WWII Axis Military History Day-by-Day: February

February 1

February 1, 1942: In the East, the Red army begins an offensive toward Vjasma.

February 1, 1943: German troops of Heeresgruppe Mitte (von Kluge) evacuate Demjansk.

February 1, 1945: In its drive toward the Oder, the Soviet 1st Belorussian Front (Zhukov) reaches the river NW of Küstrin. Since the beginning of the Soviet offensive in East Prussia that started on Jan 20, the Kriegsmarine has evacuated by sea 140,000 civilian refugees and 18,000 wounded soldiers.

February 2

February 2, 1943: At Stalingrad, the remnants of 6.Armee under GeneralStrecker in the northern pocket of the Kessel cease fighting andsurrender to the Red Army. In all, over 96,000 survivors of the once300,000-strong Armee are captured; of these, only about 5,000 will everreturn to Germany after the war. At Moscow, the victory over theGermans is celebrated with a salute of several hundred guns.

February 2, 1944: In the Ukraine, the Red Army recaptures Luzk and Rovno.

February 2, 1945: The Soviet 1st Belorussian Front reaches the Oder south ofFrankfurt. Ecuador declares war on Germany.

February 3

February 3, 1942: German forces of Heeresgruppe Mitte launch a counterattackat Vjasma, cutting off and encircling several Soviet divisions.

February 3, 1944: In the East, the beginning of renewed defensive battlesagainst Soviet forces in the area of Vitebsk.

February 3, 1945: The US 8th Air Force, with 937 bombers and 613 fighters, carries out the heaviest attack to date against Berlin which levelslarge areas of the city and kills more than 25,000 civilians.

February 4

February 4, 1942: The Afrikakorps recaptures Derna in Libya.

February 4, 1943: Soviet army troops and marines achieve a landing neart theBlack Sea port of Novorossisk.

February 4, 1945: Beginning of the Yalta Conference in the Crimea betweenRoosevelt, Churchill and Stalin to discuss plans for the treatment ofpostwar Germany, its division into zones of occupation, the question ofreparations, and the future Polish western border.

February 5

February 5, 1945: On the Eastern front, the Red Army approaches Elbing andMarienburg in East Prussia.

February 6

February 6, 1941: The British 8th Army (Wavell) captures Benghasi inCyrenaica from the Italians.

February 6, 1945: The Soviet 1st Belorussian Front (Zhukov) makes furtheradvances to reach the Oder between Küstrin and Frankfurt.

February 7

February 7, 1942: The drive of the Afrikakorps toward Egypt and the SuezCanal comes to a halt before Tobruk.

February 7, 1945: In East Prussia, Soviet attacks north of Königsberg areblocked with the help of naval gunfire by the cruisers Scheer andLützow.

February 8

February 8, 1941: The first convoy of the newly formed Afrikakorps under thecommand of Generaloberst Rommel leaves Naples for Tripoli in Libya.

February 8, 1943: The Red Army recaptures Kursk.

February 8, 1944: German roops evacuate Nikopol in the Ukraine.

February 8, 1945: In the West, the Canadian First Army (Crerar) begins anoffensive in the area of Nijmegen in Holland. Paraguay declares war onGermany. In the East, Soviet attacks in East Prussia, Pommerania and onthe Oder front opposite Berlin continue with unabated ferocity.

February 9

February 9, 1941: Great Britain breaks off diplomatic relations with Rumania.

February 9, 1943: The Red Army recaptures Belgorod.

February 9, 1945: In the East, the Red Army encircles Elbing and Posen.

February 10

February 10, 1945: In the East, the attack by 2nd Belorussian Front(Rokossovsky) against the Pommernstellung is blocked by the Germandefenders. In Silesia, Liegnitz is captured by the 1st Ukrainian Front(Konev). In Hungary, the remnants of the defenders of Budapest give upand surrender.

February 11

February 11, 1940: Germany and the Soviet Union sign a trade agreement thatprovides for the delivery of vital war materials (grains, oil, strategicminerals) by the Soviets.

February 11, 1945: In the East, the Red Army has encircled the fortress cityof Küstrin on the Oder.

February 12

February 12, 1942: Protected by a constant umbrella of Luftwaffe fighters andsmaller naval units, the battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and thecruiser Prinz Eugen make a dash from Brest up the English Channel,passing the Straits of Dover and and reaching ports in Germany(Unternehmen Cerberus). Taken by complete surprise, the British Navy andAir force are unable to stop the operation, losing a considerable numberof planes and naval vessels in the attempt.

February 12, 1943: German troops of Heeresgruppe A (von Weichs) evacuateKrasnodar and reach the defensive positions in the Kuban bridgehead.

February 12, 1944: The Red Army recaptures Luga.

February 12, 1945: At Yalta, Rooevelt, Chrchill and Stalin end theirconference, with agreements on the Allied occupation of Germany, thefounding of the United Nations, the “resettlement” of the inhabitants ofthe Eastern German territories to be ceded to Poland, and the entry ofthe Soviet Union into the war against Japan. Thus far, 374,00 Germanrefugees have been evacuated by sea from East and West Prussia. Perudeclares war against Germany.

February 13

February 13, 1945: The RAF launches a heavy attack (over 800 bombers in twoseparate waves, which is followed the next day by 400 bombers of the US8th Air Force) against Dresden that incinerates the inner city and killsbetween 150,000 and 200,000 civilians, including tens of thousands ofrefugees from the East and hundreds of Allied prisoners of war; it is byfar the most deadly and devastating air raid of the Second World War. Onthe Eastern front in Pommerania, the Red Army captures Schneidemül.

February 14

February 14, 1943: German troops of Heeresgruppe Don (von Manstein) evacuateRostov and withdraw to the old Mius line. In Tunisia, 5.Panzerarmee (vonArnim) forces the retreat of the US 2nd Corps (Fredenhall) in the battleof Kasserine Pass.

February 14, 1945: On the Eastern front in Silesia, the Soviet 1st UkrainianFront (Konev) encircles Breslau which has been declared a fortress underthe command of Gauleiter Hanke. Uruguay declares war against Germany.

February 15

February 15, 1944: In Italy, bombers of the US 15th Air Force drop thousandsof tons of bombs on the monastery located on the top of Monte Cassino.Subsequent attacks by British Commonwealth and Polish forces fail tocapture its ruins now occupied and defended by paratroopers (the GreenDevils) of 1.Fallschirmjäger-Division (Heidrich).

February 15, 1945: On the Eastern front, the Red Army captures Sagan inSilesia. Also, Operation Sonnenwende is launched by all three Korps fromthe 11.SS-Panzer-Armee (XXXIX.Panzer, III.SS-Panzer, and X.ss). They wereall to attack on this date but the only divisions ready were the from theIII.ss.Panzer-Korps. They began to attack on the 15th with a Kampfgruppefrom the 11.SS-PzGr.Div. “Nordland” & 27.SS-Grenadier-Div. “Langemarck”,of III.ss.Pz.Korps attacking south towards Arnswalde (about 30-35 kmssoutheast of Stargard). The KG from the 11.ss followed up the initialpenetrations by the infantry of the 27.ss.

February 16

February 16, 1940: The British detroyer Cossack, entering neutral Norwegianwaters, captures the German freighter Altmark, former supply ship of theGraf Spee, and frees hundreds of British merchant seamen from vesselssunk by the Graf Spee in the South Atlantic.

February 16, 1942: German U-boats, with their deck guns, bombard oil storagefacilities and refineries on the Dutch islands of Aruba and Curacao inthe southern Caribbean.

February 16, 1943: German troops evacuate Charkov.

February 16, 1944: In Italy, the German counterattack against the US 5thArmy’s bridgehead at Anzio fails.

February 16, 1945: On the Eastern front in Pommerania,the remaining units of the 11.SS-Panzer-Armee launch fully into OperationSonnenwende, which in reality is a severely restricted counter-offensiveto relieve the Kuestrin area.

February 17

February 17, 1943: German troops evacuate Demjansk. In Tunisia, the advanceby 5.Panzerarmee (von Arnim) beyond Kasserine Pass is suspended.

February 17, 1944: In the Ukraine, German troops encircled in the Tcherkassypocket achieve a breakout, but at a heavy cost in men and equipment.

February 18

February 18, 1943: In the wake of the Stalingrad disaster Dr. Goebbels,speaking before an enthuiastic audience of soldiers and civilians,announces the implementation of “total war” which, for the first time,mandates the employment of German women in the war effort.

February 18, 1944: The Red Army recaptures Staraja Russa. Heeresgruppe Nord(Schörner) falls back to the line Narva-Pleskau-Oposhka.

February 18, 1945: In the East, the Red Army encircles Graudenz on theVistula. German troops of the 11.SS-Panzer-Armee are brought to astand still against Soviet opposition to Operation Sonnenwende.

February 19

February 19, 1945: In East Prussia, German forces reestablish communicationsbetween Königsberg and the port of Pillau, thus again enabling tens ofthousands of German refugees to be evacuated to the West by ships of theKriegsmarine. Operation Sonnenwende is stopped in the face of fierceSoviet resistance. The operation was a complete military failure, but didachieve the political goal of delaying Soviet operations to take Berlin byseveral months.

February 20

February 20, 1943: The Afrikakorps halts further offensive operations inTunisia and withdraws to the Mareth line.

February 20, 1944: 970 bombers of the US 8th Air Force carry out attacksagainst Hamburg, Leipzig and Braunschweig.

February 20, 1945: In the East, Soviet attacks against the lines ofHeeresgruppe Kurland cut off for months from the rest of the Easternfront fail in the face of stubborn German resistance.

February 21

February 21, 1945: On the Oder front, the Soviet 1st Ukrainian Front (Konev)captures Guben. The US 8th Air Force launches another heavy attack (over1,000 bombers) against Nürnberg.

February 22

February 22, 1941: The Afrikakorps, newly arrived in Libya, launches itsfirst probing attacks against the unpleasantly surprised British 8thArmy (Wavell).

February 22, 1943: Beginning of of a counterattack by forces of HeeresgruppeMitte (von Kluge) in the area between the Dnepr and Donets.

February 22, 1944: German troops evacuate Krivoi Rog in the Ukraine.

February 23

February 23, 1945: In the West, the US Ninth Army (Simpson) begins anoffensive from its bridgeheads on the Roer river leading to the bloodybattle of the Hürtgen Forest. In the Esat, the Red Army captures theisolated fortress city of Posen.

February 24

February 24, 1945: In the East, the Red Army breaks through the Germandefenses of the Pommerstellung in Pommerania. Off the northern coast ofNorway, German U-boats sink 8 ships and 2 destroyers of a convoy boundfor the Soviet port of Murmansk. Egypt declares war on Germany.

February 25

February 25, 1945: 400 RAF bombers carry out attacks against Dortmund andRheine. Turkey declares war against Germany.

February 26

February 26, 1945: Heeresgruppe Kurland repulses heavy Soviet attacks in thearea of Prekuln. In the West, the attacks by the US Ninth Army into theHürtgen Forest make little progress.

February 27

February 27, 1945: Under Soviet pressure, Rumanian King Michael I is forcedto appoint a Communist government. The US 8th Air Forcelaunches another heavy attack against Berlin which devastates thecenter of the city.

February 28

February 28, 1945: In the East, the Red Army suspends all offensiveoperations against the lines of Heeresgruppe Kurland. In the West, theUS Ninth Army achieves a breakthrough near Erkelenz 30 miles W ofCologne, but losing 100 tanks in the process.

February 29

February 29, 1944: In Italy, another German counterattack against the USFifth Army’s bridgehead at Anzio is repulsed.