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

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March 1st

March 1st, 1941: Bulgaria joins the Tripartite Pact of Germany, Italy and Japan, following Slovakia, Rumania and Hungary.

March 1st, 1943: On the central front in the East, German troops begin the evacuation of the Rshev area.

March 1st, 1945: In the West, the US Ninth Army (Simpson) captures München-Gladbach and Rheydt west of the Rhine. In the East, units of Heeresgruppe Mitte (Schörner) recapture Lauban in Lower Silesia.

March 2nd

March 2nd, 1941: Great Britain breaks off diplomatic relations with Bulgaria.

March 2nd, 1945: Armored spearheads of the US Ninth Army reach the Rhine near Neuss. The US Third Army (Patton) captures Trier on the Moselle river. The RAF launches a heavy attack (300 bombers) against Mannheim, causing a devastating firestorm.

March 3rd

March 3rd, 1942: RAF Bomber Command, under its new C-i-C, Air Vice Marshal Harris (Bomber Harris), attacks the Renault plant in the Paris suburb of Bilancourt, causing serious damage to production facilities and killing many French workers.

March 3rd, 1945: Units of the Canadian First Army (Crerar) capture Xanten on the lower Rhine in the battle of the Reichswald. The US First Army (Hodge) captures Krefeld.

March 4th

March 4th, 1941: The British Eighth Army (Wavell) transfers some of its units from Egypt to Greece. On the northern Norwegian coast, British light naval units and commandos carry out a raid on the Lofoten islands near Narvik, destroying port and oil storage facilities.

March 4th, 1944: In the East, the Soviet 2nd Ukrainian Front (Konev) begins an offensive against Heeresgruppe Süd (von Manstein).

March 4th, 1945: Units of the Soviet 1st Belorussian Front (Zhukov) establish a new bridgehead across the Oder south of Frankfurt.

March 5th

March 5th, 1942: The RAF launches an attack against Essen in the Ruhr, but with disappointing results.

March 5th, 1945: The fortress city of Graudenz on the Vistula surrenders to troops of the 2nd Belorussian Front (Rokossovsky), while Königsberg, Breslau, Küstrin, Frankfurt/Oder and Kolberg are still holding out.

March 6th

March 6th, 1945: Beginning of a German counter offensive toward the Drau river in Hungary. The US 8th Air Force launches a heavy attack against Chemnitz in Saxony. The US First Army captures Cologne on the west bank of the Rhine.

March 7th

March 7th, 1941: U-47, commanded by top ace Korvkpt. Günther Prien, hero of Scapa Flow, is reported missing in the North Atlantic.

March 7th, 1945: German engineers having failed to blow it, advance units of the US First Army capture the Ludendorff railway bridge at Remagen, the last remaining bridge across the Rhine, allowing US troops to gain a first foothold on the east bank of the river.

March 8th

March 8th, 1944: The US 8th Air Force carries out another heavy attack against Berlin.

March 8th, 1945: Beginning of secret negotiations at Bern, Switzerland, between representatives of the American OSS (Allan Dulles) and the German High Command in Italy (General von Vietinghoff and SS General Wolff) for an early surrender of German forces in Italy. In the East, the Red Army penetrates into the southern suburbs of Breslau.

March 9th

March 9th, 1941: Beginning of an ill-fated Italian offensive in Albania.

March 9th, 1943: Generaloberst von Arnim replaces FM Rommel as C-i-C of German forces in Tunisia.

March 9th, 1945: German light naval vessels from the still German-ocupied British Channel Islands enter the Allied supply port of Granville in Bretagne, sinking five ships. Units of the US Third Army capture Andernach on the Rhine. on the Oder front in the East, troops of the Soviet 1st Belorussian Front are fighting inside the fortress of Küstrin.

March 10th

March 10th, 1944: The Red Army recaptures Uman in the Ukraine.

March 10th, 1945: FM Kesselring replaces FM von Rundstedt as C-i-C of German forces in the West. German troops evacuate Wesel on the lower Rhine. The US Third Army captures Bonn. In the East, the Kriegsmarine evacuates 25,000 civilian refugees from the besieged Baltic fortress of Kolberg in Pommerania. In the battle for Danzig, the Soviet 2nd Belorussian Front captures Zoppot.

March 11th

March 11th, 1941: The US House of Representatives passes the Lend-Lease Act 317-71, the Senate having already passed it 60-31 on March 7; it is immediately signed by President Roosevelt.

March 11th, 1945: The US third Army captures Kochem on the lower Moselle river. In the East, the Red Army approaches Gotenhafen, closing a vital port of embarkation for tens of thousands of refugees from East Prussia who are now heading for the Hela peninsula.

March 12th

March 12th, 1940: Formalling ending the "Winter War", Finland and the USSR sign a peace treaty that compels the Finns to cede parts of Carelia as well as "lease" their Baltic ports of Hangö and Vipurii to the Soviets.

March 12th, 1943: German troops evacuate Vjasma on the central front.

March 13th

March 13th, 1941: The Luftwaffe carries out heavy raids against the British ports of Glasgow and Liverpool.

March 13th, 1942: The Red Army launches an attack against Heeresgruppe B (von Manstein) from the Kerch peninsula in the eastern Crimea.

March 13th, 1944: The Red Army recaptures Cherson at the mouth of the Dnestr river on the Black Sea.

March 13th, 1945: The Soviet 1st Belorussian Front (Zhukov) captures the Oder fortress of Küstrin, 70 miles east of Berlin, while the 2nd Belorussian Front (Rokossovsky) launches an offensive against the Braunsberg pocket south of Königsberg. Following a 600-bomber raid by the US 8th Air Force, the RAF (with 800 bombers) attacks Swinemünde north of Stettin, a major port of disembarkation for German escapees from the East, causing heavy damage to the docks and killing hundreds of refugees.

March 14th

March 14th, 1945: The US Third Army crosses the Moselle river near Koblenz. In Hungary, the German counterattack to recapture the oilfields near Lake Balaton comes to an end. In East Prussia, the Red Army cuts all communications between Königsberg and the German forces fighting in the Braunsberg pocket. The US 15th Air Force, taking off from Italian airfields, launches a heavy raid (500 bombers) against Regensburg, while the RAF attacks Wuppertal with 400 aircraft.

March 15th

March 15th, 1944: The Soviet 1st Ukrainian Front breaks through German defenses and reaches the Bug river, a 1941 German starting line for Operation Barbarossa.

March 15th, 1945: The Soviet 1st Ukrainian Front begins an offensive in the Ratibor area of Upper Silesia. In the West, attacks by troops of the US First Army to expand the Remagen bridgehead meet with little success.

March 16th

March 16th, 1941: The Kriegsmarine loses two of its most successful U-boat commanders, Kretschmer (U-99) and Schepke (U-100) to British convoy escorts.

March 16th, 1943: Armored Waffen-SS units of Heeresgruppe Süd (von Manstein) recapture Charkov.

March 16th, 1944: On the Italian front, repeated attempts by the British 8th Army (Alexander) to break through the Gustav Line at Cassino fail. In the North Atlantic, two U-boat wolf packs, code-named Raubgraf and Stürmer, attack Convoys HX229 and SC122, and over a period of four days and nights sink 21 ships (141,000 tons total), for the loss of one U-boat, U-384 (Oblt. von Rosenberg-Gruszinski).

March 16th, 1945: In Hungary, the Soviet 2nd Ukrainian Front (Tolbukhin) begins an offensive toward Lake Balaton. In the East, the German heavy vessels Schlesien and Prinz Eugen support the forces of Heeresgruppe Kurland in their defense against heavy Soviet attacks to break up the Kessel. The US 8th Air Force launches a massive attack (675 bombers) against the HQ complex of the OKH at Zossen 20 miles south of Berlin, but with minimal effect.

March 17th

March 17th, 1945: The US Third Army (Patton) captures Koblenz on the Rhine. The Ludendorff bridge at Remagen, seized by US troops on March 7, suddenly collapses, killing dozens of US Army engineers working to reenforce it.

March 18th

March 18th, 1940: Hitler and Mussolini meet at the Brenner Pass in northern Italy, Mussolini agreeing to Italy's entry into the war "at an opportune moment".

March 18th, 1945: In the East, the Soviet 2nd Belorussian Front (Rokossovsky) captures the fortress city of Kolberg after 68,000 civilian refugees have been evacuated by sea. The US Third Army captures Boppard on the Rhine.

March 19th

March 19th, 1943: In Tunisia, the British 8th Army (Montgomery) begins an offensive against Italian defenses of the Mareth Line.

March 19th, 1945: The US Seventh Army (Patch) captures Worms on the Rhine. In the East, heavy fighting in Hungary and East Prussia. The US 8th Air Force carries out another heavy attack (200 bombers and 700 fighters) against Berlin. Hitler orders the demolition of all German industrial, utility and transport facilities in danger of falling into enemy hands; this order (Verbrannte Erde Scorched Earth) is sabotaged by armaments minister Speer and most local commanders.

March 20th

March 20th, 1942: The Soiet offensive at Kerch in the Crimea is defeated with heavy losses to the Soviets.

March 20th, 1944: The Red Army recaptures Vinnitsa in the Ukraine, Hitler's HQ in 1943.

March 20th, 1945: German troops of Heeresgruppe Weichsel evacuate their bridgehead across the Oder at Stettin. In East Prussia, the Red Army captures Braunsberg, 40 miles south of Königsberg.

March 21st

March 21st, 1945: In Hungary, the Red Army captures Stuhlweissenburg. In the West, units of the US First Army advance from the Remagen bridgehead toward Siegburg. The US 8th Air Force launches a major attack (650 bombers) against Hamburg.

March 22nd

March 22nd, 1943: German troops of Heeresgruppe Mitte recapture Belgorod.
March 22nd, 1945: Units of the US Third Army cross the Rhine at Oppenheim south of Mainz against minimal German resistance.

March 23rd

March 23rd, 1945: The Red Army reaches the outskirts of Danzig and Gotenhafen. The RAF launches a devastating raid (300 bombers) against Hildesheim near Hannover, a small city of little military and industrial importance.

March 24th

March 24th, 1941: In Libya, the newly arrived Afrikakorps under Generaloberst Rommel begins an offensive and recaptures El Agheila, the farthest point reached by the British 8th Army (Wavell) in February.

March 24th, 1944: The Luftwaffe attacks London with 90 medium bombers (He-111s and Ju-88s), while the RAF bombs Berlin with 810 heavy Lancasters. In Italy, the US Fifth Army's (Clark) bridgehead at Anzio is bombarded by German heavy long-range guns (Screaming Mimies) and Luftwaffe aircraft using guided bombs, causing severe casualties in men, ships, and equipment. Persistent US and British attacks against the Gustav Line at Cassino are repulsed by the German defenders.

March 24th, 1945: In a major effort (Operation Plunder), units of the British Second Army (Dempsey) cross the lower Rhine at Wesel, followed by 40,000 US and British airborne troops (Operation Varsity). The US Third Army captures Speyer and Ludwigshafen on the upper Rhine. In the East, the 1st Ukrainian Front captures Neisse in Upper Silesia.

March 25th

March 25th, 1941: Yugoslavia joins the Tripartite Pact.

March 25th, 1945: The British Second Army captures Wesel which has been nearly 100% destroyed by Allied bombing.

March 26th

March 26th, 1944: The Red Army recaptures Kamenets-Podolsk. in the Ukraine.

March 26th, 1945: The US Third Army captures Darmstadt. Reichsführer-SS Himmler is replaced by General Heinrici as C-i-C of Heeresgruppe Weichsel.

March 27th

March 27th, 1941: In Yugoslavia, a coup by General Simonic and other army officers overthrows the pro-German government.

March 27th, 1945: The US Third Army captures Aschaffenburg. On the Oder front, beginning of a German counterattack from the Frankfurt bridgehead toward Küstrin that bogs down after a few miles.

March 28th

March 28th, 1940: The British War Cabinet decides to lay mines in neutral Norwegian waters and to establish military bases on the coast of Norway.

March 28th, 1941: In the Mediterranean, the British Navy attacks Italian naval forces at Cape Matapan, Greece, and sinks three cruisers and one destroyer.

March 28th, 1942: Under the new tactical doctrine of area saturation bombing, introduced by Air Vice Marshal Harris, the RAF launches a heavy incendiary attack (234 bombers) against Lübeck on the Baltic that devastates 265 acres of the city.

March 28th, 1944: The Red Army recaptures Nikolaev on the Black Sea and enters Rumanian territory.

March 28th, 1945: Argentina declares war against Germany. The US Third Army captures Limburg on the Lahn. In the East, the 1st Belorussian Front captures Gotenhafen north of Danzig. Hitler replaces General Guderian with General Krebs as chief of the OKH.

March 29th

March 29th, 1945: The US Third Army (Patton) captures Frankfurt am Main. In Hungary, the Red Army seizes the oilfields south of Komorn, the last source of petroleum for the German war effort.

March 30th

March 30th, 1941: In Libya, the Afrikakorps resumes its offensive against the British 8th Army.

March 30th, 1945: On the Oder front, German troops of Heeresgruppe Weichsel (Heinrici) evacuate their last remaining bridgehead at Wollin N of Stettin.

March 31st

March 31st, 1945: In the Southeast, the Red Army enters German territory near Sopron in Hungary, while capturing Ratibor in Upper Silesia. In the West, the US Third Army reaches Siegen 20 miles east of the Rhine.