WWII Axis Military History Day-by-Day: April
April 1st, 1945: In the East, bitter fighting rages in the western suburbs of the fortress city of Breslau. In the Southeast, the Soviet 3rd Ukrainian Front (Tolbukhin) reaches Wiener Neustadt in its advance toward Vienna.In the West, the US Ninth Army (Simpson) reaches Lippstadt, thustrapping 300,000 German troops of Heeresgruppe B (Model) in the so called Ruhr pocket.
April 2nd, 1941: The German Afrikakorps captures Agedabia in Libya.
April 2nd, 1942: Axis air forces begin a bombing campaign against La Valetta, the British naval base on Malta in the Mediterranean.
April 3rd, 1945: In the East, while the siege of Breslau in Silesia continues, the Red Army captures Bratislava, capital of Slovakia. In the West, units ofthe British Second Army (Dempsey) reach Münster; the US Ninth Army captures Recklinghausen in the Ruhr, while the US First Army (Hodges)takes Fulda and Kassel.
April 4th, 1945: The British Second Army captures Osnabrück, while the US Third Army (Patton) advancing toward Leipzig takes Suhl and Gotha. The US 8thAir Force launches its heaviest raid to date (700 bombers) against Kielon the Baltic.
April 5th, 1942: Hitler orders plans for the execution of Fall Blau (Operation Blue), the new summer offensive on the southern front in the East designed to reach the Volga, as well as to capture the Caucasus oilfields.
April 5th, 1944: German forces of Heeresgruppe Mitte (von Kluge) encircled in the Kowel pocket are relieved after bitter fighting.
April 5th, 1945: The Soviet 3rd Ukrainian Front reaches the outskirts of Vienna which has minimal German forces to defend it. In the West, the French First Army (de Tassigny) captures Karlsruhe on the upper Rine. The US8th Air Force carries out another heavy attack (450 bombers) against Kiel which causes severe damage to the cruisers Hipper and Emden.
April 6th, 1941: German, Italian and Hungarian forces begin the invasion of Yugoslavia and Greece. The Luftwaffe carries out several devastating bombing raids against Belgrade.
April 6th, 1942: Axis bombers attack the port of Alexandria in Egypt.
April 6th, 1943: Units of Heeresgruppe A (von Weichs) begin an offensive against the Black Sea port of Novoros sisk in the Caucasus. US and British forces in Tunisia launch an attack against 5.Panzerarmee (von Arnim).
April 6th, 1945: In the East, after eliminating the Heiligenbeil pocket, the Soviet3rd Belorussian Front (Vassilevsky) reaches the Baltic coast in East Prussia, separating communications between 2.Armee (von Tippelkirch)defending besieged Königsberg and 4. Armee (Hossbach) holding the Vistula delta N of Marienbrg. In the Southeast, Tito partisans occupy Sarajevo in Bosnia.
April 7th, 1940: Units of the Kriegsmarine carrying troops and equipment set sail from German ports to begin Operation Weserübung (Weser Exercise), the invasion of Denmark and Norway.
April 7th, 1941: Great Britain severs diplomatic relations with Hungary. German troops capture Skopje in Macedonia. In Libya, the Afrikakorps captures Derna.
April 7th, 1944: In the East, the Red Army breaks through the German lines at Kerchin the eastern Crimea.
April 7th, 1945: Preceded by a tremendous artillery and air bombardment, the 3rdBelorussian Front begins its final assault against Königsberg. In theWest, the US Ninth Army captures Hameln and Eisenach on the road to Leipzig.
April 8th, 1940: British naval vessels lay mines in Norwegian waters in preparation for landings by British and French forces at Namsos, Narvik and Andalsnes.
April 8th, 1943: Units of the British Eighth Army (Montgomery) capture Sfax in Tunisia.
April 8th, 1944: Troops of Heeresgruppe Ukraine (von Manstein) encircled at Kamenets-Podolsk break out to their own lines.
April 8th, 1945: Heavy fighting in the center of Vienna. The Red Air Force drops 1,500 tons of bombs on Königsberg. In the West, the British Second Army reaches Hildesheim, while the US Seventh Army (Patch) captures Pforzheim near the upper Rhine.
April 9th, 1940: With no opposition from the Danish Army, German forces occupy the whole of Denmark, while other seaborne and parachute troops are landed at Oslo, Kristiansand, Stavanger, Trondheim, Bergen and Narvik. During these operations, the Kriegsmarine loses the cruisers Blücher (sunk by Norwegian coastal batteries), Königsberg and Karlsruhe to Britishnaval action.
April 9th, 1941: In the Balkans, German forces occupy Nish in Yugoslavia and Salonika in Greece. In Libya, the Afrikakorps captures Bardia.
April 9th, 1945: In the East, the fortress city of Königsberg falls to the Red Army. In Italy, the US fifth Army (Clark) begins an offensive toward Bologna and the Po river valley.
April 10th, 1941: German troops capture Zagreb in Yugoslavia. Ante Pavelic, Croatian Fascist leader, returns from Italian exile and proclaims the independent state of Croatia, with him as Poglavnik (leader).
April 10th, 1944: German forces of Heeresgruppe Ukraine evacuate Odessa on the Black Sea and withdraw to the west bank of the Dnestr river. In the West, Usand British air forces begin an offensive against German airfields and communications in France and Belgium.
April 10th, 1945: The US Ninth Army (Simpson) captures Essen in the Ruhr. In another heavy attack against Kiel, the RAF sinks the heavy cruiser Admiral Scheer. The US 8th Air Force launches its heaviest raid to date (1,232bombers) against Berlin.
April 11th, 1945: Continuing bitter fighting in the center of Vienna, as well as in Breslau. In the West, the US Ninth Army captures Bochum in the Ruhr and Goslar in the Harz Mountains.
April 12th, 1941: German troops enter Belgrade, capital of Yugoslavia. In Libya, the Afrikakorp approaches Tobruk.
April 12th, 1943: German troops of Heeresgruppe Mitte (von Kluge) evacuate Vjasma.The British Eighth Army captures Sousse in Tunisia.
April 12th, 1944: German forces in the Crimea withdraw to Sevastopol.
April 12th, 1945: President Roosevelt dies at Warm Springs, Georgia, Vice President Truman is sworn in as the new President. In the West, the US First Army(Hodges) reaches the Elbe near Magdeburg; the British Second Army captures Celle 60 miles S of Hamburg.
April 13th, 1940: A fierce engagement between German and British naval forces inJössing Fjord near Narvik results in the sinking of 10 German destroyers whose surviving crews join Gebirgsjäger units defending isolated Narvik.
April 13th, 1941: In Greece, German forces launch an attack against Greek and British positions near Mt. Olympus. In Libya, the Afrikakorps capturesSollum.
April 13th, 1945: Vienna falls to the Red Army. In the West, the US Third Army(Patton) captures Erfurt and Weimar.
April 14th, 1940: British and French troops are landed near Namsos and Narvik in Norway.
April 14th, 1941: The Greek Army of Epirus withdraws from Albania. In Libya, an attack by the Afrikakorps to capture Tobruk fails.
April 14th, 1945: In the West, the US First and Ninth Armies continue to break up the forces of Heeresgruppe B (Model) trapped in the Ruhr pocket. The British Second Army reaches the outskirts of Bremen, while the US Third Army captures Gera and Bayreuth. The Canadian First Army (Crerar) assumes military control of the Netherlands where German forces of Festung Holland (von Blaskowitz) are now trapped in the Atlantik wall fortifications along the coastline.
April 15th, 1941: German troops occupy Sarajevo in Yugoslavia.
April 15th, 1944: The Red Army recaptures Tarnopol in the southern Ukraine.
April 15th, 1945: The Soviet 3rd Ukrainian Front (Tolbuhkin) begins an offensive against the industrial area of Mührisch-Ostrau in Moravia defended by Heeresgruppe Mitte (Schörner). In the West, the US First Army (Hodges)captures Leuna and Merseburg in Saxony, while the French First Army (de Tassigny) captures Kehl and Offenburg on the upper Rhine.
April 16th, 1945: In the West, the Canadian First Army occupies Leeuwarden and Groningen in northern Holland. The US First Army captures Solingen and Wuppertal. In the East, the 1st Belorussian Front (Zhukov) and the 1st Ukrainian Front (Konev), from their Oder bridgeheads N and S ofFrankfurt, launch their final great offensive against Berlin. In the Baltic off Hela, the German liner Goya is torpedoed by a Soviet submarine, killing 6,500 wounded soldiers and refugees.
April 17th, 1941: The Yugoslav Army capitulates, the Wehrmacht taking 345, 000prisoners.
April 17th, 1945: German troops of Heeresgruppe B (329,000 men) surrounded in the Ruhr pocket surrender (their commander, FM Model, commits suicide on April 21). The US Ninth Army captures Magdeburg on the Elbe. In the East, the offensive by the Soviet 1st Belorussian Front against Berlinis stalled at the Seelow Heights 2 miles W of the Oder, with great losses in troops and tanks.
April 18th, 1945: The British Second Army captures Ülzen and Lüneburg. The US Third Army captures Nürnberg and advances into Bohemia. In the East,the Soviet 1st Ukrainian Front captures Forst on the Neisse river. North of Frankfurt, the Soviet 1st Belorussian Front continues its attack to take the Seelow Heights, gradually wearing down the outnumbered German defenders.
April 19th, 1943: Beginning of an armed uprising in the Jewish ghetto of Warsaw.
April 19th, 1945: The US Ninth Army captures Leipzig. In the East, the Red Army breaks through the German defenses both N and S of Frankfurt, and despite heavy losses in men and tanks (over 400 in two days), continues to advance toward Berlin. On the eve of Hitler’s 56th birthday, Dr.Goebbels exhorts the nation and predicts that in spite of all misfortunes Germany will yet prevail, that the “perverse coalition between Bolshevism and Plutocracy” is about to break up, and that it is Adolf Hitler (“Our Hitler!”) who will still turn back the tide and save Europe, as he has thus far, from falling into the clutches of the Kremlin.
April 20th, 1941: British forces in Greece retreat from Mt. Olympus.
April 20th, 1945: From its Oder bridgeheads S of Stettin, the Soviet 2nd Belorussian Front (Rokossovsky) launches an offensive toward Neubrandenburg,Stralsund and Rostock, while Soviet heavy artillery begins a continuous bombardment of Berlin. But the cost of victory is high: In the battle for Berlin, Soviet tank losses between April 1 and 19 amount to 2,807.During the same period, the Allies in the West lose 1,079 tanks.
April 21st, 1945: The Soviet 1st Ukrainian Front captures Bautzen and Cottbus 70miles SE of Berlin. In East Prussia, remnants of AOK Ostpreussen (von Saucken) are still resisting in the port of Pillau, the Frische Nehrung and the Vistula delta between Danzig and Marienburg. In the West,continued German resistance around Elbingerode in the Harz Mountains. InItaly, heavy fighting near Bologna and along the Po river.
April 22nd, 1945: In the battle for Berlin, units of the Soviet 1st Belorussian Front (now Sokolovsky) have penetrated into the northern and eastern suburbs of the city. Hitler, ignoring the entreaties of his entourage whom he orders to leave for Berchtesgaden, and realizing that the war is lost, decides to stay in his bunker at Berlin to await the inevitable end.
April 23rd, 1945: In the West, units of the British Second Army reach Harburg across the Elbe from Hamburg. Reichsführer-SS Himmler begins secret negotiations for a separate peace in the West with Count Bernadotte,head of the Swedish Red Cross. In the battle for Berlin, the attacking Soviet armies have now completely surrounded the city and are systematically decimating the motley ranks, consisting of variousWehrmacht and Waffen-SS units (including numbers of Dutch, Danish,Norwegian, Swedish, Latvian and French volunteers) as well as Volkssturm and Hitler Youth, of the exhausted and badly outmanned and outgunned defenders who are now under the command of General Weidling, CO of LVI.Panzerkorps.
April 24th, 1941: German forces in Greece breakthrough British positions at Thermopylae. The British expeditionary force begins the evacuation of its troops to Egypt and Crete.
April 24th, 1945: In the West, the US Seventh Army (Patch) crosses the Danube at Dillingen and captures Ulm. In the battle of Berlin, the Soviet armies are tightening their grip and are slowly advancing toward the center of the city.
April 25th, 1945: Units of the US Ninth Army (Simpson) and the Soviet 1st Ukrainian Front (Konev) meet on the Elbe at Torgau, 100 miles SW of Berlin. InBerlin, the battle continues with unabated ferocity, both sides suffering heavy casualties in bitter house-to-house fighting. The relief attack by III.Panzerkorps (Steiner) from the area of Eberswalde 50 miles NE of Berlin fails for lack of forces. The isolated fortress of Breslau is still holding out. In Italy, US and British forces cross the Po river and capture Parma and Mantua. German U-boats sink 5 Allied supply ships in the English Channel. Beginning of the San Francisco Conference convened to discuss the founding of the United Nations.
April 26th, 1945: The British Second Army (Dempsey) enters Bremen. In the East, the Soviet 3rd Belorussian Front (Vassilevsky) captures the port of Pillau 20 miles W of Königsberg, while the 2nd Belorussian Front(Rokossovsky) occupies Stettin at the mouth of the Oder. The remnants of 9.Armee (Busse) are cut off and surrounded in the Halbe pocket 30 miles SW of Frankfurt.
April 27th, 1941: German troops enter Athens, the Greek capital.
April 27th, 1944: German planes spot an Allied convoy west of Start Point along the Channel Coast. The convoy is actually making a practice run for the planned invasion of Normandy on a stretch of coast very much alike to that found in the Normandy region of France. The 5.Schnellbootflottille and 9.Schnellbootflottille are directed to attack at night, which they do with the following boats: S100,S130, S138, S138, S140, S142, S143, S145, S150. They engaged the convoy, consisting of 8 landing craft (LSTs or Landing Ship Tank), and protected only by the English Korvette Azeala, at Lyme Bay. Theresult: LST 507, on fire, had to be given up, LST 531 was sunk, and LST289 received a torpedo hit which killed many soldiers. Total Allied losses were 197 seaman and 441 soldiers lost. The event was largely covered up by the Allies during and after WWII and is not well known.
April 27th, 1945: The US First Army (Hodges) captures Straubing and Kempten in Bavaria, while in Italy the US Fifth Army (Clark) enters Genoa. In the battle of Berlin, Red Army units reach the government center, close to the Reichstag and Hitler’s bunker beneath the Reich Chancellery. The German 12. Armee (Wenck) defending against US forces on the Elbe isordered to launch a relief attack east toward Potsdam and Berlin. The Soviet 2nd Belorussian Front captures Prenzlau and Tangermnde 70 NW of Berlin.
April 28th, 1940: British and French forces that were landed on the coast of Norway are evacuated by the Royal Navy.
April 28th, 1945: The Canadian First Army (Crerar) captures Emden and Wilhelmshaven,while the US Seventh Army (Patch) occupies Augsburg, Regensburg and Ingolstadt. In the battle of Berlin, the Red Army reaches the Anhalt Station and is within half a mile of the Führerbunker. Hitler marries his mistress, Eva Braun, and dictates his political testament in which he justifies the political and military actions of his 12-year-rule,blaming the war on international Jewry and exhorting the German people even after defeat to adhere to the principles of National Socialism,especially its racial laws; he appoints Grossadmiral Dönitz as his successor. In the English Channel, German U-boats have sunk 8 Allied ships, 3 destroyers and 2 corvettes.
April 29th, 1945: The British Second Army crosses the Elbe at Lauenburg, 20 miles E of Hamburg, and advances toward Schwerin and Wismar in Mecklenburg. The French First Army (de Tassigny) captures Friedrichshafen on Lake Constance. In the battle of Berlin, the Red Army has now captured most of the city except for the area around the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichskanzlei and the Reichstag which is still fiercely defended by isolated units of the Waffen-SS.
April 30th, 1941: After the surrender of the Greek Army (Mussolini insists on a separate surrender to the Italian forces), the German occupation of Greece is now complete, the Wehrmacht having taken 223,000 Greek and22,000 British prisoners. In Cyrenaica, the Afrikakorps’ second attempt to capture Tobruk fails.
April 30th, 1942: Hitler and Mussolini meet at Berchtesgaden to discuss future Axis strategy in North Africa and the Mediterranean, the main objectives being the reduction of Malta and the seizure of the Suez Canal.
April 30th, 1945: The battle of Berlin is reaching its bloody climax. Isolated pockets of German resistance throughout the city are overpowered and systematically destroyed. With Red Army infantry only a few hundred yards away, Hitler and Eva Braun commit suicide at about 3:00 p.m.,their bodies being immediately incinerated with gasoline by ssbodyguards. The US Seventh Army (Patch) enters Munich. The defenders of Breslau, decimated by relentless Soviet attacks, are still holding out.