Normandy toward the Seine.
July 28, 1941: Finland ends diplomatic relations with Great Britain. German troops begin to clear Soviet forces trapped in the Smolensk pocket.
July 28, 1942: The effect of the fall of Rostov spreads panic and terror in the Soviet Union, promting harsh counter-measures by the Soviet High Command.
July 28, 1944: Soviet troops are fighting for Brest-Litovsk in the Soviet Union, and US troops take Coutances in France. The objectives of Operation COBRA are met.
July 29, 1940: A German memorandum issued by the OKM states that an Invasion of Great Britian will not be possible until the second half of September 1940, and that the prospects for such an invasion seem doubtful.
July 29, 1942: German troops take Proletarskaya and establish a bridgehead over the Manych River in the Caucasus region.
July 29, 1943: Fighting continues for the Island of Sicily. In the East, Armeegruppe A launches counter attacks to improve its positions along the Mius River.
July 29, 1944: Fighting heavy defensive battles in Estonia and Latvia, Armeegruppe Nord is cut off as a result of the Soviets capturing Riga and advancing to the Baltic coast, creating the infamous Kuland pocket. The Red Army recaptures Brest-Litovsk. In the West, the last of a series of RAF bombing raids on Stuttgart that kill 900 and leave 100,000 homeless takes place.
July 30, 1942: Start of a Soviet counter-offensive at Rzhev, leading to the temporary encirclement of six German divisions which are supplied by massive air drops of the Luftwaffe. Armeegruppe A consolidates its bridgehead over the Manych River, while Armeegruppe B struggles to reduce the Soviet bridgehead at Kalch in the Don Estuary west of Stalingrad.
July 30, 1943: Armeegruppe A losses the initiative in its attack to secure its postions along the Mius River.
July 30, 1944: The US 4th Armored Division seizes Avranches.
July 31, 1941: Armeegruppe Nord, advancing toward Leningrad, reaches Lake Ilmen.
July 31, 1942: Heavy RAF night raid on Düsseldorf.
July 31, 1944: US breakthrough at Avranches, France, forcing the German defenders to retreat further east. British VIII Corps begins Operation BLUECOAT, an assault towards Vire.