WWII Axis Military History Day-by-Day: April

April 1st

April 1st, 1945: In the East, bitter fighting rages in the western suburbs of thefortress city of Breslau. In the Southeast, the Soviet 3rd UkrainianFront (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 socalledRuhr pocket.

April 2nd

April 2nd, 1941: The German Afrikakorps captures Agedabia in Libya.

April 2nd, 1942: Axis air forces begin a bombing campaign against La Valetta, theBritish naval base on Malta in the Mediterranean.

April 3rd

April 3rd, 1945: In the East, while the siege of Breslau in Silesia continues, theRed Army captures Bratislava, capital of Slovakia. In the West, units ofthe British Second Army (Dempsey) reach Münster; the US Ninth Armycaptures Recklinghausen in the Ruhr, while the US First Army (Hodges)takes Fulda and Kassel.

April 4th

April 4th, 1945: The British Second Army captures Osnabrück, whilethe US ThirdArmy (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

April 5th, 1942: Hitler orders plans for the execution of Fall Blau (OperationBlue), the new summer offensive on the southern front in the Eastdesigned to reach the Volga, as well as to capture the Caucasusoilfields.

April 5th, 1944: German forces of Heeresgruppe Mitte (von Kluge) encircled in theKowel pocket are relieved after bitter fighting.

April 5th, 1945: The Soviet 3rd Ukrainian Front reaches the outskirts of Viennawhich has minimal German forces to defend it. In the West, the FrenchFirst Army (de Tassigny) captures Karlsruhe on the upper Rine. The US8th Air Force carries out another heavy attack (450 bombers) againstKiel which causes severe damage to the cruisers Hipper and Emden.

April 6th

April 6th, 1941: German, Italian and Hungarian forces begin the invasion ofYugoslavia and Greece. The Luftwaffe carries out several devastatingbombing 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 againstthe Black Sea port of Novorossisk in the Caucasus. US and British forcesin 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 EastPrussia, separating communications between 2.Armee (von Tippelkirch)defending besieged Königsberg and 4. Armee (Hossbach) holding theVistula delta N of Marienbrg. In the Southeast, Tito partisans occupySarajevo in Bosnia.

April 7th

April 7th, 1940: Units of the Kriegsmarine carrying troops and equipment set sailfrom German ports to begin Operation Weserübung (Weser Exercise), theinvasion of Denmark and Norway.

April 7th, 1941: Great Britain severs diplomatic relations with Hungary. Germantroops capture Skopje in Macedonia. In Libya, the Afrikakorps capturesDerna.

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 toLeipzig.

April 8th

April 8th, 1940: British naval vessels lay mines in Norwegian waters in preparationfor landings by British and French forces at Namsos, Narvik andAndalsnes.

April 8th, 1943: Units of the British Eighth Army (Montgomery) capture Sfax inTunisia.

April 8th, 1944: Troops of Heeresgruppe Ukraine (von Manstein) encircled atKamenets-Podolsk break out to their own lines.

April 8th, 1945: Heavy fighting in the center of Vienna. The Red Air Force drops1,500 tons of bombs on Königsberg. In the West, the British SecondArmy reaches Hildesheim, while the US Seventh Army (Patch) capturesPforzheim near the upper Rhine.

April 9th

April 9th, 1940: With no opposition from the Danish Army, German forces occupy thewhole of Denmark, while other seaborne and parachute troops are landedat Oslo, Kristiansand, Stavanger, Trondheim, Bergen and Narvik. Duringthese operations, the Kriegsmarine loses the cruisers Blücher (sunk byNorwegian coastal batteries), Königsberg and Karlsruhe to Britishnaval action.

April 9th, 1941: In the Balkans, German forces occupy Nish in Yugoslavia andSalonika in Greece. In Libya, the Afrikakorps captures Bardia.

April 9th, 1945: In the East, the fortress city of Königsberg fallsto the Red Army. In Italy, the US fifth Army (Clark) begins an offensivetoward Bologna and the Po river valley.

April 10th

April 10th, 1941: German troops capture Zagreb in Yugoslavia. Ante Pavelic, CroatianFascist leader, returns from Italian exile and proclaims the independentstate of Croatia, with him as Poglavnik (leader).

April 10th, 1944: German forces of Heeresgruppe Ukraine evacuate Odessa on the BlackSea and withdraw to the west bank of the Dnestr river. In the West, Usand British air forces begin an offensive against German airfields andcommunications in France and Belgium.

April 10th, 1945: The US Ninth Army (Simpson) captures Essen in the Ruhr. In anotherheavy attack against Kiel, the RAF sinks the heavy cruiser AdmiralScheer. The US 8th Air Force launches its heaviest raid to date (1,232bombers) against Berlin.

April 11th

April 11th, 1945: Continuing bitter fighting in the center of Vienna, as well as inBreslau. In the West, the US Ninth Army captures Bochum in the Ruhr andGoslar in the Harz Mountains.

April 12th

April 12th, 1941: Geran troops enter Belgrade, capital of Yugoslavia. In Libya, theAfrikakorp 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 PresidentTruman is sworn in as the new President. In the West, the US First Army(Hodges) reaches the Elbe near Magdeburg; the British Second Armycaptures Celle 60 miles S of Hamburg.

April 13th

April 13th, 1940: A fierce engagement between German and British naval forces inJössing Fjord near Narvik results in the sinking of 10 Germandestroyers whose surviving crews join Gebirgsjäger units defendingisolated Narvik.

April 13th, 1941: In Greece, German forces launch an attack against Greek andBritish 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

April 14th, 1940: British and French troops are landed near Namsos and Narvik inNorway.

April 14th, 1941: The Greek Army of Epirus withdraws from Albania. In Libya, anattack by the Afrikakorps to capture Tobruk fails.

April 14th, 1945: In the West, the US First and NinthArmies continue to break up the forces of Heeresgruppe B (Model) trappedin the Ruhr pocket. The British Second Army reaches the outskirts ofBremen, while the US Third Army captures Gera and Bayreuth. The CanadianFirst Army (Crerar) assumes military control of the Netherlands whereGerman forces of Festung Holland (von Blaskowitz) are now trapped in theAtlantikwall fortifications along the coastline.

April 15th

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 offensiveagainst the industrial area of Mührisch-Ostrau in Moravia defended byHeeresgruppe Mitte (Schörner). In the West, the US First Army (Hodges)captures Leuna and Merseburg in Saxony, while the French First Army (deTassigny) captures Kehl and Offenburg on the upper Rhine.

April 16th

April 16th, 1945: In the West, the Canadian First Army occupies Leeuwarden andGroningen in northern Holland. The US First Army captures Solingen andWuppertal. In the East, the 1st Belorussian Front (Zhukov) and the 1stUkrainian Front (Konev), from their Oder bridgeheads N and S ofFrankfurt, launch their final great offensive against Berlin. In theBaltic off Hela, the German liner Goya is torpedoed by a Sovietsubmarine, killing 6,500 wounded soldiers and refugees.

April 17th

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 theRuhr pocket surrender (their commander, FM Model, commits suicide onApril 21). The US Ninth Army captures Magdeburg on the Elbe. In theEast, the offensive by the Soviet 1st Belorussian Front against Berlinis stalled at the Seelow Heights 2 miles W of the Oder, with greatlosses in troops and tanks.

April 18th

April 18th, 1945: The British Second Army captures Ülzen and Lüneburg. The USThird Army captures Nürnberg and advances into Bohemia. In the East,the Soviet 1st Ukrainian Front captures Forst on the Neisse river. Northof Frankfurt, the Soviet 1st Belorussian Front continues its attack totake the Seelow Heights, gradually wearing down the outnumbered Germandefenders.

April 19th

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 Armybreaks through the German defenses both N and S of Frankfurt, anddespite heavy losses in men and tanks (over 400 in two days), continuesto advance toward Berlin. On the eve of Hitler’s 56th birthday, Dr.Goebbels exhorts the nation and predicts that in spite of allmisfortunes Germany will yet prevail, that the “perverse coalitionbetween Bolshevism and Plutocracy” is about to break up, and that it isAdolf Hitler (“Our Hitler!”) who will still turn back the tide and saveEurope, as he has thus far, from falling into the clutches of theKremlin.

April 20th

April 20th, 1941: British forces in Greece retreat from Mt. Olympus.

April 20th, 1945: From its Oder bridgeheads S of Stettin, the Soviet 2nd BelorussianFront (Rokossovsky) launches an offensive toward Neubrandenburg,Stralsund and Rostock, while Soviet heavy artillery begins a continuousbombardment of Berlin. But the cost of victory is high: In the battlefor 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

April 21st, 1945: The Soviet 1st Ukrainian Front captures Bautzen and Cottbus 70miles SE of Berlin. In East Prussia, remnants of AOK Ostpreussen (vonSaucken) are still resisting in the port of Pillau, the Frische Nehrungand 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

April 22nd, 1945: In the battle for Berlin, units of the Soviet 1st BelorussianFront (now Sokolovsky) have penetrated into the northern and easternsuburbs of the city. Hitler, ignoring the entreaties of his entouragewhom he orders to leave for Berchtesgaden, and realizing that the war islost, decides to stay in his bunker at Berlin to await the inevitableend.

April 23rd

April 23rd, 1945: In the West, units of the British Second Army reach Harburg acrossthe Elbe from Hamburg. Reichsführer-SS Himmler begins secretnegotiations for a separate peace in the West with Count Bernadotte,head of the Swedish Red Cross. In the battle for Berlin, the attackingSoviet armies have now completely surrounded the city and aresystematically 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 Volkssturmand Hitler Youth, of the exhausted and badly outmanned and outgunneddefenders who are now under the command of General Weidling, CO of LVI.Panzerkorps.

April 24th

April 24th, 1941: German forces in Greece break through British positions atThermopylae. The British expeditionary force begins the evacuation ofits troops to Egypt and Crete.

April 24th, 1945: In the West, the US Seventh Army (Patch) crosses the Danube atDillingen and captures Ulm. In the battle of Berlin, the Soviet armiesare tightening their grip and are slowly advancing toward the center ofthe city.

April 25th

April 25th, 1945: Units of the US Ninth Army (Simpson) and the Soviet 1st UkrainianFront (Konev) meet on the Elbe at Torgau, 100 miles SW of Berlin. InBerlin, the battle continues with unabated ferocity, both sidessuffering heavy casualties in bitter house-to-house fighting. The reliefattack by III.Panzerkorps (Steiner) from the area of Eberswalde 50 milesNE of Berlin fails for lack of forces. The isolated fortress of Breslauis still holding out. In Italy, US and British forces cross the Po riverand capture Parma and Mantua. German U-boats sink 5 Allied supply shipsin the English Channel. Beginning of the San Francisco Conferenceconvened to discuss the founding of the United Nations.

April 26th

April 26th, 1945: The British Second Army (Dempsey) enters Bremen. In the East, theSoviet 3rd Belorussian Front (Vassilevsky) captures the port of Pillau20 miles W of Königsberg, while the 2nd Belorussian Front(Rokossovsky) occupies Stettin at the mouth of the Oder. The remnants of9.Armee (Busse) are cut off and surrounded in the Halbe pocket 30 milesSW of Frankfurt.

April 27th

April 27th, 1941: German troops enter Athens, the Greek capital.

April 27th, 1944: German planes spot an Allied convoy west of Start Pointalong the Channel Coast. The convoy is actually making a practice run forthe planned invasion of Normandy on a stretch of coast very much alike tothat found in the Normandy region of France. The 5.Schnellbootflottilleand 9.Schnellbootflottille are directed to attack at night, which they dowith the following boats: S100,S130, S138, S138, S140, S142, S143, S145, S150. They engagedthe convoy, consisting of 8 landing craft (LSTs or Landing Ship Tank), andprotected 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 losseswere 197 seaman and 441 soldiers lost. The event was largely coveredup by the Allies during and after WWII and is not well known.

April 27th, 1945: The US First Army (Hodges) captures Straubing and Kempten inBavaria, while in Italy the US Fifth Army (Clark) enters Genoa. In thebattle of Berlin, Red Army units reach the government center, close tothe Reichstag and Hitler’s bunker beneath the Reich Chancellery. TheGerman 12. Armee (Wenck) defending against US forces on the Elbe isordered to launch a relief attack east toward Potsdam and Berlin. TheSoviet 2nd Belorussian Front captures Prenzlau and Tangermnde 70 NW ofBerlin.

April 28th

April 28th, 1940: British and French forces that were landed on the coast of Norwayare 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 andIngolstadt. In the battle of Berlin, the Red Army reaches the AnhaltStation and is within half a mile of the Führerbunker. Hitler marrieshis mistress, Eva Braun, and dictates his political testament in whichhe justifies the political and military actions of his 12-year-rule,blaming the war on international Jewry and exhorting the German peopleeven after defeat to adhere to the principles of National Socialism,especially its racial laws; he appoints Grossadmiral Dönitz as hissuccessor. In the English Channel, German U-boats have sunk 8 Alliedships, 3 destroyers and 2 corvettes.

April 29th

April 29th, 1945: The British Second Army crosses the Elbe at Lauenburg, 20 miles Eof Hamburg, and advances toward Schwerin and Wismar in Mecklenburg. TheFrench First Army (de Tassigny) captures Friedrichshafen on LakeConstance. In the battle of Berlin, the Red Army has now captured mostof the city except for the area around the Brandenburg Gate, theReichskanzlei and the Reichstag which is still fiercely defended byisolated units of the Waffen-SS.

April 30th

April 30th, 1941: After the surrender of the Greek Army (Mussolini insists on aseparate surrender to the Italian forces), the German occupation ofGreece is now complete, the Wehrmacht having taken 223,000 Greek and22,000 British prisoners. In Cyrenaica, the Afrikakorps’ second attemptto capture Tobruk fails.

April 30th, 1942: Hitler and Mussolini meet at Berchtesgaden to discuss future Axisstrategy in North Africa and the Mediterranean, the main objectivesbeing the reduction of Malta and the seizure of the Suez Canal.

April 30th, 1945: The battle of Berlin is reaching its bloody climax. Isolatedpockets of German resistance throughout the city are overpowered andsystematically destroyed. With Red Army infantry only a few hundredyards 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 ofBreslau, decimated by relentless Soviet attacks, are still holding out.