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

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September 1

September 1, 1939: Three German Armeegruppen begin the invasion of Poland at 4:45am CET, offically launching the world into what would be the most destructive and deadly war in all of history. Massive strikes by the Luftwaffe destroy vital communications and assembly areas, decimating the Polish air force on the ground. Panzer and motorized divisions make deep penetrations into the Polish defenses, using tactics soon to be known as the Blitzkrieg. Offically, the first shots of the war are fired from the 280mm deck guns of the vintage First World War Battleship Schleswig-Holstein. The ship had survived the ravages of WWI and entered service in the Kriegsmarine in 1935, serving initially as a cadet training ship. Under the guise of honoring the anniversary of the Battle of Tannenburg, the German Battleship, complete with a hidden cargo of Marine Assualt troops, was allowed by the Poles to anchor directly off the strategic island of Westerplatte, located at the mouth of the Vistula River in Danzig. At 4:47am, permission was given to the ship to open fire on the island, a strategic point on the Baltic Coast needed to support the troops advancing to the south. Shortly after 4:47am, the ship opened up its massive main guns, firing at near-pointblank range and zero elevation. Needless-to-say, the shells literally pounded the small island, but although the ships guns devestated the target, they inflicted minimal casualties on the Poles stationed within. When the Marinesturmkompanie hidden within the Battleship disembarked and launched its main assault on the island, it was repulsed after taking heavy casualties. Another assault was launched later in the morning, again by the Marinesturmkompanie, after more shelling from the Schleswig-Holstein, but this assault also ending in heavy German casualties. The Westerplatte would prove impossible to take on the first day of WWII.

September 1, 1942: Units of 1.Panzerarmee (von Kleist) form a bridgehead across the Terek river at Mozdok in the Caucasus.

September 1, 1944: The US Third Army (Patton) occupies Verdun. Start of an attack to capture the strategic port city of Brest which the Germans have turned into a fortress.

September 2

September 2, 1939: Failure of a last-minute effort by Mussolini to find a peaceful solution of the German-Polish conflict. German troops capture the Jablunka pass in the Tatra mountains. Fighting continued for the strategic island of Westerplatte at the mouth of the Vistula River. A massive attack was launched by 60 Stuka divebombers of the II and III Stukageschwader Immelmann directed at crushing the island garrison. The air assault was not directly followed up by a German attack from the ground, and the Poles were able to reorganize their defense.

September 2, 1944: The remnants of German forces surrounded in the Kishinev pocket surrender to the Red Army. Finland breaks off diplomatic relations with Germany and demands the withdrawal of all German forces on Finnish soil.

September 3

September 3, 1939: THE OFFICAL BEGINNING OF WWII: After the expiration of their ultimatum at 11:00am CET which called for the withdrawal of all German forces from Poland, Britain and France declare war on Germany. The Kriegsmarine begins its campaign against British merchant shipping with 17 U-boats.

September 3, 1940: Hitler sets the date of the start of Operation Sea Lion, the German invasion of England, for September 21.

September 3, 1942: Continuing round-the-clock air attacks by Luftflotte 4 (von Richthofen) against Stalingrad. Units of 6.Armee (von Paulus) penetrate the inner city after having joined up with forward elements of 4.Panzer-Armee (Hoth) advancing from the south.

September 3, 1943: The new Italian government under Marshal Badoglio signs a ceasefire with the Allies. Troops of the British 8th Army cross the Strait of Messina and land on the Italian mainland without encountering any opposition.

September 3, 1944: Field Marshall von Rundstedt assumes command of the German armies in the West. US forces advancing from the south capture Lyon. British troops occupy Brussels.

September 4

September 4, 1939: German 3.Armee (von Kuechler) and 4.Armee (von Kluge) join in the Corridor and reestablish the land connection between East Prussia and the Reich that was severed in 1919 as a result of the Versailles Treaty.

September 4, 1941: The US destroyer Greer is attacked by a German U-boat while tracking and harrassing it.

September 4, 1944: The Finnish Army ceases hostilities against the Soviet Union. British forces occupy Antwerp.

September 5

September 5, 1939: Under the relentless pressure by the Wehrmacht, the Polish Army withdraws behind the Vistula. First British air raids on German soil against Wilhelmshaven and Cuxhaven, with negligible results (10 Wellingtons shot down by German fighters). The United States declares its neutrality in this war.

September 5, 1940: An irate Hitler orders a new offensive by the Luftwaffe against Britain with no regard for the civilian population, with London as the primary target, after the RAF for the first time makes several night raids on Berlin, causing many civilian casualties.

September 5, 1944: Failure of a German-Hungarian counterattack in the area of Klausenburg in Rumania. The Soviet Union declares war on Bulgaria and invades the country.

September 6

September 6, 1939: German troops advancing in Poland occupy the formerly German industrial area of Upper Silesia. In the West, French forces begin a limited offensive toward Saarbruecken. South Africa declares war on Germany.

September 6, 1940: King Carol of Rumania cedes the throne to his son, Michael, and appoints Marshal Antonescu head of state.

September 6, 1942: 4.Gebirgsdivision of 17.Armee (Ruoff) captures the Black Sea port of Novorossisk. Heavy house-to-house fighting continues in the center of Stalingrad.

September 6, 1943: The Red Army succeeds in separating Heeresgruppe Mitte (von Kluge) from Heeresgruppe Sued (von Manstein).

September 6, 1944: Soviet troops occupy Turnu-Severin on the Danube in Rumania and advance to the Yugoslav border. In Belgium, Ghent and Liege fall to British and American forces.

September 7

September 7, 1939: Mobile spearheads of the Heer reach the Narev river. Cracow surrenders, while 10.Armee (von Reichenau) advances closer to Warsaw.

September 7, 1940: The Luftwaffe begins the Blitz by launching a series of heavy night raids against the London docks, causing widespread fires and destruction.

September 7, 1941: The offensive by 20.Gebirgsarmee (Dietl) in northern Finland to capture the vital Lend-Lease port of Murmansk comes to a halt. Mobile units of 6.Armee (von Paulus) achieve a breakthrough at Konotop in the Ukraine.

September 7, 1943: 17. Armee begins the evacuation of the Kuban bridgehead across the Strait of Kerch to the Crimea.

September 7, 1944: Rumania, now allied with the Soviet Union, declares war on Hungary whose forces are still fighting on the German side.

September 8

September 8, 1939: Polish defenders of the Westerplatte at Danzig surrender after a week of continuous bombardment. The Polish government leaves Warsaw for Lublin, while its forces encircled at Radom face a hopeless situation.

September 8, 1941: Leningrad is now completely surrounded after German troops close the land bridge at Schluesselburg.

September 8, 1943: German reserves are rushed to Italy in the wake of the ceasefire between the Badoglio government and the Allies.

September 8, 1944: The first supersonic V-2 rockets are launched against London and other cities from mobile bases in Holland. Bulgaria declares war on Germany.

September 9

September 9, 1939: 4.Armee (von Kluge) captures Lodz and Radom on the road to Warsaw.

September 9, 1943: All Italian forces within the German-controlled areas of Italy, southern France, Yugoslavia, Albania and Greece are disarmed without opposition and made prisoners of war. The US Fifth Army (Clark) carries out a landing at Salerno in southern Italy. The Italian fleet sails to Malta where it surrenders to the Royal Navy. Formation of an anti-Badoglio, German-allied Italian government, the Republican Fascist Government of Salo, in northern Italy. Iran, under pressure from the Allies who occupy the country, declares war on Germany.

September 9, 1944: General de Gaulle forms a provisional French government that includes Communists.

September 10

September 10, 1939: In Poland, German troops achieve a breakthrough at Kutno and Sandomir and reach the Vistula. Canada declares war on Germany.

September 10, 1941: British convoy SC42 (64 ships) is attacked by a wolfpack of German U-boats off Greenland. They sink 18 ships, with the loss of two submarines, U-207 and U-510.

September 10, 1942: Failure of Soviet forces attacking from besieged Leningrad to break the German lines.

September 10, 1943: Soviet marines supported by naval units of the Red Fleet recapture the Black Sea port of Novorossisk.

September 10, 1944: US First Army (Hodges) occupies Luxemburg.

September 11

September 11, 1942: Heavy RAF raid on Duesseldorf.

September 11, 1943: British 8th Army occupies Brindisi in southern Italy. German officers captured by the Red Army form an anti-Hitler association, the "Bund deutscher Offiziere".

September 11, 1944: British troops advancing in Belgium cross the Dutch border, while spearheads of the US Third Army (Patton) reach the German border at Trier on the Moselle river.

September 12

September 12, 1939: Beginning of the battle in the Vistula bend near Kutno, the last major engagement of the Polish campaign.

September 12, 1941: German forces in the Kremenchug bridgehead across the Dnepr in the Ukraine advance north to aid in the encirclement of Kiev.

September 12, 1943: Mussolini, held prisoner by the Badoglio government on the Gran Sasso, is rescued by German paratroopers who land in gliders on top of the mountain. SS major Otto Skorzeny, the leader of the mission, becomes an instant celebrity in Germany.

September 12, 1944: Start of a German-Hungarian counter-offensive toward Arad and Temesvar in Hungary. German troops evacuate Rhodes and other Greek islands in the eastern Mediterranean.

September 13

September 13, 1939: Polish troops trapped in the Radom pocket surrender (60,000 prisoners).

September 13, 1940: Italilian forces in Cyrenaica under Marshal Graziani advance toward Sidi Barrani in Egypt.

September 13, 1943: Beginning of a German counterattack against the US Fifth Army's (Clark) bridgehead at Salerno.

September 13, 1944: The Red Army captures the Warsaw suburb of Praha on the east bank of the Vistula.

September 14

September 14, 1941: Heeresgruppe Mitte completes the encirclement of two Soviet armies at Kiev. In North Africa, British naval forces fail in their attempt to achieve a landing at Tobruk.

September 14, 1942: At Stalingrad, counterattacks by the Soviet 62nd Army (Chuikov) fail to stop LI. Armeekorps's (von Seydlitz) advance toward the Stalingrad inner city and the Central Station.

September 14, 1943: British troops occupy the Greek island of Leros in the Mediterranean.

September 14, 1944: In Estonia and Latvia, the Red Army begins an offensive against Heeresgruppe Nord which is forced to fall back to defensive positions around Riga.

September 15

September 15, 1939: Gdynia is captured by German forces. Polish breakout attempts from the Kutno pocket are unsuccessful.

September 15, 1940: Climax of the Luftwaffe daylight raids against the London docks (later designated Battle of Britain Day). British fighter aircraft destroy almost one quarter (57) of the attacking German bomber force.

September 15, 1941: The US Navy begins to take over the convoying of British ships as far as Iceland, seen as an unneutral act by the German government.

September 15, 1942: Fierce fighting between German and Soviet forces for possession of Mamayev Kurgan, the strategic hill overlooking Stalingrad.

September 15, 1944: On the Northern front, the Soviets achieve a breakthrough at Narva. The US First Army (Hodges) occupies Nancy.

September 16

September 16, 1943: German counterattacks against the US bridgehead at Salerno are halted.

September 16, 1944: Conclusion of the Quebec meeting between Roosevelt and Churchill who sign off on the Morgenthau Plan for the treatment of postwar Germany. In response, Dr. Goebbels exhorts all Germans to resist with the utmost fanaticism.

September 17

September 17, 1939: In Poland, Kutno and Brest-Litovsk are captured by German troops. The Red Army invades eastern Poland. The Polish government seeks asylum in Rumania and is interned.

September 17, 1941: The US allocates $100,000,000 to the Soviet Union for the purchase of war materials.

September 17, 1943: The Red Army recaptures Brjansk. In Italy, the British 8th Army joins forces with US troops in the Salerno bridgehead.

September 17, 1944: Start of Operation Market-Garden: British airborne forces land at Arnhem and Nijmegen in Holland to capture the vital Rhine bridges.

September 18

September 18, 1939: U-29 (Kapitanleutnant Schuhart) sinks the British aircraft carrier Courageous.

September 18, 1941: Units of Heeresgruppe Süd capture Poltava in the Ukraine.

September 19

September 19, 1939: Conclusion of the battle in the Vistula bend, with the Wehrmacht taking 170,000 prisoners.

September 19, 1941: German troops of Heeresgruppe Mitte capture Kiev.

September 19, 1944: British paratroop forces dropped at Arnhem encounter unexpected heavy German resistance.

September 20

September 20, 1939: German troops in eastern Poland withdraw to the line agreed upon in the German-Soviet treaty of August 26, 1939. The Red Army moves in behind them to occupy the formerly Russian territory.

September 20, 1943: Heeresgruppe Süd begins its withdrawal to the Melitopol-Zaporoshe line. The British 8th Army occupies Bari in southern Italy. German troops evacuate the island of Sardinia.

September 21

September 21, 1939: The remaining parts of the Polish Southern Army surrender at Zamosz and Tomaszov (60,000 prisoners).

September 21, 1942: RAF raids on Munich and the Saar valley.

September 21, 1943: The Red Army forces a crossing of the Dnepr at Dnepropetrovsk, breaking into the German defensive lines of the Panther-Stellung.

September 21, 1944: In Italy, the British 8th Army captures Rimini. German forces of Heeresgruppe E evacuate the Peloponnes peninsula in Greece.

September 22

September 22, 1939: Polish forces fighting the invading Red Army surrender at Lvov (217,000 prisoners). The NKVD begins rounding up thousands of Polish officers and deporting them to Russia where they will be liquidated a year later in the forest of Katyn near Smolensk.

September 22, 1942: At Stalingrad, units of the 6th Army (von Paulus) anf 4th Panzerarmee (Hoth) split the Soviet 62nd Army (Yeremenko) in two and capture nearly the entire southern part of the city, including the huge grain elevator defended by Soviet marines.

September 22, 1944: The Red Army recaptures Reval in Estonia. In the West, German troops holding out in the port city of Boulogne finally surrender to British forces.

September 23

September 23, 1942: At Stalingrad, Soviet counterattacks to dislodge German advance units near the Volga landing stage are unsuccessful. In North Africa, Field Marshal Rommel takes a medical leave and hands over command of the Afrikakorps to General von Thoma. Wendell Willkie, 1940 Republican presidential candidate, confers with Stalin and calls for a second front at the earliest possible moment.

September 23, 1943: The Red Army recaptures Poltava in the Ukraine.

September 24

September 24, 1941: Heeresgruppe Süd begins an offensive against the vital land bridge to the Crimea at Perekop.

September 24, 1942: General Halder is forced to resign as chief of staff of OKH by Hitler and is replaced by General Zeitzler. In the Caucasus, units of Heeresgruppe A (List) launch an attack against the Black Sea port of Tuapse.

September 24, 1944: British naval units begin operations against German-occupied islands in the Aegean Sea in the eastern Mediterranean.

September 25

September 25, 1940: An attack by Free French forces landed by ships of the Royal Navy against the west African port of Dakar is repulsed by Vichy troops.

September 25, 1941: Hitler orders all attacks by Heeresgruppe Nord (von Leeb) on Leningrad stopped; the city is to be besieged and starved-out, and after its eventual surrender, levelled to the ground.

September 25, 1943: Soviet forces succeed in establishing a bridgehead across the Dnepr at Dnepropetrovsk.

September 26

September 26, 1941: The Free French government in London under General de Gaulle signs an alliance with the Soviet Union.

September 26, 1944: In Holland, Operation Market-Garden ends in failure, with heavy losses to the British airborne forces engaged. At Arnhem, 6,450 survivors surrender and are taken prisoner.

September 27

September 27, 1939: Warsaw, besieged for more than two weeks, surrenders after continuous air and artillery bombardments.

September 27, 1942: At Stalingrad, units of 6.Armee succeed in capturing most of the strategic Mamayev Kurgan hill, and penetrating the heavily defended Red October and Barricades housing estates.

September 27, 1943: General withdrawal of all German forces in the Ukraine to positions on the west bank of the Dnepr river.

September 27, 1944: German forces of Heeresgruppe E evacuate western Greece.

September 28

September 28, 1939: German and Soviet troops meet at Brest-Litovsk, and together stage a military review. An agreement is signed delineating their common border lines in eastern Poland.

September 28, 1944: Start of a Soviet offensive from western Bulgaria and Rumania toward Belgrade.

September 29

September 29, 1939: Polish forces defending the fortress of Modlin surrender (35,000 prisoners).

September 29, 1941: The attacks by Heeresgruppe Süd (von Rundstedt) to force an entry into the Crimea are halted.

September 30

September 30, 1941: Armored forces of Heeresgruppe Mitte (von Bock) launch an attack to capture Orel.

September 30, 1942: Top-scoring Luftwaffe ace and Diamonds winner Hans-Joachim Marseille (158 British aircraft) of 3./JG 27 is killed by an accident in North Africa.