WWII Axis Military History Day-by-Day: January

January 1

January 1, 1941: Hitler, in his New Year’s order of the day to the Germanarmed forces, promises “…completion, on the Western Front, of thegreatest victory in our history…”

January 1, 1943: German troops of 1. Panzerarmee (von Kleist) in theCaucasus begin withdrawing from the Terek front to avoid being cut offby Soviet forces attacking from the northeast toward Rostov-on-Don.

January 1, 1944: Field Marshal Rommel is appointed C-in-C of Heeresgruppe B,the German forces in France north of the Loire river.

January 2

January 2, 1942: On the central front in Russia, the Red Army achieves abreakthrough at Rshev.

January 3

January 3, 1944: The US Fifth Army (Clark) begins an offensive against theGerman forces in Italy (Kesselring) entrenched in the Gustav Line alongthe Rapido river, with its center at Cassino.

January 4

January 4, 1942: The Red Army captures Kaluga SW of Moscow.

January 4, 1944: On the southern front in the Ukraine, Soviet forces crossthe old Polish-Russian border in Volhynia.

January 5

January 5, 1941: The British 8th Army (Wavell) captures Bardia in Cyrenaica,taking 45,000 Italian prisoners.

January 5, 1942: German forces in the Crimea repulse a Soviet landing atEupatoria.

January 6

January 6, 1941: In his annual message to Congress, President Rooseveltannounces the “Four Freedoms”. The Luftwaffe launches its first attacksagainst British convoys bound for Malta in the Mediterranean.

January 7

No major events on this day.

January 8

January 8, 1942: On the Northern front in Russia, the Red Army begins anoffensive near Lake Ilmen.

January 8, 1943: General Rokossovsky, C-in-C of Don Front, issues asurrender ultimatum to the troops of 6.Armee, guaranteeing “their livesand safety, and after the end of the war return to Germany’, andpromising that “…medical aid will be given to all wounded, sick andfrost-bitten…”

January 9

January 9, 1943: The Soviet ultimatum to 6.Armee at Stalingrad is ignored byorder of Colonel-General von Paulus, and the battle continues withunabated ferocity.

January 10

January 10, 1942: Colonel-General Ernst Udet, head of Luftwaffe aircraftproduction and development, commits suicide for failure to provideadequate replacements and new improved aircraft models.

January 10, 1943: After a 55-minute bombardment by thousands of guns androcket-launchers, and employing seven armies, the Red Army beginsOperation Ring, the final annihilation of the tattered remnants of6.Armee defending themselves desperately against all odds in the ruinsof Stalingrad.

January 11

January 11, 1942: The Kriegsmarine begins Operation Drum Beat, the firstcoordinated attack carried out by five U-boats initially against USshipping along the East Coast of the United States. Their first victimis the 9,000 ton British freighter Cyclops which is sunk by U-123(Kptlt. Hardegen).

January 11, 1944: 660 heavy bombers of the US 8th Air Force carry outattacks against industrial targets at Braunschweig, Magdeburg andAscherleben.

January 12

January 12, 1943: The Red Army begins an offensive to restore the landcommunications with the encircled city of Leningrad. In the East,Heeeresgruppe A continues its withdrawal from the Caucasus to the Tamanpeninsula, i.e. the Kuban bridgehead.

January 12, 1945: The Soviet 1st Ukrainian Front (Konev) launches anoffensive from its bridgehead across the Vistula at Baranov.

January 13

January 13, 1945: In the East, the Soviet 1st Belorussian Front (Zhukov)begins an offenive toward Pillkallen in East Prussia. German forces ofHeeresgruppe E complete their withdrawal from Greece andAlbania.

January 14

January 14, 1942: At the so called Arcadia Conerence held inWashington, President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill agree toconcentrate the Allied war effort on the European theater.

January 14, 1943: Beginning of the Casablanca Conference in Morocco withRooseelt and Churchill and the Allied joint staff under General DwightD. Eisenhauer.

January 14, 1944: South of Leningrad, the Red Army begins an offensiveagainst the lines of Heeresgruppe Nord (von Küchler) at Narva

January 14, 1945: The Soviet 2nd Belorussian Front (Rokossovsky) begins anoffensive from its Narev bridgehead against Elbing in East Prussia.

January 15

January 15, 1942: Heeresgruppe Mitte (von Kluge) evacuates the Kaluga sectorand takes up winter positions 20 m further West.

January 15, 1943: On the Northern front in Russia, the Red Army capturesVelikije Luki in the Valdai Hills.

January 15, 1944: In Italy, French troops under General Juin capture MonteSanta Croce.

January 15, 1945: In its drive toward the Oder river, the Red Army capturesKielce in western Poland.

January 16

January 16, 1945: In the Battle of the Bulge, US and British forces broughtup to block the German advance meet at Houffalize.

January 17

January 17, 1942: The British 8th Army (Auchinlech) captures ollum inCyrenaica.

January 17, 1945: The Red Army captures Czenstochova, while German forcesevacuate Warsaw. The German defenders of encircled Budapest withdraw toBuda on the western bank of the Danube.

January 18

January 18, 1942: In the East, the Red Army encircles seeral Germandivisions at Demjansk near Lake Ilmen. In the Crimea, German troops ofHeeresgruppe B recapture Feodosia and seal off the Soviet bridgehead atKerch. Germany, Italy and Japan sign a new military treaty.

January 18, 1944: German forces of Heeresgruppe Mitte repel repeated Sovietattacks in the area of Vitebsk.

January 18, 1945: German troops in Poland evacuate Kracow. Beginning of aGerman offensive from Lake Balaton to lift the Soviet siege ofBudapest.

January 19

January 19, 1945: Sweeping the German defenders before it, the Red Armycaptures Lodz.

January 20

January 20, 1941: With Hitler’s tacit support, Marshal Antonescu suppressesa rebellion by the Iron Guard in Rumania.

January 20, 1943: The Red Army begins an offensive against HeeresgruppeMitte in the Voronesh area.

January 20, 1944: On the Northern front in Russia, the Red Army recapturesNovgorod. The RAF launches a heavy attack (700 bombers) againstBerlin.

January 21

January 21, 1941: The US informs the Soviet Union that the “moral embargo”imposed on it after its 1939 attack on Finland no longer applies.

January 21, 1942: Having been reenforced and resupplied, the Afrikakorpsbegins a counter-offensive against the British 8th Army to recaptureCyrenaica. The Luftwaffe, with 400 aircraft available, begins a seriesof raids against London and ports in southern England. The US Fifth Army(Clark) achieves a landing at Anzio and Nettuno south of Rome.

January 22

January 22, 1945: Advancing in East Prussia, the Red Army capturesInsterburg and Allenstein.

January 23

January 23, 1943: Panzerarmee Afrika evacuates Tripoli in Libya.

January 23, 1945: The Kriegsmarine begins the evacuation by sea ofhundreds of thousands of civilian refugees from East Prussia and theDanzig area, the Red Army having cut all land communications with the restof the Reich.

January 24

January 24, 1942: German troops of Heeresgruppe Mitte recapture Suchinitshenear Kaluga.

January 24, 1943: The offensive by the Soviet Trans-Caucasian Front towardthe Kuban bridgehead is topped at Novorossiisk and Krasnodar.

January 24, 1945: German forces evacuate Slovakia. The Soviet 1st UkrainianFront (Konev) captures Oppeln and Gleiwitz in Upper Silesia. HeinrichHimmler is appointed C-in-C of the newly formed Heeresgruppe Weichsel(Vistula).

January 25

January 25, 1941: The British 8th Army recaptures Tobruk in Cyrenaica.

January 25, 1943: At Stalingrad, the Red Army succeeds in splitting theremnants of 6.Armee into a northern and a southern pocket. German forcesevacuate Armavir and Voronesh. President Roosevelt and Prime MiniterChurchill end the Caablanca Conference with their announcement of thedemand for the unconditional surrender of Germany and Italy.

January 26

January 26, 1942: The first US troops begin arriving in North Africa.

January 26, 1945: The Red Army captures Kattowitz in Upper Silesia.

January 27

January 27, 1944: The Soviet 1st Ukrainian Front launches an offensiveagainst Luzk and Rovno.

January 27, 1945: German forces evacuate the vital coal mining andindustrial district of Upper Silesia, a heavy loss for the remainingGerman war effort.

January 28

January 28, 1941: In Cyrenaica, the Afrikakorps recaptures Benghazi.

January 28, 1944: In the Ukraine, the Red Army succeeds in encirclingseveral German divisions in the area of Tcherkassy.

January 29

January 29, 1941: In Washington, US and British military leaders beginsecret staff talks regarding coordination of a common war policy againstGermany.

January 29, 1944: 800 bombers of the US 8th Air Force launch heavy attacksagainst Frankfurt am Main and Ludwigshafen.

January 30

January 30, 1941: THe British 8th Army (Wavell) captures Derna in Egyptfrom the Italians.

January 30, 1945: In its relentless drive for Berlin, the Red Army reachesthe Oder river at Küstrin and establishes several bridgeheads. Onthe twelfth anniversary of his coming to power Hitler, in his last speechto the country, calls for fanatical resistance by soldiers and civiliansand predicts that “…in this struggle for survival it will not be innerAsia that will conquer, but the people that has defended Europe forcenturies against the onslaughts from the East, the German nation…”Also on this date, the WilhelmGustloff, an ex-Kraft Durch Freude ship (Strength Through Joy) in theservice of the German Kriegsmarine, is sunk in the Baltic Sea by aSoviet sub with the loss of over 9,343 lives – the largest single navaldisaster in history (The Goya, another German ship similar to theGustloff, would be sunk on April 16th, 1945, taking with it another 6,000lives, making these two ships the worst naval disasters of all time.)

January 31

January 31, 1943: At Stalingrad, the exhausted troops of 6.Armee in thesouthern pocket of the Kessel, with newly promoted Field Marshal vonPaulus, have spent their last rounds and surrender to the Red Army.